Link to us:

  Blogs & Sites:


Mondo Di Vino
Mondo Di Vino

[03/26/2023, 20:04] The Four Pillars of Italian Wine

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Italian wine is a diverse sea of flavors, colors, buoyancies, styles and price points. There are thousands of grapes, and as many or more wines to go along with it. But what drives the business? What grows the market share? And what keeps the lights on?

It falls to four wines, all with relatively humble beginnings. The four wines encompass four different types of wines ? white, red , sparkling and sweet. And although they may not be on the tip of the tongues of today?s tony sommeliers, they provide needed cover for the more esoteric and trendy wines currently being touted by the in-crowd and influencer-wannabes.Too often we chase the trends and forget what brought us here.

Caution advisory: These are not considered cool wines by the high toned up-and-comers. Those dashers consider them boring, dull, run of the mill, yawn, give-me-a-break, get-away-from-me type of wines. They are misinformed.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Let?s start with a dry white: Pinot Grigio. I know, I know, when was the last time anyone had a bottle of that wine? Apparently, a lot of people have, as it still commands a large portion of sales revenue from Italy. So much in fact, that other countries, California notably, have horned in on the action and at this point have surpassed Italy for dominance in the sale of Pinot Grigio in America. Apparently, that thirst is insatiable, as the two, even going at it, neck to neck, are showing growth and success. But let?s talk about the wine ? Pinot Grigio.

What made it so initially attractive was a couple of things. It wasn?t overbearing and buttery like so many Chardonnay wines flooding the market. It had a lithe spirit, some fresh fruit, a tingle of acidity and a cleansing palate feel. And it went well with food. Oh, and it was lower in alcohol than Chardonnay (generally) so another glass would be forthcoming after the first glass. Which made it a darling in the restaurant by-the-glass programs, as proprietors could sell more wine, maybe even at lunch. It was also easy to pronounce. I first noticed Pinot Grigio?s entrance on the stage of the popular world when it was referenced in a Seinfeld episode. After that, it just sailed to the top. But what makes it, even now, so ascendant, is that it is fresh, easygoing and accessible to a wide range of tastes and people. It goes well with a number of foods, from American to Italian, Thai, Indian, you name it. It can dance to many tunes. And it is affordable. Pinot Grigio was the little miracle that kept Italian wine in the minds of people, when it came to wine. Maybe not as much now, with more diverse selections and styles.  But even now it maintains a dominant position in sales. Which means, it is helping the Italian wine economy grow. It was really a perfect moment for Italy when Pinot Grigio came along and stole America?s vinous heart.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
The second wine in the pillar is Chianti.

Where to start?

How about a simple carafe of the house Chianti. If you?re in Tuscany, chances are you can access Chianti this way. In other parts of the world, you?ll have to buy a bottle, from the funky fiasco to a deep-punted bottle. From basic Chianti to the more elaborate expression, be they from the Classico zone or Rufina, or a few other districts, with possible riserva and other extended acknowledgment markers. But let?s not get carried away.

Basic Chianti is best when fresh. There, the deliciousness of Sangiovese shows why this wine captured the heart of diners across the globe, a singular eno-revolution of red wine appeal. Dry, yes. Healthy fruit, yes again. Not too heavy. Flexible with different kinds of food, from pizza to pasta, lasagna to richer red sauced foods, like eggplant parm. All staples of the Italian-American cookbook, which brought America (and possibly the world?) into the Italian food (and wine) camp. But in Tuscany, how about a steak, grilled and thick, juicy and mouthwateringly delicious? Chianti was there too. Sidle up to a table at Sostanza in Florence and order their bistecca Fiorentina with a Chianti, will you? Oh sure, you can go with Brunello or a Super Tuscan, or Vino Nobile. But Chianti is the archetype. Start there and press on.

There are Chianti wines capable of sublime beauty. And there are the workhorses that keep the trains running. Both have their place. There are even the ?new-gen? versions that are popular with the influencer set. Sure, why not? In the end, it?s Sangiovese?s show. And we?re the willing audience, enjoying every bite and slurp, every step of the way.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Number three is Prosecco, the much-maligned sparkling love child of the Veneto. Maligned, you say? Or rather, I say? Well, to an extent, yes. Because of the popularity of Prosecco, there are a lot of bad examples of Prosecco. And they are often the best sellers. But before we throw the baby out with the bath water, let?s dig into why Prosecco made it?s mark as one of the mainstays of Italian wine culture.

Have you ever been to Prosecco-land? An hour from Venice, and a world apart. The area in around the the epicenter of Prosecco-land, Valdobbiadene, is one of the most beautiful places in the wine world. I could live there, easily. And apparently the grapes that make up Prosecco think so too.

What gives Prosecco, in its basic form, such an attractiveness, is that it is delicate and not harsh. Lightly dry, usually, although the zero-dosage contingent is also having their moment. And why not? We, the consumer, win on both accounts.

But back to the essence of Prosecco. It isn?t demanding of the imbiber. It doesn?t get in the way of living, of dining, of the conversation, of lovemaking, of everything. It is a background for our lives. And a beautiful one at that. It?s fresh, it?s delicate, it?s affordable, it?s accessible. One of the few wines that when one goes into other regions in Italy and comes upon a wine list (which is often a basic regional list) you will find Prosecco there as well. Sicily, Rome, Milan, all distances from Valdobbiadene. Prosecco has found a way to arrive everywhere on the Italian peninsula. A conquering wine, but one that never subjugates the place, the event or the people whom it has ever so subtly vanquished with pleasure.

And lastly, the fourth pillar ? Moscato D?Asti.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

?But I don?t like sweet wines!? How many times have we heard that, on the floor of a retail wine shop or a restaurant? And then the client orders an over-ripe (late-harvest) Chardonnay or a Margarita? Sure, no like sweet. Uh huh.

None of us can change anyone?s behavior or their preconceptions. But for those who have an open mind, Moscato has its place. During a holiday, like Christmas or Easter, the festive seasonal cakes that come out pair so beautifully with this fizzy little sweetheart of a wine. Low in alcohol (and calories, but the key here is moderation ? good luck on that). A slight spritziness, a liveliness not unlike Prosecco, albeit in a different guise. Less fizz, more fruit, in its inimitable way.

Look, if you don?t have a sweet tooth, Moscato is a hard sale. But that?s not very many of us. Even so, wine, like so many things in our social-media dominated world, trend towards popularity when they are considered to be ?in.? Moscato might not be ?in? with the hipsters and the rock-star wannabes. So what? It?s very much in with the Italian culture. So, if the hipsters and the rock-star wannabes choose to selectively appropriate Italian culture and Moscato doesn?t make the cut, who gives a doggone about their preferences? You be the judge. But don?t let popular culture dictate what you should and shouldn?t like. Apparently, there are millions of folks who love Moscato, so much that the rest of the winemaking world has rushed to plant and make Moscato in as many iterations as they can. So, someone likes the stuff.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
I love Moscato D?Asti. It?s a perfect product of my Italian culture and I embrace it whole heartedly. End of sermon.

Yeah, most of these wines can be found in alternate wine culture as well as the mainstream one. For sure you can find an orange Pinot Grigio. As well, one can easily find a ?natural? Chianti. Also, you want a Prosecco that is senza zolfo, col fondo, brut zero and metodo ancestrale for the Burning Man set? No problem. Moscato D?Asti for the crunchy Birkenstock sect? Sure, that?s also come-at-able. No one?s going to be left out, when it comes to Italian wines.

But first, try the basic ones. Get an idea of what the baseline means, before you head off to Findhorn in search of your personal unicorn wines.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[03/19/2023, 18:39] The Words We Use for the Truths We Seek

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Lately I?ve been pondering the words we choose, when writing and talking about wine. Notably, I have seen a burgeoning use of words like curated, gifted, humbled, blessed, privileged, literally and journey. And let?s not forget ?my bad.? Along with that, we?re seeing more first-person representations. In other words, there?s a lot more of me and a lot less of thee.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

I was in a local wine store and the young pourer was talking about Super Tuscans. This person noted that the wines they were pouring, Sangiovese based, were similar to Sassicaia. True, in that they were in and around Bolgheri. But Sangiovese in Sassicaia? I waited for the area to clear and mentioned to the pourer, in private, that I didn?t think there was ever any Sangiovese in Sassicaia. Cabernet Sauvignon, yes. But no Sangiovese. The body language I read was telling me that they didn?t want to believe me, so I suggested we look it up. ?I could be wrong,? I said. I knew I wasn?t. But, baby steps.

Sure enough, no Sangiovese. Ever. ?But there is Cabernet Franc in it. It?s not just Cabernet Sauvignon.? he replied. I guessed that was a gotcha, intended to return me to my invisible slot. ?OK, very good.? I answered, and then slithered away.

Afterwards, it felt idiotic engaging in a discussion with someone who didn?t really know that I probably knew a little more than the average Joe about Italian wine. It felt like I might have sneaked up on him.

But when is it the right time to correct someone? Is there ever a good time?

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Yes, there is ? when the person to be corrected has an open heart and an open mind and is engaged in furthering their understanding and knowledge of things on their journey in wine and the greater world.

I?ve truly forgotten more than I probably know right now. The ancient brain literally scuttles data and curates it into little piles to send it out as flotsam and jetsam into the present, where facts and figures just really don?t matter as much as they used to.

So, why did I press, ever so gently, the young neophyte on that point? Because I knew? Because they were wrong? Because I wanted to assert my primacy and humble them?

How about, because if you are selling to the public, you should have your facts straight and correct. Just for shits and giggles, if for no other reason. Because you?re involved in a profession and it pays to act professionally. And to get your facts straight. It?s a blessing to have such freedom to be wrong and be able to correct oneself when gifted with the truth. There we have it ? the word ? truth.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Because one should tell the truth.

Ha! In today?s world? Really? The truth? Boy, what a privileged dreamer I be.

And it isn?t just the truth, but it?s the passing of knowledge from one generation to another. Since the internet age, that has seemingly become less important, along with books and facts. Anyone can google anything and get to the truth. Or can they? We already know there are many versions of events on the internet that are far from the truth.

And in actuality, Italian wine information has always been rife with misinformation. How many times do I hear someone talking about the clones of Nebbiolo, when what they really mean are the biotypes (a nod here to Ian D?Agata, for shedding light on that small tidbit of truth).

This same person who was pouring the Super Tuscans also had some frizzante/orange/yellow/pet nat wines they were pouring ? currently the darlings of the upcoming generations in their journey to curate their humble knowledge of the diversity of Italian wine. And sure, OK, let?s do that. Why not? Except the name they used in identifying the grape was nonexistent. I mean with 1000+ grapes already in the pantheon of Italian wine lore, do we really need another one?

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Look, this isn?t a new thing. It?s been going on for ages. If I had a lira for every time I heard something about Italian wine that was incorrect, I could retire. Oh wait, I?m already on that (last) leg of my journey. My bad.

So, it seems we still have miles to go before we sleep. Italian wine has come a long way, and there is some wonderful momentum with Italian wine, even with three years of a world wide pandemic under our belt. Hey, Prowein is up and running this moment and Vinitaly is a few weeks off. The mill of God grinds away.

But the proceeding generations cannot let all the work that has been done be undone. We got here by the work and toil of thousands and thousands of men and women who poured their hearts into their work in the wine trade, and the Italian wine trade specifically, for purposes of this blog and this post. People died to get us here. And we stand on their shoulders in order to see as far as we can. This is just an appeal for greater persistence in finding truth and accuracy and standing behind it.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

OK, so I?ve used all those clich? words a time or two in this post, just for the hell of it. But let?s drill down now and look at those words and see why I think they can be so annoying.

Curated ? if you run a museum or a parish, curate away. The rest of us just needs to step the eff back and stop using such a pretentious word. Screen, cull and select away. But for the love of God, enough already.

Gifted ? Two other words work perfectly well ? gave and given. Why complicate life with a pompous exaggeration?  Use the words that work, quit making up shit.

Humbled ? If you have to say you are humbled (about a promotion, a recognition or some landmark in your life) then you probably are not being as humble as you might be claiming to be. Knock it off. Walk the walk, don?t talk the talk. Be humble.

Blessed ? Again, if you have to draw attention to yourself for being singled out by God for Almighty Grace, maybe you aren?t being as graceful about it as you can be. Just be grateful and leave it at that.

Privileged ? We know, most of us in the western hemisphere are already uber-privileged out our ass. No need to rub it in to the rest of the folks aspiring to get past the velvet rope. Keep it simple. Give some of it away. You got lucky, that?s really the gist of it. We all did.

Literally ? Simply, plainly, actually. You?re not Joan Didion or part of the literati. Go simple. It?s simpler.

Journey ? Yeah, we know. We?re all on one. Have a nice trip, now get back on the road and stop talking about it. We get it. You?re special. Just like everyone else.

My bad - Of course, after this screed, I might be excused for indulging myself and offering up to you all a personally curated ?my bad.? But that would literally look so uber-privileged. So, I will not, and ask everyone in my world to please stop using these two words together. Unless you are someone I love, just say ?sorry? and leave it at that. (If you are someone I love, you can forgo it, for as Erich Segal said, ?Love means never having to say you're sorry.?

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[03/12/2023, 17:59] An Italian wine lover's incessant love affair with (lithe and sexy) Trebbiano

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Recently, the Italian wine producers have been hitting the road. Tre Bicchieri and Slow Wine road shows, along with an agglomeration of small producers, importers, p.r. firms and producer consortiums, have been traversing the globe, once again. Even with our pandemic hangover still lingering in mind, if not in deed, the world must not stand still. And so, I ventured to a local tasting of the Slow Wine Tour, here in my home base of Dallas, Texas.

The day would be crowded with other obligatory duties. My son was scheduled to get an elective procedure (snip, snip) and he needed me to drive him to and fro, which constituted crossing several urban centers in our metroplex, a round trip of about 100 miles. In addition to that, the weather was dotty. Rain was in the forecast, and in Texas, in March, that could mean anything from a light downpour to an F5 tornado.

I got my son to the venue and headed south about 20 minutes, in good traffic, to Eataly where the event was to be. I had about 30 minutes, and I was watching the weather closely, because on the way down, I noticed a lot of stand-still traffic and approaching clouds filled with potential rain.

Inside Eataly, the layout was spacious and orderly. But for some reason I wanted to start with white wines.

Along the way I saw folks I hadn?t seen since before the pandemic. Some of them I really hadn?t missed. But I was there not to socialize, but to taste and get back to my son.

Once I had tasted what I wanted, I got out of there. And in time, as once I picked up my son, the deluge commenced. And it was a slog to get my son back over into his town and then me back to my side of the urban center. That took me about two hours. I had time enough to think about the few wines I tasted.

I realized I had only tasted white wines made from Trebbiano based grapes. The wines were Trebbiano Spoletino, Lugana and Verdicchio. Odd coincidence, it brought to mind a line from Rilke?s poem, ?Go to the limits of your longing.? I?ve long had an affection for the Trebbiano grape, and have written about it here over the years. Now, it was manifesting as sub-dermal, even subliminal. I guess I?m in love.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

The author Katherine May says, ?Our bodies have answers to questions we don?t know how to ask.? I?m not sure my affliction for Trebbiano goes as deep as that, but there is something about the wine from those grapes that have been a part of my upbringing in Italian wine and the experiences along that way that formed me, partially, as who I am. For better or worse, it?s not the fault of the Trebbiano grape or the wines from it. But we do seem to be traveling along similar paths, even if only in my mind.

The wines:

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Perticaia Spoleto Trebbiano Spoletino 2022

A well-polished wine, which had a good dollop of acidity but was balanced with healthy fruit. No Sauvignon Blanc impersonator, this wine had its own identity and it was downright gorgeous.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Tenuta Roveglia Lugana ?Limne? 2021

What I liked about this wine was its unassuming character. It didn?t shout, ?Here I am!? it was mellow and smooth, but present in its portrayal what a good Lugana should be. It had some sense of place, which for an inexpensive wine, is admirable. Very enjoyable.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Tenuta Roveglia ?Vigne di Catullo? Lugana Riserva 2019

A deeper, richer, version, from special vines and treatment. Again, not too overly polished or manipulated, this wine was direct and forthcoming in its assault upon my tastebuds. But it was embracingly enchanting. Lovely wine again, really worth seeking out.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Verdicchio di Matelica, Bisci 2022

I?m a sucker for Verdicchio, and Matelica, at that. This one, from Bisci, was fresh and lively, just one of those kinds of wines that you don?t have to think about too much. Just enjoy it. After all, if you?re having an affair with Trebbiano, shouldn?t it be enjoyable and pleasant? Which this was, in droves.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Verdicchio di Matelica ?Fogliano?, Bisci 2020

Again, a reserve version. A bit more serious, a little more of the gravitas the wine?s regions have been known to exemplify. For my money, this is the kind of wine I like to drink daily (if I were ever to become a daily drinker again). But as it is, I could imagine enjoying this on a Sunday afternoon with an endless buffet of fritto misto. That would be my idea of Heaven.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Bisci Extra Brut

Just a little lagniappe from this producer and a welcome one at that. Sparkling Verdicchio (Martinotti method) in an extra brut (bone dry) style. What a way to end a tasting before heading out into the wind and the rain (I spit, not swallowed). With all the hubbub over Prosecco, why aren?t wines like this in greater demand? This is a question I have been asking for 30+ years, by the way. I wonder if my body has an answer to that question. If it did, it would probably be something like, ?wines like these were made for fools like you ? not for economic success!? and I would completely understand and partake of, whenever the opportunity presented itself to me. It would not be outside the limits of my longing, but it would definitely be part of my ongoing affair with Trebbiano.


On the Wine Trail in Italy

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[03/05/2023, 23:04] Two white Sicilian wines that are worth seeking out

On the Wine Trail in Italy
With all the hubbub over local grapes these days, one can easily go down the rabbit hole in the Italian wine journey. Even once considered mundane and common grapes are getting restyled as unique wines. Sicily, historically a bastion of quantitatively produced wines, is where we land today. And Grillo is the grape, appropriate for the rabbit hole as the grape is loved and sought after by the local rabbits. On one island, Mozia, the sole producer there had to suspend production of their wine, as the furry little mammals nearly decimated the vines due to their insatiable hunger (and thirst?) for the grape.

Fortunately, Sicily has many more vineyards where the grape thrives.

But today we?re looking for quality, not quantity.

Which leads me to my latest venture, which will be a bit more pedestrian than my usual naval gazing expeditions into Italy and Italian wine.

Two such bottles came to my attention recently, as they were sent to me by a firm trying to get the word out on the renaissance that Grillo is witnessing. These two wines, by no means, are the only word on such revolution. But they happened to land on my front doorstep. So, I thought to pop the corks and drive them around the kitchen for a few days, getting to know them better, tasting them, drinking them, trying them with several kinds of foods, and hoping to find something to like.

I did!

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Quick tasting notes on the two wines I opened:

2020 di Giovanna Helios Grillo 830 metri 12.5% (appx retail $25-32)

Light yellow

Buttery, flowery, dry

Crisp, good acid, nice clean finish. Not Cloying. Good salinity. Meaty but not overbearing.  Nice quaff.


2021 Feudo Maccari Olli Grillo 13% (appx retail $17-20)

Lighter yellow

Flowers, sage, herbal (ala the scrubland in the south of France).

Fresh fruit, dry but taste the grape. Fruit is ample,rich.

Nice exotic almost curry like flavors, but very understated. Delicious wine.

Of the two, the Helios reminded me of wines I tend to drink regularly, wines like Verdicchio, Trebbiano d?Abruzzo and Soave. I think it is because wines of that type tend to be a understated in their fruit, alcohol and voluptuousness. More introverted, leaving the wine drinker reaching out to meet the wine, rather than having it all thrown in one?s face. I tried this wine with swordfish and capers. It was a stunning combination. Later the next day I tried the wine, again, with some left over roasted chicken and home made potato salad (we are in Texas, after all) and again, it was a good match-up. It drank well on its own, but I think because the style of wine suits me.

The Maccari was a fuller, more in-your-face, extroverted style, but still pleasant. It went well with the foods, but I could also see it as just being a good cocktail wine, one that you could open with friends of all persuasions, from the serious wine drinker to the beginner looking to wean themselves off of those buttery Californian chardonnays that flood the market in these parts.

Grillo is an intriguing grape in 2023. Not so much in the early 1980's, when I was bringing in cheap and (not so) cheerful Sicilian wine to the Texas market. There was a reason Grillo, then, was famous for Marsala wine. Now, Marsala is all but a memory, like Port, and the younger generations haven?t yet ?discovered? them. Until then, white wine lovers would be well directed to these two wines.

My first trip to Italy and Sicily was in the early 1970?s (which would make me now ancient) and I have returned to the island many times in the past 50 years. I love the progress and evolution that has taken place in Sicily (and in Italy) in those years, and these two wines definitely speak to a more nuanced and artisanal approach to winemaking in Sicily ? quality is usurping quantity ? and we are all the better off because of it.


On the Wine Trail in Italy


? written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy
wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[02/26/2023, 22:12] If buying wine were like buying an airplane ticket

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Over the past week or so, I?ve been ensnared in the rabbit hole known as buying an airplane ticket. It has been awhile since I last flew, not like when I was working and on the road constantly. Then it was just something I had to do, suffer through it, get the ticket, the car, the hotel, and move through my week. Rinse and repeat. Now I travel if I want to, not because I have to. It changes the dynamic somewhat. The sense of urgency isn?t there. And the need to be somewhere, at some time, exactly, just isn?t as pressing.

But I do have somewhere to be, and for that I need to catch a flight.

While I was going through this exercise, I imagined if every time we wanted a bottle of wine, what it would feel like to have to jump through the hoops one must jump through when arranging a flight.

Let?s take a bottle of red wine from Tuscany, for example. And let?s say I am buying it online directly from the producer.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

The dominant grape variety is Sangiovese, the grape of Chianti, Nobile and Brunello.

First thing you would need to determine would be if you wanted a:

  • Basic Sangiovese Rosso IGT
  • Mainstream Rosso (Chianti Classico or Chianti Rufina DOCG)
  • Premium Economy Rosso (Like a Nobile or a Chianti Classico Riserva
  • Business Rosso (maybe a Chianti Classico Riserva Gran Selezione, a Brunello or a Nobile Riserva)
  • First Class Rosso (like a Brunello Classico Riserva or a Super Tuscan)

Ok, Let?s say I choose a Mainstream Rosso. Let?s say a Chianti Classico from Antinori for $25. I choose that wine.

As I choose a screen pops up and asks if I want to upgrade to a Premium Economy Rosso for an additional $30. Maybe a Chianti Classico Riserva.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Then another screen pops open and asks if I want to upgrade to a Business Rosso for an additional $75, like a Tignanello. I?m now up to $130, when all I really wanted was a good dependable red for $25.

If not, they are also going to ask me if I want the wine in a screw top or a cork finish. If I choose the cork, it will cost me anywhere from an additional $5-10 depending on the length of the cork.

Then they ask me if I want the bottle as a deep punt, for an additional $10.

As well, they ask me if I want the label embossed on parchment or lined in gold leaf, an additional $10-20.

Then they ask me if I want to buy a wooden box for the wine to ship in, for an additional $10.

Lastly, they ask if I want the bottle signed by the winemaker, for an additional $10.

Before I know it, I?ve gone from $25 to upwards of $200!

At that point, as it often is when looking for a plane ticket, I?d take a break from the screen to go outside and scream!

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Then I would go to my local wine shop and look for a bottle of red wine from Tuscany for $25, and be done with it.

That?s what the airlines have done to us. It used to be one could find a flight, look at the price, Economy or Business/First Class, and decide if one wanted to spend $1000 or $5,000. And buy the damn ticket and get on the plane and go. But not anymore. It?s a constant barrage of buckets, trying at every turn to up-sell and squeeze the consumer out of every last dollar.

Fortunately, buying wine is much easier. For now. But what if the wine industry takes a page out of the airline industry and starts down that road? Already we are seeing the younger generations shying away from wine. Too complicated. Too many choices. Too elite. Too privileged. Not enough bang for the buck. And when all is said and done, it?s alcohol. It?s dangerous.

You think it couldn?t happen here? Look at the world we?re living in, facing disruption after disruption, in society, in our daily consumption of basic goods. In our health care. In just getting out of the house and going to work or to play.

A friend the other day asked if we wanted to go to a concert for a local artist here in Dallas. She?s real famous, lives right down the street from us. We asked about the venue.

Small club. Tickets are $140. No seating. Standing only. It will be noisy. It will be less comfortable. But that is what the venue is charging. Take it or leave it.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

People aren?t taking it in the wine world. They want comfort. They want ease of entry. They want to relax and sit back and enjoy a bloody bottle of red wine.

It might or might not be coming. But stranger things have come into our world. It isn?t outside the realm of the unbelievable. But I hope it never happens.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[02/19/2023, 19:49] Dino Illuminati ? Once in a Lifetime

On the Wine Trail in Italy
A little boy, nine years old, raised by his grandfather after losing his mother at a young age, is walking along the Tronto river, picking up reeds and brushing them against the other reeds, bushes, the stream, anything. It?s a normal day in June of 1940. Except it isn?t. It?s the day Italy enters into World War II, allied with Germany. For the young boy, Dino Illuminati, it would be another in a series of transformative events in his life, one which would see Italy changing like it had never changed in all of its history. And little did he know that he would be a history maker in his own right.

Dino grew into a young man and became a produce merchant. He was known for his broccoli, dubbed the ?King of broccoli? when he was in the zenith of that stage of his life. He was one of the first in his region to plant kiwi. And his region, which straddled Marche and Abruzzo, took to kiwi as did all of Italy. Dino did well.

But he didn?t always fare so well. He knew hunger. And loneliness. And tragedy. But he was resilient. And just a little bit stubborn. Dino wanted more than to be the king of broccoli or a kiwi pioneer.

So, he took to his roots ? grapevines.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

His grandfather who raised him, Nico, had been a grape grower since 1890. At that time, growing grapes in Italy was common enough. But the rest of the world hardly knew. This country, once dubbed Oenotria in the time of the Greek ascendancy, abounded with vines. Wine was, and is, essential to the Italians. And to Dino it was a plausible pivot.

But Dino had this burning drive inside. Maybe it was the hunger he never got over as a child. Maybe it was the love he didn?t have enough of from his mother. Whatever it was, it forged within him this larger-than-life ambition to change the world he lived in, if not to dominate it. And he would do it with the local grape, Montepulciano, and the wine to come from those grapes, Montepulciano d'Abruzzo

I?m telling you this story because although there are many men and women who came up in the Italian wine world after World War II, there was only one Dino. He had this vision to make Montepulciano into a great wine, on par with Chianti and Barbera, and then Brunello and Barolo. Dino set his sights high.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Dino, myself and his winemaker Spinelli - 1988

I remember those early wines, from the 1970?s. I still have some of them in my wine closet. They were rustic, full of fruit and spice and richness. And then as Dino progressed in his wine career, the wines started taking on a little more polish. He hired Giorgio Marrone to help consult with his winemaker, Spinelli. Marrone was an acolyte of Tachis, and in the 1980?s Tachis was the wizard of wine. Marrone was next-gen. Wines were getting better all across Italy. Italy was surpassing Algeria and Spain in wine production. And Italy was aiming towards the quality that France was famous for. It was a battle that raged for a generation, until Italy met and sometimes exceeded all expectations. Nowadays, Italian wine stands with any of the great wines of the world. Not so, when Dino started out.

We Italians had to apologize for our wines by making them less expensive. And maybe even a little bit easier to drink than the French. But once people got hooked, the Italians shifted, little by little, to make deeper, richer, longer-lived wines. But it didn?t happen overnight.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
The Maestro of Montepulciano with his students - 1984

Knowing Italy as I do now, it was a miracle that this happened and that those of us fortunate enough to be alive in this era witnessed history. History which no one had witnessed in 8,000 years of wine culture. It was a quantum leap, a progress that was on par with the invention of the automobile, the airplane, the discovery of electricity, nuclear power. And while Italian wine didn?t change the world quite like the car, the plane, electricity and nuclear energy has, it benefitted from those developments and took Italian wine to a new level, a pinnacle. And it was souls like Dino Illuminati who had the vision, and yes, the stubbornness and determination, to climb that mountain.

Dino lived a long 92 years before he passed away last week. And it was a great life. He had a loving wife. His children loved him, even though he was not always an easy person to have as a father. And his collaborators, in the vineyards, in the winery, in the importations side and at the end-user point, all were part of his dream and his legion. We were his happy warriors, making history, albeit in our micro-universe - Abruzzo wine from Italy on Earth.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

I could write more about Dino. He had an insatiable appetite. To dine with Dino was to eat like an emperor. And if you were lucky enough to score and invitation to his little dining room at the winery, you would drink like one too.

I came up in the time when Dino?s star was rising. And I rode the tail of that star in my career. After all, we were making history, were we not?

Rest well, dear friend. Italy was so lucky to have you as one of her sons. And the rest of us in the world of wine were indeed fortunate when our paths crossed. You were one of a kind ? They broke the mold when you were made. And we're so damn lucky and grateful.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[02/12/2023, 22:14] The Perfect Italian
From the archives...
On the Wine Trail in Italy
I was sitting at the bar of a restaurant, don?t remember where. It could have been Columbus, Ohio or St. Louis, Missouri. Or Yountville, California. I travel alone most of the time, so often I sit at the bar of a restaurant and order from the food menu. It?s kind of like work, in that I see what is going out to the folks, libations and wine, and get an idea of where I am at.

This time another solitary traveler sat nearby. She started up a conversation, found out I was in the wine business. When I told her my area of concentration was Italy, she perked up. ?Oh, I love Italians, the wine, the countryside, the men; it's all so gorgeous.? She was younger than me; I don't think she was coming on to me. Or at least I wasn?t picking up that vibe. No, she was just talkative and I am a good listener. So I listened.

?I love the wines from Tuscany, they are so brawny. I once fell for a man in Florence, his name was Jacopo, he was tall, young, lean and very sweet. He taught me all about Sangiovese.?

At that point my appetizer appeared and she moved a little closer. Still not ?that? vibe. I asked her about what her perfect Italian wine would be. ?Well, you probably would know much better than me,? she said, ?but seeing as you are asking me, I?d say it would be much like my taste in Italian men.? I had no idea where this was going.

?Jacopo was sweet, but he wasn?t enough for me. He wanted someone from his own breeding. He came from wealth, centuries and centuries of it, dripping off his chin. Our brief fling was just that. But one of the wines he exposed me to was from Montepulciano. It was a Vino Nobile and it was amazing.?

On the Wine Trail in Italy
?What about wines from other regions?? I asked her.

?I once went to Lake Como and met an older man, twice my age. He was worldly, he was very confident. And despite being older than me, he and I had more in common, intellectually, than I did with dear Jacopo. He loved to climb mountains and ski; he had a motorcycle and a boat. Yes he was very wealthy, but he wasn?t pretentious. Like I said, he was very confident.?

?Yes,? I replied. ?What kind of wines did you drink with this older man? What was his name??

?He was Armando, with a lot of middle names and a title, and he had a home in the hills around Asti. We took a long motorcycle drive there once in the autumn. We visited Barolo and Barbaresco. His favorite wine, though, was Dolcetto. He told me it reminded him of me.?

I tried to imagine what about this lady reminded Armando of Dolcetto. She was in very good shape, worked out, yoga, all the things smart ladies do these days. She was trim, her bare arms illustrated that she had an upper-body regimen. She was tall-ish and wore a dress that showed her legs, which were also toned and tuned. She was a looker, but not a Hollywood type. A little more country-exotic. I could see how Armando could correlate her with Dolcetto. Dolcetto can be firm and spicy but not showy. It isn?t for everyone, but it has a distinct charm. Ok, the picture was being painted for me.

?Is that all?? I asked her. ?Anywhere else in Italy? Just two loves??

By then the restaurant was humming and she knew she had her hooks in me. An extrovert wrestling control over an introvert, not that it is very hard. We are very good listeners, as I have said.

On the Wine Trail in Italy
?There was this married man in Sorrento, Domenico. I was there for a conference and we met accidentally. It was a brief interlude, after all he was married, had children, lived in Italy. How far could it go? But he loved food and wine, something his wife no longer cared about. And we would meet in these little seafood restaurants and eat and drink and make love and it was all so romantic.?

This gal must have thought I was her confessor or her shrink. I was eating a salad, hoping the strings of arugula weren?t hanging out between my teeth.

?What kind of wines did you all drink?? I asked.

?Everything in the world ? but the wine I loved was Gragnano ? it was lively, it was sexy, it was fizzy.?

She stopped and took a bite of her entr?e. I wanted to say something but I really didn?t know what to say. So I said, ?What happened??

?He was married. It fizzled. Like the wine.?

She seemed to be longing for the perfect man and the perfect wine, both highly improbable to find in this life, she seemed to conclude. ?At least I?ll always have Gragnano, she mused.?

On the Wine Trail in Italy
?Three, only three?? I pressed on. ?From my perspective it seems you have had better luck with Italian wine than Italian men.?

She took a long sip of her wine and stared in a way that seemed she was looking right through me. Maybe she was lost in thought. Maybe I shouldn?t have gone there.

?You know, there was one. It could have worked. He lived on the Adriatic East Coast, a little town in the hills. Piero was his name. His mother was a great cook and very friendly. His brother was a winemaker; he made bright, happy red wine in the Marche. He had been married, but one day his wife drove to the tallest bridge in the region and threw herself over it. She left him and their two young children. He wasn?t a morose man, but he was awake to what could happen to one in life. He taught me great lessons about patience and acceptance. And we would sip his brother?s Montepulciano in the afternoon after I got home from a run and he was taking a break. There was only one time we ever, you know, did ?that?. But it was a time I will remember forever.?

On the Wine Trail in Italy
?And why are you not there now?? I asked.?Oh, it was too much for him, he was still too raw from the tragedy. He was a very bright soul, like his region?s wines, but he was burdened with a sad past and an indefinite future. I really, really loved him; we could have had an amazing life in the hills, with the mountains behind us and the sea in front of us. I don?t know, really, why I am here. But I am.?

I felt like I had pressed too much, felt embarrassed at how she laid bare her life before this stranger. Fortunately for her, this outsider knew a few things about love and loss and wine and life and her story wouldn?t be used to put her in an uncompromising situation.

I loved that fact that she could open up to me, we could share a meal, sort of, and then go about our ways, nothing further. I considered her a fellow traveler and wished only the best for her.

As we sipped on a dessert wine from Piedmont, a Barolo Chinato, she looked at me and said, ?All this time I?ve been talking about myself. You must think I?m very self-centered. I know nothing about you.?

I replied, ?It was me who asked you these questions. I wanted to know. Me? That?s a story for another time. What we share is our love for Italian wine. I am in agreement with all your Italian wine loves. Now, as for your men, you are on your own.? I smiled and she gave me a look as if to say, ?Was that your ?line???

Me? I have no ?line.? Never had the time to dream one up, or rehearse or whatever those characters do to get what they want when they want it. I was just a solitary traveler sitting at a bar having a meal and being a good listener.

Is there a perfect Italian man, woman or wine? Who knows? One of my mentors once said to learn about wine you have to ?taste, taste, taste.?

On the Wine Trail in Italy
As in wine, so in life ? taste, taste, taste; till you find the ones you love.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[02/05/2023, 20:24] The Valuable and Unanticipated Lessons Ballet Taught Me About Wine

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Ballet troupe performing at San Francisco's Cathedral of St. Mary
This past week, when the outside world was covered in ice, and we were marooned on our little island, I started going through boxes to purge old belongings. Along the way I ran into all my old ballet notes. Ballet, you ask?

Yes, it seemed that the art department in college was a little short on men for the ballet troupe, so I was ?volunteered? by the department head to suit up and hit the barre.

I learned a few things along the way, some of them pertinent to wine appreciation.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

? learning the proper way to carry out a port de bras (French: carriage of the arms?), which according to Brittanica.com is ?in classical ballet, both the general arm movements of a dancer and a designated set of exercises designed to improve the quality of these movements. The port de bras of classical ballet is meant to be a graceful and harmonious accent to the movements of the legs.?

How little we talk about the gracefulness of a wine. But if it is lacking, one notices it without a doubt.

Does wine move? Of course, it moves though us, as we take it in. And therein is where one notes how well a particular wine might carry out its port de bras. Moreover, though is the feeling it leaves with us. It is rough? Is it smooth? Is it caustic? Is it mellow? Is it rich? Is it balanced?

Which leads to the next area ?

On the Wine Trail in Italy

-starting with pli?, where I would strive to find my balance within the positions, this was where I?d struggle at first. Slowing my mind, and letting the intuitive body take over, I eventually could navigate the positions (from 1st to 5th) and move on from Demi pli? to Grand pli?. I was no Nureyev, mind you, but my body was doing what my mind couldn?t do solely.

Wine, as well, needs body, yes. But it must have an apt pattern in which to assist the wine drinker in navigating the various elements of the wine. Be it a red wine, or a white wine, a sweet wine or a sparkling wine, each one has to have a framework in which the wine can operate from. And crucial to the success of the wine, and the ballet dancer, is balance.

Technique ? there are so many correlations between ballet and wine when it comes to technique, that I am almost overwhelmed where to start. And as I usually do, I will start with where I am (or was) weakest.

It seemed I had copious notes in the areas of Battement and Jet?, and all the variations I needed to learn to stay up with my more lithe and elegant female counterparts (or really, superiors). I thought too much, didn?t want to make a mistake, was constantly second guessing myself. Well, when you are beating a leg or taking lunges in the air, all thought stops. One must do, not think. But one must have developed some semblance of technique, so as not to beat one?s leg into numbness or run into a wall (which I did a time or two).

Likewise in wine, many would like to think that the wine just makes itself. After all isn?t that the way of nature? Yes, in many ways it is. But wine has become an objet rare, and in order for it to maintain continuity with regards to its preternaturalness.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

? one of the toughest things I struggled with was this. I have unusually tight hamstrings. Going through our warm-up exercises on the barre would help greatly. Heat helps. And repetition also benefits towards a greater flexibility.

So, with wine. If a wine is young and tight and tannic, it can often be unpleasant to enjoy. Appreciation in the abstract is so much easier than in the concrete. But wines to develop and with time they loosen up.

One of the elements in a wine, especially when I was in the wine trade and had to supply restaurants with ready-to-drink wines, was that those wines exhibited a suppleness so that the Saturday night diner could enjoy it with their date or group.

As wine ages, it often loosens up. Sometimes, too much. And we humans can often follow suit. I now know ways to loosen up my hamstrings that I wasn?t able to do as easily 50 years ago.

Aesthetics ? when our ballet teacher choreographed a new piece, there was always first, and foremost, the element of aesthetics. It had to be beautiful, it had to be harmonious. It had to be thought provoking. And it had to touch the heart.

Which wine does that? And if, or when, it does, do we not know it to be something extraordinary? Maybe a handful of times in one?s life you might experience this, in art, in love, in life. But also, as in ballet, in wine. I have friend for whom this is a regular occurrence. It?s magical, each and every time. Like it is if you had a lifetime soul mate, deep love, an always and forever person in your life. Ballet, wine, love, they share more commonalities when you examine explore their attributes.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Delicacy and Refinement
? this might be a bit of gilding the lily, but it was something the ballet master drilled into our heads. That Rond de Jambe a Terre or the Developp? might be a somewhat pedestrian move. But with delicacy and refinement, a Giselle is born. I was told to never take anything for granted in the world of movement. Every step, every move should be intentional. And along with that bring with it grace and refinement.

Again, also with wine. At least in the hallowed hallways of the imagination. But really, what is wine without delicacy and refinement. 86% water and 14% alcohol? An inebriating beverage? Something to help you get laid? Something to help you sleep?

If that is what you are looking for, you don?t need to open a bottle of Barolo or Brunello. Go buy a case of light beer or some White Claw.

With wine - and this is not intended to sound snobby - one must expect from wine a transcendent experience - just as one does when one watches Galina Ulanova as the dying swan.


On the Wine Trail in Italy


 ? written and photographed by Alfonso Cevola limited rights reserved On the Wine Trail in Italy

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[01/29/2023, 21:12] [Whereabouts = Abruzzo] [Topic = Montepulciano] [Endeavor = A Meditation]
On the Wine Trail in Italy
here is it in Italy that really grabs you by the heart and flings you around, as if you were dancing and loving and young forever and all was well with the world, as it always has been?

A tall order, without doubt. And a difficult one, for those who have traversed the length and width of Italy. After all, there is so much to  love in almost anywhere in Italy. Just plop oneself down and spin around and where you stop, you head forward in search of magic and miracles.

But if you had to pinpoint one spot, one place, one grape, one region, what would you choose?

One to consider, and a long shot at that, for most people, might be Abruzzo.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Wait, what? That rustic little region to the east of Rome that makes those chunky, savory yet fruity red wines from the Montepulciano grape? Yes, that might be where I am heading in today?s meditation.

It started over a lunch with a young friend, oddly enough about wines from Friuli. And talk about aged and mature wines from there, which in these parts are not easy to find.

A few days later, I?m puttering around my wine closet, updating the inventory file and wondering how far back my Abruzzo wine collection goes. Almost 50 years! Yes, from 1974 to about 2007, I?ve amassed now rare bottles of red wine from Abruzzo, in multiple years and varying sizes.

So what?

No defense here, just a statement of fact. I?ve been enjoying Abruzzo wines for about as long as I have all Italian wines. I had no family from there, no mystical affinity to the place.

That was until I first went there almost 40 years ago.

Since then, the 20 or so times I?ve returned,  visiting a multitude of estates, have served to expose me to a place and a people, a grape and a wine, that is unique to the world of wine.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

For me, it starts with two things: the place and the people.

Ever since I first started going to Italy over 50 years ago, I?ve been seeing the Italy I first got to know slipping away into the future. Nothing wrong with that, in the abstract. But it?s like anything one falls for. When it changes, there are adjustments needing to be made.

And not one to dwell in the past, I?m all for progress and refinement. Polishing the diamond.

But, sometimes one can polish it too much, and ruin the inherent beauty that originally drew one to it.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Abruzzo seems to have kept a foot in their traditional setting. Food, wine, the openness of the people. The accessibility. You don?t need to be a millionaire to enjoy all that Abruzzo - the place, the wines, the foods, the people ? has to offer the commoner. It?s relatively inexpensive. The restaurants are simple yet the food is wonderful. The wines aren?t as ?important? as Bordeaux or Burgundy, Tuscany or Piedmont, but they come together with the food and the place and the people, dovetailing seamlessly with all the elements.

It is a perfect storm. And at the helm of the ship going through it, the Montepulciano grape is the captain.

I can?t say that I have ever gotten tired of drinking Montepulciano. It is rich but not too much. It is fruity, but not overbearing. It has good spice, but it plays in the orchestra of flavors with poise and balance. It can age, but one can drink it young. It?s amazingly versatile with foods from all over the world. Mexican? Absolutely. Classic Chinese? Bring on the Peking Duck. French country fare, ala bistro food? Yeah, without a doubt. Burgers? Pizza? Hot dogs? Nachos? Naturally.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

I love to grill a steak in the backyard and pop a Montepulciano Abruzzo Riserva. Likewise, when I?m making my eggplant Parmigiana recipe, the first wine I think of is a Montepulciano d?Abruzzo. When my long departed friend Eugenio Spinozzi would come to the house and make his pasta Amatriciana, we always had a Montepulciano with it.

Grilled lamb, oh my God ? even my Greek friend, who is devoted to his beloved Xinomavro, takes a knee when I bring a bottle of Montepulciano around (we also enjoy the Xinomavro, after all I?m not that crazy!).

Yes, yes, yes, the wine is all that blah, blah, blah.

But the reason why is less about wine and winemaking and more about the connection to the place and the people.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

And that is something that is best experienced in person, preferably time and time again.

Look, there are folks who go to Italy once and do the grand tour ? Rome, Venice, Florence, the Amalfi Coast ? and that?s the extent of their bucket list.

But for Italophiles, and enophiliacs, a pilgrimage to Abruzzo is best experienced in stages, over time. Over and over again.

That is when the seductive nature of Abruzzo really sinks her teeth into your soul and you really can never let go. Why would you, anyway?

It?s like the perfect mate, the beautiful sunrise, the feeling of health and vigor. Endless youthfulness.

That?s what Abruzzo and its main vinous protagonist has done to this son of Italy. And for that I am eternally grateful. 

On the Wine Trail in Italy

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W
[01/22/2023, 20:10] The Master Class, the Masterpiece & the Porn Cycle ? A Consideration

On the Wine Trail in Italy
Well, the default world is back upon us. Everything is opening back up. And the merrymakers are back at it. That?s right folks, we?re going back, not just in time, but in deeds.

Three years ago, we looked out over the precipice with little to go on. We were in uncharted waters. Incertitude abounded. Fear, as well. But we were moving forward, creeping slowly at that, but one foot in front of the other. Towards an indeterminate future.

We left many behind. They didn?t make it. Family. Friends. Followers. Cohorts. The world changed beyond question. Many of us questioned where we were going.

Some of us traveled to new lands. Some of us stayed put. Some of us froze. Some of us changed.

Now, three years later, what is this world? For some of us, the comfort of returning to things the way they were has been an irresistible temptation. So, here we go again. Wine dinners. Scores. Reviews. Junkets. Competitions. The inevitable master class. Back at it, again.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

The problem of the last three years is that we have seen the problem is much of the world is a result of the doings of the Master Class. But some of us still cannot resist going back into the tried and true, the clich?, the way things were. 

Scott Galloway sheds light on this regression. It seems many folks who have built their personal brand as influencers and experts, in search of fame and fortune, have gotten caught up in what he calls the porn cycle.

People who are famous for being famous, who have no real authority or evident talent, except an ability to capture attention and monetize it, a skill often rooted in shamelessness and an insatiable need for attention that sparks their outrageous actions/statements. Social media?s algorithms elevate the theatrics, bringing more attention to monetize, incentivizing increasingly outrageous behavior, and the wheel spins. There?s a word for this.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

While this might seem an extreme example of what is happening in the virtual world, in the world of the living what I am witnessing is a ramping up of passions, in order to get people?s attention.  Likes, follows, reposts, in ostensibly what is a desperate attempt to command the stage.  Yelling instead of speaking in a normal voice. Shit-posting and using emotionally charged words to make things seem more newsworthy than they might be. We?re seeing those all over the place, and the wine world is not immune to these theatrics.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

So, a Left Coast PR hack, who was invited, gratis, to a junket to Emilia-Romagna, is all of a sudden, an expert in Parmigiano, Prosciutto and Lambrusco. How many times again will we hear the story of the donkey, the straw and the Cinquecento? Ground hog day, anyone?

Lest you think I am swerving all over the road, do not doubt yourself. I am. I mean with the donkey and all that straw in the back of my Fiat 500, who wouldn?t be?

It?s harmless enough. After all, the average folk who attend a class, statistically, will not remember 90% of what they heard after ten minutes. Throw in some wine and make it five.

Italy is a great shot. Always hits the target. And usually, it?s the foot. I?ve seen it for a couple of generations now. They reach out to the world with their goods, and they end up sending some unprepared ambassadors, who tell some stories, more fables than facts, and think this is what building the ?Made in Italy? brand is all about. 

Meanwhile, the masterpieces are left, untouched, unnoticed. 

E la nave va.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

Dry (Friuli) January

I opted to go dry (but not sans alcool) in January. Coincidentally, the month turned out to be a mini-tutorial refresher course in wines of Friuli. The last time I was in Friuli was 2017, my sixth or seventh visit to the region over a period of 30 years.

Dining out this week at one of our favorite spots in Dallas, Homewood, a friend called in and ordered up a surprise bottle for our table. The young, ebullient sommelier brought us a Sauvignon Blanc, 2015 (current release, according to the winery website) from Meroi, their Zitelle vineyard and Barquetta parcel.

We ordered appropriately for the wine.

The wine appeared in flavor to be slightly oxidative. I?m not sure we got a bottle in its prime, not having any memory of this wine from the past. But being familiar with Buttrio from many visits, I was interested in spending time with this wine over the course of our meal, and getting to know a little more about the wine, the winemaker and the land from which it came.

Ultimately, though, I was left feeling something about the wine was amiss. Or maybe it was me. The wine lacked any fruit, and was sour. It went well enough with the savory foods we ordered however, so the night was not a complete loss. But upon questioning folks who know much more about this wine, methinks I might have gotten a slightly off bottle. Next time we?ll hope for a more representational example.

On the Wine Trail in Italy

The next day, I met with a friend at a local BYOB, and he brought the red wine. From Petrussa, a Schioppettino di Prepotto, 2019, from Colli Orientali. Slightly east of Buttrio, Petrussa makes this red wine. We had it with what I would call an indigenous vegetarian meal, with most of the ingredients originating in the Americas. Interesting combinations of legumes, squash, grains like quinoa, tomato-based sauce and the slightly exotic addition of tofu in place of an animal protein.

The wine went very well with it. The Schioppettino was relaxed and refreshing, not too tannic, good fruit and dry finish. I took the unfinished bottle home and had it later in the evening with grilled meat. It went as well with that as it did at lunch.

Friuli is a place for wines that I do not gravitate towards very often. Not for any reason, other than the wines are not that available, and there are usually other wines from other regions pulling for my attention. But as wines, they are as serious as anywhere in Italy. And these two wines, while maybe not in the mainstream that most people swim in, were, and are, worth seeking out.

wine blog +  Italian wine blog + Italy W