Category General Wine

Grapes can’t talk — so the Wine Novice will

By Jim Campanini, The Wine Novice

If grapes could talk – some winemakers insist they can whisper to them – Italy’s more than 1,000 varieties could tell stories of how they fueled papal conquests, Roman legions on the move, and even the seductions of emperors and kings.

When I open a bottle of Italian wine, I often wonder who trod the ancient soil of the vineyard where the grapes were grown. The great Caesar? Augustine? Or maybe a Bendictine monk who would later become pope.

The history, culture and cuisine of Italy remain fascinating to this day.

That said, if you enjoy Italian wines or want to learn more about them, I’ll be holding another fun night of vino viniferous education on Thursday, Oct. 11, from 7-9 p.m. at the gorgeous Nesmith House in Lowell...

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The glamour of the garden and elegant wine

Jungle Beauty. La Dolce Vita. Diary of Faith. Ice Carnival. Daydream Believer. These are not summer wines, they are daylillies blooming in the summer gardens circling my home.

The Wine Goddess — my wife Mary Lee — has carefully nurtured these dazzling gems for years — some from seedlings that she hybridized herself — and she now has 200 varieties popping out with each new glorious sunrise. The colors, fragrances and textures of these amazing gifts from Mother Nature are incredible.

‘UP’ or Urban Provence Rose with daylilly Helaman.

So, while lounging in the pergola surrounded by this overwhelming beauty, it suddenly occurred to me that I was going to have some fun.
I called down the Wine Goddess from on high (she was reading on the upper patio) and I told her we were going to p...

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Portugal’s authentic wines of Alentejo

By Jim Campanini, The Wine Novice

Did you know the people of Portugal eat more seafood per capita than any other European, barring the Icelanders?

So it’s only natural that the Portuguese know the best wines to drink with their spicy shrimp tapas and bacalhau (salted cod) dishes.

Of course, the famous cuisine, influenced by centuries of the comings and goings of the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Spanish and Brazilians, goes well beyond seafood. How can anyone pass up caldo verde soup, an all-season delight made with potato, shredded collard greens and chunks of chourico (a spicy native sausage)?

Tiago Caravana, an agronomist, is a regional representative for Alentejo wines.

Or how about Portuguese steak, bife, which is a slice of fried beef or pork served in a wine-based sauce with fried potat...

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Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc rises to a ‘Signature’ station

By Jim Campanini
Every once in a while I feel the urge for a lip-smacking,
grapefruit-driven, crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It started several years ago when the Wine Goddess — my wife Mary Lee — and I took a spectacular fall trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Guess what we drank with our oysters, which were the most impeccably Oysters Rockefellerwe’ve ever tasted? Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, NewZealand.

(Suggestion: If you ever get to Halifax, go to The Press Gang Restaurant & Oyster Bar on Prince Street. The oysters are delivered
fresh daily from 12 local farms. The friendly place features a nice wine menu too.)
There’s nothing like hitting upon a perfect food-wine pairing, and Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc is a go-to drink with shellfish, lobster, seafood app...

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Lacryma Christi may just have you weeping for joy

Terra Mia’s Lacryma Christi has a distinctive label and story to tell.

Just the name – Terra Mia’s Lacryma Christi di Vesuvio Bianco – is enough to intrigue a curious wine drinker to investigate what’s in the bottle. So begins today’s journey into a truly unique white wine from the Italian province of Campania.

According to archaeologists who analyzed residue left on ancient casks, Lacryma Christi comes closest to matching the version of wine drunk by the ancient Romans who lived around the still active volcano Mt. Vesuvius, which overlooks the Bay of Naples.

Lacryma Christi, which means the “tears of Christ”, was a very prized wine in the Middle Ages.  Iit still  lives up to its reputation today although few non-Italians know about it.

Centuries ago, the Romans exported it throughout th...

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Don’t blush to judgment with rosé

A friend asked me why I liked to drink rosé. This was back during Christmas season. He said rosé is a “summer wine.”

I laughed. “Think pink when you drink,” I replied.

Then I explained that rosé has actually become a year-round dry, refreshing wine. It’s a great for as a dinner aperitif, party sipper, or to finish a long day with a vibrant pick-me-up.

But my real affinity for rosé is that it’s not my father’s — or mother’s — sweet White Zinfandel of the 1970s and 1980s.

Naturally, tastes change. Sweet, “blush” Zinfandel wines still sell — 17.2 million cases in 2016 in the United States alone — but total sales are declining each year.

Sales of dry and drier rosés, on the other hand, are soaring. Imports from France, particularly from Provence, are up 44 percent in the U.S...

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Making a case for fabulous Italian wine at $8.11 a bottle

I went on a shopping trip last weekend to New Hampshire with the Wine Butler — my good friend and former Sun photographer Mike Pigeon — to see if we could cash in on a $25 discount coupon published in this newspaper and a 15 percent sale on Italian wines.

We did.

We purchased 13 bottles of red wine that regularly priced at $304.87.

We paid $196.72 — a savings of $108.15.

On a dollar-cost average basis, we ended up paying $15.13 per bottle, definitely the sweet spot of my price range.

The true value was in the wines we secured.

A Volpaia Chianti Classico rated 92 points by Wine Spectator for $16...

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Three unique wines that will change your mind about California

It’s not true that all California Chardonnay tastes the same. In fact, I’m going to suggest several white wines from different appellations to prove that vineyard locations do matter..

While I prefer unoaked Chardonnay (Chablis from France), my all-time favorite Chadonnays are from California. I can always count on Chateau Montelena ($40) and Rombauer ($36.99) to put me in a good mood on the special-occasion wines when I drink these premium wines.

But for everyday patio sipping with friends, California offers great value in the $12 to $25 range. I’ve written previously about Michael David’s Chardonnay from Lodi ($15.99), Au Contraire ($16.99), True Myth ($13.99), Hess Select ($13.99), Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay ($10.99), Stag’s Leap ($18.99) and others.

I’m adding two mo...

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A lesson in Chianti Classico from a Wine Novice

Chianti Classico 101. That’s this week’s lesson. Lesson? Well, I received notification from the Wine Scholar Guild in Washington, D.C., that I passed my final exam, taken March 31, and I am now a certified Italian Wine Scholar. My diploma arrived in the mail two weeks ago.

Nearly 18 months of class work, online study and tasting wines are over — for now anyway.

I want to thank my instructor and mentor, Jo-Ann Ross of Boston, for all her patient and inspirational instruction on the art and science of Italian viticulture. Of course, the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, deserves ultimate credit for lending me her support and palate when most needed.

So back to the lesson.

I fell in love with Chianti Classico during my studies.

It’s an intriguing red wine from central Tuscany whose history date...

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Want good and inexpensive wine? Rhone Valley is right up your alley

Some of the most impressive and wallet-friendly wines arriving in America these days are coming from vineyards in southern France’s Rhone Valley. There’s a reason: The location and conditions are exceptional for growing Grenache, Syrah and Mouvedre — the backbone varieties of the famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape red blend that is lusciously captivating.

Les Dauphins winery isn’t going to sell you a $90 bottle of wine. It would like to, but that’s not the winery’s style. It produces quality Rhone blends that you can buy by the case and without worrying about interest payments accumulating on your credit card.

Its red and white blends for the 2016 vintage year are hitting store shelves now. These are fresh wines and best consumed within a year of their release — which is now.

Les Dauphins is a big...

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