Category General Wine

Taste your way to an education in Italian wines (like I did)

By Jim Campanini
If you are truly interested in developing your global wine acumen, there’s no better way to start than with the Wine Scholar Guild’s Italian Wine Scholar program that begins Saturday, Oct. 13.
My mentor , Jo-Ann Ross, will be teaching Unit 1 on Northern Italian wines, which covers Piedmont, Trentino, Alto Adige and Val
D’Aosta.
I began my Italian studies with this class two years ago, and it was exceptional. I met wonderful people in the wine trade, restaurant owners and chefs, sommeliers, and young and older professionals who love wine.
We studied the different Italian regions — their customs and history — and learned about the unique native grapes and distinctive wine-making styles that have given Italy top-tier status with other global producers ...
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Doors reopened, Wine ConneXtion offers Spanish samples

Sam Messina, co-owner of The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, hosts a sampling Saturday.

By Jim Campanini, The Wine Novice

Now here’s a treat. The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover is featuring wines from Spain this Saturday, from 1 to 4 p.m. If you like moderate- to full-bodied and spicy wines, it’s worth the trip to 117 Main St.

Sam and Tina Messina, the store’s co-owners, have had a rough few days and would love to see some friendly and smiling faces. Last week’s Columbia Gas pipeline explosions, which rocked Lawrence, North Andover and Andover, forced a four-day shutdown of the popular wine store. Emergency personnel and safety workers used the First and Main plaza as a staging area to aid blast victims and evacuate homes. In fact, Tina Messina was forced to evacuate...

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Concha y Toro spices up the season with Camenere

Casillero del Diablo (The Devil’s Cellar) is a low-cost, quality introduction to Camenere.

Did you feel that evening chill in the air this past week? Yes, it’s a sign that autumn is fast approaching and that like the changing seasons, it’s time to make a move to the red wine cellar.

To many Cabernet Sauvignon drinkers, there’s really no need to panic. You can drink that big, bold heavenly grape all year round with steaks and barbecue and never miss a beat.

For me, however, I’m out for something that settles in nicely, like a blanket by the firepit with the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, and two glasses of Chilean Camenere. Here’s a native grape from Bordeaux’s Medoc region where it is used as a  as a second fiddle blending partner to Cabernet Sauvignon and sometimes Merlot...

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Six wines (other than Chardonnay) to perk up the palate

Giesen Sauvignon Blanc features rich and vivid grapefruit and tangerine traits.

If you’re suffering from summer Chardonnay overload, here are few white wines — and new vareitals —  that can pep up the palate for autumn.

Pieropan Soave Classico is a gem from the Veneto region.

• Pieropan Soave Classico 2016, $14.99 — Nino Pieropan’s 50th anniversary vintage is quite a knockout, scoring an outstanding 92 point rating from Wine Enthusiast magazine. For less than $15 a bottle at The Wine ConneXtion in North Andover, it’s an outstanding buy.
Soave is made principally from  the native Garganega grape that excels in the Veneto region. Pieropan’s vineyards are located in an historic zone high atop a walled-in  village outside Verona...

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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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