Category Italian

Rise and sparkle with a bubbly wine

Rise and wine!

Golden bubbles by the thousands.

It’s a time to let the world sparkle with bubbly love and affection.

Let’s break out the Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco, American sparkling wines and French champagne.

To me, Valentine’s Day is every day when it comes to sparkling wine. I don’t wait for a special occasion to enjoy their silky elegance and neither should you. Here’s my rundown:

Cava represents one of the best values among sparkling wines. This Spanish bubbly is made just like French champagne with two fermentations, the second in bottle, which creates tons of tiny, bursting bubbles and a creamy, distinctive mousse. The biggest difference is the grapes...

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A simple feast and Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano

By Jim Campanini

The meal was simple and superb – mussels, shrimp, spaghetti, and spicy pasta sauce sprinkled with parmesan cheese. The Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, cooked it in 15 minutes, about the time it takes me to shave in the morning.

A simple surprise: Mussels, shrimp and spaghetti in a red tomato sauce.

The WG never ceases to amaze me. After a long day of looking at her laptop computer screen and charting the progress of her new seedlings growing throughout the house, she just jumps up, grabs a pot or pan, and creates gustatory miracles.

While I contribute a green salad now and then, my primary role is serving as sommelier and selecting the wine – giving all due consideration to WG’s admirable talent to use herbs and spices to produce compelling flavors in the food.

Le Pupille ...

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From Bolgheri to Verona, Allegrini wines shine with flavor

RICH, VIBRANT colors of Valpolicella: Allegrini’s Palazzo Delle Torre, La Grola, and Amarone.

AMBASSADOR OF AMARONE Marilisa Allegrini tells writer Jim Campanini that Allegrini Amarone is a wine to be enjoyed with food, even barbecue.

REDS AND WHITE: Allegrini’s Amarone, La Grola, and Palazzo Delle Torre from Valpolicella and the Solosole Vermentino from Bolgheri.

By Jm Campanini

jcampanini@comcast.net

Mention the name Allegrini and two things quickly come to mind: voluptuous Valpolicella and lovely Verona, an enchanting place not far from Venice where the romantic story of star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Marilisa Allegrini expressed her vision for Bolgheri white wine in Solosole Vermentino.

But there is another “V” word in...

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You read it first here: Wines that made a hit in 2018

By Jim Campanini

jcampanini@comcast.net

It’s great to be back and the new year promises to be very exciting in the wine world.

A majority of the 2012 Brunello di Montalcino Riservas, now aged for more than 60 months, should be coming to market as well as other long-lived wines that will be sold to consumers for the first time.

Michele Chiarlo Cipressi Nizza 2015 topped Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 List of 2018.

The vintage years of 2015, 2016, and 2017 were pretty good in most parts of the world, so there’s nothing to fear when purchasing a fresh, young red or white. Remember, nearly 98 percent of the world’s wines produced in any one year should be consumed right away or within one or two years...

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These wine novices in a class of their own

Students in Jim Campanini’s wine class listen as the “Wine Novice” talks about his passion. COURTESY PHOTO

The Nesmith House was glamorous and full of life for the first class of “Vino Rosso: The Incomparable Red Wines of Northern Italy.” Nineteen enthusiastic oenophiles met Thursday in Lowell to learn about the four pillars of prestigious Italian wine – Super Tuscan, Chianti, Barolo and Brunello – from the Piemonte and Toscana regions. We also discussed the top red wine of the Veneto – Amarone della Valpolicella – which is one of my favorites.  My “students” sampled seven wines which were paired with the Wine Goddess’ small plates of Italian treasures, including baked eggplant parmigiana and meatballs stuffed with spinach, mozzarella and Vidalia onions.

The 2-hour evening came to a sweet conclusion when students toasted their success – each had to pass a 10-question final exam – with a glass of Vin Santo di Chianti Classico, a decadent dessert wine made from native Trebbiano Toscana and Malvasia Bianca grapes. As it that wasn’t enough, the Wine Goddess served homemade dried cherry and almond biscotti to resounding applause.

So, as the Italians would say, we had some serious fun.

The group asked some really good questions and amazed me with their keen senses of smell and taste. Most were spot on in deducing the basic aromatic and flavor profiles of the wines, and didn’t hesitate to delve deeper into the complex layers when presented with more structured, powerful bottlings. I was proud that they learned so well.

Jim Campanini teaches a wine class at the Nesmith House in Lowell. COURTESY PHOTO

For those who were shut out of this first class, a second has been added for Thursday, Nov. 8 at the same location. Contact Middlesex Community College to register, or go on the school’s website.

I want to congratulate my students for their attentiveness, energy, and support. We couldn’t develop elegant wine education programs like this without your help. And the same goes for MCC and its staff, which brought this program to life and continues to support it with its own resources, including the fabulous Nesmith House location. This was our third wine class collaboration since last year, and we’re planning two special programs in the spring of 2019 – one on sparkling wines and the other on the ancient volcanic wines of southern Italy. Nero D’Avola, Nerello Mascarelli and Taurasi are just a few that come to mind.

To show you that my students command the utmost respect, here are several exam questions they learned to master. If you don’t know the answer, you should take the class. Salute!

Italian Red Wine Class Final Exam

Instructor: Jim Campanini, IWS

1.      In which wine region is Sangiovese the “king of all grape varieties”?

a.      Piemonte

b.      Toscana

c.       Veneto

d.      All of the above 

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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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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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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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Part 2: There’s a lavish Brunello for most budgets

La Poderina 2004 is bright, energetic and silky smooth as it celebrates its 14th birthday.

In a recent column, I wrote about the versatility of the sangiovese grape, and focused on the high end Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino from Tenuta Il Greppo in Tuscany. Biondi-Santi is a collector’s wine, selling for high prices. But you don’t have to pay hundreds of dollars to enjoy this exquisite and highly revered Italian red. Listed below are several Brunellos from my own cellar that I’ve cracked open in recent months as they hit their peak drinking window.

La Velona is modest in scope but still very pleasant.

Il Valentiano Brunello Campo di Marzo 2007 – The years have been kind to this middle-tier Brunello, which sold for $24 a bottle  when it hit our shores six years ago...

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