Category Red wines

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 ...
Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

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...

Read More

Wine Novice will make a wine expert out of you

By Jim Campanini

Can white wine be made from red grapes?

What is the difference between oaked and unoaked Chardonnay?

How do I know what grapes are used in a bottle of French Sancerre?

If you want to learn the answers to these questions, and step up your wine-tasting skills, I’ll be teaching two fun courses in April in Middlesex Community College’s Adult Continuing Education program.

These aren’t just your regular — ahem — wine classes. The Wine Novice wanted elegance and comfort for his select students, and Middlesex officials have obliged with a most wonderful setting — the stylish Nesmith House on Andover Street in Lowell. Yes, white tablecloths, please, and bright, glimmering wine glasses.

There are two separate two-hour classes on white and red wines, respectively, each presented one...

Read More

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...

Read More

Biondi-Santi Brunello: Sangiovese at its best

Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino has a rich history in Italian viticulture.

Sangiovese is the most widely planted red grape in Italy and also among the most versatile.

It reigns supreme in Tuscany, where sangiovese (translation: blood of Jove or Jupiter) is the primary grape for four distinctly incredible wines: Chianti, Chianti Classico, Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile Montepulciano (not to be confused with the southern Italian varietal and wine Montepuciano D’Abruzzi).
Sangiovese is also used to craft iconic Super Tuscan wines, mostly from Bolgheri, where it is blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah.

So how can the same grape produce uniquely, different tasting wines?

It’s all in the varietal’s multiple clones and, of course, the terroir (land, soils, cl...

Read More