Category Red wines

Zoning in on Bobby Zohn’s 90-point wine specials

    Bobby ‘BZ’ Zohn pours from his 90-point wine list at the Wine ConneXtion.

By Jim Campanini

jcampanini@comcast.net

Bobby “BZ” Zohn was back in North Andover last weekend at the Wine ConneXtion, pouring from his list of “90 points and above” wines based on ratings received from Wine Enthusiast and Decanter magazines and top-flight reviewers James Suckling and Robert Parker.

Like snowflakes, Zohn’s events are never two the same. They’re filled with lively, intelligent banter, fun facts on wine trends, delivered in Zohn’s unassuming and friendly manner.For years he’s been a great ambassador for Martignetti Companies, where his title is listed as “Connoisseur Sales Representative”...

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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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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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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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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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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...

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