Category White Wines

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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Prosecco Part Two: Cartizze ‘cru’ and 4 DOCG delights

A nice holiday selection of Prosecco Superiore DOCG bottlings. See tasting notes below.

By Jim Campanini

So what’s the difference between Prosecco DOC and Prosecco Superiore DOCG sparkling wines?

Location, location, location. And a few more production details.
The Prosecco DOC classification zone is broader, covering about 44,000
acres under vine in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions
around Treviso.

Prosecco Superiore DOCG zone is much smaller — only 17,000 acres — and runs from Valdobbiadene in the west to Conegliano in the east. This small zone has
the steepest hillsides which form an embroidered network of   sloping vineyards.

Fagher Valdobbiadene Le Colture Brut.

The Belluno Prealps to the north creates annamphitheater effect to shield  vineyards from harsh winter weat...

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Fall deliverables: Washington State wines worth waiting for

November is one of my favorite months of the year, when the cooler temperatures herald my wine club FedEx shipments from Washington State.

I look forward to the latest vintages from Doubleback, Long Shadows Winery and L’Ecole– all from the Walla Walla region.

The wines are unique, limited in quantity, and high in quality. Most are offered exclusively to club members making it rare for any of these wines to turn up on store shelves.

Don’t get the wrong impression. I am not rich. Each wine club has several membership options, and I subscribe to the lowest or middle tier. I get between six and 12 bottles annually from each winery.

So why would I write a column about these wines if they’re not readily available to consumers? Simple. To tell you what you and your friends are missing...

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Italian Chiaretto makes a run at French rosés

wineChiaretto is exclusively an Italian wine phenomenon.

The word refers to a dry Italian rosé made in the beautiful Lake Garda region that straddles the provinces of Lombardia and Veneto.

The chiaretto process dates back to 1896, when lawyer Pompeo Molmenti used knowledge gained in France to delicately press red grapes at his Lake Garda vineyard and quickly vinify the free-run juice in cement vats. The pink-colored wines were light and fresh.

Through the years, area winemakers refined the method with the historic Bardolino red blend (Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara as primary grapes, with up to 15 percent of other local varietals). Their work paid off in 1968, when Bardolino Chiaretto became the first Italian rosatto to earn DOC quality recognition.

Chiaretto winemakers continue to innovate, a...

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Joseph Phelps built up quite a wine-asty

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I had a sip or two of Joseph Phelps Vineyards iconic Insignia a year ago at a wine tasting, and the taste stuck with me for a long time. It’s a beautiful Bordeaux-style red from Napa Valley.

Insignia is selling for $159 for the 2008 vintage up to $259 a bottle for more recent releases. Older vintages regularly fetch big dollars at auction. World-renowned expert Robert Parker Jr. awarded Insignia three perfect 100-point scores for the 1991, 1997 and 2002 vintages.

What I’ve learned about Phelps wines is that they are meticulously crafted from grapes grown in Napa Valley and western Sonoma County near the Pacific Ocean.

bottles

Recently, I sampled two Joseph Phelps Vineyards wines that were more in my price range: the 2015 Chardonnay and the 2014 Pinot Noir from the family’s Freestone vineyards...

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For a road trip, bring a six-pack — of vino

Rosa dei Masi from Italy s Veneto region

Rosa dei Masi from Italy s Veneto region

It’s party pack time, a six-bottle sampler for a weekend getaway or an extended trip to the beach.

In my mind, the key to any good summer road trip includes a rosé, a crisp white wine, and a punchier red varietal or blend.

Andiamo! (Let’s go!)

THE ROSATTOS: There are simple, good rosés, and then there are the complex, intriguing styles that turn happiness into total bliss.

Costaripa Rosamara Chiaretto from the Lake Garda region in Lombardia

Costaripa Rosamara Chiaretto from the Lake Garda region in Lombardia

Two sublime examples are Rosa dei Masi from Italy’s Veneto region and Costaripa Rosamara Chiaretto from the Lake Garda region in Lombardia. (Both are available for less than $15 in New Hampshire.)

The Masi company is one of Italy’s leading wine innovators as well as producer of the prestigious Costasera Amarone...

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Taster’s Choice: Four wines to kick start summer

Montes Cherub Rosé 2016, Chile

Montes Cherub Rosé 2016, Chile

The Mill City Oenophiles Club made its spring debut earlier this month, sampling an impressive array of five summer wines from Argentina, Chile and Italy’s Venezia Giulia region.

Four of the wines — two rosés, a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Sauvignon — are discussed in this article. The fifth wine tasted, a Sauvignon Blanc, proved to be such an outlier with this grouping that it will be discussed in a later column dealing with the varietal.

Everyone’s palate is different. We all have unique preferences, so just because one person might be cool to a certain bottling doesn’t mean the wine is lacking in quality.

As tasters — or consumers — gain experience and knowledge, they discover and appreciate the “markers” that make up a well-crafted wine...

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More to Cycles Gladiator than a sexy label

The label for Cycles Gladiator Chardonnay is from a bicycle ad poster created in Paris in 1895 to attract women buyers. In 2009, the Alabama Beverage Control Board banned the label — and the wine — from sale because of its "immodest" characterization.

The label for Cycles Gladiator Chardonnay is from a bicycle ad poster created in Paris in 1895 to attract women buyers. In 2009, the Alabama Beverage Control Board banned the label — and the wine — from sale because of its “immodest” characterization.

California’s Central Coast wine-growing region isn’t as well known to the general public as Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley, but true oenophiles know this six-county zone is producing very exciting wines at affordable prices.

Vineyards stretch from Santa Barbara County in the south to San Francisco Bay in the north...

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Frankly, Finger Lakes is wine heaven

The Dr. Konstantin Frank winery in upstate New York, one of the most amazing grape-growing areas in America.

The Dr. Konstantin Frank winery in upstate New York, one of the most amazing grape-growing areas in America.

When you see the name Dr. Konstantin Frank on a wine label, it represents an American success story derived from the Ukrainian immigrant who used his brains and brawn to turn the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York into one of the most amazing grape-growing areas in America.

For years, viticulturists struggled to grow high-quality grapes in the five-lake region. They blamed it on the cold weather and a short growing season that kept grapes — especially red varietals — from ripening fully.

DrEnter Dr. Frank, a professor of plant sciences with a Ph.D. in viticulture, who arrived in the United States in 1951 and later took a job at Cornell University.

Dr...

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5 wines to cure your spring fever

I’ve got spring fever for rosé and lighter white and red wines.

Lately, I’ve been sampling a bunch with the Wine Goddess, my wife Mary Lee, and here are five you should consider for your patio drinking pleasure. Most of these wines can be found in fine wine stores throughout the area and Greater Boston.

Ruffino Sparkling RosNV, Italy, $15

Ruffino Sparkling RosNV, Italy, $15

Ruffino Sparkling Rosé NV, Italy, $15 — This is one of the most exciting sparklers I’ve tasted so far this year (of course, it’s still early in the season). It combines the Glera grape, the foundation for the Veneto’s famous Prosecco wine, and small amounts of Pinot Noir. Both grapes are fermented separately as still wines and then combined in pressurized steel tanks...

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