One of the great things about wine is that there's a new region to learn about almost daily. The most recent that comes to mind is Montecucco, a newly designated region in Southern Tuscany. It’s near the famed DOCG Brunello di Montalcino, but the wines are yet to have anywhere near the same notoriety. They certainly don't even come close as far as price, but the flavor and the quality are outstanding. That fact was brought home with extreme clarity during a recent US tour by some of the region's leaders. One of the wines tasted was Colle Massari Poggio Lombrone Sangiovese Riserva 2015 ($24). Colle Massari is the largest and most important estate in the region. Although new to the prestigious DOCG quality designation, the region has been producing wines since the time of the Etruscans in the 8th century and, more specifically, by the Cistercian Monks. Maria Iris Bertarelli and Claudio Tipa purchased the vineyard in 1998 and made it a showplace for both the winemaking and eno-tourism trades of the region. The Riserva comes from the Poggio Lombrone, which is the oldest Sangiovese vineyard on the estate. The winery's location in the foothills of the dormant volcano Monte Amiata gives it the unique advantage of mineral rich clay and sand soils and a microclimate that benefits from both sea breezes and the protective mantle of the mountain.
Chicago's Taylor Townsend easily won her opening round Qualifying Match against Serbia's Natalija Kostic in Day One of the US Open Qualifying which also coincides with an expanded Fan Week, Aug. 19-25 at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center. Fans get to come to the US Open free of charge and watch the 128 men and 128 women who are competing for slots in the Main Draw, which begins on Monday Aug. 26. Besides seeing the Qualifying Matches, fans get to see the world's top players up close and personal in featured practices. Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, Gael Monfils and Sloane Stephens are just a few of the stars that will blaze across the courts at Arthur Ashe and Louis Armstrong stadiums to the delight of their fans.
Gamy is the famous grape of the Beaujolais in France. A variety of grape that offers fresh, red-fruit taste and hints of licorice and candied cherries, it delivers a delightful blend of concentrated fruit flavors without being heavy. That makes it perfect for lighter, summery foods and perfectly delicious served lightly chilled. In fact, its preferred that way. In France, Gamay's homeland is in the Beaujolais. Nowhere is it more beautifully expressed than at the Domaine Du Mont Verrier.
Finish the summer grilling season in high style by indulging in one of the best Old Vine Zinfandels to come out of California, 2016 Seghesio Family Vineyard Old Vine Zinfandel. Created from vines that average 70 years old, the wine has a distinctive briarly character that bristles with the flavors of tart raspberry or rhubarb pie with baking spice Graham cracker crust thanks to graoe stick cloned f4om century old vines in the Alexander and Dry Creek Valley.
The Touraine is a sub-area in the Loire Valley of France. The region has been given little notice until recently. As prices skyrocket in other, more recognized regions such as the Beaujolais and Burgundy, the search is on for more reasonably priced, yet equally performing wine regions. The Loire Valley stands up to any comparisons in terms of quality, concentration of winemaking skill and superb flavor.
New to the United States are a slew of deliciously fruity wines from southern Portugal's Alentejo region. The wines are all priced in the $12 to $20 range and offer outstanding taste and versatility relative to their modest price They're great for serving anytime or with almost anything that might wind up on your summertime buffet. The Portuguese like their neighbors in Spain are famous for noshing at all times of day They are never without a small plate of olives or a slice of cured salumi meat or a local cheese or one of their absolute favorites blood sausages. Don’t let the latter description scare you they’re delicious! White wines are usually a light crisp Sauvignon Blanc fermented and aged entirely in the tank and served well chilled to accentuate its fresh taste. Try it with a local favorite fresh cooked great northern beans drenched in olive oil fresh parsley and garlic, sort of a Portuguese bean salad. The Red wines are usually 100 percent of the local Touriga Nacional grape or a blend with several other local grapes like Avarinho (I called it Al Pacino like the actor, just to make it easy to remember. Nobody laughed at my little joke. Such a pity. I thought I was being so clever).
Among the many new wines appearing on shelves in fine wine shops and on wine lists in savvy restaurants around the country are the wines of the Campania region of Italy, which is situated along the southwestern coast of Italy near the capital city of Naples. It's one of the oldest wine growing regions of Italy dating back to the Greeks who first cultivated grapes there in the 8th century B.C. It became part of the Roman Empire when the Etruscans incorporated it and began cultivating wine in the 4th century B.C. After that, the land became subject to an alphabet soup of overlords, including the Visigoths (yes, there were such people outside of the old Prince Valiant comic strips), Lombards, Byzantines, Normans, Spanish, Austrians and French. The region finally became part of the Italian unification of the late 19th century, a definite turning point. The story of Campania wines reads like the libretto of an Italian opera. Born of tragedy, the grapes are nurtured in the mineral rich volcanic soils left behind by the cataclysmic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvio, which destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD. The wines remain unchanged to this day, made primarily from the indigenous grapes of the time, which were rendered free of the Phylloxera virus, which destroyed the majority of the indigenous grapes in all of Europe because the virus can't survive in ash. Thus, these local varietals, with names that sing out like a Neapolitan opera, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio (the tears of Christ of Vesuvio), Campi Flegrei, Ischia and Capri DOCs., along with Falanghia and Galluccio, another primary DOC, have survived to be nurtured today. Add in the names of Greco di Tufo and Fiano, Biancolella, Forastera, Olivella and Coda di Volpe, named for their shapes, the olive and fox's tail respectively, and you have a thumbnail sketch of the rich and varied wines that account for these food-friendly wines. Aspirino is the foundation of the regions local sparkling wine, Asprinio di Aversa. It’s a refreshing, lighthearted aperitif that literally dances on the tongue, much like the feel of pronouncing its name.
Zinfandel is the most American of all grapes and a perfect choice to bring to the family barbecue for a Fourth of July celebration. Many families will be gathering around the grill to celebrate the birth of our nation and there's no more perfect wine to do that than a glass of hearty Zinfandel. The grape first came into prominence during the California Gold Rush. Originally, it was believed to have come from Italy, where it was related to the Primitivo grape. Later research proved otherwise and affirmed that the grape may have originated in Croatia and was brought to the United States as a gift to certain horticulturalists in Long Island.
Newport Jazz Festival 2019 is pulling out all the stops to ensure that this year's festival is the greatest ever. Celebrate under the stars at Newport's famed International Tennis Hall of Fame with TV personality and Grammy-winning Louisiana Roots musician Jon Batiste and Friends at 8pm, Friday August 2. Earlier that day, jazz legend Herbie Hancock stars on the festival's opening day performances at Fort Adams. The Oscar and Grammy-winning jazz icon will also partner with festival Artistic Director Christian McBride and Vinnie Colaiouta for a Special Performance Saturday, August 3, also at the festival's Fort Adams venue. As if that weren't enough to entice music lovers to jam the feast's online ticket office, the hurricane force saxophone whirlwind Kamasi Washington brings his musical gravity defying ensemble to the Fort Adams stage on Saturday as well. Washington's 2015 album The Epic won him the inaugural American Music Prize. He is currently scheduled to make his first appearance as a film director at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival next January, collaborating with new wave film directors Bradford Young, Jenn Nkiru, Terrence Nance and Marc Thomas in the film As Told To G/D Thyself, inspired by his genre bending 2018 album Heaven and Earth. Speaking of genre bending, perhaps one of the biggest all-around stars of all time, Chicago's very own Common will break down all barriers between music, spoken word and performance art in his appearance at Fort Adams Sunday, August 4. The Academy Award, Golden Globe, Emmy and Grammy-winning artist and actor promises to bring a diverse set to the Newport stage that will further cement his image as one of the most impactful performers of our time.
Chablis is one of the most popular of all French wines and the most historic. Dating back thousands of years, the name goes back to the time of the Celts, who named the region Cab-for house, and Leya-near the woods. Cabins dating to the time of the Gauls show an early human presence. It was the Romans who began winemaking. The Cisterian monks of the 12th century were responsible for production of the wine on a grand scale, making Chablis wine a fixture on the tables of French Kings and the landed gentry of Flanders and Britain. Chablis quickly became a global phenomenon.