Vincenzo Abbruzzese of Valdicava video

It's no surprise that our Los Angeles-based California Sales Manager Adam Krieger happens to double as an oenophilic filmmaker - and here is a video he and Vincenzo have created, of Valdicava's mission.


Roots, grappa, reggae: Berta Grappa revisited.

Have been meaning to share this, Enrico Berta with the Unknown Chef on East Village Radio. Can be found at their Archive here, under June 18, 2010.

Grappa + ingenious!!



Vinitaly Day Five, Monday - the home stretch.

I can admit I overdid it with the Flaccianello at dinner last night. But it’s just as likely that the wear and tear that has transpired over these past fours days has finally gotten to me, as we approach the last day. So groggy I’m physically slow, when my brother insists he ‘passed’ me his glasses yesterday, I have no choice but to scramble through backpack, backseat, clueless. He weaves us through traffic one-handed, shielding his eyes from the merciless sun, and scrambles me up even further.

Dad comes to the rescue with the executive decision that what we all really could use is a second cappuccino. We stop at a local bar, the glasses re-materialize, and we are back on track, wedged in the carpet of cars at the Verona off-ramp. And so, when we next realize we’ve misplaced our final set of entry tickets, I’m better prepared to again scramble, this time through the glove compartment.

But when Dad suggests taking a look in the back seat, which by now I’ve gotten to know far too well during the great sunglass hunt - finally I throw my hands in the air. Thankfully, Bernardo Barberani comes to our rescue, and in no time we are back on track. Lucky today is only a half-day, considering all these lost-and-found hi-jinx.

Podere Sapaio’s stand is of terrific design, modern yet with whimsy, as clever as the quotes sketched in chalk on the blackboard-painted walls. With Massimo, we sample the intensity, finesse, and clarity of the Sapaio ’07, and I fall for the velvet richness of the Volpolo 08. These are wines are nothing short of terrific, and prove the area’s (Bolgheri) capabilities when it comes to producing great wines of a global caliber.

At Fontodi, we sample the Vigna del Sorbo ’07, which at this point is two weeks from bottling. Giovanni Manetti describes the ’07 vintage as having softer tannins than the Sorbo ’06, while being equally evocative. The Casa Via Syrah ’07 reflects elegance, a finesse that is backed by power and strength. According to Giovanni, while the ’06 vintage may be longer lived, the ’07 can be considered far more approachable, with a definitive silkiness to the palate.

On our way to Brigaldara’s stand, we cross through pavilions filled with acres of stands. Many are by now half empty, which amplifies the true vastness of the space. These are buildings haven’t seen the likes of until today, even after four days of serious hoofing.

I come to the realization not only of just how vast this event is, but also how vast is the entire Italian wine market. Humbled, I ask my Dad what the percentage of good wine to not-so-great wine might be, both at Vinitaly and at large. With barely a pause, he replies, “85% is crap. There truly is a glut on the market.” I say a silent prayer to the wine gods, thanking them yet again for just how lucky I’ve been to have grown up only drinking truly great wine, Italian-style.

And at Brigaldara, this is confirmed by just how truly great their portfolio is, as I get to sample it in full this time, highlights being the Dindarella Rosato ’09; the Amarone Classico ‘06, the Amarone Casa Vecie ‘05, and their Recioto della Valpolicella ‘07.

It is impossible to ignore the end, as a not-entirely subtle exodus makes it’s way for the doors. Many the well-attired man whizzes by, each cutting off the next, all with carts crammed full with promo materials, wine cases, stand-parts and the odd object. We stop off at the Sant’Elena kiosk, where my bro has been working hard every day with Maurizio. Dom likens the mayhem to what we know back in the states as college-move out day. He’d warned me earlier, “At the end of the day is when they steal bottles.” Clearly, he’s on the inside track.

And so, we too made our way out, and ultimately, back to America. By now you must be wondering, did we get away with the free parking on those last two days? I can’t tell you: we’re keeping this a secret, with hopes it just might work again next year…

A la salute!



Vinitaly Day Four, Sunday, Part Two

Next, at Barberani, Bernardo presented their Castagnolo Secco ’09, Polago ’08, and the Foresco ’07.

The Polvento ’05, Rosso Lago di Corbara DOC, is terrific, and the label – an artist’s rendering of their hills – is truly beautiful. We sampled their new Moscato ’09, along with the Calcaia ’05, and the Villa Monticelli Moscato Passito ’06. I found myself most struck by their Polago and Calcaia, and considering how this covers their entire spectrum, from table red to precious dessert, I think this speaks volumes as to how high in quality all of their products are.

Next, we sampled the newest releases of Canalicchio di Sopra, the Rosso 2008, and the Brunello ’06, and discussed with Federico their solid potential. At Feudo Disisa, we sampled the Grillo ’09, Chara (a white of Cararratto lucido and Insolia) ’09, Vuaria ‘07 (their Nero d’Avola cru), Nero d’Avola ‘08, the Adhara Syrah, Tornamira (of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah), Grillo ’06. With their Krysos, a dessert wine of Grillo, we enjoyed chocolates made with Krysos by a local chocolatier.

At Caruso & Minini, we sampled the Timpune (Grillo) ’09, Cutaja (Nero d’Avola) ’08, and their new Delia Nivolelli ’07, a Syrah Riserva. ‘Devia Nivolelli’ is the name of their DOC of Marsala, and the wine is aged for 24 months in french tonneaux, then another six in bottle.

By four o’clock we were still operating with the sleekness of a leopard, weaving around the masses of flushed-face locals, it being Sunday and all. Our weekday pace was no match for the weekender crowds, and so we threw in the towel – but only to make it in time for an amazing dinner with Giovanni Manetti and his staff at Fontodi. Here, someone has pinned the damage on my brother, with the remnants of a classic bistecca fiorentina. I believe Dom ordered the chicken.


Vinitaly Day Four, Sunday, Part One

Comfort shoes, flat shoes, cuter heels that are somehow still comfy: despite my arsenal of competent footware, by today my feet are feeling the mileage. With toes crunched up like pretzel nuggets, I manage to shake the tension from my jaw, let go of all stops, and finally – to just go along with the flow.

Every day on the path in we pass a slew of street vendors who mostly sell food (though my brother did dig us up some fetching anti-blood alcohol monitoring tees). Today we pause to snap pics with the vendors we’ve greeted along the way, who by now have become old pals (note the kind gesture in the shadows behind my bro).

With this, Amarone seemed a perfectly normal start to the day, as we met with Montefaustino and sampled their ’05 vintage.

And from here, we segued into a portfolio tasting of the lovely whites H.Lun with grace. We sampled their Pinot Grigio ’09, Sauvignon ’09, and their stellar Sanbichler Cuvee Bianco’09 (40% Pinot Bianco, 40% Chardonnay, 15% Sauvignon, 5% Riesling).

As far as my tastes go, I particularly enjoyed their Sandbichler Sauvignon Blanc, and learned how the winery’s varied terrains and growing altitudes changes the character of the wines across their line. Their Gewurtztraminer ’09, their Passito Sandbichler (of Moscato Giallo, Sauvignon and Riesling), and their Goldmuskateller (Moscato Giallo) were all outstanding, as was the ’09 Lagrein.