Tag Archives: Italian wine

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Lagrein

19 Sep

It’s been some time since my last “¡Mucho Gusto!,” so today I’d like you to meet Lagrein. If you’re new to Señorita Vino, ¡Mucho Gusto! is an ongoing series of posts about a specific varietal wine. And if you don’t speak the language of Cervantes, mucho gusto translates as “nice to meet you.”

I first tasted Lagrein with one of my very first wine instructors, an Italian man who very promptly won the hearts, minds and libidos of all the single ladies in the class. One student literally fell for him, as in she lost her balance while speaking to him and landed in an undignified pile at his feet. True story. And yes, it was as embarrassing to watch as it sounds. I suspect there was vino involved, but who am I to judge?

You, on the other hand, are welcome to judge the merits of Lagrein. So without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s Lagrein!

Lagrein

 

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Lagrein (pronounced la-GRINE)

MY ROOTS: Lagrein is a red wine from the predominantly German-speaking Alto Adige, the northernmost part of Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region and just a stone’s throw from Austria. Alto Adige is sometimes referred to as Südtirol, which is German for South Tyrol.

The name “Lagrein” is believed to have come from the Lagarina valley in Trentino. Its earliest mention dates back to the 1600s, when it was noted in the records kept by Benedictine monks from a monastery in Alto Adige. Today, Lagrein is grown on a mere 750 acres in Alto Adige. DNA testing shows that Lagrein is related to Teroldego, an ancient grape variety from Trentino.

ALL ABOUT ME: Lagrein is bold and flavorful. Young winemakers are experimenting with different styles, so you can find Lagreins with tannins that won’t tear up your palate. One of the first things you’ll notice when you pour a glass is the brilliant shade of violet. You’ll get blackberry, plum and dark chocolate aromas with earthy minerality. You’ll also detect some crisp acidity, which offsets the chewy tannins a bit.

Note that “Lagrein Scuro” or “Lagrein Dunkel,” which mean “dark Lagrein,” are the terms used to distinguish red Lagrein from the rosé version, which is called “Lagrein Rosato” or “Lagrein Kretzer.”

FOODS I LOVE: The firm tannins in Lagrein make this a great match for meaty dishes. Think New York steak, carnitas, beef stew, prosciutto, wild boar. It’s nice with aged cheeses, too.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: You can find Lagrein for anywhere from $13-$50 a bottle. Here are some you may want to try: 2011 J. Hofstatter Lagrein Alto Adige (this one received 88 points from Wine Spectator, if you’re into ratings); 2011 Erste e Neue Lagrein; 2010 Cantina Zterlan “Gries” Lagrein.

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Soave

4 Apr

Feliz Friday, beautiful people! I bet you didn’t know that helping Señorita Vino ace her WSET Level III Advanced exam was on your to-do list today. I’m scrambling to learn my Italian wines this weekend, and writing this month’s ¡Mucho Gusto! post is actually helping me organize my thoughts on Soave, Italy’s most important white wine.

So sit back and pour yourself a refreshing glass of Soave tonight.  Your friends will be impressed with your knowledge, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to use you as my virtual study group. ¡Salud!

This grapes used in this Soave Classico were grown in 100 percent volcanic soil.

This grapes used in this Soave Classico were grown in 100 percent volcanic soil.

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Soave is an Italian white wine made from the Garganega grape.

MY ROOTS: Soave is the name of a zone in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. In 1968, Soave was given a DOC designation, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata. A DOC means that those wines are considered high quality under European wine laws. As for the grape itself, it is mentioned as early as 1304 in the works of the Italian Petrus Crescentiis, perhaps the world’s first wine writer. Grapes grown in the hillside regions of Soave’s Classico zone are said to produce the highest quality wines.

ALL ABOUT ME: Soave DOC is a dry white wine. It should be noted that for a while, Soave was considered pretty “meh.” That changed in 2002 with various DOCG designations. In essence, DOCG grants “best of the best” status to Italian wines made in that region. So back to Soave…if you’ve got a quality Soave on the palate, you’re going to taste green plums, almonds and a touch of citrus. You’ll also pick up some lovely minerality and chamomile flowers.  Recioto di Soave is made from dried Garganega grapes, so if you’re sipping Recioto, it’s going to be decadently sweet. In a good way, of course.

FOODS I LOVE: Soave is a textbook example of pairing wine with foods from the same region. The Veneto’s eastern boundary is the Adriatic Sea, a reminder that a textbook example of an Italian city, Venice, is part of the Veneto region. Serve Soave with seafood pasta dishes, shellfish, shrimp scampi, and just about any kind of fish. It’s also great with a cheese plate. For a Latin twist, pair it with chupe de camarones (a Peruvian seafood chowder), chicken tamales or menudo.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Soave generally won’t break the bank. The wine pictured above sells for $13.99 but tastes like a more expensive wine. You may see some Soaves in the $30 range, but you’ll find quite a bit in the $15-$17 range. Recommended labels include Roberto Anselmi, Umberto Portinari, Fratelli Pasqua and Inama.

Is there a wine you really want to get to know? Share it in the comments and you may see it in a future ¡Mucho Gusto!

 

 

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Barbaresco

22 Jan

Happy Wednesday, chicas y chicos!

I’m still reveling in the newness of 2014, and in my never-ending quest to bring you snob-free wine knowledge, I’d like to introduce you to ¡Mucho Gusto!, a brand-new feature on Señorita Vino. Well, it’s not literally on me, but you get the picture.

Once or twice a month, I’ll be focusing on a different wine, with a bit of history, flavor and aroma characteristics, pairing ideas and maybe even a recommended label or two. The purpose of this new department is to inspire you to learn about and taste wines you may not typically drink. Some you may have heard of, others not, but I promise you’ll learn something new, even about wines you already drink.

So without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s Barbaresco!

Image

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Barbaresco is a red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape.

MY ROOTS: Barbaresco hails from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. It’s a DOCG wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest quality ranking for Italian wines. Bear in mind that California, Chile and Mexico also make wine from the Nebbiolo grape, but the wine can only be called Barbaresco if it’s produced in designated districts in Italy’s Piedmont region.

ALL ABOUT ME: Barbaresco is a dry wine known for having softer tannins than its “cousin,” Barolo, an Italian wine also made from Nebbiolo grapes. For this reason, Barbaresco is considered by some to be easier to drink than Barolo. Because the wine is aged in wood for a maximum of two years, you may smell cedar or oak. Barbaresco has lush berry and plum aromas, along with floral notes of violet and spices such as vanilla and licorice. This is a full-bodied wine, which means it will feel heavier on the palate and have a higher alcohol content.

FOODS I LOVE: Because of the tannins and body, Barbaresco pairs nicely with the traditional meat and game stews of northwestern Italy. Want a little Latin sabor? Pair it with carne asada, seco de cordero (Peruvian lamb stew), carnitas or roast pork. If you love a good charcuterie plate as much as I do, try it with salami,  mortadella, and if your arteries can handle it, lardo di Colonnata.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Expect to pay anywhere from $14 to $400 or more for a bottle of Barbaresco. You can get a good one for $30-$60. Some respected labels include: Ceretto, Gaja, Pio Cesare, Bruno Rocca and Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy.

Now that you’ve met Barbaresco, what do you think? Is it a wine you think you’ll try? Are there other wines you’d like to see in a future ¡Mucho Gusto!? Share your comments – I’d love to hear from you.

¡Salud!

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