Fun With Wine And Google, La Morra Edition

We’re going to be exploring some Lugana and Piemonte wineries this fall whose wines we enjoy, and one of the ones we’re hoping to visit looks simply extraordinary; we managed to find a ridiculous deal on the Tenuta L’Illuminata Tebavio from 2004 a few months back when our friends at SovereigntyTaking a look at their website, we can see this is definitely one for the bucket list…beautiful.   So where does this lovely Barolo hail from?  Let’s see:

Tebavio 1

Just to the west of La Morra and southwest of Alba, you can see that Tenuta L’Illuminata is located in the foggy, hilly, verdant heart of Piemonte’s prime nebbiolo real estate.  Diving in:

Tebavio 2


Looks like it’s almost walking distance from downtown La Morra, a beautiful hilltop town of about 2400 lucky folks.

Tebavio 3


A little driveway, terra cotta roofs, a pool…and lots and lots of well-trained vines neatly nestled in the rolling hills.  Yes.

Tebavio 4


Time for a leisurely stroll in that sea of green.

Tebavio 5


This doesn’t look too bad at all.  Can’t wait to see it in person, but for now the Google Earth views tell us what we need to know:  this place needs to find its way onto any Piemonte itinerary.

Tebavio 6

Rodello In Spring, Sassi Wine Tours

Our friends at Azienda Giribaldi tweeted this to us.  Ah, the view of a small hilltop town in Piemonte in spring where the mountains in the backdrop are still snowy.  Let’s go!

Rodello tasting room

We’re going to be doing some explorations with friends and clients in the region soon and will be expanding our repertoire of winery related tour items.  What a great way to see the best of the real Italy.

Alfonso Cevola on Barolo’s Best Vineyards

A bit like rating the prettiest Ferraris…kinda hard to go wrong. But interesting nonetheless. Barolo is getting more and more discovered, and frankly it’s out of the price tolerance for most fans of Italian wine already.

The only answer is to go to Italy and drink it at the source.

Charles Scicolone on Wine

Barolo’s Greatest Vineyards Ranked

Barolo experts are in agreement over the superlative quality of Rocche di Castiglione

© Mick Rock/Cephas | Barolo experts are in agreement over the superlative quality of Rocche di Castiglione

Alfonso Cevola charts Barolo experts’ vineyard classifications to find the region’s best sites.

Barolo is one of the hottest wine collectibles today. But Italian laws and classifications can make navigating the landscape a tar pit for the collector who simply wants to get in, find the best of these great Italian wines, and get out. Unlike Burgundy, which has official categorizations for vineyards and the Médoc, which ranks its estates, Italy’s Piedmont region has no official hierarchy of the great Barolo vineyards.

It was Renato Ratti who first put his imprimatur on a map ranking the top “prima” categories in the 1970s. Ratti’s map was inspired by an unofficial Barolo classification written by Francesco Arrigoni and Elio Ghisalberti for Luigi Veronelli’s book “The Wines of Italy”…

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Vino With Val!

What a fantastic tasting!

Vino with Val_15

We had the privilege of attending a wine tasting with Val Caruso today, and it was remarkable; the theme was Tuscan wine, and Val boldly guided us through a well-traveled, well-documented region without a trace of redundant-feeling looks at wines you’d expect (and likely have already tried).  Her approach is very much in keeping with ours:  get off the beaten path!   As you can thusly guess, this was not merely a run-through of off-the-rack Chianti you can find just anywhere.  More on that in a second.

Vino with Val_2

Val started us with a wine from our friends at Fattoria il Palagio, but not the Tuscan IGT or their Cellini Chianti that we typically source over at Sovereignty Wines, but rather a perfectly light and refreshing Vernaccia that made for a perfect aperitivo.  We snacked on some goodies and listened as Val discussed the wines, the producers, and the changing culture of Italian winemaking (to wit, specifically how Italian women are coming to the forefront of the wine biz in Italy, to the benefit of both Italy and viticulture alike).

Vino with Val_3 Vino with Val_4

We discussed stylistic differences between wines and winemaking philosophies, both traditional and the somewhat iconoclastic happening region-wide.  Extensive discussion of what constitutes “Super Tuscan” anyone?  Excellent.  We learned about the challenges faced by Italian vintners as they continue to push back against frankly inaccurate and outdated stereotypes that persist about Tuscan wine and and Italian wine generally; it’s quite clear from the outset that Val knows her stuff and has spent extensive time traveling the region and meeting the people pressing the grapes.

Vino with Val_6 Vino with Val_8

And it was on to the reds.  As mentioned above, what made this tasting compelling was the distinct lack of the more predictable wines you’d expect to hear about and taste at a Tuscan wine event–no Chianti Classico, no Brunello, and nothing in a straw basket bottle. Not that there’s anything wrong with those wines, mind you, as they’re some of the best in the world to our mind and to the minds of many a wine critic.  But as we’re fond of saying, to get a feel for the *real* Italy, getting away from our biases and out of our comfort zones is incredibly critical.  Val takes great care to select blends and varietals that expand your sense of what Tuscany can do, and as a result we got to taste producers and labels that frankly one might not just stumble across at the typical wine store.  It just communicates that psychological connection to a place that you can only experience through food and wine, and communicates it well.  Not just about tastes and smells, it’s taking in a feel for what it is to be Tuscan.  Fantastic.

Vino with Val_10 Vino with Val_11 Vino with Val_12 Vino with Val_13

While Sangiovese blends made appearances, there wasn’t a Chianti to be found.  Creative, outside of the box thinking from Val made for a great, unique tasting.

Vino with Val_16

My personal favorite was the Sasyr (as you can probably guess, a portmanteau of sangiovese and syrah).  The syrah rounded out the sangiovese nicely, and while it has all the character you’d expect of a Tuscan gem, it was just different enough to make you really want a full pour.  Val can help track down any of these locally here in Colorado Springs, and likely also help you find them elsewhere via her wine distributing friends.  Needless to say we’re big fans of the idea behind this sort of tasting–go try something new!

Looking forward to more events with Val, and to visiting the space where the tasting was held, Soiree here in the Springs.  What a great spot!

Vino with Val_17

Firmly Rooted in the Piedmont- Eric Asimov

Well stated: “It is not anise, not black earth, not Mr. Lincoln rose, not hot road tar, not burnt beef-fat, not pipe tobacco, but a delightful combination favoring none,” Giuseppe of Boston wrote, arguing, perhaps unintentionally, that overspecificity never captures the whole of a wine. To his list I would add: It’s not red or black cherry, even though bitter fruit flavors lie buried under the more savory initial aromas, emerging only after long exposure to air.”

Charles Scicolone on Wine

Very informative article on Nebbiolo by Eric Asimov in The New York Times. Once again I find myself in complete agreement with Mr. Asimov. He understands wine made from the Nebbiolo grape and  to be at their best they must be paired with food.

New York Times March 5th 2015

For wine drinkers reared on the myriad red grapes that are common all over the world, a wine made of nebbiolo is a departure.

It may flash a ready comparison to others: the combination of delicacy and intensity found in the best pinot noirs, the tannic potency of cabernet sauvignon, the taut acidity of barbera. Yet when you add in the specific aromas and flavors of nebbiolo (proverbially described as tar and roses), which are so unlike most red wines, you have a selection that seems entirely singular.

The blend of these remarkable characteristics results in wines that can haunt…

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In Re: Cruise Ship Woes For Venice

Venice Grande Nave

Apparently it’s not so simple as just dredging an alternate channel for the 90,000 ton floating behemoths to traverse, as that might worsen flooding and churn up sediments from an unregulated industrial era that have settled on the bottom and been covered up.  Venice needs tourism, yes, to survive as we know it, but they need to find a way to dock the huge ships farther out and ferry passengers in via vaporetto.