Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

     My goodness! Has it been over a whole year since mt last posting?!  I suppose it was inevitable that some reviews have been delayed; I’ve graduated from Interior Design School at the top of my class with a 4.0027GPA as president of Dakota County Technical College’s chapter of  the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa.  I have also been working for a major liquor store chain in the Greater Minneapolis Area as a Wine Educator and Social Media Liaison. One significant achievement I can truly highlight is my success at being the wine coordinator for the marriage of a high-profile couple here in the Twin Cities – by communicating with both the couple and the chef, the chef and I were able to come up with six dramatic courses pairing his creations with wines from around the world to the delight of all the guests.

     Riondo-bluAnother great success was the relaunching and re-branding of a floundering store in this chain suffering from poor online reviews and lack of exposure to the online- and indeed wine-savvy clientele.  Sales have increased almost three-fold since the beginning of 2014 and I take great pride in being the face of wine knowledge.

     Now, I have secured a position at a major retail chain specializing in home accessories, furniture, and interior design services.  I begin my new career there at the beginning of October.  To celebrate, I am offering the following review of a most yummy sparkling wine from the northern Italian region of Prosecco:  Blu – managed by the North American firm Riondo…

     From start to finish, this luscious sparkling wine is delicate and ethereal.  The nose is of apple, peach, and subtle floral notes.  The mousse is plentiful and mouth-filling leading to a refined elegance of melon to linger medium-long upon the palate.

     Guests at our tasting station at the wine boutique have been snapping up bottle after bottle to celebrate life’s victories both large and small.  This vino pairs beautifully with every course of your light-focused menu.  Crab puff amuse-bouche, Caesar salad with shrimp and anchovies salad course, seared scallops in a butter cream sauce appetizer, chicken picatta with caper berries and haricot verts entrèe, and even a Tahitian Vanilla-laced creamy creme brulèe for dessert!   Find it at your local wine purveyor in 187ml, 750ml, and 1.75L sizes and enjoy chilled.   I love to float raspberries or raisins in this delectable sparkler and watch my guests’ surprise to see these fruits rise and fall as the bubbles lift them up then settle them back down in a Galileo-type thermometric action.   This vino is further proof that sparkling wine is NOT just for New Years Eve! Pop it open tonight and ENJOY




** makes no claim to image ownership and reposts under Fair Use Provisions for review and critique.

Every so often, my palate craves something light and delicate.  Not just Sauv. Blanc delicate, but even more light than that.  Pinot Grigio? Pinot Gris? Auxeroi?  Light-bodied whites to be sure! This wine is produced from grapes grown in vineyards around the ancient city of Orvieto in the Umbria Region of Italy, a land rich in its wine traditions.

I wasn’t planning on any meals or snacks when I chose this wine – just something light and drinkable.  We’ve all seen the Ruffino name and agree that Ruffino IS Chianti. This vinoboy is indeed guilty of thinking the very same. Some research has revealed that this wine is a blend of up to four grape varieties: Grechetto, Procanico, Verdello, Canaiolo Bianco. The exact combination of each grape is unique with every vintage though the Grechetto is the primary ingredient.

The brilliant pale straw color is pretty in the glass as I slowly swirl and absorb the scents of daisies and delicate field flowers.  On the palate, essences of ripe pears and golden apples mingle subtle graces of sage. The finish is moderate with an almost nutty note (yeah – nuts) kinda like blanched slivers of almonds…

Fresh and light, balanced and refreshing, serve chilled all by itself for best enjoyment.  Foods as light as this wine would most certainly be simple and not overly seasoned – pan seared scallops come to mind, or fresh crab and Arugula salad.

LCBO/Vintages ~$11/btl.  A wonderfully light sipping vino.  Saluté!



**image credit – the winery. Published under Fair User Provisions for review and critique.

Now that I have my taste for Brut under control, its time to get back to the ordinary and contemplate non-sparkling/still vino.

Once this entry is complete, I will have tasted almost all of Mezzomondo’s wines offered at the LCBO. I’m sure there are one or two others that may require a little more hunting to find them.  The amazing Negroamaro Salento, a palatable Sangiovese Merlot, dumpster-cleaner Sparkling Rosé and now this Pinot Grigio Chardonnay.

If not for a sometimes obvious identity crisis, this vino definitely shows some possibilities. The nose prickles with some decent citrus scents with a deeply buried peachness… The body is surprisingly full and smooth with a zesty twang of spices to finish clean.  One mouthful is Pinot Grigio, one mouthful is an about-face of full on Chardonnay.

A rather unique-tasting vino that paired will with slow-roasted pork tenderloins.  Yes, I said pork. The lean flesh has a low fat content and as I roasted it with an autumn vegetable melange, it was juicy and tender.

A decent vino for ~$10/btl



**image credit: ME!  Depiction of label and product published under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

YAY!!  The holiday season is upon us and to celebrate, your vinoboy is offering a four-part tasting series on Champagne and Sparkling wine.

My first offering is this sparkling Prosecco Brut from the Veneto region of Northeast Italy. Priced at ~$12/blt, this makes it a ‘moderately priced’ vino. and though not exactly specified on the label, I can probably conclude this is a Charmat-method sparkler.  (Please see “Glass & Grub” for what this means…)  As with Champagnes, only wines from the Prosecco region can be called “Prosecco”.

For me, I reserve bubbles for sipping on their own.  Unless the wine is totally nasty, will it be used for Mimosas or sparkling punches.

Remember to NOT over-chill sparkling wine – 30 minutes in the freezer or ice bucket is plenty! Over-chilling will make the cork difficult to remove.  WARNING!!! Do not let corks fly from the mouth of the bottle with reckless abandon unless you’re outside and point it skyward! A well-trained host will ALWAYS ease the cork from a bottle of bubbles with a clean white towel.  The pressure inside the bottle can propel a cork with great enthusiasm and may hit someone or even break something like a window or picture frame – so be careful.

Cutting to the chase, this vino is a sparkling punch sort.  An ample mousse balloons in the glass to subside quickly – revealing an ever-so-pale yellow  glinting with a subtle pinkness whose moderately-sized bubbles rise in even columns. The nose is that of melted plastic and petrol with notes of marshmallow and Castor sugar. Medium-sweet on the palate, this sweetness is the only sensation other than the fizz.

If this vino is to be used to toast the instant of the occasion and drained by your already-half-wasted guests, perfect.  If it is to accompany a food course, forget it.

Bottega Il Vino dei Poeti Prosecco 2010 from the Veneto region of Northeast Italy.

Happy Holiday Toasting!



**image credit – Ontario distribution agent, Noble Estates.  Product copyright and wholly owned by the producer: Distilleria Bottega, Bibano di Godega, Italia Used under Fair Use provisions for review and critique.

Please think back for just a moment with me to my review of Mezzomondo Negroamaro Salento 2009 and how amazed I was by its wonderful presence and character for only ~$8/btl….

Well…  Mezzomondo has done it again with their Sangioveses Merlot.

The same conditions were re-created for the tasting of this vino: crunchy flat-bread pizza with sausage and mozzarella. Sangiovese, from my experience, needs a little time in the glass to bloom, so I hesitated just a bit once pouring before even swirling & sniffing.  Hrm…  I swirled and sniffed. Nothing. Swirled again…  Not much happening on the nose. Seriously!  There’s only a very faint whiff of dust and cherry on the nose.

Pizza is ready, I’ve had a bite and began swirling the vino again – this time to sip.  Mmmm!   The scentless secret is whispered to the palate with a tangy, spicy, earthy experience.  The medium body is woody and tannic and leaves me literally drooling for another sip!

Pleasant and simple.  A great vino for ~$9/btl.



I’ve been accused of many things over the years, and forgetful is most certainly one of them. When I am reminded to consider bang for the buck with respect to wine, its almost always by the wine itself. At $7.95/blt, this MezzoMondo Negroamaro Salento 2009 from the very heel of Italy is a true steal!

Sausage and cheese flat-bread pizza is in the oven at the moment, so I only have five minutes before dinner.

I love the label on this bottle – craft-colored paper with a very Galileo-esque design surrounding the year of vintage. Neat-o. The foil was removed to reveal a rather ominous black chugget of rubber stopper.  I thought two things: young/flat or complete plonk.

Four minutes left on the pizza…

Carefully poured some of this garnet-colored stuff into a Bordeaux glass and gave it a slosh.  Medium body appearance with a strangely enticing legging….  *sniff sniff  Hrmm… Very alcohol-forward… Cherry… plum…  hints of white pepper…  but I’ve been at this point before – all worked up for what may very well be anti-climatic.  I glanced at the over timer as I raised the glass to my lips…

Three minutes left.

Ka-POW!!!!  Rustic and fresh tannins with a mild acidity, popping flavors of plums and currants, pleasant linger of raisins and a flick of cedar…

Two minutes left on the pizza.

I’m sitting here staring bewildered into my wine glass!  Really? This?! This is good!! Really Good!!!  If this is the stuff Mama sloshes about with basic, honest Southern-Italian home cooking, I can’t wait until…


Ack!  Those two minutes flew by as I was lost in the astonishment of this wine. Pizza is cut, I’m at the table and taking a bite, burning the roof of my mouth, naturally.   A sip of vino to mingle with the sauce and sausage, crust and mozzarella… Awesome. I can almost see the Adriatic Sea off the terrace to the east rather than the Toronto skyline to my south.

MezzoMondo Negroamaro Salento 2009. Great with pizza obviously; I’d say good too with grilled Mackerel in a  Tomato-Cilantro sauce or full-flavored orange cheeses like Colby and Cheddar. I’ll most certainly be picking up a few bottles for my wine rack – at this price its definitely a great budget-priced vino! Yes, that was not a typo: $7.95/btl!



Not much I can really say about this inexpensive (around $8) red that would inspire me to actually drink it again.  Certain areas of the Calmasino region of northern Italy are like certain areas of the southern portion of Napa Valley – its all about mass production!

Gentle swirling it in a, orb-shaped glass, the scent of strawberry and shaved wood chips comes to mind…  Wood chips? Yes – just like the shaved wood-chip bedding we use to line the bottom of a hamster cage. It is sharp, tannic and very alcohol-evident. It tastes like it was indeed filtered through a wad of shaved cedar wood chips.

I will admit that its deep blood-red color and abundance of legs are handsome in the glass, but to drink alongside that well-prepared roast duck or veal Parmesan would detract from the food.  However!  This would be a decent cooking wine!  De-glazing the caramelized yummy bits off the bottom of the pot when making the meat sauce for your Pasta Bolognese would be awesome! Waste-not-want-not. =Þ


My first official vino post is on a simple white wine we’ve all seen in the white section at the local liquor store: Folonari’s Soave.

“I don’t recognize that varietal so it must be crap at only $5.99 a bottle! …and with a screw cap too! Blech!! It must be indeed worth the price!”

Not so!

This is a pale gold; light-bodied white- has a decidedly mineral nose; is sharply dry with tastes of herb and dandelion.  Pair it with light cheeses such as mozzarella and Havarti or with baked Talapia in a lemon-tarragon sauce.  Keep it cold though! Once it starts to warm to room temperature, it can be downright sour.  Don’t be afraid to have just a few ounces in a large glass, frequent refills from the bottle kept in an ice bucket are a-ok.