Tag Archives: Wine and Food

International Lambrusco Day – WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?

Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenous foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco; http://www.lambruscoday.org/facts-or-fiction.html

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

LambruscoThis particular Lambrusco is a fantastic example of just how special Lambrusco can be. The Cleto Chiarli E Figli is made from Grasparossa and Sorbara grapes resulting in an intense red Lambrusco with a delightful fruity bouquet.  This Lambrusco is produced in the heart of the best Sorbara Lambrusco region.

My recommendation for the perfect pairing; if you haven’t had the pleasure of Lambrusco and pizza get on the phone now and order the pizza.  This Italian Lambrusco and pizza, well you will think you have died and gone to heaven.  Enough said…

Visit www.WineGuyMike.com to learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.
From my table to yours,

 

 

This Week on Wine Time™ WineGuyMike™ – How to understand Italian Wine Labels

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 09/27/2013.

Today we are going to talk about Italian Red wine and how to better understand what’s on the label.  For many wine lovers this is one of those areas of the world that can be a bit daunting to understand, and that’s where I come in.  It’s my job to help you better understand challenging wine topics so you can enjoy the wine that we talk about here on the show.

Okay, let’s get started. Italy has been producing wine for 3,000 years.  It is said that Italy is not a country, just a gigantic vineyard from North to South.  There are over 2 thousand labels of wine in Italy, that’s a lot of bottles to know about.  Did you know that since 2008 Italy reins as the largest producer of wine in the world?

We are not going to tackle all of Italy in one week.  When it comes to red Italian wine there are three main regions to concentrate on first, Tuscany, Piedmont, and the Veneto regions.

There are literally hundreds of indigenous grape varietals planted throughout Italy, many which we have not ever heard of in America.  The main grapes that a person needs to know about to get started with Italian wines from these three regions are; In Tuscany the Italians grow Sangiovese, in Piedmont they grow Nebbiolo, and in the Veneto region a grape known as Corvina is what is grown.

Many grape growers in Italy now are growing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot.  Many American viticulture areas of America likewise are growing Italian varietals of grapes too.  Just to name a couple; In the Napa Valley some grape farmers are growing Barbara grapes, in Walla Walla some farmers grow Sangiovese grapes.  Grape varietals know no boundaries; the worlds grape farmers now better understand ideal geography, weather, and soil composition that grape varietals thrive in.

Let’s take a look at how the Italian wine laws dictate what ends up in your Italian bottle of wine.  Just like there are three Red wine regions to pay attention to first begin to understand Italian wines there are three Italian wine law designations one should understand as well.

Grape growers are governed by Italian law or what is known as the DOC – Denominazione di Origine Controllata and DOCG – Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita.  You will see this printed on the label of Italian wines.  There are many Italian wines that do not adhere to wine specifications within particular regions and these wines will be designated on their label as IGT – Indicazione Geografica.

IGT Label

IGT Label

DOC designations on a win bottle are much like that of French AOC wine laws, you will also see this designation on bottles of French wines.  The biggest difference between the DOC and AOC is that the Italian DOC has aging requirements.

The DOC governs:

  • Geographical limits of each region
  • Grapes varieties allowed in wines
  • The percentage of each grape used (Classico must be 80% Sangiovese) If the varietal is specified it must contain 85% of varietal
  • The amount of grapes that can be grown and harvested per acre
  • The minimum percentage of alcohol in a wine
  • Minimum aging requirements.  How much time a wine is aged in barrels or bottles
  • These wine laws became effective in 1963 in Italy

The difference between the DOC and DOCG is that the G in DOCG indicates that a wine is stylistically guaranteed to meet the standards set forth in Italian wine laws for specific regions.

DOCG Label

DOCG Label

Currently there are 35 DOCG wines in Italy, 7 from the Tuscany region and 9 from the Piedmont region.  There are over 300 DOC wines from Italy and many more wines that are designated IGT which just means they do not adhere to the standards set forth for a given region in which they are grown.  There are many great examples of all of these wines and you typically pay for the guarantee.  There are great IGT wines that do not adhere to the wine laws in the region or area in which they are grown, you just have to know what you are buying. But hey, that’s why you keep me around — right?

 

Arrivederci for now wine friends, enjoy the great  valued wine selections at the Market on Front.  You will find these two terrific wine selections there, and many more.

The wines reviewed today all receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™

From my table to yours,

"from my table to yours"

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Hedges Family Estate Wines

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 08/30/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Hedges Family Estate Wines from the Red Mountain AVA in the Columbia Valley of Washington State.

Visit www.WineGuyMike.comto learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.

From my table to yours,

This WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© “The Long and Winding Road” to Waitiri Creek Winery

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/19/2013.

This week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© perhaps Paul McCartney said it best on the Beatles Let It Be album; “The long and winding road, That leads to your door, Will never disappear, I’ve seen that road before, It always leads me here, Lead me to your door”.

Paula Ramage and her husband Allistar Ward have traveled extensively and lived abroad in different places throughout the world but home for them is the Central Otago wine region on the South Island of New Zealand.  This is the southernmost grape growing region in the world, but they produce very good wine.  Paula grew up in Alexandra and the Ward family farmed for many years on Malaghan’s Road, near Arrowtown.  Last week’s blog provided an overview of New Zealand as a wine country; http://wp.me/pFhHw-Ao  This is a land that is breathtakingly beautiful and produces some of the finest single varietal wines available.

Paula Ramage has had at least 5 careers that she can recall but in spending time with her on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© this week I’ll forevermore think of her as Ambassador of New Zealand and the New Zealand wine industry.  Needless to say she is a terrific spokesperson and extremely knowledgeable about her country and the wine industry in New Zealand and throughout the world.  Paula handles all of Waitiri Creek’s administrative business and development of offshore markets, a natural for a “reformed barrister”.  She has a lovely Kiwi accent that you cannot help loving too.

Allistar Ward is a merchant banking consultant full time, although he makes time to focus on vineyard development and as Paula puts it, “he juggles all the balls and keep them in the air”.

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Viticulture Crew, Mark and Jason

Jason Thomson is their very accomplished viticulturist along with his team Mark Naismith and Scott Culpan who run the day to day operations.  Interestingly the Waitiri Creek winemaker is a woman, Jen, from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.  As I mentioned last week many winemakers are now traveling winemakers who work in the Northern Hemisphere during its summer months and the Southern Hemisphere during their summer.  With the Willamette and Central Otago sharing similar latitudes with a focus on cool weather grape varietals it is a natural for winemakers like Jen.

Shanagolden Block in Summer

Shanagolden Block in Summer

In 1993 Paula and Allistar purchased their first vineyard the Shanagolden Block in Gibbston and planted Chardonnay in 1994.   The northerly facing block was ideal for sustainable viticulture and the lower half of this area provided a perfect location for the future wine tasting venue.

The Shanagolden Block was originally settled in 1867 by James Leslie, a Scot who had emigrated to New Zealand at the age of 17.  He and his partner, Thomas Kinross followed the Dunstan gold rush.  Kinross established the Gibbston store and Post Office and James Leslie was the butcher and baker but also continued to prospect for gold.

The vineyard has a micro-climate that produces ripe fruit earlier than most in the general area.  The soil composition is made up of glacial deposits and free draining alluvial soil matter (scheist).  This terrior is well suited to the cool weather grape varietals that Waitiri Creek produces.  This is where Jens’s Willamette Valley winemaking experience really shines.

Waitiri Creek’s portfolio of wines includes Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Riesling, and Sauvignon Blanc.  The grape vines  of Waitiri Creek are all hand pruned and hand harvested.  New Zealand is aiming for all of its vineyards to be sustainably accredited by the end of 2012.  Compliance currently stands at about 93% – Waitiri Creek has been fully sustainable for some years.  Another interesting fact about New Zealand wines, 75% of the bottles are all screw tops.  The Kiwi’s are an environmentally conscience country and I applaud them for this effort.

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

Chardonnay Grape Harvest

The first vintage of Chardonnay was produced in 1998 and full production of three different varietals in 1999.   In 1996  Paula and Allistar decided that an old church building would serve as the Waitiri Creek tasting room, they needed a structure that would be harmonious with the terroir of the Shanagolden vineyard.  So a search which led them all over the lower part of the South Island, culminating in a visit to Wangaloa, near Kaitangata in 1998.  On first sight, the former Wangaloa Presbyterian Church would have sent less hardy souls running in the opposite direction….but not Paula and Allistar.  Negotiations began with the local community and ownership of the church was secured a year later.

Cellar Door

Cellar Door

The Waitiri Creek tasting room just celebrated its 10th anniversary at its new vineyard home.   This former Presbyterian church, built in 1893 was moved to its new location at Waitiri Creek 300km in one piece on the Shanagolden Block in 2000.

I want to thank my new friend Paula Ramage for sharing this rich history of the Central Otago wine region, New Zealand, and the Waitiri Creek Winery with the WineGuyMike™ audience.  From my home in Montana to the “The Long and Winding Road” down under, Happy Holidays to my friends in New Zealand and Waitiri Creek.

Waitiri Creek Wines

One of the keys to increased demand for Waitiri Creek wines is consistant quality.   Waitiri Creek has been recognized at domestic and international competitions every year since 1999 across their entire portfolio.  Their expansion into Bannockburn with the purchase of additional Central Otago fruit has now expanded their portfolio to include Rosé, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

Pinot Noir

Waitiri Creek Pinot Noir 2007 The nose shows rich varietal layers of cherry and plums supported by an earthy complexity. The depth of fruit on the nose continues on the palate supported by a fine tannin structure, good integration of oak and a length of flavor that lingers on the tongue.

The nose displays complex notes of stewed cherries, cedar and mushrooms. This Pinot Noir shows the elegance of the 2008 vintage with a bright garnet hue and the perfume of violets and rose petals. The fruit driven palate has flavors of wild raspberries with hints of cinnamon, red cherries and succulent plums. On the finish there is a note of thyme and mushrooms. The silky tannins are woven seamlessly into a structure balanced by savory French oak and alcohol.

Rose

Rich strawberry and raspberry aromas dominate the nose and are supported by perfumed floral notes. The palate shows good berry fruit weight with strawberry and white peach aided by creamy texture. This wine is well balanced with a long, lingering, strawberry finish.

Chardonnay

Made in a fruit-driven New World style, this wine shows all the influences of classic Old World winemaking. The palate is rich and succulent with an appealing texture and displays outstanding primary fruit.

Handpicked grapes were whole bunch pressed and the juice cold settled for two days before being racked to barrels with light yeast. The wine was then cool fermented using both commercial and indigenous yeasts. This Chardonnay spent 10 months in 100% French oak (22% new oak) and underwent 100% malolatic fermentation with weekly lees stirring. The finished wine was then racked, lightly fined and filtered prior to bottling in late-March 2009.

Riesling

This Riesling shows complex aromas of mandarin, pear, honeysuckle and orange blossom on the nose. The body has crisp citrus flavors, offset with spice and good length of finish. This wine has great cellaring potential and additional characters will develop in the bottle over time.

Riesling grapes from two different blocks were handpicked and combined. The grapes were whole bunch pressed using a bag press and then the juice was left to cold settle overnight, before being racked and inoculated with yeast.

Fermentation lasted several weeks with temperatures being maintained less than 13 degrees to retain optimum flavor. Once fermentation was complete the wine was sulphured, racked and blended. The wine was then lightly fined and cold and protein stabilized prior to sterile filtration and bottling in September 2008.

Pinot Gris

Floral and pear notes on the nose lead into a richly textured palate of nashi pear, citrus and spice flavors. The long finish is balanced by fine acidity.

First vintage fruit from Legends (Legends Vineyard, Felton Road) was hand-harvested.  One tank of the Legends juice was chilled with daily lees stirring for four days.  It was then racked taking light lees to blend with the second tank of Legends juice which was settled for one night and then racked clean to blend.  A portion of this juice went to a neutral French Oak barrel.  The blended Legends juice was warmed naturally to 14ºC and innoculated with an aromatic yeast before undergoing cool fermentation until optimal balance was achieved.

The fruit from Annika’s (Annika’s Vineyard, Wanaka Road) was hand-harvested with 50% left on skins overnight while the balance was cold settled overnight and racked with light lees.  The fruit with extended skin contact was racked cleanly.  The two Annika’s components were blended, warmed naturally to 14ºC and fermented using aromatic yeast.  A percentage of this juice was fermented in two neutral French Oak barrels.

The three barrels were stirred regularly after the peak of fermentation and then blended. The two separate tank blends were blended in August and underwent cold and protein stabilization before being lightly fined with isinglass and sterile filtered before bottling.

Sauvignon Blanc

For her 6th birthday, our niece Stella Paris Columbia B. Ramage who lives in Sydney and loves art had a wine named after her. This is a single vineyard, Gibbston fruit.

Stella

Stella

A nose of passionfruit, gooseberry and capsicum aromas lead to a lively palate displaying good balance and zesty acidity. Best served lightly chilled.

Sauvignon Blanc grapes were handpicked and then was de-stemmed and crushed prior to gentle pressing. The resulting juice was cool stainless steel fermented to retain fruit character. The wine was left on yeast lees for two months to help with mouth feel and complexity. The resulting wine was fined with milk casein prior to filtration and bottling.

"from my table to yours"

“from my table to yours”

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Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Hand of God Wines

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/05/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about two special wines from Argentina.

ABC Montana TV Feature with Hand of God Wines;

The term Hand of God Moment is so profound and endearing that every Argentinean is intimately familiar with it.  This term is not used lightly in fact it is a term that is sacred for this South American culture.In 1986 during the finals of the World Cup Soccer Tournament Argentina was competing against England and the game was tied at 1-1, that was until a teammate of Diego Maradona who was at that time as revered as David Beckham is today, kicked the soccer ball to Maradona who lunged with his head and couldn’t reach the ball except with his fist.
Maradona thrust his fist toward the ball guiding it past the goalie and into the goal and winning the game for Argentina.  This play known as “The Hand of God Moment” is forever ingrained in the minds of the Argentineans as the thrill of victory and for England the agony of defeat.

For two Stanford alums enjoying a glass of wine or two together it became their personal Hand of God moment.  Jon Staenberg, a.k.a “El Jefe”, and Santiago Achával, a.k.a “Master of Malbec” dubbed by The Wine Spectator magazine, this was their special moment, the moment when inspiration, friendship, and passion intersected as one.  This was there Hand of God moment, it was also the beginning of Hand of God Wines in the Mendoza appellation of Argentina.

These two Stanford alums met as they studied business at Stanford University.  After school both of these men went their own ways, Santiago as an entrepreneur who enjoyed success in the cement business in Argentina and Jon who is also an interesting entrepreneur in the field of technology, spending the bulk of his career with a little company called Microsoft.

It was on a trip to visit Argentina that Jon decided to look up Santiago and have a glass of wine together.  It was this Hand of God reunion that over a glass of wine or two that the passion and love for wine resulted in a winery in Argentina which produces the Hand of God Wines.

Staenberg is the owner and proprietor and Achával is the winemaker.  This is a partnership made in heaven hence the name Hand of God Wines.  When anything happens that is special and perhaps other worldly this is when the Argentineans look to the heavens and make reference to a Hand of God moment.

Thankfully for you and I, the wine drinker, this divine intervention came to be in the form of Hand of God Wines.  Vineyard land in Mendoza is 150 times less to purchase than land in the Napa Valley of California and it is also land that is in Achával’s soul.  This is where he is from, this is what he loves and calls home, and for WineGuyMike this is also a component of terroir, a true sense of place.

South American vineyard land can be very special, just look at Chile and Argentina, very different yet both produce very good wine in the hands of a skilled winemaker such as Santiago Achával.  Location is everything and after an exhaustive search Staenberg and Achával found two perfect vineyards in which they now produce world-class wines.  A third white wine that I know will be equally as impressive is on its way very soon.

 

 

Hand of God Wines is a boutique winery that produces hand crafted wines that of exceptional quality.  When Wine Spectator magazine referred to Achával as “The Master of Malbec” they were not exaggerating.  The wines he is making at Hand of God Wines are so important to the world because it is acknowledgement of quality of land and soil composition, elevation of land, climate, prevailing wind patterns, and pristine alpine water that bless this land.  This is what Achával brings to the world as a gift in the form of a bottle of wine that exemplifies terroir of two very special vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina.

Valle de Uco, Appellation Mendoza, Argentina

The Hand of God vineyards are located a little over sixty miles from one another.  The Stolen Horse Vineyard is an old vine Malbec property with vines nearing 100 years of age.  This vineyard produces fruit with a complexity and quality that that only aged vines are able.  The fruit in this vineyard is intense, concentrated, with , layers of flavor and aroma, that which only can be produced from old vine fruit.

The 2010 vintage of Old Vine Malbec from Stolen Horse Vineyard is extremely well made featuring structure, balance, and restraint which is difficult in a wine this powerful.  This wine can be enjoyed now if decanted for an hour giving it a twirl in the decanter a couple times during that time.

2010 Old Vine Malbec

This wine like a great Bordeaux or a Beckstoffer To Kalon wine from California will be best in 5 years but is so well made can be laid down for 15-25 years.  I hope I live that long because I do want to taste this very special wine then.

Stolen Horse Vineyard Maipú

This bottle of wine is perfectly balanced in fruit, acid and tannin.  The minerality and earthen quality is terrific but for me I love what the French refer to as anime, a meat like quality that makes this wine particularly special.  This wine is so good that honestly should only be paired with quality dry aged beef or Elk, it is just that good.

The second wine that Achával has crafted for the Hand of God Wines is a red blend wine that is so uncommon to Argentina that I dare call it a rarity.  The 2010 Fingerprint Series Red Wine is a French Style Rhone blend that is ready to go now.

2010 Fingerprint Series Red Wine

This wine is fluid and elegant, honestly better than most Rhone wine available in the United States.  This blend is 55% Malbec, 35% Syrah, and 10% Petit Verdot and is beautiful on the nose and the palate.  The finish leaves you in thought, wondering just what this vineyard looks like as it is still horse plowed and fruit that is hand harvested.  This is why both of these treasures from Achával are so individual and thought provoking.  This is not common wine, this is special and it is important to share wines that in a world of so much commonality amongst wines that there are some that are so distinct that they stand alone.  This is the wine that Santiago Achával makes and I thank him for that.

Sobremesa Vineyard

This wine is so synonymous when paired with Wild Game, Wild Fowl, Grilled Chicken, and just perfect with well-marbled meats.  Well-made sauces for any of these entrees would also complement perfectly.  This wine is concentrated with fruit yet is so delicate, delicious aroma, and layer upon layer of flavor is reveled with an understated dusting of fine white pepper.  A finish that begs for more.

Hand of God Wines are not only lovely they are provoking and I have been so fortunate to taste the nectar of God, this was my Hand of God moment.  Thank you Jon Staenberg and Santiago Achával for your passion and commitment to do something very special.

Visit www.WineGuyMike.com to learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.
From my table to yours,

 

 

Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana – Lambrusco Day

Join me live for Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana. Wine Time airs bi-monthly on Friday’s during the 5:30PM news cast.  The next feature airs on 7/05/2013.

This week on Wine Time™ with WineGuyMike™ on ABC Montana I’m talking about Lambrusco. Why you might ask?  Because today, June 21st, is Lambrusco Day in Italy, and Lambrusco is one of the best wines to enjoy with food. Simple, fun, fizzy, refreshing, inexpensive, need I say more?
Lambrusco is one of Italy’s most popular wines. Do you remember one of television’s most famous of tag lines “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice”? Yes that’s right your Grandma’s Lambrusco, Riunite, is still claiming to be the biggest selling Italian wine in history here in the United States.

Riunite Lambrusco was launched in the late 1960’s and what now seem like cheesy commercials ran on TV in the 70’s.  Cheesy or not that famous tag line is one of the most memorable ever, at least for those of us old enough to remember.  But the truth is this brand enjoyed one of the most well executed marketing campaigns ever.  That was yesterday, today Lambrusco has come of age and I’m here to share it with you.

There is not anything to complicated or technical that we need to know in our approach to buying, chilling, and drinking Lambrusco.  In fact Lambrusco is rather simple and ultimately the secret to a great Lambrusco is one that produces a great head of foam when you pour it, just like a great beer.  Selections will unfortunately be limited on your local shelves unless you live in an area that has a great wine shop.  If you live on the east coast you will have more choices better selections. Wherever you have a concentration of die-hard Italians like me that enjoy Lambrusco retailers will show this sparkling gem from Italy some love.

More and more you will find Lambrusco lovers who are so incredibly passionate about this frizzante wine from the Emilia-Romagna region in the heart of Italy that you just have to give it a try.

The Emilia-Romagna region is located between two of my favorite areas in Italy. Parma which is home to some of my favorite raw cow’s milk cheese Parmigiano-Reggiano, yet another wonder of the world I cannot live without.  On the other side of Emilia is probably one of the most iconic areas of Italy, Modena, and the birth place of Ferrari exotic sports cars.

Italian winemakers produce a large range of Lambrusco wines.  If you shop at a nice specialty shop and they take their wine program seriously it is somewhat safe to assume they have chosen a good selection of wines for you to purchase.  The best Lambrusco’s are going to be dry and made in a frizzante style.  There are three colors of fizzy Lambruscos: white (bianco), rose (rosato) and the classic red (rosso) ranging from sweet to bone dry.

Prosecco is another Italian favorite that is mainly produced as a sparkling wine in either the fully sparkling (spumante) or lightly sparkling (frizzante, gentile) styles.  Proseccos are labeled “brut”, “extra dry”, or “dry”, with the brut being the driest.  Ask you wine steward of the store you shop in for the driest Lambrusco in a frizzante style that they offer for sale.

Lambrusco is made using the Charmat method rather than the Champagne method, the French method of making sparkling wine.  The Charmat method is a second fermentation in pressurized tanks rather than in individual bottles.  The shorter, tank fermentation is preferable for Lambrusco because it preserves the freshness and the flavor of the grapes.

Unlike Champagne, Lambrusco does not ferment in the bottle consequently the wine goes off or gets old quickly and should be drunk as young as possible, preferably within one year.

What I love about Old World European wine is that they are a function of necessity.  The wines in each area are made to work with, match, or pair with the foods that are grown and raised in the region or area.  Lambrusco is no different and in the Emilia-Romagna region their food tends to be rich, salty and that is why Lambrusco works so well with the indigenousness foods of the area.

Lambrusco wine is lively and bright with fruit, balanced out with naturally high acidity which pair perfectly with the rich salty food dishes from this area.  Lambrusco like all Old World style wines are not overdone, featuring lower percentage of alcohol which is also conducive to being a great wine to pair with food.

The really terrific thing to note about Lambrusco is that you will be hard pressed to ever find one more expensive than $20.00 and many are $8.00-$10.00.  Wow that works in this economy for my pocket-book.

Many bottles will list the Lambrusco grape variety from which it has been produced.  I’m not going to bore you with the 13-17 different Lambrusco grape varietals because there are only a handful you need to know.  Here is the short list; The most commonly found clones are the Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara.  The rabid Lambrusco lovers, they love the Sobara version but any of these are ones that you want.  If you want to dig in a little deeper here is a link from my friends in Italy and their site which is solely devoted to Lambrusco; http://www.lambruscoday.org/facts-or-fiction.html

Here’s what you should expect from a good Lambrusco; fresh, fruity, dry, tannic, nice acid, beautiful fruity nose, frothy, nutty, grapy, jammy, fun, and refreshing.  All this and it’s inexpensive too, really what more could you want?  This is a great wine to try that I whole heartedly recommend with all of my love and passion.  “Mikey likes it”, remember Mikey on TV?  I do if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this in my life I’d be a wealthy man driving the Ferrari and drinking my dry frizzante Lambrusco on my way to get my fresh sliced hunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano to have with my Lambrusco.

Drei Dona Reggiano Lambrusco

This Lambrusco was fantastic with my dinner, and again it was so nice that the alcohol level was restrained. The Rosenere immediately shows beautifully in the glass, deep purple color and sporting a perfect frothy head. Remember this is what a good Lambrusco should have and even as this wine sits in between sips and you give it a swirl the nice frothy head returns immediately.

The nose on this beauty is equally as pleasing with notes of grape, raspberry, strawberry, and a little cherry. On the palate this wine is so tasty with nicely balanced fruit, acid, and tannin. The Rosenere Lambrusco is like an extra-dry Prosecco which means it is semi-dry and is slightly sweet. The sweetness is appropriate and not annoying in any way.  It just feels right in your mouth, and it is.  The finish leaves you with a delightful lingering memory of refreshing fruit.

This is a very nice Lambrusco that I can recommend for you and the nice part is that it retails for $8.00 at one of my favorite wine retailers.

Visit www.WineGuyMike.com to learn more, please subscribe to my blog an newsletter while visiting my site so you get my weekly updates.
From my table to yours,

 

 

This Week on the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© Take 2 With Top Chef “Fan Favorite” Fabio Viviani

Check out the radio show on The Trail 103.3FM and U 104.5FM.  The live stream feed is online at www.trail1033.com where you can click on “Listen Live”.  The WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© airs on both radio stations Sunday mornings at 11:00 a.m. MST.

Good Sunday morning and welcome back to the WineGuyMike™ Radio Show© This week I had the pleasure to sit down and have a conversation that was as down to earth, informative, and enlightening as any that I can recall.  http://trail1033.podbean.com/2013/01/27/wine-guy-mike-for-january-27/

Chef Fabio Viviani was this week’s featured guest and I can tell you that after the show I was left humbled by the person I discovered in Viviani.  Yes Viviani was a “Fan Favorite” on season 5 of Top Chef and a contestant on Top Chef All Stars, and most recently featured on BravoTV’s newest culinary reality series Life After Top Chef but this is a man of integrity, true expertise, wisdom, and one of the most sincere persons I have ever had the pleasure to have a conversation with.

Viviani came from humble beginnings in Florence, Italy and at 11 years of age went to work in a bakery in order to support his family.  He is quick to point out that he was well paid for his work.  At 14 Viviani began work at Italian Florentine iconic restaurant “Il Pallaio”.  By age 16 Viviani had risen to the position of sous chef.  Hard work, passion, and a commitment for doing things right is who Fabio Viviani is.  He is a rare individual who always rises to the top because he is true to himself and everyone else that he touches.

Viviani attended culinary school and traveled across Europe, training in classic Italian and European cuisine.  He has always been on the move learning and sharing his culinary passion and by the time he was 27 he had 5 restaurants and 2 night clubs in Italy.  True of most entrepreneurs Viviani wanted to expand his horizons and ventured out to America.  Viviani settled in Los Angeles, California with all of his experience and business acumen to try his hand as a business man in the United States.  The result has been success. The reason integrity, hard work, and always delivering a valued product.  Viviani points out this is fairly simple but how many can truly deliver like he has?

Viviani is Owner and Executive Chef of Café Firenze in Moorpark, CA and Firenze Osteria in Toluca Lake, CA, and will soon be opening opening Siena Tavern an Italian concept in Chicago, IL.  Viviani has also successfully published two cookbooks and will be releasing his newest one in April 2013 titled Fabio’s Italian Kitchen.  This cookbook is full of his family’s recipes from 20 generations of grandmothers spanning 300 hundred years.

Viviani is arguably the most sought after celebrity chef in America and has been a  guest on many of the top TV talk and morning shows.  His award winning “Chow Ciao!” the #1 lifestyle and food show on the internet, http://screen.yahoo.com/women/chow-ciao/  features a new show every Monday.  If you visit www.FabioViviani.com you can sign up for Fabio’s newsletter which will keep you up to date with this star that continues to rise.

On a personal note; Fabio I would like to thank you for taking time to share your story with the WineGuyMike audience.  I can only hope everyone has been as touched by your story and inspired by your sincerity and passion as I was my friend.

Thank you for joining me once again on this week’s show and remember to continue to broaden your wine palates.  Be sure to check out my wine blog at www.WineGuyMike.com for wine suggestions. You can find many of the wines that I recommend at Liquid Planet in the Heart of Downtown Missoula for your ultimate wine shopping experience.  I’ll see you on the radio friends.

 

For a great selection of wines to pair with your food with be sure to visit Liquid Planet, Missoula’s “Best of Beverage”, located in the Heart of Downtown Missoula.

The  wines suggested today receive the WineGuyMike™ Seal of Approval™   www.wineguymike.com is your wine resource.

From my table to yours,

 

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Social Media links;

YouTube; My YouTube channel of course is WineGuyMike™ or the actual URL link: http://www.youtube.com/user/WineGuyMike?feature=mhum

Facebookhttp://on.fb.me/hvHsil please “like”

Twitter; https://twitter.com/WineGuyMike

This week’s podcast with Top Chef “Fan Favorite” Fabio Viviani; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2013/01/27/wine-guy-mike-for-january-27/

This Week’s YouTube preview Take 2 With Top Chef “Fan Favorite” Fabio Viviani;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yr__G8sof0

Last week’s podcast “Two New Grapes”; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2013/01/13/wine-guy-mike-for-january-13/

Recent weeks podcast on pairing wine and food; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2013/01/06/wine-guy-mike-for-january-6/

Recent podcast with wine visionary David Adelsheim of Adelsheim Vineyard; http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/12/23/wine-guy-mike-for-december-23rd/

Recent podcast; (full length conversation) with Maximilian Riedel, CEO Riedel Crystal of America http://trail1033.podbean.com/2012/06/24/wine-guy-mike-for-june-24/

NBC Montana Today TV Segment; Perfect Patio Wines and food pairing; http://www.nbcmontana.com/news/Mike-Tornatore-8-7-12/-/14594602/15999458/-/67a5ri/-/index.html