Italy’s First Wine Fountain Opens in Abruzzo — and the Wine is Free

The Local.it reports that the town of Caldari di Ortona in Abruzzo has opened the first free wine fountain. Continue reading Italy’s First Wine Fountain Opens in Abruzzo — and the Wine is Free

Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

Hello Kitty wine is a real thing. I know some of you will hate this and others will want to snatch some up just for the novelty of it all.

Apparently, Torti Winery, located in the Oltrepò Pavese hills of Italy’s Lombardy region has been working on a Hello Kitty wine since 2007, putting aside special Chardonnay and Pinot Nero grapes to create several different variety of wines (including a perfectly pink one). Continue reading Hello Kitty Wine Is the Latest Vintage from Italian Winery

Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

In 1499, Tuscan artist Luca Signorelli signed a contract to paint two remaining sections of the Cappella Nuova (new chapel) of the Duomo in the Umbrian town of Orvieto. By 1502 (or 1504, depending on which documentation you read), he had completed his “End of the World” fresco cycle in what is now known as the San Brizio Chapel. Continue reading Will Work For Wine: Luca Signorelli’s Orvieto Duomo Contract and His Intoxicating, Apocalyptic Fresco Cycle

Rumblings in the Wine World

It has been a little under two weeks since Italy announced the findings in the Brunello di Montalcino scandal. In case you haven’t been following this case, Italian authorities – prompted by the United States – started an investigation to find out whether some renowned manufacturers of Brunello di Montalcino were making their wines with a blend of grapes instead of 100% Sangiovese. “Operazione Mixed Wine” found that five wineries – Antinori, Argiano, Banfi, Casanova di Neri and Marchese de Frescobaldi – were in fact mixing wines.

Vinowire, a blog that has been following the whole controversy, has posted notes on the fallout from its editor Franco Ziliani. You can read a translation here or check out Ziliani’s Vino al Vino blog for the original Italian.

Because of its high price tag, I don’t have many chances to indulge in Brunello. But it’s fascinating – and enraging, really – to think that the imported Brunello I have enjoyed wasn’t truly the real thing. I wonder what other Italian wineries and foodstuff producers are cutting corners? See A Slippery Business for another unfortunate example.

Photo by O. Strama

If Obama Were Tuscan Wine, What Would He Be?

Have you ever wondered what kind of characteristics Sarah Palin or Barack Obama share with Tuscan wine? No? Neither have I. But here’s a fun little post from On the Wine Trail in Italy comparing the U.S. presidential candidates and their surrogates to various Tuscan vintages. I wonder if there’s a corresponding Facebook quiz…

Sarah Palin is “a Chianti ‘in fiasco’…something fresh and fruity and not too deep.”

Joe Biden is a Chianti Classico in Riserva: “untapped potential and surprise.”

Cindy McCain is a Vernaccia di San Gimignano that “licks, kisses, bites, pinches, and stings. Ask Carol McCain (the 1st wife) about the sting.” Ouch!

Further, Obama and his wife are Super Tuscans, John McCain is a Brunello, and Colin Powell is a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. Skip on over to On the Wine Trail in Italy to read more.

Keeping Up With the Antinori

Italian wine enthusiasts (that includes most of us, right?) may find this past weekend’s 60 Minutes story on Italy’s Antinori family intriguing. Considered one of Italy’s premier winemaking clans, the Antinori have been in the wine business for more than 500 years. Today, even the Antinori daughters are in on the act. To learn more about the Antinori family empire, which includes vineyards and restaurants in Tuscany, Umbria, and around the world, check out antinori.it.


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Wine Routes in Tuscany

Sharing a carafe of Chianti while the autumnal Tuscan air swirls around you is one of life’s great pleasures. Of course, there’s more to Tuscan wine than the everyday Chianti, and fall is the perfect time to explore the region and its many vineyards.

Did you know that there are 14 wine routes in Tuscany, also known as Le Strade del Vino? By clicking on the image to the left, you can visit the Tuscan Wine Trails website, where, ostensibly, you can devise your own vineyard driving tour. (A note to technically-minded Italophiles: on my wishlist is a Google Maps mashup of these trails.)

The 14 wine routes are as follows. Thanks to waytuscany.net for sorting these out by province.

Province of Arezzo: Strada del Vino Terre di Arezzo
Province of Florence: Strada del Vino Chianti Colli Fiorentini, Strada del Vino di Montespertoli, Strada dei Vini Chianti Rufina e Pomino
Province of Grosseto: Strada del Vino Monteregio di Massa Marittima, Strada del Vino Colli di Maremma, Strada del Vino di Montecucco
Province of Livorno: Strada del Vino Costa degli Etruschi
Province of Lucca: Strada del Vino Colline Lucchesi e Montecarlo
Province of  Massa Carrara: Strada del Vino Colli di Candia e di Lunigiana
Province of Prato: Strada Medicea dei Vini di Carmignano
Province of Pisa: Strada del Vino delle Colline Pisane
Province of Siena: Strada del Vino Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Strada del Vino di Montepulciano

Happy sipping!

Photo © N1ck P Harris

The Best Chiantis

Iconic Chianti bottles in San Gimignano

In my opinion, Financial Times columnist Jancis Robinson provides some of the best, most accessible coverage of wine anywhere. This past weekend, in the FT Life & Arts Section, Robinson looks at the 2006 vintage of Chianti Classico as “something to celebrate.” Apparently, this is the first year that “white wine grapes have been outlawed” from the making of Chianti Classico. Indeed, up until 2006, Chianti was a blend of white (mostly Trebbiano) and red (mostly Sangiovese) grapes. Robinson gives an interesting primer on the former and current production of Chianti – the wine made in the mini-region between Florence and Siena – and also makes suggestions for the best Chianti buys.

Here are her picks:

Taste of Tuscany: Classic Classicos

RECOMMENDED 2006s
?Badia a Coltibuono
?Carpineto (£)
Fonterutoli
?Collelungo (£)
Montecalvi
Principe Corsini, Le Corte (£)
San Fabiano Calcinaia
?Villa Calcinaia

SUPERIOR 2005s
?Castello di Ama
?Castello di Meleto (£)
?Casanuova di Nittardi
?Fontodi

A GOOD VALUE 2004
?Il Poggiolino (£)

?denotes a particularly traditional, lively style
(£) denotes especially good value

You can learn more about these wines from winesearcher.com and a few are available for purchase from wine.com and mywinesdirect.com.

Photo © photo_nuevo

Tuscan Wine Picks

One of the pleasures of visiting Tuscany is having the chance to drive the fertile hills of wine country, sampling reds and whites along the way. Most travelers really only think of Chianti, a mini-region within Tuscany, when thinking about Tuscan wine. But another vino hotspot is Montalcino.

Montalcino is the home of Brunello di Montalcino, one of Italy’s most celebrated vintages. According to this month’s Tasting Notes newsletter from Epicurious.com, Montalcino produces other tasty wines, too. One of Epicurious’ resident wine gurus Leslie Sbrocco particularly likes products from Castello Banfi, a wine estate and luxury inn just outside of Montalcino.

While the inn looks enticing, you don’t have to go all the way to Tuscany to enjoy Castello Banfi. You can buy many wines by the bottle or case from the winery using their online store. Or, you can check your local wine seller or wine.comicon for Castello Banfi reds and whites.

By the way, in case you didn’t know, food site Epicurious is a great resource for wine lovers, as well. Sign up for their Tasting Notes newsletter or visit the site to watch tasting videos. For more on Tuscan wines, check out this recent article on the Top 5 Affordable Super-Tuscan Wines by Linda Murphy. The article also includes links to recipes for the perfect wine and food pairings.