Saturday, June 3, 2017

Volcanic Tasting: Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2014 (ENGLISH)

Using the Slow Food approach suggested by Fabio Pracchia in his latest book “I Sapori del Vino: Percorsi di Degustazione per Palati Indipendenti" (i.e. The flavours of Wine: Paths of Tastings for Independent Palates), we can discover volcanic terroirs in a new and dynamic way. In fact, considering cultural, historical and anthropological aspects of wine, we can really learn about and understand volcanic wines, and wines in general. We start with the Tenuta Delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2014, which is their base wine and represents an interesting entry-level and a good alternative for those who want to spend well (about 15 euros in an Italian wine shop) and appreciate the quality of the terroir of Etna.

Tenuta Delle Terre Nere

Wine / Appellation:
Etna Rosso DOC 2014

Marc De Grazia, an Italian-American producer and importer in the US, a key figure in spreading Etna wine overseas.

Nerello Mascalese (95%) and Nerello Cappuccio (5%)

600-900 meters. Strong thermal excursions. The vineyards are located in the contrade (i.e. city subdivisions) on the northern side of Etna volcano.

Organic, Good quality/price.

A nose full of red fruits (blackberry and cherry), undergrowth, hazelnut and chestnut. Already in the nose it reminds me of refined pinot noir of Burgundy. In the mouth, we find mature cherry, licorice and blackberries.  It has a long and pleasant finish. Despite its high alcohol content (14 degrees), it is drinkable, fresh and with soft tannins.

Learning while Drinking: The freshness and elegance of the wine is expressed through its complexity, clean palate and long length in the mouth. A must for all wine lovers. It contains flavors of Etna, memories of Burgundy.


Degustazione Vulcanica: Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2014 (ITALIAN)

L'approccio sensoriale di Slow Food - suggerito da Fabio Pracchia nel libro "Sapori del Vino: Percorsi di Degustazione per palati indipendenti"- ci consente di scoprire i terroir vulcanici in modo innovativo e dinamico. Infatti, considerando aspetti culturali, storici e antropologici del vino, possiamo davvero imparare e capire a fondo i vini vulcanici in particolare, ma anche gli altri vini in generale. 

Iniziamo oggi con il Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso 2014,  vino base dell'azienda siciliana, che rappresenta degnamente un interessante entry-level, nonché un'alternativa valida per chi vuole spender bene (circa 15 euro in enoteca) cominciando ad apprezzare le qualità del terroir etneo.

Tenuta Delle Terre Nere

Etna Rosso DOC 2014

Marc De Grazia, italo-americano produttore e importatore negli Stati Uniti, figura fondamentale nel diffondere il vino dell'Etna all'estero.

Nerello Mascalese (95%) e Nerello Cappuccio (5%)

600-900 metri. Forti escursioni termiche. Le vigne si trovano nelle contrade nel versante nord del vulcano Etna.

Biologico, buona qualità/prezzo.

Un naso pieno di frutta rossa (mora e ciliegie), sottobosco, nocciola e castagno. Gia' al naso ricorda la raffinatezza dei pinot neri di Borgogna. In bocca, in evidenza ciliegia matura, liquorizia e more. Un finale lungo e piacevole. Nonostante l'alto contenuto di alcol (14 gradi), è gradevolmente beverino, fresco e con un tannino morbido.

Bevendo si impara:
La freschezza e l'eleganza del vino si esprimono attraverso la sua naturale complessità, pulizia al palato e lunghezza in bocca. Un must per i wine lovers. Sapori di Etna, ricordi di Borgogna.


Friday, May 26, 2017

SoavePreview 2017 Part I: Soave Grand Cru Tasting

The first day of the Soave Preview featured an interesting selection of Soave grand cru in a tasting led by Sarah Abbott MW and Italian wine journalist Alessandro Brizi. 

Interesting examples of both young and aged Soave, which show the influence of terroir and the power of ageing of the garganega grape. The tasting, which took place in the historic Palazzo Del Capitano, included 12 wines with different profiles and terroirs, ranging - in my humble opinion- from good to excellent. 

Let's do a quick recap of the tasting!


Soave Superiore DOCG "Il Casale" 2015. 

Some reductive notes on the nose. In the mouth, it is fresh, sapid with dominant citrus notes. Easy Drinking. Good.


Soave DOC "Vigna Della Corte", 2016.


In the nose, peach and apricot notes (typical of garganega), in the mouth more citrus and grapefruit. Good.


Soave DOC Classico "Ca' Visco" 2002. 

A good example of how garganega can age well. Golden yellow colour, in the nose saffron and vanilla, a refreshing mouthfeel with high acidity, despite its age. Finish with an almond note. Very good.


Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Castelcerino" 2012. 

Vinified with semi-dried grapes. Notes of apricot and saffron, in the mouth similar to the nose with also notes of citrus. Sapid. Good.


Soave DOC Classico "Carniga" 2011. 

From calcareous rocks. In the nose, some ripe fruits as yellow peach. In the mouth, fresh, smoky, mineral, with notes of stone fruits and camomille.
Excellent! My favourite of the tasting for its complexity.   


Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Foscarin Slavinus" 2008. 

From volcanic soil. In the nose, ripe stone fruits and marzipan. In the mouth predominant almonds and stone fruits aromas. Mineral. Good.


Soave DOC Classico "Pigno" 2015. 

Complex nose, with notes of citrus (orange, lemon) and mint in a second smell. High acidity, fresh and very long in the mouth. Very Good. 


Soave DOC "Sereole" 2005. 

Golden yellow with amber hues. Smoky and barbecue notes in the nose. In the mouth, predominantly smoky, with less evident primary fruit notes. Good (and interesting). 


Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Castellaro", 2013. 

Aged in stainless still and barrique. Golden colour. Nose with camomille and white flower notes. In the mouth, it shows aromas of white peach and vanilla. Good.


Soave DOC Classico "Monte Sella", 2013.

Aged for 12 months, it has an interesting of camomille, stone fruits and white chocolate notes. Fresh and easy drinking. Good.


Soave Superiore DOCG "Monte di Fice", 2016.

Straw yellow in colour. It has a remarkable note of william pear in the nose. In the mouth, notes of citrus and white peach. Good (Note: Stefanini"Il Selese"2016, which I tried earlier with colleagues, is excellent: sapid, almost salty, with white flower, citrus and stone fruits notes. Extremely fresh and long in the mouth.)   


Soave DOC "Motto Piane" 2015. 

Straw yellow, with golden hues. In the nose white peach and pear. In the mouth, nice array of herbal notes, marzipan and acacia honey. Complex. Very good.

Stay tuned for the second part, which will include wines made with the pergola system and volcanic wines chosen by MS John Szabo.



Monday, May 22, 2017

Food Memories from Soave: Tortellini Di Valeggio and Risotto Mascarpone Basilico

Doing research on volcanic wines, this week I had the chance to go to Soave, in the Veneto region, to meet important people in the industry for the Soave Preview event, organized by the Soave Consortium. One of the best encounters was with master sommelier John Szabo. Two amazing days, filled with journalists from around the world. Great wines to be tasted, but also some foods that have remained in my mind. 

I am talking about the classic Tortellini di Valeggio. Not the classic tortelli from Emilia, this little hand-made pasta is actually from the Veneto region, more precisely from the town of Valeggio. Filled with beef and pork meat, and seasoned simply with butter and sage, these are simple yet delicious home-made pasta, which in my case was also accompanied by culatello (the best of Italian salami), following the advice of Aldo Lorenzoni, the president of the Soave Consortium. This was from day 1, lunch time, at Enoteca Il Drago.

Tortellini di Valeggio


In the evening we are in the stunning Palazzo del Capitano of Soave. The best dish of the night is a risotto mascarpone basilico that is full of taste and creamy. Luckily, we could pick any Soave we wanted from the ones available for tasting. So we were able to taste this risotto with one of my favourite whites. 

Risotto and Morning View in Soave

The day after I wake up in the agritourism Corte Tamellini and I still have in mind the simple, yet great food I had the previous day. I am surrounded by nature, lots of trees and vineyards. I am thinking of the risotto that I had and I just think: I could not be in a better place.

In the upcoming post, more on the wines tried during the event!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Volcanic Wine Review #3: Hauner Hierà Terre Siciliane 2015

The volcanic wine tasting series is now featuring Hauner Hierà 2015, a wine from the island of Vulcano, in Sicily. A beautiful discovery from this small volcanic island. High minerality, freshness, complexity and great value make this wine stand from many others in the market.

Check out the video review and let me know what you think!



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Memories of the Last Evening in Bordeaux: Wine, Friends and Funny Moments

Last week in Bordeaux and it's time to catch up with friends. 

Good times at Vins Urbains

I decide to spend the last evening drinking good wines at Vins Urbains with my classmates. The Givry 1er cru Clos De Servoisine 2015 from Domaine Joblot was definitely the highlight. 

100% chardonnay, from a small domaine located in a very tiny Burgundy appellation. I loved its floral and herbal notes (camomille, white flowers and freshly cut grass), along with its freshness and sapidity. 

Givry 1er cru Clos De Servoisine 2015 Domaine Joblot

The red from this producer was also outstanding. 100% Pinot Noir, with red cherry and black pepper aromas, grippy tannins, with good ageing potential. Fruit-driven and a beautiful expression of this noble grape. 

Next stop: Aux 4 Coins Du Vins, another of my favourite wine bars. My friend Michele makes me try a bottle of Sauternes 1990 (my vintage!) that he was given as a gift. I tried earlier in the day, but at room temperature it did not give its best. Instead, chilled was simply amazing.

Luigi tasting the wine

Notes of almonds, walnuts, chestnut honey, dried apricots and a very long length. A real pleasure to the senses. Beside loving this wine, what I will always remember is the funny conversation that went on with my friend: 

G: "I love this Sauternes. I find notes of chestnut honey and almonds"
M: "Yeah. It's tue. Chestnut honey! And tofu too.."
G: "Tofu..."

I smell again and taste.

G."Maybe toffee.. What Tofu?!"
M: "Yeah. My mistake. I meant toffee, not tofu"
G: "True.. even then, what sorts of taste does tofu have?"

We agreed that tofu is indeed quite tasteless and that when you are tired, at the end of the day at work, you might end up making funny mistakes.

Anyway, that was a special night, my last of my journey in Bordeaux. And it was one to remember.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

Kolonist Sukholimansky 2015: An Interesting White From Ukraine

Being a regular of Bordeaux's wine bar Vins Urbains, I am am always trying new wines by the glass, sometimes from lesser known wine regions. Yesterday, I chose of a white from Ukraine. Made with native grape Sukholimansky, it is produced in limited quantities (i.e. 32 thousands) by the Kolonist winery, located in the Danubian Bessarabia region and one of the few Ukranian wineries that does exports. 

Bone dry, it has got freshness and primarily citrus and melon notes. However, in the finish, there is an interesting nutty character (almonds, marzipan) which I quite enjoyed. It has good length in the mouth. It's definitely worth trying a glass, especially given the price: 26 euros by the bottle, to drink in.   


Friday, April 21, 2017

Collevite Launches RipaWine at Vinitaly

At Vinitaly, one is always on the move, searching for new wines to try. However, the best times were those sitting down with the producers to try the wines with them. Luckily, I did just that at the Collevite stand. This is a producer from the Marche region that makes good quality wines at an affordable price. Medium-sized, they export in various markets and now their main focus is Sweden, a monopole, where they were able to get into recently. Producing also olive oil and beer, this producer stands for the great value and their ability to match with local food. At the stand, I quite enjoyed the typical"Ciauscolo", a dry cured and cold-smoked salume. This product is a IGP (indicazione geografica protetta, a guarantee of origins of food in Italy) that goes really well with the Rosso Piceno DOP.

At the fair, they introduced me to RipaWine, their new brand with a totally new and innovative bottle design, which gives consumers a sense of terroir by outlining the topographic area of the vineyard. They want to make top eco-friendly wines, certified organic, with low sulphites and terroir-driven. They will enter both the Italian and the export market, at a medium-high price range. In Italy, the suggested retail price will be of around 24 euros.  Below are the wines that I have tried along with Collevite CEO Adriano Lorenzi, and fellow wine blogger Chiara Bassi. 



-KRETA 2016: Offida DOCG Passerina Bio. 

100% Passerina. 

 Fresh and Mineral. Great aperitif wine.

-GEKO 2016: Offica DOCG Pecorino Bio. 

100% Pecorino.

Very intense nose, with notes of sage and stone fruits.



- MORO MATTO 2015 (aka Kartico): Marche IGP Sangiovese Bio. 

Sangiovese 90%, Montepulciano 10%.

Smooth and Round, with notes of ripe red fruits.

- TRUFO 2015: Rosso Piceno DOP Superiore DOP Bio. 

Montepulciano 60%, Sangiovese 30%, Cabernet Sauvignon 10%

Concentrated, rich and with black fruits and jammy notes. 

- KLAUSURA 2012: Offida DOCG Rosso Bio.

Montepulciano 90%, 10% Petit Verdot.

Persistent, complex, with spices and ripe black and red fruits notes.


Altough I was positevely impressed with all the wines, which represent an important step for Collevite towards the full expression of terroir and grape varietals, the Klausura 2012 standed out for its complexity. Aged in barriques, it has a wide array of aromas, ranging from blackberry, morellino cherry and violet, to tertiary notes as black pepper, coffe and toasted nuances . It has a very long length in the mouth and can be paired with dishes as pasta with meaty sauce, long aged cheeses and roasted meat. A very good wine that be drunk now or aged as well. It has be decanted to open up and fully show its complexity.

Although the Marche region might be not be as known internationally as the wine regions of Piedmont and Tuscany, it is now emerging as an area making high-quality wines for a good value. By investing in this medium-high price range, Collevite is showing the full potential of this region and is putting once again Marche in the world's wine map. Given the great quality/price, there are interesting opportunities ahead to enter new and unexplored foreign markets. Let's hope to see these Marche wines in the shelves alongside other well-established wines. 

Semper Ad Maiora.    


Sunday, April 16, 2017


Having the 2004 Turriga Argiolas from Sardinia, in the wine cellar, I had to find a special occasion to open it. So when it came to choose a rich, full-bodied red for the Easter lunch, that included "roman style" fried lamb, I thought it would the right opportunity to open this special wine, made of Grenache, Carignano, Bovale and Malvasia Nera.

In the nose, it has aromas of dried plum and figs, tobacco and dark chocolate. Very intense and with predominant tertiary notes, including coffee and black pepper, in the mouth. It is big and rich, high in alcohol, and very concentrated. Good acidity (a sign that it can still age), smooth tannins and a quite long finish. An excellent wine, for special occasions, with a price around 60 euros.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Volcanic Wine Tasting: Ischia to Start Off!

Being a great fan of volcanic wines, I am excited to announce a volcanic wine tastings series, which involves travelling with the senses around the world discovering volcanic terroir.

The first wine that I review is from Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. I have been there in the summer of 2015 and I visited the winery Casa D'Ambra, one of the oldest and largest estates in the island. Family-run, it produces terroir-driven white wines as Forestera, Frassitelli, and Biancolella, as well as reds as Aglianico and Per'e Palummo. Andrea D'Ambra supervises the whole production process and was able to bring back to life a one thousand year old vineyard to make the Vigna Dei Mille Anni, a full-bodied red with complexity, smoothness and good ageing potential.

Here is the review of the the wine:


Sunday, April 2, 2017


El Hierro is a peaceful island, little known outside of the Canary archipelago. Inhabitated by friendly and welcoming people, it offers several activities in contact with nature and away from mass tourism. I visited El Hierro with my sister for a week in December and it was a beautiful discovery. Here are some memories and things learnt from this special week:


Bodega Frontera is arguably the best winery in the island and among the best in the Canarian Archipelago. The wines here are truly unique and cannot be compared easily to other wine regions. I tried grapes never heard before which were brought originally by the Spaniards. I loved the red Barboso (smooth and round, with lots of black fruits and cassis notes) and for the whites Blanco Afrutado, with a bit of residual sugar, and the Blanco Seco for a dry aperitif wine. Very nice, knowledgable and friendly staff. 


There are different paths to go hiking in the central part of the island, whose landscape resembles a lot Scottish highlands. It was incredible to see how the countryside evolves as one drives around. One of the best hiking paths is the Llania, where we found also the Lauri Silva forest, a must-see! I have to thank my sister for pushing me to see it. The shortest path in Llania (4km) is easily doable and worthwhile. It leads you through a lot of widely different and stunning landscapes. 


One of the best things to do to enjoy local biodiversity is to go with a guide. Luckily, we met Ralf: a friendly and knowledgable German guide who showed us all the unique plants of the island and brought us to places with an amazing view on the Ocean. Tours can be done in English and are great to discover the beauty of the island! Visiting the Eco-Museum is also a great way of learning about the unique biodiversity of the island. There, we saw the original village of the indigenous people (Bimbaches) and also learnt about the preservation of the rare giant lizard of El Hierro. 


El Hierro might not be the most famous destination for foodies, but if you know where to go it will not disappoint. For breakfast we tried the Panderia Santiago and, in particular, a sweet called Estrella cabello de angelo which is filled with a pumpkin marmalade. La Pasada, ten minutes away from the capital Valverde, offers seafood and meaty dishes with a good quality price. Stunning view from the dining room. Goat cheese is a local delicacy, mosty made at Isora, in the centre of the island. The mojo sauces, typical of the Canary Islands, are a must too. They vary in spices and are used troughout the meal! 


This is the most important tree in the island as its history is fascinating and involves the encounter of Spaniards and indigenous people. This laurel tree was the main source of water for the Bimbaches as it could retain water for the whole island. Destroyed by a hurricane in the 17th century, it was replented only in the mid-20th century for remembrance. Still, this place is full of legends and mystery, that the guide there explained to us in detail. 



The view on the coastline is simply impressing and beautiful, especially at sunset. Often you will find public pools or protected beaches where to sunbathe. However, being in the middle of the Atlantic, this is not the ideal place for going swimming because of the waves!


This island has local craftsmen with incredible skills. During a tour of the island with Ralf we met an old woman that is making amazing textile made of wool!  


El Hierro offers amazing views on the Atlantic. You will find many miradors, or viewpoints, in all parts of the island. We always brought a camera and enjoyed the view. 



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Julien Miquel, Founder of Social Vignerons, On Wine Apps and E-Commerce

I recently had the opportunity to interview Julien Miquel, the founder of internationally acclaimed wine blog Social Vignerons. Here he gives us some insight and his point of view on the fascinating world of wine apps and e-commerce in the wine industry.

Julien Miquel

Q- When did you first get the idea of starting Social Vignerons and how did it change since its creation?

A-Early 2014. While living in New Zealand in a job that was getting too narrow for me, I needed an outlet to share my passion for wine and knowledge with the rest of the world. So I started to build the website and launched Social Vignerons in December 2014. From a blogging hobby, it’s become a lifestyle, sharing wine content and passion every day on social media and other digital platforms. It’s also on its way to become a viable business, helping wine producers share their story through digital marketing and quality content.

The Wine Blog

Q-Do you think that in the following years e-commerce will challenge the traditional way of buying wines in a shop or supermarket? 

A-Of course. Online wine sales have been growing for nearly twenty years now, and everyone can see how e-commerce is disrupting many industries, one after the other. It is happening now for wine too, slowly but surely. All sorts of products are being bought online nowadays. It is simply a more convenient way of shopping and saves everyone’s number 1 asset in life: time. So virtually, and practically, the web is the best place to select your next bottle of wine. The only downside is that you cannot try it beforehand. But most places that sell wine do not offer you to taste the wine before you’ve paid for it either!

Wine-Searcher: Leading Web Search Engine for Wine Lovers

Q-What do you think could be the reasons behind the recent boom in on-line sales of wines? 

A- The online platforms that make the effort of offering a good wine selection and give useful information about the wines (such as good online wine merchants, or wine apps with a solid community of tasters) provide more value to the consumer that most wine shops. Prices are often competitive as well because online wine merchants sometimes have the advantage of volume AND they carefully observe the markets with tools such as wine-searcher, making sure to be competitive. Better service + good price = growth.

Wine E-Commerce

Photo Credit: WineNews.

Q- Is there more consumers' confidence now towards shipping of wines and on-line purchasing? 

A- Of course, as consumers are getting used to ordering more online with quality customer service, buying wine through the web becomes more and more natural. This has also gone together with the wine’s quality getting very significantly more consistent over the past 20 years since Google has changed our lives. Hardly do you ever pick a bottle of wine today only to find out that it is very badly made and tastes awful! Shipping is most generally not a problem, outside of hot summer periods. Serious online wine merchants don’t ship in the heart of summer without taking the appropriate precautions.

Q- Do you see the expansion of platforms as Ebay and Amazon in the wine trade as a positive development for the wine industry? 

A- For the industry as a whole, I am not sure! Disruptivity means a few middle-man’s jobs will be lost, in distribution, sales, and retail. But more direct-to-consumer sales would mean that producers would get a better margin on their sales, which would in turn allow them to invest more and quicker in their production methods, therefore improve further the quality of their wines. Eventually, consumers would get better wines. If consumers AND producers are happier, I would consider this as “a positive development for the wine industry’. That said, Ebay and Amazon specifically are here to help and serve consumers access products at better prices, but they will not necessarily help producers as well in the process! What they do allow though, is the development of more niche markets. And a big part of the wine industry is a market of niches.

Amazon Wine Commercial 

Photo credit: CNET.

Q- What sort of changes might they bring to the wine trade? 

A-They may allow more wine producers to sell more wine themselves, directly to consumers. The wineries that will combine these new platforms of distribution with good digital marketing strategies may win markets.

Q- Can Ebay and Amazon correctly inform the consumers about the complexity of the wines and terroir? 

A- Honestly, I don’t think they can. Many other platforms such as quality websites that have accumulated information and data for many years, or some good wine apps, are much more advanced in this process. Ebay and Amazon specifically will never catch up, and it would be too costly for them to do so. I don’t think it will make much business sense for them to invest in building wine content in the short term. As we know, a big part of their model relies on affiliation rather.

Ebay Wine Shop

Photo credit: Business Insider.

Q- Do you think that apps as Vivino could play a major role in influencing consumers’ decisions when purchasing wines? 

A-Yes, absolutely. My feeling is that we are only starting to see this. I think Vivino has just very recently started to have accumulated enough quality data, a big-enough user base, and enough consumer reviews about enough wines for everyone to start seeing the value it can bring to consumers. The amount of consumer review data available in Vivino is truly outstanding. As more and more people realize you can actually rely reasonably safely on a large community’s opinion to select your wine, more and more consumers will do. But making this information visible and standout on a crowded market takes time. SEO (Search Engine Optimization --Ed.) will play a big part in it. And SEO takes time. Not many wine apps will win at this game.

Vivino: The Leading App on Tracking Wines

Photo credit: Xda Developers.

Q- Do you think that apps improve the overall wine lovers' experience?  

A-The good ones do. Being able to easily record your rating and reviews by simply taking a picture of the label is clearly useful. We’ve seen the success this functionality has brought to wine apps. Beyond that, wine apps with a real wine community behind them also allow us to share the experience with other wine lovers that are not physically with us as we’re tasting. In addition, most wine drinkers are happy to inform others about a particular bottle. They want to let others know when a wine is a good buy, and they are happy to help avoiding bad-tasting plonks. All of this only works for wine apps that can correctly and reliably identify an enormous amount of different wines, and match all wine reviews related to a specific product to the correct item, and this for everyone, wherever they scan a label. This is a very hard thing to do.

Q- Are they useful for informing consumers about the wine and share info with other wine lovers? 

A- I think they are. That said, no wine app will ever contain all useful information about all wines. There will always be informative technical facts and stories on producer’s websites, more detailed reviews on blogs, news on online magazines, pricing info at merchants, etc. So an app, a browser and a good search engine is what you need. Luckily, this is all available on our phones.

This interview was made for the Wine App Research Project, led by Gerard Spatafora and undertaken by the international MBA team at Bordeaux's Wine Institute of INSEEC Business School. This study aims at creating a white paper on wine apps and e-commerce in the wine industry.
For details see the website of the project.