Andrea Franchetti: Mountain Wine Between Stone and Cloud

Continued from Part 3: Etna Wine The next morning, I drive farther up the mountain along a narrow, vertiginous lane called Passopisciaro or “fishmonger’s road.” It was originally named after a seaman who used to sell his catch here on sunny afternoons. He charmed his female customers, generously offering them his services in addition to the seafood. Eventually, their husbands banded together and killed him. Most of Andrea Franchetti’s wines are labeled Passopisciaro, but his customers are safely scattered around the world. In 2001, having spent ten years in Tuscany making wines that received rave reviews, Andrea decided to buy […]

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Marco de Grazia: Coaxing Wine from Contradiction (and Lava)

Part 2: Sicily’s Volcanic Wines Sicily is also known as mezzogiorno, “the land of the midday sun”—and of the midday nap. This April afternoon is so warm that I decide to take la pausa before my next visit. I love that notion of an afternoon pause: it doesn’t sound lazy, just meditative. I retreat to my dark hotel room and flop on the cool bed sheets, mesmerized by my ceiling fan as its breeze evaporates the sweat on my arms and legs. Outside, a dog barks, someone laughs, a door slams. Then quiet. After several hours of drugged sleep, I […]

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Vino Under the Volcano: Etna Wines Erupt Expected Notions of Terroir

Editor’s Note: I’ve been writing about volcanic wines since my second book, Unquenchable, was published with Random House in 2011. My fascination with them continues. I expected something a little more dramatic: the sizzle of a lava river oozing down the volcano, the rumble of the earth as it split between my feet, the screams of villagers running for their lives. Instead, all I hear are the clicks of tourist cameras as we look up at Mount Etna, its white tip puffing peacefully against the blue sky. “To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen […]

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Organic Wine: What is it? Toast Earth Day with Wine, Naturally

By Natalie MacLean Earth Hour has passed, and Earth Day is almost upon us. Naturally, you might think about pouring yourself a glass of organic wine on April 22. But what is organic wine and how is it different from “inorganic wine”? Back in the 1970s, the concept of “organic wine” conjured up images of pony-tailed vintners in tie-dyed T-shirts, producing wines more for ideology than taste. Thankfully, those days are just a watery memory now. Today, organic wines are no longer just for health nuts and tree-huggers. Wine lovers drink them for their quality. They’ve gone mainstream and represent […]

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Kosher Wine: What is it? Why should I not Passover it?

Ten years ago, kosher wine was considered the cough syrup of the wine world: mostly made from nasty Concord grapes and often sweeter than Buckley’s—but without as much nuance. Today, it’s no longer the wine of affliction: many kosher wines, made from classic grapes, are complex and full of character. In fact, kosher wines sales are growing fast —  up 12% since 2013. While no one tracks buyer demographics, some producers claim that up to half aren’t even members of the Jewish faith—they’re just attracted to the wine’s quality and its preparation, which guarantees purity. Kosher wines, like fashionable organic […]

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The Champagnes of James Bond and Rappers: Bollinger and Cristal

Part 2: Champagne Widows By the 1930s, French winemakers faced even greater challenges: a country about to go to war, a worldwide Depression that made running any business difficult, and U.S. Prohibition, which made selling luxury champagne to the lucrative American market almost impossible. This was the forbidding business environment that Camille Olry-Roederer stepped into when she took over the champagne house Louis Roederer after losing her second husband in 1932 (her first husband had died in World War I). Sales were 264,000 bottles that year, compared to 2.3 million bottles in 1876. But like the other women of Champagne […]

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Veuve Clicquot Champagne: Riddle Me This!

Above: Designer Karim Rashid created a Love Seat for Veuve Clicquot’s Yellow By Design exhibition, a modern take of an 18th century love seat blended with the rose colour seats to complement the Veuve Clicquot wine. Part 1: Champagne Widows Madame Clicquot wasn’t just a saleswoman, she also developed the technique called remuage or riddling, to remove sediment from the wine – a method that was quickly adopted throughout the Champagne region. Veuve Clicquot Riddling Table The second fermentation in the bottle that gives champagne its carbon dioxide also creates sediment, which gives the wine an unsightly cloudy appearance.  To […]

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The Merry Widows of Mousse: Champagne Widows

They were all young women whose families owned the great champagne houses at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. When they lost their husbands to war or illness, they did not do what was expected: step aside or sell the business.  Nor did they marry again (though they were still in their twenties and thirties), handing over the reins to a new husband. Instead, these celebrated veuves, or widows, took control of their châteaux to produce some of the most prestigious wines in the world – wines that still bear their names: Veuve Clicquot, Pommery, Laurent-Perrier, Roederer and […]

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What is Wine’s Role in Modern Madness? Finding Our Humanity Drop by Drop

Editor’s Note: I wrote this magazine piece on wine and civility 13 years ago, after 9/11. However, the search for civility in everyday life has more resonance than ever, with the riots in Ferguson, ISIS, Jian Ghomeshi, Gamergate, unfettered consumerism, and the mysogenous micro-aggressions that women face daily on social media. I welcome your thoughts here: never lose is your voice. In Vino Civilitatis The trouble with moderation is that it’s hard to get excited about it. Until now. After September 11, moderation seems to be rarer than a California cult cabernet. Finding the moderate and the civilized in everyday […]

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Dom Perignon Champagne1998 Vintage Wine Tasting Sparkles

By Melissa Pulvermacher When I think about Dom Pérignon Champagne, I think of luxury and pleasure. Now, more-so than ever, that opinion has amplified beyond pleasure into absolute bliss. After attending a private tasting of the soon to be released to Ontario, Dom Pérignon P2-1998 with Chef de Cave, Richard Geoffroy, I have an entirely new excitement for the potential of Dom Pérignon Champagne. Dom Pérignon is always a vintage Champagne, which means production only occurs in ideal years. 1998 was one of the rare years that led a triple vintage where 1998, 1999 and 2000 were all great years […]

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