Like Father, Like Daughter: Nicolas and Laura Catena

Continued from Part 3 of Argentine Wine The Catena Alta Malbec Cabernet we’re drinking smolders in the glass. Its sultry edge is more enticing than the sweet, soupy international style of many brand name grapes. Nicolás believes that drinkers are shifting away from the herbal flavors of Cabernet and turning more toward wines like Malbec (and Syrah, Tempranillo, and Grenache) that have fleshy dark red fruit and violet flavors. Blending Malbec and Cabernet grapes is still traditional: “These blends give us French elegance and Latin passion,” as Nicolás explains. However, he no longer believes that Malbec needs Cabernet Sauvignon—or any […]

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Argentina’s Wine Visionary Sees the Future Rooted in the Past

Continued from Part 4 of Argentine Wine The 1982 Falklands War with Britain also didn’t help the economy or exports. Then there was hyper-inflation that exceeded 3,000 percent a month, which discouraged foreign investment. Vintners made up for the lost revenue by producing high volumes of poor-quality wines that smelled like bananas rotting in an attic. Meanwhile, neighboring Chile’s economy was much more stable and the country was already producing more wine than it could consume, so it was focused on export in the 1980s. Chile took advantage of this to position itself at the very low end of the […]

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The Making of a Wine Lover: That First Glass

I remember the night I tasted my first good wine. My future husband Andrew and I had just graduated from university and were enjoying our “wealth” relative to our student days. We dined out a lot and our favorite place was a small Italian restaurant around the corner from our apartment. The first time we went there, the owner, a tall, burly man with fierce dark eyes, asked us if we’d like to try the Brunello. We thought at first it was a regional dish, but it turned out to be a red wine from central Italy. We were relieved […]

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What are Your Earliest Memories of Drinking Wine?

Continued from Part 1 of The Making of a Wine Lover When we finally got up to leave, we realized that the restaurant was empty. We said good night to the owner and he slapped Andrew on the back as if he were choking on a bread stick. That was the first of many happy evenings there and we drank that Brunello for a year. A pilot light had been ignited inside me; over time it would grow into the flames of full-blown passion. Today, I joke that I started drinking seriously when I met Andrew. However, my earliest experiences […]

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10 Best Moscato d’Asti Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti

Moscato d’Asti is a fragrant and slightly fizzy DOCG dessert wine produced in the Northern Italian region of Piedmont. You’ll find my most recent Moscato d’Asti reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Moscato d’Asti: Moscato d’Asti is produced from the Moscato Bianco (white Muscat) grape in and around the town of Asti. The hub of Asti production being the tiny village of Canelli. Moscato Bianco is the fourth most planted grape in Italy and perhaps the first cultivated vine in Piedmont. Moscato d’Asti is often mentioned in the company of its relative wine Asti. The two have many differences. […]

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10 Best Zinfandel Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Zinfandel

Zinfandel is a vitis vinifera red wine grape that produces deep robust wines, most famously from California. You’ll find my most recent Zinfandel reviews and ratings here. Surprising Facts about Zinfandel: 1. Zinfandel’s high sugar content means it can be fermented into highly alcoholic wines sometimes in excess of 15%.  Zinfandel is generally early ripening as compared to other grapes and grows in very tight bunches. These tight bunches are prone to bunch rot and uneven ripening. Zinfandel grows best in warm climates but there is cool climate Zinfandel. 2. The origin of Zinfandel seems to be Croatia where Zinfandel […]

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10 Best Ripasso Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso

Ripasso is not a grape variety, but rather a winemaking process, made famous in Italy. This sends the wine into a second fermentation and gives the wine more tannins, body, flavour, and alcohol. You’ll find my top 10 Ripasso reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Ripasso: 1. The wine of Valpolicella, made from a combination of native Italian grapes most commonly Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, is re-passed over the leftover grape skins and seeds of the wine, also known as its pomace. 2. Some refer to the Ripasso style of wine as a “baby amarone,” more powerful than […]

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10 Best Valpolicella Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Valpolicella

Valpolicella, like Chianti, is a style of wine from a specific region of Italy bearing the name Valpolicella. Valpolicella is not an actual grape variety. You’ll find my most recent Valpolicella  reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Valpolicella: The grapes that are typically used to make Valpolicella include Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara. The area known as Valpolicella is a part of the greater wine region known as the Veneto and is inside the province of Verona, in the North East of Italy. Valpolicella labels can give you clues as to what wine you can expect from the wine […]

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10 Best Carignan Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan

It’s hard to imagine that the Carignan grape used to play such a big role in France’s wine history, yet most wine drinkers have never heard of Carignan. Today, this red wine grape is mostly used as a blending wine, known for its rich dark color. You’ll find my Top 10 Carignan reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Carignan: 1. In France, Carignan was the most planted grape variety from the 1960s to 2000.  In fact, in the late 90s there were more than 150,000 acres of Carignan vines planted in France. 2. Why so popular?  Two words: large […]

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10 Best Barbera Wines to Buy Now + 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera

Barbera is both the name of a grape and of the red wine it produces. Its ancestral home is in the Piedmont region of Northern Italy, from the vineyards around the towns of Asti, Alexandria and Casale Monferrato. You’ll find my Top 10 Barbera reviews and ratings here. 5 Surprising Facts about Barbera: 1. Unlike Barolo and Barberesco, Barbera is not considered a classic grape. It is Italy’s most common red grape. 2. In 1985 Barbera producers added methanol to their wines. Thirty people died as a result, and many were left with affected sight including blindness. The fallout from bad […]

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