Above: Acclaimed Italian winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, pouring his wines at an tasting in New York City earlier this year.
Tuscany’s Brunello di Montalcino is one of the world’s most celebrated wines. From Rome to New York, from San Francisco to Hong Kong, it is one of the most collected and coveted wines of all time.
But wine lovers cannot live by Brunello di Montalcino alone. A powerful wine, intended for long-term aging, Brunello is great for pairing with classic hearty Tuscan dishes like Florentine steak and wild boar sauce over pasta. But it’s not the type of wine you open every day.
That’s why thirty-something grape grower and winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, a fourth-generation producer of Brunello who works for one of the area’s most famous wineries (Tenuta Il Poggione) decided to make the Mazzoni line of food-friendly, ready-to-drink whites and reds.
The first was a classic “Super Tuscan” blend of Sangiovese — the quintessential Italian red grape — and Merlot. Inspired by the great Merlot of Napa Valley, California, this rich, fruit-driven wine is an affordable and approachable red that over-delivers when it comes to price and value. The Merlot gives the wine its richness, while the Sangiovese gives it the vibrancy that make Tuscan red wines stand apart from the crowd.
Next came the Mazzoni 100% Barbera, from the northern region of Piedmont. Barbera is known for its freshness and its bright fruit flavors, one of the Italians’ favorite wines to open at the dinner table. But winemaker Alessandro was disappointed to see so many Barberas that had been aged in oak barrels that overpowered the wine’s flavor that he decided to make his own, which he ages in stainless-steel, thus preserving the natural character of this versatile grape.
The success of the first two led the young winemaker to try his hand at white wines. Most people think of Tuscany as a producer of “big” red wines. But Alessandro looked west to the Tuscan coastline, where the gentle rolling hills and sea breeze create the ideal conditions for crisp, bright white wines.
His Vermentino-Chardonnay blend combines the classic white grape of the Tuscan riviera, Vermentino, with the international Chardonnay, which gives the wine some added structure. It was inspired by the white wines that you find in Alessandro’s favorite seaside restaurants, where Tuscany’s bountiful seafood calls for light, refreshing whites.
The quartet of Mazzoni wines is rounded out by Alessandro’s Pinot Grigio, a wine that many top wine writers have called a “Super Tuscan White.” It’s richer then the lighter-style Pinot Grigio that comes from northern Italy. Alessandro attributes its structure and complexity to the rich soils of Tuscany, where so many of Italy’s most famous wines are made.
Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (pictured above in a seminar he led last week in Austin, Texas) is making his New York Wine Experience debut this week, pouring the Tenuta Il Poggione 2007 Brunello di Montalcino (see details below). He is also pouring his wines at the Terlato Wines International Trade tasting (details below).
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24
1:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Terlato Wines Tasting
111 East 56th Street
between Park & Madison Aves
New York NY
Featured Wines: Rosso di Montalcino 2011, Brunello di Montalcino 2007, Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Paganelli 2007, and Brunello di Montalcino Riserva Paganelli 2006 (magnum)
Featured Wine: Brunello di Montalcino 2007 – booth #6348
Above: The “vaporetto” or “water bus” of Venice.
One of the most important things to remember when you travel to Italy is that Italian reserve ciao as a salutation for friends and family. Buon giorno (good day) and buona sera (good evening) are used in any and all professional settings and when strangers meet and/or interact.
Most don’t realize that if you say ciao to someone you don’t know, it could be interpreted as condescension or an insult. (When you address someone you don’t know with ciao, it implies that you belong to a higher rung in the social ladder. The President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano can say ciao to someone he meets in a shop, for example, but if you or I say ciao to a salesperson in a shop, it will be met with a cold shoulder.)
So whether you dine in a restaurant, visit a retail shop, or buy a ticket for the vaporetto water bus in Venice, always use buon giorno (boo’OHN JOHR-noh) or buona sera (boo’OHN-ah SEH-rah) to greet the waiter, salesperson, or ticket seller.
These expressions can also be used to say good-bye. For the next post in our “speak like an Italian” series, we’ll write about good-byes. :)
love LOVE fresh fruit.
And they serve fresh fruit at nearly every meal.
When you visit Italy’s major cities, it seems that nearly every neighborhood has its own fruttivendolo (FROOT-tee-VEHN-doh-loh), a store that sells primarily fruit (as well as produce and other groceries).
Of course, who wouldn’t eat that much fresh fruit if you had the natural abundance of gorgeous, delicious fresh fruit that the Italians do?
When you visit a fruttivendolo, be sure not to touch the merchandise.
Have a look at want you want and then tell the shopkeeper how much you want of each fruit (in weight).
She/he will weigh and bag it for you.
Earlier this week, we received this dispatch from the Tenuta il Poggione in the heart of Tuscany where winemaker Alessandro Bindocci makes Mazzoni wines…
On Monday morning we were planning to begin the harvest of the white grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, and Moscadello di Montalcino.
But at 5 a.m. there was a strong rainfall, which lasted until 6 a.m. It forced us to postpone the picking until tomorrow.
But this is not a problem. The rain does not create damage to the grapes.
The white grapes are at the right point of ripening. They are healthy and have the right ratio of acidity to sugars.
It’s still too early to begin picking the Vermentino grapes. We will surely have to wait another ten days.
The soon-to-arrive new vintages of the Mazzoni line of wines has a new look.
And our Bianco di Toscana is now called simply “Vermentino-Chardonnay.”
Look for the new labels coming soon!
From the current issue of Southern Beverage Journal:
Above: Una passeggiata in Brindisi (Apulia). Photo via Where to Go in Italy.
As the workday winds down and the hot summer sun begins to loosen its grip on the local central piazza, Italians take to the streets to perform a time-honored social ritual called la passeggiata (lah PAHS-seh-JAH-tah).
From young lovers to elderly couples to entire extended families, the locals take a leisurely stroll arm-in-arm to see and be seen. La passeggiata is performed in some of the most famous main streets and piazze in the world (from Piazza Spagna in Rome to Piazza San Marco in Venice), but even in the smallest villages, the local population comes out for a pre-dinner strut.
This is a time for catching up with friends, showing off new babies, and hearing the gossip about town. It is also customary in the larger cities to incorporate aperitivo into the passeggiata.
Seaside towns in the summer have an especially lively passeggiata. The hours can to extend to midnight, with the second passeggiata taking place after dinner. Children (and adults!) devour a fresh gelato while feeling the warm sea breeze and enjoying people-watching in the vacationing crowd.
If you want to fare la passeggiata like an Italian, leave your fanny packs at home. Put on your flashy new clothes, best cologne, and join the crowd!
Ferragosto, for the vast majority of Italians, means one thing: HOLIDAY. It’s a time of mass exodus from the cities to the beaches and mountains. Store fronts are shuttered with signs saying Chiuso per ferie or closed for vacation, and normally bustling town centers become deserted.
The date August 15is technically the day of Ferragosto, but the typical break period is the entire month of August. (Though nowadays we are seeing a trend toward a shorter 2 week vacation.)
Ferragosto, however, is not an arbitrarily designated holiday. Like most things Italian, it has its roots in antiquity. The term itself is a derivative of the Latin feriae Augusti, which is a reference to the fact the original holidays were implemented by emperor Augustus in the first century B.C. This “bank holiday” of sorts coincided with the already practiced harvest festivities to grant a nice time of rest after the hard agricultural labor cycle.
August 15 is also the day when the assumption of the virgin Mary is observed.
If you plan to visit Italy in August, just remember that you may find much of the tourist cities chiuso per ferie… Head to the beach instead and join the Italian masses in celebration of a much-anticipated time of year.
Here’s a list of simple Italian sayings that can really come in handy, especially when you’re trying to say have a great weekend!
Buon lavoro = may your work be fruitful.
Buona lettura = enjoy your reading.
Buona lezione = may the lecture/class be fruitful.
Buon seminario = may the seminar/class be fruitful.
Buono studio = may your study be fruitful.
Buon appetito = enjoy your food.
Buon ascolto = enjoy the music [listening].
Buona degustazione = enjoy the tasting.
Buona spaghettata = enjoy your spaghetti [pasta].
Buona visione = enjoy the movie.
Buona continuazione = enjoy the rest of your day/activity.
Buona domenica = enjoy your day of rest [the day of the Lord].
Buone feste = happy holidays.
Buon fine settimana [buon weekend] = have a great weekend.
Buona permanenza = enjoy your stay.
Buon proseguimento = enjoy the rest of your stay/activity.
Buone vacanze = enjoy your vacation.
Buon viaggio = have a safe trip.
Buon volo = have a safe flight.
Buon weekend [buon fine settimana] = have a great weekend.
Buona guarigione = I wish you a speedy recovery.
Buon riposo = sleep well [get well soon].
Buona giornata = have a great day.
Buon giorno = good day [greetings].
Buona notte = good night [good-bye].
Buon pomeriggio = good afternoon [greetings].
Buona sera = good evening [greetings].
Buona serata = have a great evening.
Which ones are we missing? Please feel free to add others in the comment section…
A post today from Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci:
The land where we make wine is in the province of Siena. It takes about 40 minutes from my house in Sant’Angelo in Colle, depending on how fast you drive, to get to the historical centre of Siena.
Siena is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in Italy and it is also home to the Enoteca Nazionale, which is a wine store and education studio where you can learn about and taste wines from all the regions of Italy.
There are many amazing works of art and things to see in Siena.
In 2009 the Duomo of Siena unveiled four restored statues by Michelangelo Buonarotti, including his depiction of San Paolo (St. Paul) which is considered the Renaissance master’s earliest self-portrait.
This is just one of the many amazing things to visit this summer if you are coming to the Montalcino and Sant’Angelo in Colle wine country.
Image via Wikipedia.
If you like living like an Italian as much as we do, then we know you’re going to love this wonderful piece (and accompanying video) in today’s New York Times on Italian hand gestures.
According to the story, an Italian scholar has identified 250 hand gestures commonly used by Italians in every day speech.
Mazzoni Pinot Grigio is “a remarkable incarnation of the grape” writes wine blogger Chris Kassel on his popular wine blog, Intoxicology Report.
The wine delivers “a vibrant and lush cornucopia of tropical flavors—pineapple, mango and a hint of banana along with shivery acidity, pronounced minerality and a rich, fruit-filled finish.”
Above, from left: Will Rogers (Mazzoni ambassador) with Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes winners Ed and Amy from Atlanta.
Ed and Mary from Atlanta were this week’s winners of the Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes.
Their prizes included a stove-top coffeemaker by Bialetti, an icon of Italian coffee.
In accordance with new Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau policy requiring wine industry social media to report publishing information, we would like to share the following:
Live Like an Italian is published by Terlato Wines International, Lake Bluff, Illinois, USA.
Image via Prime Minister Enrico Letta’s blog.
Letta received from the president Giorgio Napolitano on 24 April 2013 the task of forming a new government, after weeks of deadlock following the 2013 general election. On 27 April 2013, Letta formally accepted the task of heading a new grand coalition government (with support from his party, right-wing People of Freedom and the centrist Civic Choice) and presented the list of members of his cabinet.
The third youngest Italian to become head of state, Letta became Italy’s first prime minister to appoint an African Italian to a government post when he made Cécile Kyenge his minister of Integration.
Here are some of the fun prizes you can win:
Today, the world of wine mourns the loss of Franco Biondi Santi, one of the greatest producers of Brunello di Montalcino. The following is a translation of a press release issued by the Consortium of Brunello di Montalcino, including a remembrance by consortium president Fabrizio Bindocci, winemaker at the Tenuta Il Poggione where Mazzoni wines are produced.
“One of the greatest symbols of Italian wine’s quality and excellence in the world has passed away. Without a doubt, he was one of the most important architects of the success of Brunello di Montalino on an international level. Thanks to him, Brunello is one of the best known and most appreciated made-in-Italy brands. With his passing, the Consortium and the entire appellation not only lose a great producer but also a very great man who was known for his profound sensibility and humanity. We owe a great deal to him and we are sure that his example and his ability will be carried forward by those who will succeed him in his leadership at the winery. The next time that the Council meets, it will consider potential initiatives to honor his memory in the best way possible.”
These were the words with which the President of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino Fabrizio Bindoci remembered Franco Biondi Santi, who had led the Tenuta Greppo di Montalcino since the 1970s.
The Mayor of Montalcino, Silvio Franceshelli, also shared his condolences with the Biondi Santi family and added: “I am profoundly saddened by the passing of a figure who gave a great deal to this land. It is thanks to him that Montalcino is so well known throughout the world and at such a high level. He was a man who enriched Montalcino and we will forever be grateful.”
In 1934, the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry recognized Franco Biondi Santi’s grandfather Ferruccio as the “inventor of Brunello.” In 1994, Decanter awarded 10/10 (a perfect score) to the 1891, a wine that was 103 years old at the time. In 1999, Wine Spectator rated the 1955 Riserva as one of the “best twelve wines produced in the world in the twentieth century.”
Above: A bee feasts on the blossoming flowers of a rosemary bush. Easter and the arrival of spring are a time of renewal and rebirth.
In many ways, Easter is a “bigger” holiday in Italy than Christmas is.
Indeed, until the time of the Napoleonic conquest, many Italian city states observed and celebrated the new year at Easter and not the week after Christmas as they do now.
Above: A wild rosemary bush in Puglia.
Easter and the official arrival of spring are a time of renewal and rebirth. And while many Italian families certainly will gather for Christmas celebrations in December in their hometowns, Easter is the yearly holiday that nearly all families will celebrate together.
And no Easter celebration is complete without roast “Paschal” lamb that has been seasoned with rosemary, a traditional spice used in Italy — especially southern Italy — for lamb.
Happy Easter to you and your family from the family at the Live Like an Italian blog.
We’ll see you next week. Buona pasqua…
But as bothersome as the snow and rain can be, he says, they are good for the vines.
Emilio Pucci, the darling designer of the 1960s icons such as Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, lived a charmed life and nurtured a successful career in the international fashion industry.
Born into Florentine nobility in 1914, Emilio Pucci lived a life of privilege from the very beginning. An avid skiier, Pucci was awarded a scholarship to Reed College in Oregon, which would later provide him with one of his first prefessional design opportunities.
Shortly after World War II, while skiing in Switzerland, a photographer from Harper’s Bazaar asked Emilio to design a line of ski wear for a winter edition of the magazine. His use of fitted, stretchy fabrics caused an immediate sensation.
The international jet-set quickly became fans of Pucci’s designs while passing through the resort island, where he lived. This caught the attention of such famous stores as Neiman Marcus, whose owner encouraged him to expand his line from bikinis and scarves to blouses and beyond. His fame in America was solidified and his brightly-colored, geometric patterns became ubiquitous among the fashion savvy.
Pucci was commissioned to design uniforms for Braniff Airlines and he even designed a logo for the Apollo 15 space mission.
His marriage to Baronessa Cristina Nannini produced a daughter, Laudomia, who would design for the label after Pucci’s death in 1992. Luxury giant Louis Vuitton Moet-Hennessy bought a controlling stake in the company 2000 and began to bring in famous designers to create for the label such as Christian Lacroix.
The recognizable swirls and angles of Pucci’s prints remain a staple of high fashion and wardrobes of the jet-set today. They have achieved a classic status in the fickle fashion industry, a significant accomplishment by any measure.
Image via Wikipedia.
The nativity scene is part of the popular Christmas iconography all over the Christian world, but nowhere is it elevated to such an art form as it is in Naples.
While Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with introducing the first living nativity scene in 1223, scenes with statues are mentioned in Neapolitan church documents as early as 1025. The current style of presepio napoletano, however, began its evolution in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
A Neapolitan nativity scene (image via the Wiki).
What sets them apart is that the holy figures are set in the midst of scenes from every day life, usually life from the eighteenth century. Great pride is taken in the construction of these pieces which is respected as a true art form in all of Campania.
The nativity scene is of greater cultural importance than the Christmas tree and is constructed and displayed in most homes on December 8, the feast day of the Immaculate Conception. The baby Jesus figurine is placed in its crib on the night of Christmas Eve.
On via San Gregorio Armeno in the heart of Naples’ historic center, artisan shops sell presepio scenes and figurines year round. In addition to the holy characters, the classic characters to be found in the nativity scenes include the pulcinello, fisherman, monk, female gypsy, and Bacchus.
Recently, many artisans have taken to creating figurines of contemporary characters as well. The famous Neapolitan comedic actor Totò is probably the most popular, along with Eduardo de Filippo. Prominent Italian politicians can even be found, as well as Americans such as Barak Obama.
Saint Nick is not only a popular cultural icon in the United States, he is celebrated and honored in Italy as well on December 6th, the feast of San Nicola.
Born in 270 AD, San Nicola was raised in the former ancient Greek port city of Myra, in modern-day Turkey. His parents were wealthy, but died in an epidemic when he was young. Nicola was raised by his uncle to be a priest, and he eventually became bishop of his city.
In his life, he was known for his generosity, having given his entire inheritance to help the poor. The most popular story of San Nicola is that he helped a destitute man with three young daughters who had no money for a dowry. In those days, lacking a dowry meant that a girl was destined to be sold into slavery, most likely as a prostitute. Hearing his story, Nicola secretly tossed a bag of gold through the man’s window on the three occasions of the daughters’ coming-of-age. These bags are said to have landed in the shoes left by the fire overnight to dry (some say the bags landed in their socks) giving birth to the tradition of hanging stockings for Saint Nick.
He is also the patron saint of sailors (among many other things) and many namesake churches have been erected in port cities all over Europe. Traveling back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land, his ship encountered a horrific storm. As the sailors panicked, Nicola quietly prayed and the storm ceased. For this he is associated with protecting the seafaring men of the world.
San Nicola is the patron saint of Bari, where half of his relics are stored in the Basilica di San Nicola. It is said that inhabitants of this city sought to save his remains from the impending Islamic occupation. In 1087, they took the larger bones and left the smaller pieces, which were eventually transferred to a church in Venice.
The Festa di San Nicola marks the beginning of the Italian Christmas holidays and children all over Italy receive a gift from him on December 6th. He gave birth the the Italian icon, Babbo Natale (Father Christmas), and the jolly Santa Claus that we know and love in the United States.
Happy holidays, everyone!