DRINK LIKE AN ITALIAN

The Great Wine Glass Debate: What Should You Drink Mazzoni Out Of?

If you’ve ever set out to buy a new set of wine glasses, you’re already familiar with the abundance of options available. There are an overwhelming number of styles and shapes to choose from — crystal or glass, with stems or without, clear or colored. And don’t forget about the wine glasses designed for specific grape varieties. Do you really need a special Pinot Noir glass to enjoy a glass of it?

4vitis

via Riedel

I remember when the Austrian glassware company, Riedel, released a new wine glass specifically designed to drink Malbec out of a few years ago. I was intrigued by the idea. I’m not generally a big drinker of Malbec — at least not the ones from Argentina. Often, I find them too high in alcohol and hot on the nose, with super ripe fruity aromas that aren’t always pleasing. But maybe this new Malbec glass could change that, I thought.

It didn’t. At least, not all that much. I compared the same wine poured into three different glasses — the new Malbec glass, the glass I usually drink reds from, and my typical white wine glass. The experience of drinking the wine in the Malbec glass and my usual red wine glass were nearly identical, but I learned that I should stick to drinking only whites from the other one.

So does it really matter what you drink your wine out of? Well…yes and no.

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You should certainly be drinking wine out of wine glasses. If you were to pour the same wine in a water glass and another in a wine glass, I assure you that you’d notice the difference in aromas and flavors.

The first thing you need to know when picking out a wine glass is to always stick with clear glasses so you are able to observe a wine’s color. While you don’t need a specific glass for Cabernet, another for Pinot Noir, and one more for Chardonnay, some wine glass shapes are better suited for certain wines. I use a Cabernet Sauvignon glass for all reds, and a Chardonnay glass for my whites, which I also drink my sparkling wines from. No need for a flute!

Almost important as having a set of good everyday wine glasses is serving wine at the right temperature. If the wine is too hot, the smell of alcohol will be overpowering, no matter what glass you ultimately end up pouring it into. And for the same reason, be sure to drink your wine from wine glasses that have stems. Those trendy stemless tumblers may be fun, but your hand gripped around them warms whatever is inside.

In the end, you don’t need to worry so much about having the perfect wine glass for your specific bottle. As long as you aren’t sipping your wine from a red Solo cup or mason jar, you’re already doing something right.

Shelby Vittek Shelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews and education for Live Like An Italian.


Drinking White After Labor Day

After a long and exceptionally hot summer, I’ve been welcoming this crisp autumn air and embracing the flavors of fall’s bounty. I’ve willingly stored my flip-flops and bathing suits away until next year, but there’s one summery thing I refuse to give up: drinking white wine. I know wearing white after Labor Day can be considered a major faux pas, but there’s no reason you shouldn’t still be drinking white wines.

Mazzoni-PinotGrigio2014-p19lmeuekg1irv1ddj10qk160lep6There are plenty of white wines that are more than fit for fall. At this time of year, I often look for whites with bigger body and texture, and sometimes prefer whites with ripe flavors of orchard fruits like apple, pear, or quince. The Mazzoni Pinot Grigio meets all these requirements. Light straw yellow in the glass, it’s full of ripe pear aromas and full flavors, with refreshing acidity on the finish. It’s a pleasurable and fresh wine, certainly more complex than most pinot grigios I’ve tasted in the past.

This is the first year I’ve signed up for a fall CSA, which stands for Community-Supported Agriculture, and is basically a weekly seasonal share of local produce. Each week, as I head to pick up my share, I have no idea what’s going to be inside it. I’ve so far enjoyed the challenge of preparing my weekly meals based on what I’m given every week, but sometimes I get thrown a curveball — a vegetable or herb I’ve never cooked with or eaten. Perhaps a fruit I’ve never baked with before.

Earlier this month, a mysterious looking vegetable appeared in my CSA share. It was kohlrabi, an alien-looking root vegetable, something I would have never bought for myself at a grocery store. After a few minutes of researching online and paging through cookbooks, I found a recipe for kohlrabi risotto. I already had most of the ingredients required — kohlrabi, Arborio rice, Parmigiano-Reggiano, onion, chicken stock, and most importantly, white wine — so decided to make it for the first time for dinner.

Shelby

Now, making risotto is no easy task. It requires a little bit of love and a lot of patience. But there are rewards should you choose to invest your time in the process. The recipe I followed, like most risotto recipes, required wine. To be exact, I needed a ½ cup of dry, white wine. Luckily, I had an unopened bottle of Mazzoni Pinot Grigio in my fridge to use. Yes, I used a half-cup of a beautiful wine to cook with. But trust me, if you don’t like a wine enough to drink it, you shouldn’t cook with it. Don’t you want the same balance and liveliness on your plate as you have in your glass? I know I do.

Another bonus of cooking risotto is the remainder of the bottle of wine you get to drink. As I carefully tended to the pan of risotto on my stove, I sipped on a glass of Mazzoni Pinot Grigio and snacked on bites of Parmigiano-Reggiano. The final result was just as pleasant as the process of preparing it.

Shelby VittekShelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews for Live Like An Italian.


Have You Tried the Perfect Beach Wine?

wine lakeItalians haven’t been the only ones enjoying a vacation this month. I’ve spent a great deal of time at the beach over the past few weeks, too. Which means I’ve spent plenty of time contemplating and researching what, exactly, makes a great beach wine.

It has been an especially hot August here on the East Coast. So it’s been almost necessary to fill my fridge with crisp, dry, and refreshing white wines to help stay cool. My latest wine infatuation has been with the latest vintage of Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay. Whether my day involved swimming, surfing, or just sitting in the sand, I looked forward to having a glass at home in my family’s beach house.

MazzoniVermentinoChardonnay2014Bottle_4CA blend of 75% vermentino and 25% chardonnay, it’s truly a beautiful wine, offering character and pleasant flavors at a very fair price. The vermentino brings brightness and freshness to the wine. And thanks to a touch of chardonnay, it’s richer and fuller bodied than the typical pinot grigio — the Italian white wine you might be more familiar with. Full of lime zest and green pear aromas, precise minerality and bright acidity on the finish, the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay was always revitalizing after a long day in the hot sun.

I believe that any wine that qualifies as a great beach wine should also be fit for a seafood feast. Several times, the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay passed the test. It’s an approachable wine to drink alone, but really shines alongside steamed clams or a dinner of freshly caught fish. The wine even paired well with an array of grilled vegetables.

It makes sense for the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay to be a pleasant accompaniment to any beach trip. After all, most of the grapes used to make this wine were grown off the western coast of Italy, in the Maremma. Vermentino craves the sea and thrives in these coastal areas of Tuscany. The last time I visited vineyards in the Maremma, I could sometimes see the blue sea in the distance, and on cool, breezy days, would catch a whiff of it in the air. And you can absolutely taste the sea’s influence in the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay — from its obvious saline minerality to its crisp freshness, it clearly offers a taste of the sea.

Wine pool

If you haven’t been able to enjoy the Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay after a summer beach day, you still have a few weeks left to do so. But don’t worry too much if you can’t — its refreshing qualities will last well into fall, when you just might need this bright reminder of the sea once again.

Shelby VittekShelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews for Live Like An Italian.


The Wine You Should Be Drinking This Spring

Who says the perfect spring wine needs to be zippy and white, or popularly pink? After all, it’s a season that’s all about transitions. Flowers don’t just bloom overnight, and our mornings still require a jacket, even if it’s just a light one. We don’t swap our snow boots for flip flops right away either. So why shouldn’t our preference for wine get time to adjust as well?

I’ve never been able to immediately switch from drinking the big, bold reds of winter to the lighter wines often associated with spring. Which is why my go-to wine of the moment is the just-released Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana 2012. A beautiful blend of 78% Sangiovese and 28% Merlot, the wine offers the best of the Old and New worlds. Juicy, with hints of anise and dried herbs, and velvety tannins, it has just enough depth, warmth, and weight to be comforting. But it also embodies the very best aspects of spring in a glass. Its bright red color and abundant aromas of berries and cherries are lively and fresh — a refreshing sensory wake up call from the heavier wines of winter I’ve lately grown accustomed to drinking.

MZI_05An even more important quality I look for in a good transition wine for spring is the ability to pair well with a range of different dishes. This is something you don’t often have to worry about with Italian wines. The cliché is usually true — Italian wines go well with food, perhaps better than any other wines in the world. With lots of acidity and elegant tannins, I’ve found that red wines from Italy are simply made for the table.

Now that the snow has finally melted and eating outside is possible again, I find myself craving all sorts of grilled foods. Over a sunny weekend earlier this month, I cleaned off the grill with a strong craving for steak. I threw on a few in-season vegetables, and uncorked the Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana 2012. Before long, I had a meal that rivaled one I enjoyed in Tuscany last year, with a wine that was the perfect companion. And don’t forget about classic comfort Italian dishes. The next evening, I finished the wine with a plate of homemade spaghetti and meatballs, wishing for another glass as soon as it was gone.

This spring, don’t be so quick to rush into drinking wines better suited for summer. Enjoy the newest vintage of Mazzoni’s Rosso di Toscana — both now and through the end of the year.

Shelby VittekShelby Vittek is an award-winning food, wine, and travel writer, and a current contributor at Terroirist.com. She provides accessible, approachable wine reviews for Live Like An Italian.


Become an Expert: The Essential Guide to Prestigious Italian White Wine

I love everything about Italy: the culture, landscape, people, places, industry (read bicycles and motorcycles), but especially the food and wine. I’m so lucky for the opportunities I’ve had throughout my several years in the wine industry. One of my favorites has to be the times I’ve attended Gambero Rosso’s annual event called “Tre Bicchieri”. For many years it’s been held only in New York and San Francisco, but our great city of Chicago was added six years ago and it has become a huge success. The three tastings are usually held in mid-February, with the winemakers traveling from city to city to attend, sharing their wines and wisdom. (more…)


Drink Like an Italian: An Italian Thanksgiving

The holidays are here, which only means one thing: there’s lots of food and wine in our future. Between the grocery shopping, turkey prepping, and table setting, Thanksgiving can become a stressful time for everyone.

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Image via Shutterstock

Luckily, Italians never seem to be stressed around the holidays. That’s because they live by the simple mantra, “No food without wine and no wine without food.” As long as there’s food and wine, it’s a party!

(more…)


Drink like an Italian: Barbera?

best barbera italy wine

What is Barbera and where does it come from? And most importantly, why does a Tuscan winemaker use it to make one of his favorite wines?

Let’s face it: Not a lot of folks in America know what Barbera is. They may know their Cabernet from their Chardonnay and maybe their Merlot from their Malbec. But in more cases than not, most American wine lovers have ever heard of Barbera.

In fact, Barbera (pronounced bahr-BEH-rah) is one of Italy’s most popular grape varieties. Especially in northern Italy, it’s a dinnertime favorite for people who enjoy light-bodied, food-friendly red wines.

The thing that sets Barbera apart is its high amounts of natural acidity.

Acidity, you ask with a sour face?

As harsh as the word sounds, acidity in wine is actually a good thing. It’s what gives wine its freshness and it’s one of the components in a balanced wine that helps to make it food-friendly.

Just as acidity in vinegar or lemon juice helps to “cook” food in marinades, acidity in wine helps to draw out the flavors in food pairings.

That’s just one of the reasons why Italians love it so much.

So why is a Tuscan winemaker in central Italy like Alessandro Bindocci, who is known for his Mazzoni Sangiovese-Merlot blend, making a Barbera using grapes grown in northern Italy?

He fell in love with Barbera during his travels across the north of Italy. But he was disappointed to discover that many winemakers prefer oaky and overly concentrated versions of Barbera wines. And so he decided that he would make Barbera the way that he likes it: in a clean and refreshing style, light bodied, with fresh fruit aromas and flavors.

His family partnered with grape growers in the Asti region northwestern Italy, where the most famous bottles of Barbera are produced.

And thus was born his delicious Mazzoni Piemonte (Piedmont) Barbera, one of the best and most value-driven bottles of Barbera available in the U.S. today.


What does Rosso di Toscana IGT mean?

sangiovese grapes

Above: The Sangiovese grape is the quintessential red variety of Italy. It’s grown all over the country, from the farthest points north to the island of Sicily. But the best Sangiovese wines come from Tuscany, where Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana is made.

The literal translation of “Rosso di Toscana” is “red [wine] from Tuscany.”

“IGT” on the other hand is an acronym for indicazione geografica tipica, which rendered in English, means “typical geographic indication.”

“Rosso di Toscana IGT” is the name of an appellation.

What’s an appellation?

An appellation is a designation or name given to specific wine producing area. Not only does it denote a geographic area, but it also lays out the grapes and winemaking methods that can be used in that area.

In this case, the Rosso di Toscana IGT covers the entire region of Tuscany, where some of Italy’s most famous wines are made.

The Rosso di Toscana IGT was created many years ago for wines that were made in Tuscany but that didn’t belong to a given appellation.

For example, Brunello di Montalcino must be made with 100 percent Sangiovese grapes.

If you live in Montalcino (the village where both Brunello di Montalcino and Mazzoni Rosso di Toscana IGT are made) and you want to make a wine that has grapes other than Sangiovese in it, you can’t call it Brunello di Montalcino but you can call it Rosso di Toscana IGT.

And that’s exactly what the winemaker at Mazzoni, Alessandro Bindocci, did.

Because he wanted to make a blend of Sangiovese and Merlot, he called it a Rosso di Toscana IGT.

The Sangiovese — Italy’s most important red grape — gives the wine its zing and its brilliant fruit notes. The Merlot gives it a smooth texture, rich color, and depth of flavor.

It’s a perfect balance of what the two grapes have to offer.

And it’s a Rosso di Toscana IGT!


Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci featured @TastingPanel @TomCaestecker

alessandro bindocci tasting panel poggione brunello

True to the Roots

By Thomas Caestecker
Tasting Panel, December 2013

A deft balance of innovation and tradition allows Il Poggione to stand out in Montalcino.

The aspect of tradition is so axiomatic in Italian winemaking that, for some in the industry, it might produce a bit of obstinacy. This can be true for both government authorities loath to tweaking regulations, or insistent and stubborn vintners who cling to a hard line.

Alessandro Bindocci, winemaker for the famed Montalcino-based Il Poggione (along with his winemaking father, Fabrizio), is not bound by intractability. To be sure, he’s reverent toward the example of his father and Tenuta Il Poggione’s historic mastery of Brunello. But Bindocci is always on the cutting edge of both enology and technology — and not merely because his trusty smartphone monitors the minutiae of the winemaking process. His blog, Montalcino Report (www.montalcinoreport.com), is unique to the region. He has also introduced cirtical winemaking techniques that have dovetailed nicely with the bevy of traditional practices.

Please click here to continue reading Tom Caestecker, Jr.’s profile of Alessandro in the December 2013 issue of the Tasting Panel (page 82).


Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci appears in debut issue @GrapeCollective

Please click here for veteran wine writer Anthony Giglio’s excellent article on the history of wine in Montalcino for the debut issue of the Grape Collective, the hottest new wine-focused publication today.

And please see below an interview with Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, whose wines were featured in Giglio’s piece.


Sangiovese: Italy’s quintessential red grape

sangiovese grapes

Above: The glorious Sangiovese grape, the variety behind some of Italy’s greatest wines.

A few weeks ago, the great American wine writer Eric Asimov, who writes a weekly column for the New York Times, outed himself on social media.

“I’m having a love affair with the Sangiovese grape,” he wrote on his Twitter, “and I don’t care who knows about it.”

What’s all the excitement about?

The answer: Sangiovese, Italy’s quintessential red grape, grown in every one of Italy’s 20 regions, and vilified most famously in Tuscany, where it is used to make some of the most coveted wines in the world.

One of the things that makes Sangiovese so unique is the fact that it is a thin-skinned but tannic red grape (wine gets its tannin from the skin of the grape). As a result, it can produce a wine that is light in body but that also has great nuance and structure, as they say in the wine trade.

The other thing about Sangiovese is its unmistakable plum and red fruit flavors that make it a favorite pairing — in Italy and beyond — for roast and grilled meats.

The best known “expression” of Sangiovese is Brunello di Montalcino, an appellation where it is vilified as a monovarietal wine, in other words, a single-grape wine.

Alessandro Bindocci, the winemaker behind Mazzoni Toscana Rosso, produces one of the most prestigious Brunellos at the estate where his family has worked for four generations, Tenuta Il Poggione (Eric is a big fan of their wine).

But knowing that wine lovers can’t drink Brunello every night (it’s really a “special occasion” wine), Alessandro created the Mazzoni Toscana Rosso — a blend of Sangiovese, grown on the same estate where the Brunello is produced, and Merlot — to give Sangiovese fans a more approachable, ready-to-drink version of his family’s wines.

The young Sangiovese vines used to make it give the wine the zinging vibrancy and freshness that you need in a food-friendly wine. And the Merlot gives it some extra depth and nuance.


Mazzoni winemaker @BrunelloMaker visits the U.S.

mazzoni best tuscan pinot grigio

That’s Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (right) last night in Austin with legendary Texas wine writer Wes Marshall, who named the Mazzoni Pinot Grigio his “wine of the week” in July 2013.

“A food wine extraordinaire,” wrote Wes. “This is the kind of wine you want to buy by the case.”

Click here for his complete review.

We’ll be posting more notes from Alessandro’s trip in coming days.

Stay tuned!


Merlot harvest for Mazzoni Toscana Rosso has begun!

best merlot super tuscan italy

Just feast your eyes on those beautiful Merlot grapes!

Last week, the winemakers at the Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino began harvesting the Merlot grapes for Mazzoni Toscana Rosso, the Mazzoni “Super Tuscan.”

The growing season was a little touch-and-go this year: the flowering and budding came late and then late spring rains pushed harvest back even further.

But a great summer made up for any previous concerns and winemaker Alessandro Bindocci is expecting one of his best vintages ever for the wines.

Stay tuned… We’ll be posting more on the harvest as it progresses.


Benito’s Wine Reviews tastes Mazzoni whites

mazzoni pinot grigio

How does it feel to have the wine writer Wall Street Journal tell the world that she read your blog regularly?

That’s exactly what happened to Memphis-based wine blogger Ben Carter when the journal’s wine editor Lettie Teague — one of the top wine writers in the world — wrote that Ben’s Benito’s Wine Reviews was one of five blogs that she “really clicked with.”

Ben recently tasted Mazzoni Bianco di Toscana and Mazzoni Pinot Grigio.

Here are his tasting notes:

2011 Mazzoni Pinot Grigio
100% Pinot Grigio

Ripe apricot aromas and flavors dominate with a big, round body. This is not one of your watery, weak Pinot Grigio bottles, but rather a fairly substantial white wine with good acidity. I found it to work well with the clam chowder, and it held up well with the black pepper and hot sauce.

2011 Mazzoni Bianco di Toscana
90% 75% Vermentino, 10% 25% Chardonnay

This was a more gentle wine with a light peach profile, slightly musky undertones, and a bright acidic finish. Just a little touch of minerals underneath provided some well-enjoyed depth, and overall it had the right balance of characteristics to go well with the lobster tail.

Click here for the rest of his review and his pairings.


Perfect summertime wine: Mazzoni Pinot Grigio

Bright, fresh, refreshing, and low in alcohol, Pinot Grigio is possibly the world’s best summertime wine. Italians have known this fact for centuries…

Mazzoni Pinot Grigio is the fruit of the historic partnership between two of the wine world’s greatest families — the Franceschi family in Montalcino and the Terlato family in the U.S.

(Click here to read about the two families’ relationship, now spanning two generations.)

There’s a reason why Pinot Grigio has become a household name in the U.S.: it’s the ideal grape for producing crisp, fresh, and refreshing white wine with balanced alcohol and bright tropical and citrus fruit aromas and flavors.

In Europe, wine lovers have known this for centuries. But in the U.S., it wasn’t until Anthony “Tony” Terlato — the patriarch of the Terlato family — first introduced a Pinot Grigio to American consumers in the late 1970s that the grape variety began to began to explode on the American wine scene.

Tony had traveled to Italy in search of the next great white wine from Europe and it didn’t take long before he realized that Pinot Grigio had all the right stuff to become America’s favorite white wine. (He retells the story in his autobiography, Taste: A Life in Wine.)

Mazzoni’s Pinot Grigio is made from hand-picked Pinot Grigio grapes grown in the high elevations of Montalcino (where Brunello di Montalcino is made). The altitude is essential: cool summer evenings are what helps the winemaker obtain the classic crispness in the wine and achieve the freshness that makes Pinot Grigio such a wonderful wine for pairing with food.

No one knows Pinot Grigio better than the Terlato family. This is just one of the reasons they asked the Franceschi family to help them create this wine: expertise in fine winemaking and some of the best growing sites in Tuscany make this wine one of the most exciting arrivals from Italy in years.

Click here to email a Mazzoni specialist for more information on where to find Mazzoni Pinot Grigio.


Taste Mazzoni at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival!

Live Like an Italian is at the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival throughout the weekend.

Please stop by and taste with us!

atlanta food and wine festival


One of Italy’s great gifts to the world: the stove-top coffeemaker

italian stove top coffee maker

Coffee is a quasi-religious experience in Italy.

The type of coffee you use, the method you employ, and — most importantly — the coffeemaker itself are all variables to which Italians devote deep contemplation and scrutiny.

And from this unbridled passion for great coffee, which got its start in Italy around the middle of the eighteenth century, the Italians created one of their greatest gifts to the world: the moka (MOH-kah), as it is known in Italian, the stove-top coffeemaker (like the Bialetti in the image above, a classic). The name comes from the city of Mocha in Yemen, famous for its coffee production.

Perfectly conceived and expertly executed, the moka was developed by Alfonso Bialetti in the early 1900s. In 1933, Alfonso patented the now iconic device and design.

And by the mid-twentieth century, it had become so popular that some of Italy’s top designers began to produce them.

But the classic utilitarian shape of the moka — as pictured above — has never gone out of fashion and it remains a ubiquitous fixture in the home of nearly every Italian family.

Live Like an Italian is giving away the Bialetti stove-top coffeemaker as one of the gift bag prizes for the Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes.

You can win one too: all you have to do is to click here to enter.

Congratulazioni to Cindy L and Mark G, winners of the first round of the Live Like an Italian Sweepstakes!


@OddBacchus on Mazzoni Barbera by @BrunelloMaker

rob frisch alessandro bindocci

Above: Rob Frisch, author of a leading wine blog called Odd Bacchus, had dinner with Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci a few weeks ago in Chicago.

“If you discover that wine from a certain nearby region is generally not to your liking, you can take a number of courses of action,” writes wine and lifestyle journalist Rob Frisch. “A normal oenophile would probably just drink wine from another region. A more obsessive/compulsive oenophile might doggedly keep trying wines from that region until she found one that agreed with her palate. But these solutions, in the end, are for amateurs.”

“If you’re a professional, like Alessandro Bindocci, you go to that region, rent a vineyard, and make the wine yourself.”

He’s talking about Mazzoni Barbera, a wine that seemed to impress Rob as much for its bold flavors and bright acidity as for the story behind it.

Click here for Rob’s post…

Wall Street Journal wine editor Lettie Teague recently called Rob’s blog Odd Bacchus one of five blogs she “really clicks with.”

We were thrilled to see Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro had a chance to sit down over dinner with one of the leading wine bloggers in the U.S. today!


Odd Bacchus: “a white Super Tuscan that smells like spring”

white super tuscan

Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci has been traveling across the U.S., leading guided tastings and wine dinners featuring his family’s wines. He’s also had a chance to meet with some leading wine writers in the U.S., like Rob Frisch, who authors the excellent wine blog Odd Bacchus.

Here’s what Rob had to say about Alessandro’s Mazzoni Pinot Grigio:

A white Super Tuscan… The wine smelled fresh and lively, like a green whiff of spring. On the palate, it exhibited focused and controlled fruit, prickly acids, some aromatic qualities, and a surprisingly lush finish. It was light but complex, and a fine value for the price. Sampled with a white pizza topped with arugula and parmesan, the food-friendly acids kicked into high gear, and the wine became juicier and rounder. A delight.

Click here to read the post…


Meet Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci in Seattle April 30 & May 1

via tribunali

One of the hottest tables in the United States today, Via Tribunali is named after one of the oldest streets in the historic center of Naples, Italy.

“We opened our first pizzeria in 2004,” write the owners on their website, “in the burgeoning Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. For months before we opened curious onlookers poked their heads in the former auto body shop, and outlandish rumors spread quickly throughout Seattle. One person saw a team of masons reportedly flown in from Naples to build a gargantuan wood-fired oven, someone heard that the bricks also came from Naples rich with Vesuvian ash, a reporter ran a story about a taxi driver leading our owner down a dark Neapolitan street to meet a talented pizzaiolo who was then whisked to an airport… As it turns out almost all of the tall tales are true.”

Today, the pizza at Via Tribunali (see photo above) is considered to be among the most authentic verace pizza napoletana in America.

We are proud to announce that Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, of the Tenuta Il Poggione (Montalcino, Tuscany) will be honored at two events to be held at the restaurant’s Capitol Hill (Seattle) location Tuesday April 30 and Georgetown (Seattle) location on Wednesday May 1.

Please email general manager Travis to reserve for the Tuesday event in Capitol Hill.

Or please email general manager Faith to reserve for the Wednesday event in Georgetown.

Both events include a five-course dinner and tasting of six wines with Alessandro.

Space is limited. $58 per person.


Springtime in Tuscany and budbreak in Montalcino

springtime tuscany

Here’s the latest, just in from the Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino, Tuscany, where Mazzoni wines are made:

Finally it feels like spring has arrived in Montalcino as well.

The temperatures are rising and today we have had the minimum temperature at 8° C. and the maximum at 18° C. and there are the forecasts of fair weather for at least seven other days.

The vines are opening their buds (see photo above) and we were are in line with the previous years.


A fantastic wine list in Sioux Falls, South Dakota

riccardo tarabelsi

Let’s face it: while big cities in the U.S. like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago have been experiencing an “Italian wine renaissance” for nearly two decades now, there are still many smaller cities where Americans’ unbridled passion for Italian wine and its mosaic of grape varieties has yet to arrive.

That’s just one of the reasons we were so impressed with the truly superb wine list curated by Riccardo Tarabelsi (above), a native of Florence, Italy who grew up in Boston and ultimately settled in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (population 156,592 according to Google, 2011).

Riccardo is the general manager and wine director at the immensely popular Italian restaurant Spezia (pronounced speh-TZEE-ah), one of the town’s top fine dining destinations.

“I have to be honest,” said Riccardo when we spoke to him yesterday by phone. “Many of our guests say to me, ‘don’t bring me the wine list. Just give me a Chardonnay.'”

“So I ask them, ‘would you like a Chardonnay from California or a Chardonnay from Italy?”

And that’s when Riccardo does his magic.

“They’ll ask me: ‘You mean, they make Chardonnay in Italy?’ And I like that because it lets me share my passion for Italian wine with them.”

Riccardo’s list has something for everyone, from the casual Pinot Grigio drinker to the heavy-hitting Brunello lover. And its aggressive pricing extends from the by-the-glass program to his top-priced Amarone, Brunello, Barolo, and Barbaresco.

Click here for the list.

But the thing we loved the most about his list is that he includes food pairings in the list itself.

“When you go to a region of Italy,” he explained, “you drink the wine that was meant to go with the food of the region. That’s the only wine they serve. But in America, the guest needs some guidance in how to pair the wine,” especially at a restaurant like Spezia, where the chef features regional foods from all over Italy.

Currently, Riccardo is featuring a “wine flight” of Mazzoni Pinot Grigio, Mazzoni Barbera, and Mazzoni Toscana Rosso.

“I love them all but my favorite,” said Riccardo, “is the Toscana Rosso, a classic Super Tuscan, with great acidity and a dry finish… the things that I look for” in great red wine.

Beyond being the wine director and GM at one of the hottest tables in town, Riccardo also authors a column for a local lifestyle magazine, etc. (click the link to read his most current article, a profile of Italy’s Cinque Terre).

We don’t have any plans to visit Sioux Falls in the near future but it might be worthwhile just to taste with Riccardo!


Top US wine writer John Foy profiles Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci

This week, syndicated US wine writer John Foy profiles Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (below) and the Tenuta Il Poggione where Mazzoni wines are produced…

alessandro bindocci

Brunello di Montalcino has gone through a sea change since the 1970s, but one of the anchors of this area and its wine is Il Poggione.

In the late 1800s, Florentine landowner Lavinio Franceschi trekked from his estate to the distant hills of the Montalcino area south of Siena. He wanted to see the land where his Shepard moved the flock of sheep for their regular winter stay, singing praises of the area’s beauty. After seeing it for himself, Franceschi purchased land in 1890 in Sant’Angelo in Colle, part of the Montalcino community.

Today, the property, named Il Poggione, is in the hands of Franceschi’s great-grandchildren Leopoldo and Livia Franceschi. They continue the mixed agriculture of vineyards, crops and animal-raising started more than a century ago by their adventurous and enterprising ancestor.

The region’s wine, Brunello di Montalcino has undergone a profound transformation. What was a locally consumed rustic red wine is now an internationally acclaimed wine of various styles. Some producers make New World-styled brunellos using overripe fruit and designer flavored yeasts, aging all the wine in new French oak barrels, and other winemaking tricks. Other wineries, such as Il Poggione, use modern technology but restrain the winemaking manipulation. They offer clean, fresh brunello di Montalcino that holds its heritage high.

Winemaker Alessandro Bindocci, 32, visited New York two weeks ago with his latest Il Poggione wines. Bindocci is following in the footsteps of his father, Fabrizio, who began his career at Il Poggione in 1976 as the assistant winemaker, and progressed to winemaker and director.

Click here to continue reading…


Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci in the U.S. this week

alessandro bindocci

Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci (above) visited Houston and New York this week.

He was in the U.S. to pour the new vintage of his family’s Brunello di Montalcino at the annual preview of the wines, Benvenuto Brunello, which takes place in Montalcino, New York, and one other American city every year.