Here’s what leading U.S. wine blogger Mary Cressler — author of Vindulge and contributor to VinSleuth Uncorked and Barbecue America — had to say about the Mazzoni 2010 Piemonte Barbera, which she and her husband paired with her Grilled and Glazed Chicken recipe:
Lots of dark black berry aromas with some spicy pepper and a slightly earthy feel. More tart berry fruit flavors on the palate, lots of cherry (dried cherry, black cherry, even maraschino cherry), with smoke, pepper, smooth tannins and fresh, lively acidity…
[The wine] had excellent rich fruit that was a lovely match for the juicy chicken and balanced well with the sweetness of the sauce.
Image by Mary Cressler via Vindulge.
Here’s what veteran wine writer Randall Murray had to say about the Mazzoni 2010 Barbera, his “Wine of the Month” for the Gainesville Times:
Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera 2010
This soft, yet assertive, Piemonte red is a classic example of Italian Barbera. The fruit flavors glow, yet there is a distinctive backbone to the wine.
Here’s what Arizona Daily Sun wine critic John Vankat had to say about Mazzoni 2011 Pinot Grigio in last week’s paper:
Mazzoni 2011 Pinot Grigio “Toscana, Italy”
This offering from Tuscany is serious Pinot Grigio. It features stunningly beautiful, deep-gold color followed by bold flavors, fine balance and a prolonged finish. Pair with flavorful dishes such as poultry with a savory sauce.
Here’s what Tom Marquardt and Patrick Darr, wine writers for the Annapolis Capital Gazette, had to say about Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera earlier this month:
Mazzoni Piemonte Barbera 2010. This reasonably priced barbera with good bottle age is a delightful drink, even if simple and medium-bodied. Its red berry flavors and soft texture would be a great match for pasta. The wine is a partnership between California’s Terlato and Italy’s Franceschi families.
Above: One of the things that sets Nick and Sam’s Steakhouse apart from the rest of the Dallas steakhouse crowd, says wine director Justin Sherin, is the restaurant’s superb Japanese menu (image via Nick and Sam’s Facebook).
Let’s just cut to the chase.
Nick and Sam’s steakhouse isn’t just any ordinary steakhouse. And it stands apart from the crowd in what many consider to be the steakhouse capital of the U.S., Dallas-Fort Worth.
Here’s what Dallas Morning News restaurant critic Leslie Brenner (formerly of the Los Angeles Times) had to say about Nick and Sam’s, one of her “top Dallas-Fort Worth steakhouses”:
“When it comes to all-out, decadent, no-holds-barred meat-eating indulgence and fun, Nick and Sam’s is the place to be. The place feels like a party, even on a Monday night. At most steakhouses you don’t even get a tiny amuse; here you get a full presentation of caviar, toast points, hard-cooked egg whites and sieved yolks, lemon, chopped red onion, chives. Starters include terrific North Atlantic oysters on the half shell and an impressive whole-leaf Caesar… After I spent half a year slicing into rib-eyes and prodding baked potatoes, Nick and Sam’s was my best all-around steakhouse experience.”
When we found out that Nick and Sam’s was featuring Mazzoni Pinot Grigio by the glass, we contacted wine director Justin Shearin to ask him for his thoughts on the wine.
Above: Nick and Sam’s wine director Justin Shears (image courtesy Nick and Sam’s).
“We have a deep list, with a strong focus on reds,” like most steakhouses, said Justin. “But because of our owner’s interest in Asian cuisine, we also have a really interesting selection of whites as well.”
“The Mazzoni Pinot Grigio is a unique wine from a classic old world family [the Tenuta Il Poggione in Montalcino] and a new world family [the Terlatos]. It has a really creamy texture and is more full bodied than most Pinot Grigios and it has beautiful acidity. It’s been a favorite since we first put it on the list and we just fly through it.”
A Dallas native, Justin joined the Nick and Sam’s team as wine director two years ago but he’s been working in the Dallas-Ft. Worth wine and food scene for more than a decade.
Like many wine professionals today, he started out as a server and then caught the wine bug.
“I started studying wine after a few years in the business,” he said, “and it just snow-balled from there.”
Today, he runs the Nick and Sam’s beverage program, including more than 600 wines and an extensive sake list — another component that makes this steakhouse stand apart from the rest.
“Creative appetizers and creative sides, and, of course, our owner’s interest in Asian cuisine, are what makes the restaurant so unique,” he told us.
We loved Wall Street Journal wine writer Lettie Teague’s column last month, “Bet on Barbera, What the Winemakers Drink.”
In her piece, she describes the new “Barbera-ite” movement of winemakers and sommeliers who love Barbera’s versatility and food-friendliness.
“One of my top candidates for a starring turn,” she writes, “would be Barbera, a red grape of Italy’s Piedmont region. It’s the most widely planted red grape of the district, though not its best known (that would be Nebbiolo, the grape of the famed wines Barolo and Barbaresco).”
When Tenuta Il Poggione winemaker Alessandro Bindocci first set about making an un-oaked, acidity-driven, food-friendly Barbera d’Asti a few years ago, it was a choice borne out of his own personal love of the grape.
But it would seem that he wasn’t the only one who saw such a bright future for Barbera, which, until recently, was relatively unknown outside of Italy.
Click here for Lettie’s article and stay tuned: the Barbera-ites are coming!
Above: Every year, wine lovers in the U.S. face the same conundrum. What to pair with Thanksgiving turkey? The answer for the ages is “Barbera, the world’s most food-friendly wine grape.”
There’s a saying that you’ll often hear repeated in Italy among wine and food lovers.
No wine without food and no food without wine.
Indeed, you’ll never be seated at lunch or dinner in Italy without there being wine on the table.
And you’ll never sit down to a glass of wine without at least some food — even just a nosh — served to accompany it.
In fact, Italians hold that wine is food (and in another era, wine was an essential source of nutrients in rural areas, especially during cold winter months when fresh fruit and vegetables weren’t readily available).
Of all the myriad food-friendly red grapes in Italy, Barbera — particularly in the north of the country — is arguably the most popular and the one most commonly found in Italians’ homes.
With its bright fruit flavors, freshness, and crisp mouthfeel, it’s not a stretch to call it the most food-friendly wine in the world.
And that’s why Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci believes that it’s also the best wine to serve at the Thanksgiving feast.
There are so many different flavors at the traditional Thanksgiving meal in the U.S.: savory, sweet, and tart.
A wine with too much tannin will overpower many of the Thanksgiving foods.
And a wine without enough acidity will be overwhelmed by the variety of flavors.
Barbera has just the right balance of gentle, smooth tannin and freshness of flavor to go with just about anything your relatives may serve up.
The bottom line is that Alessandro created this wine — sourced from top vineyards in Italy’s northwest — because he wanted a clean, focused, and utterly delicious red wine to serve in his own home in Tuscany (where the wines tend to fall on the heavier side).
Here on the Live Like an Italian blog, we spend so much time talking about the Italian lifestyle that we often forget to take time out to remember just how beautiful Italy is.
Maybe one of the reasons that Italians have produced so many breathtaking works of art is that they are surrounded by immeasurable natural beauty.
Alessandro Bindocci, the young winemaker behind the Mazzoni line of wines, sent us this lovely image of fall in Tuscany today.
Just sit back, relax, and breath it in… the beauty of Italy…
Above: Some of Italy’s best seafood is found along the Tuscan coast. That’s one of the reasons that Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci created his Vermentino-Chardonnay blend.
When most Americans think of Tuscany and its wonderful food, they think of rich red wines paired with liver pâté crostini, wild boar ragù over pici (long, handmade noodles), and the famous bistecca fiorentina, the hearty “Florentine steak,” the porter-house of Italy.
But what so many of us don’t realize is that Tuscany is also home to some of the greatest seafood and fish restaurants in all of Europe.
After all, the entire western border of Tuscany lies on the Mediterranean sea and the region is also home to one of the most important ports of southern Europe, the city of Livorno.
All along the Tuscan coast, you’ll find wonderful little towns and villages, each with their favorite seafood spot.
Like many Tuscans who live inland, Mazzoni winemaker Alessandro Bindocci takes his summer vacation on the Tuscan seaside.
“It’s actually just forty minutes from my house,” he says. “So many people don’t realize how important the sea and the beach are to our lives here.”
His love of the Tuscan riviera and his passion for its seafood led Alessandro to create his Mazzoni Vermentino-Chardonnay blend, made from grapes grown in the hills along the coast.
“The sea breeze helps to keep the grapes cool and ventilated during the summer,” he explains, “and that’s what makes our Vermentino-Chardonnay such a wonderfully fresh white wine — ideal with Tuscan seafood.”
“Vermentino is a native grape of Tuscany, known for its bright crispness,” he says with obvious Tuscan pride. “And we add the Chardonnay, one of the world’s greatest white grapes, to give the wine more structure. It’s a wine that we love to drink at home and at the beach during the summer.”
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.”