Abbona and Zanella, from A to Z

January 30, 2009

High-end wines at low-end prices from two of our favorite pioneering producers

Langhe winemaker Marziono Abbona in his vineyard. All of his wines feature birds on their labels.

The wines of Langhe producer Marziano Abbona are instantly recognizable: each wine's label features the image of a different bird.

Within Piedmont’s vast array of great winemakers, Marziano Abbona is surely among the region’s most innovative. Founded in 1970, the Abbona winery in Dogliani (in the province of Cuneo) has exhibited a remarkable attention to detail, beginning with the very planting of its fruit. Abbona owns 42 hectares of vineyards in Dogliani, Barolo, and Barbaresco, where particular sites are chosen to offer the greatest benefit to each grape variety. This meticulous approach has born excellent results, and Abbona, his brother Enrico and enologist Giuseppe Caviola, are today responsible for wines which while unmistakably of the Langhe, still maintain an individuality true to their makers.

Resembling more closely a luxury hotel lobby, the Abbona winery's new cellar is the envy of most winemakers.

Resembling more closely a luxury hotel lobby, the Abbona winery's new cellar is the envy of most winemakers.

For Airone Cinerino, an intensely fragrant yet mellow white wine, Abbona uses the Viognier grape, traditionally cultivated in the Rhône valley (where it is often blended with Syrah in the Côte Rôtie appellation). Recent DNA analysis however has revealed that the grape is a “white” cousin of Nebbiolo, the variety used to make Barolo and Barbaresco. On hearing this, Abbona set about producing a wine from Viognier grapes grown in Dogliani. The wine is classified as Langhe DOC, an appellation created in 1994 to raise national awareness of some of the area’s smaller local varieties. Marziano named his wine after the elegant gray heron of Northern Italy, the Airone Cinerino, meaning the “ashen heron” (from the Italian cenere or “ash”).

A rare glimpse of Maurizio Zanella without his glasses, in his cellar at the Ca' del Bosco winery in Franciacorta.

A rare glimpse of Maurizio Zanella without his glasses, in his cellar at the Ca' del Bosco winery in Franciacorta.

Regarded as a true pioneer in the Italian wine industry, Maurizio Zanella‘s refreshing sense of originality in his approach to wine, winning him universal respect amongst colleagues, critics and wine enthusiasts alike. His story is the stuff of legend: bored with school life in Milan, the 17 year-old Maurizio began racing motorcycles and on a whim signed up for a bus tour of some of France’s greatest vineyards. “I wasn’t interested in winemaking,” he says. “I just wanted to get out of school.” But Zanella’s attitude soon changed after tasting wines in Burgundy, and he immediately spent all his remaining francs on three bottles from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (DRC). Zanella returned to Italy with a new direction in life: at just 18, he took out a bank loan and opened his winery at his parents’ summer home in Erbusco, near Brescia.

Not one to shy away from the limelight, today Maurizio Zanella is internationally-admired for his wines and his lust for life.

Not one to shy away from the limelight, Maurizio Zanella is internationally admired both for his wines and his lust for life.

Having assembled a team of expert enologists, Zanella’s Ca’ del Bosco (meaning “house in the woods”) winery is now arguably the most sophisticated producer in Lombardy’s Franciacorta DOCG. Today, infinite international exposure has made Zanella something of a celebrity within the wine world, but there is no doubt his wines have no less personality than the man behind them. Determined to produce a truly world-class red, Zanella felt he’d finally achieved his goal in 1981, even lending his own name to the wine. Rosso del Sebino is made of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Cabernet Franc and 30% Merlot and one of the finest Bordeaux-inspired blends we’ve ever tasted, proving that Zanella’s experience in France shaped not only his career, but has also strongly influenced his very approach to winemaking.

small-winesNow these two stunning wines can be yours at a spectacular 30% off!

Viognier Airone Cinerino 2006 Abbona
was $50, now $35

Rosso del Sebino 2001 Maurizio Zanella
was $102, now $71.40

For more information please call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.

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3 producers + 13 wines = lots of happy Vino lovers

January 28, 2009

Crowds pour into Vino as our free mega-tasting proves an overwhelming success! Photographs by James Taylor

Count Georg Kuenburg pours his wines for an eager crowd, and was also happy to point out Trentino-Alto Adige on the map.

Castel Sallegg's Georg Kuenburg pours his wines for an eager crowd. The count was also happy to point out Alto Adige's Lake Caldaro on the map.

Last night Vino hosted not one but four personalities from the world of Italian wine. Count Georg Kuenburg of Castel Sallegg, Casa Emma‘s Fabrizio Benedetti, and Barbara Tamburini and Silvia Marinelli of Conti Sertoli Salis were in New York this week for VINO 2009, the first industry convention of Italian wines in America. With four representatives from three of our favorite wineries in town, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to feature the best of their wines in an exclusive free tasting on Tuesday.

Silvia, Barbara and Fabrizio indulge curious tasters in revealing secrets of the winemaking process.

Silvia, Barbara and Fabrizio indulge curious tasters and reveal fascinating secrets behind the winemaking process.

Meeting a wine producer is a rare and special occasion, and a great chance to ask those questions that have been dogging you ever since you first tasted their wines: Is it Soloìo or Solo io? Are visitors allowed to see the frescoes of the Palazzo Salis? Don’t you feel it’s a little cliché to be a real count and live in an actual castle?

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Silvia Marinelli and Barbara Tamburini pose with wines from Conti Sertoli Salis. The Baccalit 2006 is just out of shot, but will soon be at Vino!

Judging by the large number of Italian wine fans who squeezed into Vino yesterday evening, I wasn’t the only one who had curiosities which needed satisfying. All thirteen wines proved a big hit with those who tasted them, and Vino’s staff was lucky enough to try a fourteenth: the first vintage of a new wine by Conti Sertoli Salis called Baccalit, a sample of which Silvia Marinelli had brought with her from Lombardy. A blend of 85% Nebbiolo and 15% Pinot Nero, the 2006 wine was already showing great promise as an affordable red ($21) which could certainly stand up against more noble, pricier wines. The first shipment of Baccalit is due to arrive at Vino in March — when you can expect it to quickly become a new favorite.


Natural whites at 30% off!

January 27, 2009

Big savings on truly unique wines! Taste all five this Friday at Vino

Edi Kante captured by Treviso-based German photographer Wolfgang Wesener.

Friulan winemaker Edi Kante captured by Treviso-based German photographer Wolfgang Wesener.

While some Italian wine lovers claim white wine is intrinsically inferior to red, at Vino we strongly subscribe to the notion that our many great whites are no less significant than the often more celebrated reds with which they share a shelf. The winemakers we feature today all have a commitment to proving the finest white wines can compete with Italy’s noble reds. It’s a philosophy reflected in their techniques: these producers have often gone to extreme lengths to get the most from their grape.

Stanislao "Stanko" Radikon took over his father's winery, located in Oslavia, in 1980.

Stanislao "Stanko" Radikon took over his father's winery, located in Oslavia, in 1980. His first initiative was to begin bottling the estate's wines, which up until then had been sold as "vino sfuso".

In the north-eastern region of Friuli, home to Italy’s most avant-garde white winemakers, eccentric methods abound. A true individual in the wine world, Edi Kante carved spectacular state-of-the-art cellars out of the mountainside of Friuli’s Carso zone twenty years ago; in the mid-1990s Stanislao Radikon reintroduced out-of-favor conical vats with which to macerate his grapes; and in the case of Josko Gravner, this one-man movement ages his wine in subterranean ceramic amphorae shipped from Georgia.

Josko Gravner poses with his giant amphorae ("anfora" in Italian) which he has imported by truck from the former Soviet state of Georgia.

Josko Gravner poses with his giant amphorae ("anfora" in Italian) which he has imported by truck from the former Soviet state of Georgia.

But Italy’s top white wine producers are not only found in Friuli. Both Tuscany’s Guido Gualandi and Elena Pantaleoni of Emilia-Romagna offer whites which are as unique as the producers who made them. Gualandi’s Vinum (the latin word for wine) follows a recipe dating back to Ancient Rome which blends Malvasia del Chianti and a clone of Trebbiano known as Coda di Cavallo (literally “horse’s tail”). Named after one of Pantaleoni’s ancestors, La Stoppa’s distinctly orange-hued Ageno is also a Malvasia-Trebbiano blend, and recently received this glowing review by Alder Yarrow on Vinography.

Take home these remarkable wines at an incredible 30% off!

5-natural-whites-blogVinum 2007 Guido Gualandi
was $40, now $28

Sauvignon 2006 Edi Kante
was $44, now $30.80

Ageno 2004 La Stoppa
was $40, now $28

Ribolla Gialla Anfora 2001 Gravner
was $89, now $62.30

Oslavje 1999 Radikon
was $46, now $32.20

All five of these wines will be available to try at our FREE tasting this Friday, January 30th, from 5:30-7:30pm For more information please call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


Italian wine world converges on NYC!

January 23, 2009

Meet the people behind Castel Sallegg, Casa Emma and Conti Sertoli Salis at Vino’s exclusive free tasting next Tuesday

The world of Italian wine is converging on New York this week for VINO 2009! To celebrate this event, Vino is hosting a free tasting on Tuesday, January 27. Yesterday we announced that we would be joined by renowned enologist and Conti Sertoli Salis wine consultant Barbara Tamburini. Now, in addition to Barbara, we are delighted to welcome the men behind two more of our favorite producers, Castel Sallegg and Casa Emma!

Castel Sallegg owner Count Georg Kuenberg samples his product within the grounds of the castle.

Castel Sallegg owner Count Georg Kuenburg samples his product within the grounds of the castle.

Nestled in the Dolomite Alps, the winemaking subzone around Lake Caldaro in the German-speaking Trentino-Alto Adige represents a fascinating combination of high altitude, warm days, cool summer nights, and excellent ventilation. The Castel Sallegg estate once belonged to Archduke Rainer of Austria, Viceroy of what was once Lombardy-Veneto, but has belonged to the noble Von Kuenburg family for generations, after they inherited it through Prince Henry of Campofranco. Today, Count Georg Kuenburg carries on the family tradition of producing a line of excellent wines with grapes sourced from some of the finest sites in the district. Georg will be pouring these Castel Sallegg wines this Tuesday:

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Pinot Bianco 2007 Castel Sallegg

Moscato Giallo 2007 Castel Sallegg

Lagrein Rosato Nives 2007 Castel Sallegg

Schiava Bischofsleiten 2007 Castel Sallegg

Pinot Nero 2004 Castel Sallegg

Lagrein Riserva 2004 Castel Sallegg

A regular visitor to the United States, Casa Emma's Fabrizio Benedetti is in town to promote what we feel is some of the finest Chianti from the Classico subzone.

A regular visitor to the United States, Casa Emma's Fabrizio Benedetti is in town to promote what we feel is some of the finest Chianti from the Classico subzone.

Casa Emma is one of Chianti’s most esteemed producers. Around the hills of San Donato in Poggio in the Chianti Classico subzone, the company cultivates Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera and Merlot at 1,300 feet above sea level, an elevation which results in a longer growing season and increased aromas in the fruit. Located in Barberino Val d’Elsa on the western edge of the Chianti Classico zone, the Buccalossi family acquired the Casa Emma estate in 1972 from Florentine noblewoman Emma Bizzarri, to whose name the company obviously remains connected. Today, Casa Emma produces some of the finest Chianti we’ve tasted. Meet Casa Emma export manager and Fabrizio Benedetti as he pours the following wines by Casa Emma:

3-casa-emma-wines-blogChianti Classico 2005 Casa Emma

Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 Casa Emma

Soloìo 2004 Casa Emma

And don’t forget: Vino’s Tuesday tasting will also feature Lombardy producer Conti Sertoli Salis, whose wines will be poured by enologist and wine consultant Barbara Tamburini, who will be joined by export manager Silvia Marinelli. It promises to be a truly memorable event. Join us on Tuesday, January 27 from 5:30pm for what may just be our biggest tasting ever!

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Chiavennasca 2007 Conti Sertoli Salis

Sassella 2004 Conti Sertoli Salis

Valtellina Inferno2004 Conti Sertoli Salis

Canua Sforzato 2003 Conti Sertoli Salis

FREE Meet The Winemakers Tasting
featuring Barbara Tamburini, Georg Kuenburg and Fabrizio Benedetti
Tuesday, January 27, 5:30-7:30pm

For more information call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


Meet high-flying enologist Barbara Tamburini

January 22, 2009

Vino welcomes Tuscan winemaking consultant to our exclusive tasting of wines by Lombardy producer Conti Sertoli Salis

Barbara Tamburini

Barbara Tamburini is involved in the activity of the most famous Italian wine tasting associations, teaching viticulture and oenological techniques.

Vino is excited to present a rare occasion to meet one of the biggest names in Italian wine! Next Tuesday, January 27 Vino hosts an exclusive tasting of wines by Conti Sertoli Salis, for which we are especially proud to welcome enologist Barbara Tamburini! Barbara is enological consultant for twenty-four of Italy’s top wineries, including the esteemed Lombardy producers.

 to see a wine begin and assist in its success is an emotion so big that very few professional activities would have permitted me to feel."

"To see a wine begin and assist in its success is an emotion so big that very few professional activities would have permitted me to feel," says Barbara.

Born and raised in Tuscany, Barbara holds two degrees (in Food Technologies and Viticulture and Enology) from the Università di Pisa, and is president of the Bolgheri DOC appellation. Her achievements in wine have been recognized on numerous occasions: a previous winner of a Slow Food Award for Italy’s youngest enologist, in 2007 she received the Luigi Veronelli award for best up-and-coming young Italian winemaker. No stranger to these shores, Tamburini has also lent her consulting services to the Viña Robles winery in California. Vino is now honored to welcome Barbara to New York for what promises to be a truly memorable tasting! Join us at Vino from 5:30pm next Tuesday, where we will be pouring the following wines by Conti Sertoli Salis:

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Chiavennasca 2007 Conti Sertoli Salis

Sassella 2004 Conti Sertoli Salis

Valtellina Inferno 2004 Conti Sertoli Salis

Canua Sforzato 2003 Conti Sertoli Salis

Barbara's interests outside wine include skydiving

Barbara likes to fly high: in 2004 she took to the skies above Friuli aboard a MB33 jet with the Frecce Tricolori Italian acrobatic pilots -- she was only the fifth woman to do make such a flight.

Conti Sertoli Salis Tasting
featuring Barbara Tamburini
Tuesday, January 27, 5:30-7:30pm

For more information call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


Guido Gualandi now 20% off!

January 21, 2009

Big savings on unique wines by our favorite Tuscan winemaker
Taste all four at Vino this Friday afternoon

Tuscan winemaker Guido Gualandi is not afraid of getting his hands dirty.

Not afraid to get his hands dirty, Tuscan winemaker Guido Gualandi attends to his vines.

Regular readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with Tuscan winemaker Guido Gualandi. The Montespertoli-based producer is often celebrated at Vino for his many talents in addition to winemaking: archaeologist, painter, musician, technology consultant… it’s an impressive list. But what exactly makes Guido’s wines so special? For starters, each wine Gualandi produces is the result of his own toil and hard labor, and he conducts every step of the winemaking process with his own hand. Grapes are hand-picked (using a traditional type of basket known as a “bigonce“) then hand- (and foot-) pressed. The wines are typically left to age in barriques, at which point Guido, a great believer in batonnage, regularly performs the act of stirring the lees himself. The entire production process from harvest to bottle is represented by diagrams on his wines’ labels.

A devoted non-interventionist winemaker, Gualandi insists on keeping his product free of all herbicides or pesticides. “I especially avoid correcting the taste of the wine in the cellar,” he says. This philosophy is part of Guido’s commitment to maintaining the same production techniques traditionally employed by winemakers in Tuscany. “Modern technology is practically banned from inside the winery,” he explained to us. “The materials I use are the same as those of fifty or even a hundred years ago.” For a man of such creative output, it’s perhaps no surprise Gualandi refers to his methods as “the art of making wine.”

Take home these Tuscan masterpieces at an astonishing 20% off!

4-guido-winesVino Rosato 2007 Guido Gualandi
was $19, now $ 15.20

Cavalleresco 2005 Guido Gualandi
was $38, now $30.40

Gualandus 2005 Guido Gualandi
was $50, now $40

Vinum 2007 Guido Gualandi
was $40, now $32

All four of these wines by Guido Gualandi will be available to try at
our FREE tasting this Friday, January 23rd, from 5:30-7:30pm.

For more information please call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


VINO 2009 arrives in New York!

January 20, 2009

VINO 2009 — Italian Wine Week is in the Big Apple: enjoy the experience at Vino, I Trulli and Centovini!

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VINO 2009 events will be taking place in Boston, New York and Miami next week! For more information visit http://www.italianmade.com.

VINO 2009, the first industry convention of Italian Wines in America, arrives in New York this week. Presented by the Italian Trade Commission, the event runs from January 21 to February 1 and aims to promote wines from some Italy’s finest wine producing regions. Vino, I Trulli and Centovini are amongst eighteen New York stores and restaurants taking part in VINO 2009’s Shop & Dine event.

Vino is thrilled to be featuring wines from Abruzzo, a region much admired for its wine production. Two-thirds mountains and one-third hills, Abruzzo boasts highly favorable natural conditions for grapevines, and some of the best-loved wines in Italy are produced from its most famous varieties, Montepulciano and Trebbiano. Come taste wines from Abruzzo — all next week at Vino!

Renowned in New York City for their commitment to promoting Italian wine, both I Trulli and Centovini will be featuring unique wines from Abruzzo and other regions in Italy in special pairing menus and by-the-glass wine lists. It’s the perfect way to start a memorable evening at I Trulli or Centovini!

For further information please contact Vino, I Trulli or Centovini.

vino-i-trulli-and-centovini-addresses-blogWhatever you may think about those mini television sets found in the back of New York City taxicabs these days (that ABC Eyewitness News intro makes me jump out of my seat every time), remember all publicity is good publicity…