Following the second annual Taste Tours Tuscany last spring at Casali di Bibbiano, a magnificent Italian country estate and winery, I headed to Umbria, a lesser-known but equally wonderful wine region. My trip was focused on learning more about Sagrantino, a red wine grape that has been making a lasting impression.
In the heart of Sonoma Valley in California, the Russian River flows south through acres of highly sought-out vineyards. The Russian River Valley is an American Viticulture Area (AVA), or appellation, one of many sub-appellations within the broader North Coast appellation. An AVA is a geographical area of wine grape growing legally determined by the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. The region became an official AVA in 1983, expanded its boundaries in 2005 and again in 2011, and now has more than 15,000 acres of vineyards, 200 grape growers, and 75 wineries. Many wineries in California and beyond produce wines from grapes sourced from this area.
Both wine professionals and consumers agree that Italy’s wines are among the world’s finest, especially their big, bold reds. They are wines that exude class, diversity, and style. Italian reds are perfect companions to Italy’s outstanding cuisine and to our delicious Seacoast winter recipes.
Alsatian wines are a line of fabulous primarily whites that are terrific accompaniments to holiday meals. Last month, I attended a wonderful dinner at Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in which chef-owner Tony Maws created a tasting menu that perfectly complemented several different wines from Alsace.
I recently attended the Joy of Sake in New York City, the largest sake-tasting event held outside Japan, with over 350 sakes. There were examples of every brewing style from every region of the country. Categories included Junmai, Ginjo, and Daiginjo A and B. Tasting tables were decorated with linens and flowers; many sake bottles are works of art on their own. To really understand and appreciate sake, you should taste as many as possible. There are different grades from dry to sweet.
I recently returned from a California wine tour in Napa Valley and Sonoma. I met with wine producers and wine makers, tasting new releases and hearing predictions for the upcoming harvest. Here are a few special wine discoveries from my trip.