Thursday, September 20, 2018

Abruzzo Worth Second Look -- And Taste!

"Best place to dine in Italy," according to many -- famed for its saffron, olive oil, lamb and truffles, and one of the great undiscovered fine wine regions, too.

Scrunched between the Apennine mountains and the Adriatic coast, just 30 minutes away, it has everything a winegrower could ask for -- except fame and fortune. And that's coming.

Known best in Canada for its $8-and-change everyday vino, Abruzzo is just now starting to show its true potential as a source of exceptional wine values.

Consistent co-ops are still thriving alongside emerging tiny boutique family ops that are outperforming famous names in other regions. 

The main Abruzzo red grape variety is Montepulciano, a probable sibling of Sangiovese, pride of Tuscany. In Abruzzo, it yields reds ranging from serviceable to stupendous. And we only now beginning to see the stupendous.

Great value starts with Bosco Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Eclipse, $8.35: deep ruby color; berry fruit with a touch of chocolate, smoke and barnyard; medium-bodied with plum and berry flavors and a touch of spice.

More upscale, Il Feoduccio Fonte Venna, $17, is ruby-red. cherry, raspberry, menthol and licorice. Fresh, juicy and approachable, with black cherry and spices, dusty tannins 
On the lighter side, there's a whole host of crisp, lemony Abruzzo dry whites by the name Pecorino: Like Citra Ferzo, $18, mildly tropical with apple and dried herbs. 
The good news is that a group of the top young Abruzzo producers were in town recently to show their terrific wines and hopefully find wine agents in Canada. May they connect and supply us sooner than later!

Names to watch for are Tilli, Ulisse, Ortona, Martello, Fontefico, and Di Sipio.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Bottega's The Gold Standard For Prosecco

The eyes feast first -- whether it's veal or vino! And, thanks to one of the world's great entrepreneurs, Sandro Bottega, we can all feast affordably on fine Prosecco, Italy's gift of great bubbly.

He almost single-handedly put Prosecco, made from Glera grapes in the northeastern province of Treviso, gateway to Venice, on the world wine map. A riot of dry, fruity, floral apple, white peach and citrus bubbles with notes of acacia and wisteria, it's a mouthful of soft, creamy fizz.

Grown sustainably from the chestnut forests of the Dolomites to the turquoise Adriatic, some 430 million bottles of Prosecco, slightly less than Moet Champagne, grace the world's tables. Sandro is pictured here with his Bottega Gold, launched in Ontario 13 years ago and still the industry leader. It took 4 years to perfect the brilliant bottle. Perfecting the wine began long before that.

When Sandro took over from Papa in 1983, Prosecco was a lowly, low priced and under-appreciated regional product. His high energy and promotional vision have transformed quality and image globally. He laughs about needing three phones: one to break, one for the media and one to make phone calls!

This is a man who slept and shaved in his car for the first two years to promote and sell his wines. All are single vintages and he swears by a best-by date of before five years old.

Best known in Ontario are Il Vino Dei Poeti Prosecco DOC Brut, $15, white and rose and Petalo, a Moscato, $14, Gold, $28, Club Grappa, $31, and even a Gin, Bottega Bacur, $31. Prosecco goes well with pasta, risotto, fish or meat dishes and vegetables, as well as pizza. Buon appetito!