Category Archives: WINE

CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry for This Wine: The Wine for Transitions: Donnafugata SurSur 2016

The Donnafugata SurSur is a transitional wine, and I do not mean that it’s the wine that’s in transition.

Donnafugata SurSurIt’s us who are transitioning, and this is the wine that is bridging us this week from one place to the next. Literally. We are moving houses, from one part of the city to another and, though we left most of our wine in the “old” house for now, this wine made the cut of the very few bottles that we hand-carried on our move.

Here’s why I’m that hungry for this wine.

We live in Atlanta, and it’s the month of July, and it is hot. As in, sweltering. In the midst of that heat is the physicality of moving heavy boxes and bulky furniture, and making 537 decisions about what needs to go where inside a new home that we don’t yet know.

It is all, in a word, exhausting, even for someone who enjoys the karmic shake-up and editing process of a move.

So I knew that, at the end of the day, I would want something cool and refreshing and, especially in these conditions, white and crisp.

That’s one reason that the Donnafugata SurSur made the cut.

The second reason has two parts: it’s from southwestern Sicily (Sicilian wines are all the rage right now, thanks to a major surge of interest in volcanic wines from Mount Etna), and it’s made from a native grape (Grillo) that is mostly unfamiliar to me.

Being Sicilian and unfamiliar raised the chances significantly that I would be interested in this wine even though I may have been too tired to be interested in much.

And then there were the bonus points. Its low alcohol (12.73% ABV), with just enough body without ill-timed weight or heft, and fruit and florals (which I love) on the nose. There is also a clever naming convention that, among my “tougher-minded” friends, I’d be embarrassed to admit that I find adorable. In addition to being the name of an ancient indigenous Sicilian grape, “Grillo” is also the name for the cricket, which brings good luck. “SurSur” means cricket in classical Arabic, which was once also spoken in Sicily.

That’s a lot going on for one bottle of wine that made our very short-list transitional cut.

I placed a bet that I would – still – be hungry for this wine, even in a time of transition. And that bet paid off.

This wine reminds me why I love wine. Which reminds me why I love living my life. Which reminds me of all the thousands of things I’m grateful for, including moving and fresh starts and the luxury of relishing a glass or two of thirst-quenching wine at the end of an exhausting experience.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry for This Wine: 2016 Malbec Rosé from William Chris Vineyards

It’s very hard these days to not get into a rosé mood.

Malbec RoséThe weather’s changing. The earth is tilting toward the sun. Its radiance is stronger on our face. The green grass is greener, and the blood flowing through our muscles is somehow warmer.

Welcome to the season of rosé, the one that lifts our mood and reminds our tastebuds of all that’s light. Translucent, even. And definitely sunny.

I am huge fan of rosé and here are two reasons why: it can be made from just about any grape (giving it tremendous diversity and range), and it can be made from just about anywhere.

By “anywhere” I mean the places you’d expect, like the Provence region of France, Italy, and California.

But did you also know that rosé is made in places that wouldn’t expect, like the Rioja region of Spain, South Africa, and Chile?

And also… wait for it… Texas?

Yes, Texas indeed.

Stay with me here.

It may not have hit your radar yet but a THING for wine has hit Texans. Hard.

In recent years the amount of grapes grown and wines made in Texas has leapfrogged over most other US states. This momentum has been bolstered by local and regional tourism boards, which are posting enviable numbers of consumer visits and engagement.

Here’s one of the best parts, in my opinion, of this major upswing:

The rosé of Texas.

I love it because, as this week’s wine pick shows, it’s made from unexpected grapes like Malbec.

I love it because, when I pour it for friends, they are surprised — actually, “shocked” is more accurate — that it’s from the Texas Hill Country.

I love it because they love it even before I tell them that.

I love it because it’s opening all of our eyes.

And I love it because it’s GOOD, and because it’s exactly the wine that I am hungry to drink right now.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS WINE!

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CONTRIBUTORS, LIFESTYLE, WINE

Hungry For This Wine: Cecchetto Raboso Passito

Can you taste “hungry” in a wine?

CechettoThat is, can you taste the desire that brought the wine into being? Can you taste the passion that brought the wine to your glass?

I think you can. But only if you’re really (really) lucky.

A few weeks ago I was in northern Italy for a wine trade fair, and one night I was lured away from the usual crowds and boisterous evening activities to visit one single, quiet producer called Cecchetto, some 90 minutes away.

I was lured away, that is, because they are hungry for this wine.

They are so hungry to share this wine that I’ve received personal, thoughtful emails from them for more than a year.

They are so hungry for the mystery and the science of the winemaking process that they travel to places like Armenia and Georgia to share knowledge and experience with the winemaking community there.

They are so hungry that they experiment incessantly, from wood for barrels (oak, chestnut, mulberry…) to aging in huge casks for years and years on end. Their experimentation, and the end results, have attracted the attention of Slow Food founder Carlo Petrini, among others.

They are so hungry to preserve their heritage that they’ve committed to a grape – Roboso Piave – that long ago represented a significantly greater percentage of vineyard plantings in their region. Today the quantity of Roboso is lean, replaced by the über-popular Prosecco and Pinot Grigio. But Cecchetto plants it anyway.

And they use it to make this wine, a passito version of it, which concentrates the fruit, the process, and the intention.

It’s the kind of wine my husband loves, because he loves Port and other wines in that sweet style. It’s the kind of wine I also love, because I love the narrative and the heritage of it. It’s the kind of wine we drink together, slowly and when it’s dark outside and we are capping another day.

This is the kind of wine we, also, are hungry to drink.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the Cecchetto Raboso Passito wine!

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Hungry For This Wine: 2014 Oris (Ciù Ciù Winery)

What’s hot right now when it comes to wine?

Ask that question to wine professionals anywhere in the country, and here’s what I bet most of them will answer:

“We can’t tell you.”

They aren’t being coy. They do have a good reason for not saying what’s hot, but it isn’t because of something sensible like trends not having matured yet, or because they aren’t paying close enough attention to their audience.

Wine pros can’t tell us what’s hot because “what’s hot” is unknown, or at least it’s obscure. It’s also difficult to find, and probably even more difficult to pronounce or to spell.

What’s hot, in other words, hasn’t really been identified yet. When it comes to the next big thing, wine pros want what they haven’t had yet.

It’s an attractive idea.

Of course we can go for the old reliable stand-bys and the bottles that have seen us through thick and thin.

But honestly, where’s the fun in that? This is wine! Not some old sweatshirt you’ve had since college. Let’s try something new on for size.

What’s hot now is what we haven’t heard of yet. Which explains why, at a tasting I hosted recently of wines from the Marche region of Italy, the most popular wine (by far) was made from… wait for it… Pecorino.

No, not the cheese. The grape.

And the Marche region? Haven’t heard of that either? More points for you!

The Oris wine by Ciù Ciù winery (don’t know how to pronounce it? Great!) is made from Pecorino, Passerina, and Trabbiano grapes (triple threat right there!). It’s a white wine made in the hills of eastern Italy. It was hand-harvested and can be drunk in the springtime following the harvest.

Which means it’s casual, and fun, and light, and easy. And this week, it’s exactly what I’m hungry to drink.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Ciù Ciù wines!

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Hungry For This Wine: 2014 Smith-Madrone Riesling

Smith-Madrone RieslingThis wine arrived just in the nick of time. 

It was a Friday night, my husband and I were home alone, our twin boys having been invited to a sleepover elsewhere. It was a long and exhilarating week of work that we both love but lordy, by that point, exhaustion had won out.

We didn’t want to cook, we didn’t even want much to think. It was an order-in night for dinner — Thai food, in our case — and it was the sustenance kind of dinner that you expect to fuel you with calories and, honestly, not much else.

But then there was this wine. 

It had arrived earlier in the week, along with bottles that this particular Napa producer is frankly better known for, namely Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. But my husband and I are both suckers for Riesling, and spicy Thai food was on the way. We pulled the cork, casually poured a few measures of the wine into our glasses, and took our seats.

To be honest, I didn’t even smell it first. I know I should have; it’s something “wine people” do, but this producer is familiar and I respect their wines and their process. They want to make wines that express their place on the earth, they say, and they also want to make wines that express themselves as people and as winemakers.

That, I get. As winemakers in Napa for more than 40 years, certainly Stu and Charles Smith are keyed into what the market wants and what their land is best suited to produce. By and large, for them on Spring Mountain, that means Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

But then there is this Riesling.

This Riesling says that they have their independent streak. It says that they listen hard enough to their land (and its steep hillsides) that they know it is suited, too, to produce the grapes for this wine. It says that they know this wine will be good.

This Riesling IS good, and refreshing, though in a way-beyond-sustenance kind of way. You get oranges and white flowers and fresh acidity. You get the desire to take another sip and then another.

It’s the kind of Riesling that reminds you to be grateful that wine, and this wine, is part of our life. It’s the kind of wine that makes you grateful that your kids have a friendly and active social life, and that you have this time alone with the person who loves you most in the all the world.

It’s the kind of wine that I’m hungry to drink, with Thai food for dinner or many other things too. It was just the right thing at just the nick of time, to pull us back from the far edge of everyday life.

CLICK HERE for additional details on this wine!

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