Buona Pasqua!

guest post by Julia Segal

Hello again, Julia here. I’ll be your guest blogger once again today. I am interning at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, and am certainly a wine enthusiast (and avid drinker.) If you want more Julia in your life, please check out my blog here.

When it comes to Easter wines, our flagship Vespa comes to the rescue. As if it were made for Easter, both Vespa Bianco and Vespa Rosso pair eerily well with some Italian Easter staples. Also around this time each year our matriarch, Lidia Bastianich releases her Italian Easter recipes and makes the world a better place.

Vespa rosso bottleVespa Bianco bottle

So let’s start with asparagus – an Easter classic. Its earthy bitterness begs for a glass of acidic but mellow, citrusy Vespa Bianco. Our flagship wine is a jack-of-all trades when it comes to pairing. (So be sure to pick up an extra bottle or 3)

Lidia Easter - asparagus

(find recipe here)

Next, Lidia recommends a vegetable risotto, to which we say: “another glass of Vespa please”. You  can stick with the Bianco for sure, whose full-bodied flavor and minerality stand up to the creamy deliciousness of the risotto. Or if you’re feeling like a change, now is the time to open up that bottle of Vespa Rosso.

lidia easter - risotto

(find recipe here)

Now for the piece de resistance – the lamb. Easter isn’t Easter – neither in Italy nor in America – without lamb. If you’re Lidia Bastianich, that lamb is slow-roasting on a spit. However you prepare it, you’ll be happy to know that both Vespa Bianco and Vespa Rosso are perfectly pairs for lamb! Vespa Bianco you say? Yes! Absolutely! Our East Coast Sales Manager Victoria does it often. Since Bianco is such a robust white, with some qualities akin to red wines (slightly tannic with real structure), it isn’t afraid of a little red meat. So take your pick, or better, yet – make a comparison!

Lidia’s lamb is typical from Le Marche with green olives and rosemary.

Lidia easter -lamb

(find recipe here)

For more from Lidia Bastianich, check out her website here

Rockin’ the Bastianich Tasting Room

One of the most exciting things to happen here at the winery in Cividale has been the construction and opening of the Tasting Room… Something I had been wishing for since 2008…Image

This is the entrance to our tasting room here in Cividale. If you had seen this before you would have been confronted with two big wooden doors that lead directly into the cellar. Now we have plenty of space and glass and LIGHT.  It’s a great place to invite people in, pull out a couple of glasses and start showing off some wine.

ImageYou can see all the toys we have inside… Big TV for showing videos and photos, plenty of space for things like books and other items like oil and honey and the pride of the Tasting Room, our swanky ENOMATIC wine preservation systems pimped-out with Argon instead of the usual Nitrogen.

If you’ve read Restaurant Man, you know that eliminating waste is Job 1. Wasted wine is a problem when you open a bottle on Friday and you have to throw it out on Monday. The ENOMATIC eliminates that problem and keeps even the more delicate whites fresh for days. It also really helps with portion control as tastes are metered out exactly.

Plus, they look totally cool.

The tasting room is also the beginning and end of any winery tours that are scheduled here (and we do plenty!)and a center for people to come and buy wine. It has also become an impromptu conference room due to its size and the large banco in the center. Great for looking at plans for the new restaurant or tasting together with winemakers and customers alike.

So this is my invitation to you all to come and see us at the winery and to taste (and maybe even buy?) something at the tasting room. We are open Monday thru Friday (with Saturday hours coming in April!) from 9-12 and then from 2:30 to 6pm.

We’d love to see you!

All About Aragone

ImageLa Mozza was founded in 2000 after our esteemed consultant and agronomist, Maurizio Castelli was informed by his talented winemaker son Simone (owner and winemaker at Podere 414) that there was a lovely vineyard for sale just over the hill from his own…Image

Morellino di Scansano was the first logical step, but a flagship wine was in order. The idea of a “Super-Tuscan” was obvious, but the approach needed to be different.

The area of the Maremma is much hotter and drier than the central part of Tuscany where haunting mists cling to the vineyards in the mornings. Maremma has a more Mediterranean climate, so rather than fall into the usual “Sangiovese + (Bordeaux) = SuperTuscan” formula, Maurizio looked at grape varieties that thrive in hot, dry climates. Maurizio explained that the culture of winemaking had disappeared in this area after the Etruscans disappeared, until the Spanish revived it there 400 years ago. So the idea of a “Super-Mediterranean” was born: 40% Sangiovese holds down the fort for Tuscany, with 25% of Syrah representing southern France, 25% of Alicante connecting with Spain, and a dash of 10% Carignan to represent Sardinia.

The result is a ripe red with body and structure that doesn’t come off jammy or cloying… Spicy and earthy and brooding… Velvety tannins, supple acidity and plenty of complexity that never tires out the palate.

And the goodness doesn’t stop there… Just last week we had the biggest Aragone competitive tasting EVER here at the winery in Friuli..

Image(L to R: Gabriele Gadenz, Winemaker La Mozza – Emilio Del Medico, winemaker Bastianich – Maurizio Castelli, superconsultant)

We BLIND-TASTED 2 vintages of Aragone against some of the heaviest hitters in all of Tuscany (Tignanello, Paleo, Ca’ Marcanda (Gaja), Grattamacco, Saffredi to name just a few!) and we noticed a couple of things:

–We could have stayed there tasting for hours. Maurizio commented that for these wines at this level and seeing how the wines developed in the glass over time, we SHOULD have spent another THREE HOURS examining these wines.

–All of these wines were very good. The general level of quality was quite high and the difference between the best and the worst was not very large.

–The key to success in this category is over-delivering on price… And for that, Aragone won hands down.

Everyone’s notes rated Aragone 2007 or 2008 in the top 4 or 5 wines. But then factor in price and we could only conclude that in terms of absolute quality, the ROI on spending 2 or 3 or 5 TIMES the money for one of those big names just isn’t worth it. Aragone was the best way to get a great “Super-Tuscan experience” without spending tons of $$$.

We liked that.

That Friulian Terroir

guest post by Julia Segal

Hello again, Julia here. I’ll be your guest blogger once again today. I am interning at Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group, and am certainly a wine enthusiast (and avid drinker.) If you want more Julia in your life, please check out my blog here.

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MAKING WINE IN FRIULI

As we know, wines are heavily influenced by their terroir, and Friuli is no exception. Every region in Italy imparts distinct characteristics to their wines as a result of their indigenous grapes, climate, environment, soil, location and more. So let’s talk about what gives our Bastianich wines, from the Colli Orientali del Friuli, that special Friulian flair.

VITICULTURAL DARWINISM

As a general rule, low yield means good quality grapes. Friulian vines are some of the lowest yielding vines per hectare in all of Italy. This is a measurement of quality grapes, since only the best are able to survive. The vines that do survive are able to pick up many important micronutrients thanks to the type of rock beneath the ground. This allows for deep root penetration, high mineral absorption and consistent quality.

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WARM DAYS, COLD COLD NIGHTS

The growing season in Colli Orientiali is characterized by warm days and chilly nights.  Since the grapes are allowed to ‘rest’ during the nighttime, this helps balance the acidity and sweetness in the wine. Being positioned between the mountains and the sea also lends significant air movement and temperature fluctuation to the vines, helping to curb premature ripening. Our vines located closer to the Adriatic favor full bodied reds and powerful whites, whereas those closer to the Alps lend to bright and aromatic wines.

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SLOW AND STEADY WINS THE RACE

The growing season is long, meaning that the grapes have a long time to ripen to proper maturity. The temperate climate, with its cooler summers and warmer winters, draws out the time for the grapes to ripen. The light soil color also helps, because it does not heat up quickly from the sun, forcing the vines to grow and mature at a slower pace.

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GETTING DIRTY

The soils in the area tend to be mix of calcereous clay and sandstone, and have a high concentration of minerals, clay and sometimes limestone. This imparts a characteristic mineral finish to many of our whites. The mix of clay and flat stone on the hillside retains water during dry periods, ensuring that the vines Furthermore, calcereous clay is specifically high in Calcium, which is crucial for healthy vines.

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Now, when you’re sipping one of our wines, you know what you’re tasting is the soil, the air and the seasons of Friuli.

Good times with PLUS in Switzerland.

 

 

 

Last week I was working the market(s) in Switzerland with two sales agents from Meregalli, our distributor there. First thing that struck me (after I snapped out of my trance at how beautiful the place was) was the vast area that the guys had to cover. My first day consisted of visits in Lucern, Zurich and Bern. Very hardcore!

The next two days were visits in the Ticino area, further south and closer to the Italian border. This area is simply stunning with various lakes that lie in the parallel valleys surrounded by spectacular mountains with incredible lake views (and really tiny, steep roads).

One of the stops was particularly memorable for the food. Locanda Orico is in the center of Bellinzona, surrounded by awesome castles. Chef/Owner Lorenzo Albrici was nice enough to come out after lunch and taste wines with us…

Image(Above, Dario, Chef Albrici and Saverio @ Locanda Orico)

By chance I had mentioned how much I loved the Bastianich PLUS with Foie Gras… Chef Albrici jumped up and went to the kitchen, returning with a fresh plate of Foie…

Image(That’s our man Maurizio lunging for another taste of PLUS with his Foie Gras…)

It was really a magic moment to see people get as excited as I do about the wines and about a great pairing. Plus is such a special wine, unlike anything else you find in Friuli… Super-concentrated (Tocai) Friulano grapes from 60-year-old vines, 10% of which are dried for about a month to concentrate them EVEN more…

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Vinification done in stainless steel to let the grapes do all the talking and let the majestic power of this wine show without interference from wood. It’s a little gem we make here, just 6000 bottles or so. 

Old-vine Friulano is rare because usually Friulano is a fresh and relatively inexpensive daily drink… When the vines get past 30 or 35 years-old they start producing less fruit, making the resulting wine more expensive, but the concentration is so intense! It’s a shame that only a handful of producers in Friuli make an old-vine Friulano. 

Foie Gras is only one of the great pairings with Plus, it’s intensity and body works great with spicy dishes (I remember a stewed octopus with pepperoncino in Croatia that was AWESOME with Plus) like Thai or Indian but it’s also a wonder with Shellfish (lobster and scampi come to mind) because of the slight sweetness echoing between the wine and the fish…

OK, now I’m hungry… 

 

 

A Valentine’s Day Perspective

Today’s post is by a special guest blogger: Victoria Stark, our very own East Coast Sales Manager at Dark Star Imports. This lady knows her vino, is an irreplaceable member of our wine team. For the blog today, she has been kind enough to give us a glimpse into how she will spend this most romantic of holidays.

Victoria.headshotAs a newlywed, I have been asked a lot the last couple of weeks what I am doing for Valentine’s Day – my first as a married person. As the east coast sales manager at Dark Star Imports, I have been seeing a LOT of Valentine’s Day tasting menus lately. So many in fact, it seems like I skipped right from Christmas to V-Day and January didn’t even exist. I have travelled around the country for much of January and the one thing that has been consistent is every restaurant’s preparation for the “big day.” Restaurants have selected special wine pairings and chefs have included aphrodisiacs in every course possible. Don’t get me wrong – the extra business around V-Day is great, but I personally have always had mixed feelings about the day.

It is a true Hallmark holiday with all of the markings of traditions and love – the cards, the commercials, and the big teddy bears with even bigger plush hearts. Yet, it’s also a holiday that seems to evoke a lot of bitterness instead of spreading true love. There is pressure to impress, with the focus on money and then the feelings of exclusion if you aren’t in a relationship.  Both aspects can quickly take the most romantic holiday down a depressing road. So to avoid these negatives, think about your ideal Valentine’s Day. Is it a lavish dinner with a special tasting menu, flowers, champagne, and truffles? Maybe it includes a card detailing your partner’s never dying love for you? Or perhaps, it’s a night with your closest friends, a bottle of wine and chocolates?

Instead of feeling the pressure of expectations to spend money on dinner, flowers and jewelry or figuring out what is appropriate for your relationship (no matter how new or old), I encourage you to take a step back and remember what Valentine’s Day is about . As much as I am excited to spend my first Valentine’s Day as a wife, February 14th is not just about the love of your life (if you have found that special person already). It is about everyone you love in your life.

So back to that pesky question: what am I doing for Valentine’s Day?

swe694149First, I am going to tell all the important people in my life how much they mean to me. Then, with my husband, our Valentine’s dinner will be at home. I am planning a simple, intimate affair with all of my favorites. Since I travel so much and am spoiled by eating at many restaurants (the good AND the bad), I usually like to stay home when I can. I’m going to go to Eataly to pick up: San Daniele prosciutto, house-made mozzarella and olive bread. To drink: a bottle of Bellavista Franciacorta Rose (also available at Eataly). I am a sucker for bubbles and the pink color of the wine will be just enough of a reminder that it is Valentine’s Day. If you’re not familiar with Franciacorta, it is the best sparkling wine in Italy. It is made from Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) and Chardonnay, just like Champagne. A great (and more economical) alternative is Flor Prosecco Rose.  If you pick some up, make sure you keep it in your fridge or on ice so it’s at the right temperature. And don’t worry, I would never forget dessert! I am obsessed with the classic truffles (even in the heart-shaped box) at Vosges Haut-Chocolat. Try their Caramel Marshmallows for something different.

Happy Valentine’s Day to you all and remember – celebrate the love you have in your life every day, not just on this one day.

~Victoria

London: BIBENDUM Annual Tasting

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This past Wednesday I had the pleasure of pouring the Bastianich wines at our UK importer’s annual tasting.
We have been working with Bibendum for about three years and I am always impressed with their organization and professionalism.
They are really great at gathering data and understanding their markets and consumers.

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As you can see the event was well attended. Lots of folks came by to taste the wines. By far most popular were the Vigne Orsone Sauvignon (I had a special tank sample of the 2012!) and if course the Vespa Bianco.
Finally, good friend and wine blogger Brett Jones was nice enough to interview me at the table about the differences between white and red winemaking.
Check out the link here to hear Brett and I! Go to the audio!

Q&A with Asia Brand Ambassador Andrea Manuali

guest post by Julia Segal

Hello! Julia again – I will be your guest blogger today. I am interning at the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group offices in New York, and am delighted to also contribute to the Bastianich Wines blog! I am certainly an Italian wine enthusiast, and recently returned from living and studying Food & Beverage Management in Milan, Italy. If you want more Julia in your life, check out my personal blog here.

Andrea Manuali photo 2

I had the chance to interview our Asia Brand Ambassador Andrea Manuali, a suave Romano with a passion for bringing quality wines around the world. This is what Andrea has to say about his experience with Bastianich in his most recent role.

How did you come to be the Bastianich Brand Ambassador for Asia?

When I finished my previous job in Brazil, I was asked if I wanted to represent the wines in there, starting by looking for a distributor. It was part of an overall strategy of expansion for our wines, we needed to sell more by opening new markets. I suggested that Brazil was not the best country to start with and we opted for Asia.

 Which Bastianich wines are most popular/ well received in Asia?

Definitively Bastianich Pinot Grigio and La Mozza “I Perazzi” Morellino di Scansano DOCG. The reason being twofold: first the price vis-a-vis quality. People perceive that for the price they pay they get a taste of a high-quality product. The second is that PG is the most famous Italian variety of White Wines. On the other hand, Morellino is a Tuscan DOCG and is offered by the glass in several outlets for a very reasonable price.

 What was it like going from living in Rome to Hong Kong?

Actually, I didn’t move straight from Rome to HK. I left Italy when I was 18 yrs old, went for College 4 yrs in London, then New York for 4 more yrs, then Brazil for 2 yrs, then Singapore for again 2 yrs. I am now 31 and I only go back to Italy roughly every 4 months. For me moving to HK was a new challenge, but not so much from a personal standpoint than business wise.

 What is the biggest challenge as Brand Ambassador for Italian wines in Asia?

The biggest challenge is to make sure that our sales are growing steadily every year, in a business like the wine one where nowadays there are far too many labels in the market. I can also add that another challenge is to get people to really understand the philosophy and quality behind Joe’s wines, far from being just of a commercial nature, but a true lifestyle concept coming from his long experience in the business.

 Where do you see wine trends in Asia going in the next few years?

I believe there will be a wide opening of people’s tastes towards new varieties. Higher consciousness and knowledge of what one is drinking and has in the glass. Exponential growth in wine sales as well as local wine production (some countries like China have already been making wine for years). There are still tons of people in many Asian countries who have never had a glass of wine, let alone really know what wine is!

CHEATSHEET: Adriatico

guest post by Julia Segal

Hello! My name is Julia, and I will be your guest blogger today. I am interning at the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group offices in New York, and am delighted to also contribute to the Bastianich Wines blog! I am certainly an Italian wine enthusiast, and recently returned from living and studying Food & Beverage Management in Milan, Italy. Hope you enjoy!

Bastianich’s three Adriatico white wines – Friulano, Malvasia, Ribolla, are like sisters. They all come from vineyards near the Adriatic Sea and are grown in relatively similar environments. The Adriatico line was created by Joe Bastianich to illustrate how people indigenous to these regions identified closely with the varieties of grape that grew for centuries in their area. This was especially important in the 20th century as borders between Northern Italy, Croatia and Slovenia were fluid and constantly changing. As a result, these wines represent the history and lineage of these areas.

That said, like all sisters, they have their own distinct personalities. For starters, each is made with a different type of grape – either indigenous to the region or grown there for centuries. They pair with different foods, have different tasting notes, yet all remain undeniably family. 

We already became familiar with Friulano last post, so let’s use this cheatsheet to see how each sister compares to one another.

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FRIULANO

Background
Made of 100% Tocai Friulano grape, this wine is typical of Friuli, Italy.

Notes
One of the most versatile of the Adriatico sisters, medium bodied with pronounced ripe pear and an acidity that makes your mouth water (truly). If you pay close attention you may also notice a note of almond.

Pairing Suggestions
Salumi, fresh tomato and herbs, meaty and light fish, goat cheese, almonds, treefruit, spicy dishes. See our previous post for some recipes to pair with Friulano.

MALVASIA

Background
The Malvasia grape comes from Greece, but has grown successfully for centuries in the dry hills of the Istrian peninsula of Croatia.

Notes
This wine has great hints of tropical fruit (papaya, pineapple) along with jasmine flower and young peaches. There is a waxy texture associated with Malvasia grapes that is balanced with the minerality and dryness of the wine.

Pairing Suggestions
Shellfish like lobster/shrimp, light fish, blue cheese, mushrooms, peaches, poultry. Try it with seafood, you won’t regret it!

RIBOLLA

Background
A typical white from Brda (Western Slovenia) and Collio (northern Italy). Made of 100% Ribolla Gialla, this grape variety has been growing here since the Roman Empire.

Notes
A soft, slightly yellow wine. Acidic without the bite. Notes of green apple, grapefruit. It is full bodied with pronounced minerality.

Pairing Suggestions
fried calamari or tempura is a classic! Otherwise light meats, fish and pork, pasta dishes. Or just drink a glass by itself – that’s what I do!

So there you have it, a short guide to differentiating the Adriatico sisters. These wines transcend borders but continue to represent regional tradition for locals of the Adriatic. To fully appreciate this line, I would recommend getting a bottle of each…

BASTIANICH FRIULANO – PAIRING THREE WAYS

guest post by Julia Segal

Hello! My name is Julia, and I will be your guest blogger today. I am interning at the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group offices in New York, and am delighted to also contribute to the Bastianich Wines blog! I am certainly an Italian wine enthusiast, and recently returned from living and studying Food & Beverage Management in Milan, Italy. Hope you enjoy!

Our Bastianich Friulano is an extremely versatile wine and as a result pairs well with a wide variety of flavours.  Its unique characteristics come from the Friulano (tocai) grape, a variety that has been grown in Friuli for hundreds of years, as well as  the terroir of sandstone soil, high altitudes and proximity to the Adriatic Sea. It is described as a light, round and slightly acidic wine with a mineral finish (thanks to the soil type!)

Now that you’re dying to buy a bottle of this liquid gold (for about $15-$19 in America), I thought we should do some pairing too. I’ll propose three diverse pairing options for this wine to illustrate the versatility of its pairing abilities.

PAIRING WITH A CLASSIC ITALIAN DISH

A typical pairing with Friulano is prosciutto or salumi, because the acidity cuts through the fattiness, and the flavours balance each other beautifully. You can make a meal of it by cooking one of Lidia’s traditional pastas with Prosciutto. Her “Ham & Straw” recipe is made with fettuccine, prosciutto, spring peas, parmigiano reggiano and a light cream sauce.

Here’s the recipe:

AROUND THE WORLD

Or, step out of the ordinary and pair it with something a little more exotic! Friulano pairs incredibly well with chilis, peppers and other lightly spicy flavours. Try a thai-style shrimp stirfry with chilis and peppers. Friulano balances nicely with shellfish, and the round acidity will give a great contrasting bite to spicy peppers. Try a recipe like this one:

FLAVOR PERFECTION

Sometimes pairing wine with a few little snacks that go really perfectly together is the best. There are definitely a few snacks that that will kick this wine up a notch. Try pairing it with unsalted almonds, some fresh goat cheese, and slices of pear.

(photo source)

Let us know how you like to enjoy your Friulano!