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Everything is Coming Up Vermentino in Sardegna

The wisp of a fresh sea breeze and the soft scent of wildflowers and Mediterranean brush remind me of a recent trip to Sardegna just before summer crowds of tourists flooded the island and just in time to taste some newly released wines. My trip was an immersion experience to learn about Vermentino, a light-skinned white grape that produces vibrant citrusy high-acid wines that make you salivate for a plate of fresh shellfish or just-caught, lightly grilled branzino with fresh herbs.

Vermentino grapes. Photo courtesy of LAORE

Vermentino is also cultivated in Corsica, where it’s called Vermentinu and in parts of Languedoc-Roussillon, where it’s called Rolle. In Liguria, it’s known as Pigato, and in Piedmont, it’s called Favorita. In Hungary it is related to Furmint. Recently I even tasted a Vermentino from Australia.

Seventy percent of Italy’s Vermentino is from Sardegna, where its production is strictly regulated to assure the highest quality wines. The characteristics of Vermentino wines vary slightly by appellation, thanks to different soils and vineyard elevations. All the wines I tasted reminded me somewhat of a Loire Valley Sancerre but with a tad more, albeit pleasant, salinity.

Hills of vineyards at Siddura Winery in DOCG Vermentino di Gallura

Vermentino is cultivated throughout Sardegna, but the wines of Vermentino de Gallura DOCG in the region of Olbia to the north of the island are considered the jewels in the crown. Here, the soil is more granite and limestone which lends a flinty character to the wines.

Overlooking the vineyards at Auduraya Winery in DOC Vermentino di Gallura in Southern Sardinia

To the south in Vermentino di Sardegna DOC the soils are more calcareous (clay, chalk) . Tasting these wines, I detected a much more floral and herbaceous character, much like the Mediterranean wildflowers I kept smelling throughout my trip.

The Vermentino wines had a lovely essence of wildflowers and herbs like this wild fennel

Vermentino wines should be served chilled, but not too cold. Given their Mediterranean provenance, they pair beautifully with seafood. Fatty tuna, octopus, langoustines and sea bream are just a few of the seafood dishes I enjoyed during my stay in Cagliari.

Fresh from the sea and perfect with a glass of chilled Vermentino

A special thank you to the agriculture marketing agency LAORE, who organized the trip. We all had the chance to taste a range of wines Vermentino wines from the north (Gallura and Alghero) and to the south around Cagliari, a bustling seaport and popular tourist destination. We met with dozens of producers at organizing tastings and meals. I found their local pride was as captivating as the wines.

Three generations of the Auduraya family at Auduraya Winery

Sadly, there was not enough time to visit Sardegna’s world-classes beaches and take a dip in the sea or tour its many archeological ruins (we did visit one). That’s another trip, and I look forward to returning and exploring this beautiful island more extensively.

This is the closest I came to the sea. the view was stunning!

Meanwhile, I will savor the memory of the sea breeze, sun and wildflowers when I order a glass of Vermentino.

Spiral pasta fusilli with tuna fish, tomato sauce, olive oil and basil is a typical Mediterranean dish which people eat especially during the summer and hot days. With white wine Vermentino from Sardinia final sensation is fantastic. ©-Loran-Zutic-Dreamstime.com_

 

In this edition of The Connected Table SIPS! Donatella Muscianese, Agenzia Laore Sardegna, discusses key growing areas and styles of Vermentino: DOCG Vermentino di Gallura.

 

Recommended wines

Vermentino di Gallura DOCG

Surrau  This winery mays sparkling and still Vermentino. Try Sciala Vermentino di Gallura DOCG Superiore which is aged one year, (ID Beverage)

Cantina Tani (Monti, Gallura) Family owned winery. Mother is a chef in the family winery restaurant Try Taerra 2008 (Importer: Artisan Wines)

Tenute Olbios. I really like this winery’s selections, especially the no dosage sparkling Vermentino called Bisso.

Vermentino di Sardinia DOC

Argiolas – Founded by wine legend Antonio Argiolas in 1906, the winery is now run by his granddaughters and celebrates 80 years in 2018. Try Costamolina. (Winebow).

Antonella Corda – Vintner Antonella Corda is a granddaughter of Antonio Argiolas who decided to create her own namesake label.  Try Antonella Corda Vermentino di Sardegna.

Cantina Auduraya -The word “auduraya” means “nobility of the soul.” This lively winery hosted a tasting of delicious local Argiolas cheeses as well as their wines which include other native varieties like Monica, Bovale, Nuragus and, of course Cannonnau and Vermentino. Try: Auduraya Vermentino.

Cantina Santa Maria La Palma – Located in Alghero, this cantina is the largest producer of Vermentino in Sardegna. This winery produces a few Vermentino wines. Its bestseller is Aragosta (“lobster). I was partial to Vermentino Blu. Another interesting wine is Akènta is a sparkling Vermentino that is ‘cellared’ deep in the sea in the Porto Conte Natural Park. (MS Walker Imports and Bacchus Imports).

Sella & Mosca – Sella & Mosca is an expansive winery that produces wines from several native varietals, including a significant amount of Torbato, a white varietal, and Nasco, which produces a sweeter wine. Try: Sella & Mosca Monteoro Vermentino de Gallura Superiore. (Palm Bay Imports)

Cantina Trexenta -All the wines tasted were exceptional. in addition to Vermentino, Cantina Trexenta produces wines from the indigenous Monica, Nuragus and Cannanou varietals.  Try Contissa Vermentino di Sardegna.

 

Akènta is a sparkling Vermentino that is cellared beneath the sea. The bottle is a mosaic of sea creatures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

A Napa Wine Starr

We met vintner Pam Starr through mutual friends and were instantly drawn to her engaging personality and highly pleasurable Bordeaux-style wines. Pam has been the co-owner, manager and winemaker of Crocker & Starr since its inception in 1997 when she helped resurrect the vineyards on the Crocker Estate in St. Helena and established a winery to create world-class wines. After toiling as a winery employee for 18 years, Pam’s transformation at a relatively young age into owner, manager and winemaker was unique and remarkable. It required a special mix of skill, passion and dedication.

Pam Starr
Pam Starr

Originally destined to go to dental school, her career path switched to wine after Pam worked a harvest as an intern. A life of drilling teeth turned to pruning vines. Pam enrolled in the University of California at Davis to study oenology, graduating in 1984. She worked her way through different roles and wineries at Edna Valley Vineyard, Carmenet Winery, Spottswoode Vineyard before partnering with Charlie Crocker to start Crocker & Starr.- Melanie Young

current-release-cab-sauv

We visited with Pam Sept. 2 to discuss her wines and this year’s harvest. Connect: www.crockerstarr.com. Listen here or here where you can follow all our show episodes filed by guest’s name: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-The-Connected-Table-Live/?episode_id=27330235

Follow up on Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable
Follow us Twitter@connectedtable and Facebook/TheConnectedTable

 

 

 

 

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David Ransom Drink Melanie Young THE CONNECTED TABLE RADIO SHOW

Tannat’s the Night- A Love Affair with Uruguay Wines

One of the things we enjoy about hosting our radio show is taking our listeners and followers to regions of the world where great wine and food are produced. We are passionate travelers and- as we like to say- insatiably curious.

Last week we “traveled” to Greece to taste wines and talk with Chef Maria Loi (Proprietor of NYC’s Loi Estiatorio and Co-Author of “The Greek Diet”) and Vintner Yiannis Voyatzis, (Boutari Vineyards and Director of New Wines of Greece). If you missed the live interview you can listen on iHeart anytime at this link.

This week we will “virtually” travel to Uruguay to discuss the country’s wine culture and visit with Daniel Pisano, a fourth generation vintner at Bodegas Pisano Vineyards. Daniel says he is “a farmer born in the vineyard” as were his ancestors dating back to great grandfather Francesco Pisano who first planted his vines in 1870 on a plot of land north of Montevido. Today, Bodegas Pisano is among a group predominantly family-owned vignerons producing wine in Uruguay. He works alongside his two brothers, Gustavo and Eduardo.

Gustavo, Daniel and Eduardo Pisano. Bodegas Pisano
Gustavo, Daniel and Eduardo Pisano, Bodegas Pisano

We’ll discuss Daniel’s family winery as well as wine making in Uruguay which is most renowned for Tannat, the country’s signature varietal. According to the trade organization Wines of Uruguay, more Tannat is grown in Uruguay than anywhere else in the world; at last count 7,200 acres. The Tannat varietal hails from the Madiran region near Bordeaux. It was introduced into Uruguay by Basque immigrants.

Tannat Varietal
Tannat Varietal

 

Uruguay is home to over 3,000 growers and 200 wineries with 22,000 acres of vineyards. The Uruguayan climate is influenced by Atlantic breezes, much like Bordeaux, although warmer and with more intense sun (220 days of sunshine annually). Refreshing cool air comes up from the Antarctic. The ripening period is long, and the wines are usually lower in alcohol, averaging 12% to 12.5%.

Uruguay is located south of Brazil off the Atlantic Ocean. It is blessed with 220 days of sunshine and cool breezes from the Antarctic. Wine growing conditions are favorable to those in Bordeaux.
Uruguay is located south of Brazil off the Atlantic Ocean. It is blessed with 220 days of sunshine and cool breezes from the Antarctic. Wine growing conditions are favorable to those in Bordeaux.

 

In addition to the Tannat varietal, winemakers have also found success with reds: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Syrah and whites: Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Albariño and Viogner. Today, Uruguay produces over 10 million cases, much of it for export to the U.S. Canada and throughout South America and elsewhere. – posted by Melanie Young

Connect:

http://www.pisanowines.com/

http://www.winesofuruguay.com/

https://twitter.com/winesofuruguay

https://www.facebook.com/Wines.of.Uruguay

 

Join Melanie and David on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET on W4CY.com and anytime on iHeart
Join Melanie and David on The Connected Table LIVE! Wednesdays, 2pm ET on W4CY.com and anytime on iHeart

Melanie Young and David Ransom are the Insatiably Curious Culinary Couple who profile the dynamic people who work front and center and behind the scenes in food, wine, spirits and hospitality and explore the places you want to visit and savor.

Listen to all our show episodes on iHeart and the iHeart App anytime, anywhere.  Just click to Episodes and look for the show by guest name: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-The-Connected-Table-Live

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Drink

Going Native: Crete Wine Varietals

There’s a place in the middle of the wine-dark sea called Crete, a lovely, fruitful land surrounded by the sea. – Homer, The Odyssey

 

CRETE VINEYARDS

Thrapsathiri, Vidiano, Vilana, Malvasia de Candia, Daphni, Plyto, Kostifali, Mandilari, Liatiko…..To the uninitiated these sound like another version of the nine Greek muses. But in the wine world, these lyrical names are among the native varietals of Crete.

Wine production in Crete dates back to 2000 B.B. to ancient Minoan civilization. After the Ottomans invaded Crete in 1669, wine production subsided for nearly two centuries. It was reborn in the late nineteenth century after liberation. In 1913 Crete became part of Greece. Over the next few decades of war and political turmoil in Greece and throughout Europe, Crete winemakers persevered, despite less than favorable opportunities for exportation.

The most widely planted indigenous varietal in Crete is Vilana, a white grape, and Kostifali, a low tannin red which is frequently used as a base for blending.  Other local varietals include whites: Vidiano, Daphni, Plyto, Thrapsathiri, Malvazia di Candia, and Spina Muscat.  Indigenous red varietals include Mandilari, Romeiko and Liatiko, which produces delightful sweet wines.

International varietals such as Sauvignon Blanc, Roussanne, Chardonnay, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, are also grown in Crete

Today’s Crete wine producers are focusing on international trade. Crete wines can be found in the United States, Germany, Belgium, The Netherlands, France, Canada and China.

The Heraklion Winemakers Network (Wines of Crete), a trade organization of producers based in Crete,  works to educate both trade and consumers on the contemporary appeal of these ancient varietals through workshops, trade missions, its website and a  free application for both the iPhone and Android visit www.winesofcrete.gr

written by Melanie Young

GRAPESVINEYARD DISTANCE

 

CRETE MAP

 

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