Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Wines of Italy Series: Terre Margaritelli - Torgiano

Before I even visited Terre Margaritelli I’d become acquainted with their wine just by checking into my room at the Hotel Gio where I was assigned one of the signature wine rooms, a room that is designed and decorated by one of the local winemakers, and mine was, you guessed it… the Terre Margaritelli room. 

There I was surrounded by the Terre Margaritelli vineyard in the form of a huge wall mural, as well as a desk and table made of wine barrel staves. On the table was a bottle of Mirantico, two glasses and a Terre Margaritelli corkscrew. It was just too enticing to ignore and low and behold, the bottle practically opened itself! I mean that’s the point of these wine theme rooms…you are immersed in an environment designed by the winery, so sampling the wine is almost required…at least that’s my excuse. The Mirantico--a blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Merlot, and Cabernet had a lovely aroma of violets and roses with great structure and lovely long finish. I’m glad I tried it and even happier that I got to meet the man who designed the room at the Terre Margaritelli winery the following night. 

Federico Bibi, Sales and Marketing Director of Terre Margaritelli Winery and his wife Jennifer McIlvain turned a cold and blustery night into a warm and welcoming evening of food, friendship and most of all fabulous wines. While half of our group was in the kitchen with Jennifer learning how to make gnocchi, the rest of us chatted with Federico about everything from the design theory behind the labels, to the history of the Margaritelli family land, and the organic winemaking process. You can watch a video slideshow of how the evening unfolded here, or at the bottom of this post.

I really enjoyed these wines and especially appreciated the opportunity to compare the differences in the Mirantico red blend poured from the 750 ml bottle and from the magnum. I normally don’t buy magnums but this was surely an object lesson as to why I should. The wine showed characteristics many levels beyond that in the standard size bottle, a fuller, richer palate refined and complex at the same time.

That night, back in my Terre Margaritelli room, I reached up to turn off my lamp made from bottle of Greco di Renabianca Grechetto, and I felt even more connected to a special winery that may very well have been my favorite in all of Umbria. Before checking out the next day I bought a bottle of the Mirantico from the Hotel Gio wine shop to ensure a taste of Umbria upon my return home. 

When your travels bring you to Umbria (and they should!) make plans to visit Terre Margaritelli just outside Perugia in Torgiano. And for a complete “eno-gastronmical” experience contact Jennifer at Life…Italian Style for cooking classes and an insider peek into the savory flavors and unhurried nature of the Umbrian lifestyle.

Links to all Posts in this Series:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Wines of Italy Series: Goretti-Wine & Winetherapy

Fill'er up with Sagrantino! 
The first thing I noticed when we arrived at the Goretti Winery were the wine pumps! Hard to miss the gas station style pumps that locals use to fill up wine jugs and take home. With the price of gas so high, maybe we should all convert our cars to run on premium grape juice. Although with this wine you will need a locking gas cap  to prevent people from siphoning it out for the dinner table.

The wine shop had all the Goretti wines on display including some super-super sized bottles of Sagrantino almost half my height, I’d never seen bottles this big before. I doubt I could lift one much less get it in my suitcase!  But they certainly looked like a major party waiting to happen.

Also on display were a line of wine-based cosmetics that Sara Goretti developed with her sister. I took a closer look at the label and realized it was the same as the products provided in my bathroom at the Hotel Gio. I’d been amazed at the quality of the sample size hand creams and loved the aroma that was evocative of harvest on a crush pad, yet softer, almost a honeyed-sandalwood scent but lively and fresh.

After Sara explained each of their wine offerings, we repaired to the tower where the Goretti family was on hand, including Nonna Marcella, to pour some of the wines for us to pair with a wonderful array of Umbrian style hors d'oeuvres, cheeses, salads, and some limited production olive oil served on crostini. I particularly loved the Torta al testo ( shown below top middle) and the Crostini di carne alla Perugina (shown middle row left and bottom right corner below) both based on Nonna Marcella's recipes.

I was already familiar with several of the Goretti reds including Sagrantino di Montefalco and Rosso di Montefalco which are well distributed and easy to find in the states.  I was less familiar with the whites, and I favored the “Il Moggio” Grechetto a very aromatic and flavorful wine that paired best with the honey drizzled cheese.

New to me was the L'Arringatore a hearty red made from Sangiovese, Merlot and Ciliegiolo grapes and named after the famous bronze statue Aulo Metello. One sip of wine this and your arm may fly right up into a salute to the intense flavors and tannins. It happened to Melba. ( see below)

The vaulted ceiling of the room added to the atmosphere and although the temperature was rather cold, it hardly mattered by the time the grappa was served.

And what great grappas they were! Grappa di Sagrantino, Grappa di Grecetto and dark yellow Grappa made from the marc of red grapes.

Afterwards we went back to the wine shop and I bought a jar of the SG winetherapy moisturizer. All I can say is if I’d know how much I was going to like it I’ve have bought tank load. I’m not a super girly-girl but I do appreciate a great skin care product. It’s been over a month now since I’ve been using the winetherapy moisturizer and I do believe Sara Goretti has come very close to packaging the fountain of youth in her skincare products. Maybe that’s why all the women winemakers we met in Italy looked so gorgeous, they are applying the secrets of the vine to their skincare regime as well as in the bottle.

I know this sounds like some crazy infomercial, but it’s true and no one paid me a dime to say this! I’ve been a fan of the French Caudalie line of Vinotherapie products for years and firmly believe in the magic of polyphenols in their grape derived products. The Goretti winetherapy products are made with the same substances found in grape leaves and grape seeds.

If you can’t find the SG skincare line (hint look here) you can always drink Goretti wine instead and become beautiful from the inside out. Or try some Goretti Grappa and after a few shots I guarantee you will see a more youthful version of yourself in the mirror. That is if you can still see.

Friday, March 2, 2012

What's Your Rhône Name?

Like the swallows returning to San Juan Capistrano or the annual mating of the wildebeests in Africa, certain events indicate a particular time of year. In the wine world, especially in the Rhône world, it’s a sure sign that Spring is near when you hear the thundering herd of Rhône Rangers ride into town for the Annual Rhône Rangers event held at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

The 15th Annual Rhône Rangers will be held March 24-25, 2012. I went to the event last year and can tell you first hand it’s something you don’t want to miss. The wines are fantastic and the winemakers are real mavericks. Rhône’s and the people who make Rhône wines tend to follow the beat of a slightly different drummer. My kind of peeps!

Three seminars and a winemaker dinner will be held on Saturday and The Grand Tasting on Sunday. This year one of the seminars involves bacon! And the Grand tasting will have over 500 wines! I know you want to go to that—and you could for free— This is what you have to do:

Tell me what your Rhône Name is. Don’t know what it is? Here’s how to find out-- It's kind of like that game where you invent your porn star name, um, I mean stage name, by combining the name of a childhood pet and the name of the street you lived on as a kid. So for example my stage name would be Fluffy Lakeview.

But to find your Rhône Name do the following:
(Name of Favorite Childhood Pet)  + (Favorite Rhône Variety) = Rhône Name

So for example my Rhône Name could be-- Fluffy Viognier or Jake Carignane

And here are the never before revealed Rhône Ranger Names for the winemakers who will be pouring Grenache Blanc, Picpoul Blanc, Carignane, Cinsault, Counoise and Mondeuse Noir in the Rare Wines seminar Saturday, March 24, 2012.

Tablas Creek – 2010 Picpoul Blanc – Jason Haas  (Binky Picpoul)
Two Shepherds – 2010 Grenache Blanc – William Allen  (Flash Grenache)
Holly’s Hill – 2010 Counoise – Josh Bendick  (Spanky Counoise)
Lagier Meredith – 2009 Mondeuse Noire – Carole Meredith  (Muffin Mondeuse Noire)
Ridge – 2009 Carignane – David Gates   (Astro Carignane)
Clos Saron – 2010 Cinsault — Gideon Beinstock  (Buster Cinsault)

So what’s your Rhône Name?

Leave it in the comments section below and then tweet your Rhone name to me at @marcygordon and @RhoneRangers and tag it with #RRSF. You could win a pair of tickets to the Grand Tasting in San Francisco on March 25th. Enter Now! Contest closes March 7th.

Here is a list of Rhône grapes to get you started.

Details and ticket information available here:

Website: http://www.rhonerangers.org/
Ticket sales: http://rhonerangers2012.eventbrite.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RhoneRangers
Twitter: @RhoneRangers Hashtag #RRSF


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