Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Video #15 - Benvenuto Brunello 2008, video 4

This is the last video, alas!
And the question in this video requires a little explanation.
Basically, since I started attending the Benvenuto Brunello festival years ago I always wondered why some of the most "famous" wineries wouldn't attend the event. It slightly irritated me partly because I had hoped to try some wines that otherwise weren't easy to get a hold of and secondly because I thought that the whole idea behind producing a wine with a unique name, so in this case Brunello di Montalcino, and by being members of the Brunello Consorzio should imply taking part of the important initiatives that the latter has to promote the area and the name of the wine.
Apparently this is not the case. Very respectable wineries such as Soldera, Biondi-Santi, Salvioni, Cerbaiona, Salicutti, etc (and from this year Casanova dei Neri & Poggio di Sotto) are some of the wineries that were no where to find on the list of the Benvenuto Brunello wineries. Only 153 out of a total of over 204 (approx) showed up.

SO, my question to some of the wineries that actually were at the Benvenuto Brunello event (you might already have detected that some of the people I interviewed are part of the famous wineries - but who did turn up) was:
"What do you think about the wineries that have chosen not to participate in the Benvenuto Brunello wine event?"
I felt it was a sore question that nevertheless needed to be addressed.
So here are the answers to that:

Benvenuto Brunello Wine Festival February 2008, part 4 from Rebecca Christophersen on Vimeo.

Video #14 - Benvenuto Brunello 2008, video 3

And so here's the fun question that I just had to ask the producers to see their reaction ;)
What do the Brunello wine producers think about Sangiovese grown in California?
Here's the answer!

Benvenuto Brunello wine festival February 2008, part 3 from Rebecca Christophersen on Vimeo.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Video #13 - Benvenuto Brunello 2008, video 2

My second question to the wine producers has to do with the star-system used in Italy (1 star being pretty bad and 5 stars being extraordinary). It seems to me that especially for Montalcino the stars have a huge say on how the market goes for a specific vintage. The 2002 vintage was rated only to stars, but there were wineries who could produce Brunello and wineries that couldn't. And then again there were the ones who decided not to produce Brunello because a lowly rated year would be hard to sell.
The most recent harvest - the '07 has just been rated - 4 yrs before the '07 vintage will actually come on the market. It was rated 5 stars which is the max.
So, my question to the winery owners was:
Do you think that the stars given to the different vintages are fair?

Benvenuto Brunello festival in Montalcino 2008, part II from Rebecca Christophersen on Vimeo.

Video #12 - Benvenuto Brunello 2008, video 1

This weekend we attended the Benvenuto Brunello manifestation in Montalcino. It's an annual event organized by the Consorzio and all the producers of Brunello are invited to come into the Fortress of Montalcino to present their newly released vintages. This year's release was the Brunello '03 (there were no Riserva's as the '02 vintage didn't allow for it).
I decided to go and ask the winery owners and producers 4 questions. I regret that I didn't ask a fifth question related to the recent sponsorship that the Consorzio has received from the car company FIAT. In fact, the yearly artistic tile hung up in Montalcino at this time has FIAT written all over it. However, I decided not to become too political and to stick to my original questions.
Question number 1:
In a few words, how would you describe the tipicity of Brunello?

Benvenuto Brunello Wine Festival in Montalcino 2008, part I from Rebecca Christophersen on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Video #11 - Follow me in my visit of a Pecorino Cheese maker in Volterra

Volterra is one of those hilltop towns in Tuscany that really is a must-see both because of its ancient history that ties it to the Etruscans and for its magnificent handcrafs. The country side around it is almost magical, vast views that on a clear day will let you see the Mediterranean sea. This area is perfect for keeping sheep and hence it was a natural choice of Sardinian families to settle down in this area when they came over from the island in the last century. They took their cheese making tradition with them and hence the Pecorino Cheese making has flourished in Tuscany.
Here's a video of one of my favourite producers of cheese. My question to you is, what cheese is your favourite? (leave a comment...)

Pecorino Toscano from Rebecca Christophersen on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Video #10 - Last video question to the wine producers at the Anteprima of the Vino Nobile

And so my last question to the wineries is:
"Do you think it is possible to taste the difference between organic and non-organic wines?"
Do you think they agreed?

Video #9 - Third video from the fair Anteprima del Vino Nobile which I ask the producers which place within Tuscany they think that the Sangiovese grape gives the best result...

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Video #8 - A second question to the producers of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Here's the second video with comments from the producers to the following question:
"Do you think it could be perplexing to the customer abroad that there is a likeness between the names of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo?"

Monday, February 18, 2008

Video #7 - Anteprima Vino Nobile

This is the time of year when many of the wine fairs take place.
The first I've attended was this past week-end in Montepulciano. My "mission" was to ask the wine producers 4 questions and then confront the answers cutting them together in videos for you guys to enjoy.
So I predict that there will be 3 more videos coming along...

The question in the first video:
"Do you think that the DOC & DOCG regulations are enforcing quality or are they restrictive regulations that effect the competition on the international market?"

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Video #6 - Saffron of San Gimignano

So this new video shot this morning is about Saffron - but not just any saffron - it's about the saffron grown around the town of San Gimignano.
San Gimignano is a hilltop town that has become real popular to visit ever since Rick Steves wrote it up and it now receives a myriad of tourists. But few take the time to visit the farms around it, farmers of oil, wine (Vernaccia di San Gimignano & Chianti Colli Senesi) & last but not least, SAFFRON.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Video #5 - Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, part III

And so this is the last of the trilogy of videos about the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena DOP.
In this video you will learn about:
- the bottling process
- the tasting

You should be able to find the TBV in special gastronomy stores - or have it shipped to you from here:

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Video #4 - Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Part II

And so here's part two:
- how the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar is made according to regulations
- the aging of the two kinds: the minimum 12 year old and the minimum 25 year old

Monday, February 4, 2008

Video #3 - Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, Part I

You all know Balsamic Vinegar of Modena, right?
But did you know that the stuff you buy in supermarkets in all sorts of different size bottles and with all sorts of labels actually isn't the real thing? Nothing wrong with it, but most balsamic vinegars today are produced on an all together industrial scale and aren't particularly tasty or natural as they are produced chemically. Only a few producers in Modena today produce the real thing, the Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena a natural product of great tradition which has been protected by the DOP (protected origin) designation since the year 2000.
We went to visit a small Acetaia in Modena to uncover the mystery once and for all!
I will be posting more parts as I finish editing them.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

When in Venice...

It was about time I went to Venice, only 13 yrs after my arrival in Italy!
I had sort of feared it because of the many warnings about the hords of tourists. But it was lots better than I imagined, maybe because of the time of year, maybe because I got lost in an area of town where there were nothing but Venetians, maybe because we had dinner in the most memorable Enoiteca ever, or maybe because we were only there for 24 hours!
Anyway, I have to tell you about the Enoiteca. Actually, I had been having dinner the night before in Padova at Le Calandre (see previous post for picture of chef) and as I were having dinner with our friend Luca from Padova (who's a pastry chef)), he says to me that I have to go to this place and eat in Venice called Mascareta.
I wasn't really paying attention to the conversation, especially because those northern accents really tire my ears, but suddenly this very original character is sitting with us at the tabel. And what a character! It just so happened that the owner, Mauro, of the restaurant in Venice was in the same restaurant as me that night, so I certainly had a date for the next evening in Venice!
So after getting lost in the alleys of Venice and with feet hurting from blisters, I decided to head for an early dinner. I find Enoiteca Mascareta, get a seat and start ordering. Mauro, my new friend, arrives a little later and then starts taking full care of me. We had the most amazing food, and gallons of wine - all sorts that he just started bringing us. "Natural" wines that had very little to do with what the modern palate is used to. However, extremely interesting and an extraordinary entertaining night. I didn't get back to the hotel 'till 2 am - completely exhausted and probably a little hazy! The good thing in Venice is that you don't have to drive anywhere so you can drink without danger!!!
I could tell you lots more about Mauro and his fantastic ideas, but it would get too long...

But when in Venice, make sure to look up this restaurant or ENOITECA as it is classified by Mauro himself, founder of the International Enoiteca Association.

Enoiteca Mascareta
Wine Bar
Calle Lunga S. Maria Formosa, 5183
Venezia Tel: 041-5230744
Open from 7pm to 2 pm

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Video #2 - Romano Dal Forno winery visit in Valpolicella

I finally finished editing the video of a visit to the famous wine producer in the Valpolicella region (just North of Verona) Romano Dal Forno. We went there on our recent venture to the North of Italy. I really hope you enjoy it... (I did!)

Review of wine tour

The other day I received an email with this lovely review of a recent wine tour. I was so pleased to receive it that I've decided to put it up on the blog.

"Thanks so much for such a wonderful tour of the Chianti region. It was the perfect way for Amanda to end her semester in Florence. She fell in love with Italy.
We got the wine a couple of weeks ago and Brian is waiting for a special occasion to open them up. (I think he is just waiting for Amanda to get home from school, so she can share in the fun!)
I gave out a number of the bottles of olive oil at Christmas and everyone has LOVED them! We even had a nice little olive oil tasting for our friends. We learned so much about olive oil from you, and we shared that knowledge with our friends. It was great fun!
We loved the wine tour. Brian said it was the best part of our trip to Italy and Amanda was thrilled. We learned so much and had such fun! Amanda loved practicing her Italian and thought you and Katia were great. Brian tells everyone how he wanted to bring MAMA home with him because she was such a great cook. He still cannot get over that Tiramisu she served! That lunch was so special! Please extend our fondest greeting to Katia!
We will think of you and your friends at those two very special vineyards each time we open one of our precious bottles of wine from the Chianti region.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Video #1 - Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano DOP)

Here's the first video from our short gastronomic trip to the North of Italy. This video shows how Parmesan Cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano DOP) is produced.