Tag Archives: winery

Fattoria di MonteMaggio, A Magical Boutique Winery in Tuscany

Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Enjoying La Dolce Vita with Ilaria at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape
Ilaria is giving me a lesson on the Sangiovese grape

My husband and I recently took a spectacular trip to Italy and visited some amazing regions, rich in cultures and traditions.  One of our destinations was Tuscany and we were living our dream of “La Dolce Vita” (the sweet life). We were blown away by the beauty of the rolling hills and the lush cypress trees. Finally, all the landscape pictures we had seen were coming to life and the views were similar to that of a postcard. On the first day, we got to visit this beautiful winery called: Fattoria di Montemaggio, located in Radda in Chianti in the heart of Chianti Classico region.  It’s truly magical with a stupendous view of the valley, and well-manicured grounds. There were full-blown roses and fresh artichokes growing in the immaculate garden. Ilaria, the estate manager greeted us with a beautiful smile and gave us a tour of the vineyards. It was clear how passionate she was about her job and demonstrated a great knowledge in the viticulture and viniculture process of wine making. She gave us a little lesson about the stubborn Sangiovese grape, as I explained in an earlier post:  The temperamental Sangiovese grape variety . I pointed out to her that the ground seemed very dry and she replied: “we need to make them suffer”. Of course, she was referring to this particular grape variety.  After a tour of the vineyards and some photo snapping, it was Denis, the cellar manager, who guided the wine tasting.  We enjoyed a lovely selection of wines in the company of Riccardo, our amazing tour guide and the multi-talented Katarina Andersson. She is a translator, an educator and a wine writer at: Grapevine Adventures. The wines were luscious and of high quality which were no surprise to us, after seeing the labor of love that went into producing them. Fortunately, because of the terroir and the micro-climate, Fattoria di Montemaggio is able to grow many grape varieties such as: Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo. A few months ago, I was able to get their Chianti Classico in my area and paired it with Pork Chops in Tomato sauce. It worked delightfully.  I brought back a couple of bottles from this recent trip and cannot wait to crack them open. If you intend to visit Tuscany, I highly recommend that you put Fattoria di Montemaggio on your itinerary. You will be very happy with this gem of a place.

Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio
Ilaria, the estate manager at Fattoria di Montemaggio

The rose garden at Fattoria di MontemaggioThe view at Fattoria di MontemaggioIMG_8849The views at Fattoria di Montemaggio

I hope you have enjoyed my blog post on this beautiful winery and the enchanting photographs that I captured during my visit. My wish for you is to have the opportunity to visit this lovely place and bask under the Tuscan Sun.

Happy Travels!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renown – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
and by Katarina Andersson – Wine Writer

Fattoria di Montemaggio
Fattoria di Montemaggio

 

 

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The Temperamental Sangiovese Grape Variety

Chianti Classico Sangiovese

In 2009, I attended wine classes at the United States Sommelier Association, and passed a written and blind wine taste tests. I earned a Level 2 Sommelier certificate.  In February 2017,  I decided to pursue my wine studies, and attended  classes  at WSET, a world-renowned school, which stands for Wine, Spirit Education Trust. I received a Level 2 certificate and passed with merit.  I don’t consider myself a sommelier, and I don’t use that word to describe what I do.  I prefer to save it for someone who is actively working in the wine industry.  Sommelier is a French word that means a wine steward who’s trained and knowledgable in wines. I am not into fancy wine descriptions, but I can tell you one thing, after drinking and sipping hundreds of wines, I know if a wine is compatible with my palate or not.  By now, my taste buds know exactly what I like.  I prefer Old World wines, full-bodied, earthy with deep ruby colors, and flavor profiles that include aromatic spices, cloves, black peppers, nutmeg, hints of dark chocolate, vanilla, tobacco, leather, barnyard, licorice with a lingering finish. I usually go for a complex wine, with layers of flavors for special occasions.  At times, I also enjoy medium-bodied wines, and New World wines with floral notes. There are so many grape varietals, (varieties)  from so many regions of the world, however, today, I will focus on the Sangiovese grape. It is a very difficult grape to grow because it needs warm weather, and for that reason, vintages can vary from one season to the next. It is considered one of the most widely planted red grape in all of Italy. The Sangiovese grape does particularly well in the terroir of beautiful Tuscany. However, it is a temperamental grape, that requires a lot of attention. It is not easy to keep it balanced, because of its high acidity content. It is harvested late, because the ripening process is slow. Tannins can also be rough. Sangiovese is also blended with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other grapes to make one of my favorite blends called “Super Tuscan”. In June 2017, I finally visited Tuscany, and some amazing wineries in that region. I enjoyed some delicious wines made with the Sangiovese grape.

My tasting notes on Tenuta di Renieri:  It is a blend made with mostly Sangiovese, and is from the enchanting region of Chianti. It has the Chianti Classico label, which is a highly rated, small wine-region with a DOCG designation, (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita is the highest designation in Italian wines. The wines must be evaluated by a tasting committee before they can be bottled, to assure the highest quality standards.) This wine shows unique characteristics, and bottles from that region have the seal of a black rooster to distinguish them. It’s a beautifully balanced wine with alluring nose of nutmeg spice, bursting with flavors of lush cherries, with a long finish that keeps you begging for more.

Marchese Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 2006

Marchese Antinori, Chianti Classico, Riserva 2006. It’s an excellent wine, very complex with an everlasting finish.

Winemaker’s Notes:

“92 points Antonio Galloni (Wine Advocate): …positively sparkles on the palate. Dark wild cherries, minerals, graphite, violets and spices are just some of the nuances that flow effortlessly… The French oak contributes an additional measure of volume and ampleness I doubt the wine truly needs given the superlative quality of the fruit in 2006. A rich fabric of minerals reappears to frame the intense, deeply satisfying finish… The 2006 is one of the finest vintages I can remember tasting. (Oct 2010)”

Massarena, Chianti Classico Riserva 2009
Distinctive flavors of cherry, a superb wine for that special occasion. Pairs nicely with a tomato-sauce based dish.
Poggerino Vendemmia Chianti Classico 2011
Lovely wine, with flavors of plum, with hints of vanilla, medium-bodied, made with 100% Sangiovese grape

I hope you will pull yourself together, and pour yourself a Sangiovese! I would love to hear your experience with this wine variety. If you are not too familiar with Italian wines, just visit a large chain store, and get the help of a wine clerk. Many of them are highly trained and very knowledgeable. What I like the most about buying wine in large chain stores, if you are NOT happy with a wine, you can return it, and they will gladly refund your money, or give you a store credit. Don’t get me wrong, I also love to support the small boutique shops, as they carry some very unique wines. Just get out there, and start exploring the world of wines. There are so many of them, and so little time!

Vertical wine tasting at the magical Fattoria di Montemaggio in Tuscany
Vertical wine tasting at the magical Fattoria di Montemaggio in Tuscany

Above is a picture of a vertical wine tasting at the magical Fattoria di Montemaggio in Tuscany. They are a boutique winery and produce high-quality wines.

Hope you enjoyed this blogpost! Happy Sipping!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels

Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover
except for the grape photos in which the proper credit was given.

 

Sangiovese Grape
Image courtesy Colombaia in Chianti

 

 

My Wine Story

Villa Antinori in Tuscany, Italy
Villa Antinori in Tuscany, Italy

 

Food and Wine Pairing with Friends
Food and Wine Pairing with Friends

Sideways was a painfully funny movie in 2004, that piqued my curiosity for wine. Believe it or not, it wasn’t until then, that I decided to do some exploring, and ordered wine with dinner and pairing it with the food.  This process took a while, but, little by little, I would acquaint myself with the various grape varieties. It didn’t take long for my palate to fall in love with this magical juice and enjoy every aspect of wine tasting.  Of course, I was still in the learning stages because, I had no knowledge of the wine making process, and how it went from the vineyard into the wine glasses.

In August 2008, my hubby and I took a Mediterranean cruise to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and met the most wonderful people. Some of them, I have kept in touch with, and became very good friends. Tonia, in particular caught my attention, because I was intrigued the way she was pairing all her meals with a wine. At that time, I was still considered a novice, and was “thirsty” to learn more about the art of wine tasting. I realize, she was pairing a different wine with each course, including dessert. At that point, I was eager to discover more about this interesting experience.

As I continued to learn about food, people, and cultures, I became fascinated with the world of wines.  It prompted me to attend the United States Sommelier Association, at the Cordon Bleu in my town, in 2009. I studied under the guidance of the wine master, Rick Garced, and learned about the wine making process. I tasted delicious wines from the most famous regions around the word.  I also learned how to pair food and wine harmoniously.

I met the most amazing and kind-hearted fellow sommelier(s), and instantly made a connection with some of them.  We had tons of fun in class and studied together for the test. Oh, how I dread that word, because it flares up my anxiety. I remember not sleeping the night before because I was too nervous, but with all the studying and the support of my classmates, I passed the blind tasting and the written test with flying colors. It was a big deal for me and for all of us, after spending hours studying and sipping wine together.  After earning our certificate of achievements, we would organize wine gatherings at our houses, and enjoy some luscious wine and food pairings. There was always a theme, and each person would bring a wine from a particular country/region and a dish to pair with it. Since then, we have attended a few more masterclasses together and continue to gain knowledge in wine tasting.

It’s been nearly 14 years that I have been sipping and savoring on red wine, but my passion for white wine has evolved over time. I am fortunate to have visited some of the most renowned wine regions like Napa Valley and Sonoma in California, and Long Island, New York. Most recently, my dream came to reality when I visited Tuscany, Italy, one of the most famous regions in the world. There are so many more regions and wines to explore, but one of the best ways to learn, is to drink wine, write notes, take pictures of the labels, and document them.  I also learned how the terroir has a major effect on the wine. The root of the word is terre, which means land/soil in French.  Today, I will share with you the art of wine tasting.

You will be using your sense of  sight for the appearance, smell for the nose,  and taste using your palate.  First, place a white paper or cloth on a table, pour about an ounce of wine in a clear glass, tilt a little and look at it. Make sure it’s sound.  Next, you need to swirl it to bring out all the fragrances, then smell it, sniff it so you can get a whiff of the aromas.  Please keep in mind, wine tasting is subjective and there is no right or wrong in my opinion. I may smell black pepper while someone else detects licorice.

Lastly, the best part, it’s time to taste. Take a sip and swirl it around your mouth, keep it there, you will be doing an inhaling motion with your mouth slightly open, repeat at least one more time, then swallow. At this point, you will determine all the flavor profiles in the wine, this can take some time for the more complex wines, as they are layered with various flavors.  By tasting the wine, you will find out the acidity level, the sugar content, the tannins, the length, the alcohol level. When all these are in perfect harmony, it is said to be a well-balanced wine.

As you swirl the wine, you will notice the dripping on the inside of the glass, commonly referred to, as legs or tears. The slower the legs, the higher the alcohol content.  You will also learn about the length of the wine. That is determined by how long after you swallowed the wine, the flavors remain in your mouth. The more lingering the length, the better the quality of the wine. A low-quality wine is known to have a short finish, meaning, as soon as you swallow it, the taste disappears from your mouth.

I’ve recently attended the acclaimed James Suckling’s Wine Tasting events: Great Wines of Italy and Great Wines of the Andes in Miami. I tasted some of the most delightful and highly rated wines.

In December 2016, I decided to pursue my studies further, and attended the world-renowned WSET: Wine, Spirit, Education Trust. The class was taught under the supervision of the James Beard award-winning wine and food writer, Lyn Farmer. I am proud to hold a second level sommelier certificate.  I hope you have enjoyed my wine story and my photos. For more photos, please check out my Instagram page: Foodieandwinelover.

This year, I will be working diligently on my cookbook that will include a treasury of my recipes, global cuisines and cultures, and food and wine pairing suggestions. I am also planning a trip to Cartagena, Colombia. Stay tuned!

Cheers to a fabulous 2018!

wintasting4

 

 

 

sommeliergina

 

The Colosseum, Rome
The Colosseum, Rome

IMG_3640

Wine tash from Italy - June 2017
Wine stash from Italy – June 2017
Tuscany, Italy - June 2017
Tuscany, Italy – June 2017
Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino
Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino
James Suckling and Yours Truly
James Suckling and Yours Truly
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting
Wine Tasting
Fattoria Di Montemaggio
Fattoria Di Montemaggio

Happy Sipping!!!

Gina Martino Zarcadoolas, Foodiewinelover
My Food, Wine & Travel Lifestyles
World renowned – WSET (Wine, Spirit, Education, Trust)
Level-2 Certified Wine Connoisseur.
Culinary Aficionado & Lover of Global Cuisines & Travels
Future Cookbook Author
Photos by Gina Martino Zarcadoolas for Foodiewinelover