Italy versus California: An Old world/New World tasting 10.31.2014


Corte Alla Flora – Giuggiolo Bianco
The Cragnotti family purchased this 300 acre vineyard in the 90’s. Situated in the Montepulciano in Southern Tuscany, the family has turned this vineyard into one of the largest producers in the area. The Toscana Bianco is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Incrocio Manzoni. Two things stand out about this wine: freshness and balance. The nose of this wine shows fresh fruit aromas of grapefruit and especially lemon. On the palate this wine is fresh and soft with a great balance of weight and acidity. Try with salads, fresh fish, and other light fair.

Ministry of the Venterior – Chardonnay – Russian River Valley

This cheeky group is directed by the wine-making team of Daniel O’Donnell and Charles Hendricks. These guys have worked for some of the biggest names in California- from Aubert and Leducq to Spring Mountain and Steltzner. 2012 was a pretty great year for California wine especially given how tough 2010 and 2011 where. The temperatures where fairly moderate and there was an abundance of cooling fog. The nose of this wine is dominated by citrus with a touch of minerality. Flavors of stone fruit dominate the palate with minerality throughout. Like Rumbauer? You’ll dig this one too. Pair with chicken, salmon, creamy cheeses, or your favorite mac & cheese.


Corte Alla Flora – Giuggiolo Rosso

The Toscana Rosso from Corte Alla Flora is to my mind the authentic table wine style one might encounter at a café in Florence. In fact this wine reminds me of a table wine I was served at the market in Florence when I traveled in Italy. This wine is made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile. You might be wondering, what is that? Literally translated in means gentle prune, but it is simply a clone of the Sangiovese grape and is what folks in Montepulciano refer to the grape as. This wine is a beautiful garnet red color in the glass. The aromas are typical of the varietal showing violets, leather, and red fruits. On the palate this wine is exceedingly soft and velvety- a real pleasure to drink. Letting it rest in the glass will reveal wood aging, which to my mind is hardly ever a bad thing. Because this wine is quite dry and high in acid it is great with tomato based dishes, such as pasta bolognese. Might also work well with grilled red meats. Frankly at this price and drinkability you’ll probably enjoy it with just about anything.
Ministry of the Venterior – Zinfandel – Lodi

As previously mentioned 2012 was a great growing season, which ended with quite a long Indian summer. This allowed the Zin vines in Lodi to hang into October and they were picked at optimal ripeness. Oddly enough there is an interesting connection between this wine and the other Italians we are trying. In point of fact, Zinfandel is actually related to the Primativo varietal, which is grown heavily in Puelia (the heel of the Italian boot). The nose of this wine shows an interesting herbal quality combined with jammy red fruit aromas of raspberry. On the palate this wine is rich and supple and those jammy flavors carry over with a spicy finish. Any sort of red meat will go well here along with rich sauce dishes. Oh and pizza. Definitely try this one with pizza.