Saturday, June 21, 2014

Meet The Winemakers of the Consorzio Di Tutela Prosecco DOC

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

TREVISO, Italy--Largely crafted by hand and tied to the history and culture of this picturesque city, Prosecco DOC is a liquid treasure. I had an opportunity to meet the people behind its production in a unique setting; the headquarters of the Consorzio Di Tutela Prosecco DOC in the heart of downtown Treviso. Winding my way through its narrow, cobblestoned streets, across stone bridges spanning the city's many rivers, through public squares sprawling with art work and tables of handcrafted items in open-air markets, I made my way up the marble staircase of an ancient building that resembled an art museum with a pleasant sculpture garden. Upstairs in a huge, well-lit room, a dozen or so producers of Prosecco DOC were waiting behind tables with decorative ice buckets filled with the golden, straw-colored bubbly refreshment that is becoming so popular around the world; Prosecco DOC.

With its distinctive flowery bouquet and fresh, lively flavor, Prosecco DOC is the ultimate simple, yet sophisticated wine that typifies the ultimate Italian lifestyle. Produced in northeast Italy in the territories of five provinces of the Veneto; Treviso, Venice, Veniza, Padua and Belluno, and four provinces in Fiuli Venezia Giulia; Gorizia, Pordenone, Trieste and Udine, the wine is a stunning achievement that marries personal artistry with technology and a love of the land and its resources.

Chairs were lined up at the perimeter of the tasting tables so that visiting international wine journalists could sit with the winemakers for personal interviews and tasting sessions, "speed dating" style, only, the interviews were conducted in an informal, unhurried fashion that allowed for personal interchange and a deeper understanding of the philosophy and technique behind this special sparkling beverage.

Here are a few of the faces and personalities behind the bottles of Prosecco DOC:

 The historic tower and majestic settings of downtown Treviso, home of the Consorzio Di Tutela Prosecco DOC

 The official "greeter" at the Consorzio Di Tutela Prosecco DOC headquarters

 Marco Lorenzonetto-winemaker/owner Lorenzonetto Cav. Guido S.S.A.
 Marco and Nicola Tombacco, the father-son team behind Tenuta San Giorgio
 international wine press in one-on-one interview and tasting sessions at the Consorzio

 Elisa Villanova of La Tordera Valdobbiadene

 The sculpture garden at the Consorzio Di Tutela Prosecco DOC
 Bryan Joyce of Pure Dolomites Bed and Breakfast-eno tourism of Treviso
 Angelo Facchin-winemaker at Antonio Facchin with Chiara Gecele of Pure Dolomites

 Lorene and Allesandro Salatin of Azienda Vinicola Salatin
 Michele Shah SRL-marketing strategies-Italian Wines, organizer of the event and Prosecco DOC press tour

 Chiara Spinato and Antonio Cocca-winemaker at Cantina La Salute
 Dwight Casimere with Alessandra Zambonin-press and communications manager-Casa Vinicola Zonin

 Dwight Casimere were Tatiana Biasiotto of Biasiotto Vini E Spumanti

 Alessandra Zambonin

Friday, June 20, 2014

Welcome to Treviso, Italy, home of Prosecco DOC

Where Prosecco was born and still reigns supreme

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

TREVISO, Italy--This ancient city is almost like a " mini Venice,"with its own network of canals, footbridges and water locks snaking their way through the ancient buildings that mark antiquity. This is the home of Prosecco, in fact the original Prosecco was named and produced just south of here centuries ago, using the Glera grape which remains the primary root of this sparkling white wine that is quickly developing worldwide popularity. Spending the day examining its roots, its present day incarnation and its future at the epicenter of the highly competitive sparkling wine market this summer, was a revelation, indeed.

Treviso is a surprisingly diverse city, with cuisine to match. The palate landscape is indicative of the versatility to Prosecco, a delicate, straw-colored, citrus and tropical fruit flavored sparkling wine, with a unique floral expression on the nose, that makes it perfect with just about anything you'd want to serve this summer. Salads shine. Seafood shimmers. Even desserts, such as the ubiquitous Tiramisu, which originated here in 1950,  are the perfect accompaniment to this most versatile of summertime sparkling wines.

What makes Prosecco DOC so irresistably popular? It's a combination of factors. First, there's its eye appeal; a lovely light, yellow straw color, followed by the smell of white jasmine wildflowers or camomile petals. Next, is the bright citrus and fruit flavor of lemon, green apple and tropical fruit, such as pineapple or mango and the mouth-filling almost sweet flavor of a hint of honeyed ginger. There's that slightly creamy feeling in the mouth as the persistent string-of-pearl bubbles cascade down the back of your throat delivering the most seductive tingling sensation. It's low in alcohol; only about 11%. Finally, there's the price. Bosco del Merlo Millesimato Brut Spumante DOC 2012 costs a mere $10 a bottle. There's a lot of bang here for the buck and a great deal of pleasure packed into a single bottle!
 Dwight Casimere with Consorzio Prosecco DOC head winemaker Andrea Battistella
 Treviso's canals rival those of nearby Venice
 Bosco del Merlo Prosecco is poured for the first course of shrimp rissoto at Al Fogher's Ristorante (below) in Treviso, where tiramisu dessert was invented in 1950
 Dwight Casimere with Fulvio Brunette, Director of the ConsorzioProsecco DOC
 Chef Anfdrea Gabrielli demonstrates the original recipe preparation for Tiramisu at Al Fogher Ristorante

Below: the ingredients for Tiramisu and the finished product

 A stellar dish with Prosecco,  Black Squid Ink pasta with salmon and sun dried tomatoes in olive oil

 Treviso is a suprisingly diverse community with many Bohemian touches, such as sidewalk merchant stalls for antique clothing, rare books and ethnic art
" Cherry blossoms" along Treviso's canals and byways

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wine of the Week-Verderol Verdejo 2010-$8.50

Summer is here and Spain has introduced the perfect new white wine that will give the "usual suspects" Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon and Chardonnay a run for their money. Its called Verdejo, a white wine that is already hugely popular in Spain, but largely unknown in these parts. Thanks to the recent first annual Verdejo Day put on in cities around the country on June 12, in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami, that will no longer be the case.  Among the dozen or so wines that were featured, the real standout for me was Verderol Verdejo 2010 from the producer, Bodegas Hijos de Alberto Guiterrez. Made from 100% Verdejo grapes, a varietal unique to Spain that dates back to antiquity in Spain, this wine packs a lot of pedigree and flavor for the price. You could easily pay twice as much or more for a comparable wine from another country. The original winery was built by Dominican monks in 1657. Alberto Guitierrez bought the property from the church in 1941 and over three generations, the family has resurrected it to the state of the art facility it is today. Starting now, the wine is very easy to find in your local wine shop. You'll have no problem picking it out on the shelf. The pleasure factor starts with eye appeal, with its fetching floral design on the label.Once open, the opulent floral aroma of spring flowers baking spices of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice that cascade into vibrant citrus flavors of tropical fruits; pineapple, mango and a touch of peach, Meyer lemon and hints of tarragon and lemon thyme. Serve well chilled with summer salads, seafood, fish and ceviche and even spicy dishes of the Thai of Indian persuasion. I had it served well chilled with grilled lamb basted in an olive oil, oregano, parsley, garlic and Harissa (North African red pepper paste available at Whole Foods or Trader Joes') marinade (just four minutes per side, please, so its just blushing pink inside and charred outside). Serve with a side salad of diced pineapple, avocado, red onion, cucumber and celery with a drizzle of fresh lime vinaigrette and a splash of balsamic, and you have the perfect garden table meal to celebrate the start of summer this weekend.
 The first annual Verdejo Day was celebrated in Miami at SoHo Beach House (above)
and (below) at a rooftop party at Tavern 29 in New York City among others

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Verdejo Day! Celebrating Spain's Wine of Summer!

Story and photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

 The Grand Finale: Ritual drinking of the high-alcohol "Padron" on Verdejo Day

NEW YORK-- Thursday, June 12 was the first ever Verdejo Day in the United States. Spain's delicious white wine from  Rueda wine appellation is made from one of the oldest grapes grown in the Rueda, dating back more than ten centuries. The Verdejo grapes makes light, fruity, flavorful wines that are perfect for a summer party, and that's exactly what was held in cities around the country. There was a rooftop party at Tavern 29 in New York's Flatiron District, at South Beach's Soho Beach House in Miami Beach, Florida, The Orbitt Penthouse in downtown Los Angles and the Blue Star Wine Bistro in Chicago's trendy Noble Square area of Old Town.

This crisp, fruity white wine is dripping with tropical fruit flavors of pineapple, mango, tangerine and tangy/sweet Meyer lemon. The wine goes great with everything from fresh fruit platters, summer salads, seafood and grilled meats and summertime barbques. At the Tavern 29 party, the wines were paired with fresh lobster rolls, pulled pork sliders, chicken skewers in peanut sauce, veggie burger sliders with Manchego cheese and an assortment of spanish cheeses salamis and hams. The best feature of all, besides the magnificent fresh, fruity flavor, is the price. All of the wines are under $20 with most in the $10-$15 price range.  Some of the wines were a blend of grapes, including Verdejo, Sauvignon Blanc and Viura, giving it somewhat grassy flavor, combined with a hint of parsley and grapefruit; a great wine with Thai food or Mexican. A summer picnic, backyard or garden party, or brunch on the patio is the perfect place for the wines of Verdejo. Look for them at a wine shop or restaurant near you. You won't be disappointed.

The Verdejo Day rooftop party coincided with the start of 2014 World Cup Soccer, with video screens throughout to watch the match between Brazil and Croatia

Celebrants came from throughout the New York area

 The Verdejo flowed, thanks to the bartenders and waitstaff at Tavern 29
 Some of the terrific wines of the Rueda

 Everyone was a shining star at  Verdejo Day!

 Julianna Colangelo with her father, Gino Colangelo, president of Colangelo Partners pr, coordinators for the event

The rooftop of Tavern 29