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 By Giuliano Bortolleto

On my last post I talked about the great quality of the south-american white wines. More specifically about the chilean Sauvignon Blanc and the argentinean Chardonnay. Now, I will talk about the taste of the three wines I have detached on that post one by one.

Domaines Barons Rothschild - Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2007: This winery was created in 1988 by the Domaines Barons Rothschild, producer of the Chatêau Lafite. That’s why they always aim to put their french philosophy in their wines, which usually are more delicated and sophisticated then the other chilean wines, and with less alcohol too. This Sauvignon Blanc is very citrus, with some lemon and passion fruit notes on the aroma and also on the flavour. Very bright and clear colour. Excelent to pair with light meals and appetizer for the hot summer.

Viña Errazuriz - Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2007: The winery Erazuriz really knows how to produce great Sauvignon Blancs. This one is very very fresh and has a fantastic passion fruit aroma. Very nice to enjoy a hot day with some salad.

Casa Lapostolle - Sauvignon Blanc 2007: Casa Lapostolle is certainly one of the best wineries of Chile. They really knows how to take care of a winery in order to extract the most that the grape can give to the wine. The Clos Apalta 2005 wine is a real proof of that. About the Sauvignon Blanc, i must say that is very surprising. A very special special mineral aroma. Very refined. It really express the local terroir. It is also citrus, with some pine apple notes. Perfect to be drunk young.

By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 26th

It is unquestionable the great potencial of both Argentina and Chile to produce, besides the known and recognized red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon in Chile’s case and Malbec in Argentina’s one), good white wines, mostly with the french world famous Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. These two white grapes are being produced in almost every wine producers countries, and they are always capable of producing great fruity wines. And so it is in the South American countries.

Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2004 | White Wines

Argentina and Chile have been producing very nice white wines with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc. However, I really preffer the Sauvignons from Chile and the Chardonays from Argentina. To be more specific, the Sauvignon Blanc from the Casablanca Valley, in Chile, and the Chardonnay from Mendoza, in Argentina.

The Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca Valley absolutelly assimilates the mineral charateristic, at the same time that it conserves a good acidity, which transforms the drink into a very very fresh drink, perfect to pair it with some salads or white fishes with lemon spice. In its youthness, the Sauvignon Blanc from Casablanca express a yelow to green color, that comproves the nice acidity that is conserved in the wine.

About the Chardonnays from Mendoza, we could say that unctuousness is a good word to describe them. The majority of the Chardonays from this region are very concentrated, has a very special of tropical fruits aroma (pine apples, peaches, star-fruits), and tend to be very creamy and silken, due to the contact with the oak. Yes, it never is very good to pair a long-time-oak-stay with the Chardonnay, because, usually, the result is a poor fruity wine, with too much oak characteristics, like dry fruits and butter. Nevertheless there are some very goog examples of Chardonnays wines in Mendoza, with some great acidity and very bright color.

Here I will tell some very nice examples of the best os the chilean Sauvignon Blancs and the argentinean Chardonnays.

Chile: Errazuriz - Reserva Sauvignon Blanc 2007; Domaines Barons Rothschild - Los Vascos Sauvignon Blanc 2007; Casa Lapostolle - Sauvignon Blanc 2007.

Argentina: Rutini - Rutini Chardonnay 2006; Catena Zapata – Catena Alta Chardonnay 2005; Terrazas de los Andes Chardonnay Reserva 2008

Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Chardonnay | White Wines

This a very short video. However, it is a very good tutorial to those who want to know what the Chardonay grape does represent in the wine world. It is the most planted white grape, and centainly is the most versatile white grape. It is very adaptive an is able to produce very good wines in any wine producer region. The video is nice because it says somethigs about the different types of Chardonays that are produced in the world, and also the correct food to pair with it. Watch it.

Giuliano Bortolleto, 21th january of 2009

This is a great example of a very good Chardonay from the sub-region of Côte Chalonnaise, in Burgundy, France. The Chardonays of this region tend to be very different from the well known region of Chablis, in the north of Burgundy. In Chablis the grapes are cultivated in a more cold climate, and it is very high region, which provide a great acidity and freshness to the wine. In Côte Chalonnaise, the climate is a litte more hot. So the wines produced in this region use to be more thick and dense, when compared to the Chablis ones. The flavours of Côte Chalonnaise are also different. They are not so fruity and fresh, but they have a very good taste of dry fruits, such as nuits and hazelnuts. The aroma also bring some smell of white flowers.

La Buxynoise Montagny 1er Cru Cuvée Spéciale blanc 2005

This Chardonay from Côte Chalonnaise, produced by Cave des Vignerons de Buxy, from the city of Montagny, is a very special one. Very nice to pair with robust fishes, and, specially with pork loin. It has aromas fo white flowers and also mint. In the mouth it is very persistent. The final brings a remembrance of the nuits.

By Giuliano Bortolleto, january 20th, 2009

The Argentina is well-known into the wine world by its great Malbec wines. The Malbec is the national grape of the country and wherever you find a Malbec wine you remember the examples of Argentina. This grape has taken Argentinean wines to all over the globe, an its fame has transformed the country in one of the most important wine producers of the world, competing with France, Italy and other famous wine producers countries. However, another grape in Argentina has called the atention of the wine consumers. It is the Torrontés.

Torrontés grape

This autochthon grape have been producing some very special wines with a very characteristical flavor and aroma that reminds the french Viognier, from Condrieu. The Torrontés wines are so much complex and rich. They are a very nice alternative to the Oak Chardonays. They can express some aromas which remind something mineral and white roses, but also some fuity smell, like pears, green apple, melon, and also a very elegant peach aroma. The Torrontés is a wine with a mid-level body, and can pair with salads, sea food, and I, particulary, like it with japanese food.

Almost all the argentinean regions that produce wines make some examples of Torrontés. Nevertheless, there is nothing superior than the Torrontés from the region of Salta, in the north of the country, in which the grape can be cultivated on 1700 to 2400 meters above the sea level.

Terrazas Torrontés

I would like to put in relief two examples. The first one is the Terrazas de los Andes Torrontés 2008. That’s a wine to be drinked as soon as possible in order to make good use of its youth, and exploit the mineral aroma and its freshness in the mouth. It also brings some very special aroma of peaches.

Alta Vista Premium Torrontés

The second one is the Alta Vista Premium 2006. It is different from the Terrazas because it has a most robust body, it has more personality and a very persistent aroma. The smell of white roses is very intense and it can be well paired with some sea food or roast fishes.

By Giuliano Bortolleto

As the summer has came, the hot climate come to inspire us to drink fresh dinks. And if you are a wine fanatic appreciator as me, you cannot pass through this without drinking good wines. Of course you will not be able to taste and degust full-bodied and
complex red wines due to the high temperature. So it`s time to try some fresh and pleasant white wines, which are very easy to drink in low temperatures and refresh your summer with charm and elegancy.

Here I am going to present you four Sauvignon Blanc wines. This grape is very special to the summer. Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most fresh and refreshing grapes to taste, and its subtleness and simplicity makes it the perfect choise for a hot day. The grape is also good when harmonized with light fishes, salads and sea food. Check out the options.

Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2007
The first one is the Casa Lapostolle Sauvignon Blanc 2007. This is my favorite. Its flavours of green apple and pear make a fruity taste. But the difference of this wine is its mineral flavours. This is a characteristic of the wines of the Colchagua Valley in Chile. The rocky soil of the region adds to the wine this mineral flavour, which gives a freshy taste and a special smell to the Sauvignon Blanc of the Valley.

Another very good option to the summer is the Equus Sauvignon-Blanc 2007 of the Winery Viña Haras de Pirque, Maipo Valley in Chile. This one has some little differences. One of them is the body of the wine. It has a greater density then the Casa Lapostolle one. Still, it is a very fresh and fruity wine. With aromas of pine apple and green apple, and also with some spice perfumes. The taste is very persistet. Pairs with soles and light risotos.

The third Sauvignon Blanc wine is the argentinian El Portillo 2007. Thiis is the most fruity one. Pine apple, pear, green apple and melons too can be easly smelled. The wine is very perfumed and has a simple but refreshing taste. It is also vey cheap.

Alamos Sauvigon Blanc 2007
The last one belongs to a Catena Zapata winery. It is the Alamos Sauvignon Blanc 2007. This is also a special aone. Fruity and mineral, is one of the most fresh ones and pairs very well with sea food. A nice choice to drink in a sunny day.

All of thiese wines, as you can see, are from 2007. It always a good idea to drink a Sauvignon Blanc wine as soon as it come in the store.This is a grape that does not develop its tastes and flavours. On the contrary, it can rapidly loose some characteristics of fruits. The ideal temperature to drink this kind of wine is 11 or 12 Celsius. Drink a refreshing sauvigon blanc and enjoy your summer with pleasant wines.


by Steve Pitcher

Wine merchants are increasingly tantalizing their customers with domestic wines sporting unfamiliar names. Not content with the “chocolate” and “vanilla” of wine production — Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay — as well as other classic varietals, such as Pinot Noir, Merlot, Riesling and Sauvignon Blanc, some wineries are turning to Old World varietals like Sangiovese and Nebbiolo from Italy and Syrah, Mourvedre, Grenache and Cinsault from the Rhone Valley for red wines, and other Rhone varietals such as Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne for white wines.

If you haven’t yet come across many wines with these names, it’s due to the fact that production is still comparatively tiny. On the other hand, you may have been exposed to one or more of them without knowing it when enjoying a bottle labeled with a fanciful proprietary name, such as Bonny Doon’s Clos de Gilroy (made from Grenache), Old Telegram (Mourvedre), Le Cigare Volant (Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah) and Le Sophiste (Rousanne and Marsanne), or Qupe’s Bien Nacido Cuvee (half Chardonnay, half Viognier) or one of Jim Clendenen’s “Il Podere dell’Olivos” line of wines, such as Arioso Bianco (one third each Pinot Bianco, Moscato di Canelli and Ribolla Gialla).

Of the white Rhone varietals, Viognier (pronounced “VEE-ohn-yay”) is the most “widely” planted, with about 300 acres in California. While Viognier grows particularly well in warmer micro-climates, it can be found in all the wine-growing regions of California, from Mendocino County in the north to Temecula in the South Coast, including some very promising vineyards in the Sierra foothills. While only a small number of wineries dabbled in this most exotic of all white table wines in the early ’90s, today Viognier is made by more than 20 wineries in California, plus a couple in Colorado and one in Virginia. Growers have also planted modest amounts of Viognier in thirteen other states, including Oregon, Arizona, New York, North Carolina and Texas, where commercial bottlings are contemplated in the near future.
Viognier’s Aromas and Flavors
For those who haven’t experienced Viognier, the first glass is quite a revelation. First and foremost there is the wine’s heady perfume — a melange consisting of all or some of the following: honeysuckle, citrus blossoms, oriental lychee nuts, very ripe white melon, freshly picked peaches and apricots, and ripe pears just after they’ve been peeled — that immediately gets your attention. According to Craig Williams, winemaker at Joseph Phelps Vineyards, Viognier contains floral compounds (called terpens) that are also found in Muscat and Riesling. So, think of the most wonderfully aromatic Muscat or Riesling you’ve ever encountered, then concentrate and double that perfume and you have Viognier.

Your nose tells you the wine will be sweet — like a Muscat — but your palate is surprised to encounter a dry nectar offering flavors that resemble a mixture of ripe pears, lemon-lime citrus, almonds, spice, peaches and apricots, sometimes with a honied nuance. Lush and viscous on the palate with more body than most Chardonnays, the wine’s aftertaste is not at all cloying, but fresh and vibrant, impelling you to take another sip.

Food Matches

With all the exotic descriptions of Viognier’s perfume and flavors, it’s reasonable to ask whether the wine works well with food. It’s just these extroverted elements that make Viognier an excellent complement to Mediterranean cuisine, particularly shellfish, seafood and poultry dishes.

For example, at a Square One luncheon a while back focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and Rhone-style wines, chef-owner Joyce Goldstein paired Viognier with “Caldo de perro,” a Catalan soup with rockfish, monkfish, scallops, orange juice, onions, grilled bread and almond orange aioli. It was a scrumptious combination that needed only a bit more spicy hotness to make it perfect, as Goldstein herself remarked.

On a simpler scale, Viognier is a perfect match for crabcakes and spicy stir-fry.

Besides being exotic and delicious, Viognier is a wine that doesn’t require much aging to develop complexity and full aromatics. Within two years from the vintage date, the wine is generally as good as it’s going to get. This is great news for folks who want to take an excitingly different wine home from the store for consumption that night with dinner.

Winemaking Techniques

At this point in the development of New World Viognier winemaking, wineries are still trying to figure out the most appropriate method of production to obtain the best results. This was quite apparent in a recent Vintners Club blind tasting of 12 Viogniers from all over California, plus one from Virginia. The quality of the wines was comparatively uneven, with some efforts showing too much oak, while others exhibited grassy, vegetal aromas more commonly found in Sauvignon Blanc. The best wines were, however, on a par with Viogniers from France, where the wine is often labeled “Condrieu,” the name of the tiny region where most of French Viognier grapes are grown.

The message from this tasting is that Viognier shouldn’t be made like Chardonnay — it can’t survive barrel fermentation and aging in 100 percent new oak, but does need some older, neutral oak to bring out its perfume early and to round out the texture. Cool stainless steel fermentation works well, but tends to inhibit the aromas.

If there is a downside to California-grown Viognier, in addition to uneven quality, it is price. Eight of the 12 wines in the Vintners Club tasting were priced at more than $20, reflecting the tiny yield from Viognier vineyards in 1994 and 1995, as well as the inexorable law of supply and demand. There were, however, a couple of bargain-priced wines in the upper rankings, which demonstrate that good Viognier doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive.

Tasting Notes


1995 Calera Viognier, Mount Harlan (San Benito County) ($30)
Quintessential Viognier, this wine would be right at home in the Rhone Valley of France. Wonderfully aromatic, complex nose of ripe peaches and apricots, set off with mild toast and roasted grain scents. Smooth and unctuous in the mouth, offering lots of ripe apricot-peach fruit and fine acidity. The good mouthfeel gets better sip after sip.


1995 Cline Cellars Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Contra Costa County ($18)
Distinctive, attractive aromas of quince, minerals, smoke, tropical fruit, ultra-ripe peaches, plus a fair amount of oak, which becomes nicely integrated over time. On the palate, the wine is pleasantly juicy and rich with good acidity, tasting of delicious apricot, peach and quince fruit; the flavors have excellent depth and concentration. Barrel fermentation and five months aging on the lees (sur lie) contributed a silky smooth mouthfeel and fine structure. Distinquishable from the Calera, but equally Rhone like. Excellent value.


1995 Alban Vineyards Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Edna Valley ($28)
Fresh, appealing scents of ripe apricots, white peaches, orange rind and lemon blossoms, which are replicated on the palate, accompanied by a slight note of honey and a hint of garden herbs. A delicious, moderately complex wine with good depth and concentration of flavors.


1995 R.H. Phillips Vineyard Viognier, EXP Estate, Dunnigan Hills ($12)
Blended with five percent Chardonnay, the nose of this wine offers fresh, fragrant aromas of ripe peaches, apricots, lemon zest, bananas and lemon blossoms. Round and fleshy on the palate in the manner of good Viognier, the wine’s flavors focus on ripe, peachy fruit accented by tangerine notes. Nicely varietal and a very good value.


1994 Kendall-Jackson Viognier, Grand Reserve, California ($25)
Smoky scents define the nose, which also shows shy peach fruit, floral notes and a bit of honey. As the wine aired, the smokiness dissipated somewhat. Not particularly varietal, the flavors are more grassy than fruity; barely adequate acidity. K-J has done better with this varietal in the past.


1995 Horton Vineyards Viognier, Orange County, Virginia ($20)
Deep, slightly candied scents of peaches, honey, grapefruit and wildflowers, which start off subtly and get bigger over time. Balanced and moderately unctuous in the mouth, the wine offers tasty peach fruit framed by good acidity. A nice wine, but not as exciting as those that ranked higher.


1995 Signorello Vineyards Viognier, Napa Valley (Estate) ($30)
The darkest wine in the flight, the Signorello Viognier was unfiltered and underwent 100 percent malolactic fermentation, which resulted in a smooth, rich, silky mouthfeel. Quite fragrant, offering floral scents mingled with honey-tinged pears and lemon citrus. The deep, powerful flavors replicate the nose and would stand up nicely to rich, spicy cuisine.


1995 Callaway Vineyard Viognier, Temecula ($15)
The nose brought the wine down for many tasters, as it more resembles a very grassy Sauvignon Blanc than Viognier, with aroma elements of bacon rind, aggressive asparagus and pineapple. On the palate, the sweet, peach-like fruit seems one dimensional.


1995 Ojai Vineyard Viognier, Roll Ranch Vineyard (Ojai Valley), California ($20)
Intriguing nose of hazelnuts, roasted grain, honeysuckle, banana, peaches and a host of tropical fruits. The nicely concentrated flavors replicate the nose; adequate acidity and a hint of sweetness. Still quite young; needs more time to develop.


1994 Joseph Phelps Viognier, Vin du Mistral, Napa Valley ($27)
This producer’s Viognier has done better in prior tastings. Some tasters noted an “off” character in the nose — probably from a bad bottle; others found peach and honeysuckle scents. Flavors match the nose.


1995 Andrew Murray Viognier, Estate Vineyard, Santa Barbara County ($25)
This brand new producer is devoted entirely to Rhone varietals, grown in the highest-elevation vineyard in Santa Barbara County. Still very young, this Viognier now displays muted scents of honeysuckle, orange peel and tropical fruit. On the palate, there is a creamy-vanilla note that leads to a pleasant viscosity and a slightly toasty, vanilla-tinged finish. Only 600 bottles of this unfined and unfiltered wine were produced.


The last-place wine came from a corked bottle, and was thus not representative of the true character of the wine. It would serve no purpose to identify the producer in this circumstance.

Steve Pitcher is a freelance wine writer based in San Francisco. He is vice president of the Vintners Club and president of the San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the German Wine Society.

Source: http://www.sallys-place.com/beverages/wine/vintnerschoice/viognier.htm

Adam Lechmere
14 May 2002

It’s white, fruit-driven, with soft acids, full aromas and a creamy mouthfeel – and it comes from the Cabernet Sauvignon vine.

Next week at the London International Wine and Spirits Fair the first-ever white Cabernet Sauvignon is launched – the accidental offspring of a normal Cabernet harvest.

The grape first appeared on a Cabernet vine in the 1980s, at a vineyard belonging to Cleggett Wines in Langhorne Creek , South Australia. During the harvest, owner Malcolm Cleggett noticed bronze or golden grapes amongst the normal deep red bunches.

He took spores and propagated the new grape. It produced a distinctively Cabernet-tasting but very light-red wine. Then some three years ago the new vines started producing pure white grapes, which Cleggett called ‘Shalistin’ and registered as a new international variety.

‘The wine is fruit driven with a slight acid edge and very full aromas,’ Claudia Pech of distributors Whosewine told decanter.com. ‘It has pronounced Cabernet Sauvignon characters and full berry fruit flavours.’

Decanter contributing editor Stephen Brook said it was not unheard-of for black grapes to mutate. Burgundy producer Henri Gouges found a mutation of Pinot Noir in Nuits-St-George, and planted it in ground more suited to white grapes.
‘The wine has an earthy, almost tannic quality – a very powerful flavour not remotely like Chardonnay,’ Brook said.

Decanter contributor Howard Goldberg said at the beginning of the craze for white Zinfandel, bottles were labelled Cabernet Blanc or White Cabernet.

‘White merlot began to surface two years ago, and very good versions of it are made,’ he added. It is made by Beringer in California and by highly-respected Languedoc producer Skalli in France.

Shalistin will retail at £8.99 in the UK.

Contact: info@whosewine.com

Source: http://www.decanter.com/news/46411.html

Chardonnay Glass | White WinesBy Dave DeSimone
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Côte D’Or’s white Burgundies, France’s undeniable crown jewels of white wines, offer exquisitely complex expressions of terroir, albeit at exorbitant prices exacerbated in recent years by an unfavorable exchange rate and worsening wine-auction speculation.

To counter such madness, adopt a savvy strategy of exploring and enjoying France’s increasingly well-made, little white wine gems from a fabulous array of superb grape-growing terroirs in more obscure specific appellations and broader Vin de Pays regions. Currently, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board’s specialty stores are offering an impressive selection.

In southwestern France, the Pyrenees Mountains to the south and forests to the west enhance Gascony’s cool and sunny oceanic climate for perfect conditions for ripening the white wine grapes distinctive to the region. Varied soils such as clay on limestone, clay mixed with sands and alluvial soils add intriguing complexity.

The 2006 Domaine La Hitaire, Les Tours, Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne, France (Specialty 22111, $9.99) uses Ugni Blanc (65 percent), Colombard (30 percent) and Gros Manseng (5 percent) for fresh citrus and passion fruit aromas with a floral hints. Refreshing, vibrant acidity balances fruity citrus and apricot flavors through the clean, dry finish. Try it as a sprightly aperitif. Highly recommended.

To the north in Bordeaux, the similar climate and soils mix of the Entre-Deux-Mers appellation create superb terroir for growing Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon, and Muscadelle, the region’s distinctive cépage or “mix of grape varieties.” The appellation name, literally “Between Two Seas,” refers to the Dordogne and Garonne Rivers bracketing the vineyards.

The 2005 Château Haut-Bélian, Entre-Deux-Mers, France (Specialty 21927, $9.99) offers grapefruit and peach aromas with light herbal touches leading to ripe, well-balanced fruity flavors of citrus and melon through a fruity, but crisp, dry finish. Try it with oysters on the half shell. Recommended.

Jacquère grape grown in the foothills of the majestic Alps mountains near the Italian border. Rocky, yet picturesque mountain valleys with rushing streams, pretty meadows and the occasional incongruous strip mine, create warm, but not scorching summers and relatively mild spring and fall weather as perfect conditions for growing grapes with delicate floral aromas.

The 2006 Pierre Boniface, Apremont, Vin de Savoie, France (Specialty 22241, $12.99) is fermented in stainless steel to preserve delicate aromas of citrus, apples and light floral notes leading to full-flavored citrus and apple fruit balanced with bright, lovely acidity for a crisp, dry finish. Try it with a shrimp salad. Highly recommended.

While carrying more modest pedigrees, accomplished and conscientious Southern Burgundy producers still can grow excellent Chardonnay for quality white wines providing good value. For example, in the village of Mancey, Andre Dupuis and his two sons work approximately 13 acres of Chardonnay hillside vines ranging in age from 15 years to 37 years. The limestone and clay soils promote low yields as the key to quality fruit.

Their 2006 Domaine des Verchères, Macon-Villages, France (Specialty 22271, $11.99) is fermented in temperature-controlled stainless-steel vats to preserve freshness and delicate floral aromas with fruity apple and pear notes. The well-balanced fruit flavors with crisp acidity and mineral notes carry through the soft, dry finish. Try it with classic sautéed chicken simmered slowly with garlic and white wine. Recommended.

Finally, in southern France just west of Avignon, the Costières de Nîmes region’s rocky rolling plains, limestone hillsides and warm climate provide intriguing growing conditions for classic Rhône varieties. Maurice Barnouin uses Viognier — with dashes of non-traditional Rhône varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay — in his lively 2006 Domaine de Gournier, Viognier, Vin de Pays de Cévennes (Specialty 22114, $10.99).

Extended hang time on the vines produced ripe, but fresh fruit to create the burnished gold color with a honey and citrus nose with floral hints. Ripe citrus and honey flavors with crisp acidity and refreshing mineral notes carry through a fruity, but dry finish with elegant fruit. Try it with roasted pork in a white wine and cream sauce. Highly recommended.
Source: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/news/mostread/s_549829.html

White Wine Glass
By Dave DeSimone
Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Enlivening mid-winter cuisine is a snap with a little Speck, a flavorful northern Italian smoked prosciutto ham increasingly available in the United States.
Speck (pronounced shh peck) artfully blends delicate, flavorful texture and mild smokiness for marvelous culinary versatility, while suggesting intriguing possibilities with well-made northern Italian white wines.

Terroir, the same complex interplay of climate, landscape and distinctive, indigenous farm products guided and interpreted by the hand of man is the secret to traditional speck produced in Italy’s semi-autonomous Alto Aidge-Südtirol region. Independent yeoman mountain farmers combine Italy’s delicate, brine-cured and air-dried ham-making traditions with nuances of the more intensely flavored Austrian and German hams just to the north.

After local pigs raised on special diets are slaughtered in the fall, the ham legs are cured for three weeks in closely guarded recipes of coarse salts combined black pepper, juniper berries and spices, such as bay, cinnamon and coriander. Then, in the smokehouse, cool beech wood smoke slowly and intermittently permeates the hams with mild, smoky flavors and aromas.

Finally, the region’s fresh alpine climate works its magic through patient air drying in well-ventilated, cool temperature cellars until spring. Reduced in weight by 40 percent, the finished hams have firm, yet tender texture with a rich, red color, marvelous aromatics and savory flavors.
The Konsortium Sütiroler Speck — or Consorzio dei produttori speck dell’Alto Adige if you prefer Italian — markets its members’ authentic products through Recla Speck.

Closer to home, domestic speck production also has shown encouraging results, albeit, in a completely different terroir. New York City’s Salumeria Biellese offers a terrific speck with dark ruby color, mild, smoky aromas and concentrated, yet delicate smoky flavors. Giant Eagle’s Market District carries Biellese Speck for $19.99 per pound.

Try the following wines with to accompany the Lentils with Speck recipe or thinly sliced speck with a crunchy flatbread:

2005 Abbazia di Novacella Sylvaner Valle Isarco Alto Adige, Italy (Specialty 25274, $17.99): Made from grapes grown in Alto Adige’s northern most and coolest vineyards, this wine’s deep golden color offers fruity aromas of pineapple and pear opening to fruity, yet crisp citrus and pear flavors balanced by firm acidity and mineral notes through an elegant dry finish. Highly recommended.

2005 Cantina Girlan Cornaiano Gewürztraminer Aimé Alto Adige, Italy (Specialty 25325, $19.99): The rich golden color offers classic fruity pineapple and floral aromas opening to fruity grapefruit, ripe pineapple and honey notes balanced by fine acidity and mineral notes through a generously fruity, but dry finish. Recommended.

2006 Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Benefizium Porer Alto Adige, Italy (Specialty 25288, $21.99): Veteran wine grower Lageder’s complex and ripe, full-flavored wine uses fruit grown on meticulously tended, low yielding older vines planted in Benefizium Porer vineyard his beautiful winery in Magré. Citrus and floral notes with smoky hints open to fruity citrus and apricot flavors in a ripe, slightly creamy texture balanced by a rich vein of acidity and refreshing minerality through an elegant, dry finish. Highly recommended.

Source: http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/living/fooddrink/winecellar/s_550915.html

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