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Italy #1 in Global Wine Market

2 Mar

According to TheLocal.it, Italy has taken over France’s coveted position as leader of the global wine market. Apparently, American drinkers are due much gratitude.

The article below was published in today’s THE LOCAL it

 

Italy is now the world's biggest producer and exporter of wine. Photo: Torbak Hopper

Italy is now the world’s biggest producer and exporter of wine. Photo: Torbak Hopper

Italy leads global wine market thanks to American drinkers

Published: 02 Mar 2016 14:38 GMT+01:00

“Today, one bottle of wine exported in five is made in Italy, the biggest wine exporter in the world,” Italy’s Coldiretti agricultural association said in a statement.

The country exported a record €5.0 billion worth, a 575-percent increase over 30 years, it said in the study, which examined how the sector had recovered following a 1986 methanol scandal.

The addition of wood spirits to table wine by a family business which wanted to increase the alcohol level of a poor batch had left 23 people dead and dozens of others poisoned, some suffering blindness or neurological damage.

“The image of Made in Italy foodstuffs was dramatically compromised across the world, but it was also a chance for a new start with a revolution which saw Italian wine set out to conquer first place” on the international stage, the association said.

The leap in safeguards and quality saw an increase in designations as well: 66 percent of bottles of wine exported are now classified with the quality assurance labels DOC, DOCG or IGT.

The number one consumer of Italian wine is the United States, which imported €1.3 billion worth in 2015, up 13 percent from 2014, pushing Germany into second place, with Britain ranking third, Coldiretti said.

The appetite for Chiantis and Barolos continues to grow in China, which imported €80 million worth of Italian wine, up 18 percent on 2014, while the market in Japan grew 2.0 percent on the previous year.

In October, the International Organisation of Wine (OIV) brought tears to French eyes by announcing that Italy had overtaken France to become the largest producer of wine.

Whenever we drive through the rolling and majestic hills of neatly planted Italian vineyards, I am reminded of a saying I read on the door of a restaurant:

Wine is the poetry of the earth.

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Makes perfect sense to me. Complimenti, Italia. Many of us look forward to helping you keep this title!

Ciao,
Judy

http://www.thelocal.it/20160302/italy-global-wine-market-king-us-top-tippler-study

 

From Vine to Wine

14 Sep

When in Italy, it’s hard not to get caught up in the production of wine. Grapes seem to grow everywhere with diverse types of soil, climate and winemaker contributions. Saturday afternoon, we headed to Leuta in Cortona, not only to sample wine but also to visit nature at its best.

Our friend Carlo was our guide as we headed to the beautiful Leuta vineyards. I’ll let the photos tell the story of the beautiful day we had.

Leuta vineyard with Cortona in background:

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©Blogginginitaly.comLeuta vines up close:

Leuta vines up close:

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Carlo and Len:

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Leuta worker:

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Next career?

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Len’s new job! ©Blogginginitaly.com

Yours truly ready with Epi pen and Benadryl, but the bees were much more interested in the grapes…

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Other beautiful sights:

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A close up of same building with a fig tree growing within…

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Afterward, we caught up with Denis, the passionate owner of Leuta, as he was giving a tour of the wine making process…

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We were fortunate enough to sample several of Leuta’s excellent wines and once again hear  the story of Denis’ love of winemaking, a passion that grew from working with his grandfather.

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On the way home, we saw this, the inactive Amiata Volcano .

Amiata Volcano (dormant) ©Blogginginitaly.com

Amiata Volcano  ©Blogginginitaly.com

Thanks, Carlo, and Denis, for a wonderful day!

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For more on Leuta, visit Leuta.

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

From Grape to Glass

3 Mar

While we continue to meet Chicagoans who visit Cortona, it is less often that the Cortonese visit us. But Saturday was an exception. Meet Denis Zeni.

Denis is the “titolare” – or owner – of Leuta, a boutique winery in the Cortona area. He is visiting several cities in the States and conducting wine tastings in his hosts’ homes.

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Denis in center with hosts     ©Blogginginitaly.com

Denis’ story, like so many other entrepreneurs we meet in Italy, is a love story based on deep-rooted traditions. His grandfather cultivated grapes on his land in Trentino, in northern Italy, and shared his passion with his young grandson. Constantly at his grandfather’s side, Denis soon grew to love the land and over time, the possibilities.

Denis’ father, however, hoping for a different life for his son, eventually sold the family land, and encouraged Denis to seek a career in Finance. Denis obliged, but after a successful career and several finance degrees, he awoke one day and decided, “I don’t want to die as a banker!” Not that there is anything wrong with banking, he notes, it just didn’t mesh with the passion that had been ignited in his blood as a child.

With his grandfather’s land no longer available, Denis searched and found land in Tuscany to launch his dream. What began as The Tuscany Project, a small initiative with his friend and then partner Enzo, is now the Leuta Estate, approximately 62 acres at 31o meters above sea level near Cortona.

But back to the wine tasting. As we enjoyed delicious Tuscan antipasti prepared by our amazing hosts,

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Denis shared some of his personal history as well as that of Leuta. He then began pouring the first of five wines we would taste.

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Wine tastings are a fun and interesting way to sample various wines and learn something about each. They usually include a 5 step process: see, swirl, sniff, sip, savor. As I listened attentively to Denis, it occurred to me that this tasting was quite different from most others we have attended.  And I quickly realized why.

Denis not only knew about these wines, he was personally connected to all aspects, from grape to glass. He described the vines, how they were planted, how they behaved as they grew, the choice to avoid/limit chemicals, the grape selection, the harvesting process, the aging, the bottling, the mistakes and the successes. It became clear to me that the bottles held not only his wines but also his dreams and life’s work.

Similar to the eye of the beholder, I believe that wine preference is in the senses of the taster. Expensive or not doesn’t necessarily mean great or not. But a really nice wine seems to taste even better when I know its history and understand its traditions.

Grazie, Denis, for sharing your wonderful story and wines with us! We look forward to spending time with you at Leuta.

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In the meantime, as we enjoy our new purchases, we will toast to you and recall the history you shared with us. Your grandfather is surely smiling.

Ciao,

Judy

For more information:
http://www.leuta.it

 

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Arrivederci Cortona – 2014

30 Jul

Some wonderful sights, sounds, smells, settings, 
and most of all,  salutes and smiles (and a bit of splash!)
that we will take home, in photos and in our hearts…

Sights:

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Pietrabbondante ©Blogginginitaly.com

Bagnoli dei Trigno - blogginginitaly.com

Bagnoli dei Trigno – blogginginitaly.com

Gubbio - blogginginitaly.com

Gubbio – blogginginitaly.com

Lago Trasimeno - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Lago Trasimeno – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Cortona – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Sounds:

Quercinella - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Terrenean Sea, Quercinella – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Marinelli Bell Foundry Agnone ©Blogginginitaly.com

Marinelli Bell Foundry, Agnone ©Blogginginitaly.com

Carmen in Cortona ©Blogginginitaly.com

Carmen, Cortona Teatro ©Blogginginitaly.com

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Smells:

Tuscher Cafe - blogginginitaly.com

Pasta with Melon and Ham, Tuscher Cafe – blogginginitaly.com

Pasta Napoletana, AD, ©Blogginginitaly.com

Pasta Neapolitana, AD Ristorante, ©Blogginginitaly.com

Pasta with Mozarella, rocket and Tomatoes, Domus Hotel, blogginginitaly.com

Pasta with Mozzarella, Greens and Tomatoes, Domus Hotel, blogginginitaly.com

Eggplant a la Giovanna©Blogginginitaly.com

Eggplant a la Giovanna©Blogginginitaly.com

Fernanda's Green Peppercorn Filet - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Fernanda’s Green Peppercorn Filet and Garden Vegetables – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Settings (come rain or shine):

Ivan, Lori & Tomas ©Blogginginitaly.com

Ivan, Lori & Tomas
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Lapo & Paola - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Lapo & Paola – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Giovanna & Franco - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Giovanna & Franco – ©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo & Daniela  - ©Blogginginitaly.com

Massimo & Daniela – ©Blogginginitaly.com

And most of all – Salutes:

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Smiles:

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And a bit of Splash!

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Grazie a tutti! 

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A prossimo!!! 

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Tanti Abbracci!

Giuditta e Leonardo

 

Summer at the Seaside

25 Jul

July is the month many Italians go to the sea. This summer, we were invited to share in the experience with Anna and John, friends from Texas, at the summer home of Anna’s parents, Giovanna and Franco.

We headed to the Livorno area, the west coast of Tuscany situated on the Terranean Sea, for a few days of quiet relaxation, great conversation, delicious food, Italian hospitality, and incredible views.

The drive from Cortona took about an hour longer than expected due to some heavy downpours and overturned vehicles blocking exit ramps, but all that was quickly forgotten when we arrived and were met by our gracious hosts and a delicious homemade lunch.

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Then time for a passagiata, or walk, and a chance to take in the views of the sea, which was a bit rough for swimming but great for photos.

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After walking, hours of conversation, and brief naps, it was time for appertivo. John did the honors.

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The cheeses were delicious, including this one with whiskey,

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and this one with grappa.

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The gardener just happened to stop by with some porcini mushrooms. (Giovanna showing them to John.)

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Giovanna turned them into several dishes including this appetizer with shaved parmigiano and olive oil.

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Time for dinner.

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And finally, dessert. Giovanna actually made this for us for breakfast but I ate it all the time!

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The next morning, I learned that an “Italian lover” lived under our same roof but was not performing well. Anna and her mother believe that every woman deserves a lover, and one that meets expectations. This lover is named Giacomo.

It turns out, the lover of whom they speak is a robotic vacuum cleaner. Theirs was about 5 years old and had run out of steam, so to speak. So, off we ladies went to Euronics to purchase Giacomo Due (2).

With Giacomo Due safely in the trunk, I was treated to a tour of Livorno, a lovely port city, by the ever knowledgeable Giovanna.

Not sure the men missed us at all, but we were anxious to see how well the slimmer, sleeker Giacomo would perform. After reading the users’ manual online, Anna shares her findings with her mother.

Anna read the

Anna read the

After a three-hour charge, Giacomo is ready! Will he fit under the couch? The ladies are intrigued but not so Anna’s father, who is busy with world economics.

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The verdict is in, Giacomo Due stays! Time for lunch and wine tasting on the veranda as the winds have quieted.

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For dessert, peaches in white wine.

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Another walk along the sea wall…

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And, as Italians are prone to do, disregard the warning of falling rocks.

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The last night, we had a lovely dinner in the small town, giving Giovanna a rest from cooking.

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Many thanks to Giovanna and Franco for sharing your home and hospitality with us. We loved experiencing the Italian summer at sea. And to Anna and John, thanks for your friendship. We finally turned our goal of being in Italia together into a reality. Bravissimo!

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Ciao,

Judy

Seeing the Blues

16 Jul

in Montepulciano,

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And sipping the Reds!

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All in a good day’s work.

Ciao,

Judy

A New Fiat in the Family

3 Jun

Check out our new car…a Fiat 500 L, (cinque cento)

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Nice interiorIMG_0615

Comfortable room for four

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Lift-gate hidden cargo area

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Well, it is new, and it is ours…if only for four weeks.

We took the car for a ride today, off to get coffee and find the sun. And that we did. After driving some winding roads, we headed toward Montalcino to find Avignonesi, a winery we learned of from our friend Patricia. We’ve tried some of their wines and like them a lot, so off we went.

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From their website:

The winery is named after the Avignonesi family, the founders of the original estate. Constant research and development aimed at expressing the true character of the Montepulciano terroir has, over time, earned the winery a well-deserved place among the flagship producers of Tuscany. http://www.avignonesi.it

As is true throughout Tuscany, it is impossible to photograph or paint the magnificence and simplicity of the rolling hills.

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Avignonesi has a lovely tasting room, and offers tours, lunches and culinary classes. And the customer service is wonderful.

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After purchasing some wine, we headed toward the relatively quiet town of Castiglione del Lago, which sits above Lake Trasimeno.

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In 217 BC, however, the areas was anything but quiet as Hannibal and the Carthaginians defeated the Romans in one of the most successful ambushes in military history. But today, one lone sailboat.

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The lovely town above the lake offers local products, dining, and some great old architecture to locals and visitors alike.

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Another day filled with sunshine, until we returned to Cortona storms, but no matter, we enjoyed the day, the sun and the Fiat, which handled the curves, hills and AC quite well. Perhaps this is my next car, Mike? Could be a great city car!

Ciao,

Judy

Montalcino Revisited

13 Jun

Last year, I wrote about our most amazing visit to the Tenuta Friggiali winery and our opportunity to sample many wonderful wines, including our favorite, Pietranera Brunello. This year, we wanted to share the experience with Sandy and Larry, and once again, the lovely Emanuela welcomed us as old friends.

Getting ready for the tasting!

A few things have changed since last year, the most significant for us being that the home where we met Marissa, the owner, and her cousin Maria, has now been transformed into offices and a cellar by their daughter, who produces the Donna Olga label. It seems that Marissa and her husband spend less time in Tuscany, and when they are there, they occupy the house where we spent the night last year.

Incredible things can happen by chance, and for us, the chance meeting of Marissa at her home last year was a memory we’ll always treasure. While Marissa wasn’t in Montalcino this year, she was aware of our visit and sent her regards from Napoli, as did we back to her. I like thinking that Len and I were the last strangers that became friends with Marissa in that house. The thought will always bring a huge smile to my face and warm thoughts of an unforgettable chance encounter in our lives.

After our tasting, we had lunch at a small café in the town of Montalcino. Cesare the owner made sure we didn’t leave hungry!

Ciao,

Judy

                                             

A salumi platter

Anchovies for Len!

Hot Pecorino!

L’Angolo Cafe

The Villa.3

1 Aug

After the wine tasting, and since we had been given the keys to the house, I decided to explore. Our villa was actually a 19th century farmhouse that has been restored to serve the needs of the estate. Generally, the only guests that stay in the house are business partners, friends or relatives, and not so often individuals like us.

The first floor has several comfortable dining and sitting rooms with a lovely color scheme of  yellow and blue. Large windows fill the rooms with light and reveal the valley below.

Upstairs there are two apartments and our room. The ceiling in our room, like so many it Italy, features large beams in an interesting pattern. Looking at the beams, I was hoping they would not choose our stay to fall on the bed.

When I finished my inside tour, I left Len to stand guard over the bottles and ventured outside to take some pictures. Across from our villa was a small building that housed another apartment. We never saw the inside but it seemed so ancient yet inviting.

At the end of a long drive, but still on the estate, was another home that belonged to the family. We had been told that Mrs. Centolani was in town for a few days at her home. “She doesn’t speak English, so if you happen to see her,  just wave as she is very friendly.”

As I stood at the top of the drive taking pictures, two ladies emerged from behind the house, stopped at the gate, and asked loudly, “chi è, chi è?” Hmmm…I hope my Italian will be good enough to explain who I am and why I’m on their property!

Ciao,

Judy

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