Tag Archives: Italian wines

Zuani: White Wines from Italy’s Prominent Felluga Family

2 Feb

By Sharon Kapnick

I often wish I’d been born into a winemaking family, perhaps a family like Italy’s Fellugas. Maybe that’ll happen in another lifetime. For now I’ll have to settle for meeting winemakers, which is always a great pleasure, and trying their wines.

In the fall I lunched with Patrizia Felluga, who learned well from her father, Marco, one of the best winemakers in Italy’s best white wine region, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia. The Felluga family has been making wine since the late 1800s. Fifth-generation Patrizia currently works with her children, Antonio and Caterina, at their 30-acre vineyard.  Her brother Roberto, sister Alessandra and uncle Livio all make wine too. You could say wine is in their DNA.

Patrizia started to make her own Zuani wines just 12 years ago, when she at last found the vineyard site she’d been seeking, the site in northeastern Italy between Austria and Slovenia that offered the terroir she sought. It’s in the Collio DOC zone, which produces some of Friuli’s best white wines. The Fellugas believe that “the soul of the wine is created from the soil that gives it life, the light that shines on it and the air that gives it fragrance.” That’s why location is so very important to them.

Patrizia’s goal is to make wines characteristic of the region, which is renowned for wines produced by small wineries and estates. The crisp acidity, minerality and ripe fruit aromas and flavors of her wines are enhanced by cool breezes between the Alps and the Adriatic Sea and lots of sunshine. Significant differences in day and night temperatures result in a long ripening season. The mineral-rich but poor soil–vines do best where they have to work the hardest–contributes to the appealing character of the wines.

Keeping things simple, the family concentrates on only two white wines, Zuani Vigne and Zuani Zuani (so nice they named it twice?). In case you’re wondering, and I was, the word Zuani is a geographic name found on an ancient map of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Both wines are a blend of two indigenous Friulian grapes–Pinot Grigio, Friulano– and two international varieties–Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. All excel in the region. The Vigne wines are fermented in stainless steel to foster their fresh, fruity personality; the grapes for Zuani Zuani are picked two weeks later, when riper, and then aged in small French oak barriques. The Zuani Vigne wines are soft, with good fruit, mineral notes and good acidity; they’re more versatile than the ZZs. The Zuani Zuani wines are richer, more complex, fuller bodied and capable of aging well. They have more concentrated flavors and a full, long finish.

RECOMMENDED WINES

Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2011 (SRP* $24): Floral and fruity–especially citrusy– aromas and flavors. Aromatic, crisp, with good acidity. It won 5 Grappoli (the highest award) from the Italian Sommelier Association (Associazione Italiana Sommelier). And it was given a Slow Wine award for excellent terroir-driven wines by the global, grassroots Slow Food organization.

Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2010: Aromas and flavors of grapefruit, lemon, lime, peach, melon; undertone of minerality; excellent balance; good acidity. It earned a Tre Bicchieri rating from Gambero Rosso for their 2012 guide. It also received a Slow Wine award. Antonio considers this their red wine, and he ordered a chicken dish to accompany it.

Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco 2007: Aromas and flavors of peach, apricot and some almond. Mouth-filling fruit. Medium to full bodied, well balanced, mineral intensity, long fruity finish. Also recognized by Tre Bicchieri.

Zuani Zuani Collio Bianco Riserva 2010 (SRP $37): Aromatic, citrus–especially orange–floral, a hint of vanilla and toastiness from the oak. Round and full.

*Wines can usually be found for less–sometimes considerably less–than the SRP (suggested retail price). Check out wine-searcher.com to get an idea of actual prices.

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Volére “Purses”: Chic, Fashion-Forward Box Wines

2 Aug

by Sharon Kapnick

In the past few years, some box wines have been getting the clever packaging they deserve.* Just as an appealing wine bottle and label attract attention, so does a well-designed bag-in-box. And since the box may be around for a month or more, it’s especially smart to use an eye-catching container.

Kudos goes to Volére Wines, which has recently introduced three novel pocketbook-shaped boxes, cord straps included, to the U.S. market. The wines, from the Delle Venezie region in northeastern Italy, are appealing too. (While this area is best known for its white wines, I preferred the Rosé and the Merlot-Pinot Noir.) They’re all made by the Cantina di Soave cooperative winery, which boasts more than 2,200 members. Although the group was founded in 1898, today it’s not only thriving but also leading and innovating. It was recently named one of 43 Rising Stars by the Beverage Information Group in part because it’s showed notable growth over the past few years.

As with all box wines, the  inner bag collapses as the beverage is dispensed, which ensures that no oxygen–a spoiler of wine–reaches it. The wine stays fresh for at least five weeks. The container is recyclable, conveniently lightweight when full, and easy to carry. Although each 1.5-liter box, equivalent to two standard-size bottles, has a suggested retail price of $14.99, the purses can be found for $10.99.

Pinot Grigio 2011: Aromas and flavors of green apple, peach and pear. Crisp, fruity. Serve as an aperitif or with antipasto and other appetizers, salads, white meats, sushi and seafood.

Rosé 2011: A blend of grape varieties indigenous to the Veneto Hills. Aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries and rose petals. Bright, fresh. Rosé is extremely versatile. Try this one on its own or with appetizers, charcuterie, salads, chicken, white meats, grilled vegetables, barbecue, picnic foods and seafood.

Merlot-Pinot Noir 2011: Aromas and flavors of red berries, cherries and currants. 80% Merlot-20% Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is usually bottled–or boxed–on its own, but  it’s been turning up more and more blended with other grapes. The combination works nicely here.  Serve with pasta, duck, grilled meats and mushrooms, vegetarian entrées and cheese.

*See my story “Tacky No More: Making Boxed Wines Look Chic” at www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1995832,00.html to read about Underdog’s cool Octavins and Wineberry’s wood Berry Boxes.

Note: I requested samples of these wines.

Wine Importers to Rely On: Leonardo LoCascio Selections (Specialty: Italy)

5 Jun

by Sharon Kapnick

Shopping for an Italian wine? You’d do well to look for Leonardo LoCascio’s name on the label, for many consider him to have the most impressive Italian portfolio in the U.S.

In 1980, after he left a prestigious position at Citibank, LoCascio launched Winebow, Inc., a wine importing and distributing business. While he carries many excellent wines from more than 30 countries, LoCascio is renowned for his Italian wines.

Leonardo LoCascio Selections, the Italian arm of Winebow, features some 75 producers, many small to mid-size, independent and family owned. That ensures, LoCascio says, that “the grapes are cared for on a very intimate basis.” While he of course imports wines from the superstar viticultural areas of Tuscany and Piedmont, he’s especially proud of the wines he’s discovered in southern Italy—from Sicily, where he was born, Sardinia, Campania, Basilicata, Calabria and Apulia, regions not generally recognized for stellar wines. Finding topnotch wines there is more of a challenge, which excites him. By venturing off the beaten path, he aims to discover wines of “distinctive character and exceptional value,” and his selection of inexpensive wines is indeed noteworthy.

In 1998 LoCascio was named one of the most influential wine personalities of the past 20 years by influential wine critic Robert M. Parker Jr. The same year he received Food & Wine magazine’s Golden Grape Award, which recognizes “visionaries in America who are not only changing the way we think about wine but also determining what we will be drinking in the 21 st century.” If LoCascio is right, grapes like Nero d’Avola (red), Grillo and Inzolia (whites), the mainstays of Sicily, will someday be as well known in the U.S. as Pinot Grigio—well, at least much better known than they are today.

Awards and recognition keep rolling in. In 2009, Winebow was named Importer of the Year by Wine Enthusiast magazine. In 2010 the Quarterly Review of Wines and the New York Institute of Technology honored LoCascio with their 13th annual Professional Excellence Award.

His website (www.winebow.com) boasts that “the Leonardo LoCascio Selections logo on a label has become the de facto seal of approval for Italian wine enthusiasts.”’ It’s got that just right.