Saturday, February 21, 2009

Wine Lives and does my new blog's look.

Well, I did it. I changed to the new blogger layout. Yes, it is still the same me. Nothing changed there. But after some very useful suggestions and hints from my dear friend Katherine Andes, I decided it was time to go forward. You can get to her website by clicking on the "My Great Writer Friend" in my links list or you can just follow this link
After 30 plus years of tasting and enjoying wines, I have picked up a little bit of knowledge about wine but I am still a neophyte when it comes to websites, blogging and all that wonderful technical stuff. So her help was invaluable. I also pick up a lot of good info from her free newsletter which you can sign up for via her website.
My friend Carl Brown, who gets my newsletter and regularly leaves a comment on my blog, also is prompting me to get a little bolder and braver. He left a good suggestion in his comment on my "Champagne then and now"post. So thanks to all of you for your regular visits, comments and suggestions. I appreciate it very much. It spurs me on to the continued pursuit of the" fruit of the vine".
I could not do a post without at least one picture related to this subject. So enjoy this one. I took it in the Blue Grouse Vineyards and Winery on Vancouver Island. Those are lush Ortega grapes a few days away from picking.
Oh and while we're at it, I am still having great fun preparing my Italian dishes.

Which leads me to my final note. In my next blog entry I will be telling you about the fabulous wine maker we met in Bolgheri. Alessandro Dondi makes some of the best wines we tasted while travelling through Tuscany.

Monday, February 09, 2009

The Heart and Soul of an Italian Winery !

Too many wine tastings, too many events and a series of my wine newsletters have kept me from returning to post another entry on my blog. But I am back because memories of my recent Tuscan tour keeps filling me with thoughts of returning soon to that blessed area and its wonderful wines and friendly people. So I want to share some more of that experience.
Before I do, I must tell you about my experimenting with various Italian recipes. In my December post I have a link to Mestolando, the authentic Italian kitchen in Florence and their Bucatini ala Matriciana recipe or as they call it, Amatriciana. Or go to Bobby Flay's for this bucatini recipe. With all due apologies, I have altered it a little bit. Perhaps we will call this a New World adaptation of an Old World Recipe.
First of all I break up the Bucatini into two or three pieces rather than the regular spaghetti length.I'll tell you why in a moment. Then after cooking the sauce, I put it into a saucepan and keep it on low heat. The recipe calls for some of the sauce to be mixed in with the spaghetti ( and remember I use the real Bucatini, not the regular spaghetti) Then you plate it and top it with the grated Pecorino Romano. Stop, right there. I now take two or three good tablespoonsful of pesto and add that to the frying pan that has just been released from it sauce. I add a couple of tablespoonsful of olive oil and stir and spread it across the frying pan and heat on a low to medium setting. Now I add the Bucatini an stir it to ensure the pesto is thoroughly mixed with the spaghetti. Having broken up the spaghetti previously makes it easier to stir it around. Then I take all the sauce and add it and again stir it until all the Bucatini is thoroughly coated with the sauce. Then after heating it for another two to three minutes, I plate it and sprinkle generously with the grated Pecorino. May not look as pretty as it does in the video but it is oh so delicious. Just a hint on the pesto. I have tried almond, walnut and even Macadamia nut pesto but I keep returning to pine nut pesto. And the best recipe for that I have found on my good friend David's blog "Cooking Chat".
So now finally to the purpose of this post. We had the pleasure of a visit to the Casa Vinicola Luigi Cecchi & Figli winery in Castellina in Chianti. It was one of the more impressive wineries we visited while touring throughout Tuscani.

Ultra modern state of the art facilities at Cecchi.

A lot has been said and written about "Old" World and "New" world wines. The new world claiming superiority because of advanced technology. But hold on... what if Old World wineries adapt New World technological advances? Well now that means that the Old World wineries have the advantage of tradition and generations of family history. Yes, of course some New World wineries have a proud history of making wine in their family for many years. But few can claim generation after generation of wine making tradition. In the New World everyone uses modern technology. So you cannot use that as your claim to fame. But knowledge of terroir and tradition is a little more difficult to claim when promoting your wines.
The Cecchi winery is a true traditional proud family winery. Started in 1893 by Luigi Cecchi and today both his son, Cesare and his grandson Luigi are very involved with the Cecchi winery. They are comitted to sustainable practices in both the vineyard and their facilities.

In fact one of the beautiful meeting rooms at the Castellina winery has a beautiful oak floor made from their old wine barrels. It even has a red wine stain visible in the oak.
The feel of family is evident when visiting this winery. Our hosts were the two beautiful ladies Chiara Bellaci and Cecillia Muzzi. Truly dedicated to the Cecchi family of wines they proudly showed us the state of the art facilty followed by a tasting of the best Cecchi has to offer.

We tasted our way through 8 of their outstanding wines. What a shame I cannot get them here at home. But I can dream. Dream, I will be able to get them someday soon and dream of visiting Cecchi again. The first two wines we tasted were the Litorali and the Natio Chianti. Two superb wines followed by 6 more of the best Cecchi has to offer.

The Litorale is a lush , fresh lively Vermentino. Refreshing and crisp and loaded with fresh fruit. The Natio is a superb organic wine with 90% Sangiovese and 10% Colorino grapes harvested from small vineyards in the Chianti region. The essence of Sangiovese is captured in this wine. The remaining 6 wines we tasted were equally exciting and flavourful.
Ciao Cecilia and Chiara! Thanks for the memories!!
In my next blog entry I will tell you about the amazing Alessandro Dondi of the Castello di Bolgheri.