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Blog Posts (14)
- Spain. Tarragona. Montsant.
Wine region description Montsant wine region covers 17 villages in the counties of Priorat and Ribera d’Ebre in Tarragona province. The landscape is mountainous, with Montsant, La Llena, Prades, Argentera, Mola de Colldejou, and Llaberia mountain ranges. Montsant is a name of a mountain range and of a river in the Ebro River valley, too. Montsant and Siurana rivers, along with Capçanes river, are the main water sources of the vineyards. There are mainly 3 types of soil: compact (from river sediments), gravelly (desegregation of rocks), and stony (from a silica locally called Licorella) soils. The climate is influenced by the mountains, by the Ebro River valley, and by moist sea breezes, and can be classified as Mediterranean with continental aspects. Mountain and sea breezes are responsible for accentuated disparity between day and night temperatures, which in turn are responsible for increased levels of polyphenols in grapes. First evidence of winemaking in the area dates to the Roman Empire; of that period are discoveries of wine amphoras nearby Tarraco (present day Tarragona) which was the Roman capital in Hispania. Major planting of vineyards occurred in the middle-ages, during the re-population of Catalunya by Christians, after it was ultimately taken from the Moors in 1153. Particularly, has been the Carthusians monks of Scala Dei monastery who diffused in the region the wine techniques from France. The Priorat (land belonging to the Prior) is still the name of the central part of this region. Later, international commerce via the nearby city of Reus, led to centuries of successful wine production and fruitful exchanges with wine merchants. At the end of the nineteen century the phylloxera plague led to an important crisis in the sector. Co-operative wineries were set up to protect grape-growing in the area that was threatened by rapid depopulation as people rushed to relocate to cities to find work. In 1932 the first official wine appellations were recognized by the Spanish state and identified in “Wine Statues” and DO Priorat and DO Tarragona were among the first to be mentioned. While DO Priorat was established in the central part of the region in the area around the monastery and DO Tarragona covered the greater part of the vineyards in the Tarragona province, soon an unofficial part of the latter, called “Falset Subzone” started showing specific characteristics important for quality winemaking. This subzone has now been recognized as “Denominació d’Origen Montsant” (Montsant Designation of Origin/Wine Appellation) and was created in 2001. The grape varieties accepted for winemaking in the region are various but the most diffused are Macabeu and Garnatxa Blanca among the whites, and Garnatxa Negre and Carignan for the red grapes. The White Grenache is becoming more and more popular because it is well adapted to hotter climates, very resistant to drought and berries are very juicy. Wines made from this variety are extremely flavoursome. Red Grenache, along with the Carignan, is widespread throughout DO Montsant and it is well resistant to drought. Wines made from it are delicious and big, with notes of ripe black fruit (cherry), raisins, and sweet grape juice with balsamic overtones. The Carignan is a very productive variety, capable of making elegant and silky wines when picked from old vines. Old vines are highly valued in the Montsant. Usually for “old vines” they mean vines which are over 50 years old. These vines are the great treasures of the DO Montsant because they give character to its wines. Wine descriptions Montsant WHITE WINES main characteristic is silkiness. The colours are in a range from lemon yellow to straw yellow. Colours are intense due to the hot sunny weather. Some wines may show greenish notes, among other that resemble new gold. Typical aromas are of white fruits like pear and apple, then there are blossoms and vegetables notes on the other side. If grapes used are White Grenache, notes of ripe fruits, honey, dried fruits (apricot) are appreciable. While in general young white wines are marked in taste by their sweetness and acidity, the whites from Montsant give silky, voluminous, and viscous sensations. Montsant RED WINES have intense colour with purple or black cherries tones with purple rims. Perfumes of ripe fruit aromas (in some cases raisins) dominates, often accompanied by balsamic and spice sensations. In mouth, along with acidity and sweetness, there is the tannic component (astringency), and mature tannins and velvety notes are characteristic of wines obtained with grapes harvested from old vines.
- Italy. Sicily. Etna.
Wine region description Etna wines, wines produced in the territory of Etna volcano in eastern Sicily, can be white, red, and Rosato. The main grape for the white is Carricante, and the main grape variety for the red is Nerello Mascalese. Etna area of production lays within Catania province, and it comprises 20 municipalities whose territories are on the slopes of this volcano. Etna is the highest active volcano in Europe (3,300 m), it is a conic mountain with a diameter of about 180 km (112 miles). The viticultural area is on the median belt. The whole area is somehow peculiar and considered like an “island within the island”. Volcanic soils have great reputation in agriculture, and viticulture is between 300 and 900 m above sea level, with peaks up to 1,100 m. The climate is Mediterranean-temperate, with average yearly rainfalls decidedly superior to the rest of the island; temperature excursions are wide, and rarely temperatures are extremely high in summer months. Catania province and Etna municipalities are the cradle of the most ancient Sicilian agricultural civilization; this part of the island was the first to be colonized by the Greeks (729 B.C.) and likely the contact with wine and vines started then. Certainly, on the III century B.C. vines were cultivated on the Etna slopes, as recorded in writings of Greek poet Theocritus of Syracuse. The viticultural area during so many centuries endured some changings, generally tracing down to three factors: human events, volcanic eruptions, and phylloxera (first part of XX century). The current wine area determination has been one of the first to be recognized in Sicily and one of the oldest in Italy, dating back August 1968. Nerello Mascalese red grape variety is eminently typical of this area, taking its name from the county of Mascali and being cultivated there since time immemorial. The Carricante white grape perform exceptionally well on greater heights, and it is characterized by high and constant yields. The typical “Terrazze” (terraces), which are part of the viticultural working environment, co-participate along with nature to the making of Etna terroir, by influencing the degree in which soil retains water, and protecting biodiversity, and providing unique panorama and cultural-historical identity to the territory. All these characteristics are greatly responsible for the evident and peculiar tastes of the Etna wines, which are balanced, pleasant, harmonious, characteristic, and elegant. The Etna area is indeed particularly suited for quality winemaking, and wines produced here have a marked minerality on taste, which is also good for longevity. The climate, greatly influenced by volcanic heights, ensure the best maturation of the grapes and the complete synthesis of their aromatic bouquet. This viticultural area is the latest in Sicily to complete natural maturation, meaning more time and resources for the vine to its growth. The millenarian viticultural history of this territory, in which people are training vines since time immemorial, closely links today’s human activity to Etna wine qualities. Wine descriptions ETNA BIANCO colour is straw yellow with some golden hues; its perfume is delicate and characteristic; its taste is dry, fresh, and harmonious. ETNA ROSSO colour is ruby red with some garnet red hues; its perfume is intense and characteristic; its taste is dry, warm, robust, full, and harmonious. ETNA ROSATO colour is pink leaning towards ruby; its perfume is intense and characteristic; its taste is dry and harmonious. The minimum alcohol content for the E. Bianco is 11.5% vol. and it is 12.5% for the E. Rosso and Rosato. On the label each bottle may present the name of the administrative unit in which the vineyards are trained (“contrade”); it is mandatory on label the vintage of production, and the glass bottle is the only container that can be used, and the only stopper permitted is the one that goes all through the bottle neck.
- Italy. Veneto. Prosecco superiore.
Origin and culture CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO can be available in four types: still, frizzante, spumante SUPERIORE, and spumante SUPERIORE DI CARTIZZE. Area for viticulture is limited to 15 municipalities, between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene; Superiore di Cartizze grapes can be cultivated only in one sub-municipality of Valdobbiadene called S. Pietro di Barbozza. On labelling, when it is written “Conegliano Valdobbiadene” it is not necessary to add “Prosecco” or “Superiore” terms. It is possible to mention the specific municipality of production of the grapes by adding the term “Rive” and by including the vintage of production. Geographic territory is characterized by hills adjacent to Dolomitic Alps with soils made of sandstone and marl, alternated with layers of morainic and alluvial origin. Climate is temperate with relevant day to night temperature range. History of viticulture in the area dates to tablets of roman colonies. References then come from the VI century writings of the bishop of Poitiers who was born in Valdobbiadene and recalls the wine production of his birthplace; then many documents from the XIII century called “Statutes of Conegliano” during the rule of Venetian Republic, mention the wine as being appreciated by the foreigners royal courts of England, Augsburg, and Poland. The first reference of term Prosecco in Conegliano is of 1772. Various vinicultural studies were then brought forward around Prosecco grape varieties and their identification and selection. Winemaking tradition of the territory and scientific culture led then to the establishment of the first school of viticulture and enology of Italy (and of the world), in Conegliano in 1876, which is still today the main centre of research on viticulture for the Italian ministry of agriculture. In 1962 winemakers of the area went together to create a consortium for protecting the name PROSECCO DEI COLLI DI CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE. 1966 has seen the birth in the area of the first Strada del Vino (wine trail) of Italy, which confirms the winemaking tradition alongside with the pleasantness of the environment. Since 2020 the area is UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wine characteristics CONEGLIANO VALDOBBIADENE PROSECCO SPUMANTE SUPERIORE colour is straw-yellow with persistent foam; smell is pleasant, characteristic; taste is fresh, harmonious.