Tag Archives: Antinori

Italians Wines for Every Reason



1grandi marchiIt was a night to shine your bobbles, sharpen your pencils, and shake off your cares of the day. Some sexy Italians of all grapes and sizes came to town  leaving  tastebuds tantalized and palates pleasured.

 The event is called the Grandi Marchi and it brings together some of Italy’s greatest wine producers  representing some of the best known and lesser known regions in the country. 



2wine on iceThe evening, put together by the LCBO’s Vintages, is a chance to sample fantastic wines that might be out of your regular price range, and an opportunity to try different varieties that you can afford, but know nothing about.

I have been to a few of these events. They are not cheap. Typically tickets go for anywhere from $60-$125, but when you think of what you would spend on a great dinner, and the wines you get to taste, I have never left an evening disappointed.  There is no obligation or pressure to buy. Tina and I did buy once because they have some great finds that are not available at the LCBO, but be warned, don’t plan on serving your purchases at next month’s dinner party…our order came in 6 months later.

 You can tell the pros from the newbies, like me. The vets are systematic. They visit the tables in order, jot down their tasting notes and move to the next one.

Orneto pio cesare I make a beeline to the favourites that I do know, the Antinori wines, the Pio Cesares – the ones I  know, in advance,  that  they alone will make the evening worthwhile, and do they ever.

Pio Cesare’s Ornato Barolo 2008 DOCG, Piedmont shone like a diamond. Rich, elegant, powerful – I am talking Barolo royalty. The family has been producing top quality wines in the northern Piemonte region (home to Barolo and Barbaresco) for five generations. This is a single vineyard variety coming from grapes in the Serralunga d’Alba area, which is top tier terroir in the Barolo region. You will often recognize Pio Cesare as the label with all the gold award stamps on the front. I have tasted lower end and higher end wines from this producer and they have yet to disappoint. At $95 a bottle, a case is not in my future considering it is roughly the cost of airfare to Italy. 

 Affortable Finds:

While  Ornato was amazing, there were also some terrific wines that did not come anywhere near triple-digit price points.

 rovereto-gavi-di-gavi-docg-michele-chiarlo-6-bottle-caseMichele Chiarlo Rovereto Gavi Di Gavi 2011, DOCG, Piedmonte  Also from northwestern Italy, this white from the Cortese grape is fresh and  balanced with notes of grapefruit and At $17.95, This is an excellent choice if you are going to experiment with a GavI. The Rovereto is also available online at the SAQ for $20.40.




Lungarotti Rubesco Rosso Di Torgiano 2009 DOC,  Umbria   This is a wine that would cheerfully  make my Friday night take-home list. The blend is 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo, both grapes favoured by Umbria’s Tuscan neighbours. It is the most popular wine made by Lungarotti, a family business  run by Chiara  Lungarotti and her sister Teresa Severini.  Nicely priced at $20.00.

Masi Brolo Campofiorin Oro Appaxximento 2008 IGT, Veneto:

Heading north to the Veneto region, home to Amarone, this wine is a  Rosso del Veronese, made with  the same basic method used to create the gorgeous and most glorious Amarone. The technique is called appassimento and involves drying the grapes  on straw mats to concentrate the sugar and flavours. It  produced rich, full-bodied wines and often pricier wines. This is no exception but at a wallet-friendlier price. $24.95

nero di troiaRivera Violante Nero Di Troia 2009, DOC Puglia   Italy has thousands of grape varieties, and most of us recognize only the superstars like  Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Pinot Grigio.  But  there are so many others that you could devote years to learning and tasting. The Nero di Troia is an ancient grape that legend has it was brought to the Puglia region by the Greek hero Diomedes – who fought in the Trojan War. Today it is used in single variety wines like this one, or blends. The result is a full bodied wine that is fruit forward with a heady aroma of violets. Available online at the SAQ for $17.95


 The Grandi Marchi, was a Grande Success for this visitor. I would definitely go again, maybe this time I won’t race to the favourite tables for a chance to taste the holy grail of wines, getting flushed as a teenager waiting for a Bieber sighting.  Then there will be no morning after regret when I review my notes and realized the gems I missed. Some of these wines are available at the LCBO, some by consignment, your local LCBO can help you.

If you are looking for  a list of upcoming events, you can check out Events at Vintages.com or sign up for their online catalogue


Cross Border Shopping


One of the great pleasures in visiting Montreal is prowling through the SAQ, Quebec’s version of the LCBO. There are many treasures you find in these airy outlets. I usually drop by an outlet closest to my stomping grounds and hightail it to the Selection section, comparable to Vintages. I typically end up with yet another SAQ carry bag because they too have done away with plastic bags. They have a plentiful selection of French wines, for obvious reasons, followed by a respectable array of Italians.

So where do I start? How do I pick the one – who am I kidding – the 6, I usually take home? I head to the regions I know and love. So Tuscany of course, and anything new from southern Italy, which is more  affordable.  It could be a place I have traveled to that has a reputation or a fond memory. Because the sun is shining, I will check out a white or two. From there, I head west to France and  Bordeaux – on the off-chance I  will pick something that will support my dream that all good Bordeauxs do not have to cost a  mortgage payment. I have been lucky with a few from  St-Emilion or Pomerol. Then I venture over to Rhone where, this time, I found a SPECTACULAR wine – that tied for first place of the weekend.

Here are a few of my finds.

Il Bruciato Tenuta Guado Al Tasso Bolgheri 2010

$21.95 SAQ

There are certain producers that make me take a second look. Antinori is one of them. The family has been producing for 27 GENERATIONS, surpassed only by the house of Frescobaldi. Head of the family,  Piero Antinori is considered a visionary in the industry.  I had the pleasure of sampling some wines with the Great One himself which is so worthy of a future entry on its own. This wine is from the Antinori’s Guado al Tasso estate on the Tuscan coast which is home to such greats at Sassicaia and Ornellaia.  This blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Syrah is on the Super Tuscan path without the super Tuscan  price. Ruby colored, full-bodied, with cherry notes, soft spices and a lovely finish. 14% alcohol.

Chateau des Nages Joseph Torres Costieres de Nimes 2009 $21.95 LCBO  $20.95 SAQ

This  Cote de Rhone find started as a recommendation from the remarkable Lily Shatsky. I regard Lily as one of the perks of my job as a journalist. I found her when I was working in Montreal and assigned to find a bagel expert. I looked up an organization called Jewish Support Services for the Elderly. i thought where better to find a bagel expert. Not only did I get a great story, I met an inspirational dynamo.   Incredibly, the wine turned up again the next day at the table of the Certosini’s, dear friends who have long been my partners in wine.  Chateau des Nages proved to be as remarkable  as Lily with the staying power of an old friend. Deep purply red with a blend of 95% Syrah and 5% Mourvedre. Lots of body, spicy, dark fruit – it is delicious enough to make your toes curl with pleasure.

Il Chiuso Castelle di Ama Toscana IGT 2010  $25.55 SAQ

Full disclosure – the first time I visited Tuscany,we rented a place in Gaiole in Chianti,  right in the heart of the famous Chianti region. Since I was having lunch with the same friends I toured Chianti with several years ago, it seemed highly appropriate to choose a wine from the region that held so many happy memories. And I am very pleased to say this  lighter  medium-bodied blend of Sangiovese and  Pinot Noir did not disappoint.

Velenosi di Verdicchio Castelli dei Jesi Classico 2010  $13.30 SAQ

This one totally caught my interest because I will be heading to Le Marche where it is produced,  in a couple of weeks. While it didn’t knock my socks off, it had more body than a Pinot Grigio, and it wasn’t  oaky like many Chardonnays. So even though it may not take home many awards,   it was an absolute pleasure for an afternoon, enjoying-a- glass-with-my-brother-while-we-are-catching-up kind of  wine. It could have been the company, it might have been the weather, or because I had absolutely nothing to do but have a nice chat with someone I don’t see often enough. But it was a wine I would buy again…maybe next time in Le Marche or when  I am discussing life with my brother.

SAQ Publicatoin Cellier

Final word, if you do end up at the SAQ, check out their publication Cellier. It is available in English and is chock full of information. While the LCBO’s fabulous Food and Drink focuses on the food, Cellier is mostly about the wine, and there has not been an issue that I have not devoured cover to cover.