Giusti Wines: From Dream to Vines

From:Giustiwine.com

Growing up among the vines of Italy’s  Veneto region, Ermenegildo Giusti  always knew Canada would be his destiny. “From the time I was 8 or 9, I knew where Canada was. My parents told me it was at the end of the vineyard and a bit further, ” he said.  Just shy of 18, Ermenegildo explored “a bit further”.  He landed in Canada where he took his dream and turned it into a multi-million dollar business.

But he never forgot the vines.

When he left home, his family stopped producing wine.  In 1998,  Ermenegildo took the family’s two hectares and began rebuilding,  “I grew up in the vineyard. My memories growing up are surrounded by  grapes and the harvest.”

      Today the Giusti vineyard is 100 hectares in the heart of Prosecco country.  The sparkling wine is part of Ermenegildo’s history. “It was like having water growing up. My brother and I would drink it after school.” To him, Prosecco also meant celebration. “It was celebrating friendship, life, birth, people coming together.”

Source: Giustiwine.com

It’s that history he honours.  ”Once a farmer always a farmer,” he explains. The fields are impeccably tended because that’s what he remembers. “My vineyards are like a garden because I remember how my father kept them. Everything was so tidy. They were so proud. There was so much love. It was like giving something of themselves,” he explains.

The Giusti produces 320,000 bottles a year, including a range of Prosecco, whites and reds.   The wine he is most proud of?  Umberto Primo – a blend  of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Petit Verdot he named after his grandfather.

This fall Giusti launched a sparkling Rosé. Ermenegildo laughs when I ask him about it.  “I never wanted to do a rosé because in summer when my mother would give me wine with water,  that was not wine. So I refused to make rosé because every time I looked at it, I thought  it was a wine I didn’t want to drink.” When he finally conceded, he took grapes from his best vineyards using Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and a little Recantina – a heritage grape that’s regaining popularity. The results are remarkable. Even my non-sparkling-wine-loving family wanted more.

Giusti’s Prosecco is by far its biggest seller with sales of 200,000 bottles a year. It was their award-winning Rosalia  that won my affection at a wine tasting at Toronto’s Vintage Conservatory.   It was fresh, fruity and not overly sweet.  The second time was in a small wine store in Canmore, AB where I found the Giusti Merlot. 

     

Today, Emenegildo divides his time between  his vineyards in Italy and his  Calgary  where his three sons and seven grandchildren live.  At the heart of the vineyard is a tribute to the sense of belonging  in both lands. A tower overlooking the fields is  surrounded by water. “It is a symbol of somebody going away and leaving their home.”  he says. And though his history called him back to Italy, Canada is his future. “I am more Canadian than Italian. I spent 45 years in Canada. Canada is definitely home.”

The Prosecco Trail

I love prosecco.

I love it in the morning with a dash of OJ (for colour), as an afternoon palette cleanser, or a toast before dinner.

Prosecco turns any event into a celebration.

I am in great company.   More than 355 million bottles were sold worldwide in 2015 and the demand is still growing.

About 90% of prosecco comes from a region just north of Venice.  There you’ll find the  Strada of Prosecco, a 47-km trail lined with sparkling wine cantinas. 

We got the chance to tour one of the prettiest wineries in the region in late September.  And the prosecco was the lure.

Pitars is a fourth generation producer in San  Martino al Tagliamento, about 90 minutes north of Venice. 

The staff was setting up for a wedding the day  we visited. This place is so gorgeous, such a perfectly romantic setting,  it almost made me want to convince my husband to renew our vows.  Almost.  We opted instead  for a few toasts – mostly counting our lucky stars to be there.

After the tour, hospitality director Valentino Florian led us through a tasting of half a dozen wines.  Plan to spend some time.  They have 20 wines, each worth sampling.  White grapes rule the region. Most of fields in the area are planted with Glera grapes and used for prosecco.  I loved its aromatic flavour and bubbles that tingled on the way down. I especially loved their sparkling Ribolla Giallo – a white grape gaining popularity in Canada. 

Pitars produces eight whites and  four reds. Their  portfolio includes a Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Naos, a knockout red blend.  My cousin Lindo claims the only good wines in the world are produced in this region. 

“Un minuto!” I responded. “California, France, Canada, Spain? What about Tuscany?” I asked.

He shrugged his shoulders “I suppose I will give you Tuscany,” Lindo said .

Finally, the price.  A bottle of award-winning prosecco was SIX EUROS. Even with a generous exchange, that’s $9 CDN.  A  prosecco of this quality in Canada sells for more than twice the price.

As we were leaving, my husband tried to persuade me  to take home a dozen bottles, until I reminded him he was the one who challenged me to do carry on only.

That’ll teach him.

If you find Pitars on the shelves, try it first…then let me know!

Bonus Cocktail discovery:

Italian Lemonade uncovered at a Bistro in Canmore Alberta – Amounts vary to taste but I used:

1 cup of Limoncello from the freezer

Juice from 2 lemons

1/2 bottle of Prosecco

1-2 teaspoons of sugar (optional and to taste)

Top with sparkling water.

on ice.

Best Of The Bin

unnamedOk, so before you say anything this isn’t my weekly blue box collection…I’m saving these until I have enough to warrant a trip to the dreaded beer store where you have to return them. But being a lover of red I was sort of surprised at how many white wine empties were in there.  I’m guessing this has a lot to do with the summer season because nothing goes down quite like a chilled glass of white when it’s hot outside.

0011452I know a lot of people go right to the Pinot Grigio when it comes to a light white summer wine but for me I just find it doesn’t have much taste.  I much prefer a nice dry Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc and one I always have in the house is the WillM Reserve Riesling from Alsace.  It’s dry, has intense citrus flavours and is a perfect match for seafood, poultry or just straight up on its own and for $14.95 you really can’t go wrong.

unnamed-1One I just tried this week and went back to get four more bottles is the Cave Spring 2012 Dry Riesling from the Niagara Peninsula.  I got the first bottle as a gift from a lovely couple I met not long ago and after tasting it knew I’d be enjoying more this summer.  It was a perfect match for the cheese fondue we had on the patio by the fire on Saturday night. Also just $14.95 this VQA product is definitely worth a try.

unnamed-2Even though I said I wasn’t much of a Pinot Grigio fan I did try a bottle I quite liked.  Another gift, so who am I to turn up my nose at free wine and to be honest I was pleasantly surprised by the taste.  Sadly this will only be available to our readers in BC as it comes from La Stella Vineyard in the south Okanagan Valley. At $25 I do find it a bit pricey but it’s a sustainable vineyard where all the fruit is hand harvested, double-sorted, and fermented in small batches.  Also I loved the quote on the back of the bottle – “If music is the food of love; wine is the drink”.

unnamedLast but not least there’s always a good supply of Prosecco in the cellar because a bit of bubbly on a sunny day just makes you smile.  My go to standards are the Bottega at $13.95 and the Il Prosecco at $13.80 and believe me you can’t go wrong with either of them.  Both are a product of Italy and have a gentle-bubbly character so raise a glass of Vino Frizzante and enjoy something crisp and refreshing this summer.

Don’t forget to tell us what’s in your glass and if you’ve made a new discovery you want us to share with our readers.

Best Bubbly For Your Buck

Since we don’t profess to be experts just wine enthusiasts, sometimes when it comes to recommendations we look for a little help from our friends.  And because our main love is big bold reds we figured if we wanted to add some cheer to your New Year we’d better get some advice.

 

Ange-about-usThis summer we met Ange Aiello the founder of iYellow Wine Club, a social wine club based in Toronto with monthly wine events, wine tours and newsletters.  With over 4000 members, they count on Ange to know her stuff and she definitely does, especially when it comes to local. And we say what better way to boost the economy than by buying local.

Ange is fun, charming and bubbly so who better to suggest the perfect bottle to pop on New Year’s Eve.  From the budget basics to the luxurious here’s her list:

Affordable and fun bubbly
1- Mionetto Prosecco – Italian and delicious $11.95
2- Moscato Spumante – sweeter and sparkly $12.95
3 – Wolf Blass – traditional method, dryer and a great with lots of appetizers $17.95
4- Trapiche Sparkling Brut – $11.95

Local Bubbly
1- Peller Estates Ice Cuvee Rose $32.95 – Sparkling wine made like champagne with cabernet Franc Icewine
2 – Chateau Des Charmes Brut $23.95 – dry and delicious
3 – Jackson Triggs Entourage Brut – perfect for the holidays
3 – Casa Dea Brut – $18.95 – A great local bubble from Prince Edward County
4 – Henry of Pelham Rose Catherine – declious and perfect and pink!
5 – Sparkling Icewine – $79.95 – a delight to share and spoil with, start or end a meal with!

Luxurious Bubbly – Champagne (From France and over $40.00)
1- Veuve Clicquot Brut Champagne $67.85
2- Taittinger Brut Reserve Champagne $59.95
3- Nicholas Feuillatte Brut Champagne $44.55

Ange also shared her suggestions on Canada AM recently and if you want to watch the video here’s the link http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/video?clipId=832987&playlistId=1.1090712&binId=1.815911

She’s also got a couple of upcoming ice wine tours to Niagara in January that should be a blast so check out the wine club if you’re interested in tagging along.

imagesEven though sparkling wines and champagne are what we know best the one thing we do know is they go with everything. So whether you’re just popping the cork to cheer in the New Year or pairing it up with dinner nothing makes you smile like tiny bubbles tickling your taste buds.

So raise a glass and celebrate the New Year with us as we will be thinking of all of you.  May  2013 be an outstanding year not just for the vintages you choose to drink but also for you, your family and all your friends.

Cheers!

 

 

 

A Friendly Feast

I’ve lived in my neighbourhood for close to a dozen years now and from the day we moved in we’ve been fast friends with a few couples whose company we enjoy and who we can count on if we need to.

We didn’t even have fences between our yards until a couple of us got a dog and even then we installed a gate for easy access between our houses.  During the summer months we generally wind up in the back yard Friday or Saturday night catching up over a glass of wine but as the cold weather sets in we often don’t see each other for long periods of time.

A few years back a friend told me about how her neighbours used to have these progressive dinner parties, where you would have appetizers at one person’s house, then move to the next house for the entrée and someone else’s for dessert.  I really liked the idea but it seemed like a lot of unnecessary work for everyone so I devised a plan to make the progressive dinner party easier to manage.  We created the Canterbury Dinner Club which included four couples.  Each couple would hold one dinner a month during the fall and winter, rotating between between us.

The couple holding the dinner are in charge of the entrée and the other three are assigned the appetizer, soup or salad and dessert with each course  paired with an appropriate wine. Just like the dinners, the wines are progressive usually starting with Champagne or Prosecco then whites or reds depending on the dish.

 

Oscar themed dinner

We try to come up with themes but one of the big rules is you have to dress up…no jeans allowed, which makes it feel special. We’ve had an Oscar dinner where we dressed in gowns and did a movie quiz, an Oktoberfest dinner with German music, a Kareoke night and so many more.  Sometimes we just pick a country and theme the food based on that.  Everyone gets into the mood by researching what dish they can create to fit the theme and we always have a great time doing it.

It gives us all something to look forward to each month during the dull days of winter. Affords us the ability to stay close to home (no need to worry about drinking and driving since we can all walk).  To get dressed up and use our fine china and generally feel like we’ve been out for a night on the town without paying hundreds of dollars at some fancy restaurant.  This is not to say we never go out to eat but in today’s economy this is a great way to spend an evening out with friends without spending big bucks.

I’ve shared this idea with some of my colleagues and they’ve all said how much they loved it so I wanted to share it with you.

Do you have a great idea for a dinner party?

 

Traveling in Style

Train from Switzerland to Italy

There has always been a great allure to me about traveling by train. My father always used to say  “I never heard a train go by without wishing I were on it.” I don’t know where it came from, or if it was really a quote, or if it reflected his unfulfilled dreams, but to a teenager who had just devoured “The Drifters” by James Mitchener and who could barely spell mortgage,  it felt like the perfect life. I wanted to be Gretchen, the drifter who carried her guitar across Europe.

I did carry mine to Italy when I was 14′ even though I could barely play two songs – Norwegian Wood (3 chords) and “my own” composition that sounded remarkably like a Bob Dylan tune. Fast forward decades and traveling between Paris and London through the Chunnel with  work mates, a few bottles of wine, baguettes and cheese turned into an unforgettable experience.  Or even today, taking advantage of an incredible VIA Rail sale and heading to Montreal to visit friends and family.

While I LOVE LOVE LOVE the never ending wine glass in VIA One, I brought my own to economy.  I am sipping a  Mimosa thanks to the Zonin Prosecco traveling 3-pack $11.95 at Vintages.

Though between the time I picked it up and the time I left on my trip, it turned into a 2-pack. In any case, sipping a Mimosa, listening to great music with free WIFI on a train that I don’t have to WISH I were on, is the perfect way to start an extra long weekend!

Happy Labour Day.

Good Bubbles for your Buck

Bring on the bubbly

Summer’s definitely the perfect time for something fun and light and it seems everyone is finding a way to add a little fizz to their wine.  Over the last few years Prosecco sales have risen dramatically and it seems wine makers from around the world have taken notice.  On a recent trip to my local LCBO I realized they actually devoted an entire row of sparkling wines and everyone from the Francis Ford Coppola winery in California to the Wolf Blass label in Australia are offering their versions of sparkling wines to get in on the action.  There even seems to be a good selection of rosé sparkling wines.

In fact, in 2011 Prosecco sales rose 50% and this sparkling wine has done a great job in terms of value.  When you look at the average cost of a half decent bottle of champagne coming in at around $70 and the fact you can get a nice bottle of Prosecco for under $15 which one would you choose if you were just looking for a fun drink for a sunny summer’s day?

Lovely to enjoy on its own Prosecco it’s also a great drink to serve with Hors d’oeuvres, antipasta, or seafood.  I actually found one I really enjoy called Il Prosecco and it’s only $11.75.  It reminds me of an old school pop bottle it doesn’t have your regular type of pop cork it but a cap.  The bubbles are lively and it has medium-intensity citrus, pear and melon notes with a dry, light-body and crisp, refreshing taste.

Il Prosecco by Mionetto from Italy

So at this price I say “Bring on the Bubbly”