Tuesday, January 27, 2015

David Suire, the Right-Hand Man of Nicolas Thienpont Presented Wines of the Nicolas Thienpont Collection of Right Bank Bordeaux Estates in Washington DC, USA

Picture: David Suire and Mark Wessels, Managing Director of MacArthur Beverages

Nicolas Thienpont makes a number of Bordeaux wines, ranging from petite chateau wines to classified growth wines, as Owner, Managing Director or Consultant of the estate. David Suire is his right-hand man. David came to Washington DC, USA, to present to us some of the wines he and Nicolas are involved with.

Annette Schiller, ombiasyPR and WineTours, and I enjoyed the informal wine tasting with David very much. At times, there was quite a crowd but there were also moments were Annette and I could talk with Mark Wessels, Managing Director of  MacArthur Beverages, and David about what is going on in Bordeaux, in terms of the vintage, new restaurants, the upcoming primeur tastings and other right bank wine issues, etc. ahead of Annette annual Bordeaux Wine Tour by ombiasy coming up later this year during September 15 to 24, 2015.

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Pictures: Annette Schiller with Mark Wessels and David Suire

Nicolas Thienpont and the Thienpont Family

Anyone who know the Thienponts, probably know more than one of the family. There are a dozen or so wine makers and wine traders in the family. I have shortly referred to the 3 most prominent ones (in addition to Nicolas) below.

The Thienpont family is from Belgium. It all started in 1842, when Camille Thienpont began running a successful wine merchant based in Belgium. After the First World War George Thienpont came to Bordeaux and bought Château Troplong Mondot in Saint-Émilion and Vieux Château Certan in Pomerol. In 1934, the family was forced to sell Château Troplong Mondot after a string of bad vintages. But they managed to keep Vieux Château Certan, which today is run by Alexandre Thienpont. In 1946, George Thienport bought Chateau Puygueraud. In 1979, Jacques Thienpont purchased Château Le Pin. Château Vieux Château Certan, Château Puygueraud and Château Le Pin are the crown-jewels of the current Thienpont portfolio, as far as ownership is concerned

Initially, Nicolas Thienpont, did not seem destined for a career in viticulture. He studied law and philosophy, but turned to winemaking in the 1980s. In 1983, he undertook his first vinification at Chateau Puygueraud and from 1985 he assisted his cousin Alexandre at Vieux Chateau Certan. At the end of 1994, the Corre-Macquin family asked him to take over the management of Chateau Pavie Macquin, a Grand Cru Classé. In 2002, Nicolas became Managing Director of Larcis Ducasse.

Pictures: David Suire with Annette Schiller and Christian Schiller

Nicolas Thiepont’s Portfolio (Ownership, Management, Consultancy)

Chateau Pavie Macquin, Premier Grand Cru Classe B (2006) St Emilion – managing since 1994.
Château Larcis Ducasse Grand Cru Classe St Emilion – managing since 2002.
Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarosse Premier Grand Cru Classé B – managing since February 2009.
Chateau Berliquet Grand Cru Classe St Emilion – managing since 2008.
Chateau Pavie Macquin Premier Grand Cru Classé B (2006) – managing.
Château Bellevue – managed until 2007.
Château Les Charmes Godard – owning since 1988.
Château Puygueraud – co-owning (family) since 1946.
Château La Prade – owning since 2000.

Other Thienponts

Alexandre Thienpont studied oenology and became director of Vieux Château Certan in 1985 as natural heir to his father Léon, but also as natural heir to the Thienpont ‘s common heritage.

Jacques Thienpont took over the wine trading business, a company founded by Kamille Thienpont in Hof te Cattebeke, in Etikhove in 1842, in his uncle’s stride. He purchased Le Pin in 1979.

Francois Thienpont worked a few years in the US, in wine distribution in Texas. In 1985, he came back to Bordeaux to oversee the marketing and sales of Château Puygueraud’s wines. François created Wings in 1995. The company distributes the Thienpont family property wines and also represents lesser known châteaux.

We met Francois Thienpont a few months ago in Singapore, see:
Winemakers from Around the World at Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014 in Singapore

Picture: Francois Thienport Pouring his Wines at Straits Wine Company's Wine Fiesta 2014 in Singapore

David Suire

David Suire is from the Cognac region. He studied winemaking in Bordeaux and graduated with a Diplôme National d'Oenologue in 2002. Nicolas Thienport picked him from university and David has been working with Nicolas ever since.

Pictures: Wine Tasting with David Suire at MacArthur Beverages

What David Poured

2013 Chateau Charmes Godard Blanc - Cotes de Francs Sale $19.99

The estate, which was bought by Nicolas Thienpont and his brothers in 1988, produces both red and white wines.

In the Charmes Godard white, it is both the predominance of Semillon and the winemaking techniques (barrel fermentation and lies contact) that give the wine its richness and good supporting acidity. Its aromatic complexity is due to judicious blending with Muscadelle and Sauvignon Gris. 70% Semillon, 15% Muscadelle, 15% Sauvignon Gris.

2010 La Prade - Cotes de Francs Sale $19.99

Château La Prade was bought by Nicolas Thienpont in 2000. Situated in the commune of Saint Cibard, the vines are planted partly on a limestone plateau and partly on clay/limestone slopes and it is the complexity of these terroirs that gives the wine its subtlety and elegance. 4.3 hectares. 90% Merlot 10% Cabernet Franc.

2009 Puygueraud - Cotes de Francs Sale $19.99

The property was acquired by George Thienpont in 1946. Since 1983, Nicolas has been managing the estate. Chateau Puygueraud has since become the benchmark wine for the Cotes de Francs and a reference for the renewal of this still little-known appellation. 35 hectares. 55% Merlot (no more Cabernet Sauvignon with effect from 2005) 25% Cabernet Franc 15% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Malbec.

2010 Trimoulet - St Emilion Sale $21.99

Chateau Trimoulet has been owned and managed by the Jean family since 1802. 7 hectares. 60% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Franc and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in 75%, new French oak for 12 months. Nicolas Thienport has been consulting starting with the 2011 vintage, both in the vineyard and the cellar.

2009 Croix de Beauséjour St Emilion Sale $39.99

Château Beauséjour, formerly fully titled Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse, is ranked Premier Grand Cru Classé B in the Classification of Saint-Émilion wine. The Croix de Beauséjour is their second wine.

When the historic estate in its entirety came to Pierre-Paulin Ducarpe, it was divided in 1869 between his two children. The son inherited the half which was sold in 1924 to Dr. Fagouet, altering the name to Château Beauséjour Dr-Fagouet (present day Château Beau-Séjour Bécot) and his daughter who wed Doctor Duffau-Lagarrosse, received what became Château Beauséjour Duffau-Lagarrosse. The vineyard area extends 7 hectares with the grape varieties of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

2007 Larcis Ducasse - St Emilion Sale $49.99

The Gratiot family has owned Château Larcis Ducasse, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé, for over a century. 2002 was the first vintage produced by Managing Director Nicolas Thienpont.

Stephen Tanzer, www.wineaccess.com (May 08) 89-92/100: Moderately saturated medium ruby. Aromas of black fruits, coffee and mocha, with a whiff of cherry liqueur. Then sweet, round and soft, with noteworthy depth to the black fruit, mineral and licorice flavors. Finishes sweet and long, with ripe, suave tannins and very good breadth. Serious, complex, stylish wine with plenty of shape and energy.

MacArthur Beverages

Find us on: Facebook| Twitter| Instagram| YouTube| Pinterest| Google +| Yelp!
Open Mon-Sat 10am-8:30pm
202 338 1433 | www.bassins.com
4877 MacArthur Blvd. N.W. Washington, DC 20007

David Suire, Henri Lurton and Ernst Loosen

Thanks David for swinging by. This little corner in the back of MacArthur Beverages has seen quite a number of prominent winemakers before your tasting, including, for instance, Henri Lurton from Brane Cantenac and Ernst Loosen from Dr. Loosen.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and David Suire at MacArthur Beverages

Picture: Henri Lurton and Christian G.E.Schiller at MacArthur Beverages

Henri Lurton and his Château Brane-Cantenac Wines

Picture: Ernst Loosen and Christian G.E.Schiller at MacArthur Beverages

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

Henri Lurton and his Château Brane-Cantenac Wines

An Afternoon with Owner Henri Lurton at Château Brane-Cantenac, a Deuxieme Grand Cru Classe en 1855, in Margaux, France

Winemakers from Around the World at Straits Wine Company’s Wine Fiesta 2014 in Singapore

The Doctor Made a House Call - A Tasting with Ernst Loosen, Weingut Dr. Loosen, at MacArthur Beverages in Washington DC, USA

Monday, January 26, 2015

Visiting Azienda Mondo in Ticini, Switzerland

Picture: Azienda Mondo in Ticini, Switzerland

As part of the 2014 Digitul Wine Communications Conference in Montreux, Switzerland, I explored the wines of Ticino during a post-conference press trip. This posting - Visiting Azienda Mondo in Ticini, Switzerland - is the seventh of a series of postings (see below) emanating from my visit of Ticino.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Winemaker Antonio Ginardi

See also:
Exploring the Wines of Ticino in Ticino, the Italian Speaking Part of Switzerland
Touring (and Tasting the Wines of) Brivio Vini SA and Gialdi Vini SA in Mendrisio, Ticono, with Guido Brivio, Switzerland
Polenta and Ticino Wine at Grotto Bundi in Ticino, Switzerland
Visiting Cantina Kopp von der Crone Visini and Tasting with Barbara von der Crone and Paolo Visini in Barbengo, Ticino, Switzerland
Visiting (and Tasting the Wines of) Tamborini SA and Lunch with Valentina Tamborini, Ticino, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vini e Distillati Angelo Delea SA, with David Delea, Switzerland
Visiting Azienda Mondo in Ticini, Switzerland
Touring an Tasting the Wines of Agriloro SA and Diner with Owner Meinrad Perler, Switzerland
Touring and Tasting the Wines of Vinattieri Ticinesi, Switzerland
Lunch at Ristorante Montalbano in Stabio, Switzerland 

Wine Producer Switzerland

Switzerland is a small wine producer with about 15 000 hectares of vineyards only. This is about 15 percent of Germany’s total winegrowing area and a bit more than 1 percent of that of Spain. Only less than 2% of the wine is exported, mainly to Germany.

Switzerland's particular situation - in between four wine-producing nations (France, Italy, Germany and Austria) and itself divided into four different areas with different languages and traditions - has resulted in an extreme diversity of its wines.

Picture: Map of Switzerland

Switzerland has an extensive range of grape varieties. Among the white grapes, the Chasselas is the most widespread. Müller-Thurgau, cultivated above all in the German speaking part of Switzerland, and Sylvaner are also popular. The main red grape varieties are Pinot Noir, which can be found in all the wine-producing regions of Switzerland, and Gamay, which predominates in the Valais; Merlot has found a second home in the Italian speaking part of Switzerland, the Ticino.


Ticino is a quite distinct winemaking zone in Switzerland, totaling 1000 hectares. The canton Ticino (and the wine region Tecino) is divided into two regions by the dividing line of the Monte Ceneri Pass: Sopraceneri in the north and Sottoceneri in the south. The Sopraceneri soils are rather stony with a full complement of silt and sand, while the Sottoceneri soils are limestone and deep, rich clays. Ticino's climate is Mediterranean.

Picture: Annette Schiller, ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Christian G.E. Schiller in Lugano

There are a total of about 3600 grape growers in Ticino and 200 or so winemakers, including a co-operative. The 200 or so winemakers range from pure negociant-type producer (who buy all the grapes the use for their wine) to winemakers that only use their own grapes for making wine. Vineyards are generally small, steep plots of between 3 ha and 6 ha and yields are at 70 hl/ha. 15 winemakers account for about 80% of the total production. The co-op produces 1 million bottles annually.

Merlot is the dominant grape variety. The Ticino Merlot ranges from easy drinking, including white, Merlots to ultra-premium Merlots that can compete with the best in the world (including Bordeaux) and cost US$50 to US$150 per bottle.

Azienda Mondo

Azienda Mondo belongs to the group of winemakers that cover the whole winemaking process, from growing grapes, to making wine and bottling and marketing the wines. It is a small producer. The vineyard area totals 6 hectares (of which 2 are long-term leased). The winery is idyllically located up on a mountain.

Pictures: Tasting at Azienda Mondo

There are 4 people in the winery, including owner Giorgio Rossi, who is a self-taught, enthusiastic winemaker. He founded the winery 20 years ago. Total production is 3000 cases, of which 1/3 is sold to direct customers at the winery, 1/3 to restaurants and 1/3 to the trade.

We were received by winemaker Antonio Ginardi.

The Wines Antonio Poured

2013 Iris, Bianco del Ticino, Ticino DOC 15 Sfr.
Blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, a fresh aperitif wine

2013 Rosato di Bondola del Nonu Mario, Rosato di Bondola, Ticino DOC 15 Sfr.
Again, a fresh, clean aperitif wine

2010 Crudell, IGT Bianco della Svizzera Italiana 30 Sfr.
Chardonnay (40%), Müller Thurgau (17%), Sauvignon Blanc (40%), Arneis (3%), 12 months aged in new and used wood, a much more complex wine than the traditional white wines from Ticino

2011 Bondola del Nonu Mario, Ticino DOC 19 Sfr.
100% Bondola, a traditional Ticino grape variety, for the production of easy drinking wines

2011 Scintilla, Ticino DOC 18 Sfr.
An easy drinking Merlot

2010 Ronco dei Ciliegi, Rosso del Ticino DOC 35 Sfr.
Merlot (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), 18 months in new and used wood, a premium wine

schiller-wine: Related Posting

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Bordeaux Wine Tour 2013 by ombiasy

The 2014 Digital Wine Communications Conference (DWCC) in Switzerland 

The Wines of Weingut Saxer, a Winemaker in the German-speaking part of Switzerland

The Wines of Switzerland – Grand Tasting with (and Introduction to Swiss Wines by) Jancis Robinson and José Vouillamoz 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kiedrich: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine and of Weingut Robert Weil - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Picture: Weingut Robert Weil, with the Basilica of Saint Valentin in Kiedrich in the Back, Rheingau

The Rheingau part of the Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014) began with a visit of 2 “holy” places – the Basilica of Saint Valentine and Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich.

Weingut Robert Weil is without any doubt the Rheingau’s flagship winery. It is currently managed and co-owned by Wilhelm Weil. We were hosted by Wilhelm Weil’s personal assistant, Jan Christensen. The visit included a cellar tour, a look at the vineyards and a tasting in the garden of Weingut Robert Weil

Pictures: Wilhelm Weil with Jan Christensen, Martina Weil, Christian G.E. Schiller and Annette Schiller

Basilica of Saint Valentine in Kiedrich

A very special treat was the visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine in Kiedrich. Kiedrich is a 1000 year old wine-growing community and famous for its completely preserved Gothic architecture. The organ in the Saint Valentine church dates from the late Gothic period and is the oldest playable organ in Germany. Since 1330, every Sunday at High Mass a boys and men choir (recently girls have been allowed to join) sings liturgial Latin plainsongs (Gregorian chants) in a special dialect only preserved here.

Pictures: Visit of the Basilica of Saint Valentine

Weingut Robert Weil

Founded in 1875, Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich is the Rheingau’s #1 estate and one of Germany’s best. Four generations and over a century ago Dr. Robert Weil, who was a Professor of German at the Sorbonne, was forced to leave Paris because of the Franco-Prussian War (1870/1871). He subsequently joined his brother August in Kiedrich in the Rheingau and established the Robert Weil winery.

Pictures: Welcome Sekt with Jan Christensen in the Weingut Robert Weil Vinothek

Dr. Robert Weil purchased his first vineyards in Kiedrich and moved there in 1875, when he bought the estate manor from the heirs of Sir John Sutton, an English baronet. A man of vision, he built up the estate by purchasing 2 local wine estates and the vineyards of Count von Fürstenberg. Contacts throughout the world and the production of great wines brought rapid growth to the Weingut Robert Weil.

Pictures: Cellar Tour

Today, Weingut Robert Weil is managed by Wilhelm Weil, who owns the winery jointly with Suntory from Japan. With 75 hectares under vine, it is one of the largest estates in the Rheingau. The historical manor house, the ultra-modern cellars and the vinothek stand side by side in a beautiful park – the same synthesis of old and new that is reflected in the estate’s philosophy of winemaking.

In 1988, the estate was sold by Robert Weil to the Japanese beverage group Suntory, and his son Wilhelm appointed as estate director.

The vineyards are planted 100% with Riesling. The estate’s dedication to Riesling since 1875 has led numerous observers of the international wine world to regard Weingut Robert Weil as a worldwide symbol of German Riesling culture. A Riesling wine of the 1893 vintage, grown on the Gräfenberg site, made the estate famous. The imperial Habsburg court in Vienna purchased 800 bottles of this wine at a price of 16 gold Marks per bottle in 1900. The 1920 vintage of the Kiedricher Gräfenberg Trockenbeerenauslese is described as a Zeppelin wine, as it was served on board the LZ 127 „Graf Zeppelin” dirigible on its circumnavigation of the world in 1929. Robert Weil’s top botrytis wines are sold today at extremely high prices - they are among the most expensive in the world. The current world record (in 2006) is held by a 1999 Weil Trockenbeerenauslese, at DM 5.000 (EUR 2500).

Pictures: Looking at the Vineyards

Weingut Robert Weil’s top vineyards all belong to the group of the highlying sites of the Rheingau: Kiedricher Klosterberg, Kiedricher Turmberg and Kiedricher Gräfenberg. Inclination (up to 60 %), exposure (southwest) and the ability of the barren stony soils to absorb heat are the factors that make for three perfect Riesling sites. These conditions, as well as ideal circulation, enable the grapes to remain on the vine for a long time, ripening well into November.

Pictures: Tasting

What Jan Poured

2011 Robert Weil Rheingau Riesling Sekt Brut
2013 Weingut Robert Weil Rheingau Riesling Trocken VDP.Gutswein
2013 Kiedricher Riesling Trocken VDP.Ortswein
2013 Kiedricher Klosterberg Riesling Trocken VDP.ErsteLage
2013 Kiedricher Turmberg Riesling Trocken VDP.ErsteLage
2013 Kiedricher Gräfenberg Riesling Trocken VDP.GrosseLage
2013 Kiedricher Turmberg Riesling Spätlese VDP.ErsteLage
2006 Kiedricher Turmberg Riesling Spätlese VDP.ErsteLage

schiller-wine: Related Postings

4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux

Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014

Weingut Pawis (Saale Unstrut): Estate Tour and Wine Tasting with Kerstin Pawis – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Kloster Pforta: Vineyard Tour, Cellar Tour and Tasting with Managing Director Christian Kloss – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Winzerhof Gussek in the Saale Unstrut Region: Cellar Tour, Vineyard Tour and Tasting with Owner and Winemaker André Gussek – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Tour and Tasting at the Historic Weingut Juliusspital in Würzburg, Franken – Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

Weingut Bickel-Stumpf in Franken: Vineyard Walk and Wine Tasting with Reimund Stumpf, Matthias Stumpf and Melanie Stumpf-Kröger - Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy (2014)

schiller-wine: Related Postings (Weingut Robert Weil)

Christian G.E. Schiller's Review of the Book: Ralf Frenzel (ed.) - Riesling, Robert Weil. Tre Torri, Wiesbaden, Germany, 2013, in: Journal of Wine Economics, Volume 9, 2014, No. 1, Cambridge University Press

Deputy Managing Director Jochen Becker-Köhn and Export Director Nicolas Pfaff of Weingut Robert Weil in Singapore

Weingut Robert Weil, Kiedrich, Rheingau, Germany: Super Sommerfest/Summer Party 2014

Weingut Robert Weil Goes Facebook, Germany

German Riesling and International Grape Varieties – Top Wine Makers Wilhelm Weil and Markus Schneider at Kai Buhrfeindt’s Grand Cru in Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Visiting Wilhelm Weil at his Weingut Robert Weil in Kiedrich, Germany

Tasting with Wilhelm Weil the 2010 Weingut Weil Wines in Kiedrich, Germany

The German Winemakers at the 4th Riesling Rendezvous in Seattle, USA

The 2nd International Riesling Symposium in the Rheingau, Germany

Steffen Christmann (Weingut A. Christmann) and Wilhelm Weil (Weingut Robert Weil) Presented the New Wine Classification of the VDP, Germany

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Italy’s Top Wines and Winemakers - Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia 2015

Pictures: Annette Schiller, Ombiasy PR and WineTours, and Pio Boffa, Pio Cesare, in Philadelphia

See also:
4 Wine Tours by ombiasy coming up in 2015: Germany-East, Germany-South. Germany-Nord and Bordeaux
Germany-North Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
Germany-South Wine Tour by ombiasy, 2014
German Wine and Culture Tour by ombiasy, 2013

See also:
The Wines of Pio Cesare with Owner Cesare Benvenuto and the Food of Patrick Bazin at Bazin’s on Church in Northern Virginia, Italy/USA
Pio Boffa and the Wines of Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy

The best Italian wine guide is Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia. Italy’s top winemakers and the top wines are awarded glasses, from 1 glass to 3 glasses - Tre Bicchieri.

Picture: Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia 2015

This is the 28th edition of Vini d’Italia, which was first published in late 1987 in newsletter format with reviews of a limited number of wines. It has grown in size and coverage each year since then. The 2015 edition contains reviews of about 25,000 wines from approximately 2,400 wineries. It is 984 pages long and sells for 30 Euros. Gambero Rosso also publishes German, Chinese, English and Japanese translations of the Vini d’Italia.

See here for previous years:
Italy’s Top Wines and Winemakers - Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia 2014
Italy’s Top Wines and Wine Makers – The 2013 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia
Italy’s Top Wines and Wine Makers – The 2012 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia
Italy's Top Wines - 2011 Gambero Rosso's Vini d'Italia Wine Guide

Italian Wine

Italy is home of some of the oldest wine-producing regions in the world. Etruscans and Greek settlers produced wine in the country long before the Romans started developing their own vineyards. Two thousand years later, Italy is world leader in wine, accounting for about 20% of world wine production. Italians also lead the world in wine consumption by volume, 59 liters per capita, compared with 8 liters per capita in the US. Wine is grown in almost every region of the country.

Wine Regions

There is wine everywhere in Italy, from the Alps in the North to Sicilia in the South, clustered into 20 wine regions, which correspond to the 20 administrative regions. The about 30 DOCG wines are located in 13 different administrative regions but most of them are concentrated in Piedmont and Tuscany.

Picture: The Wine Regions of Italy (Source: Corkbuzz)

The Piedmont area of northwestern Italy is further divided into the two popular regions of Barbaresco and Barolo. The predominant grape there is the Nebbiolo. Northeastern Italy has the Veneto area. Soave and Valpolicella are two important regions that produce many local varieties. The large area in central Italy is Tuscany and is known for Chianti and Chianti Classico. The Sangiovese is the predominant red grape in Tuscany. In Italy’s South are Puglia and the island of Sicily. The Negroamaro grape is widely grown in this area.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Barone Francesco Ricasoli in Gaiole at Castello di Brolio

See also:
Visiting Barone Francesco Ricasoli and his Castello di Brolio in Chianti Classico, Italy

Italy’s Grape Varieties

There are several hundreds of indigenous grape varieties in Italy. The following is a list of the most common and important ones.


Sangiovese - Italy's claim to fame, the pride of Tuscany. It produces Chianti, Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano and Brunello di Montalcino.

Nebbiolo - The most noble of Italy's varietals. Nebbiolo is difficult to master, but produces the renowned Barolo and Barbaresco.

Montepulciano - The grape of this name is not to be confused with the Tuscan town of Montepulciano; it is most widely planted on the opposite coast in Abruzzo. Its wines develop silky plum-like fruit, friendly acidity, and light tannin.

Barbera - The most widely grown red wine grape of Piedmont and Southern Lombardy, most famously around the towns of Asti and Alba, and Pavia. Barbera wines were once considered as the lighter versions of Barolos. But this has changed. They are now sometimes aged in French barrique, intended for the international market.

Corvina - Along with the varietals Rondinella and Molinara, this is the principal grape which makes the famous wines of the Veneto: Valpolicella and Amarone.

Nero d'Avola - Nearly unheard of in the international market until recent years, this native varietal of Sicily is gaining attention for its plummy fruit and sweet tannins. The quality of Nero d'Avola has surged in recent years.

Dolcetto - A grape that grows alongside Barbera and Nebbiolo in Piedmont; a wine for everyday drinking.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Marco Pallanti, Owner/Winemaker at Castello di Ama, Chianti Classico in Italy

See also:
Extraordinary Art and Wines at Castello di Ama in Chianti Classico, Italy


Trebbiano - Behind Cataratto (which is made for industrial jug wine), this is the most widely planted white varietal in Italy. It is grown throughout the country, with a special focus on the wines from Abruzzo and from Lazio, including Frascati. Mostly easy drinking wines.

Moscato - Grown mainly in Piedmont, it is mainly used in the slightly-sparkling (frizzante), semi-sweet Moscato d'Asti.

Pinot Grigio - A hugely successful commercial grape, known as Pinot Gris in France and Grauburgunder in Germany. Produces crisp and clean wines. Typically mass-produced wine in Italy.

Arneis - A crisp and floral varietal from Piedmont, which has been grown there since the 15th century.

Garganega - The main grape varietal for wines labeled Soave, this is a crisp, dry white wine from the Veneto wine region.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Giovanni Folonari from Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari Tenute

See also:
Kobrand’s Impressive Tour d'Italia 2011 in Washington DC, USA

The 2015 Gambero Rosso Tre Bichieri Wines

423 wines got the top award of Tre Bichieri in the Gambero Rosso’s Vini d’Italia 2015. This compares with 415 wines in the 2014 Guide, 399 in the 2013 Guide and 375 wines in the 2012 Guide.

As in past years, there are considerable regional disparities in the distribution of award recipients. The top four regions (Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto and Alto Adige) account for a combined 212 awards, or slightly more than half the total number.

Wines from the Piedmont received the largest number of awards (79), with Barolo and Barbaresco wines dominating the list. As usual, the producers listed read like a who’s-who of Italian wines – Gaja, Vietti, Giacosa, Conterno, and Grasso, to name a few.

The second-highest number of award-winning wines were from Tuscany. 72 wines from Tuscany received Tre Bicchieri awards. 15 Brunello di Montalcino wines received Tre Bicchieri awards, the same number as in the previous year. The majority of award-winning Brunello wines are from the stellar 2007 vintage. Numerous Super-Tuscan wines received Tre Bicchieri awards, the majority of which are from the 2010 vintage.

The 2015 Gambero Rosso Vini d’Italia Awards

Red Wine of the Year: Barolo Villero Ris. ’07 – Vietti

White Wine of the Year: Trebbiano d’Abruzzo V. Di Capestrano ’12 – Valle Reale

Sparkling wine of the year: Brut Cl. Nature – Monsupello

Sweet wine of the year: Vin Santo of Carmignano Ris. ’07 – Tenuta di Capezzana

Winery of the Year: Tenuta Sette Ponti

Best Value for Money Wine of the Year: Custoza Sup. Ca’ del Magro ’12 – Monte del Frà

Vinegrower of the Year: Giuseppe Gabbas

Up and Coming Winery of the Year: Tiare – Roberto Snidarcig

Award for Sustainable Vitculture and Winemaking: Barone Pizzini

 schiller-wine: Related Postings

The Wines of the 2010 Giro d'Italia

Italian Natural Wines

The Ultra-premium Querciabella Wines and a Taste of Tuscany at Open Kitchen in Virginia, with Querciabella’s Giorgio Fragiacomo

Meeting Winemaker and Owner Massimo “Max” di Lenardo from Friuli, Italy and Tasting His di Lenardo Vineyards Wines

Kobrand’s Impressive Tour d'Italia 2011 in Washington DC, USA

Blogging, Wining and Dining at the European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) October 2011 in Brescia, Italy – A Tour D’ Horizont

Wining and Blogging in the Soave Region, Italy

Wining, Dining and Blogging in Chianti Classico (#EWBC), Tuscany, Italy

Dining and Wining where the Royals Eat: Dario Cecchini’s Solo Cicca Restaurant in Panzano – the Butcher of Chianti Classico

Meeting Wine Maker Paolo Cianferoni at his Caparsa Estate in Chianti Classico, Italy

Wining and Dining at Badia a Coltibuono in Tuscany with Wine Makers and Owners Roberto and Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti, Italy

Extraordinary Art and Wines at Castello di Ama in Chianti Classico, Italy

Tasting Wines where Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa was Born – With Wine Maker and General Manager Francesco Nardi at Vignamaggio Estate in Chianti Classico, Italy

The Up and Coming Premium Sparklers of Franciacorta (#EWBC), Italy

The Premium Sparklers of il Mosnel, Franciacorta, Italy 

Visiting Barone Francesco Ricasoli and his Castello di Brolio in Chianti Classico, Italy

Pio Boffa and the Wines of Pio Cesare, Piedmont, Italy

The Wines of Pio Cesare with Owner Cesare Benvenuto and the Food of Patrick Bazin at Bazin’s on Church in Northern Virginia, Italy/USA

The 1 Star Michelin Food of Chef Stefano Cerveni from the due colombe Ristorante and the Premium Sparklers of il Mosnel, Franciacorta - Wining and Dining at il Mosnel, Italy