Archive | January, 2013

2011 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Nestor Greco di Tufo DOCG



Yesterday, I took an amazing master class hosted by Giovanni Ponchia at Vinitaly on Italy’s volcanic wines. Although I had already experienced the pleasure of drinking a volcanic wine from Italy, it was an incredible learning experience and one which I will go more into detail about in a later post… Did you know that Italy is the region with the most volcanic terroir in the world and that Mount Aetna is the highest volcano in Europe? It is the potassium in volcanic terroirs that give these wines their bitter qualities.

The volcanic wine (out of many different types existing in Italy) I will be talking about is the Greco di Tufo. The tufo wines come from the south of Italy from the Campania region where Mount Vesuvius is located. Tufo (in the province of Avellina) is the actual town in Campania where these Tufo or “Tuff stone” wines come from. Greco Bianco refers to the grape varietal used to make these wines. Next time when in Italy pay attention to the black stone used in their railway system. This is a very dark, black, volcanic stone.

The Greco Bianco grape is not indigenous to Italy and was believed to have been brought over by the Pelasgians, an ancient Greek civilization (hence the name). The vines from which Greco di Tufo wines are made are cultivated at an altitude of 1310-1640 feet above sea level. These cool, high altitude weather patterns and temperatures provide the grapes an excellent growing condition without overheating them. Cool nights and warm days provide these wines an optimal balance of acidity and fruit-forward qualities.

On the tasting table today, is the 2011 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Nestor Greco di Tufo DOCG. (Wow! long name). This wine’s appearance is bright, clear, and hence no visible sediment. On an intensity level, I found the Nestor Greco to be a medium with a beautiful, lustrous straw color. The legs are medium plus giving visible signs of a good quality wine.

Moving on to the nose, I sense a sound and clean wine with no off aromas of corkiness etc. The intensity is a medium with a very youthful bouquet. The fruit notes are of lime, unripe grapefruit, unripe peaches, pear and honeydew melon. For earthy notes, it is hard to detect an actual sensory note other than dry stone being that Tufo is of volcanic terroir. I did not detect any signs of wood barrique instead I got orange blossom flowers, almonds, and a slight hint of creamy butter.

On the palate, the sweetness level was off dry with a light bodied mouthfeel. I can confirm the sensory notes of the nose on the fruit aspect of the Greco but the pear and honeydew melon were at a lower intensity. For the earthy notes I still only sensed dry stone with no forest flavors at all and again no wood aging. Since white wine is left in contact with the grape skins for a shorter amount of time, I found the tannins in this Greco’s to be medium low. Also the alcohol level is quite low with only a 13 percent and this is probably due to the cool nights in the region. The acidity level is medium and the complexity is a medium minus with a medium minus length in the finish. Overall, a young, racy, fresh wine meant to be drank today with a great seafood dish. For an average retail price of $11.00, I highly recommend this exotic, Italian volcanic wine!

Pasta Zucchine e Gamberi




Today, I am making an amazingly delicious recipe I learned of while in Italy. It was given to me by an astonishing self-taught chef. Her name is Cinzia Chyurlia from Villa Geggianello in Tuscany. This is a recipe that is made mainly in southern Italy in quaint little fishing villages where seafood is fresh and plenty. It is a snap to make and everyone will love it!

For the ingredients you will need fresh medium-sized shrimp, salt, pepper, white wine, parsley, powdered saffron, garlic and olive oil. For the sauce, first fry a clove of crushed garlic in olive oil. When golden, remove garlic from the pan and add the courgettes (Julienne Style). Sautee courgettes for ten minutes then add the peeled shrimp which have been marinating for ten minutes in white wine. Cook courgettes and shrimp together on low heat for ten minutes adding salt, pepper and at the very end, saffron powder. Boil the pasta until “al dente” and drain, preserving a bit of liquid from cooking. Next, mix pasta with the courgettes and shrimp. let it all incorporate and if need be, add a little of the pasta cooking water. Plate, and garnish with chopped parsley and fresh ground pepper.

My wine pairing suggestion is the Nestor Greco di Tufo from Tenuta Cavalier Pepe in the Campania Region of southern Italy…Of course many whites go well with seafood but I am a firm believer that pairing regional foods with regional wines is an amazing combination. Hope you like it!



Chaptalization is the process of introducing sugar to unfermented grape must in order to increase a wine’s alcohol content after fermentation. This procedure is named after its developer, the French chemist Jean-Antoine-Claude Chaptal. Chaptalization is not intended to make the wine sweeter or give it added residual sugar, but rather to provide a higher sugar content for the yeast to ferment into alcohol. Yeasts in the wine are alive and need to eat. They love eating sugar and this is how the yeasts survive. That’s why many vintners will tell you that wine is alive…

Chaptalization has generated controversy and discontent in the French wine industry due to advantages that the process is believed to give producers in areas with poor climates. In rebuttal to savage demonstrations by protesters in 1907, the French government created regulations on the amount of sugar that can be added to wine. Chaptalization is sometimes referred to as enrichment… This procedure is used a lot in the making of French Champagne. Since the Champagne Region (north of Paris) is at a latitude where there are less sunny days and more cloudy, cooler days the grapes ripen less and produce less sugar to give enough alcohol content to this white sparkling wine. Also, champagne would be really imbalanced with high acidity overpowering the fruit forwardness of the wine if it were not for the process of chaptalization…