As I’ve expressed before, my love of Italian food culture led me to my love of Italian wine. I was very fortunate while work for, in my opinion, one of the best NYC restaurant groups focusing around Italian food and wine. I was constantly learning, in pure bliss and in awe of everything new I tasted. I am always asked, “What is your favorite part of Italy?”. Without hesitation, my response has always been and is northeastern Italy. An area that I feel like I could spend the rest of my life learning about, and drinking wine from and still not get to the end of it’s offerings.
One of the regions in this part of Italy is Alto-Adige, where the cool air of the Alps and the warmth of the sun near the Mediterranean create the ideal climate. This region also possesses an enormous wealth of heterogeneous sites, soils, exposures and microclimates.
Here you’ll find Alois Lageder. A 5th generation wine making family holding true to their traditions, while also engaging the community of arts and music into what they stand for. A very unique aspect which you don’t normally see…and it show’s in their wines too. Ever hear the study about how playing music to plants had a significant positive effect on the plants growth and health? Well I was told that Alois Lageder plays music in his vineyards…maybe that’s part of the reason why his wines are so awesome. But I conclude that it also has to do with their steadfast belief in Biodynamics.
“For the creation of extraordinary wines, one also needs something more than healthy, fully-ripened grapes from the best vineyard sites. There is also a need for the right philosophy and for true human commitment. One of our primary goals is to pay attention to the natural properties of our vineyards and to make the best possible use of them. Every location has its own particular merits and characteristics; for every variety of grape, there are particular conditions in which it prefers to grow. We see it as our task to create ideal synergies, supporting nature’s work, thereby taking on the role of “midwives” who facilitate the birth of wines of great elegance, clarity, body, strength, and authenticity.” –Alois Lageder
We are excited to share one of his wines with you! 2009 Tenutae Lageder Lagrein Merlot Beta Delta is an exciting blend of Lagrein, a grape native to the Trentino-Alto Adige region and Merlot. An absolutely lovely wine with a medium+ body, aromas of red/black berries paired with floral, minerals and black pepper. At only $15.99 a bottle, this is an absolute steal. Pick up a bottle or two of this today, and experience Alto-Adige like you never have before
When I'm not working, a good majority of my time is spent in the kitchen. Then summer begins, and I can bring my love for cooking outside- to the grill! When I think of grilling I think of grilled meats, which automatically makes me think of what will I be drinking with such... Well Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce you to Argentina!! The home of tango, beef, and the oh so delicious Malbec.
While you can find Malbec grown in many places around the world, it is in Argentina where it fully comes alive. But Malbec isn't the only grape you'll find; Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Merlot, Chardonnay, Semillon are some others. Spain and Italy have definitely played a role in influencing the wine culture here.
Mendoza, located on the western border in central Argentina is the prime home of some of the best vineyards. Bordered by the Andes Mountains, you can find some of the highest elevated vineyards in the world- up to 5,000 ft. The altitudes of these vineyards play a significant role in the grapes maturation- helping to preserve acidity with the drastic temperature change from hot days to cool nights.
What I truly love about some of the wines I've tasted from wineries around Mendoza is that even though they can be big wines, they can also have such elegance and grace about them. Exhibiting serious, and playful characteristics at the same time. The aromas catch your attention, and draw you in while the flavors roll like silk on your tongue. Like the tango, they can be quite the seductors. If spices, black fruits, minerals, damson plums, strawberries, toasted oak, vanilla, and caramel intrigue you- then spend a little time with Argentina and it's Malbec and Bonarda.
Grilled meats and Argentinian wine have such an infinite love for each other. So next time you're firing up the grill, or even bbq pit- don't forget to get your Argentinian wine. Wineries like Familia Mayol, Durigutti, Hermanos, and dozens more are producing awesome wines at excellent prices.
Stop by City Wine, and try these delicious Argentinian wines today!
Fritole Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli // Citrus Fritters with Raisins and Pine Nuts
courtesy of La Cucina Italiana
Wine pairings: Felsina Vin Santo or Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito
Having a past career as a baker/pastry chef & my love of all things Italian, I can't even explain the depths of my saddness when I learned I could no longer have anything with gluten in it. I love fresh baked bread, freshly made pasta...and I could go on and on about my sincere love for cannolis. Determined not to have to give all that up entirely, I started my journey to recreate all my favorite things, but gluten free. It has been a challenge, but I have had several successes. My latest creation, Agli Agrumi con Uvetta e Pignoli from La Cucina Italiana, was so incredibly delicious and perfect, no one knew that it was made with gluten free flour blend. I will admit, I did a happy dance in my kitchen I was so excited. These little guys are just one example of street food that you'll find in Venice during Carnevale- a celebration treat if you will. Lightly fried, super moist, and oh so flavorful. Pair these fritters with an Italian dessert wine like vin santo from Tuscany, or sangrantino di montefalco passito from Umbria.
Here at City Wine Merchant, we have Felsina Vin Santo which is quite a lovely expression of this wine, and at a great price as well.
So go ahead, gather friends and family together and make this delicious treat. It is sure to put smiles on many faces!
45 mins plus rising. Makes about 80 fritters.
3/4 c raisins
1/2 c dry white wine
1 1/2 c whole milk
3 1/2 t dry yeast
1/3 c sugar
4 c flour (i replaced this with Bob's Red Mill gluten free all purpose flour)
1/8 t salt
1 c pine nuts
1 t grappa
1 qt vegetable oil for frying
confectioners sugar for dusting
In a bowl combine raisins and wine- set aside. In a small sauce pan, heat 1 c milk over medium heat to luke warm. Then remove from heat and add yeast and a pinch of sugar. Let stand until foamy (10 mins) (If yeast mixture does not become foamy, start all over. You will be able to tell within 5 mins)
In large bowl whisk together remaining 1/3 sugar, flour, salt. Form a well in center. Add eggs to well. Whisk together eggs incorporating a little bit of flour from inside rim of well.
Strain wine through a fine mesh sieve into bowl with flour mix, set aside raisins.
Add yeast mix and remaining 1/2 cup milk to flour mix.
Whisk the batter to combine. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let bowl rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk. approx. an hour. Add reserve raisins, pine nuts, and grappa. Fold to combine.
Line two large plates with paper towels.
Heat oil to 325 in a 4-5 qt pot on medium high heat.
Working in batches of 5-7 drop tablespoon size batter in the oil, turning once until puffed and golden. (2-3 mins)
Using a slotted spoon, scoop out fritters and place them on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Enjoy while still warm.