Live From Slow Wine USA Tour, Austin, Texas
A Conference Featuring: Sustainably Grown Italian and USA Wines
What is Slow Wine?
Slow Wine selects wineries that respect and reflect their local terroir and practice sustainable methods that benefit the environment. And for the first time ever, those wineries that receive the snail or the official Slow Wine seal are 100% free of chemical herbicides, a quality that the Slow Wine Guide continues to passionately support. The Slow Wine Coalition evaluates over 400 different wineries in Italy and the USA and treats each with the utmost respect and attention. The Slow Wine team prides itself on the human contact it has with all producers, which is essential to the guide's evaluations. The wineries embody “good, clean, fair” ethics. Slow Wine is part of the Slow Food movement started by Carlo Petrini and a group of activists in the 1980s with the initial aim to defend regional traditions, good food, gastronomic pleasure and a slow pace of life. See the Slow Food Manifesto below.
The USA tour of Slow wine in 2022 takes place in San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Miami, and New York City. I am pleased to have been invited to the Austin tour.
What is the Snail Award?
The Slow Food Snail of Approval award is a recognition given to food and beverage establishments that are pursuing and practicing Slow Food values in their business.
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The Slow Wine Conference, Austin
The conference was run with the upmost safety with vaccines certification required for entrance. Once open, there were tastings available from many of the major regions of Italy as well as a few select USA regions. I chose to find select desirable locations in Tuscany (both the Chianti and Bolgheri – Super Tuscan regions) for a targeted trip to Italy this year. I was pleased to find several celebrated wineries like Masseto in Bolgheri, one of the most famous Super Tuscan wines made entirely of Merlot, made by Tenuta dell’Ornellaia and Fattoria Corzano I Paterno, a wine cheese and olive oil producer in The Chianti Classico region, and Pian delle Querci in Montalcino, a Brunello producer. Stay tuned next summer for the Wine Wanderings 2022 “Live from Italy” tour.
Breakout: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, A Great Italian Red
Don’t confuse Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (the grape) with the charming town of Montepulciano in Tuscany. Many people miss that question on wine exams. Montepulciano-- the town – is famous for a wine based in the Sangiovese grape. That wine is called Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and is similar to a Brunello or Chianti Classico wine.
At this breakout we discussed the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, the various ways this grape is handled in the winery: Stainless steel or wood-aged, cold soak, etc. It has soft/middle level tannins and can be light or oak-influenced and denser. The best wines have the DOCG classification, Denominazione di Origine Controllata e garantita DOCG* (with note on Super Tuscans) status since 2003 and is now known as Colline Teramane Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. See recommendations below.
Fun Facts about the Abruzzo Region of Italy
*Abruzzo is a beautiful region of Italy east of Rome on the Adriatic Sea. It has a varied topography including beaches and snow-peaked mountains.
*There are three Italy National Parks in Abruzzo.
*It takes two hours to drive to their major City, Pescara, from Rome.
*The major wine export is a red wine – Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
*There is a white wine made from the Pecorino grape made in Abruzzo. You thought Pecorino is a cheese? You are right. The story goes that the local sheep originally feasted on Pecorino grapes, thus the name of their cheese. See a recommended Pecorino wine below.
Some Recommended Abruzzo wines
Umani Ronchi Terre di Chieti Pecorino 2020 (white wine), $17
James Suckling -- 92 Points – made from the Pecorino grape – a pleasant fruits and flowers aroma that goes perfectly with a Pecorino cheese dish.
La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva 2017, $23
Vinous -- 92 points
This robust and complex red wine has fine-grained tannins and cherry and licorice overtones. Perfect pairing with beef brisket, Bolognese and pasta, or pizza.
*DOCG stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin, DOCG).
DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata (Denomination of Controlled Origin).
The DOC designation for wines was introduced in the early 1960s. It equates more or less to the French AOC/AC system. The regulations for each DOC wine delimit the production area, wine color, permitted grape varieties and max/min proportions, styles of wine, max/min alcohol levels, as well as permitted or mandated viticultural, vinification, and maturation techniques. There are 330 DOC wines in Italy today. DOCG is the highest quality standard under law. Many highly valued wines like the Super Tuscans in Bolgheri and other areas of Tuscany eschew some of these rules and stand on their own. The earliest Super Tuscan wines were high quality red wines made by noble winemaking families that did not fit into the Italian Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) classification system because they used grapes not allowed by the rules of the DOCs in the region.
Super Tuscan wines vary in style, but the influence of Bordeaux is apparent in their use of new oak barrels and French grapes like cabernet sauvignon and merlot in addition to Sangiovese, the classic grape of Tuscany.
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America’s Exceptional Wine Country Adventures: States to Consider
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The Surprising Mixologists of Napa Valley Cocktails
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Live from Bordeaux: Left and Right Bank
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