Tag Archives: Trebbiano

Wine for Winter (Tops for Me) 


NV Domaine André et Mireille Tissot Crémant du Jura “BBF”, Bénédicte & Stéphane Tissot (Jura)

BBF = Blanc de Blanc élevé en Fût! From  Crémant du Jura, extra-brut and super fine. Élevage in barrel for a year, then second fermentation in bottle, racked for 52 months. Delicate bubbles with some weighty flavors from the Chardonnay but still funky fresh. Biodynamic.

imageParaschos ‘Ponka’ Bianco Venezia Giulia IGT, 2014 (Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, Malvasia, Pinot Bianco, Picolit, Verduzzo, grown in San Floriano which is on the border of Italy and Slovenia, so plots are on either side. Ferments in open top clay amphorae without controlled temperature, then transferred to Slavonian oak botte to mature on the lees for 2 years. Biodynamic.

imageI Clivi di Ferdinando Zanusso “Clivi Brazan”, Brazzano di Cormons, 2001 (Collio, Friuli-Venezia Giulia)

Friulano and 15% Malvasia from 80 year old vines. The wine is aged 140 months (more than a decade!)  in stainless steel tanks. I let it hang out in the glass and it kept opening up the longer it was out. Over a couple days, with each session’s glass getting closer to room temperature, it really has a quietly expressive, intimate character. You might say the same for its maker, Ferdinando.

IMG_1234Chateau Musar Cuvée Blanc, Bekaa Valley, 2001 (Lebanon)

!!!Obaideh & Merwah (those are grapes, heard they’re related to Chardonnay & Semillon). High altitude plots,  sunny year round, chalky soil and low yields. Fermented separately for 9 months in French oak, then blended after first year. Released after another 6 years. Not for the faint hearted. Needs a passionate mood and a big, fat burgundy glass to rest in before consumption.

  Domaine Labet “La Reine”, Côtes du Jura 2013

Gamay is still happy even when it’s not from Beaujolais. If you’re affected by Fleurie like me, you’ll like this. “The Queen” is tasty- elegant but not without corners, a little floral. I like Labet.



 Axel Prüfer “Avanti Popolo”, Le Temps des Cerises Vin de Table, 2014 (Languedoc-Roussillon)

A young & quiet East German committed to non-interference wine production makes a political statement with Carignan. I love when this grape gets to shine on its own and is handled by someone who understands its character. Avanti Popolo (Italian for Forward, People!) is an alternate way to describe the Bandiera Rossa (red flag), a song and symbol of the socialist/communist movement used during the Italian Labour Movement, first written by Carlo Tuzzi in 1908 and used while fighting against Mussolini. “The Time of Cherries”, the wine’s name, reflects not only the Carignan grape, but of the symbolism of the socialist flag. Biodynamic. Pronounced acidity.


Domaine Sebastien “L’Hurluberlu”, David Saint-Nicolas de Bourgueil, 2013 (Loire, France)

Referencing the 1959 French theatrical play, “L’Hurluberlu ou le Reactionnaire amoureux” by Jean Anouilh, the “Extravagant” is actually unlike its namesake, especially for a Cab Franc: it’s pretty lean, mainly due to its Beaujolais-style production (carbonic maceration), super quick élevage, and young vines. It’s unfiltered (check out that sediment!) biodynamic table wine from Bourgeuil. It is tasty in an Exploration to Mars kind of way and curiously balanced, so maybe the reference actually lies in the playwright’s review of his own production:

“Wanting to reform the world, a General realizes that he can not even keep order in his own family.”



  Produttori del Barbaresco, Langhe Nebbiolo, 2013

Not many things are certain in life but this I can say for sure: I will always drink Nebbiolo. Even or especially if it’s some big Barolo or Barbaresco producer’s table wine that ended up on the shipment across the ocean. This one is no exception, in fact it is my current standard. It’s the balance of fruit, acidity and tannin that has such a rustic grace…I just really get down. A group of wine growers that form the cooperative Produttori del Barbaresco have blessed us with young vine Nebbiolo unfit for the life of Barbaresco and ideal for me. Hooray!


  Oddero “Rocche di Castiglione” Barolo, 2001

Single Cru Nebbiolo harvested from a cliff side vineyard, Rocche di Castiglione, on the edge of the Oddero estate. It’s taken me a while to get to a place where I can appreciate and/or afford something like this, so it’s not so much the light, jovial drinking party as this is a study in mastery, nuance, and progressive structural evolution in a glass. But being here is great. It’s like any other mood; in this wine I have found something to help me focus and become one with the Force.

#TheForceAwakens (but will it be good?)


 Brigaldara Amarone della Valpolicella Classico, 2008

Amarone? That super rich, heavy, port stuff? Not even close. Blind taste this and you’re somewhere between a Barolo and a Northern Rhône. So much warm spice and cocoa nib raspberry liquorice, it reads more like coffee…so nimble and elegantly vigorous, how it’s possible I do not know. A wine with this kind of complexion isn’t an everyday, but when I feel fussy about something sweet  (I get confused why I don’t like dessert the way I did as a kid) or crave something intense to wrap around my tastebuds, now I know where to go.


What to Drink Now: Winter Hideout

Testalonga Rossese di DolceAqua

Antonio Perrino is arguably the top producer of this tiny appellation. All winemakers in Dolceacqua have tiny production as a result of the small parcels of steeply terraced vineyards. On top of this, Antonio has all old vines in albarello that produce very low yields, but great grapes. Antonio’s Rossese is all in the Arcagna vineyard, considered one of the best sites in the appellation. He also has Vermentino which he makes with extended skin contact.


Terres Dorées Fleurie, Jean Paul Brun

Gamay from one of his oldest cru parcels on poor, sandy, decomposed granite soils over hard granite rock. This bottling is from the younger of 2 parcels, vines being around 40 years old and slightly shorter elevage. Essentially Burgundian, maceration is 3-4 weeks in concrete (the shortest of all his cuvees) followed by ageing 6-8 months in concrete.


Coenobium, Monastero Suore Cistercensi

Made by a convent of 70 cistercian monks on volcanic soil in Lazio, a relatively unknown/underappreciated region that generally produces lots of highly controlled white table wine for Romans. Giampero Bea (of Paolo Bea in Umbria) started advising in the early 2000s and this helped catapult their international recognition. He did little to adjust the ancient techniques of this cuvee, “the nun wine” which is basically zero intervention, or as little as possible. Pumpovers during spontaneous fermentation, 12 months on the lees, sulfur at bottling.



Emidio Pepe, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, 2012


The funny thing about Italian wine is that in a way it’s wonderfully predictable, clearly expressive, filled with straightforward intention (salt, bitter, sweet…). Unless it’s a biodynamic wine. So tasting Emidio Pepe’s definition of Trebbiano (the grape that’s often overripe in the glass or distilled to make cognac) caught me off guard. Referencing common styles in the nearby regions like Lazio, Tuscany or Calabria will not calibrate your senses for the mouthwateringly delicate experience you’re about to have. Unlike many wines in central and southern Italy, Pepe’s preference is clearly to make a subtle, complex masterwork of color, flavor and texture…in fact it really seemed as if I was drinking an oil painting by Caravaggio:


What I was tasting is not easily deciphered as one certain color or flavor, but rather their complete integration, to the point that each sip is like tasting another layer. They’re so harmonious I couldn’t actually pull them apart- they need each other in order to express their full potential.

Trebbiano (aka +++)




In France, Trebbiano is mainly referred to as Ugni Blanc. However, in the Cognac region (where it is 1 of 3 grapes used to produce Cognac & Armagnac) Ugni Blanc is referred to as “Saint Emilion”- like the subregion of Bordeaux. This is extremely confusing, as St. Emilion wines are typically a red blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot  (ratios vary).


Trebbiano (Italy) =  Ugni Blanc (France) = “Saint Emilion” (Cognac)

“Saint Emilion” (white grape, Cognac) >=< St. Emilion (red grape blend, Bordeaux)