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Friday, July 10, 2015

Best of Greece, Umbria, & Tuscany

I’ve just returned home from nearly two months in Europe.  I had three different groups of Wine-Knows in three different venues (Greece, Umbria and Tuscany).  All locations were equally compelling from a wine point of view.  Here’s what floated to the “best of the best” list.   (Please note that one of my criteria for listing in this Blog was that the wines were available in the U.S.)

                   (Togas on the yacht were mandatory on our last night for women...and men!)

We had some fabulous wines on the 12 person private yacht that Wine-Knows chartered, all carefully chosen from this country’s top producers.  The white that really stood out was Gerivassillou’s Viognier, 2013.  Viognier in Greece?  That’s what I thought but Decanter Magazine (kind of the UK’s version of the Wine Spectator) had given it a coveted Gold Medal, and the Viognier had scored well in numerous blind tastings.  Indeed, this wine was killer.  If you want to help out Greece’s economy, this $40-45 wine is a solid bet sure to please even the most discerning oenophile.

(Last night festivities at our Umbrian villa included a glorious outdoor dinner)

One of my favorite white wines in all of Italy is a chardonnay blend made by Antinori’s Castello della Salla.   I have had numerous vintages over the years and scheduled an appointment at the Castle (castello) with the Wine Knows group that had rented a 10,000 square foot Umbrian villa.  While I loved the chardonnay wine (called “Cervaro”), the other wine they served really pulled at the strings of my heart for the quality price ratio.  This white Bordeaux blend (Sauv Blanc and Semillon) was luscious and had great complexity for the price.  Named Conte della Vipera, this one is a steal at $30.

      (A casual last night's dinner at our swanky seaside villa to toast our week of wining & dining)

Wine Knows concentrated on the area of the Super-Tuscans, the Maremma district.  Located on Tuscany’s relatively unexplored western coastline, this is an area of renegade winemakers who are breaking all the Italian rules for winemaking and pushing the viticultural envelope by introducing international varieties to a formerly only-Sangiovese area.   Three producers wowed me in the Maremma.  Poggio Tesoro had me at hello when they served their 2012 Mediterra.  A Cab Sauv, Syrah and Merlot blend this one represents an outstanding value at $25.  Podere Sapaio also produced a best in class red called Volpolo.  Their 2012 Volpolo (Cab Sauv, Petite Verdot and Merlot) was chocked full of complexity for an unbelievable price of 25 bucks.   Upping the price point ante, Castello Bolgheri 2011 vintage was a beautifully crafted wine.  At $50-60 per bottle, this Cab Sauv & Franc plus Merlot blend was lovely.

The Wine Knows groups in Greece, Umbria and Tuscany had many gems in our glasses.  For those of you who could not make it, you should consider purchasing these wines...all of which were crowd-pleasers on the tour.  If you were on the trip, open a bottle and reminisce.

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