Saturday, October 31, 2009

Trick or Treat – The archetypal Italian wine press release

From the "I couldn't make this up" department.

_______________ launches _______________!

___________is the name of the latest vinous creation from historic ________ wine producer, _____________, based in ________ , Italy. The wine was first launched in ______, is classed as a ______ and made as a fascinating blend of ________, ________ and ______.

Owner of the company, _________ ________ explains the name. “In _______ dialect,” he says _______ means “_______” or ‘_______ ________’, the bit on an estate that’s the most protected and most loved.” Or in other words, what the French would call “___”. In fact, the base grapes for this wine come from a ____hectare vineyard in ______, planted at a density of ______rootstocks per hectare and trained in the ______ manner.

The grapes selected for _____ are those that are really super ripe. The ________ and_________ grapes are given a slight appassimento after picking, while the ________ is soft-pressed immediately and temporarily kept at a low temperature to prevent fermentation. Once the ________ and __________grapes are pressed, the _______ first run musts are combined and run into stainless steel tanks for fermentation. The resulting wine is matured in small ______ oak casks until the late spring, and then bottled and given bottle age until the end of summer.

“The actual blend we use,” ______________ explains, “was arrived at in a very pragmatic manner. We experimented on the ideal composition for some time before arriving at something that we thought really interesting. The result is an important wine: powerful, structured, and something for connoisseurs. It has the characteristic mineral notes on the palate, truly reflecting the soil of _________, which is usually made up of a type of ________ soil.”

On the nose there are hints of style that could be described almost as similar to Montrachet in Burgundy but the final result, ____________ says, “is a faithful and unique expression of the local terroir, not the least but intended to be a copy of one of the world’s classic wines. It could almost be used as a wine to drink after a meal, a meditation wine, but it goes really well, amongst other things, with rich fish, chicken and pork dishes.”

Happy halloween ya’ll!

[photo by Arbus]

Friday, October 30, 2009

Paralyzed in Paradise

El sueño del Día de los Muertos

“Italy is falling apart from within and they cannot even see it.” I dreamt that I awoke in my bed at 4:00 AM, as the parrots outside were screeching from the bitter wind and cold that was driving them insane. At 8:30 there would be a meeting I had to be at, and the month was finishing up disappointingly. “There is too much wine. It is too expensive. It has too much wood and Merlot and Syrah in it. And every time another email from Cinderella wine shows up in the inbox there’s another Super Tuscan for $20 that the wineries had been asking $80-90-100, a year ago.” I kept hearing these voices from the waking-working moments, from wine lovers, wine buyers, people who once cared. But the Italians had already turned their backs on their advocates in pursuit of an unsustainable life style. Newer cars, larger wrist watches, pointier shoes, and these incessant barriqued wines. They were killing their country.

Before I awoke I started by finding every last barrel salesman and sending them on a trip around the sun. Then I dug up the scientists and the agronomists and the consultants and took away their Porsche Cayennes and their GPS and put them all on a severe ego-restriction diet. And then I tracked down everyone that had had their winery designed by an architect from Spain or Japan or Norway and made them watch films by Ettore Scola and Buster Keaton and Orson Welles until their eyes bled.

Then I turned all of the power down in Italy in the winter, so that when it got cold they had to hold bonfires with the barriques until all the small, tightly grained monsters of their vinous vanity were gone from the face of Italy.

I then collared every P.R. firm who used the words “employing modern techniques with respect to tradition” and sequestered them all in the wineries that had been designed by those architects from Spain or Japan or Norway and made them sit there eating zibibbo raisins and yoghurt from Greece until the diet leeched out all the poison from the lies they had been telling all these years.

If Italy was redeemable perhaps they could have reclaimed their wines. As it was, we witnessed the curtains closing on a period when they let greatness slip from their grasp. The Italian culture was clouded with their sense of self importance, their self-possessed narcissism. And it killed the natural wine culture that had thrived in Italy for aeons.

Italy, you blew it up. The world no longer could endure your barrel-tormented dramas and your international wines stripped of their Italianita and sacrificed on the altar of short term commercial success. La commedia è finita.

And then the alarm rang out in the early morning fog of autumn.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Dance of Deliverance

For weeks it seems I have been slumbered over a computer, studying trends, making spread sheets, eating dust. Bound to this place by time of harvest and holiday. Setting the stage for the big show.

Around midnight, outside, a dog howls. He is new to the neighborhood and every little noise spooks him. Last night, a storm cracked the sky wide open and doused the land. A day later everything stunk with the smell of dirt and roots, perfect for the birth of a mushroom, but an olfactory Chernobyl.

In the dusk, bent over, harvesting the last of my crop, I thought about my escape. I am still hobbling from my last one, but the slumbering volcano calls. I need to go to Basilicata and dance.

From early days I remember listening to my grandmother hum soft rhythms in dialect, inherited from the Albanian diaspora that dotted the lands of our ancestors. Tribal dances that dyed our DNA with a dark mysticism, an allure, a danger behind the veil. And now I can neither resist nor ignore the dirge that has been driving the blood through my veins. Aglianico, my mistress, who is caressing you, who is neglecting you? Who will defend you against this molestation by modernity, couched with the mind numbing mantra of the shape shifters who chant “We aren’t hurting anything, we aren’t changing tradition. We are just making the wine better.”

Better? With yeasts developed in Torino, from factories provided by funds that grew from the wealth brigands stole from these very places? Has television and mobile phones done in a few short years what Hannibal and Caesar and Federico II and Napoleon weren’t able to accomplish in all the ages before? Why would you mingle the yeast for panettone with the grano duro of Barile?

Aglianico, don’t go with them. Aglianico, don’t let them carve you smooth and fatten you up. For thousands of years you have been the blood of the volcano, the dance of the harvest moon, the swoop in the cantine where so many marriages were made. How can you give it all up for the sake of a fancy new name and a small toasted barrel? You will sit in lonely places in faraway lands, with a high price tag, only to be forgotten, come una vecchia lampada in soffitta, when the fashion changes.

Look how they have mucked it up in Piemonte, In Toscana and in the Veneto. Fancy new styles, everybody getting a facelift; hiking their skirts up and letting the scores and the stars and the swollen shrimp determine your fate and their future. To be timeless is to take back the power the land bestowed upon you.

I’m coming to Basilicata, as fast as I can, to stop this false dance with i truffatori.

The essentials, in a life not limited by impulse, are bread, love, dance and wine. They are dearer when we answer the call from the Ancients. And cede not to ease or fear or whim or pain.

Padrona, vengo giύ subito.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chronicle of a Three-Tier Crusader

When I got out of college, our country was in the midst of a serious economic downturn. In addition, my nuclear family was being torn apart limb by limb. I couldn’t go home again, because there was no home to go to. For a time I was homeless. My sister rescued me from annihilation, until I got grounded. And then I proceeded to go to New York, in what was possibly one of the worst economic periods that city had ever experienced. My timing was impeccable.

As my East Coast education ran its course, I headed back to The West, where I could see sunsets and horizons, stars and mountains. My father had a little studio apartment, where I squatted for a few months.

It was shortly after that I started on the course that has led me along the wine trail. I started in the three-tier wine industry, in Hollywood, working in a restaurant across from Paramount studios.

When I moved to Dallas (which I recently heard it characterized as “provincially clueless”) I imagine I was the clueless one. Little did I know I would be embarking on a career in the three-tier industry that today is being demonized by some as "stupid”, “conspiratorial”, “corrupt” and “mafia”. The last one is particularly repulsive to me as I consider the use of the word mafia to be as racist as the pejoratives used to belittle African-Americans or Jews.

After I got my footing in little old Dallas, a "flat", "dumb" "flyover" "rail-stop" (other vituperatives I have recorded), I looked around and kind of liked the place. There wasn’t a lot of wine business, but what there was, the people in it were embracing of this tenderfoot and within a few years, I had a place, a career and a community.

Over the years, because of my ties via the three-tier industry, I have had access to some of the great wines and wine people in the world. One day when I was building a display of Glen Ellen Chardonnay, my boss called me and asked me to lunch at the Mansion on Turtle Creek. He wanted me to meet Jean-Pierre Moueix, the proprietor of Petrus.I went from sweating an end-cap of Proprietors Reserve Chardonnay to enjoying a glass of 1966 Trotanoy. I was on my way to willingly being corrupted.

I have met many of the great Italian winemakers living and dead. I have dined in their homes and they have dined in mine. You see, we are a world community, not a world conspiracy. Oh yes, we do plot to persuade people to drink better wine. Sometimes we even slink so low as to just get people to switch from iced tea to any kind of wine. We figure that once we get them hooked, they’ll never go back.

Those of us crusaders of the three-tier system aren’t put off by the one-sided arguments of folks who slam the system. Everyone has an agenda. And it is fashionable to find a bad guy, to demonize a standard or a status-quo. It plays into our 21st century drama of hoping people will share our viewpoint because we are victims. Often people look into the drama, not because they feel sorry, but because they crave the joy from the schadenfreude that the drama creates. Everybody loves a winner, especially if they aren’t witnessing it from the losing end. The argument that the three-tier system is bad will always backfire on the people that use the argument because it diminishes their power and it essentially emasculates them. Rather than cursing the darkness, there are those of us happy warriors who have made a life of building brands and bringing wine to the cities and the provinces, to the wealthy and the workers, day by day.

Competition has been steep. The industry has been consolidating since 1987. So those of us in the fray don’t fret over our enemies or our problems too much. It’s part of the landscape. If we lose a line to another distributor, we don’t cry that it is unconstitutional and bawl till crocodile tears flood us out of our accounts. Many of us just know that it isn’t a fair world and sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. All part of being a grown-up.

I have really enjoyed all of it; working until 2 or 3 AM, building displays that looked like the leaning tower of Pisa or the Eiffel Tower, out of corr-buff (corrugated cardboard). I have spent countless evenings doing wine dinners for restaurants, wine classes for universities, wine training for new colleagues and much, much more. I have been part of the army that has grown the American wine drinking population so that online retailers and bloggers could have a platform for their projects.The wine business is changing, as it has been ever since it has been a business. From the time when the Chaldean winemakers negotiated with the wine brokers of the Pharaohs, 4,500 years ago to now in the 21st century. Nothing is easy, and nobody is going to get a gimme every time. The vines struggle. Why do people think they don’t have to? That’s what I call “stupid.”

When I see how many people I touch, handing them a bottle of wine on the floor of my favorite Italian wine store on a Saturday, and then having them flash me the thumbs-up sign as they open it and enjoy it with a handmade sandwich, I know my crusade is a fulfilling one. And while my life hasn’t been filled with non-stop happiness, it has been a good life. And I know my work has been good work. And the naysayers cannot demonize my good work or my good intentions with their glass-half-empty rhetoric.

Some years ago, I got another call from a boss. Again, it was an invitation to come to lunch to meet a winemaker. The winemaker was heading back to his vineyard for harvest and was stopping in Dallas to meet with clients. His vineyard was in the Bekaa Valley, and a devastating civil war was waging at the time in Lebanon. I asked him how he did it, how was he able to pull the grapes and get them to the winery, while tanks rolled through the fields. He answered that some of us are called to make war and some of us are called to make wine. But all of us are called to be warriors in one way or another. And the grapes are growing and they must be harvested. Just as it was done, some 800 miles away and 4,500 years ago, in Chaldea.

The winemaker, Serge Hochar of Chateau Musar, and his world, became part of my world that day in the early 1980’s, along with so many of the happy warriors who do the work of their lives, knowing that their livelihood is right. And anyone who has experienced right livelihood, and the excitement and passion that accompanies it, knows that the wine trail isn’t for everyone. But for those crusaders who get on it and get with it, it is a life full of meaning and wondrous expectation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What We Loved

In what seemed a lifetime ago, I remember watching her as she waved through the window. It was one of many departures that would torment our life together. Business called; Puerto Rico and a meeting, or Cincinnati and a convention. The seconds away from each other were millions of sharp pins jabbing at the bubble of our affection.

As the years progressed, we spent more time with each other, but other things would conspire to separate us. A stumble in the clear daylight, a numbing of the legs, a blurring of the vision. Something was always trying to pry us apart.

In better days, there would be dinners outside under the portico that I had built for her. I remember her crying as I drove a nail through my arm when I was bulilding it, and she took me to the emergency room. Her affliction was usually to blame for a mishap, and now I was stealing thunder from the disease from which there was no cure.

I remember back when the doctor took us in a room and told us that he had good news and bad news. The bad news was that what she had was incurable. The good news was that it wouldn’t kill her. The good doctor was wrong about the good news.

I have been thinking about the wine we loved. One I remember so well was on a summer day in Rome. We were sitting in a little trattoria near the Vatican, drinking wine from a carafe. It was yellow. It was cool. And it was from the hills surrounding Rome. A sweet memory that wine and Italy played a minor part in.

When her eyesight would fail her, she would walk with me, holding me, with complete trust that I was taking her where she would find no harm. On a porch on Victoria Island we would dangle our legs together as we sipped on Chenin Blanc from the Loire. We were taking a break from the onslaught that was heading in our direction, aiming to level us, pulverize us and tear us away from each other, forever. In time it did, but for that evening one summer many moons ago, we sipped without care, gently lapping the sweetness up.

She loved to cook. Squash casserole, pork loin, red eye gravy, she didn’t consider herself a cook. But the simple things she did, I loved. And the wines we loved with them were from a time that was so much simpler than now. A lovely Verdicchio from Matelica. Or a Pinot Grigio from Friuli, before such a wine would be spoiled by its own success. And the aperitif from France, Lillet, that she loved so much.

When I met her, she was a martini gal. She loved her gin. The Italians loved her for it. At a hotel we were staying at in Rome, where the Italian President had a penthouse, the bar had every kind of spirit. They would make her a dry martini, with the proper proportion of vermouth. It made her very happy.

When she reached the autumn of her very young life, wine ceased to have the appeal for her that it did in our earlier years. She would have a glass with me, but I could tell that wine wasn’t going to cure what was taking her apart, day by day. So, what we loved we left in the wine closet as she and we made one last stab at fighting the Goliath that was blocking our light.

Our last wine together, a few weeks before she died, during Christmas, was a Dolcetto. I don’t remember how we came to decide upon that as our last wine to love together, but from a not so sweet several years of doing battle, this one last glass of red, raised to our lips, was so very sweet and moving.

To this day I remember all of the wines we loved in our life of love with great affection and melancholy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

"Cooking that could bring the Lord to His knees"

It was October of 1999 and we were all worrying about Y2K. The newscasters were telling us that we would probably spend the first month of the new century in darkness. 1999 to 2000 wasn’t the transition to a new century, but somehow in the binary world of computers it was heralded as a defining moment for civilization. Or that’s how they were selling it, trying to make us stare in to the TV’s so they could sell us their Chevy’s and their Pepsi’s and their Tide.

Meanwhile my Aunt Amelia was in the hospital. She was born on November 11, 1911 at 11 in the morning. 11-11-11-11. She was the archetypical cook in the history of my family. And while both of my grandmothers could cook well and so could my mom, and my sister Tina was in the running for the title (in the future), my Aunt Amelia, or Aunt Mil as we called her, she had the magic.

What she could do with a little flour and butter and water and egg and olive oil was a big deal. But Aunt Mil made it look like breathing; simple, effortless. I swear she could fry up day old newspaper and make it taste good. Nothing frightened her in the kingdom of her kitchen.

Chicken? Let me count the ways. Fried? The Lord Jesus would prepare another sermon if He had ever tasted hers. Baked or pan sautéed, with bread crumbs and Pecorino? I still aspire to make mine as well as hers. Vegetables? She could make a little kid like spinach. Eggplant? To this day I cannot fathom her stuffed eggplant. Meat balls, the quintessential Italian American crossover dish? I still don’t know how she made them so bloody great. Yeah, I do.

And the peach cobbler and the fried pies? Jeesh, how many times did I want to drag one of the gang of five over there to show them how a real southwest cook did it?

I used to leave my son there when he was a little boy, between school and the end of work. She always had an extra plate, if it was late. And the food she put on it, to this day, I still look for it.

Tomatoes, what she did to a tomato, my God. Fresh, stuffed, you name it; she outdid Faust in whatever deal she made. But she even tricked the devil, ‘cause the only heat she is feeling is from a well tended stove.

Sometimes I’d just drop by in the middle of the day. There were a couple of Italian restaurants nearby where she lived in old East Dallas. I ask her if she wanted me to take her to lunch, and she’d just say, “Nah, baby, we ain’t gonna find any decent Eyetalian food in those places.” No, we’d play it safe and go get Tex-Mex. Or she’d go into her kitchen and within minutes, miraculously, lunch would appear.

She was my southern Italian trattoria, with the best wine list, 'cause I’d bring the wine.

Aunt Mil passed away 10 years ago on October 24, days short of her 88th birthday. She didn’t make it to see the new century or the new millennium or 9/11. I remember going to see her in the hospital. She wasn’t happy with the food. Here was a lady, who was like my second mother. I called her my Texas mom. She loved it when I'd bring over a bottle of Montepulciano or Chianti. She liked her some good earthy Italian wine.

Earlier, I wrote “I still don’t know how she made them so bloody great. Yeah, I do.” Let me tell you what she told me many times. We’d be sitting on her couch, the TV blaring, the screen door open, the world turning and attending to the many dramas unfolding outside her universe. “Baby, make it with love. Be patient. Take your time. Don’t get upset. If it don’t work out so well the first time, try it again. You know the egg breaks. What do you do? Heat up a pan and scramble them with some olive oil and grated cheese. They ain’t gonna taste so bad, baby, as long as you give it a pinch of love. And remember, call me, and I’ll walk you through it.”

She walked me through many a meal and a crisis of love. She was one of my best friends. And in my kitchen I have a little spatula that I filched from her kitchen after she was gone. And to this day, when I make scrambled eggs, I call on her, and her little spatula, to help make it taste heavenly.

Miss you, Aunt Mil. Love you...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Can Wild Be Faked?

The funny thing about Italian wine, or wine, or life, is that once you think you get a handle on it, it changes. What was right twenty years ago is now out of favor. What was once thought to be old fashioned and hopelessly obsolete, is now all the rage. The notion of fashion is a fluid thing, but the idea of feral cannot be faked. Or can it?

Part of the problem is there is so much transparency in this age of the steroid-ification of information. Add to that the sheer volume of information the average soul is bombarded with, and it is easy to see why things get turned around.

Take the notion of what is natural. I have probably beaten this horse to death. But every time I talk to another person, I get from them their sense of how they perceive natural. At this point I am thoroughly confused. I talk to a baker and he tells me he uses 100% organically farmed wheat. But I discover the wheat has been genetically modified.

I talk to a winegrower and he tells me he is using 100% indigenous yeasts, but that they keep the “formula” in a safe deposit box in Switzerland.

Do you go out to eat? If you do, you have already been subjected to GMO crops at least once in your life.

When I get too much of this I go to my inner Calabria. In the hills above Cosenza there is a place I go to reconnect with what is wild and real to me. The wine isn’t always great, but it’s real. The place isn’t always easy to arrive at, but it is imprinted upon my soul. I’m not even sure it exists where I first found it,. But it is stored in the heart now and that is a place that cannot be violated unless memory fails.

In all of Italy, Calabria is my starting point. Yes I am crazy about Sicily and Piedmont and Tuscany. Those are now easy places for me. Calabria is a challenge, like going to Nepal or Africa. Because Calabria represents to me where the wild things are that haven’t been reduced to a formula or a brand.

“But, sir, you are over romanticizing Calabria. It is wild. And savage. And cruel. And unfair.” So goes the inner voice. And yes, I know. I know. But where, really, in the world is anything balanced? In Washington? In La Jolla? In New York? In Beaune? This is a little tiny planet streaming at breakneck speed in the pack of the Milky Way with our nearest galaxy heading at us at some unbelievable speed. We are ultimately heading towards transformation. There is no single point at which any of us can arrive and hope to stay. And likewise with wine. The nature of wine is this. Always moving towards the next transformative moment. Two bottles opened recently from the same box. Old Hermitage from 1985. Both bottles slightly different. Both arrived and slept together in the same room for almost 20 years. Same corks, same bottles, But both of them had their unique stamp. Not terribly different. But different nonetheless.

So when we search for the wild things or the real things or the things that we think will make our lives more happy or complete…to know that it is at best an exercise comparable to trying to catch light which is moving at 3 million meters per second while we hurdle towards Andromeda at about 568,000mph. Something to think about but really impossible to hold on to.

What can't be faked? Simple. Find your wine. Open it. Among friends or family. Savor it. Enjoy it. Soak it all in. Repeat as needed.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

So now we hear DOC/G is dead. Long live the DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta) or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) if you are in the USA. Well, that’s not too confusing is it? This is part of the Single CMO (Common Market Organization) project to adopt nomenclature for all the countries in the EC (European Commission). Still with me?

In other words, now, in addition to tracking information about DOC and DOCG (and IGT) designations, we now will be following similar tracks via the EC model, DOP (or PDO) and also IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) or PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) if you are in the USA, which parallel the IGT: Indicazione Geografica Tipica (Typical Geographical Indication).

Reminds of the days when the Euro replaced the Lira. For years, some Italians still had to convert Euros to Lire so they could tell what something was worth.

Maybe sake is not so confusing after all?

Luca, you got some ‘splainin to do.

The Scent of a Serpent

Last night at a wine tasting/dinner I might have left a few of the people in the room behind when I got to talking about aroma and bouquet. I believe that a huge part of wine appreciation is all about the olfactory. My sense of what smell is based not on something I can pinpoint, but more towards a highly non-verbal part of my way of operating in the world.

Tonight one of the wines literally shocked me when I smelled it. It wasn’t bad, but what I was smelling, truffles, was not one I had associated with this wine (Maculan Torcolato) in the 26 years I have enjoyed this wine. Here was a sweet wine yearning for a savory cheese, and a funky one at that. I was reminded of some of the significant smells in my life.

The rattlesnake and the first love were two of my most haunting scents.

The rattlesnake grew from hiking in the desert as a young boy scout. I even once was bitten by a baby sidewinder. After that I felt I would be protected from further attacks by the serpents. I was in their tribe now, had been initiated into their clan. And their gift to me was my ability to smell when they were near.

It is an eerie aroma. It has sage and a little petrol and a pungency reminding me of burnt wires. I know what that smell means, and when I detect it, my senses alert me to my fellow clansmen of the desert, an unlikely brotherhood. One that is meant to possibly assure we do each other no harm. So far it has worked out quite well.

Probably the most haunting aroma is the one I would smell on my girlfriend when we were both 14. I have never, ever smelled that aroma since then, many years ago. My recollection was of cherry blossoms, but there must have been a chemical reaction with her youthful skin to create a whole new smell. I can reach out and touch it in my mind’s nose. It was delicate and piercing, sweet and savory, seductive and forbidding. Maybe it was our hormones that factored into the equation, first love, high emotions, have you ever been there? I will take that delicate perfume to my grave; will I ever smell it again?

Tar and roses. Tonight one of the wines, a Barbaresco from Pio Cesare, had the classic Nebbiolo marker of tar and roses. Not much more than that, for the wine was far from ripe. It was wound pretty tight, which for a wine from a classic (2004) vintage, should make for good aging. Often a wine from that area will also take on a musty component, a truffle dimension. The La Ca Nova ‘Bric Mentina’ Barbaresco is a good example, from my experience, of that combination. Truffles can soften the hardness of a great vintage. The Produttori wines also do that for me. But I do love tar and roses. Love those tar babies.

Another favorite of mine, from early California days, is the Naked Lady, the Belladonna Lily. The flowers bloom in August and are sweet and deep, rivaling the best rose aromas. White wines, one tonight, a Muller Thurgau and Traminer blend from Basilicata, had a little of the Naked Lady in the glass. Such a wonderful aroma in the bouquet palate.

I know I lost a couple of the people in the room this night, but from the ones who came up to me afterward to talk further, I know I wasn’t the only one in the room that knew the power of scent. If it can save a life or recall a first love, why would one not want to embrace the influence it has over our little lives that are so important to each and every one of us?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Best Italian DOCG list? (now up to 47)

Revised Oct 10, 2009
In my research, it has been all but impossible to pinpoint the complete list of Italian DOCG wines. Recently, I have been able to find six more, Moscato di Scanzo, Elba Aleatico Passito and Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Prosecco Superiore Asolo And a two Marche DOCG's of Verdicchio of which there are designations for Verdicchio di Matelica and Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico (and riserva) , bringing the list up to 47.

If anyone knows of any more DOCG wines, or if there is a list available that is more complete or accurate, please feel free to contact me. I have looked on the Italian Trade Commission site; they still list only 35 wines. Wikipedia lists 36 only lists 32 wines. Luca Zaia’s website has nothing on the DOCG, but he’s just the minister of agriculture, why would he need to have one? I guess having seven Facebook pages (one personal and six groups, sorry you have to be a member to follow the link) makes up for it. There’s nothing to be found about it on the Italian Wine Merchants site, but then again, they make no claims to be the best educational site for Italian wines, just this statement, “Since 1999, Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) has worked diligently to demystify Italian wine through its detailed website and weekly E-letter, Wine Clubs, educational tasting events and a carefully selected portfolio of current and vintage Italian bottlings.” But no demystifying by listing a current and complete DOCG list can be readily found on their site.

Update: Tomas E. of the Wikipedia Project wine also has this nifty document, where on pages 40-41 you can find the 41 DOCG wines listed.They also have yet to put up the Elba Aleatico Passito and the Moscato di Scanzo but by the time this gets posted, they might already have it updated. Thanks Tomas!)

The best site so far is in Italian, Agraria, which has 41. Please do not write me and tell me that they have 43 because that is what you counted. They have Moscato d'Asti listed separately, but it falls within the Asti DOCG, OK? Also at the end they list Vin Santo. At this time it is not DOCG. They also do not have the three new DOCG's (that I know of) listed on their site(as of March 22, 2009).

Update 2: Luca Zaia has brought in another DOCG for Prosecco. Read about his accomplishments and achievements here. Thanks to Laura De Pasquale for the info. And thank you, Dr. Zaia!

I fear I am missing something, but for the life of me, the byzantine workings of the Italian government and the folks who determine which wines will be awarded DOCG status eludes this most ardent researcher. I guess I haven’t learned the secret handshake. Until then, we are at either 46 wines or 48, as of October 10, 2009, which have been given DOCG status. Here is the list, after the jump.

Complete Listing of Italian DOCG Wines (as of October 2009) : 47

Abruzzo (1)
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo "Colline Teramane"

Campania (3)
Fiano di Avellino
Greco di Tufo

Emilia Romagna (1)
Albana di Romagna

Friuli-Venezia Giulia (2)
Colli Orientali del Friuli Picolit

Lazio (1)
Cesanese del Piglio

Lombardia (5)
Oltrepo Pavese
Sforzato della Valtellina
Valtellina Superiore
Moscato di Scanzo (new)

Marche (4)
Vernaccia di Serrapetrona
Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva (new)
Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico  Riserva(new)

Piemonte (12)
Asti spumante - Moscato d'Asti
Barbera d'Asti
Barbera del Monferrato Superiore
Barolo (Chinato, as well, falls under this DOCG)
Brachetto D'Acqui o Acqui
Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore o Dogliani
Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore
Gavi o Cortese di Gavi
Roero (Rosso & Bianco)

Sardegna (1)
Vermentino di Gallura

Sicilia (1)
Cerasuolo di Vittoria

Toscana (8)
Brunello di Montalcino
Chianti Classico
Elba Aleatico Passito (new)
Morellino di Scansano
Vernaccia di S.Gimignano
Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Umbria (2)
Montefalco Sagrantino
Torgiano Rosso Riserva

Veneto (6)
Bardolino Superiore
Recioto di Gambellara
Recioto di Soave
Soave Superiore
Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore (new)
Asolo Prosecco Superiore (new)

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