Italy Bound Arrivederci

Posted on January 11, 2014

Italy bound, I am in route to Italy, so what better than to re-visit some of my older posts. The posts that started it all…The Wine-Phabet: “A” is for Aglianico and “N” is for Nebbiolo.  Can you believe I have never been to Italy?  It is the “wine country” and I have never set foot there.  My step-father who just passed away this past holiday was Italian.  Actually Italian-American.  His father and mother came to the USA as an Italian immigrants. His father worked in the insurance business in San Diego for fishing boats. His mother was a pianist and loved Italian operas.  I heard many stories about Italy.  I tasted many wines from Italy.  As an Art major, I studied many pieces of Italian art.  I have been through Holland, France, Spain, the Americas, Asia and Australia; but never Italy!  Finally!  I am Italy bound!

Below are two of my favorite posts in reference to Italy.  The Wine-Phabet started with Italy. I still remember the comments from my staff when I first posted it.  It was refreshing to hear that they had actually read it.  When I started the Wine-Phabet it got a sense of direction of where I wanted this blog to go.  At first people told me I should write about all the wines I get to taste, but that felt like work to me.  I wanted to have fun, I wanted to make fun.  The Wine-Phabet allowed me to teach, joke around and strike people’s nerves.  I always love striking nerves in the discussion section of my wine groups on Linkedin.  Some people take wine way too seriously.  The Aglianico post was fun in that I got to personify grapes and wines.  It eventually led to love letters to grapes, Dr. Seuss of wine and interviews with dead celebrities.

The second post comes at the wrong time.  I never watched the fight and I don’t think I can watch Anderson Silva go out like that.  The letter “N” was de voted to Nebbiolo, the king of grapes and I compared it to Anderson Silva from the UFC, who at the time was the king of the ring.  Since he broke his leg in two, that reign came to end.  I still regard him as the king.  I just hope that nothing ever happens to Nebbiolo.  This trip I will be in Tuscany and Piedmont, so I won’t be tasting Aglianico, but I am looking forward to drinking a lot of Nebbiolo!

I am sure that when I return I’ll have some other Italian wine bit to write.  But now I got to go and catch my flight.  “Gate 25 is boarding for Milan”.  Ooohh, I just got a chill.  Ci vediamo più tardi.



Oh Campania! Italy’s finest region of the south is home to the Aglianico grape.  One might want to address him as Signore Aglianico, because it is best to approach him with age. His wines are not for the weary at heart.  Signore Aglianico is rustic, grippy and masculine!  He is thick skinned and if not nurtured properly, he can be a miss-behaved outright bully.  Signore Aglianico as a young boy might come across as a problem child, but put him in “time out”  in a bottle and watch him mellow out.  He tastes of black fruit, tobacco leaf, black tea and comes with a  double spine backbone.  Approach him with care, let him chill before you engage and his ill tempered youthfulness gives way to beautiful floral aromas.


Nebbiolo is the champ of all middleweight grapes in Italy!  This is a bold statement and I bet the Brunello producers in Tuscany would disagree.  But put them against each other in a death match and there is no doubt that a Barolo would outlast, out muscle and be ready to take on another grape at the end of the blood bath.  A great analogy would be like putting Anderson Silva, the UFC middleweight title holder (Nebbiolo) and Michael Bisbing (Sangiovese) in the Octagon.  Sangiovese’s mouth would stop running when Nebbiolo’s technique and experience outclassed his opponent.

Nebbiolo’s home is Piedmont, one of the larger wine growing regions of Italy.  It is located in the Northwestern part of Italy.  If you were putting on the boot (map of Italy), Piedmont is located right around where you would tie the bow to your laces.  Nebbiolo’s most admired wines are those of Barolo and Barbaresco.  The greatest influence in this region are the wines of Burgundy.  They are made with, only one variety and made to last.

The greatest misconception of Nebbiolo is that it is a big, full-bodied wine.  The only thing big about Nebbiolo is its tannins.  Other than that it is light in color and expresses more herbal and earth notes than fruit.  Like Anderson Silva, you would think that to be the champ in the  185lb division, you would have to be muscular, strong and somewhat of a bruiser.  But Anderson is wiry, quick and smart.

What makes Nebbiolo the champ?  His wines are elegant yet they have structure due to the tannic backbone.  The aromas are of potpourri and herbs such as fennel and star anise.  The flavors are of leather and tobacco.  The wines come across as dark but they are not BIG!  These are wines of intensity without the alcohol, and are long lasting.  These are the characteristics of a true Champ!  There will always be someone else to come by and take his title, but for now Nebbiolo will rule the red grape division of Italy.

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