Study Trip Photo Drop – Italy, Hungary, Switzerland

DSC_0549Tuscany

20130607_130410Trentino Alto Adige

DSC_0619 Cinque Terre

DSC_0628Cinque Terre

DSC_0647Cinque Terre

DSC_0968Prosecco, Italy

DSC_0978VCR Nursury, Italy

DSC_1087Goulash – Tokaji, Hungary

DSC_1417Monorail to transport grapes and vineyard equipment – Scion, Switzerland

DSC_1427Art and Wine – Robert Gilliard, Scion, Switzerland

DSC_1477Vineyard treatments by helicopter – Martigny, Switzerland

DSC_1572Riez, Switzerland

DSC_1573Riez, Switzerland

IMG_0369Lake Geneva, Switzerland

Monterosso Val d’Arda Festival 2013


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To celebrate the Monterosso Val d’Arda DOC, the producers of this region held a festival last weekend in  Castell’Arquato, about 30 minutes from Piacenza.  The program, slightly altered because of the inclement weather, consisted of several formal tastings led by a sommelier and the producer, as well as a salon with a couple dozen local producers who presented around four wines each.  Coupled with the sociability of the winemakers in this region, even this small salon made for a busy afternoon of tasting.

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We started with a guided tasting of wines from Tollara, including a Spumante (Méthode Champagnoise) and their “I l Giorgione”, which is made from surmature grapes of the Bonarda variety,  along with a generous plate of local charcuterie.

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A sampling of some other wines we tasted and particularly enjoyed :

Nontiscordarimé (“forget-me-not”) – Il Rintocco (DOC Monterosso Val d’Arda)

Colli Piacentii – La Boca (DOC Monterosso Val d’Arda)

Ortugo – Azienta Vitivinicola Pusterla (DOC Colli Piacentini Ortugo)

Antiquum – Cantine Campana – (DOC Colli Piacentini Gutturnio Classico Riserva)





The pressure is on…

The Master Vintage has moved to Italy!  The class arrived 2 weeks ago to Piacenza, to start our viticulture unit at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore.  During our first three weeks we only have Italian language courses, and have been utilizing our down time to explore the viticultural region around Piacenza.


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Many of the wines in this region, both whites and reds, are “frizzante”, or lightly sparkling, but many “vini firmi” are also produced, typically bearing a slightly bigger price tag.  I’m still tasting my way through the local appellations, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), but a few that I’ve discovered so far include Colli Piacentini, Gutturnio, Guttornio Superiore, Ortugo, and Monterosso Val d’Arda.  Some of the common varietals used in the region include Malvasia, Ortugo, Moscato Bianco, Trebbiano Ramagnola, Sauvignon, Bonarda, Barbera, and Cabernet Sauvignon, among others.

20130418_155134(Pressure gauge on an ‘autochiave’ tank)

We visited a producer just down the road from our house, Bongiorni Agostino, who explained to us (*full disclosure – the informal visit, which lasted around 2 hours, was conducted entirely in Italian on the fourth day of our Italian course… thus the information was pieced together from the understanding of us 5 students who speak 3 different languages between us) the process used in making his wines.  The the fermentation is begun as usual, and at a certain point in the fermentation process the wines are ‘racked’ (transferred), to a special type of tank called an “autochiave” which can be sealed to maintain the pressure inside as the carbon dioxide produced during fermentation collects in the sealed vessel.  He can control the pressure inside the tank, and therefore can maintain the carbon dioxide naturally produced by fermentation in the wines.  Some of the wines are “dolce”, or slightly sweet, and for these the fermentation is stopped when there is some sugar remaining, either naturally (the yeast are poisoned naturally by their own production of alcohol), or by centrifugation, where he is able to eliminate all solids from the fermenting wine, including the yeast.

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