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Transforming Tuscany: The Origo Family in the Val D’Orcia

Italian-American, Iris Origo and her husband, Antonio Origo, illegitimate son of the Marchese Origo in Florence bought an enormous estate in Valley of the Orcia River in the 1920s and transformed the area. Their daughters, Donata and Benedetta, still live at La Foce and La Chiarentana, making outstanding organic olive oil and offering parts of the […]

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5 Secrets for Buying Italian Wine

I’m often asked how I choose the wines I write about. The short answer is that I look for “identity wines”, the ones that tell a unique story of the place they come from, the vintage year, the grape varieties, the weather, the people, who make them… Italy has the most diversity of ideal grape […]

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Natural Wine Magic in Italy: Etruscan Not Roman

In ancient times, spontaneous grape fermentation and the effects of drinking wine were believed to be magic from the gods. Wine is even at the root of the word “divine”. Its Latin precursor, divinius, meaning “of the gods” is the combination of two other Latin words: di (gods) and vini (wines). In modern Italian, divino […]

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Acquilea: Romans, Wine and Patriarchs in Friuli Venezia Giulia

The reign of Caesar Augustus is most closely associated with shepherds, wise men and the babe in the manger, but it was also the period when the port city of Acquilea in what is now Friuli Venezia Giulia began a spectacular rise that eventually ranked it as one of the most important trading and strategic […]

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Natural Wine: In Defense of Culture, Agriculture + Freedom

In his provocative and fascinating book, Cultural Insurrection, Jonathon Nossiter explains how in the last ten years independent winegrowers making natural wine have “succeeded in staging a small, calm revolution”* As individuals without an institutionalized organization, they have spontaneously created a model for protecting culture, diversity and freedom. It works because a tiny alternative market […]

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When Italian Wine Is Like Trying On A New Pair Of Jeans

Any wine has structure (some combination of acidity, tannins and minerality) balanced out by softness (alcohol, glycerol and in sweet wines, sugar). Since Italian wine is made to go with food and often also made to age, it typically has more structure than softness. It’s like jeans that you have trouble zipping yourself into in […]

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Dive Into the Diversity of Natural Italian Wines

Did you know that ALL of these can be versions of natural Italian wine? – a cloudy sparkling wine, – a crystal clear white wine, – a deep amber orange wine, – a light fruity red meant to be drunk young, – a complex red ready to age for 20 years, – a luscious dessert […]

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Why "Identity" Wine Makes Itself Naturally at La Stoppa & Dinavolo

A few days after finishing the harvest, Elena Pantaleoni (owner of La Stoppa) and Giulio Armani (her partner at La Stoppa, who also makes wine from his own Dinavolo vineyards) seemed relaxed. Why? “Because if you understand where you are and make wine that is completely coherent with that,” Elena said, “the wines make themselves […]

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Monty Waldin's Biodynamic Wine

Monty Waldin‘s new book begins with a strong thesis in the Introduction that: “…biodynamics remains the best tool with which to make terroir-driven wine of the highest quality while enhancing rather than depleting the vineyard it same from.” Whether or not you fully buy into that conclusion, the book is an outstanding primer on biodynamic […]

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The Wild Abundance of Italian Native Grape Varieties

One of the natural delights of drinking Italian wine is that you have over 700 grape varieties to choose from. That’s right, over 700. By contrast, 93% of Napa and Sonoma Valley are planted with only eight varieties (in descending order: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Sauvignon Blanc and Zinfandel. Source: […]

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