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Italy - Tuscany, Abruzzo, & Sicily


A Culture defined by it's wine

It seems that wine pundits are increasingly attentive to the fact that Italy is about to (or already has) surpassed France as the world’s leading producer of fine wines. Such a thought would have been unthinkable as little as three or four decades ago.

France was firmly ensconced as the top rung in the wine ladder thanks to its big four regions, Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and Cognac. The French reputation was above board and French wine prices were mostly realistic. Italy, on the other hand, was a moderate collection of numerous commune production and relatively few estate vintners. Its sole recognizable region was Chianti, where most of the wine was sold in the rounded fiascos.

When the Italian government decided to get involved in the mid-1970’s, the pendulum of wine viability began to swing in the direction of Italian wines. Growers were encouraged to improve their vineyards and renovated wine estates became more frequent throughout the country. An upgrading of the Italian DOC and DOCG laws to rival France’s Appellation Controlee laws narrowed the gap even further.

In the past three decades, Italian wine influence and quality has continued to improve. France has changed its marketing emphasis to the Far East and generally increased its fine wine prices to levels that are unaffordable to many consumers. Italy has taken a much softer approach and still maintains reasonable pricing on even its very finest offerings.

Italian grape varietals are a part of every menu and wine retail establishment in the United States. Names like, pinot grigio, montepulciano and sangiovese are commonplace terms among wine aficionados and a large number of top producers generally sell out all their production that reaches the United States.

It is impossible to tell just how long this Italian run of good luck (and great wines) will last, for the general perception among wine and food experts is the fact that Italian wines seem to favor food more than their French counterparts. Part of the reason for this assumption is that a number of France’s top wines (Bordeaux in particular, with its emphasis on Cabernet Sauvignon and its high acid content) must be held for many years to achieve completion, while many of Italy’s greatest wines are consumed much younger and with less acid.

For now, the consumer benefits from Italy’s steady growth and quality. Many smaller estates are just beginning to import their wines to this country and generally provide excellent pricing in order to establish their wines in America.

This Italian International Series Wine Club selection provides further insight as to the marvelous quality that is available from Italy and its sister-producer Sicily. It is an interesting adventure into Mediterranean grape growing and vinification that should prove a delight to the palate.


  1. Collelceto
    2008 Brunello
    Collelceto
    di Montalcino - Italy
    International

    $42.50

    $50.00
    91 - Wine Enthusiast
    id: 2287
    International
  2. Notari
    2009 Montepulciano
    Notari
    d'Abruzzo - Italy
    International

    $19.50

    $23.00
    91 - Stephen Tanzer
    id: 2288
    Special
    International
  3. Di Giovanna
    2012 Grillo
    Di Giovanna
    Sicily - Italy
    International

    $17.00

    $20.00
    Special Import
    id: 2289
    Special
    International

Italian winemakers are making their mark in today's wine scene

Di Giovanna Estate:

Internationally respected winemaker Riccardo Cotarella, known as ‘the wizard’ controls the production process of Sicily’s Di Giovanna Estate. Cotarella also consults for several Bordeaux chateaux (raising eyebrows from the firmly entrenched French winemaking cadre) and co-owns his own Italian estate, Falesco, in Umbria with his brother Renzo Cotarella. His initial winemaking success was with white wines and Cotarella feels that whites are making a strong comeback throughout Europe. He is also famous for his powerful reds that have garnered many international awards and accolades. Cotarella also researches new techniques for growing vines and is highly acclaimed for his research work.

Collelceto Wine Estate:

When owner Elia Palazzesi began is rejuvenation of Collelceto Wine Estate, he immediately sought the help of renowned enologist Lorenzo Landi. Landi, a Tuscan by birth, graduated with honors from the University of Pisa and later at schools in both Burgundy in the early 1990’s (Domaine Laflaive) and later in Bordeaux where he studied under celebrated Professor Denis Dubourdieu. Landi has become a central winemaking figure in Italy and consults for wineries such as Lungarotti in Umbria, Rocca delle Macie in Marche and Cottanera in Sicily.

Fattoria Nicodermi:

Owners Elena and Alessandro Nicodermi fill the role of winemakers at their family’s impressive winery. They have specialized in native Italian varietals and are assisted in their winemaking duties by Frederico Curtaz and Paola Caciorgna. Curtaz worked for fifteen years with Angelo Gaja, one of Italy’s greatest winemakers. Caciorgna is also Tuscan and has made a name for himself with his own wines that are crafted from grapes grown on the side of volcanic Mt. Etna. Such winemaking expertise insures near perfection for the wines of Fattoria Nicodermi.


Three italian producers embrace family tradition and italian culture to craft internationally acclaimed wines.

Collelceto Wine Estate - Located to the southwest of Montalcino, the Collelceto Wine Estate is a nearly 15-acre farm property that has been transformed by Elia Palazzesi into one of the finest vineyards in Italy. Its location is near the Ombrone River and the vineyards benefit from the river’s cooling presence. The winery’s name is derived from the many Holm (or Holly) Oaks found around the property that provide much of the color and appeal to the commune of Montalcino. Formerly his parent’s farm, Collelceto Wine Estate is planted at an elevation of about 1600 feet. The entire area is enhanced with high red clay content, a fact that the owners feel imparts a sense of mocha flavor to their wines.

Fattoria Nicodermi - The winery is in the Teramo District of the Abruzzo Region, a hilly part of Central Italy that borders the Adriatic Sea. Fattoria Nicodermi was founded more than 50 years ago by Bruno Nicodermi who took over his father Carlo’s vineyards. Since 2000, the winery has been run by the brother/sister team of Allesandro and Elena Nicodermi, third generation operators. The vineyards are planted at around the 900' elevation allowing for warm afternoons and cool evenings. The term ‘notari’ is a reserve designation for the Nicodermi Estate’s highest quality fruit that is singled out at harvest time and exceptionally handled until production.

Di Giovanna Estate - Di Giovanna’s first vineyards were planted more than 150 years ago by Cristoforo Ciaccio, who aged his wines in his family’s old stone farmhouse called Fiuminello. The rugged, high altitude growing area is near the geographic center of Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. In 1985, fifth generation owners Aurelio and Barbara Di Giovanna initiated a study that resulted in a reorganization of their vineyards. Vines are grown organically at altitudes between 1150 to over 2700 feet and produce exceptional fruit for Di Giovanna’s wine portfolio. Two brothers, Klaus and Gunter Di Giovanna run today’s modern operation that has only recently begun exporting to the United States.

About The Region

Italy’s possesses a rich vinicultural heritage that can be traced back over 2000 years and has been influenced by Greeks, Etruscans and Romans. These factions have brought about the development of different winemaking techniques and styles along with changes in vineyard maintenance. Equally important are the changes in wine storage methods that occurred when wine moved from the traditional amphorae to today’s modern bottles. Italy’s wine regions have also evolved in the process and are generally linked to the types of regional cuisine that abound throughout the booted country.

This International Selection of Italian wines features products from three of Italy’s finest regions, Tuscany, Abruzzo and Sicily. Each is unique in some respects and each growing area imparts some basic characteristics to the featured wine.

Tuscany --- is the most famous of all Italian wine regions and comprises a high number of DOC (33) and DOCG (9) appellations. Located around the cities of Florence and Sienna, Tuscany is home to the great Sangiovese grape, the mainstay of Italian varietals. It is hilly (68%) and possesses a warmer climate due to the Tyrrhenian Sea to its west. Most vineyards are nestled between 500 and 1600 feet, increasing the area’s diurnal temperature variation, a fact that helps the grapes maintain their sugar/acid balances and aromatic qualities.

Abruzzo --- is nestled along the mountainous central Italian region along the Adriatic Sea. It too is mountainous (65%). Despite smaller vineyard plantings, Abruzzo produces over 40 million cases, more than twice that of Tuscany. It too has a mild Mediterranean climate thanks to the Adriatic Sea. The great varietal here is the Montepulciano, Italy’s fifth largest planted grape. In the northern part of Abruzzo, fertile ferrous clays and limestone vineyards produce Abruzzo’s finest fruit.

Sicily --- sits off Italy’s western coast and is home to more vineyards than any other wine region. It is a volcanic island with rich soils for growing vines. For many years, Sicilian grapes were sold to other regions and blended into many styles of wine. Lately, there has been a resurgence of smaller, estate-type vineyards that have emerged with great emphasis on quality. In just twenty years, a number of these wineries have vaulted into the stratosphere of internationally acclaimed wines. Di Giovanna Estate is one such example of this late success.



Pappardelle Pasta with Mushroom Sauce


Ingredients

1 lb. pappardelle pasta
3/4 lb. porcini mushrooms
2 shallots
3/4 lb. canned tomatoes
A small bunch of parsley
1 clove of garlic
The leaves of a sprig of rosemary
A few leaves of sage
Olive oil
Dry white wine
Salt & pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano


Instructions

Clean the mushrooms, brushing the dirt away from the stems, and separate the caps from the stems; dice the stems and cube the caps, keeping them separate. Mince the shallots and the herbs and saute them for a few minutes in 4 Tbs. of oil. Add the the diced stems, cook another minutes, and then add half cup of wine and the tomatoes. Season with a little pepper and simmer the mixture over a very gentle flame for a half hour. Add a little more wine and a drop of water, and the cubed caps.

Continue simmering the sauce over a gentle flame. Depending upon how much moisture the mushrooms contain, you may need to add more liquid - a splash of wine and a little hot water. In the meantime, bring the pasta water to a boil, salt it, and cook the pappardelle. Drain the pappardelle and season with the sauce; serve with grated cheese and enjoy.




Lemon Garlic Shrimp Scampi


Ingredients

1 (16 oz) package linguine, prepared according to
package instructions
1 lb. large (16-20 count) shrimp, *shelled and deveined
(leave the tail on)
3 Tbs. butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more if you like it hot!)
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. fresh lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
2 Tbs. finely chopped parsley
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
Extra chopped parsley for garnishing


Instructions

Heat a medium-sized pan on medium-high heat. Once heated, add the butter and olive oil. Once the butter is melted and is no longer foamy, increase the heat to high and add the shrimp. Cook for one minutes, then turn shrimp over, add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for another minute. Be careful not to overcook or the shrimp will be tough. Set shrimp aside on a warm plate.

Next add the white wine, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Add black pepper and salt to taste. Leave the heat on high and let the wine sauce boil for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Add the shrimp and parsley and stir to coat with the sauce. Sprinkle each serving with some Parmesan cheese and extra chopped parsley. Serve immediately over pasta. Enjoy!



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