Italy, Veneto, White blends, White wines

Maculan Pino and Toi 2008

Maculan Pino&ToiAWinemaker: Fausto Maculan
Grape: 60% Friulano (known as Tocai Friulano), 25% Pinot Bianco and 15% Pinot Grigio
Region: Veneto, Italy

Even though the Tocai variety is mostly known to wine collectors for its world class Hungarian sweet wines, in this case the Maculan family uses Tocai to add rich aroma, flavor profile and complexity into their white wine. No, this is not your regular Pinot Grigio.

Located in Breganze, a village in the hills north of Venice, the vineyards are surrounded by mountains, creating a natural barrier to cold winds. Fausto Maculan knows it is a perfect climate for the cultivation of vineyards. He is Breganze’s greatest wine producer and acknowledged as an exceptional winemaker.

The combination of ancient grapes of this region with popular current varietals let him create line of red and white wines of outstanding quality. In case of Pino & Toi the wine is fermented in stainless steel and ages minimally before bottling to preserve the freshness.

I remember when I first tasted Pino & Toi wine several years back, and it stood out in the crowd of other whites we were tasting that day. Yes, it is acidic wine, but it had the smooth, round, creamy, almost oily sensation when I swallowed it. That’s usually a typical characteristic for a high quality German Rieslings. Very rich in layers of flavors and definitely wine to remember.

Tasting notes:
This wine is pale yellow in color. Intense citrus and fruity aromas. Very generous in fruity flavors with hints of lemon, peach, pear and honey. Round, rich and balanced with crisp acidity into a satisfying finish. Although this wine can age a little (maybe 2-3 more years), I prefer it as fresh as possible. I’ll definitely buy it again.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 14.00

Ideal food pairing:
lovely as an aperitif, pair well with My happy TilapiaSeafood, Shrimp Scampi,  Chinese or Japanese cuisine, and many more

Italy, Pinot Grigio, White wines

Kris Pinot Grigio 2008

Winemaker: Franz Haas
Grape: 100% Pinot Grigio
Region: Alto Adige and Friuli, Italy

The winery of Franz Haas was founded back in 1880 and stayed in one family ever since. All vineyards are located in Monagna, Egna and on the hillside of Cislon. The soil’s components vary from sand and clay to soil with high content of limestone.

The Pinot Grigio grapes were sourced from estate vineyards in Alto Adige (altitude ranges from 780 to 2,600 ft above sea level), Franz’s father vineyard in Friuli and about 1/3 came from selection of local growers in key growing areas.

Wine was fermented in stainless steel and remained in tanks until bottled, around March the following year.

Tasting notes:
Light yellow color with aromas of wild flowers and lemon. On the palate this refreshing Pinot Grigio is full of fruit, touch of light green apple and lemony flavors. Acidity is nicely balanced, enjoyable finish.


Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak
Retail price: under $ 13.00

Ideal food pairing:
drink as an aperitif, salads with lemony dressings, seafood dishes,mild cheeses

Great wines under $10, Italy, Sardinia, Vermentino, White wines

Argiolas Vermentino Costamolino 2008

Winemaker: Antonio Argiolas
Grapes: 90% Vermentino, 10 % other local Sardinian grapes
Region: Sardinia, Italy

 In the past, Italian Sardinia was in our minds more associated with mafia, then with good wines. “Sardinia,” in the words of Hugh Johnson, “is a strange, timeless island adrift in the center of things and yet remote.”

Antonio, with his two sons Franco and Peppetto, have worked very hard to fulfill their commitment to become leaders in Sardinian enology. They were able to incorporate modern technology into their traditional winemaking process. Argiolas family’s innovative philosophy helped them achieve highest standards in quality of the wine.

2008 Vermentino Costamolino is made from 90% Vermentino and 10% of other local grapes, grown in their hillside vineyards in the areas of Pranu Sturru-Suelli, Costa Bancodi and Perda Campus-Selegas, about 190 metres above sea level.

After a hand harvest, grapes were vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Partial malolactic fermentation took off the acidic edge of the wine. It helped to bring out the elegance without sacrificing the typical freshness of Vermentino. This white has become a choice wine by the glass in Italy’s finest restaurants.

Tasting notes:
I haven’t had this wine for a few years, so I was excited to taste a new vintage. When I first smelled it, it reminded me of something from my childhood that I couldn’t remember. Later I figured it out – baked apples. Beautiful, intense aroma of Vermentino gave me notes of citrus, tropical fruits and baked apples with a hint of honey. Lovely aroma of this straw yellow wine, so typical for this grape varietal. Refreshing, with just perfect dose of zesty acidity, rich in fruit flavors.

Dry – Off dry – Medium sweet – Sweet
Light – Medium – Full body
No oak – Aged in oak (partially)
Retail price: under $ 10.00

Ideal food pairing:
Excellent match to variety of dishes, from antipasti, pasta, salads to delicate risottos. Spicy cuisines such as Chinese, Indian, Thai or sushi will work great with this wine as well.