Frank Mangio is a renowned wine connoisseur certified by Wine Spectator.His columns can be viewed atwww.tasteofwinetv.com.He is one of the top wine commentators on the web.Reach him at[email protected].
A leading wine publication, Wine Enthusiast, has revealed its Top 10 Wine Travel Destinations for this year, and many are real eye-openers.It based the choices on international wine countries, extraordinary food and cultural points.
Italian locations could have taken up all ten and then some, but possibly the rules of choice allowed oneper country, and the winner was (cork-pop please)’¦Umbria!
Last year,Italyremained on top as the biggest exporter of wine to theU.S., with consumerspaying up for better quality Italian wines than ever before, from Brunello to Barolo.UmbriaisItaly’s only land-locked region, surrounded byTuscany,Marcheand Lazio.Lots of rolling hills and green valleys paint a beautiful portrait of vineyards and olive trees.Several well preserved cities and towns beckon.They include:Orvieto,Assisi( home of the iconic Basilica of St. Francis) andPerugia, the district capital.Montefalco is home to many of the well-known wineries that make wine from the native grape Sagrantino. At the top of the winery list stands the Arnaldo Caprai estate.It made Sagrantino what it is today, a powerful, highly structured, earthy, almost fiercely tannic wine.Not to worry on the tannins as better wine making techniques have balanced the grape for a unique and flavorful experience.
Another more well-known wine destination inCaliforniaisSonomaCounty.An hour north ofSan Francisco, and just west ofthe more well-knownNapaValley,Sonomais big, beautiful and known for Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Chardonnay. Zinfandel also does well in this cool., ocean-influenced wine country.The town to visit is Healdsburg, with quaint B&B’s, many tasting rooms within walking distance and rustic restaurants with farm to table menus.For wineries, concentrate on these wine AVA’s:The Russian River Valley, Dry Creek andAlexanderValley.
Further north, another surprise destination wasWalla Walla,Washington.The town has come to model itself as the epicenter ofWashington’s wine tourism.120 wineries callWalla Wallahome and includes some from northernOregon.This is another town that is packed with tasting rooms, better to compare than commuting around the nearbyBlue Mountainsto taste. Look for classicBordeauxblends, Cabs and Merlots, and most recently, Syrahs are moving up in popularity. Red wines are dark and complex, the result of long, hot summers with 14 hours of daily sun from this most northern of all wine countries in theU.S.Other fascinating wine countries named were:Aegean Islands,Greece; Valle de Guadalupe, BajaMexico; Hill Country,Texas;Mondoza,Argentina;Baden,Germany;Barossa Valley,Australia; andLanguedoc,France.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi: FromTuscanyto Vittorio’s
Marchesi de Frescobaldi is a Tuscan wine family dating back to the 1300’s now with 9 estates and 2,500 acres. To taste a Frescobaldi wine is to taste the history ofFlorence, from the Middle Ages to the present day.Vittorio’s, that Italian Family Style Trattoria inCarmelValley, recently brought in Italian wine specialist Marcos Mazzau.He chose the ultimate wines for each course served, from the 2012 Frescobaldi Vermentino with roasted vegetable salad , to the powerful Frescobaldi 2011 Tenuta Castiglione Supertuscan, a world class blend of Cabernet, Merlot, Cab Franc and Sangiovese.Seewww.vittoriossandiego.comfor the next wine dinner.