The Grandi Marchi Experience: Symphonic

The Grandi Marchi – visionary winemakers from across Italy – are here today at Del Posto Restaurant in New York City to lead attendees through a seminar and guided wine tasting of some of Italy’s best terroirs.

Like the Philharmonic minutes before a concert, the “orchestra” Grandi Marchi, is tuning up.

As Grandi Marchi members take their seats, tasting glasses clink and jangle, papers rustle, polite chatter and excuse me’s whispered one after another.

Audience iPhone camera shutters clllick away.


What follows is to be an immensely informative seminar, with each producer/representative speaking with subject matter expert authority about their respective regions, production methods, and unique terroirs.

I won’t kid you – the tasting segment is ridiculously pleasant. And massively instructive. The elegance, vigor, joy and pleasure of Grandi Marchi wines is remarkable.

But, for anyone who is familiar with the Grandi Marchi – member names that include the likes of Gaja, Masi, and Antinori – icons of fine Italian wine – that much is not unexpected.

What has so impressed me at this Grandi Marchi tasting – more so than any single wine or producer – is that, as a group, the wines braid together 13 different appellations and 15 wineries in a way that speaks so vividly, so sonorously, of Italy’s rich and diverse wine tradition.

To put it another way, perhaps in musical terms, the Italian wine tradition is composed not of a single tone, but from many different tones which, as in good music, allow us to experience the symphony.

There are no short cuts to understanding Italian wine. There are, however, some very good places to begin the Sassicaiajourney. Grandi Marchi wines represent a point of departure that grant you exposure to a highly relevant cross-section of Italy’s most important grape varietals and regions, act as model reference points for what wines ought to be like within their respective categories, and help to communicate the cultural values and traditions that unite them.

For more information about the Grandi Marchi, I recommend you to follow the link to Grandi Marchi Institute of Fine Italian Wines.

Nusserhof Tyroldego 2006

Nusserhof Tyroldego 2006

Nearly forty years have found their way by me since I walked with my dog Storm through the forests surrounding my boyhood home in New England.

Warm days of skunk cabbage, lady slippers and princess pine, watching the ground for specimens to add to my pine cone collection, hands all pine pitch and never once thinking beyond what might be on for suppertime.

nusserhof-tyroldego-2006-1Tonight, I remain somehow connected to those days, brought back courtesy of this fine Tyroldego by Nusserhof.

Heinrich Mayer-Nusser produces his Tyroldego (yes, with a “y”, in this case) from a small amount of Teroldego grown on the family estate of 2.5 hectares at Bozen / Bolzano in Italy. Viticulture is certified organic.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

The breath of woodlands lifts up and out of the glass, permeates my consciousness with recollections of forest berries, pine sap, cocoa and coffee. Waves of juicy, tart berry rise up onto the palate, spice in the undertow. Soft in the mouth and super clean. Finishes long, letting me hold on long enough to hear Storm barking as we come back home 😉

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Enjoy Nusserhof Tyroldego with pork roast, bread dumplings with speck or bacon, vegetable casseroles au gratin, dishes of hearty polenta with meat or mushroom sauces, stews / goulash, cheeses


Kofererhof Kerner 2008

Kofererhof Kerner 2008, DOC

A Volvo blows by me, an Audi following inches behind. I downshift and pull the performance-tuned GTI in behind them. Over Sirius radio, musician Sting reminds me of how Fragile we are and the Massachusetts Turnpike opens up wide out in front of me. The leather covered stick shift feels good in my hand grip. I’ve thought about a lot of wines in this car. Today, my mind is busy with a white from Alto Adige that is decidedly not fragile.

kofererhof-kerner-2008The Kofererhof estate finds its home in Italy’s Alto Adige, just 5 hectares of vines at the base of the Dolomite mountains. Acquired by the Kerschbaumer family around 1940, the Kofererhof estate had existed as part of South Tyrol for 850 years beforehand. Kofererhof transitioned away from selling grapes around 1995 when it began bottling its own wines for sale. Today, Kofererhof produces an interesting array of wines that includes Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, Riesling, and their superb Kerner.

I don’t believe the estate is certified “organic” at this time, however, Kofererhof does adhere to organic production practices using organic fertilizers, manure, cover crops, etc., to improve soil nutrients. Copper and sulfur based treatments are applied as agricultural controls. And S02 is used in very low dose to preserve the wines.

Kofererhof’s Kerner is made from Kerner grapes, a white grape developed from a cross between Riesling and Trollinger (aka Schiava Grossa), bred earlier this century. Grapes are grown in soil of loam / sand / gravel on vines averaging 5 – 20 years old. Production vineyards are south-facing at approximately 650 meters altitude.

Kofererhof’s Kerner harvest is carried out in three stages: an early harvest intending freshness and perfume, a regular harvest for general balance, and a late harvest seeking richness and body. Each is vinified separately with fermentation carried out in stainless steel, aging on the lees for about six months.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Straw yellow color refracted with green highlights. An absolutely panoramic palate with notes of lime, orange creamsicle, honey and mint. In the empty glass, subtle hints of ginger emerge. Wearing its 13.5 – 14.0 degrees alcohol super well, this wine is no light weight, offering generous structure and ample body. Love the overall harmony and focused minerality / acid / ripeness. A long, flavor-filled finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

This is a great white to pair with hearty foods where a white wine profile is desired:

MEATS / FISH: pan fried veal or pork prepared weiner schnitzel style; pan fried fish fillets; mild sausages served with pan fried potatoes; kielbasa; NOODLES / PASTA: egg noodles or egg pasta served with mushroom flavored brown sauce; spaetzle with cheese and onions ; pierogi; VEGETARIAN: baked, stuffed mushrooms; large boiled or poached bread (or potato) dumplings (known as knodel in German or Canerderli in Italian) served with brown mushroom sauce (Canerderli can be served in soup broth); potato pancakes; spaetzle with cheese and onions; potato and cheese pierogi; CURED MEATS / CHEESES: try with thin slices of speck and a mountain cheese !


Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2008

Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2008, DOC

Tonight, my wife caught me with my hands all over Fiona. That’s what we call our refrigerator. Fiona Frigidaire, actually. At that point, there was no turning back: we had to make it a threesome.

At first, it was all hands and lots of clumsy grabbing. But, nature eventually took its course and, given the situation, we found what we were after:

thin sliced speck, a wedge of cave aged Gruyere cheese, Normandy butter, and a tin of smoked oysters from the cabinet.

cantina-terlan-alto-adige-pinot-grigio-20082008’s Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio spilled from bottle into big Bordeaux glasses and, for a moment, connected both with a pretty trail of straw yellow.

Born in the sandy soil around Terlano, Italy, Terlan Pinot Grigio is produced by the spectacular Alto Adige cooperative of Cantina Terlan. Approximately 100 growers and 150 production hectares comprise the Terlan cooperative whose wines could model a “what’s unique about Alto Adige” wine study. And please…don’t worry about the cooperative thing… well known as one of Italy’s top producers, Cantina Terlan will not let you down in the quality department.

The melon fruit character of Terlan’s Pinot Grigio played deliciously well against the speck. Notes of peach, pear and apple were super counterpoint to the Gruyere, with a hint of almond echoing the Gruyere’s nuttiness. The wine’s round, creamy palate made mad harmony with Normandy butter on French bread creating a super-sensual mouthfeel, while crisp acidity and minerality were appreciated with bites of smoked oyster.

Anyway, I looked around the room now, suddenly aware of us in it, a nearly snapshot effect: leather sandals on the floor, her ankle socks, the candle burning on a low marble and wood table, stacks of books, the Beatles playing in the background. We laughed about always being a bit short of money and about the $163.00 dollar speeding ticket she had gotten today.

I poured a bit more for both of us. I felt lucky.


Lights out.

[ Fiona humming softly ]