On the Quest for the Best Wine Glass – James Melendez

While I am always on the quest for the best wine glass… notice I didn’t say I am seeking a perfect wine glass.

I don’t believe in perfection in general and that extends to my wine glass as well.

Left to right: Riedel Sommelier, Holmegaard, Schott Zwiesel, Crate & Barrel Red Wine Glass and Sparkling Wine Glass

Not so long ago there were fewer options in the US and today there are many more choices than ever before.  Simply the interest in wine has been matched by all major and even minor producers exporting their glasses to the US.

I am particular because why serve an outstanding wine in a mediocre or subpar wine glasses?  I have been to places where an amazing wine is served in a less than desirable glass that had been made in a glass factory long long ago.   Just like a well crafted wine might cost more than a mass produced one the same holds true for a well crafted wine glass.

I have noted in my videos that I have been to fantastic restaurants in San Francisco to be disappointingly served in a glass that might have cost a dollar.  In that same video I have noted that I have been to many a small towns in Europe and guess what–the wine glasses were outstanding…. stellar.   I always feel super special where the wine glass programme is as strong as the wine list itself.

I think of my trips to Champagne; my last visit to the region I was eating at a small and amazing roadside bistro and there were Zalto wine glasses there.  Not uncommon in Champagne.  I have experienced this in Italy as well showcasing fantastic wine glasses in the dining setting.  I think of what most expect San Francisco to be ultra sophisticated place and I alway point out New York is the US’s most sophisticated city–luxuriant wine lists and wine glasses.  I would like to bring my own wine glass when I go to a nice restaurant that doesn’t have a nice wine glass programme in San Francisco.  Now, of course, and as expected restaurants like Gary Danko, Boulevard, Jardinière do have a nice wine glass programme but there are many other restaurants who don’t.

Your Home’s Wine Glass Programme

I don’t expect everyone to be as particular as I am about a fantastic wine glass or even as experimental as I am.  First you don’t need a wine glass in every silhouette the wine glass maker might make.  Here is a very short list of glasses for your home:

  • Sparkling wine glass – think tulip versus flute
  • White wine glass
  • Red wine glass
    • Bordeaux
    • Burgundy
  • Dessert wine glass

While I am not going to recommend a specific brand because you should find a style that you like.  I would also try to steer not just towards look but functionality.  A red wine glass is my litmus test, as example, you should be easy to swirl the wine in glass where the contents are not going to spill out easily AND very importantly can handle the swirling action; once you stop swirling and you let go–does the wine glass wobble?  Wobbling is a bad thing–in my opinion this is a great way for glass to tip on the chance of a very active swirler.  It is not just about the possibility of tipping but how does the wine glass with a decent pour feel like?  Does it feel like there is no centre of gravity?   If that is the case of the feel of that experience will be noticeable to you and guests.

I drink daily from my Schott Zwiesel Pure Collection wine glasses; they have been quite dependable, very modern design but serve their function well.  These glasses are easy to find and I look for best price, potential airline miles (via airline shopping portals) and best delivery option.

I do have one restaurant Riedel Bordeaux glass that is quite nice–I purchased at Silverado Winery for no more than $20.00 while it may look like the Riedel Sommelier Bordeaux glass they are not the same.  The Riedel Sommelier is boldly different and unapologetic; highly usable and completely elegant.  The Riedel Sommelier are not for the faint of heart at over $100 per glass.  I did ping the restaurant and the sommelier glass and they sing differently–the restaurant stem has a nice reverberation but not like the stunningly near operatic quality of the Sommelier.  I do use my Sommelier but infrequently–as a treat to myself.  I also don’t want to never use the glass.  I am ultra careful when washing and wash the base ever so gently.

I had a few Spiegelau stems and they were nice glassware from a home and decor store that I no longer purchase from but from $7-8 dollars a stem a good value.  If I can find them again I will try purchasing again.

I love Holmegaard and swear by this Danish wine glass producer; elegant and beautiful and about $24-$28 a stem.  Superb vessel and one that I use frequently and found the deliver of wine to palate to be such a fine instrument.  Holmegaard are not plentiful in the marketplace but distinctive enough to be sought after.

I love Zalto wine glasses–and I would say is my favourite brand right now.  Expensive $60 a stem but completely elegant, so superbly designed–almost stretch a limit but not over the top in terms of design.  Completely delicate–handle with absolute care.

I came to Zalto because their sparkling wine glass – the tulip shape is the reigning star of sparkling wine glasses.  While there are others who produce a tulip Zalto’s are the best.  When I have a glass of sparkling wine and I am near the glass I know it is a Zalto and no other brand.  I feel ultra special when I use this brand.  I do enjoy sparkling wine frequently I am careful to not over use them.  I cry when one breaks…. so I was seeking what I call and every day tulip wine glass.  I did find one from Crate & Barrel called Calla and it was only $8.95.  The glasses are made in Slovakia and Crate & Barrel does not publish who manufactured these glass I am guessing they are from the producer RONA.  The glass is so well designed and absolutely stunningly beautiful it can be my every day sparkling wine glass.  I did Crate & Barrel’s Bordeaux wine glass and the same design for a red wine is not as stable in terms of swirling–the centre of gravity is in question.  While beautiful in design and for me less practice for an every day red wine glass.  Attractive price point but the usage I’ll get will be minimal.  Crate & Barrel does such an amazing job in deliver of wine glass–so securely wrapped–the best I have seen of any US retailer.

I have and will continue to be experimental in wine glass purchasing I will still seek excellence and I advocate every do the same.  And I have not tried every wine glass at this point–many more try.

Your wine will thank you when you engage in smart and well made wine glasses.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Book Review: Urban Grape’s Drink Progressively by Hadley and TJ Douglas – 95 Points

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Urban Grape’s Drink Progressively by Hadley and TJ Douglas

Price: $27.00

ISBN: 978-1-940611-58-7

I LOVE WINE BOOKS.   I read wine books for many reasons–I love to hear about how other people beyond myself write about wine.  I want to know another person’s perspective. I love the subject and I appreciate and worship all that is wine.   The owners of The Urban Grape TJ and Hadley Douglas have written a book on the subject of their shop: wine – few wine retailers do this for one reason–it is very time consuming to operate a wine retail business.  It is not just commitment to wine but a passion of wine to want to write a book on this subject.

The book is a progressive approach to looking at wine in terms of a 1-10W (white – 10 sections) and 1-10R (red 10 sections) in terms of body and weight of wine.  The book is superbly easy to read yet informative and not wine geeky. This is a book I would recommend to anyone wanting to learn about wine.  I remember in the near prehistoric days when I worked at a wine retailer in college and there was no formal training programme–there was no texts–I call this era BWB (Before Wine Books) and I am not that ancient!!  I would have loved a book like this to read.

The language is respectful of the reader; the writing style is approachable and completely interesting.  This book also balances out knowledge that is pertinent and honest.  

I like the touches of having “one’s to try” which are specific wine produces to taste and try.  It is so hard to point out a specific producer in any wine text–the frame of the book truly picks fantastic and relevant to each section.  There are tiny and important “geek out” sections talking about wine barrels to to wine clones to taming the sweet tooth.

I appreciate the point out of wine regions and varieties to each of the sections–the examples are specific and help to familiarize Sancerre to Sauvignon Blanc in Napa Valley and the defining characteristics.   

*****

The Perfect Pairings in the lower right corner give food suggestions in each wine section

There are books on food and wine and often they are unbalanced that is too much much food just a tad about wine.  But this book gives a great balance of food and wine. The recipes of the beautifully photographed food is by Chef Gabriel Frasca.  I am naturally a cookbook collector and very much appreciate thoughtfulness of well designed recipes.

A lot of Fantastic Recipes – Slow Roasted Salmon as an example.

I like the breadth and scope of recipes–delicious and awe inspiring.  I have a nice collection of cookbooks and have found great appreciation for all that I own.  I would never part with any of them.  Some are autographed or obscure like a cookbook from the Amana community in Iowa.  Cookbooks are much needed to keep us from getting bored with what we might be preparing.  I know for me I need constant enhancements and ideas in the frontier of cooking in my house.

The recipes by Chef Frasca are inspired and meant to be easy to prepare well made dishes.  I have marked what I will be preparing next. Here is what I have decided to make next from this book:

  • Basel Salad with Almond Vinaigrette and Candied Lemon
  • Grilled Shrimp with Pistachio Romesco
  • Crab Toast with Mango Salad
  • Slow Roasted Salmon with Bacon Braised Cabbage

*****

The book covers Rosé and sparkling wines in addition to the white and red wine.  The friendly approach to the subject makes this a welcomed reading as well as concise language.  Even busy people can read this book and glean much knowledge on wine.

This is a great gift for someone who is starting to become interested in wine or even someone who loves to cook and enjoys pairing wine with food.

A very nice read!

The wine store of Hadley and TJ Douglas:

The Urban Grape

303 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA  02116
857 250 2509

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Book was courtesy of publisher/PR agency.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy. James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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May 2018 Wine Reviews – James Melendez

Here are the wines landing on my table for a May 2018 review:

 

 

 

 

 

Mercat Cava Brut Nature 

A lovely and inexpensive Cava Brut Nature – Brut Nature is such a loving way to enjoy sparkling wine.  Aptly and appreciable dry–but not as dry as one might imagine.  An optimum wine for food and I enjoy drinking without food as well.

Scent: green apple, hint of apricot, white tea and flowers

Palate: Granny Smith apple, green fig, almonds and moist stones

*****

Black Magnolia Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2015

Scent: Mountain strawberry, rose petal, stones and pepper.

Palate: strawberry, red cherry, pepper, graphite and tea.

*****

Marques Casa Concha Peumo Carménère 2016

Scent: mix of blue/black bramble berries, evergreen forest, freshly ground pepper and suede

Palate: Blueberry, sweet spices, Thyme and black pepper.

*****

Scent: fresh white peach, almond, moist granite and flowers

Palate: fleshy yellow peach, green apple, hint of sweet spice and almond.

*****

Nine Hats Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

  • 89% Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 11% Malbec

Scent: Black cherry, rose petals, Thyme, moist earth and evergreen forest

Palate: Black cherry confit, black pepper, hoisin, and Tarragon.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Wine courtesy of each producer with the exception of Mercat Cava which I purchased.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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May 2018 Albariño Tasting – James Melendez

I was delighted to participate in this large Snooth wine tasting featuring 11 Albariño on 16-May-2018 – it is unusual and, of course, a welcome experience to taste through so many wonderful Galician wines.

 

 

*****

Señorio de Rubios Robaliño Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

Scent: green apple, green pear, green fig, jasmine, and moist stone.
Palate: quince, green apple, hint of dried fig and green tea.

 

 

 

*****

Bodegas Alto de Torona Rosal Rías Baixas Albariño Caino Loureiro 2017

This wine has such a unique bottle – a great bottle format – nicely modern.  This wine is a composition of Albariño, Caino, and Loureiro.  Superbly low in ABV.

Scent: white nectarine, Adriatic fig, crushed oyster shell, and flowers.

Palate: Kiwi, fleshy yellow peach, green apple and hint of moist mineral.

*****

Condes de Albarei Rías Baixas Albariño 2016 

Scent: Meyer lemon, white peach, Italian fig and moist stones.

Palate: rich sweet lime, white tea, flowers, and moist granite

 

 

*****

Nai e Señora Rías Baixas Albariño 2016 

Vibrant acid, hint of effervescence.

Scent: Green apple, white nectarine, almond, moist stones

Palate:  Yellow peach, raw almond, tea and beeswax.

*****

Paco & Lola Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

Scent: Bosc pear, sliced green apple, moist granite and freshly cut flowers

Palate: Heirloom apple, moist stone, sesame and almond.

 

 

 

 

*****

Fillaboa Rías Baixas Albariño 2016

Scent: mix of freshly cut green fruit, flowers, stones and green tea 

Palate: Citron, green pear, piñon (pine nut), and almond

 

 

 

 

*****

 

Adegas Galegas D. Pedro D Sotomaior Rías Baixas Albariño 2016

Scent: white flowers, mix of green and yellow citrus zest and pulp, white peach

Palate: White peach/nectarine, pear, hint of almond and crushed sea shell

 

 

 

 

*****

Laxas Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

Scent: white pear and nectarine, Calla Lily, and green citrus

Palate: Quince, Kiwi and moist crushed granite.

 

 

 

 

*****

Terras Gauda Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

70% Albariño, 20% Caiño, and 10% Loureiro; 12.5% ABV 

Scent: Moist rock, mix of green and red apple, green fig and Quince

Palate: Green citrus, Italian fig, toasted almonds, and flowers

 

 

 

 

*****

Pazo Senorañs Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

Scent: green-gold citrus, fleshly yellow nectarine, dried apricot and almond.

Palate: Green citrus zest, quince, moist stones and flowers.

 

 

 

 

*****

Valmiñor Rías Baixas Albariño 2017

Scent: Green citrus, white stone fruit, apples, and moist crushed stones,

Palate: seared pear and green fig, moist slate, almond and honeycomb

 

 

 

 

Wines courtesy of producer, importer and Snooth.

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Wente Chardonnays – National Chardonnay Day 2018 – James Melendez

I was delighted to be tasting the first family of new world Chardonnay – Wente Chardonnay’s on National Chardonnay Day (24-May-2018).  The Wente Clones is a famous clone responsible for more than half of the clonal variety in North America.

Wente Nth Degree Livermore Valley Chardonnay 2016

Scent: seared apple, Comice pear, moist stones, and freshly shaved nutmeg

Palate: golden citrus zest and pulp, hint of stone fruit, moist granite, hint of floral, nutmeg

*****

Wente Eric’s Chardonnay Small Lot Estate Grown Livermore Valley Chardonnay 2017 

Scent: Granny Smith apple, apricot, pear and dried fig

Palate: white peach, beeswax, flowers and tea

 

 

*****

Wente Morning Fog Estate Grown Livermore Valley Chardonnay 2016

Scent: quince, Italian fig, nutmeg, flowers and moist stones 

Palate: green apple, almond, green citrus, sesame, and tea

 

 

 

 

*****

Wente Riva Ranch Arroyo Seco Chardonnay 2016 

Scent: green citrus zest, Bosc pear, cardamom and carnation

Palate: mineral, Comice pear, dried apricot, nutmeg and tea

 

*****

Wente Limited Release 135 Anniversary Central Coast Chardonnay 92 Points 2016

Scent: lemon curd, fleshy Comice pear, beeswax, and oyster shell

Palate: Granny Smith apple, dried apricots, cinnamon-nutmeg, and beeswax

****

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Wines courtesy of Wente Vineyards.

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Food & Montsant Wines – Part III DO Montsant – James Melendez

This is the third part of my three part series on DO Montsant from my March 2018 visit.

One of the most exciting things to experience is putting foot on ground where your wines are being sourced from.  Especially if it is a distant place and it is most gratifying when the first crunch of earth is beneath your foot.  The photo below documents my first crunch of beautiful soil of broken slate “Llicorella” at Mas de l’Abundància.

My memory and relationship with wine is that it is not just while visiting but to seek out wines from Montsant in my marketplace.  The best pairing is with Montsant and food.  Montsant’s Garnaxta, Carinyena, Garnaxta Blanca, Macabeo and other wine varieties are optimum for food and to enjoy without food as well.

The wide range food is not just limited to Catalan, Mediterranean but a wide range of foods from around the world.  Not all wines varieties and regions are versatile to a wide range of foods as is DO Montsant.

Monstant food and wines

Calçots and Romesco

Lamb Chops and Sausage

Bibs On and A Wonderful Experience with Calçots and Romesco

What you will find in the cuisine style of Catalunya is that the inland area away from the Mediterranean are focused more on lamb and pork than seafood.  This makes perfect sense as this regions access to seafood would have been limited in the early part of last century.  But today the update in cuisine is to enjoy the offerings of the Mediterranean but also join with the traditional foods of regions inland.  I was in time for the Calçots season (Calçots are very large green onions) they are served grilled and the fun is pealing off the smoked and blackened portions and to enjoy the delicate sweetness of this green onion with fresh Romesco sauce.  Romesco originates in Tarragona and is easy to prepare with that which is local – sweet red pepper, almonds, olive oil, tomatoes and parsley.

The rustic serving tray (as pictured above) with charcoal on bottom of grill with lamb chops and sausage reminded me of Korean BBQ and more delighted in the coals didn’t exude an intense smell but cooked the lamb.  This was most intriguing and fun!

The parade of great foods from Montsant were not overly prepared; the foods were nicely and simply prepared with as many local ingredients as possible.  In several dishes was salted cod which is a yesteryear ingredient of great practicality and gives a wonderful flavour of the Mediterranean and historical connection.

Salad with Salted Cod

Pork Cutlet with Toast

Artichoke and Shrimp

Salad with Strawberries

Catalan Rice Dish with Artichoke

Eggplant, Onion and Spinach

Crema Catalunya

One of my favourite dishes is the Catalan rice dish with peas and Artichokes–nicely rich like a Risotto–just enough salt to capture the flavours of dish and rich enough to enjoy as one’s main plate (second dish).

The thematic of certain flavours remind me of the ground tour as well as sitting in the dining room chair in Falset.  The taste and smell of Montsant Olive Extra Virgin Olive Oil, the richest and sweetest green onions Calçots, Rosemary, Thyme, almonds and hazelnuts encapsulate in my mind this glorious experience.  While the earth is ideal for Calçots to not grow everywhere they can only grow here.  The richness of earth, sacredness of soil can only perfect the Calçots there.  There was also a rich assembly of local cheeses and charcuterie that make one’s journey to Montsant easy to get to know and appreciable to taste and enjoy that which is local and a nearly universal custom for wine.

Food & Montsant Wines

Wine of place is important not just while your visiting a wine region but for the long haul and to share with those closest to you.  My way of sharing is get these wines in my marketplace and share with family and friends (I have listed a few retailers in the US where you can purchase Montsant wines).  When I talk to people about what wines they pour at their dinners there is a tendency or desire to get matchy-matchy with cuisine to wine (e.g. Italian wines with Italian food).  Instead I change up and yes it is fun to pair wine with the cuisine style where the wine comes from but I get a sense of excitement when I share a potential new wine region with my guests.  I am adventurous and pair a mild Mole Poblano and wine;  a mushroom Risotto with Iberian wines; Pizza with Beaujolais, German food with Croatian wines.

Here is what I will pair in the future with Montsant wines (white, rosé and red) and food on my dinner table this summer:

  • Three mushroom Risotto (Crimini, oyster and Porcini)
  • Rotisserie Chicken
  • Panzanella
  • Orecchiette Bolognese
  • Salad with hazelnut and strawberries (reminding me of the salad I had in Falset)
  • Oven roasted chicken
  • Pizza
  • Chicken and rice
  • Rice and arthicoke
  • Pork chop with rosemary
  • Ribeye
  • Salted cod
  • Pork Loin

I cannot always be in Montsant which, of course, I will visit again.  But until then the sacredness of the wines of this region–a style of Garnaxta that is distinct from Aragon regions  Somontano, Campo de Borja, Calatayud, and Carinena) , Empordà, Terra Alta, France, Sardinia, North or South America or Australia.  Montsant represents to me red, blue, black fruit, hint of florals, savory qualities of dried herbs; a dense colour and nice weighty texture.  Some Grenache can be lighter in style and hint of crushed red candy qualities (I love this descriptor–not a negative comment).  I love Montsant and all of the wines of this distinct young DO but ancient land of wine, food and culture with a small and welcoming people.

I recommend a visit to this region on your next journey–the visitas and experience are a rich reward.

Alegres!

James

****

My Sketching While On My Travels

This section shows how I love to capture in a brief and casual sketch the place I am visiting.  Below shows not a one-on-one relationship but a feeling like the impressionist of the 19th century.  My intent is not to create a master work but to give a quick impression and more of feeling that an actual point-for-point sketch.  I am also trying to capture any relevant video to capture, taking photos, notes, and listening to the winemaker; as example when I was visiting Mas de l’Abundància I was also listening to Jesus Del Rio talking about his love and stewardship of his land and the wines his vines are producing.  And I also was joyously multitasking to taste the wines on site where they are being produced.

 

 

 

 

 

****

I was intrigued by the tank room at the Portal del Montsant – this building is over one hundred years old and was built for the Marcá Wine Cooperative.  The intricate wood work on the “V” roof was appreciable distinct and regional in architecture and design.  I like that this is an architecture that is distinctly old world and I know there is no example like this at least in North America.

 

 

 

 

 

****

It was exceptionally nice to taste on this great view point tasting Acústic Celler’s with the winemaker Albert Jané.  The windswept point was beautiful to see budding of the vines.

 

 

 

 

 

****

Vinyes Domènech was a beautiful incline with glorious vistas – the site is 450-500 meters above sea level / 1,400-1640 feet above sea level between Llaberia and Montalt mountains.  The site inspired me with it’s abundance of wild Thyme and Rosemary–the vines preciously planted on the hillside.

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Thyme

 

 

 

 

 

****

Retailers where you can buy DO Montsant wines:

Two previous articles I wrote on DO Montsant:

Montsant Foot on Ground Tour – Part II DO Montsant – James Melendez

DO Montsant – A Catalunya Gem – Part I – James Melendez

Santé,

James

James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2018 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, logo, brand name, rating, rating graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

All brand copyrights are property of the producer.

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Posted in Carinyena, Garnaxta, Garnaxta Blanca, Grenache, Montsant | 1 Comment

A Love for Sicilia – Wine, Food, People and The Land – Part I – Palermo

In honour of this years SEP18

James the Wine Guy

Sicila – A Drawing I Created Simply Because I couldn’t find a Map that was Showing All of the Wine Regions

I had the privilege of stepping onto the beautiful island of Sicilia this past April (2017). I have been fortunate to have been through almost all of Italia: North to South, East to West.  I have been to all larger Italian cities and many numerous small ones.  I never tire of the adventures and experience of this amazing country.

Sicily loomed large in my mind and represents a land where it is not just a crossroad but more than that—it is a rich culture that would be Sicily with or without being a crossroad.  I am student of history: actually I am passionate about history.  While many people have come and influenced Sicily …. Sicily has persevered and has and is a culture that has included it’s historical experience…

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