Women in the culinary industry is a trending topic these days but the NYWCA — New York Women's Culinary Alliance — has been fostering networking, education, and cooperation for women in the culinary and beverage fields in the New York metro area since its founding in 1981 by Sara Moulton and Maria Reuge.
Part of the mission of the group is to create educational programs for it's membership, and we joined them recently for a wine seminar and tasting led by Italian wine specialist and sommelier Erica Parker and NYWCA wine committee co-chair Marilyn Krieger, Ph.D. The focus was Italian wines from grapes that are native to the stunning regions of Campania, Piedmont, Sardinia, Sicily, Tuscany, and the Veneto. Each of the six wineries featured also have women at the helm.
What We Tasted:
2013 Zenato Lugana San Benedetto. Founded in 1960 by Sergio and Carla Zenato, the Zenato winery was originally based on the production of quality wines from an indigenous varietal, Trebbiano di Lugana. Over time, the winery has been passed to Sergio and Carla’s children, who have maintained and expanded upon this vision. Their daughter Nadia currently handles the marketing and promotional activity for the company. This wine was made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana harvested from the San Benedetto parcel on the south shore of Lake Garda. The grapes are fermented in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and refined for six months before being released. The wine is pale lemon-green in color, with appealing notes of white peaches, citrus, bananas, and herbs, which are underscored by crisp acidity and supple body on the palate.
2013 Costamolino Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC Visitors have long been attracted to Sardinia’s wild beauty and natural energy, characterized in its sculpted red granite rocks and rugged cliffs, unspoiled beaches and fascinating stone relics. Located amid this breathtaking landscape, just north of Cagliari, is the Argiolas estate, founded in 1937 and widely known for its crisp, refreshing white wines and complex reds. Valentina Argiolas believes that women bring something different to wine, and points out that Sardinia is a traditionally matriarchal society. The Argiolas family has worked diligently to become the leader in Sardinian oenology and insists on using mainly native Sardinian vines: Nuragus and Vermentino for white wines, and Cannonau, Monica, Carignano and Bovale Sardo for reds.
Made from 95% Vermentino and 5% other Sardinian varietals, the grapes for the 2013 Costamolino Vermentino Di Sardegna DOC were harvested between August and September before being vinified in stainless steel tanks to preserve their fresh, aromatic qualities. Malolactic fermentation was partially carried out, allowing for greater richness without sacrificing the typical effusiveness of the Vermentino grape. Lemon-green in color, delicate aromas of citrus and tree fruits complement undertones of tropical fruits and honey. On the palate, the wine shows a delightfully zesty acidity.
Erse Etna Rosso DOC 2013 Founded in 2007 by winemaker Silvia Maestrelli and her husband, Roberto Silva, Tenuta di Fessina is located in Rovittello, a small, picturesque village in the heart of Castiglione di Sicilia. The estate lies in the shadows of Mt. Etna, Europe’s largest active volcano, which adds to the mystique of this incredible property and the richness of the soils that create these unique and personality driven wines. It's a place of danger but the reward is the soils which have been compared to Burgundy.
Erse is named after the Greek goddess of dew as a fitting tribute to the time of day when this dew-kissed vineyard is the most picturesque. This wine is made from a blend of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio grown in the ancient volcanic soils on the hillsides of Mount Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe. The grapes are fermented and in stainless steel in order to deliver all the undiluted character and freshness of this unique terroir. It has a great minerality, with smokiness and lot of acidity.
2013 Ceretto Rossana Dolcetto d'Alba The Ceretto family has become one of the largest vineyard proprietors in Piedmont with more than 400 acres of estate-owned vineyards, located primarily in the Langhe and Roero region. This includes the prestigious DOCG areas of Barolo and Barbaresco. The family name is synonymous with estate-grown, carefully produced wines that express true varietal character with purity and elegance.
In 2012 the Ceretto family began the lengthy process of obtaining Organic certification for all of their vineyard holdings. The Ceretto family does not apply herbicides in the vineyards and fertilizes with manure only. Green cover crops are planted between the rows of vines to reinforce soil fertility and structure. And in the single vineyards, natural sprays are applied to vines to boost plant vitality and photosynthetic capacity. All this is aimed at developing a sensitive and healthy vineyard system capable of maintaining its own natural resources over time.
This 100% Dolcetto — which means the little sweet one — comes from the Rossana vineyard which is located on a hill just south of Alba. This area's clay-loam soils and favorable exposure make this one of the best areas for cultivation of the Dolcetto grape. The 2013 Ceretto Rossana Dolcetto d'Alba is aged in stainless steel for 7 months followed by brief bottle-aging before being released. This wine is ruby red in color with a garnet rim. Aromas of red cherries mingle with notes of lavender, violets, and a touch of sweet almonds. On the palate, black cherries and sweet spices lead to a soft and lingering finish.
Valdipiatta Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2011 Valdipiatta is located in southeastern Tuscany, between Rome and Florence, in the very heart of the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano appellation. The estate comprises 100 acres of land, at an average of 1200 feet above sea level. Miriam Caporali is Valdipiatta’s owner and general manager. A young entrepreneur and a Business Administrator graduate from the University of Rome, Miriam decided to dedicate herself to the family business after extensive experience in consulting. From 1997 to 2002, Miriam worked closely at her father’s side at Valdipiatta, learning all the various aspects of winery management. She also visited Bordeaux, where she took an advanced class in wine tasting and winemaking. Sharing her father’s passion for Montepulciano’s terroir and its ancient winemaking tradition, she decided to dedicate herself completely to the family business, taking over its management in 2002. Today, she serves as general manager in charge of sales and public relations.
Valdipiatta’s wines are made exclusively from estate-grown fruit. Eighty percent of the vineyards are Sangiovese, the traditional Tuscan varietal. Native Canaiolo and Mammolo vines are also grown. In addition, a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir vines are grown to craft a handful of innovative and refined IGT wines. Vino Nobile di Montepulciano accounts for two thirds of Tenuta Valdipiatta's production. The grapes from seven different crus are harvested and vinified separately, then blended together to craft wines of exceptional character and complexity. Since 1998, the estate has collaborated with renowned oenologist Yves Glories from the University of Bordeaux.
2012 Montevetrano Core Proprietress Silvia Imparato indulged in wine as a hobby until she decided to rebuild her family’s vineyards in Montevetrano, in the oft-underestimated region of Campania. She employed the skills of highly regarded winemaker Riccardo Cotarella and they have created an outstanding icon wine they decided to name Montevetrano. Montevetrano is a small zone in the hills near the commune of San Cipriano Picentino, not far from Salerno. Mountains surround the property, with the vineyards situated on gentle slopes facing south by southwest. The heart of the estate is a beautiful, ancient villa. In the first years of production the basement of the villa also served as the cellar. Now the wine is made and stored in a new modern cellar, built in 2000. Silvia and her friends use the old cellar for private vintages. Within a very short period of time her work with Cotarella has produced an absolute jewel in this location. Between the end of September and the start of October, Montevetrano first harvests the Merlot grape, followed by the Cabernet Sauvignon and finally the Aglianico. Fermentation initially occurs in steel vats for about 15 days, after which the wine is transferred to new barrels for 10-12 months. The process is traditional but also strictly controlled, guaranteeing proper refinement and a balanced maturation. The process also ensures the grapes retain the regional features typical of Montevetrano. Cotarella is particularly proud of this wine, being the very first icon wine he has made; he considers it the father of his reds.
Core (pronounced Kor-Ay) is local dialect for “heart”, and the label, designed by Silvia's daughter is meant to evoke the love of life, and wine that is the spirit of Montevetrano. Core is sourced from particular experimental Aglianico plots on the estate in San Cipriano and also from outside growers in the classical Benevento area who are working closely with Riccardo Cotarella. This creamy deep ruby-red wine displays aromas of red fruits and spices with undertones of tea, blackcurrant, licorice, earth, and leather.