Cristina Mariani-May On Montalcino

Following is an interview between Christopher Plante of Grape Collective and Cristina Mariani-May; the subject is Montalcino.

5 Fun Facts About Washington Wine

March is Taste Washington Wine Month! Impress your friends with the five fun facts below. And find insider tips on how to celebrate #WAWineMonth here!


Wallula Vineyards, Pacific Rim Winery

Did You Know?
1.   Washington State is the 2nd largest wine producer in the U.S.
2.   The WA wine industry generates more than $3 billion to the state economy and it employs more than 14,000 people directly and indirectly.
3.   More than 30 grape varieties are grown in Washington, about 50% red and 50% white.
4.   The Top 3 White Grapes planted in Washington are Chardonnay, Riesling, and Pinot Gris.
5.   The Top 3 Red Grapes planted in Washington are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.


Taste Washington Wine Month is Here!

Picture 027Washington State produces beautiful wines, from elegant red blends to refreshing and pure whites. The state is also home to our very own Pacific Rim, a winery focused on Riesling. Pacific Rim is passionate about Riesling (90% of its production is comprised of Riesling wines) and obsessed with the way the grape expresses itself in Washington’s Columbia Valley. Fresh, vivid, and full of character and variety.

Take the opportunity to enjoy a glass of Pacific Rim and to seek out Washington State wines throughout Taste Washington Wine Month – and beyond! Here are a few ways to join in:

  • Sip on Washington wine and learn more about it at one of the many events for #WAWineMonth. Includes happy hours, pairings, and great discounts.
  • Pick up a bottle at your favorite retailer or restaurant. Retail participants include this spring include:

Cost Plus World Market: Members save 10% on Washington State Wines when buying 4 or more!

Total Wine & More: Tons of fun events, tastings, and displays throughout March!

Wegman’s, Fred Meyer, Albertson’s, QFC, Hannaford Grocery, and Ralphs: Look for displays of Pacific Rim, coupons, tastings, and exciting promotions like a sushi planner!

  • Attend the big show, Taste Washington on March 29th and 30th in Seattle. It’s the nation’s largest single-region wine and food event – don’t miss out!

Follow Pacific Rim on Twitter at @RieslingRules. You can keep up with other events at #WAWine and #WAWineMonth. Cheers!


Ten Minutes in Tuscany

Want to learn all about the wines of Tuscany? In ten minutes, you can get an overview of all the different styles of Tuscan wine and what makes them unique — watch the video below, produced by the Guild of Sommeliers:

What Wine to Pair with Chocolate?

Just in time for Valentine’s Day: Mike and Jeff appeared on The Better Show to share the secrets of pairing wine and chocolate.

Mike DeSimone and Jeff Jenssen are wine and food book authors (Wines of the Southern Hemisphere: The Complete Guide, The Fire Island Cookbook) and the Lifestyle Editors for Wine Enthusiast Magazine.

Unwrap the chocolate, uncork the wine, and watch below:

Master of Wine Recommends Bubbly for Valentine’s Day

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW — the fourth woman and among only 30 people in the US to ever attain the international title of Master of Wine (MW), the highest wine title to achieve in the world — was on Bloomberg TV to discuss sparkling wines for Valentine’s Day.

Guess what bright red bubbly from Italy was her recommendation for this romantic day? Watch below:

Wines for Valentine’s Day

What wine to choose on Valentine’s Day? Wine and food expert and author of The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day, Wini Moranville, suggests four great wines for wooing. Watch below:

Does Wine Make Sense As An Investment?

Disappointed with the return on CDs, mutual funds, or your 401-K? Might it make sense to invest in wine?

Watch wine expert Cristina Mariani-May discuss wine as an investment with Deirdre Bolton on Bloomberg Television’s “Money Moves”:

How Wine Barrels Are Made

barrel-rob-may-smSome updates from the wine blogosphere …

Sommelier Rob May is chronicling his recent “enrichment trip” to Italy on his blog Wine So Serious. One of his recent posts describes his visit to Gamba Cooperage in Monferrato, Piedmont, and includes a number of great pictures. Check it out to learn a little about coopering!

John Fodera of Tuscan Vines knows that most of us can’t afford to drink Brunello and Barolo every day, so he found two Tuscan treasures under twenty bucks.

Joanna Opaskar opines on Building a Better Wine Tasting.

Sandra Crittenden shares her (Wine) thoughts on a recent Sangiovese clonal tasting led by Rudy Buratti of Castello Banfi.

Cindy Rynning posts perfect pairings for a slew of wines from the Veneto.

Speaking of pairing wine and food, Somm In The City Sara Lehman went all white with a three-course meal.

Last but not least, Reverse Wine Snob Jon Thorsen recommends an organic Chianti.

Summer Wine Suggestions

Cristina Mariani-May recommends three delicious wines for summer sipping.

Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 – Key Learnings and Shout-outs

wbc2013Wine Bloggers Conference 2013 — a.k.a., #WBC13 — was a four-day whirlwind of wine wildness in Penticton, British Columbia. For those who missed it, and those who want to re-live it, here are a few of the key learnings from the conference:

- Penticton is a lovely little lake town, and Penticton Lakeside Resort is a top-notch hotel with fabulous amenities and an attentive, friendly staff. Its setting aside Okanagan Lake is idyllic. Shout out to Grant at the front desk — who bent over backward to accommodate us — and to Rusty, our friend from Hooded Merganser.

- When in Canada, be sure to have a plate of Poutine. For those who’ve never indulged, it’s essentially the Canadian version of disco fries (are we giving away our NJ heritage?). Match it with a crisp white or rose with lively acidity.

- British Columbia is an up-and-coming wine region with enormous potential. Its climate, terrain, and diurnal temperature variation are reminiscent of Chile.

- Wines of Uruguay may be the best-kept secret in South America. Like B.C., the country is an up-and-comer. Among red wines, look for Tannat, and for whites, Albarino is an eye-opener.

- It goes without saying, but wine bloggers remain enthusiastic knowledge-seekers, may be the most educated of all wine consumers, and play a significant role in teaching the world about wine.

- Getting across the Canadian border driving a Riunite RV with 10 cases of wine can be complicated … but, possible!

- Speaking of the Riunite RV, it’s larger than some studio apartments in New York City.

- Hot Tub Time Machine Wine Tasting is most effective after midnight.


Congratulations to our industry friend Lisa Mattson for winning TWO blog awards for Journey of Jordan: Best Winery Blog and Best Original Photography or Video on a Wine Blog. Kudos also to Frederic Koeppel, whose Bigger Than Your Head won Best Wine Reviews on a Wine Blog; to Jeff Siegel, author of The Wine Curmudgeon, which was named Best Industry/Business Wine Blog; and to David White, Rebecca Canan, and the entire Terroirist staff for copping the main award of Best Overall Wine Blog. You can see a list of all of the winners on the WBC13 website.

This year the Banfi Banter Boys were accompanied by our Left Coast colleague McKenna Olson of VinMotion / Pacific Rim Wines and Riunite RV driver Charlie Goodwin, both of whom were immensely vital to time travel, wine tasting, entertainment, and overall enjoyment in the Banfi suite.

Perhaps the best part of the Wine Bloggers Conference is seeing and meeting people who were previously only “virtual” friends. Putting a face to a name (or Twitter handle) and spending quality time with people who love wine as much as we do is truly the best part of our job. Toward that end, shout-outs to old and new friends that we hope to see again in Santa Barbara next year (in no particular order): Michelle Haid, Amy Gross, Alan Kropf, Kovas Palubinskas, Megan Kenney, James Melendez, Joel Vincent, Cindy Rynning, Heather Herrig, Joel Peterson, Michele Francisco, Matt Talbot, Mattie John Bamman, Thea Dwelle, Pamela Pajuelo, Steven and Jane Kosek, Jessica Sass, Rob Frisch, April Yap-Hennig, William Pollard, Jr., Taylor Eason, Lisa Mattson, Julia Crowley, Irene Lau, Dave Nershi, Kelly Conrad, Valerie Stride, Russell Ball, Alina Ferguson, Liza Swift, Andrew Stover, Byron Marlowe, Michael Wangbickler, Jon Staenberg, Kevin Keating, Sheena Chandok,Robert Larsen, Anna Bennett, Tim Lemke, Sheila Whittaker, and Adam Levy.

So, what were YOUR main takeaways from WBC13? Post them below — and let us know if you have any Penticton pictures posted. Here are a few of ours:

You can see more photos on the Banfi Banter Google Plus page.

Easy Risotto Recipe for Mother’s Day

Want to make something authentic for your Italian mom? Even if she’s not Italian, she’ll appreciate this delicious risotto with short ribs.

Be sure to use a wine that you like to drink — NEVER “cooking wine.” The chef opts for Bellagio Chianti in this recipe, which is a good choice based on its flavor profile and affordability.

Everything Old is New Again

On the Today Show last week, Jill Martin channeled her inner Lisa Whelchel to go back in time and find those old items from the 1980s that are new again — such as America’s favorite Italian red wine!

Effervescent Loveliness

What wine tastes like red cherry hard candies, super-ripe raspberries, and strawberry, is very clean, claims effervescent loveliness, and pairs well with chocolate decadence?

Watch Peter and Allie of “My Wine Words” to find out.

Sparkling Wine for Valentine’s Day

Learn About Brunello di Montalcino

From The Daily Meal comes a quick primer on Montalcino, Italy, and the great wine that is made there — Brunello di Montalcino.

Choosing the Perfect Bottle of Wine

Banfi co-CEO Cristina Mariani-May explains how to choose the perfect bottle of wine for a special occasion, with tips on food matching.

Being a CEO in a Family Wine Business

Banfi co-CEO Cristina Mariani-May gave the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration on November 16, 2012. In this DDLS conversation, Cristina talks about the role of a CEO in a family business, Castello Banfi’s research to find the finest clones of the Sangiovese Grosso grape, and the family’s belief that “all ships lift with the rising tide.”

Is Chianti Classico Fat or Phat?

Allie Merrick and Peter Eizel of My Wine Words ponder the eternal burning question of Tuscany: is Chianti Classico “fat” or “phat”?

2012 Montalcino Harvest Report from Castello Banfi

The Castello Banfi Vineyard Estate in Montalcino, Tuscany’s premier vineyard estate, wrapped up its harvest on October 13, nearly 60 days after it began picking its white varietals.

The harvest of Chardonnay, followed by Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc, started on August 22. Because of high temperatures, picking took place on an early schedule, from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., before the hottest hours of the day. While the quality of the fruit brought to the winery was good, there was a 25% reduction in quantity over 2011 due mainly to a long drought and high summertime temperatures.

Harvest of red varietals began in the third week of September with the early ripening Syrah and Merlot, followed by Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. A return to more seasonally normal weather conditions allowed for a return to normal picking times, and the reds also showed good quality though yields were down by about 20%.

“Despite the hot summer, less extreme weather conditions in late August through September were vital for the ripening of polyphenols in the grapes, yielding structure and color,”said Enrico Viglierchio, General Manager of Castello Banfi. “The wide temperature variations between night and day, along with helpful light rainfall, helped re-establish stability in the grapes, creating ideal conditions for the most important phase of ripening for Sangiovese.”

Family proprietor Cristina Mariani-May pointed out that Castello Banfi’s groundbreaking Sangiovese clonal studies and the 29 different soils types found on the property protect Banfi from the pitfalls of annual variation.

“In a great vintage, it’s easy to make good wine across the board,” she said. “But it is in challenging conditions that our unique advantages allow us to continue making consistently excellent wines. We have the ability to select the best fruit from the best plots and to manage each vineyard individually, row by row and vine by vine. Through years of research and trial, we learned to have the patience, foresight, and courage to wait until that ideal moment when nature tells us to bring in the crop.”