Barbera d’Alba “Vigna Santa Caterina” 2018 

(Piedmont, Italy) $23

Somehow it seems fitting that a rugged masculine barbera should be made by a man named Guido. Earthy and full of personality, it’s a barbera that’s delicious in an old-fashioned sort of way, including the attractive hint of salty sweatiness (like a man who’s just run a mile). Loads of dark fruit and a noble bitterness round out the flavors. Italian wine lovers know these sorts of barberas and know how sensational they are on a cold night with, say, a bowl of pasta Bolognese. (14.5% abv)

91 points KM

Available at Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant

The WineSpeed Blog

A. Nutty flavored

B. Slow moving (as in a solera)

C. Gently rolling (said of a vineyard)

D. Intensely aromatic


The style of Sherry known as Oloroso takes its name from the word oloroso which means “intensely aromatic” in Spanish. Olorosos are long-aged Sherries that have been carefully exposed to oxygen. This darkens the wine to a rich, deep mahogany and imparts a flavor ten orders of magnitude more nutty than nuts themselves. Olorosos are potent and full-bodied Sherries with an unctuous feel on the palate. Try one from Lustau, Gonzales Byass or Hidalgo.


Answer: True.

With 42 DOCs (Denomination of Controlled Origin) and 17 DOCGs (Denomination of Controlled and Guaranteed Origin), Piedmont has the largest number of DOC/G wines in Italy.  The region is considered among the best when it comes to wine quality. Piedmont was one of the first regions in Italy to focus on single-vineyard wines and the region wins the highest number of important wine awards per year of any region in Italy. (Tuscany is the only other region that comes close).


New True or False questions are posted every Thursday on my Facebook & Twitter pages.


The decomposition of spent yeast cells after fermentation is complete. When a wine is left sur lie, or on the lees, it remains in contact with the spent yeasts that performed the fermentation. As the yeasts’ cell walls collapse, enzymes start to break down the cells themselves, producing mannoproteins and polysaccharides that are released into the wine. These impart an extra dimension of flavor, texture, viscosity, and complexity.

Anti-white Bias?

When it comes to wine, do we have an anti-white bias? Check this out! I have been drinking a lot of great white wine lately, but couldn’t think of a single winery in California that… Continue reading

Typhoid Victims?

It looks innocent enough right? It’s just a small glass of clear liquid. But hold on—grappa is a turbocharged experience. Grappa is the clear brandy that results when the pulpy mash of stems, seeds, and skins left over from winemaking is refermented and then distilled.

In most parts of the world, this leftover stuff is thrown away or spread on the ground as fertilizer. But in Italy, nothing gastronomical is wasted—even if it sometimes tastes like a grenade has just exploded in your throat. Historically, grappa, was a specialty of the cold, northern part of the country, where people put a small shot of it into their morning coffee. The best grappas today are usually made from the skins and stems of a single aromatic white grape variety, such as riesling, moscato, or gewürztraminer. Because of their feverish allegiance, grappa fans are fondly called tifosi di grappa—which more or less translates as typhoid victims of grappa.


Number of wines in Sotheby’s just-launched collection of its own wines. Ranging from an un-Sotheby’s-like price of $16.95 to $39.95 per bottle, the collection includes a Blanc de Blancs Champagne, a Prosecco Superiore, three whites, six reds, and one rosé. The wines, sourced from California, Italy, and France, are the result of Sotheby’s relationships with top growers.



Number of billions of pairs of disposable chopsticks produced annually in China according to the South China Morning Post. 65% are made from fast-growing bamboo; the rest from cottonwood, birch and spruce. A mere 2% of China’s chopsticks are exported to the U.S.


Year of the first commercial vintage of pinotage in South Africa. Today, pinotage (a cross of pinot noir and cinsault, created in 1925) is the third most planted variety in that country and considered a local specialty. Well into the 2000s, many pinotages were rustic, over-ripe wines with significant levels of Brettanomyces. Today’s top examples, are fresher and higher in quality overall.


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