12th Edition of Sicilia en Primeur #SiciliaEP15

2015-04-16 21.36.35Sicilia en Primeur was established in 2004. The purpose of this annual annual event is to present to the Italian and international press the latest vintages from the wineries belonging to Assovini Sicilia.

Over 100 international wine journalists invaded Sicily to attend the 12th edition of Sicilia en Primeur from April 14th – 18th, 2015. With over 40 participating wineries pouring 300 wines, we had the chance to taste “en primeur” wines from different parts of the island, and speak first hand with the winemakers and owners. This also gave us the chance to learn more about their terroir, history, landscape and the various winemaking regions on the Island.

This new generation of Sicilian wine producers have utilized the island’s enviable climate, indigenous grape varieties and fertile soil to win many international wine awards. Their wines have also won the hearts of many of the attending journalists.

So I heard… “Some of Italy’s finest wines are now being made in Sicily”.

Assovini Sicilia selected a sublime venue the Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay, Taormina, which had stunning views of the Mediterranean.

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Next Generation Germany – Lunch + Tasting Toronto May 21, 2015

FullSizeRender-3 copy 2Wines from Germany are represented again on wine lists of top restaurants and they have gained success in national and international wine competitions.

What has happened?

Next Generation Germany” – These are new generation wines, feature a reinvented taste and grape composition yet are made by traditional wine producing establishments – even some of the labels have been redesigned with a modern twist.

This next wave of winegrowers, winemakers, and managing directors are well educated, internationally oriented, and are an ambitious younger generation under the age of 35.

Canadian Wine Journalist David Lawrason led the Toronto trade tasting last week, along with German Wine Queen Janina Hahn. They discussed some of the under-35 style influencers, and explored new varieties and styles.

Also discussed some of the 2012 VDP Classification changes:

  • Hierarchy will more closely mirror the Burgundian model of Grand Cru and Premier Cru
  • Grosse Lage replaces Erste Lage as designation for top category
  • Grosse Lage wines: best dry wines and traditional Prädikat wine from the top sites
  • Regional terms for dry wines will continue to be used − Grosses Gewächs and Erstes Gewächs
  • Klassifizierte Lage: wine from good sites will be reviewed with the aim of reducing the number of vineyards
  • The introduction of the name Erste Lage for these classified sites will be optional on a region by region basis
  • The terms Grosse Lage and Erste Lage will fall under the new category of Langenwein

2012 VDP Appellations of Origin

  • Grosse Lage
  • Erste Lage
  • Ortsweine
  • Gutsweine

Trends discussed:

  • More use of large oak uprights vs. stainless steel
  • Choice of closures: screwcap vs. cork
  • Increase in use of indigenous yeasts vs. cultured yeasts
  • Increasing use of Burgundian techniques: batonage and barrique

We tasted seven Rieslings and five Spätburgunders (Pinot noir) which were paired deliciously with traditional German fare like pickled herring, smoked port belly sauerbraten and limburger.

This new initiative appears to be very successful because the wines tasted were consistently very good and more in line with what we now expect of wines that should work well in combination with food.


Weingut Hedesheimer Hof 2013 Riesling Dry

Weingut Kunstler 2013 Riesling Dry

Burklin-Wolf 2012 Altenburg Riesling Dry

Kruger Rumpf 2012 Riesling Dry

Kruger Rumpf 2007 Riesling Dry

Max Ferd Richter 2013 Riesling Spatlese

CH Berres 2012 Riesling Auslese

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Weingut Langenwalter 2012 Spätburgunder

Winzergenossenschaft Konigsschaffhausen

2012 Spätburgunder

Thorle 2012 Spätburgunder

Weingut Salwey 2012 Spätburgunder

Weingut Salwey 2004 Spätburgunder


What I learned about Rieslings –

For me simply sniffing a Riesling is a great pleasure – with hints of apple, citrus, peach and apricot.

Riesling is the most widely planted white grape variety in Germany, with 22,387 ha, with the main regions being, Pfalz, Mosel, Rheinhessen and Rheingau – this is 60% of all the Riesling in the world. The Riesling grape variety depends on the type of soil it grows in – heavy clay soils promote a citrus fruit aroma, red sandstone ensures flavours of apricot and slate soils create a concise mineral note, which is at time similar to flint. It’s good to know that Rieslings age beautifully.


What I learned about Spätburgunders –

Germany has an historic heritage of Spätburgunder (pinot noir) production, stretching back over 700 years, when Cistercian monks first took their grapes with them from Burgundy. Germany’s ascendency to emerging world class Spätburgunders largely dates from the late 1980s when the winemakers came back to fermenting skins with the must (take colour from the skins by alcohol not by heat). In this respect, German Spätburgunder is ‘newer’ than parts of the new world. Germany has the third largest plantings of Pinot Noir in the world after France, and USA. Spätburgunder is the most widely planted black grape variety in Germany, with 11,769 ha, with the main regions being Baden, Pfalz, Rheinhessen and Wurttemberg.

Spätburgunder has become more popular than ever and the great ones that have been hoarded in Germany by top restaurants and is rapidly gaining prominence in abroad for good reason. Spätburgunders have been compared to Pinot Noirs from Burgundy.

Review of Casa De Campo, Dominican Republic

By Robert Roland + Liz Palmer

Casa De Campo, one of the Caribbean’s legendary resorts boasts six restaurants and three award-winning golf courses – one being the top golf course in the world, the Teeth of The Dog. That’s just the beginning and the Casa story tells the tale of constant evolution and corporate contribution.

Casa de Campo translated means “homes from cropland” and the real beginning started in the late 1960’s with the success of the Gulf + Western sugar mill operation at La Romana.

Alvaro Carta operated the largest producing mill in the world at the time, and was interested in investing profits into impoverished parts of the island. Alvaro Carta decided to bring in designer Pete Dye in to design a hotel and golf course. Originally the plans were drawn up for an area just outside Santo Domingo but Dye focused on an area near the La Romano Sugar Mill.

Dye started building an Executive Course for the employees of the Sugar Mill and in walking the Caribbean coastline realized that a course along the shore was something special. This course was hand-built by over 300 Dominicans. Coral rock was chipped by sledgehammer and soil was carted in by wagon.

The course was originally called Cajielies which refers to the cashew trees in the mountains, the name was changed to “Teeth of The Dog” when Dye heard locals refer to the sharp coral rock, which looked like canine teeth, as “ diente del perro” (teeth of the dog in Spanish). Teeth of The Dog officially opened in 1971 with seven of the most spectacular holes in golf along the shore of the Caribbean. We toured this and this is something to be seen.

By 1974 the Casa De Campo resort opened as an executive retreat for Gulf + Western Employees and a private airport was built at the resort to accommodate CEO’s and other executives who arrived by private jet.

Over the next ten years Casa has evolved into a resort for many reasons. Prince Maharajah Jabar Singh helped start organized polo, breeding and training. Tennis was added. Altos de Chavon, a village showcasing Dominican art and culture was completed and features many cafes, restaurants and a 5000-seat Grecian style amphitheatre inaugurated by a Frank Sinatra HBO televised special on August 20, 1982.

In the mid-1980’s the property was sold to the Central Romana Corporation and Carta’s dream started to take off in a whole new dimension which is still expanding to this day.

In many ways the story of Casa de Campo in 2015 is being rewritten again.

Casa de Campo’s resort community is spread out over 7,000 immaculately manicured acres which includes: the main hotel, guest rooms, world-class spa, riding stables, polo, tennis, an immaculate private beach, marina, Altos de Chavon – a cultural village with amphitheatre, seven restaurants and several neighbourhoods of privately own villas with many pampering amenities. Casa de Campo’s has its own real estate brokerage onsite and helipad. This sheer size is class and understated, in fact you actually get a golf cart to manoeuvre around the property when you check- in.

Accommodations are everything one would expect of from a world-class hotel and Casa de Campo did not disappoint. We stayed at one of the elite guest rooms, which was conveniently a two-minute golf cart ride to the main building and face out onto one of the greens.

Amenities include a 42-inch flat screen television, marble vanities, iPod/iPhone docking stations, an espresso coffee machine with L’Occitane products found in the bathrooms.

Hidden away in the tropical foliage of Casa de Campo is Casa de Campo Spa – it’s a true sanctuary for renewal. Everything at the spa speaks to the body, spirit and mind being one and being in total alignment. It is delivered by exceptional practitioners, in world-class facilities and one client described the spa as “an incredible spa experience that truly lifted my soul”. There are seven spa suites, each with a private shower with a Zen garden. With a local twist, indigenous ingredients are used such as Dominican Coffee exfoliation, Fruity-Herbal Body Wrap and Choco Body Mask. A true indulgence!

There are seven restaurants in and around Casa de Campo to indulge in. The three main dining experiences are La Caña by Il Circo (Steak, seafood with a good selection of wine) overlooking the pool and spa area, Lago Grill, a full-service restaurant with alfresco dining, and Beach Club by Le Cirque, an elegant beach front dining experience featuring Le Cirque-trained chefs.

Other popular restaurants include La Piazzetta, a gourmet Italian dining experience at Altos de Chavon, La Casita at the marina, where seafood and tapas are the draw and Chinois with breathtaking views at the marina views serves up pan-Asian flavors, Cantonese specialties, Japanese sushi, sashimi and other Oriental dishes.

Our top two were the Beach Club by Le Cirque with two outstanding signature dishes: Lobster Salad and Grouper, and La Piazzetta both for their top service, wine list and over all dining experiences.

At Casa de Campo we found an excellent equestrian center which staff is on hand for lessons in English or Western-style riding and jumping. For ages seven and up, three ponies rides are available on Anita, Juanito or Miguelito. We did a trail ride around the polo fields and saw some teams at practice.

World-class polo has come to the Caribbean – There are three polo fields: one practice field and two for matches.
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Casa de Campo is best known for its three Pete Dye-designed golf courses, namely The Links, The Dye Fore and considered by many to be the top 18-hole course in the Caribbean and one of the top in the world, Teeth of the Dog. This course has seven holes along the brilliantly colored Caribbean Sea. One of the golf pros told us “most of the world’s great oceanside courses play along high cliffs, the Teeth of the Dog is ocean level and you’ll feel the spray of the waves on a couple of holes”.

Other “Sporting Life” activities

Water sports such as boating, fishing river sailing, ocean sailing, kayaking, snorkeling and Scuba

Tennis at La Terraza Tennis Center with 13 Har-Tru Courts

Jim McLean Golf School

Bicycle rentals

Fitness Center with Cybex equipment, treadmills, stationery bikes, free weights with an area dedicated to improving golf performance

Shooting Center with more than 200 stations for sporting clays as well as three trap and skeet layouts

A 150-slip Marina & Yacht Club facility with upscale shopping

Supervised children’s programs


Power Patrons:

Bill Clinton – Former US President

Elizabeth Taylor – Actress

Luciano Pavarotti – Famous Tenor

Carolina Herrera – Fashion Designer

Shakira – Singer

Gloria & Emilio Estefan – Musical Icons

Marc Anthony – Singer

Enrigue Iglesias – Singer

Jimmy Carter – Former US President

Puff Daddy – Famous Rap Singer

George HW Bush – Former US President

Greg Norman – Professional Golfer and Course Designer

Jean Chretien – Prime Minister of Canada

Nick Faldo – Professional Golfer & Course Designer

Karim Ostreicher – Princess of Austria

Mikhail Gorbachev – Former Leader of the Soviet Union

Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were married at Casa de Campo.

At Casa De Campo you have the very best of everything… fabulous accommodations, gourmet dining, world-class sporting adventures, pampering spa treatments and personalized guest services. You might even bump into an international celebrity or dine under the stars besides one of the world’s financial moguls or politicos.

Casa de Campo

1-800-877-3643 or (305) 856-5405


Twitter: @casadecampo

Facebook: Casa de Campo Resort

Review of Serisso 47, Trapani Silicy + Saint Germain (Brut) Firriato

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Serisso 47 is located in the heart of Trapani’s historical center and it is interesting to note that it was formerly a Bourbon palace in the 17th century.

Serisso 47 has a wonderful cozy and elegant atmosphere. The cuisine truly interprets the traditional cuisine of Trapani – the catch of the day, which is brought to your table by trolley. I highly recommend you experience this as each fish is pointed out and explained  along with the cooking preparation.  There are other regional dishes including spaghetti with sea urchins.

I found the wine wine list to be large with a great selection of regional Sicillian wines.  Our choice was Firriato’s Saint Germain (brut) – these wines come from Borgo Guarini estate in Trapani.  This sparkling wine was the perfect accompaniment from our appetizer right through to dessert.

Tasting Notes:

Colour:     straw yellow

Nose:        notes of white fruit with some citrus

Palate:      varied and complex, the balance of acidity and freshness enhances the persistence through to a finish marked with mineral notes.  Persistent bubbles.

It’s interesting to note that Catarratto and Grillo’s individual characters are present and easily distinguished.

Overall with Serisso 47 you get tradition, innovation, wonderful local flavors and excellent presentation.

Serisso 47

Via Serisso, 47

91100 Trapani

T: (0039) 0923 26 113



Liz Palmer

Wine + Lifestyle Journalist


Results are in for Global Traveler’s 2014 Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Competition

Global Traveler
has released the results of its 10th annual Wines on the Wing Airline Wine Competition.

This year there were twenty-four judges who participated in the blind tasting of airlines’ white, red and sparkling wines. The judges consisted of various wine trade: sommeliers, wine shop owners and winemakers. With twenty-nine airlines participating and providing over 126 samples for tasting and rating.

The airlines are required to submit five different wines: two red wines; two white wines; and one sparkling wine/Champagne — to be eligible for the Best Overall International Business Class Wines on the Wing award or the Best Overall International First Class Wines on the Wing. This year, the overall winners were Brussels Airlines (for the 3rd consecutive year) and Asiana Airlines, respectively.

In the white wine category, Best International Business Class White Wine was: Domaine Thomas Le Chant du Merle Sancerre, 2012, submitted by Brussels Airlines. For first class, the winner was British Airways, with Domaine d’Ardhuy Corton-Charlemagne 2009, Grand Cru.

The best business-class Champagne was TAM Airlines’ Drappier Carte d’Or, NV. The best first-class Champagne was British Airways’ Laurent-Perrier Grand Siècle, NV. This year, the Best Sparkling Wine International First or Business Class winner was EL AL Israel Airlines’ Yarden Blanc de Blancs, 2007.

With respect to red wine, Brussels Airlines reigned supreme in the business-class category with Château A’Aurilhac 2006, Bordeaux. For first class, the winner is Jet Airways, with its Il Poggione Brunello di Montalcino 2009, Italy.

American Airlines took top honors in Best North American Wines on the Wing. The airline was also recognized for its sparkling wine, Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Caneros Brut, NY (first class); its Black Birch Mountain Sauvignon Blanc 2010 (first class); its The Climber Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (business class); and its Cline Syrah 2010 (first class). Delta Air Lines won recognition for its business-class red wine, Arrowood Cabarnet Sauvignon 2009.

The top airlines in each category are as follows:


1. Brussels Airlines
2. Etihad Airways
3. TAM
4. LAN Airlines
5. American Airlines


1. Asiana Airlines
2. All Nippon Airways
3. British Airways
4. American Airlines
5. TAM

1. TAM
2. Hainan Airlines
3. Etihad Airways
4. Delta Air Lines
5. Brussels Airlines

1. British Airways
2. All Nippon Airways
3. Asiana Airlines
4. TAM
5. American Airlines/Etihad Airways (TIE)

1. EL AL Israel Airlines
2. EL AL Israel Airlines
3. China Airlines
4. TAP Air Portugal
5. South African Airways

1. Brussels Airlines
2. LAN Airlines
3. Airberlin
4. Hainan Airlines
5. China Airlines

1. British Airways
2. Asiana Airlines/TAM (TIE)
3. American Airlines
4. American Airlines
5. All Nippon Airways

1. Brussels Airlines
2. Etihad Airways
3. Jet Airways
4. TAM
5. TAP Air Portugal

1. Jet Airways
2. Etihad Airways
3. China Airlines
4. China Airlines
5. All Nippon Airways

For more information on the competition, check out the August 2014 issue of Global Traveler or visit www.globaltravelerusa.com.