Where wine, civic responsibility, and eco-awareness collide.

Thanks to everyone for the wishes for our new house! It’s been a crazy week between moving and unpacking. But we are settling in nicely to our new home. Thanks for thinking of us. It’s great to be finally getting back into the groove…

The world of wine is encyclopedic in breadth and scope. No matter how much you know, you’ll never know everything there is to know about wine.

That maxim came to mind the other day during a virtual tasting with two Italian winemakers (via the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce in Houston where I work as a media consultant, content creator, and presenter).

While I’m certainly not the first to notice the eco-friendly icons on the back label of a bottle of wine, it was my first time seeing the above markers — bottom, left — that guide the end user on how to recycle the various elements in wine’s detritus: the cork, the bottle/glass, the aluminum capsule, etc.

“Check recycling guidelines with your local authorities,” says the note underneath the images. “Separate the components and recycle them correctly.”

I’ll never forget going to Italy for the first time in the late 1980s and seeing battery recycling kiosks on every block. Why don’t we have that in America? I thought to myself.

I’ve always been impressed how Italians and Europeans in general see recycling and, more broadly, eco-awareness not as a “feel good” campaign but rather as a civic responsibility.

In the Italian wine world today, you see this nearly everywhere.

I really liked the wines by Usiglian del Vescovo in Pisa province where the owners grow Sangiovese and international grape varieties. The wines were fresh and vibrant in their aromas and flavors. And the prices ex cantina were excellent. The linguistic element may prove challenging for non-italophones (you had me at “Usiglian”!). But these wines would work great in a by-the-glass program anywhere in the U.S. I’m dying to try their whole-cluster Chardonnay and Viognier blend aged in amphora (which wasn’t in the flight I tasted the other day).

Great, well-priced wines in search of a U.S. importer.

I also have to give a shout out to the excellent wines of Gianni Tessari.

Before our virtual tasting the other day, I had only tasted wines he has made for another winery in Veneto. It was my first time tasting his eponymous label and I was blown away by the quality, the varietal expression, and the restrained alcohol. I loved the Soave but was also impressed with the Pinot Noir he grows, something very usual for Veneto. It clocked in at around 13 percent alcohol. Great!

That’s his daughter Valeria in the image above.

Virtual tasting is one of the legacies of the lockdowns. And I have to say that I like it a lot!

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