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Soft and succulent, the 2003 Zemmer Cortinie Bianco is one high-class wine. Wrapped in a pale yellow robe, the Zemmer Cortinie Bianco is an artful blend of the Alto Adige’s finest white grape varietals: Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay. And like all of Zemmer’s wines, the Cortinie possesses an enchanting bouquet; in this case, the scent of spring flowers mingle with a waft of light luxurious fruit that seems deftly tinged with the nectar of fresh lemon drops. Meanwhile, an adroit touch of oak adds to the wine’s overall complexity and sophistication, without dominating it. In fact, the Cortinie Bianco seems to have it all: a soft appealing aroma, plenty of flavor, supreme balance, and style – the very attributes that make Italy’s finest white wines the world’s most appreciated and easy to understand. Simply put, the Cortinie Bianco is one eminently drinkable elixir that we found simply irresistible. If a wine could possess true sex appeal, the Cortinie Bianco would be a regular femme fatale. Enjoy the Cortinie well chilled (35°-40° F) or not. We think you will like it just about any way you can get it.
The 2003 Zemmer Cortinie Bianco is one of those light, lovely, crowd-pleasing wines that often are served first at an elegant dinner party – the type of wine you wish the host or hostess would continue to serve, instead of the fat ugly Chardonnay they slip in after you have had a couple of glasses of wine – in the vain hope that you won’t notice or worse: you’ll stop drinking. Certainly, the Cortinie Bianco provides ample pleasure as is, even without food. Nevertheless, the Cortinie Bianco pairs easily with most seafoods and salads and adds elegance and panache to a wide variety of light, well-prepared dishes. One of our favorite pairings is with grilled shrimp, served with a light Dijon mustard and dill sauce. Other fine food combinations include real lump crab, mixed with a chive cream and served over a Parmesan tuile; oysters sautéed in butter, cream, and fresh herbs; grilled trout with almonds; and a grilled cider braised chicken breast, served over a bed of mixed organic greens. But no matter how you choose to serve the Cortinie, we suggest you invite that special someone over to enjoy it with you.
In Cortina amidst the alpine hills and valleys of the South Tyrol (Alto Adige) nestles the Zemmer family winery. Founded in 1928 by Peter Zemmer, this family owned and run operation has recently emerged as one of the zone’s leading producers of both white and red wines, thanks to the visionary leadership of Helmuth Zemmer – the firm’s current guardian. Helmuth Zemmer credits much of his success as a winemaker to the legendary Friulian producer, Vittorio Puitti, even though Zemmer’s wines are more readily accessible when young than Puiatti’s and often exhibit a different initial set of aromatic characteristics as well. Nevertheless, the overall style of both men’s wines – pure and full throttle, especially for whites – and their consummate attention to quality are truly akin. The hallmark of Zemmer’s wines is always their pure, precise, highly focused aroma that defines the essence of the varietal or varietals from which they are made. In addition, the aroma of a Zemmer wine is merely the prelude to the rich flavors that lie within. Zemmer’s wines are consistently gratifying libations that appeal to the purist taster; they are completely unmanipulated expressions of their cepage and terroir. In other words, no smoke or mirrors are employed here. The annual harvest comes only from Zemmer’s own vineyards and those that are bound by tradition to the Zemmer property. White wines, most notably, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and a luxury blend labeled Cortinie Bianco dominate this producer’s outstanding portfolio, but Zemmer also fashions fine, full-bodied red wines that merit serious attention.
Alto Adige or Sud Tirol? In Italian, Alto Adige refers to the high or upper reaches of the Adige, the stony, swift flowing river that Ernest Hemingway immortalized in A Farewell to Arms. However, most of the world knows this stunning country as the Sud Tirol or the South Tyrol. The dual name illuminates this region’s splintered history and highlights its continuing split personality. Presently, Alto Adige is officially an autonomous region of Italy, but the Alto Adige or South Tyrol remains primarily German speaking, which underscores the fact that for most of its tortured history this beautiful alpine land of lederhosen and loden caps was an integral part of Austria. In fact, it was not until after World War I that the South Tyrol was ceded begrudgingly to Italy. In spite of or, perhaps, on account of the South Tyrol’s plurality, ethnic diversity, and historical factional violence, the present generation of winemakers in Alto Adige of both Austrian and Italian heritage have banded together in the common pursuit of happiness and prosperity. In doing so, the winemakers of the Alto Adige/ Sud Tirol have fashioned some of the highest standards for winemaking in all Italy. Consequently, more than 50 percent of the zone’s wines are DOC designated, while a substantial portion of the area’s non-DOC offerings constitute Alto Adige’s most expensive and illustrious offerings (Zemmer Cortinie Bianco for example) simply because DOC regulations do not yet provide for imaginative, luxury blends. While it may be true that white wine is the calling card of AltoAdige and that many of Italy’s finest white wines do indeed flow from its pretty hills and valleys, this industrious, forward thinking region is also renowned for its production of light to medium bodied red wines of supreme bouquet, finesse and style. So whether it be an outstanding Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco or Pinot Grigio or one of Alto Adige’s little know reds in the guise of Santa Maddalena, Teroldego, or even Lagrein, quality remains the region’s unifying factor.
Whether it is an authentic Vacherin or a simple Monterrey Jack, the Bisci Villa Castiglioni is right at home with most cow and sheep’s milk cheeses. Harvarti, Grafton Village Cheddar, and even a Pecorino Romano are just a few of the many other cheeses that will add to the gustatory pleasure of consuming a bottle of 2001 Bisci Villa Castiglioni. In turn, we believe that the natural flavors of those cheeses are enhanced as well. For more adventuresome suggestions or for the simple love of cheese, we suggest you contact our International Cheese of the Month Club at www.cheesemonthclub.com, and further partake of our love for cheese and wine.
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