Friday, December 19, 2014

Sagrantino: The Insider's Italian Wine

Review of 2009 Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG Wine

The first time I visited Umbria, Italy—the land of the age-worthy sagrantino grape and Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG—I'd just quit a job teaching English in Lecce in Southern Italy to take an extensive tour of Italy's wine and food; Umbria was the fifth stop in the Italy From Top to Bottom travelogue, published by EuropeUpClose.com, and there, I discovered the famous cities of Perugia and Assissi and some of the most manicured countryside in all of Italy. Picture Italian cypress trees forming dotted lines across hills and valleys; astutely straight rows of freshly harvested hay; and luxurious wineries and estates built high above, on rolling green hills. To cap it all off was the wine, and when I reached Montefalco, the center of Umbrian wine country, I was welcomed with a huge wine-drinking festival, called Cantine Aperte.



While memories of my discovery of the Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG remain strong, I have the luck of knowing where to find fine sagrantino wines in the United States to make the memories even stronger. Sagrantino is very unique grape, and if you're seeking a special holiday gift for a wine aficionado, you need look no further. With powerful tannins and flavors reminiscent of cherries and damp fall leaves, the wine has as much depth as any I've found elsewhere on the globe, but its rarity and price often keep it under the radar. They shouldn't. Prices are comparable to fine Oregon pinot noir and less than most Napa Cabs. What better time than Christmas to splurge on an exciting, sure-to-impress Italian wine? And the best sagrantinos age beautifully for 15+ years in the cellar.

I recently tasted an astoundingly deep and complex sagrantino, the 2009 Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG. Established in 1971, Arnaldo Caprai winery has been instrumental in distinguishing clones of sagrantino grape vines, and winemaker Marco Caprai stands alone in my opinion in his talent to express Umbrian terroir with the sagrantino grape.



The 2009 drinks well now, and it will only grow more complex with age. I let the bottle breathe for an hour before drinking, and the first sip was, as I said, astonishing. It was as though the wine jumped out of the bottle and challenged me to a gentleman's dual—that's how powerful, voluptuous, and multi-layered it was. The 14.5% alcohol content offers the first clue as to the size of the body. On the nose, I found a seemingly limitless number of aromas, beginning with spicy black pepper and dark chocolate and continuing with damp fall leaves, eucalyptus, and black cherry. The palate revealed mineral complexity—chalk and granite—lending a velvety mouthfeel. Tobacco and dark spices led to a bitter-chocolate finish.

More than anything, the 2009 Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG is a wine for grown-ups. It is for those who have tasted through many vintages and are looking for something potent and beautiful. The fruit is subdued; clearly, "jamminess" was not winemaker Sig. Caprai's primary goal. Pair it with grilled, smokey meats or a Christmas roast with a rich, dark sauce. To truly geek out, check out some of Umbria's traditional foods for inspiration.

WHERE TO BUY: Typically costing between $85-100 dollars, Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG is distributed nationwide by Folio Fine Wines. Check your local fine wine shop. Alternatively, if you live in AK, CA, DC, FL, MO, NV, NH, NM, ND, OR, VA, or WY, order online at www.noblemerchants.com.

Let me know what you think. Salute!

Sample Disclosure: I received this wine for review as a free media sample. Each month, I receive twenty or so offers for free wine samples. I only respond to offers that I believe will be review-worthy, and if I do not like the wine, I do not write the review.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

New Article: The Great Winter Beer Festivals of the Alaska, Oregon, and Washington

Winter beers aren’t typical brews, and likewise, holiday beer festivals aren’t typical beer festivals... 

Your guide to the best holiday beer festivals in the Pacific Northwest


Pairing food and beer is one thing, but Christmas cookies and beer? And not just any beer: winter beers, such as Midnight Sun Brewing’s Arctic Devil, a 13.2% barley wine aged in whiskey barrels. Winter beers aren’t typical brews, and likewise, holiday beer festivals aren’t typical beer festivals. Picture rooms full of jolly beer lovers clad in ugly holiday sweaters, reindeer antlers, and faux Santa beards—you may even see a full-fledged Santa or two. This mix of holiday camaraderie and high-alcohol specialty beers makes winter beer festivals the most spirited of the year. But what exactly constitutes a “winter” or “holiday” beer? In Portland, Hopworks Urban Brewery brewmaster Christian Ettinger provides a professional perspective.

“When I think of holiday ales, I think of kicking off my snowboarding boots after a powder day. I’m sitting in a ski lodge after getting my ass kicked on the mountain, and all I want is to sit in front of a fire with a big plate of nachos and a great beer.” They keep you warm; they aren’t for sipping on a palm-tree-studded beach. Read the full article online---->


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Behind the Scenes: World Beard & Mustache Competition 2014

Originally published October 25

The 2014 World Beard & Mustache Competition in Portland, Oregon, isn't over, yet, but I had to share all the amazing action happening behind the scenes. These are definitely the most amazing beards and mustaches of the world!

Ross prepares his mustache to hit the stage

Rich Bartlet getting interviewed by PBS. "The nice thing about this year is that the people who are almost there didn't come. this is top-notch here," he says. 


MJ.... wow... MJ reminds me of Motorhead in all of the best ways.



Xtopher Grey (like his FB page!) with Monica Storss

Neo G Yo & Seige prepare for a freestyle, beard-and-stache-focused hip-hop battle onstage.

Beard and mustache competitors line up to hit the stage.

The Keller Auditorium was packed.


God bless America.
Cheetos, too.
I loved this classy stache.

Life is good as a pirate.

...and with good friends.

YESSS



The 2014 World Beard and Mustache Competition is sponsored by Just For Men.

Monday, November 17, 2014

New Website Launched for Ghostwriting, Developmental Editing, & Writing Consulting


For the past year, I've been working with Micro Enterprise Services of Oregon to take my writing and editing business to the next level. This past week, I reached a milestone by launching a new website dedicated to my ghostwriting, developmental editing, and writing coaching and consulting services: www.mattiebamman.com.

The next step—after sending out travel-article pitches to AFAR, Portland Monthly, and Northwest Travel Magazine—is to hit the local colleges and libraries with flyers. Virtual advertising still has to be paired with good old fashioned community advertising! Wish me luck.

If you get a chance, take a look at the website and let me know what you think, and, if you know someone who needs help with a nonfiction book, article, website, or other written material, please consider referring me for the job. www.mattiebamman.com

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Early-Bird Registration Now Open: Northwest Travel Writers Conference - Travel & Words

Hey all— Just a quick note that early-bird registration for the Northwest Travel Writers Conference is now open. If you're a travel writer who writes about travel in the Pacific Northwest, this is your conference.

Firstly, it puts you in direct contact with editors who want to publish and are willing to pay for travel articles about the Pacific Northwest. Secondly, it's dirt cheap: $99 through January 31, 2015 (the host hotel gives significant discounts on rooms, too).

The 2015 conference will take place April 26-27, at the sprawling Sunriver Resort in Bend, Oregon. To visit Central Oregon and the 3,300-acre resort alone is enough reason to join—never mind the editors panel, networking, workshops, CVB exhibitors, and, yeah, great post-conference parties. Travel writing can be a very solitary profession, and this conference is really all about community. That's why we all volunteer our time each year to put it together.

To learn more about workshops, which editors will attend the 2015 conference, and more, check out the Northwest Travel Writers Conference here.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The New 2015 Portland Events Wall Calendar Hits Stores

Now in its fourth year, the Portland Events Wall Calendar has just hit stores with loads of new Portland events and beautiful photos of the Portland area. We also have some big news: The calendar will be sold in 43 new locations this year, including all local Fred Meyer and Albertsons. So, if you're wondering where to by the 2015 Portland Events Wall Calendar, you won't have to look far.

As always, I want to thank all of the event organizers for providing us with reliable 2015 dates so far in advance. Some of my favorite new events include the All Jane No Dick Women's Comedy Festival—a showcase of all-female comedians—and Curious Gallery—an art festival focused on wonder cabinets (you know, those strange boxes filled with everything from botanicals and bones to dolls and found objects). It's been a lot of fun working on the calendar and serving as editor for another year. I hope you all love the 2015 edition!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New Article: Wine Tasting Has Never Been Easier: Portland’s Urban Wineries


Portland urban wineries are just plain cool, and I had to write an article to share the inside scoop. The full article includes travel-guide-style information on how to go wine tasting at Portland's urban wineries. So happy to see my photos included in this Northwest Travel Magazine piece!

Enso Winery Bar Manager Paige Glowacky
Wine Tasting Has Never Been Easier: Portland's Urban Wineries

Step through the garage door at Enso Urban Winery, past the hand-painted sign from the building’s 100-year past—Storage Rates, Parking 35 cents—and enter the industrial-chic wine lounge. A chalkboard lists 17 house wines by the glass. Well-heeled Portlanders sit on couches and bar stools casually sipping happy hour bubbles and pinot noir. It soon becomes clear, this is a wine bar, and they make their own wines.

In 2011, Enso Urban Winery was the first winery in Portland to embrace a wine-bar atmosphere. “The idea came from a trip to Paris,” says winemaker Ryan Sharp. “I got on a train by myself into the Loire Valley, and then I walked 20 miles and visited three wineries. What I loved about them… they were village wineries.” With Enso, Sharp created a Portland winery, a place for wine-loving locals and travelers to connect.

Wine has never been more accessible thanks to urban wineries, where the wine is made within the city limits. Visiting urban wineries, you connect not only with local culture but also winemaking. Most urban winemakers make wine just steps from their tasting bars, and, during the fall grape harvest, the SE Wine Collective lets you join in.

To read the full article, look for this cover on newsstands or get a one-year subscription for $16.95 here.