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Columns – Pam Roberto

Tertre Roteboeuf: Saint-Émilion's Little Winery that Could
Pam Roberto
Jul 10, 2024

July 10, 2024: When you think of a Bordeaux winery, what images come to mind? If you've visited or seen photos, you're likely conjuring up visions of beautiful châteaux, meticulous vineyards, state-of-the-art facilities, and ornate barrel cellars. Tucked away on Bordeaux's right bank, however, in the southeast corner of Saint-Émilion, is an unassuming 18th century farmhouse - with peculiar looking vines, dirt on the cellar floor, and no shiny equipment - making wines that rank among the region's finest. Welcome to the home of Tertre Roteboeuf and its unorthodox winemaker, François Mitjavile.

Wonderful White Wines of Piedmont
Pam Roberto
May 7, 2024

May 7, 2024: For Italian wine lovers, Piedmont is an embarrassment of riches. From Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy's most majestic and revered wines, to more budget-friendly sippers like Barbera and Dolcetto, Piedmont has firmly cemented its reputation for stellar red wine production. But beyond these illustrious names, the region is also a treasure trove of less famous - but no less intriguing - grapes, including several native white varieties deserving of recognition. Nestled in the northwest corner of Italy, Piedmont translates to 'the foot of the mountain,' a fitting description for a region bounded by the Alps to the north and west and the Apennines to the south. Its hilly terrain, warm sunny days, and cool nights are ideal for quality white wines, but production has long skewed towards meeting demand for the region's popular sweet sparklers - spumantes from Asti and lightly fizzy Moscato d'Asti wines - rather than dry white table wines. Overshadowed by the region's high caliber reds and cheerful sparkling wines, many of Piedmont's white grapes teetered on the verge of extinction in the 20th century. The economic toll of phylloxera and two world wars prompted farmers to abandon less-desirable grape varieties, replacing them with higher yielding and more profitable alternatives. Fortunately, a handful of local winemakers saw promise in their native vines and refused to give up on them. Thanks to their passion and perseverance, the past few decades have witnessed the revival of dry white wines made from historic Piedmontese varieties like Arneis, Cortese, Erbaluce, Nascetta, and Timorasso.

Eight Great Reasons to Take a Wine Study Abroad Trip
Pam Roberto
Mar 20, 2024

March 20, 2024: From picturesque villages to medieval castles, lazy rivers, tranquil hills, and snow-capped mountains, great wine regions have no shortage of breathtaking scenery. Besides the jaw-dropping views, traveling through the heart of wine country provides a wealth of opportunities to explore new wines, savor outstanding local food, and build connections with the people and places behind each bottle. Walking through vineyards and cellars creates a context unlike any other for wine appreciation, offering unparalleled insight into how subtle nuances in landscape, soil, and climate translate into why a wine tastes and smells as it does. If you're like me and the mere mention of wine and vacation in the same sentence sends you spiraling off into wistful daydreams, or you're seeking new opportunities to merge your love of travel with your love of wine, I highly recommend checking out the popular study abroad tours run by the Wine Scholar Guild (WSG) and the Napa Valley Wine Academy (NVWA).

Mount Etna: A New Generation of Undeniable Excellence
Pam Roberto
Jan 24, 2024

Jan. 24, 2024: 'A muntagna. The mountain. That's what the locals call Mount Etna, the colossal volcano that overshadows a large swath of the eastern Sicilian coastline. As Europe's tallest active volcano, Mount Etna peaks at more than 11,000 feet (3,300 meters) above sea level, although that measure ebbs and flows along with its near constant activity. Vineyards have dotted the slopes since antiquity, first cultivated thousands of years ago by the Greeks and Romans, and more recently by a growing number of talented winemakers with local roots as well as from elsewhere in Italy and abroad. Over the past two decades, Etna has shed its reputation as a leading producer of Sicilian bulk wine and embarked on a winemaking renaissance. Characterized by a newfound emphasis on quality and desire to maximize the region's potential through a better understanding of its terroir, Etna's revival has propelled the region into the international spotlight.

Is Portugal's Douro Valley on Your Radar? It Should Be...
Pam Roberto
Nov 1, 2023

Nov. 1, 2023: Portugal's Douro Valley is one of the oldest and most historic regions in the world of wine. Officially demarcated and regulated since 1756, UNESCO designated the region as a World Heritage Site in 2001 for its unique landscape and centuries-long history of viticulture. It currently holds the title of European City of Wine for 2023, an annual award that celebrates local traditions and promotes tourism in places where wine is an integral part of the culture. With its spectacular landscape, intriguing grape varieties, ancestral winemaking techniques, and exceptional quality wines, the Douro Valley is a one-of-a-kind region that wine lovers shouldn't miss.