This Summer, Invite Il Bastardo and La Bastarda #ItalianFWT


From Italy, here’s the affordable and fun couple you want to see this summer! She’s a sassy sweet-tart sweetheart Pinot Grigio who grew up in on the island of Sicily and he’s more of a lighthearted sweetheart fruit tart, a Sangiovese from Toscana in central Italy. Take her to the pool and him on a picnic! No need to #maskup to enjoy their company!

Simple wines, simple pleasures for complex times.

Renzo Masi, a family-run company, has made wine for three generations. By focusing on long -term contracts and relationships with growers which include consulting on vineyard management, they can release wines such as these with an excellent quality for the price.


While our menu is homemade, you can make this an easy week night or weekend meal by purchasing ready made bread, pesto, salad kit, and frozen or fresh lasagna! With wines as inexpensive as these two, you can buy one of each and pair them with the foods they work with best– salad and pesto with the pinot grigio, lasagna with the red. We were surprised to find, however, that you could do either of these wines with this menu!

  • Home made herbed sourdough bread
  • Homemade nasturtium pesto
  • Italian cheeses
  • Cesar salad with homemade anchovy dressing and nasturtium flowers
  • Homemade Lasagna (with sausage on one side and vegetarian on the other)

La Bastarda Pinot Grigio 

Pale, svelte, glamorous, Blanca, the young lady from Sicily, has no clue about her father. While a “little uncomfortable with her “La Bastarda” nickname. She does, however, love her Sicilian mother’s cooking – fish and shellfish, eggplant caponata, Sicilian rice balls and Trapani-style couscous,” says the press release.

  • 100% Pinot Grigio from Sicily
  • Harvested to be ripe and fruity, but with plenty of natural acidity
  • Pressed then transferred to stainless steel
  • Tanks are temperature-controlled to below 55°F to safeguard freshness and aroma
  • Available in 750ml. bottles (except in NY, where 1.5-L bottles are also now available)
  • Typically 12.5% alcohol by volume

Color: Pale lemon

Nose: Butterscotch, lemon curd, citrus flowers.

Palate: Lemony, tart, honey lemon drop.

Pairing: So fabulous with the Cesar salad, as well as the nasturshim pesto. This wine would go well with any seafood dish. “I made linguine with clam sauce the other night and this wine would be perfect with it,” says Sue. While you don’t usually think of having white wine with red sauce, this wine did not fight with the lasagne dinner at all.

2017 Il Bastardo Rosso di Toscana – 

Out for the day on his Vespa, “Young Rubio, like the Sangiovese he represents, is fruity, a tad fleshy and full of fun, as you’ll see from his picture on the label. Rubio enjoys a steady diet of pizza, his mom’s divine pasta dishes and an occasional burger (just don’t tell mom). The identity of Rubio’s father is a mystery, but let it be known that he’s a very happy bastard,” says the press release. His stomping grounds and primary source of grapes for Il Bastardo Sangiovese is the vineyards of his native Rufina.

Il Bastardo Sangiovese di Toscana

  • 100% Sangiovese, chiefly from Tuscany’s Rufina district, but also including grapes from vineyards nearby
  • Grapes macerated for 10 days in stainless steel for a bring, lively, fruit-forward Sangiovese (“more red than orange,” according to Paolo Masi)
  • Medium-bodied; typically 13% alcohol by volume
  • Drink now or cellar 2-3 years
  • Label design inspired by importer’s fondness for Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero

Color: Ruby, brick rim.

Nose: Sweet fruit, fruity fruit. Cherry, plum, violets, baking spice.

Palate: Smells sweeter than it tastes! Eucalyptus, menthol, tart cherry, tannins.

Pairing: We were surprised that this did not go well with the pecorino, romano, or the parmesean cheeses; it did however like the smoked mozzarella. Sue wanted a roasted garlic flat bread topped with the smoked mozzarella and this wine. Very nice with anise seed cookies topped with fig and olive tapenade. The wine also went well with the Cesar Salad, it made the wine very fruity, it played so well with the salty anchovies. So fantastic with the herbed bread, bringing out a nice sweetness in the bread and an herbasousness in the wine. It also really loves the nutmeg in the lasagne.


What’s Up With The 2020 World Wine Tasting Challenge: where, who, how

The 2019 World Wine Tasting Challenge at Chateau Chambord, France with the South African team on the right and the US team on the left; that’s me in the ball cap! Yes, the event was held IN part of the castle! photo courtesy of organizer La Revue du Vin de France.

It seems crazy now, but this time last year, I had almost no experience tasting wine blind, no plans to compete to be on the US Wine Tasting team organized by Wine Acuity and no intention to go to France for the World Tasting Championship, a blind wine tasting challenge sponsored by the French magazine La Revue du Vin de France..

But two weeks later, on Sunday July 14, 2019, Sue and I blind tasted our way through six whites and six reds, identifying varietal, country and region of origin, the year and the producer to earn 92 points which put us in second place in the US Wine Tasting Open.

This put us on the US Wine Tasting Team (more about that here)– which would pay for travel, food and accommodations to compete in the World Tasting Championships held at the beautiful Chateau Chambord, one of the most impressive castles in France (more about how that went here). 

Read about how the competition works with blind wine tasting tips here.

And the good news is that– even in the time of COVID with so many cancellations–  Continue reading

Super Tuscans: Keep Your Sassicaia, I’ll take the Sangiovese #ItalianFWT

Sangiovese lovingSue shows off her purple teeth: we asked these three after a practice for the US Wine Tasting Team!

“Sassicaia, Sassicaia, all they want is Sassicaia!” wailed the young sommelier from China during a tasting lab of Sangiovese  and other Italian indigenous grapes during the VinItaly Wine Ambassador Course in Los Angeles in February 2019.

“How can I get them to try something else?” she asked plaintively. The group of wine professionals gathered weighed in, but none of the suggestions seemed to click. Continue reading

You Ready for Another #RoséDay? Here’s 6 From Around the World!

Another day, another Rosé Day? 

YES! Especially when it is summer time and grill time!

Here’s six — from bubbles to sweet from six countries around the world– for you to consider today or for International Rosé Day, celebrated on the fourth Friday each June. Also, of the six, two are kosher and two are organic, and the grapes range from pinot noir to tempranillo to grenache to Zweigelt and more! Continue reading

Not So Private Idaho: Fujishin Family Cellars 2014 Late Harvest Riesling

Eleven years ago, the state of Idaho declared June as Idaho Wine and Cider Month to commemorate its growing wine industry and to encourage support of local grape growers and winemakers. Of course events this year are a little different considering COVID-19! However, June is still the perfect opportunity to call attention to this up-coming region– one where wine has been grown for longer than you might think– people just don’t know that where you can grow potatoes, the temperatures are great for growing wine grapes!

One of the fastest-growing wine regions in the country, Idaho is home to more than 60 wineries and vineyards with 1,300 acres of wine grapes.

Continue reading

10 of Champagne’s Unexpected Pleasures: 24 hours In and Around Reims, France for #Winophiles

Sue and I on the TGV, a bullet train that zips from Charles de Gaulle airport to Reims in no time! Order your ticket in advance for best prices!

  1. Taking the bullet train from the airport to Reims at sunset after taking a red-eye from LAX.

    Sue waits at the brand new train station just outside of Reims You’ll need a ride or to take a local train to get into town.

  2. Having an appointment at biodynamic winery with Cyril Collard first thing in the morning where you get to meet the son and the father, visit the cellar, taste your first red wine made in Bouzy, Champagne, and learn how they moved from selling commercially made grapes to making their own biodynamic wines.

    Former sommelier Cyril Collard with his dad in their tasting room in Bouzy. You should call in advance to make an appointment!

  3. Enjoying a leisurely lunch on the mainly pedestrian Place de Erlon in downtown Reims with a view of a famous fountain and sculpture.

    The Place de Erlon features this fountain, Sube, that depicts the four rivers of the region with a sculpture on top La Glorie. The streets in this part of town are largely pedestrian. You should definitely plan some down time relaxing and listening to the water!


  4.  Using a tablet to take a tour of Reim’s Notre Dame Cathedral and downtown.

    You can spend a few minutes or a few hours; plan to join a tour to climb the towers!


  5. Understanding because of the world wars why there’s so much art deco architecture and seeing vibrant color and art everywhere.

    You can take the walking tour with the tablet or just wander around on your own!


  6. Gazing on the Mars Arch from when Romans ruled the western world including this part of France.

    You will feel dwarfed by the size and the age of this Roman Empire Arch from the 3c that’s at one end of a park at the edge of downtown near the new metro center.


  7. Resting in a hammock in the park near the Mars Arch.

    Got jet lag? Reims has hammocks! You could spend all day in this park near the Mars arch! A grocery store nearby could provide all you need for your picnic!


  8. Meeting a friend at the L’Epicerie Au Bon Manger, a small epicurean market with exquisite humanely raised charcuterie and natural wines (and then learning you can support them during COVID-19 and order from them online!).

    You will have a difficult time choosing cheeses and charcuterie from the wide selection!

  9. Checking out the nightlife and wine bars after dark including the Glue Pot.

    You can find the Glue Pot and many other resources on Facebook!

  10. A late night stop to check out — and participate in– the pressing of biodynamic grapes gravity fed into barrel.

Continue reading

A Preview to Champagne’s Unexpected Pleasures with the French #Winophiles

late night cranking in Champagne 

When the #Winophiles sought subjects for 2020 prompts, Sue suggested we do “unexpected pleasures” in Champagne.

Wine Predators Gwendolyn Alley and Sue Hill take a selfie in Reims outside the Cathedral.

Because when we were there in advance of competing in the World Wine tasting Championships, we of course expected Continue reading