Keith and Kimberly welcome Jerry English (Banfi Vintners) to the Show Today.
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US History of Riunite and Banfi Vintners
Founded in 1919, Banfi Vintners enjoys the distinction of being America’s longest standing independent and family run wine importer. Connecticut-born Giovanni Mariani spent a decade of his youth in Italy under the tutelage of his aunt Teodolinda Banfi, governess for the Archbishop of Milan who later became Pope Pius XI. She was the first woman, other than nuns, ever permitted to live in the Vatican’s Sistine Palace. Characterized as conscientious, tireless and disciplined, she inspired the same attributes in her nephew and his descendants. In the 1950’s, Giovanni’s sons John and Harry joined and expanded Banfi.
The Marianis studied the French model to raise the level of Italian wines on the world stage. At the same time, they weaned the American palate from fruit juice and soft drinks to pure and natural wine to accompany meals. With the 1967 introduction of Riunite Lambrusco, a historically semi-dry lightly sparkling wine, Riunite quickly became an American phenomenon, introducing millions to their first taste of wine and igniting the country’s love affair with Italian wine. With the memorable jingle “Riunite on Ice, That’s Nice,” Riunite became America’s #1 imported wine in 1976 and held that position for a remarkable 26 years, setting sales records that remain unmet by any other import. Today, Banfi Vintners remains one of the country’s top ten wine marketers and a leading importer of fine wine, representing a portfolio of family-owned wineries that are category leaders in their own right.
Click here to take a trip through history and view our commercials that date back to 1977. Sit back, sip a glass of Riunite, enjoy the ride through time and remember “Riunite On Ice… That’s Nice.”
March 8, 2014
Radio Guests: Jillian Johnson (Onesta Wines) and Jerry English (Banfi and Riunite)
The Wines of the Onesta Vineyards, please visit them at www.OnestaWines.com
The Wines on today’s show…
The Wines of Riunite and Banfi. Visit them at www.Banfi.com and www.Riunite.com
Please email us at wine@wineliferadio for more information (where to buy) on the wines
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by Kimberly Faye
My love for the art of tasting and recommending wine (yes, in my opinion it is an art form – file that as a note because we will be talking about that later) began in my late-twenties. My boyfriend at the time invited me to a young professionals wine tasting group run by a 30-something couple who owned an upscale restaurant in Tega Cay, South Carolina. The group met at their house monthly to taste (mostly drink) theme (region/country/varietal) selected wines and talk about the experience.
One of the guys in the group, of the 40-something age bracket, worked for a distributor and provided most of the wines for our group. Meetup didn’t exist so it was more-or-less a gathering of friends. None of us knew anything about wine except the distributor guy and he liked being the know-it-all. I guess being a wine distributor rep gave him that privilege. I was a secretary for Duke Power at the time and all I knew was I hated my job and wanted his! I knew nothing about the wine industry so I certainly didn’t know what that sort of job entailed.
I’m guessing he was the on premise rep for the hosts of the party since they owned the restaurant where his wines were sold. Anyway, all that to say, he introduced all of us to a 1988 Chateau Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon at one of our tastings. That was when I learned I had a taste the finer things in life.
After my love affair with Chateau Montelena began, I stayed in the living room with the guys tasting through all the wines while the gals in the group usually filled up their glasses and went outside to smoke weed on the the deck overlooking the lake. After we finished the business of “tasting wine” we joined the other gals on the deck and the tasting/party advanced to hot tub experiences under the Carolina sky. For the record, I liked the tasting/learning part of these get-togethers and didn’t take part in the hot tub experiences. Well, there was this once when I accidentally slipped and fell, fully clothed, into the hot tub that was recessed into the deck. I had not advanced to the fine art of spitting as I tasted. Come to think of it, no one else in the group did either. The distributor guy was not a Sommelier so he didn’t teach us that part of the tasting technique.
My envy for traveling to wine country started when guys in this group took a road trip to Napa, leaving us ladies at home to tend to the children, our jobs and other stuff. It was “a guy trip” so they said. I was jealous, but as a single mom parenting and supporting my two kids, I couldn’t afford a trip to California.
I decided that one day, when I could afford it, I was going on a wine tasting adventure. It took several years before I could make good on the promise to myself. In the meantime I started buying and tasting wines and eventually traveled throughout Europe, California, Washington and Oregon tasting wines. Heck, I’ve tasted wines in Kansas, Colorado, New York and Kentucky (just to name a few of the states) for that matter.
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Keith and Kimberly welcome Arielle Guadagni of Marchesi Torrigiani Wines.
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Michael Wray of MSU Denver sits in for Kimberly today (taking some time off with family).
Marchesi Torrigiani Wines is nestled in the heart of Florence, located above the Elsa river near Poggibonsi, about 27km north of Siena. The vineyards face a broad panorama, southwest through northwest. The principal varietals are Sangiovesi, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot with smaller lots of Colorino, and Petit Syrah.
Currently the vineyard produces 3,000-3,500 cases per year. The only product coming to the United States is going to Chicago and Denver through the family-run importer, based in Denver.
The Torrigiani family joined the world of wine in 1280 when their ancestor Ciardo Torrigiani, who became a member of the Vinter’s Guild in that same year, opened a thriving business in Florence that developed successfully in Italy and then throughout Europe.
The vineyards of Marchesi Torrigiani Wines are located in a sort of no man’s land between the Vernaccia vineyards of San Gimignano and Chianti Classico. The makeup of the soil in this area is very typical of the Florentine hills, containing erinaceous and calcareous components that originally came from the sea, as well as clay elements typical of the rougher Sienese territories.( They are actually ancient sea beds, heavily embedded with petrified seashells.)