Wine Gift Baskets
We get to have a lot of fun here at Fancifull. Of course there are all the wine and gourmet products we taste (hey, have to make sure all the wine and gourmet gift baskets are properly stocked with great foods!) But we also get a kick out of all the custom gift baskets we get to design. This week’s winner as the most fun gift basket was the one we did for Greene and Associates for Big Love. It contained four dolls which were just downright eerie – but then there was that big bottle of Cristal. Take a look at the photo we snapped. How fun is that?
Need a customized gift for your business or production? We do corporate gift baskets also.
Piemonte was a pilgrimage for me and Wally. It is home of the Slow Food Movement, great cheese, and some of the most popular Italian Wines. Barolo is made there from the Nebbiolo grape, and is considered “The wine of kings and the king of wines.” I also knew with all the different vineyards, grapes, and designations that, like Burgundy, Piemonte was going to require a personal visit so I could wrap my head around this magical land of wine and food.
While there we were lucky enough to meet with several winemakers, all of whom made marvelous wines that are available to us in the U.S. One of our favorites Mauro Veglio. We met with his wife and partner, Daniela. She was charming and funny, with a beautiful cantina set off by a huge half-circle window overlooking the vineyards that was the perfect vantage point for Daniela to school us on the different vineyards and grapes of the region.
Terry and Daniela in front of the half circle window
We sampled their Dolcetto, Barbera, and Barolos over a course of an hour or so. Now here is the exciting part: We have the Dolcetto and Barbera here in our shop now for your gift baskets. The Dolcetto is bright and vibrant, the Barbera a bit heavier, and both with a good acidity that pairs perfectly with the fatty foods of Piemonte. Both of these wines are featured together in one of our most popular Italian Gift Baskets: La Dolce Vita – the Piemonte version! Of course, you can always opt for one of them in many of our wine gift baskets as well.
The Sicilian Village Olives are by far, the most popular olive (and possibly product) we carry in our shop and in our gift baskets. Every time I serve them at a tasting I hear the exclamations, “Oh my goodness, these are amazing”, and they sell out. I have other good olives, but there is something special about these.
Here is what Dave Quartaro, President of Sicilian Village has to say about his process and why his olives are so darn good:
“Nothing else comes close to the taste of a Sicilian olive. That’s because good things take time and, in today’s hurry-up-and-go world, most olive producers take shortcuts – like using chemicals to rush the curing process. Not at Sicilian Village.
Our olives are carefully picked, then allowed to cure naturally in salt – without any rush – until their flavors develop fully. Next, they marinate slowly until they’re infused with the seasonings of a recipe that’s generations old. Only then do we allow the Sicilian Village olives to leave our premises.”
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We are very proud to be carrying a full line Di Camillo products, a family run bakery with humble beginnings in Niagra Falls, New York delivering bread to neighbors in horse-drawn wagons. Di Camillo is still family run, into their fourth generation.
In their own words: “Every product of the Di Camillo Baking Company derives from our family heritage, from our traditions, from our belief that exquisite foods lovingly prepared are not only an art form, but also an expression of life—reminders of past celebrations, heralds of celebrations to come.”
Their long success is owed in part to their dedication to making classic Italian cookies and confection without lowering their standards one iota. Our first introduction to Di Camillo was through their Biscotti di Vino over twenty years ago, and it continues to be one of our best selling products in our shop and our wine gift baskets. This barely sweet crunchy biscuit, made with red wine and topped with sesame seeds, is always a best seller when served at the tastings we hold in our shop. Long time clients now just enter and ask, “Are you serving those biscuits?” We’ve tried imitators, but they don’t come close to the taste of the real thing.
The pride they have in their product is on display in the packaging as well. Ornate tins and boxes make an aesthetic centerpiece in a gift basket or as a stand alone gift. Their hamper is one of our most popular cookie gift baskets. They certainly get noticed, which is what you want your gift to do. The tins live on long after the cookies are devoured.
At Fancifull we are driven to find authentic, wholesome foods created by artisans. This is why we delight in bringing you Di Camillo Bakery products.
Today’s topic is a rare Italian wine from Piemonte – Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato. If you’ve visited the Fancifull Gift Baskets web site or followed any of our blogs, I’m sure you’ve noticed how passionate we are about the foods we carry in our store and put into our gift baskets. Many of these require some clarification. This is certainly true in the case of the lovely Ruchè grape with it’s enticing floral and wild berry aromas.
“If it’s so good”, you may ask, “why haven’t I heard of it before it appeared as an option in one of your wine gift baskets?” Well, there are two reasons. Firstly, there just isn’t much of it! The Ruchè grape production comes from a mere 100 acres of vines in the region of Castagnole di Monferrato, which is near Asti in Piemonte, Northern Italy.
Secondly, the wines that get the attention in this area are the three B’s made from the Nebbiolo grape: Barbara, Barbaresco and Barolo! Tough competition indeed. But Ruchè (pronounced roo-KAY) is an absolute delight to have on the dinner table – and at a very affordable price. So, next time you want to send someone an Italian gift basket or just surprise them with a new wine in one of our wine gift baskets. I highly recommend this rare little gem that we have here. My mouth is watering just thinking of it and a creamy Gorgonzola cheese. And I’m really looking forward to trying this wine with the winemaker at his vineyard next week. Yes, we are headed for Italy, and this is one of our stops. Buon appetito!
My husband, Wally, and I have just returned from France and I can hardly express what a great time we had.
One of the highlights was meeting with Sylvain Fadat at his vineyard in Montpeyroux.
His Domaine d’Aupilhac Montpeyroux is one of our favorite wines and is included in many of our wine gift baskets. It’s the favorite at our wine tastings, too. And, after meeting him, it’s obvious why his wines are so good.
Sylvain is an artisan. His enthusiasm for his wine and life shows in everything he does. He even farms organically. It takes a lot more work, but it improves both the quality of the wine and the environment, so he wouldn’t have it any other way. You should hear his stories of the scare tactics the chemical companies use to try to sell him their product. Luckily, he knows better.
He took us on a tour through his cave and his vineyards. We met his lovely wife, tasted wines, and then he insisted on taking us to lunch! Oh yeah, he also gave us a couple bottles of his wine not available in the US.
If you haven’t tried his fantastic Domaine d’Aupilhac, you should.
The Languedoc has long been the top producing wine area in France. Unfortunately, it has also been known for producing the worst wines in France. Sylvain and other vingernons (vintners) of a similar mind and dedication are changing all that.
The night before we met with Sylvain we ate at Le Mimosa, a small but well-known restaurant in the neighboring village of St Guiraud. They served us a different wine with every course, all of them from the Languedoc. It demonstrated the diversity and quality of the wines coming from this region right now. It was a night to remember. Among the wines we tasted was a Carignan that was also made by Sylvain. It came with the cheese course and sang with the Roquefort (also from the same area). We’re going to get that wine here if we can.
And if you’re ever in the south of France, you should get yourself to Le Mimosa. You’ll be glad you did.
Regarding the wines in our gift baskets, remember that you can select Domaine d’Aupilhac to be included in many of our wine gift baskets. It’s a great wine and sells for $25. Great with lamb, steaks or just by itself. Cheers!
Click Here to go to Sylvain’s Domaine d’Aupilhac website.
in his cellar in Burgundy.
One of the highpoints of our visit to Burgundy was our meeting with Philippe Colin in his cave in Chassagne-Montrachet. In 2004 the Domaine Michel Colin-Déléger was divided between Michel and his two sons, Philippe and Bruno. Philippe’s 2004 Chassagne-Montrachet was a knockout with a beautiful nose of white flowers and tropical fruit, lovely in the mouth with a pleasing acidity in the finish and a hint of citrus.
We wanted to meet him, and with the assistance of Anthony and Stephany of Kermit Lynch Imports an appointment was arranged.
We were informed that his English was very good. Nice news because our French isn’t all that hot. So we were very excited when we showed up at his door early one morning.
The excitement quickly turned to a mild terror when we found out he hardly spoke English at all. But what a gracious man. He didn’t seem to be offended at all by our butchery of the French language as he led us through a barrel tasting of some of his yet to be released wines, and a bottle tasting of some older vintages.
And despite the language problems we were able to communicate about the subject we all cared about – his glorious wines.
If you are unfamiliar with the white wines of Burgundy, this would be a good place to start and find out what can really be done with a chardonnay grape. I have to warn you, though, once you’ve discovered these wines, there’s no turning back.