Italian Grapes from Unti Vineyards at the Winter Grill #ItalianFWT

Italian Grapes Go International with #ItalianFWT
This month, our Italian Food, Wine and Travel bloggers are leaving Italy (gasp!) in search of Italian grapes that have emigrated. French grapes have become quite international, perhaps even forgetting their origin; but Italian grapes? We don’t often see them outside Italy.  To see what my fellow ItalianFWT bloggers have discovered, just scroll down to the bottom of this post for a list of links to a host of discoveries.

Unti Vineyards in Dry Creek Valley
On our very first trip to Sonoma, someone recommended we visit Unti Vineyards and we’re so glad we did! Father (George) and Son (Mick) Unti started Unti Vineyards winery in 1997 after planting and growing grapes in 1990. As lovers of European wines, they recognized that Dry Creek Valley had a perfect climate for typical Mediterranean grapes, so they decided to see how they would express themselves in California. Vineyards are farmed organically, and winemaking is meticulous and clean while still keeping traditional elements. They use indigenous yeasts, ferment in small lots, minimal sulfur use and no corrective techniques like acidification, alcohol adjustments. Their tasting room is very nice, but functional; you’ll know you’re in a winery.  If you find yourself planning a trip to Sonoma soon, give them a call and schedule a visit!

Unti Vineyards Fiano 2016

Unti Vineyards Fiano 2016 (purchased at the winery $28, or online here) 13.6% abv
Fiano is a white grape typically grown in Campania; think Naples! It makes a white wine with rich texture.
Eye: Medium lemon
Nose: Medium intensity aromas of white blossom, just ripe pear, green apple, lemon, fresh thyme, wet gravel.
Mouth: Dry, high acidity, medium plus body with a round texture, medium alcohol, medium intensity flavors, long finish lingering with pears and herbs. Flavors are similar to the aromas with fresh pears, thyme, gravel.
Observations: Very fresh and youthful even though it’s a 2016, I would happily hold on to this wine longer to see it develop further. Delicious now, but likely to be even better in a few more years.

Unti Vineyards Montepulciano 2014

Unti Vineyards Montepulciano 2014 (purchased at the winery $45, or online here) 14.3% abv
Montepulciano is a red grape with thick skins, grown mainly in Le Marche and Abruzzo. It makes a deeply colored, tannic red wine.
Eye: Deep ruby
Nose: Medium plus intensity aromas of sweet, ripe blueberries, blackberries, black plums, cedar, dried oregano, cocoa
Mouth: Dry, medium plus acidity, medium plus fine grained tannins, full body, high alcohol, medium plus intensity flavors and a lingering berry filled finish. Flavors echo the aromas with sweet ripe blueberries, cedar, dried oregano, cocoa.
Observations: Still youthful after 6 years, this wine has plenty of life left. It’s drinking very nicely now with plenty of ripe fruit and a nice acid and tannin backbone.

Cooking at the grill is a bit more informal than a cover shot, but it tastes just fine.

Cooking the Cover of Food & Wine with Unti Vineyards
Two of my favorite cooking challenges are:

  • Converting an indoor kitchen recipe to ceramic grill preparation, and
  • Cooking and photographing my version of a featured magazine recipe

This month, I tackled Food & Wine Magazine’s Cover: Roast Chicken with Chile Basil Vinaigrette  This chicken preparation is delicious, even more-so if you are a garlic lover as the marinade includes 6 heads of garlic! While the preparation is pretty easy, note that you’ll need to start a day or two in advance.  Whether you give the grill a try or stay in the kitchen, the results are well worth the time invested.

Far from Italy, Fiano and Montepulciano feel right at home at Unti Vineyards

ItalianFWT Bloggers Find Italian Grapes Outside of Italy
Take a look below at all our Italian grapes which have snuck out of Italy. Please join our group conversation on Saturday March 6, 10-11am CST. We chat on Twitter at #ItalianFWT.

28 Responses to “Italian Grapes from Unti Vineyards at the Winter Grill #ItalianFWT”
  1. culinarycam says:

    I am thrilled to make the acquaintance of Unti Vineyards. And I am more than a little intrigued by a recipe that uses six HEADS of garlic. Oh, my!

    • I think you’ll love Unti. As for the 6 cloves, they are roasted early on, much softening their impact. Still, everyone at the table had better eat some or be sorry!

  2. I love Finao and your sounds lovely. And what is that chicken? Oh my gosh, pulling up that recipe now!

  3. Been a while since I tasted an Unti wine; would love to try both of the ones you’ve featured. Thanks for the reminder – going on my shopping list!

  4. robincgc says:

    Nice work on that chicken recipe! I have been starring at that cover on my coffee table, I would not have thought to try it on the grill. Bravo!

  5. terristeffes says:

    That chicken sounds wonderful and thank you for doing all the hard work of converting the recipe for a grill. I love that you went to a winery for your wine. I cannot wait to do more of that!

  6. wendyklik says:

    Your dish looks pecture perfect….I’m happy to have a new vintner to try especially since they can be ordered on line.

  7. We too are Unti fans Jeff. Haven’t had the pleasure of the Fiano, abut I’ve has the Montepuciano. Lovely wines! And you nailed the cover photographically and I’m guessing gastronomically as well!

  8. Love Fiano and that chicken dish sounds amazing. Need to put Unti on my wine list.

  9. New winery for me– love that they are unpretentious, small, about family, and organic! Beautiful photos, too, Jeff.

  10. Lynn says:

    In my years living in Sacramento, and even six in Sonoma, I failed to visit Unti- darn! All the more reason to vacation in Sonoma our next trip. On the pairing and photo- Food and Wine should hire you!

  11. Nicole Ruiz Hudson says:

    Unti has been on my to-visit list for ages. Some friends introduced us to the wines a few years ago and we always enjoy them. The chicken looks just like cover and completely mouthwatering!

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