Monthly Archives: March 2014

Polar Bears

I am reblogging this post that was published today on The World According to Dina, a magnificent blog about the northern part of the world, photography, literature and symbolism.

The post is the result of a recent collaboration project on Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) between one of the authors of that blog, Dr Klausbernd Vollmar, a German-raised, English-resident psychologist, symbologist and author, and myself. When Klausbernd asked me if I wanted to be a part of this project, I was very excited and honored and of course I enthusiastically jumped on board!

More specifically, the post/article contains a part with general natural history information about polar bears (this is the portion that I researched and contributed) and a part dealing with the symbolism of the polar bear (which Klausbernd authored), plus a selection of my polar bear photographs.

I am very pleased of this collaboration and I think the end result shows the hard work that both of us put into it – but of course I will let you, dear readers, be the judge of it if you feel like visiting The World According to Dina (which I think you should, regardless of this specific post) and reading the article! Needless to say, your feedback would be most welcome! ūüôā



Der Eisbär

General Information
Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world and the most carnivorous of the bear species: they primarily feed on seals and, to a lesser extent, walrus and beluga whale. In search of their prey, they may often be found in areas of shifting, cracking ice where seals may surface to breathe air. Adult males (which are larger than females) measure up to 2,5 m in length and can weigh up to 720 kg!
Since they spend much of their time on Arctic sea ice, they have evolved to adapt to such extreme conditions: their white fur provides camouflage in their environment and is thicker than any other bears’, even covering their feet for both warmth and traction on ice; their skin is black to absorb heat from sun rays; and a thick layer of fat provides buoyancy and insulation. Polar bears…

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Wine Review: Montelvini, Prosecco di Asolo Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry “Venegazz√Ļ” DOCG NV

Disclaimer: this review is of a sample that I received from the producer’s US importer. My review has been conducted in compliance with my Samples Policy and the ISA wine tasting protocol and the opinions I am going to share on the wine are my own.

Montelvini, Asolo Prosecco Superiore Millesimato DOCG Extra DryIt has recently been reported that, in 2013, worldwide sales of Prosecco were for the first time greater than those of Champagne (307 million vs 304 million bottles, respectively – thank you Franklin Liquors for sharing the link to this piece of news).

In spite of such a commercial achievement, if you have been following this blog for a while, you may recall that generally speaking I am not a big fan of Prosecco, with very few exceptions. I just like the extra complexity and structure that is typical of a Classic Method sparkling wine (like Champagne or Franciacorta, for instance) over the simpler, fruitier profile of a Charmat-Martinotti Method sparkler (like Prosecco). If you are not familiar with the two methods, please refer to my previous posts on the Classic Method and on the Charmat-Martinotti Method.

Having said that, I am always happy to try and taste new Prosecco’s to hopefully add new… “exceptions” to my list. So I was excited when representatives of Italian Prosecco producer Montelvini were kind enough to have a couple samples of their premium Prosecco (Montelvini, Prosecco di Asolo Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry “Venegazz√Ļ” DOCG NV – $15) delivered to me so I could taste it and possibly review it.

Now, let’s see how it was.

The Bottom Line

Overall,¬†I quite liked this Prosecco (despite being slightly irked by its label)¬†and I appreciated its¬†fine perlage, considering that the Charmat-Martinotti Method¬†generally results in bigger bubbles. It is a nice, easy to drink¬†sparkler with an appealing quality-to-price ratio: it has pleasant¬†mouth flavors and mineral hints that make up for¬†its not very complex or intense aromas. It definitely has its place as a Spring-y/Summer-y “cool but not intimidating” ūüėČ aperitivo.

Rating: Good and  Good Р$

(Explanation of our Rating and Pricing Systems)

About the Grape and the Appellation

The main grape variety that is used in the production of the wine Prosecco was called Prosecco Tondo (now Glera) which DNA profiling has shown to be identical to a rare variety that is indigenous to the Istria region of Croatia named Teran Bijeli. This evidence supports the theory of an Istrian origin for the Prosecco/Glera grape variety. Glera is a partly-aromatic white-berried grape variety (grape variety information taken from Wine Grapes, by Robinson-Harding-Vouillamoz, Allen Lane 2012).

Prosecco wine is made in two Italian DOCG appellations and in one more loosely regulated inter-regional DOC appellation, as follows:

  • Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene¬†(or simply¬†Prosecco di Valdobbiadene)¬†DOCG¬†in the Veneto region, near the town of Treviso;
  • Prosecco dei Colli Asolani (or Prosecco di Asolo) DOCG¬†in the Veneto region, near and including the town of Asolo (this is the appellation of the wine we are reviewing today);
  • Prosecco Spumante DOC, an appellation which covers a vast territory stretching between the regions of Veneto and Friuli.

Montelvini Estate, Asolo

The Montelvini estate in Asolo (image courtesy of Montelvini)

With regard to residual sugar levels, according to applicable regulations, Prosecco spumante wines may be produced in any of the following styles, and therefore except only in the Extra Brut (less than 6 gr/lt of residual sugar) or Sweet (more than 50 gr/lt of residual sugar) versions:

  • Brut¬†(less than 15 gr/lt of residual sugar)
  • Extra Dry¬†(12 to 20 gr/lt of residual sugar)
  • Dry¬†(17 to 35 gr/lt of residual sugar ‚Äď as in the case of the bottle that we are reviewing)
  • Demi-Sec¬†(33 to 50 gr/lt of residual sugar, which would make it taste quite sweet).

For more detailed information¬†about Prosecco and the Glera grape variety, please refer to¬†our post on the Charmat-Martinotti Method¬†and to¬†the¬†‚ÄúGlera‚ÄĚ entry¬†in our¬†Grape Variety Archive.

About the Producer and the Estate

The Serena family,¬†who owns Montelvini, has been in the wine making business for 130 years in the hilly area surrounding the town of Asolo in Italy’s Veneto region. Nowadays, they manage 35 HA of vineyards in four different estates, with Glera, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon being the most cultivated grapes, accounting in the aggregate for 85% of the total vines,¬†with an average density of 4,500 vines/HA.

Montelvini: Alberto, Sarah and Armando Serena

The Serena family (image courtesy of Montelvini)

The annual production is 3 million bottles, 20% of which are exported to 36 countries. The Montelvini winery accommodates 48 temperature-controlled autoclaves dedicated to the production of Charmat-Martinotti Prosecco sparkling wines.

Our Detailed Review

The wine we are going to review today is Montelvini,¬†Prosecco di Asolo Superiore Millesimato Extra Dry “Venegazz√Ļ” DOCG NV, which retails in the U.S. for about $15.

The wine¬†is made from 100% Glera grapes, has 12% ABV, a pressure of 5.6 ATM and comes in the¬†‚ÄúExtra Dry‚ÄĚ variety, with 15 gr/lt¬†residual sugar.

One thing that I did not like is the use of the word “Millesimato” on the label of the wine. In Italian that word refers to the vintage of a wine, particularly a sparkling wine, and is utilized to distinguish a vintage sparkler from a non-vintage one. However, the label of the Prosecco that we are reviewing does not contain any indication of the vintage of the wine, which makes the use of the term “Millesimato” pointless or even potentially misleading. I believe Montelvini should either keep the word “Millesimato” and include the year of the harvest (if their wine is in fact a vintage wine) or drop the use of “Millesimato” altogether if their wine is non-vintage.

Anyway, let’s move on to the actual review of this Prosecco.

As usual, for my review I will use a simplified version of the ISA wine tasting protocol that we described in a previous post: should you have doubts as to any of the terms used below please refer to that post for a refresher.

In the glass, the wine was brilliant and pale straw yellow in color. Its bubbles were in the average in number, fine and long-lasting. A very nice perlage.

On the nose, its bouquet was moderately intense, moderately complex and of fair quality, with aromas of apple, white blossoms and hints of tangerine.

In the mouth, it was off-dry, with medium ABV and moderately smooth; it was acidic and tasty. It was medium-bodied and balanced, with intense and fine mouth flavors reminiscent of apples with hints of tangerines and minerals. It had a medium finish and its evolutionary state was mature, meaning: do not cellar, drink now to enjoy its freshness.

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley at Twilight

Half Dome and Yosemite Valley at twilight

Just a quick post to say hello to everyone!

This photograph was taken at twilight of majestic Half Dome in California’s Yosemite National Park.¬†Located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley and rising 8,842 feet (2,650 meters) above sea level, Half Dome is a true park icon and a great challenge for many hikers. George Anderson was the first one to make it to the top of Half Dome in 1875. Nowadays, Half Dome may be conquered via a 14- to 16-mile long trail (round-trip) which takes hikers in good shape about 10 to 12 hours to complete – a permit is required: you can find more information on the National Park Service’s website.

Hope you enjoy the image – have a great weekend, you all! ūüôā

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to brow. se my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)