Tag Archives: wine tasting

Generations of Style and Innovation: The Wines of Michele Chiarlo

Though Michele Chiarlo didn’t start producing wines in his name until 1956, his pedigree set him up for greatness. Seven generations of winemakers before him handed down the traditions of Italian wine-making that Michele still holds onto today. However, Michele was determined to make Piedmont, a region almost unknown to the rest of the world, a force to be reckoned with. He knew that by making changes to the old-world traditions, he would stir up controversy. By the 1980s, he was convinced that in order to bring the tremendous wines of the Piedmont to the rest of the world, changes had to be made.

Previous to Michele and other proponents of the “modern style,” such as Gaja and Sandrone, the Nebbiolo-based wines of Barolo and Barbaresco took decades to mature, and when they did, they were often austere and acidic. Michele was the first to use new French oak barrels, limit vineyard yields, and introduce temperature controls during vinification. These components allowed for more fruit to show and gave the wines softer tannins, allowing for earlier consumption. Some argue that this was the Americanization of Barolo and Barbaresco, but Michele found a way to balance the traditional rustic, earthy characteristics of the terroir of the regions while highlighting the beauty of the Nebbiolo grape, keeping the wines classically Italian.

Not only did he help push the Piedmont region into the spotlight, but he is also a big believer in the levels of sophistication that can be found in what some may think of as a simple grape: Barbera. Through his innovation and attention to detail, the Chiarlo family name has become synonymous with high-scoring, sought-after wines, landing on Wine Spectators Top 100 numerous times.

Decades later, Michele has passed on his legacy to his sons Stefano, head winemaker, and Alberto, head of marketing and sales. I had the chance to taste through some of the Michele Chiarlo wines when Stefano stopped by the store last month. I found the wines to have tremendous balance and elegant beauty. Here are my reviews:

Michele Chiarlo Le Marne Gavi 2010 –

White flowers and citrus on the nose with racy acidity on the palate. Terrific for simple whitefish dinners or pasta with shellfish and light sauces. If you are a Sauvignon Blanc fan, this is a must try!

Michele Chiarlo Le Madri Roero Arneis 2010 –

Though the Chiarlo family name is best known for its red wines, the whites in this portfolio are stunning. This Arneis is floral on the nose with white peach, pear and apricot on the palate. The texture is silky, but the acidity is mouthwatering and leaves you wanting more. If you’ve been looking for an alternative to Pinot Grigio, this is a terrific place to start.

Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’Asti Superior 2010 –

Tons of ripe berry fruits and black flowers on the nose with black plum, spice and soft tannins on the finish. Try this with white meats in red sauces.

Michele Chiarlo Reyna Barbaresco 2009 –

Garnet in color, with aromas of nutmeg, spice and red berries. Medium bodied with bright acidity, lovely integrated tannins and tobacco notes on the finish. Delicate and elegant, this wine would be great with mushroom risotto, wild-game bird, and hearty vegetable dishes like ratatouille or breaded eggplant.

Michele Chiarlo Tortoniano Barolo 2008 –

When poured into a glass, the rustic and woodsy aromas scream for pairing with all-day-long recipes like osso buco, braised lamb or flavorful roast. Complex and layered, this is Stefano’s pride. Using all of the standards that his father helped make law, this wine is aged for two years in barrel and then for another in bottle at strict temperature control. Medium bodied, with dried red fruits, spice box and leather, its barrel aging adds richness and helps integrate the tannins.

Michele Chiarlo Nivole Moscato d’Asti –

Though Moscato is the #1 growth wine in the industry, Stefano was quick to point out that they have been making it for over 20 years now. It features ripe peach and white flowers on the nose with passion fruit and apricot on the palate. Stefano remarked that Moscato d’Asti is not supposed to be dessert but more of a palate cleanser like sorbet.

Blending tradition with innovation, the Chiarlo family has made it its goal to craft quality wines that highlight the rich terroir of Italy while capturing the varietals at their best.


– Jennifer Laurie

Nino’s Holiday Showcase!

This weekend, a young woman stopped me and asked if I could help her find some ingredients for a recipe she was making. Of course I said yes and asked what she was preparing. When she said Christmas cake, I had to ask if I heard her right! Christmas cake? Already? Yup, it’s that time again.

Hurricane Sandy has blown us, kicking and screaming, into November. We clung to our Halloween decorations in hopes that it might warm up just one more time, but it’s snowing in Vermont, and it’s time to think turkey, whether we like it or not.

Never fear! Team Nino’s is here! Much like the Avengers, each of our talented staff members has his or her own strengths, but together we are even stronger. On November 10 from 7 pm to 10 pm, we will be united at our Clinton Township location to battle all of your holiday anxieties.

Our fun and energetic culinary master, Chef Pete, will be there to answer any questions you may have about brining a turkey or how to Au graten your potatoes.

Our floral designers will have their masterful works on display to inspire and set the mood for the big day. Green apples and pomegranates in a floral display? Why not? Our florists are some of the most imaginative in the business.

Planning a corporate party? Chat with our concierges, Annette and Kelly, about how much food you will need to feed 20 or 200! They can take your orders right on the spot.

And what about gifts? We will have an array of our redesigned gift baskets on display. Brand new this year are Wine Gift Baskets, Tea Gift Sets, and Movie Night Gift Baskets, just to name a few.

This brings me to, well, me. If I were an Avenger, I’d probably be The Hulk. Why? Am I always angry? Nope, it’s because I love a big Smash hit. I’ve been saving the best for last. Not only is this event going to be a “showcase” of all the holiday help you can get from Nino’s, but it’s a wine and cheese party too.

Simone, our Clinton Township Wine Manager, and I have been given the duty of pairing some of our most fabulous wines with our most exotic cheeses, all for you. Since this is the Holiday Season, we went big. Sure, we picked a couple of outstanding values for under $20, just in case you have a big crowd to please with a small budget, but we’re also going to feature some highly sought after and extremely delicious German Riesling, French Chateauneuf du Pape, Champagne, Argentine Malbec, Italian Barolo, and Brunello Di Montalcino. Is your mouth watering yet?

Hmm, seems like I’m missing something… What about Napa Valley Cab? Yep, we asked our good friend Tom Celani if he could bring some of his wines along. You know Tom–a favorite of Wine Spectator and Robert Parker, consistently producing wines that make the knees weak, and teeth purple; yeah, he’ll be there too.

Each wine station will have cheeses that pair perfectly, removing the guesswork, so you can concentrate on having fun at your next family get together. Or think about giving your boss or snobby brother-in-law one of the great wines you tried and adding a note about which cheese pairs best. Perfect gift, right?

We’ll also be featuring a decadent dessert table, filled with our chocolate tarts, flans, and cakes. Paired with these tasty treats, we’ll have dessert wines, like Ice Wine, Ruby Port, and Pineau de Charentes.

What? You’ve never had a Pineau de Charentes? Well, this is your chance to try something new!

Food, wine, expertise: everything you need to make your holiday party a success. The price of a ticket is only $35–a small price to pay for peace of mind. To make it even better, this event is being held to benefit the Nino Salvaggio Charitable Foundation for Children in Need. So the next time you’re in one of our stores, stop by the service desk and pick up a ticket to this amazing event. Even if you don’t have a big holiday party to plan, our first annual Holiday Showcase is a terrific event at which to eat, drink, and be merry!

See you there!

– Jennifer Laurie

A Big Fire Comes to Nino’s

What is your definition of home? Is it where you were born and raised? Is it where you fit in? Or is it a little of both?

Oregon winery

When Maria Stuart from Oregon’s R. Stuart Winery & Co. stopped in the other day, with her warm smile and glowing personality, I could tell she felt at home in her birthplace of Michigan.  But when she starts to talk about the winery she and her husband Rob built, or about the people of Oregon wine country, it’s obvious she belongs there too.  Maria and Rob have had a long love affair with wine, and between the two of them, have worked in every facet of the process.

maria stuart

Maria started out selling wine to Chicago restaurants, captivated by the passion of food and wine pairings at these Windy City eateries.  As a distributor, she made memorable and long-lived contacts with Oregon winemakers.  In 1990, she won a trip to the International Pinot Noir Celebration in McMinnville, Oregon.

It was on this fateful trip that she was introduced to winemaker Rob Stuart.

After a whirlwind romance, they were married in 1992, and by 1994, they were making a home for themselves back in the region where they first met.  As Rob worked for Oregon’s renowned Erath winery, Maria grew her connections, working mostly in PR and giving back to the event that changed her life by becoming the Executive Director of the IPNC for four years.


One of the connections that became steadfast involved the National Sales Director at Erath, Patricia Rogers.  Patricia has a passion for selling Oregon wines that Rob and Maria could not ignore, and when it became evident that Dick Erath would be selling his prized winery, the three knew it was the perfect time to venture out on their own.

Over 10 years later, Maria, Rob, Patricia and their bubbly fanatic partner Frank Blair have built a business known for producing top-quality wines for reasonable prices.


It was my honor to attend the Zing! Seminar at their winery in McMinnville during Oregon Pinot Camp this past June, so it makes sense for me to invite her to my home at Nino’s!  On Saturday October 20th , Maria will offer a free sampling and bottle signing of her wines at our Troy location. She will pour the Big Fire Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris from 1 to 4 PM.  Being an avid cook, she’s brought with her some seasonal recipes that are sure to wow.  Come and congratulate this Michigander on over 10 years of success with R. Stuart Winery & Co.



  • Jennifer Laurie

Cherry Creek Wine Tasting: A Fabulous Night Out

When is the last time you had a night out? Between school, work and chores, it seems you never have time, right? And the holidays are right around the corner, so things are only going to get busier!

Well, here is an excuse to get out, eat some good food, drink some fabulous wines, and relax. Plus, it’s all for a good cause!

On October 12th, starting at 6:45,  Nino’s will host a wine-tasting featuring a hundred wines, beers, chocolates and tasty treats, all in support of the Lions Club of Shelby Township.



You will be able to sample wines from around the world–everything from Prosecco to Chocolate wine, South African Pinotage to Italian Amarone. What better time than now, with gift giving and parties on the horizon? We will have all our experts on hand to answer any questions about the wines while you’re there.

It’s our honor to help a club that helps so many. The Lions Club of Shelby Township has been bettering the community for decades, giving away scholarships and benefiting the underprivileged.

The Cherry Creek Golf Course is one of the most beautiful spaces in which we have ever held an event. From the rolling hills to the picturesque ballroom, you can bet this is going to be a romantic evening.

Simone, our Clinton Township Wine Manager, has picked out some real knockouts, and I have put together a list of wines that are not to be missed. Whether you are looking for low-dollar wines that would work great for a party or a high-ticket gift for your wine snob of a boss, these wines will suit your needs.

Party Pleasers –
Be sure to taste these, keeping in mind that they are fruit forward and meant for a large crowd with many different palates.

Segura Viudas Spanish Cava –
I always have this on hand. Whether we are making Mimosas for Christmas Day brunch or toasting a friend’s new promotion, Segura, with its lively acidity and toasty notes, has never failed to shine.

Callaway Sauvignon Blanc, California –
Crisp and refreshing, this Sauvignon Blanc is citrusy and fruity without being too acidic.

2 Copas Red Blend, Argentina –
Juicy red fruits and soft tannins make this wine a crowd-pleaser.

Mid-Range Must Haves –
These wines have elegance and finesse but won’t break the bank. Perfect for when good friends from out of town stop by unexpectedly.

La Marca Prosecco, Italy –
Light, fresh, and fruity, Prosecco is the perfect drink to hand your guests as they walk in the door. La Marca is just a touch sweet, so it will please all palates!

Angeline Chardonnay, California –
Medium bodied with pear and apple and just a whisper of oak on the finish.

Villa San Juliette Petit Sirah, California –
One of my very favorite Petit Sirahs, the VSJ is bold and structured with blackberry, coffee and chocolate notes.

Great Gifts –
First time going to the future in-laws house for Thanksgiving? Bring one of these special treats! Not only will you impress your future spouse–“I remembered how much Steph liked this at the Nino’s tasting,” but your thoughtfulness will also win over the folks! These should work to impress the boss too!

Mawby Blanc de Blanc, Michigan –
I always like to give sparkling wine as gifts, and why not give something from our home state? I have written before about my adoration for Larry Mawby’s wines and this elegant Blanc de Blanc shows why.

Domanine Daulny Sancere, France –
Light and lovely with concentrated citrus, this is not your ordinary Sauvignon Blanc. This Sancere is crisp but elegant and a perfect pairing with scallops.

Riondo Amarone, Italy –
Rich and raisiny, without being too heavy, this red has guts but in a refined way.

So to sum up: wine, beer, appetizers, chocolates, and music – all for only $39. How could this get any better?

It’s Ninos! Of course it gets better!

We went to the owners and asked if, just this once, we could give a little something back to our loyal customers. So with every purchase of a case of these featured wines (12 bottles), you will receive a 20-percent discount. This in store offer will expire on 10-31-2012 so don’t delay!

We can’t wait to see all of you at the first-ever Nino Salvaggio’s Cherry Creek Wine Tasting! Stop in at any of our three locations and purchase tickets by cash or check today!

See you there!

Cherry Creek Golf Course is located at 24 Mile Rd. Just East of VanDyke 52000 Cherry Creek Dr., Shelby Twp, MI 48316

● Jennifer Laurie

Ramona Singer Visits Nino’s

Celebrate the release of the new vintage of Ramona Pinot Grigio and another exciting season of “The Real Housewives of New York City” with the wine-loving housewife, Ramona Singer.

Join us this Tuesday, August 28 as we host the most notorious Housewife of New York, Ramona Singer! She will sign bottles of her Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio, and you can taste it while you wait!

Ramona is a smart, savvy business woman who, from an early age, knew she would never let anyone get in the way of her dreams.  Not only did she shoot to the top of the fashion world, running her own company RMS Fashions, Inc., but she now has a full line of jewelry called True Faith and a skincare line called Tru Renewal.

Raise a glass with Ramona Singer

Raise a glass with Ramona Singer

Ramona is currently touring the US promoting her newest venture: Ramona Singer Pinot Grigio. Ramona is famous for imbibing Pinot Grigio, trying different types all the time. She finally found one she loved, so much so that she put her name on it!  This wine is crisp, refreshing, and dry–a terrific example of Pinot Grigio from Vento.

Ramona Singer Pinot GrigioThis Tuesday, August 28th from 4:30 to 6:30 pm at our Troy location (6835 Rochester Road, Troy, Michigan 48085) will be your chance to talk fashion, gossip, and wine with our favorite Housewife. The event is free, and there is no minimum or maximum to how many bottles you can get signed. If you want to enjoy “Turtle Time” with Ramona come early. We expect a big crowd!