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Duped by Artificial Corks!

Every time I struggle to remove an artificial cork from a bottle of wine (mostly whites) I try to console myself by believing I am being environmentally proper … contributing to the salvation of a cork tree. I have always assumed that every real cork stopper that I pop contributes to the slashing of a poor defenseless cork tree. Guess what? We have all been duped! Cork is harvested only

Larry Russo Lorenzo’s

Wine Cellar was a huge success.

from the bark of the cork tree and the bark regenerates quickly. Giant cork-producing trees have been known to live as long as 400 years. Cork trees that have their bark removed can absorb five times more carbon dioxide than trees with their bark intact. There are presently 6.6 million acres of cork trees, located primarily in southern Europe, Morocco and Tunisia. These trees support the highest diversity of plant life anywhere on the planet.

So there! Popping a real cork actually helps the environment. The use of artificial corks is just another example of cost-cutting masquerading as eco-friendly.


Italian white wines are a summer delight, inexpensive and most often made to be consumed within a year. However, there are a number of Italian whites that develop depth and complexity as they age. Here are a few for your consideration:


Standard Soave goes down easily and is made to be consumed within a year or two of vinting. Soave Classicos however, have surprising aging potential. Young Soave is traditionally rich in floral aromas and peach and almond flavors. As the “Classico” ages, it will exhibit more complex aromas, creamy textures and increased minerality.


Verchicchios are usually crafted for immediate consumption. Verdicchios from the Verdicchio Classico and Verdicchio di Matelica denominations can evolve for years. One such Verdicchio Classico Reserva (Villa Bucci) is made from 50-year-old vines and aged in Slovenian oak casks. The recent opening of a few bottles made in 1988


Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo is one of Italy’s most long-lived and complex wines. Quality is inconsistent however and there is no guarantee that either a newly-vinted “Trebbiano” or an aged bottle will measure up to the best standard. Mature vintages are difficult to come by. If you do find one, it is worth the expense to perhaps taste a Trebbiano with great depth and abundant mixed flavors.


Just as I had you convinced that I was a devotee of Italian white wines, I found an Italian red wine that is a perfect partner for one of my favorite dishes, ravioli with red puttanesca sauce. Ruffino’s 2010 “Il Ducale” Red Wine is a Tuscan cuvee’ (Italy’s answer to French Bordeaux). Just as Bordeaux relies heavily on Cabernet Sauvignon, Tuscan reds use Sangiovese as a staple.

This wine is made of 60% Sangiovese, 20 percent Merlot and 20 percent Syrah. Il Ducale is a full-bodied, fruit-rich wine with lighter tannins than most Sangiovese-based wines. It is long on finish, following a recent trend in Tuscan reds. Aromas include cassis and black cherry. ABV is 13.5 percent. Available at Village Spirits in McCormick for about $18.


I was disappointed to read that George McKee will no longer be contributing his tennis column to this publication. George and I started writing our columns at about the same time. I am one of his many tennis disciples. I even let him borrow my tennis partner Sharkey Estrin for one tournament (which they won). Rumors that I let George have Sharkey for a six pack are unfounded. Good luck, George, in whatever future endeavors you undertake.  • July 2014 • 19 Cork tree

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