Annual Wine-Tasting Featured with a New Format

By Nancy DeSanti, 1st Vice President- Programs

AMHS members and guest enjoying a sampling of wines from Abruzzo and Molise
Credit: Sam Yothers

Our annual wine-tasting, always one of our most popular programs, was a more freewheeling event this year. Held at Casa Italiana on November 19, 2023, the attendees not only tasted some wonderful wines from Abruzzo and Molise, they were also treated to a superb talk by the son-in-law of our board member, Frank Bonsiero.

We started with the election of officers and board members, conducted by our outgoing President Ray LaVerghetta. This important business was followed by a delicious lunch catered by one of everybody’s favorites, A. Litteri.

After lunch, the vice president for programs, Nancy DeSanti, told the audience about two equally good but very different wineries that are worth seeing and that she visited in Italy in October — one in Sicily and one in Campania.

The Zisola winery is located near Noto, Sicily, not far from Catania. It has become part of the Mazzei Wine Club, now that the Mazzei family of famous winemakers in Tuscany decided to make this location their first investment in the south of Italy. The family is especially famous for their ancestor, Filippo Mazzei, the Tuscan surgeon who moved to London and befriended Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, as well as Thomas Jefferson who eventually helped him to establish a winery near his home, Monticello, in Virginia.

The Feudi di San Gregorio winery is near Avellino in the region of Campania. It is a very contemporary winery that features an art gallery and has an elegant “wine tasting theater” that has sloping aisles seats with trays in front of the seats to hold the wine glasses and snacks. The building was designed by a Japanese architect who created a fresh, contemporary look. 

Frank Bonsiero introduced his son-in-law, Zach Casagrande, noting that he is an orthodontist who was in on the ground floor of Invisalign 15 to 20 years ago but whose real passion is wine. 

Zach is a sommelier with his own extensive wine cellar, and he had to pass a rigid exam to earn that title. He shared his knowledge with us about the Sangiovese grape in the wines of Abruzzo and Molise.

Zach gave a very informative and entertaining interactive talk that was so well-received by the audience that we invited him to come back next November, and he accepted.

Next up, Carmine Spellane told us about the wines he had selected for us to taste, with help from A. Litteri. They included the following: 

  • Principe Delle Roche
    Montepulciano D’Abruzzo
  • San Lorenzo Pecorino
    Colli Aprutini, Abruzzo
  • Opalia Tintilla del Molise
    Campi Valerio, Monteroduni, Molise
  • Fannia Falanghina del Molise
    Campi Valerio, Monteroduni, Molise

Please note that all four wines are for sale at A. Litteri, 517 Morse St., N.E., Washington, D.C.,

A special thanks is owed to Frank Bonsiero for arranging the talk by his son-in-law and to Carmine Spellane for coordinating with Litteri’s to obtain the wines. Also, a big thank you goes to our treasurer, Peter Bell, for handling the logistics of the lunch, to all those who donated raffle prizes, and to those who bought raffle tickets. 

January/February 2024

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