Roberto Di Filippo: Horses, Geese and Organic Wine

A few months ago, the Wine Media Guild did a tasting of wines made from native Italian grapes that are not very well known. Some of the wines were real gems, but one produced by Roberto Di Filippo that was made from the Trebbiano Spoletino grape really stood out.

Elisa Bosco of PR Vino, who organized the wines for the tasting, later asked me if I wanted to attend a tasting featuring more of the wines of Roberto Di Filippo. She said that Roberto would present the wines.

Roberto Di Filippo

Roberto is a very engaging and informative speaker and you can hear the passion when he speaks about his wines.

The Di Filippo winery is 30-hectares and overlooks Assisi on the hills between Torgiano and Montefalco in the heart of Umbria. Roberto and his sister Emma own it.

It is situated in Cannara and nearby is Pian d’Arca, where St. Francis spoke to the birds.

Plani Arche is 6-hectares of vineyards owned by Roberto Di Filippo and his wife Elena. Roberto said that they have a tradition of cultivation which respects nature, as they strongly believe in the need to find a constant balance between man, soil, flora and fauna. He has introduced a number of different ecologically friendly systems.

Agroforestry is a land use system of land management involving simultaneous cultivation of farm crops, trees and shrubs. It combines shrubs and trees in agriculture and forestry technologies to create more diverse, productive, profitable, healthy, ecologically sound and sustainable land use systems. As part of this they use workhorses in the vineyard to do the cultivation and to solve the problem of soil compression. Roberto said they raise geese within the Plani Arche vineyard. He said a number of times he is first of all a farmer and that everything depends on what happens in the vineyards.

Since 1994 the wines have been cultivated organically, and biodynamic cultivation was introduced some years ago. They are certified organic according to E. U. regulations for the Plani Arche vineyard.

It can be a little confusing as Roberto makes the same wines under both the Di Filippo and Plani Arche label.

The difference for me between them is that the Di Filippo wines were bigger and more intense, while the Plani Arche wines were more elegant.

The wines

Trebbiano Spoletino “Farandola” (Umbria) 2016 IGT Di Filippo made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino

The soil is clayey-calcareous and the vineyards are on hillsides. Training method is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place off the skins at 18 degrees C and the wines remain in stainless steel until bottled. This is a fruity wine, rich in flavor with hints of citrus. It has good acidity and minerality. It is one of the best examples of Trebbiano I have ever tasted. Roberto said the Trebbiano Spoletino is native to Umbria and is different from other Trebbiano grapes.

Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2016 Plani Arche made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. There are 4,400 plants per hectare. Fermentation is off the skins at a low temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel casks for 4 months. This is a fresh and complex wine with citrus flavors and aromas and buttery notes.

Grechetto Colli Martani DOC 2016 Plani Arche 100% made from Grechetto. The vines are spur cordon/guyot trained; and there are 4,000/5,000 plants per hectare temperature. The wine is aged in steel casks on the less and then in bottle before release. This is a fruity wine with a hint of spice and a touch of almond in the aftertaste.

Grechetto IGT Bianco dell’Umbria IGT 2016 Plani Arche made from 100% Grechetto from hillside vineyards. This wine is produced without the addition of sulfites.

The soil is clayey-calcareous and the training system is guyot. There are 5,000 plants per hectare.

Montefalco Rosso DOC Plani Arche made from 60% Sangiovese, 25% Barbera and 15% Sagrantino. The soil is clayey-calcareous, the training system is guyot and cordone and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place for 10 days. The wine is aged in large casks for 12 months. This is a wine that is ready to drink now. It has hints of ripe red fruit, a touch of cherry, pomegranate and a long finish and very pleasing after taste. I took the half empty bottle home with me to have with dinner.

Sagrantino is a grape that is very dark in color and has a lot of tannin. Roberto has managed to tame the grape and produce a wine that is food friendly.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG “Brown Label” 2013 Plani Arche100% Sagrantino. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are hand-picked to ripen well and are left to macerate for a few days. This is an intense wine with a persistent fruity taste and hints of pomegranate and spice.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG 2013 Di Filippo made from 100% Sagrantino. The soil is clayey-calcareous, there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Vinification is the same as the wine belo wine below. This is a full-bodied wine, tannic with hints of red fruit and a touch of flint.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG “Black Label” 2009 Plani Arche made from 100% Sagrantino. There is a prolonged traditional maceration and the wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux for 18/24 months.

This is a full-bodied wine with intense red berry aromas and flavors and a hint of flint and spice. This wine will age.

Montefalco Sagrantino Passito Plani Archi made from 100% Sagrantino. The drying period (appassimento) lasts for 2 months and a subsequent maceration in the winter period. Aging takes place in stainless steel and barriques. This is an intense fruity wine with hints of black and red fruit, especially blackberries with a long finish and pleasing after taste. I liked this wine so much I took the open 375 bottle home with me.


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Filed under Amarone, Di Filippo, Montefalco, Passito, Plani Arche

Tasting Sicily and Firriato Wine at Norma Gastronomia

I have a long history with the wines of Firriato from Siciily, and Salvatore Fraterrigo, chef/owner of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana. I first tasted Firriato wines when I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC, and shortly after, Salvatore became the restaurant’s chef.

When Michele and I went to Sicily, we visited the Firriato estate near Trapani. We were treated to a typical Sicilian lunch paired with their wines and learned to appreciate them even more.

Salvatore with a cuscus bowl

Both Salvatore, known as Toto, and I are Sicilian and we became friends. He would come to our apartment to cook and we traveled in Sicily with him. Salvatore once had owned a restaurant in Trapani and he told me that he had the Firriato wines on his wine list. He even knew the owners of the winery Salvatore and Vinzia Di Gaetano.

When Daniela Pugliesi asked me to host a lunch for journalists with the wines of Firriato I suggested we hold it a Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, Salvatore’s restaurant. I knew we would have Sicilian food like we had in Sicily.


The speaker for the event was Federico Lombardo di Monte, the COO of the winery. He said that Firriato is a family run business. The president is Salvatore Di Gaetano and the CEO is Vinzia Novara Di Gaetano. Irene Di Gaetano Lombardo di Monte Iato is the Chairman.

Federico said that Firriato is comprised of 6 estates, four of which are near Trapani: Baglio Soria, Borgo Guanini — the largest with over 140 hectares of vineyards, Pianoro Cuddia and the Dagala Borromeo. On the east coast near Mount Etna is the Cavanera estate that has 11 hectares of vines. The Calamoni estate is on the island of Favignana, one of the Egadi Islands off the coast of Trapani.

Glasses of Gaudensius NV Blanc des Noirs Metodo Classico Brut Etna DOC greeted the guests as they entered the restaurant. It is made from 100% Nerello Mascalese from the Northeastern slopes of Mt. Etna at 650 meters. The soil is sandy with good drainage. There are 3,500 plants per hectare and they are cordon Royat trained. Harvest is by hand the last week of September.There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The second fermentation (Classic Method) is in the bottle. The juice is in contact with the yeast for 32 months with frequent “Coup de poignet” to enhance the complexity of the bouquet and taste. Sugar is 8g/l on average. This is an elegant and complex spumante with hints of berries, brioche and currants with a long finish and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

One of the journalists, Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies praised this wine so much he was given a bottle to take home.

The Firriato wines that I will discuss in this post are those that I did not write about in a previous post. For more information see:

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Bianco DOC 2016 made from Carricanti and Catarrato. 

This wine was an accompaniment to Arancina Al Nero Di Seppia – Deep-fried squid ink risotto rice balls filled with spicy shrimp ragu. These were moist and flavorful inside with a crusty brown breadcrumb coating.

Altavilla DOC Sicilia 2016 made from 100% Grillo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini estate. The soil is of medium mixture mostly clay. The exposure is westerly and at 250 meters. The vines are cordon trained and spur pruned/guyot and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation lasts for 15 to 18 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and remain on the lees for 3 months with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for two months before release. The wine has hints of tangerine, grapefruit, melon and sage and a touch of almond.

Crocchette di Baccala Con Salsa Ali-Oli — Salt cod coquettes in sesame crust were served with aioli sauce. The cod filling was creamy and delicate and the sesame seeds made a crisp coating, perfect for dunking in the aioli.

Jasmin IGT Terre Sicilane 2016 made from 100% Zibibbo from the Trapani countryside at the Borgo Guarini Estate. The soil is mid-mixed, mostly clay. The exposure is west at 300 meters and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The vines are cordon trained, spur pruned/guyot. Harvest is by hand the last week of August.Fermentation lasts for 20 days at a controlled temperature. The grapes are soft pressed and then spend 3 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks with daily shaking. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 months before release. This is a highly aromatic and dry wine with hints of citrus, both yellow and red fruit, jasmine and a touch white flowers.

Federico pointed out that zibbibo usually is grown in Pantelleria and used to make sweet wines. This version is dry and the grapes were grown in Trapani. This is the first time I had a dry version and was very impressed by it.

Cus-Cus Trapanese Ai Frutti Di Mare – Salvatore makes the cus cus grains from scratch from semolina that he brings in from Sicily. It is a painstaking process and the results are quite different from the quick cooking variety you find elsewhere. He cooked the cus cus in a delicious sea food broth that contained clams, squid, mussels and several types of fish in a lightly spiced broth.

Le Sabbie dell’ Etna Rosso DOD 2015 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio

Caponata Palermitana Con Panelle, Caprino E Mandorle – Salvatore’s sweet and sour eggplant stew is cooked “Palermo style” and served with chick pea fritters, goat cheese, and toasted almonds.

Chiaramonte Terre Siciliane 2015 IGT 100% Nerod’Avola

Pizza “Rianata” This spicy pizza is a specialty of Sicily for lovers the flavors of garlic, anchovies, cherry tomatoes, and oregano.

Santagostino Rosso, “Baglio Soria” Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 made from Nero d’Avola and Syrah

Pasta Alla “Norma”– Salvatore uses imported durum paccheri, a large tubular pasta, and sauces it with fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil, ricotta salata cheese.

Ribeca DOC Sicily 2013 made from 100% Perricone

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta are baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil.

Harmonium Sicily DOC 2013 100% Nero d’Avola

Involitini Di Arista Alla Siciliana – Pork loin slices stuffed with a mixture of cured meat, smoked mozzarella and roasted tomato and roasted.

“L’Ecrù” Passito IGT Sicily 2008 made from Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey.

Cannoli – House made cannoli are filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

I was very pleased by the food and wine combinations chosen by Salvatore and Federico. The pairings were perfect and it was like eating and drinking in Sicily.


Filed under Firriato, Norma, Sicily, Uncategorized

Chateau Climens and Cheese a Perfect Combination

Two days after I returned from Lyon and Beaune in France, I attended a tasting of the wines of Chateau Climens, Grand Vin De Sauternes paired with cheese.

Chateau Climens is considered by many to be the number one producer in Barsac. Though Michele and I had enjoyed cheese and wine after practically every meal in France, the wines had always been red or white and I looked forward to attending.


Château Climens’ history can be traced back to the 16th century. Lucien Lurton bought the property in 1971 and his daughter Berenice Lurton has managed the estate since 1992. In 2009 she brought the shares that belonged to her family and became the owner with 100% of the shares. We were fortunate to have Berenice as the speaker for the event.

Berenice said that the estate is located in the southern part of the Barsac appellation, just outside the small village of La Pinesse. The vineyards are all planted with Semillion grapes and lie on the highest point in Barsac at 20 meters. There are 30 hectares of vineyards stretching around the château in one continuous vineyard, which apparently has not changed since the 16th century. The soil is gravel/sandy topsoil and limestone clay subsoil. This is the “red sands of Barsac.” The average age of the vines is 35 years.

Berenice said that the micro climate of Sauternes, aided by the exceptional terroir allows for the early development of noble rot, Botrytis Cinerea. The staged harvest is meticulous in order that only grapes affected by perfectly pure botrytis are harvested. Yields can be low and vary from year to year.

The grape must undergoes fermentation in barrels without the addition of cultured yeast. This is an old technique and the only one which allows the beginning of the maceration on the lees. The wine is then aged in small oak barriques (new and used) for 20 months. The final blend takes place in vats.

Berenice said Climens is classified as a Sauternes 1er Cru Classé. In 2010 the estate was converted to biodynamic cultivation.

With the cheese we tasted 4 sauternes from Château Climens:

Cypres de Climens Barsac 2012 100%, Grand Vin De Sauternes made from 100% Semillion, like all of their wines. The winery is the only producer of single variety wines of the region.

This is the “second wine,” Berenice said, because it is the second selection from a blending, implying that there is no difference in the production process of the two wines, only the tasting deciding their future. Cyprés obeys a different idea, that of obtaining a delicious wine from an early age, while the complexity of Climens requires minimal aging of just a few years.

The wine is fresh and smooth with hints of white fruit, citrus fruit, apricot and a touch of pineapple.

Then 3 vintages of Château Climens 1st Cru Barsac Grand Vin De Sauternes 2009, 2007 and 2005



The 2009 and 2007 are classic Chateau Climens  wines and will only get better with age.

Berenice suggested we taste each wine with all the cheeses.

The Cheese

Saint-Nectaire (Auvergne) this is a pressed cheese matured for 6 weeks on rye straw. It is smooth but not soft, flavorful, nutty and vegetative with a touch of milk and salt.

Petite Sapin Vacherin Mont D’Or (Franche-Comté) this is a washed rind cheese ripened in spruce bark which should not be removed when serving. The cheese has a smooth, silky and buttery texture with woody and nutty flavors.

Ossau Iraty (Pays-Basque) this is a hard cheese matured for at least 6 months

Mimolette Extra-Aged (Pas-de-Calais) this is a pressed and cooked cheese matured for 18 months. The cheese is hard dry and crumbly with an orange color. It has aromas of roasted nuts with a touch of butterscotch. I kept going back to taste this cheese!

Ami Du Chambertin (French–Comté) this is a soft cheese with a washed rind by Marc de Bourgogne spirits and is matured for 1 month. It has a moist creamy texture inside, and strong sharp flavor with a savory tone.

Époisses (Bourgogne) this is a soft cheese with washed rind by Marc de Bourgogne spirits and matured for 1 month. It is creamy, firm and moist and full flavored.

Blue D’Auvergne (Auvergne) this is a blue-veined cheese matured for 3 months. This cheese is firm, buttery and slightly supple. It is full flavored, woody with spicy tones of grass and mushrooms.

Fourme d’ Ambert (Auvergne) This is a blue-veined cheese, matured for two months. It is firm without suppleness, rich and creamy, fruity and slightly salty but sweet on the palate.

All of the wines worked very well with the cheeses. 

The 2005 is fantastic. It is a complex wine with a precise balance between the sweet, acidic and bitter elements. It has hints of honey, apricot, nectarine, and marmalade,  mouth filling almost creamy with a very long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.



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Filed under Chateau Climes, Cheese, Sauterne, Uncategorized

Special Pizza to Aid Hurricane Relief


It is not often that two top pizzaioli join together in a pizza making event to share Neapolitan pizza making techniques and collaborate in making pizza to benefit hurricane victims.

The event was held at Keste Wall Street( 66 Gold Street NYC )Roberto Caporuscio newest location. Roberto was joined by Tony Gemignani, a 12 time pizza champion, cookbook author and restaurant owner from the West Coast.

Roberto speaking about the dough

Roberto said, “It’s important that the centuries-old art of Neapolitan pizza-making is preserved for generations to come. Tony and I have so much respect and passion for what we do and love to share it with others. While he’s (Tony) in town from the West Coast, we thought it would be fun to get together and offer pizza-lovers an evening of tasting and teaching.”

There was a friendly competition as to who would make the best special pizza. Tony went first.  His version was made with butternut squash, mascarpone, fried brussels sprouts and a drizzle of sorghum.  

Roberto’s was topped with peas, prosciutto di Parma, pancetta, house made burrata and a drizzle of local honey. The pizza will be offered as a special at all of Roberto’s restaurants through November. Proceeds from sales will be donated to the American Red Cross’ Hurricane Irma relief fund.

Giorgia and Roberto

Giorgia Caporuscio, Roberto’s daughter an award winning pizzaiola in her own right, made the  Caporuscio version of the pizza.

The Caporuscio version being prepared by Georgia 

The finished pizza

The preparation of the Margarita

Ready to eat




Then she made a pizza with zucchini flowers whole tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella- preparation


Ready to eat



Tony signed copies of his new book



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Filed under Kaste, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants

PIeropan: Soave and one Amarone.

Seven years ago in a ceremony at Castello Scaligero in Soave, Italy, I was inducted into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia, a world wide women’s organization that praises “Il Vino Bianco Soave.” The members are people that love food and wine. I was inducted as “Capitano Spadarino,” protector of the Women of the Castle and for my contributions to Italian food and wine and Soave in particular. They presented me with a spadarino, a short sword on an embroidered sash. Soave has been one of my favorite white wines for many years. It was a great honor.

A Woman of the Castle  and Capitano Spadarino

Last month Vignaioli Veneti invited me on press trip to the Veneto. We would stay on Lake Garda and visit 11 of the top producers. One of the producers I was looking forward to visiting was Pieropan. I have been enjoying their Soave for a very long time.

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals. There is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. The soil does make a difference. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir- based wines.

Andrea Pieropan speaking about the wines

The Pieropan winery is located in the center of the medieval town of Soave.

Andera Pieropan welcomed us at the winery. Andra said Pieropan is a family winery and he works with his father Leonildo, his brother Dario, and mother Teresita. Andera said  he and his brother are the fourth generation. Andera led us through a tasting of the wines.


Soave Classico 2016 is made from 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. Grapes are from hillside vineyards in the classical zone. The soil is volcanic and the vineyard is situated at 100/300 meters and is facing west. Training system is guyot with 5,200 plants per hectare and 3,000 vines per hectare with the pergola Veronese system.

The grapes are hand picked in mid September for the Trebbiano di Soave and in October for the Garganega. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass lined cement tanks. The wine remains here on the lees for a period of time according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and released after one month. Dario said this is the freshest and youngest of their wines.  

I have been fortunate enough to taste and drink many older vintages of Soave going back almost 30 years. We tasted the 1995 Pieropan Soave Classico. The wine was showing almost no signs of age and I wished I could of had it with dinner that night!

Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino” 2015 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone.

Andrea said the name Calvarino comes from “Little Calvary” reflecting how difficult the soil is to work and the tortuous path, which winds from top to bottom.

The soil

The soil is rich in clay and tufaceous basalt. Dario said it gives the wine an attractive mineral quality. The vineyard is situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with a fresh aroma and hints of flowers, lemon and cherry.

We also tasted the 1992 Calvarino which was showing very well and again proves the point  that not only can Soave age but improves with age.

Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2015 DOC Pieropan 100% Garganega. Dario said the La Rocca vineyard is on the Monte Rocchetta hill just below the Scaligeri castle in Soave.

The soil

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for over 12 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release.

This is an elegant wine with hints of exotic fruit, nuts and a touch of spice.  It was interesting to taste the La Rocca and the Calvarino wines together.  Both were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and  will need more time to develop. 

Amarone della Valpolicella 2013 DOCG  In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is south facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare; the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums.

On Lake Garda a few years ago I saw the Pieropan Amarone 2006 in a restaurant. I did not know they made an Amarone so I ordered it. I was very impressed with the wine!  Andrea  said 2006 was the first vintage.

Recioto Soave Classico 2012 “Le Colombare” 100% Garganega (Veneto) Pieropan

Certified Organic. Volcanic soil, rich in basalt and tuffo eocene. The vineyards are at 300m and the exposure is west. The training system is Pergola Veronese and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. There is a manual harvest with careful selection of ripe grapes. All the grapes are collected in small boxes and brought to the winery for the drying process. The grapes are manually placed in a loft on mats made of bamboo reeds. The drying is natural and the grapes remain until they wither which is around the end of February. The natural climate conditions allow for berry dehydration, loss of water and the development of noble rot (Botrytis). The yield of juice is very low and the grapes lose 1/4 of their original weight. The wine is only produced in good vintages. Destemming and pressing of the grapes takes place. There is a selection of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 14 to 16 degrees C in barrels of 2,500 liters. The residual sugar is 110 to 120 g/L. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 200 liters for about two years and in glass for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with ripe fruit, hints of apricot and quince with a very long finish taste and nice aftertaste.

I did not taste this wine at the winery but at a dinner that night. I have always liked their Recioto, which is one of the best  dessert wines produced, so I had to include it.

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Filed under Amarone, Pieropan Amarone, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Pieropan-La Colombare, Soave

Unique Grapes of Italy

There are so many grape varieties in Italy that it is impossible to know them all. It is a very humbling experience. There is always something new to discover.

PR Vino, an Italian PR agency, represents a number of wineries that produce wines from some rare varieties some of which I have never tasted or have had little experience with.

Elisa Bosco

Since I wanted to try these wines, I contacted Elisa Bosco who is in charge of the USA programs and activities for PR Vino. I asked her if she would like to do a tasting for the Wine Media Guild. Elisa agreed and sent me a list of the wineries.  I chose the most unique and interesting wines, plus a few of my favorites.  The tasting and lunch was held at Felidia Restaurant in NYC and Elisa was the speaker.

Below are the white wines plus one dessert wine.  I will do the red wines separately.


The White Wines


Trebbiano Spoletino “Farandola” (Umbria) 2016 IGT Di Filippo made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino

The winery overlooks Assisi between Torgiano and Montefalco. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the vineyards are on hillsides. Training method is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place off the skins at 18 degrees C and the wines remains in stainless steel until bottled. This is a fruity wine, rich in flavor with hints of citrus. It has good acidity and minerality. It is one of the best examples of Trebbiano I ever tasted. The Trebbiano Spoletino is native to Umbria and is different from other Trebbiano grapes.

Di Filippo has been practicing organic farming since 1994 when they were first certified according to E. U. regulations.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano “ Selvabianca” La Vernaccia di Santa Chiara 2016 DOCG (Tuscany) Il Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The winery is located 1.5 km from San Gimignano in the direction of Volterra.

The training system is spurred cordon and the vineyard is at 350/390 meters. No pesticides are used. Hard harvesting takes place the last week of September using boxes of 15/20kg. The best bunches are chosen directly in the vineyard and immediately conveyed to the wine cellar.

After a short maceration with the skins, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This a well-structured wine, fresh tasting wine with hints of apple and a flower scent and balanced acidity.


Grechetto Colli Martani (Umbria) DOC 2016 F.lli Pardi made from 100% Grechetto. The story of the winery goes back to 1919 but the present winery began in 2003 beneath the walls of Montefalco. The soil is of sedimentary and clayey origin. All the vines are spurred cord trained and there are there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in early September.

The grapes are soft pressed and fermentation is at a constant 20 degrees C for 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for 2 months and released 6 months after the harvest.


“Le Grane” Colli (Le Marche) DOC 2016 made from 100% Ribona (aka Maceratino) Boccadigabbia. Riibona is a rare gape varietal grown only in the province of Macerata. The 23 hectares of vineyards stand on hills in two separate zones in Civitanova and Macerata.

The soil is sandy-clayey and the exposure is northeast and the training system is guyot. The grape clusters are soft crushed and fermentation lasts for about 12 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, whole slightly overripe berries are added to the wine. This second fermentation lasts for 10 days and allows an added extraction of compounds and aromatics from the skins. It is a well-structured wine with fragrances of ripe citrus fruit with a hint of melon.

This is the first time I have ever tasted a wine made from this grape. Until 1950 the estate belonged to a direct descendent of Napoleon and therefore French grapes are also planted here.


Lady F 2016 (Tuscany) made from 100% Orpicchio Donne Fittipaldi The grapes are hand harvested and the stalks are gently removed and then cooled to 8/10 degrees C leaving the juice in contact with the skins for 4 hours, followed by a soft pressing and cleaning of the must that is fermented in oak barrels, half and half in steel at a temperature of 16degrees C. This is a well-structured wine with hints of peach, citrus fruit and white flowers and balanced acidity. Everyone sitting at the table with me commented on how much they liked the wine. This is the first time I tasted a wine made from this grape.

One Dessert Wine 

Moscato Rosa (Alto Adige)DOC 1994 Castel Sallegg made from 100% Moscato Rosa, Kuenburg selection, indigenous variety and one of the world’s rarest grapes

The Princes of Campofranco, the ancestors of today’s owner Count George von Kuenburg, introduced this noble grape variety in 1892 when they moved from Sicily to Caldaro and Castel Sallegg.  They planted it in the warmest earth around Lake Caldaro, where it thrived.

The vineyard is at 230 meters. Soil is reddish gravel and sandstone. This warm porous soil combines with a unique microclimate on the shores of Lake Kaltern. The training system is traditional pergola. A late harvest ensures the grapes have reached a minimum sugar content of 32 degrees KMW (160 Oechsle) this is the must weight is a measure of the amount of sugar in grape juice (must), before entering mash fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 2 weeks.

The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and then for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant dessert wine with intense fragrances of roses, hints of ripe raspberries and other red berries and a touch of spice.






Filed under PR VINO, Uncategorized

Le Fraghe: Terroir, Grapes and Corkscrews

I first met Matilde Poggi, owner/wine maker, at Le Fraghe on a press trip sponsored by Vignaioli Veneti to the Veneto. On the first night of the trip, she sat next to me at dinner. Matilde asked me if I would like to taste some of her wines. She poured me a Bardolino, and I was very impressed. I noticed that it had a screw cap, as did all of the wines she had brought to the restaurant. We began a conversation but there was too much going on in the restaurant and many of my questions were left unanswered. However we were to visit her winery the next day.


Azienda Agricola Le Fraghe is a 30 hectare estate located in the hills close to Lake Garda. We spent the first part of the visit in the vineyard and the second part in the tasting room.
Matilde said, “even though the winery is near the lake the area is influenced by the cold winds blowing down from the north in the morning. It gives the growing area a distinctive climate, and my wines reflect strongly these unique weather conditions.”
Matilde began bottling wine in 1984 focusing on local indigenous varieties: Corvina, Rondinella and Garganega.
She only uses her own grapes. Her Bardolino is made only from Corvina 80% and the rest Rondinella, a blend that is perfect for her vineyards and her wine. Since 2009 the vineyards have been managed according to organic sustained viticulture.

In 2008 she began bottling some of her wine under screw cap. “My goal was to preserve to the fullest the freshness of my wines, in particular Chiaretto and Camporegno, wines whose fresh fruity quality I especially want to maintain unaltered. I was convinced that this type of closure is best at preventing, in certain wines, aging characteristics that I did not find positive.”
On the capsules of her wine there is the FIVI logo (Federazione Italiana Vignaiolo Indipendenti), an association that represents winegrowers who directly perform every single step in the production of a wine.

They grow their own grapes, vinify the grapes, bottle their wines and sell them directly.

The Wines

Camporengo Garganega Veneto made from 100% Garganega from the Comune di Cavaion Veronese. The system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The vineyard is south facing at 190 meters. Whole clusters are placed in the press, without de-stalking and the free–run must is only 55%. After fermentation at 17 degrees C in stainless steel, the wine rests on the fine lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. This is a balanced full bodied and elegant wine. It has hints of peach and apple, a touch of green pepper and floral notes.

Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is south and the vineyard is at190 meters
Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. They are given a cool temperature 6 to 8 hour maceration on the skins, which extracts just enough color to give a lovely, medium bodied hue to the juice. The must then ferments at a cool 17 degrees C. The finished wine matures on the fine lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. The wine has a elegant bouquet of strawberries and red currents while on the palate the wine is full bodied and balanced with a long finish the evokes the bouquet.

Le Fraghe Bardolino made from Corvina and Rondinella from Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Corvina and Roninella are vinified separately. The maceration lasts for 7/8 days. After the wine is drawn off, it goes through malolactic fermentation, which usually occurs in the following month, the wine goes into stainless steel tanks, where it remains until it is bottled. This is a full bodied balanced wine with hints of sour cherry and blueberry, a touch of cinnamon and black pepper. It had a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

Brol Grande Bardolino Classico made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comune di Affi, Vigneto Brol Grande. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. Maceration lasts for 7/8 days but not beyond the end of the alcoholic fermentation. Delestage is carried out every morning and the wine is pumped over the cap every evening. Once devatted the wine undergoes a complete malolactic fermentation which usually takes place by the next month. The wine is then placed in 40HL wooden vats for about 8 months.

The wine is ruby red but not a deep color. It has fresh flavors of cherry, blueberries and currents with balsamic and floral notes and a touch of black pepper. This is an easy drinking wine and a style of Bardolino that I really like. This is the wine that impressed me so much at the dinner where I first met Matilda. It can go with many different foods even with fish from Lake Garda.

Le Fraghe “Chelidon” made from 100% Rondinella. IGT Cavaion Veronese. Matilde said the name  Chelidone comes from the ancient Greek language and it means “Swallow” which in Italian is “Rondinella.” The two swallows whose tails become roots are drawn on the label. It symbolizes the long roots of the Rondinella grape variety in the Bardolino region.
Rondinella is used as a blending grape in Bardolino, Valpolicella and Amarone. Matilda may be the only one to make a wine from 100% Rondinella. This is an aromatic wine with hints of red fruit and a touch of pepper.

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Filed under Bardolino, Chiaretto, Corvina, Garganega, Le Fraghe, Rondinella