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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

Matilde

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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Firriato: Sicilian Wine at its Best

I have a long history with the wines of Firriato from Sicily. When I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC, I was introduced to them by one of the wine salespeople. Knowing my taste, he believed that I would like the wines and he was right.

Next, Michele and I went to Sicily where 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. Then, a few years ago I attended a lunch at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC where I enjoyed the more current vintages.
Recently, I was asked if I wanted to taste a number of samples from the winery and I accepted gladly.

The winery

Firriato is a family run business; the president is Salvatore Di Gaetano, the CEO is Vinzia Novara Di Gaetano, the COO Is Federico Lombardo di Monte Iato, and the Chairman is Irene Di Gaetano Lombardo di Monte Iato.

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. Off the coast of Trapani are the Egadi Islands. The Calamoni estate is on the island of Favignana.

The Wines

Le Sabbie Dell’Etna Etna Bianco DOC 2016 made from Carricante and Catarrato from the territory of Castiglione di Sicily (Catania) at the Cavanera Estate. The soil is loamy-sandy of volcanic origin with good drainage. The vineyards are on the northeastern side of the volcano at 720 meters. The soil is loamy-sandy of volcanic origin with good drainage and there are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the vines are cordon royat trained(trellises). Harvest is the second week of October. Fermentation lasts for 15 days. Vinification: soft pressing and fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 3 months on the  lees in steel tanks with daily shaking and remains in bottle for two months before release. This is a fruity wine with hints of white peaches and pears.

Favinia “La Muciara” Bianco 2014 IGT Sicily. Made from Grillo, Catarratto and Zibibbo. The grapes were grown on the Island of Favignana off the west coast of Sicily. They are grown at the Tenuta Calamoni estate, which is two meters from the sea. The training system for the vines is alberello and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand during the first week in September and the grapes are placed in small baskets. In the winery soft pressing is followed by fermentation for 20 days in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and for 2 more months in bottle before release. The heat during the day and the ocean breeze make for a wine with a mineral character and good acidity. The vineyards are 10 years old.

Ribeca DOC Sicily 2013 made from 100% Perricone from the Pianoro Cuddia Estate in the Trapani countryside. The soil is clayey and the vineyards have a south/southwest exposure and are at 200 meters. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000/6,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the third week of September and the first week of October. Fermentation is for 14 days at 26/28 degrees C. in temperature controlled steel tanks in to red wine tradition. The wine is aged for 10/12 months in French durmast barrique. The wine has hints of cherries and blueberries with a touch of prune and juniper.

Le Sabbie Dell’Etna Etna Rosso DOC 2015 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from the Cavanera Etna Estate at the Northern side of the Volcano at 700 meters. The soil is loamy-sandy of volcanic origin with good drainage and the vines are cordon royat trained and there are 4,000 to 4,500 plants per hectare. Gapes are hand picked the 2nd and 3rd weeks in October. Fermentation lasts for 14 days. Vinification is carried out according to tradition. The wine is aged in durmast barriques for 6 months and in bottle for 2 months before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, prune with a touch of licorice.

Cavanera “Rovo delle Coturnie” Etna Rosso DOC 2013 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from the Cavanera Etna Estate. The soil composition is loamy-sandy of volcanic origin with good drainage. The vineyards are on the northeastern side of the volcano at 750 meters and there are 3,000 to 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand the 2nd and 3rd weeks of October. Fermentation is for 18 days. Vinification in frustum of cone shaped wooden, according to tradition. The wine is aged for 9 months in French barriques and for 6 months in Slovenian durmast. The wine has hints of red fruit, peach a hint of black pepper and good minerality.

Santgostino “Bagio Soria” Terre Siciliane IGT 2012 made from Nero d’Avola and Syrah. The vineyards have a south/south westerly exposure and are at 200 meters. The soil is calcareous-clay and the vines are cordon trained, spur pruned/guyot and there are 5,000/6,000 vines per hectare. Hand harvest the first week of September for the Syrah and the second week of September for the Nero’d Avola.
Traditional vinification in temperature controlled steel tanks.
The wine is aged for 8 months in American Durmast barriques and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, cherries and a touch of prune, clove and licorice.

Chiaramonte Terre Siciliane 2015 IGT 100% Nero d’Avola from Tenuta Dagala Borromeo in the Trapani countryside. The vineyards have a south/south-westerly exposure and are at 230 meters. The soil is mid-mixture, mostly clay, vines are cordon trained, spur pruned/guyot and there are 5,000 to 5,500 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the third week of September. Fermentation lasts for 10 days. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tank according to tradition. The wine is aged for 6 months in American durmast barrriques and in bottle for 3 months before release. The wine has hints of black cherries and blueberries with a touch of black pepper and cloves.

Harmonium Sicily DOC Sicily 2013 100% Nero d’Avola from the Borgo Guarini Estate. This is a “cru” from 3 vineyards: Ferla cru with a north-east exposure, Beccaccia cru with a south exposure and the Lepre cru with a south-east exposure. They are at 300 meters. The soil is calcareous-slime, there are 5,000/5,500 vines per hectare and the vines are cordon trained and spur pruned. Grapes are hand-picked the third week of September. Vinification in temperature controlled steel tanks according to tradition. The wine is aged for 12 months in French and American durmast barriques. This is a well-structured wine with hints of cherry, blueberries, prunes and a hint of pepper and nutmeg.

Passito IGT Sicily “L’ECRÙ” 2008  made from Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey from the Tenuta Borgo estate in the Trapani countryside. The soil here is of medium texture; mostly clay and the vineyards have a north-south exposure at 250/400 meters. There are 5,500 vines per hectare and the training is cordon spur pruned/guyot.
The harvest takes place the first week of September and the most mature grapes are hand harvested. The rest remain on the vines until they reach full maturity. Soft pressing of the grapes and the fermentation at controlled temperature lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a very elegant dessert wine with aromas of candied orange peels, dried figs and dates. It has a clean but long finish and wonderful aftertaste.

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On Amarone, Bardolino, Valpolicella & Colli Euganei

Master Class on the red wines of the Veneto conducted by Kerin O’Keef

Kerin O’Keefe

As with the Master Class on white wines that I wrote about last week,   https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/touring-the-veneto-with-vignaioli-veneti/    Kerin felt that these reds were examples of the diversity of wines made by the member wineries of Vignaioli Veneti and in the Veneto in general. The wines were divided into two flights.

1st Fligh

La Fraghe Bardolino 2016 made from Corvina and Rondinella vinified separately. Maceration lasts for 7 to 8 days and coincides with the fermentation period. The cap is managed daily, with a délestage in the morning and a pump over in the evening. Malolactic fermentation usually occurs in the following month. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months.

Brigaldara Valpolicella Superiore “Case Vecie” 2015 made from 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella. The must is left in contact with the grapes during the whole fermentation process. Pumping over is carried out twice a day and délestage is carried out half way through the fermentation process. The wine is aged in 25HL Slavonian oak for 1 year.
In response to a question about Rondinella, Kerin said that one of the reasons it is used in the blend is because it is resistant to mold.

La Fontanina Valpolicella Valpantena Ripasso Superiore DOC 2015 made from 60% Corvina and 40% Rondinella. Parts of the grapes harvested are immediately pressed while some are placed in wooden boxes for a light drying period of 15 to 20 days. Key lots of grapes are vinified separately for fermentation: partially in stainless steel tanks while the semi-dried grapes go into wooden barrels. The wine is aged for 10 to 12 months in tank and 5 to 6 months in bottle before release.

Ottella Valpolicella Ripasso “Ripa Della Volta” 2014 made from 70% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, and 10% Oseleta, Spigamonte, Corvina and Turchetta. Fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats and the “wine” is passed over the Amarone marc for about 10 days. The wine is aged in 25 HL Slavonian oak barrels and French barriques for about 2 years. Michele Montresor, President of Vignaioli Veneti, owns this winery. 

Monte del Fra Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG “ Lena di Mezzo” 2013 made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella. The grapes are picked just after they start to dry on the vine. The grapes are then dried for 90 to 120/130 days until the sugar in the grapes reaches at least 28% to 30%. Gentle crushing and destemming of the grapes, depending on the vintage, between the end of January and late February. Fermentation is in small, temperature-controlled truncated cone-shaped stainless steel vats and is started by indigenous yeasts. The fermentation is a slow one, with long maceration on the skins.

Pergola Trentina

Kerin pointed out that most producers kept the old training system, the pergola (pergola Trentina, pergola Veronese and Pergoletta, which protect the grapes from getting too much sun and has a high yield) and for new plantings used the guyot training system. A few producers still use the pergola system for all their vines. Using both systems protect the final product if the weather is too cool or too hot.

2nd Flight
Allegrini Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013 made from 45% Corvina Veronese 45% Corvinone, 5% Riondinella and 5% Oseleta. Grapes are hand harvested in September. The grapes are naturally dried for 3 to 4 months in the drying facility. The grapes lose 40% to 50% of their original weight. Destemming and soft pressing takes place in January and fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks at 46 to 72 degrees F. Fermentation lasts for 25 days with periodic pumping over. The wine is aged in oak for 18 months, and then blended together for 7 months.

Nicolis Amarone della Valpolicella DOC Classico 2011 made from 65% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 5% Molinara and 10% Croatina. The grapes are placed in special dry, well-aired rooms, to dry naturally, then the semi-dried grapes are softly pressed. Due to the low temperature, the fermentation process is long and slow. Maceration takes over a month. The wine is then aged in medium sized Slavonian oak casks, where it continues to ferment and where it remains for about 30 months. At least 8 months in bottle before release. Kerin said that 2011 was a very hot vintage but this wine is very well balanced.

Kerin pointed out that even though Molinara is longer mandatory in the blend it is still used by some producers.

Secondo Marco Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2011 made from 45% Corvina, 45% Corvinone and 10% Rondinella. The training method is Pergoletta. There is a long natural drying process for around 120 days and the weight loss is 50%. Prolonged pre-and post-fermentation maceration, indigenous yeast, malolactic fermentation and fining in concrete vats. Then long aging in wood and long maturation in bottle before release.

These last two wines were a pleasant surprise for the journalists and many of them said that they reminded them of old style Bordeaux.

Le Volpe Colli Euganei Rosso 24 Mesi DOC “Le Volpe” 2011 made from 60% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Cabernet Franc. After traditional fermentation, the wine is aged in French oak barrels and casks.
Vignalta Colli Euganei Rosso DOC “Gemola” 2011 made from 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Franc. There is 20 days of fermentation and maceration in stainless steel tanks. Pumping over 4 times a day at a controlled temperature of 27/28 degrees C. The wine is aged in new French oak barrels for at least 12 months.

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Touring the Veneto with Vignaioli Veneti

The Veneto is a region of Italy I travel to often because of the wine and the food. I like to visit Venice and Verona but I usually stay on Lake Garda. Recently Vignaioli Veneti invited me on a press trip to the Veneto. The invitation read: Vignaioli 2017: Discover Veneto’s Top Grower-Producers, Growing Areas and Wines.

Lake Garda

I would be staying in a hotel on Lake Garda.

Vignaioli Veneti is a newly-formed organization of over fifty of the Veneto’s top small producers. The president of the association is Michele Montresor and the Director is Giulio Liut.
The program included two Master classes conducted by Kerin O’Keefe, visits to eleven wineries, and dinner in some of the best restaurants in the area. There were 7 other journalists in the group and I enjoyed sharing these experiences and our conversations as well.

Mr.Montresor

The first evening there was a welcome dinner at Ristorante alla Borsa, in the town of Mincio. It is a restaurant I have been to before, famous for its tortellini filled with cheese, meats or vegetables.

Mr. Montresor said the Veneto has historic cities of art and culture such as Venice, Padova and Verona, but they are only one aspect of this region. It stretches from Lake Garda to the Dolomites and to the Adriatic beaches. Vignaiolo Veneti’s mission is to establish the Veneto, its wines and wineries worldwide as a manifestation of quality.

Kerin O’Keefe

I was looking forward to the Master Class conducted by Kerin O’Keefe. Kerin reviews all Italian wines for the Wine Enthusiast magazine. She is the author of several books, including Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello (2005), Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Great Wines (2012), and Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine (2014).

I have known Kerin for a number of years. At the Master Class there were 20 wines in all, 10 whites and 10 reds divided into 4 flights. Kerin felt that these wines were examples of the diversity of wines made by the member wineries and the Veneto in general.

Whites
1st Flight
Villa Medici Bianco Provincia di Verona IGT “Primizia” 2016 made from 25% Trebbiano, 25% Garganega and 50% Cortese. Fermentation and aging takes place in stainless steel. Kerin said that this grape, better known for producing Gavi, is very common in the Lake Garda area.

Gorgo Custoza DOC San Michelin 2016 made from Garganega, Cortese, Trebbiano Toscano and Riesling. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not take place.

Calvalchina Custoza Superiore “Amedeo” 2015 made from 30% Garganega made from 40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda (a clone of Cortese, 15% Trebbianello (a clone of Tocai), 15% Trebbiano Toscano. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation is prevented.

La Morette Lugana Mandolare 2016 made from 100% Turbiana. Fermented in stainless steel. Kerin said that Turbiana is relative of Trebbiano di Soave, but it is a separate grape variety. Most producers use 100% Turbiana. She added that the best grapes come from the area close to the lake, where the soil has the most clay. There are 5 different types of Lugana wine.

Ottella Lugana Riserva DOC “Molceo” 2014 made from Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana). Kerin said some producers put both names on the label. Partial malolactic fermentation, aging for 16 months on the lees mostly in stainless steel and also in tonneaux and barriques.

2nd Flight
Cà Rugate Soave Classico “Monte Fiorentine” 2015 made from 100% Garganega. Fermentation is stainless steel for about 10 to 15 days. Kerin said that as of 1998 Trebbiano Toscano was not allowed in the blend.

Pieropan Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino” 2015 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave. Kerin said this was the first “cru” made in 1971. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for one year

Pra Soave Classico “Monte Grande” 2009 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave. The grapes are dried on the vines for one month and then destemmed and gently pressed. Fermentation is carried out in large 15/20 hl casks made of Allier oak. The wine is then left in casks to mature for ten months. The wine was showing no signs of age.
After visits later to the producers Pieropan and Pra, it confirmed once again that Soave is a great white wine that only gets better with age.

Bonotto Delle Tezze Prosecco Superiore Col Real Valdobbiadene DOCG 2016 made from 100% Glera. The grapes are harvested by hand and subject to soft pressing. After setting, the must is fermented in autoclave and after the wine is bottled,

Cà di Rajo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene Millesimato Brut “Cuvèe del Fondatore  made from 100% Glera.  Long charmat method 70 to 90 days. No malolactiic fermentation and no aging

My next report will cover the red wines we tasted.

 

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Doctor Wine: More on Genetic Editing

Signed DW
Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°225
Laymen and clerics
by Daniele Cernilli 04-09-2017
Galileo-di-fronte-al-Sant-Uffizio-di-Joseph-Nicolas-Robert-Fleury-DoctorWine
Riccardo Ricci Curbastro President of Federdoc writes to DoctorWine about genetic editing and the future of winegrowing, and underlines the risk of an idealogical battle.

I received the following letter from Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, a Franciacorta producer and president of Federdoc.

“Dear Daniele,

It was with great pleasure that I read your editorial Trend Topic: Genetic editing. A pleasure because I believe that it is the future of winegrowing, the wonderful and difficult world my children are now getting involved with. I agree with everything that was said: organic methods are not less polluting (since they uses so many treatments, demand more fuel and lead to a copper build up in the soil); and biodynamic methods are difficult to accept three centuries after the Enlightenment during which time science has given answers to what could appear to be witchcraft.

If it has now clearly been accepted that vines contain genes that are “resistant” to disease, then I firmly believe the time has come to move from developing hybrids to genetic editing. The benefit would be that of not modifying the genes that distinguish a Chardonnay from a Sauvignon Blanc but only to give the vines of both varietals the capacity to resist disease.

I have personally studied and worked with hybrids at length and seven years ago, when it was not the fashion, planted a vineyard with PIWI, a resistant, hybrid variety. The experiment worked and the vines have not needed any chemical treatments in seven years.

We are now working with other new, resistant varieties which are again hybrids but have over 95% of the original genes (Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot and so on) with only 5% of the genes from other resistant varieties. It is my hope that my children will have vineyards that are still 100% composed of the original varietal but be “cancer free” thanks to genetic editing allowing a recessive gene to become the dominate one.

Being now close to 60, I will probably see this dream come true from up above but I’m sure it will still fill me with joy there, too. Today we have opened a door to a cleaner future for our children. What dream could be better?

Thank you for putting your pen at the service of these realistic dreams… although from some of the reactions to your editorial posted on your site I can see a long, ideological battle lies ahead of us.

Best regards and hope to see you soon,

Riccardo Ricci Curbastro”

I hope this will help to clarify aspects of a question that will be central to the future of winegrowing in Italy, much the way grafting European shoots onto American rootstocks was after the phylloxera blight at the beginning of the 20th century. Genetic editing is an authentic revolution and I hope that the debate it will spark will be serious and concrete and not just the usual ideological claptrap that will confused matters by dragging up ant-scientific bias much the way clerics did during the Counter-Reformation, those who condemned Giordano Bruno to death and forced Galileo Galilei abjure, just to name a few. The arguments are different but the mentality is always the same.

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Dinner with the Wines of Robert Mondavi in Brooklyn

Michele and I were invited to a dinner and wine tasting in an elegant town house in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn.

The dinner featured the wines of the Robert Mondavi Winery. The innovative chef, Theo Friedman, just 24 years old and founder of Theory Kitchen, prepared dinner. Ted Allen, of the Food Network show “Chopped” and other programs, hosted the evening. Representing the Mondavi Winery was wine maker Joe Harden.

The Robert Mondavi Winery is located in the Napa Valley. Robert Mondavi opened his winery in 1966 and changed the face of California wine forever.

When Michele and I arrived, we were welcomed with wine and a an assortment of starters.
Beginnings
Crispy Maitakes with Cured Egg Yolk and Parsley Ranch Dressing
Piedmontese Beef Tartare with Pickled Mustard Seed and
Chilled Espresso Hollandise

Oakville Fumé Blanc 2014

Made from 79% Sauvignon Blanc and 21% Sémillon. The grapes are hand harvested in the cool, early morning and then the whole clusters are gently pressed, minimizing skin contact to retain freshness and vibrancy in the wine. Joe said that for richness and complexity, they barrel ferment 91% of the wine in 60 gallon French oak barrels. The wine is then barrel aged on its lees for eight months with hand stirring (batonnage) to integrate flavors and develop a creamy texture. Joe said a portion of new barrels (8%) contribute subtle oak spices to the fruit character. The wine was bottled in July 2015.
The wine has hints of lemon and lime with a touch of melon and fennel. $40

First Course
Chilled California Avocado and English Pea Soup,
Citrus, Smoked Salmon, Ricotta, Herbs

Fumé Blanc Reserve 2014, To Kalon Vineyard

Made from 98% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Semillon. Almost all of the juice was barrel fermented in French oak, 42% new, for a slow cool fermentation. The wine was aged on its lees for nine months and then was hand stirred twice weekly. Joe said this was to create creamy texture and to enhance the volume and length and the small amount of Semillon added gives the final blend a richer mouth feel and more complexity. Two cement egg-shaped fermentation vessels are used to explore the purity of the fruit that comes from the production method and added this wine to the final blend. Joe said the name “To Kalon” is Greek for highest beauty and it is one of Napa Valley’s oldest and most respected vineyards,
This reserve was bigger, richer, and more complex wine with hints of citrus fruit, a touch of spice and vanilla and a creamy texture $52.

Second Course
Country Style Pork and Chicken Terrine, Fig Mostarda

Maestro 2014 Napa Valley

Made from 73% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Cabernet Franc, 2% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. Appellation: 100% Napa Valley, To Kalon and Wappo Hill vineyards. Joe said this wine is inspired by Bordeaux blends, at heart it is a free sprit. Rather than a set style, they take their cues from each vintage from the vineyards. Cabernet Sauvignon in 2014 was fantastic in the Wappo Hill and To Kalon vineyards.
The grape clusters were gently destemmed directly into traditional French oak tanks for cold soak, fermentation, and extended maceration for a total of 24 days of wine to skin contact. Joe said this maximizes the extraction of varietal character and complexity while keeping the tannins fleshy and supple. The wine was drained and gently pressed into 28% new French oak barrels for malolactic fermentation. The final blend was assembled though repeated tasting. The wine has hints of dark and red fruit, juicy plum, and cassis with a touch of cinnamon. $50

Third Course

Hudson River Duck Breast, Cocoa and Malt Glaze,
Preserved Berries Maitake

Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2014, To Kalon Vineyard

Made from 93% Cabernet Sauvignon, 6% Cabernet Franc and 1% Petite Verdot
The grapes were hand harvested with three stages of strict sorting, on the vine, by individual clusters, and then by single berry following destemming. Harvest was from September 2nd to October 17th. The selected grapes went directly into traditional French oak tanks for cold soak, fermentation, and extended maceration for a total of 34 days of wine to skin contact. Joe said this is done to maximize the extraction of varietal character and complexity while keeping the tannins round and supple. The wine was drained and gently pressed into 100% new French oak barrels for alcoholic fermentation and assuring seamless integration of fruit and oak. The final blend was assembled through repeated tasting over twenty-one months of barrel aging. This is an intense, complex and full-bodied wine with hints of blackberries, cassis, cocoa powder and vanilla. $165

Dessert

Selection of Cheese and Crackers,
Dried Apricot and Clove Preserve, Roasted Nuts

Sauvignon Blanc Botrytis 2002, Napa Valley

Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. In 2002 they handpicked the botrytis-affected clusters from the Wappo Hill vineyard in Napa Valley’s Stags Leap District AVA as the clusters reached a sugar level of 40%. Due to the fungus’ dehydrating effect, the grapes were richly concentrated with pronounced flavor intensity. After gently pressing the grapes as whole clusters, the juice was fermented in 60 gallon French oak barrels, 13% new, to give the wine complexity and depth. The wine fermented slowly for two months until it reached 12% alcohol at which time the yeast activity naturally stopped, leaving a residual sugar of 16.1 percent. The wine was aged on the lees and gently hand stirred each barrel once a month, to increase the creamy structure of the wine, during 19 months of barrel aging. Because of the botrytis cinerea, this dessert wine has hints of orange marmalade, honey, orange zest, brown sugar and almonds. Residual sugar is 161 g/L. $NV

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