A Taste of the Alto Adige

Guests were coming and Michele decided to make beef goulash, a recipe from her book The Italian Slow Cooker.

I was surprised when she mentioned “goulash”, but she said that northern Italy’s Alto Adige region has more in common with neighboring Austria than it does with the rest of Italy. I decided to serve some wines from the Alto Adige to go with the meal.

The Alto Adige (Südtirol) region, which borders on Austria and Switzerland, is at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and the Atlantic, while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east.  Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes. It is interesting to note that in the summer, the temperature in Bolzano is higher than in Palermo in Sicily.

The people that live here call their region the Sud Tirol and themselves Tyroleans. The food is decidedly Austrian with only a hint of Italy.  Ham is called Speck and they have a cheese called Weinkase Lagrein and bread called Schuttelbrot.

I decided on 3 wines from one of my favorite wineries, the Abbazia di Novacella, a monastery.

The Abbazia di Novacella is located in the northern most winegrowing region of Italy in the Alto Adige on the southern side of the Alps where the vineyards for the white wines are located. The monastery also owns vineyards in the warm central region of the Alto Adige, which supplies the red grapes such as Lagrein from the Mariaheim vineyard in Bolzano.IMG_9612

Kerner 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Valley Isarco 100% Kerner the vineyards are located in the municipalities of Bressanone, Varna and Naz-Sciaves and are at 600 to 700 meters. The soil is gravelly morainal deposits and the exposure is south-southwest. The training system is guyot and there are 6,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The harvest takes place in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Natural and selected yeast is used and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before it is bottled. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of apple and peach, ripe and full with crisp acidity.

In 1929 August Herold a German crossed of a red variety Schiava and Riesling. The result was Kerner named in honor of the poet and physician, Justinus Kerner from Swabia. We had drank the Kerner with thinly sliced speck and ripe pears.IMG_9611

Muller Thurgau 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Isarco -Same as above. This is a fresh and fruity, delicately aromatic white wine with hints of lemon, green apple. It has good acidity.

Herman Muller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau created this white grape variety in 1882. Recent DNA testing shows it is a cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royal and not Sylvaner as was once believed. We had this with gnocchi in a light tomato sauce.IMG_9613

Lagrein 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Lagrein The vineyard is at 260 to 350 meters and the soil is a mixture of sand, clay and eroded quartzite porphyry. There are 2,500 to 3,00 vines/ha and the training system is guyot. Harvest is in early October. Fermentation with natural and selected yeasts takes place in stainless steel punch down tanks and lasts for about 15 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation and maturation in 60hl oak casks for about 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release. It has hints of violets, blackberries and black cherry with a touch of coffee and dark chocolate.

It was the perfect accompaniment to the beef goulash.

 

 

 

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Benvenuto Brunello NYC 2016

The Consorzio del Vino  Brunello di Montalcino presents Benvenuto Brunello USA 2016 in NYC, its annual trade tasting, celebrating 50 years of DOC wines and showcasing the Brunello di Montalcino 2011. The walk-around tasting featured over 40 wineries from Montalcino.IMG_9587

I also attended the seminar on the 2011 Brunello. I enjoy the seminar because I can taste the wine, listen to the speakers, and find out the latest news from Montalcino. The Moderator was Jeff Porter, beverage director for the Batali and Bastianich hospitality group.

There was an overview of Montalcino and then a discussion of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Jeff Porter   and the representative of the Consortium agreed that 2012 was a great vintage and a better vintage than the 2011 and I had to agree. The Consortium gave the 2010 5 stars, its highest rating and called it an outstanding vintage. The 2011 was given 4 stars and called an excellent vintage. Mr. Porter said that it would be a good restaurant wine because it is more approachable than the 2010. He added that it is a good wine for the consumer as well.

I liked the 2011 vintage and it probably will not age as long as the 2010 but that is something only time will tell.

While we use terms like more approachable, restaurant wine, consumer friendly etc, I would not even think of drinking the 2011  until 2021, after all it is a Brunello!

There were 7 wines tasted and 6 of them were my kind of wines. All of them were aged in botti, large oak barrels. Only one was aged in both 500 liter barrels and botti. There was not a barrique in sight. I asked the representative if this was done on purpose and he said the wines were picked at random. Trying to bring my point home I asked if there was a movement in Montalcino away from barriques and concentrated wines toward wines which tasted like the grape and the terroir. Mr. Porter said that he believed that this was true not only in Montalcino but in the wine world in general. He said this was in response to the consumers that now prefer this type of wine.

The BrunelloIMG_9588

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Belpoggio The soil is calcareous with many skeletons and the elevation is 350 meters. Traditional fermentation takes place with 15 to 18 days of maceration at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 24 to 36 months in 30 to 40 hl oak casks. $50 IMG_9589

Brunello Di Montalcino 2011 DOCG Capanna. The soil is Galestro, with many stones and the elevation is 855 to 984 ft. Harvest is by hand, with careful selection of the grapes. They are immediately de-stemmed and fermentation with the skins takes place for 20 to 22 days in Slavonian vats at a controlled temperature. After drawing off, the wine completes the malolactic fermentation in the same vats where it is naturally cooled down.$40

The wine is aged in Slavonia oak barrels 20 to 30 hl until bottling in June of 2015. The bottles are refined in thermo-conditioned rooms and went on sale January 2016. $45IMG_9590

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Castello Tricerchi The vineyard is at 300 meters and the exposure is south/west and the soil is clayey and sandy. Training system is spurred cordon, there are 4,000 plants/hectare and the vines are 15 years old. Harvest is by hand in early October. Maceration is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days. Malolactic fermentation continues for 5 months. Aging is in 15 to 20 hl Slavonic casks for 42 month and 6 months in bottle before release. For them 2011 was a very good vintage. It has hints of black cherry, strawberry, tobacco and spice. $45IMG_9591

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Col D’Orcia. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese selected by Col d’Orcia. The vineyard is at 300 meters in the hills over looking the Orcia River with a south/southwest exposure, the soil is from the Eocene period in origin, loose, with little clay and rich in limestone. Fermentation is on the skins form18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 hlwide and shallow stainless steel tanks, designed in order to extract tannins and color efficiently but delicately. Aging is for 4 years: 3 years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonic and Allier oak casks followed by at least 12 months of refinement in bottle. Since 2013 Col D’Orcia is the largest wine-producing farm in Tuscany. $55IMG_9592

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Pian Delle Vigna (Antinori) 3.5 miles south of Montalcino. There are 65 hectares under vines, and the soil is mostly clayey and calcareous with many small stones. After a careful selection both in the vineyard and cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately pressed; the must then goes into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where it ferments and remains on its skins for a period of about 3 weeks. The wine has then completed malolactic fermentation. Aging is in 30 to 80hl oak casks for over 2 years. The wine was bottled in April of 2014. $80IMG_9593

Brunello Di Mantalcino 2011 DOCG Tenuta Buon Tempo the vineyard surface area is 5 hectares at 350 meters and the soil is sandstone-galestro marl. The exposure is south/east, the training system is spurred cordon and there are 3,33/6,250 plants per hectare. Harvest is from September 10 to 20. Fermentation with natural yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, with minimum possible oxygenation, with pumping over and a duration of 7 to 10 days. Maceration in stainless steel, carried out without exposure to air for 15 to 20 days. Aging 24 to 30 months in 500 liter French oak barrels (20% new) and 12 to 18 months in big 64hl Slovonian oak casks and 6 months in bottle. $50

New owners brought the property, changed the name and are moving away from new oak. The former owners used 50% new oak.IMG_9594

Brunello Di Montalcino 20111 DOCG Uccelliera. Production area Castelnovo dell’Abate, south/east of Montalcino, vineyard extension is 15.5 acres at 820ft. The soil is rich in minerals, medium textured sand and clay, with some gravel. The grapes are selected, de-stemmed and crushed. The must is kept for 4 to 5 days at low temperatures. Later the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation takes place naturally for 15 days in stainless steel. At the same time, the must macerates on the skins for about 7 days. After drawing off, the wine is kept in steel, malolactic occurs and the wine is kept in Slovenia and French oak barrels for 36 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months, before release. This wine was a little more international in style. $64

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Giacomo Fenocchio Winery: The Tradition Continues

A number of years ago I was at Vinitaly and stopped by the stand of the wine negociant Barbara De Rham and tasted a number of wines under the De Rham label. One of them was a Barolo. I was so impressed with it that I asked Barbara for the name of the producer. It was Giacomo Fenocchio. At the time I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and I added this wine to our wine list.

Claudio Fennochio

Claudio Fenocchio

Last November, I was able to visit the winery for the first time. We were greeted at the winery by the winemaker/owner Claudio Fenocchio. The winery is in the Loc. Bussia-Monforte D’Alba.

Claudio said the estate was founded in 1894 and has been handed down from father to son for over 5 generations. It was Claudio’s father Giacomo who expanded the vineyards and started selling wine to foreign markets. Today 20 hectares are under vines and Claudio and his brothers Albino and Alberto export almost 80% of the production.IMG_9196

All of the wines are made from the estates vineyards located in Bussia in Montorte d’Alba, the Villero sub zone of Castiglione Falletto and Cannubi in Barolo. All are Grand Cru vineyards.

Claudio’s great-great grandfather Giovanni Fenocchio said “everyone makes wine in the same way, because this is how it should be made, it is not up to us to change an entire method and culture” and the winery maintains this philosophy today. Claudio said that their Barolo has a lengthy period of skin contact, never less then 10 days, and rotary fermentation tanks are not used. There are no shortcuts. Fermentation is completely natural and is entirely carried out by the local micro-flora, without the use of selected yeast. Temperature is kept under control by means of daily pumping over the skin cap.IMG_9218

He said that he was thinking of using molded agglomerated corks instead of natural cork for his wines. These corks allow the wine to breathe and they have different numbers indicating the amount of air that is allowed into the wine. This is not the first time I have seen these corks in Piedmont.IMG_9203

Claudio took us down to the cellar to taste barrel samples of the wine. He said the cellar was constructed in 2000 in the pure and classic style of Piedmont. IMG_9225

Roero Arneis DOCG 100% Arneis from Monteu Roero. The vineyard is 1.5 hectares at 300 to 350 meters, exposure is southeast, the soil is calcareous clay of medium texture, the age of the vines are 10 to 15 years and the harvest is in the middle of September.

The grapes are gently pressed and then the wine must is refrigerated in stainless steel vats to allow the lees to settle. After 24 to 36 hours the juice is separated from the lees and fermented at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. It is soft and complex with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of chamomile.IMG_9216

Langhe Freisa DOC 100% Freisa, Monforte d’Alba-Bussia zone. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares at 300 meters. Exposure is west, the soil is Elveziano with clayey sediments, blue marl and tufa. The age of the vineyard is 10 years. Harvest is in early October. Traditional fermentation of the grapes takes place in contact with the skin, without adding yeast, for about 10 to12 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in Slavonian oak. It has an intense bouquet with good fruit and a touch of spice.IMG_9217

Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 100% Nebbiolo. Monforte d’Alba- Sottozone Bussia. The one hectare vineyard faces east and it at 300 meters. The vines are 15 years old and the soil is Elveziano with clay sediments blue marl and tufa. Harvest is in the middle of October. Vinification and aging same as above with maturation in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry and plum with liquorice and roses.IMG_9221

Barolo Bussia 2011 100% Nebbiolo varieties Michet and Lampia. Monforte d’Alba-Sottozone Bussia. From a 5 hectares vineyard facing south/southwest at 300 meters. The soil is Helvetian with clayey and calcareous sediments, rich in iron. The vines are 30 years old.

Tradition natural fermentation without added yeasts for 40 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 6 months. in stainless steel tanks and 30 months in large Slavonian casks 35 to 50 hl. It remains in the bottle a time before release. This is a classic Barolo with hints of spice, licorice, roses, tar and tea.IMG_9214

Barolo Bussia Riserva 2012 100% Nebbiolo-barrel sample.Claudio stared doing 90 days of maceration with the 2010 vintage. This is very rare in Piedmont today and I am not sure if any other producers do this.

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Visiting Poderi Colla

I have always been an admirer of the wines of Beppe Colla. I had been to the winery before and was very happy to have the opportunity to visit it again when I visited Alba recently.

The Colla family’s connection with wine goes back to 1703, but the modern era begins when Beppe Colla purchased the Alfred Prunotto winery in 1956. Beppe owned the winery for 35 years and made it into one of the most renowned wineries in Piedmont.

Beppe’s younger brother Ernesto, called Tino, worked with him at Prunotto. Beppe was not feeling well when we visited, but Tino was able to show us around.

Tino is a gifted winemaker in his own right and worked very closely with his brother at Prunotto.

In 1994 Tino and his niece Federica (Beppe’s daughter) opened a new winery and so Poderi Colla was established.

Tino Colla

Tino Colla

As we were walking through the vineyards Tino said that the winery comprises three farms covering a total of 26 hectares of vineyards: Cascine Drago in Alba, Tenuta Roncaglia in Barbaresco and Dardi le Rose in Monforte.

He pointed out the different vineyards, explained the different microclimates of the area, and how important the work done in the vineyard is. He also spoke about the different types of soil.IMG_9125

Tino explained his wine philosophy. The key words are naturalness and originality, wines made without manipulation or invasive intervention. He feels the wines have a connection with the past and we must learn from the past, often using methods that his grandfather taught him. He pointed to the stainless steel tanks, which were all outside. No air conditioning for Tino.

Tino and the Truffle Hunter

Tino and the Truffle Hunter

At one point in the walk we stopped at a small house. The owner, a truffle hunter, heard his hunting dogs barking and came out to chat. Tino asked him to show us some of the truffles he had discovered. Some were very large and the aroma was wonderful. Most would be sold to nearby restaurants, he told us.

The walk was a true education.

The WinesIMG_9138

Vintage Spumante Metodo Classico Extra Brut “Pietro Colla” made from Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Tino said this is in line with Piedmontese tradition dating back to the early 1900’s and with the traditions of his grandfather, Pietro, for whom the wine is named. It is fermented and matured in the bottle for about 2 years before dégorgement, ouillage with the same wine without the addition of liqueur d’expédition. The wine is bone dry, with a rich bouquet, complex and elegant at the same time. Tino said it is a wine that could be served throughout the meal.IMG_9142

Langhe DOC Riesling 100% Riesling from vines in Alba planted in 1987 with a Northwest exposure at 350 meters and in Barbaresco, planted in 2009 with a western exposure at 240 meters. There are about 4,000 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested between September 10th and 25th. The grapes are immediately soft crushed at 8/10 C for 24 hours. After racking, alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. The wine is left on the lees for a few months, before being naturally cooled in winter. The wine is bottled in the spring. It is a complex wine with full citrus flavors and aroma, hints of mountain flowers and fresh acidity. Tino said it is a wine that can age.IMG_9144

Barbera D’Alba DOC “Costa Bruna”  2013 100% Barbera. Vineyard planted in 1930 and 1995, about half of the vineyard contains the old vines. The new vines are a selection of the old vine’s understock. The grapes are hand picked and immediately destalked and crushed, maceration on the skins is for 10 to 12 days. Malolatic fermentation is completed before winter. Elevage in oak casks lasts about 12 months. This is an intense wine with hints of strawberry, cherry and spice and nice acidity.IMG_9141

Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC 100% Nebbiolo. The exposure is westerly and easterly and the vineyard is between 330 and 370 meters. The vines were planted in 1967, 1989 and 1999 and there are about 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is the 1st-10th October. Vinification is the same as above. Elevage is in Slavonian oak casks for about 12 months. This is a complex wine with hints of plum, red berries, dried roses and a touch of violet.IMG_9145

Barbaresco “Roncaglie” 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard is at 244 and 280 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The vines were planted in 1970,1980,1995 and 2010 and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are handed picked from October 5th to 15th  The grapes are destalked and crushed and maceration is for 12 to 15 days, then malolactic fermentation is completed before winter. In the spring the wine is put into oak casks for 12 to 14 months. This is a classic Barbaresco with hints of blackberry, violet and spice and a touch of rose petal.IMG_9146

Barolo “Bussia Dardi Le Rose” DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is vinified like the Barbaresco but is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.IMG_9143

Campo Romano Langhe Pinot Noir. Tino said the vines were planted in 1977 from vines imported from Burgundy. In the field when the ground was being ploughed they found remains of a Roman settlement, hence the name. The exposure is westerly, at 330 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is September 10 to 20th and the hand picked grapes are immediately destalked crushed. Maceration is for 8 to 10 days followed by malolactic fermentation completed before winter. The wine rests in oak casks for 12 months. This is a balanced and elegant wine with hints of red fruit and floral notes.IMG_9140

Bricco del Drago made from 85% Dolcetto and 15% Nebbiolo. Tino said the wine was first produced in 1969 when Dott. Degiacomi, former proprietor of Cascine Drago, which produced an unusual Dolcetto requiring barrel aging, decided to combine it with a small portion of Nebbiolo, naming it after the estate. Vines were planted in 1970,1989 and 2,000 and there are about 5,000 plants per hectare. Dolcetto is harvested from September 20th to the 30th and the Nebbiolo from October 1st to 10. The varieties are vinified separately and maturation takes place at different times. The wines are assembled and then undergo élevage in oak. Maceration is for 5 to 8 days for Dolcetto and 10 to 12 days for the Nebbiolo. Aging for 12 to 18 months depending on the vintage. We tasted a number of wines going back to 1995, a wine that was showing no signs of age. I was very impressed with all of the vintages we tasted.

 

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Visiting Vietti and Luciana Currado

One of the highlights of our trip to Piedmont last November was an invitation from Luciana Currado to her home for dinner. It was special not only because of the Vietti wines and that Luciana is a wonderful cook, but also because she is a very dear friend
We first met Luciana and her husband Alfredo in the fall of 1982. It was our first time in Piedmont and my only itinerary was to visit as many wine producers as possible. We were on our way to Monforte d’Alba when Michele saw the sign for Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery.

Before we had left home, Sheldon Wasserman, a friend and Italian wine expert and writer, told us to be sure to visit this winery not only because they made great wines, but because Alfredo and Luciana were such nice people.  We arrived at the gate of the winery and I rang the bell. A man appeared and I said in Italian siamo amici di Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. He turned and shouted to his wife: “Luciana, Luciana, friends of Sheldon and Pauline are here!”
They invited us into their home to meet the whole family and we drank Moscato d’Asti with cornmeal cookies and had a wonderful time. When we got back to the hotel there was a message waiting for us. Alfredo and Luciana were taking us to dinner that night and they would not take no for an answer. So began a wonderful friendship and many adventures with this wonderful couple both in Piedmont and NYC that lasted until Alfredo’s death about five years ago.

The  Vietti Wines with DinnerIMG_9163

Roero Arneis DOCG 2014 100% Arneis. The vineyards are 25 years old and are located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Srefano Roero. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested , pressed and clarified, then alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at a low temperature to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. Because there is no malolactic fermentation acidity and freshness are preserved. The wine remains in stainless steel until bottling. It is a well balanced wine that has hints of citrus and melon with a touch of almond and crisp acidity. It was fitting to start with the Arneis as Alfredo has been called “the father of Arneis” because in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly lost variety.IMG_9162

Barolo Ravera 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo from the Ravera vineyard, 2.7 hectares in Novello. The vines are 5 to 60 years old and the exposure is southwest and the soil is calcareous-clay. The wine is in stainless steel vats, 5 of which are in cold pre-fermentation maceration. Alcoholic fermentation takes place and then a long post-fermentation maceration at a controlled temperature. There is daily air pumping over using the old system called “submerged cap.” There is slow malolactic fermentation in large casks almost until the end of spring. The wine stays more then a year on the lees and the C02 produced during the malolactic fermentation is a reductive environment without sulfur. The wine is aged for 32 months in Slovenian oak casks and bottled unfiltered in July 2013. It has hints of roses, red fruit and spice. Needs time to open up and will only get better with age.IMG_9161

Barolo Brunate 1996 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Morra located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines at the time were about 23 years old and cultivated with the guyot system. The soil is calcareous. Grapes are gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 23 days. Daily open air pumping over takes place using the old system of the submerged cap. Malolactic fermentation is in oak barrels. The wine, I believe, back in 1996 was aged for 32 months in large Slovenian oak casks. This is a balanced wine with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry, plum, violets and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish. !996 was a great vintage for Barolo and this is a great wine.IMG_9059

The night before the dinner with Luciana we were in Alba and went to the Vincafe. As I looked at the case with the older wine I saw a bottle of Vietti Barbera d’Asti “La Crena”1996 and I just had to order it. This single vineyard in Agliano d’Asti was planted in 1932 with 4,800 plants per hectare. The must rests for 21 days in stainless steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. There are 2 to 3 daily fullages in the electro pneumatically system, “délestage” and numerous air pumping overs. Immediately after the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels and big Slovenian oak casks for 16 months. Then it is assembled in steel tanks until it is bottled unfiltered. This is a Barbera that was showing no signs of age with mature fruit, hints of raspberry and cherry a touch of spice and good acidity.

Luca

Luca Currado

Alfredo and Luciana’s son Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great wine making family. Gambero Rosso not only gave a three glasses award to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but also named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.IMG_7159

Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less than one hectare with south/southwest exposure. Soil is clay and compact with white and blue marlstone. The average age of the vines is 39 years and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. After alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, which lasts for 16 days, the wine macerates on the skin for ten days. The wine was transferred into small barrels for the malolactic fermentation. Then it was aged in Slovenian oak casks of 27 hl and bottled unfiltered in September 2010. It is classical Barolo at its best with dark fruit flavors and aromas, hints of leather, tobacco and spice.

 

 

 

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Tenuta Gigliotto: Sicilian Wine The Way I Like It

It is very rare that I go to a tasting where all of the wines reflect the terroir and the grapes they are made from. This was the case when I tasted the wines of Tenuta Gigliotto at I Trulli restaurant in NYC last month.

The Gigliotto winery is 9 Km from Piazza Armerina (famous for its Roman mosaics, 360AD) in Sicily.

At the tasting and lunch there was not one wine that was international in style or “made for the American market”, which I appreciated very much.

Elio Savoca

Elio Savoca

Tenuta Gigliotto is a family business managed by Elio Savoca, who hosted the tasting. Elio spoke about the winery and how they now welcome paying guests on their property at their agriturismo.

He told us that for the last 20 years the winery has been under organic management. Organic for them is the result of a natural and spontaneous process and above all a respect for nature. Elio is also very interested in the history of Sicily and the wines are named after persons or places of historical importance. One wine is named for Count Ruggero, later Roger I of Sicily, who is credited not only for driving the Arabs from Piazza Amerina but also from all of Sicily.

Angelo Alescio

Angelo Alescio

The wine maker, Angelo Alescio, spoke about the wine. He said there are 20 hectares of vines and the soil is generally sandy. All the vineyards have a southern exposure and are at 400 meters. There is a strong wind, which comes from the sea 25km away and has a strong influence on the vines. The training system is Guyot.

He said vinification is carried out under inert gas using cross-flow filters for filtering the wine. It is a less invasive and more effective method. They use French oak barrels and chestnut barrels. Angelo made the point of saying that the use of chestnut was the way wine was processed and aged in the past in Sicily because it was readily available.IMG_9400

Santa Chiara Dry Moscato made from 100% Moscato. This is a very interesting wine. On the bouquet and on the palate it has all the slightly sweet fruity flavors of the Moscato grape but the finish and aftertaste is dry so that it is a wine which can go with food.IMG_9403

White Wine IGT Sicily “Venere” 100% Chardonnay. There are 4,800 plants per hectare and the grapes are picked by hand the second half of August. The grapes are softly pressed by using a pneumatic press. The must ferments in steel tanks with the traditional cold method and temperature control system. About 30% of the wine is fermented in wooden barrels. The wine is then aged in the bottle for several months before release.IMG_9404

Rose Wine IGT Sicily “Kanzir” made from 100% Nero d’Avola. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand picked in the second and third weeks of September. Traditional white wine vinification, after the grapes are slightly pressed. The must is fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature with the yeast that is on the skins. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel tanks and 3 months in bottle before release. It has nice red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of raspberries and a touch of almonds.IMG_9392

Red Wine DOP Sicily “San Michele” made from 100% Frappato. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and harvest takes place the last week of September. Traditional fermentation at controlled temperature. The wine is aged at least 12 months in stainless steel and barrel. This is very aromatic wine with fresh red berry flavors and aromas and a hint of spice and notes of roses.IMG_9391

Red Wine IGT Sicily “Vossia” made from 100% Nero d’Avola. There are 5,000 vines per ha and the harvest takes place the second and third weeks of September. The wine is fermented and macerated under controlled temperatures for 10 days. Aged in casks for 6 months. This is an aromatic wine with hints of red berries, violets, spice and a touch of almonds.IMG_9396

Red Wine Sicily IGT made from 100% Nero d’Avola this is a more intense version of the wine above.IMG_9388

Red Wine IGT Sicily “Conte Ruggero” 100% Petit Verdot. There are 4.500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second and third weeks in September. Vinification is the same as above. The wine is aged for 12 months in barrel. The wine has hints of raspberries and cherries with a nice finish and pleasant after taste.IMG_9395

Merlot “Campione De Vasca 2014” made from 100% Merlot. This is vinified like the wine above. It was one of the few times which I have tasted merlot that was so true to the grape.IMG_9386 

Patrisano Dessert Wine made from 100% Zibibbo (White Moscato) There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place in November. It is a late harvest and the grapes are picked after they wither on the vines. Traditional wine vinification takes place at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in steel tanks and French oak barrels. It has hints of mature fruits along with honey and a touch of spice with a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.

 

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Filed under Dry Mosacto, Frappato, Gigliotto Winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Nero d'Avola, Sicilian Wine, Sicily

PRESTIGE CUVÉE CHAMPAGNES: CHAMPAGNE AT ITS BEST

 

Ed McCarthy hosted two memorable Champagne tastings and lunches in December for wine journalists in New York City. For the Wine Media Guild event at Felidia Restaurant, Ed spoke about 26 Non Vintage Brut Champagnes. Three weeks later, Ed hosted the second event, held at the Brasserie, where he presented 16 Prestige Cuvee Champagnes for the NY Wine Press. Ed, author of “Champagne for Dummies,” is known as Champagne Ed.

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Champagne Ed Mc Carthy

Harriet Lembeck chair of the NY Wine Press, announced that this was the last year this event would be held at the Brasserie as it will be closing shortly. She thanked Sharon Colabello, the Brasserie’s Director of Catering, for all her help over the years.

Introducing the wines, Ed told us that Prestige Cuvees are made from the finest and the most costly grapes from the best vineyards, usually from all Grand Cru or a blend of Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages. They are aged longer in the producers’ cellars than other Champagnes. The typical Prestige Cuvee ages for five to eight years before release.

Ed said that 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008 were excellent vintages in Champagne. He also believes that 1996 was the best vintage of the last 20 years.

First Flight with Hors d’OeuvresIMG_9426

Lanson “Extra Age” Brut NV magnum It is a blend of special vintage years 2000, 2002 and 2004 bringing together the best Champagne Crus using traditional vinification methods. The Pinot Noir comes from the best plots of Verzenay and Bouzy. The Chardonnay from the Cote des Blancs, Chouilly, Avize, Oger and Vetrus. Nice citrus flavors and aromas with a touch of white peach and pear. $190

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Bethany Burke and Champagne Andre Jucquart

Andrê Jacquart Blanc De Blancs Brut Nature Grand Cru NV. No malolactic fermentation takes place, a minimum of 5 years on the lees before disgorgement and zero dosage.  70% of the wine is aged in old Burgundy barrels. Ed said that the grapes come from the best villages in Champagne. This is a elegant champagne with hints of pear and peach with a long and fruity finish. Ed was very impressed with this champagne and it is a bargain at $60.IMG_9427

Lamiable “Les Meslaines” Grand Cru 2008 made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from 30/35 year old vines from the Grand Cru terroirs of Bouzy and Tours-sur- Marne. The soil is clay and limestone, the parcel is 6 hectares and the exposure is south. It is at 162 meters with a gentle slope of about 10%. Fermentation in enamel and stainless steel tanks and then malolactic fermentation takes place. Aged for 18 months on the lees. Two to four barrels are used. No new oak. Dosage 8g/l. It had hints of apple, brioche, spice and a hint of ginger. Ed said it needed more time $60

Second Flight with Vegetable CarpaccioIMG_9428

Piper-Heidsieck “Rare” Brut 2002 made from 65% Pinot Noir and 35% Chardonnay from twelve 100% rated Grand Cru Villages. This needs at least 15 years from the vintage date to develop fully. It was interesting because I found aromas and flavors of spice and ginger with citrus fruit and good acidity. $155IMG_9429

Laurent-Perrier “Grand Siecle” NV made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from 3 different vintages. 12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food. $135IMG_9430

Veuve Clicquot “La Grande Dame” 2006 made from 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay. Verzenay/Avize are the two dominate crus in the blend of eight grand crus from Ciicquot’s own 100% rated Grand Cru Vineyards on the Còte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. It has hints of white peaches, apricots and brioche. It needs two or three years from release in order be at its best. $155

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Christina L. Jacobs Champagne Specialist  Moet Hennessy

Dom Ruinart Blanc De Blancs Brut 2004 Made primarily with premier crus from the Cöte des Blanc and Montagne de Reims. Has both elegance and finesse with hints of fresh fruits, citrus and white peaches. $135

Third Flight with Halibut with Braised Leeks and Champagne SabayonIMG_9432

Taittinger “Comtes de Champagne” Blanc de Blancs 2006. The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as the “cuvee” is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles”. Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. This is their flagship Champagne. Ed described it as being full and rich.  It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. $130IMG_9433

Louis Roederer “Cristal” Brut 2007 made from  55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay with grapes from Roederer’s own vineyards, almost all of which are Grand Cru. Ed said it needs 15 years from the vintage date before it is really ready to drink, $200IMG_9434

Perrier Jouet “Belle Epoque” Blanc de Blancs Brut 2002 This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards and Ed believes that it is worth the money and one of the best Blanc de Blancs made. He also said that 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne. $350

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Cathleen Burke Visscher with Pascal Doquet and Lamiable

Pascal Doquet “Le Mesnil Sur Oger” Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru 2002 The vines range from 3 to 77 years-old averaging around 37 years as of 2014. The soil is chalky in the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in the heart of the territory. It is a 1,67 ha parcel with an eastern exposure. The training system is Taille Chablis. The yield is 30% lower than the maximum permitted by Champagne. Malolatic fermentation takes place. Aged for 6 months and then 5 months on the lees. 36% aged in barrels. It has hints of toasted brioche, raisins, spice and apple with good acidity. Ed said that this wine needs more time and I agree. Dosage 5g/l. The winery is certified organic, indigenous yeast is used and the grapes are hand harvested. $85

Fourth Flight — Duck á l’OrangeIMG_9436

Moet & Chandon “Dom Perignon” Brut 2006 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies – the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” $150IMG_9437

Bollinger “ La Grande Anneë” Brut 2004 made from 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. This was one of my top wines. Both Ed and I felt that it would age very well. It is intense, concentrated, rich Champagne with aromas and flavors of toasted brioche. This is the Champagne that I drank the most. $125 IMG_9438

Henriot Cuvee “Des Enchanteleurs” Brut 2000 made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from six of the most prestigious Grand Cru vineyards.  Ed said it was excellent and one of his favorites. It was also one of mine. It is rich with citrus aromas and flavors and hints of wild peach, hazelnut, and a touch of honey. It is aromatic with a great finish and aftertaste. It was Tom Maresca’s favorite. $165.

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Odila Galer-Noel with Pol Roger, Assistant Vice President Fredrick Wildman

Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill” Brut 2004 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30 % Chardonnay from their Grand Cru vineyards. The remuage (riddling) is done by hand, a rarity in Champagne today. Ed felt it still needs at least 4 or 5 more years to be ready. He described it as being rich, firm and austere but also with finesse and complexity. Ed said that it was created in homage to Sir Winston Churchill mindful of the qualities he sought in his Champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. This was another of his favorite wines and I have to agree. $250

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Nicole Burke   US Brand Ambassador Krug

Krug Brut Grande Cuvée NV made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percent depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%. As Ed said obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. It is Michele’s favorite. $135

Though we all have preferences in style, I would be more than happy to enjoy any of these excellent Champagne

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Filed under Andre Jacuqart Champagne, Champagne, Christal, Dom Perignon, Dom Ruinart 1966, Henriot, Krug Champagne, Lanson, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Perrier-Jouet, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Prestige Cuvee Champagnes, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Veuve Clicquot