Doctor Wine: The “Star” System!

Do away with the stars
by Daniele Cernilli 23-02-2015
The ‘stars’ in this case are not those in the sky but the ones producers use to rate vintages, a practice that has been going on for years and takes place at this time of year when various regions are hosting new vintage wine previews. The reason why I believe the star rating system should be eliminated is that when they are awarded so early they risk being misleading and can lead to major misconceptions which in times confuses consumers. An example in point is Brunello di Montalcino 1997 that was awarded five stars, one more than for 1999 which with time has proven to be a much better year. Were we to re-evaluate wines after a certain period of time their ratings would certainly be different from when they were first tasted. Thus it would make much more sense to wait until a wine has finally reached the market to rate it rather than trying to guess what it will be like and risk being wrong. Last year in Tuscany many dismissed 2013 as a decidedly minor year. Today, as the first wines of that vintage reach the market, things are quite different. On the contrary, 2012 was hailed with five stars by some producer associations but does not seem to have lived up to expectations

 

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Meeting Alessandro Rivetto

Alessando Rivetto

I will not even look at Barolo and Barbaresco until they are 10 years old. I look at them but put them aside to age for at least another 5 to 10 years. That’s why I like to buy older Barolos and Barbarescos — so I will not have to wait too long to drink them.

Franco Bengazi, owner of the Wine Emporium, an importer and distributor of mostly Italian wine, told me he had a friend who had older vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco to sell.IMG_2005

I went to visit his friend.  He had Barolo and Barbaresco from the 1960’s and ’70’s, stored in cardboard cases that fell apart when we tried to open them.  The wines were from the Rivetto winery and I bought a number of them.

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Alessandro Rivetto

Though we had never met in person, Alessandro Rivetto is my Facebook friend.  When he saw on Facebook my pictures of the Rivetto wines from his families winery, he wrote to me and said that next time he was in NYC we should get together.  I said I would open some of the older vintages for him.

That was a few years ago and a number of things have changed since then.  I drank all of the wines I had bought and Alessandro left his family’s winery and went out on his own. He inherited part of the family vineyards and now has three partners.  Alessandro produces two different lines of wine, the Alessandro Rivetto line and the Ipoli line.  His original family winery is still in business under the name of Rivetto.

Lorenzo Baricca, wine director of Tarallucci E Vino Restaurant in NYC knew of my interest in these wines and my contact with Alessandro.  When he scheduled a dinner featuring Alessandro’s wines, Lorenzo invited me to join them and I met Alessandro at last. We tasted the wines from the Alessandro Rivetto line.

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Langhe Arneis “ Matire”2013 DOC 100% Arneis

The harvest is manual. The must and the skins are in contact at cold temperatures for about 30 hours after which the fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for five days. The wine is aged in stainless steel. This is an Arneis with some body, fruity with hints of citrus and good acidity.IMG_7224

Barbaresco 2010 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. Manual harvest. Stemmer pressing and cold maceration for 2 days after which fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine remains in oak casks for 18 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine has hints of cherries and violets with touches of tea and rose petals.IMG_7226

Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2009 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. Manual harvest. There is stemmer pressing and cold maceration for 2 days. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine is aged for more than 3 years in oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for 10 months before release. It is a wine with hints of blackberries and violets with a touch of tea and spice. IMG_7235

Barolo “Lazzarito”2009 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo Manual harvest then stemmer crushing and maceration. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless tanks. The maceration lasts for 37/42 days. Aging is in oak casks for more then 3 years and in bottle for 18 months before release. This is a wine with hints of leather, spice, licorice and a very long finish. It is a Barolo that will age for many years.

The executive chef at Tarallucci E Vino, Andrew Welch, did a great job of matching the food with the wines.

 

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Italian Wine Terms: Giropoggio, Ritocchino and More

Jeremy Parzen, on his informative and interesting  blog, Dobianchi.com, posted a list of Italian wine terms with the English translation. It is a list which Jeremy adds to from time to time and it has  terms you will not find anywhere else like  a giropoggio and a ritocchino.  Here is the latest version of Jeremy’s wine glossary:


ITALIAN
ENGLISH
a giropoggio east-west row orientation
a ritocchino north-south row orientation
acciaio [inossidabile] stainless-steel [vat/tank]
affinamento aging
alberello head-trained [vines]
allevamento training
argilla clay
arresto di fermentazione stuck fermentation
assemblaggio blend
barbatella grafted cutting
barrique barrique [small French oak cask]
bâtonnage stirring on the lees
biodinamica biodynamics/biodynamic
biologico organic
botte traditional large cask
bucce skins
Cabernet [Sauvignon] Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Franc Cabernet Franc
calcare/calcareo limestone/calcareous [limestone-rich]
cappello sommerso submerged cap maceration
chioma canopy
cordone speronato cordon-trained spur-pruned [vines]
cru vineyard designation/single vineyard
cuvée blend
délestage rack and return
deraspare/deraspatrice de-stemm/de-stemmer
diradamento pruning/thinning grapes/dropping fruit
DOC DOC [designation of controlled origin]
DOCG DOCG [designation of controlled and guaranteed origin]
DOP PDO [Protected Designation of Origin]
doppio capovolto double-arched cane [training]
esca esca [alt.: black dead arm or black measles]
escursione termica [diurnal] temperature variation
fementazione arrestata stuck fermentation
femminella lateral shoot
follatura punching down
galestro galestro [a marl- and limestone-rich subsoil unique to Tuscany]
giropoggio east-west row orientation
grappa grappa
grappolo cluster/bunch
Guyot Guyot
IGP PGI [Protected Geographical Indication]
IGT IGT [typical geographical indication]
leccio holm oak
lievito naturale native/ambient/indigenous/wild yeast
lievito selezionato cultured yeast
limo silt
macchia mediterranea Mediterranean maquis [shrubland]
maestrale (vento di maestrale) north-westerly wind
malolactica malolactic fermentation
marna/marne marl
millerandage millerandage [alt.: shot berrieshens and chicks, orpumpkins and peas]
monovitigno single-grape variety [wine]
mosto must
oidio oidium [powdery mildew]
peronospora peronospora [downy mildew]
pied de cuve pied de cuve [native yeast starter]
pigiatura pressing
portinnesto rootstock
quercia oak
rimontaggio pumping over
ritocchino north-south row orientation
sabbia/sabbioso sand/sandy [sandy soil]
Sauvignon [Blanc] Sauvignon Blanc
siccità/stress idrico hydric stress
sistema di allevamento training
sottosuolo subsoil
stralciatura deshooting
stress idrico/siccità hydric stress
sulle bucce skin contact [macerated on the skins]
sulle fecce nobili lees aged [aged on its lees]
sur lie lees aged [aged on its lees]
terreno/terreni soil
tignola della vite vine moth [Eupoecilia ambiguella]
tralcio shoot/cane
tramoggia hopper/feeder
tufo tufaceous subsoil [porous limestone]
vasca vat/tank
vento di maestrale north-westerly wind
vigna/vigne vine/vineyards
vigneto vineyard
vinaccia/vinacce pomace
vite vine
vitigno grape variety

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Slow Wine Rates the Best 15 Chianti Classico

02/18/20151 COMMENT

10993952_728655193919473_6331448557780657298_nTwo days of tasting, with over 300 wines tasted by two different committees of Slow Wine and here is our first response.

These 15 wines that we liked the most and that made the Chianti Classico Collection 2015 an important time to learn more than 156 companies and you can taste the latest vintages output.

In particular, it has established the elegant 2013 that gave the sangiovese not too powerful, but to drink very fresh and secure longevity. The 2012 is a thousandth very hot, so he gave the results patchy, with interesting wines especially among selections.

The tasting notes of wines including many in the Top List you can read here and here .

 

Chianti Classico 2013 – Castello di Monsanto

Chianti Classico 2013 – Fattoria San Giusto a Rentennano

Chianti Classico Rubiolo 2013 – Gagliole

Chianti Classico 2013 – Isole e Olena

Chianti Classico 2013 – Val delle Corti

Chianti Classico 2012 – Castellinuzza Family Cinuzzi

Chianti Classico The Campitello Res. 2012 – Monteraponi

Chianti Classico Bugialla Res. 2012 – Poggerino

Chianti Classico 2012 – Riecine

Chianti Classico Ris. 2012 – Villa Pomona

Chianti Classico Ris. Doccio Matteo 2011 - Caparsa

Chianti Classico GS vineyard Capannino 2011 –  Bibbiano

Chianti Classico GS Vigna Grospoli 2011 –  Fattoria di Lamole

Chianti Classico GS Label Historical 2010 – Ormanni

Chianti Classico Poggio delle Rose Res. 2010 – Villa Castell’in

Photo by Andrea Gori

 

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Vietti Barolo- Gambero Rosso Red Wine of the Year

Gambero Rosso, The Italian Wine Guide, held a tasting in NYC showcasing the wines which received their highest award, known as Three Bicchieri (three glasses). They also give awards for the producer of the white and red wines of the year, as well as others. In addition to the Three Bicchieri wines, many producers showed some of their other wines.

Luca Currado

Luca Currado

At the tasting I was happy to see Luca Currado of the Vietti winery. Michele and I have known the Currado family for almost 35 years. We first met Alfredo and Luciano Currado, Luca’s parents, when we visited them at their winery in Castiglione Falletto in Piedmont. We became friends and would see them whenever they came to New York. Alfredo passed away a few years ago and the winemaking is now in the capable hands of their son Luca. This year Gambero Rosso not only gave three glasses to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.

Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great winemaking family. Here is a link to a blog I wrote about a dinner at my home honoring the memory of Alfredo Currado and his wines.

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2011/03/07/remembering-alfredo-currado-a-man-and-his-wines/

The Vietti Wines IMG_7159

Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less then 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. This wine received Three Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso Italian Wine Guide 2015 and was also named by them as The Red Wine of the Year.

Two of the Vietti Barolos were awarded Two Bicchieri:IMG_7160

Barolo Brunate 2011 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Mora located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines are 43 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 is aged for 32 months in French oak barrels and Slovenian oak casks. This wine was bottled in July of 2014. 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. IMG_7161

Barolo Castiglione 2011 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyards are located in Castiglione Falletto, Monforte, Barolo and Novello. There are 4,800 vines per hectare and they are 7 to 35 years old and the training system is guyot. After the harvest the grapes are gently pressed. Fermentation is in stainless steel with daily cap submersion for extraction of flavor and color. The wine is aged for 24 months in casks. Then it was blended in stainless tanks 8 months before bottling. The wine has aromas of red berries, spice and a hint of mint.

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Barolo:The “New” High Priced Wine

This is  an excellent article as is the link below on what is happing to the price of Barolo. I was at a Barolo tasting before I left for Naples and all the talk was how the price of the 2010 Barolo was high and was going to go even higher.

Barolo Superstar

by Daniele Cernilli ,  Doctor Wine 02-02-2015

Exactly one year ago I wrote an editorial for Doctor Wine entitled: Barolo, the next icon (LINK). I would never have imagined predicting so precisely what then took place in the following, even if there were many elements to make such a forecast. Due to the combination of some disappointing vintages in Bordeaux and Burgundy and an extraordinary one for Barolo, vintage 2010 for the Italian wine had an enormous success among the world of wine’s ‘big spenders’ and it is now almost impossible to find a bottle.
The lion’s share of Barolo wineries came under siege and were literally gutted and with the first 2011 coming out, the product of a harvest that was almost as good as the previous one, the Barolo ‘craze’ seems far from subsiding. This is great because finally an Italian wine, and not just an estate ‘brand’, is firmly establishing itself as a choice among those wine-lovers who normally drink the great Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, the Mosel whites and some ‘iconic’ wines from the New World. Let’s hope that this success in sales does not translate into outrageous price hikes, as occurred with the above-mentioned wines.
For us ‘normal’ wine-lovers many of the wines that were affordable, or at least within our reach, only 15 years ago are now totally beyond our economic means. The risk that Barolo will become a member of that high-priced club may be positive for the image of Italian wine and for producers’ pockets, but it bleed the rest of us dry.

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Vino 2015 in NYC: Some New Discoveries and Some Old Friends

Last week the Italian Trade Commission welcomed wine journalists and members of the trade to VINO 2015, Italian Wine Week. It was billed as the Greatest Italian Wine Event Held Outside Italy: Celebrating the Wines of Southern Italy. There were a number of seminars on Italian wine and other events and a Grand Tasting.

Slow Food/Wine which has a Slow Wine Guide of the 400 best wineries in Italy was also holding a Grand Tasting billed as Slow Wine/Vino 2015. Both Grand Tastings took place over a two-day period at the Waldorf Astoria.

At the Grand Tastings there was an ocean of wine but I did my best to taste as many as I could. There were a number of new discoveries and many old friends.

The Wines.

Filippo Antonelli (Umbria) one of my favorite producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco. I always enjoy speaking to him and tasting his wines. His also produces a white wine that I had not tasted before:IMG_7149

Trebbiano Spoletino, made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino (a white grape variety native to the area around Spoleto). A hand selection of the best grapes in the vineyard which is at 300 meters with a western exposure. Filippo cultivates the vines as they did in ancient times next to maple trees in order to make the grapes grow higher. The vines are attached to the trees keeping them well off the ground so that the late frost in the region does not affect them. The harvest takes place in October.

Soft pressing is followed by skin contact and cold static clarification. Fermentation is in 25 HL oak barrels. Aging in 25 HL oak barrels and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has floral aromas with hints of tropical fruit, almonds and spice. It is well balanced with good acidity.

Colutta from Friuli is a producer I do not know so I decided to taste his wines. Giorgio Colutta was there and he told me about his wines and winery. He makes a number of wines including a Sparkling Brut from the Ribolla Gialla grape. I liked the whole line. The Refosco was one of the best I ever tasted.IMG_7107

Refosco made from 100% Refosco del Peduncolo (Red Stalk). There are 3,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, crushed and fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with additional selected yeasts. Déslestage (rack and return) takes place. After 10 to 15 days the grapes are soft pressed. Part of the wine is aged in barrels and part in stainless steel. This is a wine that needs time. It has hints of wild blackberry, plum and other black fruits.

I have always been a big fan of Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico. Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti was there and she told me I have to taste this wine made from very traditional Tuscan varieties.IMG_7140

Chianti Classico “Cultus Boni” 2010 made from 80% Sangiovese, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Fogliatonda, Malvasia, Sanforte, Mommolo and Pugnitello. The geographical area is Monti in Chianti and the vineyards of Montebello and Argenina. The vineyards are at 260 to 370 mt. and the exposure is south, southwest. Soil is clay and limestone, vines are 10 to 35 years old, and training system is guyot. Manual harvest. Natural fermentation takes place with native yeasts, maceration for about 40 days on the skins. Aging is in French Oak barrels of various sizes. This is a full-bodied wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherry and violets.IMG_7108

A friend asked me to taste the wines of a Sicilian producer and then give my opinion of the wines. The producer is Alliata and I told him that I liked the wines after tasting them. They make wines from the Insolia, Grillo and Nero d’Avola among others. The Insolia is made from 100% Insolia in northwest Sicily. The soil is clay and pebbles and the vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 5,000 vines/ha and they use a vertical trellised training system. Harvest takes place the first two weeks of September depending on the maturity of the grapes. Extremely soft pressing takes place with a membrane press at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 4 to 5 months in stainless steel tanks on the lees. It is released after 2 to 3 months in bottle.IMG_7101

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva “Poggio all’Ora” 2009. Castello Banfi. Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of five years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. I was very impressed by this wine and even though it spends a long time in barriques, the usual tastes associated with these barrels was not present. IMG_7117

Taurasi “Campoceraso” 2007 DOCG Azienda Vinicola Struzziero Avellino, Campania. 100% Aglianico. I had not tasted wine from this producer in some time so I stopped to see if they were as good as I remember them. The vineyards are on the Colline Venticano hills and Torre Le Nocelle. There is controlled fermentation with 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged in oak barrels for at least 36 months. The wine remains in bottle for about six months. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of red fruit, spice, coffee and tobacco. It is a balanced wine with a full aftertaste and long finish. I was happy to see that the wines were as good as I remember them.

Planeta – The winery has different locations around Sicily and I have visited most of them. This wine comes from the Feudo di Mezzo location close to Mt Etna.IMG_7152

Eruzione 1614 Bianco DOC  vintage 2013 made from 95% Carricante and 5% Riesling grapes from the Sciara Nova vineyard in Castiglione, Sicily. The soil is black lava (Mt. Etna) and the training system is vertical trellis, spurred pruned cordon and guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the harvest takes place on October 6th. Grapes are picked and refrigerated at once at 8 degrees and a hand selection takes place. After a light crushing and destemming the grapes are soft pressed. The decanted must is racked and inoculated with yeast, then fermented at 15 degrees for 20 days. The wine remains on the lees until February with continuous mixing and is bottled in March. This is a white wine that will age and should not be drunk until at least 3 years after the vintage.

 

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Filed under Alliata Winery, Antonelli, Banfi Brunello, Colutta Winery, Cultus Boni Chianti Classico, Eruzione 1614 Bianco, Insolia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Planeta, Poggio Alle Mura- Castello Banfi, Refosco, Struzziero winery, Taurasi, Trebbiano Spoletino