Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, on Local Italian Wineries

by Daniele Cernilli 16-01-2017  “Small Wines”

If there is an area in the wine world where Italy is truly in the forefront it is in its great number local wines that are of good when not excellent quality. I can think of over a hundred of them between those classified either controlled designation of origin (DOC) or typical geographic indication (IGT) including some authentic gems many of which were only invented in recent years. What’s more, up until a couple of decades ago areas like Etna, Valle Isarco, some zones of Sardinia, Montecucco, Boca and even Roero were basically unknown but have now come into the limelight thanks to individual producers or small groups of winemakers who knew how to give value to their wines and territory. Some examples include Giuseppe Russo, Francesco Sedilesu, Gunther Kerschbaumer, Cristoph Kunzli and Walter Massa. They and others are authentic pioneers, great craftsmen of the vineyard who made their mark to the benefit of the areas they work as well as their fellow colleagues there by enhancing the value of the zone’s wines. In other words, they created something greater than themselves and beyond just gaining fame and recognition. There are many other examples and one needs to just focus on a single town or area and the names come out: Marco Carpineti in Cori, in the region of Lazio; Maria Cuomo in Furore, in Campania; Edi Kante in the Carso area in the province of Trieste; Luigi Viola in Saracena, Calabria; Ottaviano Lambruschi in Liguria’s Colli di Luni; and Salvatore Geraci in Messina. They are all founding founders of their small wine homelands who with tiny masterpieces have enriched the Italian wine scene and made themselves known to wine lovers the world over. All this is well and nice but the fact is that still today too many consumers do not know their achievements nor their wines and along with this being a shame there is also a danger. If we want these small wines to continue to grow it is essential that they are not trampled upon by globalization or diminished by the term ‘excellence’, often over used by politicians. These wines and their producers, on the other hand, can contribute to creating a dynamic image for Italian wine, one that includes the great producers and wine cooperatives as well as many small craftsmen who together compose such a rich, assorted an unequaled wine reality.

http://www.doctorwine.it/english

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CASALE DEL GIGLIO WINERY: Bellone, Cesanese, Petit Manseng, Viognier and More

Casale del Giglio was the last winery on my recent tour of three wineries south of Rome. I was familiar with this winery because when I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC we carried their wines.

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Elise

When John Curtas, a journalist from Las Vegas, and I arrived at the winery Elise Rialland gave us some background information. I had met Elise from the export office the night before in Rome. I had a nice time talking to her and her husband.

Dr. Berardino Santarelli, from the Appenine hill town of Amatrice, founded Casale del Giglio in 1967. The estate is between the town of Aprilia and Latina in the Agro Pontino valley about 50 miles from Rome. The winemaker is Paolo Tiefenthaler who also consults for other wineries and makes a methode classico spumante in Trento where he lives.

Paolo took us to the roof of the winery where we could see the vineyards. He said the area did not have much of a winemaking tradition and 60 different grape varieties were planted to determine see which ones would do best.

They converted the 180 hectares of vineyards to the cordon training system, planting the grapes which adapt well to the territory and produce quality wines such as: Syrah, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Petit Manseng and Tempranijo, plus other international and local varieties.

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Paolo

They have 22 products, seven white wines, one rosé, seven reds, one late harvest, three grappas and an extra virgin olive oil.

We then went with Paolo to the cellars were he showed us a 225 liter demo barrel that is used to explain how wine develops in the barrel and its effects on the wine.img_2164

At lunchtime, we had one of the best meals that I have had at any winery in a very long time. They served two of my favorite pastas: Mezze Maniche alla Griciaimg_2168

and Amatriciana and they were as good, if not better, than any I have eaten in Rome! For the lunch I have thank to Linda Siddera, the Int. Events and Hospitality Coordinator for the winery.

Linda  with Elisa did the wine tasting for us

The Winesimg_2150

Bellone Lazio Bianco DOC Knowing my interest in the Bellone grape, Elise said the variety is cited by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD). Today the grape is cultivated from Rome to the Lepini hills around the costal town of Anzio where the warm sandy soils tempered by a relentless sea breeze provide the ideal microclimate. The grape is vigorous and resistant to drought, a guarantee of wine quality and balance. The grapes are plump, golden yellow, thick skinned and hang in elongated cone shaped bunches. The constant sea breeze contributes to the over ripeness of the grapes and a high concentration of sugar and acidity lead to early maturation and the wines’ mineral notes. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification: maceration is on the skins followed by a soft pressing and spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast for about 10 to 12 days at 18 -20C. This is a balanced wine with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, hints of mango, floral and spice notes, good acidity and a long finish. The wine can age! img_2148

Satrico Lazio Bianco IGT made from 40% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon and 30% Trebbiano Giallo. Only the best bunches are selected and after a soft pressing the first run juice is separated from the skins. The different varieties are vinified separately.   A slow, temperature controlled continuous fermentation takes place for 7 or 8 days. After racking the wine matures in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled at the beginning of the following years. This is a fruity, crisp, lightly aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit. The wine is named after the ancient pre-Roman town of Satricum.img_2156

Albiola Lazio Rosato IGT made from 85% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese, depending on the vintage. The dark skinned red grapes are lightly crushed and left in stainless steel tanks for several hours. After this initial period of cold maceration on the skins at 8 to 10°C some of the juice is “bled,” drained off from the tanks and fermented separately, a process known as saignéé from the French saigner to bleed. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at about 18C for 8 to 10 days. The wine if floral and fruity with aromas and flavors of woodland berries dominated by strawberries and raspberries.img_2157

Cesanese Lazio Rosso IGT 100% Cesanese. The grape comes from the Latium Province of Frosinone around the hill towns of Affile and Piglio. It is a low yield late ripening variety, which lends itself to late harvest. The clusters are small, sparse and elongated, the berries oval and medium sized. Harvest does not take place until late October as the vineyards are situated on high, hilly slopes. Paolo said late ripening varieties normally make for a long lasting wine. The more days between flowering and maturity, the more suitable the wine will be for long aging. There is submerged, spontaneous fermentation at 18-20°C for about 20 days followed by a further 10/12 days of maceration on the skins to extract the very last traces of the tannins in which the skins and seeds of the Cesanese grape are particularly rich. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry and violets and a touch of spice.img_2158

 Shiraz IGT Lazio made from 100% Syrah. Only the ripest and healthiest grapes are selected for vinification. Two days of cold maceration at about 10C takes place. Vinification continues with the punching down of the floating cap 3 or 4 times a day. The fermenting must is racked and returned (délestage) several times during the initial stages of the 10 to 12 day fermentation process at 28°C. The new wine is carefully drawn off into stainless steel vats for malolactic fermentation, the color, tannins and aroma still present in the fermented skins are extracted in the soft press to which they are gently persuaded to slide by force of natural gravity alone. The wine is aged in barriques for 8 to 12 months and for 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, black pepper and a touch of violets.img_2299

Mater Matuta Lazio Rosso IGT. Made from 85% Syrah and 15 % Petit Verdot (proportions may vary slightly depending on the vintage.) The grapes are harvested when fully ripe and the Syrah may be slightly shriveled, and vinified in different ways. Submerged cap is used for the Syrah, which ferments on native yeasts for 18 to 20 days. During the first few days délestage takes place several times. Punching down is used for the Petit Verdot for the extraction of the grape’s tannins and polyphenolic compounds. The full-bodied Petit Verdot gives the wine its long aging potential, and the Syrah gives complexity of character. Each new wine goes into new barriques. Color, tannins and aromas still present in the fermented skins are extracted in the soft presses to which they slide by gravity. After 22 to 24 months in oak the wines are blended and left in the bottle for another 10 to 12 months. This is a big complex wine with hints of black cherry, spice, cinnamon and violets. It has a long finish and very pleasing after taste. This is their flagship wine. The name comes from the ancient Italic goddess of the dawn.

Chardonnay Lazio IGT– a wine that does not undergo malolatic fermentation and is aged for 3 to 4 months in stainless steel so the true varietal character comes through.

Sauvignon Blanc Lazio IGT (vinification and aging is like the Chardonnay) It is a very balanced wine with good acidity and a hint of grass.img_2153

Viognier Lazio Bianco IGT produced from fully ripe and over ripe grapes. The wine is stored on its lees in stainless steel tanks to prevent malolactic fermentation. It is a true expression of the Viognier grape.

Biancolella di Ponza IGT Bianco LazioFaro Della Guarda” in Lazio the wine made from the Biancolella can only be produced on the Island of Ponza which is off the southwest coast of Lazio. The grape is a native of Campania and came to Ponza from Ischia. However we did not get to taste this wine.img_2170

Aphrodisium-late harvest dessert wine made from Petit Mansegn, Viognier, Greco and Fiano, proportions depending on the vintage. These white grapes are harvested at different times. The Petit Manseng at the end of October when the clusters are well shriveled by the sea breeze. The sugar level is 30 to 32 Bobo(Brix in English) degrees (potential of about 18% alcohol.) The grapes are pressed whole to extract just the highly concentrated juice. No yeast is added. The solid parts of the grape are left behind and the ratio of must extracted to grapes pressed is no more than 30%. Fermentation occurs spontaneously in stainless steel vats at about 18°C. This wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach and honey with a refreshing mineral crispness, a long finish and a very pleasant after taste.img_2172

After the excellent lunch, John and I were offered grappa. The grappa is from the newly fermented skins from Casale del Giglio’s grapes but it is distilled at the Pilzer Distillery in Faver, Trento (it is illegal to have a distillery and winery on the same property in Italy.)

I selected the grappa made from Petit Manseng skins, which is a clear grappa. John selected the Petit Verdot, which is distilled the same way but is aged in wood and takes on a light brown color. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful lunch and visit.

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Filed under Bellone Grape, Casale del Giglio, Cesanese, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lazio, Shiraz, Viognier

Drinking 1982 Mouton and Palmer

Ed Mc Carthy and Mary Ewing Mulligan MW gave me a bottle of wine for my birthday. It was  the 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild (Pauillac).img_1834

I told them at the time that I would invite them over for dinner and open the wine with them. So this past November over 14 years later Michele and I invited them over for dinner and we opened the bottle.

In December we had friends over for dinner that live in Rome part of the time or go to Rome often. One of the guests sent me an e-mail that he was looking in his wine cellar and found a 1982 Chateau Palmer (Margaux) and would bring it.img_2286

It was interesting to drink these wine less than a month apart. Both wines were in excellent condition. The Palmer was at its peak and would not benefit from longer aging. The Mouton will last for a number of years.

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Wines and a Sunset at the Marco Carpineti Winery

Recently, I wrote about my trip to Cori, where I visited the Cincinnato Winery together with journalist John Curtas from Las Vegas, Nevada.img_2124

The second winery on our itinerary was Marco Carpineti. Paolo Carpineti, who we had met the night before at a dinner in Rome where we stayed. He joined us on the drive to Cori as his car would not start.

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Temple of Hercules at Cori

Paolo is the sales manager for his family’s winery and he took us to the town of Cori. Paolo said that Cori was settled 300 years before Rome. There are still ancient ruins in the town and he also wanted to show us the sunset from the highest point in the town.img_2115

It was really something to see.

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John Curtas and Paolo Capineti

Next, Paolo took us on a tour of the vineyards and told us about the winery. The vineyards are south of Rome and are protected by the Lepini Mountains. They are at 400 meters. His family has been in the wine business for generations and in 1994 they went organic. As he pointed to the vines he said we do not use herbicides, chemical fertilizers or synthetic products. He said biodynamic agriculture is based on the idea of the balance of nature, in unison with the landscape, the earth and humanity.

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You plant diamonds and you get nothing, you plant manure and you get flowers.

In order to obtain a fertile and vital soil they only use natural methods like bone meal (mixture of finely and coarsely ground animal bones) and slaughterhouse waste products and quartz horn (burying ground quartz stuffed into the horn of a cow).img_2135

We tasted the wines with a light supper. Paolo said that all the food we were eating was from local products produced in and around Cori. We also tasted his olive oil, which was excellent.

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Paolo speaking about the wines

The Wines

Kius Brut Millesimato Vintage Brut is a classic method sparkling wine made from 100% Bellone. There are 4500 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the last 10 days of August. There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in the bottle for 24 months before release. This is a sparking wine with small bubbles a fresh taste, fruity aroma and a hint of briocheimg_2127

Kius Extra Brut Rosè is a classic method sparkling wine made from Nero Buono di Cori. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the grapes are harvested the last 10 days of August. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. It is aged for 30 days in bottle before release. The color is light with red berry aromas and flavors with touches of strawberries and raspberries.img_2130

Capolemole IGT Lazio Bianco made from 80% Bellone and 20% Greco. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in steel. This is a fruity wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon and floral fragrances.img_2131

Moro IGt Lazio Bianco made from two varieties of Greco: 80% Greco Moro (dark green grapes) and 20% Greco Giallo (White Greco transplant). There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the harvest is in September/October. The grapes are selected and picked at sunrise and then a cold maceration takes places. There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is at a controlled temperature for 12 days. A portion of the must is fermented in oak barrels. This is a fruity wine with hints of peach and almonds with a touch of cut hay.img_2133

Tufaliccio IGT Lazio Rosso made from 70% Montepulciano and 30% Cesanese. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the harvest is in September/October. Maceration is for about 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine has aromas and flavors of red and black berries with a hint of violets.

They also make:

Capolemole Bianco IGT Lazio made from 80% Bellone and 20% Greco.

Apolide IGT Lazio Rosso made from 100% Nero di Cori.

Capolemole IGT Lazio Rosso made from 45% Nero Buono di Coti 45% Montepuliciano and 10% Cesanese. 

Dithyrambus IGT Lazio made from 50% Nero Buono di Cori and 50% Montepulciano.

Also a late harvest passito wine from the best bunches of Bellone called Ludum.img_2118

Paolo showed us a number of amphoras in the cellar that he is experimenting with using the Nero Buono di Cori grape.img_2139

Before we headed back to Rome, we had coffee and Grappa made from the Nero Buono di Cori grape.

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Filed under Bellone Grape, Cori, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Marco Carpineti Winery, Nero Buono, Spumante

Storm Clouds on the Horizon for Italian Wine

by Daniele Cernilli 28-11-2016

Very interesting article by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine from his on-line Newsletter “Doctor Wine” http://www.doctorwine.it/eng.

This 2016 leap year is drawing to a close and it has been a complicated one and this not only for the constitutional referendum that is dividing Italians as few have for years with arguments that are more like trolling on the web than political dialectics. And there is the possibility that it may leave deep wounds without resolving much, given that real economic issues are discussed and directed elsewhere.

In our magical world of Italian wine certain things have begun to go in a different direction than was expected and touted in triumphalist speeches filled with words like “excellence” made by politicians responsible for agriculture without really knowing much about it. The Brexit outcome resulted in a 9% drop in wine exports to Britain, those to the United States are holding but not increasing, the ones to Germany are fluctuating and exports to East Asia are still low. Furthermore, domestic wine consumption continues to decline while production from the 2016 harvest was almost 50 million hectoliters, the highest in years. This means that we will likely see a return of a wine surplus.

Prosecco and the DOCG and DOC quality wines, those that have the greatest success on the domestic market and for exports, have come under attack by important consumer protection TV programs and while many in the sector have protested, no one has efficiently counter-replied with convincing facts and figures. Making matters worse, perhaps due to the decline in popularity of quality Italian wines, some famous chefs, in cahoots with their sommeliers, have begun to consider it no longer natural to pair these wines with their creations. This began years ago when Gualtiero Marchesi said he thought water was the best drink to accompany his recipes and it has continue with others suggesting cocktails, vegetable smoothies, craft beers and other beverages at the table. Many of these people appear to have forgotten not only tradition and customs but that they and their sector survived thanks to a slew of wine producers who in effect subsidized them with free supplies. Producers also organized and continue to organize promotional and business luncheons and dinners at their estates where these chefs are invited to perform their art. So much for gratitude.

All the signs are there to not be optimistic about the future and there are more than enough reasons for me to be skeptical over the self-serving and electoral polices being proposed for the wine sector. There is no doubt that there are a lot of “excellences” around and almost all of them can be found in the empty and inconclusive speeches one hears. And in the meantime, storm clouds are gathering on the horizon.

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Drinking Bellone and Nero Buono at the Cincinnato Winery

Kim Sayid, who is working with a winery in Lazio, wrote me this text: “Would you like to go to Rome and visit 3 wineries in Lazio near the town of Cori? You have to leave in two weeks and you would be based in Rome for 3 days.”

Rome, wineries — it was an offer I could not refuse.

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Cori

The other journalist on the trip was John Curtas from Las Vegas. We had never met before but his presence added to my enjoyment of the trip.

Cori is located 28 miles (45 klm) southeast of Rome.

The first winery we visited was Cincinnato where Giovanna Trisorio, the marketing director, welcomed us. We had met her the night before at a dinner in Rome.img_2078

She told us that the winery was named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus a 5th century BC Roman politician who was named consul and won the war against the Argui. After the victory, Cincinnatus gave up all power and went back to his farm in Cori. The company’s logo shows him working on the farm plowing the soil with his ox.

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On the right Giovanna Trisorio

The winery is located in the hills of Cori, an ancient village south of Rome. The climate is protected by the mountains and pleasantly mitigated by the sea. Cincinnato is a co-op founded in 1947 with 200 members and 400 hectors of vineyards. It is a very modern winery constructed using local products and workman.img_2093

We tasted the wines with lunch, which was made with all local products from Cori including their excellent extra virgin olive oil, Dioscuri, made from 100%“Itrana Cultivar”.

The winery is also an agriturismo and hosts guests in several comfortable rooms.img_2089

Castore 2015 IGT Lazio made from 100% Bellone. The vineyards are located on the lava hills around Cori at 200 to 250 meters and the soil is volcanic-clayey. A row training system is used and there are 3,000 to 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place September 10th-15th. Soft pressing and destemming takes places followed by static decantation for 24 hours and subsequent fermentation at a cold temperature 15C for 10 days. The wine remains on the lees for 2 months and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release.

The wine has delicate fruity aromas with hints of yellow peach and hawthorn.

Giovanna said that the Bellone grape’s ancestor is believed to be uva Pantastica, described by Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) in his Natural History. Giovanna said that the name Castore is from the mythical Dioscuri to whom the temple of Castor and Pollux is dedicated and the archeological remains are part of Cori’s heritage.img_2095

Pozzodorico 2014 IGT Lazio 100% Bellone the vineyards are at 250 meters and there are 4,000 plants per hectare, harvest is from September 10th to 20th. There is a soft pressing and destemming and fermentation takes place in 500 liter barrels for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation takes the wine remains on the lees for 12 months. The wine is aged in big barrels and for 6 months in bottle before release. Giovanna said this process makes a complex, full bodied and elegant wine and she is right. It has hints of exotic fruit, lemon and hazelnuts with nice minerality.

They also make a dessert wine from 100% Bellone called Solina IGT Lazio

Giovanna said the Bellone grape is an indigenous variety of ancient origin, cultivated in the area around Cori. It is known for its thin and delicate skin. It has good acidity.

I first tasted wine made from the Bellone grape a number of years ago in Rome and have been drinking it ever since.img_2088

Brut Spumante made from 100% Bellone  The grapes are picked in September when the acidity is high. Fermentation for about 10 days at 15C and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Charmat (tank) process for about 2 months and the wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has tiny bubbles, is slightly aromatic with hints of acacia and white peach.img_2090

Illirio Cori Bianco DOC Cori made from 50% Bellone, 30% Malvasia del Lazio, and 20% Greco from the Colle Illirio area at 200 to 250 meters. The soil is volcanic and clayey. The training system is row, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest is September 10th to 20th. There is soft pressing and destemming, followed by cold maceration with the skins for 24 hours. Fermentation at 15C – for 10 days, malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a fruity fragrant wine with hints of lemon and good minerality.img_2092

Pantaleo 2015 IGT Lazio made from 100% Greco. Soft pressing and destemming followed by static decantation for 24 hours and subsequent fermentation at a cold temperature 15C for 12 days. The wine remains on the lees for 2 months and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine in aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with personality. It had delicate fruity aromas with hits of citrus fruit and a touch of smoke. Giovanna said it should be drunk young to taste its characteristics at their best. She said this ancient variety, widespread in central Italy, has small grapes with thick dark skin and produces soft but full bodied wine.
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Polluce IGT Lazio made from 100% Nero Buono Giovanna said that this red grape is native to Cori, which was saved by the winery. The grapes are round and medium sized. The vines are guyot pruned, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is from September 25th to October 5th. Soft pressing and destemming takes place. Malolactic fermentation. Fermentation is with the skins for about 10 days at 24°C. Aging in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red and black fruit with a touch of raspberry and blackberry.img_2097

Raverosse Cori Rosso DOC made from Nero Buono 50%, Montepulciano 30%, Cesanese 20%. Vineyards are in the Raverosso area at 150 to 200 meters with 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is from September 25th to October 10th. There is a soft pressing and destemming followed by fermentation with skin contact for about 10 days at 24°C, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in new barriques for 5 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is an intense wine with red and black fruit flavors and aromas and hints of dried berries.img_2098

Arcatura IGT Lazio made from 100% Cesanese, an ancient grape variety native to Lazio. This red grape has medium sized close–knit bunches of small grapes. The vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 4,000 grapes per hectare and the row training system uses spurred cordon pruning. Perfectly ripe grapes are soft pressed and destemmed. Fermentation with the skins for about 8 days, malolactic fermentation takes place. Aging in barriques for 8 months and half in stainless steel tanks for a year. The wine remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red and black berries with a hint of blueberry and currants.img_2103

They also produce a grappa riserva called Arciprete from different grapes.

 

 

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Filed under Bellone Grape, Cesanese, Cincinnato winery, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lazio, Nero Buono, Spumante

Nine Affordable Sparking Wines for the New Year

Everyone can celebrate a sparkling New Year with one of these great choices priced between $16 and $36.

My choices range from Brut to dessert sparklers, plus one over-the-top Champagne.img_1133-rustico

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $18

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur MousseuxNV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle.  Made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.grenelle

Under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years. Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $40 for the magnum, it is a great buy.img_8540-lars

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2012 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi, Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.

Ferrari Perlé 200 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari, around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. $36img_6018-lambruscao

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries. $29img_2652-grangano

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

The next 3 are from Piedmont and all have a certain degree of sweetness.

Fontanafredda Asti Spumante DOCG is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh. $1602_vietti_moscato_dasti

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16

Banfi Vigna Regali “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20

I have written 3 articles this month on Champagne:

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/vintage-champagne-for-the-new-year/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/champagne-ed-mc-carthy-on-vintage-blanc-de-blancs-champagnes/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/blanc-de-blancs-champagne-with-champagne-ed-mc-carthy/

but I just have to mention one more, Dom Perignon Rosè.

At the Wine Media Guild Champagne tasting and lunch the topic was Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Toward the end of the lunch Christina Jacobs asked me if I wanted to taste another Champagne, it was Dom Perignon Rose 2004. Made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay more or less. She only had one bottle.img_2014

It may be the best Rosè Champagne that I have ever tasted. This is powerful, complex and elegant Champagne. There are hints of raspberry, cranberry, apricot, spice and so much more. It has a very long finish and an aftertaste the just goes on and on. Christian is the Champagne specialist for Moet-Hennessy, producers of Dom Perignon. It is expensive around $345 but worth the money if you are so inclined.

Happy New Year!

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