Monthly Archives: January 2011

Cavallotto and Giovanni Manzone- Traditional Wine at its Best

Cavallotto and Giovanni Manzone–Traditional Producers

 The owner of La Pizza Fresca, one of my favorite pizzerias in NYC, called me at 10:00 PM and said, “Come over. We have a white truffle and old Barolo.” I was there before he hung up the phone. Mark Fornatale, who works for wine importer Michael Skurnik, provided the truffle and we had it shaved on pasta, pizza and risotto. This was a preview for me because two weeks later, I was leaving for Piemonte.  Mark represents two traditional producers that I wanted to visit, Cavallotto and Giovanni Manzone, and he said he would make all the arrangements.

 F.lli Cavallotto


Castiglione Falletto

It was the only sunny day in our stay in Piemonte as we drove up to the Cavallotto winery in the late afternoon. The estate is in Castiglione Falletto on Bricco Boschis in the heart of the Barolo area. I was introduced to their wines in the early 1980’s by the wine writer Sheldon Wasserman and had visited them in 1983, 2007 and in November of 2010.

 The Cavalotto’s have been producing wine for five generations.  In 1948, they were the first winemakers in the area to dedicate themselves to the vinification of their own grapes and the marketing their wines in bottles.

  Alfio Cavallotto, who is an enologist, gave us a tour of the vineyards. The property consists of 65 hectares of which 60 are planted with vines.  Alfio said that they have a high number of vines per acre with a corresponding low number of buds per plant, sacrificing quantity for quality. Since 1970 they control the grass covering between the rows of vines to help maintain the natural organic substances in the soil. They have re-introduced natural insect predators allowing for the elimination of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. He also spoke about the soil, the difference between clay and sand in the area and the annual rainfall, as well as the different exposures of the vineyards to the sun. Alfio was a wealth of information and you can find out more at the website. 

Alfio on Bricco Broschis

Bricco Boschis, their cru, is 25 hectares of which 23 hectares are covered with vines. Half of it is planted with Nebbiolo for Barolo and the other half has Barbera, Freisa, Grignolino, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. They use Slavonic oak barrels of 10, 30, 50, 80 and 100 hl. He also said, with a smile on his face, that they have two barriques.

They have both stainless steel and cement tanks and Alfio said that cement tanks ferment the wine at a higher temperature.

 Alfio led us in a tasting of his wines.

 Langhe Bianco 2009 DOC 100% Chardonnay. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and remains on the lees for 11 months. This is a big ripe wine with a lot of fruit and it proves that a Chardonnay that tastes like Chardonnay can be made.

 Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Scot Bricco Boschis DOC 2009. 100% Dolcetto. Vinification on the skins for 7 days in steel vats and aged in stainless steel for 6 months. Alfio said that for Dolcetto, 2009 was better than 2008 and that 2010 was a very light vintage. This was a Dolcetto with body. It was well balanced, with red fruit aromas, hints of cherries and a touch of bitter almond.

Langhe Freisa 2008 Bricco Boschis DOC 100% Freisa. Maceration on the skins for 5 days with frequent pumping over the must and a few months in stainless steel before release.  It has soft tannins with nice fruit and hints of pepper and cloves. This is one of the best examples of this type of wine that I have tasted.

 Barbera d’ Alba 2006 “Vigno Del Cuculo” Bricco Boschis  DOC 100% Barbera This is a Barbera that is grown in the Barolo area.  It has very good aromas and flavors, a little like Nebbiolo because the soil here is more complex. Alfio believes that the Barberas from Asti are too simple and light or way over the top because of the use of barriques. He also said the land is less expensive in Asti. This Barbera is four years old and showing no sign of age. I believe that it will age for 10 years or more.

 The Nebbiolo vines can be found in the two historical zones of Castiglione Falletto, Bricco Boschis, where the cellars are located, and the Vignolo zone.

 Langhe Nebbiolo Bricco Boschis 2007 DOC 100% Nebbiolo (declassified). This is the same vineyard that they get the grapes for Barolo. It is big for a Nebbiolo, tannic with great fruit flavors and aromas and a hint of spice.

 Alfio said that Bricco Boschis was divided by the family into three vineyards: San Giuseppe, which may be the finest vineyard, Colle Sudovest and Punta Marcello.

 Barolo Bricco Boschis 2005 and 2006 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. Maceration on the skins for 20 days and aged in Slavonia oak casks of various sizes for three and a half years.

 Barolo Riserva 2004 Vignolo DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. Maceration on the skins for 26 days in stainless steel vats and four years in Slovenian oak casks of different sizes. The Vignolo vineyard is slightly lower than San Giuseppe. I think Bricco Boschis might be the highest vineyard in the zone.

 Barolo Riserva Bricco Boschis San Giuseppe 2004 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. Maceration on the skins for 26 days and aged for four years in Slavonia oak cask of various sizes for four years.

 Alifo said that the Barolo area has been fortunate over the last 20 years and that between 1988 and 2010 the only vintages not to buy are 1991, 1992, 2002 and 2003. I agree with him.

 The first vintage of Cavallotto Barolo I tasted was the 1971 which I had in the early 1980’s. In 2007 at the winery, I tasted the 1971 again and it was still going strong. Not much has changed over the years as they continue to produce traditional wine and classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of faded roses, tar, tobacco and mushrooms.  

   Agricola Azienda Giovanni Manzone

 The Manzone winery was established in 1925 by Giovanni Manzone and it is located in Monforte d’Alba. It is a small, family run winery consisting of 8 hectares all planted with vines. The average production is 4,100 cases a year. The wines are not clarified or filtered. In 2005, Mauro a trained oenologist joined his father, the present Giovanni at the winery.

 It was a cold rainy morning as we made our way along a dirt road that kept on going up and up.  Finally, we reached the top of the hill known as “Gramolere” and the winery. I rang the bell and we were greeted by Mauro.  He took us into the winery where we met his father Giovanni. When he greeted us I knew that this was a farmer and as Gambero Rosso stated, he “… is an authentic wine man…His wines are so typical they are almost textbook in style, perfectly embodying the true Langhe spirit.” I could not agree more. Giovanni was shy and soft spoken and looked like he had just come in from working in the fields.

 In the winery they have 500 liter barrels which looked like they had seen many vintages. Next to them were barrels that were a little larger. When I asked about them I was told they were 700 liter barrels and were traditional in the area. This was very interesting to me because I had never noticed these size barrels before.

Giovanni and Mauro Manzone

Mauro and Giovanni led us in a tasting of their wines.

 We started with a Langhe Bianco Rosserto 2009 DOC made from 100% Rossese Bianco. This is an autochthonous variety of the Lange region. Mauro told us that the wine was saved from extinction by his family over 100 years ago. It was in an old family vineyard close to the house.  About 30 years ago, Giovanni decided to make wine from this variety which he calls “this special white wine”.  It took him 20 years to get official permission for the government to recognize the grape. The wine is fermented for 10 days in 500 liter oak barrels and aged on the lees in the same type of barrels for 12 months with batonnage taking place twice a week. The wine was fruity and mellow with flavors and aromas of peach, orange, acacia and flowers.

 Batonnage was not used in the 2000 vintage of this wine.  It was fresh with undertones of citrus, and a nice finish and aftertaste.  Mauro said that the wine could age between five and ten years but the 2000 was still going strong. Only 2,500 bottles are produced.

 Dolcetto d’Alba 2009 DOC from the “le Ciliegie” vineyard. The grapes are harvested the first week of September and maceration takes place for seven days. It is aged in stainless steel tanks for 11 months. The wine is fruity with blackberry overtones and hints of violets.

Barbera d’Alba  2007 DOC “La Serra” Riserva  the grapes are picked in the La Serra vineyard in the middle of September. Maceration is on the skins for ten days. The wine is aged in 700 liter barrels for 16 months. This was an interesting wine with aromas and flavors of red fruit, sour cherries and hints of tobacco.

 Nebbiolo d’Alba 2008 DOC the grapes come from the “Le Gramolere” vineyard and are picked in the middle of October. Maceration is on the skins for seven days. The wine is aged in 700 liter casks for six months. Good red fruit and a hint of spice.

Barolo “Le Gramolere” 2006 DOCG the grapes are harvested in the middle of October and there is skin contact for 30/40 days. It is aged in 25 HL casks for 30 months. This is a very complex wine with a lot of tannin. It has aromas and flavors cherries, raspberries, spice and balsamic.

 2004 Mauro said was a great vintage and they made a Riserva which they only make in the best years. He said the wine was aged in 500-700 liter barrels for 48 months. This is a big wine but elegant at the same time. We also tasted the 1998 Riserva, a year that was overshadowed by the 1997. However Giovanni felt that 1998 was a great vintage similar to the 2004. I had to agree. This wine will age for a long time.

 We tasted the Barolo 2008 DOCG Bricat  from barrel. It had the aromas and flavors of Pinot Noir. These were the same Pinot Noir aromas and flavors we tasted at Elvio Congo when Valter gave us a barrel sample of his 2008. There must be something about that vintage. I cannot wait to taste them from the bottle to see how they have developed. 

 Barolo Bricat  2006 DOCG  the grapes were picked in the middle of October. Maceration is on the skins for 15 days. 50% of the wine is aged in 500 liter barrels and 50% in 700 liter barrels for a minimum of 24 months. It has flavors and aromas of blueberries, blackberries with a hint of chocolate and walnuts. It is not as big a wine as the “Le Gramolere”.

Giovanni Manzone has a very good website

 Every time that I travel to Piemonte I see changes. For many years I feared that the entire Langhe wine production would veer toward the “international style” of wine making. This method trades off the wonderful authenticity and purity-of-character of the Nebbiolo grape for faster maturation and more immediate gratification. The use of small, new, French oak barriques accomplishes this but adds flavors of oak and vanilla to the wines; flavors that the original Barolo producers never envisioned or desired.

 Although it is true that “degustibus non disputandum” (personal taste can’t be disputed), if the reader wants to experience Barolo in the form in which it was originally conceived and made, producers like Cavalotto and Manzone, and last issue’s Elvio Cogno, are the guarantors of that tradition. As long as these families continue their fine work, those of us who want authentic Barolo wines will be able to get them.

 Finally, I am happy to mention that many of the Barolo houses that veered toward the use of new oak and international style are turning back somewhat; and trying to get closer to the more authentic methods that Cogno, Cavalotto, and Manzone never forgot.

 Listen to Charles Scicolone on Wine every Wednesday at 6:05 PM on Valerie’s New York  internet radio and on demand.



Filed under Barbera, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Piemonte

Part II The Radici Experience: Puglia

After tasting wines in the hotel with the producers for two days, it was nice to get out and visit the wineries and walk among the vines. We also visited a cheese producer, the octagonal castle commissioned by the Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, and the region around the castle known as Castel del Monte.

Castel del Monte


The Santa Lucia Winery

We were guided in our walking tour of the vineyards by Robert Perrone Capano, one of the owners. He pointed out the different training systems for the vines, the Guyot and the more traditional Tendone system (Pergola). They do not buy grapes, do not use any chemical products in the fields, and are 100% biological. Grass was growing between the rows of vines and Robert told us that this was done so that they would have natural mulch after the grass was cut and that the competition with the grass for “food” and water was good for the vines.

Santa Lucia Winery

They use French oak barriques (Allier and Troncais).  Fined grained 228L barrels but he said it is a very “controlled” use as well as 35hl barrels. For their top wines there is no stabilization or filtration. All this they feel gives them their individuality and a respect for the terroir.

We then had a tasting of Riserva “Le More” Castel Del Monte DOC 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998 and1996.

I have tasted older vintages of Negroamaro and Primitivo but most of the Nero di Troia I tasted were from recent vintages. I have had older Nero di Troia, but those wines from the Castel Del Monte always had a fair percentage of Montepulciano. I was looking forward to this tasting so many different vintages of Uva di Troia (also know as Nero di Troia) at one tasting.

The Tendone system at Santa Lucia


Uva di Troia grows best in the Castel del Monte zone, an area that extends north from Bari to the province of Foggia. This area was once dominated by Frederick ll of Swabia (Hohenstaufen, d.1250). He was called “the wonder of the world” by some and “the antichrist” by the pope, and he left his imprint on this part of Puglia.

Uva di Troia might have originated in Asia Minor and was probably brought here by the Greeks. It is named for the town Troia (Troy) in the province of Foggia. The grape does very well in Puglia’s hot climate and does well in most soils. The clusters are compact, V-shaped and sometimes winged and the grapes are violet in color. Uva di Troia ripens in the middle of October later than most other grapes in this region.

Roberto led us in a tasting of his Uva di Troia

 2007 is 100% Uva di Troia. There are 4,000/5000 plants/ha trained in single and double Guyot. The grapes are harvested in mid to late October, they are softly pressed and maceration takes place in rotating stainless steel tanks. It is aged for 12/18 months in French barriques of 228L and in bottle for twelve months before release. This is a more modern style wine. This is the current vintage.

Here are some of my comments on the wines:

1996 was a very interesting wine. The vineyard was 50 years old and it was owned by the owner’s aunt who died at the age of 97. It was aged in 35hl barrels. The wine was still very much alive with very good color. It still had fruit and was drinking very well. I drank all of it with the light lunch that we were served.

1998 was very much like the 1996 but not as mellow.

1999 was very also drinking very well with nice mature fruit and a hint of chocolate. I drank all of this wine.

2000 was not drinking as well as the older wines but was still holding up.

2001–with this vintage it seemed to me that they went to a more modern style

and I felt the wine had changed.

2004 was a good vintage–this was drinking well and was the best of the modern style wines.

They are also doing a top of the line wine called Riserva 0,618 Castle del Monte DOC.

100% Uva di Troia . Only 500 bottles will be produced. After being aged for 18 months in 225 liter oak barrels the wine matures underground for 6-1/2 years. It will be released it 2012. 0,168 a numerical sequence called “Golden Means” in medieval times and was developed by Fibonacci, a mathematician from Pisa in the Xll century. The famous octagonal Castel del Monte designed with this formula and commissioned by Frederic ll, is only 20Kl from the vineyards and can be seen on clear days.

Next we visited Villa Schinosa, a winery that I had visited a few years ago.  I had been impressed by their wines. When I walked into the wine cellar I was happy to see that everything was the same. Two long rows of barrels of Slovenian oak 35HL and not a barrique in sight. Another winery we visited had a large room filled with many new barriques. After a few minutes I had to leave because the smell was making me ill. At Villa Schinosa all the wines are aged in stainless steel or in botte grande.

I like their 100% Uva di Troia 2007 DOC. The wine is aged for two years in large barrels of Slavonian oak 35HL and for 3/6 months in bottle before release. It is a very elegant wine with black fruit aromas and flavors and hints of violet with a very pleasant finish and aftertaste. It is a very good food wine.

The Botromagno winery is located just outside the town of Gravina. In 1991 the D’Agostino family, which was a member of the local cooperative took it over. It was the first time in Italy where a privately owned compan partnered with more than 100 local growers.  We were given a tour of the winery by the very personable and knowledgeable Beniamino D’Agostino. I had met Beniamino before when I was working for an Apulian restaurant in NYC where we sold his wines, and at Vintaly in Verona.

Gravina DOC  2009 made from 60% Greco di Tufo and 40% Malvasia. Beniamino said that sometime there is the addition of a little Fiano and Bianco di Alessano. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 15 days, there is no malolatic. The wine is fruity and fresh almost like biting into a green apply with a slight touch of pineapple and good acidity. They are the only producers of Gravina.

Pier della Vigno Rosso Murgia IGT 2006 Made from 60% Aglianico and 40% Montepulciano The vines of Aglianico are planted in deep volcanic soil and the ones for Montepulciano in chalky soil. The training system is also different, bush for Aglianico and vertical for Montepulciano. The harvest takes place in late October. The wine is fermented in stainless steel with 20 days skin contact. 50% of the wine is in new Allier barriques and 50% in barriques of second passage. The wine has aromas and flavors of red berries, pepper, and hints of tobacco and chocolate.

The wine is named for Pier della Vigno the right hand man of Frederic II of Swabia. Pier was said to introduce the first red grapes to this zone.

I also liked their Nero di Troia Rosso Murgia IGT 2007.  Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for 10 days. The wine is then aged in stainless steel for 20 months. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation. It remains in the bottle for six months before release. This is a very interesting wine with aromas and flavors of cherries, tobacco and a touch of spice.

On the afternoon of the last day there was a vertical tasting of Taurasi (Aglicanico), Contrade di Taurasi Cantina Leonardo and Patriglione (90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera) Cosimo Taurino Vintages 99-00-01 the panel was hosted by Franco Ziliani and Luciano Pignataro.

I have a long history with Patriglione going back to the first vintage in 1979. It had been called the Amarone of the south–a description I never liked. I visited the winery a few years ago and tasted the ‘99. I also tasted it a number of times in NYC. I found the wine not to be as big and jammy as some of the older vintages. It is still a powerful wine but more elegant and the dried fruit was not as pronounced. However there is still the  classic Negroamaro aroma with an undertone of prune. The 2000 and 2001 had the same characteristic.  When I asked Francesco Taurino if he did anything different since 1999, his answer was “only in the vineyard”. My favorite at the tasting was the 2001. At a League of Gentle Men dinner I brought the 1999 Patrigione and I decanted it before dinner. The wine opened in the glass and was really drinking well.

Cantina Leonardo Contrade di Taurasi 100% Aglianico this winery is only four hectares of vineyards and produces only four wines. The vineyards are at 350/400 meters and the vines are 20/50 years old. The harvest takes place the first week of November. Maceration in stainless steel for one month, aged in barrels for 18 months and in bottle for 12 months before it is released. The wine has aromas and flavors of cherry, plum, violets and hints of spice. The 2001 was showing the best.

In the evening of the last day there was a presentation of three books written about wine, food and places to stay in Puglia. They are:

Pizzaviaggiando The first edition of a guide by Nicola Campanile on Apulian pizzerias

 Dolce Guide – Percorsi enogastronomici di Puglia e dintorni a guide to the restaurants, wine bars and places to stay in Apulia (Eighth Edition).  Food and wine tours in Puglia and the surrounding area by Vincenzo Rizza and Nicholas Bell. 

 Radici wines: Guide on Apulian wines for experts and wine lovers 2011 (second edition).  Based on an idea by Nicola Campanile, who is also the editor. Texts by Franco Zilliani (wine professional) and Vincenzo Rizzi (wine lover) English Texts by Kyle Phillips. The wines in this book were chosen by two panels one made up of wine professionals called, The technical jury and one made up on non-professionals called The wine lovers jury. The book contains reviews of 178 wines competing for the top awards that were given out the last day of the Radici Experience. All the wines in the competition are from the indigenous grapes of Puglia.

 For more information on The Radici Puglia Experience go to 

There is an interesting article by Nicola Campanile president of ProPapilla titled “Southern Roots and good reason to think big”. If you sign up on the site you can find the 35 wines that took top honors as well as the other awards that were given out.

 Valerie’s New York www.wor710 listen to Charles Scicolone On Wine every Wednesday at 6:05. – pizza and more!


Filed under Italian Wine, Puglia

Radici Wine Experience: Puglia

Radici Wine Experience: Puglia

 It looked like it would be an exciting trip to Puglia (also known as Apulia). There would be two days of tasting at the hotel with 36 producers, visits to wineries, a vertical tasting and discussion of the 1999, 2000 and 2001 of wines from two wineries–one from Puglia and one from Campania, a presentation of 3 books one on wine, one on pizza and one on food and travel in Apulia, restaurant awards and wine awards and all of this in just four days.

 I was invited by Franco Ziliani the Italian journalist at, one of the most respected web-sites in Italy and, the English version translation with commentary by Jeremy Parzen. The event was organized by Nicola Campanile.

Franco Ziliani

  There were 10 foreigners on the trip from Poland, Denmark and the US. We were divided into “buyers” and “journalists” and when we tasted with the producers, they tried to keep the journalists and the buyers separated but by the afternoon session of the first day they gave up. It was a very interesting group and we quickly understood that we had basically the same taste in wine. Franco Ziliani–in an article he wrote for the Italian Sommelier Association website stated–the main “lesson” of the Radici Wine Experience for the Apulian producers (is) there’s no unique American taste in wine and the “global American taste” they think still exists is part of the past.

 I could not agree more with Franco and it is a “lesson” that producers from other parts of Italy should note.  All the foreign buyers and journalists agreed. Over-oaked and over- extracted wines are a thing of the past. It is a very interesting article because Ziliani is an Italian journalist who has interacted with foreign journalists and buyers writing about Italian producers and the state of Italian wine.

Meeting with the producers

 The first morning as we entered the tasting area the producers were all lined up in a long narrow room at the hotel Masseria San Giovanni in Altamura waiting for us to enter. The format was simple, the wine writer or wine buyer would sit with the producer taste their wines as the producer talked about the wines and the winery. The tasting went on for two days with morning and afternoon sessions on each day. There were 9 producers at each session. The first day there were wineries that produced Primitivo and those producing wines from the Salento region. On the second day producers from Central and Northern Apulia, along with producers making Aglianico del Vulture (Basilicata), presented their wines.

 The Wines

 Bombino Bianco “Catapanus” 2009 Puglia IGT –D’Alfonso del Sordo. 100% Bombino Bianco. The wine is made from “ripe” grapes and is fermented in stainless steel tanks. The Bombino Bianco grape does very well in the soil here which is clay, sand and limestone.

 Greco 2009 Puglia IGT 100% Greco Casaltrinita many producers are now making Greco in Apulia. They are careful to point not that this is not Greco di Tufo, which comes from Campania, but this one is home grown.

 Chardonnay 2009 IGT Puglia 100% Chardonnay Tormaresca the wine is fermented in stainless steel, the malolatic fermentation takes places in second passage barriques and it is aged in French and Hungarian oak for three months. I did not find any oaky or vanilla aromas or flavors in the wine and found it very easy to drink. It was served with dinner at the Tormaresca winery and went very well with the food.

 Malvasia Bianco 2009 Salento IGT 100% Malvasia Bianca Agricola Conti Zecca Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks and then aged in cement tanks covered with epoxy resin. This is a very pleasant fruity upfront wine that is very easy to drink.

 Falanghina “le Fossette” 100% Falanghia Alberto  Longo The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and kept on the fine lees for three months. This is a well balanced and structured wine with fruity and floral aromas and flavors.

 Locorotondo DOC 2009 60% Verdeca 35% BiancoD’Alessano and 5% Fiano Minutolo Cantina Albea Fermentation starts at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks after a firm maceration a 4/6ºC for 18 hours. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation.

 Moscato Reale “Garbino” 2009 Puglia IGT(Dry Moscato)  100% Moscato Reale di Trani.  Schinosa. The wine is very well balanced with nice flavors and aromas of citrus with hints of orange. Dry in the mouth but with a fruity finish and aftertaste.

 Mjere “Rose”2009 Salento IGT 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera.  Calo When I was the wine director for an Apulian restaurant in NYC, this was one of my favorite roses and became a favorite of our customers. It has aromas of cherries and strawberries.  It is fresh and fruity with a nice finish and lingering after taste.

 Fichimori  Salento IGT 2009 100% Negroamaro  Tormaresca  We had this wine with dinner at the Tormaresca winery. After the grapes are crushed a pre-fermentative maceration takes place and lasts for six days at 5ºC and then the fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. I had never had this wine before and it was a nice surprise. The wine was fresh and fruity with soft tannins and “only” 12% alcohol. It had flavors and aromas of cherries and other fresh red fruits and berries. We were told that the wine could be served chilled but I liked it at room temperature. The wine has its own Facebook page!

 Malia 2007 Salento Rosso IGT 100% Malvasia Nera Duca Carlo Guarini  Fermentation in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for nine days. Very nice red fruit with good acidity, good body and a long finish.

 Salice Salentino Rosso  DOC 2009 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera from Lecce  Feudi di Guagnano.  Fermentation lasts for about two weeks and the wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Nice aromas and flavors of blackberries and a hint a prune.

 Cappello di Prete Salento IGT 2005 100% Negroamaro. Candido After cold fermentation the wine is matured in second passage barriques of Allier for five months. There are underlying hints of cherry and chocolate and touch of prune in the wine.

 Duca d’ Aragona Salento IGT 2004 80% Negro Amaro and 20% Montepulicano. Candido The wine is matured in second and third passage barriques for a period of time. This is a well-balanced wine with aromas and flavors of chocolate and cherry and it is drinking very well.

 Il Volo Di Alessandro 2007 Rosso Salento IGT 100% Sangiovese. Castel di Salve The grapes are picked in September by hand. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for 13 days, and then aged in stainless steel for nine months and four months in bottle before released. This wine had a lot of character, with aromas of prune and blackberries.

 Nero di Troia “Il Rinzacco” 2007 Castel del Monte DOC 100% Nero di Troia Conte Spagnoletti Zeuli. Skin contact for eight days and fermented in temperature controlled large Allier oak vats and then aged in the same vats for one year. I really liked the aromas and taste of this wine; undertones of violet and aromas and flavors of dark berries, blackberries and blueberries with a hint of spice.

 Agliancio “petriGama” 2007 IGT 100% Aglianico Azienda Agricola Tarantini. Fermented in stainless steel and aged for nine months in stainless steel. This wine tasted like the soil and the gapes from which it came. It has aromas of strawberries and blackberries with a very nice cherry finish and aftertaste. It is an excellent wine with food. They told me that they were doing away with all their barriques and next year would only use stainless steel and botte grande(large barrels)

 Nero 2007 Salento Rosso IGT 70% Negroamaro and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon Azienda Conti Zecca Maceration is for 15 days or more. The wine is aged for 18 months is barriques (second passage) and then in 30 HL oak barrels for 12 months and 6 months in bottle before it is released. This was always a big wine and in the past I felt that it was a little over the top. Now the wine is elegant, well balanced with dark fruit aromas and flavors, a nice after taste and great finish.

 Primitivo Riserva Gioia del Colle DOC 2007 DOC 100% Primitivo Azienda Agricola Giuliani The wine is aged in botte grande and a small amount is in barriques. Well balanced wine and for a Primitivo, if one can use the term “elegant”, with licorice, tobacco and a hint of herbs and acidity.

 Primitivo di Manduria  2009  100% Primitivo. Macchiarola The grapes are harvested the last week in August and the first week in September. Maceration in stainless steel for ten days, the wine then under goes malolatic fermentation. The wine is bottled without filtering or cold-stabilizing. The wine has aromas and flavors of cherry, chocolate and spice and a hint of prune.

 Primitivo di Manduria “Il Sava” 2004 DOC Savese 100% Primitivo.  The grapes are harvested at the end of September when they become raisin-like. The wine is fermented in glass lined cement tanks after which 90% goes into large amphorae and 10% is refined in small oak barrels. The wine is aged in French oak for eight months. This is a big dessert wine with a port like character. Rich and smooth with intense dried fruit aromas. It is only made in the best years. It will age.

 Moscato di Trani  2006 DOC 100%  Moscato Reale di Trani.  Schinosa The grapes are left to wither for about a month until the middle of October. This is a well balanced and full favored dessert wine with aromas and flavors of apricots and almonds. It has a long finish and nice aftertaste.

 After several years as wine director of an Apulian restaurant and having visited Puglia a number of times in the past, I believed that I had a fair knowledge of the wineries and the wines. This Radici Experience showed me that I was mistaken. First of all there were so many new wineries now producing wine and many were going organic.

To have the opportunity to be able to taste wine and to talk to the winemakers and to ask questions is the best way to learn. Tasting white wine made from Bombino Bianco, Verdeca, Bianco d’ Alessano, Minutolo (once called Minutolo Fiano) and Malvasia di Candia among others gave me a new appreciation of the white wines from this region.  Tasting wines made from Bombino Nero, Malvasia Nera, Sumaniello, Nero di Troia , Negroamaro, Primitivo and Aglianico side by side showed the great range of Puglia’s red wines, too.

 Next time:  more on my visits to the wineries, a vertical of Taurasi and Patriglione, notes on Aglianico del Vulture and more.

  I am now on Valerie’s NY Every Wednesday at 6:05 talking about. Wine.

 Make pizza with Roberto of Keste, make pasta with Michele, and drink wine with me. Rome, Naples and everything in between


Filed under Italian Wine, Puglia

The League of Gentle Men:Italian Wine at La Pizza Fresca

The League of Gentlemen: Italian Wine at La Pizza Fresca

For our first “meeting” of the year our theme was Italian wines, there was one white, seven reds–the oldest a 1961 Barolo and the youngest a 1999 wine from Puglia–and two dessert wines. What better way to welcome in the New Year!

The Wines

Dreams 2003 Jermann 100% Chardonnay (Friuli Venezia Giulia) Made from 90% Chardonnay and 10%? Fermented in barriques and aged for 11 months in barriques of 300 liter capacity. This is a big white wine with aromas and flavors of vanilla, ripe exotic fruits and oak. This is not  a food-friendly wine.

Chianti Classico Riserva 1985 -Badia a Coltibuono (Tuscany) Traditional Chianti Classico blend. This is great Chianti with all of the flavors and aromas that make one think of Tuscany. It is a great food wine. Someone once described the aroma as “Sunshine on the Tuscan pines” and I think of this whenever I taste this wine.


Casse Basse di Soldera di Montalcino Riserva 1984– Gianfranco Soldera. 100% Sangiovese Grosso (Tuscany).  1984 was not a good year and Biondi Santi did not make a Brunello that year. Sheldon Wasserman in the Noble Red Wines of Italy tasted it ex-cask in 5/85 “Cherries and blueberries on aroma; a bit light, but nice fruit”. I found the same aromas as Wasserman but we decanted the wine. This was a mistake because it quickly changed in the glass and began to show its age due to the vintage.


Sassicaia 1990 Tenuta San Guido (Tuscany). Made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc. 15 days skin contact in stainless steel tanks with a combination of pumping over and submerged cap. It is aged 24 months in French oak barriques (1/3 new). It is a well made wine but for me, I found it to be too concentrated and too oaky. It is a big wine and at 20 years old I found it not ready to drink. One can only hope it will improve with age.


Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone 1983- Bertani, Corvina and Rondinella (Veneto). 1983 was a great vintage for Amarone and this is a great wine — elegant with dried fruit aromas, a hint of prune and spice with a great finish and aftertaste. It is also goes very well with food. This wine can last for another 20 years. This is my favorite Amarone!


Barbaresco Gaja 1971 100% Nebbiolo (Piemonte) All that a Barbaresco should be and more. It is too bad that Angelo does not make wine as well as his father!


Barolo 1961 Giuseppe Mascarella 100% Nebbiolo (Piemonte). This was the most interesting wine of the evening. We did not decant the wine because it was 50 years old. When I first tasted the wine it seemed fresh and alive but with a rubber ball aroma. I left the wine in the glass to see what would happen. About an hour later it had changed completely. It now had aromas of faded roses, tar, and tea and tasted like a great Barolo. 1961 was a very good year and maybe we should have decanted it!


Patriglione 1999 Made from 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera- Cosimo  Taurino (Puglia).  The style of the wine seemed to have changed from those I had tasted in the past which I found to be bigger, almost jammy with dry fruit flavors and aromas and hints of prune. We decanted the wine but it was even better after some time in the glass. This is a wine that will age.

When I was in Puglia in November I tasted the 1999, 2000 and 2001 with Francesco Taurino. They were still full flavored but were not jammy.  They had deep fruit flavors and great finish and after taste. When is asked Francesco if he had made any changes in making the wine his answer was “only in the vineyard” and would not say anything else!

Vin Santo 1993 “Berardenga” Fattoria Felisina half bottle (Tuscany). Made from Trebbiano, Malvasia and 20% Sangiovese. The grapes are dried on straw mats until Feb of the year following the harvest. The wine is aged for seven years in 50 and 100 liter barrels. This was the lighter of the two dessert wines with aromas and flavors of peach and apricot and other fruits. It was very easy to drink, with a nice finish and aftertaste.


Passito Bianco del Veneto Amabile del Cere 1990 Quintarelli half-bottle (Veneto) made from the Garganera grape. It is a late harvest passito and some of the grapes were affected by botrytis. It is a big rich wine with aromas and flavors of candied apricots, caramel, honey and almonds with a big aftertaste and a long finish. This wine can age for a very long time.

The Pizza Tour of a Lifetime- Join Roberto of Keste, Michele and I for a Pizza Tour of Italy.


Filed under Italian Wine


The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Thanks to all of you that made this possible- Happy New Year


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