Monthly Archives: March 2014

Tasting the White Wines of Campania

 

For the first time in a number of years I am not going to Campania this year.  I will miss being on the Amalfi Coast and visiting Naples but I am making up for it by drinking a lot of wine from Campania.

Under the banner of Campania’s Wine Excellence, the region hosted a series of tastings, seminars and dinners earlier this month. I attended a dinner and a seminar and Grand Tasting at Del Posto Restaurant.IMG_5001

The seminar was in two parts: the first was a tasting of the white wines of Campania and the second featured the red wines. Three of my favorite white grapes were represented: Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di D Avelliano.

Nichols Belfrage in his book, Brunello to Zibibbo,(1999) states, “This grape (Falanghina), which some have suggested may be of Greek origin, and which some have tentatively indentified as the grape from which Roman Falernian was made, has been known as Falanghina only since the 19th century. (A falanga… is a type of wooden stake used for supporting a vine; the suffix –ina makes it a small wooden stake.) The grape Falanghina is a late-ripener, which requires well exposed, sunny slopes and not-too-excessive production to shine, but when it does so it shines brightly, making a wine of good extract and flavor, with a firm acidic backbone enabling it to resist the passage of time in the bottle. It is a grape of real interest deserving wider national and international attention.”

I tasted two wines made from Falanghina:IMG_5004

Casa Vinicola Setaro Minos Campania IGT 2012 100% Falanghina.  The production area is the Trecase resort town of Bosco del Monaco and Tirone  inside the national park of Vesuvius. The soil is of volcanic origin and is rich in potassium and trace elements, loose and sandy. The owner of the winery, Massimo Setaro, was present and said that these vines are not grafted onto American rootstock because phylloxera cannot survive in this soil. The age of the vines is 15 – 25 years and the vineyard is 220 to 305 mts. above sea level.  Harvest takes place the second half of October and there are 4000-4500 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier with pruning goyot. The grapes are hand harvested, there is a sorting then a cold maceration in silos insulated to temperature of around 4°C for 48 to 72 hours. The wine is racked and pressing is in a pneumatic press. Clarification of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 10 – 12°C.  The wine remains on the lees for 3 months.  It is straw yellow, with hints of broom and quince combined with mineral tones made it for me a real Falanghina del Vesuvio.  On the palate it is fruity and very pleasant with an elegant mineral volcanic character. IMG_5005

Cantine degli Astroni Colle Imperatrice Campi Flegrei DOC 2011. 100% Falagina The vineyards are at 200/400 meters and the exposure is southeast. The soil is volcanic ash and clay loam and the training system is guyot. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the first week of October. There is cold maceration and fermentation takes place in stainless steel for two weeks. There is whole berry fermentation, the grapes are not pressed. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks for a few months. This is a very well balanced wine with floral scents, ripe fruit, a hint of smoke and a touch of honey.

The ancient Greeks brought Greco di Tufo grapes into the area around Naples about 2,500 years ago. It may have been one of the grapes used to make Falernian, a wine much prized by the ancient Romans. Greco is a late ripening varietal and the phenolic compounds in the grape contribute to the wine’s characteristically deep color. Greco is best when it is found in the volcanic hills in the Avellino province in central Campania. Only 8 villages can legally claim to make Greco di Tufo. One of these villages is Tufo from which the wine gets it name. Tufo is also the name of the rock on which the village is built. Greco thrives here because there is tufaceous, volcanic soil rich in sulphur and a relatively dry microclimate. The vineyards in this zone are between 400 and 450 meters.

According to the DOCG regulations, Greco di Tufo must be at least 85% Greco and 15% Coda di Volpe.  Sparkling Greco di Tufo spumante is also produced.

Greco di Tufo can be drunk after 3 years but in the hands of the right producer can last for 20 years or more.IMG_4982

Cantina di Marzo Greco di Tufo 100% Greco.  I sat with Mr. Somma, the owner of the winery, at the dinner at Del Posto and he said that it was the oldest cantina in Campania and that his ancestor introduced the Greco grape into the zone. The vineyard has a southwest exposure and is at 250 to 500 meters. The age of the vines is 5 to 20 years and the training is guyot. Harvesting is by hand in the middle of October. Lightly pressed must and must run are blended together. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. Fining is on the lees. Clarification is by cold and light filtering.  The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of orange blossom, minerality, good acidity and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

In his book Brunello to Zibibbo, Belfrage says the following about fiano di Avellino. “Fiano is either a native grape of Campania or a member of a family of grapes called Apianes brought to southern Italy from the Peloponesse, once called Apia. … it is mentioned specifically by Pliny in his Naturalis Historia… ‘the bees give Fiano its name, because of their desire (for it).’ Pliny’s etymology has since been challenged…it is not bees (apes), but wasps that are attracted to the sweet grapes, and it is claimed that the name really derives from appiano, a type of apple, or Apia, once a place name in the province of Avellino now called Lapia.”

La Guardiense Colle di Tillo Sanno 2012 100% Fiano. The harvest is by hand in early October and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine has floral hints with a touch of white peach.IMG_4905

Esoterico Fiano D’Avellino IGT 2011 Donnachiara Made from 100% Fiano from the Montefalcione vineyard. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 6 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 4,400 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. The late harvest takes place the first half of November. 20% of the fermentation takes place in French barriques. The wine is naturally clarified and there is no refrigeration or filtration at bottling. This is from a new line of wines. They are almost dessert like and very different form the regular white wines.IMG_5011

Fiorduva Furore Bianco Costa D’Amalfi DOC 2011 Marisa Cuomo The wine is made from 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 30% Ripoli. The production zone is in Furore and the surrounding municipalities on the Amalfi coast. The coastal terraces are at 200/500 meters and are south facing.  There are 5,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The training system is pergola. The soil is limestone-dolomite rocks. Harvesting is by hand the third week of October and the grapes arrive intact in the cantina. After pressing the juice is inoculated with selected yeast. Fermentation takes place for about 3 months in oak barrels at 12°C. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of apricot, raisins, a touch of candied fruit and good acidity. This was my favorite wine at the tasting.

 

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Filed under campania, Cantina di Manzo, Cantina Marisa Cuomo, Cantine degli Astroni, Casa Vincola Setaro "Minos", Falanghina, Fiano, Fiano di Avellino, Fiorduva Furore Bianco, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized

A Lunch in Honor of Antonio Mastroberardino

The passing of Antonio Mastoberardino, the legendary wine producer from Campania, saddened me.  I immediately called my friend, Philip di Belardino, who was largely responsible for bringing the Mastroberardino wines into this county and promoting them.  I suggested to Philip that we have a lunch in honor of the memory of Antonio.  I suggested SD26 in NYC and Philip agreed because the owner Tony May was a friend of Antonio and a lover of his wines.  We decided to invite a few of the people who had promoted the wines in this country and representatives of Winebow, the present importer.

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During his lifetime, Antonio had been presented with many honors for his work in preserving the indigenous grapes of his region including, Fiano del Avellino and Greco di Tufo.  With the permission of the local government, he planted a vineyard inside the walls of Pompeii from which he made a wine called Villa dei Misteri.  I always remember Antonio saying that you cannot understand the wine and food of a region unless you understand its culture.  He received the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro.  See Tom Maresca’s excellent article:  http://ubriaco.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/ave-atque-vale-antonio-mastroberardino/

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Piero Mastroberardino

For our lunch, each guest was asked to bring one bottle of Mastroberardino wine.  What better way to honor Antonio then to drink his wine?  Piero Mastroberadino, Antonio’s son heard of the lunch and with his daughter Camilla came to NYC to attend.  We were greatly honored by their presence.

Mastroberardino Wines at the lunch

Lacryma Christi Bianco 2012 made from 100% Coda del Volpe

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Fiano di Avellino 1982

Ten years ago when I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant, a wine salesmen asked me if I wanted two cases of white wine.  The youngest, he said, was 20 years old and he did not know if they were any good.  He said that the producer was Mastroberardino and I agreed to take them. Among the wines were a few Greco di Tufo’s from the 1983 vintage and a few Fiano di Avellino’s from the 1982 vintage. Both the Greco and Fiano were drinking like young wines. Now ten years later I was able to drink the 1982 Fiano again and it was still in great shape with very little sign of aging. I believe that both the Greco and Fiano were fermented in cement tanks and aged in large chestnut oak casks, one reason why they may have lasted so long. Of the 24 bottles I received, only two were not drinkable.

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1997 More Maiorum 100% single vineyard Fiano di Avellino. The name means “observance of the customs of our ancestors.” This wine was showing some signs of age but was still very nice. It did not hold up as well as the 1982 Fiano I mentioned above.

Lacrimarosa   2012 Campania IGT Rose made from 100 Aglianico

Lacryma Christi Rosso 2012 Made from 100% Piedirosso

Aglianico Irpinia IGT Vintage 1998 made from 100% Aglianico and drinking very well.

Taurasi Riserva 1958, 1968  and 1977

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Looking over notes from almost 25 years ago I came across this from Palace Brands Company the importer for Mastroberardino at the time:

“The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and mico-elements. Taurasi spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. The aging depends on the vintage, the 1977 Riserva was aged 3years in oak, and one batch spent 7 years in oak”.

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They were right about the aging.  The wine was in excellent condition.

Sheldon Wasserman in his book the Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1985) says that Mastorberardino is the zone’s best producer. He says about their Taurasi, “At Mastroberardino they pick their grapes late to produce wines with more richness and character. Taurasi is aged in either oak or chestnut casks. Mastroberardino uses both. They age their riserva for four years, for the first year in the traditional large chestnut casks and then in casks of Slovenian oak ranging in capacity from 30 tom 50 hectoliters”.

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Piero brought these three wines from the winery and they were all in very good condition especially the legendary 68 and the 77.

1997 Radici Taurasi Riserva

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Centrotrento Taurasi Riserva D.O.C.G. 1999 This wine was made in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company.  On the label appear the figures of 3 men that played leading roles:  Angelo Masteroberardino (1850-1914), Michele Mastroberardino (1866-1945) and Antonio Mastroberardino (1928 -2014).

1999 Radici Taurasi Riserva 

 2000 Radici Taurasi Riserva

 Magnum of 2005 Radici Taurasi Riserva  

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Taurasi “Radici” DOCG  100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania)  Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. These are full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

Will the wines from the late 1990’s age as well as the older wines? I believe so because none of them were showing any signs of age.

 

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Filed under Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mastroberardino, Taurasi

Montefalco Sagrantino- Umbria’s Jewel

I have been a big fan of Sagrantino di Montefalco from the first time I visited the town of Montefalco a number of years ago. I knew the passito version of the wine, but that visit was the first time I was able to taste and drink the dry version of the wine from a number a different producers. Now I am a big fan of both.

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Eataly was the location of the 3rd annual Sagrantino Festival held in New York City earlier this month.

The tasting included a number of producers that I had visited in Montefalco. This was an opportunity to to speak to them, taste the new vintages and find out the latest news from Montefalco. Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery, Filippo Antonelli from the Antonelli San Marco winery and Liu Pambuffetti  from the Scacciadiavoli winery were in attendance.IMG_4925

The Grape

Sagrantino is indigenous to the hills of Montefalco and the surrounding area in the region of Umbria. It has no relationship with any other known grape variety cultivated in central Italy. It is believed that the name comes from the early cultivation of the grape by monks for sacramental wine and its use by local farmers especially during religious feasts and festivals. Sagrantino Passito has been produced for many centuries but the dry version has only been on the market for about 30 years.  Today there are 74 producers of Montefalco Sagrantino and the production zone is five times its original size (122 hectares to 660 hectares).

All the wines are 100% Sagrantino. As of the 2009 vintage the wine must be aged for at least 36 months of which at least 12 months must be in oak

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Sagrantino di Montfalco DOCG 2009 Particaia The harvest takes place the in the middle of October. There is a long maceration of at least 3 weeks. Aging of the wine is in small wooden barrels of French oak-barriques or tonneaux once the malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged for a total of 36 months: 12 months in small oak barrels, 12 months in steel(this was the only wine aged is steel) vats and 12 months in the bottle.  This was the only wine aged in steel vats. It was the lightest of the wines with soft sweet tannins and a hint of vanilla.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2008 Scacciadiavoli The means drive away devils)   Harvesting takes place from the middle to the end of October. Vinification takes place for 3 or 4 weeks in French oak vats and the temperature is controlled. Aging is for 16 months 1/3 in 30 HL casks and 2/3 in French barriques and in bottle for a minimum of 9 months. This is a complex, elegant wine with intense fruit, hints of red fruit, plums, spice and a touch of herbs and leather.

Liu

Liu

Liu said that they always had the same clone in the vineyard. Sagrantino is a dark and tannic wine. Liu spoke about tannin management and how this was done in the vineyard and the winery. She said that every vintage is different and therefore the tannins will be different. In order to get a balanced wine, the grapes must be picked at the right moment and maceration is according to the vintage. She said that they have a m   selection- only one clone in the vineyard.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Antonelli San Marco. The grapes are hand picked the first week of October and there is a final selection in the cellar. Vinification involves using the force of gravity because there are two levels in the cellar. During fermentation the skin is in contact with the juice for 20/30 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine clarifies spontaneously and there is no need for filtration. The wine is aged in toasted French oak barrels for 6 months and in larger oak barrels for 18 months.

Filippo  Antonelli said that they use to use chestnut woods for the barrels buy it gave to much tannin to the wine. Now they use oak from France and Germany. The wine settles in fiberglass lined cement vats for six months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The winery is certified organic.

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Filippo Antonelli

This is a rich, complex wine with hints of blackberry, cherry and citrus. Filippo said that because of the nature of the Sagrantino grape( high phenolics and anthocyanins and tannin) this wine could age for 20/30 years. When I visited Marco at the winery a few years ago I tasted a 1985 Sagrantino which was over 25 years old and was drinking very well. I also tasted a 1985 Sagrantino passito, which was also drinking very well. Marco added that the people in Montefalco are divided on when passito should be drunk at Easter — either with the lamb for dinner or with the traditional Umbrian dessert Ciaramicola.

Filippo said that 2007 and 2009 were warm vintages and in these years the wine has citrus aromas and hints of oranges and pineapple.

He told us that he wished Sagrantino month could be  in February because St Valentino came from Umbria and the Sagrantino passito is a great combination with chocolate.

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Montefalco Sagrantino Collepiano DOCG 2007 Arnaldo Caprai.  Harvest takes place the last days of September and the first week of October. After a general crushing-destemming process, there is constant pumping over performed, as Marco said, to draw color and tannins from the skins. Maceration lasts for 30 days. The wine is aged in French oak for 22 months and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine is big, yet elegant with hints of jam, clove and a touch of vanilla. This wine seemed much less modern in style than the ones I had tasted in the past. I asked Marco if they were doing something different and he said “NO”.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tenuta di Castebuono. Hand picking of the grapes in October.  The soil is muddy clay with a good agronomic potential and resistant to summer aridity.  There is cold pre-maceration for 30 hours in wooden barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months in tonneaux and for 16 months in large barrels. The wine has hints of blackberry and blueberry with touches of cherry and leather.

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Filed under Antonelli, Castelbuono, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Momtefalco, Perticaia, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli

Carnevale at Restaurant SD26 NYC

I have always wanted to go to Venice for Carnevale.  It seems like such an interesting and exciting celebration, yet somehow I keep on missing it. Perhaps it is because Carnevale falls 40 days before Easter.  The date changes every year and I would need to plan ahead.  Since I did not make it again this year, I did the next best thing and Carnevale at SD26, one of New York’s best restaurants. There, Carnevale is celebrated every Sunday in March

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Masks are a big part of Carnevale and guests are given a fabulous feathered mask when they arrive.  Throughout the evening I Giullari di Piazza, a group of Neapolitan street performers led by Alessandra Belloni danced around the restaurant playing music and singing Neapolitan songs. They were dressed as characters from the Commedia del’Arte such as Pulcinella, Arlecchino and Ricciulina.  Some of the restaurant guests danced with them.  It was lively and great fun.

Since the menu consisted of foods typical of Naples we drank a red wine from Campania.

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Az. Agr. Monte de Grazie Biological Winery Rosso 2008
The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti grows almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Tienturier family. Tienturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red. This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine. This wine has ageing potential. I had the 2009 with the owner of the winery, Dr. Alfonso Arpino, on the Amalfi coast last year and it may be the best wine he has made so far!

 

 

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Donnachiara at The Leopard at des Artistes

Along with 6 other journalists I was invited by Ilaria Petitto to the Leopard at  des Artistes for a Donnachiara Campania Wine Workshop.  Ilaria is the 5th generation female to run the estate and is in charge of all operations.

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria Petitto

The workshop was held in the restaurant’s cozy private dining room.  We tasted and drank the wines of Donnachiara and discussed the region of Campania and its wine.  We spoke about what people think when the hear Campania:  the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pizza, Wine, etc., were cited.  It was the consensus that Campania produces the best white wine in Southern Italy and certainly has the most interesting white grape varieties. The importance of the Aglianico grape and Taurasi was also discussed.

Iliara then told us about the wines that she had chosen to match with the menu.

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Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina.  Ilaria said that the vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s).  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

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Falanghina Beneventano 2012 DOC 100% Falanghina the vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is Volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old , the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed befor pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrius fruit amomas and flavors nice acidity and good minerality.

With the first two wines we had: crisp fried zeppole, potato croquettes known as panzerotti, miniature mozzarelle in carrozze and bite size pieces of torta Pasqualina, a spinach and ricotta pie.

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Greco di Tufo 2010 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Illaria said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. Cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age  before it is ready to drink, she remarked. This was served with the Parmigiana di zucchine con scamorza e salsa al pomodoro and it was a perfect combination. The wine was just starting to come around, it has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of smoke and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.

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Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2007. 100% Fiano.   The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,400 vines per hectare and the 4 hectare vineyard is located at 600 meters.  Harvesting takes place during the second week of October. llaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine with scents ranging from candied fruits to flora. She believes the aging potential of the wine is 15/20 years and I agree. This is a wine with good structure and body. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, good acidity and a hint of smoke. This was an excellent compliment to the Scialatielli ai frutti di mare, short strips of homemade pasta typical of Amalfi in a seafood and tomato sauce.

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Greco di Tufo IGT Ostinato Campania  2011 100% Greco. This single vineyard is 4 hectares and it is outside the DOCG zone in Venticano, Torre Le Nocella.  The soil is clay and limestone.  The age of the vines is 20 years, the training system is Guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. A late harvest takes place the first half of November. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing.  Fermentation is for 12 months 20% of which is in French barriques. The wine is naturally clarified and there is no refrigeration or filtration at bottling. The first time I drank this wine I had it with pasta and clams and it was a terrible combination. The label said Greco di Tufo, but it tasted like a dessert wine. At the workshop dinner, it was served with crostino di pane ciabatta con fegato grasso, toasted ciabatta bread with foie gras.  The combination was sensational, since like certain dessert wines, it goes well with foods like foie gras or cheese.

I told Ilaria that I found this wine to be very confusing since there is no indication on the bottle that it is a dessert wine.  She said that it is in a smaller bottle (500ml), the bottle is clear so you can see the darker color. I said that this should be clarified on the label for the sake of the consumer.

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It becomes even more confusing because of the next wine, the Esoterico Campania Fiano 2011 IGT 100% Fiano.  The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the age of the vines is 6 years, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,400 vines per hectare. Everything else is done just like the Greco except the final result is different. The wine is light in color and while it has more body  than the regular Fiano, it does not really taste like a dessert wine.   I would not drink it with fegato grasso.

Ilaria said that the Greco was darker in color and more like a dessert wine because of the nature of the Greco grape. In both cases it is not the wine I have a problem with, but the labeling, which needs to be clearer

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Taurasi DOCG 2007, 2008 and 2009. 100% Aglianico coming from the 20 hectare estate vineyard Torre le Nocelle. Ilaria said that all of Donnachiara’s red wines are made from grapes from this vineyard. The soil is volcanic, the vines are 30 years old, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is no filtration. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques. I find these red wines to be more modern in style but not over the top and they all needed more time.IMG_4900

It was served with costata di manzo alla griglia con sale rosa cristalino dell’Himalaya e pandellate di Friarielli e patate, grilled rib eye steak with Himalayan pink salt, broccoli rabe and potatoes. The wine worked much better with the steak, which was so good that I ate the

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Filed under campania, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, The Leopard at Cafe des Artists

Tasting Six “Tre Bicchieri” Wines

Walking around the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri Tasting, an annual event, I was pleased to see a number of wines that I like that were chosen for their highest award.

Malvasia Istriana Collio 2012 DOC 100% Malvasia Istriana Ronco dei Tassi (Friuli) IMG_4828

A little background on this first winery.  When I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC, I went every year to Vinitaly, the wine fair in Verona, with Nicola the owner of the restaurant.  We became friendly with a producer from Friuli and always visited him.  He shared his booth with another producer from Friuli, Ronco dei Tassi.  The Coser Family, who owned Ronco dei Tassi, were very nice and  we would also taste their wines.  However, it was embarrassing because we did not like the wine. This went on for a few years. Then one year we tried the wines and were amazed at how good they had become! We tasted through their entire line and liked them so much that Nicola decided to import them. Today they are among the best wines made in Friuli.

There are 1.2 acres of 60-year old vines 650 feet above sea level in the heart of the Collio zone near Cormons. After a vigorous selection and soft pressing, the wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using selected yeasts. The wine is bottled in the spring 6 months after the harvest. There are only 3,000 bottles produced.

Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi” 2012 DOCG Feudi Di San Gregorio (Irpinia,Campania)

Maurizio De Rosa

Maurizio De Rosa

As I was walking around I saw Maurizio de Rosa, North American representative for Feudi Di San Gregorio pouring wines. I had not spoken to Maurizio in some time and stopped to catch up and to taste the wines. I always enjoy speaking to Maurizio because he is very knowledgeable on the subject of Italian wines, the wines of Campania and Taurasi in particular.

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The Cutizzi vineyard is in Santa Paolina. The vines are 15 years old and they are at 1,600 ft. There is a southwest exposure and there are 4,500 vines per hectare. The soil is deep, finely textured, moderately alkaline and very calcareous. Harvest is in mid October. The grapes are destemmed and undergo a gentle pressing, followed by a cold settling for 48 hours. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged on the lees for 4 months in stainless steel tanks with daily batonnage (stirring of the lees).  After 2 months in bottle the wine is released. The wine has hints of peaches, pears, white flowers and a touch of spearmint. There is crisp acidity, minerality and a hint of almonds in the finish. The winery was started in 1986 and I visited there a few years ago. It is very impressive and has a very good restauran

Chianti Classico Estate Riserva 2009 DOCG Badia a Coltibuono (Tuscany) made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo.IMG_4818

I first went to the winery in 1983 and remember drinking the 1978 Chianti Classico  Riserva at the restaurant on the property. I have been drinking it ever since.

Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti was pouring her wines and I see her often at tasting in NYC.

Emanuela Strucchio Prinrtti

Emanuela Strucchi Prinetti

The grapes are organically grown and vinified using natural yeast. The winery has minimal environmental impact, they use gravity flow, manual grape sorting, and the destemmed fruit goes to the fermentation tanks and vats for separate vinification.  There is a piston cap punch-down system and maturation is mostly in large casks and not in small barrels.

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This is the 1982 vintage- my last bottle

Barolo Villero Riserva 2006  DOCG100% Nebbiolo, the Michet clone. Vietti (Piedmont)

I first met Alfredo and Luciana Currado owners of the Vietti winery in 1981 when I went to visit them. We became good friends and I saw them often in Italy and in NY. The winery is now in the capable hands of their son Luca.

The vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and has a south/southwest exposure. The average age of the vines is 37 years. After alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 19 days, the wine is macerated on the skins for a total of 33 days.  The wine is then immediately transferred into small barrels to undergo malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for a period of time in 30HL casks. The wine is bottled without filtration.

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Lost the picture of the 2008

Barolo “Bricco Pernice” DOCG 2008. Cogno (Piedmont)

I have been a big fan of the Cogno-Marcarini wines ever since Sheldon Wasserman introduced me to them. Elvio Cogno now has his own winery and the winemaker is his very talented son-in-law Walter Fassore. Walter makes traditional classic Barolo.  I have visited the winery a number of times and have met with Walter here in NYC.

Made from a sub-variety of Nebbiolo called Lampia. The vineyard is 300 meters above sea level with 5000 vines per hectare and faces southward. The grapes are from the finest vineyards in Novello, in the most historic part of the Ravera cru. Harvest is in October. Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with pumping over and 30 days maceration with submerged cap. It is aged for 24 months in large Slovenian oak barrels 25/30 HL. It remains on the lees for 90 days and spends12 months in bottle before it is released. This is a classic, traditional Barolo; well structured and elegant and is going to need a lot of time to develop.

Coevo Toscana IGT 2010 Cecchi (Tuscany)

Andrea Cecchi

Andrea Cecchi

Someone I have known for a number of years and enjoy seeing and talking to is the very personable Andrea Cecchi. We always have discussions on the changing wine scene in Tuscany and what is going on in the American market. He was very pleased when I told him that Coevo was a Super Tuscan I could drink and enjoy.IMG_4839

The area of production is Castellina in Chianti, for the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon and the Maremma Toscana for the Merlot and the Petit Verdot.

Made from 60% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. At Castellina in Chianti the vineyards were at 200mt and in the Maremma at 250mt.  The soil and climate are very different in these two regions and certain grapes did better in different zones.

There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the vine training is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked by hand, the Merlot is harvested from August 23, Petit Verdot from September 12,Sangiovese from September 25, and Cabernet Sauvignon from October 5

Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The alcoholic fermentation takes place with the skins.  Maceration is for 3 weeks for the Cabernet Sauvignon and 2 weeks for the Merlot and Sangiovese. The wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux for 18 months and in bottle for 12 months before release.

There is no sign of vanilla or over concentration, the calling cards of Super Tuscans. It is a balanced, elegant wine with red fruit, violet and earthy aromas and flavors and a hint of pepper. It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. The wine needs a few more years to develop.

 

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Filed under Badia a Coltibuono, Barolo, Cecchi, Cogno- Marcarini, Gambero Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Malvasia, Ronco dei Tassi, Vietti