Monthly Archives: June 2016

In Puglia with Radici del Sud 2016

The first time I went to Puglia was in 1983. I have gone back a number of times because of the wine, food and the unique culture. For ten years I was the sommelier/wine director of I Trulli restaurant in NYC. Trulli are the traditional cone shaped houses in Puglia, so I really got to know the wine and the food and have always enjoyed it.IMG_0708

A few months ago, Nicola Campanile, organizer of Radici del Sud 2016 in Puglia, invited me to attend the weeklong wine tasting and judging of the wines of Southern Italy.

When we arrived at the hotel, the other attendees and I, from 13 different countries, were divided into two groups: buyers and press. The buyers stayed in the hotel and tasted wine while the press spent two days and nights on the road.

Our guide and translator was Ole Udsen. The way he was greeted by the producers and others that we met showed the high regard in which he was held, so I gave him the name “Mr. Puglia.” His knowledge of the wines and the region in general, was of the highest level.IMG_0616

One of our first stops was tasting wine with the Association Nationale Le Donna Del Vino Delegazione Puglia.IMG_0617

The president of the organization is Marianna Cardone. The Women in Wine organized a tasting of 17 producers.

Marianna Cardone

Marianna Cardone

Each producer showed one wine. The format reminded me of musical chairs: I sat with a producer, tasted the wine and we talked. Then came an announcement to change places. This was done 17 times. It was very informative and enabled me to learn a lot in a short time.

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

There was even a type of wine I had never tasted before, the Tre Tomoli Rosa 2015 from Vignaflora, a Rosato made from the Susmaniello grape.

We also visited several wineries.IMG_0639

At the Paololeo Winery another organization DeGusto Salento: Association Del Negoamaro presented a tasting of 6 wines:

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2014 “Lago della Pergola” Vetrere

Negroamaro IGP Puglia 2013 “Taccorosso” Paolo Leo

Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2013”Aiace” Castello Monaci

Negroamaro Salento IGP 2012 CalitroIMG_0637

Brindisi Rosso Riserva DOC 2012 “Jaddico” Tenute RubinoIMG_0638

Brindisi DOP Riserva 2011 “Vigna Flaminio” Vallone

 At the Apollonio winery we tasted 6 wines:

Negroamaro Rosato 2015 Salento IGP Santi DimitriIMG_0645

IGT Salento Rosato 2015 “Rohesia” CanteleIMG_0646

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2013 Conti ZeccaIMG_0647

Salento IGT 2013 “Mjere” Michele Caló

Salento IGT 2011 “Cento su Cento Castel di Salve

Copertino Riserva DOP 2011 “Divoto” Apollonio

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At the Garofano winery, the tasting was held outside.IMG_0652

It was so windy that they could not open the umbrellas, so we tasted in the sun as you can see from the pictures. There were 6 wines:

Copertino DOP Rosato 2015 Marulli

Salento IGT 2015 “DuodecimRomando GrecoIMG_0656

Salento Rosato IGT 2013 Vigna Mazzi Rosa Del Golfo

Nardò DOC 2014 “Danza della Contessa” Bonsegna Salento IGP 2007 “Le Braci” Garofano

Salento IGT 2006 Piromafo” Valle dell’Asso

 Wine made from the Negroamaro grape can be 100% Negroamaro or blended with other grapes as in the case of Copertino, Salice Salentino and Brindisi Rosso, or made into a rose or a white wine. I became very fond of the Negroamaro in all its forms on this trip.

We visited the town of Gallipoli on the southern tip of Puglia by the sea.IMG_0663

At Cantina Coppola 1489 we tasted white wines made from the Negroamaro grape from 2015 back to 2009.IMG_0667

Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT “Rocci” 100% Negroamaro. The production area is the Santo Stefano Vineyard Alezio. The soil is clayish and the training system is espalier. The harvest takes place by hand the last week of August. The wine is vinified and aged in stainless steel. I have very little experience with Negroamaro vinified as a white wine but I was very pleased with the wines I tasted,

The 2012 was the only vintage that had been aged in barriques for about six months. The wines have a simple elegance, fruitiness with good minerality and a touch of the sea. The only wine that did not have these aromas and flavors, reflecting the land and the sea was the 2012.

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Paolo Benegiamo with the Alberelli 1947

At a tasting in the Castle in Gallipoli, we played musical chairs again but here there was enough time to speak to the producer and they had more than one wine. One of the best wines I tasted made from 100% Negroamaro was the Vecchie Vigna Alberelli 1947 from L’Astore Masseria presented by the owner Paolo Benegiamo. It is a wine which makes one stop and take notice.

Giuseppe Fiorita

Giuseppe Fiorita with the Copertino Rosso

Copertino Rosso DOC Riserva 2008, Cupertinum-Antica Cantina Del Salento 1935. I sold this wine at I Trulli and always liked it. It is a great value for the price and was later picked as one of the top wines by the press.

Next time a Ciro tasting, a Fiano Minutolo tasting, the blind tasting completion and the winners.

 

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Filed under Cantina Coppola 1489, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Le Donne del Vino Delegazione Puglia, Negoramaro, Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT Rocci, Radici del Sud 2016, Rose

Campania Stories: Tasting Wine with Roberto Di Meo

As I have mentioned before for me the best part of the trip to Campania organized by Campania Stories is the visit to the wineries. It was late afternoon when I arrived at the Di Meo Winery for my visit.

Roberto Di Meo

Roberto Di Meo

Walking into the Di Meo winery was like entering an elegant home. I waited the arrival of Roberto Di Meo, co-owner of the winery with his brother Generoso, in a lovely living room with a fireplace.

Azienda Agricola DI Meo is located near the village of Salza Irpina, in the province of Avellino In Campania. The grapes are hand harvested from their own 30 hectares of vineyards and the winery is certified organic. Roberto is the enologist and Generoso runs the commercial and PR side

Roberto showed me around the winery and took me through a tasting of his wines. At one point when I asked about how he use wood for aging he answered, “The wood is on the wine, not the wine on the wood”

These are some of the wines I tastedIMG_0022

Fiano di Avellino 2015 DOCG 100% Fiano Vineyard is at 500 meters. Traditional wine making with controlled temperature. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 to 6 months before release. It has nice citrus fruit with hints a honey and smoke.IMG_0024

Greco di Tufo 2015 100% Greco. Vineyards are between 400 and 600 meters. This is an ample and flavorful wine with hints of peach and almond. IMG_0023

 

 I was in Puglia last week with Radici del Sud  2016 for a blind wine tasting competition of Southern Italian Wine. Both the Di Meo Fiano and Greco placed  number one in their categories. 

Falanghina Campania IGT 2015 100% Falanghina. Vineyards are at 350 to 400 meters. This is a wine with flavore and aromas of citrus fruit and good acidity. It would be great with spaghetti con vongoleIMG_0013

Fiano di Avellino 2003 “ Erminia Di Meo Selection” 100% Fiano. Roberto said that the late harvest grapes were selected from a particular family parcel. There is a prolonged maceration with the skins at a low temperature followed by soft pressing and controlled temperature fermentation. A year after the harvest the wine remains in stainless steel with the “fecce fin” for 13 more years. The next release is the 2003. This is an exceptional Fiano worth the long wait and I complement Roberto for holding it back until it is almost ready to drink.IMG_0021

Taurasi Riserva DOCG 2007 “Selection Hamilton” 100% A Traditional red wine making. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques and Tonneau and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced elegant wine with hints of berries, black pepper, tobacco and spice.IMG_0020

 Don Generoso Irpinia IGT 2010 made from 75% Aglianico and 25% Piedirosso and other red grapes. This is a wine with a complex bouquet with hints of red and black berries and a touch of spice.

 Roberto also make brandy

Brandy Don Vittorio aged for 25 years. I believe it is made from Fiano. Tom Maresca when he visited Roberto was luck enough to take home a bottle of this brandy and I had it with Tom after dinner on more than one occasion. Robert was surprised when I said I tasted it before. It is not imported into the US unfortunately. This is a very intense and refined brandy with hints of liquorices, honey and tobacco.

There are not many winemakers that make such excellent wines that can age and also produce brandy.

 

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Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Di Meo winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

The Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar & Kitchen

IMG_0374How did I wind up in Brooklyn after a Wine Media Guild tasting of 18 burgundies presented by Charles Curtis, MW and author of The Original Grand Crus of Burgundy? The answer is: I was invited by Stuart Leaf, a wine collector, to the Brooklyn Heights Wine Bar & Kitchen, 50 Henry Street (718-855-5595).

Stuart and Mark

Stuart and Mark

Stuart and his partner  Mark Lahm, are the perfect hosts and they  sat down with me  and the other guests, Harriet Lembeck, and Charles Curtis, and his wife. After a few minutes Mark and I realized that we had a mutual friend and that we had once had dinner together.

At the wine bar, you can order wine by the glass, half carafe and bottle. There is also a reserve list and the wine that caught my eye was the Antinori Chianti Classico Riserva 1970 for $125.IMG_0377

Stuart suggested we start with the Cigarra White 2013 (Portugal) made from the Fernao, Arinto and Sera Nova grapes. It has hints of citrus fruit with good acidity and went very well with the mousse of foie gras.IMG_0378

Charles Curtis suggested a wine from the reserve list, the very impressive Guigal Hermitage Blanc 1994 (France) made from 95% Marsanne and 5% Roussanne. This is a complex and elegant wine that was my pleasure to drink.

IMG_0381I enjoyed it with the mini lobster roll; it was so good I should have had two of them.

I suggested three wines from the Grimaldi winery in Piedmont.IMG_0384
Grimaldi Barbera d’Alba 2004 made from 100% Barbera. The wine has hints of dried cherries with good acidity and was showing no sign of age.IMG_0401
Grimaldi Barbaresco 1999
100% Nebbiolo The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries and a touch of spice with soft tannins.

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Grimaldi Barolo 2001
100% Nebbiolo. It has aromas and flavors of red fruit, tar, tea and chocolate. 2001 was an excellent vintage.

Stuart then ordered the Podere la Vigna Brunello 1999 (Tuscany) 100% Sangiovese. This is an elegant wine with aromas and flavors of black fruit, blueberries and blackberries.

With the Italian wines we had asparagus soup, assorted cheese and charcuterie.IMG_0405

With the Sineann Gewurtztraminer 2013 (Oregon) we had the bread pudding.

The wine bar also has a historic blended scotch whiskey selection and Mark said it represents possible the largest publicly available collection of extremely old blended scotch whiskies in the U.S. There are 100 carefully curated old whiskies, bottled between the 1950s and 1970s (distilled 5 – 25 years before bottling). I finished with the Dewar’s Ancestor 12 year. The perfect end to a wonderful dining and drinking experience.

 

 

 

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Tasting Pallagrello and Casavecchia at the Alois Winery

One of the things I enjoyed most on my recent visit to Benevento for Campania Stories, was the opportunity to visit wineries, speak to the producers, and taste their wines.IMG_0113

One afternoon, Gianfranco Alois picked me up at my hotel to take me to his family winery. As we were driving the conversation turned to pizza as it always does when you are near Naples. He said we were very close to Franco Pepe’s Restaurant, Pepe in Grano, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I asked him if we could stop there but he said there was no time, and besides his sister-in-law Talita was making lunch.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

At the winery Michele Alois, his son Massimo, the winemaker, and his wife Talita, greeted me.

Michele Alois

Michele Alois

The winery was founded by Michele at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

For the tasting we concentrated on two wines: Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I am familiar with both of them but this would be the first time I could taste so many and from different vintages. I knew the winery and liked their Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” which I used for a tasting of Southern Italian Wines during Vino 2016 in NYC, so I was looking forward to the tasting.IMG_0120

The tasting took place in the cellar with all the family members talking about the wine and at times the foods of the area. I tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello and Casavecchia, plus vintages going back to 2010

The name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of its tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints if almonds, citrus fruit melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0115

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Voltumo IGT 100% Pallagrello Nero. The vineyard is 1.46 hectares, the soil is volcanic with minerals, guyot training system and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. The harvest takes place the first weeks of October. Vinification in stainless steel with cold maceration on the lees and malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used French barriques for 12 months and an additional 6 months in barrel before release. This wine has hints of berries, especially, blackberries and cherries and a long finish.

The Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived Phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.IMG_0121

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

The 2010 is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0112

Talita made a delicious frittata for us to eat during the tasting, but unfortunately, I had another winery to visit and it became too late for me to try her Pasta alla Genovese, a classic dish from the Neapolitan kitchen. All I got to do was smell the aroma. It was a wonderful visit and I really enjoyed meeting the family and experiencing their wines.

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