Monthly Archives: September 2016

Wines of Sardinia from Vigna Surrau

I have visited the Island of Sardinia off the coast of Westen Italy a number of times. It is has a rugged interior, but a great coastline with beaches that attract many tourists. Though it is one of the regions of Italy, the inhabitants are proud of their Sardinian heritage and if someone is going to the mainland (Italy), they say they are going to the continent. The national dish is mutton. I always enjoy the wines of Sardinia made with such grapes as Vermentino, Cannonau, Carignano and Muristellu.

A few months ago I received samples of wines from Vigna Surrau, a winery in Sardinia. I just finished tasting them last week and here is my review.

The Surrau Vineyards extend to the eastern part of Gallura, in Sardinia. The Vigna Surrau winery overlooks a property of over 50 hectares of land covered by vegetation. It is not far from the famous “Costa Smeralda” (Emerald Coast), on the road from Azachena to Porto Cervo.

The Winesimg_1270

Vermentino Di Gallura “Branu” 2015 DOCG made from 100% Vermentino. The training system is espalier (guyot) and the soil is granite, medium mixture, tending to be sandy. Crushing and destemming takes place in a cold environment. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is bottled young to preserve its minerality and fruity freshness.img_1265

Vermentino Di Gallura Superiore “Sciala” 2015 DOCG Made from 100% Vermentino from a selection of the best grapes in their vineyards in the valley of Surrau. Training system is guyot and the soil is granite, medium consistency, tending to sandy. After destemming and crushing the must is kept cold. After a brief contact of the skins with the must, alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and the wine remains on the fine lees for a few months with batonnage. The wine has aromas and flavors or citrus fruit with hints of tropical fruit and good acidity.img_1268

 Cannonau Di Sardegna 100% Cannonau.  2014 The soil was formed from granite of medium mix, clayey and sandy, which gives the wine good minerality. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks for 7 to 8 days at a controlled temperature, daily pumping over and punching down are carried out in order to allow for balanced extraction of polyphenolic substances. Malolalactic fermentation takes place right after alcoholic fermentation. The wine remains in concrete and steel tanks for a few months before it is bottled. The wine has an intense aroma of red fruit with hints of strawberries and raspberries.img_1266

Cannonau Di Sardegna “Sincaru” 2013 DOC 100% Cannonau The soil is derived from granite weathering, medium mix, tending to sandy. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks for 16 to 18 days at a controlled temperature. Daily pumping over and punching down are carried out. The wine is then aged in Slavonian oak barrels that have not been toasted for 12 months. It remains for a few days in cement tanks and very large barrels before release. This is a wine with intense red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of spice and a touch of leather.

Cannonau di Sardegna “Sincaru Riserva” 2011 DOC made from a long maceration of 100% Cannonau grapes. After a careful manual selection, the grapes are destemmed and crushed and ferment in medium sized Slavonian oak barrels. Alcoholic fermentation lasts about 15 days never exceeding 28C. Maceration is with a floating cap with frequent pumping over. There is prolonged post fermentation for another 15 to 20 days with a submerged cap. After racking, the wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30HL for a minimum of 18 months. The wine is in small cement tanks before it is bottled and will remain in bottle for 6 months before release. This is an intense wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherry and spicy notes.img_1267

Isola Dei Nuraghu “Surrau” 2013 IGT Made from Cannonau, Carignano and Muristellu grapes. Skin contact takes place in stainless steel tanks for about a week at controlled temperature. Daily pumping over and pumping down take place. Aging is for a few months in steel tanks and then in bottle. The wine has nice red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of raspberries and strawberries and a touch of violets.img_1271

Isola Dei Nuraghi “Barriu” 2013 IGT made from Cannonau, Carignano, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes. Maceration on the skin is continuous for about 3 weeks with daily pumping over and punching down. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement tanks and then is aged for 18 months in barrel. The wine has ripe red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of red jam and spicy notes.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Fiano di Avellino of Donnachiara at IL Gattopardo Restaurant

 

I have met Illaria Petitto, managing director, Donnachiara winery a number of times in NYC and have visited the winery in Campania a number of times. I really like their white wines and paired with Neapolitan food at a luncheon at Il Gattopardo in Midtown Manhattan, it is a match made in heaven.img_1147

At the luncheon, Illaria offered a vertical tasting of her Fiano di Avellino going back to 2007. John Gilman who publishes “View from the Cellar” also spoke. I met John last March in Benevento at the Campania Stories tasting and together we visited the Donnachiara winery.

ILaria Petitto

ILaria Petitto

Ilania began by speaking about the Fiano di Avellino grape in general, her Fiano, and the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino.  The modern building is set on a hilltop in an area of rolling hills.

Ilaria said she parted ways with her winemaker, Angelo Valentino because she wants to have more input into her wines. She hired the well-respected Riccardo Cotarella as the consulting enologist for the winery. She felt that he could help with the Fiano as far as enhancing the bouquet and aromas. I told her I liked the wines just as they are now!img_1153

We tasted the 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2007 paired with a menu prepared by Il Gattopardo. All the wines are 100% Fiano di Avellino

  2015 -When I was in Benevento in March for the Campania Stories blind tasting of Fiano, I picked this vintage of Donnachiara as #1.

The soil is chalky clay; there are 4,400 plants per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 90 days. The wine does not undergo malolatcic fermentation and does not see any wood. This is an elegant wine with good body, dried fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of tropical fruit. This is a wine with good structure and body. Illaria said 2015 was a very good vintage.img_1148

With the wine we had Stuzzichini: Scagliozzi Di Polenta and Mini Mozzarelle in Carrozza con Salsetta D’Acciughe with the 2015 and 2013

I asked Illaria if the 2007 was vinified the same way as the 2015 and she said nothing has changed.

Cotarella will start with the 2016 vintage.

When I visited the winery in March I tasted 2011, 2009 and 2007 vintages of the Fiano di Avellino. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity in the wines. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009. Illaria said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age. You could see the development of the wine from the different vintages.

In the white wines the juice is free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

2013 — This was the first I had tasted this vintage. Illaria said that 2013 was a warm and dry vintage. The grapes were very concentrated, rich in pulp and very structured. The wine is very soft and fat with nice ripe citrus fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity. I would not drink a Fiano unless it was at least 3 years old and that is still too young.

2011 — Illaria said this was a balanced vintage. The wine had developed since the last time I had tasted it and was showing very well. If you can find this wine buy it!

We had this wine with Scialatielli ai Frutta di Mare img_1159

2009 — Illaria said this was a difficult vintage but to me it was drinking much better than when I first tasted it. This is a well-balanced complex wine that will age for a very long time.

2007 — Illaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine. This is big wine with great structure and aromas ranging from candied fruit to flowers with good acidity. Both Illaria and John believe that this wine has great aging potential, from 15 to 20 years. It was showing a little more age than when I first tasted it but this was just the natural development.img_1160

We had both of these vintages with the Dentice in Brodetto con Cozze e Vongole.img_1166

2011 — Esoterico This is one of two wines that are in barriques, 20% is fermented in new French barriques for a period of 12 months. There is no fining, filtration or refrigeration, and there is natural clarification. This is the only vintage of the wine that they made. Illaria said because the wine is in a 375-ml size bottle, every one thinks it is a dessert wine. She said she is not sure if she would produce the wine again.img_1165

For dessert we had the Baba- it was one of the best I have ever eaten!

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More from Jeremy Parzen on the Nebbiolo wars

Nebbiolo war: “inclusion of Nebbiolo in the Piemonte DOC has been definitively shelved” says Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium president

nebbiolo-war“Inclusion of Nebbiolo in the Piemonte DOC has been definitively shelved” said Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium president Orlando Pecchenino in a statement published late yesterday by Corriere della Sera wine writer Luciano Ferraro.

This latest volley in the “Nebbiolo war,” as Ferraro has called it, arrives in the wake of a meeting yesterday where Filippo Mobrici, president of the Asti-Monferrato consortium, and Pecchenino presented their respective positions — for and against the creation of a Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC — to the Piedmont Regional Viticultural Commission and its superintendent Giorgio Ferrero.

After the Asti-Monferrato consortium circulated a proposal for a new Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC in August, representatives of the Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium have lobbied aggressively against the move.

While Asti-Monferrato growers would like to have the right to use the grape name Nebbiolo in labeling of wines made from Nebbiolo in their appellations, Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium members counter that the creation of a Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC would lead to the planting of Nebbiolo in appellations not suited for its production; diminished quality of Piedmont’s production of Nebbiolo in general; and confusion among consumers.

“The Langhe have won the Nebbiolo war,” Ferraro wrote yesterday referring to the Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium in his post for the Corriere. But it’s not clear whether or not efforts to move forward with the Asti-Monferrato proposal have been “definitively” blocked.

In a statement included in Ferraro’s coverage, Mobrici told the Corriere writer: “we are pleased that the conversation took place in peaceful and constructive tones. Based on these discussions, we plan to present a new proposal that can be received with wide-reaching consensus by the commission and by producers.”

See this op-ed by my friend and client Giovanni Minetti, former president of the Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba consortium, who argues against the creation of a Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC. “Before asking for permission to create such an important new category like a DOC,” he writes, “why not begin by experimenting and planting a few vineyards in places outside the traditional areas for production?”

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Dinner with Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow

 

It is always a pleasure to be invited to dinner at the home of Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow. Tom is a well-known wine writer and both he http://www.ubriaco.wordpress.com and Diane http://www.dianescookbooks.wordpress.com have their own blogs. Together they have written a number of books on Italian food.
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Tom always starts with something sparkling. This time it was Prosecco Brut “Rustico” NV Nino Franco (Veneto) 100% Glera from the classic production area, hillside vineyards situated at medium altitude. Pressing, destemming, then cooling of the must and fermentation is in steel tanks at controlled temperature. The second fermentation is in cuvee close (autoclave). The wine has nice bubbles, and it is fruity and flowery with a hint of pear.img_1120

It was a perfect combination with open faced smoked salmon sandwiches on dark bread, topped with either pickled ginger. capers and ginger.img_1121

Greco di Tufo 2014 Ag Agr Benito Ferrara (Campania) 100% Greco from a 4.65 hectare vineyard planted in 1940, 1959, 1960 and 2000. The soil is calcareous and clayey, rich in minerals. The exposure is east and it is at 500 meters. The training system is guyot. Grass is left in the aisles between the vines. Harvest takes place the second week of September. There is a soft pressing of the clusters in stainless steel vats with temperature control. The wine matures in steel vats for 7 months and remains in the bottle for 1 /2 months before release.

Tom had visited the winery when he was in Campania. He said that the Greco vineyards are next to abandoned sulfur mines and sulfur rocks can be found in the vineyard. This gives the wine its mineral notes.

Tom was very enthusiastic about the wine and I had to agree with him. It is wonderful expression of Greco, rich, and balanced with hints of white fruit, white flowers, bitter almonds and nice minerality. It had a very long finish and a very pleasing after taste.img_1122

With the wine, Diane served crispy mozzarella in carrozza with a creamy anchovy sauce.img_1123

Chianti Classico 1998 Castello de Fonterutoli (Tuscany)  Made from 100% Sangiovese, from grapes grown in vineyards with extremely different characteristics. The vineyard Fonterutoli is at 450 meters with a west- southwest exposure, Badiola is at 450 meters with a west-southwest exposure and Belvedere is at 300 meters with southeastern-southwestern exposure. The training system is freestanding spur. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature and maceration for 16 days. The wine was bottled at the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000. This wine was showing no signs of age. It is a concentrated wine with red berry aromas and flavors and with hints of blackberries and blueberries.img_1124

In honor of the earthquake victims in Italy, Diane made pasta all’Amatriciana.img_1130

Barolo 1998 Bartolo Mascarello (Piedmont) 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyards, in the commune of Barolo, are San Lorenzo, Rue, and Canubbi. In La Morra commune, Rocche di Annunziata. The average age of the vineyards is 25 years, ranging from 60/70 years in San Lorenzo to newly replanted plots in Cannubi. Chemical pesticides or fertilizers are not used.

The four-vineyard production is co-fermented in 3 to 4 large concrete tanks. The tanks do not have an internal temperature control system but fermentation temperatures are monitored daily and the must is cooled with a cold water heat exchange if it exceeds 31C. The grapes are mixed together when they arrive at the cantina. They do not make a single-vineyard “cru’ Barolo. Fermentation occurs from indigenous yeast but yeast will be added if necessary. Pumping over twice a day. Fermentation lastsfor 15 to18 days, and then the wine is left to macerate on the skins (submerged cap) for a few additional weeks. Maceration and fermentation together last for 30 to 50 days depending on the vintage. A gentle hydraulic basket press is used.

The wine is stored in large casks (botti) of Slavonian oak for about 30 months in a natural aging cellar. The botti range in size from 25 to 50 HL and average 10 to 12 years of age. The wine is racked once each year, then bottled in late July three years after the vintage. Malolactic fermentation is not forced and occurs in the bottle. The bottles are held for an additional year until the following September when the wine is released in the fourth year of the vintage. This is traditional classic Barolo at its best and a pleasure to drink!img_1125

With the Barolo we had a tender lamb stewimg_1126

served with giambotta, a slow cooked melange of seasonal vegetables.img_1132

We finished the Barolo with a selection of Italian cheeses.img_1129

Lastly, there were amaretti stuffed peaches and grappa.img_1134

Another wonderful evening at Casa Maresca Darrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Parzen with the Latest on Nebbiolo

Breaking news: Nebbiolo power brokers agree to create Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC

nebbiolo-grapes-docAbove: Nebbiolo grapes ripening this week in an appellation that lies outside the hallowed Langhe Hills. If approved, new Piedmont appellation regulations would allow growers across the region to label their Nebbiolo as “Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC.” Currently, only growers in select townships can use the grape name in labeling.

According to a person familiar with their discussions, the Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba-Langhe-Dogliani Consortium and the Barbera d’Asti-Wines of Monferrato Consortium have agreed this week to move forward with the creation of a Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the agreement have not yet been made public.

After the Asti-Monferrato Consortium circulated proposed language for a new Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC among its members in August, vice presidents of the Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba-Langhe-Dogliani Consortium Pietro Ratti and Aldo Vacca publicly shared their opposition.

“It’s obvious that the big producers have caught a whiff of a good bargain,” said Vacca inan interview published in La Stampa on August 24. “But if the goal is that of releasing great quantities of low-priced wines into the market, we run the risk of compromising the entire of balance of Nebbiolo” produced in Piedmont.

Current Barolo-Barbaresco-Alba-Langhe-Dogliani Consortium president Orlando Pecchenino and his predecessor Pietro Ratti had to concede their efforts to block creation of the new DOC had no foundation, said the person familiar with their discussions.

When the proposed language for the new DOC became public last month, many industry observers, including leading Italian wine writers, predicted that a Piemonte Nebbiolo DOC would cloud consumers’ perceptions of Nebbiolo. They fear that its creation could lead to overly aggressive expansion of Nebbiolo plantings in the region and subsequent degradation of the Nebbiolo “brand.”

Such an appellation “is simply unacceptable and depressing for a grape variety like Nebbiolo,” wrote Slow Wine Guide editor Giarcarlo Gariglio.

Other trade observers pointed out that the proposed language mirrored existing appellation regulations that already allow certain Piemonte DOC growers to write Nebbiolo on the labels of their wines even though they use grapes from vineyards outside the hallowed Langhe Hills, considered by many to be Nebbiolo’s spiritual home.

Others contended that a grape variety and its name cannot be claimed exclusively by a single appellation or group of associated appellations.

“International law does not allow for the simple name of a cultivar to be reserved and protected by an exclusive geographic designation,” wrote legal expert and professor Michele Antonio Fino, director of the Master in Italian Wine Culture at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (Piedmont).

Jeremy Parzen   dobianchi.com

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Celebrating My Birthday: What We Ate and Drank

My birthday falls on August 24, the same day as Mt. Vesuvius’ most famous eruption. But instead of destroying Pompeii or Queens, I like to celebrate with the pop of Champagne. This year’s celebration lasted for a few days, and this is what we ate and drank.IMG_1030

Michele and I started with breakfast at Tarallucci e Vino on 28 Street. We had cappuccino and cornetti, Italian croissants.IMG_1029

Michele’s was made with whole wheat and filled with honey, and I had the “normale” or plain.  IMG_1027

We had lunch on the terrace of our apartment and Michele made open faced smoked salmon sandwiches with butter and crème fraiche on pumpernickel bread. With them, we drank a bottle of Taittanger NV Champagne.IMG_1024

The next day we went to Bouley for lunch. It is one of our favorite restaurants because of the food, professional service, beautiful décor, and comfortable and quiet atmosphere. I am very disappointed that it will close in October. If you have never been, or want to experience it again, better make reservations now.

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The Sea Urchin

I started with a glass of Champagne, Robert Moncuit, Brut, Blanc de Blanc. Then the tasting menu.

I had the Malibu Sea Urchin, the Foragers Treasure of Wild Mushrooms, followed by Organic Calves Liver and three desserts. It was superb. We drank a BurgundyIMG_1039

Every year very close friends Ernie and Louise invite us to their house to celebrate my birthday and make some of my favorite dishes. This year they also invited their son Jason and his wife Deborah to join us.IMG_1096

We started with an appetizer of melted gorgonzola cheese and pine nuts on toasts and artisanal salami from their local butcher. With it we drank a Rose Champagne.IMG_1099

The first course was a cold Cantaloupe and Ginger Soup with  Champagne.IMG_1097

The wine seemed to have a hint of ginger, too and it went very well with the soup.IMG_1100

The main course was Grilled Marinated Lamb Skewers.

The cubes of meat were alternated with thick slices of bacon and squares of bread. They were grilled to perfection. The bread picked up the smoky flavors of the bacon and the lamb juices.IMG_1103

With this we had a magnum Cote Rotie that was a perfect match.IMG_1105

For dessert, we had fresh fig ice cream accompanied by pignoli cookies.IMG_1106

Then café,

IMG_1108 and  last a Marc de Bourgogne, one of the best I have ever had.

It was was a great Birthday celebration with a lot of “pop”

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