Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tom Maresca on the 2012 Brunello

Benvenuto, 2012 Brunello

https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/  Tom Maresca

I was unable to go to Montalcino this year for Benvenuto Brunello, the annual event showcasing Brunello’s new releases – this time around, the 2012 vintage. But I was lucky enough to have at least a truncated version of the event come to me: Approximately 50 producers (out of about 225) brought their wines to New York last week for a very illuminating presentation.
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The major part of the event consisted of stand-up tastings at tables set up on the broad ground floor of Gotham Hall, plus two upstairs seminar-style presentations – the earlier one of older Brunello vintages and the later a presentation of the 2012 vintage as exemplified by wineries from differing parts of the zone. I was very curious about that aspect of the vintage, because the Brunello zone, though relatively compact (a rough square bounded by three rivers) possesses highly diverse soils and at least two distinct climate zones, sharply separated by the ridge that divides the square into northwestern and southeastern triangles.

So I booked myself into the second seminar and arrived well in advance of it so I could do some serious tasting at the tables before the event got crowded and turned into a rugby scrum, which it almost always does.
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I’m getting a little old for those sorts of contact sports, and I find it difficult enough to hold a wine in one hand and take notes with the other while standing up and trying to get access to the spit bucket (why does someone always plant him/herself right in front of the spit bucket?) and ask the attending producer some intelligent (I hope) questions about the vintage.

I tasted what I could – about 10 wines – before heading upstairs to the seminar. Preliminary conclusion: a good vintage, but probably not a great one, though with a long-aging wine like Brunello, that has got to be a very provisional judgment. The Brunello consorzio has awarded 2012 five stars (out of five), but the consorzio is always – let us say, optimistic – about the caliber of its vintages.

Certainly, one characteristic that leaped out at me from all the wines I had thus far tasted: 2012 was a very high-acid vintage. That has two consequences: These Brunellos would really need food to show their best, and they might live forever, since acidity is what keeps a wine – especially a Sangiovese wine – alive. Acidity is the element that makes a wine food-friendly and structures it for long life.

Thus provisionally enlightened, I made my way to the seminar, which featured examples of 2012 Brunello from Castelgiocondo, Collosorbo, La Magia, Le Macioche, Loacker Corte Pavone, Pian delle Querci, and Talenti, plus one 2011 Brunello Riserva Poggio alle Mura from Banfi. The areas represented included the center-west of the Brunello zone (Castelgiocondo), the extreme north of the zone (Pian delle Querci), the center-east (Le Macioche), and several spots in the south, ranging from near Castelnuovo dell’Abate (Collosorbo) westward past Sant’Angelo in Colle (Talenti) and southward toward Sant’Angelo Scalo (Banfi). Just for a reference point for Brunello buffs, the fabled Biondi Santi is located fairly centrally, just a short distance southeast of Montalcino.
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2012 seems to have been an agronomist’s and winemaker’s nightmare for most of the growing season. The Brunello zone, south of Siena, is normally drier and hotter than the Chianti Classico zone north of Siena. I can vouch from personal experience that hot in Montalcino can be really torrid. The zone depends on water reserves built up in the soil by winter snows, and the winter of 2011-12 didn’t provide many of those. There was some rain while the vines were flowering, which wound up reducing the crop by about a third of average size. Then it got dry again, with a very hot July and August. In late August, very good weather arrived and saved the season, so after a great deal of anxiety, the growers wound up pretty happy with the grapes they picked.

Though the selection of wines at this seminar was intended to show some of the differences of Brunello’s several soils and microclimates, that wasn’t the thing that struck me most forcefully about the tasting. There was a pretty good level of quality in all the wines, with a lot of fruit, all marked by very high acidity – but after that, what stood out for me was the extraordinary diversity of styles. A few wines were very traditional and tasted like classic Brunello, but most were all over the place, with differing degrees of international inflection, mostly shown by the use of new barriques, or with a market-appeal emphasis on big, up-front fruit and heavy extraction.
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Each of these styles will have its fans, of course, but my regular readers can guess where my heart is: I loved the classic Brunellos. Talenti for me was the stand-out wine of the seminar, followed by Pian delle Querci. In the broader tasting, I was struck by Col d’Orcia – always elegant – and by Banfi’s basic 2012 and especially its Poggio alle Mure 2012. It’s pleasantly ironic that Banfi, once seen as the disruptive modernist in the zone, now seems a pillar of traditional Brunello.

Probably in more climatically ideal vintages, like 2010, soils and microclimates loom larger in Brunello, but in vintages like 2012, where active field and cellar work seemed absolutely necessary, the agronomists’ and winemakers’ choices seem to create the greatest distinctions among the wines. What that means is that buyers have to taste at least a few Brunellos to find the style they like: Critics’ judgments and generalizations – and I include mine – will be no help.

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Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese

The Simply Italian Wine Tour that is held in NYC is an opportunity for me to taste and learn about wines from all over Italy.img_1647

The seminar that I attended was “Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese, Journey into Native Italian Varietals.”

These two grape varieties do not get the attention they deserve. The seminar was hosted by Filiberto Mazzanti, Director at Consorzio Vini di Romagna and Giammario Villa, Giammario Villa Wine Selections.img_1656

Filiberto said that the Consorzio has 104 winemaking producers, 7 cooperative wineries and 5 bottling companies. It provides producers with legal assistance, protection of the denomination and protection of DOCG, DOC and IGt Romagna wines.

Romagna is the eastern half of Emilia Romagna in the center of Italy between Tuscany and the Adriatic Sea.

Albana, this white grape may have been introduced into Romagna by the ancient Romans. Albana refers to the color of the grapes, Albus, white in Latin. The grape produces sparkling wine (spumante,) dry wines (secco), medium–sweet (amabile) and a dessert wine passito.

Albana was the first white wine to receive the DOCG in 1987.img_1657

Romagna Albana DOCG “Frangipane” 2015 100% Albana Tenuta La Viola The vineyard is at 200 meters and the exposure is west. There is an early harvesting of the grapes. Alcoholic fermentation takes place without the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the fine lees for 5 months. The wine is crisp with good acidity.img_1660

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Sette Note” 2015 Poderi Morini 100% Albana. Fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in steel tanks and in bottle for 5 months before release. The wine has hints of hawthorn, yellow flowers and white peach.img_1659

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Progetto 1” 2015 Leone Conti 100% Albana from the Faenza Hills, Santa Lucia. The grapes are harvested slightly overripe. Cold fermentation takes place in steel tanks and the wine is aged for 7 months in steel tanks. The wine has hints of peaches, apricot, citrus and honey. $12img_1658

Romagna Albana DOCG “Albano Secco” 2015 Cantina Sociale Di Cesena-Tenuta Amalia100% Albana from the hills of Cesena and Bertinoro. Soft pressing is followed by low temperature fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 15 days. Fining in stainless steel tanks for 4 months. The wine has hints of ripe peach, butterscotch and almonds.

Sangiovese has been produced in Romagna since the 17th century. Recent discoveries suggest that Sangiovese is of pre-Greek origin and may be a native vine of Romagna.

Sangiovese in Latin means “the blood of Jove” (Jupiter) and the reason for the name is open to interpretation. It may have gotten it name from a commune of monks from Rimini, in Romagna. Sangiovese is the most planted grape variety in Italy.

There is genetic evidence that more than 2,000 years ago grapes of “Sangiovese” were already used by the Etruscans for wine production.

They produce Novello, a basic Sangiovese, Sangiovese Superiore and a Sangiovese Riserva. The wines differ by alcohol content and aging. img_1653

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOP “Caciara” 2015 Enio Ottaviani 100% Sangiovese from San Clemente. Fermentation takes place in concrete vats and the wine is aged in big barrels for 6 months. This was pure Sangiovese with hints of cherry and violets.img_1651

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOC 2015 Azienda Agricola San Valentino 100% Sangiovese from vineyards southwest of Rimini. Fermentation is in both stainless and concrete tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 8 months is 500 liter French oak casks, mostly second passage. The wine has hints of raspberries and plum with notes of leather and licorice.img_1652

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOCAmarcord d’un Ross” 2013 Trere 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Faenza. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification: in stainless steel vats for 2 months. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters for 12 months and 6 months in bottle before release. It has hints of wild berries, cherries, a hint of spice and a touch of toast. $20img_1654

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOC “Olmatello’ 2013 Podere La Berta made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Brisighella. Selected grapes are pressed and crushed. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins is for 12 to 18 days with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. In March/April the wine is transferred to 225 liter new and used oak barrels where it remains for about 24 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red and black berries, spice and a light toastiness. $35img_1650

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Bertinoro DOC Baron & Ruseval 2013 Celli made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Bertinoro. Fermentation is in steel where the wine remains for 6 months on the lees. The wine is aged for 1 year in French barriques, with a middle toasting and 2 years in bottle before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with floral notes and touch of balsamic. $35 img_1649

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Marzeno DOC Pietramora 2013 Fattoria Zerbina 98% Sangovese and 2% Ancellotta from vineyards in the Marzeno Valley. Fermentation is for two weeks, 50% in barrels and 50% in stainless steel. Punching down takes place twice a day then reduced to once a day and pumping over for one week. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with touches of tobacco and oak spice. $44.99

 

 

 

 

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Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, on Local Italian Wineries

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

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

http://www.doctorwine.it/english

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

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

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Elise

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

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

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

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

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Paolo

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

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

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

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

Linda  with Elisa did the wine tasting for us

The Winesimg_2150

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Drinking 1982 Mouton and Palmer

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

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

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

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

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Wines and a Sunset at the Marco Carpineti Winery

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

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

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Temple of Hercules at Cori

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

It was really something to see.

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John Curtas and Paolo Capineti

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

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

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

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

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Paolo speaking about the wines

The Wines

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

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

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

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

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

They also make:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Storm Clouds on the Horizon for Italian Wine

by Daniele Cernilli 28-11-2016

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

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

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

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

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

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