Monthly Archives: September 2018

Corte Dei Papi & Argillae: Father and Daughter Wineries

On the Hello, Grappa press tour in May, Michele and I visited the Bonollo Distillery in Torrita di Sienai inTuscany. Bonollo is a very large operation and the Bonollo family own distilleries in other parts of Italy.  In Italy it is against the law to produce distilled spirits and wine on the same property. So Bonollo not only makes grappa under its own label but also for some of the best producers in Tuscany such as Castello Banfi.

At the distillery we were greeted by Maria Carla Bonollo and her daughter Giulia di Cosimo.

Giulia

After a tour of the distillery we had lunch with Giulia Di Cosimo, and her mother At lunch Giulia offered us wines from Argillae Winery, also owned by her family.

Giulia told us about the Argillae estate.  Argillae was founded by Cavaliere del Lavoro Giuseppe Bonollo, founder of the biggest Italian Distillery, Bonollo, Spa. Today his granddaughter Giulia manages the Argillae estate.

I liked the wines and Michele and I visited the Argillae wine, which is in Umbria in May.

Giulia said she would be in NYC in September because her importer Vias was doing a tasting event. She said that the wines of Corte Dei Papi owned by the Di Cosimo family and managed by her father Antonio would be there. We told her we would see her in NYC for the tasting.

At the Vias event we met Giulia and she introduced us to her father

Antonio

Antonio spoke about the Corte Dei Papi (Court of the Popes) Winery.

The Winery is located between the towns of Paliano and Angani, in the heart of the

Cesanese del Piglio DOCG zone. in Lazio. The state covers almost 190 hectares with 25 hectares planted with vines: Cesanese d’ Affile(localCesanese), Passerina, Malvasia Puntinata, Mavlvasia di Candia , Trebbiano and Sauvignon Blanc.

All of the grapes are harvested by hand and vinified immediately.

He said they were inspired by the symbolism and the accuracy of the floor of the Cathedral of Anagani constructed by the Cosmati a Roman family of artists who became famous for the beauty of the mosaics in the 12th century.

The Wines of Corte Dei Papi

Passerina Del Frusinate IGP 20017 made from 85% Passerina. and 15% Viognier. The vines were planted in 2008. There are 3,500 vines per hectare, at 300 meters and the training system is spurred cordon. The soil is red clay from mountain erosion and volcanic layers. Soft pressing takes place at controlled temperatures. Fermentation lasts from 18to 25 days at 17degreesC with constant remourage. The wine is then stored in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 1Degree C. for 6 months and I month in bottle before release. This is a fresh dry white wine with fruity aromas and flavors and hints of citrus, apple and good acidity..

Colle Tricchio DOCG 2016 made from Cesanese Affile and Cesanese Comune with vineyards located in the municipality of Anagni at 300 meters. The vines were planted in 2005, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature., maceration on the skins for 10 to 15 days. The wine remains in stainless steel for 3months and in bottle for 1 month before release. This is an easy drinking red wine with hints of red fruit and a touch of cherry, plum and violet. The name comes from the Italian word for sparrow; legend has it that a sparrow would only eat the grapes from the Passerina vines.

San Magno DOCG 2015 made from 100% Cesanese del Piglio from selected vineyards in the municipality of Anagni. The wine is vinified at 25 to 26 degrees C and there is frequent pumping over to obtain optimal extraction of color and aromas. With the wine still in contact with the skins, a post fermentation hot maceration is carried out. After malolactic fermentation the wine ages for 16 to 18 months in barriques before being bottled. This is a well structured wine with nice red fruit aromas, hints o f cherry, spice and floral notes. It is a wine that will age.

We told Giulia we would be in Rome in February and she invited us to come to Anagni, visited the Cathedral and the winery.

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Dinner at Home with Friends

Michele and I have decided to have more dinners at home and invite friends to join us. This weekend, we invited old friends, wine writer Tom Maresca and food writer Diane Darrow. Tom said he was bringing a “surprise“ red wine and was sure that I would like it.

We started with Champagne.

Champagne Deutz Rose NV () made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay. It has hints of red berries, strawberries and raspberries with a touch of cherry.

For a light starter, we had bites of sweet honeydew melon wrapped in prosciutto, plus olives and Sicilian almonds.

 Monte di Grazia Rosso 2009 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 aging potential. I had the 2009 with the owner of the winery, Dr. Alfonso Arpino, on the Amalfi coast a few years and it may be the best wine he has made so far!

Our first course was Penne with Zucchini, a recipe from Tommaso Verdillo of Tommaso’s Restaurant in Brooklyn. It is made with a fresh tomato sauce, zucchini, prosciutto and pecorino romano cheese. I liked it so much, I ate three servings.

Taurasi Radici 2000 Riserva 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but has a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are 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 is 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 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. This is the way I believe the 1998 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather.

Our second course was assorted grilled sausages: cheese and parsley, sweet Italian and goat chorizo, with a mixed tomato salad and potatoes fried with sweet peppers.

Cabernet Sauvignon 1974 Dave Caparone – I first discovered the wines of Caparone a few months ago when Tom Maresca organized a tasting of their Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico from the 2014 and 1996 vintage. Tom wrote to the winery about the 1974 and  Marco Caparone asked his father Dave and this was the reply.

“In 1973  decided to make wine.  For 6 years I was an amateur winemaker working at home.  During this period, I tried to learn as much as possible and I developed ideas about style and method that we still use today.  The 1974 Cab was a product of those efforts.  Of course, these amateur wines did not have the packaging format of commercial wines.  That wine was bottled in 1976 and has not been recorked. 

Beginning in the late 1960s there were new plantings of wine grapes in California’s central coast region (Northern Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties).  these plantings were in places that wine grapes had never been grown before.  Most of the people involved had little or no experience in grape growing or premium wine making.  Needless to say there was considerable concern at the time about the eventual outcome of these efforts and the market for wines from such a new region.  As you can see from the ’74 Cab, they need not have worried.  Tepusquet Vineyards was one such planting.  I believe 1974 was only their second harvest.  My first commercial wine in 1979 was also from Tepusquet grapes.  The vineyard was later purchased by Robert Mondavi and is located about 12 miles East of the city of Santa Maria.”  .  We are beginning harvest (Zinfandel came in yesterday) and so far everything looks very good.  This will be my dad’s 45th harvest.”

This is a lovely well balanced wine, showing no signs of age with very nice dark fruit and hints of eucalyptus and a touch of bell pepper. 1974 was a classic vintage in California and this may be the best example it was my pleasure to drink. Tom can surprise me with wine like this any time/

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The  1974 Cabernet Sauvignon, this was the surprise. Tom said it was sent to him from the Caparone winery as a gift with other wines he ordered.

Tom was right, I really liked the wine. With the Cabernet Sauvignon we had two cheeses a soft and aromatic taleggio and a wedge of pecorino Toscano. This last is one of the most misunderstood cheeses I know. It’s a perfect cheese for eating and cooking, full of flavor and has none of the sharp saltiness associated with other pecorino cheeses.

For dessert Michele made Grappa Brownies with chocolate chips and walnuts. These were dark and fudgy and not too sweet. She served them with raspberries and vanilla ice cream, but their flavor was so good, they could really stand alone. A glass of grappa was a perfect complement.

Grappa La Trentina “Tradizional” – Grappa Giovane  -Marzaddo Distillery– This is traditional grappa at its best.

 

 

 

 

 

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Dinner with The League of Gentlemen

The League of Gentlemen has not gotten together in a long time to have dinner and drink wine. Since last week was the birthday of one of our founding members, some of us decided to celebrate his birthday at one of his favorite restaurants, Marseilles in NYC.  The theme was Burgundy but as always we started with Champagne, and there were a few surprises.

Champagne Blanc De Blancs Cramant Grand Cru 2008 Lilbert-Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from the Cramant in the Cote des Blancs. Most of the fruit comes from the Buissons vineyard that has very little topsoil and at 40 centimeters below the surface there is pure chalk. The vines were planted in 1936 and have a full southern exposure. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. Dosage 7g/l. This is a crisp, complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit and white peaches and hint of pear.

Meursault 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils 100% Chardonnay. Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. They harvest by machine and allow other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used for 10 months. The wine has hints of honey and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity.

With the Champagne and the Meurasult we had oysters, clams and crab

Clams 

Crab meat

Volnay Taillepiedes 1er Cru D’ Angerville 1998.  100% Pinot Noir The domaine’s plot of Taillepieds is 1.o7 hectares at the top of the hillside of Volnay, south of the village. The soil of Taillepieds is very poor and rocky. Its steep slope, the thinness of the soil and the particularly solar exposure give the wines of Taillepieds its finesse and elegance. The owner Jacques D’Angerville’s believes in non –intervention winemaking which he learned from his father. “ I want to do as little as possible to the wine,” he says.  After destemming, fermentation lasts for 10 to 12 days, with a 15 to 18 month élevage in mostly used barrels. To extract fine tannins, the cap was kept moist by twice-daily pump overs. This was drinking very well with nice Pinot Noir flavors and aromas.

Vosne-Romanee 1er Cru “La Croix Rameau” 2002 D’ made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is pebble alluvium and the vines are 40 years old. The vineyard is situated at the bottom of Romanée Saint Vivant and is part of the Clos des Neufs Journaux that was previously owned by the monks of Saint Vivant. Croix Rameau is the smallest 1er cru in the Vosne-Romanée, just 6 hectares. Harvest is by hand and the use of any chemicals is avoided. The present owner Jean-Jacques Coudray-Bizot like to quote his grandfather Dr. Bizot who was a surgeon and wine maker at the Hospice du Beaune. When it comes to wine “you have to hurry up and wait.”  This is very traditional Burgundy, opulent and meaty with nice fruit and hints of spice.

Gevrey – Chambertin  Dominique Laurant 1998 100% Pinot Noir  Dominique Laurent produces wines from his small négociant business in Nuits-St-Georges. He sources fruit from very old parcels and his offerings range up and down the Cote d’Or. He makes his own barrels and only uses Tronçais wood, selected by him, and air dried for at least 3 years and in some cases 7 years. He sells barrels to other Burgundy producers. Dominique finds plots of old vines in the best part of interesting vineyards. The wine is delivered early in the New Year from the producer who has vinified it, sometimes under Dominique’s directions. The wine may be transferred to new barrels, never racked, because it is essential to keep all the gas from the original barrel. The wine is aged without the addition of sulfur until ready for bottling.  This was a 1998 but did not seem as if it was ready to drink.

 

Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello “Santa Cruz Vineyards” 1988 made from 95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Merlot and 2% Petit Verdot. This was the surprise and it was served blind. This is a big wine but the label said 12% alcohol. I know many like this wine but I stopped drinking it after a few sips.

With the red wine we had steak

Muscat-Trockenbeerenauslese 1995 NO 5 (Austria) Kracher. The winery is in Burgenland an hour southeast of Vienna near lake Neusiedi. The area is ideal for the development of “botrytis cinerea” (noble rot). This was the perfect way to end a wonderful dinner.

 

 

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