Monthly Archives: February 2020

Woman in Wine: Part II: Teresa Bruno of Petilia


When I told her I would be in Naples, Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara suggested that instead of visiting her winery where I have been several times, I should visit the Petilia winery owned by brother and sister Roberto and Teresa Bruno.  Ilaria is a big supporter of her region and the other wineries there and I looked forward to having this opportunity to experience more of the local wines.  Teresa Bruno would give us a tour of Petilia and after we would all meet for lunch at a traditional restaurant, Zia Pasqualina in Atripalda (AV).

Teresa picked us up in Avellino and drove us to her winery. At Petilia, Teresa’s job is dealing with clients, distributors and guests; she also works in the vineyard and drives a tractor. She is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and we had a very interesting conversation on the drive to the winery about the state of wine in Irpinia and Campania in general. She said they have 12  hectares of vineyards located in Campofiorito in Altavilla Irpinia.

Teresa showing us a door made by her brother from old burned wood

Teresa gave us a tour of the winery and said that it was constructed with stones found on the property.  All the roof supports and doors are made from old wood recycled by her brother.  We  were  fascinated  by  the  enormous  doors  and  smooth  stone  walls  that  looked  as  if  they  were  hundreds  of  years  old.  

Teresa then drove us to the restaurant where we  were joined by Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara and Maura Sarno of Sarno 1860, another local winery.  I  wrote  about  the  Donnachiara  wines  last  week  and  will  report  on  the  Sarno  wines  next  week.  Here  are  my  notes  on  the  wines  of Petilia.  

Fiano di Avellino 2018 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino Petilia. The vineyards are in Chianche, locality of Montefalcone. The soil is clayey, volcanic and rich in minerals. The vineyards are at 450 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare with an average age of 15 years. The grapes are vinified separately and there is organic cultivation. The grapes are destemmed and cryomaceration takes place, and then fermentation on the skins at a very low temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends 6 months on the lees and four months in bottle before release. It has hints of apple and pear with an unmistakable touch of toasted hazelnut.

Teresa said that she and her brother Roberto prefer to refine their white wine exclusively in steel and in the bottle. The goal is to develop fully the potential of the original grape variety and the wine obtained after the fermentation of the grapes.

4 20 Quattro Venti 100% Greco di Tufo. The Petilia vineyards are in Chianche, locality of Sant’Andrea. The vineyards are at 600 meters, the exposure is south/east and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The soil is clayey, volcanic, and rich in minerals with a sumptuous subsoil and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The vines are 20 years old. Harvest takes place the second week of October. There is ultra soft pressing with whole grapes and fermentation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has citrus notes, with hints of almonds, lemon blossoms and quince.

With the wine we had pasta fagioli, a very classic pasta dish at the restaurant

Teresa gave me a bottle of 2009 Greco di Tufo which I am looking forward to drinking.  Both Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino are age worthy wines. I like to drink them when they are 10 years old or older. She also gave me a bottle of Taurasi 450V 2007 which I might hold on to for a few more years before I drink it.


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Women and Wine Part I: llaria Petitto of Donnachiara

Last week, Ilaria Petitto of Donna Chiara winery near Avellino invited me to meet two women who like herself, are winery owners in Irpinia. The women were Teresa Bruno of Petilia Winery and Maura Sarno of Sarno 60. Ilaria’s plan was for us to first visit Teresa at Petilia and then have lunch all together at a typical restaurant , Zia Pasqualina in Artipalda(AV) It was a great opportunity to experience some of my favorite wines of the region paired with the regional food.   First I will discuss the Donna Chiara wines we tasted, and will write about the other women’s wines in subsequent blogs.



Ilaria said that Donna Chiara Winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. The consulting oenologist at this time is the legendary Riccardo Cotarella. It is the philosophy of the winery to preserve the traditional grape varieties of the local territory and to keep the typical character of the wines from  being  lost to the standardization of the wines on the market today. They also follow guidelines limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

The introduction of the wine was done by Francesco de Rienzo  from Donnachiara

Fiano di Avellino “Empatia” 2018, 100% Fiano di Avellino Donnachiara Illaria said only the best grapes from the vineyard in Montefalcione, which is certified organic, are used for this wine. The grapes are hand harvested the second half of October at the coolest part of the day and there is a very careful selection. The soil is chalky and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration (crushed grapes are held at low temperature) is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 14 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is an impressively elegant wine with hints of apple, almonds, tropical fruit and floral notes with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. This is an age worthy wine.

Greco di Tufo “Aletheia” 2017 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo Donnachiara Only the best grapes are used, after a careful selection, the harvest is by hand during the coolest parts of the day, the second half of October. The soil is tuffaceous and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and to enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The fermented must is left to age on the lees for about a year with weekly bartonage. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in the bottle for a period of time before release. This is an intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, pear, apricot and a hint of hazelnuts and pineapple. This is a age worthy wine

Ilaria said 2017 was a very good year in the region.

Ilaria gave me a bottle of  the Resilienza  Falanghina to take with me and I will write about the wine when I drink it in Rome. She said these three white wines are a new wine line with different labels.

Taurasi DOCG 2016   Donnachiara The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique is subtle and did not mask the character of the wine. Taurasi  is a wine that will last for many years.

One of the dishes we had at the restaurant was ricotta made from buffalo milk – it was fantastic!








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The Battle of Chianti by Daniele Cernilli

The battle of Chianti

Very interesting and informative article by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

by Daniele Cernilli 02/03/20 | 
La disfida del Chianti

If the creation of the Gran Selezione denomination has created further confusion between the two types of Chianti, what would happen if a discourse over vineyards entered the equation?

In the collective imagination, as well as among many wine lovers, the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico is not that clear. The fact is that there are many sub-regions that can produce Chianti DOCG and they cover almost half of Tuscany and include lands in the provinces of Florence, Siena, Arezzo, Pisa, Prato and Pistoia. Production is very big, in 2019 estimated at 750,000 hectoliters with a potential of producing 100 million bottles. Since 1932, as recognized in all the modifications regarding protected designation of origin starting in 1967, the oldest areas of production can add the name Classico alongside that of Chianti. Chianti Classico thus comes from a much more limited zone that includes parts of the provinces of Florence and Siena and its production is one quarter of the total. Along with Chianti Classico, which is by now an appellation to itself, there are many Chianti sub-zones: Rufina, Montalbano, Montespertoli, Colline Pisane, Colli Aretini, Colli Senesi, and Colli Fiorentini, while even Chianti Superiore has become a particular denomination. All these wines are based on Sangiovese, which must account for at least between 70% and 80% depending on the denomination but, as seen in recent years, but can be made with only that varietal, as seen in recent years. Then there are the Riserva wines, those that have been aged longer, and now, and only for Chianti Classico, the Grand Selezione, created to represent the best wines in regard to quality, made from lower yields and aged even longer.

This is the battlefield. When Gran Selezione was introduced, there was a kind of “gentlemen’s agreement”, totally informal and based on personal relationships between the heads of the Consorzio del Chianti Classico producers’ association and those for Chianti, who agreed not to use the name much in the same way Chianti Classico did in regard to Chianti Superiore. Thus it appeared that a Grand Selezione could only be a Chianti Classico.

However, times change, those responsible for the producers’ association also and now there are some Chianti producers who want to use the term Grand Selezione for their best wines. As one would expect, all hell broke loose. From a legal point of view, considering that Gran Selezione is recognized by the Ministry of Agriculture as a term, Chianti producers and those of some other wines would appear to have the right to use the term. In regard to opportunity and reciprocal relations, also in view of the fact that some major producers in the area make both wines and are members of their respective associations, the issue leaves much up in the air. And all this regardless of whether or not you approve of the concept of a Grand Selezione, a bone of contention between some Chianti Classico producers, which is another story.

One possible answer to this problem, which is frankly very reasonable, has come from Chianti Rufina producers, who have not joined the push by other Chianti producers to use the name Grand Selezione and opted for using the Additional Geographic Mention formula as is done in the Langhe. This in order to underscore the value of individual vineyards, rather than seek higher quality through selected blends, whether this is done between vineyards or in the winery. For sure, the tension and embarrassment this situation is generating, creating even further confusion between Chianti Classico and Chianti, is doing no good to the world of Italian wine. And this has demonstrated, yet again, how there is no clear, shared path towards enhancing factors that cannot be replicated, like vineyards, territories and alike. While this suggestion is not original, maybe it would not be a bad idea to take a look at what they do in France and try not to create situations that cause tensions as a first step if one really wants to enhance the value of Italian wine production.



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Tasting the Exceptional 2015 Vintage of Brunello

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino presented Benvenuto Brunello USA 2020, its annual trade tasting in NYC. This year it showcased the 2015 vintage which has been awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. The tasting featured Brunello di Montalcino wines from 40 producers. I always enjoy going to this event and having the opportunity to taste the wines and talk with the producers. I tasted 14 wines, all from the 2015 vintage.

The production area is the commune territory of Montalcino. The grape variety is Sangiovese, known as Brunello in the town and territory of Montalcino in Tuscany.

The wine must be aged 2 years in oak casks and 4 months in bottle or 6 for the Riserva. Bottling must take place in the production zone. The wine is available for sale from the 1st of January of the 5th year following the harvest (6th year for the Riserva). Brunello di Montalcino can only be sold in Bordeaux- type bottles.

In my experience Brunello needs to age at least 10 to15 years before (even in a not so great year) I would even think of drinking it. Brunello improves greatly with age. If you want a wine that is “approachable” and ready to drink young, then look for a Rosso di Montalcino because that was why they were produced.

The Wines

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Caparzo – the grapes come from three different vineyards located in different parts of the estate. There is a manual harvest. During the first two days after fermentation special attention is paid to the seeds, which are eliminated if they are not ripe enough. Primary fermentation is for 7 days at a controlled temperature and is followed by delestages and pump overs. The wine is kept in contact with the skins for 10 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation is spontaneous, takes place at a controlled temperature and is immediately after racking. The wine is aged in wood for at least 2 years and at least 4 months in bottle. This is a complex wine with hints of wild berries.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOCG Uccelliera. Production area Castelnovo dell’Abate, southeast of Montalcino, vineyard extension is 15.5 acres at 820 ft. The soil is rich in minerals, medium textured sand and clay with some gravel. The grapes are selected, de-stemmed and crushed. The must is kept for 4 to 5 days at low temperatures. Later the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation takes place naturally for 15 days in stainless steel. At the same time, the must macerates on the skins for about 7 days. After drawing off, the wine is kept in steel, malolactic occurs and the wine is placed in Slovenian and French oak barrels for 36 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months, before release. This wine was a little more international in style.

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 Col D’Orcia. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese selected by Col d’Orcia. The vineyard is at 300 meters in the hills overlooking the Orcia River with a south/southwest exposure, the soil is from the Eocene period in origin, loose, with little clay and rich in limestone. Fermentation is on the skins form18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 hl wide and shallow stainless steel tanks, designed in order to extract tannins and color efficiently but delicately. Aging is for 4 years: 3 years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonic and Allier oak casks, followed by at least 12 months of refinement in bottle. Since 2013 Col D’Orcia is the largest wine-producing farm in Tuscany.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 Franco Pacenti”  made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is north-east. The soil is medium clay with a low density of vines per hectare, divided into six plots with an average age of 25 years and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a strictly traditional vinification with prolonged maceration on the skins and long refinement in medium to large oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherries and mushrooms with a touch of spice and herbs.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015 DOCG La Fiorita made from 100% Sangiovese from the 3.1 hectare Pian Bossolino vineyards at 350 meters. The exposure is south east, training system is spurred cordon and there are 7,000 plants per hectare and the soil is galestro. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Fermentation is Slavonian oak casks for 10 days with selected yeasts. During maceration, pumping over and delestage takes place. Type and capacity of aging casks: 12 months in new and second passage French oak; 12 months is Slavonian oak of 80Hl. Aging time: 24 months in wood, 6 months in steel and 30 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit, spice, balsam and a touch of tobacco and chocolate.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOCG Banfi 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soil. There is a meticulous grape selection (yield not exceeding 6 metric tons/ha) is followed by vinification in temperature–controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 20 days. The wine ages for two years in various sizes oak barrels, 305-liter barriques, 60 and 120 hl barrels; the wine is then aged in bottle for an additional 8 to 12 months. The wine is released 5 years after the harvest.

Bill Whiting of Banfi

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva “Poggio All’Oro” 2015 Banfi  100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Oro vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250 mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of 6 years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 215 100% Sangiovese Mastrojanni. It is aged 3 years in Allier oak barrels of various sizes – 15, 33 and 54 hectoliters and then for 6/8 months in bottle. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black and red berries with a hint of spice and tobacco. The Iily Group now owns the winery.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 La Fortuna The average age of the vines is 20 to 30 years. Harvest takes place between September 20th to 30th. Type of fermentation is thermoconditioned and unleavened and lasts for 8 days. The wine remains on the skins for 25 days. Aging is for 40 months in 25HL Slavonian oak barrels. The wine remains in the bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, violet, plum and a touch of liquorice and a note of graphite. This is a traditional Brunello.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOC Silvio Nardi 100% Sangiovese Grosso from the Manachiara and Casale Estates. Soil composition is jasper and shale. Grapes come from various vineyards in the municipality of Montalcino with northwest/and south/east exposure at 350 meters. The yield is limited and only the top 70% of the hand-harvested grapes are used in this wine. The grapes were carefully hand picked and sorted. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier barriques and 12 months in large Slavonian oak botte. It remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This wine needs many more years in the bottle. There were aromas and flavors of red berries and a hint of leather.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Celestino Pecci The vineyard exposure is south/southwest and the vineyards are at 350 meters. The soil is of a mixed consistency with a slight tendency towards clay. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest is by hand. The wine is aged in 10 and 35 HL wooden barrels for 36/40 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Altesino. Traditional fermentation. The wine is aged for 4 years with a minimum of two years in barrel and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, chocolate and tobacco with a touch of violets and vanilla.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Villa Poggio Salvi the exposure is South-West, the soil is Galestro (marl) and the vines are at 350 to 500 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first week of October. There is a pre-maceration for 8 days at a controlled temperature in steel tanks with caps pushed down with automatic hydraulic system. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30-60 to 100 liters for 30 months. The wine then remains in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red fruit, lavender and a touch of spice. This wine will age for 30 years or more.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Fattoria dei Barbi 100%  The soil is marl, alberese limestone and the vines are 15 to 20 years old and at 300 to 500 meters. The exposure is South and the training system is Cortina semplice and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest took place from September 28 to October 7th. Before fermentation the grapes were subjected to a cold fermentation maceration which consists in cooling the grapes at a temperature of 16C in an environment protected by COC. Alcoholic fermentation lasts 16/17 days at a controlled temperature. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in small to medium size oak barrels 2.5 to 15HL for the first months. It then spends two years in larger oak barrels and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of plum, blueberry with a touch of rhubarb and a note of spice.

I have a long history with this wine and drank it for the first time 40 years age. It might have been the 1971 vintage. The current vintage can be drunk over the next 15 to 50 years will last for 50 years.

Because of the regular and steady maturation of the grapes during the growing season, the 2015 vintage produced grapes with a perfect balance between sugar and acidity.

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s and the world’s greatest wines. Brunello di Montalcino was among the eight Italian wine producing zones to be designated DOC in 1966 and in 1980 it became the first Italian wine to receive the DOCG. I have to agree that 2015 is an exceptional vintage.


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