Monthly Archives: February 2022

The Wine of Tenuta Montauto and Capezzana

I was first introduced to the wines of Tenuta Montauto by Riccardo Gabriele of PR vino, a wine public relations firm.  He invited me to a wine tasting which included the wines of Tenuta Montauto at da Burde, a traditional trattoria in Florence in October. I was very impressed with their wines.

When Stefania Tacconi, also of PR vino, invited me to participate in a Zoom tasting with the wines of Tenuta Montauto and Capezzana I was happy to accept. The speakers were Riccardo Lepri, the owner/president of Tenuta Montauto and from Capezzana, Beatrice Contini Bonacossi, the sales director/owner.

img_3815BeatriceI have known Beatrice a long time and have been drinking the wines from Capezzana for over 40 years and have always enjoyed them.

Tenuta Montauto

Riccardo said the reason there is a hare on the label is because in Italian Lepri means hare. He wants to make good wine as naturally as possible and make then clean and light and very drinkable. He also said that his wines can age and as they age they become more complex.

Tenuta Montauto is located in the hamlet of Campigliola in the commune of Monciano in the Province of Grosseto. The estate was founded in 1960  and in the 1980’s the founder, Enos, Riccardo’s grandfather, planted the first vineyard of Sauvignon Blanc.  Today there are 200 hectares of which 14 are planted in vines, 8 are olive groves, and 40 are of arable lands. He said the rest is covered in woodland which stretches down to the sea, providing an isolated special location with not a factory in sight. They do not use chemical herbicides or pesticides during the harvest.  The small crates are sanitized and the grapes are sanitized with ozone sandpit in a refrigerating room before being vinified. The wines are stabilized using natural chilling techniques.

The Wines of Tenuta Montauto

IMG_6763Maremma Toscana DOC “Enos I”  2020 made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc from 40 year old vineyards farmed with organic methods. The vineyards are at 200 meters and 10km from the coast in the southern part of the province of Grosseto. The soil is predominantly clayey and stony. Riccardo said the training system is spurred cordon to favor shading during the summer heat and to avoid an undesired oxidation. There are 3,300 vines per hectare. When the grapes are ripe they are harvested and selected manually during the last 10 days of August very early in the morning. This lowers the risk of undesired fermentation. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place. After a settling of 36 hours, fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a constant temperature of 16C. This is a dry fresh wine with hints of citrus fruit, lime, aromatic herbs, and sage. 

IMG_6874Pinot Nero Toscana IGT 2019  made from 100% organic Pinot Nero from 15 years old vines. The vineyard is at 200 meters and 10 km from the coastline in the southern part of the Maremma. The soil is mostly clay with many pebbles  There are 3,300 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand-picked to guarantee the best selection in the early morning during the last week of August.  Training system is high cordon to ensure the shading and preserve the aromas of the grapes.

 After a soft pressing there is a cold pre-fermentation for 48 hours and then fermentation for 7 days with skin contact in chemo-regulated steel vats. The wine ages for 14 months in oak barrels of which 1/3 are new oak and 2/3 are old. This is an elegant wine with hints of delicate red fruit such as strawberry, raspberry with balsamic notes and a touch of spice.

They also make a very nice Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) made from 100% Sangiovese.


The winery is northeast of Florence in the Carmignano region. Winemaking here goes back to 804 A. D. Since 1920 the Capezzana estate has been owned by the Contini Bonacossi family. In the 1960’s Count Ugo Contini Bonacossi transformed the estate from sharecropping into a modern estate with the help of his children.  Beatrice is the daughter of the Count.

 Capezzana covers 650 hectares of which 78 are vineyards,140 is devoted to the cultivation of olives and the rest are woodlands and arable crops. Beatrice said they have an organic farming system. The oldest vineyard is 55 years old and the youngest planted quite recently. She said that if anyone wanted to look for the alchemical formula of Capezzana’s wine, they would find it in the extreme variability of the soil and the exposure of the vineyards. They exclusively use indigenous yeast. The estate accounts for about 50% of all Carmignano production.

Beatrice said that since 2006, 3,000 bottles of Villa di Capezzana have been kept aside so as to be able to offer them 10 years after the harvest and demonstrate the aging potential of the wine. 

As to the aging potential there is no doubt. I have been to the winery a few times and was able to taste wines which were well over 50 years old. In 1985, Sheldon Wasserman, author of the  The Noble Red Wines of Italy, came to my house for dinner with Count Ugo Bonacossi and his wife Lisa. The Count brought a bottle of 1925 Villa Capezzano which was not labeled Carmignano but Chianti Montalbano. The wine was 60 years old at the time. It was a pleasure to drink and was drinking like a much younger wine.  The reason for the label was that Carmignano D.O.C. was not recognized until 1975, thanks to the efforts of Count Ugo, retroactive to 1969.


 The Wines of CapezzanaIMG_6877

Carmignano 2017 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Beatrice said the addition of Cabernet Sauvignon to make Carmignano dates to the 16th Century and the planting of Cabernet Sauvignon coincides with the marriage of Catherine de Medici to the King of France.

The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the wines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd, 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux, and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of red berries,  a note of blueberries and a touch of violets.

IMG_6876Carmignano DOCG Riserva “Trefiano” 2016  made from 80% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo. The exposure is south-southwest and the vineyard is at 200 meters. The soil is clay, schist and marl and the vines are 22 years old. Harvest is at the end of September for the Sangiovese and for the Cabernet the first week of October.  Vinification is in steel tanks. There are 7 days of fermentation followed by 13 days of maceration with the skins before racking at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation is in French tonneaux. The wine is aged in 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th passage French Tonneaux of which only 10% is new for 18 months and in bottle for at least one year before release. This is a well structured wine with hints of black cherry, raspberry, a hint of tobacco and a touch of spice. It is made in only the best vintages. It is an easy drinking but complex wine that will age.

They also make a wonderful Vinsanto and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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Old and New Italian Wine with Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Old and New Italian Wine with Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine.

I always enjoy the Zoom tastings with Daniele Cernilli.  Even under difficult circumstances, Daniele has a way of making his talks and presentations very interesting and informative.  This time, representatives of most of the wineries under discussion were present. 

IMG_6761There were 10 wines: 3 whites, 6 reds and a Moscato d’Asti.  IMG_6768The wines to be tasted were in miniature bottles with screw caps except for the Moscato d’Asti which was in a 750 ml bottle.

The White Wines

Lugana Monte Lupo DOC 2020 (Lombardy) Cobue  made from 100% Trubiana from vineyards in the localita Cobue blended with other grapes from other vineyards in the same area owned by the winery. The soil is limestone and clayey and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and harvest takes place in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks with batonnage and the wine is on the lees for six months. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a fresh dry wine with hints of citrus fruit, peaches and apricots.  Daniele said the Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) grape is related to Verdicchio. $12

Breganze Vespaiolo DOC “Brenta” 2020 made from 100% Vespaiolo (Veneto) Le Vie Angarano. “Brenta” is the name of the river that crosses Bassano del Grappa and whose right bank borders the vineyard. The vineyard exposure is north south and the vineyard was planted in 2006. The soil is alluvial and clay of medium texture. Training system is single and double curtain overturned guyot with 8 /10 buds. There are 4,400 wines per hectare and the grapes are harvested and sorted the third week of September. Sur lees fermentation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature for at least 4 months. Then cold pressing and alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature for 2 months. This is an aromatic fresh wine with hints of pink grapefruit and tangerine peel with excellent acidity and minerality. Daniele said the vineyards are organically certified.  This wine can age. $15

Friulano Vigneto Storico 20 DOC Friuli Colli Orientali  Gigante made from 100% Tocai Friulano coming from a 75-year-old vineyard on the hillside of Rocca Bernarda in the village of Corno di Rosazzo. The vineyard is 1.4 ha at 190 meters with a south-east exposure. The soil is predominantly marl. There are 3,500 plants per hectare  and the training system Cappuccina or Friulan short double guyot. Grass cover and no herbicides are used. This is their second year of organic conversion. Harvest and grape selection by hand takes place the last week in September. The grapes are destemmed and crushed at 14 degrees C. Maturation is for ten months on the lees with frequent battonage. The wine is aged for a time in bottle before release. This is a full bodied, complex, intense and well-balanced wine with hints of apple, citrus, wildflowers, lavender and marine notes. It has a very long finish with notes of almond. Daniele said this is a wine that can age 10 to 15 years or more. $38. Daniele was very impressed with this wine and with the winery.

IMG_6765Moscato d’Asti DOCG NV made from 100% Moscato di Canelli (Piedmont ) Luca Bosio. The vineyards are at 200/300 meters and the training system is guyot. Soil composition is clayey calcareous. Vinification takes place without the skins for 5 days in steel tanks at low temperature (15 C) The wine ages for 2 months on its own yeast. Total residual sugar is 130g/l. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, apricot, pineapple, peach and honeysuckle. $18

Another time, the red wines…

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The Wines of Albino Armani

I was first introduced to the wines of Albino Armani at a dinner several years.  The dinner was hosted by the very interesting and knowledge Egle Capilupi, wife of Albino Armani.  For the first time, I tasted wines from the Casetta grape, known in the local dialect as Foja Tonda (round leaf grape), an ancient variety cultivated in Valdadige, between the Veneto and Trentino.  Until the 1980’s, the variety was on its way to extinction until it was rediscovered by Albino Armani. I have enjoyed all of their wines ever since.

Recently, Susannah Gold, a well respected wine professional, organized a Webinar event with the wines of Albino Armani. It was called Albino Armani Valentine’s Day Webinar. The speaker was Albano Armani himself and I was happy to take part. 

The family has been farming in this area since 1607.  They have 5 wine cellars in 3 different regions in Northeastern Italy in what is known as the “Trivento”:  Friuli, Veneto and Trentino, all overseen by Albino, his wife Egle and their son Federico.

While they produce many excellent wines, Pinot Grigio has always been a grape of great interest to Albino who is a Pinot Grigio specialist. He feels that the “Trivento” is the best place to grow Pinot Grigio because of the climate and the soil. They do not use artificial pesticides or chemicals. Their Pinot Grigio is now part of a project on indigenous yeast undertaken with a local research institute where only the best strains are selected, tested and used. The indigenous yeasts which have long thrived in the vineyard’s climate conditions, continue to produce wines that embody the flavor profile of the territory.  Albino feels that because this area is so close to the Alps, climate change has not been a problem. In his Pinot Grigio Albino likes to keep the acidity higher than the PH. Since 2016 Albino has been Chairman of the Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC so his name is linked with Pinot Grigio in more ways than one.

IMG_6741Prosecco Rosé DOC Extra Dry Millesimo NV made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The production area is Alta Grave Friulana and the training system is Guyot. When the cuveé is ready a long second fermentation takes place in pressure tanks ( Charmat method) for at least 60 days in order to obtain a more refined perlage and complex aromas from the Pinot Noir. This is a fruit forward wine with hints of lilacs, strawberry and raspberry. $16

IMG_6742Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2020 The soil composition is loose and well aired and composed of typical calcareous white river stones dragged down by the flooding of the alpine brooks. The training system is Guyot. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel tanks in contact with the grapes’ own yeasts until the wine is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus, pears, apples and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste with good minerality. $13

IMG_6743Pinot Grigio “Colle Ara” Valdadige Terradeiforti DOC 2020 made from 100% Pinot Grigio from selected grapes cultivated on ancient  terraces that are perfectly exposed to the late afternoon sun in the southern part of Valdadige in the Veneto. The vineyards are at 230 meters and are in the National Park of Messina. The soil is rich in glacier debris and is mainly calcareous. The training system is guyot. The grapes are soft pressed and cold maceration takes place with the skins for one night.  Maturation in contact with the grapes’ yeasts in stainless steel tanks and partially in wood until the wine is bottled. Albino Armani said, “On the nose the wine offers fruity notes with scents of pomegranate and peach. On the palate it is smooth and persistent, with a pleasant sapidity which is typical of the wines springing from the valley.” The pink Pinot Grigio grapes are cold macerated with the skins, giving the wine a good structure and a sophisticated ‘gold rose color’ known as Ramato. He also explained that the juice of the Pinot Nero grape is white but the skins are pink and his grandfather sold the wine as a Rosé. The wine has hints of yellow fruit, peach and pomegranate with nice minerality and good acidity.  $22

IMG_6744Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2018 made from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella from high hills in the Valpolicella Classico production area at 300/500 meters.  The soil is calcareous deposits on volcanic rock. The training system is traditional pergola Veronese on stone wall terraces, called marogne in local dialect. The fresh Valpolicella wine is poured over the Amazon pomace that is still full of un-fermented sugars and aromatic compounds that start a second fermentation. Then punching down the cap takes place and also some delestage until the complete depletion of the sugar content making the new wine rich and sweet in structure with sweet tannins. The wine is aged in oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherry and other red fruits with a touch of chocolate and a note of coffee. $20

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Puglia in Rosé and Primitivo

I first met Caterina Baldini, Co-founder and project manager of Associazione Puglia in Rosé and Lucia Lettis, Co-founder of Associazione Puglia in Rose’ and Technical Director, at a Puglia in Rosé Master Class at the Leopard at Des Artistes in Manhattan a few months ago. Lucia spoke about the association and Caterina spoke about the region of Puglia. This Monday they invited me to a Zoom tasting of 6 wines, four were rosato and two were primitivo.  Caterina was the very well-informed host and, since I was the only guest, we were able to have a one-on-one conversation about Puglia.

IMG_6719Caterina said the producers’ association purpose is to promote the Apulian Rose’ Wine Brand in the USA and the world. Apulia is the largest producer of rosé wine in Italy with a 44% share. She said that they would like the producers to put Rosato on the label so the wine will be recognized as Italian, but some producer still use Rosé. Apulia Rosato comes in made shades from light pink to light red.

The Rosato

IMG_6715Puglia Rosato IGP “Maglida” 2020 Cantine Barsento made from Malvasia and Negroamaro. The soil is clay and limestone.There is are selection of the grapes at harvest. Fermentation takes place at a low temperature in stainless steel tanks.  Maceration on the skins for 10 hours and then the skins are soft pressed. The wine is aged in steel for 3 months and in bottle for 1 month before release. The wine has hints of strawberries, raspberries and a hint of cherry.

IMG_6716Puglia Rosato IGP Selva della  Rocca 2020 Cantine Le Grotte made from 100% Nero di Troia from Apricena and Gargano. The vineyards are at 70/90 meters. Harvest takes place the last week of September. The wine is in contact with the skins for 5/6 hours at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel for 5 months and is bottled in March following the harvest. The wine is coral in color.  It has hints of red and black fruit with a touch of blackberry and a hint of spice.

IMG_6714Puglia Rosé IGP “Forme” 2021 Cantine Massimo Leone. Made from 100% Nero di Troia. The soil is Karstic and clayey. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and skin contact is for 8 hours. Pink in color with coral reflections with hints of black fruit, red roses and a touch of spice. Caterina  said the “scratches” on the label are that of a lion (Leone) because of the name of the winery.

IMG_6713Rosato IGP “Cattedrale”  2020  Società Agricola D’ Alessandro  made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone. The wine is in contact with the skins for 6/8 hours followed by a soft pressing of the skins. Temperature controlled fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Aging is in stainless steel for 4 months and then in bottle before release.  Caterina said the producer had in mind young people when he made this wine because it is an easy drinking wine with a deep pink color, fruity aromatic aromas with hints of strawberries and raspberries.  She also said the picture on the label represents the window of the  cathedrals of Puglia. They use a darker bottle to protect the color of the wine.

All of the Rosato wines are well under $20 a bottle

The Primitivo

IMG_6718Puglia Primitivo IGP “Soffio”  2019 Cantine D’Alessandro made from 100% Primitivo. The soil is clayey limestone. There is a preselection of grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation is in steel with the must and 20 days of skin contact. The wine remains in steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, blueberry and prune. $20

IMG_6717Puglia Primitivo IGP  Selva della Rocca  2019 Cantine Le Grotte made from 100% Primitivo. The vineyards are located at the foot of the Gargano and the soil is calcareous rich in minerals. The exposure is southwest. Manual harvest. Vinification is in temperature controlled steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 15 days. Aging is in new French barriques for 12 months and then 3 months in bottle before release. Ruby red in color with violet reflections. It has hints of small red berry fruit, prune and a note of spice. $15

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Slow Wine US Tour 2022

Slow Wine presented its Slow Wine Guide 2022 at Eataly Downtown in NYC with a tasting of wines from over 100 producers that are included in the guide.


The following is the Slow Wine statement of what they represent:

The Slow Wine Guide evaluates over 400 different wineries and treats each with the utmost respect and attention. The Slow Wine team prides itself on the human contact it has with all producers, which is essential to the guide’s evaluations. While other guides limit their relationship to a blind tasting and brief write up, Slow Wine takes the time to get personal with each winery in order to create a well-informed, detailed review of the wines themselves and the people behind the production. Slow Wine selects wineries that respect and reflect their local terroir and practice sustainable methods that benefit the environment. And for the first time ever, those wineries that receive the snail or the official Slow Wine seal are 100% free of chemical herbicides, a quality that the Slow Wine Guide continues to passionately support.

As I was walking around the tasting area, I was called over by Davide Acerra from the Consorzio Tutela Vini D’Abruzzo. I had met Davide on a press trip to Abruzzo 3 years ago. He invited me to taste some of the wine. We started with Trebbiano di Abruzzo.

The WineIMG_6683

Trebbiano D’Abruzzo “Costalupo” 2019 Illuminati made from 100% Trebbiano from vineyards at 270 meters. The training system is pergola trellis and rows. Harvest takes place by hand at the end of September. The grapes are destemmed and gently crushed. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.  This is a fruit forward wine with hints of citrus, stone fruit and a touch of white flowers and crisp acidity. The wine remains in bottle for a time before release. It is an easy drinking wine. $16

IMG_6682Trebbiano D’ Abruzzo  DOC 2019 “Anfora” Francesco Cirelli made from 100% Trebbiano from their own vineyards and some from rented vineyards. The soil is limestone and clay. Harvest is by hand. The grapes are destemmed and gently crushed and then transferred into clay amphoras for 24 hours maceration. The skins are separated from the juice and softly pressed before the indigenous yeasts take over and the fermentation process takes place for 20 days.The resulting wine then rest and refines in the amphoras for 12 months. There is no fining. There is filtration before bottling with 1 micron carbides. The wine has hints of stone fruit, citrus, hay, peach with a touch of honey and good acidity. $28  This is a bargain for the price.

IMG_6684Trebbiano D’Abruzzo  2019 Tiberio made from a massal selection of Trebbiano with average age of 60 years. The vineyard is 2.5 hectares and is at 380 meters. The soil is mainly limestone with a gravel sandy subsoil and the training system is tendone (canopy). There are 2,500 wines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested at the end of September. The grapes are not pressed and only the free run juice is used. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel takes and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has hints of apricot, jasmine, anise and green apple with a note of almonds in the aftertaste. $20. I have had wines by this producer and have always been impressed.

IMG_6685Trebbiano D”Abruzzo 2019  Amorotti, Gaetano Caboni made from 100% Trebbiano. The soil is limestone clay and the vineyard is at 300 meters with a south east exposure. Spontaneous fermentation takes place with native yeasts. The wine is filtered but not fined.  Aging is in untoasted tonneaux for one year. The wine has hints of chamomile, yellow plums, lemon peel, white flowers and flinty minerality. This a a very impressive wine and well worth the money. $38

IMG_6491Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva 2015 “Casauria”  Podere Castorani made from 100% Montepulciano. The training system is the traditional overhead “pergola” trellis system of the Abruzzo region. The soil is deep clay with many underground rocks. Harvest is by hand the beginning of November with grape selection. Fermentation is in concrete tanks with manual pump over and delestages and extended maceration. Malolactic fermentation is completed during skin maceration. The wines ages on the lees in oak barrels and then for 6 months in concrete tanks. Finally the wine remains in bottle for 15 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, cranberries, licorice, a touch of spice and a note of tobacco. $31

Just before I left, I tasted a favorite Vernaccia di San Gimignano

IMG_6676Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2019 Campo della Pieve IL Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia. The 1.5 hectare vineyard is at 360 to 400 meters and there are 5,500 vines per hectare. The soil is old Pilocene, which is sand and clay, and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest by hand is the end of September and beginning of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts at a controlled temperature. Maturation is on the lees in cement vats with periodic batonnage for 18/20 months. This is a complex and aromatic wine with hints of ripe yellow stone fruit, citrus, white flowers and toasted almonds and a very nice finish. $21

Another time, more about the Slow Wine event.

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Filed under Abruzzo, Slow Wine, Slow Wine Guide 2012, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Verrnaccia