Monthly Archives: January 2023

Sicilian Wine & Pizza at Da Michele NYC

The invitation said join the Gurrieri Winery of Sicily to taste four of their wines at L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Greenwich Village in NYC.

IMG_8945 2 I would have accepted the invitation just because of the wines, and now I had a chance to go to Da Michele, a recently opened branch of the legendary pizzeria in Naples. It was interested to see how well Sicilian wines would go with the Neapolitan-style pizza.IMG_8921

Daniele Solari, the PR and Marketing Manager for the  Gurrieri Winery, greeted me when I arrived.  We spoke about the winery, pizza and Italy.

Daniele said the Gurrieri Winery is family run and they have been producing grapes for 50 years. The winery is located in Chiaramonte in the province of Ragusa in Sicily. The first bottling of the wine was in 2010. They have 5 hectares in Chiaramonte Gulfi, one hectare in Mazzarrone, and three in Comiso where they grow a variety of grapes including Nero d’Avola, Frappato, Grillo, Moscato, and one international grape, Syrah. They also make a wide range of spumanti and one frizzante wine.

The Wines

IMG_8914Vittoria DOC “Donna Grazia” made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato vinified as a white wine.  The vines are 10/14 years old, the soil is red sand, limestone and clay and the vineyards are at 285 meters. The training system is counter -espalier. Manual harvest takes place in late August in the early morning. The grapes are pressed immediately off the skins so that no red color is in the final wine. There is a gentle pressing of the grapes and the juice is co-fermented in stainless steel tanks and remains there for a total of 6 months, The wine remains in bottle for for 3 months before release. This is a fresh medium-bodied wine with hints of citrus fruit and nice acidity, wild flowers, aromatic herbs, thyme and a touch of sea salt.  Only 3,000 bottles produced.

This is the first time I tasted these two red grapes vinified as a white wine and I was very impressed.

IMG_8915Sicilia DOC Grillo made from 100% Grillo from 11 year old vines at 240/300 meters with a northern exposure. The soil is gray clay with small river stones.  There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is espalier. Harvest is manual in early September. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. There is a light filtration and cold stabilization. Aging is for 6 months in stainless steel with I month on the lees and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, orange blossoms, green apple, pineapple and lemon and a note of smoke. Only 4,000 bottles produced.

Grillo may be a cross between Catarrato and Zibbibo.


IMG_8916Vittoria DOC  Frappato made from 100% Frappato from 9 year old vines. The soil is red sand, limestone and clay. There are 4,500 plants per hectare. And the vineyards are at 240/320 meters. The training system is counter-espalier.  Harvest takes place in late September in the early morning. Alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation is completed the wines rests in the same stainless steel tanks where the fermentation took place for 6 months.  The wine is bottled without fining or filtering. Aging is in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a fruit forward, fragrant wine with hints of blackberry, cherry, raspberry, rose petal and a touch of white pepper. 10,000 bottles produced.

IMG_8917Cerasuolo di Vittoria DOCG “Don Vicé” made from 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato. From 10 year old vines at 300 and 320 meters. The soil is red sand, limestone clay. The vines are counter-espalier trained. There are 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is manual in the in October in the early morning.  The grapes are hand destemmed and a cold skin maceration takes place for 48 hours Fermentation is with native yeast in stainless steel for 20 days of maceration on the skins. The two wines are blended without  filtration or fining. After malolactic fermentation the wine is aged.  Aging is for 18 months in tonneaux, in steel for 18 months, and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of ripe fruit, cherry, herbs, eucalyptus, a touch of spice and a note of licorice. 2,000 bottles are produced.    Daniele pointed out that Cerasuolo di Vittoria is the only DOCG in Sicily.

All of the wines I tasted have true varietal character.

IMG_8929 2They are all good food wines and went very well with the Pizza Margherita.  The pizza was terrific and a true taste of Naples.

Prices for the wines range from $20 to $25 for the wine making them a real bargain.

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Artisanal Wines from Gladiator Wine Distribution

I first met Tony Margiotta, owner of Gladiator Wine Distribution, at a wine tasting a few years ago.  At the time he had very few producers, but I was very impressed by his selections and his passion for Italian wines in general.  As his portfolio grew he invited me to taste his wines but we just could not seem to get together. Last month I saw him at a wine event and we finally made a date to meet.

IMG_8911Tony only carries Italian wines and he has only artisanal producers who only use native grapes. All of the wines listed below have a production of under 10,000 bottles and one is under 1,000.  It was amazing that Tony was able to find such good producers that most people have never heard of — including me.

IMG_8894Castellucci Miano DOC Valledolmo-Contea di Sclafani-Sicily “Shiara” Bianco 2019  made of 100% Catarratto from 30/40  years old vines located on the slopes of the Madonie Montains at 700/900 meters.   Training system is alberello and sapling, the pruning is guyot and spur.  Soil is half sand and clay with an alkaline reaction due to active limestone. Harvest takes place in October. White wine vinification with fermentation at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in stainless steel for 6 months and then in bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints a citrus fruit, apple, and pear with a touch of cantaloupe and crisp acidity $35.     *Catarratto is a grape indigenous to Sicily

IMG_8896Castellucci Miano “PerricOne” 2020 made from 100% Perricone on the slopes of the Madonie mountains at 700/900 meters.The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southeast/southwest exposure and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The soil is sandy, clayey, of medium texture, with alkaline reaction due to the presence of active limestone. The training system is espalier, the pruning is guyot and spur. The average age of the vines is 30 years. In the vineyard there is no weeding or the use of fertilizers and pesticides. Harvest takes place in September. Traditional winemaking with pumping over during fermentation. Selected yeasts from the vine yard are used. Malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months and in small French oak barrels for 10 months and in bottle for another 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, juniper a note of spice and good acidity $26.  *They were the first producer in Sicily to make a monovarietal from the Perricone grape.

IMG_8898Terre AnticheRubino” Cesanese del Piglio 2021 made from 100% Cesanese del Piglio from 25/30 year old vines. The training system is espalier and guyot and the soil is limestone, calcareous. Harvest is at the end of September.  The grapes are destemmed and there is a soft pressing in amphora followed by a spontaneous fermentation in amphora, maceration is for 10/15 days. The wine is aged in amphora, chestnut  barrels and cement. Filtration and clarification does not take place. The wine is bottled the following spring after the harvest and remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is a medium-bodied fresh red wine with hints of cherry, pomegranate, rose petals and hint of spice. $30.  The estate vineyards are in Piglio and Anagni south of Rome. The winery is biodynamic.

IMG_8900Atha Ruja “Terra Sorella” Cannonau di Sardegna DOC 2020 Made from 100% Cannonau. After fermentation on the skins for a period of 15 to 20 days, the grapes mature in steel tanks for at least 10 months and a small part is aged in French oak tonneaux for a period of less than a year. The wine remains in bottle 2 to 3 months before release. The wine has hints of myrtle, raspberry, strawberry, and rosemary, with touch of spice. The grapes are grown without the use of pesticides are and the vines are managed according to biodynamic principles.  $22

IMG_8904Antico BorgoCampi Taurasini” 2017 made from 100% Aglianico The soil is clay and chalky and the training system is espalier. Manual harvest takes place in October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes places at a controlled temperature. Aging is for 1 year in a combination of French barriques and large American oak casks and the wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of raspberry, violets, cherry, a touch of plum and a note of leather. $25  The current vintage is 2017    *Irpinia Campi Taurasini is a sub region of the Irpinia DOC of central Campania.  The classification applies to wines made from the Aglianico grape on the Campi Taurasi-the Taurasian Fields. This territory is the same as Taurasi DOCG. Campi Taurasini means “little Taurasi fields.”  While Taurasi Riserva DOGG is aged for 3 years in oak barrels and can age for many years the Taurasini spends just one year in oak before bottling. It is a wine that is made to be drunk young but still has aging potential. This is the first time I tasted a wine from this appellation.

IMG_8906Antico Borgo “Taurasi Riserva”  DOCG 2015 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay and chalky and the training system is espalier. The manual harvest takes place in October and early November. The wine ages for 3 years of which one is in large oak barrels.  There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation is in temperature controlled steel vats. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, cherries, blackberries. spice, leather and a hint of tobacco.  $65. The current release is 2015

IMG_8912 2Battaglio Barbaresco 2019 Made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Serragilli cru. The exposure is southwest and there are 5,000 plants per hectare.  Soil is limestone, calcareous and vine training is espalier with guyot pruning. The fertilizer is manure with a minimal use of sulfur and copper depending on the weather. Weeding is done by machines. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation takes place with selected yeasts from the Langhe. There is up to 30 days of maceration with frequent pumping over at 30-33 degrees Celsius in steel vats.  Aging is for 24 months in 20% Slavonian oak and 80% in French barriques. Only 980 bottles were produced. The wine has hints of berries, black cherry, clove, licorice and a note of tobacco. $95

IMG_8908Tenute Ugolini  “Amarone Valle Alta” 2013 made from Corvina Gentile, Corvina Grosso and Oseleta. The Valle Alta vineyard is  3.23 hectares at 256 meters. The training system is spalliera Veronese (Veronese vertical-trellis) and there are 6,250 vines per hectare. Soil composed of fossil marl and the exposure is south/east and the vines are 20 years old. Harvest is in the middle of October. After the harvest the grapes are placed in small crates to be dried in the drying center. When the grapes have lost more than 50% of their  original weight they are hand selected, crushed and fermented. Maturation is for 36 months in barriques and tonneaux and then in bottle for at least two years before release. The wine has hints of jam, cherry, dried fruit, sweet spice, licorice, a note of cocoa and a touch of nutmeg. $120  *Appassimento: Italian term for drying harvested grapes, traditionally on bamboo racks or straw mats,  for up to 3 months in the case of Amarone, to concentrate the sugars and flavors.

Here is a link to where you can buy the wines

Tony Margiotta’s portfolio is one to watch.  I certainly look forward to trying his next discoveries.

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Filed under Amarone, Amphora, Barbaresco, Cannonau, Catarrato, Cesanese, Gladiator Wines, Perrione, Taurasi, Taurasini

Making Friends with Pizza and Champagne

Many years ago a wine writer friend, Sheldon Wasserman,  introduced me to the delights of Champagne with Pizza. The combination is one I really enjoy and enjoy sharing with others.  One of the people I introduced the combination of Pizza and Champagne to was Daniel Young.

I first met Daniel Young a number of years ago at Nizza restaurant in Manhattan. I knew of him by reputation and we discussed food, wine and pizza. Daniel now lives in London but is from NYC which he visits often. He is a food consultant, has a blog Young and Foodish,  and is the author of Where to Eat Pizza among other books, and has written for many magazines and newspapers here and in London.

IMG_8497 2Over the years I have spoken to him at pizza events and we are friends on FB but we never sat down and had Pizza together.  I believe Daniel saw one of my blogs on Pizza and Champagne of which there are many. Daniel mentioned that he had never had Champagne with Pizza so I told him next time he was  in NYC we would remedy that. After a few false starts we were able to get together. We went to Keste Wall Street because Daniel knows the owner Roberto Caporuscio and it is one of my favorite places to have Neapolitan-style pizza. I contacted Roberto and he said he would be there and make the pizza. We had a lively discussion on pizza in general, pizza places in NYC and which places were the most popular now in Naples.

IMG_8479Daniel brought his son and I invited Frank, a friend who brought his son.  The two boys enjoyed each other’s company and the pizza (even without Champagne).

IMG_8483We started with the Margherita — my favorite pizza

IMG_8484Champagne Ruinart Blanc De Blancs 100% Chardonnay from  a blending of 20 to 25 selected crus. Alcoholic fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats and malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged for 2 to 3 years years and the dosage is 7g/l. The wine has hints of pears and peaches, ripe lemon, and a note of ginger. It was perfect with the Margherita.

IMG_8486Pizza with sausage

IMG_8491Pizza Montanara with truffles

IMG_8499Champagne Baron-Fuente Brut Vintage made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir. The wine is aged in the cellar for 8 years and the Dosage is 8g/l. It has hints of citrus fruit, white peaches, a touch of red  fruit and a note of green apple. This worked well with the last two pizzas because it contained red grapes.

32552106650264439864844136_nDaniel, Frank and I really enjoyed Roberto’s terrific pizzas with these champagnes.  The two young boys ate heartily and played chess together.  By the time our meal was over, they had become pals.  When Frank visited London recently with his son, Daniel and he arranged a reunion for the boys over — what else? — pizza, this time at Kalo’ 50, one of the city’s top Neapolitan pizzerias.

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Dining with Bacchus

An invitation to dine with Bacchus doesn’t come every day, so I was happy to accept the intriguing invitation from the Italian Trade Agency to a dinner and wine tasting at the Hotel Renaissance in NYC.

IMG_8741We were greeted with a glass of Rotari Brut when we entered.

The Italian Trade Commissioner, Antonio Laspina, welcomed guests and spoke about Italian wine and the evening’s event. He explained that the Italian Trade Agency, along with Colangelo & Partners, had organized a series of “Dining with Bacchus” dinners and tastings around the country and this was the final one.Their goal was to promote both traditional Italian food and wine combinations and at the same time educate US wine industry professionals on Italian wine pairing opportunities with diverse cuisines. The idea, Mr. Laspina explained, was to both embrace yet debunk the concept that “what grows together, goes together.”

IMG_8736Chef Fabrizio Facchini prepared dishes to go with each wine and spoke about them.  It was set up like a dinner with Antipasti, Primi, Secondi, and Dolci. Anthony Giglio was the master of ceremonies and spoke about the wine and added comments on the food and wine combinations. It was a very large group and Mr. Giglio did an job excellent with his sense of humor and knowledge of Italian wine

IMG_8738Trento DOC Brut 2015 Rotari (Trent) made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.  The lots are married together with 5-7% of Chardonnay fermented in oak with partial malolactic fermentation.  Once the cuvée is made, the wine is cold stabilized, filtered and ready for the second fermentation. Secondary fermentation is maintained at a critically controlled temperature of approximately 53-56°F. First the filtered wine is chilled to 53°F and then chilled yeast is added to make sure a slow fermentation is maintained from the outset. This approach guarantees that the fermentation lasts for at least 40 days so that it develops the fine perlage found in Rotari. The wine rests on the lees for more than 24 months at a temperature of between 56–58°F. During the aging process there is a routine remuage utilizing giro-palettes. Following the aging in the bottle, there is disgorgement and addition of the proprietary dosage. The dosage is comprised of Chardonnay from the same vintage matured in neutral oak barrels which provides the wine with greater aromas without oak impact. The wine has hints of peach, citrus fruit, white stone fruit and a touch of brioche.


IMG_8746Prosecco Rosé DOC 2020  Riondo vintage dated sparkling wine (Veneto). Made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The residual sugar is 16 g/l. There is a cold fermentation of the grapes and the primary fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature followed by a secondary fermentation in stainless steel pressurized tanks for two months. The wine has hints of roses, violets, and raspberry with a note of apple and a touch of peach. Served with chicken wings roasted and glazed with a mild sauce.

IIMG_8742Isonzo Del Friuli DOC 2018 made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc Sant’Elena (Friuli-Venezia-Giulia). The wine has notes of kiwi, melon, lemon and a note of almonds with a long finish. Caesar salad topped with croutons and anchovies

Umbria IGT White Grechetto 2021 (Umbria) made from 100% Grechetto Barberani from a 5 hectare vineyard at 200/300 meters. The soil is sedimentary with the presence of marine fossils, pebbles and calcareous agglomerations. There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the training system is double guyot and the vines are 30 years old. The manual  harvest is  August/ September. Light lemon finish with hints of citrus fruit, apples a touch of spice and a note of almonds. Insalata Di Mare with squid, octopus, shrimp, mussels, celery & mesclun

IMG_8750Nebbiolo Langhe DOC 2020 “Margie” Damilano (Piedmont) made from 100% Nebbiolo from an 18 hectare vineyard at 1,500 ft with a southeastern /southern exposure.  Calcareous and tufa based soil, the training system is guyot and the vines are about 40 years old. Harvest is in October and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12 days. The wine is aged  in 20hl to 100hl oak barrels for 12 months and for 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, violets, cherry with a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Affettati — 24 month prosciutto di Parma DOP, speck Alto Adige IGP

IMG_8751Chianti Classico DOCG 2021 Castellare di Castellina (Tuscany) made from 95% Sangiovese and  5% Canaiolo from vineyards at 350/400 meters. Limestone soil and the training system is guyot single arched cane. There are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is in October. Vinification is in steel and malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters and 5hl for 7 months and in bottle for another 7 months before bottling. The wine has hints of red fruit, licorice, black currant and a note of vanilla. Cheese plate — Parmigiano Reggiano DOP and Taleggio DOP

IMG_8752Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Riserva DOC 2017 “Ruberò” (Abruzzo) Cantina Frentana made from 100% Montepulciano. The vineyards are in the municipality of Rocca San Giovanni, situated on hills overlooking the Costa del Trabocchi with a south/southeastern exposure. The soil is medium textured and calcareous. Harvest is manual the second week in October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with maceration and fermentation with the skins for 10/15 days in small stainless steel fermenters at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in French tonneau oak barrels for about 14 months, then more aging in stainless steel and then in the bottle for a few months. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, violets with a note of spice and leather.

Pasta di Gragnano IGP with a ragu of pork and beef ribs cooked slowly with San Marzano DOP tomatoes.

Lambrusco di Modena DOC Organic (Emilia-Romagna) Tenuta Agricola Cleto Chiarli made from 100% Grasparossa from a vineyard at 100 meters with 9 year old vines. The soil is brown to red in color with a superficial layer of loamy texture, alluvial sediment, coarse gravel and slightly alkaline. The training system is Geneva double Curtin. Vinification is with selected yeasts. Wine is in contact with the lees durning cold stabilization for 2 months. No second fermentation, only a single fermentation under pressure. A cross flow filter is used, Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged for one month in the bottle. Residual sugar 15 g/lt has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.

Tortellini alla Bolognese, Veal stuffed tortellini cooked in chicken broth


Greco di Tufo 2020 DOCG Feudi Di San Gregorio made from 100% Greco (Campania) The soil is chalky. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is for about 4 months in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. .The wine has floral notes with hints of citrus fruit, pear and apricot with good acidity.

Chicken Curry — Chicken thigh cooked in Indian curry style with Basmati rice.

IMG_8758Est! Est! Est!!! Di Montefiascone DOP  Lazio 2021 “Le Pòggere”2021 Falesco (Umbria). Made from 60% Trebbiano, 15% Rossetto and 25% Malvasia from a 150 hectare vineyard at 300 meters. The average age of the vines is 18 years and the training system is spun cordon.There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the soil is crumbly with many pebbles. There is a soft pressing of the whole cluster grapes with an automatic press. The must settles for 24/48 hours and is racked to stainless steel vats where fermentation starts and is carried out at a controlled temperature with the addition of selected indigenous yeasts. The wine is left in contact with the yeasts for some days before being racked and when the wine is ready it is bottled very early to keep its freshness and taste. This is an aromatic wine that has floral and fruity notes with good acidity.

Porchetta, Roasted pork belly stuffed with garlic and wild bronze fennel

IMG_8759Carignano del Sulcis DOC 2013 “Grotta Rossa” Santadi (Sardegna) made from 100% Carignano from bush grown and counter espalier vineyards in the lower Sulcis. Soil is of medium mixture, lose with clay, sand and limestone. Harvest starts in the middle of September and ends the first week of October. The must is fermented with the skins at controlled temperature. There is  pumping over. Malolactic fermentation takes place and then the wine ages in cement vats for several months before bottling. This is an intense fruity wine with a licorice finish.

Braised beef with maple syrup. Slow cooked, low temperature ribs with maple syrup


Mondoro Asti DOCG (Piemonte) made from 100% Moscato from grapes in vineyards situated in the territory of Canelli, Santo Stefano, Belbo and Calosso. The Asti Method: Grapes are crushed and the juice is stored at a low temperature until needed. When the wine is ready to be made the grape juice is warmed and fermentation takes place in pressurized tanks. Carbon dioxide is allowed to escape until the alcohol level reaches 6% and the Carbon dioxide is retained creating bubbles. Fermentation continues until it reaches 7%/7.5 alcohol by volume and the pressure is close to 5 atmospheres. The fermentation is stopped by chill filtration and the wine is bottled for immediate release. The wine has hints of honey, peach, pears and a note of orange blossom. Alcohol is 7%

Panettone, Fiasconaro, Sicily

Terre Siciliane IGP “Kio” 2017 Nocera Passito Tenuta di Mastronicola (Sicily) made from 100% Nocera from a vineyard at 110 meters. The soil is medium mixed tending to calcareous. The training system is spurred cordon and the green harvest reduces about 40% of the grapes. Harvest is in mid November. Vinification is in small stainless steel tanks for about 10 months during which manual punching down of the raisin grapes is carried out. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for six months before release. The wine has hints of liquor infused cherries, blackberries, jam, prune, chocolate and notes of vanilla.

Bis Di Cioccolato — Modicao Cioccolato di Modica IGP (Vanilla), Sicily and Venchi Cioccolato Fondente 80% (South American blend), Piemonte.

Not surprisingly, all of the traditional wine and food pairings worked beautifully as did many of the non-traditional combinations, though I might have chosen different Italian wines to pair with some of the dishes.

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The Charming Taste of Europe

“The Charming Tastes of Europe is a special project that links the flavors of wines from Italy and France and of fresh fruit from Greece, and further introduces the United States and Canada to these exquisite items that recall all of European beauty and grace,” according the brochure we were given at a tasting and dinner at Lincoln Restaurant in NYC.  The Charming Taste of Europe campaign is partially funded by the European Union.

charmongI was invited by the organizer of the event and the speaker, Susannah Gold. I have been to a number of events hosted by her and they are all well organized and informative.

Susanna spoke about the region of Abruzzo.  The Abruzzo region of Italy located to the east of Rome has everything going for it. There are beautiful national parks, a long coastline on the Adriatic, the rugged snowcapped Apennine Mountains, and little medieval towns perched precariously on hill tops. Abruzzo is situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massif. It is one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy with three national parks and more than ten national and regional natural reserves.  Abruzzo geographically is more central than southern Italy, but due to its connection with the old Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, it is considered part of the South.

Most vineyards are in hilly areas of which 75% are in the province of Chieti.


The traditional vine training method is the Tendone system also known as Pergola Abruzzese.

The three most important wine designations in Abruzzo are: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (red), Cerasuolo (rose), and Trebbiano D’Abruzzo (white). Abruzzo is the number five wine producing region in Italy.

The wines of Abruzzo

IMG_8782Trebbiano D’Abruzzo DOC 2021 Nic Tartaglia made from 100% made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from 41 year old vines at 303 meters. The training system is the pergola and there are 1,600 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of September. The grapes are soft pressed, followed by static clarification. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. Aging is in stainless steel vats. The wine is bottled in the spring following the harvest. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime and almonds in the finish.

The Trebbiano grape produces Trebbiano d’Abruzzo white wine. It is second in area covering over 5,000 hectares. This grape is planted all over Italy but it finds its best expression in Abruzzo.

IMG_8790Pecorino Superiore Abruzzo DOC 2021 “la Canaglia” (Nic Tartaglia is the owner) Azienda Agricola Fontefico made from 100% Pecorino from a vineyard at 120 meters. The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare with an eastern exposure. The soil is iron, sand and clay. It is a single vineyard wine and is estate bottled and the farm is organic. This is a full bodied, crisp white wine with high minerality and hints of grapefruit, sage, and white flowers with a touch of almonds. It is called La Canaglia, the rascal, of Fontefico because the yields are very low. There is a different label on the bottle very year because every wine has its own personality.

Pecorino is an ancient grape variety which was “rediscovered” in the early 1980’s. The name in Italian means “little sheep” because the sheep liked to eat the grapes off the vines.

IMG_8794Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo  2021 “Prope” Velenosi made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from estate owned vineyards in the Controguerra at 250 to 300 meters. The soil is of medium texture with abundant grassland.  The training system is cordon and spur pruned. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. Specifically selected grapes for Rosé vinification are picked during the first 10 days of September. In the cellar the grapes are destemmed and pressed. The entire environment in inactivated with carbon dioxide ice so as not to lose the primary aromas. A brief cold maceration takes place for about 6 hours, which allows the maximum extraction of the aromas. Fermentation is in temperature-controlled steel vats. The wine is kept for some months on the lees to increase the structure. It has hints of red current, raspberry, violet with floral scents.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo is a Rose’ made from the Montepulciano grape. It is made from the free run juice and/or juice with little skin contact and it can be light pink to dark red.

IMG_8796Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2017 Riserva “Villa Gemma” Masciarelli made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on steep, sloped Colle Cave vineyards in Chieti. The soil is limestone, clay and gravel. The training system is French guyot and the farming is sustainable. Harvest is by hand. The harvest ended in October. Fermentation is in stainless steel 15 to 20 days, followed by a maceration of 23 to 30 days.  Aging is for 36 months in 100% new French oak barriques, followed by 3 years in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, blueberry, pumice and vanilla.  The winery was founded in 1981 by Gianni Masciarelli.

The Montepulciano grape produces Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is the most planted grape in Abruzzo and is grown on about 17,000 hectares. It represents 80% of the total DOC wine produced in Abruzzo. The Montepulciano grape has been in Abruzzo since the mid 17th Century.

The French Dessert Wines

IMG_8802Château De Gardes “Cuvée Fût de Chêne” AOC Cadillac 2019 made from 100% Sémillon from 60 year old vines on 64 hectares. The training system is guyot. Harvest is by hand and there are several sortings of the grapes. Traditional winemaking using pneumatic press and gentle filtration before bottling. The wine is aged for 12 months in oak barrels. There is a good balance between sugar and alcohol, with hints of candied fruit and vanilla. The wine can age for 20 years.

Cadillac is a small appellation of Bordeaux in the southwest of France, known for its sweet botrytized white wines. It is situated on the east bank of the Garonne, north of Loupiac.

IMG_8803Château Loupiac-Gaudiet AOC Loupiac 2017 made from 90 % Sémillion and 10% Sauvignon from 45 year old vines on 26 hectares. The soil is clay and limestone and the pruning system is simple guyot. Harvest is by hand as soon as the botrytis appears.Traditional winemaking using modern methods–pneumatic press and temperature controlled fermentation. Drink it 2 to 5 years if you want it fresh and fruity, or 5 to ten years if you prefer more richness, or 10 to 30 if you prefer more smoothness. The wine has a good balance between fruit sugar and acidity. There are hints of honey, beeswax, dried stone fruit, lemon, marmalade and a touch of spice in the finish.  I was very impressed with this wine.

Loupiac belongs to a cluster of lesser know appellations in Bordeaux that specialize in the production of sweet wine from a blend of Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. It is on the opposite bank from Sauternes but the soil and weather conditions are perfect for producing wine with botrytis cinerea.

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Filed under Abruzzo, Des, French sweet wines, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pecorino, Rose, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized

Tasting the Wines of Cantina Ottella

I have visited the Lugana wine region in Northern Italy a number of times and have always enjoyed the wines. A few weeks ago I was invited to a lunch at Il Florista, a restaurant in NYC, to taste the wines of Cantina Ottella, one of the oldest wineries in the Lugana area.  The speaker was Mariano Sansone from Vias, the distributor of Ottella wines.

IMG_6805 2Lugana wines come from an area that is on the border between the two provinces of Brescia and Verona and the DOC region stretches along an area south of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. The word Lugana may come from the early medieval word “lucus” meaning wood. In the past the area was covered by the Selva Lucana, a dense, marshy forest. Today the area is characterized by a very particular soil. The soil is white clay and limestone and difficult to till. This, however, gives the grapes here an extraordinary elegance and tanginess. Lugana wine can be described as being fresh with body and a good balance between sweetness and acidity. Lugana is made from the Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, and may be related to Verdicchio.  There are 5 different styles of Lugana from sparkling to late harvest.  The wine sells at a good price around $20 a bottle. Lugana goes best with white meats or fish. Try it with sushi.

Lake Garda is one of my favorite Italian lakes and in summer 90% of the tourists are German.  The biggest market for Lugana is Germany.

IMG_8808Ottella is a 90 hectare estate in Lugana in one of the best vine growing areas of the appellation. The Montresor family has been running Ottella for four generations. The winery was founded in 1905.

The wines

IMG_8804Lugana 2020 DOC made from Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) in the San Benedetto di Lugana area located in the southern part of Lake Garda from estate vineyards. This is the best wine growing area because because there is a high content of  white clay. The training system is double guyot. Harvest and bunch selection are only done by hand  during the last ten days of September. Gentle soft crushing of whole bunches for most of the grapes while the rest are lightly destemmed by oscillation. Then a strict wine making process follows: racking off the lees by natural settling, slow fermentation at a controlled temperature, and aging on the lees for 5 months. The wine has hints a citrus fruit, white peach, a touch of grapefruit, and bright acidity.

IMG_8805Le Creete Lugana DOC. Made from 100% Turbiano from estate Le Creme vineyard in San Benedetto di Lugana overlooking Lake  Garda. The soil is white chalk. There is a manual harvest when the grapes are fully mature from the end of September to late October. After a brief maceration on the skins, slow fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel vats and partly in large wooden barrels for 6 to 8 months. This aromatic and elegant wine has hints of pineapple, grapefruit and tropical fruit.

IMG_8806 2Lugana DOC “Moleco” made from 100% Turbiana. The training system is double guyot and the late harvest takes place in October.  Bunch selection is by hand. There is a partial malolactic fermentation followed by 18 months on the lees mostly is steel and the rest in barrels and barriques. The wine has a golden color with hints if citrus fruit, white flowers and mineral notes.

IMG_8807 2Lugana DOC “Back to Silence” 100% Turbiana from the estate’s small vineyard plots in the best wine growing areas in the municipalities of San Benedetto di Lugana, Sirmione, Pozzolengo and Desenzano del Garda. Training system is double guyot. Late harvest hand picked grapes in October. Vinification with long maceration o the skins for at least 20 to 30 days. Fermentation is in amphorae. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow peaches, with notes of orange and grapefruit and overtones of lime.


Filed under Lugana Wines, Ottella winery