Category Archives: Aglianico

At Cavalier Pepe Winery with Milena Pepe

A few years ago I was invited to Benevento to attend “Campania Stories,” an organized event to introduce and educate journalists about the wines of Campania. There I met Melina Pepe from Tenuta Cavalier Pepe and she invited me to visit the winery the next time I was in Campania. Since Michele and I were going to Naples in early February, I contacted Milena and asked her if we could visit the winery.

Melina

Milena said she was born in Belgium where she studied marketing and then viticulture and oenology in Bordeaux before returning home to Campania.

Milena’s father, Angelo Pepe, started the winery and in 1998 the President of Italy recognized his efforts and granted him the title “Cavaliere della Repubblica per meriti sul lavoro” (Knight of the Republic).

The winery is located on the slopes of three villages: Sant’Angel all’Esca, Taurasi and Luogosano. There are 60 hectares of vineyards and 7 hectares of olive trees producing the Ravece variety. Hazelnut trees are also cultivated on the property.

The Wines

Irpinia Falanghina DOC “Lila” 2018. 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards in the hills of the municipality of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca located within the Irpinia Falanghina DOC production zone. The soil is clay and sand with organic and volcanic elements. The grapes are hand picked and immediately taken to the cellar where a selection takes place and the grapes are pressed whole. There is a cold settling followed by alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel. The wine is aged on the lees then in bottle before release. The wine has hints of apple and pear, a note of white flowers and good acidity. Their Falanghina is estate grown whereas many producers’ grapes for Falanghina come from Benevento and are labeled Benevento Falanghina.

Irpinia Coda di Volpe DOC “Bianco di Bellona” 2012 100% Code di Volpe (tail of the fox). Grapes are from estate vineyards in the hills around the towns of Carazita, Piesco and Pesano in Luogosano and Brussinera in Sant’Angelo all Esca. Soil is sand and clay and rich in volcanic matter and the vineyards are at 300 to 490 meters. The gapes are harvested in mid October. Selection takes place in the vineyard and in the cellar where the grapes are pressed whole. The must is cold clarified and then fermented at a low temperature. A short period of aging on the lees takes place and the wine remains in the bottle for a short time before release. Melina said that they opened this bottle by mistake, intending to open the 2018. I said this was a fortunate mistake, as I would really like to taste a Code di Volpe that was 8 years old. The wine has hints of peach, a touch of pineapple and a touch of yellow fruit. It has developed into a very impressive wine.

After the tasting, Milena took us to restaurant Le Contrade where we had a very nice lunch and I drank the 2012 Code di Volpe which was very easy to drink and a perfect combination with the food.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG “Refiano” 2018 made from 100% Fiano from vineyards located in Lapio, Montefredane and Candida at 400 to 500 meters. The soil is marl and limestone rich in volcanic material. The grapes are hand picked and hand selected in the cellar and whole bunches are pressed. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation at a low temperature. After fermentation the wine is aged on its lees and remains in the bottle until release. The wine has hints of apple, pear and almonds and a touch of chamomile and mineral notes.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG Reserve “Brancato” 2017 made from 100% Fiano from south facing vineyards in the municipality of Lapio. The grapes are hand harvested at full ripeness, undergo a strict selection and are pressed whole. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation in barriques and later in stainless steel at a low temperature. The wine is aged in wood and steel followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of mature tropical fruit, apple, hazelnuts with a hint of spice and a touch of toast.

Greco di Tufo DOCG Reserve “Nestor” 2018 made from 100% Greco from vineyards on the hills of S. Paolina, Montefusco and Prata in the heart of the Greco di Tufo zone at 400 to 700 meters. The soil is primarily tufaceous with clay, limestone and volcanic elements. Grapes are hand picked, there is a selection in the cellar and the grapes are pressed whole.

Greco di Tufo DOCG “Grancare” 2017 made from 100% Greco from vineyards located at the highest areas of Torrioni and Montefusco at 600 to 700 meters. The soil is primarily clay and silt with limestone and volcanic material. The grapes are harvested in October. Vinification is like the 2017 Fiano. This is an intense full-bodied wine with hints of peach, tropical and candied fruit and a touch of toast.

It was very informative to compare the Fiano and Greco  in stainless steel and then to taste those in wood. The ones in steel were more aromatic  and fresher while the ones in wood have  deeper flavors and aromas.

Irpinia Aglianico IGT Terra Del Varo 2015, made from 85% Aglianico and 15% Merlot. The Aglianico ripens late and the harvest lasts from the middle of October to the middle of November. The estate vineyards are in Luogosano, Sant’Angelo all’Esca and Taurasi and are at 350 meters. The soil is clay and volcanic elements. Harvest is by hand and there is a selection in the vineyard and in the cellar. Destemming is followed by a cold pre-fermentation, maceration for about 10 days and alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. Aging is for 24 months in cement tanks and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black cherry and blackberries with spice notes and a touch of black pepper.

Taurasi 2013 “Opera Mia” (my work) 2013 100% Aglianico from vineyards on the hills of Carazita and Pesano located in the munciipalites of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 405 meters. The soil is clay and limestone with volcanic outcrops. The grapes are harvested when fully ripe. There is a careful selection before the grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration is on the skins for about 20 days. The wine is aged in French oak barriques for 12 months, in cement tanks for 24 months and finally in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blueberries and blackberries with a touch of spice and coffee and a note of vanilla.

Milena said they were experimenting with aging some of the wine in amphora. I have seen the use of amphora in other wineries in Campania.

The  Cavalier Pepe wines are represented in the U.S. by Romano Brands.

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Filed under Aglianico, Cavalier Pepe, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Tenuta Meriggio: The Wines of Irpinia

At a recent press lunch at the Leopard at Café des Artistes, I met Bruno Pizza owner of Tenuta del Meriggio in the Campania region of Italy. Susannah Gold the organizer of the event introduced me to Bruno and his daughter.

Bruno and Emilia Rita Pizza

Bruno thanked us for coming to the event and made a few opening remarks that were translated by Susannah. He said the winery was started in 2010 with Nunzia Guerriero. The winery is in Montemiletto in the province of Avellino. The appellation is Irpinia. The oenologist is the noted Carmine Valentino, who works for Massimo Alois and used to be with Donnachiara, two of my favorite wineries.

Paolo Sibillo

Also present was Paolo Sibillo, Diettore Commerciale for the winery. He was the principal speaker and I was sitting next to him and really enjoyed our conversation.

Paolo said they produce Irpinia Coda di Volpe DOC, Benevento Falanghina IGT (they buy the grapes) Fiano di Avellino DOCG, Greco Di Tufo DOCG, Irpinia Agalianico DOC and Taurasi. The winery is only 50 kilometers from the sea but they are in the mountains so he considers their wines to be mountain wines.

Aura Levis Irpinia Greco Spumante DOC Brut made from Greco 70% and 30% Code di Volpe NV Charmat method- the second fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank. The wine is aged for 3 years before release. The wine had a lot of small bubbles, hints of citrus fruit, peach and a touch of almond. Ed Mc Carthy, author of “Champagne for Dummies,” said he really liked the wine. Paolo said this was a new wine for them and they were very happy with the way it turned out.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2018 made from 100% Fiano from a selection of grapes from the estate vineyards located in Agro di Montemiletto at 500 meters. The vineyards were planted from 1900 to 2000 and the exposure is southeast. The soil is a medium mixture of sand and the training system is guyot. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place in the middle of October. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in steel. At the end of the fermentation process the wine remains on the lees for four months before the wine is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach, white flowers; a touch of almonds and good acidity. The wine was awarded the coveted Three Bicchiere from Gambero Rosso.

Fiano di Avellino Selezione Colle delle Ginestre 2018 made from 100% Fiano from the Candida vineyards. It is produced the same was as the regular but the aging is different. Total production for the wine is 3,000 liters of which 2,500 mature in stainless steel with about 12 months of batonnage while the wine is on the lees. Meanwhile 500 liters are fermented in 2 new barriques and remain there for about 12 months. After the wine is assembled, it is filtered and remains in the bottle for about 6 months. The 2018 and the 2019 will be released in the spring of 2020. This is a rounder wine with more body than the regular Fiano but still with the Fiano flavors and aromas.

Paolo said now they have two lines of wine, the regular and the Classico (Selezione).

The first course was Parmigiana di Zucchine con Scamorza.

Greco di Tufo Selezione Colle dei Lauri made from 100% Greco from estate vineyards located in Agro di Tufo at 330 meters and Santa Paolina at 420 meters. The soil is clay and the vines were planted from 1950 to 2011. The vineyard training system is guyot and typical pergola avellinese. There are 3300 to 2500 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in mid October. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature and the wine remains on its lees for several months before it is bottled. The wine is aged the same way as the Fiano Selezione. Paolo said that because of the rich volcanic and clay soil the wines have hints of citrus fruit, pears, toasted almonds and a mineral finish. The Selezione was produced for the first time and will be released next year.  All three of the white wines will  improve with age and last for many years. 

Scialatielli di grani antichi Ai Frutti Di Mare.

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2015 made from 100% Aglianico from estate vineyards located in Montemiletto at 500 meters and in Taurasi at 300 meters. The vineyards were planted between 2003 and 2012. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place at the end of October and the beginning of September. This is a wine with red and blackberry flavors and a hint of spice. Paolo said it should be drunk within 5 years.

Taurasi DOCG 2014 made from 100% Aglianico from estate vineyards located on the hills of Passo della Serra of Momtemiletto at 550 meters with a south-east exposure. The soil is clay and sand and the vineyard was planted in 2003. There are 4,000plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. The manual harvest takes place at the end of October and the beginning of September. After a long maturation on the skins, the wine matures for 24 to 36 months in large oak barrels and in bottle for at least one year before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of wild berries, cherries, plums and a touch of spice.

 

With the red wine we had Carre d’Agnello insaporito alle erbe con croquette di patate e spinaci saltati in padella

For dessert  we had Pastiera Napoletana which I ate before I remembered to take a picture!

NOTE: These are excellent wines and the winery is looking for am importer. I highly recommend the wines. For information contact Paolo Sibillo at +39 335 1046954  commerciale@tenutadelmeriggio.it   or Susannah Gold at    vignetocommunications@gmail.com

 

 

 

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Filed under Aglianico, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian Wine, Taurasi, Tenuta del Meriggio, Uncategorized

Six Wines

Listed below are 6 wines  I had with lunch or dinner and I have not had a chance to mention in other blogs.

Champagne Grand Siecle “Alexandra” Rose 1997 Laurent-Perrier. Made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This Champagne is made in extremely limited quantities and only in the best vintage years. The 1997 was only the fourth bottling of this Champagne. It has all of the characteristics of a great Rose Champagne but it was also so subtle.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2010 “Vigneto Bucerchiale Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is 12.50 hectares, at 200 meters, the soil is of medium density clay, dry and stony, well drained. There are 5,200 vines per hectare and the exposure is south/southwest. Vines were planted in 1968 and 1992 and the training system is spur cordon. Hand harvested the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel with all natural yeasts. Fermentation and maceration is for 25 days. The wine is aged in 225 hl French casks. This is a wine with hints of cherry, violets and plums with a touch of tobacco.

Chambolle Musigny 1978 Domaine Robert Groffier made from 100% Pinot Noir. Burgundy at its best.

Aglianico del Taburno Riserva Vigna Cataratte 2009 DOCG Fontanavecchia The grapes are selected and hand harvested. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in barriques and aged for 34 more months before release. This is a bold wine with hints of cherry, spice, chocolate and a touch of licorice.

The Emidio Pepe winery is Organic and Bio Dynamic . The training system is cordon spur and tendone. Only natural yeasts are used. The grapes are crushed by  hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 hl for two years. Since this is natural wine, malolactic fermentation may take place in the tank or in the bottle. The bottles are corked by hand.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1983 Emidio Pepe This bottle was showing its age but was still very drinkable.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe this bottle was showing very well with deep red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry, spice and leather- it is a great wine. I have had the 1983 before and it too is a great wine. As someone once said “ the are no great wines, only great bottles of wine”

 

 

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Filed under Aglianico, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Emidio Pepe, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Selvapiana

The Wines of DonnaChiara & Alois at a One Star Michelin Restaurant

Ilaria Petitto and Francesco de Rienzo (DonnaChiara Winery) and Massimo Alois and Talita de Rosa (Michele Alois Winery) invited Michele and I and a friend to have lunch with them. Last year when Michele and I visited the Alois winery we had a fantastic lunch prepared by Talita de Rosa, which I wrote about in a blog.

This year they decided to take us to Vairo del Volturno, a restaurant with one Michelin star since 2007.  It is located at Via  IV  Novembre 60, Vairano  Patenora, Caserta. 

The chef,  Renato Martino, made a special lunch for us based on the local ingredients from around the Caserta area.  With it, we drank the wines from DonnaChiara and Michele Alois Wineries.

DonnaChiara wines

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017, 100% Greco.  The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and then a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. This is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites.

 

To go with the wines, the chef prepared a series of small seafood dishes, including assorted marinated crudi, and bufala mozzarella topped with anchovy.  Though I have always enjoyed these wines with traditional Neapolitan food, with these combinations, the chef showed how well they can go with contemporary dishes.


Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of  “follature” (pumping over) and to a short period of maceration on the skins. It is a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

There was pasta of course, large tortelloni filled with local pork.

Taurasi DOCG 100% Aglianico 2016 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 was subtle and did not mask the character of the wine.

Taurasi Riserva 2013 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

Michele Alois wines The winery is located at the foot of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta.

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2013 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 100% Pallagrello Nero. The vineyard is 1.46 hectares, the soil is volcanic with minerals, guyot training system and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. The harvest takes place the first weeks of October. Vinification in stainless steel with cold maceration on the lees and malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used French barriques for 12 months and an additional 6 months in barrel before release. This wine has hints of berries, especially blackberries and cherries and a long finish.

The lamb was a local variety prepared two ways roasted and grilled, and topped with hazelnuts.

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for 18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

After lunch we went to the Alois winery where we tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello Bianco and Nero and the Casavecchia with Massimo Alois

We ended this most perfect afternoon at the winery with a wonderful version of Baba, a yeast raised pastry filled with pastry cream and soaked in rum syrup, which Illaria had brought from a bakery in Avellino.

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Filed under Aglianico, Alois Winery, Cassavecchia, Donna Chiara Winery, Greco di Tufo, Pallagrello, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Taurasi, Vario del Volturo

With Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara Winery at Il Gattopardo NYC

I have known Illaria Petitto, Managing Director of the Donnachiara Winery for some time and have tasted the wines in NYC many times. I also have visited the winery in Campania a few times. It is always a treat to taste these wines and when the host restaurant is Il Gattppardo the combination could not be better. This is a event I could not miss.

Ilarai Petitto

Ilaria spoke about the winery. She said the 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 “Misura CE n.1257/99 – “Produzione , integrata della Regione Campania” limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

The White Wines

 Benevento Falanghina IGT “Resilienza” 2016 100% Falanghina. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest is the first half of October. Only the best grapes are selected, harvest is manual and takes place during the coolest hours of the day. There are 2,500 vines per hectare and the grapes were picked at the height of maturity. Illara said cryomaceration is at 42-46 degrees F in order to preserve the aromas, prevent oxidation and enhance the typical characteristics of the varieties. Soft pressing fermentation is at 57-60 °F in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine remains in the bottle for many months before release. This a a wonderful food wine with good fruit, citrus aromas and flavors, and notes of pear and apricot. It has good acidity and a lasting finish.

Ed Mc Carthy co- author of the Wine for Dummies books said that it was the best Falanghina he had ever tasted.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2017 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay and there are 4,400 plants per hectare.  The vines are guyot trained and the harvest is the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes that are quickly cooled to 50F for 4 to 6 hours. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a delicate and elegant wine with hints of almonds, floral notes and citrus fruit. It is a real pleasure to drink.

This grape was brought to Campania by ancient Greeks. The Romans called it vitis apiana – the Latin root for bees is apiana. Even today bees are attracted to the Fiano grape and Ilaria said you can see the honey bees in the vineyards in Montefalcione.

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017 100% Greco The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and after that a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. Like the Fiano, this is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites. Both the Fiano and the Greco are wines that can age.

With the white wine we had: Cavatelli di grano saraceno ai frutti di mare.

The Red Wines

Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of “follature” and to a short period of maceration on the skins it is possible to produce a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

Irpinia Agianico DOC 2015 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in November. Fermentation takes place at 68 to 71 F in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Maturation is on the skins for 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. The wine is full and complex with hints of prune, berries and spice. This was one of the Top 100 Wines this year in the Wine Spectator. 

Taurasi DOCG 2013 100% Aglianico Manual harvest. This wine was vinified like the one above. It is a well structured wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

In 2012 Cotarella was not the consulting oenologist.

With the red wine we had: Carrè d’agnello alle erbe aromatiche served with broccoli rabe and a potato croquette.

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Filed under Aglianico, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Italian Varietals from California

My friend Tom Maresca, a wine writer, wanted to do a tasting at La Pizza Fresca in NYC of Sangiovese, Nebbiolo and Aglianico from the Caparone winery in California. I did not know the winery and was very skeptical because I have never tasted an Italian varietal from California that I really liked.

I looked the winery up and saw a quote by David Caparone in “Italy’s Noble Red Wines” by Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. This book was for me the bible of Italian red wine for many years and I have very fond memories of evenings with the Wassermans. They wrote, “Italy has three indigenous varieties capable of producing wines of breed and character. These noble varieties are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico.”

These would be the three Italian varieties that Dave and his son Marc Caparone, the winemakers, use to produce wine. They produce the wines by themselves and do not have any employees.

I contacted the winery and Marc Caparone  said the Nebbiolo is from clone CVT 30, the Sangiovese clone comes from Il Poggione, and the Aglianico is the original clone at UC Davis that his father found there in 1988.

All this sounded very interesting and since Tom liked the wines, I knew I would enjoy tasting them.

There were 6 of us at the tasting, Tom, Diane Darrow,  his frequent co-author, Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing-Mulligan, MW, authors of the “Wine for Dummies” books, and Michele Scicolone, author of The Italian Vegetable Cook Book, The Italian Slow Cooker, 1000 Italian Recipes.

The Caparone winery in Paso Robles California was founded in 1979 by Dave Caparone. It is located northeast of Paso Robles, California. They pride themselves on being the oldest small, artisan winery in the region and making wines with good varietal character, intensity and longevity. They make wines that complement food.

The winemakers do not blend wines and want to make wines that will last for decades. They look for balanced grape maturity. Balanced maturity occurs at moderate grape sugar levels, which means moderate alcohol levels. All of the wines tasted were below 13.5% alcohol.

In order to achieve balance and complexity, each wine is in contact with the grape skins for four to six weeks before pressing. This softens the tannins and adds to the overall balance of the wine. Each of the wines receives two full years in 100% neutral French oak barriques (59 gallons) and are not fined or filtered. The wine remains in bottle for one year before release.

Sangiovese 2014 Paso Robles macerated on the skins at fermentation for 30 days. This is a wine with nice red fruit. It did have the characteristics of an Italian Sangiovese, however, if I was given this wine blind I would have said it was a Chianti Classico Riserva with a bit too much oak and concentration or a “Super Tuscan”.

Sangiovese 1996 the wine was showing no signs of age 18 years later. It had become mellow; the red fruit was still there with a touch of violet. After drinking this I realized that the problem I had with the 2014 was that it was too young.

Nebbiolo 2014 Paso Robles Nebbiolo macerated on the skins for 45 days, in completely enclosed stainless fermenters. This was my favorite wine of the tasting. It was light in color like Nebbiolo should be. In a blind tasting I might have said it was like a Nebbiolo from the north of Piedmont but in a much lighter style with more red fruit and less of the tar, tobacco and dried fruit character.

Aglianico 2014 macerated on the skins at fermentation for 30 days. The wine was dark in color and drinking very well right now. It did have the characteristics of an Aglianico Taburno with hints of black cherry, blackberries and plum.

Aglianico 1996 this wine was not showing any signs of age and had developed into a very drinkable mature Aglianico. This wine reminded me of an Aglianico del Vulture. It still had the black fruit flavors and aromas but had developed hints of tobacco and cedar.

At the Caparone winery, they believe the finest wines are created by nature and are a reflection of the vine and the place where it grows, not of the gadgets and chemicals used so often in modern wine making. They take great pains to interfere as little as possible in the wine making process. Their techniques are mostly a collection of traditional wine making practices more like Europe than California. They do not what excessive oak in their wines.

There were difference opinions and discussions  about the wines which just made it more interesting and enjoyable.

The wines went very well with the food and pizza at La Pizza Fresca.

See Tom Maresca’s article on the Caparone wines  (https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/).

 

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Filed under Aglianico, Caparone Winery, Nebbiolo

Aglianico a Roma

After spending a wonderful week in Naples visiting wine producers and eating at some of the most famous pizzerias in the city and Campania, Michele and I went to Rome. There I received an e-mail from Ilaria Petito, the owner of Donnachiara winery in Campania, inviting me to an event called Aglianico a Roma (Aglianico in Rome).

Unfortunately I arrived too late to attend a seminar on Aglianico conducted by wine blogger and journalist Luciano Pignataro. However, I was able to taste some of the wines. ilaria introduced me to some of the producers that I did not know.

The Wines

Aglianico Sannio Santa’Agata dei Goti “Cesco di Nece” 2015 Mustilli made from 100% Aglianico from the 3 hectare organically planted “Cesco di Nece,” vineyard planted in 1994. Harvest is at the end of October. Grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maturation is second passage French oak for 9 months. Lightly fined, unfiltered and a small SO2 is added before bottling. It is aged for 9 months in bottle before release. I have always liked the wines of Mustilli and visited the winery two years ago with Campania Stories.

Aglianico Sannio DOC  2016 Mustilli 100% Aglianico from vineyards at 800 feet with volcanic and clay soil and a southwest exposure. The vines are 30 years old. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French second passage barriques for 9 months and in bottle for 3 months before release.

Taurasi “Opera Mia” 2012 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe made from 100% Aglianico. The grapes come from the Carazita vineyard. Harvest takes place the first week of November and a selection is made in the cellar. Parts of the grapes go through a cold pre–fermentation/maceration to extract color and aroma. The alcohol fermentation is followed by a long maceration on the skins. After the wine is racked it is put into French oak (Allier and Troncais barriques) for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has ripe red fruit with hints of black cherry, prune and spice.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 “La Loggia del Cavaliere” Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. 100% Aglianco The vineyard is at 450/490 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The soil is clay-like with calcareous and sandy layers. Harvest is by hand in mid-November. In the cellar, cold maceration is followed by alcoholic fermentation with prolonged maceration. The wine is aged in barrels for a minimum of 18 months with batonnage (stirring the lees). The wine has hints of blackberries, and black cherries with a touch of spice and vanilla.

Taurasi” Nero Né “il Cancelliere” 2012 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay and limestone. The vines are about 35 years old. The vineyard is at 550/600 meters and exposure is north and the formation is vertical trellised with spurred cordon pruning.

The grapes are destemmed and alcoholic fermentation and maceration take place for about 30 days at room temperature and a pneumatic press is used. Only wild yeast is used. Aging in steel for 6 months on the lees, depending on the vintage, then 24 months in Slavonian wood 35/50 hl and then 24 months in bottle. NO: filtration, clarification, stabilization or sulphites.

Gioviano-Irpinia Aglianico DOC “ il Cancelliere” 2015 100% Aglianico. The soil is limestone clay and the vineyard has a northern exposure and is at 450/550 meters. There is destemming of the grapes, alcoholic fermentation and maceration of about 20 days at room temperature. Aging is in steel for 6 months on the lees then aging in Slavonian wood of 35hl for 12 months and then in bottle for 10/12 months. This was the first time I tasted the wines from this producer and I was very impressed by them.

Vigna Cataratte Riserva “Aglianico Del Taburno” 2012 Fontanecchia made from 100% Aglianico. Selected grapes are harvested by hand. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged for 2 years, of which 6/9 months are in French barriques.

Taurasi 2012 Cantine Macchie Santa Maria  100% Aglianico Macchie Santa Maria. This is a new winery with a production of only 3,000 bottles. It is located in the province of Avellino at Montemiletto. This is a wine with hints of sour cherry, plum and a touch of spice.

ilaria Petitto and her Taurasi 2012

Taurasi 2012 Donnachiara 100% Aglianico made from grapes from the 20-hectare Torre le Nocella vineyard. The soil is volcanic and clay, the vines are over 30 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is no filtration. The wine is aged for 12 months in used 225-liter French barriques, and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a big complex wine with berry aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and plum and a touch of cacao, coffee and vanilla. The wine will age. I know their wines very well and the 2012 Taurasi is one of my favorites.

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