Category Archives: Alois Winery

Summer Best of $20 and Under

 

 

No need to spend more than $20 a bottle for good wines like these. Here are the bottles I will be drinking all summer long.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT 2018 DonnaChiara made from 100% Falanghina The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand. $16.

Fiano di Avelllino 2017 Sarno 1860 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyard is 8 hectares, the exposure is southeast and the training system is guyot. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in October by hand. Vinification is in steel at a controlled temperature with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 8 months on the fine lees and four months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, grapefruit, peach and toasted hazelnuts. They only produce Fiano di Avellino. $18

Fiano di Avellino “Radici 2017 ”  DOCG Mastroberardino made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from the 25 acre Santo del Sole vineyard at 1,815 feet with southwest exposure. The soil is sandy-loam. There are 1,600 vines per acre and the training system is guyot. The vineyard was planted in 2001. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Classic white wine vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. The wine has hints of pear, citrus fruit, a hint of pineapple and a touch of almonds. $18

Greco di Tufo 2017 DOCG Petilia made from 100% Greco. The vineyard is at 600 meters and the exposure is south/east. The soil is clay, volcanic, rich in minerals with a sulfurous sub soil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The grapes are hand picked the second week of October. There is a soft pressing of the whole grapes and fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. This is a well-structured and complex wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon/lime, acacia and quince, a touch of minerality, good acidity and a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste. Greco di Tufo is a wine the can last for 20 years or more. Two weeks ago I had the 2009 and it was wonderful. $19

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

Catalanesca 2018 IGP Tenuta Augustea made from 100% Catalanesca from the Somma Vesuviana zone. The soil is well-structured deep limestone with medium fertile consistency. The exposure is south/east and the vineyards are at 400/500 meters. The average age of the vines is 9/10 years and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in October. Fermentation is in steel tanks for 30 days at 18C. There is tartaric stabilization and filtration. This is an aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit, apricot, a note of white flowers and good minerality.  $19

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2017 Michele Alois 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. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18

Umbria IGT Bianco Grechetto 2018  Argillae made from 100% Grechetto. The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and a typical almond finish. I tasted this wine with a group of friends at the winery and they all really liked it. $18

La Lupinella Trebbiano Toscana IGT 2018 made from 100% Trebbiano. The vineyard is in Sant’Ansano (Vinci). The grapes are carefully selected by hand and a small part, about 2%, is picked from the bunches, set aside and later added during fermentation which takes place in terracotta jars, to intensify the aromatic character of the wine. The wine remains on the lees for a minimum of 6 months without undergoing malolactic fermentation and is aged at least 3 months in the bottle before release. This is a fresh fruity well-balanced wine with hints of peach, white flowers and a touch of almonds. $16

Soave Doc “Scaligeri” 2017 Sandro de Bruno made from 100% Garganega from small plots of land located on the slopes of Monte Calvarina. The vineyard is at 4,000 meters and the average age of the vineyards is 20 years. The training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic. There is manual harvesting using crates, grape sorting, de-stemming, grape selection, then a slow crushing of the grapes and pressing with nitrogen saturation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel. This is a wine with hints of pear, figs, and almonds with good minerality. $17

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglanico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

 

 

 

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Filed under Alois Winery, Argillae Winery, Best of $20 and under, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina

Italian Wines $20 and Less for Drinking Any Time

Here are 12 Italian wines I have tried lately priced under $20 that I have enjoyed and you might too.

 

Garganega- Soave DOC 2018 made from 100% Garganega. Sandro De Bruno The production zone is Soave, Roncà-Calvarina. The vineyard is 15 acres at 262 to 452 ft., the exposure is south and the soil is volcanic. There is a manual harvest in small crates during the 3rd week of September. A manual selection takes place followed by a soft press in a nitrogen saturation with a low temperature of 10°C. Before the fermentation, the must is decanted getting rid of the first gross lees. Noble lees are preserved and worked with continuous batonnages for 3 months. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine has aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, with a hint of white flowers, nice minerality and a touch of peach $14

Gewürztraminer “Classic” Südtirol- Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Gewürztraminer, Tiefenbrunner. The vineyards are in Kurtatsch and Entiklar on south/southeast facing hills at 260 to 470 meters. The training system is pergola and guyot and there are 3,500 t0 7,000 vines per hectare. The vines are up to 35 years old. The soil is chalk moraine in the hills of Entiklar and alluvial in Kurtatsch. Fermented at a constant temperature at 20C in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is on the fine lees for 4 months in stainless steel tanks and concrete. The wine has hints of ripe grapes, candied fruits, a hint of honey and a touch of spice and sage. $18

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 Michele Alois 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. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18

Falanghina Beneventano 2018 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara  The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand.  I first had this wine at the winery. $17

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

Ippolito 1845, “Pecorello” Calabria Bianco IGT 2018 Ippolito made from 100% Pecorello Bianco.  Pecorello means little sheep. It is an ancient grape variety of Calabria and was almost extinct until Ippolito began producing it again. Manual harvest takes place in early September, then cold settling and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks until the end of January. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with notes of peach and pear and nice minerality $19

Umbria IGT Bianco Grechetto 2018  Argillae made from 100% Grechetto The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before the wine is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and a typical almond finish. I tasted this wine with a group of friends at the winery and they all really liked it. $18

 

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglanico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

Primitivo Salento “Mezzapezza” 2016 Trullo di Pezza made from 100% Primitivo from vines 20 to 30 years old at 5 meters. The soil is sandy clay, south exposure and the training system is Espalier. Harvest is manual. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with maceration for 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months and 1 month in bottle before release. This is a fresh intense fruity wine with hints of cherry, plum, and a touch of spice.$17

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 10% Merlot and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place by hand from the last ten days of September to early October. Vinification is exclusively with natural enzymes. The wine does not undergo any kind of stabilization or filtration. The presence of sediment should be considered a guarantee of authenticity. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for about 12 months and aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherry, violets and floral scents and a touch of spice. $19

Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG “Garabei” 2017  Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Dolcetto planted in 1968. The estate is situated on a hill in Diano d’Alba at a high altitude. They own 11 hectares of vineyards. The soil is sandy with a lot of gravel. The juice is fermented naturally on the skins for 8 days in stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel and spends 4 more months in bottle before release. The wines are not filtered or fined. Sustainable farming methods are used. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries. $16

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2015 Tenuta Del Mariggio 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 and should be drunk within the next 5 years.$16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alois Winery, Argillae Winery, Cavalier Pepe, De Bruno, Donna Chiara Winery, Gewurztraminer, Ippolito winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kata, Soave, Uncategorized

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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Eating and Drinking at the Alois Winery in Campania

Two years ago I was invited to attend Campania Stories, a press event in the Italian region of Campania.  While there, I visited the Michele Alois winery not far form Caserta where I met Michele Alois, his son  Massimo Alois and his wife Talita de Rosa.  At one point  the conversation turned to pizza and I was told  the winery was close to Franco Pepe’s restaurant Pepe in Grani, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I was promised that if I came to the winery again they would take me there. For lunch that day, Talita, who is a wonderful cook, was making Pasta alla Genovese a classic Neapolitan dish and another pasta with a meat ragu.  Unfortunately, all I was able to do was smell the wonderful sauces she was preparing before we had to leave for another winery.  Seeing how sad I was, Talita promised me that if I visited again she would make me all the pasta I wanted.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

This year, I contacted Talita and told her that my wife Michele and I would be in Naples again. Massimo picked us up  and drove us to the winery. When we arrived Talita was already preparing lunch. This time we did not visit  cellar but had the wines upstairs in the dining room so we could enjoy them with lunch.

The winery was founded by Michele Alois at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

Talita in the Kitchen

Talita was preparing three different pasta sauces when we arrived.  While we waited for them to be ready, she served us some freshly made meatballs.

When the first pasta was ready, we headed to the table.  Talita had made paccheri with baccala, olives, tomatoes and capers.

Next came the pasta alla Genovese.  My wife Michele’s family always made this sauce, but Michele declared that Talita’s version was better than her grandmother’s! The sauce is made with lots of onions, some stewing beef or veal, and salami or prosciutto.  Talita’s version was mild and delicate and she added lots of Parmigiano Reggiano just before serving.

Last but not least was Talita’s pasta al ragu, made with a rich tomato sauce, braciole, sausages and cotena, pork skin, for the proper flavor and texture.  It was perfect.

The Wines

 

Massimo said the name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of the grape’s tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

  1. Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2016 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.

We also tasted the 2009 Caiati

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Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Volturno IGT 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 Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 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) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

We  tasted the  2012 and 2010  These are big wines with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

Settimo 2011 made from Casavecchia and Pallagrello- This is a great food wine and is drinking exceptionally well. Michele and I liked it so much we ordered it a week later at a restaurant in Rome.

Optimvm  2001  made from 100% Casavecchia.  Talita also made roast lamb which she served with potatoes.   This was a perfect combination with the Optimum. We finished with some very fresh mozzarella di bufala and several cakes for dessert.

After all this truly wonderful food and wine Massimo said, ‘a promise is a promise’ and we all went off to have pizza at Pepe in Grani!

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12 Wines $20 and Under for All Seasons

 

There are some wines that I like to drink all year round. They go with the foods I like to eat and I know I can turn to them at any time. I consider them wines for all seasons. Remember that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to drink well.

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $1IMG_9987

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. Donnachiara. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors nice acidity and good minerality. $18IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2014 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. Alois 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. $20IMG_1091

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Flis  The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will under go malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15IMG_1094

Pinot Grigio 2015 Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. $16IMG_0912

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2014 Elena Walch made from 100% Gewurztraminer from small vineyards around the villages if Tramin and Caldero. After harvest, the grapes are crushed and pressed. The fresh must is clarified at low temperatures then gently fermented at a controlled temperature of 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in stainless steel tanks for several months on its fine lees. The wine has hints of white flowers and spice with a nice long finish. $20

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rose 2015 IGP Pays d’OC  Chapoutier made from 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. The estate was purchased by Michel Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in one of the best parts of the Languedoc called the Cotes du Roussillon. The grapes are carefully vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then carefully blended prior to bottling. $15IMG_1075

Bordeaux Rose 2015 made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau de Lardiley. The soil is clay and limestone, organic agriculture and located in the heart of the Entre-Deux-Mers area in the village of Saint-Pierre-de Bat. The estate is situated midslope along the Garonne River. This is a ripe, red fruit dominated wine with hints of strawberries and raspberries. $15IMG_1092

Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2014, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape.  (It is one of the grapes in the blend for Lacryma Chrisit del Vesuvio Rosso.) It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort.
The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice a long finish and nice after taste. The wine should be drunk young. $16IMG_0914

Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Schiava from high side vineyards above Lake Caldaro at 1,312 ft. Elena Walch The soil is limestone and dandy clay. There is temperature-controlled fermentation at 27°C in stainless steel tanks for 7 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation and maturation take place in traditional 8,000-liter Slovenian oak casks. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry and a nice bitter almond touch on the finish. $16IMG_1093

Cahors Malbec Prestige 2011 AOP Cahors Domaine du Théron 100% Malbec. Family owned and operated by Pelvillain Freres. The domaine was established in 1973 and is situated in the village of Prayssac in the valley of Lot. The soil is limestone and clay with cover grass planted between the rows. Grapes are harvested in the early morning, destemmed and lightly crushed. Maceration and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After the wines are racked to different stainless steel tanks where malolactic fermentation is completed. The wines are aged in barriques for about 12 months, 1/3 of which is new wood. The best barrels are selected and blended into the Cuvée Prestige which is the top of the line and aged another year in bottle before release. This is a big dark wine with hints of spice and chocolate and a touch of blueberries with a smooth yet powerful finish. $18

Moscato d”Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG –NV 100% Moscato d”Asti, Vietti. Grapes are selected from vineyards in Castiglione Tinella. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and they are about 40 years old. The grapes are crushed, pressed and naturally clarified. Must is stored, without sulfite, at low temperature in order to naturally prevent fermentation. Before bottling, yeast is added and the temperature is increased. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel autoclave to preserve natural CO2 from the fermentation. The fermentation is stopped at 5.5% alcohol by again reducing the temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and preserves acidity, varietal fruit character and freshness. The wine is held in stainless steel tanks before bottling. The wine is delicately sweet, slightly sparkling, frizzante with hints of white peaches, apricots and ginger. $16

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Tasting Pallagrello and Casavecchia at the Alois Winery

One of the things I enjoyed most on my recent visit to Benevento for Campania Stories, was the opportunity to visit wineries, speak to the producers, and taste their wines.IMG_0113

One afternoon, Gianfranco Alois picked me up at my hotel to take me to his family winery. As we were driving the conversation turned to pizza as it always does when you are near Naples. He said we were very close to Franco Pepe’s Restaurant, Pepe in Grano, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I asked him if we could stop there but he said there was no time, and besides his sister-in-law Talita was making lunch.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

At the winery Michele Alois, his son Massimo, the winemaker, and his wife Talita, greeted me.

Michele Alois

Michele Alois

The winery was founded by Michele at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

For the tasting we concentrated on two wines: Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I am familiar with both of them but this would be the first time I could taste so many and from different vintages. I knew the winery and liked their Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” which I used for a tasting of Southern Italian Wines during Vino 2016 in NYC, so I was looking forward to the tasting.IMG_0120

The tasting took place in the cellar with all the family members talking about the wine and at times the foods of the area. I tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello and Casavecchia, plus vintages going back to 2010

The name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of its tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 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 if almonds, citrus fruit melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0115

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Voltumo IGT 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 Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived Phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.IMG_0121

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 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) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

The 2010 is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0112

Talita made a delicious frittata for us to eat during the tasting, but unfortunately, I had another winery to visit and it became too late for me to try her Pasta alla Genovese, a classic dish from the Neapolitan kitchen. All I got to do was smell the aroma. It was a wonderful visit and I really enjoyed meeting the family and experiencing their wines.

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Filed under Alois Winery, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Cassavecchia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Uncategorized