Category Archives: Asti

Fiorenzo Dogliani and the Wines of Beni di Batasiolo

When I was the wine director at I Trulli Restauant, we carried a number of Batasiolo wines. They were very well made wines and very well priced.  But I had not tasted these wines in a few years so when I received an invitation for a tasting and lunch at Il Postino, I was happy to accept.

Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani

My host was Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani, a charming and knowledgeable man, not only about wine but also about everything in the Langhe.  During the lunch we spoke about Piedmontese wine in general, the food of the area and the restaurants. I really enjoyed speaking to him.

He related a little of the history of the winery.  Dogliani was the original name but it had to be changed in 1978. This was done, Mr. Dogliani said, to avoid confusion with a large co-operative, which produced Dolcetto in the Dogliani designation. He said that there were seven beni farmhouses with vineyards- when they brought the property in La Morra in the 1950’s. The name Beni di Batasiolo was chosen because it was in keeping with the tradition that identifies a real value with the term “bene”, here applied to the land, the vineyards and the farm. The winery now has nine “beni” covering a total of over 100 hectares, 60 of which are planted with Nebbiolo.  Mr. Dogliani said that they have a philosophy of the land, understanding the terroir and using mostly traditional grapes and methods.

The Wine

Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2010 100% Cortese The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity. $18.9

Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” DOC 2009 100% Barbera.  Mr Dogliani made the point that the vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo. It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. He feels this excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age.

The harvest takes place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age. $22.99

Barbaresco DOCG 2008 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. $36 

Barolo DOCG 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo, in its subvarities of Michet, Lampia and Rosé. Harvest takes place from the 10th of October to the first ten days of November. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel with long maceration on the skins for 15/20 days.  Aging takes place in traditional Slavonion oak casks for 2 years and one year in bottle before release. The wine had flavors and aromas of dried fruit, spice and a touch of tobacco and leather. $40

Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Moscato Bianco. The vines are grown in the hill terrain of Serralunga with a north, northwest exposure at 380- 410 meters. There are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vines are 15 years old. The soil is of calcareous and marl. Harvest takes place during the last 10 days of September. The grapes are hand picked and delivered to the winery in 20Kg containers, keeping the bunches intact as much as possible. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and a partial fermentation with abundant residual sugar. The juice is then cooled to zero C and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation begins a month before the first bottling, a very slow process reaching 5.5% alcohol by volume. It has aromas and flavors of pineapple; melon and a slight hint of oranges $16.99 

Moscato Spumante Rosè 2010 Made from Moscato Bianco and Moscato Rosa. Mr. Dogliani said that the Moscato Rosa came from the Trentino area. The grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness.  After pressing the juice is then filtered in specially designed centrifuges. The liquid is stored in thermally insulated containers at extreme low temperatures. The secondary fermentation takes place in pressure tanks following the charmat method. This was a very easy wine to drink, with aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit $16.99 (the wine is not a Piemonte DOC because the Moscato Rosa came from Trentino.

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Filed under Asti, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Gavi, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Piedmont, Sparkling wine, White wine

Sparkling Italians

One year we spent New Year’s Eve in Venice. We went to a restaurant and had a wonderful seafood dinner and drank sparkling wine. We began with Prosecco and then had a Franciacorta Brut.  With our dessert we drank an Asti Spumante. Walking back to our hotel through Saint Mark’s Square just after midnight was quite an experience. The whole square was filled with people popping sparkling wine corks, drinking the wine from the bottle, laughing and carrying on, and then smashing the bottles on the ground.  To get back to our hotel, we walked through the square as quickly as possible!

The Lion of Saint Mark

Since then we often serve Italian sparkling wine with a seafood dinner for New Years Eve and remember that night in Venice.

Italy produces a vast array of sparkling wines referred to as spumante. They make it in every form from dosage zero (driest) to demi sec (off dry) and everything in between.  Many different grape varieties are used and the wine is made by either the Charmat method wherein the second fermentation takes place in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank, or Metodo Classico where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.  They also produce wines, which are slightly sparkling, and these they refer to as frizzante.

Prosecco from the Veneto is the number one selling sparkling wine in Italy. Almost all Prosecco is made by the Charmat method. I like Prosecco as an aperitif, with appetizers, seafood risotto and with fried foods. In Rome I always enjoy Prosecco with fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. There are many good Proseccos on the market at very reasonable prices.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Rustico” Brut Nino Franco 100 % Glera grape. Traditionally the grape was called Prosecco. This is the least expensive of their wines.  $16

Prosecco  “Organic” Treviso DOC Mionetto Made from certified organically grown grapes without the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers.  $15

Bisol, Valdo, Aneri are other producers that I lik

There are individual producers that make good Spumante in the Metodo Classical style in Italy but in general I believe that the best come from the regions of Lombardy (Franciacorta) and Trentino.

Franciacorta

The label on a bottle of Franciacorta only bears the designation “Franciacorta”, this single term defines the territory, the method of production and the wine. All Franciacorta is Metodo Classico and DOCG.

Franciacorta is made from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir; Pinot Bianco can be used as well, up to 50% of the blend

Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista A special cuvee made from 100%Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quintiles using old small barrels as was once practiced in the past.  Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50%   $50

Franciacorta Brut this non- vintage wine is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir Berlucchi The wine is fermented for six months in stainless steel and aged for 12 months before disgorging. After disgorging the bottle is aged for 2 more months in the cellar before release. $30

Dosage Zero Millesimato  Franciacorta  This vintage wine is made from 60% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Bianco and 17% Pinot Noir. Ca’ del Bosco The average age of the vines is 31 years and the harvest takes place the first week of September. $50

Other producers Contadi Castaldi and Monte Rose-look for their Rose Brut

Trentino

Ferrari Brut NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are picked by hand at the beginning of September. They come from various communes in the Val d’Adige, Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi. The vineyards are between 300 and 700 meters above sea level, with southeast or southwest exposure. The wine is aged for at least 24 months on the lees. The yeast is selected from Ferrari’s own cultures $25

Ferrari Rosé NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The grapes come from hillside vineyards around the town of Trento at 300 to 600 meters above sea level. The wine is aged for 25-30 months on the lees $37.

If you want something special to celebrate the New Year Italian style then I recommend what I believe may be the finest Metodo Classico wine made in Italy. It is about $100 a bottle and worth it.

Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore This is a single vineyard reserve aged vintage wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family  that owns Ferrari. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees.  They do not make this wine in every vintage.  The first vintage was 1972

Emilia Romagna

For many years the “industrial” sweet Lambrusco wine that was imported into this country was not very good.  It had a screw cap, was very inexpensive, very sweet and for some reason was very popular during the 1980’s. This sent the wrong message to serious wine drinkers. I often heard it said that no one could make a good Lambrusco!

This has changed and there are some excellent Lambruscos now available here. They were always available in Emilia.

In Italy on New Years Day it is traditional and good luck for the coming year to eat lentils. In Emilia the lentils would be served with cotechino, a large spiced pork sausage.  The wine they would drink with this meal would be a dry, low alcohol (11.5%), high acid Lambrusco with a strawberry accent that is a perfect combination with this dish.

Lambrusco Secco “Concerto” Reggiano DOC Made from the Lambrusco Salamino grape. It is a sparkling dry red wine with traditional fermentation in the Charmat Method. Ermete Medici & Figli. $15 

Lini and Ca de’ Medici are other good producers. Most Lambrusco is made by the Charmat Method but some producers also make a Metodo Classico.

Sparkling Dessert Wines- Piedmont

Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh.

Often in the past I would see Italian/Americans putting a cube of sugar in their Asti. I was told it helped the bubbles and made the wine sweeter. Serve it with cookies, plain cakes and panettone.  From $14 to $20

Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.

Some producers also make a Metodo Classico

Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20

Producers Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and Vietti

Asti and Moscato D’Asti can be found for around $20 a bottle

Brachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.

Producers  include  Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Filed under Asti, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Spumante