Category Archives: Banfi Brunello

Celebrating La Befana with Friends

Italians end the holiday season by celebrating the Epiphany, also known as 3 Kings Day.  The story goes that the 3 Kings, on their way to visit the Baby Jesus, stopped at the home of an old woman and invited her to join them on their journey.  She said no, because she had too much housework to do.  She soon regretted her decision and took off on her broom to search for the Christ Child.

La Befana

The old woman is called La Befana, and according to tradition, she arrives on the Epiphany on her broomstick to bring gifts to the good Italian boys and girls and coal to the bad ones. It is a national holiday in Italy also the opportunity for one last holiday feast.  This year, our friends Lars and Karen invited us to their home to share a meal that would have made the Befana very proud.  

We started with grilled purple asparagus seasoned with sea salt from Marsala,

followed by thin, crispy fried root vegetables with more of that sea salt,

and fried calamari.

We had two wines with the appetizers 

Vermentino “La Pettegola” Toscana 2017 IGT made from 100% Vermentino. Following a very soft pressing, fermentation takes place for about 13 to 16 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and peach and a touch of sage with good acidity. It is a very easy drinking wine and it worked very well with the appetizers. 

Cuvee Aurora Rose Metodo Classico Alta Lange 2014 DOCG 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage)  and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.

Then we tasted the

2002 Merlot Santa Maria Valley, Bien Nacido Vineyard from Caparone. The wine is unfined and unfiltered and the style of wine is more European that California. The wine was showing no signs of age.

This was followed by

Chianti Classico “Fonte Alla Selva” 2015 DOCG made from mostly Sangiovese with Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon from over 40 hectares of estate vineyards in Castellina the heart of the Chianti Classical zone with alluvial soils, limestone and clay. Fermentation with traditional maceration on the skins for 8 to 10 days, followed by short aging in French oak barrels. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and blackberry with a touch of spice.

Lars preparing  main course  Osso Buco with polenta, which he served in the traditional wooden trenchers used in the Lazio region for serving polenta 

The main course

Brunello Di Montalcino 1998 DOCG 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soli. There is a meticulous grape selection (yield not exceeding 6 metric tons/ha) is followed by vinification in temperature–controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 20 days. The wine ages for two years in various sizes oak barrels, 305-liter barriques, 60 and 120 hl barrels; the wine is then aged in bottle for an additional 8 to 12 months.The wine is released 5 years after the harvest. This is the information for the current release. I believe that the 1998 was not aged in this way.

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva “Poggio All’Oro 1988 Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250 mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of 6 years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. This is the information from the current vintage.

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 1979 Villa Banfi 100% Sangiovese, select clones from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino. This is an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruit, violets, and a touch of licorice and spice. This delightful and wonderful Brunello one of the best I have ever tasted and still has a lot of life left. Lars said this was the first Brunello produced by Banfi and I am sure it was made in a very traditional style. Banfi did not begin their clonal research project on Sangiovese until 1982.

We finished the wine with cheese

There were 3 desserts, including Panettone and two traditional homemade cakes made with dried fruits.

The final wine of the feast was

Recioto della Valpolicella Classico IGT “Regolo” 2015 Sartori made from 100% Corvina. The vineyards are in the hilly area of Valpolicella with clay and calcareous soil. Only the best grapes are selected. A gentle pressing is followed by skin maceration at low temperature for 8 to 10 days. In February the wine rests on Amarone pomace, which enhances the wine’s aromatic and aging potential. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged for about 18 to 24 months in medium to large-sized oak casks followed by a minimum of 4 months bottle refinement before release. This is a complex dessert wine with hints of red and black berries and cherry with nice ripe fruit on the finish.

To finish a great meal, we had grappa and cafè

Grappa di Brunello “Torre” made from the pomace of Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese). This is an intense grappa with a hint of wild berries and sour cherries on the finish.

 

 

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Filed under Banfi, Banfi Brunello, Chianti Classico, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Recioto, Spumante

Dinner with Lars and Karen

Dinner at Lars and Karen’s house always begins the same way.IMG_8533

Lars takes a large silver sword from its box, holds a bottle of Cuvee Aurora Rose sparkling wine in his other hand, and with one fell swoop slices the cork and the top off the bottle.IMG_8534

We watch in amazement while they fly across the yard.

Lars Leicht is the head of the Cru Artisan division of Banfi. Here are the wines he served that night. He also did most of the cooking!IMG_8540

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.IMG_8543

Lars served this wine with an assortment of appetizers including sauteed eggplant with cherry tomatoes, a Neapolitan dish.IMG_8541

Pecorino “Cortalato” Colli Aprutini IGT 2014 100% Pecorino Cerulli Spinozzi. The vineyards are in the Colli Aprutini in Abruzzo. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel, prior to malolactic fermentation and it is aged on its lees fro 5 months prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and peach with notes of apricot and orange and a touch of bitter almond on the lingering finish. I recommend this wine often and it is a true bargain at less than $18 a bottle. Enrico Cerulli has taken over the management Cerulli Spinozzi his ancestral property. I have met Enrico a number of times and am always impressed by his knowledge and passion for his wine. The consulting winemaker is Franco Bernabei, who I consider to be one of the best.IMG_8548

With it, we ate hand rolled pici pasta (like thick spaghetti) with clams and herbs.IMG_8546

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo “Torre Migliore” 2009 Cerulli Spinozzi made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo in the Colli Teramane DOCG area. The soil consists of compact layers of shale and is rich in nutrients. Selected grapes are hand harvested in small boxes. The juice is fermented on the skins for 15/18 days in oak for at least 16 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in the bottle before release. This is a complex intense wine with hints of ripe cherries, blackberries and a touch of clove. This wine will age and is a bargain at about $18IMG_8556

With the red wines, we ate an assortment of grilled sausages and lamb chops.

The next three red wines are from Palari owned by Salvatore Geraci.IMG_8564

Santa.Ne 2008 100% A Francisa. I asked Lars about this unusual grape and he said “As Salvatore Geraci explains it to me, a century ago they planted a French varietal in that vineyard but no longer recall what it is. The farmers simply refer to it as “the French one,” or ‘a Francisa‘ in local dialect. Some hypothesize that it could be Malbec or Petite Verdot, but in any case over the decades it has morphed into something unique to its conditions.”

The grapes are grown in soil that consists of clay (argilla) in vineyards located in Santo Briga in Messina, Sicily. The wine is aged for 14 months in new barrels of Troncais oak. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest, unfiltered for at least two more years before release. It has hints of tobacco, leather, red berries and a touch of spice.IMG_8557

Rosso Del Soprano 2011 made from 60% Nerello, 15% Nocera, 20% Nerello Capuccio, 2% Acitana, 2% Jacche and 1% Coe’e Palumba. After a soft pressing and fermentation with native yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, the wine ages in one-year-old barrels of Troncais and Allier oak. It is then bottled and rests, unfiltered, for about another year before release. It has hints of ripe red berries and undertones of spice with a persistent finish.IMG_8566

Faro 2009 Like the Rosso Del Soprano above, this wine is made from the same indigenous grapes but with a different selection. Salvatore Geraci the owner of Palari saved the Faro DOC from extinction by taking over the 6 hectare vineyard and producing the wine. The wine is aged in new barrels of Troncais and Allier oak for at least 12 months. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest unfilited for an additional year before release. This is an elegant and complex wine with notes of ripe red fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla. It has a very long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Faro means lighthouse in Italian.IMG_8568

Brunello di Montalcino 1982  Villa Banfi 100% Sangiovese, select clones from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino. The grapes are grown in stony, calcareous and well-structured soil at an altitude of 720 ft. A careful grape selection is followed by vinification with skin contact for 10-12 days. The wines are released the 5th year after the harvest. Current vintages of this wine are aged a minimum of 4 years, 2 years in oak barrels of various sizes, mainly French oak barriques and partly in Slavonian oak casks.

I do not believe the 1982 was aged in barriques and I do not believe the “clone selection” was the same back then. This is an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruit, violets, and a touch of licorice and spice. It is showing no sign of age. A delightful Brunello.IMG_8574

Malvasia Delle Lipari 2011 100% Malvasia, Florio. The wine is produced in Malfa, on the island of Salina, archipelago of the Aeolian Islands. The soil is of volcanic origin and sandy. The vineyards are planted on the coast less the 50 meters above sea level. The grapes are hand harvested then laid on reed mats to dry in the sun for about 20 days.

The raisined grapes are gently pressed and left briefly with skin contact. The must is then drained and fermented slowly at controlled temperatures and fermentation stops naturally. The wine is aged a minimum of 5 months in 25 liter fine oak barrels. The wine has hints of raisins, dried apricots and a touch of honey

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Filed under Abruzzo, Banfi Brunello, Brunello, Cerulli Spinozzi, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Faro, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Malvasia delle Lipari-Florio, Rosso del Soprano, Santa.Ne, Sparkling wine, Uncategorized

Vino 2015 in NYC: Some New Discoveries and Some Old Friends

Last week the Italian Trade Commission welcomed wine journalists and members of the trade to VINO 2015, Italian Wine Week. It was billed as the Greatest Italian Wine Event Held Outside Italy: Celebrating the Wines of Southern Italy. There were a number of seminars on Italian wine and other events and a Grand Tasting.

Slow Food/Wine which has a Slow Wine Guide of the 400 best wineries in Italy was also holding a Grand Tasting billed as Slow Wine/Vino 2015. Both Grand Tastings took place over a two-day period at the Waldorf Astoria.

At the Grand Tastings there was an ocean of wine but I did my best to taste as many as I could. There were a number of new discoveries and many old friends.

The Wines.

Filippo Antonelli (Umbria) one of my favorite producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco. I always enjoy speaking to him and tasting his wines. His also produces a white wine that I had not tasted before:IMG_7149

Trebbiano Spoletino, made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino (a white grape variety native to the area around Spoleto). A hand selection of the best grapes in the vineyard which is at 300 meters with a western exposure. Filippo cultivates the vines as they did in ancient times next to maple trees in order to make the grapes grow higher. The vines are attached to the trees keeping them well off the ground so that the late frost in the region does not affect them. The harvest takes place in October.

Soft pressing is followed by skin contact and cold static clarification. Fermentation is in 25 HL oak barrels. Aging in 25 HL oak barrels and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has floral aromas with hints of tropical fruit, almonds and spice. It is well balanced with good acidity.

Colutta from Friuli is a producer I do not know so I decided to taste his wines. Giorgio Colutta was there and he told me about his wines and winery. He makes a number of wines including a Sparkling Brut from the Ribolla Gialla grape. I liked the whole line. The Refosco was one of the best I ever tasted.IMG_7107

Refosco made from 100% Refosco del Peduncolo (Red Stalk). There are 3,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, crushed and fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with additional selected yeasts. Déslestage (rack and return) takes place. After 10 to 15 days the grapes are soft pressed. Part of the wine is aged in barrels and part in stainless steel. This is a wine that needs time. It has hints of wild blackberry, plum and other black fruits.

I have always been a big fan of Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico. Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti was there and she told me I have to taste this wine made from very traditional Tuscan varieties.IMG_7140

Chianti Classico “Cultus Boni” 2010 made from 80% Sangiovese, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Fogliatonda, Malvasia, Sanforte, Mommolo and Pugnitello. The geographical area is Monti in Chianti and the vineyards of Montebello and Argenina. The vineyards are at 260 to 370 mt. and the exposure is south, southwest. Soil is clay and limestone, vines are 10 to 35 years old, and training system is guyot. Manual harvest. Natural fermentation takes place with native yeasts, maceration for about 40 days on the skins. Aging is in French Oak barrels of various sizes. This is a full-bodied wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherry and violets.IMG_7108

A friend asked me to taste the wines of a Sicilian producer and then give my opinion of the wines. The producer is Alliata and I told him that I liked the wines after tasting them. They make wines from the Insolia, Grillo and Nero d’Avola among others. The Insolia is made from 100% Insolia in northwest Sicily. The soil is clay and pebbles and the vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 5,000 vines/ha and they use a vertical trellised training system. Harvest takes place the first two weeks of September depending on the maturity of the grapes. Extremely soft pressing takes place with a membrane press at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 4 to 5 months in stainless steel tanks on the lees. It is released after 2 to 3 months in bottle.IMG_7101

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva “Poggio all’Ora” 2009. Castello Banfi. Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of five years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. I was very impressed by this wine and even though it spends a long time in barriques, the usual tastes associated with these barrels was not present. IMG_7117

Taurasi “Campoceraso” 2007 DOCG Azienda Vinicola Struzziero Avellino, Campania. 100% Aglianico. I had not tasted wine from this producer in some time so I stopped to see if they were as good as I remember them. The vineyards are on the Colline Venticano hills and Torre Le Nocelle. There is controlled fermentation with 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged in oak barrels for at least 36 months. The wine remains in bottle for about six months. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of red fruit, spice, coffee and tobacco. It is a balanced wine with a full aftertaste and long finish. I was happy to see that the wines were as good as I remember them.

Planeta – The winery has different locations around Sicily and I have visited most of them. This wine comes from the Feudo di Mezzo location close to Mt Etna.IMG_7152

Eruzione 1614 Bianco DOC  vintage 2013 made from 95% Carricante and 5% Riesling grapes from the Sciara Nova vineyard in Castiglione, Sicily. The soil is black lava (Mt. Etna) and the training system is vertical trellis, spurred pruned cordon and guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the harvest takes place on October 6th. Grapes are picked and refrigerated at once at 8 degrees and a hand selection takes place. After a light crushing and destemming the grapes are soft pressed. The decanted must is racked and inoculated with yeast, then fermented at 15 degrees for 20 days. The wine remains on the lees until February with continuous mixing and is bottled in March. This is a white wine that will age and should not be drunk until at least 3 years after the vintage.

 

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Filed under Alliata Winery, Antonelli, Banfi Brunello, Colutta Winery, Cultus Boni Chianti Classico, Eruzione 1614 Bianco, Insolia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Planeta, Poggio Alle Mura- Castello Banfi, Refosco, Struzziero winery, Taurasi, Trebbiano Spoletino