Category Archives: Banfi

Chianti Classico Connection

Last week, I attended a tasting called The Chianti Connection sponsored by the Chianti Classico Consortium where I was able to taste dozens (out of hundreds) of Chianti wines.  After the event I felt more connected to Chianti Classico than ever before, which was perfect, since if all goes as planned I will be in Tuscany in October and look forward to drinking many bottles of Chianti Classico.

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The Symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium

There were 235 Chianti Classico–Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione from 2019 back to 2012, 7 Vin Santo Chianti Classico and even Olio DOP Chianti Classico. It was a two-day event but I could only attend on one. I had my place for two hours and I would pick four wines at a time from the list and they would be poured into my glass.  It was all done via smartphone, except the pouring.  Here are my thoughts on a few of those I tasted.

IMG_5160Chianti Classico: The Territory

IMG_5164The Quality Pyramid-producers must declare in advance if it is Chianti Classico Annata, Riserva or Gran Selezione

IMG_5168Chianti Classico must be made from 80% and 100% Sangiovese and up to 20% other permitted red grapes both indigenous and international.

The Wines

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Chianti Classico 2019 Lilliano made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch-downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis. I recently rediscovered Lilliano when I was in Rome last time and was reminded how good it can be.

IMG_5063Chianti Classico 2019 Bibbiano made from 100% Sangiovese The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets. 

IMG_5064Chianti Classico 2019 Volpaia Made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2.564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in Slavonian casks for 12 months. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint and a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Chianti Classico can age I had the 2004 Volpaia at a friend’s house just after the tasting and it was in perfect condition and not yet at its peak.

IMG_5065Chianti Classico 2019 “Brolio” Ricasoli made from Sangiovese. The vineyards are in Gaiole in Chianti, which are at 280 t0 480 meters. Vinified in stainless steel with 16 days of skin contact and 9 months in large barrels and barriques. The wine has fruity black cherry aromas and flavors with hints of spice and violets.

IMG_5078Chianti Classico 2019 Banfi made from mostly Sangiovese and small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. Fermentation takes place with traditional skin contact of 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged for a short time in large casks of French oak. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherries, plums and violets with a note of leather.

IMG_5089Chianti Classico 2019 “Storia di Famiglia” Cecchi Made from 90 % Sangiovese, 5 % Colorino and 5% Canaiolo The vineyards are at 259 meters and the soil is middle dough ,alkaline and stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is traditional red wine fermentation at a controlled temperature. Fermentation and maceration for 18 days. The wine is aged in bottle for s minimum of 2 months This is a wine with hints of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries a touch of spice and a hint of pine.  Always one of my favorites.

IMG_5100Chianti Classico 2019 Riecine made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone and clay and the vineyard is at 450/500 meters and is certified organic by ICEA. The vines are 25 years old. Harvest is by hand in September and October with a selection of graprs and in the cellar. The grapes are separated by plot, crushed and fermented in open concrete Nomboly tanks. Maceration is for 10 days and pressed off. Aging is in old tonneaux and big Grenier casks. The wine was bottled in January 2021.  This is a fruit-driven, elegant, medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, roses, eucalyptus and a touch of violet.

IMG_5072 2Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The wine is vinified in temperature controlled conical steel vats. Delestage and pumping over for about 20 to 22 days. The wine is aged in 500 liter oak barrels, partly new and partly second hand for 18 to 20 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and blueberries with a hint of violets. Monsanto is located in the western-central area of the Chianti Classico region in the municipality of Barberino Tavarnelle. I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.

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Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2018 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico for many years.

IMG_5079Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 Castello di Meleto made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and southwest exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vats. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly.

IMG_5090Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2001 Castello di Meleto 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla.

There was an incredible amount of Chianti Classico to taste but I could only sample a fraction of them.  Chianti Classico has always been one of my favorite wines and I am happy to report that I liked all the wines I tasted.

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Filed under Badia a Coltibuono, Banfi, Bibbiano, Brolio Chianti Classico, Castello di Meleto, Cecchi, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Monsanto, Riecine, Vin Santo, Volpaia

Italian Summer Sparklers

Any time is a good time for sparkling wines and to me a chilled glass or two seems just right when I am sitting in a garden, at the poolside or even on a picnic.  Here are 10 sparklers from Italy that I have enjoyed recently that cost $25 or less a bottle.  The list includes white, rose and red sparklers and some are made from unusual grape varieties.

 

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). $19

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Pasqua  made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside  vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. This produces tiny, more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16

Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. DonnaChiara.  The vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, the owner of DonnaChiara, referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s).  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

 

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.$25

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees will be preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. Hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.$25

Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone CasaSetaro Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release.  The Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine.$20

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosato Millesimato 2013 Cantina della Volta made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna). The harvest is manual, then the grapes are soft pressed, the must is clarified, and the alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for at least six months in the tanks for the maturation process, selected yeast is added before the wine is bottled. The bottles are stored horizontally in piles for the long re-fermentation process and maturation at a controlled temperature, then remuage, disgorgement and liqueur d’expedition. The wine has hints of red fruit with a touch of hazelnuts and pomegranate.$24

 

 

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti Spumante and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only 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 $16

Banfi Vigna Regale “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 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. $20

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tasting the Exceptional 2015 Vintage of Brunello

The Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino presented Benvenuto Brunello USA 2020, its annual trade tasting in NYC. This year it showcased the 2015 vintage which has been awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. The tasting featured Brunello di Montalcino wines from 40 producers. I always enjoy going to this event and having the opportunity to taste the wines and talk with the producers. I tasted 14 wines, all from the 2015 vintage.

The production area is the commune territory of Montalcino. The grape variety is Sangiovese, known as Brunello in the town and territory of Montalcino in Tuscany.

The wine must be aged 2 years in oak casks and 4 months in bottle or 6 for the Riserva. Bottling must take place in the production zone. The wine is available for sale from the 1st of January of the 5th year following the harvest (6th year for the Riserva). Brunello di Montalcino can only be sold in Bordeaux- type bottles.

In my experience Brunello needs to age at least 10 to15 years before (even in a not so great year) I would even think of drinking it. Brunello improves greatly with age. If you want a wine that is “approachable” and ready to drink young, then look for a Rosso di Montalcino because that was why they were produced.

The Wines

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Caparzo – the grapes come from three different vineyards located in different parts of the estate. There is a manual harvest. During the first two days after fermentation special attention is paid to the seeds, which are eliminated if they are not ripe enough. Primary fermentation is for 7 days at a controlled temperature and is followed by delestages and pump overs. The wine is kept in contact with the skins for 10 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation is spontaneous, takes place at a controlled temperature and is immediately after racking. The wine is aged in wood for at least 2 years and at least 4 months in bottle. This is a complex wine with hints of wild berries.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOCG Uccelliera. Production area Castelnovo dell’Abate, southeast of Montalcino, vineyard extension is 15.5 acres at 820 ft. The soil is rich in minerals, medium textured sand and clay with some gravel. The grapes are selected, de-stemmed and crushed. The must is kept for 4 to 5 days at low temperatures. Later the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation takes place naturally for 15 days in stainless steel. At the same time, the must macerates on the skins for about 7 days. After drawing off, the wine is kept in steel, malolactic occurs and the wine is placed in Slovenian and French oak barrels for 36 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months, before release. This wine was a little more international in style.

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2015 Col D’Orcia. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese selected by Col d’Orcia. The vineyard is at 300 meters in the hills overlooking the Orcia River with a south/southwest exposure, the soil is from the Eocene period in origin, loose, with little clay and rich in limestone. Fermentation is on the skins form18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 hl wide and shallow stainless steel tanks, designed in order to extract tannins and color efficiently but delicately. Aging is for 4 years: 3 years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonic and Allier oak casks, followed by at least 12 months of refinement in bottle. Since 2013 Col D’Orcia is the largest wine-producing farm in Tuscany.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 Franco Pacenti”  made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is north-east. The soil is medium clay with a low density of vines per hectare, divided into six plots with an average age of 25 years and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a strictly traditional vinification with prolonged maceration on the skins and long refinement in medium to large oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherries and mushrooms with a touch of spice and herbs.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2015 DOCG La Fiorita made from 100% Sangiovese from the 3.1 hectare Pian Bossolino vineyards at 350 meters. The exposure is south east, training system is spurred cordon and there are 7,000 plants per hectare and the soil is galestro. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Fermentation is Slavonian oak casks for 10 days with selected yeasts. During maceration, pumping over and delestage takes place. Type and capacity of aging casks: 12 months in new and second passage French oak; 12 months is Slavonian oak of 80Hl. Aging time: 24 months in wood, 6 months in steel and 30 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit, spice, balsam and a touch of tobacco and chocolate.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOCG Banfi 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soil. 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.

Bill Whiting of Banfi

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva “Poggio All’Oro” 2015 Banfi  100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Oro 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.

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 215 100% Sangiovese Mastrojanni. It is aged 3 years in Allier oak barrels of various sizes – 15, 33 and 54 hectoliters and then for 6/8 months in bottle. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black and red berries with a hint of spice and tobacco. The Iily Group now owns the winery.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 La Fortuna The average age of the vines is 20 to 30 years. Harvest takes place between September 20th to 30th. Type of fermentation is thermoconditioned and unleavened and lasts for 8 days. The wine remains on the skins for 25 days. Aging is for 40 months in 25HL Slavonian oak barrels. The wine remains in the bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, violet, plum and a touch of liquorice and a note of graphite. This is a traditional Brunello.

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOC Silvio Nardi 100% Sangiovese Grosso from the Manachiara and Casale Estates. Soil composition is jasper and shale. Grapes come from various vineyards in the municipality of Montalcino with northwest/and south/east exposure at 350 meters. The yield is limited and only the top 70% of the hand-harvested grapes are used in this wine. The grapes were carefully hand picked and sorted. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier barriques and 12 months in large Slavonian oak botte. It remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This wine needs many more years in the bottle. There were aromas and flavors of red berries and a hint of leather.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Celestino Pecci The vineyard exposure is south/southwest and the vineyards are at 350 meters. The soil is of a mixed consistency with a slight tendency towards clay. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest is by hand. The wine is aged in 10 and 35 HL wooden barrels for 36/40 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Altesino. Traditional fermentation. The wine is aged for 4 years with a minimum of two years in barrel and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, chocolate and tobacco with a touch of violets and vanilla.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Villa Poggio Salvi the exposure is South-West, the soil is Galestro (marl) and the vines are at 350 to 500 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first week of October. There is a pre-maceration for 8 days at a controlled temperature in steel tanks with caps pushed down with automatic hydraulic system. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30-60 to 100 liters for 30 months. The wine then remains in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red fruit, lavender and a touch of spice. This wine will age for 30 years or more.

Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Fattoria dei Barbi 100%  The soil is marl, alberese limestone and the vines are 15 to 20 years old and at 300 to 500 meters. The exposure is South and the training system is Cortina semplice and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest took place from September 28 to October 7th. Before fermentation the grapes were subjected to a cold fermentation maceration which consists in cooling the grapes at a temperature of 16C in an environment protected by COC. Alcoholic fermentation lasts 16/17 days at a controlled temperature. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in small to medium size oak barrels 2.5 to 15HL for the first months. It then spends two years in larger oak barrels and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of plum, blueberry with a touch of rhubarb and a note of spice.

I have a long history with this wine and drank it for the first time 40 years age. It might have been the 1971 vintage. The current vintage can be drunk over the next 15 to 50 years will last for 50 years.

Because of the regular and steady maturation of the grapes during the growing season, the 2015 vintage produced grapes with a perfect balance between sugar and acidity.

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s and the world’s greatest wines. Brunello di Montalcino was among the eight Italian wine producing zones to be designated DOC in 1966 and in 1980 it became the first Italian wine to receive the DOCG. I have to agree that 2015 is an exceptional vintage.

 

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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

A Banfi 40 Year Anniversary Celebration

There are  not many wine  companies that can celebrate a 40 year anniversary and still look forward to a continuing story of success for many years to come. One such company is Banfi. I  have always enjoyed their wines. In 1985 Michele and I visited the winery in Montalcino for  the first time. When I am at the Vinitaly wine fair in Verona, I always make sure to visit the Banfi stand and in NYC I attend their wine tastings. Over the years I have come to know the people at Banfi and they are some of the nicest people in the wine business. Michele and I have become friends with many of them. When I was invited to a celebration of their 40th anniversary I was more than happy to attend.


Lars Leicht, Director of Trade Development, greeted me.  Lars has been with Banfi for 33 years and he went along with me as I tasted the wines. All the wines that Banfi produced between 1978 and 2018 were available at the event. Lars said that when we finished tasting the wines in the upstairs room we would go downstairs where there were wines from the 1990’s.

Christina

I spoke with Cristina Mariani-May, President and CEO of Banfi Vintners and Family Proprietor of Castello Banfi, about the last 40 years. Here are some of the highlights:

1978 Villa Banfi was born in Montalcino

1979 Acquisition of Cantina Bruzzone in Strevi, Piemonte

1982 Initiation of the clonal research project on Sangiovese

1983 Acquisition of Castello di Poggio alla Mura which became a symbol of the estate

1984 Inauguration of the winery in Montalcino–a milestone for modern winemaking

1990 The vintage that changed the history of Montalcino

1992 Inauguration of the Glass and Bottle Museum

1997 First Vintage of “Poggio alle Mura” Brunello, result of 20 years of Sangiovese research.

2007 Publication of the “ The Pursuit of Excellence” study

2009 The use of the “light bottle” becomes reality

2014 Tuscan Estates: conclusion of the first phase of acquisition

2017 Birth of Sanguis Jovis–Sangiovese School

2018 40 years and the story continues.

The Wines: 1978/2018

1978/1988 Principessa Gavia, San Angelo Pinot Grigio, Fontanella Chardonnay, Rosso di Montalcino, Brunello, Summas, Florus, Poggio all’Oro Brunello

1988-1998: Chianti Classico Rsv, Centine Rosso, Le Rime, L’Ardi, ExcelsuS, Rosa Regale

1998-2008: Cuvée Aurora Rose, Poggio alla Mura Brunello, Chianti Superiore, Cum Laude BelnerO, La Lus

2008 to 2018; Rosso di Montalcino PAM, La Pettegola Vermentino, Brunello Riserva PAM Fonte alla Selva Gran Selezione, Stilnova, L’Altra, Cosi e Rose, Aska Bolgheri Rosso.

I asked Lars what the letters PAM stood for next to the Brunello and Rosso. He said it stands for Poggio alle Mura (the walled hilltop) the historical name of the Castello

Lars

I went with Lars  downstairs to taste the older wines and the “Quaranta”

Poggio all’ Oro Brunello di Montalcino 1999

Brunello di Montalcino 1998–This has always been one of my favorite Brunellos

ExcelsuS 1997

The three wines above are drinking well now and could still last for a number of years.

“40” Quaranta-Celebration Wine Limited Edition. Lars said this is a wine which expresses Banfi’s 40-year history in Montalcino. Lars said it is a cuvee of red varietals  selected from the best estate vineyards, from different yet complementary vintages and made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah.

When I told Lars it was drinking very nicely, he said it was not for sale!

Happy Holidays

 

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Visiting Castello Banfi

 

As part of the “Hello Grappa” press trip, we visited Castello Banfi in Tuscany. Michele and I have not been there in a number of years and were looking forward to our visit.

The Banfi estate is located at the junction of the Orice and Ombrone rivers extending across the southern slope of the township of Montalcino across 7,100 acres of land. One third of the property is vines and the rest is shared between olive groves, wheat fields, truffles, forests and scrubs.

Lorella Carres, the P.R. and communications manager, welcomed us.

Gianni explains his new vine training system

We went for a tour of the vineyards where we meet Gianni Savelli,, the chief agronomist, who is developing a new method for training the vines.

On the tour of the winery we were joined by the cellar master Gabriele Pazzaglia and the legendary John Mariani, Chairman Emertus of Banfi. Mr. Mariani told us about the history of the Castello Banfi Estate and other interesting stories about the workings of what he referred to as a “state of the art winery” always upgrading and improving.

Mr. Mariani showed us the temperature controlled horizontal hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks where fermentation takes place. Here these tanks allow for optimal temperature controlled fermentation with the end result of wines that are less astringent, less bitter and softer.  He said the wines are unfiltered and bottled under nitrogen, reducing sulfites and histamines for a more pure and natural wine.

At the end of the tour we went to the cellar where Gabriele led us in a tasting of four Brunellos.

Castello Banfi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2013 100% Sangiovese. The soil has a yellowish brown color, calcareous sandy top spil and many round stones. There is a meticulous grape selection with a yield not exceeding 6 metric tons. This is followed by vinification in temperature controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 10 to 12 days. The wine ages for two years in different size French oak barrels, 350-liter barriques and 60 and 120 hl barrels. The wine remains in bottle for 8 to 10 months before release, which in the 5th year after the harvest. This is a classic Brunello, a full and intense wine, with red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of spice, licorice and a touch of vanilla. The first vintage was in 1978.

Poggio Alle Mura  Brunello di Montalcino-DOCG 2013 This wine has the same profile as the Riserva below, the main difference is that it is released sooner and the Riserva is a “bigger” wine. First vintage 1997.

Poggio Alle Mura Brunello di Montalcino Riserva DOCG 2012 100% Sangiovese from a combination of estate selected clones. The vineyard slopes at 210/220 slopes down from the Poggio alle Mura (the walled hilltop) Castle. The vines were planted in 1992.  The soil is yellowish in color, sandy topsoil, coarse, calcareous and sea sediment originating from the Pliocene age. There is an abundance of round rocks. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 4,200 vines per hectare.

The harvest is followed by a maceration of 12 to 13 days. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature controlled hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks. About 90% of the wine is aged in French oak barriques manufactured according to Banfi’s specifications. The remaining 10% is aged in Slavonian oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of plum, cherry and blackberries with notes of chocolate and vanilla. First vintage 1997.

Poggio All’Oro Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva 2012 100% Sangiovese. The Poggio All’Oro Vineyard is in the southern slopes of Montalcino at 250 meters and there are 2,100 plants per hectare. There is skin contact for 12 to 14 days. The wine is aged in barriques for 30 months and 12 to 18 months in bottle before release. This is an intense wine, fruity and spicy with tobacco and chocolate notes. This wine is only produced in excellent vintages. First vintage 1985.

Gabriele said in 2013 the growing cycle began with a significant delay with some rain during the spring. Cooler temperatures in June were below normal. Summer nights were cooler contributing to the improvement of the quality of the grapes. From the end of September, rainfall was abundant causing problems during the ripening without affecting the vineyards.

2012 There was dry weather in April and May. There were cooler temperatures in June with lack of rain. In Mid August a sudden heat wave raised temperatures to over 40C (104F) through the end of the month. A sun drenched September with normal temperatures allowed for a good harvest. He said 2012 was a lot like the 2003 vintage.

Then we tasted Brunello barrel samples of the 2016 and 2017 vintages from 3 different vineyards:  Poggione, Santa Costanza and Marrucheto.

Gabriele said they have spent over 20 years trying to find the perfect clones for their Brunello .

Tasting the barrel samples and hearing the explanations from Gabriele was very interesting and informative.  He said that 2017 was a difficult year hot and dry with little variation between night and day temperatures and the harvest was 10 days earlier than normal.

He also said that 2016 difficult vintage but with different problems than 2017

At lunch we sat with John Mariani and his wife and Mr. Mariani spoke about  the wines we would have with lunch and again told us very interesting stories about the estate.  He  said this part of Tuscany was covered by the ocean and in the vineyards paleontologists recently unearthed a great discovery, a 5 million year old whale fossil completely in intact.

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 if citrus fruit and peach and a touch of sage with good acidity. Mr. Mariani was very proud of this latest addition to the Banfi portfolio.

With the Vermentino we had creamy salt cod with liquid panzanella and pumpkin flower chips

Belnero 2014 Toscana IGT 100% Sangiovese. The soil is stony, calcareous and well structured. Fermented in patented temperature-controlled French oak and aged for an additional 14 months. The wine is unfiltered. It is nitrogen bottled to allow the wine to retain its youthful character thus minimizing the use of sulfites. The wine has hints of cherry and prunes with a touch of vanilla, tobacco and coffee.

With the Belnero we had Duck ravioli on peas cream with truffle shavings.


Poggio All’Oro Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2012 Having a chance to drink this wine with food made a big difference in my enjoyment of the wine. All of the Brunellos need much more time to develop and they will age for many years.

Brunello di Montalcino 2010 DOCG  2010.  For me this was the wine of the lunch; it was more forward than the other wines and great for drinking right now.

With the Brunellos we had the Beef tagliata with arugula salad and grilled vegetables.

Poggio Alle Mura 2013 DOCG. This is a big wine that will age for many years.

With dessert we had the Brachetto d’Acqui “Rosa Regale” Red sparkling wine produced with Brachetto grapes grown in and around the town of Acqui. The soil is rocky, calcareous with tufaceous marl. Fermentation is with brief skin contact and storage at 32F. Refermentation in stainless steel vats, followed immediately by bottling. This is an aromatic wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and rose petals and good acidity.

With the Brachetto we had  strawberry chantilly cream tart with yogurt ice cream.

What is the perfect way to end the meal? With Grappa of course.  Gabriele Pazzaglia, the cellar master, led us in a tasting of four grappas.  Gaberiele said that all grappa is distilled in the same way.

Grappa Del Castello The pomace comes from selected Banfi vineyards in the Southern hills of Montalcino.(Sangiovese) The soil here is olive brown in color with very calcareous topsoil. This is a traditionally-made grappa with a hint of fruit.

Grappa di Brunello made from the pomace of Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese) very traditional grappa.

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.

Poggio Alla Mura- Grappa di Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva made from Sangiovese grapes from the vineyards around the historic Poggio alle Mura Castle. After being distilled the grappa is aged in Slovonian oak casks for 18 months. It has fruity notes with a hint of vanilla, wood and spice with a touch of honey in the finish.

It was a wonderful visit and I wish I could have spent more time here as there was just so much to see and some much information to absorb.

That night walking around the town of Montalcino I ran into Bill Whiting Director of Wine Education for Banfi and a member of the  Banfi “family”. I have known Bill for a long time and he was going to visit Castello Banfi with a group of retailers the next day.  What a lucky group to enjoy this beautiful place, wonderful people and great products!

 

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The Wine Media Guild Sicily Tasting: The Red Wines

At the Wine Media Guild’s recent tasting and lunch at Felidia Restaurant, we tasted 12 red wines from Sicily ranging in price from $12.99 to $159.99 for the Santa.Ne from Palari, the only wine in the group not made from native grapes.

Alessandro Dellascenza

Alessandro Dellascenza

Alessandro Dellasenza from Cru Artisan Wines/Banfi spoke the wines of Palari as well as the other wines he presented. I spoke about the remaining wines.

The Red Wines of Sicily

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Frappato 2013 DOC Paterno di Vittoria, 100% Frappato Golden Ram Imports NYC, David Rosengarten Selections, $18. Maceration is for four days with skin contact and temperature controlled fermentation. The wine spends one month in steel and one month in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced, aromatic wine with hints of cherry and pomegranate.IMG_0198

Frappato 2014 Planeta, 100% Frappato Palm Bay $21.99 De-stemming followed by 12 days maceration, after racking, malolactic in stainless steel. The wine should be drunk 3 years from the vintage. This is light bodied aromatic wine with hints of spice and red fruit.IMG_0199

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014 DOCG Planeta, Nero d’ Avola 60% Frappato 40% Palm Bay $ 23.99. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, extraction on the skins and 8 days of maceration. After racking, malolactic fermentation takes place in steel tanks. This is a fruity wine with hints of strawberries, cherries and figs with a long finish.IMG_0201

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2012 DOCG Paterno di Vittoria 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, Golden Ram Imports NYC $25. Vinified in stainless steel for 15 days. The wine is aged for 6 months is stainless steel, 6 months in barriques and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with good red berry flavors and aromas with a long finish and nice aftertaste.IMG_0206

Nero D’Avola 2014 Cusumano 100% Nero d’Avola Tony di Dio Selections $12.99. Production zone San Giacomo, Butera. The vines are 14 years old and the exposure south, southeast. Training system is espalier and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. This is a fruity easy drinking wine and a great value.IMG_0207

Nero d’Avola Riserva Sicilia “Don Antonio” 2011 Morgante 100% Nero d’Avola Winebow $42. The vines grow in white calcareous soils with small amounts of clay at 500/550 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with 20 days skin contact. Malolacatic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged for 12 months in new French Allier and Troncais 225 liter barriques, followed by 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry and violets with a touch of leather and liquorice.IMG_0208

 Rosso del Conte Contea di Sclafani DOC 2010 Tasca d’ Almerita Nero d’Avola 63% and 37% other red grapes Winebow $70 Production area Palermo, Sicily. The soil is fine clay slightly calcareous and the vineyard was planted in 2002. It is at 650 meters with a south-west exposure. The training system is bush and espalier, with short spur pruning. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is in the beginning of October. Traditional red wine fermentation in stainless steel and maceration for 20 days. The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak, Allier and Troncais 225 liter barriques and ten 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherries and herbs with a touch of vanilla and tobacco.IMG_0209

Etna Rosso “Martinella” 2010 DOP Vivera (the winery is 100% certified organic) 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio Montcalm $39.99 Located in Linguaglossa, Contrada Matinell on the northern-eastern slope of Mont Etna. The vineyard was planted in 2003 at 600 meters, volcanic soil with abundant rounded stones. Vertical trellis, spur pruned cordon and there are 5,500 plants per hectare. The grapes are carefully selected and hand picked the first week of October. Cold maceration is followed by fermentation at controlled temperatures for 10 days. The wine is racked and aged in 225 French barriques for about one year. It is refined in bottle for another 12 months before release. The wine hints of sweet red fruit and a note of bitter chocolate.IMG_0210

  Etna Rosso “Rovittello” 2013 DOC 100% Nerello Mascalese Benanti Tradizione Imports $20 The countryside of Rovittello, on the north side of Mt. Etna in the commune of Castiglione di Sicilia. It is a single vineyard grown as alberello (free standing bush) at 750 meters. The soil is sandy, volcanic and very rich in minerals. The vines are 80 years old and there are 9,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the second week of October and the grapes are late ripening. Traditional vinification takes place, with long maceration of the must with the skins. After malolatic fermentation, the wine matures in small casks of 225 liters for more than one year and 8 to 10 months in the bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0211

Rosso del Soprano (the red from the heights) 2011 Palari Cru Artisan Wines-Banfi $58.99 Made from the same grapes as the Faro below. The wine is aged in one-year barrels of Troncais and Allier oak. It is bottled unfiltered and rests for another year until release. The wine has hints of red berries and spice.IMG_0212

Faro (lighthouse) 2009 DOC Palari Cru Artisan Wines- Banfi $99.99 made from 60% Nerello Mascalese, 1% Cor’e Palumba, 2% Jacche 15% Nocera, 20% Nerello Cappuccio and 2% Acitana. The grapes are grown in vineyards located in Santo Stefano Briga (Messina), in sandy soil. After a soft pressing and fermentation with native yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged in new barrels of Troncais and Allier oak for at least 12 months. The wine is bottled unfiltered and remains in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of ripe red fruit, spice, jasmine and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0213

Santa.Ne 2008 Palari Cru Artisan Wines-Banfi $159.99 Made from 100% “A Francisa.” Alessandro explained that over 150 years ago the farmers found a unusually clay-rich plot of land and decided to plant grapes from France. Over the years the vines adapted to the land and the farmers no loner remembered what was planted there. So in dialect they called it “A Francisa”–the grapes from France. It is a single vineyard in the heights of Santo Stefano Briga (Messina). Following the pressing of the grapes and fermentation with native yeasts at controlled temperature the wine rests for 24 months in barrels of Troncais oak and at least 2 years more in bottle unfiltered 2 years before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, tobacco, leather and spice with a touch of vanilla.

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Filed under Banfi, Benanti Winery, Cerasuolo di Vittorio, Cusumano winery, Don Antonio, Faro, Frappato, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nero d'Avola, Palari, Planeta, Rosso Del Conte, Rosso del Soprano, Santa.Ne, Uncategorized, Vivera

$20 and Under for Summer Drinking

Here is a roundup of some of my favorite wines for summer drinking.

WhiteIMG_7993

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut White Côtes Du Roussillon  2014 made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and Vermentino (Rolle in France). The 40-year-old plus vines are on the hills of the Agly Valley. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a long maceration of two to three weeks, the wine is aged on the fine lees and then racked from vat to vat which naturally clarifies the wines. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. It has hints of citrus aromas and flavors with tropical fruit and good minerality. $14

Bila–Haut was purchased by Michael Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in the best part of the Languedoc, the Cotes du Roussillon in France, an area which I have visited a number of times. Bila-Haut translates to Bila Heights and it was once a refuge for the Knights Templar. The cross-featured on the bottle label is in their honor.IMG_8070

Pinot Grigio 2014 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. $17IMG_8062

Urban Riesling 2014 Nik Weis Selection non-estate Mosel. 100% Mosel Riesling from vineyards around the town of Mehring. The Riesling is grown here on steep slopes with a perfect angle for the sun’s rays. The soil is blue, highly decomposed slate rocks that give the wine its minerality.

The owner/winemaker Nik Weis is a minimalist and traditionalist. The grapes are not destemmed, there is a slight maceration of the grapes, a gentle pressing and gravity-fed sedimentation. There is indigenous yeast fermentation. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. There is a very gentle filtration. It is a complex wine with a smoky and floral bouquet, with juicy fruit and a minerality that finishes off dry. The wine in named for St. Urban, the patron saint of German winemakers. Alcohol is 9.5% and the residual sugar is 33g/l. $14IMG_8063

Frascati DOC “Terre Dei Grifi 2013 Made from 50% Malvasia Bianco di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco and 10% Malvasia del Lazio. Hillside vineyards with volcanic, potassium rich soil. The grapes are gently pressed and vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, the wine rests on its lees for 4 months to impart greater complexity, structure and bouquet. The wine ages in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has fragrances of exotic fruits and citrus with a touch of ripe pear and almond in the finish. $12

Pecorino “Cortalto” 2013 Colli Aprutini IGT Cerulli Spinozzi (Abruzzo) 100% Pecorino. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation in stainless steel, then malolactic. It is aged on its lees for 5 months before the wine is bottled. Hints of white flowers, peach, citrus fruits and apricot. There is a touch of bitter almond in the finish. I was very impressed by this wine, one of the best I have tasted. $16IMG_8098

Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco 2013 DOC Struzziero made from 85% Caprettone 15% and Falanghina or Greco. The vineyards are located on the slopes of Vesuvius. Crushing and destemming followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is bottled in March following the harvest. Aromas and flavors of citrus fruit with good minerality and a touch of smoke. $12

Sparkling

Organic Prosecco DOC grapes for this small production Prosecco are harvested from certified organic wine estate in the town of Vazzola in Treviso. The grapes are grown without chemicals or fertilizers, the grapes are 100% organically grown. It is produced in the extra dry style with just a little more residual sugar than a Brut. It has hints of green apple and a touch of tropical fruit. $16

RoseIMG_8034

Les Vignes Rosé Bila Haut 2013 Pays D’Oc  This is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $14IMG_7661

Château La Tour de l’Evêque Rosé 20014 Cuvée Pétale de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence. Made from 42% Cinsault, 38% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Ugni-blanc 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Sèmillon, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Rolle. The hand harvest took place between August 16 and September 16. This is a wine with nice red berry aromas and flavors. Very easy to drink with a nice finish and aftertaste. $18

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Cantina Terlano St. Maddalena 2014 Alto Adige DOC made from 80% Schiava and 15% Lagrein. The vineyards are between 230 and 500 meters and the exposure is south/ southwest. Harvest is by hand and there is a grape selection and they are destemmed. This is followed by a slow must fermentation at a controlled temperatures and gentle agitation of the must in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation and aging is in big wooden barrels for 7/10 months. The wines are blended one month before bottling. The wine has hints of black elderberry and cherry with a touch of bitter almond and violet. It has balanced acidity and low tannins which is a unique feature of the Schiava grape. $20IMG_8069

Scherecbichl Colterenzio Kalterersee Auslese Classico Superiore 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Schiava. (Vernatsch) produced by old traditional pergola trained vines. The hillside vineyards are at 410/440 meters and the soils are morainal mixed with sand and eroded porphyry deposits. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with the skins, followed by malolactic fermentation, then four months of aging in tanks. It had red summer fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of cherry, light tannin and acidity. This is a wine to be drunk young served slightly chilled for summer drinking.IMG_8068

Kaltern Caldaro Kalterersee Auslese 2013 Alto DOC Adige 100% Schiava (Vernatsch). The vineyards are on south and east facing slopes surrounding Lake Kaltern at 230/450 meters. The soil is loamy, limestone gravel, with a small proportion of sand. The average age of the vines is 20/50 years and the training system is the pergola. Harvest is from the end of September to the middle of October. Fermentation is for one week on the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged four months on the fine lees in stainless steel and large casks. It has hints of cherry and raspberry with a touch of bitter almond. Wine should be drunk young.IMG_8066

Chianti Classico “Aziano” 2013 DOCG Ruffino Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Colorino and Canaiolo. The soil is moderate clay content rich in Galestro rocks. The vineyards are at 200/400 meters. The vines are guyot trained and cordon spur pruned. Fermentation, aided by racking and punching down, takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Once malolatic fermentation is complete the wine is aged for 11 months in stainless steel and concrete vats and four months in bottle before release. It has hints of red berries, cherries, violets, plums and a touch of spice. $14IMG_8064

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012 Sartori di Verona made from 45% Corvina, 30% Covinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Croatioa. The Valpolicella Classico area is north of Verona and the soil is calcareous with fine layers of limestone. There is soft pressing with skin maceration for 8 to 10 days. After pressing 10% of the must is extracted to obtain better color and tannin. After racking and malolactic fermentation the wine is aged partially in stainless steel and partially in oak for 15 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. It has aromas and flavors of rich red fruit with hints of black cherry, nice minerality and soft tannins. $20

I was very impressed with this wine. It was one of the best Valpolicellas I have tasted in a long time.

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Filed under Banfi, Bila- Haut, Bio-Dynamic, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kalterer See, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Struzziero, Petale de Rose, Peter Zemmer, Pfarrhof Kaltern, Prosecco, Ruffino, Sartori di Verona, St. Magdalener- Hausler, Terre dei Grifi Frascati, Urban Riesling-Nik Weis