Category Archives: Barbaresco

Vertical of Produttori del Barbaresco from 1962 to 1989

Produttori del Barbaresco has always been one of my favorite produces of Barbaresco. Their wines can last for 50 years or more even in mediocre vintages.  Ernie De Salvo, a good friend and fellow wine lover, suggested that we invite some friends and do a tasting and lunch with these wines. There were 8 of us and we gathered at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC a few weeks ago.

The vertical tasting consisted of 8 wines in vintages from 1962 to 1989. They were all in good condition except for the 1970 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello, which was corked.

Background

Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from 1958.  Today there are 52 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned.

Produttori del Barbaresco only produces wine from the Nebbiolo grape, Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbaresco’s are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard.  The total number of bottles produced and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The 1996 Ovello Riserva, for example, has on the label the name of the single vineyard, the number of bottles produced (18,145) and the names of the vineyard owners: Cravanzola, Gonella, Maffei, Vacca, Varaldo.

In his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Wasserman states in the section on Barbaresco,  “There are a few producers making Barbaresco in the same class as the wines of Produttori, but none who surpass them.”  In the years since this was written I have drunk many bottles of Produttori and it is as true now as it was then.

All of these single vineyards basically have the same soil, calcareous limestone with sandy veins. The only difference is in the exposure. The grapes are hand harvested. They are also vinified in the same way. Traditional fermentation takes place with 18 to 20 days skin contact and aged for 36 months in oak barrels of 25 to 50 HL and 8 months in bottle before release. All of the single vineyards are reserve wines.

The regular Barbaresco is aged for two years in large oak barrels.

For the last number of years the winery has been run by Aldo Vacca the managing director.

The wines

Jason De Salvo took the notes on the wines that follow. I have great respect for his palate and his great attention to detail.

1962 Barbaresco Riserva

12/11/17 — 89 points.  Light brick-garnet color.  The nose is candied cherries, leaves, leather, tobacco and dried roses.  On the palate this is supremely elegant and still holding together.  It is amazing that this is still as alive as it is, given what I have heard about the 1962 vintage!

1967 Barbaresco Riserva Speciale Rabaya

12/11/17 — 97+ points. Light-medium ruby-brick color.  The nose here is absolutely gorgeous with haunting notes of smoke, black cherries, wild flowers, balsamic-pine notes, fennel flowers and dried game.  On the palate this is f*&%ing stunning with great grip, incredible balance, loads of flavor nuance and a long finish.

1967 Barbaresco Riserva Paijé (Cavaliere del Tartufo bottling)

12/11/17 — 98 points. Deep ruby color, nearly opaque.  The nose here is extraordinary with deep black cherry fruit, loads of dusty minerals, lilies, potpourri, pomegranates and dried roses.  On the palate this is deep, intensely flavored and positively youthful.  Unreal juice.  Absolutely stunning and still going strong nearly two hours after it was opened and poured.  This was the wine of the day for Jason .

1978 Barbaresco

12/11/17 —  95 points.  Deep ruby-brick color.  Powerful umami notes on the nose with soy, black cherries, smoked game, black raspberries, flowers, pink lilies.  In the mouth this is gorgeous with a grippe palate presence, beautiful balance and loads of dusty tannins leading to a long finish.  A touch less complex than the two 1967 crus that preceded it, but otherwise virtually at the same level!  Wow.

1979 Barbaresco

12/11/17 — 94 points.  Medium-deep brick-ruby color.  From a cooler vintage than the 1978 served alongside it.  Aromatically this is actually more complex than the 1978 with just a stunning nose of dried game, black raspberries, sour cherries, smoke, leather and dried flowers.  On the palate this is a tad more acidic, less opulent and lighter than than the 1978.  I prefer the ’78 in the mouth and the nose of the ’79.

1978 Barbaresco Riserva Rabaja’

12/11/17 — 96 points. Deep ruby color.  The nose here is black licorice, a distinct note of celery, leather, black cherries, earth, forest floor and dried porcini mushrooms.  On the palate this is the most structured, deepest and intense wine of the tasting thus far.  Massive quantities of ripe, dried black cherry fruit in the mouth with plush mid-palate and a long, structured finished buttressed by a good dose of classy, ripe tannins.

1989 Barbaresco Riserva Ovello

12/11/17 – 97 points).  Medium-deep ruby color.  Beautiful nose with gorgeous, soaring aromatics of red plums, black raspberries, minerals, dried roses, saddle leather and red cherries.  On the palate this is gorgeously elegant with a wonderful nervosité, excellent mouth-puckering acidity and a gorgeously long, dusty tannic finish.  Wow.  This wine is right in its sweet spot right now and is really singing.

The best way to understand these wines is with food. Here are some of the dishes prepared by chef Vito Gnazzo of Gattopardo to go with the wines.

 

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Tasting Gaja Wines at La Pizza Fresca NYC

Recently La Pizza Fresca Ristorante in NYC celebrated its 20th anniversary. The restaurant was one of the very first in the city to serve genuine Neapolitan style pizzas and it has one of the best wine lists in the city. Brad Bonnewell, the owner, created the list and he often hosts wine dinners at the restaurant.

I have been going there since it first opened and recently Brad invited me to a dinner featuring the Barbaresco of Angelo Gaja.

Representing the winery was the charming and knowledgeable Giovanni Gaja, Angelo’s son. I was lucky enough to sit at the same table as Giovanni and therefore could ask him a number of questions.

Giovanni is 24 years old and most of the wines we tasted were older then him. He is the youngest child and his youngest sister is 14 years older than him. He joked that it was like growing up with 3 mothers.

I asked Giovanni what changes occurred to the single vineyard Barbaresco in the last few years. Giovanni told me that he and his sisters, Gaia and Rossana had a discussion with their father Angelo about the single vineyard Barbaresco. He emphasized that it was a discussion and not and argument or a fight.

Giovanni Gaja

Angelo’s children convinced him to return to 100% Nebbiolo for the Costa Russi, Sori Tilden and Sori San Lorenzo. Giovanni said that before the DOC (1966) laws Barbaresco could contain other grapes, predominantly Barbera. So Angelo had detached the wines from the DOC appellation in order to produce them as they were in the past. Beginning with the 1996 vintage Angelo Gaja used 15% Barbera in these wines.

Giovanni said every generation has the right to do things in their own way.

So from the 2013 vintage their single vineyard wines are 100% Nebbiolo.

He added they have the full support of their father, and “We can now pursue the pure expression of the Nebbiolo grape once again.”

Giovanni said that Angelo had joined his father in the winery in 1961. In 1978 he changed Barbaresco forever with the introduction of barriques and other new techniques. We can only imagine what Angelo’s father thought of this and of his planting of international grapes such as Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. That same year, Angelo took a prime Nebbiolo site and planted it with Cabernet Sauvignon. Legend has it that when Angelo’s father passed the Cabernet vineyard he would mutter “Damagi,” meaning “what a shame or a pity,” or “Damn It” and so the vineyard came to be called Damagi.

So Giovanni and his sisters were just following in their footsteps of their father by doing things the way they wanted. I asked Giovanni if the regular Barbaresco was made the same way today as it was when Angelo took over in 1978. His answer was “yes” adding that they still use a combination of barriques and large barrels (botti).

Giovanni explained in detail about the 6 wines we tasted. “Barbaresco is the wine that we have always been producing for 5 generations. It is a blend of 14 different vineyards of Nebbiolo mainly located in the Barbaresco area and a small parcel in the Treiso area at an altitude ranging from 250m to 330m covering an area of 21.4 hectares. Each vineyard undergoes fermentation and maceration separately and we let fermentation take its course. According to the vintage, it can take longer or shorter period of time. After fermentation, the wine from each vineyard ages one year separately in small French oak barrels, mostly used and a small part new oak. Usually the ratio is 80% used and 20% new. After one year the wines are blended together and undergo a further year of aging in big barrels. Finally, the wines are bottled and spend a further period of aging in bottle before being released on the market to let the wine settle and balance.”

The regular Barbaresco is made from 100% Nebbiolo. Here are the wines we tasted:

Barbaresco 1988 — the bottle that we had seemed a little tired for its age. There was a discussion at the table and someone said they had a bottle of the 1988 recently and it was fine. We just got an off bottle. The aromas on all of the other wines were classic Nebbiolo with hints of black cherry, violets, blackberries, tobacco, leather and tea.

Barbaresco 1990 — for me was the wine of the tasting.

Barbaresco 1993 — was not a great vintage for Barolo but the wine was showing very well and will last for a few more years.

Barbaresco 1997 — was showing very well and most of the people at the table liked this wine along with the 1990.

Barbareso 2000 — this vintage got mixed reviews but Gaja produced a very good wine.

Barbaresco 2013 — this wine needed more time but has great potential.

pasta, sausage, saffron and parmigiano reggianp

With the wine we had Carpaccio di Manzo, Paccheri Zafferano con Salsiccia, Pizza Margherita, Pizza Savoia and Tortelli di Vitello.

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Visiting Poderi Colla

I have always been an admirer of the wines of Beppe Colla. I had been to the winery before and was very happy to have the opportunity to visit it again when I visited Alba recently.

The Colla family’s connection with wine goes back to 1703, but the modern era begins when Beppe Colla purchased the Alfred Prunotto winery in 1956. Beppe owned the winery for 35 years and made it into one of the most renowned wineries in Piedmont.

Beppe’s younger brother Ernesto, called Tino, worked with him at Prunotto. Beppe was not feeling well when we visited, but Tino was able to show us around.

Tino is a gifted winemaker in his own right and worked very closely with his brother at Prunotto.

In 1994 Tino and his niece Federica (Beppe’s daughter) opened a new winery and so Poderi Colla was established.

Tino Colla

Tino Colla

As we were walking through the vineyards Tino said that the winery comprises three farms covering a total of 26 hectares of vineyards: Cascine Drago in Alba, Tenuta Roncaglia in Barbaresco and Dardi le Rose in Monforte.

He pointed out the different vineyards, explained the different microclimates of the area, and how important the work done in the vineyard is. He also spoke about the different types of soil.IMG_9125

Tino explained his wine philosophy. The key words are naturalness and originality, wines made without manipulation or invasive intervention. He feels the wines have a connection with the past and we must learn from the past, often using methods that his grandfather taught him. He pointed to the stainless steel tanks, which were all outside. No air conditioning for Tino.

Tino and the Truffle Hunter

Tino and the Truffle Hunter

At one point in the walk we stopped at a small house. The owner, a truffle hunter, heard his hunting dogs barking and came out to chat. Tino asked him to show us some of the truffles he had discovered. Some were very large and the aroma was wonderful. Most would be sold to nearby restaurants, he told us.

The walk was a true education.

The WinesIMG_9138

Vintage Spumante Metodo Classico Extra Brut “Pietro Colla” made from Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Tino said this is in line with Piedmontese tradition dating back to the early 1900’s and with the traditions of his grandfather, Pietro, for whom the wine is named. It is fermented and matured in the bottle for about 2 years before dégorgement, ouillage with the same wine without the addition of liqueur d’expédition. The wine is bone dry, with a rich bouquet, complex and elegant at the same time. Tino said it is a wine that could be served throughout the meal.IMG_9142

Langhe DOC Riesling 100% Riesling from vines in Alba planted in 1987 with a Northwest exposure at 350 meters and in Barbaresco, planted in 2009 with a western exposure at 240 meters. There are about 4,000 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested between September 10th and 25th. The grapes are immediately soft crushed at 8/10 C for 24 hours. After racking, alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. The wine is left on the lees for a few months, before being naturally cooled in winter. The wine is bottled in the spring. It is a complex wine with full citrus flavors and aroma, hints of mountain flowers and fresh acidity. Tino said it is a wine that can age.IMG_9144

Barbera D’Alba DOC “Costa Bruna”  2013 100% Barbera. Vineyard planted in 1930 and 1995, about half of the vineyard contains the old vines. The new vines are a selection of the old vine’s understock. The grapes are hand picked and immediately destalked and crushed, maceration on the skins is for 10 to 12 days. Malolatic fermentation is completed before winter. Elevage in oak casks lasts about 12 months. This is an intense wine with hints of strawberry, cherry and spice and nice acidity.IMG_9141

Nebbiolo D’Alba DOC 100% Nebbiolo. The exposure is westerly and easterly and the vineyard is between 330 and 370 meters. The vines were planted in 1967, 1989 and 1999 and there are about 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is the 1st-10th October. Vinification is the same as above. Elevage is in Slavonian oak casks for about 12 months. This is a complex wine with hints of plum, red berries, dried roses and a touch of violet.IMG_9145

Barbaresco “Roncaglie” 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard is at 244 and 280 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The vines were planted in 1970,1980,1995 and 2010 and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are handed picked from October 5th to 15th  The grapes are destalked and crushed and maceration is for 12 to 15 days, then malolactic fermentation is completed before winter. In the spring the wine is put into oak casks for 12 to 14 months. This is a classic Barbaresco with hints of blackberry, violet and spice and a touch of rose petal.IMG_9146

Barolo “Bussia Dardi Le Rose” DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is vinified like the Barbaresco but is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.IMG_9143

Campo Romano Langhe Pinot Noir. Tino said the vines were planted in 1977 from vines imported from Burgundy. In the field when the ground was being ploughed they found remains of a Roman settlement, hence the name. The exposure is westerly, at 330 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is September 10 to 20th and the hand picked grapes are immediately destalked crushed. Maceration is for 8 to 10 days followed by malolactic fermentation completed before winter. The wine rests in oak casks for 12 months. This is a balanced and elegant wine with hints of red fruit and floral notes.IMG_9140

Bricco del Drago made from 85% Dolcetto and 15% Nebbiolo. Tino said the wine was first produced in 1969 when Dott. Degiacomi, former proprietor of Cascine Drago, which produced an unusual Dolcetto requiring barrel aging, decided to combine it with a small portion of Nebbiolo, naming it after the estate. Vines were planted in 1970,1989 and 2,000 and there are about 5,000 plants per hectare. Dolcetto is harvested from September 20th to the 30th and the Nebbiolo from October 1st to 10. The varieties are vinified separately and maturation takes place at different times. The wines are assembled and then undergo élevage in oak. Maceration is for 5 to 8 days for Dolcetto and 10 to 12 days for the Nebbiolo. Aging for 12 to 18 months depending on the vintage. We tasted a number of wines going back to 1995, a wine that was showing no signs of age. I was very impressed with all of the vintages we tasted.

 

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Meeting Alessandro Rivetto

Alessando Rivetto

I will not even look at Barolo and Barbaresco until they are 10 years old. I look at them but put them aside to age for at least another 5 to 10 years. That’s why I like to buy older Barolos and Barbarescos — so I will not have to wait too long to drink them.

Franco Bengazi, owner of the Wine Emporium, an importer and distributor of mostly Italian wine, told me he had a friend who had older vintages of Barolo and Barbaresco to sell.IMG_2005

I went to visit his friend.  He had Barolo and Barbaresco from the 1960’s and ’70’s, stored in cardboard cases that fell apart when we tried to open them.  The wines were from the Rivetto winery and I bought a number of them.

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Alessandro Rivetto

Though we had never met in person, Alessandro Rivetto is my Facebook friend.  When he saw on Facebook my pictures of the Rivetto wines from his families winery, he wrote to me and said that next time he was in NYC we should get together.  I said I would open some of the older vintages for him.

That was a few years ago and a number of things have changed since then.  I drank all of the wines I had bought and Alessandro left his family’s winery and went out on his own. He inherited part of the family vineyards and now has three partners.  Alessandro produces two different lines of wine, the Alessandro Rivetto line and the Ipoli line.  His original family winery is still in business under the name of Rivetto.

Lorenzo Baricca, wine director of Tarallucci E Vino Restaurant in NYC knew of my interest in these wines and my contact with Alessandro.  When he scheduled a dinner featuring Alessandro’s wines, Lorenzo invited me to join them and I met Alessandro at last. We tasted the wines from the Alessandro Rivetto line.

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Langhe Arneis “ Matire”2013 DOC 100% Arneis

The harvest is manual. The must and the skins are in contact at cold temperatures for about 30 hours after which the fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for five days. The wine is aged in stainless steel. This is an Arneis with some body, fruity with hints of citrus and good acidity.IMG_7224

Barbaresco 2010 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. Manual harvest. Stemmer pressing and cold maceration for 2 days after which fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine remains in oak casks for 18 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine has hints of cherries and violets with touches of tea and rose petals.IMG_7226

Barolo Serralunga d’Alba 2009 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. Manual harvest. There is stemmer pressing and cold maceration for 2 days. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine is aged for more than 3 years in oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for 10 months before release. It is a wine with hints of blackberries and violets with a touch of tea and spice. IMG_7235

Barolo “Lazzarito”2009 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo Manual harvest then stemmer crushing and maceration. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless tanks. The maceration lasts for 37/42 days. Aging is in oak casks for more then 3 years and in bottle for 18 months before release. This is a wine with hints of leather, spice, licorice and a very long finish. It is a Barolo that will age for many years.

The executive chef at Tarallucci E Vino, Andrew Welch, did a great job of matching the food with the wines.

 

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A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving menu was an unorthodox one this year, but we started as always with Champagne.IMG_6593

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV made from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Nero and 20% Pinot Meunier. The wine is light and fresh with citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. The sister house is Salon and both are part of the Laurent-Perrier group. At about $38 a bottle, it is a bargain and is our current house champagne.IMG_6594

Blanc de Blancs Brut “Amour de Deutz” Millesime 2002 William Deutz made from 100% Chardonnay from their own Grand Cru villages of Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in magnum. This is one of the most complex and elegant champagnes that I have ever tasted. It comes in a clear bottle and 2002 was an excellent vintage. With the Champagne we had olives, cheese wafers, and pears wrapped in prosciutto.IMG_6596

Auxey-Duresses 2001 Lalou Bize-Leroy made from 100% Chardonnay. Biodynamic farming is practiced. A careful selection of hand picked grapes is brought to the cave in small baskets in refrigerated trucks. The grapes are carefully sorted on two large sorting tables (not moving conveyor belts). Only the best grapes are chosen. Fermentation is in large wooden oak barrels without any de-stemming or crushing to avoid any oxidation and to preserve the native yeasts, which are present on the skins of the grapes. Pigeage–crushing down the cap–and remontage–removing the fermented juices from under the cap and bringing it on top of the cap–takes place followed by slow fermentation and a long maceration. After pressing the wine goes down to the first underground cellar. It stays here until the end of malolactic fermentation. After pouring the juice off the lees–soutirage a la sapine--no pumps are used only gravity. The wine then goes down to a second, deeper cellar. It stays there until it is bottled. This wine was showing very well with good citrus aromas and flavors.IMG_6590

We go to restaurant SD26 often and really like their signature dish, Uovo in Raviolo, a large raviolo filled with ricotta and a soft cooked egg yolk, topped with truffle butter. Michele said she would like to do this dish for our guests on Thanksgiving. She made the pasta for the ravioli by hand, IMG_2731and instead of truffle butter she used Kerrygold butter, a favorite brand. I bought a beautiful fresh white truffle to shave on top.  The warmth of the raviolo and hot butter brought out all the aroma and flavor of the white truffle IMG_6597

Dolcetto D’Alba “Boschi di Berri” 1988 Poderi Marcarini made from 100% Dolcetto from pre-phylloxera vines. The vineyard is over 100 years old and because the soil is sandy and the particular microclimate of the vineyard, the vines are phylloxera free. They are not spliced onto American rootstock but are native vines. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares; there are 4,400 vines per hectare. The training system is free-standing espalier with guyot pruning and the exposure is west. The vineyard was planted in the late 1800’s. This was an exceptional wine, showing no sign of age. It had hints of cherries, raspberries, currants and a touch of leather. It was unlike any Dolcetto that I have tasted before. If this was the traditional Dolcetto from the last century, we are missing a lot today!IMG_2737_2

The main course was a bone-in pork rib roast with cranberry fig mostarda, a recipe from Michele’s latest book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. With that we had roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts baked with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.IMG_6598

Barbaresco Riserva “Ovello” 1979 made from 100% Nebbiolo Produttori del Barbaresco.  Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from1958.  Today there are 56 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned. Produttori del Barbaresco only produces wine from the Nebbiolo grape — Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbarescos are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The Orvello vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The 1979 was aged in large barrels of Slavonic oak for four years. This is traditional classic Barbaresco at its best. I have been drinking these wines for over 35 years.IMG_6600

Barolo Riserva 1971 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo.

We finished the red wine with the cheese course.IMG_6603

Fiano Passito “Privilegio 2011 Irpinia DOC Feudi di San Gregorio made from Fiano and Falangina grapes, harvested by hand, late harvest with a touch of Botrytis (noble rot) in mid October. The vines are 15 to 20 years old, there are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the vineyards are at 1,000 to 1,500 ft. The grapes are then dried on straw mats for several months. After a soft pressing, the clarified must is fermented in new French Troncais oak barrels. The wine has hints of honey, figs, apricot and pear and was a perfect combination with the pumpkin pie and apple crisp we had for desert.IMG_6592

After the cafè we toasted the holiday and our guests with Romano Levi Grappa.

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Gnocchi and Boca

Company was coming and Michele wanted to make something from her new cookbook: The Italian Vegetable Cookbook: 200 Favorite Recipes for Antipasti, Soups, Pasta, Main Dishes and Dessert. She asked me what I was in the mood for but with so many delicious choices, I could not make up my mind. Then I saw the picture of the Basil Ricotta Gnocchi in Tomato Butter Sauce and I knew that was it. I planned to match it with the 1985 Boca.IMG_5102

We started the evening as we usually do with Champagne:IMG_5095

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Nero and 20% Pinot Meunier. Light and fresh with citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. The sister house is Salon and both are part of the Laurent-Perrier group. At $38 a bottle, it is a bargain and is our current house champagne.

Boca 1985 Campo Delle Piane La Meridiana made from 85% Nebbiolo,15% Vespolina and some bunches of Bonarda.  Boca is Piemonte’seasternmost DOC zone, and with theexception of the also little known area of Sizzano, it’s northernmost as well. It is entirely surrounded by a mountainous national park. It forms something of a southerly exposed amphitheatre at 400-500 m elevation, just west of Lago d’Orta.IMG_5099

For over 60 years, Antonio Cerri, the owner of La Meridiana, made Boca from his one half hectare of vines. He seemed more concerned with making Boca than with bottling and selling it.  Enter Cristoph Kunzil, a Swiss importer of Italian wines. Antonio was ready to retire and Mr. Kunzil saw an opportunity so he bought the land and the cellars. He spent time with Antonio to learn the history of the place and the wines. The La Meridiana winery does not exist any more and Mr. Kunzil calls his winery Le Piane.

Gary Olson of Artisan Wines Inc., the importer and distributor, put me in touch with Mr. Kunzil who told me that the current wines under his Le Piane label are made the same way as the wines of Anthonio Cerri, and added that the cellar may be a little cleaner.  Long fermentation occurs for about a month and no yeast is added. The aging is in barrels of 20hl for 5 years or more for the  wines that were made by Mr. Cerri and 3-4 years for the Le Piane.  Le Piane owns the Cerri wines, and sells them as a rarity to show the potential of the Boca region.

Mr. Kunzil said that the1985 was the best of the bottled wines of Mr. Cerri, still young and with a lot to give. The 1985 was bottled in 1995. The wines from this area are lighter than the ones from around Alba and therefore were a perfect combination with the ricotta gnocchi and light tomato sauce. I was very impressed with the wine. IMG_5096

Barbaresco 1998 DOCG La Spinona. I00% Nebbiolo. The winery is located in the town of Barbaresco and it is a family run winery operated by Pietro Berutti, his son Gualtiero, and grandson Pietroparlo. They only use their own grapes.

They have 10 hectares of vineyards on the historic Faset hill with a south-southeast exposure. The vineyard is at 270 meters and the vines are 35 years old. Harvest is by hand in October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and there is skin contact for 14/21 days. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is racked and spends 2 years in 2,500 Slovenian oak casks. On the label there is a picture of a special breed of hunting dog raised at the winery.  One of the dogs saved the son of Pietro from drowning and so they put a picture of the dog on the label. This is a fruity, spice, fragrant and elegant wine. It is made it a style which reflects all the Nebbiolo characteristics but is ready to drink sooner than most. The 1998 was at its peak. IMG_5097

Chateauneuf–du–Pape 1995 Chateau-Fortia (Baron Le Roy De Boiseaumarie) Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre in Magnum.

After a manual harvest the grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented separately in 9 to 150 hl concrete vats or stainless steel vats of 50 to 150 hl which are temperature controlled. Fermentation lasts for 20 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in 33 to 40 hl concrete tanks. Then the wines are racked and the different varieties are blended together. The wine spends 12 to 18 months in “founder” (metal tanks) where they will be fined and filtered prior to bottling and remain in the bottle for several months before release. Yields in Chateauneuf-du-Pape are limited to 35 hectoliters per hectare and they are below the limit. This is a big impressive wine and I decanted it before serving but I should have done it a few hours before.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Barbaresco, Boca, Campo delle Piane, Champagne, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Delamotte NV, Italian Red Wine

Celebrating the Year of the Horse

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Lobster

Every year, we get together with friends and celebrate Chinese New Year.  Since this is the year of the horse, we decided on a theme — wine vintages from past years of the horse. I was told that I was born in the year of the water horse but I could not find a wine from that year.

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

Jelly Fish and Cold Cuts

We chose the Oriental Gardens Restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown for the dinner. The service was excellent and so was the food. Our waiter was the best that I have ever had in a Chinese restaurant and could have qualified as a sommelier at a top restaurant.

The Wines

2002 Year of the Water Horses

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Chablis Domaine Billaud- Simone Cru “Les Preuses” 2002  100% Chardonnay. The exposure is south; southeast and the vines are 65 years old. Harvesting is by hand. Vinification is in stainless steel. Aging is for 8 to 10 years depending on the vintage. This is an elegant complex wine, with aromas of honey, toast and lemon with good minerality, a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. It was a great way to start the celebration.

1990 Year of the Metal Horse

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Regaleali Rosso Sicilia IGT 1990 made from 100% Nero d’Avola. Fermentation is in stainless steel for an average of 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel 50% and 50% in oak casks of 30HL and 60HL for 6 months. This was a real surprise. The wine was 24 years old and is the type of wine that one would think is to be drunk young. It was in vey good condition with no signs of oxidation and enough fruit to make it very enjoyable.

1966   Year of the Fire Horse

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Chateau Montrose 1966 – Cabernet Sauvignon 65%, Merlot 30% and Cabernet Franc 5%.  Back then, the average age of the vines was 29 years. The wine was aged for 22 to 24 months in barrel. Robert Parker in his book Bordeaux (1985) writes that the anticipated maturity of the wine is between 1986 and 2010. The wine is classic St-Estephe and was drinking like a younger wine.

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Chianti Classico Fattoria Di Santa Christina 1966 Fattoria dei Marchesi Lodovico and Piero Antinori. I am not surprised anymore when I drink older Chianti Classico. This wine was made with white grapes, Trebbiano and Malvasia, and they most likely used the governo method (drying 10% of the grapes).   This was the wine of the evening for me.

1978 Year of the Earth Horse

Barolo “Vigneto Rocchette” 1978 Giovanni Accomasso & Figli. I do not believe that I have had any wine from this producer. The location of the winery is La Morra but as far as I know it is not imported into the USA.

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 Barbaresco Bricco Asili 1978 100% Nebbiolo Ceretto.  We had this wine at another New Year celebration a few days later and it was showing so well I just had to include it.

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Barolo 1978 Cogno- Marcarini  100% Nebbiolo–  This wine was made when Elvio Cogno was the winemaker. Cogno produced some of the best classic traditional wines that it has been my pleasure to drink. This one was no exception and it was the wine of the evening for a number of people. 1978 was a very good vintage for Barolo. Wasserman gave Cogno’s Barolo 4 stars, his highest rating.

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Filed under Antinori, Barbaresco, Barolo, Bordeaux, Chablis, Chianti Classico, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Regaleali, Uncategorized