Category Archives: Barbera

Chateau Latour 1942 with Lunch

Michele and are going to Italy in November with friends and we invited them for lunch so we could make our plans. They knew my birthday was later in the week so they surprised me by bringing a Grand Vin Chateau La Tour 1942.

Michele made one of my favorite appetizers, which I always order when I am in Rome: deep fried zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella and anchovies.

I went to the Union Square Greenmarket early in the morning to make sure that they would have them and I bought an extra boxful just in case.

With the zucchini flowers we had Champagne:

J.L. Vergnon Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs Brute NV made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from plots in le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize. There is 20% reserve wine aged for 3 months in oak barrels and 80% of the single year in steel tanks. The Champagne ages for 3 years in the cellars before disgorging. Dosage Brut 5g/L. The bubbles filed the glass of the fresh, complex and classic Champagne with hints of pear grapefruit and a touch of biscuit.

Louis Roederer Blanc De Blancs Brut 1997 made from 100% Chardonnay grown in calcareous soil in the heart of the Cote des Blancs in the Grand Crus of Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize. The wine is matured on the lees for five years and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging to obtain perfect maturity. The Champagne has notes of white fruit and dried fruit with a creamy undertone and a touch of honeysuckle. For a wine over 20 years old it had a continuous train of bubbles and was very complex and elegant.

The main course was steak,

with green beans flavored with anchovies and pecorino,

a fresh, creamy corn pudding

and an heirloom tomato salad which we had with the red wine.

Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1942. Made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Merlot. Its color and flavors made it seem like a much younger wine. It was perfect with the steak.

Barbera d’Alba 1978 Poderi Aldo Conterno “Conca Tre Pile” DOC Made from 100% Barbera from the Conca Tre Pile Vineyard in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba). Hand harvest the first week of October. There is skin contact inside stainless steel vats. The must stays in contact with the skins for about 8 to 10 days. The wine remains in stainless steel vats for a few months and then is put into oak casks where it remains for another few months. The wine was showing a little age but it still had hints of red fruit and a touch of hazelnuts.

With the cheese we had:

Recioto Valpolicella Valpantena Vino Spumante Naturale 1978 Bertaini made from Corvina and Rondinella and the grapes selected are those which have the most exposure to the sun. The grapes are dried for 3 months on bamboo racks. The wine is aged in cherry wood. This is a dense and velvety sparkling but not cloying wine which leaves the palate clean. It has concentrated cherry aromas and flavors. On the palate it has an aftertaste of walnuts. I do not believe Bertani makes this Spumante version any more.

 

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Filed under Barbera, Birthday 20019, Champagne, Gran Vin Chateau Latour 1942, Louis Roederer Brut, Recioto

Michele Chiarlo: Sixty Years of Winemaking in Piedmont

 

Michele Chiarlo’s first vintage was in 1958 and he has been with Kobrand, his importer and distributor for 40 years. In honor of their association Michele brought a 1978 Barolo to a special truffle  dinner and tasting event at New York’s Restaurant Casa L’Apicii.

The speakers were Michele and his son Stefano, the wine maker.

Michele spoke about his years as a producer and the changes that took place in Italian wine.  At first it was difficult it was to sell his wine, especially Barbera, in foreign markets. Buyers all wanted to know tif he made Lambrusco!

Michele Chiarlo

He said he went to Burgundy to learn because they  were more advanced  in their wine making techniques.  He met with other Barolo producers to discuss how they could improve their wines. But it was not until the 1980’s with temperature controlled fermentation and the hype that was generated about Italian wines during that time that Italian wine started to receive the recognition it deserved.

He said his is a family owned and run winery and there are no blends or international varietals produced. Their smallest oak cask in 700 liters.  They now have 110 hectares of vineyards between the Langhe, Monferrato and Gavi.

Michele said Tenuta La Court was acquired in 1995. It is a single parcel of over 20 hectares located on two hills, a size which makes La Court one of the most important in Monferrato. The vineyards which can have the ‘Nizza’ designation are limited to 18 municipalities in Monferrato. The vineyards, which have positions with great exposure (from southeast to southwest), have low yields of 70 quintals per hectare and lie on soils designated astiane sands, consisting of calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in microelements, in particular magnesium.

Stefano Chiarlo

Stefano,  spoke about the wines.

Barbera “Cipressi” Nizza DOCG 2015 100% Barbara from the Tenuta La Court vineyard. The vineyard is 6 ha at 230 to 280 meters and the vines are of different ages. The training method is guyot and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare and harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks, 10/12 days of maceration with the skins and a soft shower system of wetting the cap with initial temperature of 30 degrees C then to 27 degrees C. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine ages for a minimum of 18 months: 12 months in large oak casks and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit, with hints of cherry and raspberry and a note of tobacco.

Stefano said 2015 was a dry warm vintage with a lot of sun, perfect conditions for growing Barbera.

Barbera d’Asti Superiore “La Court” Nizza DOCG 2013 100% Barbera from a 3-hectare vineyard. The exposure is south/south east at 240 meters. Very low yield.  Thinning of excess bunches at the end of the summer, leaving an average of 5/6 bunches per vine. Fermentation is for 15 days in 55 hl oak vats with the skins. Malolactic vat fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for a minimum of 30 months depending on the vintage. 50% in casks and 50% in large barrels for one year, the wine remains in bottle until release.

This is an intense and elegant wine with hints of black cherry with a touch of coffee and cocoa and a pleasing finish and long aftertaste.

He also said the La Court Cru is part of the V.I.V.A. Sustainable Wine project.

Barbera Nizza must be aged at least 18 months and at least 30 months for the Nizza DOCG Riserva

Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG” La Court” Nizza 2011 The wine has hints of black cherry and spice. Stefano said like 2015 the weather was hot, dry and sunny making it a great Barbera vintage.

Stefano said the Cerequio vineyard is between La Mora and Barolo. It is one of the most prestige vineyards in the zone for Nebbiolo. They have nine hectares of vineyards , about 6 of which ere acquired in 1988 from an estate which had been cultivating Nebbiolo grapes for over two centuries without interruption. The oldest parcel is from 1972 and the smallest 0.9 ha, they make Barolo Cerequio Riserva. Stefano said the soils here are among the most ancient in the Langhe, formed during the Tortanian period (9 million years ago). It is composed calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin characterized by a basic pH, poor in organic matter, but rich in microelements such as magnesium and manganese.

Barolo “Cerequio” 2013.  Stefano called this the “use to be” vintage because they picked late like they did in the past. It is a wine that will last for many years. The vineyard is 3 ha and the exposure is south/southwest at 329 meters. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in 55hl oak vats for 20 days. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 2 years in average-sized oak casks and one year in bottle before release. This is a young complex wine with hints of mature fruit, mint and spice with a touch of tea.

2001 One could see the relationship between the 2013 and the 2001. It has developed very nicely but it still needs at least another 5 years.

 1997 The wine is still showing a lot fruit but now has hits of violets, tobacco, balsamic and a touch of tar. This is the wine to drink now and I enjoyed ever drop of it!!

 The dinner: Chef Vincenzo La Corte, Palàs Cerequio, Piedmont and Chef Andrew Bosi Casa Apicii, NYC.

Barbera d’ Asti “Le Orme” 16 Months DOCG 2015 a selection from several vineyards in the South Aegean, with especially from the vineyards of Montemareto in Castelnuovo Calcea, La Serra in Montaldo Scarampi and Cosra della Momache ad Agliano. The soil is light colored, rich in lime and microelements. Training system is guyot, low set cordon spur. Harvest is manual. Minimum of 16 months refinement before it is released. This is an elegant wine with fresh mature fruit with hints of cherry, currants and a touch of violet and good acidity. I tasted the wine and was very impressed. it reminded of Barbera that I had when I first came to Piedmont in 1982. It is a wine to drink now and very food friendly.

Traditional steak tartare-Alba White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico).

Barolo Tortoniano DOCG 2013 The exposure is south-east/south-west and the training system is guyot. The manual harvest is preceded by summer thinning of excess bunches of grapes. Fermentation is in steel tanks with the skins, and a soft shower system of wetting the cap at a temperature between 32C/27. Malolactic fermentation is in steel tanks. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 24 months in average sized oak barrels and then in bottle. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of roses, juniper berries, spice and a hint of tobacco.

Risotto with roasted quail & sweet potato with shaved Alba White Truffle

Barolo DOCG 1978 This is a great old Barolo made from grapes from different vineyards and a tribute to Michele Chiarlo.

Braised veal cheek with Barolo sauce and apple puree.

Moscato d’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2017 100% White Moscato vineyards are in the historical area most suited for Moscato Bianco. The soil is of sedimentary marine orogon, white and sandy. Training system is guyot and the exposure is south-east/southwest. Manual harvest. There is a soft pressing of the entire grape and the must is stored in a tank at 2C followed by a slow fermentation in an autoclave at a controlled temperature until a 5% alcohol level is achieved. During this process, a part of the carbon dioxide developed during fermentation remains entrapped, giving the wine its mild, natural effervescence. Before bottling, the wine undergoes a process of microfiltration to give the wine its clarity, purity and to stop and further fermentation of the yeasts. This is a wine with hints of subtle tropical fruit and apricot with a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste.

Hazelnut parfait with an almond cream and cocoa

 

 

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Filed under Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Barolo, Moscato d'Asti

A Barbera with a Difference

A  lunch and tasting  of a Barbera made by drying the grapes (appassimento) from the Ricossa Antica Winery

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Julianne Clark

Julianne Clark from the Ricossa Antica Winery marketing department greeted us at Lupa Restaurant in NYC. She said that the winery’s name comes from the Ricossa family that owned an award-winning distillery on the outskirts of Asti in Piedmont at the end of the 1800’s. The headquarters of the parent company, MGM Mondo Vino, is in Forli in Emilia Romagna.

Julianna said thay collaborate with quality producers from Piedmont. Mostly from the Nizza Monferrato area.
The  Consorzio Barbers D’Asti e Vini del Monfraffo is the group we approached with the idea of creating an Appassimento under Barbera Piemonte DOC. They then, presented this proposal to the lawmakers.
The Ricossa Antica Casa is a brand part of the MGM winery.

The winery buys all of their grapes from the best growers and producers in Piedmont where the wine is made. It is a Consorzio,the Consortium Barbera D’Asti e Vini del Monferrato, Julianne said, and can be looked upon as a collaboration of expertise from soil to the bottle. Since this was the first time any producer in Piedmont wanted to use the appassimento process to make Barbera, they had to ask permission from the government to do so. It took one year and was approved during the harvest of 2014 — just in time!IMG_9958

Piedmont Barbera Appassimento 2014 DOC 100% Barbera. The soil is calcareous clay and limestone and the training system is guyot. Harvest is in September/October. The grapes are hand picked. 20% are left on the vines (late harvest) and 80% (by regulation) are laid gently in small open cases of 5kg/10 lbs for about 4 to 6 weeks to dry in a temperature controlled room with fans used for ventilation. Maceration on the skins takes place in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days after the drying of the grapes. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks and then for a minimum of 2 months in bottle before release.

Because of the appassimento process I expected a wine that was heavy and jammy but instead it was dry, elegant and balanced with good acidity and hints of blackberries figs and violets. It is an excellent food wine and I was very impressed by it. $25IMG_9961

They also make a very nice Gavi, Barbaresco and an excellent Moscato that was a perfect finish to the meal.

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Filed under APPASSIMENTO PROCESS, Barbera, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Ricossa

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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Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Bricco del Drago, Campo Romano Pinot Noir, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Nebbiolo d'Alba, Poderi Colla

Visiting Vietti and Luciana Currado

One of the highlights of our trip to Piedmont last November was an invitation from Luciana Currado to her home for dinner. It was special not only because of the Vietti wines and that Luciana is a wonderful cook, but also because she is a very dear friend
We first met Luciana and her husband Alfredo in the fall of 1982. It was our first time in Piedmont and my only itinerary was to visit as many wine producers as possible. We were on our way to Monforte d’Alba when Michele saw the sign for Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery.

Before we had left home, Sheldon Wasserman, a friend and Italian wine expert and writer, told us to be sure to visit this winery not only because they made great wines, but because Alfredo and Luciana were such nice people.  We arrived at the gate of the winery and I rang the bell. A man appeared and I said in Italian siamo amici di Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. He turned and shouted to his wife: “Luciana, Luciana, friends of Sheldon and Pauline are here!”
They invited us into their home to meet the whole family and we drank Moscato d’Asti with cornmeal cookies and had a wonderful time. When we got back to the hotel there was a message waiting for us. Alfredo and Luciana were taking us to dinner that night and they would not take no for an answer. So began a wonderful friendship and many adventures with this wonderful couple both in Piedmont and NYC that lasted until Alfredo’s death about five years ago.

The  Vietti Wines with DinnerIMG_9163

Roero Arneis DOCG 2014 100% Arneis. The vineyards are 25 years old and are located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Srefano Roero. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested , pressed and clarified, then alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at a low temperature to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. Because there is no malolactic fermentation acidity and freshness are preserved. The wine remains in stainless steel until bottling. It is a well balanced wine that has hints of citrus and melon with a touch of almond and crisp acidity. It was fitting to start with the Arneis as Alfredo has been called “the father of Arneis” because in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly lost variety.IMG_9162

Barolo Ravera 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo from the Ravera vineyard, 2.7 hectares in Novello. The vines are 5 to 60 years old and the exposure is southwest and the soil is calcareous-clay. The wine is in stainless steel vats, 5 of which are in cold pre-fermentation maceration. Alcoholic fermentation takes place and then a long post-fermentation maceration at a controlled temperature. There is daily air pumping over using the old system called “submerged cap.” There is slow malolactic fermentation in large casks almost until the end of spring. The wine stays more then a year on the lees and the C02 produced during the malolactic fermentation is a reductive environment without sulfur. The wine is aged for 32 months in Slovenian oak casks and bottled unfiltered in July 2013. It has hints of roses, red fruit and spice. Needs time to open up and will only get better with age.IMG_9161

Barolo Brunate 1996 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Morra located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines at the time were about 23 years old and cultivated with the guyot system. The soil is calcareous. Grapes are gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 23 days. Daily open air pumping over takes place using the old system of the submerged cap. Malolactic fermentation is in oak barrels. The wine, I believe, back in 1996 was aged for 32 months in large Slovenian oak casks. This is a balanced wine with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry, plum, violets and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish. !996 was a great vintage for Barolo and this is a great wine.IMG_9059

The night before the dinner with Luciana we were in Alba and went to the Vincafe. As I looked at the case with the older wine I saw a bottle of Vietti Barbera d’Asti “La Crena”1996 and I just had to order it. This single vineyard in Agliano d’Asti was planted in 1932 with 4,800 plants per hectare. The must rests for 21 days in stainless steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. There are 2 to 3 daily fullages in the electro pneumatically system, “délestage” and numerous air pumping overs. Immediately after the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels and big Slovenian oak casks for 16 months. Then it is assembled in steel tanks until it is bottled unfiltered. This is a Barbera that was showing no signs of age with mature fruit, hints of raspberry and cherry a touch of spice and good acidity.

Luca

Luca Currado

Alfredo and Luciana’s son Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great wine making family. Gambero Rosso not only gave a three glasses award to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but also named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.IMG_7159

Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less than one hectare with south/southwest exposure. Soil is clay and compact with white and blue marlstone. The average age of the vines is 39 years and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. After alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, which lasts for 16 days, the wine macerates on the skin for ten days. The wine was transferred into small barrels for the malolactic fermentation. Then it was aged in Slovenian oak casks of 27 hl and bottled unfiltered in September 2010. It is classical Barolo at its best with dark fruit flavors and aromas, hints of leather, tobacco and spice.

 

 

 

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Filed under Arneis, Barbera, Barolo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Luca Currado, Vietti

Visiting with Valter Fissore

In March I went to Vinitaly (the wine fair in Verona) for the first time in 7 years with Nicole and Travis, friends who own a wine store in NYC. They had never been there and wanted to visit a number of producers whose wines they carry in their store. On the top of the list was Valter Fissore of the Elvio Cogno winery.

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Valter Fissore

When we arrived at the Cogno booth we were greeted by Valter and his wife Nadia (Elvio Cogno’s daughter).

We tasted a number of wines including the very rare pre- philloxera Barbera. We had a very enjoyable visit and Valter asked if we were going to visit Piedmont after the fair. We said no but we would be there in November and Valter invited us to visit the winery.

The Elvio Cogno Winery, is situated on the top of Bricco Ravera, a hill near Novello in the Langhe region of Piedmont. I have been to the winery 3 or 4 times and it is always a great experience.

Valter is always trying to tell me or show me something new, and this time was no exception. He took us into the wine cellar and we tasted a number of barrel samples from different vintages and different vineyards. Valter spoke about how the wine differs according to the year and the vintage.IMG_9073

In the cellar there were large oak barrels called botti which contain up to 55 hl that he uses for his Barolo. Smaller barriques extract too much from the wood into the wine. He feels that if there is a long maceration of 40 days for the Barolo it makes the tannins softer.IMG_9076

We sampled the Barolo Ravera 2014 and the Vigna Elena 2012 among others. We also tasted the pre- pre-phylloxera Barbera. This is a very special and limited wine and there is only one barrel.IMG_9075

Barbera d’Alba “PRE-Phylloxera” DOC. Made from 100% Barbera. Valter said that the vineyard is over 120 years old. He rents the vineyard, which is situated in Berri close to La Morra. The vineyard is only 3,400 square meters. The vines are vertically trellised and Guyot pruned and the vineyard is at 520 meters. The grapes are harvested in the beginning of October. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pump over. Aging takes place for 12 months in a large Slavonia oak cask and there is another 6 months of bottle aging before release. Only 1,800 bottles are produced.

This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry and a touch of spice. It is a Barbera that will age. I have always been very impressed with this wine. Nicole and Travis like this Barbera a lot as does Ed Mc Carthy and Tom Maresca.

Valter explained that the vines come from pre-grafted plants propagated by cuttings maintained over many years so that they have the original Barbera characteristics. The terrain is sandy-chalk, which is a natural protection for the vines from phylloxera.

Valter said that this wine was something he always wanted to do and it is also a tribute to his father-in-law, Elvio Cogno, who made a pre-phylloxera Dolcetto d’Alba “Boschi di Berri” when he was at the Marcarini Winery.IMG_9068

Walter took a picture of the inside of one of the tanks that was filled with red wine must.IMG_9065

Then the cellar man began to remove the must into a small metal box with a rotor, which broke up the must. A long tube transferred the juice into another tank.IMG_9083

Valter showed us some “corks” and explained that he was now going to use an agglomerate cork that allows the wine to breathe. The corks have different numbers indicating the amount of air that they allow into the wine. He said that if you turn over a bottle sealed with one of these corks, no wine comes out. He is thinking of using these corks for all his wines.IMG_9087

We went to restaurant Bovio with Valter and Nadia for lunch. I mentioned to Nadia that many years Michele and I went to another restaurant at this location. Nadia said that it had been owned by her father’s brother. She looked at me with a smile and said this was that restaurant, known as Bel Sit. Now it is much bigger and fancier.IMG_9089

I had a quail salad with black and white truffles and then two ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach and a whole egg yolk covered with white truffles.IMG_9094

They were a perfect combination with the Barolo. IMG_9095

Barolo “Vigna Elena” DOCG 2000. This wine is made from 100% Rose a sub-variety of Nebbiolo. Walter said he was one of the few, if not the only one, to do a Barolo with 100% Rose. The vineyards are 380 feet above sea level and face southward. There are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vineyard is 1 hectare. The harvest is in October and the grapes are fermented in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with automatic pump-over, a post fermentation maceration of 30 days and submerged cap. The wine is aged for 36 months in 40HL Slovenian oak barrels. Valter said that he only uses native yeasts. The wine rests on the lees for 60 days and sees 12 months bottle aging before it is released. Walter pointed out that this wine is only made in great vintages. The wine had typical Nebbiolo aromas of roses, tobacco and a hint of liquorice.

The label is a picture drawn by Valter and Nadia’s daughter when she was a child. There has been some controversy about the 2000 vintage but this wine was everything one wanted from a Barolo.IMG_9091

Barolo “Bricco Pernice” DOCG 2005 100%.  It is made from a sub-variety of Nebbiolo called Lampia. The vineyard is 300 meters above sea level with 5000 vines per hectare and faces southward. The grapes are from the finest vineyards in Novello, in the most historic part of the Ravera cru. Harvest is in October. Fermentation in stainless steel temperature controlled tanks with pumping over and 30 days maceration with submerged cap. It is aged for 24 months in large Slovenian oak barrels 25/30 HL. It remains on the lees for 90 days and spends 12 months in bottle before it is released. Valter said that in his microclimate, 2005 was an excellent year and it made a very traditional style Barolo, This is a well structured and elegant Barolo and it is drinking very well now.

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Filed under Barbera, Barolo, Elvio Cogno, Valter Fissore

CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY

We spent my birthday weekend in the Hamptons at the home of our friends, Ernie and Louise De Salvo. Louise is an excellent cook and Ernie and I have the same taste in wine. IMG_5970

We started with lunch on Saturday with zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies in a batter and deep-fried. This is one of my favorite foods and I have it whenever I am in Rome. With this we had a wine from a producer I did not know but it was a perfect combination with the flowers because it is a wine with a depth of flavor,hints of citrus fruit and good acidity.IMG_5956

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fonte Canale” 2011 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from old vines from Tiberio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, there are 2,500 vines /hectare and the training system is the tendone (vines form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun). Harvest takes place the last week of September. Cold maceration on the skins lasts for 6 hours. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains in the bottle for a short period before release.IMG_5985

Champagne Premier Brut NV Louis Roederer is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier from 50 different crus. It is aged for 3 years in the cellar and 6 more months after dègorgement.IMG_5988

One of the dishes that Louise makes, which I love, is a cold melon soup with ginger. This was an interesting combination that worked well because the wine had nice fruity aromas and flavors and a hint of creaminess.IMG_5964

Barbera d’Alba 2001 Giacomo Conterno made from 100% Barbera d’Alba. The vineyard is in Serralunga d’Alba, the soil is calcareous limestone and the exposure is west/southwest. Vinification lasts for 2/3 weeks in wooden vats with regular breaking of the cap. The wine is then aged in large oak barrels for two years. Note–With the 2012 vintage, the Barbera with have Francia on the label as opposed to Cascina Francia, but the wine will remain the same.IMG_5963

When there are many different flavors in the foods Barbera is always a good choice because it is a red wine with good acidity. This one worked very well with the 3 cheeses, salumi, prosciutto, mortadella and best of all the flavorful roasted peppers made by Louise. The better Barberas can age for 20 years and this one was showing no signs of age.IMG_5969

Taurasi Riserva 1995 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. This is the way I believe the 1995 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather. IMG_5974

I was in the mood for Taurasi for my birthday. My favorite pasta is Pasta Matriciana and I had to have for my birthday along with the Taurasi.IMG_5978

Hermitage 1999 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. It is made from 100% Syrah from 50 year old vines from some of the best plots in Hermitage with different soils. The wine is aged in 228 oak barrels for 18 months, 10 to 20% new and the rest 1 to 5 years old.IMG_5989

Ernie makes the best lamb on the grill. He takes pieces of lamb and thick slices of bacon and skewers them. A big wine like the Hermitage was perfect with its depth of flavor and hints of black and red fruit.IMG_5995

For dessert Louise made fig ice cream. I like it so much that the next morning for breakfast before we went home I had the fig ice cream Sicilian style — sandwiched on a warm brioche.

 

 

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Filed under Barbera, Champagne, Chave, Hermitage, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Louis Roederer Brut, Mastroberardino, Taurasi, Tiberio Winery