Category Archives: Bellavista

A Thanksgiving with a Difference

Sometimes Michele makes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes she cooks something completely different. This time it was completely different

We started with smoked duck breast, cashew nuts, green olives and foie gras on toast with fig jam.img_1861

For an aperitivo, we drank a Franciacorta Bellavista Grand Cuvèe Brut 1989 Classic Champagne Method. The wine today is made from 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Bianco but I do not know what the blend was in 1989 and they have since changed all their labels and the names of the sparkling wine.img_1865

The next wine was a Champagne Blason de France Perrier-Jouèt, A Epernay Brut Rose NV Prestige Cuvèe. Made from 50% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. The dosage: 10g/l and it matures for at least 3 years in the house cellars. This is a powerful wine with a distinctive flavor, roundness, hints of red fruit and a touch of brioche. I do not know how old it was but I do know this label is not used anymore. It was a perfect combination with the foie gras and fig jam.img_1875

The next course was mushroom soup made with chanterelles and other mushrooms, a splash of Cognac and finished with cream.

We began with the Roero Arneis 2001 from Bruno Giacosa. Made from 100% Arneis. The wine was showing very well. It had a depth of aromas and flavors that one would not expect from a 15 year old white wine. I was not surprised because I had the 1974 a few years ago and it was showing very well.img_1869

Volnay 1er Cru “Les Santenots” 1972 Domaine Potinet Ampeau. At a dinner with such remarkable older wines this was my favorite. It was all one could ask for from a Burgundy.img_1860

Our main course was a pork loin roast stuffed with mortadella, accompanied by a potato and Fontina gratin prepared by one of the guests, green beans with Parmigiano Reggiano and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and walnuts from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.img_1879

With it, we had the Vino Nebbiolo Sori Del Turco 1971 from Gaja. Angelo Gaja’s father made the wine. I would think it was 100% Nebbiolo but back then they often added Barbera to the blend. This is a classic wine with all the aromas and flavors of the Langhe.img_1871

We finished the main course and the cheese course with a magnum of Villa Antinori Chianti Classico 1964.

The wine was in excellent condition which did not surprise me because I had the Antinori Chianti Classico 1943 not too long ago. So much for those who say Sangiovese does not age. Sheldon Wasserman in his classic book “The Noble Red Wines of Italy” has a tasting note dated 1/83 on the magnum. He gives it one star and says it might be drying out. He was wrong. This is a wine with body and hints of cherry and blueberry, Chianti Classico just the way I like them.

Our dessert was roasted chestnuts and fresh fruit, followed by an airy pumpkin chiffon pie prepared by our friend Diane Darrow  https://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com for the recipe

We finished the meal with Romano Levi Grappa and cafè.

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Filed under Antinori, Arneis, Bellavista, Champagne, French Wine, Gaja, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Nebbiolo 1971 Gaja, Perrier- Jouet Blason de France, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots Domaine Potinet Ampeau

Franciacorta: The Real Story

Jeremy Parzen is an old friend.   I have a great respect for his wine knowledge and I enjoy reading his erudite blog http://dobianchi.com/.Jeremy is now the official spokesperson for Franciacorta sparkling wine and wants everyone to know the real story.

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Jeremy Parzen

Jeremy explained that Franciacorta is a small wine-producing area in Northern Italy noted for its sparkling wines. The Franciacorta wine region is located in the hills immediately southeast of the foot of Lake Iseo in the province of Brescia in the Lombardy region. Roughly square in shape, it stretches eastwards for 15 miles (25km) from the Oglio River (which flows out from the lake) until reaching the Mella River valley and the western suburbs of the city of Brescia.

Franciacorta is reserved for wines obtained exclusively with re-fermentation in bottle and the separation of sediment by way of disgorgement. They must be produced in accordance with the appellation’s production regulations.

The four categories of Franciacorta DOCG are:

Franciacorta – must be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as well as a maximum of 50% Pinot Blanc. The base wine for the production of Franciacorta may be obtained from a blend of different vintages. Minimum of 18 months on the lees.

Franciacorta Saten – Pinot Noir is not allowed in the Satén No more than 20 grams/liter of sugar may be added to the wine in causing the second fermentation/final dosage.

Minimum of 24 months on the lees. Saten Rose is a minimum of 30 days and Saten riserva is a minimum of 60 days.

Jeremy said that Satèn in Franciacorta has less pressure than most sparkling wine with 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This gives the wine more elegant bubbles, a more delicate mousse and a softer mouth feel.

He did not compare Franciatora to Champagne but showed how they were different. The climate and soil where the grapes are grown are different, as are some of the grapes that are used. He added that in Champagne more sugar is added to the wine. In Franciacorta most of the production is organic. In fact he said in the near future every producer in the consortium would be organic. Champagne has a long history while Franciacorta has been in production for around 50 years.

Franciacorta Rosè – minimum of 25% Pinot Noir and minimum of 24 days on lees. Millesimato minimum of 30 days on lees. Riserva minimum of 60 days on lees.

Franciacorta millesimato (vintage dated) must be produced using at least 85% of wine from the stated vintage.

Franciacorta riserva — minimum of 60 days on the lees.

Franciacorta must be disgorged manually or mechanically and filtration is not allowed.

Jeremy said there are 109 members of the Franciacorta consortium and they account for 94% of the total production.

Franciacorta is the largest selling sparkling wine in Italy made by the Methodo Classico.

There were 8 wineries represented with two wines from each winery.IMG_8101

Barone Pizzini Brut”Animante” 78% Chardonnay 18% Pinot Noir 4% Pinot White. The winery is certified organic and states on the label “organic wine”. There are 5,000/6,250 plants per hectare. Soft pressing and fermentation in thermo steel tanks. The wine ages for 6 months in stainless steel tanks and bottle aging is on the lees for 20/30 months. The wine has citrus notes with hints of honey, apricot and dried fruit.

Barone Pizzini Satèn 100% Chardonnay. The soil type is Moraine and the training system is guyot. Soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation is thermo steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in steel barrels and remains on the lees for 30/40 months. Residual sugar is 6g/l. The wine has citrus notes and nice minerality.

Il Mosnel Brut 60% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Half of the Chardonnay is fermented in small oak barrels and half from a different vintage is fermented in steel. The Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc are fermented in steel. Each bottle is given the liqueur de triage and laid down for the second fermentation. After a minimum of 18 months on the lees, the wine is riddled to concentrate the sediment against the cap, disgorged and re-corked. The wine has hints of white flowers and peach and a touch of almonds in the finish.IMG_8104

Il Mosnel Satèn 2010 100% Chardonnay, 60% fermented in steel and the rest in small oak barrels. In spring it is given the liqueur de triage and laid down for the second fermentation. Less sugar in the liqueur makes the mousse less forceful. After a minimum of 30 months on the lees, the wine is riddled. This is a silky, fruity full-bodied wine. The residual sugar is 8g/l. Organic farming.

Monte Rossa Brut 85% Pinot Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Soft pressing of the best grapes with no more than 55% of the total yield. Partially fermented in steel tubs at a controlled temperature and partially fermented in oak barrels. The wine has strawberry aromas and flavors with an undertone of brioches with added to depth to the wine.IMG_8106

Monte Rossa Cabochon 2009 70 % Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and selecting the best grapes for no more than 58% of the total yield. Fermentation is in first and second passage barriques between September and February. The wine is aged on the lees for 48 months. The bottles are not sold until at least 4 months after the dègorgeage. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with more than hints of brioches which gave it much more depth.IMG_8107

Montenisa Brut Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and a small amount of Pinot Noir. The first fermentation takes place partly in stainless steel vats and partly in barriques. The second fermentation is in the bottle with at least 30 months contact on the yeast. The remuage is carried out by hand according to ancient tradition, using typical pupitres (trestle tables). After the degorgement the bottles remain in the cellars fro 3 months before release. The wine has hints of peaches and apples and a hint of yeast. The winery is partly owned by Marchese Antinori.

Montenisa Rosè 100% Pinot Noir. In the early spring, following alcoholic fermentation partly in stainless steel vats and in barriques, the wine underwent a second fermentation in the bottle and remains in contact with the yeast for at least 24 months. Remuage is by hand. After degorgement the bottles were laid down for at least 3 months before release. The wine is full bodied with hints of strawberry and cherry.IMG_8119

Ricci Curbastro Brut 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks, followed in spring by the draft with the beginning of a slow second fermentation in the bottle. The bottles remain in the stack for at least 30 months (total of 38 from the harvest) contact and autolysis of the yeast. After disgorgement, with the addition of liqueur di triage(very dry) 8g/l,the wine remains in the cellar for a few months before release. This is a dry elegant fruity wine with floral hints and a touch of baked bread.

Ricci Curbastro Satén 100% Chardonnay fermented in oak barrels. The bottles remain in the stack for at least 40 months (total 48 from the harvest). There is an addition of liqueur very dry 7g/l. The wine remains in the cellar a few months before release. It is an elegant wine with fruity notes, a hint of spice and a touch of toasted almond.

Ronco Calino Brut 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from Burgundy clones. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon and there are about 6,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand and there is a manual selection of clusters before pressing which occurs in the first week of September. There is a soft pressing of the entire grape cluster and initial fermentation in thermo-conditioned stainless steel tanks and 20% in French oak barrels. At least 24 months on the lees before disgorging. The wine has hints of pear, cherries and candied orange peel with a touch of spice.IMG_8117

Ronco Calino Satèn 100% Chardonnay. There are about 6,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the third week of August. Soft pressing of the grapes, fermentation in stainless steel. 30% is aged in French oak barriques. There is a low percentage of liqueur de triage. The wine has hints of pear, peach and cherry and a touch of brioches.

Contaldi Castaldi Brut NV 80% Chardonnay 10% Pinot Blanc and 10% Pinot Noir training system guyot and casarsa (a variation of guyot). There are 3,000 /5000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 15 years. Harvest takes place in August and early September. There is a soft pressing and a cold settling followed by an inoculation of selected yeast. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 20 days and there is partial malolactic fermentation. First aging is for 7 months in steel and barriques. The wine spends 20/25 months on the lees. It has floral notes with hints of lime and peach.IMG_8113

Contaldi Castaldi Rosè NV 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir. Training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The average age of the vines is 15 years. There is a soft pressing of the grapes after a cold maceration of about 3/4 hours. Cold settling, inoculation with selected yeasts and fermentation for 20 days is stainless steel. There is partial malolactic fermentation. First aging is for 7 months in stainless steel and bariques. The wine ages for 24/30 months on the less. Disgorgement is in July. The wine remains in the bottle for 3/4 months before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, apple and tropical fruit.

Jonathan La Rochelle

Jonathan La Rochelle

Also at the tasting was Jonathan La Rochelle, Brand Ambassador for Bellavista

Bellavista “Alma” Cuveè Brut Jonathan said that alma means soul in Latin and this wine reflects the soul of Franciacorta and Bellavista. The symbol of this wine is the butterfly because it represents harmony and balance, nature at its purest, transformation and rebirth. Made from 80% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Nero and 1% Pinot Blanc. The balance comes from 30 different selections from over 100 vineyards. Most of the wine is fermented and matures in 228 litter oak barrels for 7 months. The wine consists of at least 6 to 9 older vintages. This is a wine with a depth of flavor with hints of apple, pears and white flowers.IMG_8111

Bellavista Franciacorta Gran Cuvèe Pas Operè 2006 made from 65% Chardonnay and 35% Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from the most vigorous selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 20 years old with an east and southeast exposure. Most of the must is fermented in small oak barrels. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of honey, apple and herbs. Jonathan said that in 2007 this wine not only changed its label but its name, to Bellavista Pas Opèrè.

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Filed under Barone Pizzini, Bellavista, Contadi Castaldi, Franciacorta Brut, Il Mosnel, Italian Sparkling Wine, Monte Rossa, Montenisa, Ricci Curbastro, Ronco Calino, Uncategorized

Franciacorta’s Bellavista

It can be argued that that Italy’s best sparking wine made in the classic method comes from Franciacorta. One of my favorite producers from this area is Bellavista IMG_5274

At a Bellavista tasting and lunch at Del Posto in NYC, I noticed immediately that the labels on the entire line of wines were different. The labels may have changed but what was inside the bottles was the same as I have enjoyed in the past.

Mr. Vittorio Moretti founder and president of Bellavista spoke. He said that the winery is located in Erbusca in the province of Brescia in Lombardy. The winery has 190 hectares of vines, which is almost 10% of the entire Franciacorta appellation. Their first vintage was in 1984. Mr. Morettti introduced his enologist Mattia Vezzola. Mr Vezzola spoke about the wine. The Mèthode Champenoise bollicine (little bubbles) is used for the sparkling wine. The Bellavista cuvèes result from horizontal and vertical blends of about 90-100 selections from 107 micro-crus. These selections are separately harvested and vinified. Only free run juice is used and the must ferments in 1,500 pièces, 228 liter barrels, the youngest of which are 7 years old, while the oldest are about 28 years old.IMG_5271

Franciacorta Brut Vintage 2008 made from 72% Chardonnay and 28% Pinot Noir. This wine not only changed its label but also is name. It was formerly known as Grand Cuvee Brut. The grapes come from the finest selection of over 100 plots within the township of Franciacorta, which are all estate owned. Over 30% of the base wine is fermented and matures for over seven months in small oak barrels. The wine has nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors with hints of sage and dried leaves.IMG_5276

Bellavista Satèn 2009 DOCG made from 100% Chardonnay. Mr. Moretti said that when this wine was introduced in 1984 it was the first blanc de blancs to be made in Franciacorta. The chardonnay comes from the oldest hillside vineyards close to the winery with the highest elevation and a full southern exposure. Part of the wine (1/3) is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. Mr. Vezzolo said that Satèn in Franciacorta has less pressure than most sparking wine with 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This gives the wine more elegant bubbles, a more delicate mousse and a softer mouth feel.IMG_5270

Bellavista Franciacorta Pas Operè 2007 made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from the most vigorous selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 20 years old with an east and southeast exposure. Most of the must is fermented in small oak barrels. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of honey, apple and herbs. This wine not only changed its label but its name, it was formally known as Grand Cuveè Pas Opèrè.

Bellavista Rosè 2008 This is a special cuveè and is only 3% of the total production of the winery. It is a blend of at least 20% of the winery’s best selection of which part is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. For the 48% Pinot Noir, the submerged cap method is used for the maceration, allowing for skin contact to augment concentration up to the moment fermentation begins. The 52% of Chardonnay comes from 20 selections of the most prestigious estates owned by the winery. This is a very flavorful wine with hints of citrus fruit, strawberry and a touch of apple.IMG_5271

Bellavista “Alma” Cuveè Brut  Mr. Moretti said that alma means soul in Latin and this wine reflects the soul of Franciacorta and Bellavista. The symbol of this wine is the butterfly because it represents harmony and balance,nature at its purest and transformation and rebirth. Made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Bianco. The balance comes from 30 different selections from over 100 vineyards. Most of the wine is fermented and matures in 228 litter oak barrels for 7 months. The wine consists of at least 6 to 9 older vintages. This is a wine with a depth of flavor with hints of apple, pears and white flowers.

Bellavista Vittorio Moretti Franciaorta Special DOCG 2006. Made only in exceptional years. Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the best crus in Franciacorta: Erbusco, Nigoline, Torbiato and Colombaro.The wine is aged for seven years before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of white peach, honey and a touch of berries.

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Filed under Bellavista, Saten, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Celebrating My Birthday

My birthday celebration this year began the night before. Alfonso Cevola, a friend and fellow blogger “On the Wine Trail in Italy,” was visiting from Texas and we met at La Pizza Fresca for dinner.  We had two wines.

Sciac-trà Ormeasco di Pornassio 2011 DOC GuglierameIMG_3731

I was given this bottle of  Sciac-trà from Liguria for my birthday.  It was one of the most interesting rosato wines I have ever tasted.  It is made from the Ormeasco grape, which is the local name for the Dolcetto grape.  It is vinified in the traditional way.

The wine must be produced from at least 95% Ormaeasco and 5% of other approved red grapes. The grapes are grown on steep slopes high in the mountains at 800 meters. This grape is an early ripener and I believe the name means “crushed before the others.” It is aged for 4 months and does not see any oak. The wine comes from the Rivieradi Ponente in northwestern Liguria and should not be mistaken for the sweet Sciacchetra from the Cinque Terra area of Liguria. It has lively fresh red fruit flavors, a nice finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

The other wine of the evening was my favorite Chianti, Chianti Rufina Riserva 1990 Villa di Vetrice. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese and there is traditional vinification. The wine is aged in large botti–oak barrels between 45 and 60 HL. The wine was showing no signs of age and will last for a number of years. It is Chianti at its best!

For my birthday dinner, I asked Michele to make some of my favorite food.IMG_3746

When I am in Rome the first I do is head for a restaurant that makes fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies.  I love them.  Since I am not in Rome, Michele and I went to the Greenmarket in Union Square and brought a box containing a dozen zucchini flowers.  When we returned home Michele wanted to know how many she should make and I said all of them.  IMG_3751

When in Rome I drink Prosecco with the flowers but Alfonso had given me a bottle of Franciacorta Grand Cru Pas Opere 2006 Bellavista for my birthday so I decided to try that.

It is made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The vineyards are on high hills facing south and southeast and the average age of the vines is 20 years.  The wine is aged for 6 years in the cellars and it sees some small oak barrels.  The wine is big and round with nice fruit flavors and good bubbles.

For the next course, Michele made my favorite pasta, bucatini all’Amatriciana, thick tubular pasta strands with a tomato sauce with guanciale or pancetta, and pecorino cheese.  With it we drank IMG_3755Taurasi  “Radici “1995 Mastroberardino DOCG, 100% Aglianico grapes.  The vineyards were 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 was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest takes place 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 is aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release.  This is full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.IMG_3754

Foe dessert there was a blueberry crostata!

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Filed under Bellavista, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian Wine, Ormeasco di Pornassio, Sciac-tra