Category Archives: Brunello

Pizza at Sottocasa

I first met Luca Arrigini when he was with the master pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio at Kestè on Bleecker Street.

Luca opened Pizzeria Sottocasa in Brooklyn and Michele and I tried it several years ago. We really liked the pizza but somehow we did not have the opportunity to return.

Two weeks ago friends that live in Harlem said they have been ordering pizza from their local branch of Sottocasa and invited us to join them there. We were glad to go.

Luca is from Milan and now lives in Brooklyn where he normally works, but he told me he would meet me at the Harlem location when I came. His partner Matteo Prospiti and his wife Elena live in Harlem so they are typically at that location.

The Brooklyn Sottocasa is located at 298 Atlantic Ave (718) 852-8758. The Harlem branch is at 227 Lenox Ave (646) 928-2870. Both locations are on the ground floor of a brownstone, which is where the name comes from.

We started with gluten free focaccia because one in our party is on a gluten free diet. It crisp, tasty and very good.

Next we had a regular Margherita made with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil. The crust was flavorful and well risen and a light dusting of semolina underneath gave it a subtle crunch. The toppings were good, too. The tomatoes were sweet and the mozzarella fresh tasting.

After that we tried the Napoli made with tomatoes, mozzarella, anchovies, oregano and basil which we also enjoyed.

Our friend ordered a gluten free Margherita, which was very good for gluten free.

The last pizza was a Laura, named after Luca’s wife. It was topped with tomatoes, mozzarella, mascarpone, speck and rosemary.

Luca said they make Neapolitan style pizza because he believes it is the best pizza of all.

The dough is made with Caputo 00 flour and rests in different stages for 48 hours, though it is usually never used before 60.

They use only Italian organic tomatoes for their sauce, freshly crashed and with just a little salt added. Fior di Latte mozzarella from Wisconsin is the cheese they use. They break the cheese by hand everyday to insure the right texture. The extra virgin olive oil is from Sicily, labeled directly for Sottocasa.

We also enjoyed the generous salads, which were lightly dressed and a good complement to the pizzas.

The wines 

Brunello di Montalcino 1990 from Livio Sassetti made from 100% Brunelllo. The wine was drinking very nicely, showing no signs of age and should last for a number of years.

Barbaresco 1971 from Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. This has developed into a classic mature Barbaresco and is a pleasure to drink.

Both wines were a perfect complement to the pizza.

The cappuccino.

Matteo offered us two amaros and said because they were across from a school they did not have a liquor license and only could serve wine. The two Amaros were wine based.

The first was Pasubio Vino Amaro from G Cappelletti which was very nice but a bit too fruity.

The second, Cardamaro Bosca, was stronger and with more herb and spice flavors. We all really liked it.

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Filed under Barbaresco, Brunello, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants, Produttori del Barbaresco, Sottocasa, Uncategorized

Italian Wine and Cardoncelli Mushrooms

Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino, an Italian PR company that represents European wineries, invited me to taste some of his line of Italian wines. I know Riccardo for a number of years and he represents some of the best wineries in Italy. The tasting and lunch was at Il Cardoncello NYC, a restaurant not far from where I live. The restaurant is named for the cardoncelli mushrooms that grow in Puglia.  I ordered  the cardoncelli and I really enjoyed them.. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms were a perfect compliment for the wine.

 Cardoncelli Mushrooms

Pratum” DOC Alto Adige Terlano Pinot Bianco 2015 Castel Sallegg made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the “Pratum” selection of grapes from the Prey vineyards’ oldest vines at 550 meters. The soil is porphyry and gardeno sandstone and the training system is guyot. After pressing the wine undergoes low-temperature must clarification and subsequent controlled cool fermentation at 15-18C. 2/3 of the wine is aged in stainless steel and 1/3 in French tonneaux casks (500 liters). This was a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, tropical fruit, and a touch of vanilla. It has a nice mineral quality, well-balanced acidity and a long lingering finish and pleasant aftertaste.

Chianti Classico 2015 DOCG Quercia Al Poggio Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo and Colorino, all indigenous Tuscan grapes which are certified organic. The soil is limestone, clay, schist and calcareous clay galestro. The vines are Cordon trained and spur-pruned guyot. Harvest is manual. Traditional red winemaking in temperature controlled stainless steel and cement. The wine is aged in 500 liter old French oak barrels for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.The winery is located in Barberino Val d’Elsa which is between Florence and Siena. They use organic farming methods. This is a very drinkable Chianti with hints of blackberry and violets.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2016 Di Filippo made from 60% Sangiovese, 20% Barbera and 10% Sagrantino. The grapes are grown on hillside vineyards and the soil is clayey-calcareous. The training system is spur cordon, there are 5,00 plants per hectare. Traditional red wine vinification in stainless steel tanks and maturation is in stainless steel tanks. This is a medium bodied easy drinking wine with good fruit and hints of red berries, with cherry notes and a touch of spice. It is an excellent food wine. The Di Filippo winery is 30-hectares and overlooks Assisi on the hills between Torgiano and Montefalco in the heart of Umbria.

Barolo “Ravera” 2013 DOCG Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The winery is located in Diano d’Alba, province of Cuneo in southern Piedmont. It is family owned and run. The vineyards are at 400 to 500 meters and the grapes are picked by hand. The training system is guyot and the average age of the vines is 30 years. The Ravera vineyard is two hectares and is one of the major crus in the Novello area. The soil is composed of Saint’Agata marls with thick calcareous strata which alternate with strips of sand. Aging takes place in Slavonian casks. Riccardo said the distinctive character of wines from the Ravera vineyard are balsamic aromas of mint and eucalyptus.

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie” 2013 DOCG 100% Sangiovese. Il Marroneto This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyard. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century Madonna della Grazie church very near the vineyard. Fermentation is in Allier oak vats where it remains untouched for 2 days and the fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 41 months and 10 months in bottle before release. It a complex and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice, mineral notes, and that certain something wonderful on the palate that just keeps on lingering. It has an extremely pleasing aftertaste and a long finish. This is an excellent food wines and will age for a long time. It may be the best Brunello!

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2013 DOC Tommasi made from 50% Corvina Veronese, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oselta from grapes grown on hillside vineyards in Conca d’Oro. The traditional pergola veronese and the modern guyot methods of training the vines are used and only the best and most mature clusters are selected by hand for the Amarone. The grapes are dried for 4 months before they are pressed, and then the wine is aged for 30 months in Slavonian oak casks of 35 HL It remains in the bottle for at least another year before release. This is a full bodied complex wine with hints, of cherry, plum and blackberry. It is an Amarone that is food friendly and will age.

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Dinner with Massimo Bottura on Ellis Island

Massimo Bottura is the chef owner of the Michelin 3-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. The restaurant was voted the #1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list in 2016, and this year was named #2.

He was in New York recently to prepare a meal to benefit God’s Love We Deliver featuring some of his signature dishes which were matched with wines by master wine maker Roberto Cipresso.

Roberto Cipresso and Natalie Oliveros

Michele and I were fortunate enough to be invited to this event by Natalie Oliveros, owner of La Fiorita Winery in Tuscany.

The event was held at Ellis Island. About 100 guests boarded the ferry at Battery Park and cruised past the Statue of Liberty to the museum where the event was held.

Mike De Simone. Gianna and Chazz Palminteri and Charles Scicolone

Actor Chazz Palmentieri was the host and entertained us with charming stories of his life and career.

Bottura also spoke about his approach to cooking.

We can’t do any better to describe the spectacular dishes that were served that night than to quote Bottura’s own poetic descriptions which follow along with the wines that accompanied them.

Baccala Mare Nostrum

An Emilian chef dreams of the Mediterranean Sea in the form of a baccala filet floating in a verdant broth of Vesuvian tomatoes and green olives infused with Sorrento lemons, wild oregano and extra virgin olive oil. 

Falaghina Del Sannino 2016 DOC Lorenzo Nifo Sarrapochiello made from 100% Falaghina made from organic grapes. The soil is clay and calcareous marl, The vines are 10 to 15 years old, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier, guyot. Harvest is by hand the third week of September. The grapes are crushed and then fermented for 18 to 20 days, followed by 2 months in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of pear and pineapple with a touch of spice

Polenta and Rice in Praise of a Pizza

This is not a pizza. When the northern Italian Vialone Nano rice and polenta tradition encounter the southern Italian flavors of tomato, anchovy and oregano even a serious risotto can become sunny. The rice is simmered in buffalo mozzarella milk, the polenta is crisped in the oven like pizza crust and the classic pizza toppings are hidden from view.

Pinot Grigio 2016 IGT 100% from vineyards in the Dolomiti  Casata Monfort made from 100% Pinot Grigio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, sandy soil and the training system is pergola trentina. Grapes are pressed in a completely sealed environment and then the wine making process takes place. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeast strains. The wine was pile yellow with copper highlights. This is a distinctive fruity wine with hints of ripe pear.

The Crunchy Part of Lasagne

Chef Bottura mischievously re-invents the classic Italian recipe while remaining faithful to his childhood memory of stealing he burned corners from his grandmother Ancella’s labor of love. A sheet of crunchy tri-color pasta balances on a hand chopped meat ragu and airy béchamel like a bird about to take flight.

Beautiful, Psychedelic, Spin-Painted Veal, Not Flame Grilled

A tribute to English artist Damien Hirst’s spin-painted canvases, this beef filet takes on the Tuscan tradition of grilled meat without lighting a flame. The meat is marinated in milk as if it were veal, brushed with vegetable charcoal for a fax-grill effect then cooked at a low temperature to preserve essential proteins. It is dressed with creamy potatoes, puree of orange and yellow peppers, a red beet reduction and extra old Villa Manodori Artigianale balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006 DOCG La Fiorita made from 100% Sangiovese from the 3.1 hectare Pian Bossolino vineyards at 350 meters. The exposure is south east, training system is spurred cordon and there are 7,000 plants per hectare and the soil is galestro. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Fermentation is Slavonian oak casks for 10 days with selected yeasts. During maceration pumping over and delestage takes place. Type and capacity of aging casks: 12 months in new and second passage French oak; 12 months is Slavonian oak of 80Hl. Aging time: 24 months in wood, 6 months in steel and 30 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit, spice, balsam and a touch of tobacco and chocolate.

Since 2011 the winery has been owned by Natalie Oliveros. Natalie was sitting at the same table as Michele and I. I had met her when I was the wine director of i-Trulli and was the first one to buy her wines.

Caesar Salad in Bloom

The evergreen and stoic Caesar softens into an ornamental garden of late summer fragrances and colors. Chrysantheum petals, elderflower vinegar, dried cherries, and chamomile honey dressings reminds us of nature’s bounty as we safeguard our memories for the long winter to come.

Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart

This dessert calls attention the poetry of imperfection. Lemon zabaglione, verbena sorbet and fragmented pie crust meet candied bergamot, savory capers, dried oregano and hop pepper oil in praise of southern Italy, a place that is broken but never without emotion.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural Grand Cuvée Del Fondator, Motus Vital Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural- Millesimato 2015 Rive San Pietro Barbozza Bortolomiol made from 100% Glera. Elvira, Maria Elena, Giuliana and Luisa Bortolomio run the winery. This wine was created to honor Giuliano Bortolomio the founder of the winery in the 1940’s and the first to produce a Prosecco brut.  Training system is capuccina modificata. Harvest is at the middle of September. There is a gentle pressing after the skins have been removed. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeasts. The sparkling wine method used is the Martinotti-Charmat. The wine is left on the lee for ten months. Residual sugar 0 g/l: dosage zero. This is complex and dry Prosecco with nice white fruit and a perfect way to end this wonderful evening.

 

 

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My Favorite Brunello at La Pizza Fresca

I first discovered Il Marroneto when I was doing a portfolio tasting of the wines represented by Riccardo Gabiele and Elisa Bosco from Pr VIno. One of the wines was the Brunello di Montalcino of Il Marroneto “Madonna della Grazie”, owned by Alessandro Mori. It was the best wine of the tasting and one of the best Brunellos I have ever had.

I few months later I went to a seminar conducted by Alessandro and tasted a number of different vintages of his Brunello and liked them all.

I remember Alessandro saying that the wine really makes itself and he only does what is necessary. He has a traditional and minimalist philosophy both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

IL Marroneto is one of the 10 historical wineries of Montalcino and was purchased in 1974 by Giuseppe Mori, Alessandro’s father. The towers of the city of Siena are the backdrops of the estate’s vineyards located high on the north slope of the hill of Montalcino. The vineyards are at 400 meters and extend to the walls of the town. This is an area where grapes have been cultivated since the times of the Etruscans.

Alessandro said that they grow only Sangiovese grapes and follow a biodynamic approach to cultivation (although not certified), always abiding by the strict Montalcino regulations.  No herbicides are used on the plants.

A few weeks ago Brad Bonnewell, owner of La Pizza Fresca, invited me to join him at a tasting of the wines of Il Marroneto. I would have the opportunity not only to taste the wines but also drink them with food.

There were six of us tasting and drinking the wine and we had a number of different pizzas, a pasta, and steak to accompany it.

The Wines

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 100%. We drank the 2002, 2007,2009,2010, 2011 and 2012 Sangiovese. Fermentation lasts for 11/12 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 39 months and 10 months in the bottle before release. All of the wines will last for 20 years or more. These are complex and elegant wines and have a certain easy feel in the mouth that is very pleasing but hard to describe. They have hints of black and red fruit, spice, and licorice with a touch of tobacco and leather. They will age for a long time.

The 2007 and 2010 were that the favorites of the evening. 2002 was a poor vintage in Tuscany yet this wine was showing no sings of age and could last for a number of years. The 2011 was a bad bottle.

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie” 100% Sangiovese. We drank the 2011 and 2012 This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyards that surround the house. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century church very near the vineyard, Madonna della Grazie. Fermentation is in Allier oak vats where it remains untouched for 2 days and the fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 41 months and 10 months in bottle before release.

These are complex wines with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice and mineral notes. They have a wonderful aftertaste and a long finish. They are excellent food wines and will age for a long time.

The vines were first planted in 1975 near the church of Madonna della Grazie, (which the estate’s top Brunello comes from). The original building dates back to 1247. The rest of the estate’s vineyards were planted in 1979 and 1984. The soil is coarse sandy soil rich in minerals. There is natural grass planted between the rows of vines with longer time for pollination. Pruning takes place in March. The vineyards are planted for low yields and low density. The training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are harvested only when the stalks start to turn to burnt colors, indicating that the seeds have reached optimum maturity.

The estate’s name derives from a central tower that was once used to dry chestnuts (castagne or marroni in Italian), long a source of flour in Italy. The wines are aged in the base of the tower in large Allier and Slovenian oak barrels.

These are very traditional made wines with plenty of pumping over. Alessandro added there are no barriques on the estate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Dinner Party in Rome

Daniele Cernilli, aka “Doctor Wine,” and his wife,  Marina Thompson invited us to dinner at their lovely apartment in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Rome.

There were 3 other guests, including a professor from John Cabot University in Rome.

Daniele greeted us with glasses of Champagne Clos des Goisses Brut 2002 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The grapes are grown on a pure chalk hillside with a 45 degree slope facing due south in Mareuil- sur-Ay. Goisse, in the old Champagne dialect, means steep slope. It has a very low dosage. Vinification is mainly in wooden casks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of pears and apricots, floral notes, a touch of toast and an exceptional long finish. Daniele said 2002 was a great vintage in Champagne.

With the Champagne we had caviar. You can’t go wrong with Champagne and caviar, and Marina enhanced the combination by serving it with burrata, a tender, fresh cheese from Puglia. Slightly firm like mozzarella on the outside, it is sweet and creamy within. Though it might seem like a strange combination, not only did it work, it was wonderful.

Daniele also served another wine with the caviar and burrata that he believed was a better combination than with the champagne. Pinot Bianco Colli Orientali del Friuli “Zuc di Volpe 2008 Volpe Pasini made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the Togliano “Zuc” Vineyard. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of white peaches, citrus and almonds. It was showing very little sign of age.

Though I liked the Pinot Bianco, I preferred the combination of the Champagne with the caviar and burrata.

Grignolino of the Monferrato Casalese “ Bricco del BoscoVigne Vecchie2011 Giulio Accornero & Figli made from 100% Grignolino from the Bricco del Bosco vineyard. Maceration is on the skins for 20 days. The wine is aged for 30 months in oak barrels (tonneau) and 24 months in bottle before release.

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink. Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017  Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time.

With this wine we had pasta prepared by Daniele. He told Michele that the recipe had been given to him by the late Paola di Mauro, a great winemaker and legendary cook. Daniele roasted sweet cherry tomatoes with olive oil, capers and breadcrumbs then tossed them mezze maniche, a short wide tubular pasta, before serving. It’s a great way to make the most of out of season fresh tomatoes.

Brunello di Montalcino 1995 100% Sangiovese Donatella Cinelli Colombini. I looked at the label and told Daniele that I have the 1995 at home but the label is different. He said this was a special bottling made in honor of a wedding that took place in 1995. I am not sure how this wine was made or aged and I know they have changed their production methods over the years. This wine is a classic Brunello.

We had the Brunello with braised veal.

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2005 Rocco di Montegrossi made from 95% Malvasia Bianco di Toscana and 5% Canaiolo Nero. The soil is calcareous loamy. The harvest is the first week of October. During the drying phase the bunches of grapes are hung one by one on nets in a well– ventilated area under the rafters. All of the nets are hung from rails and are affected by noble rot–botrytis. The rails allow the nets to be shifted so that deteriorated grapes can be removed. Pressing takes place in January. The must goes into small casks of 50 and 100 liters of cherry, oak and mulberry wood. The wine ferments and ages for 6 to 7 years, only indigenous yeast is used. This is a complex intense velvety dessert wine with hints of apricot, dried fig, toasted almond and caramel.The grapes are pressed between the 13 and 20th of December. Only organic farming methods are used and there is no filtering or fining. The wine spends 6 years and 4 months in small barrels called caratelli made of cherry, mulberry and oak wood, then one year in bottle before release.

With the Vin Santo we had cheese then finished with coffee and artisan chocolates.

 

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Filed under Accornero Winery, Brunello, Champagne, Clos des Goisses, Clos des Goisses Brut, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Donatella Cinelli Colombibi, Grignolino, Pinot Bianco, Rocca di Montegrossi, Vin Santo, Volpe Pasini winery

Tom Maresca on the 2017 Tre Bicchieri Winners

I missed this event because I was in Rome. So here is the next best thing- a report by Tom Maresca

2017 Tre Bicchieri Winners

February 16, 2017    https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/

On the day of our heaviest snowstorm so far this year, the annual New York presentation and tasting of Tre Bicchieri award-winning wines took place just about half a mile from where I live.

trebicchieri-2017

So I slogged through the flying snow and the street-corner slush to take advantage of what I hoped would be a sparse crowd and a lot of idle winemakers, thus allowing me to actually taste some wines. For the first hour, I was right, and I did have the opportunity to taste some remarkable wines – but then the storm let up and the hordes came in, and my chances for thoughtful tasting ended. I’m happy for all those hard-working winemakers that the Tre Bicchieri tasting is such a popular event, but as a hard-working journalist I do most seriously wish there was some better way to experience and evaluate these wines.

But you’ve heard that lament from me before, and are probably quite tired of it now. Besides, the key thing about this particular tasting is how many top-flight Italian wines it gathers in one room, and I don’t want to let the circumstances of the tasting obscure that. My palate and the collective palate of the Tre Bicchieri judges don’t always agree 100%, but those guys sure get an awful lot right, so a collection of almost 200 top-ranked wines amounts to an event to pay serious attention to, no matter how many people you have to elbow aside to do it.

Not that even under the best circumstances I could manage to taste all 200 in one afternoon, but I did my best to get to a reasonable assortment of old-favorite, regular prize winners and some of the new kids on the block. I was impressed by everything I tasted, without exception. I don’t get the chance to say that often, so let me repeat it: Every single wine I tasted that snowy afternoon deserved its Tre Bicchieri designation. Here are the ones I tried: first reds, then whites.

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red-wine

 

From Basilicata

Re Manfredi’s Aglianico del Vulture Manfredi 2013, a wonderful example of a grape I love

From Piedmont

Elvio Cogno’s Barolo Bricco Pernice 2011, another masterpiece from winemaker Valter Fissore

Bruno Giacosa’s Barbaresco Asili Riserva 2011, one of Barbaresco’s finest crus, beautifully rendered

Elio Grasso’s Barolo Ginestra Casa Maté 2012, benchmark Barolo, as always from this estate

Giacomo Fenocchio’s Barolo Bussia 90 Dì Riserva 2010, macerated 90 days on the skins, with consequent depth and intensity

Oddero’s Barolo Bussia Vigneto Mondoca Riserva 2010, a classic Barolo of a great vintage

Vietti’s Barolo Ravera 2012, a lovely, beautifully balanced wine with potentially great longevity (and I also liked Vietti’s very nice but not prize-winning Barbera d’Asti La Crena 2013)

From Sicily

Palari’s Faro Palari 2012, year after year the best red wine made in Sicily, in my opinion (and the 2012 Rosso del Soprano is right on its tail in quality: It got Due Bicchieri)

Planeta’s Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico Dorilli 2014, a lovely light-bodied wine, refreshing and vigorous

From Tuscany

Boscarelli’s Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Il Nocio 2012, as always an elegant, complex wine

Castellare di Castellina’s I Sodi di San Niccolò 2012, graceful and lovely Sangiovese from winemaker Alessandro Cellai

Castello di Volpaia’s Chianti Classico Riserva 2013, medium-bodied, perfectly balanced, with the elegance that always marks Volpaia

Il Marroneto’s Brunello Madonna delle Grazie 2011, as always from this remarkable cru and maker, a very great wine

Mastroianni’s Brunello Vigneto Schiena d’Asino 2010, maybe the best Tuscan wine at this gathering of greats

Ricasoli’s Chianti Classico Gran Selezione Colledilà 2013, a luscious, juicy wine that drinks far too easily

Terenzi’s Morellino di Scansano Madrechiesa Riserva 2013, very young Sangiovese, with this maker’s trademark balance and elegance

From the Veneto

Allegrini’s Amarone 2012, already big and textured

Bertani’s Amarone 2008 and 2009, both still young and evolving, with great depth and the promise of decades of life

Masi’s Amarone Vaio Armaron Serègo Alighieri 2011, a stunning wine from a great site

Speri’s Amarone Vigneto Monte Sant’ Urbano 2012, another fine example of what seems to be a great year for Amarone

Tenuta Sant’Antonio’s Amarone Campo dei Gigli 2012, an infant Hercules

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I doubt anyone is surprised by the fact that Italy is producing so many fine red wines, but for me the best news of the day was how superior so many white wines showed themselves to be. Every single one I tasted had distinct varietal flavors joined to genuine goût de terroir. This for me was the most fun of the afternoon, and I kept switching from big reds to whites of every kind to keep my palate fresh. (It worked for a couple of hours, then I gave out.)

white-wines

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From Alto Adige

Abbazia di Novacella’s Valle Isarco Sylvaner Praepositus 2015, a stunning, fresh, and vigorous wine from a grape of usually no great distinction, this year slightly better than the Abbazia’s normally superb Kerner Praepositus

Produttori San Michele Appiano’s Pinot Grigio St. Valentin 2014, high-altitude, rounder than usual PG – a real dinner wine

Produttori Valle Isarco’s Sylvaner Aristos 2015 – this seems to have been Sylvaner’s year; a lovely, lively wine

From Campania

Marisa Cuomo’s Costa d’Amalfi Furore Bianco 2015, a lovely, fragrant dinner wine coaxed from postage stamp-sized terraced vineyards along the steep Amalfi coast

Fontanavecchia’s Falanghina del Sannio Taburno 2015, lovely, characteristic Falanghina, invigorating and lively

Pietracupa’s Greco di Tufo 2015, medium-bodied and deeply flavored, with strong mineral accents, a fine wine, almost as good, in my opinion, as the same maker’s Fiano di Avellino, which didn’t get Tre Bicchieri

From Friuli Venezia Giulia

Livio Felluga’s Bianco Illivio 2014, a masterful blend of Pinot bianco, Chardonnay, and the native Picolit, sapid and intriguing

Primosic’s Collio Ribolla Gialla di Oslavia Riserva 2012, one of the briefly fashionable orange wines, but better than simple fashion: intense, distinctive, rich, and with the right food incomparable

Russiz Superiore’s Collio Friulano 2015, a lovely medium-bodied, deeply flavored (hints of almond) example of Friuli’s native grape

Torre Rosazza’s Pinot Grigio 2015, what PG used to be, fresh, vigorous, almost rambunctious

From Lazio

Casale del Giglio’s Antium Bellone 2015, distinctive, flavorful wine from an almost disappeared variety that merits preservation (Charles Scicolone has written about this estate here)

From the Marches

Cocci Grifoni’s Offida Pecorino Guido Cocci Grifoni 2013, a lovely wine from a variety that had been in danger of disappearing

Velenosi’s Offida Pecorino Rêve 2014, another fine example of the same grape variety, medium-bodied and mouth-filling; very enjoyable

From Sardinia

Vigne Surrau’s Vermentino di Gallura Superiore Sciala 2015, textbook Vermentino, fresh and bracing

From Sicily

Cusumano’s Etna Bianca Alta Mora 2014, capturing beautifully the volcanic nuances of Etna’s slopes

Tasca d’Almerita’s Sicilia Carricante Buonora Tascante 2015, a very characteristic version of Etna’s great white grape

From the Veneto

Pieropan’s Soave Classico La Rocca 2014, always the finest cru from this consistently great producer

Graziano Prà’s Soave Classico Staforte 2014, one of many excellent cru Soaves from this producer, all fresh, enjoyable and very age-worthy

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There were many more wines to taste, but I had about reached my limit for tasting accurately and for elbowing, so I trudged my way back home through the remnants of the snow storm. I wish I had had the capacity for more, because I’m sure there were more discoveries to be made and reported on. Ars longa, vita brevis. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Non sum qualis eram, etc. You get the idea: I’d do more for you if I could, but . . .

 

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Benvenuto Brunello NYC 2016

The Consorzio del Vino  Brunello di Montalcino presents Benvenuto Brunello USA 2016 in NYC, its annual trade tasting, celebrating 50 years of DOC wines and showcasing the Brunello di Montalcino 2011. The walk-around tasting featured over 40 wineries from Montalcino.IMG_9587

I also attended the seminar on the 2011 Brunello. I enjoy the seminar because I can taste the wine, listen to the speakers, and find out the latest news from Montalcino. The Moderator was Jeff Porter, beverage director for the Batali and Bastianich hospitality group.

There was an overview of Montalcino and then a discussion of the 2010 and 2011 vintages. Jeff Porter   and the representative of the Consortium agreed that 2012 was a great vintage and a better vintage than the 2011 and I had to agree. The Consortium gave the 2010 5 stars, its highest rating and called it an outstanding vintage. The 2011 was given 4 stars and called an excellent vintage. Mr. Porter said that it would be a good restaurant wine because it is more approachable than the 2010. He added that it is a good wine for the consumer as well.

I liked the 2011 vintage and it probably will not age as long as the 2010 but that is something only time will tell.

While we use terms like more approachable, restaurant wine, consumer friendly etc, I would not even think of drinking the 2011  until 2021, after all it is a Brunello!

There were 7 wines tasted and 6 of them were my kind of wines. All of them were aged in botti, large oak barrels. Only one was aged in both 500 liter barrels and botti. There was not a barrique in sight. I asked the representative if this was done on purpose and he said the wines were picked at random. Trying to bring my point home I asked if there was a movement in Montalcino away from barriques and concentrated wines toward wines which tasted like the grape and the terroir. Mr. Porter said that he believed that this was true not only in Montalcino but in the wine world in general. He said this was in response to the consumers that now prefer this type of wine.

The BrunelloIMG_9588

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Belpoggio The soil is calcareous with many skeletons and the elevation is 350 meters. Traditional fermentation takes place with 15 to 18 days of maceration at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 24 to 36 months in 30 to 40 hl oak casks. $50 IMG_9589

Brunello Di Montalcino 2011 DOCG Capanna. The soil is Galestro, with many stones and the elevation is 855 to 984 ft. Harvest is by hand, with careful selection of the grapes. They are immediately de-stemmed and fermentation with the skins takes place for 20 to 22 days in Slavonian vats at a controlled temperature. After drawing off, the wine completes the malolactic fermentation in the same vats where it is naturally cooled down.$40

The wine is aged in Slavonia oak barrels 20 to 30 hl until bottling in June of 2015. The bottles are refined in thermo-conditioned rooms and went on sale January 2016. $45IMG_9590

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Castello Tricerchi The vineyard is at 300 meters and the exposure is south/west and the soil is clayey and sandy. Training system is spurred cordon, there are 4,000 plants/hectare and the vines are 15 years old. Harvest is by hand in early October. Maceration is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days. Malolactic fermentation continues for 5 months. Aging is in 15 to 20 hl Slavonic casks for 42 month and 6 months in bottle before release. For them 2011 was a very good vintage. It has hints of black cherry, strawberry, tobacco and spice. $45IMG_9591

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Col D’Orcia. Made from a particular clone of Sangiovese selected by Col d’Orcia. The vineyard is at 300 meters in the hills over looking the Orcia River with a south/southwest exposure, the soil is from the Eocene period in origin, loose, with little clay and rich in limestone. Fermentation is on the skins form18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 hlwide and shallow stainless steel tanks, designed in order to extract tannins and color efficiently but delicately. Aging is for 4 years: 3 years in 25, 50 and 75 hl Slavonic and Allier oak casks followed by at least 12 months of refinement in bottle. Since 2013 Col D’Orcia is the largest wine-producing farm in Tuscany. $55IMG_9592

Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2011 Pian Delle Vigna (Antinori) 3.5 miles south of Montalcino. There are 65 hectares under vines, and the soil is mostly clayey and calcareous with many small stones. After a careful selection both in the vineyard and cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately pressed; the must then goes into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where it ferments and remains on its skins for a period of about 3 weeks. The wine has then completed malolactic fermentation. Aging is in 30 to 80hl oak casks for over 2 years. The wine was bottled in April of 2014. $80IMG_9593

Brunello Di Mantalcino 2011 DOCG Tenuta Buon Tempo the vineyard surface area is 5 hectares at 350 meters and the soil is sandstone-galestro marl. The exposure is south/east, the training system is spurred cordon and there are 3,33/6,250 plants per hectare. Harvest is from September 10 to 20. Fermentation with natural yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, with minimum possible oxygenation, with pumping over and a duration of 7 to 10 days. Maceration in stainless steel, carried out without exposure to air for 15 to 20 days. Aging 24 to 30 months in 500 liter French oak barrels (20% new) and 12 to 18 months in big 64hl Slovonian oak casks and 6 months in bottle. $50

New owners brought the property, changed the name and are moving away from new oak. The former owners used 50% new oak.IMG_9594

Brunello Di Montalcino 20111 DOCG Uccelliera. Production area Castelnovo dell’Abate, south/east of Montalcino, vineyard extension is 15.5 acres at 820ft. The soil is rich in minerals, medium textured sand and clay, with some gravel. The grapes are selected, de-stemmed and crushed. The must is kept for 4 to 5 days at low temperatures. Later the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation takes place naturally for 15 days in stainless steel. At the same time, the must macerates on the skins for about 7 days. After drawing off, the wine is kept in steel, malolactic occurs and the wine is kept in Slovenia and French oak barrels for 36 months, then aged in bottle for another 18 months, before release. This wine was a little more international in style. $64

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