Category Archives: Brunello

A Late Summer Lunch with Friends

When Michele and I were in Rome in 2020, we had dinner at the apartment of an American friend who lives there. Among the guests were Maureen and Franco.  We became friends and when the virus stopped us from travelling abroad, we became part of a group of friends both here and in Italy who met for regular Zoom visits.

Maureen informed us that she and Franco would be in US toward the end of August. Since Michele and I were in NJ with our friend Ernie, he invited Maureen and Franco to come for the day.

We started with Champagne

IMG_5692Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond. 

IMG_5693Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir.  Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of  brioche and a hint of hazelnut.

Appetizer

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Mozzarella and anchovies crostini.

We also had salmon rillettes, but I forgot to take a picture of them.

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Tommaso’s Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Prosciutto — A recipe from our late friend Tommaso Verdillo, chef-owner of Tommaso’s restaurant in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

IMG_5675Butterflied leg of lamb on the grill

IMG_5682Grilled leg of lamb ready to be served

Side dishes

IMG_5681Potato and Scallion Salad

IMG_5684Green beans with Salsa Verde

IMG_5672Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

IMG_5673Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999 Poggio Antico made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at about 480 meters with a south/southwest exposure and are among the highest in the zone. The soil is rocky and calcerous with good drainage.  A cold soak was done at 12°C for 2 days. The fermentation lasted 9 days with a peak temperature of 30°C, after which a long maceration was carried out. Aging: 1 year in 500L French oak tonneaux, followed by 2½ years in large traditional Slavonian oak barrels. The wine was refined in bottle 1½ years prior to release. This is a complex Brunello with hints of cherries, cassis, leather a touch of violet and a balsamic note. It is a wine the will last for another 20 years.

Our friend Susan Westmoreland brought the dessert.

IMG_5691Both black and green figs poached in a spiced compote

IMG_5697Spiced Fig Compote served with Almond Pound Cake was an excellent finale. 

  

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Filed under Brunello, Champagne Wilmart & Co, Lisini, Poggio Antico

Summer Dinner with Friends

Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow are two of our favorite dinner guests.  The conversation always revolves around food, wine  travel and the many wonderful experiences we have had together. Hopefully we will all be together in Rome in October.

We started our dinner last wee as usual with Champagne:

IMG_5501Champagne  Krug NV Grand Cuvée 168EEM Edition made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It has a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste. Fantastic. Michele’s favorite Champagne.

With the Champagne we had roasted cremini mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and rosemary, a new appetizer in Michele’s repertoire, that I unfortunately forgot to photograph.  But I am sure she will make it again soon.

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Erbaluce di Caluso “Kin” 2015  Tappero Merlo made from 100% Erbaluce.  Erbaluce is a white grape and the vines are either pergola (know as topia locally) or guyot-trained. The clusters are usually wing shaped and the grapes are small to medium with thick skins. When fully ripe they take on an auburn color as if they were sun dried. Erbaluce can be vinified as a still wine, a classic method sparkling wine, or as a passito. Erba means grass and Luce means light.

 Caluso is an ancient Celtic village on the top of a hill where you can look across the plain and see Turin. The vines were planted in 2004 and the vineyard is at 295 meters. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the pruning system is guyot. The vineyard is entirely organic. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September.

Fermentation is with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures for at least 18 months on the lees in 20hl barrels with weekly battonage. Then it remains in the bottle for another 3 years. The wine has hints of sage, citrus, white flowers and herbs with balsamic and spicy scents. This is a wine that can age and I waited five years before I opened as it is not a complete wine until after 5 years/ according to the producer Domenico Tappero Merol  but it could last for 10 to 20 years. The wine was showing very well

IMG_5487Linguine with Crab and Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce ready to serve

IMG_5488On the plate


IMG_5504 copyVino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1999
  made from large Sangiovese grapes (aka Prugnolo Gentile.) The age of the vines ranges from 15 to 25 years. The running system is guyot. Only natural fertilizer is used and treatments performed on the vines are only copper and sulphur based. The grapes are hand harvested and carefully selected and placed in dry ice. Carbonic maceration is performed with dry ice for two or three days. The pied de cuve (process of using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wine) is prepared 3 to 4 days before using the best grapes at 4 degrees alcohol for preventing aciculate yeasts from hindering proper fermentation. Fermentation is from 15 to 30- 35 days depending on the quality of the pomace. During maceration the cap is broken by mechanical means. The wine is aged in barriques and 15hl barrels with weekly lees stirring. The wine ages for 18 to 20 months. Then it is transferred to large barrels. Wood aging is for about 40 months and the wine is bottled after it is filtered with propylene cartridges using a mobile system. The wine has hints of ripe berries, cranberries, cherry, clove and a touch of iris. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5492Our main course was Pork, Rosa di Parma style.  This was a roast loin of pork rolled around a filling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto.

IMG_5493To go with the pork, Michele made a Tian of Summer Vegetables.

IMG_5494On the plate

IMG_5503Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004 “Vigna Pianrosso” Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona made from 100% Sangiovese from  11.69 hectares named Pianrosso at 240 and 360 meters with a soil of medium grain with good levels of marl dating to the Eocene period. Fermentation is in stainless steel and glass concrete vats with temperature controlled via cooling plates and jackets. Aging is in 7.5 -30 Slavonian oak barrels, for 3 years followed by over 12 months of bottle aging before release. This is an intense, complex and full bodied wine wine with hints of red berries and spice.

IMG_5496Dessert

Because I love blueberry desserts, Michele made one of my favorites, a Blueberry Pudding Cake.

 

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Filed under Brunello, Erbaluca di Caluso, Krug Champagne, Uncategorized, Vino Nobile di Montepulicano

Tasting Wine with Giuseppe Luisi

Last month I went to a Brunello event called “Finally Brunello” which featured 60 Brunellos from the 2016 vintage and a few reserves from the 2015 vintage.

One Brunello that I really liked at the tasting was the 2016 La Mannella from Cortonesi.  Giuseppe Luisi, the sales representative for the wine was there and we had a conversation. It turns out that I know his father very well because he represented many wines from Italy which I liked.  Giuseppe invited me and Michele to lunch to taste some of the wines he represents.  Giuseppe works for Quintessential: Importers/ Distributors.  Unfortunately, his father Franco could not make it as he left for Italy a few days before.

IMG_5103 2Langhe Arneis “UCAOS” 2019 Luca Bosio made from 100% Arneis The vineyards are located in the village of Canale at 200 to 400 meters. The average age of the vines is 20 years and their exposure is southwest. The soil is sandy and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare. After the harvest the must spends 24 hours at a low temperature with skin contact. The grapes are then pressed and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel tanks. The wine then remains on the lees for 5 months and 3 months in bottle before release. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, apricot and green apple with floral notes and a refreshing finish.

IMG_5102Barolo 2015 DOCG Luca Bosio made from 100% Nebbiolo. The cultivation area is Verduno and the vineyards are at 300/400 ft. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the training system is guyot. The average age of the vines is 50 years and the exposure is south and southwest. Skin maceration takes place over 15 days. The wine spends 36 months in Slavonian oak casks and then 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, licorice, and spice with notes of violets and roses. This was a very approachable Barolo and would be a good restaurant Barolo and would be a good restaurant wine.

IMG_5247Rosso di Montalcino 2018 Contonesi “ La Mannella” made from 100% Sangiovese. The La Mannella vineyards are located on the North and Southern sides of the town of Monalcino. This wine is produced from younger, grapes planted in a single vineyard, so it can be enjoyed be enjoyed after a few years. The soil is rocky clay and the trellis system is spurred cordon. There is a hand selection of the grapes and traditional vinification takes place. Fermentation occurs with maceration for 20 days is stainless steel vats. The wine is age for 10 months in 30HL large Slovenian casks. This wine could be drunk now but will last for at least another 8/9 years. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with a note of violets and a touch of spice.

IMG_5248Brunello di Montalcino “La Mannella” 2015 Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from the La Manella vineyards. The soil on the south side is sandy and rocky and the soil on the north side is clay with sand with good drainage. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the grapes and fermentation with maceration for 25 days in stainless steel tanks and Slavonian oak vats. The wine spends 36 months is large Slavonian oak casks. There are hints of red berries. blackberries spice, leather and a touch of cedar.

IMG_5249Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Riserva “La Manella” Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese. Only made in the best vintages and the best selection of grapes from the La Mannella vineyards. The soil is sandy and rocky with excellent exposure to the sun. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the hand picked grapes. Fermentation occurs with 25 days maceration in Slovenian oak vats. The wine is aged from 48 months in large Slovenian oak casks before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, blackberries, spice, leather, a touch of cedar and a note of almonds.

IMG_3338BrunelloBrunello di Montalcino 2016 La Mannella Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards north and southeast of Montalcino. The soil is clay and sandstone. The training system is spurred cordon. The wine is aged for about 36 months in 30 HL Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has intense aromas of red fruit with hints of blackberry, leather, cedar and a touch of bitter almond. It has a long lingering finish. I was very impressed by this Brunello.

Cortonesi is a very traditional winery and their wines will age well for many years. It was interesting to taste the 2015, 2015 Reserva and the 2016 Brunello from the same winery. The profile for the wines are basically the same. For me all three wines needed many more years and I would  be happy to drink all 3 at a later date and in the meantime drink their excellent Rosso.

2015 was a exceptional vintage in Brunello and was awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. But many wine writers, like Kerin O’Keefe, believe 2016 was a better vintage. For me they are both great vintages.

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Filed under Arneis, Barolo, Brunello, Cortonesi

Pass the 1832 Madeira, My Dear

In December of 2019 our pizza group, know as the G6, was enjoying pizza and wine at Keste Vino and Pizza.  Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, said he had an old Madeira from 1832 and that he would bring it to our next meeting. Little did we know that it would be 18 months before we could meet again.  Ed wanted to keep the number of guests to 6, and Michele offered to prepare a simple meal.

As always with Ed, we started with Champagne.

IMG_5172Amour de Deutz 2006 Brut Deutz Blanc de Blancs in magnum. Made from 100% Chardonnay from Les Menil-sur-Oger, Avize and Villers-Marmery. The wine has hints of strawberry, citrus and spice a touch of ginger and an undertone of brioche.

IMG_5170To accompany the Champagne, we had a Shrimp Pate with Chives

IMG_5188Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rose 1996 Taittinger made from 100% Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the Cotes des Blancs and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Riems. Only juice from the first pressing is used and 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as a still wine. The wine has hints of strawberries, cherry, black currants, almonds and licorice with a undertone of brioche

IMG_5177For a first course, we had Smoked Salmon Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Dressing and chopped egg, from Michele’s book, The Antipasto Table.

IMG_5187Brunello di Montalcino 1997 Conti Costanti made from 100% Sangiovese. The Consorzio gave 1997 a five star rating. The harvest was in mid September. The vineyards are at 310 to 4,400 meters and the age of the vines is from 6 to 25 years old. The soil is geologically galestro and there are 3,333 to 5,100 plants per hectare. Exposure is southwest. Fermentation takes place on the skins from 14 to 21 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in 30HL barrels for 3 to 5 years and in tonneaux. The wine has hints of berries, plums, violets and spice. This is a very impressive Brunello and will last for many more years.

IMG_5179 2Baked Polenta with Parmigiano-Reggiano

IMG_5178Chicken with Herbs and White Wine

IMG_5181 2The plate

IMG_5186Terrantez Madeira Special Reserve 1832 Oscar Acciaioly Medium Sweet made from the Terrantez grape. I do not have the words to describe this wine and all I can say is it is in a league all its own.  I have never tasted anything quite like it before and I will remember it always.

IMG_5182 2With it we had some hard cheese, nuts and dried fruit

IMG_5184Cookies made by Michele finished the meal.

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Filed under Amour de Deutz, Brunello, Champagne, Conti Costanti Brunello, Madeira, Taittinger Comtes Rose, Terrantez Madeira 1832

“Finally Brunello” and the Wine Media Guild

The “Finally Brunello” Tour, conducted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino, included 3 events this year at Il Gattopardo Restaurant and I was able to attend all three.  Members of the Wine Media Guild were invited to the latest one, which included a tasting followed by lunch.IMG_4748

At the tasting luncheon, there were over 60 wines. Most were from the 2016 vintage, though a few were from the 2015 (also an excellent vintage) and there was a Rosso di Montalcino or two from the 2018 vintage.

The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is an epic vintage. A balanced summer and autumn gave the grapes perfect ripeness. The right rains and temperatures never too high made this year one of the most important ever. I am paraphrasing one of the producers and it seems like both producers and wine writers were saying the same thing.

For more information on Brunello see: Finally Brunello

IMG_5035Banfi 2015 Poggio all’Oro Riserva made from 100% Sangiovese and only produced in great vintages. The soil is brown clay silt sediments with stones and pebbles of Calcareous origin, well structured and well drained. There is a trellising system, spurred cordon, and there are 2,100 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in temperature controlled hybrid French oak and stainless steel tanks. 70% of the wine is aged in French oak casks 60 to 90 HL and 30% in French barriques 350L for two years and 6 months. This is an elegant and complex Brunello with hints of licorice, plum, tobacco and a note of violets.

IMG_5037Capanna Riserva 2015 made from 100% Sanviovese. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is south/east. The vines are 25- 32 years old and there are 3,300 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand from the last week of September to the first week o October. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in oak vats at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months is Slavonia oak barrels of 10/25 HL. The wine remains in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with a balsamic note. I drank this wine with lunch.

IMG_5032Argiano 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clay with a high level of limestone and the vines are 12 to 55 years old. The training system is spurred cordon, organic, small quantity of grapes per vine. Harvest took place during the month of September. The grapes are cold soaked prior to fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place over two weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in cement tanks. The wine is aged for about 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels of 10/15/30/50HL. The wine is bottled in April/May during the most favorable moon phases. There is a long bottle aging before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, notes of aromatic herbs and a touch of spice.

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Carpineto 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the vineyard is at 500 meters. The sedimentary soil has a galestro frame with clay accumulations dating back to the Eocene era–15 million years ago. There is a medium length steeping on the skins with temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is aged in big barrels for 3 years and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.

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Castello Romitorio 2016 Made from 100% Sangiovese. Vine Training is spurred cordon. The grapes are carefully selected by hand on the sorting table both before and after destemming. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with an initial time of short maceration on the skins of 15 to 20 hours. This is followed by up to 24 days of maceration at a higher controlled temperature. Separation of the skins from the must starts around day 22 once the fermentation has finished. Once the must is obtained natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur. The wine ages in oak for about 24 months and then in bottle for about 12 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, pomegranate with a touch of leather and a note of herbs.

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Col D’ Orcia 2016 on the Sant’Angelo hill over looking the Orcia river facing south-south west at 300 meters. Particular clones of Sangiovese are used. Manual harvest with grape selection both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Fermentation is on the skins for about 18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 HL wide and shallow stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 3 years in 25-50 and 75 HL oak casks from Slavonia and Allier and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of small ripe fruit, and plum jam with toasted and vanilla notes.

IMG_5033Castel Giocondo 2016 (Frescobaldi). Made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is galestro, clay and Pleocene sands. Manual harvest takes place with a careful selection of the grapes in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with frequent pump-overs, during the early stages. The wine was aged in wood containers. The wine is released after five years, which includes some time in the bottle. The wine has hints of ripe red berries and floral notes with spice and balsamic undertones.

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La Gerla 2016 made from Sangiovese-Brunello biotype. The vines are 25 years old and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a manual sorting of the bunches and berries in the cellar. The bunches are destemmed and the is a soft pressing of the grapes. There is prefermentative cryomaceration. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins for about 15 days. Aging is for 24 to 36 months in oak barrels- 50 to 100HL with 2 decanting per year. The wine is in bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco, leather, and cinnamon and notes of violets and iris.

IMG_5040Le Chiuse 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso The grapes were hand harvested the last week of September. By gravity, the grapes, which had been destalked and softly crushed, went into thermo controlled steel tanks. Fermentation using natural yeasts and maceration lasted for 22 days. The wine went into steel tanks and then in the spring into 20HL Slavonian oak barrels for 26 months. Then the wine was reassembled into large steel tanks and bottled in March 2020. The wine has hints of small fruits, blueberry, black currant and cherry with notes of spice and violet.

IMG_5050Palazzo 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese grosso. The estate is in the southeast area of Montalcino at 320 meters. The soil is mostly galestro (marl), some small areas are sandstone rocks and clay with skeletal layers. The vines are 36 years old. The grapes are hand harvested the first two weeks of October and sorted in the winery. Vinification is in concrete tanks. Spontaneous fermentation takes place without adding yeast. Maceration lasts for 24 days with delicate pumping over, all taking place under temperature control. Aging is for 40 months in Slavonian oak of 5 to 10HL and another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berry fruits, walnuts and spice with balsamic and floral notes.

IMG_5030Poggio Antico 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The average elevation is 480 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is rocky and calcareous. Harvest was from September 27 to October 12. Fermentation is for 8 to 10 days followed by 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged for 30 months in 40 HL Slavonian oak casks followed by 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints geranium.

IMG_5043These are big wines, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to taste some of them with our meal.  For starters, we had Crostini of sauteed Chicken Livers with Vin Santo, Rice Balls filled with Ragu and Peas and Escarole Pie.

IMG_5047The first course was homemade ravioli with ricotta and eggplant filling and tomato and tomato sauce.

IMG_5048Grilled Rack of Lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach was the main course.IMG_5045

One of the wines I drank with lunch was the Rosso di Montalcino Collemattoni 2018. I recommend you drink the Rosso while waiting for the Brunello to be ready. Both the 2016 and the 2015 will need at least 10 before they are ready to drink.

IMG_5051The dessert was a Fruit and Cream-filled Tart with Almond Gelato.

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Filed under Brunello, IL Gattopardo-Brunello, Uncategorized

The Leopard at des Artistes

The Leopard at des Artistes is undoubtedly one of New York’s best and most beautiful restaurants.  But until recently it had not been open for lunch, which Michele and I usually prefer for dining out.   However, the restaurant’s schedule changed and The Leopard at des Artistes is now open daily for both lunch and dinner.  Michele found Chef Jordan Frosolone’s menu, whose cooking we had previously enjoyed when he was the chef at 10 Corso Como very appealing, so we arranged to meet a friend there.   It was a beautiful spring day and everyone was seated outside.  The scene was so perfect, it could have been a cafe on the Via Veneto.

IMG_4961We, however, love the inside of the restaurant where we can be surrounded by the famous murals by Howard Chandler Christy, so we asked for a table indoors and had the dining room all to ourselves.  Owner Gianfranco Sorrentino, who also is the owner of Il Gattopardo on 54th Street, stopped by to say hello.

Antipasti

IMG_4955Polpette di Carne-veal and beef meatballs with ricotta and parsley.  Tender meatballs in tasty tomato sauce.

 

IMG_4956Sformato di tartufo nero-Black truffle custard with Parmigiano-Reggiano, grilled asparagus and lemon.  Delicate custard tasting of cheese with a black truffle crust.

IMG_4957Insalata di granchino-Crabmeat, peas, croutons and Mediterranean sumac.  The flavors of spring captured on a plate.

IMG_4965Brunello di Montalcino 1990 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5,400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

Primi

IMG_4958Mafalde Sucamele-Braised lamb, artichokes and glazed lampascioni onions — Tender chunks of lamb in a tangy sauce with mildly bitter lampascioni, onion-like wild hyacinth bulbs.

IMG_4959Lasagna Ennese-Pork ragu – Marsala wine, Piacentinu cheese – Handmade pasta noodles layered with rich pork ragu and a saffron flavored sheep’s cheese from Sicily.

IMG_4966Rosso di Torgiano DOC 1985 Lungarotti 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo. The soil is clay and sand of medium depth with limestone subsoil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September/October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 18 days maceration on the skins. It is aged for 12 months in oak casks and lightly filtered before bottling. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of black cherry and a touch of leather and spice with a very pleasant finish and aftertaste.

Dessert

IMG_4964Tiramisu– Classic mascarpone tiramisu

IMG_4962Zabalone– Zabaione al Ramandolo with mixed berries

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Chocolate Mousse with Berries and Cream

IMG_4960The Leopard at des Artistes

1 West 67th St. NY, NY

212-787-8767

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Filed under Brunello, Lisini, Lungarotti, Rubesco, Uncategorized

Finally Brunello

Every year in the early winter, the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino presents a tasting of Brunello called Benvenuto Brunello USA. I typically attend the one held in NYC.IMG_4748

This year because of the pandemic the event was cancelled. The Consorzio instead organized Zoom events and In March of 2021 there was a tasting of over 60 Brunellos from the 2016 vintage and a few reverses from the 2015.  A second Zoom event was held in April with 12 wines. Both events were held at restaurant Il Gattopardo in NYC.

IMG_4662This year the events are called Finally Brunello! I will attend another Brunello tasting with the Wine Media Guild again at Il Gattopardo later in May.

Brunello

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

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

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

2015 was a exceptional vintage in Brunello and was awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. But many wine writers, like Kerin O’Keefe, believe 2016 was a better vintage.

Editor Kerin O’Keefe reviews all Italian wines for the Wine Enthusiast and is the author of Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Greatest Wines. I know Kerin for a number of years and have great respect for her knowledge of Italian wine.

The following is summarized from her article, Brunello 2016 Report: Finesse, Longevity and the Elephant in the Room.

Kerin feels that even though the 2015 got very high marks, 2016 is far superior. They are even better than the highly acclaimed 2010’s and in line with the classic vintages like 2004 and 2001. She says, “For the most part, 2016 is a Brunello lover’s dream, full of vibrant structured wines with elegance, energy and longevity.” Kerin points out that “It is difficult to generalize vintages in Montalcino.”

However …”2016 was a great year throughout the denomination. She tasted over 200 wines and found about 10% listed the alcohol at 15% to 15.5% and in actuality it may have been higher. This is to me a low percentage and what she referred to as “the elephant in the room.” She also gave Il Marroneto Madonna della Grazie, my favorite Brunello, 100 points and gave two other wines 100 points.

The Wines

IMG_4650Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Collemattoni made from 100% Sangiovese. The winery is located on a hill on the south side of the municipality of Montalcino. The less then 2 hectare Collemattoni vineyard is at Sant’Angero at 420 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare. The soil is sandy clay with fossils and marl. Removal of grape stalks takes place followed by a soft pressing and then fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration on the skins for 20/25 days with exacting technique made with delestage once a week and pumping over decreasing along the process. Aging is for a minimum of 30 months is Slavonian oak barrels of 32HL. Afterward the wine is in bottle for four months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of black fruit, black cherry, a touch of cedar and a note of spice.

IMG_4651Brunello di Montalcino 2016 La Fiorita location Castelnuovo dell’Abate, made from 100% Sangiovese from Poggio al Sole south exposure with tufo, clay soil at 220 meters, Plan Bossolini southeast exposure with galestro at 360 meters and Giardinello south exposure with sandy clay soil at 250 meters 7 hectares in all. There are 7,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. They follow organic agriculture practices. Harvest September 28th (PS), October 6th (PB) and October 14th (G). Fermentation is in Slavonian oak casks with pumping over and delestage for 20 days with selected yeast. The wine ages in French oak barrels of 26 and 37 HL for 24 months, in steel for 4 months and 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, leather, raspberry, with a hint of licorice and a note of tobacco. This may be the best Brunello they have made.

IMG_3338BrunelloBrunello di Montalcino 2016 La Mannella Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards north and south-east of Montalcino. The soil is clay and sandstone. The training system is spurred cordon. The wine is aged for about 36 months in 30 HL Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has intense aromas of red fruit with hints of blackberry, leather, cedar and a touch of bitter almond. It has a along lingering finish.

IMG_4654Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Il Poggione near Sant’Angelo in Colle. The altitude of the vineyards is 492 to 1,475 ft. and it is mixed soil with a lot of rocks. The vines are estate grown and are at least 20 years old. Alcoholic fermentation takes place with the submerged cap technique for 15 to 20 days. The wine spends 3 years in 50 HL French oak barrels and in bottle for 12 months before release. This was my favorite wine of the tasting.  It is classic traditional Brunello and will last for at least 20 more years. At $85 it was the most expensive but in my opinion worth the money.

IMG_4658 2Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Progetto “PRIME DONNE” Donatella Cinelli Colombini located in Casato facing Montalcino made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The 20-year-old vines are at 225 meters with a south-southeast exposure. The soil is Pliocene (sedimentary rock) and clay. Vinification is for 15 days with pumping over and delestages. Aging is in 5 to 7 Hl barrels, French oak for the first year and the remaineder of the time in 15 to 40 Hl barrels. The winery is organic certified (2018). The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, herbs, cedar and a touch of violets. Only women are involved in the production of this wine. This Brunello always shows very well and is a pleasure to drink

IMG_4653Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Fattoria dei Barbi The soil is marl, alberese limestone and the vines are 15 to 20 years old and at 300 to 500 meters. The exposure is South and the training system is Cortina semplice and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest took place from September 28 to October 7th. Before fermentation the grapes were subjected to a cold fermentation maceration which consists in cooling the grapes at a temperature of 16C in an environment protected by COC. Alcoholic fermentation lasts 16/17 days at a controlled temperature. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in small to medium size oak barrels 2.5 to 15HL for the first months. It then spends two years in larger oak barrels and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of plum, blueberry with a touch of rhubarb and a note of spice. I have a long history with this wine and drank it for the first time when I was 40 years of age. It might have been the 1971 vintage. The current vintage can be drunk over the next 15 to 50 years.

IMG_4654Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Il Palazzone made from Sangiovese Grosso from 3 different vineyards in very different areas of Montalcino. They are located on the northwest slopes of Montalcino, less than 1km from the town center. The training system is balanced single spur cordon. Harvest by hand is usually the first week of October. There is a long maceration with frequent pumpovers. Fermentation is in 50HL wood cask. Traditional basket press is used. The wine is aged in large Slavonian casks. The wine has hints if ripe cherry, dark berries with balsamic notes and an undertone of violets. It has a very long finish. It is one of my favorites.

IMG_4657Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Collosorbo, South of Castelnuovo Del Abate. The soil is a medium texture. The harvest is by hand and then there is a sorting of the grapes, also by hand. Alcoholic fermentation is temperature controlled and there is a testing of the wine twice a day before racking. The wine is aged for 36 months in medium and large French and Slovenian oak barrels. It remains in bottle for at least 6 months before release.

IMG_4769Brunello di Montlacino Ridolfi 2015-Northeast of Montalcino  This was the producer with the smallest production – only 4,900 bottles. The soil is clay and sand with many large stones and the altitude if the vineyard is 300 meters. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in truncated-conical oak vats and in temperature controlled steel vats. Maceration time depends on the vintage and can last up to 20 days. The wine is aged in large oak barrels observing the Montalcino tradition. The wine has very nice fruit with tart wild berry aromas and flavors, a hint of black cherry and a touch of spice.

IMG_4770Brunello di Montalcino 2016 Talenti-In the south by Sant’Angelo in Colle. The soil is clay and very stony. Temperature controlled fermentation for 20 days in steel tanks with daily pumpover. The wine is aged for 30 months in 60% Slavonia oak barrels and 40% Allier Tonneaux. The wine has red berry aromas and flavors with hints of bright cherry, raspberry, spice and a touch of tobacco.

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On a Cold Winter’s Day

We went to a friends house for the weekend.  He had been planning to roast a leg of lamb, but due to a mix-up, the lamb did not arrive.  Luckily, he was able to get lamb shanks, which Michele offered to cook.  

Outside it was cold and snowy.

IMG_4148

Dinner began with two kinds of crostini:  one with warm mozzarella and anchovies and the other with Michele’s fig and olive tapenade.

IMG_4158Beneventano Falanghina IGT 2017 Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. It is one of my favorite white wines  and my friend always has some chilled and ready to drink

IMG_4145Braising the lamb shanks

IMG_4154Mashed potatoes

IMG_4163On the plate, braised lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and sauteed escarole.

IMG_4165Here’s another picture because it looked so good and tasted so delicious.

IMG_4171Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

IMG_4159Taurasi “Radici” 1996 Mastroberardino made from 100% Aglianico.  The vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located 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 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 is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. The barriques were second and third passage. This is a wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

For Dessert, we ate a selection of cookies with ice cream.

IMG_4147We finished the dinner with Single Malt Scotch Whiskey from Ardmore Distillery to keep us warm.

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A Tuscan Lunch

A friend was joining us for lunch the other day and told us that he would bring a bottle of Brunello.  Michele wanted to make a dessert that she had not made in a long time and I had a bottle of Vinsanto I wanted to try, so Michele decided to make a Tuscan lunch.

IMG_3769Michele had some organic chicken livers and sauteed them with shallots.  She mashed them onto crostini and drizzled on a little balsamic vinegar.

IMG_3756The pasta was made with guanciale, dried porcini mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes topped with grated pecorino.

IMG_3757Pasta in the plate.  This is a deeply flavorful sauce that was perfect with the wine.

The chicken was spatchcocked and roasted over sliced ciabatta, which absorbed all the chicken-y juices.

To go with the chicken, Michele made green beans which she dressed in a kind of Caesar dressing with anchovy and garlic.

IMG_3762The plate 

IMG_3764Brunello di Mantalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese from the estate’s massal selection. The vineyards are at 300 to 350 meters. Vinification is in glass-lined cement tanks with skin contact for 20 to 26 days. The wine is aged in 20 – 52 HL casks for 42 months, followed by 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red and black fruit, tobacco, violets with a very pleasing finish and long after taste. The wine was drinking very well and was a perfect combination with the food.

IMG_3755Dessert was the Torta Sbrisolona, basically a giant buttery cookie filled and topped with almonds.  To eat it, you just break off a piece.

IMG_3765Vinsanto del Chianti Classico 2008 Meleto made from Sangovese, Malvasia Nera and Trebbiano Toscano. Fermentation and maturation takes place in sealed carati, traditional small barrels, of acacia and cherry wood and kept in rooms with great seasonal variations in temperature. The carati are only filled to 70% and aging lasts for 4 to 5 years. This is a deeply flavored dessert wine with hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of spice. It seemed as if the dessert and the wine were made for each other.

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Tasting the Exceptional 2015 Vintage of Brunello

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

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

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

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

The Wines

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

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

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

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

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

Brunello Di Montalcino 2015 DOCG Banfi 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soil. There is a meticulous grape selection (yield not exceeding 6 metric tons/ha) is followed by vinification in temperature–controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 20 days. The wine ages for two years in various sizes oak barrels, 305-liter barriques, 60 and 120 hl barrels; the wine is then aged in bottle for an additional 8 to 12 months. The wine is released 5 years after the harvest.

Bill Whiting of Banfi

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva “Poggio All’Oro” 2015 Banfi  100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Oro vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250 mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of 6 years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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