Category Archives: Cascina Castlet

Lunch with Tom and Tom

Tom Hyland, a friend and Chicago-based wine writer, was in NYC on business and we made a plan to meet for lunch. The last time I saw Tom was on a press trip to Campania a few years ago.  Since Tom had an afternoon flight back to Chicago, I picked Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, which by chance is close to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and on the way to the airport.  I also I invited Tom Maresca, a wine writer and mutual friend, to join us. IMG_5266

Tom Maresca and Tom Hyland finishing lunch. We had a great time talking about wine, food and the trips we were on together in Italy.

For starters, we shared Carpaccio di Polipo, octopus with fennel, orange and olives, Involtini alla Siciliana, thin sliced roast pork rolled around mozzarella and cured meats,  and Caponata, sweet and sour eggplant with olives, celery and almonds served with crostini.

IMG_5258Aurora Bianco 2019 Etna Bianco Superiore I Vigneti di Salvo Foti. Made from 90% Carricante and 10% Minella. The soil is volcanic and sandy. The vines were planted in 2010 and 2015 and the exposure is east. Wine clusters are directly pressed and left to settle for 30 hours. Natural fermentation takes between 15 to 20 days and the wine remains on the lees for one year. There is a light filtration at bottling. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, peach and a touch of flint. It will be even better with a little age.  Aurora means dawn in Italian but it is also the name of a butterfly on Etna that is in danger of extinction.

IMG_5260After the starters, we shared two pizzas.  The first was a Pizza Margherita tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  The pizzas at Norma are light and airy.

IMG_5263Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore Current profile for the2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked in the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special air conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques (I do not think the 1985 was aged in barriques) and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release.

The 1985 is a complex full-bodied wine with hints of dried plum, red fruit jam a very nice after taste and a very long finish. I was happy to see it has aged so well.

IMG_5261 2Our second pizza was a Pizza Mortadella topped with mozzarella, pistachio pesto, mortadella and stracciatella.  An unusual combination, but one I enjoyed.

What a pleasure to get together with two old friends and enjoy a good lunch and wines once more.  It’s something I plan to do often in the coming months.

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Filed under Aurora, Cascina Castlet, Norma

Passum: 2016, 1985 and 1997

Passum from Cascina Castlet is one of my favorite Barberas.  Unfortunately, Cascina Castlet wines were out of the US market for a number of years but they are once again available thanks to Michael Romano of Romano Brands. I was able to get a bottle of the 2016, the current vintage.img_2698CC

Located in Costigliole d’Asti in Piemonte, Cascina Castlet has belonged to the Borio family for generations. In 1970 Mariuccia Borio, the current owner, inherited the estate from her father and she specializes in Barbera.  As I tasted the 2016, I knew that it had been made in the traditional way and that it could age.  I was able to get bottles of the 1979 and the 1985 and I decided to compare all three vintages.

Passum

Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked in I the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special air conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release. This is a complex full-bodied wine with hints of plum, red fruit jam, and a hint of vanilla. This is a wine that will age.

IMG_4881We had this with rack of lamb.

IMG_5021Passum 1985 had the same profile as the 2016. But the flavors and aromas were more developed and a little more prune-like. I had not had the 1985 in a number of years and was very happy to see that it was holding up so well.

With the 1985 we had

IMG_5014Pork spare ribs on the plate

IMG_5016In the dish

The wine was the perfect combination with the ribs

IMG_5018 2Passum 1979  This was the first time I tasted the 1979 and it had a different label. I tried two bottles. The first bottle was showing its age but was still very drinkable and we had it with pizza. The second bottle was not showing as well.

IMG_4846 2 We had pizza with the wine and it worked very well.

It is very interesting for me to taste the same wine from 3 different vintages.  I found them to be alive and very enjoyable.  It proves that Barbera is a wine that can age.

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Filed under Barbera, Cascina Castlet

The Welcome Return of Cascina Castlet

 

Cascina Castlet, located in Costigliole d’Asti in Piemonte, has belonged to the Borio family for generations. In 1970 Mariuccia Borio inherited the estate from her father.  I have  been  drinking  wines  from  Cascina  Castlet ever since I  met  Mariuccia at  Vinitaly  about  20 years ago.  They  were  out  of  the  US  market  for  a few  years  and  I am  very  happy  to  know  that  they  are  now  available  once  again  thanks  to  Artisan Selections by  Romano.Brands.

The grapes for Cascina Castlet are grown on 31 hectares of vineyards in Costigliole. The vineyards are at 300 meters and each one has its own name.

Mocsato d’Asti DOCG sparkling (frizzante)  2019 wine made from 100% Moscato d’Asti. The vineyards are on well-exposed hillsides and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are picked by hand the first two weeks of September when they have acquired a yellow, old gold color and are ripe and juicy. Selected grapes are sent directly to the winery were they are soft pressed. The must is then cooled and filtered. The foaming is the result of a natural fermentation in an autoclave and an isobaric filler is used for bottling. This is a wine that should be drunk very young. The alcohol content is only 5.5%. The wine has a flowery and fruity bouquet with hints of apricot, peach a touch of orange blossoms and a note of honeysuckle.  This is a wine that can be served as a operative, or dessert wine. $35

Barbera d’Asti “Vespa” 2019 made from 100% Barbera d’Asti The vineyards are at 300 meters and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The soil composition is clay and limestone. Pruning and harvesting (the first two weeks of October) are done manually. The must is left in contact with the skin at controlled temperatures for 6 to 8 days. There is frequent remontages and racking is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is bottled and released after a few months. It is a fresh fruity Barbera with aromas and flavors of cherry and blueberry with good acidity. Because of the good acidity Barbera is a wine that can go with many different foods. $35.

There is a picture of 4 young girls on a Vespa taken in the 1950’s.  I was told one of them was Mariuccia but I cannot remember which one.

Litina Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 made from 100% Barbera grapes from hillside vineyards, which are more than 30 ears old. There are about 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the first weeks of October. At the winery the must is fermented in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for about 10 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in medium sized oak casks for about 8 months and then in bottle for more than one year. The wine is released the second year after the harvest. The wine has hints of woodland fruits a hint of spice and a note of vanilla. $40

This is the only wine with the trademark on the label- the 3 C’s that stand for Cascina Castlet Costigliole.

Polocalpo Monferrato Rosso 2016  Policalpo is the name of a vineyard whose 60% Barbera and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make this wine. The are about 5,400 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first weeks of October. The must is in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for at least 15 days. Both varieties are fermented together. The wine is racked and malolactic fermentation is in French oak barriques. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months and in bottle for at least 6 months. It is released the second year after the harvest. This is a complex wine wine with hints of tobacco, licorice, prune, a hint of vanilla, a touch of spice and a pleasant vegetal undertone typical of Cabernet. $48

Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special are-conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and therefore varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature contolled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release. This is a complex full bodied wine with hints of plum, red fruit jam, and a hint of vanilla. This is a wine that will age. $65

Uceline Monferrato Rosso 2013  Made from 100% Uvalino. Harvesting is carried out towards the end of October when the grapes reach a perfect ripeness. The bunches are hand picked and carefully selected and then go into a well ventilated, temperature room called a “fruit house.” Here they stay for over a month and become slightly over ripe and begin to wither. The must from the pressing is partially destemmed and undergoes fermentation and lasts for 20 days. Frequent stirrings causes the total dissolution of the anthocyans and the various phenolic components that for this wine play a very important role. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 5HL oak barrels.

The bottles rest for about a year before they are released. This is a full-bodied complex aromatic wine with hints of black fruit, prunes, blueberries and sweet spices.  It is tannic with good acidity and has a certain rustic quality. It is a wine that can age. $65

Wine made from the Uvalino grape is the rarest of wines, a luxurious wine to impress which was given to give to the priest or the doctor or any one of importance or to be drunk on special occasions. Having this single-grape raisin wine in the house was a sign of wealth. The birds, ucelli, depicted on the bottle give the wine its name because they liked to eat the grapes because they were so sweet.

The Uvalino grape was save from extinction by Mariuccia Borio. This is the first time I have had wine made from this grape and it was an experience.

 

 

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Filed under Barbera, Cascina Castlet, Moscato d'Asti