Category Archives: Dolcetto

Visiting Tiziana Settimo

Tony Di Dio of Tony Dio Selections first introduced me to Tiziana Settimo of the Aurelio Settimo winery when he invited me to a tasting and dinner a few years ago. Tony told me that it is a very traditional winery and he thought I would like their wines. He was right.

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Tiziana Settimo

Tiziana invited me to visit her winery in Piedmont. This November I took her up on her offer. As we walked through the vineyards, Tiziana told us something about her family history.IMG_9179

The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piedmont in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows.  They sold off almost all their grapes.  When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards.  At first they continued to sell 50% of their grapes but in 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.

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Concrete Tanks

Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is now a family affair run mostly by women.  The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.IMG_9166

Every time I see Tiziana she makes it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio. They only use natural cork for the wines. She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She feels that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character.

We tasted some of the wines at the winery and some we had with lunch.IMG_9171

We started with a Rosè Sett made from 50% Nebbiolo and 50% Dolcetto. Short fermentation on the skins and the wine is aged for 6 months in concrete tanks. The wine is not available in the USA.IMG_9172

Dolcetto D’Alba 2014 DOC 100% Dolcetto Exposure is east, the soil is calcareous. Harvest is by hand. There is a short fermentation on the skins, with submerged cap for 7 days and frequent pumping over of the must. Malolactic is in concrete and it is aged in concrete for 6 months and 3 months in bottle before release. It has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with notes of violet and almonds.IMG_9174

Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 DOC 100% Nebbiolo  Tiziana explained that this wine is produced from grapes grown from younger vineyards facing south-east, the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. The maximum yield of 8,00kg is also the same. Compared to the Barolo it under goes on shorter maceration ( 7days) on the skins and is aged I concrete tanks for 46 months. It is normally ready to drink without needing to age. It has hints of blackberries, raspberries, liquorice and a touch of violets.IMG_9176

Barolo “Rocche dell’Annunziata” 2010 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia) The exposure is south, southwest, the soil is calcareous and the harvest is by hand. Fermentation takes place on the skins for 15 to 20 days with submerged cap, with frequent breaking up of the cap and pumping over the must, followed by maturing in oak casks of 2,500 and 3,500 liters. Malolactic is in concrete. Aging is for 24 months in big oak casks. The age of barrels is 10 to 15 years and they are French oak, Allier and Nevers, and the barrels are not toasted. The wine in aged in bottle (natural cork) for at least 6 months before release. This is an elegant and full-bodied wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.IMG_9177

Barolo 2010 Aged for 12 months in concrete tanks and 24 months in big French oak barrels. It has hints of tar, faded roses, tea and red fruit.IMG_9193

Barolo “Riserva Rocche” 2004 100% Nebbiolo (Lambia) Aged for 36 months in big oak casks and 12 months in bottle before release. It can age for 20 to 25 years. The wine has hints of spice, liquorice, red fruit and a touch of truffle and is drinking very well.IMG_9187

Tiziana invited us to lunch at Osteria Veglio.

We had been there before and enjoyed the experience. Tiziana said that it was under new management and that the food was even better. She was right.IMG_9191

I had ravioli del plin, small meat filled ravioli, with white truffles followed by cotechino sausage with mashed potatoes.IMG_9189

Tiziana’s wine was an excellent accompaniment with the food.

 

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Filed under Aurelio Settimo Winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Rose

A Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving menu was an unorthodox one this year, but we started as always with Champagne.IMG_6593

Champagne Delamotte Brut NV made from 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Nero and 20% Pinot Meunier. The wine is light and fresh with citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. The sister house is Salon and both are part of the Laurent-Perrier group. At about $38 a bottle, it is a bargain and is our current house champagne.IMG_6594

Blanc de Blancs Brut “Amour de Deutz” Millesime 2002 William Deutz made from 100% Chardonnay from their own Grand Cru villages of Avize and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger in magnum. This is one of the most complex and elegant champagnes that I have ever tasted. It comes in a clear bottle and 2002 was an excellent vintage. With the Champagne we had olives, cheese wafers, and pears wrapped in prosciutto.IMG_6596

Auxey-Duresses 2001 Lalou Bize-Leroy made from 100% Chardonnay. Biodynamic farming is practiced. A careful selection of hand picked grapes is brought to the cave in small baskets in refrigerated trucks. The grapes are carefully sorted on two large sorting tables (not moving conveyor belts). Only the best grapes are chosen. Fermentation is in large wooden oak barrels without any de-stemming or crushing to avoid any oxidation and to preserve the native yeasts, which are present on the skins of the grapes. Pigeage–crushing down the cap–and remontage–removing the fermented juices from under the cap and bringing it on top of the cap–takes place followed by slow fermentation and a long maceration. After pressing the wine goes down to the first underground cellar. It stays here until the end of malolactic fermentation. After pouring the juice off the lees–soutirage a la sapine--no pumps are used only gravity. The wine then goes down to a second, deeper cellar. It stays there until it is bottled. This wine was showing very well with good citrus aromas and flavors.IMG_6590

We go to restaurant SD26 often and really like their signature dish, Uovo in Raviolo, a large raviolo filled with ricotta and a soft cooked egg yolk, topped with truffle butter. Michele said she would like to do this dish for our guests on Thanksgiving. She made the pasta for the ravioli by hand, IMG_2731and instead of truffle butter she used Kerrygold butter, a favorite brand. I bought a beautiful fresh white truffle to shave on top.  The warmth of the raviolo and hot butter brought out all the aroma and flavor of the white truffle IMG_6597

Dolcetto D’Alba “Boschi di Berri” 1988 Poderi Marcarini made from 100% Dolcetto from pre-phylloxera vines. The vineyard is over 100 years old and because the soil is sandy and the particular microclimate of the vineyard, the vines are phylloxera free. They are not spliced onto American rootstock but are native vines. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares; there are 4,400 vines per hectare. The training system is free-standing espalier with guyot pruning and the exposure is west. The vineyard was planted in the late 1800’s. This was an exceptional wine, showing no sign of age. It had hints of cherries, raspberries, currants and a touch of leather. It was unlike any Dolcetto that I have tasted before. If this was the traditional Dolcetto from the last century, we are missing a lot today!IMG_2737_2

The main course was a bone-in pork rib roast with cranberry fig mostarda, a recipe from Michele’s latest book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. With that we had roasted potatoes and Brussels sprouts baked with butter and Parmigiano Reggiano.IMG_6598

Barbaresco Riserva “Ovello” 1979 made from 100% Nebbiolo Produttori del Barbaresco.  Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. It has roots going back to 1894 when there were 19 members, but the co-op as we now know it dates from1958.  Today there are 56 members. Over the years, a few members have left the co-op to go out on their own.

Produttori has 100 hectares of Nebbiolo in the Barbaresco Appellation, 1/6 of the area. Each grower makes his own decisions as far as growing the grapes is concerned. Produttori del Barbaresco only produces wine from the Nebbiolo grape — Barbaresco DOCG, a blend of grapes from different vineyards, and Langhe Nebbiolo DOC.

In great vintages, nine single vineyard Barbarescos are produced within the boundaries of the village of Barbaresco: Asilli, Rabaja, Pora, Montestefano, Orvello, Pagé, Montefico, Moccagatta and Rio Sordo.  The co-op takes great pride in these wines and the name of the single vineyard, the total number of bottles produced, and the name of the owners of the vineyard are on the label.

The Orvello vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The 1979 was aged in large barrels of Slavonic oak for four years. This is traditional classic Barbaresco at its best. I have been drinking these wines for over 35 years.IMG_6600

Barolo Riserva 1971 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo.

We finished the red wine with the cheese course.IMG_6603

Fiano Passito “Privilegio 2011 Irpinia DOC Feudi di San Gregorio made from Fiano and Falangina grapes, harvested by hand, late harvest with a touch of Botrytis (noble rot) in mid October. The vines are 15 to 20 years old, there are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the vineyards are at 1,000 to 1,500 ft. The grapes are then dried on straw mats for several months. After a soft pressing, the clarified must is fermented in new French Troncais oak barrels. The wine has hints of honey, figs, apricot and pear and was a perfect combination with the pumpkin pie and apple crisp we had for desert.IMG_6592

After the cafè we toasted the holiday and our guests with Romano Levi Grappa.

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Filed under Amour de Deutz, Auxey-Duresses-Bize-leroy, Barbaresco, Barolo, Borgogno, Boschi di Berri, Champagne, Delamotte NV, Dolcetto, Feudi di San Gregorio, French White Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Marcarini Winery, Produttori del Barbaresco

A Great Dolcetto Producer Gets Even Better


Clavesana- Siamo Dolcetto – We are Dolcetto

I had lunch with Tony di Dio, the Brand Ambassador  of the Clavesana winery, my favorite producer of Dolcetto, for an update on the wines and the winery.  Tony said that they have a new wine maker, Damian Sicca, and a new agronomist, Marco Bealessio, but Anna Bracco is still Clavesana’s director and Giovanni  Bracco (no relation to Anna) is still  the Clavesana Coop’s president and has been so since 1987. The consulting enologist since 2011 is Gianfranco Cordero.  Tony said that the winery now sets standards for the production of their wine that are stricter than those imposed by the EU. With over 350 family vintners, it would be very difficult for them to be certified organic but all the growers pay attention to the impact they have on the environment and on the ecosystem. They feel that by maintaining the authenticity of the territory they are able to guarantee the authenticity of the wines.

When they say Siamo Dolcetto – We Are Dolcetto — they really mean it.  Last year the coop sold over 300,000 cases of Dolcetto, over 90% in Italy. The Coop was founded in 1959 by 32 growers and today there are about 350 members. They are committed to grow Dolcetto.

  Tony put me in contact with the winery and Anna Bracco  and she told me that their logo features the ten landmark “campanili’ (bell towers) of the towns where the growers (shareholders) live. These are the towns of Dolcetto’s homeland. The keys on the logo are the symbol of the town of Clavesana, which has been named the gateway to the Langhe. Some of the growers have other jobs and can only look after the vineyards part time and their agronomist Marco Bealessio gives extra help to these growers so they will not feel alone and abandon the land. She went on to say that they are trying to keep young people from leaving the area and the land and are doing everything possible to help them to stay.

 Anna made a point of saying that they pay the growers according to the quality of the grapes and will pay them as much as 20% higher than the market price. This she says is another incentive for the growers to produce superior grapes.IMG_5211

 Giovanni Bracco explained some of the Italian terms that they use including the idea of “singular-plurality”.   Clavesana’s microvinification is called Vinification alla Giornata, and Allagiornata are the single vineyard Doglianis—Dolcetto DOCG.

 Allagiornata – A day’s work from the single vineyards of Clavesana’s stakeholders. The term refers to the amount of work accomplished by two Piemontese bulls in one day.  When they have finished for the day, they have worked one “giornata”, nearly one acre (3,310 meters). This is the root of Clavesana’s singular plurality. He went on to say that even though they are a co-op, some growers bottle wine from a single vineyard. Day in and day out they live“Allagiornata”. They are identified on the label of each bottle by the stakeholder’s number and name. On Google Earth, it is possible to zoom in on the exact location of the vineyard by entering its single vineyards’ coordinates from the label. For example:  Giovanni explained that his vineyards are at 571 meters above sea level and his single vineyard wine is 110 Dogliani DOCG delle 3 Giornate di Socio 110 a Calvesana 44º 27’ 59.76” N 7 56’ 54.26’’ E. . We also had the  474 Dogliani DOCG  2008 from the 5.5 Giornate of Socio 474 in Clavesana-Marco Beccarai 44º 27’ 42.55’’N 7 55’07.34’’E.

 

Sig. Bracco further explained the difference between the Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC and the Dogliani DOCG.  The old winery, the heart of Clavesana, was originally built only with cement tanks. Later, stainless steel tanks were added but mostly on the outside of the winery.  Dolcetto di Dogliani 2009 and Piemonte D’OH 2010 were vinified in stainless steel tanks and are left here or transferred to cement tanks for a few months. For these last two wines, there is no minimum aging.

 Dogliani DOCG/ Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore– The DOCG has the lowest yields in liters (wine)/ hectares 4.760 of all the different zones of Dolcetto production in Piemonte. The minimum aging is 12 months from Oct 15 of the year of the grape harvest. The minimum alcohol is 12.5%. It is interesting to note that if vineyard and geographical names are on the label, the yield is reduced to 4284 liters/hectare (wine) and the minimum alcohol content is increased by 0.5%. Il Clou Dogliani DOCG is vinified in stainless steel but is aged in botte grande (large oak barrels of oak 50hl).IMG_5210

Allagiornata Dogliani DOCG (Socio 110 for example) are the only ones vinified in cement. The length of time depends on the vintage, 4/6months. 2010 is $21

 Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC –  With geographical and vineyard names on the label the yields are reduced to 5040 liters/hectare (wine) and natural alcohol content is increased by 0.5%.  All of the wine is made from 100% Dolcetto grapes. 2011 is $ 15

 The name Dolcetto means sweet little one but the wine is dry. It has medium alcohol, tannin and a deep ruby red color. They can be light wines fresh and fruity like the “D’HO” Piemonte Dolcetto DOC 2011 that is meant to be drunk young and has written on the label “You D’OH Something TO ME.” Tony said that because the D’ OH is made to be drunk young it now has a twist off cap. They can be full bodied and well structured like the “Il Clou” Dogliani DOCG 2010 aged for a short time in botte and the Allagiornata vinified in cement and aged in botte grande that can age for several years. All of this depends on the area of cultivation and how the grapes are vinified in the winery. The Il Clou 2010 is $18

  Dolcetto is 90% of their total production, though Clavesana also makes other wines. IMG_5212

 I have heard it said that the best Dolcetto comes from the Dogliani zone and after tasting and drinking the Dolcetto from Clavesana I agree. Even their “D’HO”which is a Piemonte DOC (meaning the grapes can come from any Dolcetto area) is a bargain at $12 as is the Dolcetto di Dogliani. The Dogliani DOCG, both the regular and single vineyard, are a great buy at $15 as are the other two Dolcetto’s.

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Filed under Clavesana, D'OH, Dolcetto

Wine and White Truffles at SD26 in NYC

This is the holiday season but it is also the season for white truffles. As the weather turns colder one can dream of Barbera, Barbaresco, Barolo and il tartufo bianco of Alba on pasta, risotto and eggs. Sometimes the dream becomes a reality.  On Tuesday afternoon, a friend called and asked if I was free Thursday night.  When I said yes,  he invited me to join him and two friends for the white truffle gala dinner at SD26 in NYC.  Of course I accepted!

Beni di Batasiolo, a wine producer from Piedmont whose wines I know and like would supply the wines.  It promised to be a very memorable evening.

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Tony May Presenting Our Truffle

The main dining room was filled to capacity.  Tony May and his daughter Marisa May, the restaurant owners, graciously welcomed the guests.

The hors d’oeuvres were served at the table and included robiola cheese and mushrooms on toast, crostini with cured lard and anchovy (a favorite), and tartra Piemontese with crispy sage and paddlefish caviar on olive oil potato purèeIMG_4361

The wine was the Gavi del Comune di Gavi “Granee” DOCG 2012 100% Cortese. The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity which made it go very well with all the hors d’oeuvres.

Our Truffle

Our Truffle

Each table of diners received a very large white truffle placed on the table with a truffle cutter. The truffle was ours to grate on the next three courses.  Tony May spoke about the truffles and showed us how to grate it.  Every one covered their dishes with the truffle, but it was so big that there was some left over and each of us took some home. Michele made pasta with the truffle the next evening.

Beef Crudo

Beef Crudo

The first course was Fassone beef crudo with fresh porcini and olio extra virgine novello served with the Dolcetto d’Alba 2011 “Bricco di Vergne,” 100% Dolcetto. The vineyard is located between the towns of La Morra and Barolo, on very steep slopes facing southwest at 480 meters. The soil has layers of sand and sandstone, which lightens the structure of the mainly marly soil. Grapes are harvested by hand around the last week in September. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place with maceration on the skins between 8 to 10 days. This is an elegant, well balanced fruity wine with a lot of red fruit and a hint of cherries that worked very well with this dish.

Truffles and an Egg

Truffles and an Egg

The menu said Sunchokes and Potato Gratin with young Fontina and chives, but what arrived was toast with melted Fontina topped with a poached egg.  The warmth of the egg brought out the aroma of the truffles we shaved on top.  It was wonderful–I just love truffles and eggs.

 We had this with the Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” 2011, 100% Barbera. The vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo.IMG_4363

It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. The excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age. The harvest took place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age.

Tony demonstrating the proper use of the Truffle grater with Marisa May

Tony demonstrating the proper use of the Truffle grater with Marisa May

The next course was the Toma Piemontese filled ravioli del plin, with toasted hazelnuts and sage, a classic  Piemontese dish.  This was a perfect combination with the Barbaresco DOCG 20010 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. This is a very traditional Barbaresco and it was perfect with this dish.IMG_4364

Last but not least there was pan-seared saddle of venison, barbera wine infused pear, and foie gras. Two Barolo’s were served with this dish.  The Barolo DOCG “Vigneto Boscareto” 2003 made from 100% Nebbiolo in its subvarities: Michet, Lampia and Rosè from the village of Serralunga. The soil is marl composed of limestone and clay, intermingled with sand. The terrain is hilly and the vineyard faces south/southwest at 300 to 400 meters. There are 3,700 vines per hectare and the average age of the vines is 25 years. The training system is classic guyot modified with arch canes. Harvesting of the grapes takes place the last week in October. There is traditional red wine fermentation with maceration on the skins for 10 to 15 days. After fermentation the wine is aged in traditional oak casks for at least two years and one year in bottle before release. 2003 was a very hot vintage but this wine was showing well. There were hints of ripe fruit, plums, spice, figs and tea.IMG_4366

Barolo “ Corda della Briccolina” 1996 100% Nebbiolo from the three sub varieties. The vineyard is facing southwest which in this area it is called a vigneto di mezzogiorno. The soil is calcareous marl rich in limestone and calcium carbonate. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place followed by 15 days of maceration then a decanting process. The wine is aged for at least two years in barriques and one year in bottle before release. 1996 was an excellent vintage for Barolo. This wine has aromas and flavors of red berries with hints of cedar, spice, licorice and a touch of vanilla.IMG_4367

For dessert there was a “Domori” Dark Chocolate Tortino and white truffle gelato. Moscato D’Asti “Bosc D’la Rei” 2012, made from100% Moscato Bianco accompanied the dessert. The grapes are grown in soil that is marly and calcareous and the terrain is hilly. The exposure is northwest, there are 3,500 plants per hectare and the vineyard is at 380 to 410 meters. Average age of the vines is 15 years. The training system is guyot modified into small arches. Harvesting is by hand the last week of September. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place and the juice is cooled to 0°C. and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation (partially fermented with abundant residual sugar) begins a month before bottling. It is a very slow process and the alcohol reaches 5.5% by volume. This is an elegant aromatic dessert wine with hints of overripe fruit.

The Executive Chef at SD26 is Matteo Bergamini

The event and dinner exceeded my every expectation!

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Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Dolcetto, Gavi, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, SD 26, SD26, Tony May, Truffles

With A Little Help From My Friends

The Westchester Italian Cultural Center is located in Tuckahoe about a half hour by train from Grand Central. The center preserves, promotes and celebrates the rich heritage of classical and contemporary Italian culture by encouraging an appreciation of the Italian language, arts and letters, history, cuisine and commerce through educational programs, exhibits and events.  Patrizia Calce, the director of events for the center, asked me if I would do a wine and food tasting for members and their guests featuring Wines and Foods of Northern Italy.   IMG_2809 I was more than happy to do so but I explained to Patrizia that I would need a little help from my friends.  The first one I called was Gary Grunner of Grapes on the Go, a wine importing company.  Gary said he would donate the wines of Tenuta Santa Maria in Pieve in the Veneto and would also attend the event to say a few words about the winery.  Gary then asked Douglas Giachino of Vinvino wines if he would supply the wines of Andrea Oberto from La Morra in Piedmont.  Vinvino also distributes the wine of Tenuta Santa Maria della Pieve for Gary and Giachino agreed to help, too.

Last but not least I asked Louis Coluccio of A.L.C. Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge Brooklyn to supply the food.
Louis replied “Just tell me what you need.”  A.L.C. sells both top quality imported Italian food products and prepared foods to take away.  It is the closest I have come to an Italian food shopping experience in the New York area. IMG_2820
With so much cooperation and great wine and food lined up, the tasting at the WICC was a sure success.  Over 40 members and guests attended.

The Wines
Prosecco NV 100% Gela-formerly known as Prosecco, Luccio.  The grapes come from the rolling hills of the Veneto countryside just north of Venice and are harvested by hand. A soft pressing occurs and the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks. Before the primary fermentation process is concluded, the wine is run into a pressurized tank where a secondary fermentation takes place allowing it to become a sparkling wine.IMG_2812Soave “Lepia” 2010 IGT made from 100% Garganega Veronese. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve The soil is clay with calcareous-marly subsoil. The training system is the pergoletta, and there are 3,800 vines per hectare. The grapes are harvested in September at different times of ripening and crushed separately, with cold pre-fermentation skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented. The wine is blended in January and racked in stainless steel tanks with the thin lees. Then there is a short bottle refinement. The wine has flavors and aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds and nice minerality. I like this Soave because it reflects the indigenous grape and the terroir. $22IMG_2813Gavi “IL Mandorlo”  2011 Tenuta San Pietro 100% Cortese.  The winery is organic and biodynamic. Soil is limestone-clayey with a good mineral content and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The grapes are hand harvested in the middle of September. Soft crushing is followed by fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using natural yeast from the cellar. This is a well-balanced wine with floral hints, fresh fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity.  $16IMG_2816
Dolcetto d’Alba 2010 Andrea Oberto-La Morra, Piedmont
There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the soil is clayey and calcareous and the exposure is southwest. The training system is Guyot with short trimming. There is manual harvesting of the slightly overripe grapes in 20-kg perforated crates through a careful selection of the bunches. The grapes are transferred into the cellar where they are crushed and destemmed within hours.
A short cryo-maceration and thermo-controlled fermentation takes place at around 30 °C, and soft pumpovers  are frequent. There is a short maceration of the marc, about 100 hours. Racking takes place in stainless steel vats, where the must is thermo-controlled. In the vats the alcoholic fermentation comes to an end and the natural malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel vats. $18IMG_2815Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 DOC Andrea Oberto 100% Nebbiolo
There are 4,000 vines per hectare. Vinification is the same as above except that the juice is in contact with the skins for 200 hours. Aging is for six months part in stainless steel and part in wooden casks. $22IMG_2814
Barolo 2008 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo Andrea Oberto Long maceration of the marc about 300 hours and racking in wood casks, where the natural malolactic fermentation takes place
Aging for 24 months in oak casks and 2 months in stainless steel vats and 6months in bottle before release. $45IMG_2818
Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35
Gary said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso.

IMG_2817Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2007 made from 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve  The training system is the pergoletta and there are 5,600 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in wooden trays inside rooms with well-circulated air for 4/5 months. In the middle of January after reaching their desired sugar content and losing 25%/30% of their weight, the almost raisin like grapes are pressed and fermented for 25/30 days at controlled temperatures with daily pumping over. After a period of decantation and refining in French barriques and Italian oak tonneaux, malolactic fermentation takes place. After 48 months the wine is bottled and remains for 6 months before release. It is a complex and elegant wine with hints of dried cherries, prunes and spice. The finish is very long and there is a lingering aftertaste. $90

Contact the Vinvino Wine Company- 212-463-7880 to find the retail store near you that sells these wines.

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Filed under A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Amaro, Amarone, Andrea Oberto winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Grapes on the GO, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Ripasso, Soave, Tenuta San Pietro, Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve, Vinvino Wines, Westchester Italian Cultural Center

The Tradition Continues

I am always interested to see what happens when the next generation takes over an Italian winery that makes wines that I enjoy.  Will they follow the traditional methods  or will they go to what I call “the dark side” and make modern international style wines?

Tiziana Settimo

I was invited to Porter House in NYC to tastes the wines of the Aurelio Settimo Winery.  I have enjoyed these wines in the past and wanted to see if Tiziana Settimo was staying with the same traditional style wines as her father. Tiziana was presenting the wines so I could have all my questions answered.

The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piemonte in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows.  They sold off almost all their grapes.  When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards.  However they continued to sell 50% of their grapes.  In 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.

Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is a family affair run mostly by women.  The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.

From the very beginning Tiziana made it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio.  She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She fells that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character. The Barolo is aged in 2,500 to 3,500 liters oak barrels.

The menu

 

Only 3 wines are produced from their estate vineyards.  There are 5.6 hectares of Nebbiolo and 0.9 hectares of Dolcetto. Their Rocche Dell’Annunziata vineyard is 3.42 hectares and the exposure is south and southwest. The vines are between 18 and 46 years old. There are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare and the training method is traditional Guyot.  Tiziana said that the fertile, clay-calcareous, limestone, rocky soil together with the altitude (270-300 mt) and the exposure produce a full bodied but elegant and very fragrant Barolo.

All of the wines are excellent with food.  At Porter House, we had them with Porcini Risotto to start followed by Heritage Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin, a great combination.

Tiziana said that she was in Boston a few days before and she had these wines with fish, including shellfish, and they all worked well together. It is my opinion that a red wine which is not on the “dark side”, is well made, and has good acidity can go with almost any type of food.

The Wines
Dolcetto D’Alba DOC 2010 100% Dolcetto
Tiziana said that 2010 was a great vintage for Dolcetto.
The grapes are hand picked and vinified in stainless steel with about 7 days skin contact with a submerged cap and frequent repassing.
This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry and surprisingly good acidity. Tiziana said that she likes to keep the alcohol low on her Dolcetto, between 12% and 12-1/2% to keep the freshness so the alcohol does not overpower the fruit.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2006 100% Nebbiolo
Tiziana said that 2006 was also a very good vintage. She went on to say that this wine is produced from grapes grown on the younger vineyards facing southeast in the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. It has a shorter maceration on the skins (8 to 10 days) than the Barolo and does not see any wood. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the malolactic fermentation takes place in concrete vats of 52hl. The wine was bottled in November 2010 after spending two years in the bottle. They do not make this wine in every vintage if they feel that the alcohol content will be too high. It is a wine with good fruit and has an excellent balance between tannins and acidity. This wine was made to be drunk when released however it was showing no signs of age and could last another 5 to 10 years.  $30

Barolo DOCG 2007 100% Nebbiolo
This wine is produced from the older Nebbiolo grapes. The must is in contact with the skin for 15 to 20 days with a submerged cap and frequent repassing. The wine is aged in wood for two years. The wine was bottled in March 2011  $42

Barolo” Rocche Dell ‘Annunziata” DOCG 2007
This is one of the great crus of Barolo and Tiziana said there were 23 other producers making wine from this vineyard.  She considers the 2007 vintage to be an excellent one, though it was in many ways a difficult vintage because it was very hot. This is a traditional classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of black fruit especially blackberries and hints of leather, tea, spice and liquorice with good acidity.  $50

I am happy to see that Tiziana is making wine like her father’s and that they are very good value for the money.
I look forward to enjoying these wines for many years to come.

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Filed under Aurelio Settimo Winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, Porter House NY

Italian Red Wine Under $20 for All Seasons

Over the past few months I have tasted a number of Italian red wines for under $20. The first two, on the list which I tasted last week at an event called Piemonte Land of Perfection’s I have had many times before and have always enjoyed. The last two on the list were a new discovery.

Dolcetto “D’OH”  2011 Piedmont Dolcetto  DOC 100% Dolcetto Clavesana  Fermented is temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry that is to be drunk young. It is traditional Dolcetto.  $11

Barbera d’Asti DOCG “Vespa” 2011 100% Barbara Cascina Castlet  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 middle 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 remortgages 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 and good acidity. $14

Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG 2010 100% Sangiovese Poggio Stella. There are 3,500/5,000 vines per hectare. The training system is guyot and spurred cord, and the grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled tanks followed by maceration in stainless steel tanks. The wine is then refined in Slovenian oak barrels for at least three months. The wine has red berry aromas and flavor with good acidity. $13.99

Vino Nobile Di Montepulicano DOCG 2008 Poggio Stella made from 90% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) and 10% Canaiolo.  The vines are grown on hillsides and the soil is mostly crumbled rock with good skeletal content. The plant density is 3,500/5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot and spurred cord. The grapes are hand harvested; fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled tanks followed by maceration in stainless steel. The wine is aged in Slovenian oak barrels for 24 months. $19.

Marche Rosso “Picens” IGT  2006 Domodimonti The wine is made from 25% Montepulciano, 25% Sangiovese 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyards are at 250 meters and the soil in mainly clay. The vineyards are south facing, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is condon with spur pruning. The harvest is from the end of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in second passage French barriques for 5 to 6 months. There were flavors and aromas of dark fruit with hints of blackberries and a touch of leather. $16

Ciró Rosso Classic Superiore “Liber Pater” DOC 2009 Ippolito 1845 (Calabria) The wine is made from 100% Gaglioppo grapes.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel. This is a rustic wine with deep red and black fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of leather. It has a long finish and a distinctive aftertaste. $16

Rosso Piceno Superiore 2007 DOC ”Vigna Montetinello” Montepulciano 70 % Sangiovese 30% Saladini Pilastri
The vineyard is at 200 meters and the exposure is west- east. The cultivation system is vertical shoot positioned trellis and there are 2,000 plants/ha; the average age of the vines is 30 years. Harvest takes place at the end of October. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and aged for 18 months in French tonneaux. This is a wine with nice red and black fruit, with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $17.99

Aglianico IGT 100% Aglianico. Donna Chiara. The soil is clay, training system is guyot and there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in the second week of November. This wine does not see any wood. The wine is aged in bottle for 6 months. This is a very aromatic wine with wild berry aromas and flavors and hints of blueberries and cherries. $18

I could not believe the price of the next two wines after I tasted them. They are true bargains. I believe that both of them were awarded three glasses by Gambero Rosso, their highest award.

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo “Vignafranca DOC 2007 Fratelli Barba100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The vineyard is at 70 meters and the soil is alluvial, sandy silt and lightly calcareous. There are 6,000 vines/ha, the training is double guyot and the exposure is southwest. The harvest takes place in the middle of October. Fermentation is in wooden conical base vats for 18-20 days.  The wine is aged in French barriques, 50% new and 50% used for 14 months. The wine has aromas and flavors of cherry and spice with a hint of pepper. 14.99

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “I Vasari” Old Vines DOC 2008 Fratelli Barba 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The Colle della Corte vineyard is at 70 meters and has a southwest exposure. The soil is alluvial, sandy silt and lightly calcareous and the vines are 30 years old. There are 6,000 plants per hectare, the training system is double guyot and the harvest takes place in the middle of October, fermentation takes place in wooden conical base vats for 18 to 20 days. The wine is aged in French barriques, 50% new and 50% used for 14 months.
This is an intense wine with flavors and aromas of black cherry blueberry and plum with a hint of spice. $18

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Filed under Aglianico, Barbera, Chianti, Ciró, Clavesana, Dolcetto, Domodimonti winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Vino Nobile di Montepulicano, wines under $20