Category Archives: Donna Chiara Winery

The Wines of DonnaChiara & Alois at a One Star Michelin Restaurant

Ilaria Petitto and Francesco de Rienzo (DonnaChiara Winery) and Massimo Alois and Talita de Rosa (Michele Alois Winery) invited Michele and I and a friend to have lunch with them. Last year when Michele and I visited the Alois winery we had a fantastic lunch prepared by Talita de Rosa, which I wrote about in a blog.

This year they decided to take us to Vairo del Volturno, a restaurant with one Michelin star since 2007.  It is located at Via  IV  Novembre 60, Vairano  Patenora, Caserta. 

The chef,  Renato Martino, made a special lunch for us based on the local ingredients from around the Caserta area.  With it, we drank the wines from DonnaChiara and Michele Alois Wineries.

DonnaChiara wines

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017, 100% Greco.  The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and then a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. This is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites.

 

To go with the wines, the chef prepared a series of small seafood dishes, including assorted marinated crudi, and bufala mozzarella topped with anchovy.  Though I have always enjoyed these wines with traditional Neapolitan food, with these combinations, the chef showed how well they can go with contemporary dishes.


Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of  “follature” (pumping over) and to a short period of maceration on the skins. It is a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

There was pasta of course, large tortelloni filled with local pork.

Taurasi DOCG 100% Aglianico 2016 The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225 liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique was subtle and did not mask the character of the wine.

Taurasi Riserva 2013 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

Michele Alois wines The winery is located at the foot of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta.

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2013 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 100% Pallagrello Nero. The vineyard is 1.46 hectares, the soil is volcanic with minerals, guyot training system and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. The harvest takes place the first weeks of October. Vinification in stainless steel with cold maceration on the lees and malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used French barriques for 12 months and an additional 6 months in barrel before release. This wine has hints of berries, especially blackberries and cherries and a long finish.

The lamb was a local variety prepared two ways roasted and grilled, and topped with hazelnuts.

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for 18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

After lunch we went to the Alois winery where we tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello Bianco and Nero and the Casavecchia with Massimo Alois

We ended this most perfect afternoon at the winery with a wonderful version of Baba, a yeast raised pastry filled with pastry cream and soaked in rum syrup, which Illaria had brought from a bakery in Avellino.

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Filed under Aglianico, Alois Winery, Cassavecchia, Donna Chiara Winery, Greco di Tufo, Pallagrello, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Taurasi, Vario del Volturo

Fourteen Wines Under $20

Well-priced good wines can be found in all price ranges.  Here are some that I tried recently.

Alvarinho 2017 (Vinho Verde) Soalheiro Portugal 100% Alvarinho. Hand picked grapes from several small vineyards planted in granite soil at 100 to 400 meters located in the Melgaco region in the northern point of Portugal. After pressing and before fermentation, which is temperature controlled, the must is decanted during 48 hours at a low temperature.  I first had this wine in a restaurant in Lisbon. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT 2017 (Veneto) Pasqua made from 100% Garganega and dried in the fruttaio (drying chamber) for 15 days. This results in the concentration of sugars and floral aromas. After crushing, maceration on the skins takes place for over 12 hours. Vinification is with selected yeasts and a portion of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for a few months. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peaches and a touch of almonds. It is an easy to drink wine. $16

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara 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. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand. $17 . I first had this wine at the winery.

Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2017 (Veneto) Le Morette made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple and peach and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm. $18

Bianco delle Regine 2016 (Umbria) Castello delle Regina made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity. $15

Moscato Sicilia 2016 IGT (Salemi, Sicily)100% Moscato di Alexandria Stella. The vineyard is 25 acres and the training system is guyot. There are 1,600 vines vines/acre, and the elevation is 1,485 feet with a northern/southern exposure. The vines were planted in 2000 and the first vintage was in 2010. Harvest was in August. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and the wine ages in stainless steel.  The alcohol level is 10%. This is a wine with hints of white peaches, tropical fruit and good acidity. $11

Nebbiolo 2014 Paso Robles (Califorina) Caparone 100% Nebbiolo macerated on the skins for 45 days, in completely enclosed stainless fermenters. It was light in color like Nebbiolo should be. The wine is unfiltered and unfined. In a blind tasting I might have said it was like a Nebbiolo from the north of Piedmont but in a much lighter style with more red fruit and less of the tar, tobacco and dried fruit character. This winery make wines that can last for years. Recently I had their 2002 Merlot which could last for another 20 years. $18

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2016 DOC None (Abruzzo, Italy) made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Stella. The soil is sandy, the training system is Pergola/Arbor trained and the elevation is 900 feet. There are 1,000 vines per acre and the vines were planted in 1995. The first vintage was in 1998 and harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless tanks and the alcohol fermentation lasts for 7 days. Maceration technique is by pumpovers and it lasts for 5 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine ages 5 months before bottling and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black cherries, strawberries and a touch of herbs. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT 2016 (Veneto) Pasqua made from Corvina, Croatina and Merlot. The grapes are hand picked and a portion of the Corvina and Merlot are put into small crates in the fruttaio to dry until they lose 30% of their water content and gain high sugar content. This is then blended with the juice from the non-dried grapes and vinified in steel tanks. Following fermentation the grapes age in oak tonneaux for about 4 months and then aged in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice. $16 .

Negroamaro Del Salento IGP 2016 (Puglia) Varvaglione made from 100% Negroamaro  Vinification with temperature control maceration and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in large barrels (botti)  of French oak for at least 3 months. The wine has fresh fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherry and spice $12

 

Pinot Nero Rolhut 2015 DOC (Alto Adige, Italy) Peter Zemmer The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented at a constant temperature of 26 – 28° C (79 – 82° F) for about 7 days. The must is kept in contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below.  After two gentle rackings, 70% of this Pinot Noir is aged over 12 months in large barrels of French oak, and the remainder is aged in small casks of French oak (barriques), which are 2 – 3 years old. After blending, 750 ml Bordeaux-style bottles are filled and the wine is aged an additional 6 months in the bottle before it goes on sale. This is a fruity wine with hints of red berries, cherries and a touch of blueberries. $18

Umbria Rosso IGT “Vascellarus”  2016 (Umbria) Argillae made from 85% Montepulciano, and 15 Cabernet Sauvignon. The training method is guyot and there are 3,333 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand in October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed and there is a 25/30-day maceration period with frequent pumpovers on the skins, accompanied by several rack and return procedures. Alcoholic fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. The wine is aged in French barriques with racking on a regular basis, depending on the need. The wine remains in the bottle for another 8/12 months before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, spice, black pepper and vanilla notes. $18

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 (France) made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Fils The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15

Gaia Red Blend 2015 (Argentina) Domaine Bousquet made from 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a manual harvest: for the Syrah the 2nd week of April, Malbec the 3rd week of April, and the Cabernet Sauvignon 4th week of April. There is a cold fermentation for 72 hours. Fermentation is with selected yeast at a maximum temperature of 27C for 12 days. Maceration is for 14 days and the wine is aged in used French barrels for 10 months. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of black fruit with a hint if blueberries and a touch of spice.  Alcohol is 14%.  $19

 

 

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January 14, 2019 · 2:29 am

With Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara Winery at Il Gattopardo NYC

I have known Illaria Petitto, Managing Director of the Donnachiara Winery for some time and have tasted the wines in NYC many times. I also have visited the winery in Campania a few times. It is always a treat to taste these wines and when the host restaurant is Il Gattppardo the combination could not be better. This is a event I could not miss.

Ilarai Petitto

Ilaria spoke about the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. The consulting oenologist at this time is the legendary Riccardo Cotarella. It is the philosophy of the winery to preserve the traditional grape varieties of the  local territory and to keep the typical character of the wines from  being  lost to the standardization of the wines on the market today. They also follow “Misura CE n.1257/99 – “Produzione , integrata della Regione Campania” limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

The White Wines

 Benevento Falanghina IGT “Resilienza” 2016 100% Falanghina. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest is the first half of October. Only the best grapes are selected, harvest is manual and takes place during the coolest hours of the day. There are 2,500 vines per hectare and the grapes were picked at the height of maturity. Illara said cryomaceration is at 42-46 degrees F in order to preserve the aromas, prevent oxidation and enhance the typical characteristics of the varieties. Soft pressing fermentation is at 57-60 °F in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine remains in the bottle for many months before release. This a a wonderful food wine with good fruit, citrus aromas and flavors, and notes of pear and apricot. It has good acidity and a lasting finish.

Ed Mc Carthy co- author of the Wine for Dummies books said that it was the best Falanghina he had ever tasted.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2017 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay and there are 4,400 plants per hectare.  The vines are guyot trained and the harvest is the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes that are quickly cooled to 50F for 4 to 6 hours. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a delicate and elegant wine with hints of almonds, floral notes and citrus fruit. It is a real pleasure to drink.

This grape was brought to Campania by ancient Greeks. The Romans called it vitis apiana – the Latin root for bees is apiana. Even today bees are attracted to the Fiano grape and Ilaria said you can see the honey bees in the vineyards in Montefalcione.

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017 100% Greco The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and after that a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. Like the Fiano, this is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites. Both the Fiano and the Greco are wines that can age.

With the white wine we had: Cavatelli di grano saraceno ai frutti di mare.

The Red Wines

Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of “follature” and to a short period of maceration on the skins it is possible to produce a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

Irpinia Agianico DOC 2015 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in November. Fermentation takes place at 68 to 71 F in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Maturation is on the skins for 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. The wine is full and complex with hints of prune, berries and spice. This was one of the Top 100 Wines this year in the Wine Spectator. 

Taurasi DOCG 2013 100% Aglianico Manual harvest. This wine was vinified like the one above. It is a well structured wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

In 2012 Cotarella was not the consulting oenologist.

With the red wine we had: Carrè d’agnello alle erbe aromatiche served with broccoli rabe and a potato croquette.

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Filed under Aglianico, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Taurasi, Uncategorized

My Birthday Lunch at Home

We were going to spend the weekend in Pennsylvania with friends, so we celebrated my birthday at home and Michele made some of my favorite dishes.

We started with crostini topped with prosciutto, fig mostarda and a drizzle of a special, aged balsamic vinegar.  The mostarda is something we picked up in Rome.  It has a jam like consistency and goes great with cold cuts or cheese.  It is sweet from the figs and slightly hot from mustard.  

For the first course Michele made pasta with clams with touch of tomato, a dish I always order when I am in southern Italy.

With the first two courses we drank the Lacryma Christ del Vesuvio Bianco 2015  from CantinMatrone made from 80% Caprettone and 15% Falanghina and 5% Greco.  The Caprettone is distributed over three vineyards located at 30, 120 and 200 meters. Falanghina and Greco are at 30 meters. The Falanghina and Greco are fermented together with a pressing and fermentation without the pomace. The Caprettone is vinified alone with a 24-hour maceration period with the pomace. Then a soft pressing and fermentation takes place without temperature control.  This helps to obtain a wine with slightly more intense color and a bouquet of aromas that are more related to the varietal and less to the fruity or floral notes due to fermentation. The wine has hints of citrus, almond and a touch of sage with good acidity.

 


When we were buying the clams I noticed some large fresh soft shell crabs, another one of my favorites.  Michele said that she would fry them in a tempura batter.  They turned out plump, juicy and crisp.

With the soft shell crab we drank Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2012 Donnachiara 100% Fiano.   The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,400 vines per hectare and the 4 hectare vineyard is located at 600 meters.  Harvesting takes place during the second week of October. . The aging potential of the wine is 15/20 years. This is a wine with good structure and body. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, good acidity and a hint of smoke.

For dessert, Michele made a blueberry tart — I could have the whole thing

I finished the lunch with a glass of Grappa Riserva  from Distilleria Mazzetti in Piemonte.  It is  aged for 5 years in barrels made from 6 different woods:  oak, chestnut, ash, cherry, mulberry and juniper. I bought this grappa from the distilleria and opened it for my birthday!

 

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The Fiano di Avellino of Donnachiara at IL Gattopardo Restaurant

 

I have met Illaria Petitto, managing director, Donnachiara winery a number of times in NYC and have visited the winery in Campania a number of times. I really like their white wines and paired with Neapolitan food at a luncheon at Il Gattopardo in Midtown Manhattan, it is a match made in heaven.img_1147

At the luncheon, Illaria offered a vertical tasting of her Fiano di Avellino going back to 2007. John Gilman who publishes “View from the Cellar” also spoke. I met John last March in Benevento at the Campania Stories tasting and together we visited the Donnachiara winery.

ILaria Petitto

ILaria Petitto

Ilania began by speaking about the Fiano di Avellino grape in general, her Fiano, and the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino.  The modern building is set on a hilltop in an area of rolling hills.

Ilaria said she parted ways with her winemaker, Angelo Valentino because she wants to have more input into her wines. She hired the well-respected Riccardo Cotarella as the consulting enologist for the winery. She felt that he could help with the Fiano as far as enhancing the bouquet and aromas. I told her I liked the wines just as they are now!img_1153

We tasted the 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2007 paired with a menu prepared by Il Gattopardo. All the wines are 100% Fiano di Avellino

  2015 -When I was in Benevento in March for the Campania Stories blind tasting of Fiano, I picked this vintage of Donnachiara as #1.

The soil is chalky clay; there are 4,400 plants per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 90 days. The wine does not undergo malolatcic fermentation and does not see any wood. This is an elegant wine with good body, dried fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of tropical fruit. This is a wine with good structure and body. Illaria said 2015 was a very good vintage.img_1148

With the wine we had Stuzzichini: Scagliozzi Di Polenta and Mini Mozzarelle in Carrozza con Salsetta D’Acciughe with the 2015 and 2013

I asked Illaria if the 2007 was vinified the same way as the 2015 and she said nothing has changed.

Cotarella will start with the 2016 vintage.

When I visited the winery in March I tasted 2011, 2009 and 2007 vintages of the Fiano di Avellino. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity in the wines. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009. Illaria said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age. You could see the development of the wine from the different vintages.

In the white wines the juice is free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

2013 — This was the first I had tasted this vintage. Illaria said that 2013 was a warm and dry vintage. The grapes were very concentrated, rich in pulp and very structured. The wine is very soft and fat with nice ripe citrus fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity. I would not drink a Fiano unless it was at least 3 years old and that is still too young.

2011 — Illaria said this was a balanced vintage. The wine had developed since the last time I had tasted it and was showing very well. If you can find this wine buy it!

We had this wine with Scialatielli ai Frutta di Mare img_1159

2009 — Illaria said this was a difficult vintage but to me it was drinking much better than when I first tasted it. This is a well-balanced complex wine that will age for a very long time.

2007 — Illaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine. This is big wine with great structure and aromas ranging from candied fruit to flowers with good acidity. Both Illaria and John believe that this wine has great aging potential, from 15 to 20 years. It was showing a little more age than when I first tasted it but this was just the natural development.img_1160

We had both of these vintages with the Dentice in Brodetto con Cozze e Vongole.img_1166

2011 — Esoterico This is one of two wines that are in barriques, 20% is fermented in new French barriques for a period of 12 months. There is no fining, filtration or refrigeration, and there is natural clarification. This is the only vintage of the wine that they made. Illaria said because the wine is in a 375-ml size bottle, every one thinks it is a dessert wine. She said she is not sure if she would produce the wine again.img_1165

For dessert we had the Baba- it was one of the best I have ever eaten!

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Fiano di Avellino, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized

12 Wines $20 and Under for All Seasons

 

There are some wines that I like to drink all year round. They go with the foods I like to eat and I know I can turn to them at any time. I consider them wines for all seasons. Remember that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to drink well.

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $1IMG_9987

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. Donnachiara. 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. $18IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2014 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. Alois The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $20IMG_1091

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Flis  The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will under go malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15IMG_1094

Pinot Grigio 2015 Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. $16IMG_0912

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2014 Elena Walch made from 100% Gewurztraminer from small vineyards around the villages if Tramin and Caldero. After harvest, the grapes are crushed and pressed. The fresh must is clarified at low temperatures then gently fermented at a controlled temperature of 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in stainless steel tanks for several months on its fine lees. The wine has hints of white flowers and spice with a nice long finish. $20

Les Vignes de Bila-Haut Rose 2015 IGP Pays d’OC  Chapoutier made from 55% Grenache and 45% Syrah. The estate was purchased by Michel Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in one of the best parts of the Languedoc called the Cotes du Roussillon. The grapes are carefully vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then carefully blended prior to bottling. $15IMG_1075

Bordeaux Rose 2015 made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Chateau de Lardiley. The soil is clay and limestone, organic agriculture and located in the heart of the Entre-Deux-Mers area in the village of Saint-Pierre-de Bat. The estate is situated midslope along the Garonne River. This is a ripe, red fruit dominated wine with hints of strawberries and raspberries. $15IMG_1092

Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2014, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape.  (It is one of the grapes in the blend for Lacryma Chrisit del Vesuvio Rosso.) It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort.
The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice a long finish and nice after taste. The wine should be drunk young. $16IMG_0914

Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Schiava from high side vineyards above Lake Caldaro at 1,312 ft. Elena Walch The soil is limestone and dandy clay. There is temperature-controlled fermentation at 27°C in stainless steel tanks for 7 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation and maturation take place in traditional 8,000-liter Slovenian oak casks. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry and a nice bitter almond touch on the finish. $16IMG_1093

Cahors Malbec Prestige 2011 AOP Cahors Domaine du Théron 100% Malbec. Family owned and operated by Pelvillain Freres. The domaine was established in 1973 and is situated in the village of Prayssac in the valley of Lot. The soil is limestone and clay with cover grass planted between the rows. Grapes are harvested in the early morning, destemmed and lightly crushed. Maceration and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After the wines are racked to different stainless steel tanks where malolactic fermentation is completed. The wines are aged in barriques for about 12 months, 1/3 of which is new wood. The best barrels are selected and blended into the Cuvée Prestige which is the top of the line and aged another year in bottle before release. This is a big dark wine with hints of spice and chocolate and a touch of blueberries with a smooth yet powerful finish. $18

Moscato d”Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG –NV 100% Moscato d”Asti, Vietti. Grapes are selected from vineyards in Castiglione Tinella. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and they are about 40 years old. The grapes are crushed, pressed and naturally clarified. Must is stored, without sulfite, at low temperature in order to naturally prevent fermentation. Before bottling, yeast is added and the temperature is increased. Alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel autoclave to preserve natural CO2 from the fermentation. The fermentation is stopped at 5.5% alcohol by again reducing the temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and preserves acidity, varietal fruit character and freshness. The wine is held in stainless steel tanks before bottling. The wine is delicately sweet, slightly sparkling, frizzante with hints of white peaches, apricots and ginger. $16

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Filed under Alois Winery, Cotes du Rhone- Ferraton, Donna Chiara Winery, Elena Walch, Falanghina, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Nino Franco, Pallagrello, Peter Zemmer, Piedirosso, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Uncategorized

Tasting Wine with Lunch at Donnachiara

Campania Stories is the name of an organized event to introduce and educate about the wines of Campania. Before the trip, they sent me a list of wines that I could visit when I attended their wine event in Benevento.IMG_9985

The first winery I chose was Donnachiara. I had been to the winery before and had tasted the wines with Ilaria Petitto a number of times in NYC. I wanted to visit again to see what was new and how the wines had developed.

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the province of Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for 150 years.

Ilaria and her mother Chiara greeted me. Chiara said that the winery is named after her grandmother Donnachiara.

Umberto

Umberto, Ilaria, Chiara, Francesco de Rienzo

Winemaker Angelo Valentino led us through a tasting of the wines. I told him that the Donnachiara whites were some of the best I have tasted from this area. He said that all of them are made in the same way. The juice was free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. Angelo believes that most white wines are consumed too young. He feels that they should be at least 3 years old because in the first year or so all you get are the aromas and taste of the fermentation process. In answer to a question, Angelo said it was his love for Fiano and Taurasi that made him become an enologist.

So I was looking forward to see how the wines have developed. He said 2015 was an excellent vintage. It was warm year, but rain came at the right time.

The winesIMG_9987

Falanghina 2015 IGT made from 100% Falanghina The grapes come from vineyards that they rent in Benevento. The soil is chalky clay, there are 2,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot. The grapes were picked at the height of maturity. This is the perfect wine with spaghetti alle vongole.IMG_9989

Coda di Volpe  DOC 2015 made from 100% Coda di Volpe. The wine had been bottled just 8 days before. Angelo said that this is a different variety of Coda di Volpe than is used in other areas and has more body. The soil is mostly clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 2,500 plants per hectare. This is a wine with good structure, hints of citrus and herbs. There is good acidity, nice minerality, long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_9994

We tasted the Fiano di Avelliano DOCG 2015 100% Fiano (Two days later at the blind tasting held at our hotel in Benevento. I picked this wine as one of the top Fiano’s) The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4.400 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. One could see the development of the wines from the different vintages. This is a wine with good structure and body.

Last time I was there I tasted the 2011, 2010 and 2009 vintages of the Fiano di Avellino. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity in the wines. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009. Angelo said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age.

On this my latest visit, I tasted the 2009 and the 2007. Both were showing very well and still showing no signs of age. The 2009 still had that hint of smoke. Angelo said that it was colder in 2009 than in 2007 so the wines did taste slightly different.IMG_0006

I drank both of them with a traditional lunch of Ravioli, Meatballs, and la Pastiera, the traditional Easter cake prepared by Chiara.IMG_0008

Umberto Petitto, Chiara’s husband, joined us for lunch.IMG_9992

Greco di Tufo 2015 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Illaria said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. Cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak is used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age before it is ready to drink. One of my top picks at the blind tasting.

When I visited the winery 3 years ago, I tasted barrel samples of two wines, Greco 2011 and Fiano 2011 both of which they made for the first time.IMG_9997

Fiano 2011 IGT only made in the best vintages with no battonage, like in Alsace with 20% new oak and late harvest grapes picked when there was sleet in November. It is a dry wine.

Ilaria said that her father Umberto had planted the Greco di Tufo grape in Torre le Nocella, which is not in the DOCG zone. He felt that this area would produce a Greco of great quality. It is a single vineyard (cru) Vigna Nascosta, which means hidden vineyard.IMG_9995

The Fiano is a cru from a single vineyard in Montefalcione and will be called Esoterico.

Angelo explained that both these wines would be different from their other white wines. Both will be fermented and aged in new barriques.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well both these wines had developed. The Fiano was elegant and complex with hints of citrus fruits, especially lemon, with a touch of smoke.

The Greco was complex and rich with hints of apricot, mango, candied citrus fruits and good minerality.

I then had a discussion with Angelo about which wine ages better, Fiano or Greco. We disagreed. He stated the case for Fiano and I for Greco.IMG_0001

Taurasi di Umberto 2012 named after Umberto Petitto. 100% Agalianco, The soil is clay and the training system is Guyot, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and the harvest is the first week of November. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG The wine is like the one above but is aged in very old barriques. It is a big tannic. intense wine with good structure and body and hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of coffee. It will only get better with time.

We also tasted the 2009 and 2011 Taurasi which were developing very nicely.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Coda di Volpe, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, Uncategorized