Category Archives: Fiorano Rosso

Drinking Fiorano Rosso with Alessia Antinori

A few years ago Michele and I were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. There were 12 people and everyone was asked to bring a bottle of wine. One of the guests brought two bottles of wine, one of which was the 1974 Fiorano Rosso from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa, a winery located 30 minutes outside Rome. Followers of my blog know that this may be my favorite wine.

I took this guest aside and explained that since he had two bottles there was no reason to open the Fiorano for so many people. It may have been the tone of my voice or the look on my face and he said to me, “Here, take the bottle home.” I promised I wouldn’t open the bottle until one of our Fiorano dinners when he could join us.  Unfortunately, it did not workout and he told me I could drink the wine without him.

Alessia Antinori

Alessia Antinori, granddaughter of the prince is the owner of Tenuta Fiorano, which is just a short distance from Rome.  I have visited the winery a number of times.  Alessia also  has an apartment in NYC.  Recently we met in Chinatown for lunch and she brought the 1993 Fiorano. After drinking the wine we decided it was time for  another Fiorano dinner. Alessia invited us to do it at her apartment. I also invited the person that gave me the 1974 Fiorano. Not only could he make it this time but he said he would bring a bottle of the 1971!

There were 7 of us for lunch.  We opened a magnum of Champagne to start but it was oxidized–too bad.  So we moved on to the wines.

The wines

Alberico Bianco 2015 100% Sémillon Tenuta Fiorano After a careful manual selection, the best grapes were destemmed and soft pressed. Fermentation in casks and the wine completed its six months of aging in puncheons. The wine was aged in bottle for a minimum of 24 months. This is an exceptional balanced wine with complex aromas of subtle tropical fruit, hints of citrus fruit and a slight touch of vanilla with a very pleasing finish and a long aftertaste. This is Alessia’s wine and it is  very special. Alessia said it is a white wine that will age and I agreed. In fact I told her it was a white wine as good as the Sémillon or the Malvasia di Candia that her grandfather made!

Le Montrachet 1986 Jaffelin 100% Chardonnay The grapes are harvested by hand and then directly pressed in a pneumatic press. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in French oak barrels of which 40% are new. The lees are stirred (batonnage) occasionally during aging which lasts for about 13 months. This is how they do the white wine now but it may have been different back in 1986. The wine was showing signs of age but was very drinkable and was a lovely combination with the   stracchino, a mild and creamy Italian cheese.

We started with homemade potato gnocchi in a rich creamy cheese sauce.

Next we had Brasato al Porcini, beef braised with porcini, red wine and tomato sauce.  With it we had a puree of cauliflower and potato, brussels sprouts and roasted asparagus.

Fiorano Rosso is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book  Vino, called Fiorano Rosso “the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Rome’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome.  The Fiorano Rosso is all leather and cherry with a great finish and aftertaste.  The last vintage made by the prince was 1995.

Fiorano 1956 This wine was still drinking but showing its age. The leather was there but the fruit had become more muted.

Fiorano 1971 This was classic Fiorano, leather and cherry in excellent condition with a wonderful finish and aftertaste.

Fiorano 1985 This wine had to be decanted because it was too young but the leather and the cherry was all there. All it needs is time to develop.

 

Fiorano 1988 This wine seemed to be out of balance perhaps  because it needed more time to develop.

Villa Antinori Villa del Chianti 1949 This wine was showing its age, still drinkable but not for much longer. A few weeks ago in Rome I had the 1975 in magnum and it was drinking very well.  One  of  the  guests  brought  this  wine for Alessia.

Chateau Margaux 1986 Made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon , 20% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc.  This was a classic Bordeaux.  1986 was a classic year, however the wine needed more time to develop.

It was a wonderful lunch and a chance to taste different vintages of Fiorano Rosso along with other older wines, not to compare but to enjoy.

 

Advertisements

3 Comments

Filed under Fiorano Rosso, Uncategorized

Celebrating the Year of the Pig

Ever year Michele and I go out with friends to celebrate Chinese New Year. Our favorite place to celebrate is Oriental Gardens in NYC’s Chinatown. This year is the year of the pig.  The year of the pig occurs every 12 years and we tried to bring wine from past years of the pig.  The vintages would be 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971 1959, 1947, etc.

As always we started with Champagne

Champagne Deutz Blanc de Blancs 2007 made from 100% Chardonnay from its own Grand Cru vineyards in the villages of Aviza and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. Only produced in selected vintages. It is crisp but at they same time has a hint of toast and brioche from extended aging on the lees. Dosage: Brut: 12/g. it was drinking very well now and it can age.

Champagne Jacques Selosse Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs– this was not vintage dated but it was disgorged in 2007. This is a complex champagne with hints of toast and honey but without any sweetness and a slight touch of oxidation.

With the Champagne we has an assortment of dumplings, including one filled with scallops, another with shrimp and another with pork.

Domaine Gourt de Mautens Jérôme Bressy 2013 made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Maesanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc and Picpoul Gris. The age of the vines is 30 to 50 years. The soil is chalk, clay, gravel and marl and the vineyard is at 220 meters. There is hand harvesting, pneumatic pressing, and natural yeast fermentation tank. The wine is aged for 10 to 18 months in tank and French oak demi-muids. Now labeled Cotes-du Rhone Blanc, because Rasteau Blanc is not authorized. I do not know if this wine was made by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Moriniere or by his father- there methods were somewhat different. This is a difficult wine to describe it does not have the richness one would expect but it a complexity wine with nice minerality and a certain something that I liked.

Verdicchio di Matelica Riserva Mirum 2007 La Monacesca made from 100% Verdicchio from a 3 hectare, north-south facing vineyard at 400 meters. The vines are about 30 years old and the soil is mostly clay. The vines are vertically trained arched or double arched cane and there are about 1,800 vines per hectare. The hand picked grapes are left on the vine an extra two weeks until they are slightly overripe. Harvest is the third/fourth week of October. The grapes are quickly and lightly pressed. with no addition of S02. Fermentation for 20 days at 20C in stainless steel. The wine remains on the lees until spring and undergoes natural malolactic fermentation in early summer. Aging for 18 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release on Dec. 1 two years after the harvest. This is a complex wine made in only the best vintages. It has hints of citrus, toasted almonds, honey with a very nice aftertaste and long finish. I was very impressed with this wine!  

Corton-Charlemagne “Grand Cru” 1995 Bonnrau du Martray location. Pernard Vergelesse, Cote de Beaune, Burgundy made from 86% Chardonnay and 14% Pinot Noir. Vinification with indigenous yeast alcoholic fermentation, aging with up to 30% new oak, very light fining and filtration. The winery is certified organic (Ecocert). I do not know if this wine was made by Jean-Charles le Bault de la Moniniere or by his father, their methods were slightly different. This is a very difficult wine to describe but I liked it.

With the white wine we had fried soft shell crabs, one of my favorites

Then we had lobster with ginger sauce.

Steamed whole fish with soy, scallions and ginger.

 

Morey Clos de la Bussiere 1959  Pierre Ponnelle 100% Pinot Noir and drinking very well.  I could not find any information about this wine.

Domaine Gourt de Mautens “Rasteau” 2008 Jerome Bressy made from Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre, Syrah, Counoise, Cinsalut, Vaccarese and Terret Noir. The soil is chalk, clay, gravel and marl, the age of the vines, 30 -100 and the vineyard is at 220 meters. There are 13 hectare of vines. The grapes are hand harvested, triple sorted, crushed and fermented by natural yeasts in tronconic oak vats. The wine spends 24 to 36 months in concrete, founders and French oak demi-muids. The winery is certified biodynamic (Demeter). This is the second time in a week that I have had this wine and I enjoyed it both times. It is a wine with hints of black fruit, blackberries and blueberries with a touch of cherry, spice and good acidity. It is just starting to drink now but will be better with a little more age. The wine no longer has Rasteau on the label because Mr. Bressy has left the appellation because they limited the number of grapes he could use the wine is now called Vaucluse Rough.

Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola 1993Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso “the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Rome’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome. Alessia Antinori, granddaughter of the Prince and owner of Tenuta Fiorano, brought the wine. The wine is all leather and cherry, showing no signs of age and I love it!!!!!!

Chianti Riserva Ducale Ruffino 1947 made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 10% Malvasia and Trebbiano and 5% Colorino, Ciliegiolo and Cabernet. Made by using the governo method. Once common in Tuscany, governo is a secondary fermentation created by the addition of dried grapes 10-15%, or the must of dried or concentrated grapes.  Colorino was usually the grape of choice to be dried. The best gapes from Ruffino’s vineyard were used for the Riserva Ducale, which spent at least three years in large oak casks. The Riserva Gold Label is a selection of the lots of the best vintages of the Riserva Ducale.

With the red wine we had peking duck, here served in a steamed bun, pigeon and fried chicken.

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under Burgundy, Champagne, Deutz Blanc de Blances, Domaine Gourt de Mautens, Fiorano Rosso, Oriental Gardens, Ruffino, Verdicchio

Drinking Fiorano Rosso with Alessia Antinori

Often people will ask me what is my favorite red wine. This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many that I truly enjoy. However  there is one that comes to mind right away and that is the Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe of Venosa. I first had the 1961 at Checchino dal 1887 in Rome in 1983. The Prince began making wine in 1945 and stopped making it around 1995. It was said that he had destroyed all of the vines, but this was not true. I was so impressed with the wine that I tried to buy all that I could find.

When the Principe died a few years ago, he left half of the estate to his daughter, who is the renowned winemaker Piero Antinori’s wife.  Mrs. Antinori gave her share of the estate to her three daughters.  Alessia is the daughter who lives in Rome and since the winery is only twenty minutes away, just across from the Ciampino Airport, she took over the management of the Fattoria di Fiorano estate.

The other half of the Boncompagni Ludovisi estate was left to a distant cousin of the Principe. His first release was the 2006 Fiorano Rosso with the original Fiorano label under his own name, Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. He also made a white Fiorano, but is using different grapes than the original.

Alessia Antinori on the Estate

An agreement had to be reached between the cousins about the rights to the Fiorano name. The result is that Alessia can use the name Fiorano in Italy for her wines but in the U.S. she had to change the name on the label. She chose the name Alberico, which is her grandfather’s first name, for her US wine. She is also planning to release an entry-level wine in the U.S called Appia Antica 400, which is the address of the winery.

I have visited Fattoria di Fiorano a few times and became friends with Alessia. When Alessia is in the US she has an apartment only a few blocks from where I live. I periodically have what I call “Fiorano dinners” and last week I invited some Fiorano lovers and Alessia over for something different — a Fiorano lunch.

We spoke about her grandfathers’ wine and the wine she is making on her part of the estate.

with Alessia Antinori

Alessia said a few years go she was visiting a neighbor on the property who had worked for her grandfather and noticed in the garden next to his house an uncultivated plot of disorderly vines. She was told that the vines were planted many years before by her grandfather and it was Semillon. This was an opportunity that she could not pass up and she decided to make take care of the vines and produce a wine from the grapes.

Alberico Bianco 2013 100% Sémillon

After a careful manual selection, the best grapes were destemmed and soft pressed. Fermentation in casks and the wine completed its six months of aging in puncheons. The wine was aged in bottle for a minimum of 24 months.

This is an exceptional balanced wine with complex aromas of subtle tropical fruit, hints of citrus fruit and a slight touch of vanilla with a very pleasing finish and a long aftertaste.

It is a very special wine. Alessia said it is a white wine that will age and I agreed. In fact I told her it was a white wine as good as the Sémillon or the Malvasia di Candia that her grandfather made!

As for the Rosso she said she found on the estate eight vine rows, four of Merlot and four of Cabernet that were planted over half a century ago by her grandfather and farmed organically. These are the vines which produced the legendary Fiorano Rosso.

Alberico Rosso 2012 made from 50% Merlot and 50% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Once the two varieties had been separated, the grapes were destemmed and fermented in temperature-controlled cement tanks. Alessia said this was to fully bring out their aromas and flavors. After being run off the skins, the wine goes into large oak casks for a minimum of 12 months. She said this is done to assist the full expression of the exceptional character conferred by the old vines of her grandfather Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, and by the singular volcanic soils created by an ancient lava flow. The wine completed its 24 months of oak aging in puncheon barrels and was then bottled before completing the process with a period of bottle aging, which lasts over two years.

There are about 14 hectares of vine planted on the estate now: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sémillon are the vines which come from a “massal” selection (propagated from old vines).

Then we had 6 vintages of the Fiorano Rosso produced by her grandfather. The profile of the wines as you taste them is always consistent. They all have leather, smoke and cherry aromas and flavors with a hint of balsamic. They were very complementary to the food that we served. The wines, even the 1971 and 1974, had such high fills that one would think it was a very young wine. I have never tasted one (but I should not say tasted, I drink these wines) that even had a hint of oxidation.

1971 — This wine, now 47 years old, was in perfect condition.

1974 — The 1974 was for me drinking better than the 1971 but there were others that enjoyed the 1974 more- I did not argue the point!

1985 — This wine was just on the edge of becoming ready to drink.

1988 — This needed at least 5 more years.

1990 — This was also too young and needs at least another 8 to 10 years.

1994 — We tasted this wine and it seemed so young that we did not drink it and the person that brought the wine recorked it and said he would try it again in a week.

2 Comments

Filed under Alberico, Fiorano Rosso

When in Rome-Our Favorite Restautants

Michele and I rented an apartment in Rome again in February.IMG_9834

We have decided that for us it is better than a winter vacation to Florida, Mexico or the Caribbean. While it may not be as warm, the food is much better and Rome is Rome and we love it. These are the restaurants that Michele and I go back to every time we are in Rome.IMG_9708

Trattoria da Giggetto– Michele and I always go to the same place for lunch when we arrive in Rome.  We drop off our bags and walk to Da Giggetto (39-066861 05) at Portico D’Ottavia 21/A-22 in the Jewish ghetto.

I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici.  The flowers were small and crunchy and very good.IMG_9710

I also get carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichoke) and spaghetti con vongole veraci.

IMG_9711The tiny clams were tender and seasoned with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper.  Michele had carciofi alla romana, braised artichoke and fettuccine with ragu. We drank the Passerina del Fruisnate IGT 2014 from Feudi Del Sole. It went very well with the food even with the fried artichoke.

Trattoria Armando al Pantheon-Salita de’ Crescenzi 21 This is one of Michele’s favorite restaurants in Rome and one of the restaurants that you have to make a reservation for lunch or dinner. We only started going here a few years ago and have been going there ever since.IMG_9694

I started with grilled bread Roman style with butter and anchovies,  while Michele had Buffalo mozzarella with braised Roan artichoke.

IMG_9701Then we had spaghetti alla Matriciana, chicken in white wine with peppers, and grilled sausages with lentils.IMG_9696

We drank Ghemme 2005 “Collis Brechema” Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo

IL Martriciano Via dei Gracchi, 55    06 32 13 040-06 32 12 327

Michele and I have been coming here for the last 35 years and nothing changes, the owners, the waiters and the menu are the same. I started as usual with a carciofo romano, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies and of course bucatini matriciana

IMG_9765 I had the roasted baccala with potatoes in a tomato and onion sauce, which was delicious.IMG_9764

Michele had Vignarola, peas, artichokes and fava beans.

And for dessertIMG_9766

Ristorante Ar Galletto Piazza Farnese 104   06 686 1714

Michele likes to come here when the weather is warm so we can sit outside because the restaurant is in the Piazza Farnese and she loves the view.IMG_9771

We had fiori di zucca, fried artichoke, spaghetti with fresh anchovies and pecorino.IMG_9775

and crostata for dessert.IMG_9768

We drank Offida Pecorino 2014 “Merlettale” from Ciú Ciú.

Checchino Dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com), Via  Monte 30 Testaccio.IMG_9789

The Mariani family has owned the restaurant since 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.

Michele and I have been coming here since 1981. It is the restaurant where I drank Fiorano Rosso for the first time. The vintage was 1961IMG_9786

We went with friends that live in Rome and they were surprised when the Francesco came over and the first thing he said was, “I have one bottle of Fiorano Rosso left, the 1983, do you want it?” That was a trick question. Of course I wanted it!IMG_9791

Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world. The wine cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae, which date back to Ancient Rome. Francesco gave us a tour of the cellar that holds over 600 wines.IMG_9856

The slaughterhouses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so-called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.IMG_9781

We ate Artichoke alla RomanaIMG_9783

Bucatini all’AmatricianaIMG_9897

Fegato di Vitello ai ferri, and grilled baby lamb chops.

For dessertIMG_9898

We also drank a Cesanese 2013 “Amarasco” Principe Pallavicini.

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under Amatriciana, Cantalupo, Checchino dal 1887, Ciu Ciu Pecorino, Da Giggetto, Fiorano Rosso, Il Matriciano, Restaurant Checchino 1887, Ristorante Ar Galletto, Roman restaurants, Rome, Torre Ercolana, Trattoria Armando al Pantheon

A Happy Thanksgiving

This year Thanksgiving lunch started at 3:00 PM instead of the usual 4:00 PM. There were six people and six bottles of wine.  Ernie and Louise De Salvo, and Travis Scott and Nicole Serle – owners of Turtledove wine store in Manhattan joined Michele and I.  It was a fun evening with great food, wine, company and a lot of laughing.

We started as always with Champagne.IMG_4389

Champagne Roses Jeanne Blanc de Blancs Brut 2009 100% Pinot Blanc Cédric Bouchard. The champagnes from this producer always impress me. The vineyards are farmed using organic methods and simple guyot pruning. There are 8,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand harvested and crushed by foot. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. The wine is unfiltered and unfined and low or no dosage depending on the vintage. I believe they produce only single vintage, single vineyard wines that are fermented and aged in stainless steel with as little interference in the process from the winemaker as little as possible.  The bubbles were very small and the wine had a crisp, fresh taste with bold citrus fruit flavors.  It worked very well with the smoked salmon mousse Michele served as an appetizer.

The first course was a chestnut soup, which was made by Louise, a great cook and bread baker.IMG_4390

With the soup we had the legendary Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola 1973 Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa. I love this wine and it had that great combination of leather and cherry that makes it so wonderful and unique.Turkey

Michele stuffed the turkey with fennel, rice and sausages and there were maple whipped sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.  Michele made a mostarda of figs and cranberries that I could not stop eating.

We had three wines with the Turkey:IMG_4391

Volnay 1er cru Les Champans 1973 Domaine Joseph Voillot 100% Pinot Noir. There are 23 Acers of vines, harvesting is by hand and there is a selection of bunches both in the vineyard and the cellar. Vinification takes place without the stems and the wine is moved by gravity into barrels. The use of new wood is kept to about 1/3 of the total. This is a great expression of Pinot Noir and one which expresses the terroir and the grape at their best

I like Amarone with Turkey and all of the trimmings.  These were exceptionally good.IMG_4392

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1997 & Recioto della Valpolicella Amorone Classic Superiore 1983 Bertani. 70 % Corvina Veronese 30% Rondinella-this is the present blend.
Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the guyot method with 5,000 vines/ha.

Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.IMG_4393

Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster those grapes richest in sugar and extracts are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine is transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years. The 1997 was a big ripe wine and needs more time in the bottle to develop. The 1983 was
dry, full-bodied, and amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice a great wine and was not showing any signs of age.

 Both 1997 and1983 were excellent vintages for Amarone.IMG_4394

Malvasia Maderia Favilla Vieria 1920 Reserva Velha Barbeito 100% Malvasia. We had this with a Stilton cheese that we had purchased in Fortnum & Mason when we were in London a few weeks ago. This was a very elegant Madeira but with enough body to make it a perfect combination with the cheese.IMG_4395

For dessert Michele made an apple tart tartin and prune ice cream made with Agen prunes macerated in Vielle Prune liqueur.  It was the perfect way to end a great evening.

5 Comments

Filed under Amarone, Bertani, Burgundy, Champagne, Fiorano Rosso, Joseph Voilloy, Madeira, Roses Jeanne

Return to Fiorano

About a year ago, I visited Alessia Antinori at the Fiorano estate just outside of Rome. The estate has been in disrepair since the death of her grandfather, Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, prince of Venosa.  For the fascinating background to this story and how Alessia and her two sisters came into possession of half of the estate see      “Fiorano Wine Estate in Italy Making a Comeback” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/23/dining/fiorano-wine-estate-in-italy-making-a-comeback.html?_r=2& by Eric Asimov in the New York Times and my article https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2013/09/16/fiorano-a-visit-to-azienda-agricola-boncompagni-ludovisi/IMG_3192

When I visited Alessia had just began to restore the property and it looked like she had a long way to go

IMG_3178

Alessia Antinori

This year, Michele and I were in Rome once again and Alessia invited us to visit the winery and have lunch with her. The winery is across the road from Rome’s Ciampino airport just 20 minutes from the center of Rome by taxi (just 30 Euros — they now have fixed fares to the airports in Rome).  Alessia picked us up at the airport and in a few minutes we were at the winery

Alessia had done a lot of work since my previous visit. All of the buildings had been restored and the winery was up and running. The vineyards were all planted in orderly rows and there was a very large organic vegetable garden which we toured.  Alessia’s grandfather had taken very good care of the land and believed in organic farming. Alessia said she was following in her grandfathers’ footsteps.

We sat down to lunch under the warm May sun; it was difficult to believe that we were so close to Rome.  We discussed her plans for the winery and of course the wine.

The Garden

The Garden

She said that she has turned part of the property into a country retreat for Romans who want to leave Rome during the warmer months. They can come for lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. She calls it Cucina Aperta. The guests can go to the vegetable garden and pick the vegetables that they want to eat and it will be prepared by the kitchen. So far it was all working out very well.

The soil at the estate is very special, Alessia said, volcanic with mineral salts and excellent for growing anything and grazing sheep.  She said that the shepherds liked to bring their sheep there to graze and the sheep would become fatter and darker in color because of what they ate, and the dust from the soil would stick and make them almost black in color.  Her grandfather grew wheat and was very fanatical about it.  He cultivated a “mother” from the natural yeasts in the area in order to make his own bread.

The conversation turned to the wine and Alessia said that she wanted to make wine the way her grandfather did.

The Vines

The Vines

This was very good news to me since, as many of you know, Fiorano Rosso made by her grandfather may well be my favorite red wine.  Alessia said that there were 14 hectares planted with vines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Semillon and Malvasia del Lazio. They are divided by hectares and the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Semillon are vines which come from a “massal’ selection (propagation) from the old vines. There are four rows of Cabernet Sauvignon and four rows of Merlot of the “old vines” (Vigna Storica vines more that 40 years old).  As for the historic Semillon, she said that they were supplied to her by “the brother of my grandfather’s assistant who lives on the estate and still has a few rows.”

Among these old vines were some plantings of Cabernet Franc, which Alessia thinks her grandfather used for the Fiorano, but is not 100% sure. The 2010, 2011 and 2012 Fiorano Rosso vintages were vinified at her father (Piero Antinori’s) estate in Umbria.  The 2013 is the first vintage to be vinified here. The 2010 (800 bottles produced) will not be released until 2014 or 2015.

Pasta for Lunch

Pasta for Lunch

With the excellent lunch we drank Fioranello a lively, fresh red wine made from young vines that went very well with the food. Alessia referred to this as her second label.

Up until now they are using different barrels including tonneaux to vinify and age the wine because they do not have enough wine to fill a large cask or a concrete tank.IMG_3181

This year the Fioranello was vinified in two concrete tanks and aged in two medium sized casks. The Fiorano made from the Vigna Storica was aged this year in tonneaux for reasons of space.  All of this may change in the future.  Alessia, by her passion for her grandfather’s estate  and the wine that he produced made it clear that this was her project and she would be the one involved in all aspects of it. I look forward  to tasting and drinking  Alessia’s first  vintage of Fiorano rosso.

3 Comments

Filed under Alessia Antinori, Fioranello, Fiorano Rosso

Fiorano: A visit to Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi

Alessia Fiorano Rosso Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi.

On a June day in Rome last year, the temperature was over 100 degrees as we waited outside the city records hall for Alessia Antinori to pick us up and take us to her winery. Not one of her father, Piero Antinori’s wineries, but to the winery of the late Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa, her grandfather.  I was finally going to see where Fiorano, my favorite red wine, was made.

When the Principe died a few years ago, he left half of the estate to his daughter, who is Piero Antinori’s wife and mother of Alessia.  She then gave her share of the estate to her three daughters.  Alessia lives in Rome and since the winery is only twenty minutes away, just across from the Ciampino Airport, Alessia took over the management of the estate.

The other half of the Boncompagni Ludovisi estate was left to a distant cousin of the Principe who has released a 2006 Fiorano Rosso with the original Fiorano label under his own name, Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. He also made a white Fiorano, but is using different grapes than the original.  Alessia said that she hoped they could come to some agreement about the label without going to court.

Restored Tank

Restored Tank

As we were driving to the winery Alessia told us that she was making a number of improvements since her part of the winery was in disrepair. It fact there was not much left and Alessia has undertaken a major restoration.IMG_1915

I asked her about the vines and she said that the people who had worked for her grandfather told her that he ordered them covered with dirt but then a few years later ordered them to be uncovered. In an interview with the late Italian wine writer Luigi Veronelli, Alessias Grandfather said that he would destroy all the vines so that his son-in-law would not get them because Piero did not make wine the way he did. I guess he changed his mind.IMG_1914

Alessia said that her first vintage was going to come from the vines that were uncovered.  Later, when new vineyards are planted, there will be a massal selection of old vines.  She said that the winery was almost ready for its first harvest.  Alessia said that she and her sisters hope to continue the legacy of their grandfather and of the Estate.  This is very good news.

The 1985

The 1985

Despite the very hot day, when Alessia offered to open a bottle of the 1988 Fiorano Rosso, I could not refuse the offer. As I sipped the wine I did not think about the heat only of the well-structured, elegant and smooth wine with aromas of cherry and leather, the long finish and the wonderful lingering aftertaste. This is a great wine!

The 1995

The 1995

A few months later Alessia was in New York and came to dinner at my apartment along with her husband. She brought with her a bottle of the 1995 Fiorano Bianco and a bottle of a 2010 red, which she had made. She said that this wine will be the second wine of the Tenuta di Fiorano and a label and name had not yet been chosen.IMG_2255

 In Rome I had bought a bottle of the 2006 Firoano Rosso made by the new Principe to compare.  It was an easy-drinking wine in a modern style and did not bear any resemblance to the original Fiorano Rosso.  Alessia’s wine was a much bigger, more complex wine with good fruit, but since it was a 2010 it was difficult to judge and needs time to develop.IMG_2254

I also opened a 1994 Fiorano Rosso (made by the grandfather) and it needed at least 10 more years to be ready to drink.   I believe Alessia said that the last vintage made by her grandfather was 1995.

Next time:  the story continues with a visit to the winery in May of 2013 and the improvements Alessia has made.

8 Comments

Filed under Alessia Antinori, Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Vernosa, Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized