Category Archives: Insolia

The Wine Media Guild Sicily Tasting: The White Wines

The Wine Media Guild asked me to host a program about the wines of Sicily. Together with Tom Maresca, another member, we lined up 30 wines for the tasting and lunch. The speakers would be Alessandro Dellascenza of Cru Artisan Wines, a division of Banfi, who would present 7 wines. Somehow, I became the second speaker and was more than happy to do so.

I am often asked where a wine can be bought at retail so in this post I have included the name of the importer/distributer of each wine.

At the tasting and lunch, which took place in April at Felidia Restaurant, we had 9 excellent whites ranging in price from $12 to $41.

The White Wines of SicilyIMG_0218

Grillo “Zirito” 2014 Grillo Terre Siciliane IGT 100% Grillo Feudo Sartanna Cru Artisian Wines-Banfi $12 The vineyards are in Western Sicily; the soil is volcanic of medium texture, chalk and clay. Traditional fermentation, temperature control with partial skin contact. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months. This is a wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors and a long, well-balanced finish. Grillo means cricket in Italian.IMG_0216

Grillo “Cavallo Delle Fate Sicilia” 2014 DOC 100% Grillo  Tasca d’ Almerita Winebow $20 From the Sant’Anna, Piana Casa Vecchie and San Pietro vineyards at 1,980 feet with a southwest exposure. There are 26 hectares of vineyards and the soil is sand and clay-loam. Training system is guyot, with 1,840 vines per hectare. The vineyards were planted in 2007 and the first vintage was in 2012. The harvest is in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 15 days, aging in stainless steel for 4 months.This is a wine with hints of white peach, apricot and pineapple with good acidity.IMG_0224

Grillo Terre Siciliane IGP 2013 100% Grillo, Principi di Spadafora Montcalm $26.99 From the Contrada Virzi Monreale and Palermo areas. The vineyard has a western exposure, at 350 meters with sandy-clay soil. Training system is simple guyot espalier. There are 5,000 plants /hectare and the vineyard is 20 years old. Harvest takes place in mid-September. Fermentation is with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature in cement vats. The wine spends 12 months in the vats and 4 months in bottle before release. This is a fruity aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit with good acidity and a long finish.

Insolia Terre Siciliane IGT 2014, !00% Grillo Cusumano Tony di Dio Selections $11.99 Zone of production Ficuzza, Piana degli Albanesi (Palermo) The vines are 15 years old, the exposure is southeast and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first 10 days of September. There is a cold pressing with the skins for about 12 hours, followed by a second soft pressing. There is cold decanting and fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wines remain on the lees in stainless steel tanks for at least 4 months and for a time in the bottle before release. This is a great value!IMG_0229

Caselle Etna Bianco 2013 DOC 100% Carricante, Benanti Tradizione Imports $20 Production area on the eastern side of Mt. Etna and the southern side at 900/100 meters. The soil is sandy, volcanic and rich in minerals. Training system is alberello (free standing bush). There are 6,000/8,000 vines per hectare and the vines are 35 and 40 years old. Late ripening grapes picked during the 3rd week of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Wine ages in tanks for a period of time before being bottled.IMG_0227

Vigna Casalj Alcamo Classico DOC 2014 100% Catarratto Tenuta Rapitala Wildman $17 Vigna Casalj is a 25 acre registered cru in the Alcamo Classico, a high-elevation DOC. It is at 2,000 meters, guyot trained vines in sandy soil. Harvest is at the end of September. Soft pressing and cold settling is followed by fermentation using selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and the fermentation lasts for two weeks. The wine remains on its fine lees until March and is then aged for three months in 50hl French oak barrels. This is a crisp full bodied wine that has aromas of sage and tomato leaf.IMG_0225

Nozza d’Oro Contea di Sclafani DOC 2012 Inzolia 72% & Sauvignon Tasca 28% Tasca d’Almarita Winebow $30 The Insolia is from the 8.4 hectare Barbabietole vineyard (clay and calcareous soil) and the Sauvignon Tasca from the 2.25 hectare Santa Tea, training method is espalier. Vineyard (Sandstone and fine sand) elevation 1,650 to 2,300 with a southwest exposure. Harvest is in August/ September. There is cold soak maceration for 18 hours and alcoholic fermentation is for 15 days. The wine is aged for 5 months in stainless steel and for 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of apple, peach, melon and jasmine. Nozza d’ Ora in Italian means golden wedding anniversary. It was created by Count Giuseppe Tasca in 1984 and dedicated to his wife Franca.IMG_0226

Cometa 2014 Planeta 100% Fiano Palm Bay $40.99. Production area Menfi from the Gurra vineyard planted in 1998 and the Dispensa vineyard planted in 1996. There are 4,500 vines/hectare. The grapes are destemmed and crushed; the juice clarified by cold setting overnight and then inoculated with selected yeast. It is fermentation at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks for 20 days. The wine is bottled in the second half of February following the year of harvest. This is an elegant, full-bodied wine with a wide range of aromas and flavors. It has hints of pineapple, mandarin, thyme and chamomile with a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0219

Piano Maltese DOC 2014 made from Grillo 45%,Cataratto 45% and Chardonnay10% Tenuta Rapitala Wildman $13. Selected parcels of vines located at 1200 ft., guyot trained on clay soil. The grapes are harvested and vinified separately, the Grillo at the end of August and the Catarratto in the middle of September. The grapes are crushed, destemmed and a cooling of the must and gentle pressing takes place. This is followed by division of the different qualities of the must. Cold settling occurs before a cold fermentation. The wines rest on their lees before being blended and bottled in February following the harvest. The wine has rich fruity aromas with hints of apple, pear and a touch of roasted nuts.

 

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Filed under Carricante, Cometa, Grillo, Insolia, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Nozza d'Oro, Sicilian Wine, Uncategorized

Vino 2015 in NYC: Some New Discoveries and Some Old Friends

Last week the Italian Trade Commission welcomed wine journalists and members of the trade to VINO 2015, Italian Wine Week. It was billed as the Greatest Italian Wine Event Held Outside Italy: Celebrating the Wines of Southern Italy. There were a number of seminars on Italian wine and other events and a Grand Tasting.

Slow Food/Wine which has a Slow Wine Guide of the 400 best wineries in Italy was also holding a Grand Tasting billed as Slow Wine/Vino 2015. Both Grand Tastings took place over a two-day period at the Waldorf Astoria.

At the Grand Tastings there was an ocean of wine but I did my best to taste as many as I could. There were a number of new discoveries and many old friends.

The Wines.

Filippo Antonelli (Umbria) one of my favorite producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco. I always enjoy speaking to him and tasting his wines. His also produces a white wine that I had not tasted before:IMG_7149

Trebbiano Spoletino, made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino (a white grape variety native to the area around Spoleto). A hand selection of the best grapes in the vineyard which is at 300 meters with a western exposure. Filippo cultivates the vines as they did in ancient times next to maple trees in order to make the grapes grow higher. The vines are attached to the trees keeping them well off the ground so that the late frost in the region does not affect them. The harvest takes place in October.

Soft pressing is followed by skin contact and cold static clarification. Fermentation is in 25 HL oak barrels. Aging in 25 HL oak barrels and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has floral aromas with hints of tropical fruit, almonds and spice. It is well balanced with good acidity.

Colutta from Friuli is a producer I do not know so I decided to taste his wines. Giorgio Colutta was there and he told me about his wines and winery. He makes a number of wines including a Sparkling Brut from the Ribolla Gialla grape. I liked the whole line. The Refosco was one of the best I ever tasted.IMG_7107

Refosco made from 100% Refosco del Peduncolo (Red Stalk). There are 3,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, crushed and fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with additional selected yeasts. Déslestage (rack and return) takes place. After 10 to 15 days the grapes are soft pressed. Part of the wine is aged in barrels and part in stainless steel. This is a wine that needs time. It has hints of wild blackberry, plum and other black fruits.

I have always been a big fan of Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico. Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti was there and she told me I have to taste this wine made from very traditional Tuscan varieties.IMG_7140

Chianti Classico “Cultus Boni” 2010 made from 80% Sangiovese, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Fogliatonda, Malvasia, Sanforte, Mommolo and Pugnitello. The geographical area is Monti in Chianti and the vineyards of Montebello and Argenina. The vineyards are at 260 to 370 mt. and the exposure is south, southwest. Soil is clay and limestone, vines are 10 to 35 years old, and training system is guyot. Manual harvest. Natural fermentation takes place with native yeasts, maceration for about 40 days on the skins. Aging is in French Oak barrels of various sizes. This is a full-bodied wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherry and violets.IMG_7108

A friend asked me to taste the wines of a Sicilian producer and then give my opinion of the wines. The producer is Alliata and I told him that I liked the wines after tasting them. They make wines from the Insolia, Grillo and Nero d’Avola among others. The Insolia is made from 100% Insolia in northwest Sicily. The soil is clay and pebbles and the vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 5,000 vines/ha and they use a vertical trellised training system. Harvest takes place the first two weeks of September depending on the maturity of the grapes. Extremely soft pressing takes place with a membrane press at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 4 to 5 months in stainless steel tanks on the lees. It is released after 2 to 3 months in bottle.IMG_7101

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva “Poggio all’Ora” 2009. Castello Banfi. Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of five years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. I was very impressed by this wine and even though it spends a long time in barriques, the usual tastes associated with these barrels was not present. IMG_7117

Taurasi “Campoceraso” 2007 DOCG Azienda Vinicola Struzziero Avellino, Campania. 100% Aglianico. I had not tasted wine from this producer in some time so I stopped to see if they were as good as I remember them. The vineyards are on the Colline Venticano hills and Torre Le Nocelle. There is controlled fermentation with 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged in oak barrels for at least 36 months. The wine remains in bottle for about six months. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of red fruit, spice, coffee and tobacco. It is a balanced wine with a full aftertaste and long finish. I was happy to see that the wines were as good as I remember them.

Planeta – The winery has different locations around Sicily and I have visited most of them. This wine comes from the Feudo di Mezzo location close to Mt Etna.IMG_7152

Eruzione 1614 Bianco DOC  vintage 2013 made from 95% Carricante and 5% Riesling grapes from the Sciara Nova vineyard in Castiglione, Sicily. The soil is black lava (Mt. Etna) and the training system is vertical trellis, spurred pruned cordon and guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the harvest takes place on October 6th. Grapes are picked and refrigerated at once at 8 degrees and a hand selection takes place. After a light crushing and destemming the grapes are soft pressed. The decanted must is racked and inoculated with yeast, then fermented at 15 degrees for 20 days. The wine remains on the lees until February with continuous mixing and is bottled in March. This is a white wine that will age and should not be drunk until at least 3 years after the vintage.

 

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Filed under Alliata Winery, Antonelli, Banfi Brunello, Colutta Winery, Cultus Boni Chianti Classico, Eruzione 1614 Bianco, Insolia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Planeta, Poggio Alle Mura- Castello Banfi, Refosco, Struzziero winery, Taurasi, Trebbiano Spoletino