Category Archives: Italian White Wine

Tasting the Wines of Abruzzo at Enoteca Di Palo

Rosanna di Michele cooking teacher, personal chef, and lover all things from Abruzzo invited me to a tasting of the wines of Collefrisio. Rosanna has long collaborated with this Abruzzese winery and is a promoter of the wines and food of the region.

The tasting was held at Enoteca Di Palo in NYC’s Little Italy. This is the wine store of the famous Di Palo food store, which is right next door.

Amadeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo de Luca one of the owners of Collefrisio was there to present the wines. He said that his family has been involved in wine for 3 generations. The winery is located in the hills of Frisa in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. The winery has 35 hectare of vineyards on 3 estates: Tenuta Valle del Moro – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; Tenuta Morrecine – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; and Tenuta Giuliano – 11 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Pecorino.

Amadeo presented 4 wines.e9a736be-df96-4f73-914c-50f3982e53d6

Pecorino IGT Terre di Chieti 100% Pecorino Harvest takes place the last 10 days of September.Maceration is at a low temperature after removal of the grapes from the stalks and the alcohol fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is a wine with citrus fruit flavors and hints of green tea and peach with nice acidity.deee3c39-1b2e-4609-ab99-56d1ad519bf7

Trebbiano  D’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra”  DOC 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo. Harvest is the first week of September. Harvest is the first ten days in October. Aromatic wine with hints of apple, chamomile and mulberry.1b350bf1-9852-4c90-b515-3f73c014532c

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 100% Montepulciano. Traditional vinification in stainless steel, the grape skins are in contact with the juice for 12 to 20 days. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice.70892e81-fac3-4048-a23d-3a89dd66c35f

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra” Vinification same as above. This is a single vineyard wine that is aged for a number of months in new barriques. The wine has hints of cherry plum, fruit jam with a hint of spice and vanilla. Amedeo said that the wine needed more time to come together and be at its best.

The wines are a very good value for the money at around $20 or less.

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Filed under Abruzzo, collefrisio winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pecorino, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, 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

Extraordinary Wine Values from Southern Italy

Every year the Italian Trade Commission sponsors Italian Wine Week in New York City at the Midtown Hilton Hotel. For this year’s Vino 2016, the spotlight was on the regions of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

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Gianfranco Sorrentino

I was delighted to be asked to moderate a panel on “Extraordinary Wines Values from Southern Italy.”

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Gary Grunner

The panel members were: Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of restaurants Il Gattopardo, The Leopard at des Artistes, and Mozzarella and Vino, all in NYC; Gary Grunner, Co-Author of Italian Wine Notes and Italian Wine and Cheese Made Simple and 2009 Silver Award recipient of The Italian Trade Commission’s distinguished service award for the work he has done promoting, educating, representing some of Italy’s top producers and for building Italian wines in the USA; and Marco Melzi, a journalist, educator, and communication consultant.

Marco Melzi

Marco Melzi

The panel discussed each wine in detail and Southern Italian Wine in general and concluded that extraordinary values are to be found in Southern Italian wines and that they enjoy drinking them the most. Some of the finest are from the regions of Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Puglia. Unique varieties, both red and white, are made into wines that reflect the terroir by a variety of expert producers using both traditional and innovative technology.IMG_9976

Listed below are the 12 wines picked by the panel as examples of the extraordinary wine values from Southern Italy. All of them go very well with food, especially the food of the region where they are produced.

They are listed with the grapes they are made from and the distributor/importer.

THE WINES

Ficiligno DOC 2014 50% Inzolia and 50% Viognier Baglio Pianetto Sicily Vinvino $18

Taburno Falanghina DOC 2014 100% Falanghina Fontanavecchia Wine Emporium $17IMG_9636

Pallagrello Bianco “Calati” IGT 2014 Campania, Alois Soilair Selections $ 22/24

Rose Castel Del Monte DOC 2014 100% Bambino Nero Puglia Rivera Bedford $11IMG_9631

Violente 2012 Castel del Monte DOC 100% Nero di Troia Rivera $15 Puglia Bedford

Salice Salentino 2013 DOC 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera Rivera Puglia $13 Bedford

Piedirosso Colli di Salerno 2014 IGT 85% Piedirosso and 15% local red varieties Apicella Campania $16 Wine EmporiumIMG_9628

Costa D’Amalfi Tramonti Rosso 2011 DOC Monte di Grazia 90% Tintore and 10% Piedirosso Campania $25 Wine Emporium

Nero D ‘Avola “Nerojbleo” 2010 IGT 100% Nero d’Avola Gulfi Sicily $ 21/23 Selected Estates

Ciro Classico 2011 DOC 100% Gaglioppo Cote Di Franze Calabria $ 20/22 Selected EstatesIMG_9625

Ciro Rosso Classico 2012 DOC 100% Gaglioppo Tenuta Baroni Capoano Calabria $16 Wine Emporium.

Primitivo di Manduria “Evita” 2012 DOP 100% Primitivo Le Sviare $19 Selected Estates

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Ciró, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Vino 2016

Tasting Older Frascati at Fontana Candida

When Michele and I told Lars Leicht of Cru Artisan Wines that we would be spending 3 weeks in Rome, he suggested that we visit Fontana Candida in Frascati, less than 30 minutes away by train.

Two of the white Fontana Candida wines, Vigneto Santa Teresa Fascati Superiore and Luna Mater can age. I had tasted these wines a few years ago and wanted to see how they were holding up.IMG_9725

Mauro Merz, the oenologist and director, whom I had met in NYC, met us at the station and after a short ride we were at the winery.

The production zone of the DOC Frascati wine includes the entire territories of the communes of Frascati, Grottaferrata and Monte Porzio Catone and parts of the communes of Rome and Montecompatri.

Mauro and Michele

Mauro and Michele

Mauro began by giving us a tour of the vineyards. He said Fontana Candida has 25 hectares of its own vineyards but they also buy grapes from 210 different growers.  Mauro made it a point to say they buy grapes and not juice. In 2005 they started a vineyard-based project to help their growers. They hired a top agronomist and he acted as a consultant to the growers free of charge. Fontana Candida also paid the growers above market price if they produced healthier and more mature grapes.

He said they have two cellars: the vinification cellar at Frascati and the bottling cellar at Monteporzio Catone.IMG_9715

He pointed out a small section of the vineyard where the vines were tied to long stakes in the ground. He said this was the way the vines were trained in the past. It was a good system because you could have 10,000 plants per hectare but because the plants were so close it was easy for disease to spread.IMG_9728

We were takes on a tour of the cellar by Luca Gariboldi. The cellar is carved from tufa, volcanic rock and is perfect for storing the wine. Luca showed us a number of older vintages. He took from the cellar the 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2007 Luna Mater for us to taste.

Luca Gariboldi

Luca Gariboldi

He said that 2013 was such a difficult vintage that they did make the Luna Mater that year. 2014 was also a difficult vintage but the wine came out better than expected.IMG_9732

We started with the Vigneto Santa Teresa Fascati Superiore 2014 DOC It is 30% Malvasia Puntinata del Lazio, 30% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano and 10% Greco. The grapes come from a 13-acre vineyard of which seven and a half are planted in Malvasia del Puntinata del Lazio and four acres in Greco. It is in the locality of Santa Teresa, in the commune of Rome. The 30-year-old vines are trained using the cordone speronato system at 985 feet above sea level on soil of volcanic origin with a southern exposure. Mauro called it a “light soil that looked like talcum powder”. They are not allowed to irrigate so the roots of the vines have to go deep to find water.  Mauro said that 2014 was a difficult vintage because there was a lot of rain and humidity. There is a selective picking of the different grape varieties according to the rate of ripening. Malvasia was picked first, followed by the Greco and then the Trebbiano. The Trebbiano and Greco were gently pressed followed by a classic white wine vinification. The Malvasia was cold fermented on the skins for 12 hours. After a natural clarification the must was fermented with selected yeasts and left to rest in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks until bottling in early spring. Mauro called this an elegant wine. The wine had white peach aromas and flavors and a hint of apple and smoke. It has good mineralogy, acidity and a finish and aftertaste of almonds.  At the moment this wine is no longer imported into the U.S because of a dispute over the name. IMG_9735

Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC 2014, Fontana Candida Made from 50% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Malvasia del Lazio, 10% Greco and 10% Bombino. The grapes are grown in selected hillside vineyards ranging between 650 and 1,300 feet in the communes of Frascati and Monteporzio Catone.  The volcanic soil is loose, porous and dry but not arid. Spalliera, Guyot and Cordone Speronato training systems are used.

First, selected bunches of mature grapes are picked by hand. Then the best grapes from each bunch are chosen. The grapes are transported in small baskets directly to the cellar so that they will be in perfect condition when they arrive.

The vinification of the grapes for the Luna Mater is a process that they invented and takes place in three different stages. In the cellar the grapes are separated into two batches. This is called the “modern” stage. The first batch is cooled immediately prior to a gentle pressing to ensure maximum aromatic qualities. The second batch is destemmed, cooled and fermented in contact with the skins to produce a marked varietal character. This is done without oxygen to keep the grapes fresh. After 6-7 days the skins were removed, any longer than this and there would be too much extract.IMG_9730

Three days later a small quantity of the best grapes are destemmed by hand and added whole to the fermenting must with their own natural yeast for bouquet and flavor. The berries remain in the must until the end of February.  The alcohol helps extract tannin from the skins and pits. The wine is aged in 10HL acacia wood barrels, which may be the best wood for the Malvasia grapes. The barrels are not toasted and were steam folded.

Mauro  feels  barriques do not give him the type of wine he wants to produce and they are not traditional.  The wine is left to age in bottles laid horizontally in the ancient tufa tunnels under the Frascati hillsides.

Luna Mater means Mother Moon; it reflects the wine’s close ties to nature and the 50 old vines that are used to make this wine. It has floral aromas with hints of white peach and honey with bitter almond in the finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.IMG_9743

The first vintage was 2007 and it was vinified and aged in stainless steel and some toasted barriques.

The 2010, 2009, and 2008 tasted better than I remember from the tasting in NY in 2011.They were showing no signs of age. The 2011 and 2012 could use some more time. This is a wine that can age and gets much better with time.IMG_9756

Luca took us to Locanda Dello Spuntino in Grottafretto for lunch. We drank the wines with an assortment of antipasti and typical pasta dishes.

 

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Filed under Fontana Candida, Frascati, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Luna Mater, Uncategorized

A Taste of the Alto Adige

Guests were coming and Michele decided to make beef goulash, a recipe from her book The Italian Slow Cooker.

I was surprised when she mentioned “goulash”, but she said that northern Italy’s Alto Adige region has more in common with neighboring Austria than it does with the rest of Italy. I decided to serve some wines from the Alto Adige to go with the meal.

The Alto Adige (Südtirol) region, which borders on Austria and Switzerland, is at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and the Atlantic, while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east.  Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes. It is interesting to note that in the summer, the temperature in Bolzano is higher than in Palermo in Sicily.

The people that live here call their region the Sud Tirol and themselves Tyroleans. The food is decidedly Austrian with only a hint of Italy.  Ham is called Speck and they have a cheese called Weinkase Lagrein and bread called Schuttelbrot.

I decided on 3 wines from one of my favorite wineries, the Abbazia di Novacella, a monastery.

The Abbazia di Novacella is located in the northern most winegrowing region of Italy in the Alto Adige on the southern side of the Alps where the vineyards for the white wines are located. The monastery also owns vineyards in the warm central region of the Alto Adige, which supplies the red grapes such as Lagrein from the Mariaheim vineyard in Bolzano.IMG_9612

Kerner 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Valley Isarco 100% Kerner the vineyards are located in the municipalities of Bressanone, Varna and Naz-Sciaves and are at 600 to 700 meters. The soil is gravelly morainal deposits and the exposure is south-southwest. The training system is guyot and there are 6,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The harvest takes place in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Natural and selected yeast is used and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before it is bottled. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of apple and peach, ripe and full with crisp acidity.

In 1929 August Herold a German crossed of a red variety Schiava and Riesling. The result was Kerner named in honor of the poet and physician, Justinus Kerner from Swabia. We had drank the Kerner with thinly sliced speck and ripe pears.IMG_9611

Muller Thurgau 2014 DOC Alto Adige-Isarco -Same as above. This is a fresh and fruity, delicately aromatic white wine with hints of lemon, green apple. It has good acidity.

Herman Muller from the Swiss Canton of Thurgau created this white grape variety in 1882. Recent DNA testing shows it is a cross between Riesling and Madeleine Royal and not Sylvaner as was once believed. We had this with gnocchi in a light tomato sauce.IMG_9613

Lagrein 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Lagrein The vineyard is at 260 to 350 meters and the soil is a mixture of sand, clay and eroded quartzite porphyry. There are 2,500 to 3,00 vines/ha and the training system is guyot. Harvest is in early October. Fermentation with natural and selected yeasts takes place in stainless steel punch down tanks and lasts for about 15 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation and maturation in 60hl oak casks for about 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release. It has hints of violets, blackberries and black cherry with a touch of coffee and dark chocolate.

It was the perfect accompaniment to the beef goulash.

 

 

 

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Filed under Abbazia di Novacella, Alto Adige, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kerner, Lagrein, Muller Thurgau

Giacomo Fenocchio Winery: The Tradition Continues

A number of years ago I was at Vinitaly and stopped by the stand of the wine negociant Barbara De Rham and tasted a number of wines under the De Rham label. One of them was a Barolo. I was so impressed with it that I asked Barbara for the name of the producer. It was Giacomo Fenocchio. At the time I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and I added this wine to our wine list.

Claudio Fennochio

Claudio Fenocchio

Last November, I was able to visit the winery for the first time. We were greeted at the winery by the winemaker/owner Claudio Fenocchio. The winery is in the Loc. Bussia-Monforte D’Alba.

Claudio said the estate was founded in 1894 and has been handed down from father to son for over 5 generations. It was Claudio’s father Giacomo who expanded the vineyards and started selling wine to foreign markets. Today 20 hectares are under vines and Claudio and his brothers Albino and Alberto export almost 80% of the production.IMG_9196

All of the wines are made from the estates vineyards located in Bussia in Montorte d’Alba, the Villero sub zone of Castiglione Falletto and Cannubi in Barolo. All are Grand Cru vineyards.

Claudio’s great-great grandfather Giovanni Fenocchio said “everyone makes wine in the same way, because this is how it should be made, it is not up to us to change an entire method and culture” and the winery maintains this philosophy today. Claudio said that their Barolo has a lengthy period of skin contact, never less then 10 days, and rotary fermentation tanks are not used. There are no shortcuts. Fermentation is completely natural and is entirely carried out by the local micro-flora, without the use of selected yeast. Temperature is kept under control by means of daily pumping over the skin cap.IMG_9218

He said that he was thinking of using molded agglomerated corks instead of natural cork for his wines. These corks allow the wine to breathe and they have different numbers indicating the amount of air that is allowed into the wine. This is not the first time I have seen these corks in Piedmont.IMG_9203

Claudio took us down to the cellar to taste barrel samples of the wine. He said the cellar was constructed in 2000 in the pure and classic style of Piedmont. IMG_9225

Roero Arneis DOCG 100% Arneis from Monteu Roero. The vineyard is 1.5 hectares at 300 to 350 meters, exposure is southeast, the soil is calcareous clay of medium texture, the age of the vines are 10 to 15 years and the harvest is in the middle of September.

The grapes are gently pressed and then the wine must is refrigerated in stainless steel vats to allow the lees to settle. After 24 to 36 hours the juice is separated from the lees and fermented at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. It is soft and complex with fresh fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of chamomile.IMG_9216

Langhe Freisa DOC 100% Freisa, Monforte d’Alba-Bussia zone. The vineyard is 0.5 hectares at 300 meters. Exposure is west, the soil is Elveziano with clayey sediments, blue marl and tufa. The age of the vineyard is 10 years. Harvest is in early October. Traditional fermentation of the grapes takes place in contact with the skin, without adding yeast, for about 10 to12 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in Slavonian oak. It has an intense bouquet with good fruit and a touch of spice.IMG_9217

Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 100% Nebbiolo. Monforte d’Alba- Sottozone Bussia. The one hectare vineyard faces east and it at 300 meters. The vines are 15 years old and the soil is Elveziano with clay sediments blue marl and tufa. Harvest is in the middle of October. Vinification and aging same as above with maturation in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry and plum with liquorice and roses.IMG_9221

Barolo Bussia 2011 100% Nebbiolo varieties Michet and Lampia. Monforte d’Alba-Sottozone Bussia. From a 5 hectares vineyard facing south/southwest at 300 meters. The soil is Helvetian with clayey and calcareous sediments, rich in iron. The vines are 30 years old.

Tradition natural fermentation without added yeasts for 40 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 6 months. in stainless steel tanks and 30 months in large Slavonian casks 35 to 50 hl. It remains in the bottle a time before release. This is a classic Barolo with hints of spice, licorice, roses, tar and tea.IMG_9214

Barolo Bussia Riserva 2012 100% Nebbiolo-barrel sample.Claudio stared doing 90 days of maceration with the 2010 vintage. This is very rare in Piedmont today and I am not sure if any other producers do this.

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Filed under Arneis, Barolo, Freisa, Giacomo Fennochio, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine

Visiting Vietti and Luciana Currado

One of the highlights of our trip to Piedmont last November was an invitation from Luciana Currado to her home for dinner. It was special not only because of the Vietti wines and that Luciana is a wonderful cook, but also because she is a very dear friend
We first met Luciana and her husband Alfredo in the fall of 1982. It was our first time in Piedmont and my only itinerary was to visit as many wine producers as possible. We were on our way to Monforte d’Alba when Michele saw the sign for Castiglione Falletto and the Vietti winery.

Before we had left home, Sheldon Wasserman, a friend and Italian wine expert and writer, told us to be sure to visit this winery not only because they made great wines, but because Alfredo and Luciana were such nice people.  We arrived at the gate of the winery and I rang the bell. A man appeared and I said in Italian siamo amici di Sheldon and Pauline Wasserman. He turned and shouted to his wife: “Luciana, Luciana, friends of Sheldon and Pauline are here!”
They invited us into their home to meet the whole family and we drank Moscato d’Asti with cornmeal cookies and had a wonderful time. When we got back to the hotel there was a message waiting for us. Alfredo and Luciana were taking us to dinner that night and they would not take no for an answer. So began a wonderful friendship and many adventures with this wonderful couple both in Piedmont and NYC that lasted until Alfredo’s death about five years ago.

The  Vietti Wines with DinnerIMG_9163

Roero Arneis DOCG 2014 100% Arneis. The vineyards are 25 years old and are located in the middle of the Roero area, in Santo Srefano Roero. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are harvested , pressed and clarified, then alcoholic fermentation occurs in stainless steel autoclave at a low temperature to preserve some natural CO2 from the fermentation. Because there is no malolactic fermentation acidity and freshness are preserved. The wine remains in stainless steel until bottling. It is a well balanced wine that has hints of citrus and melon with a touch of almond and crisp acidity. It was fitting to start with the Arneis as Alfredo has been called “the father of Arneis” because in 1967 he invested a lot of time to rediscover and understand this nearly lost variety.IMG_9162

Barolo Ravera 2011 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo from the Ravera vineyard, 2.7 hectares in Novello. The vines are 5 to 60 years old and the exposure is southwest and the soil is calcareous-clay. The wine is in stainless steel vats, 5 of which are in cold pre-fermentation maceration. Alcoholic fermentation takes place and then a long post-fermentation maceration at a controlled temperature. There is daily air pumping over using the old system called “submerged cap.” There is slow malolactic fermentation in large casks almost until the end of spring. The wine stays more then a year on the lees and the C02 produced during the malolactic fermentation is a reductive environment without sulfur. The wine is aged for 32 months in Slovenian oak casks and bottled unfiltered in July 2013. It has hints of roses, red fruit and spice. Needs time to open up and will only get better with age.IMG_9161

Barolo Brunate 1996 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from the historic cru Brunate vineyard in La Morra located on the south side toward Barolo, with 4,600 vines per hectare. The vines at the time were about 23 years old and cultivated with the guyot system. The soil is calcareous. Grapes are gently crushed and fermented in stainless steel for 23 days. Daily open air pumping over takes place using the old system of the submerged cap. Malolactic fermentation is in oak barrels. The wine, I believe, back in 1996 was aged for 32 months in large Slovenian oak casks. This is a balanced wine with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry, plum, violets and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish. !996 was a great vintage for Barolo and this is a great wine.IMG_9059

The night before the dinner with Luciana we were in Alba and went to the Vincafe. As I looked at the case with the older wine I saw a bottle of Vietti Barbera d’Asti “La Crena”1996 and I just had to order it. This single vineyard in Agliano d’Asti was planted in 1932 with 4,800 plants per hectare. The must rests for 21 days in stainless steel tanks for the alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. There are 2 to 3 daily fullages in the electro pneumatically system, “délestage” and numerous air pumping overs. Immediately after the alcoholic fermentation the wine is moved into oak barrels for the malolactic fermentation. The wine is then aged in French oak barrels and big Slovenian oak casks for 16 months. Then it is assembled in steel tanks until it is bottled unfiltered. This is a Barbera that was showing no signs of age with mature fruit, hints of raspberry and cherry a touch of spice and good acidity.

Luca

Luca Currado

Alfredo and Luciana’s son Luca is carrying on the tradition of a great wine making family. Gambero Rosso not only gave a three glasses award to Luca’s Barolo Riserva Villero 2007, but also named it Red Wine of the Year for 2015.IMG_7159

Barolo 2007 Riserva Villero 100% Nebbiolo (Michet Clone) The Villero vineyard is in Castiglione Falletto and is a little less than one hectare with south/southwest exposure. Soil is clay and compact with white and blue marlstone. The average age of the vines is 39 years and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. After alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, which lasts for 16 days, the wine macerates on the skin for ten days. The wine was transferred into small barrels for the malolactic fermentation. Then it was aged in Slovenian oak casks of 27 hl and bottled unfiltered in September 2010. It is classical Barolo at its best with dark fruit flavors and aromas, hints of leather, tobacco and spice.

 

 

 

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