Category Archives: Italian White Wine

The Wines of Lis Neris

After judging the Pinot Grigio Challenge in Cormons, in Friuli, I visited the Lis Neris winery in San Lorenzo about 20 minutes away. The winery is in the Isonzo sub zone close to the Slovenian border.



The owner Alvaro Pecorari who began by speaking about the winery greeted me. Alvaro said that it is a family winery and the family controls all of the production process. There are 70 hectares of vineyards planted between the Slovenian border to the north and the right bank of the Isonzo River to the south. Wines are produced exclusively with grapes from their own vineyards. They have introduced biological treatments against vine pests and avoid the use of chemical weed killers. The winery is energy autonomous, with solar panels, which collect and transforms solar power.

He feels that his wines are the best expression of the terrior

The Wines of Lis Neris- They have different lines of wine Traditional, Selezioni and Riserva.IMG_5798

Pinot Grigio 2013 100 % Pinot Grigio this is from the Traditional line where the grapes are from the younger vineyards. The training system is guyot and there are 5,200 to 5,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel takes at a controlled temperature. Maturation is on the fine less in the same tanks for 8 months with frequent stirring of the lees. The wine remains in the bottle a short time before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with aromas and flavors of critics’ fruit, hints of apple and good acidity. I also had this wine with food at one of the best restaurants in the area La Subida and it is an excellent food wine. IMG_5801

Gris 2010 100% Pinot Grigio This is from the” Selezioni line where the wines take the name of the vineyard. The soil is calcareous, alluvial on a broad shelf at 60 meters above sea level. The vines are 25 years old. The training system is guyot and there are 5,200 vines per hectare and the harvest is in October. Fermentation takes place in 500 liter French oak barrels (tonneaux), at a controlled temperature. Alvero said that tonneaux gives the wine aromatic breath without modifying the intrinsic character of the wine. Maceration is on the lees in the same barrels for 10 to11 months with frequent lees souring? The wine is aged in bottle for 12 months before release. Alvero said the wine would last for 5 to 10 years. This was a more intense Pinot Grigio and he said that it was an international style wine reflection the more modern wines of today. That is why I believe he calls it “Gris”IMG_5800

Confini 2010 Venezia- Gulia IGT made from 40% Gewürztraminer, 40 %Pinot Grigio and 20% Riesling from 25 year old vines. This is from the Riserva line, the grapes come from the older vineyards. Fermentation takes place in 500 liter French oak barrels and maceration is on the fine lees in the same barrels for 11 months with frequent bàtonnage. The wine is aged another 12 months in bottle before release. He said that the Pinot Grigio constitutes the skeleton of the wine, giving it structure a full bodied frame, softness and warmness. Traminer is important for aromas and perfumes and Riesling for the right acidity and complexity of taste. Only Pinot Grigio and Traminer are late harvested and matured in wood.IMG_5821

Tal Luc 2010 made from 95% Verduzzo and 5% Riesling. The vines are 10 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 5,200 vines per hectare. After the harvest the grapes are dried for 120 days in an air-conditioned environment. Long fermentation takes place in new 225 liter French oak barrels. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. Alvero said that the wine could age for 15 years. It is in the Riserva line” This is an excellent dessert wine and I really enjoyed tasting it. I also had the pleasure of drinking the=is wine at restaurant La Subida the night before.



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Filed under Confini, Gris, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lis Neris Winery, Pinot Grigio, Tal Luc dessert wine

Ronco Del Gelso “Old Style Wines”


Giorgio Badin

After the winners of the 2014 International Pinot Grigio Challenger were announced, I visited several winemakers near Cormons. Giorgio Badin, owner of Ronco Del Gelso, picked me up. Fortunately, a translator joined us — a good thing because Giorgio spoke rapid Italian. While driving Giorgio said that his wines are to be drunk with food, they are mealtime wines and therefore he seeks to enhance the finest character of the grape. He ferments the juice using non-invasive vineyard techniques that do not detract from the characteristics of the grape.

Giorgio continued to answer questions. He said that his estate is in the Isonza Del Friuli DOC zone and this, along with the sub-zone Rive Alte, where permitted, appears on the label. The vineyards are all guyot pruned and vertical- trellis trained, with a high vine density to promote root competition and canopy restriction. Care is taken in the selection of clones and rootstock, which must be suited to the soils of Isonzo. He uses cultured yeast, and malolactic fermentation does not take place in any of the white wines.

One of the other producers remarked that Giorgio makes “old style” wines and added to what Giorgio had said about his wines, I could not wait to taste them. After tasting them, I could have not been more pleased with them.

Ronco Del Gelso Wines IMG_5815

Friulano “Toc Bas” 2012 DOC Riva Alte Isonzo Del Friulano 100% Friulano. The grapes come from vineyards in the lower area of Cormons. Giorgio said that this wine has flavor far removed from the so-called international tastes. There are 4,500 vines per hectare. Soft pressing of the grapes takes place and fermentation is at controlled temperature. The wine is stored on the fine lees until it is bottled. This is a wine with hints of apples, peaches apricots and a touch of hazelnuts and bitter almonds. The wine has hints of liquorice and ripe fruit with a very nice bitter almond aftertaste. There was also a 2006 Tocai Friulano that was drinking very well and showing no sing of age. It was still called Tocai because the law was not changed until 2007 because of the dispute with Hungary over the name Tocai.IMG_5820

Sauvignon “Sottomonta” 2012 DOC Riva Alte Isonzo Del Friulano 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The vineyards are located in Cormons at the foot of a hill where the soil is deeper, siltier and retains good moisture. There are 5,700 vines per hectare. The grapes are cold crushed and maceration lasts for 12/18 hours. The wine is aged on the lees in oval oak barrels of 2,500 liters for 12 months. Giorgio said that Sauvignon Blanc is a difficult grape variety to grow and to make into wine but worth the effort. This is a soft, full and balanced wine with good acidity and the aromatic notes typical of the variety.IMG_5811

Malvasia “Vigna della Permuta” Isonzo Del Friuli DOC 2006 & 2008 100% Malvasia. Giorgio said that the climate and gravelly soil of the Isonzo plain are ideal for this grape variety, which prefers warm dry soil not too far from the sea. There are 5,700 p/h and the training system is guyot. Grapes are destemmed and cold crushed and maceration lasts for 12-18 hours. It is fermented in steel. Both wines have hints of ripe fruit, anis and a touch of spice. A Malvasia that can age!IMG_5819

Chardonnay “Siet Vigni” Isonzo Del Friuli Rive Alte 2012 The wine is made from grapes from seven vineyards, covering a total area of less than three hectares. Giorgio pointed out that Chardonnay has been present in the area for over 150 years and has adjusted to the climate and soil. Chardonnay is an international grape that has allowed itself to be shaped by the local terroir taking on its personality. There are 6,000 vines per hectare. Temperature controlled fermentation with cold crushing and maceration for 12-18 hours.

It was more than interesting to taste Chardonnay produced in this way. The wine has hints of golden apple and a touch of tropical fruit. This is a chardonnay to drink with food.

Aur Traminer Passito  In answer to one of my questions about his dessert wine this was Giorgio’s response: “On an estate like mine, it is certainly not the product of market research, but more likely the fruit of an intuition or belief. To be honest, I must admit that I didn’t ever think that I would make a dessert wine, but that is what’s happening.IMG_5822

This is the story of Aur: a few years ago a plot of land adjoining our estate came up for sale. It was a tempting opportunity, so I took out a mortgage and bought it.
So far so good, but I still had to tackle the main problem, namely that the 18,000-square-metre plot was planted to Traminer, and if there’s one wine that I don’t like it’s precisely dry Traminer. The conflict between its sweet, aromatic nose and dry, salty palate is the exact opposite of the character that I try to give my wines. At the time I tasted a great many Traminers from all over the world, but none of them served to change my mind. Only those with a sweet aftertaste convinced me, and the dried-grape wines most of all.

My tastings resulted in a project for a dessert wine that I called Aur, which means “gold” in Friulian. I built a drying room and tried to understand how to make a high-quality sweet wine using first-rate grapes. There are 4,000 vines per hectare, the grapes are dried, and the wine is aged in small oak barrels for one year. This is a very subtle dessert wine which goes very well with soft cheese and foie gras”.



Filed under Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Ronco De Gelso, Ronco Del Gelso

Tasting Soave

Soave has always been one of my favorite white wines. It is undervalued and always a great bargain on restaurant wine lists.

I have visited Soave a number of times and the last time there I was inducted into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia as “Captain Spadarino, Protector of the Women of the Castello Scaligero” in Soave. This is a worldwide women’s organization that praises Il Vino Bianco Saove. received this honor for my contributions to Soave wine

A few weeks ago I was invited to a Soave Master Class. The speakers were Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier and Giovanni Ponchia the enologist for the Consorzio Tutela Soave. I first met Giovanni a few years ago when I was invited on a press trip to the Soave region and was honored as Capitano Spadarino.  All the journalists on the trip were so impressed with Giovanni’s knowledge and his easy manner of presenting it that we nicknamed him “Mr. Soave.” Evan spoke about the individual wineries and Giovanni spoke about the Soave region.

Giovanni Ponchio "Mr. Soave"

Giovanni Ponchio “Mr. Soave”

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals and there is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir-based wines.

Soave is a relatively small concentrated area and it has a history of selling grapes outside of the region. There are some 3,000 growers and the DOC is the largest in the Province of Verona accounting for 40% of the production. There are 52 crus in the zone and, like Barolo, different producers can work one cru. The vineyards are so close together that they all spray at the same time.

The grapes are the same for Soave DOC, Soave Classico DOC, and Soave Superiore DOCG. Soave DOC, Colli Scaliger, and Recioto di Soave.  Garganega is the primary grape and Soave must contain at least 70% of it. The other 30% is made up of Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco (Trebbiano Toscano has been excluded). The better producers use 100% Garganega, or very close to it. There does not seem to be much Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco used.  Trebbiano di Soave seems to be the new favorite, but Giovanni said that this was is a matter of controversy.

Garganega is the fifth most planted white grape in Italy and may be related to the Grecanico grape of Sicily. Giovanni said it is not markedly aromatic in nature, but displays a range of perfumes of which almonds and white flowers are the most clearly identifiable. It does not actually complete its ripening until October. Its skin is very tough and is a particularly deep yellow (verging on red) when ripe. It does not display especially high acidity but rather a balance of extract and fruit sugars.

Trebbiano di Soave has traditionally always been present in the vineyards. It has a tangy liveliness that some wine makers feel blends well with the typical structure and density of the Garganega grape.

The training system for the vines is very interesting. It can be single or double Espalier (Guyot and Cordon Spur) or a Pergola (known as tendone in the South). The vines grow on trellises and the leaves cover and protect the grapes from the sun. It can be a unilateral Pergola, or uni- or bi-lateral pergoletta Veronese- Veronese Pergola. This Pergola does not close all the way in the middle allowing some sunlight to come through. This is the method used on flat land even at high elevation. The Veronese Pergola is again becoming popular among the producers. Giovanni said many producers were very proud of this system. No matter what the training system, there can be no less than 3,300 vines per hectare.IMG_5669

There were 12 wines altogether, some were tasted blind. I liked all the wines but the ones listed below were the ones I enjoyed the most.

Cantina del Castello Soave Classico DOC “Castello” 2012 The vines are on the hills of the Soave Classico region, facing Soave and the Alpone Valley, between Monteforte d’Alpone and Brognoligo. The Vineyards are situated at 200 to 250 meters. Generally basaltic soil of volcanic origin but some vineyards are situated in areas with soils having a markedly calcareous skeleton of coastal sedimentary origin. The training system is Pergola Veronese and short espalier. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the middle of October. There is pre-destemming and soft pressing with a 60% must yield. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled water-cooled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for two months before release.

Bolla Soave Classico DOCG Superiore “Tufale” 2011  85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. The vines are 25-30 years old and are located on the marly-tuffaceous soils in the once volcanic Classico zone in the commune of Monteforte d’Alpone. Southern and southeastern exposure at 200 to 300 meters and there is a significant temperature between night and day. The training system is the traditional Soave Pergolas. Harvest is in October. Mature grapes are macerated cold in a protected atmosphere for several hours. After removal of the stalks they are subjected to soft pressing then cold static sedimentation. Fermentation is slow and takes place at low temperatures. The wine remains for a time on the fine fermented lees with regular batonnage, while a small part matures in French oak barriques. The wine is bottled in March and aged in the bottle for two months before release.

Gini Soave Classico “La Frosca” DOC 2001 100% Garganega. The wine takes its name from the hillside La Frosca close to the town of d’Alpone. The vineyards are at 180 meters with a southeast exposure. The training system is Pergola Veronese and the harvest is in October. The grapes are hand picked. Soft pressing and immediate cooling of the must takes place. Fermentation at controlled temperatures takes place in steel and wooden vats. The wine is left for at least eight months with its own natural yeasts in steel vats and in 228 liter wooden barrels. This wine is 13 years old and is in perfect condition. When I visited the Gini winery on my trip a few years ago, we tasted a 1990 that also was in perfect condition. In the hands of the right producer Soave can age.IMG_5862

Cantina di Soave Classico DOC “Rocca Sveva” 2013 100% Garganega. The vineyards are located in the hills of the communes in Soave and Monteforte. The vines are planted in loose, medium gravelly clay soil of volcanic origin at 100 to 300 meters. The vines are trained for the Verona Pergola System the high, flat roofed system traditional for this area, in cover-cropped rows: cluster loke with cluster thinning. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the last week of September. The clusters are gently pressed and the must settles by gravity. Fermentation takes place with select yeasts at controlled temperatures. The wine is then drawn off and left to mature.

Monte Tondo Soave Classico Foscarino DOC “Casettte Foscarin” 2005 90% Garganega and 10%Trebbiano di Soave. The vineyards are on the western slope of Monte Foscarino and the soil is volcanic in origin, tufaceous and basaltic. The training system is Pergola Veronese and Guyot and the harvest is in October. A selection of the most sun-exposed grapes are harvested at different times according to their ripeness. Soft pressing takes place with low temperature maceration. The wine is aged in barriques and 5hl tonneau for about six months. Here is another example of how Soave can age and when I visited the winery there were a number of examples of excellent older wines.

Azenda Agricola Suavia Classico Monte Carbonare DOC 2011 100% Garganega. The vineyards are in Fittà, in the heart of Soave Classico at 250 meters. The soil is basaltic of volcanic origin and the training system is Pergola Veronese. Harvest is in the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is in steel vats for 16 days. Malolactic fermentation is not carried out. The skins are in contact with the fine sediments for 15 months in steel vats. There is only one membrane filtration before bottling.

 Vincentini Agostino Soave Superiore Il Casale DOCG 2012. 100% Garganega The vines are at Colognola ai Colli, Il Casale and the soil is a mix of basaltic rocks and limestone. The training system is Pergola Veronese and guyot and the harvest is in October. There is a light pressing of the grapes and a long fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats.

El Vergo Recioto di Soave DOCG 2009 100% Garganega The vineyards are in Monteforte d’Alpone on the southern slope of Monte Foscarino. Harvest is by hand the last week of September and the First week of October. The grapes are dried for six months and the clusters are softly pressed. A very slow fermentation takes place at controlled temperature in steel vats. The wine is aged for three years in barriques.

Riccolo Grassi Soave La Broia DOC 2011 100% Garganega. The vineyards are in Mezzane di Sotto, which is the western area of Soave. They are at 100 meters and the soil is alluvial and rich in limestone. There are 7,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place the third week of September. 80% is fermented in barriques and 22HL Slavonian oak barrels the remaining 20% is fermented in stainless steel. The wine remains sur lie for 12 months. Malolactic fermentation is carried out mostly in barriques five and six years old. The wine is aged in 22HL oak barrels of Slavonian oak and 6 months in bottle before release.






Filed under Giovanni Ponchio, Italian White Wine, Soave

The Wines of Gradis’ciutta

I first tasted the wines of Gradis’ciutta at a lunch and tasting of the wines of Friuli Venezia Giulia given by the Wine Media Guild at Felidia restaurant. I was so impressed by these wines that I contacted Franco Bengazi of The Wine Emporium, the importer and distributor, to find out more about them. Since I was so enthusiastic about the Gradis’ciutta wines, Franco asked me if I would organize a tasting and lunch at SD26, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, for some journalists so they could meet Robert Princic the owner/winemaker and taste the wine.

Robert Princic

Robert Princic

Robert told us that his family has been in this area since the 18th century but the present winery was started in 1997. He said that the winery is located in the Collio wine region of Friuli Venezia Giulia close to the border with Slovenia. The Collio is a group of high hills west of the city of Gorizia. The soil here is sandstone and clay and the vineyards are at different elevations so that he can plant the vines that he wants at the best altitude for them. He said that he did not name the winery after himself but the area where it is located.


We started with a sparkling NV Brut Sinefinis Rebolium (Classic Method) It is a joint venture between Robert Princic and his friend Matjaž Cetrtic a producer just over the border in Slovenia. The European Commission has classified these two territories as a C2 zone giving wine producers the opportunity to produce wines from grapes harvested from both countries.

The wine is made from 100% Ribolla grapes (Robolium is one of the Medieval names for Ribolla) obtained from Ribolla Gialla grapes from Collio in Italy and from Rebula grapes from Brda in Slovenia. These historic hills had been united until 1947 and were divided because of a treaty that was a resulted of the Second World War. Ribolla has been grown in these hills since medieval times. The vineyards that are the source for this wine are located at Giasbana (San Floriano del Collio) and Gradis’ciutta (Gorizia) for the Italian percentage and at Biljana (Bigliana) and Kojsko (Quisca) for the Slovenian. The grapes are obtained from vineyards with a density of between 4,000 and 5,000 plants per hectare in the guyot system, with a yield of 70-80 quintals per hectare.There is a soft pressing of the whole grape clusters and then a cold decanting and temperature controlled fermentation. Aging takes place with the tirage in the following spring, the year after the harvest. Secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle and the preservation of the effervesence is at a controlled temperature. Maturation on the yeasts lasts 18 months.IMG_5645

Collio Chardonnay 2011 made from 100% Chardonnay. Chardonnay was confused with Pinot Bianco in this region until the 1970’s. The vines are at 400 to 600 meters and the training system is guyot. The juice is obtained from a soft pressing of the grapes macerated for 24 hours. 80% 0f the fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and 20% takes place in new oak barrels. The wine is matured on its lees, then the two lots are blended together and the wine is bottled. There were aromas and flavors of apple and honey with a slight hint of vanilla.IMG_5644

Collio Pinot Grigio 2012, 100% Pinot Grigio. This grape variety was first called Ruläander when it came to the Gorizia area in the second half of the 1800’s. The color of the grape tends to be copper. Pinot Grigio is a red grape and it was not until the early 1960’s with the use of modern vinification that it was made into a white wine. Some producers now make a wine in the old style that is pink/orange in color. The vineyard is at 325 to 475 feet and the training system is guyot. Soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, aging on the lees until the wine is bottled. The wine had a slight copper color, with flavor hints of peach and ripe apple. There was also an aroma of tomato leaf. It is a very interesting wine.IMG_5646

Friulano Collio DOC, 2011, 100% Tocai Friulano.   If you ask for white wine in Friuli, this is what you will get. The name of the wine was changed from Tocai to Friulano because Hungary has a dessert wine called Tokay. The Hungarians convinced the EU to make Friuli change the name of their wine  to Friulano in 2007 to avoid confusion because the names sounded alike. This in my opinion was not necessary. Soft pressing of the grapes is followed by 24 to 48 hour fermentation at low temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged on its lees until it is ready to be bottled.  It has good fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of apple and a touch of almond in the finish and aftertaste.IMG_5642

Ribolla Gialla 2011, 100% Ribolla Gialla. This is the oldest grape variety of Collio. It has been here since Roman times. The vineyards are at 600 feet and the training method is guyot. The soil is sandstone marl and clay marl. The grapes undergo criomaceration for 24 hours and then are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine remains on its lees until bottled. It has nice citrus aromas and flavors with a very pleasant finish and aftertaste.IMG_5647

Collio Bianco “Bratinis” 2010 made from Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla and Sauvignon Blanc in various percentages. The soil is a mixture of breakable sandstone and clay marl called ponca. The name of the wine comes from the locality where the grapes are grown and harvested. The vines are between 500 and 600 feet and the training system is guyot. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine matures on the lees and is then bottled. At one time the wine was produced in such small amounts that it was only available for the family.  It is aromatic with hints of apple and peach and a touch of pineapple. It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

All of the wines sell for around $20 a bottle- great value for the money.




Filed under Gradis'ciutta, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized

Livio Felluga’s “TERRE ALTE”

Terre Alte from Livio Felluga has been a favorite of mine since I first tasted it in the early 1980’s. It is a wine that I describe as seductive and without a doubt one of the best white wines produced in Italy.IMG_5389

Recently, I was invited to attend a vertical tasting of Terre Alte going back to 1997 featuring Andrea Felluga as the speaker. I have known Andrea Felluga since 1994 when I visited the winery. That was also the year that Livio, Andrea’s father handed over the winemaking duties to him.


Andrea Felluga

Andrea began by speaking about the history of Friuli-Venezia Giulia and of his family.  Andrea said that his father was born in 1914 when the area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He explained how the shifting borders after WWI and WWII caused many problems. His family lost everything after WWII but Livio was able to remain on the Italian side of the border and start his winery. Livio is now 100 years old.

Andrea told us that the “Map Label” on the wines was introduced in 1956 as a way for his father to pay tribute to the land and culture of Friuli. He described Terre Alte as an elegant, complex and “captivating” wine. Terre Alte in Italian means high ground.IMG_5376

Terre Alte Collio Orientali del Friuli is a blend of estate grown grapes: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in the Rosazzo zone. The soil is marl and sandstone and the training system is guyot. The bunches of grapes are carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period of time. Then the grapes were crushed. The must is then allowed to settle. Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small casks of French (no new oak is used) oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon matures in stainless steel tanks. After aging for ten months the wines are blended. The bottled wine is aged in temperature controlled binning cellars for 9 months before release. Andrea said that depending on the vintage one of the three grapes would assert itself.

If Sauvignon Blanc dominates, the wine will have hints of sage, and grapefruit. In other vintages the Friulano prevails with notes of pear, peach and fresh almonds.

There were also times when the floral notes of the Pinot Bianco took over and hints of orange blossoms and yeast stood out in the bouquet.

Andrea said that freshness is a key attribute. Terre Alte expresses a unique composition of aromas, depending on its age, and either floral or fruity fragrances with notes of pastry and bread. For the more mature vintages straw and dried flowers can be present. The first vintage of Terre Alte was in 1981.IMG_5378

The Terre Alte Vertical

2012 DOCG $80 This is a very young wine and needs time to develop

2011 DOCG $80 Andrea did not think that this bottle was showing well and he said that it had notes of garlic. We tried another bottle and it was fine but it needs more time.

2009 DOC $160 Very balanced wine with ripe fruit, a touch of ginger, a great finish and wonderful aftertaste.IMG_5384

2008 DOC In this vintage the Friulano prevailed with the notes of pear, peach and fresh almonds. Sold out.

2006 DOC This vintage was the most Sauvignon in character with aromas of sage and grapefruit and a touch of grass. Andrea said this was because it was a cool vintage and there was less skin contact. $180

2001 DOC The blend this year was 30% Tocai Friulano, 30% Pinot Bianco and 40% Sauvignon. Sold out. This was one of my favorites with just a hint of the Sauvignon showing through. 750 is sold out but there is a magnum for $645

1998 DOC Sold out of 750 but there is a Magnum at $720

This was my favorite wine of the tasting. Very well balanced, great depth of flavor, and very elegant. This is where the Pinot Bianco may have dominated with hints of orange blossoms and a touch of yeast.

1997 DOC Sold out of 750 but a there is a 3L at $1,650 This wine was beginning to show a little age, but still drinking very well,with hints of herbs, honey rosemary and nice fruit.

Even though the Terre Alte may differ slightly vintage to vintage it still can be recognized as Terre Alte by its depth of flavor complexity and elegance.



Filed under Andrea Felluga, Italian White Wine, Livio Felluga, Terre Alte

Pairing Gnocchi with Three Wines from The Alto Adige

Gnocchi ricotta with tomato-butter sauce

A few weeks ago Michele made ricotta gnocchi with tomato-butter sauce from her new book “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook” for a dinner with friends. One of the guests said that she had tried making potato gnocchi but they never turned out right. Michele said that ricotta gnocchi were very easy to make and she would be happy to show her. Last Saturday, our friends returned and brought prosciutto and melon for an antipasto and three bottles of wine from the Alto Adige to see which one matched best with the gnocchi.IMG_5206

Michele and I used to do wine and food pairing classes and we found that one of the following scenarios was typical:

-The wine and the food may be good on their own but in combination they do not work and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

-The next is when the wine and food do not combine but each keeps its own individual character.

-The last is when the wine and food combine to give you the perfect combination.IMG_5204

Südtirol Eisacktaler Kerner 100% Kerner. Abbazia Di Novacella. The vineyards are 600-700meters, the soil is gravelly morainal deposits and the exposure is south-southwest. The training system is guyot, there are 6,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Only natural yeast is used and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before it is bottled. This is an aromatic wine with hints of apple and peach, ripe and full with crisp acidity.

We drank this wine with the prosciutto and melon, and it was a perfect combination. Later, we tried the Kerner with the gnocchi. It was good, but the flavors did not marry. The tastes remained separate.IMG_5205

Alto Adige Sauvignon Sanct Valentin 2012 100% Sauvignon Blanc St. Michael-Eppan. The grapes come from different vineyards in Appiano Monte all at 400 to 600 meters and the vines are 10 to 18 years old. There is long maceration at low temperatures in steel tanks and then 12% of the wine is aged and refined in big and small oak casks. This is sauvignon blanc from Italy with all the characteristics of the best is sauvignon blanc with a hint of figs and light spice. This is one of Michele’s favorite producers of white wine and I have to agree with her.

The Sauvignon blanc overwhelmed the gnocchi so that there were two different tastes but mostly Sauvignon blancIMG_5202

Hexenbichler Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2012 100% Schiava Tramin The grapes come from the 6 acre Hexenbichler vineyard. The soil is clay-loam and pebbles, the training system is Pergola, the elevation is 990 to 1,320 feet and there is an eastern exposure. Harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 10 days and aging takes place for 6 months in 50 to 100 HL steel tank. Length of time before bottling is 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release.IMG_5209

This is a light red wine with fresh fruit flavors and a nice finish finish and aftertaste. It was the perfect combination with the gnocchi, the light fruitiness of the blended perfectly with the delicate ricotta gnocchi and the tomato and butter sauce.



Filed under Abbazia di Rosazzo, Alto Adige, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kerner, Sanct Valentin, Sauvignon Blanc, Schiava, St. Michele-Eppan, Tramin winery

Tasting the White Wines of Campania


For the first time in a number of years I am not going to Campania this year.  I will miss being on the Amalfi Coast and visiting Naples but I am making up for it by drinking a lot of wine from Campania.

Under the banner of Campania’s Wine Excellence, the region hosted a series of tastings, seminars and dinners earlier this month. I attended a dinner and a seminar and Grand Tasting at Del Posto Restaurant.IMG_5001

The seminar was in two parts: the first was a tasting of the white wines of Campania and the second featured the red wines. Three of my favorite white grapes were represented: Falanghina, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di D Avelliano.

Nichols Belfrage in his book, Brunello to Zibibbo,(1999) states, “This grape (Falanghina), which some have suggested may be of Greek origin, and which some have tentatively indentified as the grape from which Roman Falernian was made, has been known as Falanghina only since the 19th century. (A falanga… is a type of wooden stake used for supporting a vine; the suffix –ina makes it a small wooden stake.) The grape Falanghina is a late-ripener, which requires well exposed, sunny slopes and not-too-excessive production to shine, but when it does so it shines brightly, making a wine of good extract and flavor, with a firm acidic backbone enabling it to resist the passage of time in the bottle. It is a grape of real interest deserving wider national and international attention.”

I tasted two wines made from Falanghina:IMG_5004

Casa Vinicola Setaro Minos Campania IGT 2012 100% Falanghina.  The production area is the Trecase resort town of Bosco del Monaco and Tirone  inside the national park of Vesuvius. The soil is of volcanic origin and is rich in potassium and trace elements, loose and sandy. The owner of the winery, Massimo Setaro, was present and said that these vines are not grafted onto American rootstock because phylloxera cannot survive in this soil. The age of the vines is 15 – 25 years and the vineyard is 220 to 305 mts. above sea level.  Harvest takes place the second half of October and there are 4000-4500 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier with pruning goyot. The grapes are hand harvested, there is a sorting then a cold maceration in silos insulated to temperature of around 4°C for 48 to 72 hours. The wine is racked and pressing is in a pneumatic press. Clarification of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 10 – 12°C.  The wine remains on the lees for 3 months.  It is straw yellow, with hints of broom and quince combined with mineral tones made it for me a real Falanghina del Vesuvio.  On the palate it is fruity and very pleasant with an elegant mineral volcanic character. IMG_5005

Cantine degli Astroni Colle Imperatrice Campi Flegrei DOC 2011. 100% Falagina The vineyards are at 200/400 meters and the exposure is southeast. The soil is volcanic ash and clay loam and the training system is guyot. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the first week of October. There is cold maceration and fermentation takes place in stainless steel for two weeks. There is whole berry fermentation, the grapes are not pressed. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks for a few months. This is a very well balanced wine with floral scents, ripe fruit, a hint of smoke and a touch of honey.

The ancient Greeks brought Greco di Tufo grapes into the area around Naples about 2,500 years ago. It may have been one of the grapes used to make Falernian, a wine much prized by the ancient Romans. Greco is a late ripening varietal and the phenolic compounds in the grape contribute to the wine’s characteristically deep color. Greco is best when it is found in the volcanic hills in the Avellino province in central Campania. Only 8 villages can legally claim to make Greco di Tufo. One of these villages is Tufo from which the wine gets it name. Tufo is also the name of the rock on which the village is built. Greco thrives here because there is tufaceous, volcanic soil rich in sulphur and a relatively dry microclimate. The vineyards in this zone are between 400 and 450 meters.

According to the DOCG regulations, Greco di Tufo must be at least 85% Greco and 15% Coda di Volpe.  Sparkling Greco di Tufo spumante is also produced.

Greco di Tufo can be drunk after 3 years but in the hands of the right producer can last for 20 years or more.IMG_4982

Cantina di Marzo Greco di Tufo 100% Greco.  I sat with Mr. Somma, the owner of the winery, at the dinner at Del Posto and he said that it was the oldest cantina in Campania and that his ancestor introduced the Greco grape into the zone. The vineyard has a southwest exposure and is at 250 to 500 meters. The age of the vines is 5 to 20 years and the training is guyot. Harvesting is by hand in the middle of October. Lightly pressed must and must run are blended together. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. Fining is on the lees. Clarification is by cold and light filtering.  The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of orange blossom, minerality, good acidity and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

In his book Brunello to Zibibbo, Belfrage says the following about fiano di Avellino. “Fiano is either a native grape of Campania or a member of a family of grapes called Apianes brought to southern Italy from the Peloponesse, once called Apia. … it is mentioned specifically by Pliny in his Naturalis Historia… ‘the bees give Fiano its name, because of their desire (for it).’ Pliny’s etymology has since been challenged…it is not bees (apes), but wasps that are attracted to the sweet grapes, and it is claimed that the name really derives from appiano, a type of apple, or Apia, once a place name in the province of Avellino now called Lapia.”

La Guardiense Colle di Tillo Sanno 2012 100% Fiano. The harvest is by hand in early October and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine has floral hints with a touch of white peach.IMG_4905

Esoterico Fiano D’Avellino IGT 2011 Donnachiara Made from 100% Fiano from the Montefalcione vineyard. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 6 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 4,400 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. The late harvest takes place the first half of November. 20% of the fermentation takes place in French barriques. The wine is naturally clarified and there is no refrigeration or filtration at bottling. This is from a new line of wines. They are almost dessert like and very different form the regular white wines.IMG_5011

Fiorduva Furore Bianco Costa D’Amalfi DOC 2011 Marisa Cuomo The wine is made from 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 30% Ripoli. The production zone is in Furore and the surrounding municipalities on the Amalfi coast. The coastal terraces are at 200/500 meters and are south facing.  There are 5,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare. The training system is pergola. The soil is limestone-dolomite rocks. Harvesting is by hand the third week of October and the grapes arrive intact in the cantina. After pressing the juice is inoculated with selected yeast. Fermentation takes place for about 3 months in oak barrels at 12°C. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of apricot, raisins, a touch of candied fruit and good acidity. This was my favorite wine at the tasting.



Filed under campania, Cantina di Manzo, Cantina Marisa Cuomo, Cantine degli Astroni, Casa Vincola Setaro "Minos", Falanghina, Fiano, Fiano di Avellino, Fiorduva Furore Bianco, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized