Category Archives: Italian White Wine

12 Wines $20 and Under for All Seasons

 

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

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

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. Donnachiara. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors nice acidity and good minerality. $18IMG_0118

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Mustilli Winery: A Long Overdue Visit

When I was working as the wine director at a NYC Italian restaurant, Paola Mustilli from the Mustilli winery came in to have me sample their wines. We already carried some and I was more than willing to try the ones she brought.IMG_0810

After we tasted the Falanghina she handed me a book entitled “Falanghina” which included the work done by her father Leonardo Mustilli and her sister Anna Chiara Mustilli in saving the Falanghina grape. The authors are Antonella Monaco, Anna Chiara Mustilli and Luciano Pignataro.

She also invited me to the winery to taste older vintages of Falanghina. The winey is about 30 miles inland from Naples.

“Falanghina,” writes Luciano Pignataro in his opening line, “surely more than Aglianico, is the wine in which all Campania identifies, the wine that can best embody the local genius loci of the Neapolitan pleasure of the table.”

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Paola and Anna Chiara

When I was in Benevento as one of the journalists at the Campania Stories tasting, I was finally able to take Paola up on her offer and went to the winery, over 10 years since our meeting in NYC. Paola, who takes care of the commercial end of the business and Anna Chiara, her sister who manages the vineyards and winemaking, greeted me.IMG_0172

Anna Chiara said that in 1979 her father, Leonardo Mustilli bottled the first single-variety commercial Falanghina in Campania. Then there were only 75 acres; today there are over 7,000 with the majority in Sannio. Sant’Agata dei Goti is a sub-region of the DOC Sannio and they are the only winery in the area. She said they have over 20 hectares all planted with indigenous varieties.

The Mustilli Family came to Sant’Agata dei Goti in the 14th century. Anna Chiara gave us a tour of the old underground cellar that the family has owned since the 17 century. In 2002 they built a new structure right outside the town.

We then tasted the wines;IMG_0174

Falanghina Sannio DOC 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards, at 800 ft. located in Sant’Agata del Goti, with volcanic soil, facing southwest. The age of the vines is 10 to 30 years. Hand-harvest in mid-October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in tanks for 12 months. This is a fresh wine with hints of lemon and apple with good acidity.IMG_0177

Falanghina Sannio 2002 DOC 100% Falanghina The wine was starting to show some signs of age but still was very pleasant with nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors.IMG_0185

Greco di Santacroce 1977  I was very impressed with this wine. It was not showing any signs of age. In fact I drank as much of the wine as I could!IMG_0178

Piedirosso Sannio DOC 100% Piedirosso from the Pozzillo vineyard, which is at 800 ft. The soil is volcanic and clay and the exposure is southwest. The wines are between 10 and 20 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in late October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of plums, violets and a hint of bell peppers.IMG_0175

Greco Sannio Sant’ Agata De’ Goti DOC 100% Greco. The grapes are cultivated in the vineyards of Presta and Pozzillo in the commune of S. Agata dei Goti. The vineyard has a southwest exposure at 250 meters. Training system is guyot and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature at 15C for about two weeks. Aging is in steel with periodic batonnage. The wine has hints of white peach, apricot and anise with good acidity and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.IMG_0187

Aglianico Sannio DOC 100% Aglianico from vineyards at 800ft. with volcanic and clay soil and a southwest   exposure. The vines are 30 years old. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French second passage barriques for 9 months and in bottle for 3 months before release.IMG_0182

Aglianico Sanno DOC ‘Cesco di Nece’ 100% Aliganico from the “Cesco di Nece,” organically planted vineyard in 1994 and is 3 hectares. Harvest is at the end of October. Grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maturation is second passage French oak for 9 months. Lightly fined, unfiltered and a small SO2 addition before bottling. It is aged for 9 months in bottle before release.

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Filed under Aglianico, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mustilli, Piedirosso, Uncategorized

Castello di Meleto: The Wines of Tuscany

A few months ago I was contacted by wellcomonline.com, a PR agency based in Alba, Italy. They wanted to know if I wanted to taste wine samples from Castello di Meleto, a winery in Tuscany. Wellcom handles some of Italy’s top wine clients, so I told them I would except the samples and was very pleased that I did.

The Castello di Meleto estate consists of 2,470 acres of which 300 acres are planted with vines. It is located just over a half mile from the town of Gaiole in Chianti. The castle, the heart of the estate, once belonged to the monks of the Coltibuono Abbey. The name Meleto can be traced back to 1256. Today the vineyards are spread in five different plots that surround the castle, leaving the winery in an ideal central location.

The Wines IMG_0984

Vermentino 2015 IGT Toscana Bianco made from 100% Vermentino. The vineyard was planted in 2010 and is at 360 to 420 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. The grapes are handpicked in small containers in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and soft pressed the free run juice is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. During fermentation, a small portion of the wine undergoes a brief aging in second or third passage barriques. The wine in aged in stainless steel for 4 months before release. This is a fresh slightly tangy wine with hints of citrus and nice minerality. $12 IMG_0985

Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and south-west exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vat. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly. $18IMG_0986

Chianti Classico Riserva “Vigna Casi” DOCG 2012 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located in Gaiole in Chianti. The exposure is west, south and southwest at 400 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon and alberello. The vines were planted in 1990-1995. Harvest and selection is by hand. Maceration and spontaneous fermentation is at a minimum temperature of 78-82F in wooden vats with delestage and pump-over. The wine is kept in contact with the skins for 20 to 25 days before it goes into cement vats for malolactic fermentation. One half of the wine is aged in 52 Slavonian oak barrels, the rest in second or third passage 225-liter barriques for 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of cherries, violets and spice and a long and intense finish. $30IMG_0987

 Chianti Classico “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2011 made from 85 % Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is south facing and is at 400 meters and were planted in 2000 and 2003. There are 5,000 vines per hectare; the training system is spurred cordon and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. Great care is taken in thinning shoots, foliage canopy management, and pruning. Harvest is by hand with 10-kilogram bins. In the cellar the grapes are refrigerated to a temperature of 8/10C for at least 24 hours. After the fermentation, which is in oak barrels, there is a long maceration. The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in second passage French barriques, while the Sangiovese is aged in second and third passage barriques. The wine is aged between 14 to 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in bottle for one year before release. This is an intense complex wine with hints of spice and berries. It will need a few more years to bring out all of its aromas and flavors.  $50

Gran Selezione is a new classification at the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid. The grapes for these wines must be estate grown and come from a single vineyard, or selected from the estates best-suited vineyards. Gran Selezione wines can be released on the market 30 months from the grape harvest, including at least 3 months of bottle age. The alcohol must be at least 13% IMG_0989

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2008 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla. $45 – 375 bottle

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Filed under Castello di Meleto, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Vermentino, Vin Santo

A Winery Named Ciù Ciù: Certified Organic and Vegan

When I was in Rome in February we went to Ar Galetto restaurant in the Piazza Farnese. It was warm enough to sit outside and Michele loves the view of the fountains and Palazzo Farnese, where much of the opera Tosca is set.

I ordered spaghetti with fresh anchovies. With it I ordered a wine with the unlikely name of Ciù Ciù (pronounced choo choo) made from the Pecorino grape from the region of the Marche. I had first enjoyed this wine in NYC at Ribalta Restaurant with Paolo Agostinelli who represents the winery. It was the perfect wine to go with the spaghetti.IMG_0759

This is what Paolo told me about the Società Agricola Ciù Ciù winery. It is family owned and run and was established in 1970 by Natalino Bartolomei and his wife Anna. Today the winery is run by their sons Massimliano and Walter.

In the beginning, the focus was on indigenous grapes: Trebbiano, Passerina, Pecorino, Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Later they expanded into the Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi and the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba area. They also have some international grape varieties. The philosophy of the winery is that the best wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar.

The Ciù Ciù winery is certified organic and since the 2014 vintage, the wine is certified vegan. The winery is located in the middle of the Piceno hills, at Offida (Ascoli Piceno). It is in the Rosso Superiore production area and its vineyards extend over 150 hectares.

The White Wines

Passerina “Evoè” Marche IGP 2015 100% Passerina The vineyard is at 250 to 300 meters and the soil is of medium texture. They use the spur pruned training system and the hand harvest takes place at the end of September. This white wine is fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel and refining does not take place. It is any easy drinking aromatic wine with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and nice minerality. Paolo said it is ready to drink right after the harvest.IMG_0813

Pecorino “Mertettaie” Offida  2015 DOCG 100% Pecorino, the vineyard is at 280 meters, vines are spur pruned cordon trained and the soil is medium mixture and clayey. Harvest is the last ten days of September. Paolo said the wine  is cold macerated in stainless steel and then fermented in botti (25hl) with indigenous yeast. It is also aged in the same botti for 6 months  and 3 months in bottle before release. This is a dry white wine with good minerality, notes of citrus fruit and a touch of acacia.

Vino Spunamte Merlettaie Brute NV made from 100% Pecorino. Vineyard is at 280 meters, spur pruned cordon training and the soil is of medium mixture quite clayey. Harvest is by hand the first ten days of September. The decanted must is fermented with selected yeasts at controlled temperatures. The Charmat-Martinotti method is used, the sparkling process lasts for 25 days, refining with yeast for 5 months and 3 months in bottle before release. It has very fine bubbles with hints of citrus fruit, apple and almonds with mineral undertones.

The Red WineIMG_0812

Marche IGT Rosso 2011 “Oppîdum” made from 100% Montepulicano. The vineyard is at 300 meters, with medium mixture clayey soil, spur pruned cordon training and the harvest takes place at the end of October. Fermentation is on the skins for 20 days followed by malolactic fermentation. 30% of the wine is aged in barriques and 70% of the wine in 10 hl barrels for 12 months. The wine is in bottle for 6 months before release.IMG_0814

Rosso Piceno Superiore DOP 2013 “Gotico” Montepulciano 70% and Sangiovese 30%. The vineyard is at 300 meters, spur pruned cordon training, medium mixture soil and the harvest takes place the second half of October. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place with a cold drawing of the wine. Paolo said the wine is aged in botti. Depending on the vintages we use 25 to 35 hl botti and we keep the wine for 12 to 18 months. The 2013 vintage was aged for 18 months as the weather was really hot and we needed to soften the edges more.  This is a full-bodied wine with hints of black fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0811

 Offida DOC Rosso 2009 “Esperanto” Montepuliciano 70% and Cabernet Sauvignon 30%. The vineyard is at 300 meters, spur pruned cordon training, and medium mixture clayey soil. The harvest is by hand: the end of September for the Cabernet and the end of October for the Montepulciano. There is a long fermentation on the skins; a daily cold drawing of the wine both in stainless steel and barriques. Paolo said the wine  is aged in mid-toasted French oak barriques for two years and then bottled for 2 more years before going to the market.  This is a well-structured wine with hints of plums, cherries, a touch of spice and leather.

 

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Filed under CiuCIU, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Marche, Passerina, Pecorino, Rosso Piceno

In Puglia with Radici del Sud 2016

The first time I went to Puglia was in 1983. I have gone back a number of times because of the wine, food and the unique culture. For ten years I was the sommelier/wine director of I Trulli restaurant in NYC. Trulli are the traditional cone shaped houses in Puglia, so I really got to know the wine and the food and have always enjoyed it.IMG_0708

A few months ago, Nicola Campanile, organizer of Radici del Sud 2016 in Puglia, invited me to attend the weeklong wine tasting and judging of the wines of Southern Italy.

When we arrived at the hotel, the other attendees and I, from 13 different countries, were divided into two groups: buyers and press. The buyers stayed in the hotel and tasted wine while the press spent two days and nights on the road.

Our guide and translator was Ole Udsen. The way he was greeted by the producers and others that we met showed the high regard in which he was held, so I gave him the name “Mr. Puglia.” His knowledge of the wines and the region in general, was of the highest level.IMG_0616

One of our first stops was tasting wine with the Association Nationale Le Donna Del Vino Delegazione Puglia.IMG_0617

The president of the organization is Marianna Cardone. The Women in Wine organized a tasting of 17 producers.

Marianna Cardone

Marianna Cardone

Each producer showed one wine. The format reminded me of musical chairs: I sat with a producer, tasted the wine and we talked. Then came an announcement to change places. This was done 17 times. It was very informative and enabled me to learn a lot in a short time.

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

There was even a type of wine I had never tasted before, the Tre Tomoli Rosa 2015 from Vignaflora, a Rosato made from the Susmaniello grape.

We also visited several wineries.IMG_0639

At the Paololeo Winery another organization DeGusto Salento: Association Del Negoamaro presented a tasting of 6 wines:

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2014 “Lago della Pergola” Vetrere

Negroamaro IGP Puglia 2013 “Taccorosso” Paolo Leo

Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2013”Aiace” Castello Monaci

Negroamaro Salento IGP 2012 CalitroIMG_0637

Brindisi Rosso Riserva DOC 2012 “Jaddico” Tenute RubinoIMG_0638

Brindisi DOP Riserva 2011 “Vigna Flaminio” Vallone

 At the Apollonio winery we tasted 6 wines:

Negroamaro Rosato 2015 Salento IGP Santi DimitriIMG_0645

IGT Salento Rosato 2015 “Rohesia” CanteleIMG_0646

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2013 Conti ZeccaIMG_0647

Salento IGT 2013 “Mjere” Michele Caló

Salento IGT 2011 “Cento su Cento Castel di Salve

Copertino Riserva DOP 2011 “Divoto” Apollonio

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At the Garofano winery, the tasting was held outside.IMG_0652

It was so windy that they could not open the umbrellas, so we tasted in the sun as you can see from the pictures. There were 6 wines:

Copertino DOP Rosato 2015 Marulli

Salento IGT 2015 “DuodecimRomando GrecoIMG_0656

Salento Rosato IGT 2013 Vigna Mazzi Rosa Del Golfo

Nardò DOC 2014 “Danza della Contessa” Bonsegna Salento IGP 2007 “Le Braci” Garofano

Salento IGT 2006 Piromafo” Valle dell’Asso

 Wine made from the Negroamaro grape can be 100% Negroamaro or blended with other grapes as in the case of Copertino, Salice Salentino and Brindisi Rosso, or made into a rose or a white wine. I became very fond of the Negroamaro in all its forms on this trip.

We visited the town of Gallipoli on the southern tip of Puglia by the sea.IMG_0663

At Cantina Coppola 1489 we tasted white wines made from the Negroamaro grape from 2015 back to 2009.IMG_0667

Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT “Rocci” 100% Negroamaro. The production area is the Santo Stefano Vineyard Alezio. The soil is clayish and the training system is espalier. The harvest takes place by hand the last week of August. The wine is vinified and aged in stainless steel. I have very little experience with Negroamaro vinified as a white wine but I was very pleased with the wines I tasted,

The 2012 was the only vintage that had been aged in barriques for about six months. The wines have a simple elegance, fruitiness with good minerality and a touch of the sea. The only wine that did not have these aromas and flavors, reflecting the land and the sea was the 2012.

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Paolo Benegiamo with the Alberelli 1947

At a tasting in the Castle in Gallipoli, we played musical chairs again but here there was enough time to speak to the producer and they had more than one wine. One of the best wines I tasted made from 100% Negroamaro was the Vecchie Vigna Alberelli 1947 from L’Astore Masseria presented by the owner Paolo Benegiamo. It is a wine which makes one stop and take notice.

Giuseppe Fiorita

Giuseppe Fiorita with the Copertino Rosso

Copertino Rosso DOC Riserva 2008, Cupertinum-Antica Cantina Del Salento 1935. I sold this wine at I Trulli and always liked it. It is a great value for the price and was later picked as one of the top wines by the press.

Next time a Ciro tasting, a Fiano Minutolo tasting, the blind tasting completion and the winners.

 

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Filed under Cantina Coppola 1489, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Le Donne del Vino Delegazione Puglia, Negoramaro, Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT Rocci, Radici del Sud 2016, Rose

Tasting Pallagrello and Casavecchia at the Alois Winery

One of the things I enjoyed most on my recent visit to Benevento for Campania Stories, was the opportunity to visit wineries, speak to the producers, and taste their wines.IMG_0113

One afternoon, Gianfranco Alois picked me up at my hotel to take me to his family winery. As we were driving the conversation turned to pizza as it always does when you are near Naples. He said we were very close to Franco Pepe’s Restaurant, Pepe in Grano, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I asked him if we could stop there but he said there was no time, and besides his sister-in-law Talita was making lunch.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

At the winery Michele Alois, his son Massimo, the winemaker, and his wife Talita, greeted me.

Michele Alois

Michele Alois

The winery was founded by Michele at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

For the tasting we concentrated on two wines: Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I am familiar with both of them but this would be the first time I could taste so many and from different vintages. I knew the winery and liked their Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” which I used for a tasting of Southern Italian Wines during Vino 2016 in NYC, so I was looking forward to the tasting.IMG_0120

The tasting took place in the cellar with all the family members talking about the wine and at times the foods of the area. I tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello and Casavecchia, plus vintages going back to 2010

The name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of its tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints if almonds, citrus fruit melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0115

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

The Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived Phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.IMG_0121

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

The 2010 is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0112

Talita made a delicious frittata for us to eat during the tasting, but unfortunately, I had another winery to visit and it became too late for me to try her Pasta alla Genovese, a classic dish from the Neapolitan kitchen. All I got to do was smell the aroma. It was a wonderful visit and I really enjoyed meeting the family and experiencing their wines.

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Filed under Alois Winery, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Cassavecchia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Uncategorized

Marco de Grazia and Tenuta Terre Nere at La Pizza Fresca

IMG_0315Beginning in the 1980’s, Marco de Grazia, with his company Marco de Grazia Selections: Wines from the great crus of Italy, has had a great influence on Italian wine producers. He has been a figure of some controversy but I would like to write about Marco de Grazi as the owner/winemaker of Tenuta Terre Nere in Sicily.

Brad Bonnewelll and Marco de Grazia

Brad Bonnewelll and Marco de Grazia

Brad Bonnewell, wine director of La Pizza Fresca Restaurant, invited me to a dinner featuring the wines of Terre Nere. Marco de Grazia spoke and told us that the estate is located on the northern slope of Mt. Etna with vineyards between the villages of Solicchiata and the town of Randazzo. The first vintage was in 2002. The property is over 30 hectares, divided into 10 parcels in four cru vineyards: Calderara Sottana, Santo Spirito, Guardiola and Feudo di Mezzo. Marco believes in the importance of expressing the character of each cru in all its purity.

The WinesIMG_0310

Etna Bianco 2014 DOC. Marco said he first made the wine in 2005. It is a field blend made up of 65% Carricante plus Inzolia, Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia and Minnella in the townships of Castiglione de Sicilia, Randazzo, Biancavilla and Milo, from many vineyards with different exposures. The soil is volcanic. The harvest is in the beginning of October followed by a soft pressing and low temperature fermentation in stainless steel.

We had this with imported bufala mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma.IMG_0323

Etna Rossa 2013, 2014 DOC Made from 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards both young and old in the townships of Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo. The vines are 6 to 50 years old, the soil is volcanic and the exposure is north. The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation and the wine remains in wood for about one year before it is bottled.IMG_0415

We had the red wines with a number of different dishes including Pizza Margherita and Pizza Salame Picante.IMG_0325

Santo Spirito Etna Rosso 2012, 2013 DOC Made from 98% Nerello Mascalese and 2% Nerello Cappuccio in the township of Castiglione di Sicilia. The soil is deep black volcanic soil, the exposure is northern and the vines are 40 to 100 years old. Aged for 6 months in stainless steel, then aged in equal proportions in French barriques, tonneaux and casks.IMG_0327

 Calderara Sottana Etna Rosso 2012, 2013 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio in the township of Randazzo. Marco said the Calderara Sottana’s soil has the most stones and black volcanic pumice of all the crus on Etna. The vineyard is at 600/700 meters, with a northern exposure and the vines are between 50 and 100 years old. The vineyards are steeply sloped and tightly terraced. Harvest by hand in the second half of October. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration lasts 10 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation  and maturation are carried out in oak. After 18 months the wine is bottled without filtering. Marco described these two wines as: floral and spicy, leathery and aromatic, and creamy.IMG_0324

Etna Rosso “Feudo di Mezzo” 2013 DOC made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from the township of Castiglione. The soil is black volcanic ash with basaltic pebbles. The vines are 50 to 80 years old with alberello plantings. The exposure is northern and it is terraced. Harvest is by hand. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18 months. Marco said that of the crus, it is usually the first to be ready to drink.IMG_0329

Prephylloxera Etna Rosso 2013 DOC Township of Randazzo from the Don Peppino Vineyard. Made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Marco said in front and to the right of the cellar in the Calderara Sottana vineyard are two parcels, in the midst of the larger vineyards that have survived phylloxera. They therefore are over 130 years old and stand on their own rootstock. Exposure is northern and the soil is black volcanic pumice with some ash. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18

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Filed under Etna Bianco, Etna Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, La Pizza Fresca, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Uncategorized