Category Archives: Italian White Wine

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

The Wine Media Guild Sicily Tasting: The White Wines

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

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

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

The White Wines of SicilyIMG_0218

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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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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.

IMG_9639

Gianfranco Sorrentino

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

IMG_9641

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