Category Archives: Italian Wine

CASALE DEL GIGLIO WINERY: Bellone, Cesanese, Petit Manseng, Viognier and More

Casale del Giglio was the last winery on my recent tour of three wineries south of Rome. I was familiar with this winery because when I was the wine director for I Trulli restaurant in NYC we carried their wines.

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Elise

When John Curtas, a journalist from Las Vegas, and I arrived at the winery Elise Rialland gave us some background information. I had met Elise from the export office the night before in Rome. I had a nice time talking to her and her husband.

Dr. Berardino Santarelli, from the Appenine hill town of Amatrice, founded Casale del Giglio in 1967. The estate is between the town of Aprilia and Latina in the Agro Pontino valley about 50 miles from Rome. The winemaker is Paolo Tiefenthaler who also consults for other wineries and makes a methode classico spumante in Trento where he lives.

Paolo took us to the roof of the winery where we could see the vineyards. He said the area did not have much of a winemaking tradition and 60 different grape varieties were planted to determine see which ones would do best.

They converted the 180 hectares of vineyards to the cordon training system, planting the grapes which adapt well to the territory and produce quality wines such as: Syrah, Petit Verdot, Viognier, Petit Manseng and Tempranijo, plus other international and local varieties.

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Paolo

They have 22 products, seven white wines, one rosé, seven reds, one late harvest, three grappas and an extra virgin olive oil.

We then went with Paolo to the cellars were he showed us a 225 liter demo barrel that is used to explain how wine develops in the barrel and its effects on the wine.img_2164

At lunchtime, we had one of the best meals that I have had at any winery in a very long time. They served two of my favorite pastas: Mezze Maniche alla Griciaimg_2168

and Amatriciana and they were as good, if not better, than any I have eaten in Rome! For the lunch I have thank to Linda Siddera, the Int. Events and Hospitality Coordinator for the winery.

Linda  with Elisa did the wine tasting for us

The Winesimg_2150

Bellone Lazio Bianco DOC Knowing my interest in the Bellone grape, Elise said the variety is cited by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD). Today the grape is cultivated from Rome to the Lepini hills around the costal town of Anzio where the warm sandy soils tempered by a relentless sea breeze provide the ideal microclimate. The grape is vigorous and resistant to drought, a guarantee of wine quality and balance. The grapes are plump, golden yellow, thick skinned and hang in elongated cone shaped bunches. The constant sea breeze contributes to the over ripeness of the grapes and a high concentration of sugar and acidity lead to early maturation and the wines’ mineral notes. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification: maceration is on the skins followed by a soft pressing and spontaneous fermentation with indigenous yeast for about 10 to 12 days at 18 -20C. This is a balanced wine with tropical fruit aromas and flavors, hints of mango, floral and spice notes, good acidity and a long finish. The wine can age! img_2148

Satrico Lazio Bianco IGT made from 40% Chardonnay, 40% Sauvignon and 30% Trebbiano Giallo. Only the best bunches are selected and after a soft pressing the first run juice is separated from the skins. The different varieties are vinified separately.   A slow, temperature controlled continuous fermentation takes place for 7 or 8 days. After racking the wine matures in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled at the beginning of the following years. This is a fruity, crisp, lightly aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit. The wine is named after the ancient pre-Roman town of Satricum.img_2156

Albiola Lazio Rosato IGT made from 85% Syrah and 15% Sangiovese, depending on the vintage. The dark skinned red grapes are lightly crushed and left in stainless steel tanks for several hours. After this initial period of cold maceration on the skins at 8 to 10°C some of the juice is “bled,” drained off from the tanks and fermented separately, a process known as saignéé from the French saigner to bleed. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at about 18C for 8 to 10 days. The wine if floral and fruity with aromas and flavors of woodland berries dominated by strawberries and raspberries.img_2157

Cesanese Lazio Rosso IGT 100% Cesanese. The grape comes from the Latium Province of Frosinone around the hill towns of Affile and Piglio. It is a low yield late ripening variety, which lends itself to late harvest. The clusters are small, sparse and elongated, the berries oval and medium sized. Harvest does not take place until late October as the vineyards are situated on high, hilly slopes. Paolo said late ripening varieties normally make for a long lasting wine. The more days between flowering and maturity, the more suitable the wine will be for long aging. There is submerged, spontaneous fermentation at 18-20°C for about 20 days followed by a further 10/12 days of maceration on the skins to extract the very last traces of the tannins in which the skins and seeds of the Cesanese grape are particularly rich. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry and violets and a touch of spice.img_2158

 Shiraz IGT Lazio made from 100% Syrah. Only the ripest and healthiest grapes are selected for vinification. Two days of cold maceration at about 10C takes place. Vinification continues with the punching down of the floating cap 3 or 4 times a day. The fermenting must is racked and returned (délestage) several times during the initial stages of the 10 to 12 day fermentation process at 28°C. The new wine is carefully drawn off into stainless steel vats for malolactic fermentation, the color, tannins and aroma still present in the fermented skins are extracted in the soft press to which they are gently persuaded to slide by force of natural gravity alone. The wine is aged in barriques for 8 to 12 months and for 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, blueberry, cherry, black pepper and a touch of violets.img_2299

Mater Matuta Lazio Rosso IGT. Made from 85% Syrah and 15 % Petit Verdot (proportions may vary slightly depending on the vintage.) The grapes are harvested when fully ripe and the Syrah may be slightly shriveled, and vinified in different ways. Submerged cap is used for the Syrah, which ferments on native yeasts for 18 to 20 days. During the first few days délestage takes place several times. Punching down is used for the Petit Verdot for the extraction of the grape’s tannins and polyphenolic compounds. The full-bodied Petit Verdot gives the wine its long aging potential, and the Syrah gives complexity of character. Each new wine goes into new barriques. Color, tannins and aromas still present in the fermented skins are extracted in the soft presses to which they slide by gravity. After 22 to 24 months in oak the wines are blended and left in the bottle for another 10 to 12 months. This is a big complex wine with hints of black cherry, spice, cinnamon and violets. It has a long finish and very pleasing after taste. This is their flagship wine. The name comes from the ancient Italic goddess of the dawn.

Chardonnay Lazio IGT– a wine that does not undergo malolatic fermentation and is aged for 3 to 4 months in stainless steel so the true varietal character comes through.

Sauvignon Blanc Lazio IGT (vinification and aging is like the Chardonnay) It is a very balanced wine with good acidity and a hint of grass.img_2153

Viognier Lazio Bianco IGT produced from fully ripe and over ripe grapes. The wine is stored on its lees in stainless steel tanks to prevent malolactic fermentation. It is a true expression of the Viognier grape.

Biancolella di Ponza IGT Bianco LazioFaro Della Guarda” in Lazio the wine made from the Biancolella can only be produced on the Island of Ponza which is off the southwest coast of Lazio. The grape is a native of Campania and came to Ponza from Ischia. However we did not get to taste this wine.img_2170

Aphrodisium-late harvest dessert wine made from Petit Mansegn, Viognier, Greco and Fiano, proportions depending on the vintage. These white grapes are harvested at different times. The Petit Manseng at the end of October when the clusters are well shriveled by the sea breeze. The sugar level is 30 to 32 Bobo(Brix in English) degrees (potential of about 18% alcohol.) The grapes are pressed whole to extract just the highly concentrated juice. No yeast is added. The solid parts of the grape are left behind and the ratio of must extracted to grapes pressed is no more than 30%. Fermentation occurs spontaneously in stainless steel vats at about 18°C. This wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach and honey with a refreshing mineral crispness, a long finish and a very pleasant after taste.img_2172

After the excellent lunch, John and I were offered grappa. The grappa is from the newly fermented skins from Casale del Giglio’s grapes but it is distilled at the Pilzer Distillery in Faver, Trento (it is illegal to have a distillery and winery on the same property in Italy.)

I selected the grappa made from Petit Manseng skins, which is a clear grappa. John selected the Petit Verdot, which is distilled the same way but is aged in wood and takes on a light brown color. It was the perfect way to end a wonderful lunch and visit.

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Filed under Bellone Grape, Casale del Giglio, Cesanese, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lazio, Shiraz, Viognier

Drinking Bellone and Nero Buono at the Cincinnato Winery

Kim Sayid, who is working with a winery in Lazio, wrote me this text: “Would you like to go to Rome and visit 3 wineries in Lazio near the town of Cori? You have to leave in two weeks and you would be based in Rome for 3 days.”

Rome, wineries — it was an offer I could not refuse.

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Cori

The other journalist on the trip was John Curtas from Las Vegas. We had never met before but his presence added to my enjoyment of the trip.

Cori is located 28 miles (45 klm) southeast of Rome.

The first winery we visited was Cincinnato where Giovanna Trisorio, the marketing director, welcomed us. We had met her the night before at a dinner in Rome.img_2078

She told us that the winery was named after Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus a 5th century BC Roman politician who was named consul and won the war against the Argui. After the victory, Cincinnatus gave up all power and went back to his farm in Cori. The company’s logo shows him working on the farm plowing the soil with his ox.

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On the right Giovanna Trisorio

The winery is located in the hills of Cori, an ancient village south of Rome. The climate is protected by the mountains and pleasantly mitigated by the sea. Cincinnato is a co-op founded in 1947 with 200 members and 400 hectors of vineyards. It is a very modern winery constructed using local products and workman.img_2093

We tasted the wines with lunch, which was made with all local products from Cori including their excellent extra virgin olive oil, Dioscuri, made from 100%“Itrana Cultivar”.

The winery is also an agriturismo and hosts guests in several comfortable rooms.img_2089

Castore 2015 IGT Lazio made from 100% Bellone. The vineyards are located on the lava hills around Cori at 200 to 250 meters and the soil is volcanic-clayey. A row training system is used and there are 3,000 to 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place September 10th-15th. Soft pressing and destemming takes places followed by static decantation for 24 hours and subsequent fermentation at a cold temperature 15C for 10 days. The wine remains on the lees for 2 months and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release.

The wine has delicate fruity aromas with hints of yellow peach and hawthorn.

Giovanna said that the Bellone grape’s ancestor is believed to be uva Pantastica, described by Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) in his Natural History. Giovanna said that the name Castore is from the mythical Dioscuri to whom the temple of Castor and Pollux is dedicated and the archeological remains are part of Cori’s heritage.img_2095

Pozzodorico 2014 IGT Lazio 100% Bellone the vineyards are at 250 meters and there are 4,000 plants per hectare, harvest is from September 10th to 20th. There is a soft pressing and destemming and fermentation takes place in 500 liter barrels for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation takes the wine remains on the lees for 12 months. The wine is aged in big barrels and for 6 months in bottle before release. Giovanna said this process makes a complex, full bodied and elegant wine and she is right. It has hints of exotic fruit, lemon and hazelnuts with nice minerality.

They also make a dessert wine from 100% Bellone called Solina IGT Lazio

Giovanna said the Bellone grape is an indigenous variety of ancient origin, cultivated in the area around Cori. It is known for its thin and delicate skin. It has good acidity.

I first tasted wine made from the Bellone grape a number of years ago in Rome and have been drinking it ever since.img_2088

Brut Spumante made from 100% Bellone  The grapes are picked in September when the acidity is high. Fermentation for about 10 days at 15C and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Charmat (tank) process for about 2 months and the wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has tiny bubbles, is slightly aromatic with hints of acacia and white peach.img_2090

Illirio Cori Bianco DOC Cori made from 50% Bellone, 30% Malvasia del Lazio, and 20% Greco from the Colle Illirio area at 200 to 250 meters. The soil is volcanic and clayey. The training system is row, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest is September 10th to 20th. There is soft pressing and destemming, followed by cold maceration with the skins for 24 hours. Fermentation at 15C – for 10 days, malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a fruity fragrant wine with hints of lemon and good minerality.img_2092

Pantaleo 2015 IGT Lazio made from 100% Greco. Soft pressing and destemming followed by static decantation for 24 hours and subsequent fermentation at a cold temperature 15C for 12 days. The wine remains on the lees for 2 months and malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine in aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with personality. It had delicate fruity aromas with hits of citrus fruit and a touch of smoke. Giovanna said it should be drunk young to taste its characteristics at their best. She said this ancient variety, widespread in central Italy, has small grapes with thick dark skin and produces soft but full bodied wine.
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Polluce IGT Lazio made from 100% Nero Buono Giovanna said that this red grape is native to Cori, which was saved by the winery. The grapes are round and medium sized. The vines are guyot pruned, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is from September 25th to October 5th. Soft pressing and destemming takes place. Malolactic fermentation. Fermentation is with the skins for about 10 days at 24°C. Aging in stainless steel tanks for 12 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red and black fruit with a touch of raspberry and blackberry.img_2097

Raverosse Cori Rosso DOC made from Nero Buono 50%, Montepulciano 30%, Cesanese 20%. Vineyards are in the Raverosso area at 150 to 200 meters with 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is from September 25th to October 10th. There is a soft pressing and destemming followed by fermentation with skin contact for about 10 days at 24°C, followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in new barriques for 5 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is an intense wine with red and black fruit flavors and aromas and hints of dried berries.img_2098

Arcatura IGT Lazio made from 100% Cesanese, an ancient grape variety native to Lazio. This red grape has medium sized close–knit bunches of small grapes. The vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 4,000 grapes per hectare and the row training system uses spurred cordon pruning. Perfectly ripe grapes are soft pressed and destemmed. Fermentation with the skins for about 8 days, malolactic fermentation takes place. Aging in barriques for 8 months and half in stainless steel tanks for a year. The wine remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of red and black berries with a hint of blueberry and currants.img_2103

They also produce a grappa riserva called Arciprete from different grapes.

 

 

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Filed under Bellone Grape, Cesanese, Cincinnato winery, Grappa, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lazio, Nero Buono, Spumante

Champagne, Wine and Ravioli with Truffles

Our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo invited us to their home for a special lunch featuring the season’s first white truffles. Their grandson Steven De Salvo, who is a terrific cook, would be assisting in the kitchen. I knew that Ernie would choose just the right wines to complement the meal.img_1845

We started with the Champagne Gosset “Celebris” Vintage Extra Brut 2002 made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot from Grand Cru grapes. This is complex Champagne with tiny bubbles, floral aromas and citrus fruits aromas and flavors, a hint of lime and a touch of vanilla. 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne.img_1838

We had this with dates stuffed with foie gras, nuts and Parmesan cheese wafers.img_1846

Barolo Bussia “Dardi Le Rose” 1995 Poderi Colla made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, liquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.img_1848

Stephen prepared delicate ravioli in a brown sauce stuffed with duck breast.img_1843

Ernie showered the ravioli with white truffles. The combination was exquisite!img_1854

Barolo Monfortino Riserva 1997 Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. Another classic Barolo with hints of tar, tea, leather, red berries and faded roses.img_1851

With this we had Ernie’s interpretation of a classic Osso Buco served on whipped potatoes.img_1858

A 375 bottle of Sauterne Chateau Doisy-Véderines 2001.Made from 80% Semillon,15% Sauvignon and 5% Muscadelle. Fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats for a week and then the must is transferred to barriques for about 20 months. This is a full-bodied Sauterne with hints of apricot, orange blossom and a touch of honey and marmalade. It is a dessert wine that will age.img_1856

With it we had a rich Italian style cheesecake.

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Filed under Champagne, Chateau Doisy- Verderines, French Wine, Giacomo Conterno, Gosset Celebris Champagne, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Poderi Colla, Sauterne, Sauterne

Valpolicella: Microclimate Differences and Lake Garda

After speaking about Valpolicella and differences related to altitude (see  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/valpolicella-background-and-the-influence-of-altitude/), Alberto Brunelli, the oenologist for the  Consorzio Valpolicella, turned to  the subject of  microclimate variations and the influence of Lake Garda. He divided the second group of wines accordingly.

The distance of vineyards from Garda Lake: the further  they are, the maximum summer temperatures are higher and can influence the vines and their expression in wine in many ways. From west (near the lake) to east (far from it), we have this trend:img_1775

 Distance from the lake, along with the vineyards’ sun exposition and altitude influence every single valley’s and vineyard’s temperature.  The daily temperature range affects the polyphenolic and anthocyanin potential in a vintage, as well as the body, the color and the aging of the wine.lake-garder

The Winesimg_1739

Gerardo Cesari Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from 75% Corvina and 25% Rondinella. Harvest is from September 20th to October 15. Traditional fermentation with maceration for 10 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine remains in stainless steel for at least 4 months and then in bottle for a short time before release. The wine is fresh and fruity with aromas of wild berries.img_1740

Scriani Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from Corvina 60%, Corvinone 20%, 10% Rondinella, 7% Molinara and 3% Oseleta from the La Costa and Ronchiel vineyards in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. The land ranged in altitude between 250 and 400 meters. The soil is composed of a mixture of clay, limestone and basaltic tufa. Harvest is by hand in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 12 days of maceration on the grape skins at a controlled temperature. The wine in fragrant and fruity with hints of red berries and a touch of sage.img_1741

Santa Sofia Valpolicella DOC 2014 Made from 70% Corvina and Corvinone with 30% Rondinella from vineyards with calcareous soils located in the municipality of San Pietro in Cariano. Maturation is in stainless steel and the wine remains in the bottle for another 3 months before release. The wine has hints of cherries, raspberries with a touch of spice and good acidity.img_1742

San Cassiano Valpolicella DOC 2014 made from 70% Corvina, 15% Molinara and 15% Rondinella. The training system is pergola and there are 3,300 vines per hectare. The grapes are left on the vine to dry for a week. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats, without the addition of yeast. The wine is aged in stainless steel vats for 12 months. They include 15% Molinara, a varietal abandoned by many producers, but they feel it gives the wine a salty taste with spicy notes. The wine has hits of red fruit and cherries.img_1743

Fattori Valpolicella DOC 2015 “Col de la Bastia” Made from 65% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 10% other varieties. 12 hectares located in Bastia, exactly on the valley between the Val d’Alpone and the Val d’lllai. The shaley clay-subalkaline land is formed in a broad plateau with slight slopes, produced by the alteration of limestone formations. The altitude is 450 meters. There are 5200 vines per hectare and the vines are between 20 to 35 years old. Harvest is by hand the last two weeks of September. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel and wooden barrels. The wine had fruity aromas and flavors with hints of cherries and other red fruits.

Next time vintages differences: The 2014 and 2015 and conclusions.

 

 

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Filed under Cesari Valpolicella, Fattori Valpolicella, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Lake Garda, San Cassiano Valpolicella, Santa Sofia Valpolicella, Scriani Valpolicella, Uncategorized, Valpolicella, Veneto

LUGANA DOC: The White Wine of Lake Garda

One of my favorite places to visit in Italy is Lake Garda. I like sitting outside in a restaurant along the lake, eating the lake fish and drinking the local wine, in most cases Lugana DOC. While it wasn’t quite the same as Lake Garda, a dinner at La Pizza Fresca in NYC hosted by the Consorizo Tutela Lugana DOC was a good opportunity to try the new vintages.

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Luca Formentini from the Selva Capuzza Winery

The Lugana denomination is on the border between the provinces of Brescia (Lombardy) and Verona (Veneto) to the south of Lake Garda. The soil is mostly white clay and limestone, which is difficult to work.

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Angelica Altomare from the Cà Maiol Winery

The temperate breezes from Lake Garda influence the microclimate positively; it is mild and fairly constant with little difference between day and nighttime temperatures.

The Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, is the main grape in many of the wines. It is related to the Trebbiano di Soave varietal.

The basic Lugana wine accounts for almost 90% of the production. There is also a Lugana Superiore, Lugana Riserva (aged for at least 24 months, six of which is in the bottle), a late harvest, and a spumante version.

The law allows up to 10% of non aromatic white varieties but most producers make the wine from 100% Turbiana.

All of the wines at the tasting except two were from the 2015 vintage.img_1617

Lugana DOC “Provenza” 2015 100% Trebbiano di Lugana. Cà Maiol Training system is Guyot and there are 4400 plants per hectare. The soil is calcareous clay and the wines are 20 to 25 years old. Fermentation is stainless steel and malolactic fermentation tales place. The wine has hints of white fruit, white flowers and a very pleasing finish and after taste.img_1626

“Felugana” Lugana DOP Feliciana made from Turbiana grapes from Lugana. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September. Soft pressing of the grapes takes place and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in bottle for one month before release. The wine has hints of white flowers, fruit and mineral notes. img_1618

Lugana “Centro Filari” Cesari made from 95% Turbiana and 5% Chardonnay. The vineyards are located on the Southern shore of Lake Garda in Peschiera del Garda and Pozzolegno. There are 11 hectares of vineyards and 4,100 plants per hectare. Pruning system is Archetto semplice and the soil is clay-calcareous. Almost 20% of the grapes are ripened on cut off shoots to enhance structure and concentration. The grapes are soft pressed and alcoholic fermentation takes place under controlled temperatures. The juice remains in contact with the skin until January and the wine is bottled in February. Hints of flowers and fruit with a touch of grass and herbs.

Lugana 2015 Azienda Agricola CA’ Lojera made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana). Vineyards are at the southern tip of Lake Garda (Sirmione). There are 4,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. There are hints of melons and tangerines, floral notes, a touch of mint and a fruity personality.img_1625

Lugana DOC Familia Olivini made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana. There is a hand harvest, followed by a gentle pressing of the grapes. Alcoholic fermentation with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and a partial malolactic fermentation. Flowery with citrus scents, well balanced.img_1624

Lugana DOC “I Frati” Cà dei Frati made from 100% Turbiana. The soil is chalky clay and the training system is single and double guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks and 80% malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged 6 months on the lees in stainless steel tanks and two months in the bottle before release. This is a wine that can be drunk young but becomes more complex with a few years of age. It has hints of almonds and apricot with a hint of spice and candied fruit.img_1631

Lugana Montunale   Azienda Agricola Momtonale made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana grapes that are hand harvested. Montonale is a little village in the hills above Lake Garda. The soil is calcium mineral rich with clay and the vineyard is at 90 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 10 days at a low temperature. The wine remains on the lees for 5 months with frequent battonage. It remains in bottle for at least one month before release. The wine has hints of peach, apple with a touch of spice.img_1619

Lugana Le Creete 100% Trebbiano di Lugana.  Ottella The grapes are hand harvested from their own vineyards. The training system is Guyot, double arch. The grapes are picked late, there is a brief maceration on the skins. Fermentation is partly in controlled temperature steel vats and partly in wooden crates. Well balanced fruity wine with hints of herbs and grass.

Lugana “Limne” DOC 2013  Tenuta Roveglia 100% Turbiana (AKA Trebbiano) di Lugana. The vineyards are on the southern shores of Lake Garda at 50 meters. The land is mostly flat and harsh with clayish soil, rich in mineral salts. Harvest takes place the third week of September by hand in small crates. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with a maximum extraction of 60% first-pressing must. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in stainless steel for 4 to 5 months. Bottling in various phases from February to September of the year following the harvest. It remains in the bottle for 2 to 3 months before release. The wine is fruity but dry.img_1620

Lugana DOC Cá Del Largo Lugana Villabella Made from 90% Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) and 10% Chardonnay. The vineyards are along the southern shore of Lake Garda. The soil is clay -white and black. Harvest is the first week of October. The must is cold–macerated, pressing is soft and fermentation is carried out at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel and then in bottle before release. The wine has excellent structure and hints of flowers and citrus fruit with good minerality.img_1630

Lugana Riserva “Menasasso” 2012 100% Turbiana. Podere Selva Capuzza Harvest is by hand and vinification is in stainless steel and barriques.  Luca Formentini from the winery told me that the wine is produced from a select plot within the Sleva vineyards. The grapes are harvested a few days after the regular vintage. A small part of the must is fermented in small oak barrels with the aim to impart extra complexity to the finished wine without imparting undesired wood flavors.This is a well-balanced complex wine that was not showing any signs of age. He said it could last for ten years or more. It was the wine I drank the most!

 

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Filed under Italian White Wine, Italian Wine

A Taste of Vesuvius in Rome: CasaSetaro Winery

 

I have tasted the wines of CasaSetaro in the U.S and in Italy and really liked them.

Massimo Setaro

Massimo Setaro

Michele and I were spending 3 weeks in Rome when I received an e-mail from Massimo Setaro (the winery is in the Vesuvius National Park) that he wanted to come to Rome so I could taste his wines.img_1501

We met at Bar del Fico, Piazza del Fico 26, for a light lunch so that I could taste the wine with food. It is close to the apartment we rented and we go there for our morning café, drinks, and to eat. It a kind of funky place and the people are very nice.

Massimo said the winery is located on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius in Trecase. All the vineyards are located inside the Vesuvius National Park.

There are 4,500 plants per hectare. He spoke about the terroir and said it is volcanic and sandy with a layer of lava on the surface and volcanic stone. There is a mineral character present in the wines. This composition of the soil makes the vines immune to phyloxera so many of the plants have European roots.

The exposure of the vineyards are south, southeast, at 200 to 450 meters. If you walk to the highest point, you would be surrounded by the forests of the Vesuvius National Park. Green organic manure is used and the vines are treated only with copper and sulfur. Selected yeast is used in all the wines and the winery uses only their own grapes.

Massimo said he had bought a number of oak barriques but does not use them for wine anymore. Now they are used for planters.

Massimo said he learned a lot from his father growing up in the winery where they live. He said he takes care of all the production steps from vineyard management to the final bottling and his wife, Mariarosaria, works at his side.

I was very impressed with the passion in his voice when he spoke about growing up in the winery, the Vesuvius National Park, his wines and that he and his family live at the winery.

The Winesimg_1504

Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release.

In June when I was a judge at Radici del Sud in Puglia, this wine was picked as # 1 in the spumante category by the journalist panel of which I was a member.

Massino said the Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine. I have to agree.img_1503

Falanghina Campania IGT “Campanelle” 100% Falanghina del Vesuvio. Production Area: various micro zones within the Vesuvius National Park. The vineyards are at 250 meters and the vines are 18 years old. The training system is espalier with guyot pruning.img_1506

Massimo feels that Falanghina does not have the same rich character as the Caprettone. We both agreed however that with spaghetti con vongole verace, spaghetti with clams, we would drink the Falanghina. The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors with a touch of minerality.

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC Bianco “Munazei” 100% Caprettone. Production zone Vesuvius National Park. The training system is Vesuvian pergola and guyot. Vinification: Maceration in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and fermentation lasts for about 20 days. The wine remains in steel tanks for about 6 months and then in bottle for two months before release.

Michele and I first had wines made from the Caprettone grape few years ago on the Amalfi Coast and have been drinking them ever since.

Munazei- this is what they called the cold storage rooms built into the mountain where food was kept to prevent spoilage.img_1502

 Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC Rosato “Munazei” 100% Piedirosso. The vineyards are at 300 to 350 meters and the vines are 20 years old. Training system is espalier, guyot and Vesuvian pergola. There is a soft destemming and pressing followed by low temperature skin fermentation in stainless steel tanks at 4C for about 24 hours. The lees are removed and there is cleaning and controlled temperature fermentation at 10 to 12C for 18 to 24 days. The wine remains in steel tanks for 3 months and another 2 months in bottle before it is released. It has aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit with hints of cherry, strawberry and raspberry.img_1505

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Piedirosso DOC 100% Piedirosso. Espalier, guyot training Vesuvian pergola. Vinification: Maturation in stainless steel tanks for 6 months and in bottle for 3 months before release. The wine has hints of dark fruit with touch of blackberries violets. It is an easy drinking wine that goes very well with food.img_1508

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Rosso DOC Riserva “Don Vincenzo”  Made from 85% Piedirosso and 15% Aglianico. The production area is Tirone della Guardia. The vineyards are at 350 meters and are 30 years old. The training system is espalier, guyot trained. There is a natural selection of the hand picked grapes. Fermentation takes place, with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. The wine is then aged for 24 months in French oak tonneau and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a deeply rich wine with hints of cherries and raspberries with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Massimo said this wine is named after his father. He is very proud of the wine and gave me a magnum as a gift!

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Filed under Caprettone, CasaSetaro winery, Falanghina, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lacyma Chrisiti di Vesuvio, Piedirosso, Spumante, Uncategorized

The Fiano di Avellino of Donnachiara at IL Gattopardo Restaurant

 

I have met Illaria Petitto, managing director, Donnachiara winery a number of times in NYC and have visited the winery in Campania a number of times. I really like their white wines and paired with Neapolitan food at a luncheon at Il Gattopardo in Midtown Manhattan, it is a match made in heaven.img_1147

At the luncheon, Illaria offered a vertical tasting of her Fiano di Avellino going back to 2007. John Gilman who publishes “View from the Cellar” also spoke. I met John last March in Benevento at the Campania Stories tasting and together we visited the Donnachiara winery.

ILaria Petitto

ILaria Petitto

Ilania began by speaking about the Fiano di Avellino grape in general, her Fiano, and the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino.  The modern building is set on a hilltop in an area of rolling hills.

Ilaria said she parted ways with her winemaker, Angelo Valentino because she wants to have more input into her wines. She hired the well-respected Riccardo Cotarella as the consulting enologist for the winery. She felt that he could help with the Fiano as far as enhancing the bouquet and aromas. I told her I liked the wines just as they are now!img_1153

We tasted the 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2007 paired with a menu prepared by Il Gattopardo. All the wines are 100% Fiano di Avellino

  2015 -When I was in Benevento in March for the Campania Stories blind tasting of Fiano, I picked this vintage of Donnachiara as #1.

The soil is chalky clay; there are 4,400 plants per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 90 days. The wine does not undergo malolatcic fermentation and does not see any wood. This is an elegant wine with good body, dried fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of tropical fruit. This is a wine with good structure and body. Illaria said 2015 was a very good vintage.img_1148

With the wine we had Stuzzichini: Scagliozzi Di Polenta and Mini Mozzarelle in Carrozza con Salsetta D’Acciughe with the 2015 and 2013

I asked Illaria if the 2007 was vinified the same way as the 2015 and she said nothing has changed.

Cotarella will start with the 2016 vintage.

When I visited the winery in March I tasted 2011, 2009 and 2007 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. Illaria said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age. You could see the development of the wine from the different vintages.

In the white wines the juice is free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

2013 — This was the first I had tasted this vintage. Illaria said that 2013 was a warm and dry vintage. The grapes were very concentrated, rich in pulp and very structured. The wine is very soft and fat with nice ripe citrus fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity. I would not drink a Fiano unless it was at least 3 years old and that is still too young.

2011 — Illaria said this was a balanced vintage. The wine had developed since the last time I had tasted it and was showing very well. If you can find this wine buy it!

We had this wine with Scialatielli ai Frutta di Mare img_1159

2009 — Illaria said this was a difficult vintage but to me it was drinking much better than when I first tasted it. This is a well-balanced complex wine that will age for a very long time.

2007 — Illaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine. This is big wine with great structure and aromas ranging from candied fruit to flowers with good acidity. Both Illaria and John believe that this wine has great aging potential, from 15 to 20 years. It was showing a little more age than when I first tasted it but this was just the natural development.img_1160

We had both of these vintages with the Dentice in Brodetto con Cozze e Vongole.img_1166

2011 — Esoterico This is one of two wines that are in barriques, 20% is fermented in new French barriques for a period of 12 months. There is no fining, filtration or refrigeration, and there is natural clarification. This is the only vintage of the wine that they made. Illaria said because the wine is in a 375-ml size bottle, every one thinks it is a dessert wine. She said she is not sure if she would produce the wine again.img_1165

For dessert we had the Baba- it was one of the best I have ever eaten!

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Fiano di Avellino, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized