Category Archives: Method Classico

Fontanafredda: The Tradition Continues

Fontanafredda is one of the oldest wineries in  Piedmont, dating back about 160 years.  I visited the winery some years ago and wrote my first blog ever about a tasting of Fontanafredda Barolo in NYC.

About a week ago, Fontanafredda held their “2020 Press Tour”at Manzo Restaurant in Eataly Flatiron in New York.   In 2008 Oscar Farinetti, owner of the Eataly chain and other wineries, purchased the Fontanafredda winery.

Chiara and Giorgio

The speaker was Giorgio Lavagna, and the translator was Chiara Destefanis from the winery. Giorgio began working at Fontanafredda in 2014 and in 2018 he became Technical Director and Chief Winemaker.

The 250 acre Fontanafredda property is located in Serralunga (a cru site for Barolo). It is the single largest contiguous wine estate in the Langhe. In 2018 they became the largest certified organic company in Piedmont.

The wines

Alta Langa DOCG Contessa Rosa Rosé Spumante Metodo Classico 2012 made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with the addition of Barolo 1967. The soil is white clay alternated with layers of sand and calcareous marl.

Giorgio said a new method has been undertaken for this cuvee using a liqueur d’expedition with 1967 Barolo. Part of the Pinot Noir is left on the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12 to 24 hours. After maceration there is a soft pressing. The must ferments in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature and when the fermentation is complete, the wine is kept on the lees until spring. The cuvee is created, uniting the wines from the two fermentation processes. In May the wine undergoes a second fermentation process in the bottle, followed by a period of 48 months of maturing in contact with the yeast, in the cellars. The wine has hints of orange, ginger and pomegranate with very nice bubbles

The 5,000 acres cultivated with Nebbiolo for Barolo are divided into Menzione Geografica Aggiuntival (MGA), the equivalent of “cru.” Fontanafredda is the only 100% MGA winery owned by a single producer.

Barolo DOCG del Comune di Serralunga D’Alba 2015 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. Fermentation is for 15 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must stays in contact with the skins for another 15 days. Aging is in barriques mostly used and 2000 liter barrels from Allier. After a soft clarification, the wine is bottled for a further period of maturation in the bottle for not less then 12 months. Giorgio said 2015 was a truly great vintage. He described the wine as being dry and tannic with a velvety texture and great balance. Serralunga has the typical notes of vanilla, spices, roses and underbrush, trademark of the soil of Serralunga. This was the first single village Barolo produced (1988).    Chiara added that the stripes on the label mimic the striped design- of the buildings within the Fontanafredda Village.

Barolo DOCG Fontanafredda “Proprietà Fontanafredda” 2013 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this plot of land is the border between soils of Helvetian and Tortonian origin. It is a soil with transitional characteristics, clayey marls alternated with layers of sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The new wine stays in contact with the grape marc for about a month. Aging is in medium and large oak barrels for two years and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, violets, and a note of licorice.

Giorgio said this was an “old style” vintage because the harvest took place 15 days later than any vintage in the last 10 years because of a cool and rainy spring. The wine is suited for aging.

Pasta: Agnolotti del Plin- Housemade Pasta Filled with Pork and Veal, Sugo d’Arrosto. This is a typical pasta from the Langhe

Barolo DOCG “Vigna La Rosa” 2011 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this 20 acre vineyard is one of the most prestigious on the estate. The rows face south, southwest to form an amphitheater, where the heat makes the berries mature perfectly. The soil is rich in sand mixed with limestone and the typical blue marl of Serralunga. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and ferment in heated condition stainless steel tanks at 28-30C. The wine is in contact with the skins and maceration lasts for about one month. Aging is oak Allier barrels, 50% new for about 12 months and then racked into oak casks of 2,000 and 3,000 liters for one year. The wine is bottled and released after one year. The wine hints of red fruit, violets and a touch of spice and tar.

Giorgio said 2011 was an unconventional vintage and the right moment for picking the grapes was most important.

Barolo DOCG Vigna La Rosa 1996 100% Nebbiolo.  I said 1996 was one of the last great vintages. Chiara added that in the beginning it was not looked upon as a great vintage. Giorgio answered it was a vintage for those that like old style Barolo.

He also mentioned 1978 and 1971 as great vintages but there were fewer great vintages back then. So in general the wines are better now because of global warming and improved wine making techniques (fermentation in stainless steel etc).

This was the wine of the tasting — classic Barolo with hints of red fruit, mushrooms, tobacco, licorice, tea and a note of violets. This wine will last. Looking back on my blog from 2012 the Vigna La Rosa 1989 and 1982 were my favorites.

With it we had Bistecca del Macellaio-Grilled Hanger Steak with Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Villa Manodori Aceto Balsamico, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt

Barolo DOCG Riserva 2010 made from 100% Nebbiolo The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. The vineyard is at 300 to 400 meters and the exposure is south/south-west. The training method is guyot. There are 4,400 plants per hectare and harvest is in the beginning of October. Traditional fermentation: 12 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must is in contact with the skins for 25 to 30 days. The wine is aged for 3 years in oak from Allier and Slavonia. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 24 month before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas.

Barolo 2000 DOCG Riserva 2000 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Fermentation is for 15 days. The wine is aged for one year in barriques from Allier and 2 two years in 2,000 liter Allier oak casks. After a soft clarification the wine is bottled for at least 24 months before release.The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas. Chiara said this was the first single vineyard (cru) Barolo ever produced (1964).  There was some controversy over the 2000 vintage, some producers said it was too warm a vintage and others said it was a very good vintage.

Giorgio said that the winery is using fewer barriques than in the past and I am glad to see that they are returning to a more traditional style of winemaking.



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Filed under Barolo, Fantanafredda, Method Classico, Spumante

Metodo Classico Lambrusco and Negroamaro

This week I tasted two sparkling wines made with what the Italians call metodo classico, the Champagne method. One was a Lambrusco, a wine I am very familiar with but this was the first time I tasted one made in this way. The other was made with Negroamaro, a familiar grape variety, but not as a sparking wine and certainly not by the Metodo Classico.IMG_6018

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries.IMG_6029

 Salento IGT Spumante Brut Rose “Noitre” Metodo Classico 100% Negroamaro from Salice Salentino-Futura 14 (Puglia). The vineyard is at 40 meters and the soil is clayish and sandy. The training system is spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines/ha and the vines are 12 years old. Harvest is the last week of August. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel and there is a partial malolactic fermentation. The wine rests in the bottle for 30 months before release. It is a very light salmon color with  red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of raspberries. Part owner of Futura 14, the company that makes the wine, is Bruno Vespa, a well-known Italian TV personality.




Filed under Cantina della Volta, Futura 14, Italian Sparkling Wine, Method Classico, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Sparkling Summer Wines

Over the summer I enjoyed a number of different sparkling wines and Champagnes. Most of us think of sparkling wine as something that should only be drunk on special occasions or at Christmas and New Years, but I don’t agree.  Sparkling wine can be enjoyed all year round and I especially like it in the summer and always with food. Here are some of my favorites.

Brut Rose “Faive” NV  Nino Franco (Veneto) made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are vinified separately with some skin contact for color and cold fermentation in stainless steel autoclaves. The wine is light salmon in color, with good bubbles, nice red fruit and a hint of pear. $17

The name Faive is Venetian dialect for the small “guided” tongues of flame and sparks rising toward the sky from a great fire, lightly and freely carried by the wind.  This producer is known for it’s high quality Prosecco and the Rustico is a great value for the money.  We drank a bottle of it with the plump ripe figs from the tree in the Brooklyn backyard our friend Tony Di Dio.  Both Tony and his fig tree were featured in an excellent article — with recipes — in the NY Times last Wednesday.  Here is a link:

Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania)  Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20
Champagne Delamotte NV made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.   Delamotte is the sister house of Salon and both are part of the Laurent- Perrier group. We had it with a lobster salad with basil dressing, an excellent combination. $38

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage made from80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family estate vineyards.  The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level.  In 2004 there was mild weather and perfect ripening conditions.  The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond.  I has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I had it with beet and ricotta gnocchi in sage butter sauce. $75
I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.

Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has great tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.

The 17th century in France, the era of Louis XIV, became know as the Grand Siècle, the Great Century and Louis XIV was the first king of France to drink Champagne.

Zucchini Flowers

I was very impressed with this wine when I had it at a Wine Media Guild tasting last December and I wanted it for my Birthday.  Michele made zucchini flowers fried in a light tempura batter stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, which I love. We usually have them with Prosecco but it was a celebration so only Champagne would do.  It turned out to be a perfect combination.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 Blanc de Blancs (Rheims) the grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles.” Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement, the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. 2000 was a good but not a great year for champagne but the wine was showing very well and it is their flagship Champagne. The wine is full, rich and toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. I had it with smoked salmon canapés.  

Dom Ruinart 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Rheims), made from 100% grand cru Chardonnay grapes, 65% from Cotes de Blancs and 35% from the mountain of Rheims.  It spends 9/10 years in the chalk cellars before release.  1996 was a very good year in Champagne.  It was just beginning to show some age with citrus fruit, a touch of toast, a hint of brioche, and a very nice mineral character.  I had it with Pizza Bianca at La Pizza Fresca in NYC. It was another great combination.

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Filed under Champagne, Delamotte NV, Dom Ruinart 1966, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Ferrari, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Method Classico, Nino Franco, Rose, Sparkling wine, Spumante, Tattinger Comtes de Champane