Category Archives: Moscato d’Asti

Dining in Rome with Daniele Cernilli- Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and his wife, Marina Thompson, have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both here and in Rome. Daniele is a true Roman, a Romano de Roma as the expression goes. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous “Three Glasses” classification. Currently, he has is own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it. There are two versions, one English and the other Italian, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly.

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine)

When we were in Rome recently, Daniele suggested that Michele and I meet him and Marina for lunch at the restaurant Baccano. He said it was a true copy of Balthazar in NYC. Copies of Daniele’s book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 were displayed on a table near the entrance so that customers waiting for a table could look at the Guide before they chose a wine to drink.img_1561

They were right. The place looked just like Balthazar.

I am always impressed with Daniele’s knowledge and enthusiasm. I was happy to let him pick the 3 wines to go with lunch. img_1569

Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classico Villa Bucci Riserva 2013. Made from 100% Verdicchio. The wine is aged for 2 years in large casks. It is the white wine of the year in Daniele’s guide. He also gives the winery 3 stars, the highest rating. This is one of my favorite white wines and I order it every time I see it on a wine list in Italy. Ampellio Bucci has been producing wine with the assistance of the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai for over 30 years. It has been my honor to meet both of them on more then one occasion. Daniele described the wine as very complex, mouth filling, well balanced with hints of flint, anise, fine herbs and a very long finish.img_1562

With it, we had smoked salmon.img_1565

Fiano di Avellino 2013 “Cupa” 100% Fiano di Avellino Pietracupa of Sabino Loffredo. Daniele said that Sabino does all the work himself, cultivates his vineyards which are at 350 and 550 meters and makes and ages his wines with the skill of a craftsman. He called his wines “exceptional,” gave the winery 3 stars and the wine 97/100 points. The Cupa is outside the DOCG and great in the 2013 vintage. The wine matures on the lees in stainless steel tanks. Daniele described the wine as elegant and intense, with notes of oregano, sage, cedar and lemongrass, great acidity and a slightly smoky finish. This wine will age for many years.img_1564

With the Fiano, we had a personal favorite, fried fresh anchovies.img_1566

After that we took Daniele’s advice and had Spaghetti “Mancini” with a sauce made from tomatoes from Mount Vesuvius, basil, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.img_1570

CA’ D’GalLumine” Moscato D’Asti 2015 100% Moscato Bianco di Canelli. Daniele said this might be one of the best Moscato d’Asti I ever tasted. He gave it an 88/100 rating. Alessandro Boido makes the wine and in his hands Moscato d’Asti becomes a great wine, Italian to the bone.

Daniel described the wine as having fragrant aromas of sage, exotic fruit and cedar with refreshing acidity.

Daniele said they also make a Moscato d’Asti Vigna Vecchia which can age like a great red. That one gets a 93/100.img_1571

We shared a portion of tiramisu with the wine.

Looking at The ULTIMATE GUIDE to ITLALIAN WINE 2017(third addition) I believe the title says it all. It is the Ultimate Guide to Italian Wines.

 

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Filed under Ca' D' Gal Lumine, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Fiano di Avellino, Moscato d'Asti, Pietracupa, Rome, The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017, Uncategorized, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Villa Bucci

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

Brindiamo! and Moscato D’Asti

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Ornella Fado

Ornella Fado, host of the TV show Brindiamo!, invited Michele and I to a preview of her first show for the new season. The program appears on WNYC Channel 25 in the New York Area. I first met Ornella a few years ago when I was consulting for Enoteca on Court in Brooklyn. Ornella taped a show there and interviewed me on wine and food parings and the Enoteca’s wine program. Michele has also appeared on her show.

Ornella’s program is mostly about Italian restaurants in this country and in Italy and it is always lively and fun to watch. Recently Brindiamo! received a nomination from the Taste Awards for best ethnic program

At the Brindiamo! preview held at Restaurant Rafele in Greenwich Village, I tasted a number of wines, but one I enjoyed very much that would be perfect for the holidays was the Moscato d’Asti from Azienda Agricola il Botolo. It is a slightly sparking wine, frizzanti in Italian that is low in alcohol at only 5 to 6% IMG_6353

Moscato d’Asti NV Azienda Agricola il Botolo.

il Botolo, a family owned company, is located in Nizza Monferrato in Piemonte. The wine is made from 100% moscato grapes. The vines are 25 years old and grow at 210 meters with various exposures. The soil is clay and marl. The training system is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats for the second fermentation. Aging is in stainless steel vats for 4 months.

This is a slightly sweet wine with a golden color. The flavor is fresh, fruity and soft, balanced with hints of peach, apricot and honey. For the holidays I recommend drinking it chilled after the meal with nuts, cheese or dessert.

 

 

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Filed under Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Uncategorized

Sparkling New Year

There is a sparkling wine for every occasion.  Here is a list of sparkling wines that I have tried over the last 12 months for you to enjoy in the New Year. The prices range from $300 for a Rose Champagne to $18 for Prosecco, and everything in between.Donnaachiara 006
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. $20i_vini_03Prosecco “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). Other good producers are Bisol,  Mionetto and Bocelli $18

Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista, a special cuvee made from 100% Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quantities using old small barrels as was once done in the past.  Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50%  $50Ferrari 2011 001Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore 2001 Ferrari 100% Chardonnay This is a single vineyard reserve aged wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza, a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family who also own the winery. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. They use selected yeasts from their own cultures. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees.  They do not make this wine in every vintage. The first vintage was 1972. This may be the best Method Classico made in Italy.

Ferrari Perlé 2006 Brut, Method Classico, DOC Trento, Italy Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay.  The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family (owners of Ferrari) around the Trento vineyards.  The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. It is showing very well and in my opinion a bargain at $38.IMG_2471Perrier Jouët Cuvee Belle Epoque Rosé 2004. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Cruz Cramant  and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release.  This is the most expensive wine and in my opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $300IMG_2467
Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2007 NV 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage, there is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years in the cellar and another 6 months resting after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and I was told that it was typical of the Roederer Rose.   $65

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 tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.IMG_2469
Pol Roger Rosé is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay to which is added before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Remis. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110

Paul Roger Cuvée “Sir Winston Churchill” 1999 Champagne Pol Roger created their Prestige Cuvée in homage to Sir Winston IMG_2540Churchill mindful of the qualities that he sought in his champagne: robustness, a full-bodied character and relative maturity. The exact blend is a closely guarded family secret.  It is a blend of Pinot Noir, which dominates, and Chardonnay.  Composed exclusively of grapes sourced from Grand Cru Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, which were already under vine during Churchill’s lifetime.
The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing and the second, a débourbage à froid, takes place in stainless steel tanks at 6°C over a 24 hour period. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks kept to temperatures not exceeding 18°C, with each variety and each village kept separate until final blending. The wine undergoes a full malolactic fermentation. Secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in the lowest Pol Roger cellars (33 meters below street level) where the wine is kept until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne nowadays. The very fine and
persistent mousse for which Pol Roger is renowned owes much to these deep, cool and damp cellars.  $200

Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh.  From $14 to $20.  Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.
Some producers also make a Metodo Classico.02_vietti_moscato_dAsti
Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20
Producers: Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and Viettirosa_regale_vrBrachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.
Producers include Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20

HAPPY  HOLIDAYS!

 

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Filed under Asti Spumante, Champagne, Franciacorta Brut, Moscato d'Asti, Prosecco, Saten, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Fiorenzo Dogliani and the Wines of Beni di Batasiolo

When I was the wine director at I Trulli Restauant, we carried a number of Batasiolo wines. They were very well made wines and very well priced.  But I had not tasted these wines in a few years so when I received an invitation for a tasting and lunch at Il Postino, I was happy to accept.

Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani

My host was Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani, a charming and knowledgeable man, not only about wine but also about everything in the Langhe.  During the lunch we spoke about Piedmontese wine in general, the food of the area and the restaurants. I really enjoyed speaking to him.

He related a little of the history of the winery.  Dogliani was the original name but it had to be changed in 1978. This was done, Mr. Dogliani said, to avoid confusion with a large co-operative, which produced Dolcetto in the Dogliani designation. He said that there were seven beni farmhouses with vineyards- when they brought the property in La Morra in the 1950’s. The name Beni di Batasiolo was chosen because it was in keeping with the tradition that identifies a real value with the term “bene”, here applied to the land, the vineyards and the farm. The winery now has nine “beni” covering a total of over 100 hectares, 60 of which are planted with Nebbiolo.  Mr. Dogliani said that they have a philosophy of the land, understanding the terroir and using mostly traditional grapes and methods.

The Wine

Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2010 100% Cortese The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity. $18.9

Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” DOC 2009 100% Barbera.  Mr Dogliani made the point that the vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo. It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. He feels this excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age.

The harvest takes place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age. $22.99

Barbaresco DOCG 2008 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. $36 

Barolo DOCG 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo, in its subvarities of Michet, Lampia and Rosé. Harvest takes place from the 10th of October to the first ten days of November. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel with long maceration on the skins for 15/20 days.  Aging takes place in traditional Slavonion oak casks for 2 years and one year in bottle before release. The wine had flavors and aromas of dried fruit, spice and a touch of tobacco and leather. $40

Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Moscato Bianco. The vines are grown in the hill terrain of Serralunga with a north, northwest exposure at 380- 410 meters. There are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vines are 15 years old. The soil is of calcareous and marl. Harvest takes place during the last 10 days of September. The grapes are hand picked and delivered to the winery in 20Kg containers, keeping the bunches intact as much as possible. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and a partial fermentation with abundant residual sugar. The juice is then cooled to zero C and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation begins a month before the first bottling, a very slow process reaching 5.5% alcohol by volume. It has aromas and flavors of pineapple; melon and a slight hint of oranges $16.99 

Moscato Spumante Rosè 2010 Made from Moscato Bianco and Moscato Rosa. Mr. Dogliani said that the Moscato Rosa came from the Trentino area. The grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness.  After pressing the juice is then filtered in specially designed centrifuges. The liquid is stored in thermally insulated containers at extreme low temperatures. The secondary fermentation takes place in pressure tanks following the charmat method. This was a very easy wine to drink, with aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit $16.99 (the wine is not a Piemonte DOC because the Moscato Rosa came from Trentino.

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Filed under Asti, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Gavi, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Piedmont, Sparkling wine, White wine

Sparkling Italians

One year we spent New Year’s Eve in Venice. We went to a restaurant and had a wonderful seafood dinner and drank sparkling wine. We began with Prosecco and then had a Franciacorta Brut.  With our dessert we drank an Asti Spumante. Walking back to our hotel through Saint Mark’s Square just after midnight was quite an experience. The whole square was filled with people popping sparkling wine corks, drinking the wine from the bottle, laughing and carrying on, and then smashing the bottles on the ground.  To get back to our hotel, we walked through the square as quickly as possible!

The Lion of Saint Mark

Since then we often serve Italian sparkling wine with a seafood dinner for New Years Eve and remember that night in Venice.

Italy produces a vast array of sparkling wines referred to as spumante. They make it in every form from dosage zero (driest) to demi sec (off dry) and everything in between.  Many different grape varieties are used and the wine is made by either the Charmat method wherein the second fermentation takes place in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank, or Metodo Classico where the secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle.  They also produce wines, which are slightly sparkling, and these they refer to as frizzante.

Prosecco from the Veneto is the number one selling sparkling wine in Italy. Almost all Prosecco is made by the Charmat method. I like Prosecco as an aperitif, with appetizers, seafood risotto and with fried foods. In Rome I always enjoy Prosecco with fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies. There are many good Proseccos on the market at very reasonable prices.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Rustico” Brut Nino Franco 100 % Glera grape. Traditionally the grape was called Prosecco. This is the least expensive of their wines.  $16

Prosecco  “Organic” Treviso DOC Mionetto Made from certified organically grown grapes without the use of synthetic chemicals and fertilizers.  $15

Bisol, Valdo, Aneri are other producers that I lik

There are individual producers that make good Spumante in the Metodo Classical style in Italy but in general I believe that the best come from the regions of Lombardy (Franciacorta) and Trentino.

Franciacorta

The label on a bottle of Franciacorta only bears the designation “Franciacorta”, this single term defines the territory, the method of production and the wine. All Franciacorta is Metodo Classico and DOCG.

Franciacorta is made from Chardonnay and/or Pinot Noir; Pinot Bianco can be used as well, up to 50% of the blend

Franciacorta Gran Cuveé Saten Brut Bellavista A special cuvee made from 100%Chardonnay selected from the best vineyard. It is made in the cremant style resulting in lower CO2 pressure, the defining feature of all Saten wines. It is produced in limited quintiles using old small barrels as was once practiced in the past.  Saten is a blanc de blancs and can be made from Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco up to 50%   $50

Franciacorta Brut this non- vintage wine is made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir Berlucchi The wine is fermented for six months in stainless steel and aged for 12 months before disgorging. After disgorging the bottle is aged for 2 more months in the cellar before release. $30

Dosage Zero Millesimato  Franciacorta  This vintage wine is made from 60% Chardonnay, 23% Pinot Bianco and 17% Pinot Noir. Ca’ del Bosco The average age of the vines is 31 years and the harvest takes place the first week of September. $50

Other producers Contadi Castaldi and Monte Rose-look for their Rose Brut

Trentino

Ferrari Brut NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are picked by hand at the beginning of September. They come from various communes in the Val d’Adige, Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi. The vineyards are between 300 and 700 meters above sea level, with southeast or southwest exposure. The wine is aged for at least 24 months on the lees. The yeast is selected from Ferrari’s own cultures $25

Ferrari Rosé NV Trento DOC Metodo Classico 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The grapes come from hillside vineyards around the town of Trento at 300 to 600 meters above sea level. The wine is aged for 25-30 months on the lees $37.

If you want something special to celebrate the New Year Italian style then I recommend what I believe may be the finest Metodo Classico wine made in Italy. It is about $100 a bottle and worth it.

Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore This is a single vineyard reserve aged vintage wine. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family  that owns Ferrari. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees.  They do not make this wine in every vintage.  The first vintage was 1972

Emilia Romagna

For many years the “industrial” sweet Lambrusco wine that was imported into this country was not very good.  It had a screw cap, was very inexpensive, very sweet and for some reason was very popular during the 1980’s. This sent the wrong message to serious wine drinkers. I often heard it said that no one could make a good Lambrusco!

This has changed and there are some excellent Lambruscos now available here. They were always available in Emilia.

In Italy on New Years Day it is traditional and good luck for the coming year to eat lentils. In Emilia the lentils would be served with cotechino, a large spiced pork sausage.  The wine they would drink with this meal would be a dry, low alcohol (11.5%), high acid Lambrusco with a strawberry accent that is a perfect combination with this dish.

Lambrusco Secco “Concerto” Reggiano DOC Made from the Lambrusco Salamino grape. It is a sparkling dry red wine with traditional fermentation in the Charmat Method. Ermete Medici & Figli. $15 

Lini and Ca de’ Medici are other good producers. Most Lambrusco is made by the Charmat Method but some producers also make a Metodo Classico.

Sparkling Dessert Wines- Piedmont

Asti DOCG (formally know as Asti Spumante) is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh.

Often in the past I would see Italian/Americans putting a cube of sugar in their Asti. I was told it helped the bubbles and made the wine sweeter. Serve it with cookies, plain cakes and panettone.  From $14 to $20

Producers include Bera, Gancia, Cinzano, and Martini and Rossi.

Some producers also make a Metodo Classico

Moscato D’Asti DOCG is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG. From $15 t0 $20

Producers Michele Chiarlo, Fontanafredda, Elio Perrone, La Spinetta and Vietti

Asti and Moscato D’Asti can be found for around $20 a bottle

Brachetto D’Acqui DOCG is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts.

Producers  include  Braida $30 and Banfi-Rosa Regale $20

HAPPY NEW YEAR

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Filed under Asti, Franciacorta Brut, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Spumante