Category Archives: Piedmont

The Tradition Continues

I am always interested to see what happens when the next generation takes over an Italian winery that makes wines that I enjoy.  Will they follow the traditional methods  or will they go to what I call “the dark side” and make modern international style wines?

Tiziana Settimo

I was invited to Porter House in NYC to tastes the wines of the Aurelio Settimo Winery.  I have enjoyed these wines in the past and wanted to see if Tiziana Settimo was staying with the same traditional style wines as her father. Tiziana was presenting the wines so I could have all my questions answered.

The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piemonte in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows.  They sold off almost all their grapes.  When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards.  However they continued to sell 50% of their grapes.  In 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.

Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is a family affair run mostly by women.  The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.

From the very beginning Tiziana made it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio.  She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She fells that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character. The Barolo is aged in 2,500 to 3,500 liters oak barrels.

The menu

 

Only 3 wines are produced from their estate vineyards.  There are 5.6 hectares of Nebbiolo and 0.9 hectares of Dolcetto. Their Rocche Dell’Annunziata vineyard is 3.42 hectares and the exposure is south and southwest. The vines are between 18 and 46 years old. There are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare and the training method is traditional Guyot.  Tiziana said that the fertile, clay-calcareous, limestone, rocky soil together with the altitude (270-300 mt) and the exposure produce a full bodied but elegant and very fragrant Barolo.

All of the wines are excellent with food.  At Porter House, we had them with Porcini Risotto to start followed by Heritage Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin, a great combination.

Tiziana said that she was in Boston a few days before and she had these wines with fish, including shellfish, and they all worked well together. It is my opinion that a red wine which is not on the “dark side”, is well made, and has good acidity can go with almost any type of food.

The Wines
Dolcetto D’Alba DOC 2010 100% Dolcetto
Tiziana said that 2010 was a great vintage for Dolcetto.
The grapes are hand picked and vinified in stainless steel with about 7 days skin contact with a submerged cap and frequent repassing.
This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry and surprisingly good acidity. Tiziana said that she likes to keep the alcohol low on her Dolcetto, between 12% and 12-1/2% to keep the freshness so the alcohol does not overpower the fruit.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2006 100% Nebbiolo
Tiziana said that 2006 was also a very good vintage. She went on to say that this wine is produced from grapes grown on the younger vineyards facing southeast in the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. It has a shorter maceration on the skins (8 to 10 days) than the Barolo and does not see any wood. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the malolactic fermentation takes place in concrete vats of 52hl. The wine was bottled in November 2010 after spending two years in the bottle. They do not make this wine in every vintage if they feel that the alcohol content will be too high. It is a wine with good fruit and has an excellent balance between tannins and acidity. This wine was made to be drunk when released however it was showing no signs of age and could last another 5 to 10 years.  $30

Barolo DOCG 2007 100% Nebbiolo
This wine is produced from the older Nebbiolo grapes. The must is in contact with the skin for 15 to 20 days with a submerged cap and frequent repassing. The wine is aged in wood for two years. The wine was bottled in March 2011  $42

Barolo” Rocche Dell ‘Annunziata” DOCG 2007
This is one of the great crus of Barolo and Tiziana said there were 23 other producers making wine from this vineyard.  She considers the 2007 vintage to be an excellent one, though it was in many ways a difficult vintage because it was very hot. This is a traditional classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of black fruit especially blackberries and hints of leather, tea, spice and liquorice with good acidity.  $50

I am happy to see that Tiziana is making wine like her father’s and that they are very good value for the money.
I look forward to enjoying these wines for many years to come.

Advertisements

2 Comments

Filed under Aurelio Settimo Winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, Porter House NY

Rivetto: The New and the Old

A wine distributor told me that a friend of his wanted to sell some old wines going back to the 1960’s. He said that the wines were from Piedmont and included Barolo, Barbaresco and Nebbiolo d’Alba. The price was negotiable and I decided to take a look.  What I found was not what I expected.

The wines were stored in the basement of the owner’s business. They had been kept unopened in the original cardboard cartons that were so old they were beginning to fall apart. The wines were from Rivetto, a producer that I know and whose wines I have often enjoyed. There was the 1964 and 1967 Barolo, 1985 Barbaresco, 1970 Nebbiolo and 1985 Nebbiolo d’Alba.

We agreed upon a price and I bought one of each to see if they were still drinkable. I contacted Enrico Rivetto on Facebook and he said the Nebbiolo should still be good but he had not had the Barolo or Barbaresco from these vintages in a long time so he was not sure about these wines. I opened the wines over a period of one week and found them all to be in good condition with some showing signs of age. I went back with a friend and we bought a number of bottles.

Recently I went to a wine tasting event and one of the wineries showing their wines was Rivetto. I knew the two people pouring and told them I had the older vintages but they could not tell me anything about them.  Nevertheless, it was interesting to taste a number of the new releases while keeping in mind the aromas and flavors of the older vintages.  At the event I tasted the following wines:

The Nebbiolo/Nebbiolo d’Alba 2010 now called Langhe Nebbiolo and made from 100% Nebbiolo. The harvest takes place in late September, early October and it is by hand. The must and the skins are in cold contact with each other for 36 hours. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and maceration is for 7 days. Malolactic is completed in December and the wine is aged in 30 hectoliter oak barrels from Slavonia. Bordeaux bottle

Barbaresco “Cè Vavin” DOCG 2008 100% Nebbiolo The harvest takes place in mid-October by hand. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration is fro 7/8 days and the malolactic fermentation in wood is completed in December. Fining with egg whites and gel bentonite. The wine is aged in Slavonia casks and French barriques. Bordeaux bottle

Barolo 2008 Commune di Serralunga D’Alba DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. Destemmer crushing and cold fermentation takes place for 2 days. Fermentation in stainless steel  tanks and maceration for 20 days. Indigenous yeast is used. Fining with fresh egg whites and filtration with inert material. Aging is in 31HL oak casks for 32 months and 10 months in bottle before release.

These are my notes on the older Rivetto wines that I purchased:

Nebbiolo d’Alba 1985 Rivetto & Figli I opened a few of these and only had one bottle that was too old. Tasted blind I would have guessed these wines as a Barolo or Barbaresco- the Nebbiolo character was all there.

Nebbiolo 1970 Rivetto  Tenuta Loirano di Rivetto Gian Maria e Sergio F.lli. It is not in a 750-size bottle but a 720 bottle. I have only opened one bottle of this vintage and it was in better condition than most of the 1985’s.

Barbaresco 1985 Rivetto & Figli 750 bottle.  I have opened two bottles of this wine and one was in very good condition while the other-which I think must have been in a flood because the condition of the label-was very poor.

Barolo 1964 DOC Rivetto Ercole& Figli 720 bottle I opened a number of these wines and have had  very mixed results, the ones that were good were very, very good but there were a few that were not ready to drink.

Barolo 1967 DOC Rivetto Ercole & Figli (Vino Classico del Piemonte) 720 ml. All of the wines are in Bordeaux shaped bottles. Some have been very good and others were really showing their age.

Barolo 2004 Riserva DOCG Rivetto has now gone to the Albeisa bottle for all of his Barolo and some of his other wines. 2004 was a very good vintage and I purchased this bottle of Barolo and am looking forward to opening it in a few years.

Remember one does not drink great wine but great bottles of wine.

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Old wines, Piedmont, Rivetto, Rivetto Winery

A Wine Weekend

Last weekend began on Thursday night with a bottle of Champagne on a Manhattan terrace and ended with a bottle of 1990 Bordeaux in Sag Harbor on Sunday night. And there were some very nice wines in between.
Champagne Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut NV (Epernay)
Made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Pinot Meunier and 20% Chardonnay, this was the perfect champagne to serve at a cocktail party: light, elegant, soft and crisp with a floral aroma.
Bandol Rosè 2010
Chateau de Pibarnon made from 50% Mourvèdre and 50% Cinsault. The location of the vineyards is on Telegraph Hill where the terraced vineyards form a sort of amphitheater to protect it from the  Mistral.  The soil has large quantities of blue marl, and limestone, stones and rocks as well as fossil material, which make it unlike any other soil in the appellation.  Traditional goblet (bush vines) training for the vines. After 30%/50% destemming, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is salmon in color with floral and white peach aromas and tastes of white peaches. This is one of the best rose´ wines that I have had in along time.

Brunello di Montalcino “Pian della Vigna”DOCG 1999
Antinori. Made from 100% Sangiovese. The Pian della Vigna estate is located 3.5 miles to the south of the town of Montalcino. The soil is mostly clay and calcareous with many small stones. The grapes are softly pressed and the must has 15 to 21 days of skin contact in 125-hectoliter temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in large oak casks for a period of more ten two years. Complete malolactic fermentation takes place in oak. This is a big complex Brunello with red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, tobacco and a touch of spice. This wine will age for a number of years.

Barolo “Le Gramolere” DOCG 1993 G. Manzone made from 100% Nebbiolo. I visited the winery in November 2010 and met with the owner and wine maker Giovanni Manzone and his son Mauro. The winery is on the top of a hill called Le Gramolere overlooking the town of Monforte D’Alba. Giovanni said that they harvest the second week of October but in the past it was the first or second week of November. This is a very traditional winery.
Maceration on the skins is for 15 days and the wine is aged in 25HL oak casks for 24 months and bottled 36 months after the harvest. This wine was drinking very nicely with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and raspberry and a touch of spice and balsamic in the finish.

Barolo Riserva “Monprivato Ca’D’ Morissio” 1993 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giuseppe Mascarello The harvest takes place toward the middle of October but in 1993 it most likely took place in the beginning of November. Estate grown bunches are thinned during the summer. The wine undergoes traditional floating cap fermentation for 20/25 days. The wine is aged in medium size oak barrels for about 38 months. The wine is bottled four years after the vintage. This is a big classic Barolo with good rich red fruit and hints of leather, tobacco and spice. It will age for a number of years.

The label indicates the number of bottles produced according to size. The 750 ml bottle is called an Albeisa* bottle.  The label says Albeisa, Magnum and Double Magnum followed by the number of bottles produced for each.  

*The Albeisa bottle goes back to the beginning of the 18th century. Wine makers in the Alba district proud of their wine wanted a different shaped bottle to distinguish them from other wines in Piedmont. During the Napoleonic invasion the Albeisa was replaced by two typical French bottles — Bordeaux and Burgundy.  Both were more uniform and cheaper to make. In 1973, 16 producers joined together and started using the Albeisa bottle again. The aim of the Albeisa association is to characterize and qualify oenology products of the Langhe and the Roero hills. Only wines with denominations within this area can be bottled in the Albesia bottle.  
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) made from 82% Cabernet Sauvignon and 12 Merlot. Aged in 80% new barriques and 20% in barriques that are one year old.
This wine was just starting to come around and can age for a few more years.
Baron de Pichon-Longueville 1990 (Pauillac) The1990 is a big wine that is not ready to drink. Both wines were served with grilled lamb and at this point in time the 1988 was the better wine with the lamb. For a wine to drink now I would buy the 1988 and for a wine to age, the 1990.

Leave a comment

Filed under Albeisa bottle, Bordeaux, Brunello, Champagne, French Red, French Wine, Italian Red Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Rose, Sangiovese

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.

Leave a comment

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

The Nebbiolo Wines of the Novara- Vercelli Hills

Mention the Nebbiolo grape and the wines that are most likely to come to mind are Barolo and Barbaresco.  These are great wines but there are others from northern Piedmont that deserve some attention, such as Ghemme, Bramaterra, Spanna, Carema, Boca, and Gattinara.  These are made from100% Nebbiolo or blended with little known grapes such as Vespolina, Croatina and Bonarda.

As Co-Chair of the Wine Media Guild, I was happy to assist member Ed Mc Carthy and member sponsor Tom Maresca in putting together a tasting of these wines along with lunch at Felidia restaurant in NYC. One of the guest speakers was Ciniza Travaglini  of the Travaglini winery. One of the points that she made was that all of the wines at the tasting showed better with food.  I could not agree more.

Morgan Rich and WMG member Ed Mc Carthy

The other guest speaker was Morgan Rich, a former sommelier, now with Polnar Selections. Mr. Rich spoke about each of the Northern Piedmont appellations that were represented at the tasting.

There were 16 wines at the tasting including a 1995 Gattiniara Risreva from Travaglini that we had with lunch. 

Ghemme 2006  made from 100% Nebbiolo Cantalupo The grapes come from the Carella Baraggiola Valera and Cavenago vineyards. The vineyards are on hills formed during the interglacial stage by the Monte Rosa moraine, the second highest peak in Europe. The soil is very rich in minerals because of the considerable crumbling of the rocks. The vineyards are between 280-310 meters. The training of the vines is counter espalier with Guyot pruning.  Harvesting takes place in mid-October. The grapes are destemmed and delicately pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation during which repassing was carried out twice a day until the sugar was completely transformed.  This was followed by submerged cap fermentation. The wine was then transferred to oak casks where it remained for about 20 months. After bottling the bottles were stored horizontally for refining. Aromas and flavors of violets, faded rose and raspberries.   $37

Bramaterra 2007 made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, 7% Vespolina and 3% Bonarda  Antoniotti.  Odilio Antoniotti and his son Mattia run the winery. The grapes are from the oldest vines, in a high elevation vineyard on porphyry soil that drains extremely quickly and is full of minerals and nutrients. In the vineyard they did not use fertilizers only compost and try to keep the sulfur at a minimal level. The vines are Guyot trained and the grapes are hand harvested. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in underground cement tanks for 12-14 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for Malolatic fermentation and then placed into botti of at least 1,250 liters around the end of December for about 30 months. There is no fining or filtration. $25-30

Spanna  “Campi Raudii” 2009 Vallana Tom Maresca said that he was told when he visited the winery that this wine was 90% Nebbiolo with Vespolina and Bonarda. The wine is vino di tavola because they wanted to make a wine as they did in the past that did not follow the law. Since there is no IGT in Piedmont the wine had to be vino di tavola and therefore could not have a date on the label. Tom said that he was told it was a 2009 and that it was on the bar code. Vallana Spanna was a wine that could age. A few years ago I had a 1954 and a 1955. Will the present wines last as long? Only time will tell.  They are a great bargain! $16

Spanna “Colline Novaresi “2008 Vallana . The Spanna Vallana is made from 100% Spanna the local name for Nebbiolo. Grapes from two different Crus Boca and Gattinara are used. These high altitude vineyards were planted in the 1960’s.  The acidity of the soil prevents iron deficiency and only basic fertilizer is used. The grapes are hand harvested and selected. They are crushed and transferred to cement tanks for a 24-hour cold soak. Then the must is injected with selected yeast strains and fermentation begins. The cement tanks thermally insulate the must and the fermentation temperature gradually rises which is ideal for color extraction. Fermentation lasts between 8 to 10 days and pumping over is performed during this period. The wine undergoes Malolatic fermentation over the first winter. In the spring the wine goes into botti of 5-12 HL for six months.    $ $17

Carema Classico 2007 DOC Produtti Carema 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo $24 This winery created in 1960, is a small cooperative divided amongst 45 growers in this small, remote region. Each grower rarely owns more than 1 hectare, most having only ½ hectare. The D.O.C. Carema, established in 1967, sits on a mountainous piece of land bordering the Valle d’Aosta. The climate is cold and quite windy here, resulting in grapes that are slow to ripen, and wines that are light garnet in color.

The vines are planted on steep stone terraces that reflect the sun and maintain the heat of the day during the night. The vines are trained on pergola-like crossbeams locally named topie or tabbie, onto which the vines are tied down firmly to keep them from being broken by the strong winds. These topie also allow for maximum exposure to the sun, helping to draw out the harvest for as long as possible, thereby taming the grapes’ high acids that would otherwise overwhelm the palate. The wines are 100% Nebbiolo from the local clones of Nebbiolo, Picutener, meaning “tender stem” and Pugnet, meaning “fist-like,” a reference to the compact shape of the bunches. The minimum aging requirement for these wines is 4 years, of which two years have to pass in large oak or chestnut botti.

Carema “ La Tabbie” 2007 DOC Orsolani The wine made from two clones of Nebbiolo Picutener and Pugent. The wine is aged in botti for three years and in bottle for 12 months before release. This was one of the more elegant wines at the tasting.  $36

Carema is a wine valued for its perfume and elegance, but with the structure and acidity to age for decades with aromas and flavors of tar, leather, damp leaves and faded roses.

Bocca 2004 Valanna made from 65% Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina and 15% Uva Rara. Grapes are hand picked and transported in small boxes to protect the skin and delay natural fermentation. Each variety is fermented separately. Fermentation takes place in cement tanks, with aggressive pumping over in the beginning to develop tannins and color. The wines are then blended and aged in 10HL casks for 2 years.      $ 30

Gattinara 2006 Antoniolo 100% Nebbiolo, with a south/southwest exposure, the vines are 40-50 years old.  Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with an automatic daily pump over. Maceration takes place between 14-16 days. The wine then ages in medium capacity oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for another 12 months. $40

Gattinara “Le Castelle” 2006 Antoniolo    Made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Castelle cru with a mostly southwest exposure.  Fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks with daily pumping over and 10-12 days maceration. The wine is aged for 2 year in barriques and one year in bottle. $55

The hills of Gattinara have the same mineralogical composition as the Alps: granite rocks, porphyries, quartzes and iron minerals, which give the typical reddish color to the indigenous rock.

Travaglini Gattinara the vineyards are at 280 to 420 meters and the exposure is south /southwest. There are 3,500 to 5,00 plants per hectare. The grapes are crushed and macerated for about 14 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

Cinzia Travaglini

Cinzia spoke about Gattinara in general and her winery in particular and pointed out that all of their Gattinara is made from 100% Nebbiolo. She also said that it is a family run winery and her husband Massimo is the wine maker

Gattinara 2006 Travaglini the wine is aged for 3 years. 2 years in Slovenian oak. After the  required aging is finished the wine rests in bottle for 3 months.   $30

Gattinara “ Tre Vigne” Travaglini 2005 The wine is aged for 40 months, 30 months in Slovenian oak casks -25% of which is aged separately for 10 months in French barriques. The wine then rests in bottle for 8 months. $49

Gattinara Riserva 2006 Travaglini The wine is aged for 4 years, at least 3 in oak casks of different origin and sizes, then in bottle for 8 months. This wine is only made in the best vintages from a special selection of grapes. $59

Gattinara Riserva 2005 $ 59 Same as above

Gattinara 2004 Vallana This is the same as the Spanna but it is aged  for 24 months in botti and 9 months in bottle before release.$30

Gattinara “ Tre Vigne” 2001 $ NV Same as above

Gattinara Riserva1995 Travaglini  $ NV Same as above

 

5 Comments

Filed under Antoniolo, Antoniotti, Boca, Bramaterra, Cantalupo, Gattinara, Ghemme, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, Spanna, Travaglini

Barolo Specialists Present and Past: Walter Fissore and Elvio Cogno

For many years Elvio Cogno was the winemaker for the Podari Marcarini in La Mora. His Barolo from the La Serra and Brunate Vineyards were exceptional. I can still remember a 1971 Brunate that I enjoyed with the late wine writer Sheldon Wasserman who introduced me to Cogno-Marcarini Barolo.  The 1971 was everything a great Barolo should be.  The aroma of white truffles seemed to fill the room.  In 1990 Elvio Cogno left Marcarini and started his own winery called Azienda Agricola Cogno in Novello.  Here is the link to an article I wrote when I visited the winery  http://wp.me/p8Gp4-gi “A Unique White and Traditional Barolo at the Elvio Cogno Winery.”

Elvio’s son-in-law Valter Fissore is now the winemaker for the Cogno winery.  Over the years, I have gotten to know Valter and his wife Nadia.  I would see them often at Vinitaly and have visited them at the winery, most recently in November 2010.

Valter Fissore holding the Barolo Ravera 2008

Since Valter would be in New York City for the Gambero Rosso “Three Glasses” tasting recently, I asked him if we could meet. He invited me to visit with him and taste some of his wines, including four Barolos.

The Elvio Cogno Wines of Walter Fissore.

We spoke about Barolo Valters favorite subject.

Valter said that his vineyards have all three subvarities of Nebbiolo: Michet, Lampia and Rose but he does not use all three in any one of his wines.

He feels that 2008 was a great vintage because it was a very cold winter and the harvest took place on October 20th.  The wines have a higher PH than other vintages but also good acidity. Walter felt that that 2008 would make well balanced elegant wines.

Barolo Cascin Nuova 2008 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard is 1.5 hectares and is facing south. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and they are vertical trellised with Guyot pruning. Vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel stainless steel tanks with automatic pump over. The wine is aged in large oak casks for two years and six months in bottle before release. Valter said that this was a Barolo from young vines and one that could be easily enjoyed and understood and is ready to drink sooner.

Barolo Ravera 2008 DOCG made from Lampia and Michet. I tasted this wine from the barrel when I was at the winery in November 2010. It reminded me of Pinot Noir. When I tasted it this time from the bottle it was much less Pinot Noir like and was developing into a great Barolo. Valter said that this was a traditional Barolo in the style of Elvio Cogno, powerful and elegant. I believe this is Valter’s favorite.

Brico Pernice 2007 DOCG made from100% Lampia. This Valter called a Classic Barolo.  It is more tannic and needs more time to be ready. I tasted this wine last year and it has not developed much.

Barolo IGNAELENA 2006 made from 100% Rose- the label for this wine was made by Valter and Nadia’s daughter when she was a young child. This was my favorite.

Valter said that he is primarily a producer of Barolo and he produces Barolo without compromise. He produces a Barolo as it should be and not for the international market.   I find his Barolos to be balanced with elegance and finesse and to be some of the best produced today.

The Cogno-Marcarini wines from the Brunate Vineyar

That night we had dinner with Valter at the home of mutual friends.  Valter brought a Barolo Brunate Riserva 1986 DOC 100% Nebbiolo Cogno Marcarini, a classic Barolo with flavors and aromas of faded roses, licorice, tar, tobacco and a hint of cherry. It is a soft, well-balanced elegant wine.

About once a month, I meet with a group of friends for lunch.

When they heard I had had dinner with Valter and drank the 1986, they brought some of their older vintages of Cogno- Marcarini Barolo “Brunate” 1978, 1974, 1967 and 1964 to the lunch.

Enjoying these wines once again, I thought of Sheldon Wasserman and decided to look them up in his book, Italy’s Noble Red Wines.  Of the 1974 vintage in general, which he rates 2+ stars, he wrote, “… the vintage has not lived up to its expectations, though without question a few splendid wines were made.”  When he tasted the Cogno – Marcarini 1974 in 1984, he wrote, “Floral bouquet recalls tobacco and cherry, soft with a tannic vein, a shade astringent but still in all very good.”

The bottle of 1974 that I had at lunch must have been one of the “splendid wines”.  It had the best color of all the old wines and seemed to be almost young with many years ahead of it! It had the typical Nebbiolo aromas and flavors of faded roses, tobacco, licorice mature red fruit and a hint of white truffles and a great finish and aftertaste. It may be the best 1974 Barolo that I have ever drunk!

Wasserman gave the 1978 vintage 3 stars. He said that the 1978 Cogno- Marcarini Brunate tasted in 1981 from barrel had “Expansive aromas recalling raspberries and mushrooms, well structured, has style, balance, flavor and elegance; very well made, classic impressive”. He gave the wine 3 stars (possible 4).

At lunch, the 1978 took a long time to open up but once it did was showing very well but not as well as the 1974.

The 1967 vintage received 2+ stars. Wasserman tasted the 1967 Cogno Marcarini Brunate in 1985, gave it 4 stars and said  “… expansive, perfumed bouquet; firm tannic vein, texture of liquid velvet, a complex wine, elegant and stylish; very ready but there’s no rush to drink.”

The wine I had at lunch was showing its age. The color was a very light orange and it had flavors and aromas of a very old Barolo.  The wine was still drinkable but was not going to last much longer.

Wasserman gave the 1964 vintage 3 stars. He did not have tasting notes for the Cogno Marcarini Brunate 1964.

The 1964 Cogno Marcarini was much like the 1967 only it had a little more life. One point I have to make is that both the 1967 and 1964 tasted much better with the pizza we had for lunch. I love pizza Margarita and Barolo.

I am sure that if I tasted the 1978, 1967 and 1964 from different bottles the results would not be the same.  I am a firm believer that there are no great wines only great bottles of wine.

1 Comment

Filed under Barolo, Cogno- Marcarini, Elvio Cogno, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Piedmont, Piemonte, Valter Fissore

Celebrating Thanksgiving All Weekend Long

  We like to have Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (Linner) at 4:00PM. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed too late. Our linner usually lasts for 5 or 6 hours. This year was no exception. Michele made gougeres to start, followed by a mushroom soup and of course turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes, followed by a cheese course and pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving every year for several years together with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com  and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com. Diane is a very good baker and brought baked bread and a pear tart.  Travis and Nicole, who were also there, brought wine.

Thanksgiving Wines

 Champagne Extra Brute NV “Les Boguines” La Closerie 100% Pinot Meunier. This is the first time I had Champagne that was 100% Pinot Meunier. Jerome Prevost, the winemaker, believes in intervening as little as possible. Therefore, the wine was not fined, filtered, or cold stabilized. This was one of the driest Champagnes that I have ever tasted with nice fruit and very good acidity. It had a long finish and a lingering aftertaste.

 Chablis Grand Cru “Les Preuses” 2000 Réne & Vincent Dauvissat. It has been my pleasure to have had the 1993 and 2007 “Les Clos” from the same producer. This was the first time I tasted the “Les Preuses”. The Les Preuses was not as big and round as the Les Clos. It had a more mineral, earthy and steely character to it which made it an excellent food wine. They are both great examples of Chablis grand cru.

 Barbaresco 1979 Podere del Pajoré Giovanni Moresco 100% Nebbiolo (rose sub -variety). This has always been one of my favorite Barbarescos and to my regret it was my last bottle. There was severe pruning that limited the size of the yields and the grapes were harvested late when they were totally ripe. The rose sub-variety is one that is reputed to produce the lightest Nebbiolo wines, but you could not tell it from this wine or the others I have had over the years from this producer. This is a big Barbaresco with all of the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors and it will age for a few more years. In 1979 Angelo Gaja become involved with the winery and took over the management of the vineyards. I believe Gaja brought the vineyards because he now makes a wine called “Sito Maresco”.

 Morey-Saint-Denis 1989 Domaine Dujac 100%  Pinot Noir. I have not had much experience with this producer but this was classic Burgundy at its best. A wise man once said there is Pinot Noir and then there is Burgundy.

 Just before Thanksgiving Michele showed me a very interesting article in the The New Yorker, November 28 2011, Letter From Rome entitled “The Renovation.” It was about an American Rita Jenrette that married Prince Nicoló and is now the Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi. They are now living in a villa just outside Rome. They did not mention Fiorano in the article but I am sure there is a relationship somewhere. After reading the article I had to serve a bottle of Fiorano for Thanksgiving.

 Fiorano 1992 Vino da Tavola Boncompagni Ludovisi  Alberigo Boncompagni Ludovisi, Principe di Venosa made with merlot and cabernet sauvignon grapes.  Burton Anderson, in his landmark Italian wine book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Roman’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made it Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome.

 The 1970 Chianti Classic Badia Coltibuono was not good and I replaced it with the Grato Grati declassified Rufina Vino Rosso Toscano da Tavola 1982 Grato Grati 100% Sangiovese.  It is a wine that I really like and you can tell by the number of times that I serve it, it is my favorite Chianti. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels. It is declassified Chianti Rufina. I have been drinking this wine for a number of years now. The vintages I have had over the last few years have been the 1979, 1982, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 1997 (the last three are labeled Chianti Rufina) and have never found them wanting. To my great regret they are no longer available in NYC.

 On Friday Michele and I went with friends to Legend an excellent Chinese restaurant in NYC and had great food. I was in the mood for a Martini and gave the waitress exact instructions on how to make it for me. The bartender, a woman in a man’s hat, followed them to the letter and it was a perfect Martini. It fact it was so good I had another.

Saturday we stayed home and a friend gave us a bottle of Barbaresco 1997 Cantina Vignaioli  Elvio Pertinance.(cooperative) 100% Nebbiolo, to try. The grapes for the Barbaresco come from the hills of Treiso. It is a blend of Nebbiolo grapes grown on the vineyards belonging to each of the cooperative members. The selected grapes are crushed immediately on their arrival at the winery. The must ferments on the skins at a controlled temperature for at least 15 days. Following malolatic fermentation and a brief stay in stainless steel the wine is aged in casks of Slovenian oak for over one year prior to bottling. This Barbaresco is a very approachable wine with good fruit and soft tannins but will last for a few more years.

On Sunday we had friends over for lunch and we drank Barolo Riserva “Monprivato” 1993 Giuseppe Mascarella. The vineyard is in the village of Castiglione Falletto. There is traditional style floating of the cap fermentation for 20 to 25 days. The wine is matured in Slavonian oak barrels of medium size for about 38 months. The wine is bottles four years following the vintage.

 Barolo 1983 Cantine di Marchesi di Barolo 100% Nebbiolo the grapes came from different vineyards. The soil is of medium consistency with a substantial amount of quartze sand. Soft pressing of the hand harvested grapes and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.  Skin maceration is for 8 days and the wine is racked when the fermentation has been completed. This is for the current release. For the 1983 the skin contact would have been between 25 and 30 days. The wine is aged for the most part in Slavonian oak casks of 30-120 hectoliters for about two years. It is kept in bottle for another 12 months before it is released.

 Both 1983 and 1993 were not considered to be great vintages. These two wines however were showing very well and even the1983 had a few years left.  They both had classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.

9 Comments

Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Chablis, Champagne, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Piedmont