Category Archives: Pieropan Calvarino

PIeropan: Soave and one Amarone.

Seven years ago in a ceremony at Castello Scaligero in Soave, Italy, I was inducted into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia, a world wide women’s organization that praises “Il Vino Bianco Soave.” The members are people that love food and wine. I was inducted as “Capitano Spadarino,” protector of the Women of the Castle and for my contributions to Italian food and wine and Soave in particular. They presented me with a spadarino, a short sword on an embroidered sash. Soave has been one of my favorite white wines for many years. It was a great honor.

A Woman of the Castle  and Capitano Spadarino

Last month Vignaioli Veneti invited me on press trip to the Veneto. We would stay on Lake Garda and visit 11 of the top producers. One of the producers I was looking forward to visiting was Pieropan. I have been enjoying their Soave for a very long time.

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals. There is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. The soil does make a difference. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir- based wines.

Andrea Pieropan speaking about the wines

The Pieropan winery is located in the center of the medieval town of Soave.

Andera Pieropan welcomed us at the winery. Andra said Pieropan is a family winery and he works with his father Leonildo, his brother Dario, and mother Teresita. Andera said  he and his brother are the fourth generation. Andera led us through a tasting of the wines.

THE WINES

Soave Classico 2016 is made from 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. Grapes are from hillside vineyards in the classical zone. The soil is volcanic and the vineyard is situated at 100/300 meters and is facing west. Training system is guyot with 5,200 plants per hectare and 3,000 vines per hectare with the pergola Veronese system.

The grapes are hand picked in mid September for the Trebbiano di Soave and in October for the Garganega. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass lined cement tanks. The wine remains here on the lees for a period of time according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest the wine is bottled and released after one month. Dario said this is the freshest and youngest of their wines.  

I have been fortunate enough to taste and drink many older vintages of Soave going back almost 30 years. We tasted the 1995 Pieropan Soave Classico. The wine was showing almost no signs of age and I wished I could of had it with dinner that night!

Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino” 2015 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone.

Andrea said the name Calvarino comes from “Little Calvary” reflecting how difficult the soil is to work and the tortuous path, which winds from top to bottom.

The soil

The soil is rich in clay and tufaceous basalt. Dario said it gives the wine an attractive mineral quality. The vineyard is situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with a fresh aroma and hints of flowers, lemon and cherry.

We also tasted the 1992 Calvarino which was showing very well and again proves the point  that not only can Soave age but improves with age.


Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2015 DOC Pieropan 100% Garganega. Dario said the La Rocca vineyard is on the Monte Rocchetta hill just below the Scaligeri castle in Soave.

The soil

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for over 12 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release.

This is an elegant wine with hints of exotic fruit, nuts and a touch of spice.  It was interesting to taste the La Rocca and the Calvarino wines together.  Both were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and  will need more time to develop. 

Amarone della Valpolicella 2013 DOCG  In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is south facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare; the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums.

On Lake Garda a few years ago I saw the Pieropan Amarone 2006 in a restaurant. I did not know they made an Amarone so I ordered it. I was very impressed with the wine!  Andrea  said 2006 was the first vintage.

Recioto Soave Classico 2012 “Le Colombare” 100% Garganega (Veneto) Pieropan

Certified Organic. Volcanic soil, rich in basalt and tuffo eocene. The vineyards are at 300m and the exposure is west. The training system is Pergola Veronese and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. There is a manual harvest with careful selection of ripe grapes. All the grapes are collected in small boxes and brought to the winery for the drying process. The grapes are manually placed in a loft on mats made of bamboo reeds. The drying is natural and the grapes remain until they wither which is around the end of February. The natural climate conditions allow for berry dehydration, loss of water and the development of noble rot (Botrytis). The yield of juice is very low and the grapes lose 1/4 of their original weight. The wine is only produced in good vintages. Destemming and pressing of the grapes takes place. There is a selection of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 14 to 16 degrees C in barrels of 2,500 liters. The residual sugar is 110 to 120 g/L. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 200 liters for about two years and in glass for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with ripe fruit, hints of apricot and quince with a very long finish taste and nice aftertaste.

I did not taste this wine at the winery but at a dinner that night. I have always liked their Recioto, which is one of the best  dessert wines produced, so I had to include it.

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Filed under Amarone, Pieropan Amarone, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Pieropan-La Colombare, Soave

Touring the Veneto with Vignaioli Veneti

The Veneto is a region of Italy I travel to often because of the wine and the food. I like to visit Venice and Verona but I usually stay on Lake Garda. Recently Vignaioli Veneti invited me on a press trip to the Veneto. The invitation read: Vignaioli 2017: Discover Veneto’s Top Grower-Producers, Growing Areas and Wines.

Lake Garda

I would be staying in a hotel on Lake Garda.

Vignaioli Veneti is a newly-formed organization of over fifty of the Veneto’s top small producers. The president of the association is Michele Montresor and the Director is Giulio Liut.
The program included two Master classes conducted by Kerin O’Keefe, visits to eleven wineries, and dinner in some of the best restaurants in the area. There were 7 other journalists in the group and I enjoyed sharing these experiences and our conversations as well.

Mr.Montresor

The first evening there was a welcome dinner at Ristorante alla Borsa, in the town of Mincio. It is a restaurant I have been to before, famous for its tortellini filled with cheese, meats or vegetables.

Mr. Montresor said the Veneto has historic cities of art and culture such as Venice, Padova and Verona, but they are only one aspect of this region. It stretches from Lake Garda to the Dolomites and to the Adriatic beaches. Vignaiolo Veneti’s mission is to establish the Veneto, its wines and wineries worldwide as a manifestation of quality.

Kerin O’Keefe

I was looking forward to the Master Class conducted by Kerin O’Keefe. Kerin reviews all Italian wines for the Wine Enthusiast magazine. She is the author of several books, including Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello (2005), Brunello di Montalcino: Understanding and Appreciating One of Italy’s Great Wines (2012), and Barolo and Barbaresco: The King and Queen of Italian Wine (2014).

I have known Kerin for a number of years. At the Master Class there were 20 wines in all, 10 whites and 10 reds divided into 4 flights. Kerin felt that these wines were examples of the diversity of wines made by the member wineries and the Veneto in general.

Whites
1st Flight
Villa Medici Bianco Provincia di Verona IGT “Primizia” 2016 made from 25% Trebbiano, 25% Garganega and 50% Cortese. Fermentation and aging takes place in stainless steel. Kerin said that this grape, better known for producing Gavi, is very common in the Lake Garda area.

Gorgo Custoza DOC San Michelin 2016 made from Garganega, Cortese, Trebbiano Toscano and Riesling. Fermentation and aging in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not take place.

Calvalchina Custoza Superiore “Amedeo” 2015 made from 30% Garganega made from 40% Garganega, 30% Fernanda (a clone of Cortese, 15% Trebbianello (a clone of Tocai), 15% Trebbiano Toscano. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation is prevented.

La Morette Lugana Mandolare 2016 made from 100% Turbiana. Fermented in stainless steel. Kerin said that Turbiana is relative of Trebbiano di Soave, but it is a separate grape variety. Most producers use 100% Turbiana. She added that the best grapes come from the area close to the lake, where the soil has the most clay. There are 5 different types of Lugana wine.

Ottella Lugana Riserva DOC “Molceo” 2014 made from Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana). Kerin said some producers put both names on the label. Partial malolactic fermentation, aging for 16 months on the lees mostly in stainless steel and also in tonneaux and barriques.

2nd Flight
Cà Rugate Soave Classico “Monte Fiorentine” 2015 made from 100% Garganega. Fermentation is stainless steel for about 10 to 15 days. Kerin said that as of 1998 Trebbiano Toscano was not allowed in the blend.

Pieropan Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino” 2015 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave. Kerin said this was the first “cru” made in 1971. The wine remains in glass-lined cement tanks on the fine lees for one year

Pra Soave Classico “Monte Grande” 2009 made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave. The grapes are dried on the vines for one month and then destemmed and gently pressed. Fermentation is carried out in large 15/20 hl casks made of Allier oak. The wine is then left in casks to mature for ten months. The wine was showing no signs of age.
After visits later to the producers Pieropan and Pra, it confirmed once again that Soave is a great white wine that only gets better with age.

Bonotto Delle Tezze Prosecco Superiore Col Real Valdobbiadene DOCG 2016 made from 100% Glera. The grapes are harvested by hand and subject to soft pressing. After setting, the must is fermented in autoclave and after the wine is bottled,

Cà di Rajo Prosecco Superiore DOCG Valdobbiadene Millesimato Brut “Cuvèe del Fondatore  made from 100% Glera.  Long charmat method 70 to 90 days. No malolactiic fermentation and no aging

My next report will cover the red wines we tasted.

 

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Filed under Pieropan Calvarino, Prosecco, Soave

Eating Moleche and Drinking Wine in Venice

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  Last time I was in Venice, I posted some pictures on Facebook and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and added that “the wine list will blow you away.” She told me to ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner, who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this, we just had to go.

Luca

Luca

The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is a covered patio for outdoor dining. We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith had highly recommended the restaurant. As Faith had promised, we had a great meal.

We liked the restaurant so much that we decided to return again this year. I had the mazzancolle, large grilled red shrimp. They were plump and juicy just as I remembered them from last time.IMG_0468

I followed this with the moleche, baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor. I order them whenever I can because their season is very short.IMG_0469

We drank the Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino 2014 Pieropan made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone. Volcanic soils situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in the tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release.IMG_0472

After dinner Luca suggested we visit his new wine bar called Local just around the corner, 3 minutes away. This being Venice it only took us 15 minutes to find it. But we liked its cozy appearance and contemporary style. Benedetta, Luca’s sister, welcomed us warmly.IMG_0473

They have a very extensive wine list and we ordered the Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo, which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2014 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a white wine and are pressed by foot. The must is fermented without the skins. We had the 2012 last time at Wildner and it was much lighter in color but with this very “natural” winemaker, one never knows.IMG_0476

We had this with a plate of assorted cheeses and condiments from the Veneto area.

For lunch the next day we went to the highly recommended Trattoria Antiche Carampane, not far from the outdoor fish market. This is a lovely restaurant and it is better to go for lunch because it is very crowded for dinner.IMG_0482

Michele and I had the same dishes pasta with baby sepia in an ink sauceIMG_6269 mol

and fried moleche with fried Jerusalem artichokes cooked to perfection. IMG_0484We also loved our desserts, which included a layered meringue, cream and berry parfait. I had something equally delicious, but ate it so fast that I can’t remember what it was.

We drank the Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2014 Pieropan 100% Garganega.IMG_0483

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for 15 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release. It was interesting to taste the two wines one day apart.  Both  Pieropan wines were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and needs more time.IMG_0487

We also drank the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2011 Eduardo Valentini 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

 

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Filed under Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Restaurant Wildner, Soave, Uncategorized, Valentini, Venice