Category Archives: sagrantino

Red Wine and Steak at Restaurant Il Gattopardo NYC

Last week I posted an article on the white wines of Italy represented by Riccardo Gabriele of PR Comunicare Il Vino and Luca Tommasini of WinesCom Global Consulting. This article is about the red wines we tasted at Il Gattopardo.

We had a perfectly prepared steak with the red wines and it was a perfect combination with the red wines.

Castello di Mugazzena “Gargatura” IGT Tuscana 2017 made from 100% Syrah. The soil is clayey sandy terraced alluvial deposits. Training system is unilateral spurred cordon. Manual harvest. Grapes are destemmed and sorted. The grapes are pressed and then pumped into conditioned steel tanks where it ferments at a controlled temperature. There is pumping over, punching down and delestages. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation the wine is left to mature in contact with the skins between 10 and 30 days. The wine is separated from the marc and it is pressed. Malolactic fermentation is complete two weeks after. The course lees are removed and the wine is pumped into into French oak barrels, where it ages on the lees fro 12 to 18 months. The wine has hints of blueberries, black cherry and a note of black pepper.

 

Barone Sergio Sicilia Nero d’Avola Rosato “Luigia” 2018 made from100% Nero d’ Avola the vines are 10 years old and are at 70 meters. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures in steel for 6 to 7 months and in bottle for 2 months before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with a touch of raspberry. Next time the red wines

 

I Balzini Black Label Dal Colli Della Tuscana Centrale PGI 2013 (WinesCom) made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The soil is of Pilocene orgin, sedimentary formations characterized by the presence of alternating strata of yellow sands and clay with a notable presence of marine fossils. Exposure is southwest with a north to south orientation of the rows. Working of the soil with a cordon de Royat training system. Manual harvest and grape selection. There is two weeks of skin contact and there is a complete malolactic fermentation. Aging is in French oak barrels for 12 to 14 months and 18 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of red and black berries, a hint a spice and a touch of vanilla

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 “Canalicchio,” Franco Pacenti WinesCom made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is north-east. The soil is medium clay with a low density of vines per hectare, divided into six plots with an average age of 25 years and the training system is spurred cordon. . There is a strictly traditional vinification with prolonged maceration on the skins and long refinement in medium to large oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherries and mushrooms with a touch of spice and a hint of herbs.

La Regola Costa Tuscana Riserva IGT La Regola made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Red Mediterranean soil with an abundance of stones. The vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters. Hand havesting of grapes with a careful selection. Manual selection of the grapes and of the berries, medium maceration and alcoholic fermentation is in natural concrete vats at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation the wine spends 18 months in new French barriques made in Burgundy and at least 12 months in bottle before release.This is a fruit forward wine characteristic of Cabernet Franc with a hint of spice and vanilla.

Barolo DOCG “Ravera” 2013 Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil is Tortonian in origin, made up of laminated Saint’Agata fossil marl, with clay at 400 meters. The exposure is southeast and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. The training system is espalier in the vineyards with guyot pruning. The age of the vines is between 20 and 30 years. Harvest is by hand in mid October. Separate processing of grapes picked in different parts of the vineyard. Destemming and temperature controlled alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, pumping over and toward the end of the fermentation-delestage. The duration of the submerged cap depends of on the quality of the vintage. Drawing off and spontaneous malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 38 months of which at least 18 months is in French oak barrels of varying capacity. Blending is in stainless steel tanks and the wine is bottled in the summer and released for sale in January four years from the harvest. This is a classic Barolo with hints of cherry, tar and licorice.

Beconcini “IXE  The name is the Tuscan pronunciation for the letter X. The letter X stands for unknown vines. In the early 1950’s, 213 vines of unknown species were found in the vineyard which were called X vines. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture these vines were declared to be Tempranillo a few years ago. In June of 2009, Tempranillo was enrolled in the Tuscan register. As far as I know Tempranillo was never cultivated before in Italy.

The IGT is Tuscany Tempranillo. This wine is made from 99.9% of Tempranillo and a touch of Sangiovese. The winery is located in the town of San Miniato. The vineyard is 3.5 hectares and the grapes are all from the new vineyards planted in 1997 using a massal selection from buds taken from the century old vines of Tempranillo from the Vigna alle Nicchie. The training is spurred cordon. Soil is sandstone with marine fossil formation, well integrated with abundant clay. 100/150 meters above sea level and there are 7,000 vines per hectare. Harvest the first 10 days of September. The grapes are dried for 4 weeks and they obtain a total yield of 70%. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled glass lined cement vats, maceration is for 3 weeks. Aging lasts for 14 months in 70% French barriques and 30% American oak barriques of second passage. 6 months in bottle before release. First passage in barriques is for the wine from the grapes of the historical vineyard Vigna alle Nicchie that goes into the wine of the same name.

This origin of this grape variety is not known for certain. Via Franchigena was an old Roman road, which was used by pilgrims in the 17th century to make the pilgrimage to and from Santiago de Compostela (Rioja) in Spain to Rome. This road passed close to the town of San Miniato near where the winery is now located. Spanish pilgrims may have carried the Tempranillo seeds and actually sowed them in the vicinity of San Miniato as was the custom of the time. Scientists have determined that the vines were from seeds, not cuttings. Legend has it that a local priest tended the vines not knowing their origin. Not imported.

Montefalco Sagrantino 2015 Bocale made from 100% Sagrantino. The vineyard is treated with natural grass regeneration techniques (land planting), using only organic and mineral fertilizers without the use of chemical products or herbicides. Fermentation is with natural yeasts and the wine is produced without microfiltration and thermal stabilization. Manual harvest takes place the second half of October. Vinification: maceration for at least 40 days with natural enzymes. Stabilization and filtration do not take place. The wine is aged in 1,000 liter French oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and currants with a touch of spice. I was very impressed with this wine.

Tommasi Amarone Classico 2009 made from 50% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The vines are on hillside terraces; the training system is high-density guyot. The Groletta and Conca d’Oro vineyards are located in the area of classic historical Valpolicella. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in plastic boxes which hold 5/6 kg. Then they are put on wooden racks to dry where cooling breezes in the autumn and winter until January dry them. This drying period is known as the appassimento. Annalisa said that this is an active period where the grapes lose about 50% of their weight and there is a concentration of the natural sugar. The wine is aged for 3 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. Residual sugar is 8g/l and the alcohol is 15.50%. This is a elegant, complex and full-bodied wine that has aromas of ripe fruit with hints of cherries, dries figs, prunes and a touch of hazelnut.

 

 

 

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Filed under Barolo, Brunello, Italian Red Wine, IXE, Nero d'Avola, Riccardo Gabriele, sagrantino, Tommasi, Uncategorized

Montefalco Sagrantino- Umbria’s Jewel

I have been a big fan of Sagrantino di Montefalco from the first time I visited the town of Montefalco a number of years ago. I knew the passito version of the wine, but that visit was the first time I was able to taste and drink the dry version of the wine from a number a different producers. Now I am a big fan of both.

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Eataly was the location of the 3rd annual Sagrantino Festival held in New York City earlier this month.

The tasting included a number of producers that I had visited in Montefalco. This was an opportunity to to speak to them, taste the new vintages and find out the latest news from Montefalco. Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery, Filippo Antonelli from the Antonelli San Marco winery and Liu Pambuffetti  from the Scacciadiavoli winery were in attendance.IMG_4925

The Grape

Sagrantino is indigenous to the hills of Montefalco and the surrounding area in the region of Umbria. It has no relationship with any other known grape variety cultivated in central Italy. It is believed that the name comes from the early cultivation of the grape by monks for sacramental wine and its use by local farmers especially during religious feasts and festivals. Sagrantino Passito has been produced for many centuries but the dry version has only been on the market for about 30 years.  Today there are 74 producers of Montefalco Sagrantino and the production zone is five times its original size (122 hectares to 660 hectares).

All the wines are 100% Sagrantino. As of the 2009 vintage the wine must be aged for at least 36 months of which at least 12 months must be in oak

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Sagrantino di Montfalco DOCG 2009 Particaia The harvest takes place the in the middle of October. There is a long maceration of at least 3 weeks. Aging of the wine is in small wooden barrels of French oak-barriques or tonneaux once the malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged for a total of 36 months: 12 months in small oak barrels, 12 months in steel(this was the only wine aged is steel) vats and 12 months in the bottle.  This was the only wine aged in steel vats. It was the lightest of the wines with soft sweet tannins and a hint of vanilla.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2008 Scacciadiavoli The means drive away devils)   Harvesting takes place from the middle to the end of October. Vinification takes place for 3 or 4 weeks in French oak vats and the temperature is controlled. Aging is for 16 months 1/3 in 30 HL casks and 2/3 in French barriques and in bottle for a minimum of 9 months. This is a complex, elegant wine with intense fruit, hints of red fruit, plums, spice and a touch of herbs and leather.

Liu

Liu

Liu said that they always had the same clone in the vineyard. Sagrantino is a dark and tannic wine. Liu spoke about tannin management and how this was done in the vineyard and the winery. She said that every vintage is different and therefore the tannins will be different. In order to get a balanced wine, the grapes must be picked at the right moment and maceration is according to the vintage. She said that they have a m   selection- only one clone in the vineyard.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Antonelli San Marco. The grapes are hand picked the first week of October and there is a final selection in the cellar. Vinification involves using the force of gravity because there are two levels in the cellar. During fermentation the skin is in contact with the juice for 20/30 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine clarifies spontaneously and there is no need for filtration. The wine is aged in toasted French oak barrels for 6 months and in larger oak barrels for 18 months.

Filippo  Antonelli said that they use to use chestnut woods for the barrels buy it gave to much tannin to the wine. Now they use oak from France and Germany. The wine settles in fiberglass lined cement vats for six months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The winery is certified organic.

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Filippo Antonelli

This is a rich, complex wine with hints of blackberry, cherry and citrus. Filippo said that because of the nature of the Sagrantino grape( high phenolics and anthocyanins and tannin) this wine could age for 20/30 years. When I visited Marco at the winery a few years ago I tasted a 1985 Sagrantino which was over 25 years old and was drinking very well. I also tasted a 1985 Sagrantino passito, which was also drinking very well. Marco added that the people in Montefalco are divided on when passito should be drunk at Easter — either with the lamb for dinner or with the traditional Umbrian dessert Ciaramicola.

Filippo said that 2007 and 2009 were warm vintages and in these years the wine has citrus aromas and hints of oranges and pineapple.

He told us that he wished Sagrantino month could be  in February because St Valentino came from Umbria and the Sagrantino passito is a great combination with chocolate.

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Montefalco Sagrantino Collepiano DOCG 2007 Arnaldo Caprai.  Harvest takes place the last days of September and the first week of October. After a general crushing-destemming process, there is constant pumping over performed, as Marco said, to draw color and tannins from the skins. Maceration lasts for 30 days. The wine is aged in French oak for 22 months and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine is big, yet elegant with hints of jam, clove and a touch of vanilla. This wine seemed much less modern in style than the ones I had tasted in the past. I asked Marco if they were doing something different and he said “NO”.

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Sagrantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tenuta di Castebuono. Hand picking of the grapes in October.  The soil is muddy clay with a good agronomic potential and resistant to summer aridity.  There is cold pre-maceration for 30 hours in wooden barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months in tonneaux and for 16 months in large barrels. The wine has hints of blackberry and blueberry with touches of cherry and leather.

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Filed under Antonelli, Castelbuono, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Momtefalco, Perticaia, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli

Tasting Sagrantino di Montefalco

I’ve said this before and will say it again — Sagrantino di Montefalco is one of the great wines of Italy.  As a grape it ranks right up there with Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Sangiovese.

Sagrantino a is big complex wine with a very dark color, rich red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of spice, leather and prune, good acidity and a long finish.  It is a wine that can age for many years.  For more information on Sagrantino see https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagrantino-di-montefalcotasting-the-wine/

Sagrantino originally was a passito or sweet wine.  A little over 40 years ago they also began to make a dry version. Sagrantino in both its forms is not very well know in the U.S so whenever I have the opportunity I like to write about the wine.  They are a good buy as most of them are around $40 a bottle.

The Wine Media Guild had a tasting and lunch at Felidia restaurant featuring the wines from Montefalco in Umbria.

The speakers were Guido Guardigili of Perticaia, Peter Heiborn of Tenuta Bellafonte and Marco Caprai of Arnaldo Caprai.

Here are the Sagrantinos that were at the event along with one white wine, which I really liked.

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Trebbiano Spoletino 2011 Perticaia 100% Trebbiano Spoletino. Harvest takes place the third week of October. A soft pressing of the grapes takes place under inert gas. Cold static clarification  of the clear must in stainless steel tanks and the wine rests for 6 months on the fine lees. I visited this winery a few years ago and Mr Guardigli did a tasting of this wine with some local cheeses and it was a great combination. $24

Sagrantino 2007 Perticaia  The harvest takes place in the second week of October. Maceration is for at least 3 weeks with temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Aging is in small French oak barrels – barriques or tonneaux –  for 12 months until the malolactic fermentation has been completed, then 12 more months in vats followed by 12 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, a touch of prune and a hint of cherry, $48IMG_2873

Sagrantino 2008 Romanelli the vineyards are at 350 meters, the soil is silt-clay and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. After the grapes are hand harvested they are destemmed and lightly pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation with frequent pumping over and maceration lasts for 45 to 60 days. After racking, the wine is aged in French wood barrels ranging in size from 225 liters to 2,500 liters. The wine is filtered before being bottled and remains in the bottle for 10 months before release.

Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2007 Arnaldo Caprai.   Made from 100% Sagrantino from the Collepiano vineyard at 200-300 meters above sea level. The soil is clay-calcareous and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. The training system is cordone speronato and the harvest takes place from the third week in September to the beginning of October. The wine spends 24-26 months in French oak barriques; Marco said that some of the barriques were second passage. It is kept in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This is a big modern style Sagrantino and the most expensive of the tasting. It has concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of oak and vanilla. $60IMG_2863

Sagrantino 2008 Tenuta Bellafonte This is their first vintage and their vineyards are 12 years old and are 260 to 320 meters above sea level. The training is cordone speronato and there are 5,500 plants per hectare. Mr. Heilborn explained that the grapes are not crushed, only destemmed, and are put into vats where they start to ferment without any additional yeast. Maceration takes place through the pressure on the peels and lasts about two weeks. When asked if anyone else does this for Sagrantino his answer was “no”. After the wine rests for a few weeks and is decanted a few times and is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of not less than 30 hectoliters. The malolactic fermentation takes place naturally, activated only by the cellar temperature. The wine is checked and decanted as needed for the 40 months that it remains in the oak barrels. He added that the wine is bottled without filtration and any deposits at the bottom of the bottle are an indication of the guarantee of such production choices.

Sagrantino 2007 Antonelli  Harvest begins in the second week of October, with hand picked grapes placed into boxes and then a final sorting.
Vinification is by gravity with fermented on the skins for 15-20 days at a temperature of 25 degrees; followed by malolactic fermentation. Clarification is spontaneously without filtration. Aging  in 500-liter oak barrels lightly roasted for 6 months, then in 25 hl oak barrels for 12 months; assembly and clarification takes place in cement tanks for 3 months and the wine remains in the bottle for at least 12 months before release. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of blackberry and plum with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I visited this winery when I was in Montefalco a few years. They make excellent wines and the highlight of the visit was a 1985 Sagrantino that was 25 years old at the time. The wine was drinking very well and it proves that Sagrantino can age. $38

Sagrantino 2006 Tenuta Castelbuono– -How can I not love this winery when they say “The decision to use large barrels over small barriques was crucial to the creation of a wine with such a long aging potential”? There are 6,250 vines per hectare and the training is spurred cordon. There is a cold pre maceration for 30 hours in wood barrels. Skin contact is for 15 to 20 days and the wine is aged 12 months in large barrels and 12 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with aromas and flavors of blackberries and blueberries and a hint of leather. $37IMG_2869

Sagrantino 2007 Scacciadiavoli (Drive away devils) 2007 The vineyards are at 900 feet with a south/southwest exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 2,300 vines per hectare.   Harvest takes place at the end of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 16 months. The wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 9 months before release. $39IMG_2862

Sagrantinio 2008 Le Cimate The 19 hectare vineyard is at 360 meters with a south/southeast exposure. The soil is clay moderately calcareous with 4,400 plants per hectare. After the grapes are crushed and destemmed the skins are macerated for 20 days with three pumpovers each day. Aging is for 36 months of which 8 are in barriques and 4 in large barrels. The wine is filtered and put in bottles for 6 months before release. $NVIMG_2861

Sagrantino  2008 Colle del Saraceno –Az. Agr. Franceseco Botti This may be the oldest winery in Montefalco producing Sagrantino. It is a very traditional winery. The vineyards have a southern exposure. The wine has  an aromas of dried fruit with hints of prune and spice and a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $NV

Sagrantino Passito 2008 Colle Del Saraceno-Az. Agr. di Francesco Botti. There is a long period of natural air drying of the grapes. This is a big rich wine with flavors and aromas of blackberry, cinnamon and dried fruit– it was almost liquor-like. $NVIMG_2875

Sagrantino Passito 2008 Cantina Colle Ciocco the harvest takes place at the end of September. This wine is produced from select Sagrantino grapes left to wither on the vine for over 3 months and the yield is very limited. After several rackings the wine is aged for one year in 5HL oak barrels. This is a wine with intense aromas and flavors of blackberries, dried cherries and a hint of spice. It is a dessert wine but I have been told that at Easter in Montefalco they drink it with lamb. $NV

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Filed under Antonelli, Arnaldo Caprai winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Perticaia, sagrantino, Sagrantino passito, Scacciadiavoli, Tenuta Bellafonte, Umbria

Champagne, Old Wine and Turkey


Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (linner) is traditionally served at 4:00PM at our house. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed or too late. Our Linner usually lasts for 5 to 6 hours. This year was no exception.

To start, Michele made persimmons wedges wrapped in prosciutto, followed by a chestnut soup, roast turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes.  Then we had a cheese course, followed by a hazelnut tar and caramel pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving for several years with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.  Diane is a very excellent baker and brought a beautiful loaf of home made bread, as well as the hazelnut tart mentioned above.  Travis and Nicole joined us this year and brought some Champagne and old wines.

The WinesChampagne Grand Cru D’ay Füt de Chène Brut 2000 Henri Giraud. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested exclusively in the terroir of Aÿ Grand Cru. The wine is aged in small barrels made from Argonne oak for 12 months. The first vintage was in 1990. This is a full and rich wine with aromas of pear, stone fruits and a hint of mushrooms. It has a long lasting finish.Champagne Curvèe William Durtz Brut Millesimè (prestige cuvee) 1999 (Aÿ) made from 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. This is a well-structured, complex, elegant Champagne with hints of herbs, dried flowers and a touch of toast.

Torre Ercolana 1982 Cantina Colacicchi – Anagni  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese dl Piglio  When this wine was produced, there were only 2 acres of vines and only 2,000 bottles were made, one fourth of them a white called Romagnano.

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year.

I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, who has the exclusive rights to the wine. The wine does not always taste the same; this is because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

Burton Anderson in his book VINO describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Sorbets” 1976 Domine B. Serveau et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is limestone and clay and the 7 hectares of Pinot Noir are in the heart of the Côte de Nuits. The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is matured in oak casks for 18/22 months. The Premiers Crus are aged 2/10 years before coming to market. This is a wonderful wine with aromas of red fruit and blackberries, round with a silky fruity feeling on the palate. It was a pleasure to drink.Reciotto Secco “Amarone” Vino della Valpolicella 1960. Bertani. This is one of my favorite producers and I like Amarone on Thanksgiving.  With turkey and all the side dishes, it makes for a great combination. So I was very disappointed because the wine was too old and tasted like sherry. Travis brought the wine.  He had had a 1964 a few days before and said it was wonderful. You never know with old wines — you take your chances and hope for the best.Alicante Bouschet 1996 Russian River Vineyards (old vines), Sonoma Country Topolos, made from 100% Alicante Bouschet from the Sequoia View Vineyards. The wine is unrefined. It was bottled December 16, 1997. Since the Amarone was not good and it was Thanksgiving, the truly all-American holiday, I decided to try this wine. It was interesting but it seemed they were trying to make an old style wine but could not get away from all the modern techniques. It was unbalanced with too much alcohol.

The winery was sold and the name changed to Russian River Vineyards and I do not know if they still produce this wine.

Because we had a cheese course and two pies, it was time for the dessert wines.Montefalco Sagrantino D’Arquata Passito Abboccato DOC 1981 Adanti 100% Sagrantino The grapes are naturally dried for two months (appassimento) followed by a slow fermentation. The wine is aged in large Slovenian oak barrels (botti). They still make a passito but the word Abboccato does not appear on the label. The wine had aromas and flavors of dry fruit, blackberries and a dry aftertaste.Anghelu Ruju 1979 Vino Liquoroso Tradizional di Alghero  Sella & Mosca (Sardinia) 100% Cannonau. This is a late harvest and after the grapes are picked they are dried in the open air for a long time. There is a long oak aging in fusti (small oak barrels of 20/50 liters). This is an aromatic wine with hints of cinnamon and walnuts. I do not think it was produced after the 2003 vintage. We ended the meal with the last of my last bottle of Romano Levi Grappa, which I bought a few years ago just before the great grappa maker died.

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Filed under Anghelu Ruju Vino Liquoroso, Burgundy, Champagne, Domaine b. Serveau et Fils, French Wine, Henri Giraud, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Passito, sagrantino, Topolos, Torre Ercolana

Umbria Comes to NYC

Mayor Bloomberg issues an Official Proclamation declaring November “ I Love Umbria Month” in New York City. There were events taking place in Eataly and Di Palo Fine foods among others. As I walked toward Eataly to attend a tasting of Umbrian wines, I could not help but think of the two major storms that we had endured in just one week:  the first was Hurricane Sandy and on this day it was a nor’easter bringing high winds, rain and snow.  Madison Square Park was closed as it had been during the hurricane and as I made my way across Fifth Avenue, I could only hope that the storm would not be as bad.

Porchetta for lunch


Only 4 of the 7 wines had made it to Eataly because of the hurricane but that was the least of the problems that Sandy had caused.Dan Amatuzzi, Beverage Director of Eataly, and Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery were the day’s speakers.  Mr. Amatuzzi spoke about Umbria and its wines in general and Mr. Caprai spoke mostly about Sagrantino.

The Wines

Bianco di Torgiano “Costelllato” DOC 2011 Terre Margaritelli made from Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Grechetto and Fiano. The winery is located on a hill called Miralduolo between Perugia and Assisi, the vineyards are 200-250 meters above see level, with clay soil and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The wine is aged for a short time in French oak barrels from the Bertrange Forest in the Nevers region.  With Chablis to the northeast and Sancerre to the southwest, this is one of the most highly regarded forests in France since the variety of oak (Quercus Petraea) has a very dense grain.

The wine is well-structured with aromas of apple, dried fruit, herbs, and a touch of hazelnut. There is a nice aftertaste with a hint of almond.  Bianco di Torgiano is not seen very often in this country. Todi Sangiovese  “Belforte” DOC 2010 Cantina Tudernum made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. The Cantina is located on the slope of Todi’s hills along the ancient Strada Tiberina. There are 3,300 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week in October. It is aged for 6 months in barrels of durmast oak (Quercus Petraea) and then additional aging in bottle prior to release. This is a recent DOC. It is a fruity, easy-drinking wine with fresh  aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and cassis.Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2005 DOCG Arnaldo Caprai. Made from 100% Sagrantino from the Collepiano vineyard at 200-300 meters above sea level. The soil is clay-calcareous and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. The training system is Cordone Speronato and the harvest takes place from the third week in September to the beginning of October. The wine spends 24-26 months in French oak barriques; Marco said that some of the barriques were second passage. It is kept in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This is a big modern style Sagrantino with concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of vanilla.

Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG 2005 Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri made from 100% Sagrantino. The estate is on the rolling hill to the east of the Montefalco appellation. All the grapes are grown on the estate and the exposure is south-southeast. The harvest takes place at the end of October when the grapes are very ripe. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in oak barrels and then in bottle before release. The wine is bottled 32 months after the harvest. This is a full-bodied dessert wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and dried fruit. This wine for a passito also goes well with food and in Umbria they drink it with lamb on Easter Sunday.

The wines that did not make it to the tasting because of Sandy were:
Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2011, Perticaia. This is a producer I know and have visited and like his wines but I have not tasted this particular wine.

Rosso di Torgiano “Rubesco” 2007 Giorgio Lungarotti. I have been drinking this wine since I visited the winery many years ago and consider it one of the best Italian red wines for the money.

Sargantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tabarrini Giampaolo. I do not know this producer.

Monini olive oil from Umbria was also served. It is a mild olive oil with a nutty, buttery flavor and low in acidity.

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Easter “Linner” with Good Friends

We like to invite friends over for Easter “linner”, as I call it, my name for the meal somewhere between lunch and dinner. I prefer this time because enjoy a leisurely meal and still finish at a “decent” hour.  As usual, we stuck to my rule of one bottle less then the number of people so that everyone goes home relatively sober. There were 8 of us and there were 7 bottles of wine.

For the appetizer Michele made crostini with avocado and bottarga, salted mullet roe, which went very well with the Champagne.  Michele always makes lamb for Easter and since Bordeaux is a classic match with lamb we had three Bordeaux a 1990,1988 and 1966. One of the guests, knowing Michele likes Burgundy, brought a 1947.

The Wine

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve 1998 (Rheims) 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. This is a full-bodied champagne, round with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. Ed McCarthy in his book Champagne for Dummies says, ”The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve Brut is a great Champagne and clearly Veuve Clicquot’s best buy.” 1988 was a very good vintage

Champagne Dom Pérignon Oenothéque 1996 disgorged in 2008. The Oenothêque (black label) indicates that a Dom Pérignon vintage has reached either its second peak in maturity, optimized intensity, 15 to 20 years after the harvest (the wine above), or its third peak, with optimized intensity after 30 years on the lees. The cellar master is the only one that can determine when the wine has reached that optimal stage in its evolution and only then will it be released as Oenothéque. This is a champagne with great length, structure and depth, nice fruit and just starting to show a hint of toast on the palate. 1996 was an excellant vintage.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990 (Pauillac) 80-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5-20% Cabernet Franc and 0-5% Petit Verdot, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged 18-20 months in new barrels. In 1990 the climate conditions were excellent. The yield was abundant and of outstanding quality. This is an elegant complex wine with hints of blackberries, smoke, leather, spice and a touch of vanilla in the very long finish. This wine will last for least 10 years or more.

Chateau Baron Pichon Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Malbec, the blend depends on the vintage. The wine is aged for 18-20 months in barrel. This wine is just starting to come around but should last for a number of years.

Chateau Montrose1966 (Saint-Estéphe) made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Aged in barrel from 22-24 months. In his book Bordeaux, Robert Parker states the following about this wine in 1985: “The 1966 Montrose is austere and tough on the palate, with good fruit and firm dusty tannins.”  I wonder:  what are dusty tannins? He says the anticipated maturity is between 1986 and 2010. This wonderful Bordeaux has reached full maturity.

Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Caretiers” 1947 Leroy Thanks to the kindness of friends I have been lucky enough to have drunk a few of the 1947’s from different producers. This is classic Burgundy at it best, a mature wine but not showing any real signs of age.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito 2006 100% Sagrantino Antonelli (Umbria)  As I mentioned in my last blog, the people of Montefalco have the passito with lamb on Easter Sunday. We tried it but most of the guests found it too sweet for the lamb. I guess you just have to be in Montefalco for Easter. Half bottle.

Passito di Pantelleria “Kbaggiar” NV Azienda Agricola Seraste (Sicily) This was a very pleasant dessert wine and a good way to end the dinner. Half bottle.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, French Red, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino

Scacciadiavoli-Drive Away Devils

When I was the wine director for ITrulli and Vino (when it was an all Italian wine store), I would play opera in the store much to the annoyance of the owner. I am a great fan of Puccini and would play Turandot again and again. One of my favorite arias in the opera is Non Piangere Liù.

One day, a wine producer’s daughter arrived at the store for a brief internship in order to learn about the wide range of Italian wines before she went to study in Bordeaux.

Her name was Liù and her father’s winery is Scacciadiavoli (drive away devils) located in Montefalco in Umbria. She was surprised when I told her that I had been to Montefalco. Before I could ask about her unusual name, she said that her father liked Turandot so he named her Liù.

LIÙ

Whenever I gave wine classes, Liù would sit in and we talked about wine whenever we had a chance.  The weeks went by quickly and she thanked me for all my help before she was off to Bordeaux.  A few years later, I saw Liu in Montefalco and she thanked me again saying that when she had arrived in Bordeaux to study, she made a big hit because she was the only one of the students that knew about Italian wine.

April 2012 is Sagrantino month in NYC and I was invited to a number of events.  One was at Tarallucci & Vino, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and Liù was there presenting her wines.

The wines of Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli di Pambuffetti

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal. Liu said that this was a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. She described it being fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 made from 60% Sangiovese 25% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 12 months. She said that the wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The Sangiovese is for the acidity and the Merlot for the fruit. She added that their soil is mostly clay and Merlot does very well here. Other grapes beside Merlot can be used such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino up to 15%. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of spice and good acidity. It has a long finish and a pleasant aftertaste See…

Montefalco Sagantino DOCG 2005 100% Sagrantino Harvest takes place from the middle to the end of October. If I understood Liu correctly she said that the aging was the same as for the Montefalco Rosso but it remains in wood for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. Liu said that the 2005 vintage was given 5 stars, the highest rating by the Montefalco Consortium.

Liù said the Sagrantino is a big wine with a dark color and a lot of tannin and can age for a long time.

For me Sagrantino is one of the great wines of Italy but it is not very well know in this country. It is an elegant, complex wine with rich red fruit aromas and flavors of spice and leather, good acidity and a long finish. 

Montefalco Sagantino Passito DOCG 2004 100% Sagrantino.   Harvest is from the middle to the end of September. The grapes are dried on “graticci” (mats) until mid December.  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagran…sting-the-wine/ For more information on Sagrantino.

Vinification takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged in new barrels for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of sweet dried fruits, and hints of blackberry, blueberry and spice, a long finish and lingering aftertaste. Liu said that in Montefalco this passito is drunk with lamb for Easter.

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Filed under Momtefalco, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli