Category Archives: Sangiovese

Le Volpi e l’Uva Wine Bar in Florence

When I was the wine director for I-Trulli restaurant in NYC, a young man from Florence spent 3 months working with me in the restaurant and the Enoteca.  Ciro Beligni already knew about wine and was a quick learner.  We spent a lot of time speaking about wine, food, and Florence. Ciro them returned to Florence and is today one of the owners at Le Volpi e l’Uva, which I consider to be the best wine bar in Florence. Over the years, whenever I visit Florence I stop to see Ciro and we talk about what is happening in the wine industry. On this visit I asked Ciro to choose all of the wines for us.

IMG_5979Ciro Beligni

IMG_5981Ciro just received this prestigious award for the wine list Le Volpi e l’Uva from Milano Wine Week.

IMG_5965Ciro suggested we try Franciacorta DOCG Satèn Brut “1701”  2016 Società Agricola Cazzago San Martino made from 100% Chardonnay from a 10 hectare vineyard with morainic terrain with stones. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. 80% of the hand picked selected grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in steel tuns at a controlled temperature. 20% undergoes cold maceration with fermentation in new barriques. Aging is for 7 months in steel or barriques.  The second fermentation takes place the spring following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 30 months and 3 to 4 months following the disgorging. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fresh fruit, with a hint of brioche and a touch of pastry cream. 

IMG_5969Etna Bianco  2018 DOC Feudo Cavaliere made from 100% Carricante coming from a very old ingrafted vineyard and a recently planted one. The vineyard is on the south side of Etna at 950 to 990 meters. The training system is spurred cordon with high plant density. Volcanic soil and “ripiddu” sands rich in minerals. Harvest is in October. The wine in aged in stainless steel tanks on the lees for one year. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, floral notes, a touch of honey and balanced acidity

IMG_5967Anchovies, lemon and butter on a brioche roll was a fantastic little bite to enjoy with the wine.

IMG_5972Italian Cheese plate with several interesting condiments

IMG_5975Barbaresco 2018 DOCG  Vicenziana made from 100% Nebbiolo from a two hectare vineyard. The soil is clay with lime rich marl. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged in Slavonian botti (oak barrels) of 20 to 30 hectoliters for 2 to 3 years. This is a traditional Babaresco that will last for 25 years or more. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

IMG_5973Finocchiona, a typical fennel flavored salame and mascarpone on toasted Tuscan bread.

IMG_5978Barolo 2013 DOCG Scarzello made from 100% Nebbiolo from five different plots of Vigna Merenda in the Sarmassa cru at 300 meters on clayey and calcareous soil. Fermentation is in temperature controlled steel vats with long maceration on the skins. The wine ages for 30 months in oak barrels of 25 and 36 hl for 30 months. This wine will last for a number of years. 2013 was an excellent vintage. It has hints of red fruit, tar, licorice, leather and balsamic notes.

IMG_5984Dessert was a chocolate topped crostata with almonds and pastry cream.

IMG_5987Torcolato Riserva 2017 San Bortolo made from 100% Vespaiola from a 1.5 hectare vineyard planted in 2006 with a north/south exposure. The soil is medium textured alluvial and clay. The training system is single and double curtain overturned guyot with 8 to 10 buds. There are 4,400 vines per hectare. Harvest is in mid September. Carefully selected grape bunches are hand harvested and then naturally dried in an airy granary.The grape pressing is in February with a yield of 25 to 30%.  First fermentation on the lees in French oak barriques for almost one year. The wine remains for 24 months in new barriques.  It has hints of citrus, apricot jam, and hazelnuts with a note of honey and an aftertaste of dried fruit and almonds.

IMG_6095On our last night in Florence, Ciro let me taste a wine that he produces Sangiovese Toscana IGT 2019 “Altreviti” made from 100% Sangiovese.  Ciro Beligni. The grapes are from an old vineyard at 450 meters. Harvest is by hand. Spontaneous fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in cement tanks and tonneau for 15 months before it is bottled. Only 2,542 bottles and 44 magnums were produced. If you go to the wine bar ask Ciro for a glass or a bottle.  It is a very impressive wine.

Le Volpi e l’Uva is located at Piazza dei Rossi, 1, in Florence, Italy.  Open every day from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.


1 Comment

Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Etna Bianco Feudo Cavaliere, Franciacorta Brut, Le Volpi e l'uva, Sangiovese, Scarzella, Torcolato, San Bartolo

Wines of Romagna Part II

Marina Thompson, of Rome-based Thompson International Marketing, is a wine marketing expert and a long time friend. She invited me to attend two Zoom telecasts to discuss the wines of Romagna. The telecasts took place a few days apart in the middle of December

The speaker for both was her husband Daniele Cernilli.  Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, is the author of The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2021 and one of the foremost authorities on Italian wine.  Daniele pointed out that Emilia-Romagna is considered one region, but as far as wine and food are concerned they are very different. See Wines of Romagna Part 1

Daniele said the three most important grapes in Romagna are Albana (the first Italy white to be awarded the DOCG), Sangiovese, and Trebbiano.

He also spoke of one of my favorite Italian restaurants San Domenico in Imola where I had a wonderful lunch in November 2019. He also mentioned one of my favorite cites to visit, Ravenna because of its long history and wonderful mosaics

All these Romagna wines are available in the US.

IMG_3931Albano Secco “ I Croppi” 2019 Celli made from 100% Albana. Production area Bertinoro. The soil is a clayey mixture with limestone and the exposure is east-south east. There are 3,000 to 500 plants per hectare and the training system is double guyot. Harvest was the first week of September. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks as is the aging. The wine has hints of yellow peaches, apricots, a touch of citrus with salty and mineral  notes.  Imported by SolStars Inc.IMG_3930

Albano Secco “Bianco Di Ceparano” 2019 Fattoria Zerbina made from 100% Albano. The vineyard is high-density bush vines trained to a single stake which is a return to the tradition of the Romagna hills. There is the advantage of a 360 degree exposure of the canopy to direct sunlight and harvesting can be in any direction. Six months in cement tanks and then in stainless steel. The wine has hints of ripe citrus fruit, apples, pears and a touch of honeydew. Daniele said all of their wines are top quality and some are among the best in the country.  Imported by Sussey Wine Merchants.

IMG_3924Romagna Sangiovese Predappio 2018 Notturno Drei Dona – La Palazza made from 100% Sangiovese from the best grapes in their vineyards. There are 3,300 and 5,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in steel and concrete at a controlled temperature. The grapes are harvested, vinified and aged separately then assembled to complete the wine. The wine is aged for about one year is 15 and 25HL traditional casks and 500 liter tonneaux. The wine is bottled unfiltered. The wine has hints of dark red fruit, blackberries and blueberries, a touch of sweet spice and a note of caramel. Daniele said this estate is a point of reference not only for wine lovers but also for other producers. Imported by LNJ Brands, Inc

IMG_3928Sangiovese Superiore I Diavoli Le Rocche Malatestiane made from 100% sangiovese from vineyards between San Clemente and Gemmano in Rimini. The soil is tinted clay and chalk adjacent to the town of Gemmano at 250 meters. The wine is aged for six months in concrete tanks and one month is steel tanks. The production area for I Diavoli is close to the Natural Reserve of Onferno, called inferno (hell), because of the vapor rising from the crevasses and the bats, “the devils,” who lived in the underlining karst caves. The wine has hints of black cherry, blueberries, wildflowers and a touch of spice. It is part of the Cevico Group with 5,000 suppliers-partners that offers well-made wines at affordable prices.  Imported by Terre Cevico

IMG_3929Sangiovese Riserva Bertinoro 2014 Fattoria Paradiso made from 100% from the Vigna Delle Lepri Sangiovese Grosso. The wine is aged in cask for 18 months and 6 months in barriques followed by 12 months in bottle before release. I visited the winery a number of years ago and was impressed by this particular wine. The wine will be available in the US early this year.   The wine has hints of blackberry, black cherry, licorice, dried roses and a touch of chocolate. Imported by Panebianco LLC

IMG_3927Romagna Sangiovese Predappio 2018 Noelia Ricci La Pandolfa 100% Sangiovese large berried type (Romagna biotype) from the Godenza vineyard in San Cristoforo in Foli. The vineyard is at 300 to 340 meters and the soil is ochre-colored clay and calcareous marl, with traces of sand. Vines were planted in 1999. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and they are spurred-cordon trained. Manual harvest the second week of September. Grapes from different clones are harvested together for fermentation. Fermentation and maceration take place on the skins in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Skin contact for about 28 days followed by 8 months in steel tanks and 12 months in bottle before release. The winery is converting to organic farming. The wine has hints of red fruit, raspberries and with a hint of spice.


They owners have a fascination with the animal world and went through illustrations from late 19th century archives to illustrate their labels.  These figures lend themselves to a certain freedom of imagination. The most advanced of animals, the monkey, is represented on the oldest wine, Godenza. Imported by Artisanal Cellars

Leave a comment

Filed under Albana, Daniele Cernilli, Sangiovese, Uncategorized

Lunch with Dora

When Julia Griner asked if we knew of any traditional pasta makers in New York City that could be featured on the popular Pasta Grannies You Tube Channel, Michele had one thought, our friend Dora Marzovilla. Dora, who comes from the Puglia region of Italy,


makes several varieties of handmade pasta every day for her son’s restaurants, I Trulli and Ristoro del Cinghiale in New York City.

Julia, together with her husband Pino Ficara, own the Grano & Farina Cooking School in the Trastevere neighborhood of Rome that we have written about before. Julia also began collaborating recently with Vicky Bennison, the owner and creator of Pasta Grannies.  Michele put Julia and Vicky in touch with Dora through her son Nicola Marzovilla, and they scheduled an appointment for Vicky to interview Dora in New York and make a video of her in action. Lucky for us, we were invited to join Vicky, Dora, and members of the Marzovilla family for dinner at Dora’s home afterward.

When we arrived, Dora was in the kitchen trimming baby artichokes and heads of broccoli. These she dipped in a light batter and fried in hot oil. They were hot and crisp and we ate them with our fingers as Dora sent out batch after batch from the kitchen

along with Dora’s freshly made tomato focaccia.

Next up was the pasta, handmade orecchiette, which Dora had made in advance. The little disks, made with semolina flour, were pleasantly chewy and the slightly cupped shape was ideal for holding Dora’s homemade ragu made with


and beef braciole which we ate after the pasta.

For our main course, Dora had prepared braised rabbit with tomatoes and potatoes, a Pugliese specialty.

The rabbit pieces were tender and moist and both they and the potatoes had absorbed the delicious flavors of the herbs and tomatoes.

With the meal we had two wines from the Marzovilla family’s Tuscan winery, which went very well with the food.

Massoferrato 2015 IGT made from 100% Sangiovese vinified in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

Massoferrato 2014 IGT  made from 100% Sangiovese from a selection of the best grapes and aged in custom made 20hl Slavonian casks.

Dessert was an assortment of Italian pastries, and of course, strong cups of espresso.

Dinner with Dora was a classic Italian-style family meal with lots of good food, wine and lively conversation. We were delighted to have shared it.

The Pasta Grannies video with Dora is not yet available on line, but we will let you know when it appears. Meanwhile, go to their website and enjoy some of the other great grannies in action.


Filed under i-trulli, Massoferrato, Ristoro del Cinahiale, Sangiovese, Uncategorized

Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese

The Simply Italian Wine Tour that is held in NYC is an opportunity for me to taste and learn about wines from all over Italy.img_1647

The seminar that I attended was “Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese, Journey into Native Italian Varietals.”

These two grape varieties do not get the attention they deserve. The seminar was hosted by Filiberto Mazzanti, Director at Consorzio Vini di Romagna and Giammario Villa, Giammario Villa Wine Selections.img_1656

Filiberto said that the Consorzio has 104 winemaking producers, 7 cooperative wineries and 5 bottling companies. It provides producers with legal assistance, protection of the denomination and protection of DOCG, DOC and IGt Romagna wines.

Romagna is the eastern half of Emilia Romagna in the center of Italy between Tuscany and the Adriatic Sea.

Albana, this white grape may have been introduced into Romagna by the ancient Romans. Albana refers to the color of the grapes, Albus, white in Latin. The grape produces sparkling wine (spumante,) dry wines (secco), medium–sweet (amabile) and a dessert wine passito.

Albana was the first white wine to receive the DOCG in 1987.img_1657

Romagna Albana DOCG “Frangipane” 2015 100% Albana Tenuta La Viola The vineyard is at 200 meters and the exposure is west. There is an early harvesting of the grapes. Alcoholic fermentation takes place without the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the fine lees for 5 months. The wine is crisp with good acidity.img_1660

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Sette Note” 2015 Poderi Morini 100% Albana. Fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in steel tanks and in bottle for 5 months before release. The wine has hints of hawthorn, yellow flowers and white peach.img_1659

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Progetto 1” 2015 Leone Conti 100% Albana from the Faenza Hills, Santa Lucia. The grapes are harvested slightly overripe. Cold fermentation takes place in steel tanks and the wine is aged for 7 months in steel tanks. The wine has hints of peaches, apricot, citrus and honey. $12img_1658

Romagna Albana DOCG “Albano Secco” 2015 Cantina Sociale Di Cesena-Tenuta Amalia100% Albana from the hills of Cesena and Bertinoro. Soft pressing is followed by low temperature fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 15 days. Fining in stainless steel tanks for 4 months. The wine has hints of ripe peach, butterscotch and almonds.

Sangiovese has been produced in Romagna since the 17th century. Recent discoveries suggest that Sangiovese is of pre-Greek origin and may be a native vine of Romagna.

Sangiovese in Latin means “the blood of Jove” (Jupiter) and the reason for the name is open to interpretation. It may have gotten it name from a commune of monks from Rimini, in Romagna. Sangiovese is the most planted grape variety in Italy.

There is genetic evidence that more than 2,000 years ago grapes of “Sangiovese” were already used by the Etruscans for wine production.

They produce Novello, a basic Sangiovese, Sangiovese Superiore and a Sangiovese Riserva. The wines differ by alcohol content and aging. img_1653

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOP “Caciara” 2015 Enio Ottaviani 100% Sangiovese from San Clemente. Fermentation takes place in concrete vats and the wine is aged in big barrels for 6 months. This was pure Sangiovese with hints of cherry and violets.img_1651

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOC 2015 Azienda Agricola San Valentino 100% Sangiovese from vineyards southwest of Rimini. Fermentation is in both stainless and concrete tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 8 months is 500 liter French oak casks, mostly second passage. The wine has hints of raspberries and plum with notes of leather and licorice.img_1652

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOCAmarcord d’un Ross” 2013 Trere 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Faenza. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification: in stainless steel vats for 2 months. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters for 12 months and 6 months in bottle before release. It has hints of wild berries, cherries, a hint of spice and a touch of toast. $20img_1654

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOC “Olmatello’ 2013 Podere La Berta made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Brisighella. Selected grapes are pressed and crushed. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins is for 12 to 18 days with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. In March/April the wine is transferred to 225 liter new and used oak barrels where it remains for about 24 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red and black berries, spice and a light toastiness. $35img_1650

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Bertinoro DOC Baron & Ruseval 2013 Celli made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Bertinoro. Fermentation is in steel where the wine remains for 6 months on the lees. The wine is aged for 1 year in French barriques, with a middle toasting and 2 years in bottle before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with floral notes and touch of balsamic. $35 img_1649

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Marzeno DOC Pietramora 2013 Fattoria Zerbina 98% Sangovese and 2% Ancellotta from vineyards in the Marzeno Valley. Fermentation is for two weeks, 50% in barrels and 50% in stainless steel. Punching down takes place twice a day then reduced to once a day and pumping over for one week. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with touches of tobacco and oak spice. $44.99





Leave a comment

Filed under Albana, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Romagna, Sangiovese, Uncategorized

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

Tasting Chianti’s Past


One of the members of my wine group is going on a retreat where he will be spending four months in total silence and will not be able to drink any wine.  Before leaving, he wanted to try some older vintages of Ruffino that he had just purchased so we put together a group of six to have the wines with dinner at The Leopard at Café des Artistes. This group does not taste wine but drinks it with dinner or lunch.

The wines we drank were made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 10% Malvasia and Trebbiano and 5% Colorino, Ciliegiolo and Cabernet.  All of the wines included white grapes, Malvasia and Trebbiano, and all of them were made by using the governo method. The governo method, once common in Tuscany, is a secondary fermentation created by the addition of dried grapes 10-15%, or the must of dried or concentrated grapes.  Colorino was usually the grape of choice to be dried.

Ask almost any producer in Chianti today and they will tell you that wines made with white grapes and the governo method and aged in large Slavonia botti will not age! It is more difficult to make wine in this way. It is much easier to add 20% of an international grape variety and age the wine in barriques. But you will not have a better wine, you will have a “baby super Tuscan” and as we all know the only real super Tuscans were Michelangelo and Leonardo Di Vinci.

As far as I know Querciavalli is the only Chianti Classico producer that still uses the governo method for their Chianti.

The best gapes from Ruffino’s vineyard were used for the Riserva Ducale, which spent at least three years in large oak casks. The Riserva Gold Label is a selection of the lots of the best vintages of the Riserva Ducale.

The Riserva Ducale was first produced in 1927.  The first release of the Riserva Ducale Ora was in 1947. They are the only wines that have the word Riserva as part of the wine’s name.

When these wines were produced Ruffino was the largest producer of Chianti “Classico” (the 1958 just has Chianti on the label) and had the greatest holdings in the area –1200 hectares, 230 covered with vineyards.

A few years ago a friend came over for dinner and brought with him a bottle of Riserva Ducale Ora. He wanted us to taste it and guess the vintage. Everyone there was involved with wine and had experience with older Chianti. Someone guessed 1990, another 1982, another 1958 – not because it looked or tasted old but because 1958 was a great year. We were all wrong — the wine was the 1947. The wine was 57 years old at the time.

Wasserman in his classic book “The Noble Red Wines of Italy” wrote of the 1947 Gold Label, which he tasted in 1983, “Brilliant, tawny robe with orange edge, lovely, almost Claretlike bouquet, persistent and expansive, toasty with a touch of blueberry, refined, a mouthful of wine, lots of class, a classic.”  He gave it four stars, his highest rating.

Recently I had the opportunity to drink with lunch the 1947 on two different occasions. The wine on both occasions was showing a bit more age than it did 8 years ago but did not taste like a wine that was 65 years old. It still tasted like a much longer wine.  1947 was a great vintage in Tuscany.

It is interesting to note that none of the wines had the Gallo Nero, the symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium on the neck label. All of these wines and other older wines from Ruffino I have tasted have the “Putto on the neck label”, the symbol of the Chianti Consorzio, or they just had Chianti Classico on the neck label.

I do have a bottle of Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1990 which has the Gallo Nero on the neck label. It seems that Ruffino did not join the Chianti Classico Consorzio until much later.

The Wines at Dinner

Before my friend’s departure dinner, I looked at Wasserman’s book to see what he said about these wines as I respect his opinion and drank some of these same wines with him in the 1980’s.

 Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1958 This was an excellent vintage in Chianti and Wasserman rated it three stars. He  also gave the wine three stars when he tasted it in 1983 and said “needs more time.” He was right as it was still drinking in 2012.

Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1961 Wasserman said that the Consorzio gave two stars to the vintage but he did not rate the vintage having tasted only two wines. This wine was showing very well and was one of my favorites.

Riserva Ducale Beige Label 1964 Wasserman gave this vintage two stars and the Consorzio gave it four.  Wasserman goes on to say “It was the best vintage of the decade for Chianti.” He reviews the Gold Label and gave it two stars but did not  review the Beige Label

Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1967 Wasserman calls it “…one of the best vintages of the 1960’s,” and gave it   two stars. The Consorzio gave it four. In 1980 he tasted the wine and wrote, “Perfumed aroma; full bodied, still has tannin and considerable fruit, surprisingly young, needs more time, though it has a troublesome dryness at the end.”  He rates it two stars with a question mark.  Again he was right, the wine was drinking very well.

Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1970 this was a very good vintage but suffered in comparison to the excellent 1971. Wasserman gave it two stars, as did the Consorzio. He wrote, “For the most part, the 1970’s are wines to drink not to hold.” Wasserman tasted the wine in 1981. “Color beginning to show age; floral bouquet with a raisiny notes; still has tannin to shed but the fruit is there to support it.” He gave the wine one/two plus stars. I do not think Wasserman believed these wines would last so long and enither did I. We tasted this wine together at my home and never imagined it would still be drinking so well today.

Riserva Ducale Gold Label 1971 both Wasserman and the Consorzio give the vintage four stars the highest rating.

 Riserva DucaleGold Label 1978 the Consorzio gave the vintage three stars and Wasserman gave it two. He wrote ”…we find the vintage doesn’t live up to the press it received early on.”  He goes on to say that, ”It has never been one of our favorite vintages.”

All the wines were showing very well. I disagreed with Wasserman on the 1978 vintage.  I have had a number of 1978 Chiantis over the years and have found them to be drinking quite well. In fact the 1978 Riserva Ducale Gold Label was the wine of the night for me.

I am looking forward to my friends return from his retreat and we already have a dinner planned for October to drink the rest if the wines.


Filed under Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Ruffino Gold Label, Governo Method, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Sangiovese, Sheldon Wasserman, The Noble Red Wines of Italy

Of Ploughs and Brunello in Montalcino

Emilia Nardi, president of Tenuta Silvio Nardi, likes to joke that her father Silvio was the first “foreigner” to buy land in Montalcino in Tuscany.  He was from the neighboring region of Umbria.

The year was 1950 and Silvio was selling agricultural equipment in the Montalcino area for the company that his father Francesco had started.  After visiting America, Francesco had returned to Italy with the idea for a new type of plough, called the “Voltarecchio”.   The new tool was used as part of the “Nardi System” as it was cited in the American Encyclopedia of Modern Agriculture and the Nardi agricultural machine company still produces farm equipment to this day

One of the farmers suggested that Silvio buy land in the area, which today is the family’s present day winery.

Brunello di Montalcino is one of Italy’s and the world’s greatest wines. Brunello di Montalcino was among the eight Italian wine producing zones to be designated DOC in 1966 and in 1980 it became the first Italian wine to receive the DOCG. It can age for many years. 

The Wines of Silvio Nardi at Aldea Restaurant NYC

Rosso di Montalcino 2010 DOC 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The grapes were hand harvested from the Casale Bosco estate. There is a northwest exposure and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The soil is marl and marl sandy formations. The training system is spurred cordon with 5,200 vines per hectare. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks with skin contact from 10 to 15 days. The wine was aged in used casks for four months and in bottle for 4 months before release.

Emilia said that this was a controversial vintage in the region but a great one for them. In the end the harvest brought healthy grapes with thick well-structured skins, intense concentration and excellent alcohol levels. This is a wine ready to drink with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of spice. $26.99

The principal vineyard of the winery is located on the original estate of Casale del Bosco, a property of 2,022 acres, with 100 acres of vineyards, in the northwest part of Montalcino overlooking the Val d’Orcia. The vineyard plots of Oria, Sassi Sant’Adele and San Michele lie within the estate. The soil here is composed of clay schists and jasper, a type of opaque, granular quartz.

Emilia said that they were moving away from the use of new oak and using barriques of second and third passage in these wines. They were also moving in the direction of using more large oak barrels.

She also pointed out that the winery follows the strict DOCG laws required of a classified Brunello di Montalcino and her winery was not involved in the scandal of a few years ago. She also voted in favor of keeping Brunello 100% Sangiovese, a subject that has stirred much controversy

Brunello Di Montalcino 2006 DOCG 100% Sangiovese Grosso from the Manachiara and Casale estates.  Soil composition is jasper and shale. Grapes come from various vineyards in the municipality of Montalcino with northwest/and south/east exposure at 350 meters. The yield is limited and only the top 70% of the hand-harvested grapes are used in this wine. The grapes were carefully hand picked and sorted. The wine is aged for 12 months in French Allier barriques and 12 months in large Slavonian oak botte. It remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This wine needs many more years in the bottle. There were aromas and flavors of red berries and a hint of leather. $66.99

Emilia said that 2007 was a fairly even vintage weather-wise. High daytime temperatures gave the grapes concentration while low nighttime temperatures allowed aromas to develop. After beneficial mid-September rains, harvest began in the Casale del Bosco vineyard, and in early October in the older Manachiara vineyard. The average yields were lower than required and the fruit quality was excellent. $70

Brunello Di Montalcino 2007 100% Sangiovese Grosso DOCG. Same as the 2006 except that it is aged for 30 months in French barriques and Slavonian oak. $66.99 This wine seemed a little more approachable than the 2006 but still needs more time.

The noted viticulturist Andrea Paoletti was engaged by Emilia to study how the different clones of Sangiovese could best be matched to vineyard plots. From 120 clones five were chosen as making the best match. This led to a program of focused replanting and is the reason why some of the vineyards are only ten years old. 

Emilia spoke very fondly of the late, Bordeaux enologist, Yves Glories. He applied his new principles of phenolic ripeness to indicate harvest dates and adjust the vinification process at the winery

The Manachiara estate is in the southwest corner of Montalcino near Castelnuovo dell’Abate. It covers 505 acres and 95 acres are planted with vines. The vineyard plots of Pinzale, Stercolati and Colombaiolo, as well as the vineyard of Manachiara proper, lie within the estate.

Brunello Di Montalcino “Manachiara” 2006 DOCG 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Emilia said that the vines for this single vineyard Brunello were 50 years old. Soil composition is sand rich in quartz and pliocene clays. The Manachiara vineyard is located in the municipality of Montalcino with southeastern exposure at about 300 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare. The manual harvest takes place the first half of October. After a complete destemming, the must underwent fermentation and maceration for at least 20 days at controlled temperatures. The wine spends 12 months in French Allier oak barriques, followed by 18 months in large Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is aged for at least one year in bottle before release. Emilia said that they only make 11,000 bottles. This is a classic Brunello, full-bodied, complex, with intense fruit  and hints of spice and the right degree of acidity. This wine will age very well. $106.99

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Montalcino, Rosso di Montalcino, Sangiovese, Sangiovese Grosso, Tenute Silvio Nardi, Tuscany