Category Archives: Sauvignon Blanc

From the Alto Adige: Sylvaner, Sauvignon Blanc and Schiava

 

Alto Adige, also know as Südtirol due to its deep-rooted bicultural heritage, is Italy’s northernmost wine region. Located at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites, the region borders on Austria and Switzerland. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and the Atlantic, while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east.

Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes. The vineyards range from 600 to 3,300 feet and the soil is mainly porphyry, limestone and slate rock with glacial deposits of gravel, sand and clay. It is interesting to note that in the summer, the temperature in Bolzano is higher than in Palermo in Sicily. The people that live here call their region the Sud Tyrol and themselves Tyroleans. The food is decidedly Austrian with only a hint of Italy. Ham is called speck and they have a cheese called Weinkase Lagrein and bread called Schuttelbrot.

The Wines

Sylvaner Alte Reben 2015 Valle Isarco DOC Pacher Hof 100% Sylvania. The winery is located on the slopes of Neustifit just above Brixen and the vineyards have been family property since 1142. The vineyards are at 620 to 700 meters with sandy and loamy soil. The microclimate makes it warm here and there is a big variation between night and day temperatures. Training system is guyot and the harvest is by hand the last week of October. There is a slow fermentation at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks and the wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks and barrels for 6months. The wine was bottled in April 2016. This is a wine with fresh aromas and hints of tropical fruit, pineapple and a touch of banana. The wine works well with speck and the difficult to match asparagus. $26

Lahn Sauvignon 2016 Alto Adige 2015 St. Michael Eppan, The 340 winemaking families that form the backbone of the winery joined forces in 1907 to create the St. Michael-Eppan Winery. Made from 100% Sauvignon from vines 10 to 25 years old in Eppan/Berg at 480 to 550 meters. The exposure is southeast , the soil is limestone gravel and the training system is guyot. Harvest at the end of September to early October by hand with a selection of grapes.
Fermentation and development of the lees is in stainless steel tanks until the end of February. This is a balanced wine with fresh fruit flavors, a hint of grapefruit, a touch of honey and good minerality. It matches well with light Asian cuisine such as sushi. $19

Missianer Vernatsch (Schiava) 2016 Sudtirol Alto Adige DOC St. Paul. The St. Paul’s Cooperative Winery was founded in 1907 by 36 wine growers from St. Paul, Missian, Berg and Unterrrain. Today there are over 141 members.
Vernatsch (Schiava) is a traditional South Tyrolean grape. The training system for these old vines is the Pergola. There is a slow fermentation at a controlled temperature in stainless steel, then the wine is aged in large wooden barrels. This is a fruity wine with red and fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of blueberries. The wine goes well with speck, cold cuts and cheese. $19

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Alto Adige, Sauvignon Blanc, Schiava, St. Michele-Eppan, Sylvaner

First Look Series: The Barollo Brothers

Gary Grunner of Grapes on the Go invited me to the first event of his First Look Series. Held at the Manhattan Club, a private club in NYC, the First Look Series features wineries that Gary will be importing over the next year.

Barollo Brothers, Nicola and Marco

Barollo Brothers, Nicola and Marco

The wines for this first event were from the Società Agricola Barollo Marco e Nicola. Marco Barollo represented the winery. The winery is located in Preganziol, near Treviso in the Veneto. It is near the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomites are visible in the background.

Marco Barollo speaking at the tasting

Marco Barollo speaking at the tasting

Marco said that 45 hectares are planted with vines.The grapes are harvested by hand and it takes about 20 workers to pick the grapes from one hectare of vines in a day. The wine presses are located near the vineyards so that the grapes remain intact right up to the time they are pressed.

Marco said that his wines reflect the terroir and the grapes that they are made from and therefore go very well with food. All the wines are fermented in 300HL stainless steel tanks. There was only one wine that was in barriques which were made of Allier oak by a barrel maker in Burgundy.

The goal of the winery is to reduce their ecological footprint and CO2 emissions.IMG_6389

Sauvignon Blanc 2013 100% Sauvignon Blanc. There are 5,080 vines per hectare, the grapes are hand harvested. Soft pressing, settling, traditional fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Three months in bottle before release. This is a subtle Sauvignon Blanc, with nuances of grapefruit, lime, current, citrus and herbal notes of grass and minerals. A slight trace of tomato leaf can be found in the finish. The wine was served with cold poached shrimp, yellow squash, baby kale, tomato confit and champagne vinaigrette. The wine and food matched very well, especially since kale can be very hard to match.IMG_6395

Pinot Bianco 2012 100% Pinot Bianco. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in early September. Soft pressing takes place, settling and traditional fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with daily batonnage. The wine remains in contact with the lees for an extended period of time. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release. This wine is fresh and elegant with a pale yellow color. The bouquet is fruity, with a dominant note of apple and tropical fruit. It has good acidity, a mineral character and a long-lasting finish. This was served with pumpkin risotto drizzled with pumpkinseed oil. $18 IMG_6394

Manzoni Bianco 2012 100% Manzoni Bianco. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in the middle of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes, part is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and part is barrel fermented with daily batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 6 months before release. Marco said that this white wine is the exact replica of one of the most famous wines created and developed by Professor Luigi Manzoni, Dean of the Winemaking School in Conegliano. Manzoni conducted a series of experiments in the 1930s on genetic improvements to the grape through crossbreeding and hybridization. Manzoni Bianco, an indigenous grape from the province of Treviso, was created by the genetic crossbreeding of Riesling Renano and Pinot Bianco.

The wine has a golden yellow colour; it is fruity with floral notes and hints of apple with good acidity and a pleasant minerality. This was also served with the risotto and it worked very well with it but I gave a slight nod to the Pinot Bianco. $19

Frater Red 2013 100% Merlot (Frater means brother in Latin) The training system is spurred cordon, there are 3,700 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested the last week of September. Maceration and fermentation lasts for 12 days in temperature controlled steel vats with daily pumping over, devatting and malolactic fermentation taking place. The wine is in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a balanced well-structured wine, with hints of ripe red cherries, a touch of spice and a nice fruity finish and aftertaste. This was served with grilled hanger steak caramelizes onion and oxtail marmalade. $17 IMG_6384

Frank 2010 100% Cabernet Franc There are 5,100 plants per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested the last week of September. Maceration and fermentation lasts for 15 days with daily pumping over, devatting and malolactic fermentation taking place. The wine is aged for 12 months in barriques, of Allier oak, 1/2 new and 1/2 second passage and in bottle for 6 months before release.
This wine is made with grapes from some of the world’s oldest vineyards. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of ripe berries, coffee and a touch of tobacco. It has a very long finish. This was also served with the hanger steak. $30IMG_6393

Prosecco DOC Treviso NV made from100% Gela from manually selected grapes. The soil is medium grained with limestone and clay. Training system is the syloz, this is a trellising system where the canes bend downward a few weeks before the harvest. There are about 2,700 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The Charmat method consisting of a natural fermentation in bulb tanks takes place and lasts for 90 days. Aging is for another 3 to 4 months. The wine has a light golden yellow color with hints of acacia flowers and fresh aromatic notes of yellow apple and peach. It has a nice fruity aftertaste. The Prosecco was served with a mini pastry platter consisting mostly of little bites of chocolate. It was unusual to serve the prosecco last but it made a very refreshing end to the meal and went very well with the chocolate.

This was an enjoyable tasting with wine and food pairings that were well thought out. I am looking forward to the next event.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cabernet Frank, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Manzoni, Marco and Nicola Barollo winery, Merlot, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc

Pairing Gnocchi with Three Wines from The Alto Adige

Gnocchi ricotta with tomato-butter sauce

A few weeks ago Michele made ricotta gnocchi with tomato-butter sauce from her new book “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook” for a dinner with friends. One of the guests said that she had tried making potato gnocchi but they never turned out right. Michele said that ricotta gnocchi were very easy to make and she would be happy to show her. Last Saturday, our friends returned and brought prosciutto and melon for an antipasto and three bottles of wine from the Alto Adige to see which one matched best with the gnocchi.IMG_5206

Michele and I used to do wine and food pairing classes and we found that one of the following scenarios was typical:

-The wine and the food may be good on their own but in combination they do not work and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

-The next is when the wine and food do not combine but each keeps its own individual character.

-The last is when the wine and food combine to give you the perfect combination.IMG_5204

Südtirol Eisacktaler Kerner 100% Kerner. Abbazia Di Novacella. The vineyards are 600-700meters, the soil is gravelly morainal deposits and the exposure is south-southwest. The training system is guyot, there are 6,000 to 7,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at 20°C. Only natural yeast is used and the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before it is bottled. This is an aromatic wine with hints of apple and peach, ripe and full with crisp acidity.

We drank this wine with the prosciutto and melon, and it was a perfect combination. Later, we tried the Kerner with the gnocchi. It was good, but the flavors did not marry. The tastes remained separate.IMG_5205

Alto Adige Sauvignon Sanct Valentin 2012 100% Sauvignon Blanc St. Michael-Eppan. The grapes come from different vineyards in Appiano Monte all at 400 to 600 meters and the vines are 10 to 18 years old. There is long maceration at low temperatures in steel tanks and then 12% of the wine is aged and refined in big and small oak casks. This is sauvignon blanc from Italy with all the characteristics of the best is sauvignon blanc with a hint of figs and light spice. This is one of Michele’s favorite producers of white wine and I have to agree with her.

The Sauvignon blanc overwhelmed the gnocchi so that there were two different tastes but mostly Sauvignon blancIMG_5202

Hexenbichler Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2012 100% Schiava Tramin The grapes come from the 6 acre Hexenbichler vineyard. The soil is clay-loam and pebbles, the training system is Pergola, the elevation is 990 to 1,320 feet and there is an eastern exposure. Harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 10 days and aging takes place for 6 months in 50 to 100 HL steel tank. Length of time before bottling is 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release.IMG_5209

This is a light red wine with fresh fruit flavors and a nice finish finish and aftertaste. It was the perfect combination with the gnocchi, the light fruitiness of the blended perfectly with the delicate ricotta gnocchi and the tomato and butter sauce.

 

3 Comments

Filed under Abbazia di Rosazzo, Alto Adige, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kerner, Sanct Valentin, Sauvignon Blanc, Schiava, St. Michele-Eppan, Tramin winery

California Dreaming

Could it be possible?  A winemaker who has been making wine in California for over 40 years but still holds on to his French roots?  These questions were soon answered when I was introduced to Bernard Portet.

Bernard Portet

Bernard Portet

As soon as Bernard began to speak, he had me. He said that winemaking is all about place, though at some wineries, technology has replaced terroir.  He stated that wine is not as important as the food.  It is second to the food and Bernard asks his wife what’s for dinner before he chooses the wine, not the other way around.  Of course he only drinks wine with food.  Super ripe, heavily extracted wines with high alcohol are not his style. “Why make Merlots that taste like Syrahs? Where is the charm? Big, alcoholic super extracted wines overpower the palate and sacrifice varietal and regional typicity, as well as complexity.”  In an age when a lot of wine is reaching 16% alcohol his wines range between 13.5 and 14.1 percent of alcohol.IMG_2431Portet’s assemblage winemaking style has become his signature. He does not own any vineyards and buys all of the grapes since he feels that he can buy the best grapes available.  He blends wines from different varieties and terroirs to create finished wines greater than the sum of their parts.  He feels that it is a style that creates unique distinctive wines.Bernard was born in Cognac and his father was a regisseur  (estate manager) at Cháteau Lafite and his mentor.  He explained that the name of the winery Heritance is derived from heritage (his family has been making wine for 9 generations) and inheritance (from his father Andre who taught him all about wine).

The Wines of Bernard PortetIMG_2416

Sauvignon Blanc 2010 made from 91% Sauvignon Blanc and 9% Semillon. The Sauvignon Blanc comes from vineyards located in St Helena and the Soscol Hills south of the city of Napa. The wine is aged in stainless steel. No malolactic fermentation. Bernard said that this is more like a white Bordeaux in style. It is a subtle well-balanced wine with hints of herbs, grass, good acidity and a touch of citrus fruit. $24

Sauvignon Blanc 2011 88% Sauvignon Blanc and 12 Rousanne. The Rousanne comes from the Paso Robles area where the soil is well drained sandy-loam. The grapes were hand harvested in mid-September at an average brix of 23.0. Bernard said Rousanne was very much like Sauvignon Blanc and added that this wine was more California in style. It had more body than the 2010 with a touch of grass, citrus aromas and flavors with undertones of ripe grapefruit and tropical fruit. $24 IMG_2421Pinot Noir 2011 Stanly Ranch, Carneros, Napa Valley. Grapes were hand harvested between July 24-August 7 at an average brix of 24.2.  The vineyard is vertically trellised with a density of 1,500 vines per hectare. The soils are mostly alluvial and sedimentary and well drained. Bernard said that Carneros with its marine-influenced climate is considered the best growing area for Pinot Noir in the Napa Valley.  The grapes were cold soaked for several days at 50 degrees F.  Fermentation took place in open top stainless steel tanks.  It is punched down twice a day and pressed after a short maceration. The wine is aged in used French oak barrels. This is a wine with aromas and flavors of red fruit, a hint of cherry and a touch of mint. $24IMG_2424

Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 Napa Valley. Made from 94% Cabernet, 4% Merlot, 2% Petit Verdot. The grapes come from the valley floor vineyards in the St. Helena, Rutherford, Oakville and Oak Knoll appellations. The soils are alluvial and gravelly. The vineyards have generally good drainage and although all are drip irrigated very little irrigation was needed in 2010. Because of the cool weather it was a relatively late harvest. Bernard said it was like the weather in France. The grapes were hand harvested in September at an average brix of 23.5 to 24.5
The grapes were cold soaked for a few days to enhance extraction and color and the musts were fermented at around 85 degrees F. for about 10 days. Assemblage of the small lots and varietals took place in various stages. The wines were aged for about 20 months in both new and mature, medium-toast French oak barrels. This is a round and soft wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry as the wine opens up and a touch of spice. $36

Cabernet Sauvignon 2008 Napa Valley 92% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Merlot. Bernard said the Merlot was necessary to make the wine complete. This wine is full, round and well balanced. There are black fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of violets, and a touch of spice. $36IMG_2422


Malbec 2010 “Nandù” Mendoza, Argentina. 97% Malbec and 3% Cabernet Sauvignon for the acidity. Grapes are from the Maipu area, the vineyards are at 2,624 ft. and Luján de Cuyo area at 3,116 ft. The average vine is 18 years old with a vertical trellis system. The average yield is 5 tons per acre.
Bernard said that the area is semi-desert like with an average temperature of 60 degrees F. Average rainfall is 8% per year, mostly in the summer. The soils are a blend of clay, sand and silt, consisting of a fair amount of gravel and small stones and well drained. Due to the proximity of the Andes mountain range, the nights are fairly cool. All this makes for very good conditions allowing for an even, slow maturation of the grapes. The grapes are hand harvested between March 20 and April 10 in 880 pound bins at an average brix of 23.5. 50% of the wine is aged in stainless steel and concrete tanks and the other half in French oak barrels for 9 months. Bernard called this wine an “Argentine Malbec with a French spirit.” This is difficult to believe but it did not taste like any Malbec from Argentina that I have ever tasted before–in fact it may be the best one I ever tasted. This is a wine with aromas and flavors of plum, blueberry and later blackberry with a touch of cedar. $24IMG_2426Bernard saved a gem of a wine for last.   Cabernet Sauvignon 1972 Clos du Val. Made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot. It reminded me of an old Bordeaux when they use to make them in this style. It had red fruit aromas and flavors, more then a hint of cherry and overtones of leather. The waiter made the mistake of leaving the decanter next to me …..

Bernard is co founder of Clos du Val and was there for 40 years. 1972 was his first vintage. Mixing grapes was not done in California in those days.

Bernard and his former colleague at Clos du Val, Don Chas formed Polaris Wines which produces Heritance and Ñandú.

4 Comments

Filed under Bernard Portet, Cabernet Sauvignon, California wine, Clos du Val, Heritance, Malbec, Nandu, Sauvignon Blanc