Category Archives: Sparkling wine

Nine Affordable Sparking Wines for the New Year

Everyone can celebrate a sparkling New Year with one of these great choices priced between $16 and $36.

My choices range from Brut to dessert sparklers, plus one over-the-top Champagne.img_1133-rustico

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $18

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur MousseuxNV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle.  Made from Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.grenelle

Under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years. Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $40 for the magnum, it is a great buy.img_8540-lars

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2012 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi, Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.

Ferrari Perlé 200 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family, owners of Ferrari, around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast. $36img_6018-lambruscao

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries. $29img_2652-grangano

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

The next 3 are from Piedmont and all have a certain degree of sweetness.

Fontanafredda Asti Spumante DOCG is made from the Moscato Bianco grape, also known as Moscato Canelli.  It is a sparkling wine produced by using the Charmat method. It is low in alcohol, about 7%, and has aromas and flavors of peach, honey and tropical fruits. It should be drunk young because the wine is at its best when it is fresh. $1602_vietti_moscato_dasti

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16

Banfi Vigna Regali “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20

I have written 3 articles this month on Champagne:

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/26/vintage-champagne-for-the-new-year/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/champagne-ed-mc-carthy-on-vintage-blanc-de-blancs-champagnes/

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/12/12/blanc-de-blancs-champagne-with-champagne-ed-mc-carthy/

but I just have to mention one more, Dom Perignon Rosè.

At the Wine Media Guild Champagne tasting and lunch the topic was Blanc de Blancs Champagne. Toward the end of the lunch Christina Jacobs asked me if I wanted to taste another Champagne, it was Dom Perignon Rose 2004. Made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay more or less. She only had one bottle.img_2014

It may be the best Rosè Champagne that I have ever tasted. This is powerful, complex and elegant Champagne. There are hints of raspberry, cranberry, apricot, spice and so much more. It has a very long finish and an aftertaste the just goes on and on. Christian is the Champagne specialist for Moet-Hennessy, producers of Dom Perignon. It is expensive around $345 but worth the money if you are so inclined.

Happy New Year!

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Dinner with Lars and Karen

Dinner at Lars and Karen’s house always begins the same way.IMG_8533

Lars takes a large silver sword from its box, holds a bottle of Cuvee Aurora Rose sparkling wine in his other hand, and with one fell swoop slices the cork and the top off the bottle.IMG_8534

We watch in amazement while they fly across the yard.

Lars Leicht is the head of the Cru Artisan division of Banfi. Here are the wines he served that night. He also did most of the cooking!IMG_8540

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.IMG_8543

Lars served this wine with an assortment of appetizers including sauteed eggplant with cherry tomatoes, a Neapolitan dish.IMG_8541

Pecorino “Cortalato” Colli Aprutini IGT 2014 100% Pecorino Cerulli Spinozzi. The vineyards are in the Colli Aprutini in Abruzzo. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel, prior to malolactic fermentation and it is aged on its lees fro 5 months prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and peach with notes of apricot and orange and a touch of bitter almond on the lingering finish. I recommend this wine often and it is a true bargain at less than $18 a bottle. Enrico Cerulli has taken over the management Cerulli Spinozzi his ancestral property. I have met Enrico a number of times and am always impressed by his knowledge and passion for his wine. The consulting winemaker is Franco Bernabei, who I consider to be one of the best.IMG_8548

With it, we ate hand rolled pici pasta (like thick spaghetti) with clams and herbs.IMG_8546

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo “Torre Migliore” 2009 Cerulli Spinozzi made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo in the Colli Teramane DOCG area. The soil consists of compact layers of shale and is rich in nutrients. Selected grapes are hand harvested in small boxes. The juice is fermented on the skins for 15/18 days in oak for at least 16 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in the bottle before release. This is a complex intense wine with hints of ripe cherries, blackberries and a touch of clove. This wine will age and is a bargain at about $18IMG_8556

With the red wines, we ate an assortment of grilled sausages and lamb chops.

The next three red wines are from Palari owned by Salvatore Geraci.IMG_8564

Santa.Ne 2008 100% A Francisa. I asked Lars about this unusual grape and he said “As Salvatore Geraci explains it to me, a century ago they planted a French varietal in that vineyard but no longer recall what it is. The farmers simply refer to it as “the French one,” or ‘a Francisa‘ in local dialect. Some hypothesize that it could be Malbec or Petite Verdot, but in any case over the decades it has morphed into something unique to its conditions.”

The grapes are grown in soil that consists of clay (argilla) in vineyards located in Santo Briga in Messina, Sicily. The wine is aged for 14 months in new barrels of Troncais oak. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest, unfiltered for at least two more years before release. It has hints of tobacco, leather, red berries and a touch of spice.IMG_8557

Rosso Del Soprano 2011 made from 60% Nerello, 15% Nocera, 20% Nerello Capuccio, 2% Acitana, 2% Jacche and 1% Coe’e Palumba. After a soft pressing and fermentation with native yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, the wine ages in one-year-old barrels of Troncais and Allier oak. It is then bottled and rests, unfiltered, for about another year before release. It has hints of ripe red berries and undertones of spice with a persistent finish.IMG_8566

Faro 2009 Like the Rosso Del Soprano above, this wine is made from the same indigenous grapes but with a different selection. Salvatore Geraci the owner of Palari saved the Faro DOC from extinction by taking over the 6 hectare vineyard and producing the wine. The wine is aged in new barrels of Troncais and Allier oak for at least 12 months. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest unfilited for an additional year before release. This is an elegant and complex wine with notes of ripe red fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla. It has a very long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Faro means lighthouse in Italian.IMG_8568

Brunello di Montalcino 1982  Villa Banfi 100% Sangiovese, select clones from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino. The grapes are grown in stony, calcareous and well-structured soil at an altitude of 720 ft. A careful grape selection is followed by vinification with skin contact for 10-12 days. The wines are released the 5th year after the harvest. Current vintages of this wine are aged a minimum of 4 years, 2 years in oak barrels of various sizes, mainly French oak barriques and partly in Slavonian oak casks.

I do not believe the 1982 was aged in barriques and I do not believe the “clone selection” was the same back then. This is an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruit, violets, and a touch of licorice and spice. It is showing no sign of age. A delightful Brunello.IMG_8574

Malvasia Delle Lipari 2011 100% Malvasia, Florio. The wine is produced in Malfa, on the island of Salina, archipelago of the Aeolian Islands. The soil is of volcanic origin and sandy. The vineyards are planted on the coast less the 50 meters above sea level. The grapes are hand harvested then laid on reed mats to dry in the sun for about 20 days.

The raisined grapes are gently pressed and left briefly with skin contact. The must is then drained and fermented slowly at controlled temperatures and fermentation stops naturally. The wine is aged a minimum of 5 months in 25 liter fine oak barrels. The wine has hints of raisins, dried apricots and a touch of honey

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Filed under Abruzzo, Banfi Brunello, Brunello, Cerulli Spinozzi, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Faro, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Malvasia delle Lipari-Florio, Rosso del Soprano, Santa.Ne, Sparkling wine, Uncategorized

Enjoying Vintage Prosecco with Primo Franco

Primo Franco of the Nino Franco Winery is the first man of Prosecco and I always enjoy hearing him speak about his wines. Though Michele and I had visited him in Valdobbiadene a few months ago and tasted a number of old Proseccos from the Primo Franco line, I was delighted when Tony DiDio of Tony Di Dio Selections invited me to a tasting which included a few older vintages I had not sampled before. For my visit to the winery seehttps://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/primo-franco-the-first-man-of-prosecco/

Primo Franco

Primo Franco

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the winery that was founded by Franco’s grandfather. Primo said in the past they made wine from many different grapes but starting in 1983 when he took over, all they make is sparkling wine

He said that he only uses the best grapes and does not like a wine with too much acidity. He leaves the wine on the lees for 5 to 6 months in order for the wine to develop more body. For the first fermentation, no sulfur is added. For the second fermentation in autoclave only a small amount is added to stabilize the wine. IMG_6873

Recently I read an article, which said that many places in England were serving Prosecco on tap. I asked Primo about this and he said that it is against EU rules and that it is not good for Prosecco’s image. He added in most cases it is not even Prosecco that they are pouring but any still white wine to which they add a fizz and call Prosecco because of the popularity of the wine. Last year the percentage of Prosecco imported into the US and Great Britain rose dramatically. For more on this, see

https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2015/01/10/prosecco-on-tap/ IMG_6877

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Primo Franco made from 100% Glera grapes from vineyards in medium to high hills in the classic production zone with a harvest selection. Pressing, destemming and cooling of the must takes place. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation takes place in autoclave. The wine remains in bottle for 30 days before release. It is classified as dry meaning it has 1g/l to 32g/l residual sugar and usually the range for these are 28g/l to 30g/l and the alcohol content is 10.5%. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

We tasted the 2013 and the 2003 together because Primo felt that they were very similar vintages. 2003 was very warm and half of the harvest was in August and the other half in the beginning of September. He said that 2013 had very hot days and cold nights. The 2013 has a lingering peach aspect to it and still needs more time to develop.

Franco has a new young wine maker and when the computer told him the wine had reached 28g/l he shut down the autoclave. The yeast did not know this so the 2013 came in at 32g/l.IMG_6875

The first time I tasted the 2003 was at the winery with Primo in May of last year and it was a revelation for me. I always believed that Prosecco is a wine to be drunk young. It was even better this time. It is lively and fresh, complex with a depth of flavor and hints of ripe apple, almonds and lemon peel.IMG_6879

The 2000 is drinking very well. It was smooth and creamy with hints of caramel, a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Franco said that that 2000 was a textbook vintage.IMG_6884

1997 If I had to choose a favorite of these exceptional Processo’s it would be the 1997. This was the first vintage where he used selected yeasts. Before this he used wild yeast and the wine fermented naturally but found that this caused to many problems. This is a wine with good fruit aromas and flavors with hints of brioche and a touch of creaminess.IMG_6880

1995 This was very much like the 1997 but more developed. IMG_6881

The 1992 is drinking very well with just a touch of oxidation, which did not distract from the wine. This was a very difficult vintage because there was a lot of rain even during the harvest. Yet once again Franco made an exceptional Prosecco.

1989 – as soon as the wine was poured in Franco’s glass he said it had turned.

The last three wines were from Magnums

For more on Primo Franco see

http://dobianchi.com/author/dobianchi/ A man who helped make Prosecco an international phenomenon and the challenges he facesby Do Bianchi

 

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Filed under Nino Franco, Primo Franco, Prosecco, Sparkling wine

“Fines Bulles” from the Loire Valley at Restaurant Bouley

Fines Bulles of the Loire Valley

An invitation for lunch and a tasting of 12 sparkling wines from the Loire Valley at Bouley in New York City seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience these very interesting wines. Bouley Restaurant is one of my favorites and though I had visited the Loire Valley only once, I enjoyed my stay there and liked the sparkling wines.IMG_6669

The speaker was Christy Canterbury M.W. She began by speaking about the Loire Valley and gave some background on the wines.

In 2002 the Fines Bulles (fine bubbles) was established for sparkling wine from Anjour-Samur-Touraine. The sparking wines here are made according to the Methode Traditionnelle. Like Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Christy said that this gives the finished wine a fine creamy mousse (foam) and texture that other sparkling wines cannot match

IMG_6680

Christy Canterbury, M.W.

The Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the third largest AOC vineyard in France. It is also the leading region for “fine bubbles.” The area extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of Touraine along the Loire River, the longest river in France. It is one of the most northern wine regions in Europe. The terroir is the “tuffeau,” a soft porous, chalky (limestone) sub-soil. Christy pointed out that the limestone was used to build the region’s castles.

The main grape used in these sparkling wines is Chenin, but 11 others can be used, among them: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’ Aunis and Gamay.

The Loire Valley appellations that produce Fines Bulles include:

Vouvray: The appellation starts on the eastern edge of the city of Tours and includes 8 communes on the right bank of the Loire River and its tributary, La Brenne, covering 2,100 hectares. The vineyards cover stony slopes over a sub soil of tuffeau, punctuated by converging valleys made up of perruche (flinty clay) and aubius (clayey-limestone). Only Chenin Blanc can be used in the production of Vouvray Fines Bulles. Here Chenin Blanc is known as Pineau de Loire.

Christy said that the unique character of the wines comes from the limestone caves in which they are aged. They date from 60 to 90 million years ago. IMG_6674

Cuvée Excellence, Vouvray Brut NV Caves des Producteurs de Vouvray C. Greffe. 100% Chenin Blanc. Method Traditionnelle. This is the largest co-op in the region. The wine has hints of white flowers, citrus and a touch of baked apple. $20IMG_6684

Vouvray Méthode Traditionnelle Brut 2011 Domaine Sylvain Gaudron 100% Chenin Blanc. This is a third generation family run winery. Citrus aromas and flavors with hints of honey and a touch of candied fruits. $18IMG_6690

La Dilettante, Vouvray Pètillant, NV Catherine and Pierre Breton. 100% Chenin Blanc Méthod Traditionelle. This is an organic and bio-dynamic winery. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts present on the grape skins. Additional sulfur is kept to a bare minimum. They believe that the wine should be a true expression of the terroir. It has hints of citrus and pears with a touch of brioche. $20

Saumur Brut: Christy said that there is a gentle climate here, and the appellation covers 1,400 hectares, which lie south of the Loire on verdant slopes reaching right up to the town of Saumur. The characteristic element of the sub-soil is the tuffeau, the porous limestone that leaves its mark on the wines. Christy added that here the wine is bottled with the addition of a mix of sugar, wine and select yeasts. After the wine is disgorged a little sugar solution is added and the bottle is recorked and labeled. Christy said that the sugar is added to balance the natural acidity in the wines.IMG_6671

Saumur Brut, NV Domaine du Vieux Pressoir made from 70% Chenin Blanc and 30% Chardonnay. Method Traditionelle and each varietal is vinified separately at very cool temperatures. The wine is left in bottles for 15 months on the lees before disgorging. This is a complex wine with good acidity and hints of white fruit and mint. $2o IMG_6688

Bulles de Roches, Saumur, Mousseux, NV Thierry Germain & Michele Chèvre Made from 90% Chenin Blanc, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Cabernet Franc and they are hand harvested. Methode Traditionelle with dosage zero. This is a dry sparkling wine, with good citrus aromas and flavors, nice minerality and a touch of baked bread. It goes very well with food. $19IMG_6695

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur Mousseux, NV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.

Christy said that under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years.

Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $38 for the magnum, it is a great buy and one of my favorites at the tasting.

Touraine: This is a large appellation with almost 4,500 hectares from the gates of the Sologne region to the edges of Anjou. It is spread over two administration regions along the Cher and Loire Rivers. 85% of the appellation’s surface area is southeast of the city of Tours on the slopes high above the Cher.

The sub-soil is tuffeau from the Paris Basin with clay limestone soils. The terraces along the banks of the Loire are composed of sand and gravel. The banks of the Cher are made up of flinty clay and flinty sand.IMG_6670

Intense Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Chäteau de L’Aulée 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The Chenin vines are 10 to 40 years old. Guyot pruning is used in the vineyards, with natural or controlled grass growing in the dividing rows according to the need. Some of the grapes come from the so-called Joan of Arc vineyard, where she is said to have rested on her was to meet the future king Charles VII. This is a wine with hints of lime, pear and baked apple. $17IMG_6702

Touraine Rosé, Brut, NV Jean-Michele Gautier made from the Grolleau grape. Methode Traditionnelle. Family owned and managed since 1669. The farming is traditional organic without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Traditional wine making with very little interference in the winery. The owner/winemaker, Jean Michael, prefers the wines to display the terroir. Fermentation is at low temperature in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before bottling. This was another one of my favorites and a great food wine.$20IMG_6691

Cuveé JM Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Monmousseau Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, Method Traditionnelle. The wine spends 24 to 36 months on the lees. The same family has owned the property since 1886. It has hints of apple, honey, and hazelnut and good acidity. $18

Crémant De Loire: The vineyards stretch out for over 250 kilometers from east to west. In the east there is the terres blanches (white soil) and in the west the terres noires (black soil).IMG_6672

Crémant de Loire NV Chäteau de Brézé made from 60% Chenin and 40% Chardonnay. The vineyards are being converted to organic and then to biodynamic farming. Traditionelle brut method is used. It has citrus aromas and flavors with a hint of molasses. $20IMG_6694

Cuvée Flamme, Crémant de Loire Brut NV Gratien & Meyer, 60% Chardonnay, 25% Cabenet Franc and 15% Chenin Blanc. Wine is aged in their cellars for more than 2 years. It has nice fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of almonds and a touch of licorice. $18IMG_6701

Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, NV Deligeroy made mostly from Cabernet Franc. The vines are 20 to 30 years old. It has nice strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors and a hint of peach. $16

I found the wines went very well with the food and most are priced at $20 or less which makes them a very good buy.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fines Bulles -fine bubbles, French Sparkling Wine, French Wine, Rose, Sparkling wine, Sparkling Wines of the Loire Valley

Metodo Classico Lambrusco and Negroamaro

This week I tasted two sparkling wines made with what the Italians call metodo classico, the Champagne method. One was a Lambrusco, a wine I am very familiar with but this was the first time I tasted one made in this way. The other was made with Negroamaro, a familiar grape variety, but not as a sparking wine and certainly not by the Metodo Classico.IMG_6018

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries.IMG_6029

 Salento IGT Spumante Brut Rose “Noitre” Metodo Classico 100% Negroamaro from Salice Salentino-Futura 14 (Puglia). The vineyard is at 40 meters and the soil is clayish and sandy. The training system is spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines/ha and the vines are 12 years old. Harvest is the last week of August. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel and there is a partial malolactic fermentation. The wine rests in the bottle for 30 months before release. It is a very light salmon color with  red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of raspberries. Part owner of Futura 14, the company that makes the wine, is Bruno Vespa, a well-known Italian TV personality.

 

 

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Filed under Cantina della Volta, Futura 14, Italian Sparkling Wine, Method Classico, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Franciacorta’s Bellavista

It can be argued that that Italy’s best sparking wine made in the classic method comes from Franciacorta. One of my favorite producers from this area is Bellavista IMG_5274

At a Bellavista tasting and lunch at Del Posto in NYC, I noticed immediately that the labels on the entire line of wines were different. The labels may have changed but what was inside the bottles was the same as I have enjoyed in the past.

Mr. Vittorio Moretti founder and president of Bellavista spoke. He said that the winery is located in Erbusca in the province of Brescia in Lombardy. The winery has 190 hectares of vines, which is almost 10% of the entire Franciacorta appellation. Their first vintage was in 1984. Mr. Morettti introduced his enologist Mattia Vezzola. Mr Vezzola spoke about the wine. The Mèthode Champenoise bollicine (little bubbles) is used for the sparkling wine. The Bellavista cuvèes result from horizontal and vertical blends of about 90-100 selections from 107 micro-crus. These selections are separately harvested and vinified. Only free run juice is used and the must ferments in 1,500 pièces, 228 liter barrels, the youngest of which are 7 years old, while the oldest are about 28 years old.IMG_5271

Franciacorta Brut Vintage 2008 made from 72% Chardonnay and 28% Pinot Noir. This wine not only changed its label but also is name. It was formerly known as Grand Cuvee Brut. The grapes come from the finest selection of over 100 plots within the township of Franciacorta, which are all estate owned. Over 30% of the base wine is fermented and matures for over seven months in small oak barrels. The wine has nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors with hints of sage and dried leaves.IMG_5276

Bellavista Satèn 2009 DOCG made from 100% Chardonnay. Mr. Moretti said that when this wine was introduced in 1984 it was the first blanc de blancs to be made in Franciacorta. The chardonnay comes from the oldest hillside vineyards close to the winery with the highest elevation and a full southern exposure. Part of the wine (1/3) is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. Mr. Vezzolo said that Satèn in Franciacorta has less pressure than most sparking wine with 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This gives the wine more elegant bubbles, a more delicate mousse and a softer mouth feel.IMG_5270

Bellavista Franciacorta Pas Operè 2007 made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from the most vigorous selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 20 years old with an east and southeast exposure. Most of the must is fermented in small oak barrels. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of honey, apple and herbs. This wine not only changed its label but its name, it was formally known as Grand Cuveè Pas Opèrè.

Bellavista Rosè 2008 This is a special cuveè and is only 3% of the total production of the winery. It is a blend of at least 20% of the winery’s best selection of which part is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. For the 48% Pinot Noir, the submerged cap method is used for the maceration, allowing for skin contact to augment concentration up to the moment fermentation begins. The 52% of Chardonnay comes from 20 selections of the most prestigious estates owned by the winery. This is a very flavorful wine with hints of citrus fruit, strawberry and a touch of apple.IMG_5271

Bellavista “Alma” Cuveè Brut  Mr. Moretti said that alma means soul in Latin and this wine reflects the soul of Franciacorta and Bellavista. The symbol of this wine is the butterfly because it represents harmony and balance,nature at its purest and transformation and rebirth. Made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Bianco. The balance comes from 30 different selections from over 100 vineyards. Most of the wine is fermented and matures in 228 litter oak barrels for 7 months. The wine consists of at least 6 to 9 older vintages. This is a wine with a depth of flavor with hints of apple, pears and white flowers.

Bellavista Vittorio Moretti Franciaorta Special DOCG 2006. Made only in exceptional years. Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the best crus in Franciacorta: Erbusco, Nigoline, Torbiato and Colombaro.The wine is aged for seven years before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of white peach, honey and a touch of berries.

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Primo Franco: The First Man of Prosecco

 

Recently, I met with Primo Franco of the Prosecco house Nino Franco in New York. We were tasting and drinking his Prosecco and I mentioned that Michele and I would be in the town of Asolo in the Veneto the following week. Primo smiled and said that the town is less then 20 minutes from his winery and we must come and visit. It was an offer I could not refuse.

Primo Franco

Primo Franco

Primo picked us up at our hotel and on the way to the winery gave us a tour of the vineyards. He said there had been some heavy rain and hail damage but the vines were recovering.

When we arrived at the winery Primo showed us the tanks and explained that almost all Prosecco is made by the Charmat method. After the grapes are crushed and fermented, a secondary fermentation takes place. Sugar is added to the wine and as the yeast “eats” the sugar it produces the pressure, which creates the bubbles in the wine. The tanks have a double wall of heavy steel because of the pressure inside the tank. There is insulation between the walls. The wine remains on the lees at 8°C under pressure and is kept there until it is ready to be bottled. IMG_5538

Primo said that in the past the winery made wine from many different grapes but starting in 1983 when he took over all they now make is sparkling wine.

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The Vineyards

Primo explained the new laws for Prosecco that went into effect from the 2009 harvest. He said that the historical area around the two towns of Conegliano and Valdobbiadene would now become DOCG. The zones that were IGT would now become DOC, and the rest IGT. This DOC would include the 9 provinces of Treviso: Vicenza, Padova, Belluno, Venezia, Pordenone, Udine, Gorizia and Trieste.   Only the producers in the DOC and DOCG zones will be allowed to call their wine Prosecco, while those in the IGT zone will have to call it Glera. The term Prosecco will be used to identify the region that the wine comes from and the grape will be Glera. The historic area of the appellation remains the same.

Under the new law, a producer cannot make a “Rose Prosecco” (which I always saw as a contradiction in terms), nor have the words “Prosecco Blend” on the label. Prosecco is now produced all over the world, even in Brazil. Primo hoped that the new laws would preserve Prosecco’s identify and integrity and that the new regulations will help people to understand that true Prosecco only comes from the DOC/DOCG zone.

Primo told us of going into a store in NYC that sold only Italian wines. He spotted a Rose Prosecco on the shelf, and could hardly believe it! Primo feels that these new laws are necessary to protect the true Prosecco and it was important that everyone should know them.

At the winery, we tasted vintage Primo Franco Prosecco going back to 1992, which was first produced in 1983 when Primo took over the winery. Primo started us off with a glass of wine that he took from the tank. He wanted us to taste the wine that he starts with before it becomes sparkling. Primo made a point of saying that you must start with a good white wine in order to make good sparkling wine.IMG_5546

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Primo Franco made from 100% Glera grapes. It is classified as dry meaning it has 17 to 32 g/l residual sugar and the alcohol content is 10.5%. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

We tasted the 2013 and the 2003 together because Primo felt that they were very similar vintages. 2003 was very warm and half of the harvest was in August and the other half in the beginning of September. He said that 2013 had very hot days and cold nights. The 2013 has a lingering peach aspect to it.

The 2003 was a revelation for me. I always believed that Prosecco is a wine to be drunk young. This Prosecco was lively and fresh, complex with a depth of flavor and hints of ripe apple, almonds and lemon peel.

The 2000 was drinking very well. It was smooth and creamy with hints of honey, a long finish and pleasing after taste.IMG_5544

The 1992 — I could not believe how well this wine was drinking.

Primo showed us a bottle of 1956 Prosecco that he had in the cellar buy it was only for display.IMG_5548

Last but not least was a bottle of 1985 Prosecco di Valdobbadene Superiore di Cartizze, “Dry” 100% Glera from the Cartizze hills. Grapes grown on the 1,000 ft high Cartizze are the most expensive in the zone and make the highest price wines. There are 140 producers that share the vineyards. Made by the Charmat method. This wine was showing some age but is still quite drinkable.IMG_5558

We were fortunate to be invited to Primo’s home for lunch. With lunch we had the Grave di Stecca Brut sparkling wine. The vineyard is of ancient origin “Grave di Stecca” a clos on the slopes at the foot of the Pre-Alps, not far from the square of Valdobbiadene. It has a southern exposure and is partly shielded by a huge garden and has a special microclimate. Made from 100% Glera grapes. The alcohol is 12%.IMG_5553

This was a perfect combination with the Risotto with Peas prepared by Primo’s wife AnnaLisa.

Valdobbiadene Porsecco Superiore “Brut” DOCG 1 to 12% g/l residual sugar from the Valdobbiadene and Conegliano production area.

Valbdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore “Brut”DOCG  DOCG from the Riva di San Floriano vineyard in Valdobbiadene

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore “Dry” DOCG “Rustico”. All of the above are 100% Glera and are made by the Charmat method.

He also makes a sparkling wine “Faîve,” a brut made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc also by the Charmat method.

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Filed under Nino Franco, Primo Franco, Prosecco, Sparkling wine