Category Archives: Sparkling wine

Easy Drinking Summer Wines

Below are 10 wines for summer drinking. They are all under $20 and  most have a low alcohol content.

IMG_7893Prosecco Rosé DOC Extra Dry Millesimo NV (Veneto) Albino Armani made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The production area is Alta Grave Friulana and the training system is Guyot. When the cuveé is ready a long second fermentation takes place in pressure tanks (Charmat method) for at least 60 days in order to obtain a more refined perlage and complex aromas from the Pinot Noir. This is a fruit forward wine with hints of lilacs, strawberry, and raspberry.  Alcohol 11%  $16

IMG_7894Prosecco DOC Rosè Extra Dry (Veneto)  Corvezzo made from Glera and Pinot Nero. The training system is Sylvoz (variation of the trellis system) and the grape harvest is mechanized. There is soft cold crushing and pressing. The second fermentation is for 60 days using the Charmat method. Residual sugar 12g/l.  The wine has hints of strawberries, notes of citrus fruit and a touch of wildflowers Alcohol 11.5%. $14

IMG_7899Prosecco DOC  Corvezzo made from 85% Glera and 15% permitted grapes. The growth system is Sylvoz and the harvest is mechanized. There is a soft cold crushing  and pressing of the grapes. The second fermentation is for 60 days using the Charmat method. This is a dry Prosecco that has hints of apple and pear with floral notes and a touch of lemon. Alcohol 11.5%. $14

IMG_7888 Colli Euganei Pinella Azieanda (Veneto) Agricola Reassi made from 100% Pinella (white grape). The vineyards are at 120 meters and the exposure is north. The training system in guyot. Harvest is the 2nd week of September.  The soil is clay and silt and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. The vines were planted in 2008. There is a manual selection and harvest of the grapes The grapes are destemmed followed  by a short maceration and a short pressing, Fermentation for about two weeks. at a low temperature. Maturation on the lees until spring with periodic lees stirring.  The second fermentation is in stainless steel tanks using the Martinotti method. The wine remains in bottle for 3 months before release.  The wine is slightly off dry and slightly sparkling (frizzante) with hints of pear, peach, lemon, lime and good minerality. It is very refreshing and easy to drink.  Pinella is a very rare grape variety indigenous to the Colli  Euganei. Alcohol 12%. $19

img_5508montifilliMontefili Rosato (Tuscany) Vecchie Terre di Montefili made from 100% Sangiovese from a 500 meter vineyard first planted in 1995. The soil is galestro and alberese and the training system is spurred cordon. Spontaneous fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast. Skin contact is for 6/7 hours and fermentation is at a low temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks and then in bottles for 3 months. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of strawberries, raspberries, a touch of red currents and good acidity.  $18

Monte Velho White Esporão (Portugal) made with Antão, Vaz, Perrum and Roupeiro  grapes from throughout the region. The soil is of a granitic/schistose nature with an open clay structure. The average age of the vineyards is 18 years. The grapes are destemmed, cooled, and then pressed followed by a must decantation and fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Then centrifuging, stabilization and filtration.   No use of pesticides and herbicides in the vineyards 12.5%. $14

IMG_7895MonteVelho Rosè Esporão(Portugal )made from Touriga Nacional, Aragones and Syrah. The soil is granite/schist with a loam clay structure. The wines on the average are 18 years old. The grapes are destemmed, cooled, and after a brief skim maceration they are pressed. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature in stainless steel vats. Then centrifugation, stabilization and filtration. The wine has hints a strawberries, raspberries and touch of mint. 12.5% $14

img_5527DonnaBeneventano Falanghina IGT (Campania) Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. It is one of my favorite white wines. Alcohol 12.5  $18

img_5156PINOTPinot Grigio  Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. Alcohol 12.5%  $17

img_5537 slaveSchiava Alto Adige DOC Peter Zemmer Made from a blend of various varieties of Schiava. The training system is pergola (traditional trellis system). The soil is loamy.  The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented for 8 days at a constant temperature. The must is kept in regular contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below. This is a fresh fruity red wine with red and black fruit aromas and flavors with a note of strawberry and a touch of bitter almond. It is the perfect red wine for summer. Alcohol12.5%. It should be served slightly chilled $17

 

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Filed under Montefili, Peter Zemmer, Prosecco, Rose, Sparkling wine, Summer wines

Champagne and Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

Every year at this time, the Wine Media Guild would hold a Champagne tasting hosted by Ed Mc Carthy,  author of Champagne for Dummies.  I looked forward to attending, tasting the wines and hearing “Champagne Ed’s” commentary, which I would write about for this blog.  Because of Covid, the event was cancelled both last year and again this year.  Instead, I will write about the Champagne and sparkling wines that I have tasted over the last few months.

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Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019  Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged  by hand.  Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.

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Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink.

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Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are used but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months.  It has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.

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DOC Trento Spumante Rosè +4 Reserve 2011 Brute Classico Method Letrari   made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in calcareous soils. The vineyards are at 400 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained with the traditional pergola trentina system or the modern guyot based on the age of the vines. The wine is aged for 28 months on the lees, four more than required by the official production code.  It is a brut (5,7 g/l – so on the lower side of the brut scale which goes from 12 g/l to 0 g/l). This is a consequence of the aromatic and phenolic ripeness which grants volume and taste on the palate and doesn’t require the “support” of sugar. It is a full bodied Sparkling wine with black fruit aromas and flavors a note of blackberries and a touch of brioche. I have always liked Spumante from the Trentino area and I believe it is the best zone in Italy to grow Pinot Noir. This is a very impressive wine. 

IMG_6050Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l.  This is a crisp, fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed.  

IMG_5965Franciacorta 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_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV  Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche. It has become one of my favorite champagnes.

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Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet” made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond. 

IMG_5693Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir.  Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of brioche and a hint of hazelnut.

IMG_5692Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”. Cedric Bouchard. 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited.  This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity, a touch of pear and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

IMG_6385 2Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er Cru and 10% Vertus 1er Cru. The soil is mostly chalk. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine remains on the lees for 65 months. The wine was disgorged in September 2020. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, with hints of mint and orange peel.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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L’Angolo Divino – A Perfect Wine Bar

Every time Michele and I are in Rome we go to L’Angolo Divino, a wine bar just off Campo dei Fiori. This time it was a mild sunny day and we were able to sit at tables outside in a charming piazza a few steps from the restaurant.

IMG_6199 We have known the owner Massimo Crippa for many years.  I enjoy speaking to Massimo about wine. Sometimes I will choose the wines and sometimes I will ask Massimo to choose the wine for me. This time I asked Massimo to select 3 local wines from  around Rome.

IMG_6182Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019  Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged  by hand.  Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.

IMG_6189 2Assortment of Italian Cheese – We asked Massimo to choose a variety of local cheeses which were served with chestnut honey.

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Assortment of meat – including mortadella, coppa and prosciutto

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Olive paste and zucchini Bruschetta

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Fresh Bufala Mozzarella with olive oil and herbs

I asked Massimo for two wines made from the Cesanese grape that comes from the hilly region south of Rome.  This grape variety comes in two distinct types, the large-berried Cesanese Comun, and the less widespread Cesanese di Affile. The two are united in both Cesanese del Piglio DOCG wines and Cesanese di Olevano Romano DOC wines.  Cesanese di Affile, which is considered the superior of the two, has its own Cesanese di Affile DOC.  Massimo chose two wines which were different in style.


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Cesanese Olevano Romano Càlitro 2016. Piero Riccardo Lorrella Reale made from 100% Cesanese di Affile. The soil is sandstone from the cretaceous period. The wine is aged for 34 months in wood and another 24 months in bottle before release. This is a medium bodied wine with hints of cherry,  pomegranate, red plum and cranberry. Very enjoyable.

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Casale Della Ioria Torre Del Piano 2018 made from 100% Cesanese Piglio Superiore Riserva. This dry red wine comes from a vineyard with volcanic soil at the beginning of the Ernici mountains. The training system is guyot, there are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vineyard was planted in 1986.  Maceration on the skins takes place, then fermentation in  stainless steel for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine then ages in barriques for 8 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of sweet red plum, sweet pomegranate and vanilla.

IMG_6194Ossobuco

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Zucchini Torta

L’Angolo Divino Via dei Balestrari n.12/14 angolo con Vicolo del Giglio n.6 Roma 39 06 6864413

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A Wine Tasting in Florence

It is always a pleasure to see Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino  in NYC or Italy. A little over a week ago, when I was in Florence, Riccardo managed to take the time to meet me there so I could taste some of the wines he represents. The tasting was held at da Burde a very traditional Florentine restaurant about a 20 minute drive from the center. Also at the tasting was Ciro Beligni owner of Le Volpi e l’Uva, the best wine bar in Florence.

The White Wines


IMG_6020Falanghina del Sannio DOP
 2018 made from 100% Falanghina Fontana Vecchia.  The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third week of September. Vinification with direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. It has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime with a touch of green apple. I visited this winery a few years ago on a press trip with Campania Stories and I am a big fan of Falanghina.

IMG_6022Bianco Toscana IGT 2019 made from 100% Colombiana Bianca Fattoria Fibbiano. The grapes undergo cold maceration at 10 degrees celsius in steel tanks for ten days. Then the grapes are pressed to ferment the must at 12 degrees celsius. This is done with the aid of selected yeasts which preserves the character of the grapes. The wine then remains in concrete tanks for 4 months before being bottled. The wine has hints of rich fruit, pineapple, papaya and notes of pressed flowers with good acidity. Note The Cantone family of Fattoria Fibbiano found this rare white Colombiana grape among the rows in their vineyards. It is identical to the grape grown in Lombardy with the name Verdea. It is named after a wandering Irish Monk Colombiano.

IMG_6027Friuli Colli Orientali Sauvignon Blanc 2018 “Genesis” Butussi  made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from a single 40 year old vineyard with a southwest exposure. The soil is of alluvial and colluvial origin, composed of marls deep down and calcareous stones on the surface. During manual harvest  the grapes are picked at optimum ripeness  at the break of dawn. The grapes are destemmed and undergo cold maceration for 24 hours. Only the free run juice is used. Stabilization lasts for 3 days. The first two days the must is kept moving and on the third day it undergoes static clarification. The juice in then racked and fermented at a controlled temperature. !5% of the wine is fermented in traditional oak, the rest in stainless steel. The wine is usually bottled during the week after Easter according to the lunar calendar. It  has hints if citrus fruit, herbs, sage, grass and a hint of white peaches.

IMG_6024GiovinRe Toscana IGT 2018 Michele Satta made from 100% Viognier. Harvest is the first week of September. The grapes are harvested at full maturation and whole bunches are placed in the  press. The must is decanted for 3 days at 5 degrees and racked. Following the yeast inoculation during the early fermentation, the wine is poured half in old barriques, previously cleaned and polished, half in cement.  Here the alcoholic fermentation takes place and the wine is kept until January without malolactic fermentation taking place. The frequency and number of batonnage are determined by tastings. Once assembled the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 2 months until the bottling. Then it ages one year in bottle before being released.  This is a white wine that will age.

IMG_6026Friuli Colli Orientali Bianco “At Oasi” 2017 Aquila Del Torre. Made from 100% Picolit grown on hillside terraces. The soil is flysch, interbedded clayey-textured marl and sandstone. The vineyard is at 175/ 300, the training system is guyot simple and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The wines are 14 years old on average and the exposure is south/southwest. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts in French oak barrels. The wine remains on the lees for 12 months. This is a dry white wine with hints of citrus, floral notes and a touch of balsam.

IMG_6050Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l  This is a crisp  fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed. 

Another time the Red wines

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Filed under At, Butussi, Fabbiano Colombana, Falanghina, Fontana vecchia, Michele Satta -GiovinRE, Sparkling wine, Tenuta Montauto

Autumn Menu at The Leopard at des Artistes

 

IMG_5810The Leopard at des Artistes, formerly known as the Cafe des Artistes, has a new menu and on a recent beautiful October day, Michele and I went to try it.  The chef is Jonathan Frosolone and he has added some exciting new Italian dishes that we had never tried before.  We started with glasses of sparkling wine from Benevento.

 

IMG_5804Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and then pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink. 

Antipasti–We tried several

IMG_5817Pesce in Carpione- Marinated luccio (pike), white wine vinaigrette, fennel, crispy capers–A light and refreshing starter.

IMG_5812Quaglia Ripiena- Quail, pork sausage, and red wine poached figs.  The quail was stuffed with sausage and figs and glazed in slightly sweet sauce.  I could eat a plte of these.

Pallott Cacio e Uova- Pecorino and egg croquettes, garlic, basil.  Cheesey balls of bread in a delicious tomato sauce.  Our helpful waiter told us they are a specialty of his region of Abruzzo.

IMG_5814Sformato di Tartufo Nero — Black truffle custard with arugula and parmigiano reggiano cheese.  These is a seasonal interpretation of a springtime favorite.  

IMG_5826Terre Del Volturo IGT 2018 Nanni-Cope Made from 85% Fiano, 12% Asprinio and 3% Pallagrello Bianco. The wine is aged in 500 liter barrels for about 8 months. The wine has hints of eucalyptus, hazelnut, apricot and lemongrass with good acidity.

Primi

IMG_5822Agnolotti-Robiola, Parmigiano Reggiano and rosemary butter sauce.  A lucious blend of cheeses, butter and tender pasta.

IMG_5820Struncatura–Multigrain spaghettoni, shrimp, neonata, lemon — A unique pasta from Southern Italy, made from several different types of grain including wheat and rye.  It is thick and chewy, and it was complemented by the neonata and shrimp.  

IMG_5824Raviolo Alla Piastra- Beets, poppy seeds, brown buttered sage sauce fill this unusual type of raviolo.  After stuffing the pasta is grilled which gives it a toasty flavor that went well with the sweet flavor of the beets.

Secondi-main course

IMG_9599 tausari

Taurasi “Radici” 1998 Mastroberardino made from 100% Aglianico.  The vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. The barriques were second and third passage. This is a wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather. It was fantastic.

IMG_5829Salmerino-Roasted sea trout, topped with charred scallions, trout roe, aged balsamic vinegar.  The skin was crispy and the flesh moist and perfectly cooked.  A great combination of flavors.

IMG_5828Anatra- Roasted duck breast, chestnuts, pears and spinach. The duck was perfectly cooked and crowned an assortment of seasonal ingredients.  

Dolce

IMG_5831Zabaione- Zabaione al Ramandolo with seasonal fruits made tableside.  A classic dessert that is always a treat.

IMG_5832Mousse di Ciocolato–Dark Chocolate mousse, white chocolate garnish and orange.  The mousse was coated in dark chocolate.  A little touch of chocolatey goodness to finish our meal.

IMG_5835Owner Gianfranco Sorrentino and Chef Jonathan Frosolone.

.We finished this wonderful meal with Digestivi. Congratulations to the chef, the staff and Gianfranco for another great meal. What a way to welcome the fall!

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Barolo

Chinato

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China

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A Light Summer Dinner

Summer dinner

It was a very hot evening in August and friends invited Michele and I for a light summer dinner.

We sat in the garden and had the appetizers, fresh ripe figs topped with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto.  With it we drank:

Trento DOC Ferrari “Perlè” Methodo Classico 2011 made from 100% organic Chardonnay from vineyards at 300 to 700 meters with a southeast or southwesterly exposure. The soil is loose, not too deep, and made of volcanic and glacial deposits. There are 4,500 to 5,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand from in the middle of September. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 6 months. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of apple, almonds, and a touch of brioche. I was very impressed by this wine. Residual sugar is 6g/l.

We decided to move inside for the rest of the meal.  Our first course was a tomato and cheese tart made with heirloom tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Then  we  had beautifully  grilled  swordfish  with  a light  olive  oil  and herb  dressing  with  steamed  potatoes  and  broccoli.  Our  host  served  a refreshing  rose  wine.

 

Montefili Rosato Toscana 2019 made from 100% Sangiovese which has its roots in vines planted in 1995. The terrain is hilly, the soil is galestro and alberese and the altitude is at 500 meters. The training system is spurred cordon. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged in stainless steel and then aged in bottle for 3 months before release. The winery is organic. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of strawberries, raspberries, a touch of red currants and good acidity.

For dessert we had roasted apricots with faisselle, a French style fresh soft cheese made from goat’s milk.  The tangy sweet apricots were a nice contrast to the mild cheese.

 

 

 

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A Summer Lunch

 

It was a very hot day in August and we were at a friend house for a late lunch.  I brought a sparkling wine from the Veneto that my friend had never tasted made from the Durello grape to go with the appetizers.

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees are preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. The wine has hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.

Michele had made some roasted red peppers and we ate them on crostini topped with anchovies.

 

Another starter was sauteed eggplant with cherry tomatoes on crostini topped with thin slices of Tuscan pecorino.

Our pasta was a summery version of pasta alla puttanesca.  Michele tossed the hot, cooked mezze maniche pasta with room temperature chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, anchovies , parsley and mozzarella.  The warmth of the pasta brought out all the flavors in the cool sauce.  Perfect on a hot day.

Pasta in the dish

I had brought a red wine that can be served chilled to go with the pasta but to our disappointment the wine was not good. I asked our host what he had chilled and he said he had one of his favorite with wines.  It was the best Falanghina he ever had and It was the perfect choice.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality.

 

 

Dessert  was  an  improvised  one.  Sponge  cake  shells  topped  with  Grand Marnier and  orange marmalade marinated  strawberries and freshly whipped cream.

 

With fresh summer produce and good wines, an improvised lunch turned into a feast.

 

 

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Durello, Falanghina, Sparkling wine, Sparkling wine- Druello, Spumante

Italian Summer Sparklers

Any time is a good time for sparkling wines and to me a chilled glass or two seems just right when I am sitting in a garden, at the poolside or even on a picnic.  Here are 10 sparklers from Italy that I have enjoyed recently that cost $25 or less a bottle.  The list includes white, rose and red sparklers and some are made from unusual grape varieties.

 

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). $19

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Pasqua  made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside  vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. This produces tiny, more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16

Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. DonnaChiara.  The vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, the owner of DonnaChiara, referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s).  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

 

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.$25

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees will be preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. Hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.$25

Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone CasaSetaro Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release.  The Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine.$20

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

Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosato Millesimato 2013 Cantina della Volta made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna). The harvest is manual, then the grapes are soft pressed, the must is clarified, and the alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for at least six months in the tanks for the maturation process, selected yeast is added before the wine is bottled. The bottles are stored horizontally in piles for the long re-fermentation process and maturation at a controlled temperature, then remuage, disgorgement and liqueur d’expedition. The wine has hints of red fruit with a touch of hazelnuts and pomegranate.$24

 

 

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti Spumante 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 Regale “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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Banfi, Caprettone, Casa Setaro, Donna Chiara Winery, Durello, Falanghina, Gragnano, Lambrusco, Moscato d'Asti, Sparkling wine, Sparkling wine- Druello, Spumante

Sparkling Wines from the Mountains

The Istituto Trento DOC sponsored a tasting of old vintage sparkling wines from the Trentodoc region at the Nomad Rooftop.

Some of Italy’s best sparkling wines come from this area as well as some of the country’s finest Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines.

The Trentodoc wine area in Northern Italy is surrounded by the Dolomite Mountains. The vines there are trained mainly using the Trentino pergola system and are grown at an altitude of 200 to 800 meters. With global warming, this may be the only area where grapes can be planted higher up where the temperature is cooler.

The grapes used to make Trentodoc are Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero and Pinot Meunier. This is the only region where sparkling wines are produced in the mountains.

The grapes are harvested by hand and the base wine is aged slowly in the bottle on the lees for a minimum 15 months for a brut wine, to a minimum of 36 months for a riserva. The producers of all of the wines we tasted aged their wines far longer on the lees than the minimum allowed by law.

Giulio Ferrari was the first to produce high quality Metodo Classico sparkling wine in Trento in the early 20th Century. Trentodoc was the first official recognized Metodo Classico in Italy and among the first in the world. The Istituto Trento DOC was founded in 1984 and now represents 53 sparkling wine producers, and is the brand’s promoter. The symbol has two ‘0’s that resemble the bottom of a bottle being rotated, a distinction of sparkling Metodo Classico production.

The Wines

Trento DOC Moser 51,151 Brut (Deg 2014) made from 100% Chardonnay. The vineyards are mainly limestone and are between 300 and 600 meters, with a density of 2,500 to 4,000 vines per hectare. The training system is Pergola/Guyot. 80% of the wine is aged in stainless steel and 20% in large oak casks of 25HL for 6 months. The wine spends 30 months on the lees. Residual sugar 4.5 g/l. The name pays tribute to the cycling record Francesco Moser set in Mexico City in 1984.

Trento DOC Cantina D’isera 1907 Brut Riserva 2013 made from 100% Chardonnay grown on the hills of Isera. The soil is made of volcanic, fluvial and glacial deposit. The vineyards are at 500 to 600 meters and the training system is Pergola/Guyot. There are 4,500 to 6,000 vines per hectare. The wine spends all its time in stainless steel and remains on the lees for 60 months while the law requires only 36 months for a Riserva. This is a wine with hints of candied fruit, brioche and delicate mineral notes. Residual sugar 3.8g/l. This is a co-op with 150 members.

Trento DOC Revi Brut Millesimato 2010 (Disgorged in 2014) Made from 75% Chardonnay and 25% Pinot Noir. The vineyards are at 250 to 350 meters and soil is calcareous clay, medium textured stone. There are 4,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine spends 36 months on the lees, Residual sugar 6g/l. This is an elegant wine with nice fruity aromas and flavors and floral notes.

Trento DOC Rotari Flavio Brut Riserve 2010 made from 100% Chardonnay. The vineyards are at 650 meters and the soil is clayey and phorphyric. The training system is pergola. Aging is in stainless steel 60% and barriques 40% for 6 months. The wine spends 96 months on the lees. Only 3,000 bottles are produced. The wine has hints of apricot and peach with notes of brioche, white flowers and a touch of citrus. Residual sugar is 6.7g/l.

TrentoDOC Ferrari Perlé in magnum 2010 made from 100% organic Chardonnay from vineyards at 400 to 700 meters. The soil is loose not too deep made of volcanic and glacial deposits. There are 4,500 to 5,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 60 months. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of apple, almonds, and a touch of brioche. I was very impressed by this wine. Residual sugar 6g/l.

TrentoDOC Altemas iBrut Riserva Graal 2010 made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir from vineyards at 500 to 600 meters. Volcanic and glacial soils, the training system is pergola/guyot and there are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The wine spends 70 months on the lees. Aging is in stainless steel and barriques for about 6 months. This is a well-balanced wine with hints of apple, citrus and candied fruits with a note of brioche and good minerality.

TrentoDOC Endrizzi Masetto Prive 2009 Riserva Dosage Zero made from 100% Chardonnay from vineyards at 300 to 400 meters and the soil is dolomic, calcareous. The training system is espalier/guyot and there are 5,800 plants per hectare. The wine is aged in stainless steel and barriques with 9 months in French oak. The wine remains on the lees for 84 months. Only 1,500 bottles are produced. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, pastry and toasted bread with a mineral touch. Residual sugar is 6g/l.

TrentoDOC Madame Matris Brut Riserva 2009 Maso Martis made from 70% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir from vineyards at 450 meters. The soil is calcareous, rich in texture on red Trentino rock. The training system is Pergola and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. The Chardonnay is aged for 8 months in barriques and Pinot Noir and Pinot Menuier is stainless steel. The wine has hints of brioche, citrus fruit and white flowers with nice minerality. Only 2,680 bottles are produced. Residual sugar is 7.5.

TrentoDOC Monfort Brut Riserva 2008 Made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from vineyards at 400 to 700 Meters. The soil is glacial deposit soil, with a marly calcareous mineral content. The training system is espalier/guyot and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged 50% in steel and 50% in barriques. 50% of the Chardonnay spends 6 months in French oak. The wine has hints of bread crust and vanilla with citrus notes. Residual sugar is 8g/l.

TrentoDOC 976 Brut Riserva Del Fondatore 2008 Letrari made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay from vineyards at 450 meters. The soil is calcareous. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is pergola/guyot. 95% of the wines is aged in stainless steel and 5% in oak casks from 4 months. The wine spends 120 months on the lees. Only 3,000 bottles are produced. The wine has hints of brioche, vanilla, apple and hazelnut with a touch of spice. Residual sugar 6.4g/l

TrendoDOC Cesarini Sforza Aquila Reale Brut Riserva 2004 Discorged in 2012. Made from 100% Chardonnay from vineyards at 500 meters. The soil is full of debris, slightly calcareous, not very deep, loamy and well drained. The training system is simple pergola and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. The wine spends 60 months on the lees and 50% is aged in French oak barriques for 6 months. This is an elegant wine rich and complex with hints of candied fruit, brioche, nice minerality and a touch of sage. It was drinking very well for a wine of this age. Residual sugar 5.5g/l.

 

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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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