Category Archives: Sparkling wine

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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Filed under Mastroberardino, Nani Cope, Sparkling Benepop, Sparkling wine, Taurasi, The Leopard at des Artistis

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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Filed under Ferrari, Montefili, Rose, Sparkling wine, Spumante, Uncategorized

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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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

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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