Category Archives: Tuscany

The Wines of Castello del Terriccio

 

I was looking forward to once again tasting the wines of Castello del Terriccio and meeting the owner Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana. At dinner, I made sure to sit next to him and found him to be very charming, knowledgeable about his wines and easy to speak with.

Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana

Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana

His family came to Italy 800 years ago when his noble ancestors followed the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Swabians. The family has held vineyards and farmland since 1271.

Gian Annibale inherited the winery in 1975 and took it in a new direction concentrating on making top quality wines.

At the time he was a passionate equestrian competing in international events. A riding accident brought this pastime to an abrupt end when his horse fell and rolled over him, leaving him without the use of his legs. He still manages the estate and drives his jeep over the estate to oversee the agriculture work.

The winery is located in the Maremma, south of Livorno in the region of Tuscany. There are 60 hectares of vineyards. Gian Anniable said the property allowed the vines to be planted in a leopard spot pattern on the most favorable plots, on the basis of the quality of the soil, dew point, exposure to the sea breezes and the light. The vineyards are facing the sea and therefore receive reflected light, with more exposure compared to areas lighted directly by the sun.

He said they are always trying to improve the wine and now use a lighter “toast” for their barrels.

The Winesimg_1688

Castello del Terriccio Toscana IGT made from a 50% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot and 25% other red varieties. The vineyards are at 150 meters and the exposure is south/south west. There are 5,600 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is by hand from September 12th to 29th. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 18 days. Malolactic fermentation is for 4 weeks. The wine is bottled in June. The wine has hints of violets, blackberries, black currants and chocolate.

Gian Annibale said the three roses on the label represent the rose bushes once found in abundance around the ancient castle. We tasted the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages.img_1685

Tassinaia Toscana IGT made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. The vineyards are at 100 meters and there are 5,600 plants per hectare. The grapes come from 37.5 acres of vineyards with sandy, stony soil and a moderating maritime climate characterized by a long ripening season. He said that the two green segments on the label symbolize the grasslands of Terriccio. Harvest is between August 28th and September 9th. Fermentation: The destemmed grapes were left on the skins for 24 hours with a dry ice covering and gently pressed. 50% of the wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats at controlled temperature and the rest was fermented is second hand oak barrels with malolactic fermentation. The wine ages on the lees for 6 months and is bottled in July. This is a well-structured wine with hints of blackberries, black currents, tobacco and a touch of cedar. We tasted the 2010 and 2013 vintages.img_1681

Lupicaia made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Starting in 2010 the blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are at 120 meters and the exposure is south/south west. The soil is mostly limestone. There are 3,600 to 4,200 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are picked by hand starting on September 6th for the merlot and from September 21 for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature: 16 days for the Merlot and Petit Verdot and 20 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged separately in French barriques for 18 to 24 months. This is a complex wine, it has hints of black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant, with a touch of spice and chocolate.

We tasted wines from the 2004, 2006 and 2010 vintages

He said the two characteristic red-brown segments on the label symbolize the typical red color of the soil. He referred to the Lupicaia as his Super Tuscan.

The name of the wine comes from the area where the grapes are planted which was a favorite hunting grounds for the wolves that once roamed in the area.

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Filed under Castello del Terriccio, Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana, Italian Red Wine, Lupicaia, Tassinaia, Tuscany

Lunch with Barone Ricasoli at IL Gattopardo

One of my favorite Italian restaurants in NYC is Il Gattopardo (The Leopard). Gianfranco Sorrentino is a most gracious host and Chef Vito Gnazzo always prepares a memorable meal.  Recently, I met Barone Francesco Ricasoli for lunch there.IMG_7693

The name Ricasoli has been tied to Chianti from the 19th century when Bettino, known as “the Iron Baron,” developed the blend for Chianti . Francesco is the great grandson of the Iron Baron. The family traces its involvement in wine back to 1141 and theirs is one of the oldest wine estates in the world.

Barone Francesco Ricasoli

Barone Francesco Ricasoli

250 hectares of vineyards surround the castle of the estate which is the largest in Chianti Classico. The 1,200 hectares between the villages of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga include valleys, oak and chestnut woods, and 26 hectares of olive groves.

Francesco took over the running of the family estate in 1993 when he bought back the Castello di Brolio from the British company that it had been sold to. With the  collaboration of universities and a key scientific research center, he began to look more closely at his estate and what he could do to improve it.

The Soil

 

The Wines

Brolio Bianco 2013 Made from Chardonnay, Trebbiano and Malvasia. Cold maceration at 5°C for 6-8 hours without oxygen. Fermentation in stainless steel at extremely low temperature 12/16°C. (53.6°-60.8°F). Trebbiano, Malvasia and part of the Chardonnay ages in 500-litre French barrels (first and second use). Sauvignon Blanc and the rest of the Chardonnay are vinified in stainless steel. The bouquet is delicate, fragrant and slightly fruity with floral notes. Dry, smooth taste, pleasantly fruity with an underlying note of almonds. $25IMG_7683

Francesco wanted to find out what the best clones of Sangiovese are, what is the best soil for that specific clone, and what is the best wood for it to be aged in. Beginning in 1995 the ancient Brolio vineyards were gradually being replanted. Francesco started a research project to study and select biotypes of Sangiovese and other typical Chianti varieties. In 2005, 12 were identified, considered to be the best with the most potential for the purpose of selection, and good candidates to become new clones together with those already officially recognized. Three years later, the rootings obtained from these clones were planted.  Francesco told me that there was an independent institute working with the clones and trying to have them certified by the Ministry of Agriculture. He added that all the grapes were picked by hand.

Terroir has a most important role to play. They are making a map containing all the data for each vineyard: physical-chemical composition, elevation, sun exposure and micro-climate to select the most suitable rootstock, the appropriate variety to plant, and the best row orientation. This has become known as the Cru project. Three of the wines involved at the moment are Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico DOCG, Casalferro IGT and Colledila Chianti Classico DOCG.  In 2002 they introduced stainless steel for vinification. Francesco said that because the estate is so large they can have single vineyard cru wines like they do in Piedmont.IMG_7691

Brolio Chianti Classico 2012 Sangiovese and other complementary  grapes from the estates, vineyards in Gaiole in Chianti which are at 280 t0 480 meters. Vinified in stainless steel with 16 days of skin contact and 9 months in large barrels and barriques. The wine has fruity black cherry aromas and flavors with hints of spice and violet. $23 Francesco said the 2012 was a poor vintage for Chianti Classico and as a result almost all of the grapes, even those intended for the cru wines, went into this wine. It has floral notes of violets, with hints of black cherry and spice. $24IMG_7694

This was served with a Tuscan classic caciucco di ceci alla toscanaIMG_7686

Colledila Chianti Classico 2010–100% Sangiovese.  Francesco said  2010 was a great vintage for the Chianti Classico region.  The vineyard is at an elevation of 380 meters and faces southwest. He felt that this was the most beautiful and representative part of the estate. It is a single vineyard which Francesco referred to as a cru because it is the right combination of Sangiovese clone in the right soil which gives you the best grapes. The wine has hints of black cherry and strawberry and a touch of vanilla. N/AIMG_7696

With this we had the pappardella con sugo di lepre

The land is Paleocene-Eocene in origin and forms part of the geological formation “Monte Morello.”  The soil is brown with a fine clay structure, very chalky, with subalkaline pH and little organic material. It is well drained and very stony. The grapes are destemmed and fall by gravity into special fermentation vats with a conical shape that are open at the top. During the alcoholic fermentation and the maceration period, a soft pressing is carried out between 2 and 6 times a day as well as the delestage. The maceration on the skins is between 5-9 days in stainless steel vats. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel vats. Francesco went on to say that the wine is aged in new barrels and casks for 18 months.

Francesco made a point of saying that the choice of wood used is the result of experiments using 20 different types of the best French oak from different geographical areas (Vosges, Troncais, Nevers, Allier, and Limousin) with medium and medium-plus toasting levels and standard to tighter grains. He also said that they use many different size barrels.

Because of all of this, he felt that this wine was the top expression of Sangiovese at Brolio and that the aroma is so specific, intense and typical that it could not be confused with any other wine.

 

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Casalferro IGT 2010 100% Merlot.  The vineyard is at 400 meters and faces south. Each small plot in the vineyard is vinified separately. The grapes are vinified in open fermentation tanks. Thermo-regulated fermentation takes about 9 days during which soft pressing and the delestage are carried out. The wine in aged in new oak barrels 90% French and 10% American for 18 months. $65

He said that in this particular terroir the Merlot “is “Sangiovized” meaning that in this harsh but generous territory it takes on sangiovese-like qualities.  Because of this for the first time the wine is 100% Merlot.

Francesco added that he did not consider this wine a Super Tuscan, in fact he felt the time of the Super Tuscans had passed–it was a wine of the 1990’s. I could not have agreed with him more but for me it did not pass soon enough.IMG_7687

Brunello di Montalcino 2009 ” Torre Della Trappola” 100% Sangiovese The wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature with 23 to 30 days skin contact. It is aged for 12 month in French oak and 14 months in Slavonian oak. It rests in the bottle for 6 more months before release. This is a Brunello with hints of cherries and spice and a touch of licorice with a nice finish and long aftertaste. $75IMG_7697

With the wine we had the  arista di maiale alla fiorentina con patate al forno

Frencesco said that the wine is named after a property which belonged to the Ricasoli family in 1329. This Brunello di Momtalcino represents their  first concrete example of diversification into other important areas of Tuscany. The wine was made with the cooperation of Castello Romitorio and the direct involvement of their wine maker Carlo Ferrini. The first vintage was 2009.IMG_7688

 Castello di Brolio Chianti Classico 2010 Sangiovese with a small amount of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Grapes come from the best 230 acres of vineyards at 250 to 450 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. Vinification in stainless steel tanks with 7-9 days of skin contact and 18 months in barriques and new casks. The wine has aromas and flavors of black cherry, blueberries and a nice finish and long aftertaste. $65

This was served with an assortimento di formaggio con mostarda di frutta.

 

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Filed under Barone Ricasoli, Brolio Bianco, Brolio Chianti Classico, Brunello, Brunello Torre della Trappola, Casalferro, Castello di Brolio, Chianti Classico, Colledia, Tuscany

Of Ploughs and Brunello in Montalcino

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

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

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

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

The Wines of Silvio Nardi at Aldea Restaurant NYC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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