I have attended a number of wine tasting webinars this past year or so and I understand that under the circumstances this was the only way it could be done. But I still prefer “live events,” so I was very happy when Michael Romano and Lars Leicht of Romano Brands invited me to taste their wine at Ribalta Restaurant. I have know both Michael and Lars for a number of years and was looking forward to seeing them and tasting the wines.
Baci al Sole Rosé Veneto IGT made from 40% Corvina, 40% Merlot and 20% Corvinone. After a gentle pressing, there is brief skin contact with the juice followed by temperature controlled fermentation, then by a brief passage in stainless steel. The wine has hints of honeydew melon, red berries and cherries. It is very light pink in color and it is one of the best Rosé wines I have tasted in a long time. It reminds me of some of the rosé wines I had when I was in Provence.
Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2019 “Tuvaoes” Cherchi made from 100% Vermentino di Sardegna from 117 hectares of vineyards planted with the Vermentino grapes at 200 meters. The grapes for this wine are a selection from the vineyards of Usini. The winery is in the northwest corner of Sardegna. The soil is limestone-clay. Pruning system is guyot. Harvest takes place the second week of September. There is a careful selection of grapes in the vineyard. The grapes are destemmed and crushed followed by a soft pressing. The must ferments in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of citrus, white fruit, grass, and tomato leaf with floral and mineral notes.
Michael Romano with a glass of Baci di Sole and the pala Pizza Margherita
Vino Bianco “Acini Perduti” Az. Agricola Tappero Merlo made from 70 % Malvasia Moscata and 30% Erbaluce. The soil is strongly acidic of morenic origin and composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The cultivation practices are organic and natural. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system in guyot. The vineyards are at 970 ft. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast in a 500 liter tonneau. The aging is on the lees always in tonneau for about 12 months with weekly battonage. At the end of maturation, it passes to a non invasive clarification and filtration with the utmost respect for the integrity of the wine. The wine remains in the bottle 4/6 months before release. The wine is delicately aromatic with hints of citrus fruit, pears and apples and notes of sage, lemon grass, slightly spiced with good minerality. A very interesting and impressive wine.
They also make 100% Erbaluce which was how I first discovered this producer.
Note: Domenico Tappero, a student of history and terroir, read 17th century accounts of grapes that disappeared from his native Canavese in Piedmont. One of these “lost” grapes was the Malvasia Moscata. It is mentioned in a 1660 essay, “The Excellence and Diversity” of the wines that are made in the Mountains of Turin by G. B. Croce. The Malvasia Moscata grape in the past was blended with Erbaluce to make a popular blend. While Erbaluce remained popular Malvasia Moscata was forgotten over the years until once again blended with Erbaluce by Tappero Merlo. “Acini Perduti” means Lost Berries
Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Cuvée Des Paladins” Brut Sparkling 2013. This sparkling wine is made from 100% Erbaluce with refermentation in the bottle (Classic Method). The wine is aged for 60 months on the lees. Soil is strongly acidic of morainic origin composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The vineyards are at 970/100ft. Harvest is in early September. Fermentation of the must is partly In steel and partly in very old barrels. The base wine is ready to become a sparkling wine in the spring following the harvest. The pied-de cuve (process using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wines) is prepared which starts the second fermentation in the bottle in a temperature controlled environment. After a slow passage over the pupitres (wooden frames for traditional riddling), the sparkling wine is ready for disgorgment which usually takes place in the spring. The wine rests for a few months and then is ready for release. The wine has hints of brioche, dried fruit, honey, and hazelnuts with citrus notes and complex minerality. This is the first time I tasted a sparkling wine made from Erbaluce di Caluso and I really liked it.
Note:The name of the wines comes from the 12 loyal knights of Charles the Great, who on Christmas Day in the year 800 was crowned by Pope Leo III “Emperor of the Romans” and the Holy Roman Empire was established. There is a legend that during this time Erbaluce might have come from the Rhone Valley into Canavese or vice versa thanks to the agrarian reforms of Charles the Great.
Chianti Colli Senesi 2017 “San Nicola” Az Agricola Campochiarenti, San Gimignano, Tuscany, made from 85 % Savgiovese and 15% Canaiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda and Mammolo. The exposure is south, south west along a hill at 180/230 meters. The soil is composed of silt and sand with a little clay. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins of 90hl at a controlled temperature with pumping over and delestage. Maceration lasts for 12/15 days in order to obtain the highest extraction of color from the skins. The wine is naturally clarified , without adding any chemical products. Aging is in 20hl oak barrels for at least 9 months. The wine is bottled and stored in the cellar until release. The wine has hints of red berries, spice, tobacco and a touch of jam with a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. This wine will age.
This wine reminds me of the old style Chianti, with all the local grapes and traditional fermentation and aging which I loved, but few producers make any more.
Pala Pizza Margherita with mozzarella, basil and whole tomatoes.
One of Ribalta’s specialties is the Pizza a Pala, pizza on a paddle, baked in an electric oven, which has aA light and extra crispy crust. It’s large enough for a family to share. My favorite at Ribalta is the Margherita, but there are several other varieties as well.