Daniele Cernilli on The Importance of Territory

The importance of territory

by Daniele Cernilli 06/28/21 | 

Vigneti Montepulciano

Territorial subdivisions within appellations are a welcome development as long as these are accompanied by effective information campaigns for the public, otherwise they risk losing their relevance.

The new regulations adopted by Chianti Classico to establish Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive (UGA) – Additional Geographic Units, which are, in effect, municipal or territorial sub-appellations – are just the latest in a series of similar initiatives adopted by producers in the Langhe, Soave, Romagna, Bardolino or Montepulciano with Pievi, for example.

It is a positive trend, in my view, because it places the spotlight on the importance of a territory in a more precise and central way and, above all, it is not rhetorical but based on firm guidelines. If one considers that varietals can be cultivated in areas other than those of their origin or where they are traditionally grown, for example the French or “international” grapes that initially were only found in Burgundy, Bordeaux or the Loire, then it becomes quite evident that, fortunately, territories are immoveable and cannot be replicated by anyone elsewhere. All top quality wines derive their uniqueness from the territory they are from, their terroir. And this is a good thing and should continue to be so.

However, this entails adopting regulations that are shared, controllable and, above all, practical for all producers and consumers should be made aware of such an important commitment with a clear message. This is also because adding another term to a label means making it more difficult to decipher for those who need to understand it. Not everyone has a full understanding of geography and I believe few know where Vagliagli or Montefioralle are, what their different pedoclimatic conditions may be and how all this is recognizably expressed in their wines. And if this is the case in Italy, we can only imagine what it’s like in the United States or China.

Then again, if I were to ask you which is more north, Philadelphia or Baltimore, two important cities on the US east coast, I’m sure not many would know off the bat. And this is a relatively easy question. Things get a little more complicated when the question is which town in Barolo is home to the Villero vineyard. While it is true the situation is even more complicated in Burgundy or Moselle, there certain appellations have existed for centuries and have been impressed in the memories of generations of wine lovers.

In Italy, the recognition of more specific geographic indications is more recent and aside from adopting an UGA or MGA (Additional Geographic Mention), the need for campaigns to inform the public should not be underestimated because this would impair the efficiency of an operation that is and should be very important for Italian wine. 

I ofter post articles by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine because they are informative and to the point.

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Coco Pazzeria

Michele and I first met Ciro Verde many years ago when he had a pizza restaurant called “Da Ciro” on Lexington Avenue. The restaurant featured Ciro’s excellent thin crispy crust pizza.  At the time, we were writing our pizza book, “Pizza Any Way You Slice It” and I was working as the wine director at I Trulli Restaurant.  Michele and I asked Ciro to come to I Trulli and demonstrate his pizza making technique. Ciro learned to make pizza in Naples and he taught us several tricks. One of the highlights was his pizza stuffed with robiola cheese and drizzled with white truffle oil, which he claimed to have invented. We were happy to see that it is now the specialty of the house at Ciro’s recently opened restaurant, Coco Pazzeria, which he opened with the well-known restauranteur Pino Luongo.

Located on Spring Street in far western Soho, it is the first of two planned locations for Coco Pazzeria.  It’s a casual place, with tables spilling onto the sidewalk, comfortable booths, and Italian movies and soccer games showing on tv’s over the long bar.

IMG_5294 2Ciro Verde

IMG_5278We started with East Coast Oysters.  Oysters are a specialty here.  These were small and briny and very fresh.

IMG_5280Buzzetti — The menu described buzzetti as open faced mini calzoni.  There were several variations.  We tried the Bomba, stuffed with stracchino cheese, Bomba Calabrese (a spicy chili condiment), and mortadella.  Candied walnuts were an accompaniment.

IMG_5283We shared a Carciofi Crudi salad consisting of thinly sliced raw artichokes, arugula and shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.  It was lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil.

IMG_5285Pizza Margherita-tomato sauce, fiordilatte mozzarella and fresh basil.  Ciro’s pizzas are thin and crisp, which makes them seem very light.

IMG_5287Pizza Amatriciana had a spicy chunky tomato sauce, onions, guanciale, pecorino Romano.  The waitress offered us the house made spicy extra virgin olive oil to drizzle as a condiment, but we found the toppings to already have plenty of heat.

IMG_5288Time for dessert.  Tiramisu – Without a doubt, one of the best I have ever had.  Ciro devised the recipe himself and it is outstanding.

IMG_5291Ciro sent us this dessert, a sweet version of the aforementioned buzzetti, filled with ricotta and amarena cherries.

IMG_5292A good espresso.

When we went, the restaurant did not have their liquor license but expect to get it soon.  The service was friendly and professional and everything on the menu is $20 or under

IMG_5295Ciro with pizzaiolo Juan Pablo Andrade, his friend for 30 years.

The location we visited is in West Soho at 307 Spring St., New York, NY 10013, Telephone:  646 850 1003.

A second location is coming soon to the Upper East Side.

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Lunch with Tom and Tom

Tom Hyland, a friend and Chicago-based wine writer, was in NYC on business and we made a plan to meet for lunch. The last time I saw Tom was on a press trip to Campania a few years ago.  Since Tom had an afternoon flight back to Chicago, I picked Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, which by chance is close to the Queens Midtown Tunnel and on the way to the airport.  I also I invited Tom Maresca, a wine writer and mutual friend, to join us. IMG_5266

Tom Maresca and Tom Hyland finishing lunch. We had a great time talking about wine, food and the trips we were on together in Italy.

For starters, we shared Carpaccio di Polipo, octopus with fennel, orange and olives, Involtini alla Siciliana, thin sliced roast pork rolled around mozzarella and cured meats,  and Caponata, sweet and sour eggplant with olives, celery and almonds served with crostini.

IMG_5258Aurora Bianco 2019 Etna Bianco Superiore I Vigneti di Salvo Foti. Made from 90% Carricante and 10% Minella. The soil is volcanic and sandy. The vines were planted in 2010 and 2015 and the exposure is east. Wine clusters are directly pressed and left to settle for 30 hours. Natural fermentation takes between 15 to 20 days and the wine remains on the lees for one year. There is a light filtration at bottling. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, peach and a touch of flint. It will be even better with a little age.  Aurora means dawn in Italian but it is also the name of a butterfly on Etna that is in danger of extinction.

IMG_5260After the starters, we shared two pizzas.  The first was a Pizza Margherita tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.  The pizzas at Norma are light and airy.

IMG_5263Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore Current profile for the2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked in the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special air conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques (I do not think the 1985 was aged in barriques) and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release.

The 1985 is a complex full-bodied wine with hints of dried plum, red fruit jam a very nice after taste and a very long finish. I was happy to see it has aged so well.

IMG_5261 2Our second pizza was a Pizza Mortadella topped with mozzarella, pistachio pesto, mortadella and stracciatella.  An unusual combination, but one I enjoyed.

What a pleasure to get together with two old friends and enjoy a good lunch and wines once more.  It’s something I plan to do often in the coming months.

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Daniele Cernilli on the Perfect Wine

Perfect wine

by Daniele Cernilli 06/07/21 | AKA DOCTOR WINE
James-Suckling-e-Castello-Brolio-Chianti-Classico-Gran-Selezione-Ceni-Primo-2018

Knowing how to evaluate a wine in perspective, imagining what will foreseeably happen to that wine with the passing of time are indispensable skills to define its greatness, even by means of a score.

The famous American wine critic James Suckling has awarded a 100/100 rating to Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione CeniPrimo 2018.This was the first time a Chianti Classico has received the highest rating and is a further confirmation that Francesco Ricasoli, the estate’s current owner, is back on top in the area in terms of quality and this is totally in line with his family’s tradition.

It should be noted that by awarding this rating, James Suckling has defined this as a perfect wine, despite its youth. For sure he assumed a great responsibility by doing this but one of the tasks of a wine critic is to draw the attention of their followers to such wines en primeur. Among other things, Suckling is also a great expert in Bordeaux wine and for years has frequented the en primeur tastings that are organized every year there and that determine the value of certain vintages and wines which gives a heads up to sector operators so they can acquire the more prestigious wines before they come out on the market. Thus he has a vast experience in tasting very young wine and is able to properly evaluate them, almost wagering on the future.

But exactly what is a “perfect wine” and how does one define “perfection”? And how can you explain this to those who object that it is inappropriate to give such a high rating to a wine that could evolve and improve with aging? Tasting experience, the ability to imagine what will likely happen to a certain wine with age and skill in recognizing the organoleptic properties of the wine all contribute to being able to reasonably pick a winner. In the case of wine, and here I perfectly agree with Suckling, one can recognize a superstar early on.

The wine in question here is the result of a project involving the planting of the right Sangiovese clones and rootstocks for the composition of the soil of a specific vineyard. This is the third vintage of the wine to be produced, after 2016 and 2017 which were very good in their own right, and the harvest in 2018 was very favorable in the area of Brolio. From an organoleptic standpoint, the rapport between the particularly velvety and composed tannins, the typical acidity of the varietal and the excellent amount extracts in the body was truly outstanding from the start and was a clear indication of how this wine will very favorably mature over many years to come. Being able to understand and recognize this is the result of having a specific expertise in this type of wine and great tasting talent, both of which Suckling undoubtedly has.

I am, personally, very pleased with his verdict. Castello Brolio and its wines have played a fundamental role in the history of Chianti Classico and Italy as a whole. They can be considered the Chianti equivalent of the great Bordeaux Chateaux and in different eras have served as authentic reference points. Francesco Ricasoli has personally run the estate since 1993, with the technical collaboration of Carlo Ferrini, and he has restored the quality of the wines back to their previous, top level after the complicated years of the 1970s and ‘80s. The “cru” wines, CeniPrimo, Colledià and Roncicone, are all formidable and territorial wines that, in their own way, are “perfect”. And so, hats off to Francesco Ricasoli and also to James Suckling, who has recognized this and stuck his neck out, taking a risk but doing so with foresight and competence.

* * *

MY THOUGHTS: After reading this article I went back to look at my notes from a Chianti Classico tasting I went to last month with almost 300 wines. There were a few  Ricasoli wines, but not the the one mentioned in the article. I have not tasted that wine. It sells for around $80, and 6,000 bottles were produced.

Also, Eric Asimov’s article in the New York Times entitled “This Summer,Make It Chianti Classico”   is excellent and I am in complete agreement with what he has to say.


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Tasting Wine with Giuseppe Luisi

Last month I went to a Brunello event called “Finally Brunello” which featured 60 Brunellos from the 2016 vintage and a few reserves from the 2015 vintage.

One Brunello that I really liked at the tasting was the 2016 La Mannella from Cortonesi.  Giuseppe Luisi, the sales representative for the wine was there and we had a conversation. It turns out that I know his father very well because he represented many wines from Italy which I liked.  Giuseppe invited me and Michele to lunch to taste some of the wines he represents.  Giuseppe works for Quintessential: Importers/ Distributors.  Unfortunately, his father Franco could not make it as he left for Italy a few days before.

IMG_5103 2Langhe Arneis “UCAOS” 2019 Luca Bosio made from 100% Arneis The vineyards are located in the village of Canale at 200 to 400 meters. The average age of the vines is 20 years and their exposure is southwest. The soil is sandy and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare. After the harvest the must spends 24 hours at a low temperature with skin contact. The grapes are then pressed and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel tanks. The wine then remains on the lees for 5 months and 3 months in bottle before release. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, apricot and green apple with floral notes and a refreshing finish.

IMG_5102Barolo 2015 DOCG Luca Bosio made from 100% Nebbiolo. The cultivation area is Verduno and the vineyards are at 300/400 ft. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the training system is guyot. The average age of the vines is 50 years and the exposure is south and southwest. Skin maceration takes place over 15 days. The wine spends 36 months in Slavonian oak casks and then 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, licorice, and spice with notes of violets and roses. This was a very approachable Barolo and would be a good restaurant Barolo and would be a good restaurant wine.

IMG_5247Rosso di Montalcino 2018 Contonesi “ La Mannella” made from 100% Sangiovese. The La Mannella vineyards are located on the North and Southern sides of the town of Monalcino. This wine is produced from younger, grapes planted in a single vineyard, so it can be enjoyed be enjoyed after a few years. The soil is rocky clay and the trellis system is spurred cordon. There is a hand selection of the grapes and traditional vinification takes place. Fermentation occurs with maceration for 20 days is stainless steel vats. The wine is age for 10 months in 30HL large Slovenian casks. This wine could be drunk now but will last for at least another 8/9 years. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with a note of violets and a touch of spice.

IMG_5248Brunello di Montalcino “La Mannella” 2015 Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from the La Manella vineyards. The soil on the south side is sandy and rocky and the soil on the north side is clay with sand with good drainage. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the grapes and fermentation with maceration for 25 days in stainless steel tanks and Slavonian oak vats. The wine spends 36 months is large Slavonian oak casks. There are hints of red berries. blackberries spice, leather and a touch of cedar.

IMG_5249Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Riserva “La Manella” Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese. Only made in the best vintages and the best selection of grapes from the La Mannella vineyards. The soil is sandy and rocky with excellent exposure to the sun. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the hand picked grapes. Fermentation occurs with 25 days maceration in Slovenian oak vats. The wine is aged from 48 months in large Slovenian oak casks before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, blackberries, spice, leather, a touch of cedar and a note of almonds.

IMG_3338BrunelloBrunello di Montalcino 2016 La Mannella Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards north and southeast of Montalcino. The soil is clay and sandstone. The training system is spurred cordon. The wine is aged for about 36 months in 30 HL Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has intense aromas of red fruit with hints of blackberry, leather, cedar and a touch of bitter almond. It has a long lingering finish. I was very impressed by this Brunello.

Cortonesi is a very traditional winery and their wines will age well for many years. It was interesting to taste the 2015, 2015 Reserva and the 2016 Brunello from the same winery. The profile for the wines are basically the same. For me all three wines needed many more years and I would  be happy to drink all 3 at a later date and in the meantime drink their excellent Rosso.

2015 was a exceptional vintage in Brunello and was awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. But many wine writers, like Kerin O’Keefe, believe 2016 was a better vintage. For me they are both great vintages.

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Vernaccia and Carmignano with Doctor Wine

At a recent Zoom tasting at Il Gattopardo Restaurant, Dr. Wine, Daniele Cernilli, spoke about the wines of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and Carmignano.

IMG_5227Daniele Cernilli is the author of many books, including The Essential Guide to Italian Wine.

IMG_0506Picture of me andSpeaking with Nunzio Castaldo of Panebianco wines and Silvio Solari before the tasting at IL Gattopardo

VERNACCIA

San Gimignano is a Tuscan hill town southwest of Florence and gives its name to this white wine. Records show the wine has been produced since 1286. With the DOC classification in 1966 it was one of the first to receive the DOC and later received the DOCG. 

IMG_5146Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2020 Borgo “Alla Terra” Geografico made from 100% Vernaccia. Traditional white wine vinification and some aging in bottle before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, apple and pear with a note of almonds.

IMG_5147Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2020 Isola Bianca Teruzzi & Puthod made from 100% Vernaccia from different vineyards of the estate. Soils of Pilocene origin show the presence of clay. Grape skin maceration takes place in the press for one night, the day after the harvest. There is a cold settling of the must and alcoholic fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel. This is a fruit driven wine with hints of citrus fruits, honey, and floral notes, with a touch of fresh almonds and good minerality and acidity. The wine is aged exclusively in stainless steel barrels for 4 to 5 months at a controlled temperature.

IMG_5148Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2018 Campo della Pieve IL Colombaio di Santa Chiara made from 100% Vernaccia. The 1.5-hectare vineyard is at 360 to 400 meters and there are 5,500 vines per hectare. The soil is old Pilocene, which is sand and clay, and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest by hand is the end of September and beginning of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts at a controlled temperature. Maturation is on the lees in cement vats with periodic batonnage for 18/20 months. This is a complex and aromatic wine with hints of ripe yellow stone fruit, citrus, white flowers and toasted almonds and a very nice finish. The winery is organic.

IMG_5149Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2017 Riserva Cesani made from 100% Vernaccia. The exposure is Southeast and the vineyard is at 250 to 300 meters. The soil is sandy limestone with marine deposits from the Pilocene period and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is the last week of September and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for one year in stainless steel vats. The wine is bottled the August after the harvest. The wine remains in the bottle for one and one half years before release.

IMG_5150Vernaccia di San Gimignano 2015 Riserva Panizzi made from 100% Vernaccia from the Santa Margherita Vineyard. Harvest is the second half of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and alcoholic fermentation is in barriques 50% and stainless steel 50% at a controlled temperature. They are aged in barriques and stainless steel for 4 to 5 months at a controlled temperature. They are blended together and then bottled. The wine has hints of vanilla, floral notes, grapefruit and pineapple undertones and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

CARMIGNANO

Carmignano wines have a long history but in the 1960’s when the Italians started to regulate their wines it was absorbed into “Chianti” and sold as Chianti Montalbano. It was not until 1975 that it was given its own DOC, (retroactive to 1969) and Carmignano Wine became DOCG in 1990. The wine gets its name from the village of Carmignano, which is 12 miles from Florence.

IMG_5151Carmignano 2017 Poggilarca made from Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The soil is silt and sand with a good percentage of clay. Training system is guyot in the older vineyard and cordon spur in all others. The altitude is 130 meters. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. Maturation is for 18/20 days with frequent pumping over the skins. Half of the wine is aged in 30HL and 50HL Slavonian oak barrels and the rest in barriques for a minimum of 10 months and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco and spice with a vanilla sensation.

IMG_5152Carmignano Riserva 2017 Piaggia made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc and 10% Merlot. The soil is medium textured with clay and galestro. The vineyards are at 250 meters, the training system is guyot and the exposure is southwest. There are 6,250 vines per hectare. There is a careful selection of grapes. Fermentation is carried out without selected yeasts. Skin contact is from 18 /25 to 28 days depending on the variety during which punching down and pumping over take place. Malolactic fermentation is in Franck oak barriques and the wine remains here for 18 months. The wine is racked a few times to make it ready to be bottled. Filtration or clarification does not take place. The wine remains in bottle for 6 months before release. There are hints of ripe fruit, chocolate and sweet spice in the wine.

IMG_5153Carmignano 2016 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the wines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd and 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red berries, violets with a note of blueberries and a touch of I have a long history with this estate going back 40 years. This is a wine that can age. In 1985 I had the 1925 which at the time was labeled Chianti Montalbano.

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Pass the 1832 Madeira, My Dear

In December of 2019 our pizza group, know as the G6, was enjoying pizza and wine at Keste Vino and Pizza.  Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, said he had an old Madeira from 1832 and that he would bring it to our next meeting. Little did we know that it would be 18 months before we could meet again.  Ed wanted to keep the number of guests to 6, and Michele offered to prepare a simple meal.

As always with Ed, we started with Champagne.

IMG_5172Amour de Deutz 2006 Brut Deutz Blanc de Blancs in magnum. Made from 100% Chardonnay from Les Menil-sur-Oger, Avize and Villers-Marmery. The wine has hints of strawberry, citrus and spice a touch of ginger and an undertone of brioche.

IMG_5170To accompany the Champagne, we had a Shrimp Pate with Chives

IMG_5188Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rose 1996 Taittinger made from 100% Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the Cotes des Blancs and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Riems. Only juice from the first pressing is used and 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as a still wine. The wine has hints of strawberries, cherry, black currants, almonds and licorice with a undertone of brioche

IMG_5177For a first course, we had Smoked Salmon Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Dressing and chopped egg, from Michele’s book, The Antipasto Table.

IMG_5187Brunello di Montalcino 1997 Conti Costanti made from 100% Sangiovese. The Consorzio gave 1997 a five star rating. The harvest was in mid September. The vineyards are at 310 to 4,400 meters and the age of the vines is from 6 to 25 years old. The soil is geologically galestro and there are 3,333 to 5,100 plants per hectare. Exposure is southwest. Fermentation takes place on the skins from 14 to 21 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in 30HL barrels for 3 to 5 years and in tonneaux. The wine has hints of berries, plums, violets and spice. This is a very impressive Brunello and will last for many more years.

IMG_5179 2Baked Polenta with Parmigiano-Reggiano

IMG_5178Chicken with Herbs and White Wine

IMG_5181 2The plate

IMG_5186Terrantez Madeira Special Reserve 1832 Oscar Acciaioly Medium Sweet made from the Terrantez grape. I do not have the words to describe this wine and all I can say is it is in a league all its own.  I have never tasted anything quite like it before and I will remember it always.

IMG_5182 2With it we had some hard cheese, nuts and dried fruit

IMG_5184Cookies made by Michele finished the meal.

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Chianti Classico Connection

Last week, I attended a tasting called The Chianti Connection sponsored by the Chianti Classico Consortium where I was able to taste dozens (out of hundreds) of Chianti wines.  After the event I felt more connected to Chianti Classico than ever before, which was perfect, since if all goes as planned I will be in Tuscany in October and look forward to drinking many bottles of Chianti Classico.

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The Symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium

There were 235 Chianti Classico–Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione from 2019 back to 2012, 7 Vin Santo Chianti Classico and even Olio DOP Chianti Classico. It was a two-day event but I could only attend on one. I had my place for two hours and I would pick four wines at a time from the list and they would be poured into my glass.  It was all done via smartphone, except the pouring.  Here are my thoughts on a few of those I tasted.

IMG_5160Chianti Classico: The Territory

IMG_5164The Quality Pyramid-producers must declare in advance if it is Chianti Classico Annata, Riserva or Gran Selezione

IMG_5168Chianti Classico must be made from 80% and 100% Sangiovese and up to 20% other permitted red grapes both indigenous and international.

The Wines

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Chianti Classico 2019 Lilliano made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch-downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis. I recently rediscovered Lilliano when I was in Rome last time and was reminded how good it can be.

IMG_5063Chianti Classico 2019 Bibbiano made from 100% Sangiovese The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets. 

IMG_5064Chianti Classico 2019 Volpaia Made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2.564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in Slavonian casks for 12 months. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint and a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Chianti Classico can age I had the 2004 Volpaia at a friend’s house just after the tasting and it was in perfect condition and not yet at its peak.

IMG_5065Chianti Classico 2019 “Brolio” Ricasoli made from Sangiovese. The vineyards are 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 violets.

IMG_5078Chianti Classico 2019 Banfi made from mostly Sangiovese and small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. Fermentation takes place with traditional skin contact of 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged for a short time in large casks of French oak. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherries, plums and violets with a note of leather.

IMG_5089Chianti Classico 2019 “Storia di Famiglia” Cecchi Made from 90 % Sangiovese, 5 % Colorino and 5% Canaiolo The vineyards are at 259 meters and the soil is middle dough ,alkaline and stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is traditional red wine fermentation at a controlled temperature. Fermentation and maceration for 18 days. The wine is aged in bottle for s minimum of 2 months This is a wine with hints of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries a touch of spice and a hint of pine.  Always one of my favorites.

IMG_5100Chianti Classico 2019 Riecine made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone and clay and the vineyard is at 450/500 meters and is certified organic by ICEA. The vines are 25 years old. Harvest is by hand in September and October with a selection of graprs and in the cellar. The grapes are separated by plot, crushed and fermented in open concrete Nomboly tanks. Maceration is for 10 days and pressed off. Aging is in old tonneaux and big Grenier casks. The wine was bottled in January 2021.  This is a fruit-driven, elegant, medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, roses, eucalyptus and a touch of violet.

IMG_5072 2Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The wine is vinified in temperature controlled conical steel vats. Delestage and pumping over for about 20 to 22 days. The wine is aged in 500 liter oak barrels, partly new and partly second hand for 18 to 20 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and blueberries with a hint of violets. Monsanto is located in the western-central area of the Chianti Classico region in the municipality of Barberino Tavarnelle. I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.

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Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2018 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico for many years.

IMG_5079Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 Castello di Meleto made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and southwest exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vats. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly.

IMG_5090Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2001 Castello di Meleto 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla.

There was an incredible amount of Chianti Classico to taste but I could only sample a fraction of them.  Chianti Classico has always been one of my favorite wines and I am happy to report that I liked all the wines I tasted.

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Filed under Badia a Coltibuono, Banfi, Bibbiano, Brolio Chianti Classico, Castello di Meleto, Cecchi, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Monsanto, Riecine, Vin Santo, Volpaia

Dinner with Tom and Diane

It is always a pleasure to be invited to the home of Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow for dinner.  We began with Champagne.

IIMG_5112Champagne “Elegance” Vincent Couche NV made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20 % Chardonnay from 13 hectares in the Cote des Bar. The soil is clay and limestone. The Couche family picks the grapes by taste and touch. Harvest is a week later than most. Vincent Couche farms biodynamically, uses native yeast and does not add sulfur. The wine spent 5 years on the lees. This has a 2g/L dosage-the wine lets them know how much to add. The wine has hints of raspberry, red apple and a toasty richness.

With the Champagne we had

IMG_5110 2Chicken Liver Crostini

IMG_5113At the table, our first wine was:

Terre Alte Collio Orientali del Friuli  2007 Livio Felluga a blend of estate grown grapes: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in the Rosazzo zone. The soil is marl and sandstone and the training system is guyot. The bunches of grapes are carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period of time before crushing. The must is then allowed to settle. Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small casks of French (no new oak is used) oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon mature in stainless steel tanks. After aging for ten months the wines are blended. The bottled wine is aged in temperature controlled binning cellars for 9 months before release. The wine has a touch of sage, hints of pear, and apricot and peach and fresh almonds.

IMG_5117 copyHomemade Trenette Pasta with Peas and Prosciutto, a perfect springtime pasta.

IMG_5118Barbaresco 2004 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo from various vineyards in the DOCG zone. The soil is limestone and clay, rich in calcium with sandy veins. Vinification in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is 30 days of skin contact and pumping over 2 to 3 times a day. The wine is aged for two years i large oak barrels. The wine has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice. It was showing very well and will age for a number of years. .Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy.

IMG_5121Rolled and Stuffed Flank Steak with zucchini and potatoes.  The roulade had a savory sauce, which should have been included in the photograph.  

IMG_5122Chianti Classico 2004 Volpaia made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot- vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2,564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in Slavonian casks for 12 months. A few days before I had the 2019 vintage of this wine at the Classico Classico Connection a tasting of almost 300 Chianti Classico. When I tasted the wine I knew it could age and the 2004 proves it. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint, a touch of licorice and a note of violets.

 

IMG_5124We finished the wine with some lovely cheeses

IMG_5127 3Dessert was a delicious apple cake with Panna Cotta Gelato.

IMG_5128Tom always has a large selection of Grappa and this is one of my favorites Grappa Marolo “Dedicata Al Padre” Made from several grape pomances from the Roero hills and rests in stainless steel. It is crystal clear, full bodied, warm flavored- it other words it is GRAPPA

 

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“Finally Brunello” and the Wine Media Guild

The “Finally Brunello” Tour, conducted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino, included 3 events this year at Il Gattopardo Restaurant and I was able to attend all three.  Members of the Wine Media Guild were invited to the latest one, which included a tasting followed by lunch.IMG_4748

At the tasting luncheon, there were over 60 wines. Most were from the 2016 vintage, though a few were from the 2015 (also an excellent vintage) and there was a Rosso di Montalcino or two from the 2018 vintage.

The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is an epic vintage. A balanced summer and autumn gave the grapes perfect ripeness. The right rains and temperatures never too high made this year one of the most important ever. I am paraphrasing one of the producers and it seems like both producers and wine writers were saying the same thing.

For more information on Brunello see: Finally Brunello

IMG_5035Banfi 2015 Poggio all’Oro Riserva made from 100% Sangiovese and only produced in great vintages. The soil is brown clay silt sediments with stones and pebbles of Calcareous origin, well structured and well drained. There is a trellising system, spurred cordon, and there are 2,100 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in temperature controlled hybrid French oak and stainless steel tanks. 70% of the wine is aged in French oak casks 60 to 90 HL and 30% in French barriques 350L for two years and 6 months. This is an elegant and complex Brunello with hints of licorice, plum, tobacco and a note of violets.

IMG_5037Capanna Riserva 2015 made from 100% Sanviovese. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is south/east. The vines are 25- 32 years old and there are 3,300 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand from the last week of September to the first week o October. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in oak vats at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months is Slavonia oak barrels of 10/25 HL. The wine remains in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with a balsamic note. I drank this wine with lunch.

IMG_5032Argiano 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clay with a high level of limestone and the vines are 12 to 55 years old. The training system is spurred cordon, organic, small quantity of grapes per vine. Harvest took place during the month of September. The grapes are cold soaked prior to fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place over two weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in cement tanks. The wine is aged for about 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels of 10/15/30/50HL. The wine is bottled in April/May during the most favorable moon phases. There is a long bottle aging before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, notes of aromatic herbs and a touch of spice.

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Carpineto 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the vineyard is at 500 meters. The sedimentary soil has a galestro frame with clay accumulations dating back to the Eocene era–15 million years ago. There is a medium length steeping on the skins with temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is aged in big barrels for 3 years and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.

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Castello Romitorio 2016 Made from 100% Sangiovese. Vine Training is spurred cordon. The grapes are carefully selected by hand on the sorting table both before and after destemming. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with an initial time of short maceration on the skins of 15 to 20 hours. This is followed by up to 24 days of maceration at a higher controlled temperature. Separation of the skins from the must starts around day 22 once the fermentation has finished. Once the must is obtained natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur. The wine ages in oak for about 24 months and then in bottle for about 12 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, pomegranate with a touch of leather and a note of herbs.

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Col D’ Orcia 2016 on the Sant’Angelo hill over looking the Orcia river facing south-south west at 300 meters. Particular clones of Sangiovese are used. Manual harvest with grape selection both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Fermentation is on the skins for about 18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 HL wide and shallow stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 3 years in 25-50 and 75 HL oak casks from Slavonia and Allier and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of small ripe fruit, and plum jam with toasted and vanilla notes.

IMG_5033Castel Giocondo 2016 (Frescobaldi). Made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is galestro, clay and Pleocene sands. Manual harvest takes place with a careful selection of the grapes in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with frequent pump-overs, during the early stages. The wine was aged in wood containers. The wine is released after five years, which includes some time in the bottle. The wine has hints of ripe red berries and floral notes with spice and balsamic undertones.

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La Gerla 2016 made from Sangiovese-Brunello biotype. The vines are 25 years old and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a manual sorting of the bunches and berries in the cellar. The bunches are destemmed and the is a soft pressing of the grapes. There is prefermentative cryomaceration. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins for about 15 days. Aging is for 24 to 36 months in oak barrels- 50 to 100HL with 2 decanting per year. The wine is in bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco, leather, and cinnamon and notes of violets and iris.

IMG_5040Le Chiuse 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso The grapes were hand harvested the last week of September. By gravity, the grapes, which had been destalked and softly crushed, went into thermo controlled steel tanks. Fermentation using natural yeasts and maceration lasted for 22 days. The wine went into steel tanks and then in the spring into 20HL Slavonian oak barrels for 26 months. Then the wine was reassembled into large steel tanks and bottled in March 2020. The wine has hints of small fruits, blueberry, black currant and cherry with notes of spice and violet.

IMG_5050Palazzo 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese grosso. The estate is in the southeast area of Montalcino at 320 meters. The soil is mostly galestro (marl), some small areas are sandstone rocks and clay with skeletal layers. The vines are 36 years old. The grapes are hand harvested the first two weeks of October and sorted in the winery. Vinification is in concrete tanks. Spontaneous fermentation takes place without adding yeast. Maceration lasts for 24 days with delicate pumping over, all taking place under temperature control. Aging is for 40 months in Slavonian oak of 5 to 10HL and another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berry fruits, walnuts and spice with balsamic and floral notes.

IMG_5030Poggio Antico 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The average elevation is 480 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is rocky and calcareous. Harvest was from September 27 to October 12. Fermentation is for 8 to 10 days followed by 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged for 30 months in 40 HL Slavonian oak casks followed by 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints geranium.

IMG_5043These are big wines, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to taste some of them with our meal.  For starters, we had Crostini of sauteed Chicken Livers with Vin Santo, Rice Balls filled with Ragu and Peas and Escarole Pie.

IMG_5047The first course was homemade ravioli with ricotta and eggplant filling and tomato and tomato sauce.

IMG_5048Grilled Rack of Lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach was the main course.IMG_5045

One of the wines I drank with lunch was the Rosso di Montalcino Collemattoni 2018. I recommend you drink the Rosso while waiting for the Brunello to be ready. Both the 2016 and the 2015 will need at least 10 before they are ready to drink.

IMG_5051The dessert was a Fruit and Cream-filled Tart with Almond Gelato.

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