Tag Archives: Argillae Winery

Visiting Argillae Winery and Lunch in Orvieto

On the Hello, Grappa press tour in May, Michele and I visited the Bonollo Distillery in Tuscany. We had lunch with Giulia Di Cosimo, the daughter of the owner of the distillery. At lunch Giulia offered us wines from Argillae Winery, also owned by her family.

Giulia was getting married in two months and someone at the table suggested that Michele make a “Grappa Cake” for the wedding. Michele agreed and when we returned to NYC Michele contacted Giulia to discuss the cake.

When Guilia found out that we would be returning to Rome a few weeks later, she said we must visit the winery, which is just outside Orvieto. We decided to make spend an afternoon there.

As we stood on a hill with a view of Orvieto and the vineyards, Giulia told us about the Argillae estate. Argillae was established by Cavaliere del Lavoro Giuseppe Bonollo, her grandfather and founder of the biggest Italian Distillery, Bonollo, Spa. Today Giulia manages the Argillae estate.

Giulia

She said the estate covers an area of about 220 hectares between the hills of Allerone and Ficulle, northwest of the town of Orvieto. There are 38 hectares of vineyards. The soil is mostly clay (40%), limestone and rocks but what makes it unique she said is that the area was once covered with water and it contains a lot of fossils such as seashells from the Pilocene period. These fossils enrich the soil with mineral components, which pass into the wine.

The terroir is mostly clay-calcareous and Giulia said this type of soil stays cooler than other soils and works well in hot regions like Umbria. The clayey part retains the water and this helps the grapes during the dry season, while the calcareous part drains well, avoiding diseases caused by stagnation and humidity. Argillae in Latin means clay.

Giulia said that Argillae is a family winery with a clear focus on quality. They do everything they can to protect the environment; to her it is not a philosophy but a way of life. From the hill it was difficult to see the winery and Giulia’s house as they blended in with the surrounding countryside. All of the tanks in the winery are below ground.

Giulia explaining Primo D’Amfora to us

The Wine

Primo D’Amfora 2016 made from Grechetto di Orvietto Drupeggio (aka Canaiolo Bianco) and Malvasia (3% of the Malvasia is late harvest.) The 3 varieties are in 3 separate amphora with skin contact. After two weeks the wines go into stainless steel tanks where they are blended. Then the blended wine goes back into the amphora for another 8 months before it is bottled. Giulia said this is her project because she wanted to produce wine close to the way the ancient Etruscans did. This was the first vintage of the wine and she was waiting for the labels to arrive. This is a full-bodied wine with citrus aromas and flavors, nice minerality, good acidity with a pleasing aftertaste and a long finish.

It went very well with the food we were served.

Giulia took us to lunch at Da Carlo Trattoria In Orvieto.

The owner/chef is Carlo Alberto Cerrini and when I saw “una cucina semplice per persone semplice” written on the menu I knew I would like the restaurant. What even made it more interesting was that Carlo and Giulia are to be married next month!

Orvieto Classico Superiore DOC “Panata” made from 50% Grechetto, 20% Procanico and 30% Chardonnay. There are 4,000 wines per hectare for the Grechetto and Procanico, and for the Chardonnay 3,333 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest is by hand and takes place in September. The grape undergoes a brief cold maceration process to obtain the ideal extraction of the aromas and is then pressed very lightly. The musts ferment separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. A small potion of the Grechetto must is fermented and refined in oak barriques and everything is then blended together. The wine remains on the lees until it is bottled in March/April. This is a well structured, elegant wine with hints of yellow flowers, grapefruit, nice minerality and good acidity. Giulia said the wine is named for a medieval pitcher used for pouring wine and water traditional characterized by a prominent beak and decorated with animal, floral or mythological motifs.

Carlo sent us out an assortment of his dishes to taste. The first was a type of capocollo that had been sautéed until crispy and finished with balsamic vinegar.

Next we had two crostini, one topped with a chicken liver spread flavored with sweet wine and the other topped with a fava bean and fennel seed puree.

Umbria Rosso IGT “Vascellarus” made from 85% Montepulciano, and 15 Cabernet Sauvignon. The training method is guyot and there are 3,333 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand in October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed and there is a 25/30-day maceration period with frequent pumpovers on the skins, accompanied by several rack and return procedures. Alcoholic fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. The wine is aged in French barriques with racking on a regular basis, depending on the need. The wine remains in the bottle for another 8/12 months before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, spice, black pepper and vanilla notes.

Giulia said the Vascellari were medieval pottery and ceramic producers in Orvieto. The pieces mainly featured floral, animal and mythological motifs. As a tribute to the craftsman, the label of the bottle takes inspiration from one of the works and it displays the shape of a dragon. In the lower section there is depicted an ancient contract related to a selling of a group of ceramics.

To go with the Vascellarus, Carlo sent out plates of umbrichelli, a type of handmade local pasta similar to pici. It was sauced with pecorino cheese and guanciale.

This was followed by peposo, beef stewed with tomato, red wine and lots of black pepper.

The meal ended with cafè and the best Sambuca I ever tasted made by the Bonollo Distillary

We thanked Giulia and Carlo for a beautiful afternoon and wished them good luck on their upcoming nuptials.

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Discovering Argillae: Wine for Food

On the Hello Grappa press tour we visited the Bonollo Distillery, in Tuscany, to have a tour and then to taste their grappa.  After the tour of we were invited to lunch by Maria Carla Bonollo and her daughter Giulia Di Cosimo.

It was one on the few nice days and the view from the Piccola Trattoria Guastini in Torrita di Siena terrace was fantastic.

What we did not know but soon found out was that Giulia is involved with the Argillae Winery in Orvieto in Umbria and we were going to have her wines with lunch.

Giulia told us about the Argillae estate. Argillae was founded by Cavaliere del Lavoro Giuseppe Bonollo, founder of the biggest Italian Distillery, Bonollo, Spa. Today the Argillae estate is managed by his granddaughter Giulia.

Giulia

She said the estate covers an area of about 220 hectares between the hills of Allerone and Ficulle, northwest of the town of Orvieto. The soil is mostly clay, limestone and rocks but what makes it unique she said is that the area was once covered with water and it contains a lot of fossils such as seashells from the Pilocene period. These fossils enrich the soil with mineral components, which pass into the wine.

The terroir is mostly clay-calcareous and Giulia said this type of soil stays cooler than other soils and works well in hot regions like Umbria. The clayey part retains the water and this helps the grapes during the dry season, while the calcareous part drains well, avoiding diseases caused by stagnation and humidity. Argillae in Latin means clay.

They do everything they can to protect the environment; to her it is not a philosophy but a way of life.

The Wines

Tasting and drinking these wines was an unexpected pleasure. These are my kind of wines. All of the wines are vinified in stainless steel so that the natural aromas and flavors of the grape can be found in the wine. They are all excellent food wines and were perfect with the dishes we had for lunch.

Spumante Bianco Brut Metodo Charmat NV 100% Chardonnay from a careful selection of grapes from their own vineyards. The training system is guyot and there are 3,333 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place in August. The grapes undergo a brief maceration process and are lightly pressed. The must is vinified at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation is in autoclave (charmat method) and is followed by a few months refining on the lees to enhance its organoleptic properties. The wine remains in bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. This is an elegant wine with citrus notes, hints of peach and pineapple, good acidity and a long finish. Giulia spoke about how difficult it is to produce a Spumante and how, unlike other producers in the region, they produce it at the winery.

Tortino di Cipolla su Crema di Pecorino di Pienza — Our appetizer was a little onion tort on a bed of pecorino cheese sauce.

Umbria IGP Bianco 2017 made from 100% Grechetto The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before the wine is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and what Giulia referred to as the typical almond finish.

Orvieto DOC  2016 made from Grechetto, Procanico, Malvasia and Sauvignon Blanc. The training system is Guyot. For the Grechetto and Procanico there are 4,ooo vines per hectare and for the others 3,333 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in September. Each variety is vinified separately. The grapes are lightly pressed and the juice is racked and fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine remains on the lees until it is bottled in February/March. Giulia said she wished to pay homage to the regional tradition of Umbria by creating a fresh dry white wine with intense aromas of flowers, citrus and tropical fruit. The wine has nice mineral notes, good acidity and a refreshing finish.

Pici al Ragu Bianco di Chianina – Hand rolled spaghetti with a meat sauce made from the local Chianina beef.

Umbria Rosso IGT “ Sinuoso” 2017 means smooth or round. Made from 35% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon and 30% Montepulicano. The soil is clay-calcareous and the training system is guyot. There are 3,333 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place in October. After destemming and crushing there are 15 days maceration with regular must pump-over on the skins. Both the alcoholic fermentation and the malolactic fermentation are in stainless steel. The wine is subsequently fined for several months and is periodically racked with the addition of oxygen. The wine remains in bottle for 3/4 months before release. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry, black current and plum with a long finish.

Anatra al Fiori di Finocchio Selvatico con Sformatino di Zucchine — Roast duck with wild fennel served with baked zucchini

After lunch we went back to the Bonollo Distillery for a grappa tasting- it was a perfect afternoon.

 

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