Tag Archives: Barolo

Barolo and Pizza at La Pizza Fresca

One of my favorite Barolo and pizza memories is from 1985.  Michele and I visited Alfredo and Luciana Currado, owners of the Vietti winery with Mary Ewing Mulligan MW and Ed McCarthy. A Neapolitan man had opened a pizzeria a few doors away from their winery and they wanted us to try it.  Their whole family joined us.  The pizza was very good especially the one made with Fontina Val D’Aosta cheese and porcini mushrooms.  Alfredo brought a magnum of 1961 Barolo and he very proudly told us that this was the first wine that he had made.  The wine was great with the pizza.  From then on, I was hooked on pizza and Barolo.IMG_4540

Just before Christmas, Brad Bonnewell, owner of La Pizza Fresca in NYC, inviting me to a Barolo and pizza dinner a few days after Christmas and I had to accept. IMG_4543

With the pizza there were two flights of Barolo, five from the 1997 vintage and five from the 1998 vintage.  It was a blind tasting.

The Vintage

Some wine writers called the 1997 vintage Barolo “The Vintage of the Century”.  It was given ratings in the high 90’s by the better- know wine writers. It was also rated a five star vintage.

1998 did not get the same recognition or hype, though some rated it 4 stars. The 1997’s that we tasted were more fruit forward, riper, and richer with less acidity.  It seemed that they should be drunk before the 1998.

The 1998’s were subtler and with more of the tar, leather, tea and faded rose aromas that I like, so we drank the 1997’s first.

On another vintage note I would drink the 1997’s and 1998’s before the 1996’s, which I believe, is a great vintage like 1989.

1997 Vintage

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Barolo – Bartolo Mascarello 100% Nebbiolo from 3 hectares of vineyards: Cannubi 1.5, Lorenzo 0.3, Rue 0.5 in the commune of Barolo and Rocche 1.2 in the commune of La Morra. The vineyards are between 3 and 50 years old. This is the most traditional producer of Barolo and it is a classic old style wine. The Barolo is a blend of all the vineyards, the way it was done in the past before the other producers took up the “French Cru” designation. I have had these wines a number of times and they are usually among my favorites, however this night they were not showing well. The two bottles we opened might have been slightly corked, hiding the aroma and flavors of the wine. Brad said he had a case of the wine and the others he had opened had the same problem.

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Langhe Nebbiolo ConteisaAngelo Gaja.   Mostly Nebbiolo with a little Barbera. Fermentation is on the skins in stainless steel tanks for 3 weeks. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months followed by 12 months in large oak barrels. This is a well-made wine with less vanilla, oak aromas and flavors then I remember. Still, it is a little too modern for me.

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Barolo Grand Bussia Riserva – Aldo Conterno Nebbiolo: Michel and Lampia varieties. Grapes come from 3 different vineyards (Bussia, Monforte d’Alba). The grapes are hand harvested. The must remains in contact with the skins for 60 days, during which the alcoholic fermentation is fully completed. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak casks for 32 months. The wine remains in the cellar for at least 8 years before release. Only in the best vintages is this wine made. I have not tasted this wine in a long time and it was showing very well with all the true Nebbiolo characteristics.

Barolo Cascina Francia – Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. This is classic, traditional Barolo at its best.

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Barolo – Parussi 100% Nebbiolo.  The grapes come from Monforte d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto. There are 5,000 plants/hectare, with south/southeast and southwest exposure and the grapes are hand harvested. Destemming of the grapes and then maceration on the skins. Alcoholic fermentation occurs spontaneously with indigenous yeasts without the use of sulfites. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 24 months in contact with its native yeast and 6 months in bottle before release.

1998 Vintage

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Barolo Azienda Agricola Falletto of Bruno Giacosa, 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes for the Falletto wines are all estate grown. He uses traditional wine making methods. This is a wine with hints of liquorice, spice and tea. I like Giacosa’s Barolo but  would rather drink his Barbaresco.

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Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra – Domenico Clerico 100% Nebbiolo The vineyard is at 400 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. Maceration on the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12/14 days. Aged in French oak barriques, 90% new for 22/24 months and 6/8 months in bottle before release. This was the most modern style wine in the tasting with a lot of vanilla and oak.

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 Barolo Cereqiuo- Roberto Voerzio 100% Nebbiolo There are 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the vineyard faces south/southeast. Fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged for 24 months in used barriques and 20hl casks. Then 8 months in stainless steel and 8 months in bottle before release.This is another wine that I have not tasted in a long time but it was less modern then I expected.

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 Barolo Bric del Fiasc cru: Castiglione Falletto (Fiasco) – Paolo Scavino 100% Nebbiolo. Destemming and light crushing takes place and maceration and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Indigenous yeast is used and malolactic fermentation takes place in oak for 10 months. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 10 to14 months in large casks, 1 year in stainless steel and 10 months in bottle before release. This was the second most modern wine.

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 Barolo Cascina Francia – Giacomo  Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. This is classic, traditional Barolo at its best. The 1998 was my number one wine and the 1997 was my number two wine. They also went the best with the pizza.

 Brunello di Montalcino 1997Mastrojanni. This has always been one of my favorite producers and when Brad asked what else he could open, this was my suggestion. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. It is aged 3 years in Allier oak barrels of various sizes – 15, 33 and 54 hectoliters and then aged for 6/8 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black and red berries with a hint of spice and tobacco. There was even more hype for the 1997 vintage for Brunello than for the Barolo.

Maculan 1990 Dindarello La Pizza Fresca Ristorante NYC 12-27-13

 We ended with the dessert wine, Dindarello 1990 from Maculan. 100% Moscato from the 6 acre Dindarello vineyard on the estate.The grapes are dried for about a month, then fermented in stainless steel and aged another three months in bottle before release. This is an excellent dessert wine with hints of honey, tropical fruit and good acidity.Barolo 1997 & 1998 Dinner La Pizza Fresca Ristorante NYC 12-27-13

In all, there were 16 wines at the tasting, but the 12  listed were the ones I remember drinking.  I enjoyed Brad’s hospitality and the wine and pizza.  I also enjoyed remembering my friend and a great winemaker, Alfredo Currado.

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Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Bartolo Mascarello, Brunello, Bruno Giacosa, Dindarello, Domenico Clerico, Gaja, Giacomo Conterno, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Maculan, Mastrojanni Brunello, Paolo Scavino, Parusso, Roberto Voerzio

The Tradition Continues

I am always interested to see what happens when the next generation takes over an Italian winery that makes wines that I enjoy.  Will they follow the traditional methods  or will they go to what I call “the dark side” and make modern international style wines?

Tiziana Settimo

I was invited to Porter House in NYC to tastes the wines of the Aurelio Settimo Winery.  I have enjoyed these wines in the past and wanted to see if Tiziana Settimo was staying with the same traditional style wines as her father. Tiziana was presenting the wines so I could have all my questions answered.

The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piemonte in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows.  They sold off almost all their grapes.  When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards.  However they continued to sell 50% of their grapes.  In 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.

Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is a family affair run mostly by women.  The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.

From the very beginning Tiziana made it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio.  She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She fells that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character. The Barolo is aged in 2,500 to 3,500 liters oak barrels.

The menu

 

Only 3 wines are produced from their estate vineyards.  There are 5.6 hectares of Nebbiolo and 0.9 hectares of Dolcetto. Their Rocche Dell’Annunziata vineyard is 3.42 hectares and the exposure is south and southwest. The vines are between 18 and 46 years old. There are 4,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare and the training method is traditional Guyot.  Tiziana said that the fertile, clay-calcareous, limestone, rocky soil together with the altitude (270-300 mt) and the exposure produce a full bodied but elegant and very fragrant Barolo.

All of the wines are excellent with food.  At Porter House, we had them with Porcini Risotto to start followed by Heritage Berkshire Roasted Pork Loin, a great combination.

Tiziana said that she was in Boston a few days before and she had these wines with fish, including shellfish, and they all worked well together. It is my opinion that a red wine which is not on the “dark side”, is well made, and has good acidity can go with almost any type of food.

The Wines
Dolcetto D’Alba DOC 2010 100% Dolcetto
Tiziana said that 2010 was a great vintage for Dolcetto.
The grapes are hand picked and vinified in stainless steel with about 7 days skin contact with a submerged cap and frequent repassing.
This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of cherry and surprisingly good acidity. Tiziana said that she likes to keep the alcohol low on her Dolcetto, between 12% and 12-1/2% to keep the freshness so the alcohol does not overpower the fruit.
Langhe Nebbiolo DOC 2006 100% Nebbiolo
Tiziana said that 2006 was also a very good vintage. She went on to say that this wine is produced from grapes grown on the younger vineyards facing southeast in the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. It has a shorter maceration on the skins (8 to 10 days) than the Barolo and does not see any wood. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the malolactic fermentation takes place in concrete vats of 52hl. The wine was bottled in November 2010 after spending two years in the bottle. They do not make this wine in every vintage if they feel that the alcohol content will be too high. It is a wine with good fruit and has an excellent balance between tannins and acidity. This wine was made to be drunk when released however it was showing no signs of age and could last another 5 to 10 years.  $30

Barolo DOCG 2007 100% Nebbiolo
This wine is produced from the older Nebbiolo grapes. The must is in contact with the skin for 15 to 20 days with a submerged cap and frequent repassing. The wine is aged in wood for two years. The wine was bottled in March 2011  $42

Barolo” Rocche Dell ‘Annunziata” DOCG 2007
This is one of the great crus of Barolo and Tiziana said there were 23 other producers making wine from this vineyard.  She considers the 2007 vintage to be an excellent one, though it was in many ways a difficult vintage because it was very hot. This is a traditional classic Barolo with aromas and flavors of black fruit especially blackberries and hints of leather, tea, spice and liquorice with good acidity.  $50

I am happy to see that Tiziana is making wine like her father’s and that they are very good value for the money.
I look forward to enjoying these wines for many years to come.

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Filed under Aurelio Settimo Winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, Porter House NY

Fontanafredda Barolo

Barolo “the king of wines and the wine of kings”

On Nov 6th I went to a wine tasting and lunchen at the “Menu dell’ Assaggio”.at the Italian Wine Merchants. It was a tasting of Fontanafredda Barolo going back to 1967.The speaker was Danilo Drocco the wine maker.Signor Drocco first vintage for Fontanafredda was 1999. Before this he worked with Bebe Colla at Pronuotto a very traditional wine maker and stayed on when Piero Antinori brought the winery and introduced a more modern style.

Fontanafredda is not only one of the oldest produces in Barolo but aslo one of the largest The first 3 wines we tasted 2001,2000and 1999 were all made by Signore Drocco. All three wines had very little color and you could tell that thay were all made from nebbiolo He spoke about the vineyards and said he gets ripe tannians through vineyard management. After the grapes are crushed the process of pumping the juice over the cap of skins begins immediatly. This is done frequently for about 3 days.Then there is 45 more days of skin contact . At some point he takes the wine out of the tank with the skins and puts it in another tank and after 3 days put it back in the tank with the skins! This exposes the juice to oxygen and gives it more flavor. He uses a combination of botti and barriques. The barriques were not new but second and third passage.

The 1990 Vigna la Rosa was showing its age. This vintage had gotten a lot of press. Danilo believed that the wine was ready to drink and he was right. The 1989 is a more typical Barolo vintage and will last for many more years. 1997 also got a lot of press,some wine writers saying it was the vintage of the century! Most producers feel that 1996 was a better vintage. Once again the same thing holds true for the 2000 and 2001. The 2001 being the better vintage.

My favorite was the 1982 Vigna la Rosa. It a typical Nebbiolo with hints of tobacco.The 1967 was holding up very well. Back then there were no single vineyard Barolo

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