Tag Archives: Italian wine

With A Little Help From My Friends

The Westchester Italian Cultural Center is located in Tuckahoe about a half hour by train from Grand Central. The center preserves, promotes and celebrates the rich heritage of classical and contemporary Italian culture by encouraging an appreciation of the Italian language, arts and letters, history, cuisine and commerce through educational programs, exhibits and events.  Patrizia Calce, the director of events for the center, asked me if I would do a wine and food tasting for members and their guests featuring Wines and Foods of Northern Italy.   IMG_2809 I was more than happy to do so but I explained to Patrizia that I would need a little help from my friends.  The first one I called was Gary Grunner of Grapes on the Go, a wine importing company.  Gary said he would donate the wines of Tenuta Santa Maria in Pieve in the Veneto and would also attend the event to say a few words about the winery.  Gary then asked Douglas Giachino of Vinvino wines if he would supply the wines of Andrea Oberto from La Morra in Piedmont.  Vinvino also distributes the wine of Tenuta Santa Maria della Pieve for Gary and Giachino agreed to help, too.

Last but not least I asked Louis Coluccio of A.L.C. Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge Brooklyn to supply the food.
Louis replied “Just tell me what you need.”  A.L.C. sells both top quality imported Italian food products and prepared foods to take away.  It is the closest I have come to an Italian food shopping experience in the New York area. IMG_2820
With so much cooperation and great wine and food lined up, the tasting at the WICC was a sure success.  Over 40 members and guests attended.

The Wines
Prosecco NV 100% Gela-formerly known as Prosecco, Luccio.  The grapes come from the rolling hills of the Veneto countryside just north of Venice and are harvested by hand. A soft pressing occurs and the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks. Before the primary fermentation process is concluded, the wine is run into a pressurized tank where a secondary fermentation takes place allowing it to become a sparkling wine.IMG_2812Soave “Lepia” 2010 IGT made from 100% Garganega Veronese. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve The soil is clay with calcareous-marly subsoil. The training system is the pergoletta, and there are 3,800 vines per hectare. The grapes are harvested in September at different times of ripening and crushed separately, with cold pre-fermentation skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented. The wine is blended in January and racked in stainless steel tanks with the thin lees. Then there is a short bottle refinement. The wine has flavors and aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds and nice minerality. I like this Soave because it reflects the indigenous grape and the terroir. $22IMG_2813Gavi “IL Mandorlo”  2011 Tenuta San Pietro 100% Cortese.  The winery is organic and biodynamic. Soil is limestone-clayey with a good mineral content and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The grapes are hand harvested in the middle of September. Soft crushing is followed by fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using natural yeast from the cellar. This is a well-balanced wine with floral hints, fresh fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity.  $16IMG_2816
Dolcetto d’Alba 2010 Andrea Oberto-La Morra, Piedmont
There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the soil is clayey and calcareous and the exposure is southwest. The training system is Guyot with short trimming. There is manual harvesting of the slightly overripe grapes in 20-kg perforated crates through a careful selection of the bunches. The grapes are transferred into the cellar where they are crushed and destemmed within hours.
A short cryo-maceration and thermo-controlled fermentation takes place at around 30 °C, and soft pumpovers  are frequent. There is a short maceration of the marc, about 100 hours. Racking takes place in stainless steel vats, where the must is thermo-controlled. In the vats the alcoholic fermentation comes to an end and the natural malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel vats. $18IMG_2815Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 DOC Andrea Oberto 100% Nebbiolo
There are 4,000 vines per hectare. Vinification is the same as above except that the juice is in contact with the skins for 200 hours. Aging is for six months part in stainless steel and part in wooden casks. $22IMG_2814
Barolo 2008 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo Andrea Oberto Long maceration of the marc about 300 hours and racking in wood casks, where the natural malolactic fermentation takes place
Aging for 24 months in oak casks and 2 months in stainless steel vats and 6months in bottle before release. $45IMG_2818
Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35
Gary said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso.

IMG_2817Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2007 made from 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve  The training system is the pergoletta and there are 5,600 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in wooden trays inside rooms with well-circulated air for 4/5 months. In the middle of January after reaching their desired sugar content and losing 25%/30% of their weight, the almost raisin like grapes are pressed and fermented for 25/30 days at controlled temperatures with daily pumping over. After a period of decantation and refining in French barriques and Italian oak tonneaux, malolactic fermentation takes place. After 48 months the wine is bottled and remains for 6 months before release. It is a complex and elegant wine with hints of dried cherries, prunes and spice. The finish is very long and there is a lingering aftertaste. $90

Contact the Vinvino Wine Company- 212-463-7880 to find the retail store near you that sells these wines.

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Filed under A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Amaro, Amarone, Andrea Oberto winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Grapes on the GO, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Ripasso, Soave, Tenuta San Pietro, Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve, Vinvino Wines, Westchester Italian Cultural Center

From Rome to Williamsburg, Brooklyn


When in Rome last June, Michele and I enjoyed lunch at Pier Luigi, a favorite restaurant for fish.  After our meal, we got into a conversation with Lorenzo Lisi, an owner, who said that he and his partners were going to open a restaurant in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which they found similar to the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome.  The new place would be a version of Antica Pesa, one of the oldest restaurants in Rome, known for its classic Roman cooking.

I love the food in all 20 regions of Italy, but as I have often said, if I were a rich man I would live in Rome.  One of the main reasons is the food.

Williamsburg seems like a big trip across the river, but in reality, it took us less than a half hour to get to Antica Pesa from our Manhattan apartment.  When we entered Lorenzo Panella, the general manager, greeted us.  Since it was a cold night, he graciously seated us in front of the fireplace until our other guests arrived

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Fried Calamari

At the table, we ordered the tasting menu.  The highlights included perfectly fried calamari, marinated skate with sauteed escarole, linguine cacio and pepe, schiaffoni all’ amatriciana (a pasta resembling rigatoni, though I would have preferred it with bucatini) and a very tasty lamb crop.IMG_2807We brought our own wines and the corkage fee here is $25 per bottle.  The beverage director, Gabriele Guidoni, is a true sommelier and before long we were having a discussion about Italian wine.

The WinesIMG_2797
Langhe Bianco Nascetta- Anas- Cetta DOC 2010 Elvio Cogno.
Made from the Nascetta grape (autochthonous Novello Bianco). This grape is of Mediterranean origin and might have originated in Sardinia. Cogno first produced the wine in 1994 and there are records of it going back to the 19th Century.  He is one of the few that make it now.  The Nascetta vineyards are at 350 meters and the 4,000 vines per hectare are vertical trellised with Guyot pruning. Harvesting is at the end of September. The wine is vinified in 70% stainless steel and 30% in barriques. It is aged 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in barriques and is 180 days on the lees. After 3 months of bottle age it is released.
I visited this winery a few years ago and Valter Fissore,  Elvio Cogno’s son-in law and the wine maker, said that it has a mineral character but when it ages, it resembles Riesling! It is a very elegant wine with good fruit, a long finish and great aftertaste.IMG_2803

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 100% DOC 2005, Edoardo Valentini.  The winery is organic and biodynamic. This is a very complex and full bodied wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste and an extra something that is difficult to describe.
The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months. I do not like to compare types of wine, but if asked what other type of wine this reminded me of, my answer would be a great white burgundy.
In one of her books, Jancis Robinson says that the grape for this wine is not Trebbiano d’Abruzzo but Bombino Bianco. When this question came up when I was at the winery, Edoardo Valentini said that the grape was a special clone of Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo. Both the importer and Edoardo’s son, Francesco say it is Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo.IMG_2804

Rubesco Rosso di Torgiano DOC 1979 Lungarotti 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo. The soil is clay and sand of medium depth with limestone subsoil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September/October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 18 days maceration on the skins. It is aged for 12 months in oak casks and lightly filtered before bottling. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of black cherry and a touch of leather and spice with a very pleasant finish and aftertaste, Note: this was NOT the Vigna Monticchio but the regular Rubesco which made it even more impressive!IMG_2805

Barbaresco Campo Cros Martinenga 1982, 100 % Nebbiolo Tenuta Cisa Aisnari dei Marchesi di Gresey.
In his book the Italy’s Noble Red Wines Wasserman describes the wine as: “Tobacco and cherries on aroma; full of flavor, extremely well balanced; long finish the best Martinegna to date.” This is his note from 1985; I tasted the wine with him a few years later and was very impressed. 30 years later his description still stands and  the wine is at its peak. Wasserman also says that the 1982 was almost perfect and gives the vintage four stars, his highest rating. He gives the wine three stars with a possible four. After drinking it with dinner I give it the extra star, too.IMG_2806

Amarone 1961 Bertani 70% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella-this is the present blend.
Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the Guyot  method with 5.000 vines/ha.
Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.
Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster — those grapes richest in sugar and extracts — are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine is transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years (the 1961, I believe, spent a longer time in wood) during which it was racked twice annually prior to bottling.
Dry, full-bodied, and amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice.  The wine was showing its age. 1961 was a very good vintage for Amarone.

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Filed under Amarone, Antica Pesa Restaurant. Brooklyn, Bertani, Elvio Cogno, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lungarotti, Marchesi di Gresey, Mrchesi di resey, Nascetta, Rubesco, Umbria, Valentini, Valter Fissore

A Pleasant Surprise!


It was a cold wet afternoon as I made my way uptown to Felice 64, a wine bar on 1st Avenue and 64th Street, to have lunch and taste wines.  Since I was not familiar with the restaurant or the wines, I was not sure what to expect.
I am happy to report that it was a pleasure.  The wines were from the Colline Lucchesi, a zone I am not very familiar with and the wine bar and the food reminded me of Italy.

Jacopo Giustiniani

Jacopo Giustiniani

Jacopo Giustiniani, the owner of the Felice 64 greeted me, and told me something about himself.  He said that he came to the US in 2007 and went to work at Sant’Ambroeus, a restaurant and café owned by his uncle. After six months there he decided to open a wine bar and now he has three of them.  He also own Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani in the Colline Lucchesi along with his brother Matteo who is the wine maker.

Jacopo said that Colline Lucchesi is a small zone and there are only ten producers.  Farroria Sardi Giustiniani is the largest producer and they make only 60,000 bottles a year.  They have between 12 and15 hectares in vines.
I asked a question about one of the wines and Jacopo was not sure of the answer so he called his brother at the winery outside Lucca a got the answer.

The Wines of Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani

Jacopo believes that the Colline Lucchesi is the perfect place in Tuscany to make white wine. It is in the northwest part of Tuscany between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Apennine mountains. They get the benefit of the warm sea breezes and the mountains protect them from the cold and winds from the north. The soil and the climate give the wine good acidity and minerality, while the big difference in day/night temperature gives the wine its aromatic flavors.  He said that the winery was using sustainable agricultural methods now and it will become organic in a year.

With the white wines he suggested I try the Tartare di Salmone – diced raw salmon, lemon, avocado and mesclun. It was very good.IMG_2406
Vermentino 2011 Colline Lucchesi D.O.C. Fattoria Sardi 100% Vermentino. The vines here are 25 years old. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at controlled temperatures and the wine matures for four months on the lees. There is no malolactic fermentation. This is a light, fresh wine with good acidity and hints of herbs, grass, grapefruit and nice minerality. It is a very good food wine.IMG_2404
Jacopo said that they have a different clone of Vermentino than they have in Sardinia or Liguria. He feels that their clone produces a Vermentino which is elegant, lighter and more aromatic.  IMG_2405
Sauvignon Blanc 2011 Colline Lucchesi D.O.C. Fattoria Sardi. 100% Sauvignon Blanc.  The grapes are from three different vineyards. The wine is fermented in second passage barriques and is matured on the lees for six months. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends six months in barriques, 50% new and 50% second passage.  The wine has aromas and flavors of herbs and grass with a hint of peach in the finish and aftertaste.IMG_2407

Felice Sardi Bianco 2011 “Saint Ambroeus” 2011 Colline Lucchesi. D.O.C. made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Grechetto.  Fermention and malolactic fermentation take place in French oak barrels as the wine is aged on the lees for 6 months. The wine is aged first in barriques and then in stainless steel.

The Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Grechetto come from a
2 hectare vineyard, which they rent.

Felice is the name of Jacopo’s grandfather on his mother’s side. It also means “happy” in Italian.  “Felice” is a private label and is only sold in Jacopo’s restaurants and Casa Lever restaurant. Both the red and the white are very good restaurant wines.

With the red wines he suggested Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, fresh pasta ribbons with a veal ragu. It was perfectly cooked and the ragu reminded me of Italy.IMG_2411
Jacopo said that they use a number of French grape varieties because they have been in the Lucca area for over 200 years. These grapes came here in 1805 when Napoleon’s sister Elisa Bonaparte Baciocchi ruled there as Queen of Etruria.IMG_2408Villa Sardi Rosso 2010 Colline Lucchese D.O.C  80% Sangiovese 5% Canaiolo 5% Colorino and 5% Moscato Nero di Lucca. Part of the wine is aged for 8 months in 20HL oak barrels and the remainder in cement tanks. The wine is aged for 4 months in barrel and then released. This is a fresh light wine with nice fresh fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, strawberry and a touch of pepper. This is a very good food wine.IMG_2412Fattoria Sardi Rosso 2010 Costa Toscana IGT made from 50% Colorino, 40% Syrah and 10% Sangiovese. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. IMG_2413Felice Rosso “Sant’Ambroeus” 2009 Colline Lucchesi D.O.C. 60% Sangiovese and 40% Merlot. The wine is aged for 12 months in barriques and six months in bottle before release.

Merlot “Sebastiano” Colline Lucchesi D.O.C.2010 85%, Merlot 5% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Petit Verdot.  Fermentation is in cement tanks for about 20 days. The grapes come from the “Virgin Mary” vineyards and the vines are 30 years old. The exposure is south/southwest. It is aged in French tonneaux oak barrels for 18 months. This is a full-bodied wine with aromas and flavors of red and black berries and a hint of spice. The wine can be enjoyed now but it will age very well.
Sebastiano was the name of Jacopo’s grandfather on his father’s side.

The “Sebastiano ” is $30 all of the others are about $14 which makes them a good value for the money.

Jacapo said that they also make a Rosè like the French do in Provence, which is very popular here and in Italy. He would have liked me to taste it but it was sold out.

 

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Filed under Colline Lucchesi, Fattoria Sardi, Fattoria Sardi Giustiniani, Felice restaurant, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Jacopo Giustiniani, Villa Sardi

Champagne, Old Wine and Turkey


Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (linner) is traditionally served at 4:00PM at our house. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed or too late. Our Linner usually lasts for 5 to 6 hours. This year was no exception.

To start, Michele made persimmons wedges wrapped in prosciutto, followed by a chestnut soup, roast turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes.  Then we had a cheese course, followed by a hazelnut tar and caramel pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving for several years with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.  Diane is a very excellent baker and brought a beautiful loaf of home made bread, as well as the hazelnut tart mentioned above.  Travis and Nicole joined us this year and brought some Champagne and old wines.

The WinesChampagne Grand Cru D’ay Füt de Chène Brut 2000 Henri Giraud. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested exclusively in the terroir of Aÿ Grand Cru. The wine is aged in small barrels made from Argonne oak for 12 months. The first vintage was in 1990. This is a full and rich wine with aromas of pear, stone fruits and a hint of mushrooms. It has a long lasting finish.Champagne Curvèe William Durtz Brut Millesimè (prestige cuvee) 1999 (Aÿ) made from 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. This is a well-structured, complex, elegant Champagne with hints of herbs, dried flowers and a touch of toast.

Torre Ercolana 1982 Cantina Colacicchi – Anagni  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese dl Piglio  When this wine was produced, there were only 2 acres of vines and only 2,000 bottles were made, one fourth of them a white called Romagnano.

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year.

I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, who has the exclusive rights to the wine. The wine does not always taste the same; this is because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

Burton Anderson in his book VINO describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Sorbets” 1976 Domine B. Serveau et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is limestone and clay and the 7 hectares of Pinot Noir are in the heart of the Côte de Nuits. The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is matured in oak casks for 18/22 months. The Premiers Crus are aged 2/10 years before coming to market. This is a wonderful wine with aromas of red fruit and blackberries, round with a silky fruity feeling on the palate. It was a pleasure to drink.Reciotto Secco “Amarone” Vino della Valpolicella 1960. Bertani. This is one of my favorite producers and I like Amarone on Thanksgiving.  With turkey and all the side dishes, it makes for a great combination. So I was very disappointed because the wine was too old and tasted like sherry. Travis brought the wine.  He had had a 1964 a few days before and said it was wonderful. You never know with old wines — you take your chances and hope for the best.Alicante Bouschet 1996 Russian River Vineyards (old vines), Sonoma Country Topolos, made from 100% Alicante Bouschet from the Sequoia View Vineyards. The wine is unrefined. It was bottled December 16, 1997. Since the Amarone was not good and it was Thanksgiving, the truly all-American holiday, I decided to try this wine. It was interesting but it seemed they were trying to make an old style wine but could not get away from all the modern techniques. It was unbalanced with too much alcohol.

The winery was sold and the name changed to Russian River Vineyards and I do not know if they still produce this wine.

Because we had a cheese course and two pies, it was time for the dessert wines.Montefalco Sagrantino D’Arquata Passito Abboccato DOC 1981 Adanti 100% Sagrantino The grapes are naturally dried for two months (appassimento) followed by a slow fermentation. The wine is aged in large Slovenian oak barrels (botti). They still make a passito but the word Abboccato does not appear on the label. The wine had aromas and flavors of dry fruit, blackberries and a dry aftertaste.Anghelu Ruju 1979 Vino Liquoroso Tradizional di Alghero  Sella & Mosca (Sardinia) 100% Cannonau. This is a late harvest and after the grapes are picked they are dried in the open air for a long time. There is a long oak aging in fusti (small oak barrels of 20/50 liters). This is an aromatic wine with hints of cinnamon and walnuts. I do not think it was produced after the 2003 vintage. We ended the meal with the last of my last bottle of Romano Levi Grappa, which I bought a few years ago just before the great grappa maker died.

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Filed under Anghelu Ruju Vino Liquoroso, Burgundy, Champagne, Domaine b. Serveau et Fils, French Wine, Henri Giraud, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Passito, sagrantino, Topolos, Torre Ercolana

Umbria Comes to NYC

Mayor Bloomberg issues an Official Proclamation declaring November “ I Love Umbria Month” in New York City. There were events taking place in Eataly and Di Palo Fine foods among others. As I walked toward Eataly to attend a tasting of Umbrian wines, I could not help but think of the two major storms that we had endured in just one week:  the first was Hurricane Sandy and on this day it was a nor’easter bringing high winds, rain and snow.  Madison Square Park was closed as it had been during the hurricane and as I made my way across Fifth Avenue, I could only hope that the storm would not be as bad.

Porchetta for lunch


Only 4 of the 7 wines had made it to Eataly because of the hurricane but that was the least of the problems that Sandy had caused.Dan Amatuzzi, Beverage Director of Eataly, and Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery were the day’s speakers.  Mr. Amatuzzi spoke about Umbria and its wines in general and Mr. Caprai spoke mostly about Sagrantino.

The Wines

Bianco di Torgiano “Costelllato” DOC 2011 Terre Margaritelli made from Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Grechetto and Fiano. The winery is located on a hill called Miralduolo between Perugia and Assisi, the vineyards are 200-250 meters above see level, with clay soil and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The wine is aged for a short time in French oak barrels from the Bertrange Forest in the Nevers region.  With Chablis to the northeast and Sancerre to the southwest, this is one of the most highly regarded forests in France since the variety of oak (Quercus Petraea) has a very dense grain.

The wine is well-structured with aromas of apple, dried fruit, herbs, and a touch of hazelnut. There is a nice aftertaste with a hint of almond.  Bianco di Torgiano is not seen very often in this country. Todi Sangiovese  “Belforte” DOC 2010 Cantina Tudernum made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. The Cantina is located on the slope of Todi’s hills along the ancient Strada Tiberina. There are 3,300 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week in October. It is aged for 6 months in barrels of durmast oak (Quercus Petraea) and then additional aging in bottle prior to release. This is a recent DOC. It is a fruity, easy-drinking wine with fresh  aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and cassis.Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2005 DOCG Arnaldo Caprai. Made from 100% Sagrantino from the Collepiano vineyard at 200-300 meters above sea level. The soil is clay-calcareous and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. The training system is Cordone Speronato and the harvest takes place from the third week in September to the beginning of October. The wine spends 24-26 months in French oak barriques; Marco said that some of the barriques were second passage. It is kept in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This is a big modern style Sagrantino with concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of vanilla.

Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG 2005 Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri made from 100% Sagrantino. The estate is on the rolling hill to the east of the Montefalco appellation. All the grapes are grown on the estate and the exposure is south-southeast. The harvest takes place at the end of October when the grapes are very ripe. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in oak barrels and then in bottle before release. The wine is bottled 32 months after the harvest. This is a full-bodied dessert wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and dried fruit. This wine for a passito also goes well with food and in Umbria they drink it with lamb on Easter Sunday.

The wines that did not make it to the tasting because of Sandy were:
Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2011, Perticaia. This is a producer I know and have visited and like his wines but I have not tasted this particular wine.

Rosso di Torgiano “Rubesco” 2007 Giorgio Lungarotti. I have been drinking this wine since I visited the winery many years ago and consider it one of the best Italian red wines for the money.

Sargantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tabarrini Giampaolo. I do not know this producer.

Monini olive oil from Umbria was also served. It is a mild olive oil with a nutty, buttery flavor and low in acidity.

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Filed under Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Olive oli, sagrantino

Scacciadiavoli-Drive Away Devils

When I was the wine director for ITrulli and Vino (when it was an all Italian wine store), I would play opera in the store much to the annoyance of the owner. I am a great fan of Puccini and would play Turandot again and again. One of my favorite arias in the opera is Non Piangere Liù.

One day, a wine producer’s daughter arrived at the store for a brief internship in order to learn about the wide range of Italian wines before she went to study in Bordeaux.

Her name was Liù and her father’s winery is Scacciadiavoli (drive away devils) located in Montefalco in Umbria. She was surprised when I told her that I had been to Montefalco. Before I could ask about her unusual name, she said that her father liked Turandot so he named her Liù.

LIÙ

Whenever I gave wine classes, Liù would sit in and we talked about wine whenever we had a chance.  The weeks went by quickly and she thanked me for all my help before she was off to Bordeaux.  A few years later, I saw Liu in Montefalco and she thanked me again saying that when she had arrived in Bordeaux to study, she made a big hit because she was the only one of the students that knew about Italian wine.

April 2012 is Sagrantino month in NYC and I was invited to a number of events.  One was at Tarallucci & Vino, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and Liù was there presenting her wines.

The wines of Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli di Pambuffetti

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal. Liu said that this was a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. She described it being fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 made from 60% Sangiovese 25% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 12 months. She said that the wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The Sangiovese is for the acidity and the Merlot for the fruit. She added that their soil is mostly clay and Merlot does very well here. Other grapes beside Merlot can be used such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino up to 15%. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of spice and good acidity. It has a long finish and a pleasant aftertaste See…

Montefalco Sagantino DOCG 2005 100% Sagrantino Harvest takes place from the middle to the end of October. If I understood Liu correctly she said that the aging was the same as for the Montefalco Rosso but it remains in wood for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. Liu said that the 2005 vintage was given 5 stars, the highest rating by the Montefalco Consortium.

Liù said the Sagrantino is a big wine with a dark color and a lot of tannin and can age for a long time.

For me Sagrantino is one of the great wines of Italy but it is not very well know in this country. It is an elegant, complex wine with rich red fruit aromas and flavors of spice and leather, good acidity and a long finish. 

Montefalco Sagantino Passito DOCG 2004 100% Sagrantino.   Harvest is from the middle to the end of September. The grapes are dried on “graticci” (mats) until mid December.  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/part-ii-sagran…sting-the-wine/ For more information on Sagrantino.

Vinification takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged in new barrels for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of sweet dried fruits, and hints of blackberry, blueberry and spice, a long finish and lingering aftertaste. Liu said that in Montefalco this passito is drunk with lamb for Easter.

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Filed under Momtefalco, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli

The Nebbiolo Wines of the Novara- Vercelli Hills

Mention the Nebbiolo grape and the wines that are most likely to come to mind are Barolo and Barbaresco.  These are great wines but there are others from northern Piedmont that deserve some attention, such as Ghemme, Bramaterra, Spanna, Carema, Boca, and Gattinara.  These are made from100% Nebbiolo or blended with little known grapes such as Vespolina, Croatina and Bonarda.

As Co-Chair of the Wine Media Guild, I was happy to assist member Ed Mc Carthy and member sponsor Tom Maresca in putting together a tasting of these wines along with lunch at Felidia restaurant in NYC. One of the guest speakers was Ciniza Travaglini  of the Travaglini winery. One of the points that she made was that all of the wines at the tasting showed better with food.  I could not agree more.

Morgan Rich and WMG member Ed Mc Carthy

The other guest speaker was Morgan Rich, a former sommelier, now with Polnar Selections. Mr. Rich spoke about each of the Northern Piedmont appellations that were represented at the tasting.

There were 16 wines at the tasting including a 1995 Gattiniara Risreva from Travaglini that we had with lunch. 

Ghemme 2006  made from 100% Nebbiolo Cantalupo The grapes come from the Carella Baraggiola Valera and Cavenago vineyards. The vineyards are on hills formed during the interglacial stage by the Monte Rosa moraine, the second highest peak in Europe. The soil is very rich in minerals because of the considerable crumbling of the rocks. The vineyards are between 280-310 meters. The training of the vines is counter espalier with Guyot pruning.  Harvesting takes place in mid-October. The grapes are destemmed and delicately pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation during which repassing was carried out twice a day until the sugar was completely transformed.  This was followed by submerged cap fermentation. The wine was then transferred to oak casks where it remained for about 20 months. After bottling the bottles were stored horizontally for refining. Aromas and flavors of violets, faded rose and raspberries.   $37

Bramaterra 2007 made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, 7% Vespolina and 3% Bonarda  Antoniotti.  Odilio Antoniotti and his son Mattia run the winery. The grapes are from the oldest vines, in a high elevation vineyard on porphyry soil that drains extremely quickly and is full of minerals and nutrients. In the vineyard they did not use fertilizers only compost and try to keep the sulfur at a minimal level. The vines are Guyot trained and the grapes are hand harvested. The grapes are destemmed and fermented in underground cement tanks for 12-14 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for Malolatic fermentation and then placed into botti of at least 1,250 liters around the end of December for about 30 months. There is no fining or filtration. $25-30

Spanna  “Campi Raudii” 2009 Vallana Tom Maresca said that he was told when he visited the winery that this wine was 90% Nebbiolo with Vespolina and Bonarda. The wine is vino di tavola because they wanted to make a wine as they did in the past that did not follow the law. Since there is no IGT in Piedmont the wine had to be vino di tavola and therefore could not have a date on the label. Tom said that he was told it was a 2009 and that it was on the bar code. Vallana Spanna was a wine that could age. A few years ago I had a 1954 and a 1955. Will the present wines last as long? Only time will tell.  They are a great bargain! $16

Spanna “Colline Novaresi “2008 Vallana . The Spanna Vallana is made from 100% Spanna the local name for Nebbiolo. Grapes from two different Crus Boca and Gattinara are used. These high altitude vineyards were planted in the 1960’s.  The acidity of the soil prevents iron deficiency and only basic fertilizer is used. The grapes are hand harvested and selected. They are crushed and transferred to cement tanks for a 24-hour cold soak. Then the must is injected with selected yeast strains and fermentation begins. The cement tanks thermally insulate the must and the fermentation temperature gradually rises which is ideal for color extraction. Fermentation lasts between 8 to 10 days and pumping over is performed during this period. The wine undergoes Malolatic fermentation over the first winter. In the spring the wine goes into botti of 5-12 HL for six months.    $ $17

Carema Classico 2007 DOC Produtti Carema 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo $24 This winery created in 1960, is a small cooperative divided amongst 45 growers in this small, remote region. Each grower rarely owns more than 1 hectare, most having only ½ hectare. The D.O.C. Carema, established in 1967, sits on a mountainous piece of land bordering the Valle d’Aosta. The climate is cold and quite windy here, resulting in grapes that are slow to ripen, and wines that are light garnet in color.

The vines are planted on steep stone terraces that reflect the sun and maintain the heat of the day during the night. The vines are trained on pergola-like crossbeams locally named topie or tabbie, onto which the vines are tied down firmly to keep them from being broken by the strong winds. These topie also allow for maximum exposure to the sun, helping to draw out the harvest for as long as possible, thereby taming the grapes’ high acids that would otherwise overwhelm the palate. The wines are 100% Nebbiolo from the local clones of Nebbiolo, Picutener, meaning “tender stem” and Pugnet, meaning “fist-like,” a reference to the compact shape of the bunches. The minimum aging requirement for these wines is 4 years, of which two years have to pass in large oak or chestnut botti.

Carema “ La Tabbie” 2007 DOC Orsolani The wine made from two clones of Nebbiolo Picutener and Pugent. The wine is aged in botti for three years and in bottle for 12 months before release. This was one of the more elegant wines at the tasting.  $36

Carema is a wine valued for its perfume and elegance, but with the structure and acidity to age for decades with aromas and flavors of tar, leather, damp leaves and faded roses.

Bocca 2004 Valanna made from 65% Nebbiolo, 20% Vespolina and 15% Uva Rara. Grapes are hand picked and transported in small boxes to protect the skin and delay natural fermentation. Each variety is fermented separately. Fermentation takes place in cement tanks, with aggressive pumping over in the beginning to develop tannins and color. The wines are then blended and aged in 10HL casks for 2 years.      $ 30

Gattinara 2006 Antoniolo 100% Nebbiolo, with a south/southwest exposure, the vines are 40-50 years old.  Fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with an automatic daily pump over. Maceration takes place between 14-16 days. The wine then ages in medium capacity oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for another 12 months. $40

Gattinara “Le Castelle” 2006 Antoniolo    Made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Castelle cru with a mostly southwest exposure.  Fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks with daily pumping over and 10-12 days maceration. The wine is aged for 2 year in barriques and one year in bottle. $55

The hills of Gattinara have the same mineralogical composition as the Alps: granite rocks, porphyries, quartzes and iron minerals, which give the typical reddish color to the indigenous rock.

Travaglini Gattinara the vineyards are at 280 to 420 meters and the exposure is south /southwest. There are 3,500 to 5,00 plants per hectare. The grapes are crushed and macerated for about 14 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks.

Cinzia Travaglini

Cinzia spoke about Gattinara in general and her winery in particular and pointed out that all of their Gattinara is made from 100% Nebbiolo. She also said that it is a family run winery and her husband Massimo is the wine maker

Gattinara 2006 Travaglini the wine is aged for 3 years. 2 years in Slovenian oak. After the  required aging is finished the wine rests in bottle for 3 months.   $30

Gattinara “ Tre Vigne” Travaglini 2005 The wine is aged for 40 months, 30 months in Slovenian oak casks -25% of which is aged separately for 10 months in French barriques. The wine then rests in bottle for 8 months. $49

Gattinara Riserva 2006 Travaglini The wine is aged for 4 years, at least 3 in oak casks of different origin and sizes, then in bottle for 8 months. This wine is only made in the best vintages from a special selection of grapes. $59

Gattinara Riserva 2005 $ 59 Same as above

Gattinara 2004 Vallana This is the same as the Spanna but it is aged  for 24 months in botti and 9 months in bottle before release.$30

Gattinara “ Tre Vigne” 2001 $ NV Same as above

Gattinara Riserva1995 Travaglini  $ NV Same as above

 

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Filed under Antoniolo, Antoniotti, Boca, Bramaterra, Cantalupo, Gattinara, Ghemme, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Piedmont, Piemonte, Spanna, Travaglini