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, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Villa 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.Fattoria 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. Felice 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.