The weather has been beautiful for the past few days and I am enjoying the subtle changes of the foliage around me. And so are Ethel and Fred, long time friends that appear on my doorstep every fall season.
Being in a “fall” mood, I wanted to make my famous pumpkin muffins yesterday. But as usual, life got in the way. Perhaps I can make a batch in the next day or so.
To celebrate my victorious “win” in court yesterday over an undeserved ticket, a friend and I went out to dinner. We dined at a local restaurant specializing in southern Italian cuisine. In addition to a superb dining experience, we drank a very nice wine. It was a 2009 Piccini Villa al Cortile Brunello di Montalcino, DOCG. The wine was 100% Sangiovese grape and dark ruby in color. A mosaic of aromas included blackberry, dark cherry, spices and herbs. The palate delivered licorice, dark berry, mushrooms and a hint of vanilla. As the wine opened, the flavors got more intense with a touch of tobacco on the finish. I found this to be a bold wine with round tannins. The wine was aged in oak for 26 months and is 14% alcohol. The Piccini family has been producing wines since 1882. http://www.tenutepiccini.it
Enjoy this lovely Thursday!
Yesterday I began my review of the Kobrand Tour d’Italia 2015 eight-city tour of Italy. We explored some wonderful vineyards and tasted interesting wines. I now have three more stops to make.
I made my way to Veneto, where Tony Apostolakos, the U.S. Director of Masi Agricola was waiting to guide me through a tasting of Amarone. It is interesting to note that Sandro Boscaini, the owner of Masi, is referred to as “ Mr. Amarone” due to the unique crafting of his wines. He uses the appassimento method to concentrate aromas and flavors in wine. The Appaxximento symbol can be found on his labels guaranteeing the authenticity and quality of Masi Wine. I’ll highlight a few of the wines I tasted. The 2011 Costasera Amarone was full-bodied with cherry, plum and spices. The 2008 Vaio Armaron Amarone, aged in cherry wood casks for four months, was amazing. The aroma and flavor of cherries, spices and fruit lingered on the palate. Before I departed I was treated to a taste of 1999 Amarone della Valpolicella Classico. It had a beautiful bouquet of fruit and earth, with dark fruit and spice on the palate. http://www.masi.it
The next stop was Piedmont to visit Michele Chiarlo, a family owned and run winery. Their grape varieties are Moscato, Barbera, Nebbiolo and Cortese. It is interesting to note that the wines are never blended. I tried a 2011 Reyna, Barbaresco, 100% Nebbiolo. It was flowing with dark fruit, spice and licorice. The 2007 Cannubi Barolo, also 100% Nebbiolo was full-bodied with notes of licorice, spice and firm tannins. Although I didn’t have a chance to taste the light sparkling wine Nivole, Moscato d’Asti, 100% Moscato, I was told the wine is so delicate that, Michele Chiarlo named it Nivole after the Piedmontese word for clouds.
My final destination was back in Tuscany with Ambrogio E Giovanni Folonari. The Folonari family began their wine making in the 1700’s and are considered among Tuscany’s top winemakers. Their portfolio is vast and with the array of bottles set before me, I knew that I didn’t have time to sample them all. So I asked Claudio Andreani to guide me through a few of the wines. We started with the 2010 Tenuta La Fuga Brunello di Montalcino. It was full-bodied and robust with dark berry and tobacco. The 2012 Tenute del Cabreo Il Borgo was smooth and earthy. Tannins were a bit chewy. Next was Tenuta di Nozzole Chianti Classico Riserva, 100% Sangiovese. Aged for 16 months in Slavonian oak vats, the wine was earthy with firm tannins. My last taste was a 1997 Tenuta Campo al Mare, Rosso, Bolgheri. This wonderful Bordeaux-style blend was rich in flavor. Dark fruit, licorice and a long smooth finish completed my day of tasting. http://tenutefolonari.com
Have a great Friday!
Tuesday was a beautiful day and what better way to spend it than touring Italy. Our kick off point was the trendy Bowery Hotel in NYC. This small boutique hotel located in the East Village was the perfect setting for the Kobrand Tour d’ Italia 2015 wine event.
The first stop on this eight-city tour was Risano and Spessa di Capriva in the Friuli Grave and Collio Goriziano D.O.C. zones. I met with Roberto Pighin, the owner of Fernando Pighin & Figli. He has been part of the family winery since he was a child. He is passionate about his wine and took great pride in discussing the production of the Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. The Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave was sweet with fruit and quite lively, as compared to the Pinot Grigio Collio that was more intense with citrus and less fruit. The Sauvignon Blanc Friuli Grave was grassy, mild and very pleasant. http://www.pighin.com
My next stop was the estate of Tenuta San Guido located in the D.O.C. Bolgheri in Tuscany. Colleen McKettrick, the Brand Ambassador, greeted me. It is no secret that Sassicaia is a favorite of mine. And, it is also the first Super Tuscan to be released in 1968. So it was with great pleasure that I tasted some excellent wines. The 2012 Sassicaia was rich with dark fruit, spices and was quite robust. Colleen poured me a special taste of the 2004 Guidalberto and 2006 Sassicaia that were pure velvet! The 2013 Guidalberto Toscana IGT is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. It was well-balanced with dark fruit and a velvet texture. The 2013 Le Difese Toscana IGT is a mini Super Tuscan made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, sharing a pedigree with Sassicaia. The fruit is picked from younger vines and is easy to drink. http://www.tenutasanguido.com
Agricola Punica, founded in 2002, is located in Sardinia, a large island in the Mediterranean Sea. Sebastiano Rosa (Principle) and his son led me on a guided tour of their wines. We started with the Samas, made with Vermentino and Chardonnay grapes. It was quite refreshing and light with lots of citrus. I also tried Montessu, 2013 and Barrua, 2012, both made with the Carignano grape which is one of three main grapes planted in Sardinia. The Montessu was layered with fruit & spices and called “Super Sardinian” The Barrua was more robust and full-bodied. I’ll have to come back to this island! http://www.agripunica.it/
I found myself back in Tuscany again tasting wines from Tenuta Sette Ponti owned by Giovanna Moretti and her brother Antonio Moretti who also own Feudo Maccari in Sicily. Their Tuscan wines are eclectic and there were many to sample. The newest wine is Vigna del Impero made with 100% Sangiovese. Planted in 1935, Imperno is one of Tuscany’s oldest vineyards. The wine was rich with fruit, spice and medium tannins. I made a quick stop in Sicily to taste Grillo, Sicilia IGP 2014. Aged in steel tanks, this full-bodied wine was floral scented, with citrus and stone fruit on the palate. Did you know that the Grillo grape is most famous for its role in making Marsala wines? http://www.tenutasetteponti.it
Tenute Silvio Nardi, located in Tuscany is owned and operated by Emilia Nardi. They are one of the founding families of the Brunello Consortium. The wines are made with 100% Sangiovese. I tasted the 2005 and 2010 Brunello. The 2005 Brunello was high in tannins and more “chewy”. I preferred the 2010 Brunello having softer tannins that allowed the fruit, licorice and spices to dominate. I then tried the 2006 and 2010 Manachiara Brunello. Although the 2006 was bright and robust, the 2010 was smoother and more complex. http://www.tenutenardi.com
So, this is where the first leg of my trip ends. Tomorrow I will continue on to Veneto, Piedmont and then back to Tuscany.
Let me start with a big shout out to American Pharoah, the new Triple Crown Winner! It was an amazing race! We were all on the edge of our seats throughout the short race.
It turned my small get together into a full-blown celebration! We opened bottles of wine and grilled lots of food. I will give my thoughts on the wine we drank during the week.
As promised, I want to share my thoughts on the 2009 Brunello Di Montalcino from the La Mannella Estate. The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes and aged in oak barrels for 40 months. The color was inky purple with aromas of cherry, licorice and spices. Lots of dark fruit on the palate with hints of clove, vanilla and oak gave way to a lengthy finish. Soft tannins and full-bodied…perfect! http://www.lamannella.it
Enjoy your Sunday!
I woke up to snow flurries this morning, but I’m confident the sun will eventually come out to say hello.
After spending most of the day yesterday making piles of “things” to throw out, give away or keep, I was ready for a diversion.
So, when a friend called and suggested that we meet for dinner, I flew out the door. It was a lovely meal. My dinner companion and I shared a bottle of Brunello di Montalcino that was very good. As much as I would love to tell you about this particular bottle, I failed to take a photo or write down tasting notes. I believe that is a first for me!
However, I can certainly tell you about the wine in general. Here are some interesting facts about Brunello di Montalcino:
The wine is produced with 100% Sangiovese grapes in vineyards that surround the town of Montalcino located in the Tuscany wine region.
Brunello di Montalcino was awarded the first DOCG designation in 1980 and is considered one of Italy’s most famous and distinguished wines.
Montalcino is a small wine region with around 3,000 acres planted as compared to the nearly 41,000 acres of planted land in Chianti. Montalcino has roughly 250 wineries producing Brunello di Montalcino.
The “common” characteristics of the wine are as follows:
Bright garnet color
Aromas and flavors of dark berries, chocolate, leather, aromatic wood, vanilla and a subtle floral bouquet. It tends to be dry with a long aromatic finish.
Now on to a very busy day!