Friday, April 3, 2020

Brachetto: The Sweet, Red Bubbly of Piedmont

Italy produces some of the world’s greatest sparkling wines including wines such as Franciacorta, Trento DOC and Prosecco to name a few.  The presence of Italian sparkling wines in the US market continues to rise and the appreciation for these wines has increased from being a celebratory wine to more of an everyday enjoyment.   

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group today is focusing on Brachetto d’Acqui from the Piedmont region produced in a number of styles to be discussed.  This week I do not have a particular wine to share as I’ve been home for the last 3 weeks and didn’t prepare in advance, but I’m very familiar with these wines and have written about them in the past so am doing some knowledge sharing today. 

The appellation ~ Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 
The  Brachetto d’Acqui appellation is found within the largest sub-region of Piedmont, Monferrato, and  more specifically Monferrato Astigiano.  This sub-region includes the provinces of Asti and Alessandria and is located close to the Ligurian Apennines in the south just south of the Po River.  In 2014 Monferrato was also granted the status of being a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

Brachetto d’Acqui was originally granted the DOC status in 1969 until it was promoted to a DOCG in 1996.  In order to be labeled a Brachetto d’Acqui the wine must be produced by at least 97% of the Brachetto grape.  It is grown around the ancient Roman town of Acqui Terme in the hills just north of town.  Acqui Terme is known for its thermal spas.  Relaxing in bubbly while drinking bubbly sounds like the perfect pairing to me!   
These wines gained popularity by Arturo Bersano whom used the martinotti or charmat method to produce these wines.  The Martinotti method undergoes a fermentation in a pressurized tank for 30 days before bottling.   
Map of Brachetto d'Acqui wine area
Copyright of Consorzio Tutela Brachetto d'Acqui
The grape ~ Brachetto 
The grape brachetto is produced within the Piedmont wine region.  Under the Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG it can produce wine in 3 different styles: a still red, sparkling and passito.  The most produced of the three is sparkling and is what Brachetto d’Acqui is most known for.  It’s produced in a frizzante, semi-sparkling style.   
Brachetto is a highly aromatic grape with aromas of intense red fruits (strawberries and raspberries) and roses.  As a sparkling wine the colors are a beautiful ruby in the glass with some purplish hues.  Delicate and light bodied, but lively on the palate with fresh and candied red fruits with soft, fizzy bubbles.   These wines are meant to be enjoyed young and fresh at cool temperatures.   

Once you’ve experienced these wines you’ll understand why it’s a natural accompaniment to fresh fruit, chocolate and charcuterie with cheeses.  In the past I've paired Brachetto d'Acqui with a walnut tart.  It was amazing!  I’ve even wanted to try it with a fresh fruit tart. 

Join my fellow Italian wine lovers as they share an array of Brachetto d'Acqui suggestions and pairings.  If you catch us live in time this Saturday on Twitter at #ItalianFWT we will be chatting at 11am EST.
  • Susannah at Avvinare explores “Brachetto d’Acqui – A Treat from Piedmont”
  • Nicole at Somms Table is pairing “Marenco Pineto Brachetto d’Acqui and Simple Strawberry Treat”
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest is ready to “Brighten Up Lockdown with Brachetto d’Acqui Sparkling Wine #ItalianFWT”
  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla is pairing “Stracotto di Manzo al Vino Rosso + Brachetto d’Acqui”
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator is pairing “Brachetto d’Acqui and Grandma’s Biscotti with Cherries Poached in Red Wine and Marscapone #ItalianFWT”
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm is “Whiling Away the Time with Marenco Brachetto d’Acqui Pineto”
  • Jeff Burrows at Food Wine Click finds “Piemonte Brachetto: Sweet, Fizzy and Red!”
  • Terri at Our Good Life is spending “An Afternoon of Wine Learning: Brachetto d’Acqui”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass is “Bingeing on Brachetto, Biscotti, Berries and a Chocolate Bunny”
  • Marcia at Joy of Wine is exploring “Brachetto: The Sweetie of Piemonte”
  • Cindy at Grape Experiences plans to “Bring Joy to the Table with Brachetto d’Acqui and Budino al Cioccolato (Chocolate Pudding Italian Style)”
 


Monday, March 30, 2020

The Unicorn of Calabrian wine with Senatore Vini

I apologize for my absence over the last couple weeks, but as the coronavirus hit the US it has taken some life adjustments as I manage a fulltime job with a 2 and 3 year old at home until at least the beginning of May.  Some personal hobbies and interests have taken a backseat as we know preparation and health is most important.  As the world suffers this terrible pandemic it’s important to stimulate our minds and still educate about Italian wines, especially supporting the Italian wine industry as the country continues to struggle, but at the same time remain strong to push forward.  I hope all my readers are staying well and please stay home.  It’s important for everyone around the world to do so in order for us eventually get back to a normal life.  

Over the last month or two I learned of an event called Savor Italy in Los Angeles promoting Italian food and wine with a focus on the regionof Calabria.  I was contacted by a long time reader of Vino Travels who imports Calabrian wine exclusively.  She shared a few bottles and I was thrilled as Calabria is a region we don’t get exposure to all too much and these are the ones that I love to share. Unfortunately, the Savor Italy event has been postponed at this time. 

2012 Senatore Vini Nerello IGPThe Region ~ Calabria 
Calabria is a southern region in Italy located on the tip of the boot.  It’s a region almost completely surrounded by water with the region of Basilicata to the north and a small separation from Sicily via the Strait of Messina.  Calabria is a region that is dominated by hills and mountains with the Southern Apennines running through it.   

The wines there are predominately red with Gaglioppo leading the charge.  The wine I’m sharing today is produced from the Calabrian Nerello grape, another red grape along with Maglioppo that can be found produced in this region. 

The Winery ~ Senatore Vini                
I conducted a brief interview with Dr. Raffaele Senatore, the President of Senatore Vini. 
What is your role at the winery and your background in the wine industry? 
Dr. Raffaele Senatore is the General Manager of Senatore Vini company, but also a medical specialist and senior professional.  The love for his land led him to devote himself completely to the winery and to reaffirm the ancient testimony of expertise and tradition that has always belonged to the family.  At the dawn of the 1900’s the grandfathers, Francesco Senatore and Giuseppe Sculco, founded their wine cellar in the district "Corfu Vecchiu" in Cirò Marina.  In the 40’s they built the ancient stone cellar in the district "Corfu Novu" which was the place of business for around 50 years until the 4 brothers, Raffaele, Salvatore, Giuseppe and Franco Senatore, in 2005 opened the currently used wine cellar within the district "San Lorenzo" of Cirò Marina.  It is a modern and technologic winery equipped with the most innovative vinification systems and wine-making machinery. 
Senatore Vini in Calabrian wine
The generations of Senatore Vini ~ copyright of Senatore Vini
Tell me about the land and soil in which your vineyards are planted. 
The soil is a medium mixture of calcareous land.  The climate of the area is a Mediterranean microclimate consisting of mild temperatures with an optimal humidity and ventilation.  The vineyards are cultivated with a low yield per plant all selected and harvested by hand, which favors quality over quantity of the fruit.  All these are important elements of the terroir and the quality of the grapes produced.   
Senatore Vini in Calabria
Copyright of Senatore Vini
What does Senatore Vini pride themselves on and what is their winemaking philosophy? 
Throughtout national and international competetions Senatore Vini has received over 40 awards.  The accolades they have received repay them of their efforts made, allowing them to offer excellent products recognized internationally. Because the company's mission is to best represent our brand: the mythological figure of the unicorn found on their labels represents an emblem of rarity, beauty and uniqueness.  

This adds up to the passion of our Management of medical derivation, which has always placed the health of consumers first.  It projects them towards the production of high quality  wines and, even more, of healthy wines. 

What is the future of Senatore Vini and any projects on the horizon? 
Our focus is on being able to make known the excellence of Calabrian wines, spreading the name of Senatore Vini and the Calabrian wine culture worldwide. We live in a beautiful area from many points of view.  We have a fantastic sea, a breathtaking view, a perfect climate and for many years now we have  produced exceptional wines. I hope the world can get to know our territory more and more and the many virtuosities it has to offer. It is also for this reason that our company is committed to wine tourism. The doors of our Estate are open to visitors, to let touch with their hand our reality. 

Calabrian food and wine pairingThe Wine ~ Senatore Nerello 
I sampled the 2012 Senatore Vini Nerello Rosso IGP.  This wine is made from the Calabrian Nerello grape and is aged in small french oak barrels for about 8-12 months.  Ruby in color and rather translucent.  Aromatics of ripe blackberries, black cherry and spice.  Full-bodied with lush dark fruits with moderate tannins.  An elegant wine with lingering fruit towards a persistent finish. ABV 13% SRP $21 

Pairing: Although not a typical Calabrian dish I felt the weight of this wine would pair well with this Nerello.  I chose to pair it with an espresso infused balsamic dressed steak.  
 
 


*This wine was provided as a sample by IVDC Imports, but opinions are all my own.

Friday, March 6, 2020

Italian Women in the Wine Industry Featuring Maso Martis #ItalianFWT

March is Women’s History month and is the perfect time to highlight and celebrate the hardwork, dedication and achievements of women in the Italian wine industry. This is the focus of our Italian Food,Wine & Travel group this month.  I’m featuring Maso Martis of the Trentino wine region in northeastern Italy where owner Roberta Giuriali and her daughter Alessandra, along with other members of the family, are dedicated to growing quality wines in the Trento DOC.  Below is an interview with Alessandra including her mother, Roberta's comments.  Enjoy! 
Maso Martis winery in Trento DOC Trentino
Copyright of Maso Martis
Tell me how the family came into the wine business. 
Maso Martis was established in 1990 by Antonio Stelzer and Roberta Giuriali, a young couple that never experienced the wine world before, but were passionate about the land and vines. In the 80’s Antonio’s father had the possibility to buy the Maso, typical house with 12 hectares of the surrounding land. This was considered a vocational area for the cultivation due to the perfect terroir.  

Tell me about Maso Martis and what is special and unique about your winery.
Maso Martis is situated in Martignano at the foothill of Mount Calisio (also called Argentario) above Trento, 450 m above sea level.  It’s a mountainous terrain that was cultivated as early as the late 80's and is well exposed and caressed by the mountain breeze. 

Between 1982 and 1984 they replanted all the vineyards, mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, a little bit of Meunier and a little bit of Moscato Rosa, a typical Trentino red grape for sweet wines. In 1990 they started the production with their own grapes  dedicated almost exclusively to the art of producing classic method sparkling wines.  This was a real challenge to face at that time, as this type of product from Trentino still had not achieved the reputation of high quality as it has today with the brand Trento DOC. 

Today the production of classic method is the integral part of our everyday life.  Over the years we've embraced a particular selection and management of the vineyards that are all of our own property.  Therefore, for us the transition to organic viticulture was the natural consequence of our way of life that focuses on life quality. From harvest 2013 we have obtained the organic certification ICEA for the vineyard and the cellar. Working with the organic method means to exploit the natural fertility of the soil favoring limited interventions, promoting the biodiversity of our environment by limiting or excluding the use of synthetic chemicals and genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We have a limited production of 90,000 bottles per year of which 80,000 are dedicated to Trento DOC. Our wines are made from organic grapes from our own production and from the grapes of little certified organic farmers on Trento hill.  The harvest on the farm is strictly handmade and is experienced today as a village festival. 

Tell me about you and your mother's background in the wine industry? 
Alessandra: I was born at Maso Martis just a few years after my parents started the winery, in 1993. I grew up in the vineyards, observing my parents’ and Matteo, our enologist, work in the vineyards, in the cellar and in the office. I experienced all the difficulties and the amount of work they had to face. I knew that I would be able to find my own space in the family business. I graduated in 2015 at the IULM University of Language, Media and Communication in Milan attending a three years course in Public Relation and Communication.  After graduation I worked for 6 months at a communication company in Trento.  In 2016 I officially took part in the family business.  Today my role is focused on social and web communication, visits and tastings in the winery. In the last three years the interest in enogastronomic travels has grown a lot. 

Roberta: My life in the wine industry began when I met Antonio Stelzer, my husband. I was 19 and I attended a school to become a teacher. Mine was a love choice. A little over twenty years old my husband's parents entrusted the management of the farm to us and in 1990 we started to work the first 150 quintals of grapes based on sparkling wine. Inexperienced and with a good dose of unconsciousness we have taken the road of sparkling wine decidedly uphill.

I was able to enjoy the trust and esteem of my husband and collaborators and I have been entrusted with the administrative and commercial part of the company which today with work from a strong team and small steps we cross the 30 year mark. 
Maso Martis Trento DOC wines
Copyright of Maso Martis
Since this focus is on Italian women in the wine industry I'd be interested in hearing your perspectives on women in the Italian wine industry.  What are some of the challenges and opportunities? 
Alessandra: I think that women today have a really important role in the wine industry. Lots of companies are guided by women that have a real capacity of management and collaboration between them. Women today tend to create groups of work, in which they have the goal to create something bigger. In Italy for example, we have the association of wine women that Roberta and I are part of.  During the year we organize lots of events around Italy and some collaborations with foreign countries. 
Roberta: There are certainly many more women today than when I started. There are huge growth opportunities. The predominance in the sector is still too male-dominated, above all in command of strategic positions (ex. Consortia) 

I see there is another daughter, Maddalena.  Are there plans for her to join the business as well? 
At the moment Maddalena is attending a course in ayurvedic Indian medicine. She loves cooking and maybe in the future she will develop the agrituristic part of the business. 

What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome since you started the winery? 
At the beginning it was a real feat. Our basic luck was to be able to count on the raw material: 12 hectares of properties grown to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier (Cabernet Sauvignon and Moscato Rosa have been uprooted over the years).  These are wonderful grapes that we have learned to know and manage better. The first bottle born was a simple still Chardonnay pending the first bottle of classic method Trento doc in 1993, the year of birth of the controlled denomination of origin dedicated to the city of Trento. The bubbles were not used except in moments of celebration. We started from scratch and from our territory, Trentino. 

Then slowly we built the sales network in Italy and abroad. In 2007 was the birth of the collective brand Trento DOC, which has constantly promoted the denomination and the classic method, helping to communicate the product's seasonally adjustment. 

Who are some of your role models in the wine business? 
There are no people and models to which we have been inspired by, despite having esteem and admiration for colleagues. We have firm principles that we stick to: respect, perseverance and determination. Our motto is never give up and always believe in it! 

What is the future of Maso Martis and what’s to come? 
The future of Maso Martis is green and international growth. We are working on completing the renewal of the vineyards. We enhanced our production by creating unique cuvees like Madame Martis (70% pinot noir, 25% chardonnay, 5% meunier) by increasing the numbers of bubbles that we intend to bring to 100,000 bottles. Ninety percent of our production is organic (only Madame Martis by age is not). We will shortly present the new graphic line of labels and packaging. Our daughters will be able to contribute with their creativity and we have opened a number of new markets. 

At the time of writing we are on Coronavirus alert and therefore have postponed our 30 year anniversary celebrations. 

The Wine ~ Maso Martis Brut Trento DOC 
Maso Martis Trento DOC BrutThis wine is made of 70% chardonnay and 30% pinot noir.  The grapes are crushed separetely and the wine off the less goes into stainless steel.  It spends about 36-48 months on the lees and goes through the process of riddling, disgorgement and bottling.  A pale straw color this wine is well-balanced with perfumed, floral aromas.  Fresh, delicate and elegant finishing with long lingering bubbles.  ABV 12.5% SRP $35   

Join our fellow Italian wine and food lovers as they share more women in the Italian wine industry with suggested food pairings.  You can also join us live on Twitter this Saturday at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.
 


*This wine was provided as sample, but opinions are always my own.