Friday, April 2, 2021

Frascati: The White Wine of Lazio #ItalianFWT

Whether you may have heard the name Lazio or not, if you’ve been to Italy most likely you visited Rome, which is actually in the central region of Italy called Lazio.  Not a region I’ve written about too much on here and mostly because I don’t see wines from Lazio all too often.  Katarina, our host from Grapevine Adventures chose to feature the region of Lazio for Italian Food, Wine and Travel (#ItalianFWT) this month.  With such limited time lately I actually stopped at a couple stores and couldn’t find a bottle.  Regardless, when learning about Italian wine it’s best to learn about all the wine regions, especially some of the best known from those regions and those that are the least discovered gems.  I decided to share with you today one of Lazio’s featured wines known as Frascati.  This will probably be one of the wines you’d most likely come across if you were to seek out wines in the market from this region. 

Lazio is a region dominated by white wines by about 70% over reds that are primarily based on the Malvasia and Trebbiano white grapes.  In Lazio you’ll find a couple different types of Malvasia including Malvasia Bianca di Candia and Malvasia del Lazio.  In the Lazio wine region they have the most planted Malvasia Bianca di Candia in all of Italy.  The same goes for Trebbiano where you will discover Trebbiano Giallo and Trebbiano Toscano. 

Malvasia di Lazio in Frascati
Malvasia di Lazio - Copyright of Consorzio Vini Frascati

You’ll find the appellation of Frascati up in the southeastern hills outside of Rome in an area known as Castelli Romani.  The Frascati appellations take their name from the actual town of Frascati located there.  When we’ve spoken about volcanic wines in the past throughout Italy Lazio may not come first to mind, but the soils located in and around Frascati consist of volcanic matter. 

Lazio hosts a very large number of DOCs with limited DOCGs and Frascati occupies 2 of the 3 DOCGs of Lazio: Frascati Superiore DOCG and Cannellino di Frascati DOCG.  What makes up the difference between the Frascati DOC, Frascati Superior DOCG and Cannnellino di Frascati DOCG?  Since the wines are all produced within this area there are some differences in what classifies the wines produced in this area into each appellation. 

Both the Frascati DOC and Frascati Superiore DOCG are made from the same requirements of grape composition at 70%+ Malvasia Bianca di Candia and/or Malvasia del Lazio and up to 30% blending grapes.  The Superiore though has lower yields, higher alcohol levels and can produce a Riserva style with a year plus of aging.  Typically, Frascati is a light-bodied, dry wine showing apple, florals and citrus.  As with many Italian wines the Superiore will tend to produce wines with more complexity and depth over the regular Frascati DOC. 

Cannellino di Frascati DOCG on the other hand is more of dessert style wine produced from the same variety and percentages of grapes, but the grapes are produced in a sweeter style opposed to the dry versions we previously discussed.  It’s mandatory that the grapes be harvested late, but it’s optional whether the grapes reach the favorable disease known as botrytis, also known as noble rot, or whether or not they go through an appassimento process where the grapes are partially dried.

Cannellino di Frascati DOCG
Cannellino di Frascati DOCG - Copyright of Consorzio Vini Frascati

What’s your experience with wines from this region?

Join my fellow Italian wine and food lovers as they share some other great selections of Lazio’s wine region.  Catch us live on Twitter this Saturday at 11am @ #ItalianFWT.  Ci vediamo!

  • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Lazio in California: The Quintessential Roman Pasta + 2017 Big Sur Vineyards Pinot Noir Reserve
  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: Alberico Appia Antica 400 Rosso 2016 paired with Stracci di antrodoco
  • Terri at Our Good Life: Pietro Est! Est!! Est!!! with Crab Dip Crostinis Our Good Life
  • Susannah at Avvinare: Cesanese del Piglio, Classic Wines From Lazio
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator: "If You See Kay" -- Lazio in Paso Robles? #ItalianFWT
  • Marcia at Joy of Wine: Bellone - one of Lazio's Great White Grapes
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles: Lazio – Exploring low intervention wines inspired by tradition and nature #Italian FWT
  • Katarina at Grapevine Adventures: How Wine in Lazio is Reimagining its Past Greatness


Sunday, March 21, 2021

Michele Chiarlo Gavi with Grilled Chicken Caprese

Spring is upon us as I slowly start to gravitate towards choosing a white wine over red some evenings.  Today the focus is on one of Italy’s top whites, Gavi, made from one of Piedmont’s respected producers, Michele Chiarlo.  Gavi, located in the Alessandria province, is situated in the northwestern wine region of Piedmont where it is tucked in the southereastern corner very close to Liguria and the port of Genova.  With its close proximity to both the Mediterranean Sea as well as the Alps these varying landscapes are major influences on Gavi’s wine production. 

The Winery ~ Michele Chiarlo 

This is not Michele Chiarlo’s first appearance on Vino Travels as I have featured them not too long ago talking about sustainability at the forefront at the winery.  Michele Chiarlo is a well-established name in the Piedmont wine region.  They were established in 1956 and own about 270 acres between the areas of Langhe, Monferrato and Gavi.  Their focus is only on indigenous grapes and in Piedmont there are plenty to work with.  They also don’t blend any of their grapes either.   

Today the winery is operated by the 4th generation of family members that are staying true to tradition, but also focusing on innovation while expressing their authenticity paying close attention to the environment with much manual care.   

The Grape ~ Cortese 

Gavi, also known as Cortese di Gavi, is named after the town itself and includes a number of surrounding communes located in the hills.  It is made from the Cortese grape, which is a highly productive, high acid grape.  Its home is in Piedmont where it grows in the mineral rich soils and high sunshine area where it thrives.  Gavi became a DOC in 1974 and was promoted up to DOCG in 1998.  It produces wines that are dry, low alcohol, crisp, fresh and lively that deliver floral, aromatic wines.  You’ll find notes of peach, pears, lemon/citrus and almonds.         

The Wine 

2017 Michele Chiarlo “Palas” Gavi DOCG – This wine is made from 100% Cortese on white calcareous soil.  The grapes are softly pressed where it spends a minimum of 3 months in stainless steel.  Straw colored with golden highlights.  Mostly citrus on the nose showing lemon and grapefruit with some green apple and wet stone.  Dry, medium bodied with refreshing acidity.  Pineapple and green apple on the palette with some minerality showing towards the finish.  With an SRP at $10-12 a bottle you can beat the value of this wine.   ABV 12.5%  

2017 Michele Chiarlo Palas Gavi

This wine paired lovely with a simple grilled chicken caprese topped with sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil and a drizzle of authentic balsamic vinegar from Modena.  It made me crave for warm days on the patio that lie ahead.  Here’s to the warm days of spring and summer approaching quickly where we can all get back outside for some rays of sunshine.  

Grilled chicken caprese


Friday, March 12, 2021

Italian Grapes of the Yakima Valley with Sleeping Dog Wines #WinePW

This month our Wine Pairing Weekend (#WinePW) friends partnered with the Yakima Valley in Washington state to showcase a variety of wines grown throughout the region and some suggested pairings.  

The Region ~ Yakima Valley

Yakima Valley is a land rich in agriculture known for it’s abundance of fruits and wine grapes. Vines have been in existence in the Yakima Valley since 1869, originally planted by French winemaker Charles Schanno.  The vines originated from the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company.  Modern winemaking in the Yakima really took off though in the early 20th century by an attorney of Seattle, William Bridgman, when he planted his own cuttings in 1917 that are still in existence today!  Along with Bridgman, many other families during the earlier decades including Upland Vineyards, Kiona Vineyards, Red Willow Vineyards and others are what helped lay the groundwork for what exists today.

Yakima Valley wine country in Washington
Copyright of Yakima Valley Wine country

The Yakima Valley boomed in the 80’s with new wineries and vineyards popping up throughout the region.  The Yakima Valley appellation (AVA) established in 1983 grows the largest variety of grapes in Washington state covering over 17,000 acres of vines.  Today there exists over 150 wineries that make up over half of Washington state’s wine production.  Through hard work, persistence and collaboration with Washington State University’s Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center, the wineries of Yakima Valley have made quite a name for themselves in not only Washington state’s wine industry, but the wine industry as a whole.

The Winery ~ Sleeping Dog Wines

Sleeping Dog Wines is located in Benton City, Washington in the lower Yakima Valley.  It’s a small production winery averaging about 300 cases annually.   Larry Oates, owner and winemaker, started his hobby in winemaking in 1992 and has been commercially producing since 2002 starting with Merlot, Syrah and Malbec with his wife Joyce and their “sleeping dog” Jett.  Larry’s approach is to allow the grapes to express themselves.  He holds onto the bottles for about 6-10 years before release as he feels this shows the best expression of the grapes, hence the name of the vineyards as he believes to “let the sleeping dogs lie”.  

Sleeping Dog Wines Jett
Jett the dog of Sleeping Dog wines ~ Courtesy of Sleeping Dog Wines

Larry Oates Sleeping Dog Wines
Courtesy of Sleeping Dog Wines ~ Larry and Joyce Oates with the mayor of Croatia
The Wines

Due to the limited production of these wines I was fortunate to have the opportunity to speak with Larry Oates and sample a few of his wines made from Italian grapes plus a Carmenere.  Larry sources the grapes from his neighbor Bob Buoy at Buoy Vineyards with south facing slopes over the Yakima River.  Sleeping Dog’s signature style are robust wines showing intense berries and I couldn’t agree more, especially with the Montepulciano and Carmenere.      

Italian grapes at Sleeping Dog Wines
2012 Sleeping Dog Wines Dolcetto: Made of 94% Dolcetto and 3% Montepulciano and Merlot respectively, these grapes are grown in the neighboring vineyard, Buoy Vineyard.  Another client of Buoy Vineyards was going to purchase the grapes from this small block, but it didn’t pan out so Larry decided to work with the grapes.  American oak chips are used during the primary fermentation.  The wine is aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak staves.  The Montepulciano and Merlot grapes were blended in 1 month prior to bottling.  Garnet in color this wine shows aromas of red cherry in addition to showing up on the palette.  Dry, medium bodied with good acidity and smooth tannin, the wine is balanced showing a hint of vanilla.  Only 51 cases are produced.  ABV 14.1% ABV SRP $28

2014 Sleeping Dog Wines Montepulciano: According to Larry this was the first Montepulciano planted in Washington.  The vines were planted in 2006.  Made from 100% Montepulciano also grown in the Buoy Vineyard.  American oak beans were used during primary fermentation.  This wine was also aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak staves.  Dark ruby red in color.  An intense nose of dark fruits.  Blackberry, black cherry and plums on the palette.  A hearty wine with high acidity.  Only 106 cases produced.  Luckily I received 2 bottles of this wine so I’d like to see how this wine does with time in the bottle as it seems to have aging potential.  ABV 14.4% SRP $34

2015 Sleeping Dog Wines Carmenere: These vines were planted in 2006 along with the Montepulciano.  Made from 100% Carmenere.  Similar to the Montepulciano, American oak beans were used during primary fermentation and it was aged in stainless steel with French and Hungarian oak staves.  Dark ruby with a hint of purple.  Green bell pepper and white pepper on the nose.  A full-bodied wine with good acidity with moderate tannin.  Full of flavor with a lengthy finish.  Only 81 cases produced.  ABV 13.9% SRP $35

The pairing: Life has been a little crazy as of late so I did take the lazy route this week, but who doesn’t love pizza and wine?  To be honest it was a fun weekday night sampling these wines with some delicious sausage and ricotta pizza.  My pairing of the three was the Dolcetto. 

Sausage ricotta pizza paired with Sleeping Dog Wines

Join my fellow food and wines lovers as they share some great pairings highlighting these wines of the Yakima Valley.  Catch us live on Twitter at #WinePW this Saturday @ 11am EST.

  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Cam shares “Yakima Valley’s Sin Banderas Rhone Roses Compliment Dishes with Asian Flair” and “Mediterranean-Inspired Dishes Paired with Yakima Valley Wines from Dineen Vineyards”
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass invites us to “Meet Kerry Shiels: A Yakima Valley winemaker with Vision”
  • Terri of Our Good Life shares 2 posts “Fortuity…Taking Advantage of Life’s Great Wines!”, and “Two Mountain Rose and Fennel Wild Mushroom Tarts”
  • Payal at Keep The Peas shares “Yakima Valley Wines FTW!”
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm is cooking up “Smoked Beef Brisket with Canvasback Cabernet”
  • Rupal the Syrah Queen gives us "Yakima Valley - Red Willow Vineyards Producing Some of Washington's Finest Syrahs"
  • Jane of Always Ravenous makes our mouths water with “Filet Mignon paired with Washington Yakima Valley Cabernet Sauvignon”
  • Martin with ENOFYLZ WineBlog is giving us “a Taste of Washington State’s Yakima Valley”
  • David at Cooking Chat has 2 posts for us also “Lamb Ragu Pasta with Red Wine from Dineen Vineyards” and “Sin Banderas Rosé with Corned Beef & More Yakima Valley Wine Pairings”
  • Nicole of Somm’s Table shares "Big, Beautiful Reds from Yakima Valley and Tasty, Meaty Fare"
  • Gwendolyn the Wine Predator explores “Washington Syrah: Hedges, L’Ecole, VanArnam with Lamb Stew”
  • Susannah at Avvinare gives us “Malbec from VanArnam Vineyard in Yakima Valley”
  • Lori at Exploring the Wine Glass shares “Tasting the Soul of Wine in the Heart of Yakima Valley”
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles with "Yakima Valley AVA – Blends of friendship and history with wines from Eight Bells and Pearl and Stone Co."

    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

    Friday, March 5, 2021

    Remy Wines: Italian Grapes in Oregon and a Winery After my Heart #ItalianFWT

    This month our Italian Food, Wine and Travel group (#ItalianFWT) is exploring Italian grapes around the world.  Always an intriguing search and fun experimentation to see what other states or countries around the world are growing Italian grapes and why they choose these particular grapes to grow in their particular place in the world.  The winery I sampled wines from, Remy Wines, holds a particular place in my heart as my first born son’s name is Remy.  He was a big fan seeing his name on the bottle!

    Remy Wines is located in the Pacific Northwest of the US in Oregon.  The vineyards are located in the Dundee Hills AVA of the Willamette Valley.  The owner and winemaker, Remy Drabkin, had a lifelong dream and passion to work in the wine industry starting at the young age of 8.  By the age of 14 she had worked her first harvest and by age 17 she was already studying winemaking abroad. 

    Being a native to McMinnville, Oregon where the winery is located, Remy holds strong roots to the area.  She began Remy Wines in 2006 and over the years has added a couple tasting rooms including baR (pronounced R Bar) in 2011 and her latest tasting room added in 2017 at the family’s Lone Madrone Vineyards site in Dundee.  Although Remy’s winery is small production, she prides herself on innovation as she works with Italian grapes that are very outside the norm for Oregon’s wine country.  Her focus is on Lagrein, Sangiovese, Dolcetto, Nebbiolo and Barbera.  She also has another label called Three Wives Label that she experiments with from vintage to vintage playing with blends. 

    Remy Wines Italian grapes in Oregon
    The Wines

    2017 Remy Wines Jubilee Dolcetto:  These grapes are grown in the Jubilee Vineyards in the Northern part of the Eola-Amit Hills AVA in the Willamette Valley.  Dolcetto is a grape widely grown throughout the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy.  The Jubilee Dolcetto is barrel aged 16 months in neutral oak.  Ruby in color with aromas of black licorice and blackberries.  This wine was dry and balanced with juicy acidity showing blackberries on the palette. The subtle tannins showed on the finish with a hint of vanilla finishing with nice length.  Only 206 cases are produced.  SRP $35

    2017 Remy Wines Dolcetto and Lagrein
    Chicken, broccoli and sun-dried tomato over brown rice

    2017 Remy Wines Estate Lagrein: These grapes are grown at the family vineyard in Dundee Hills.  Lagrein is such a fantastic red grape that is native to the Alto Adige region of northeastern Italy.  It’s a beautiful area surrounded by Dolomite Mountains.  Remy was the first to bottle Lagrein in Oregon.  Deep in color with purple hues.  A hefty wine with jammy fruit, notes of chocolate and a hint of herbs with chewy tannins.  I wish I had opened this when I grilled some rib eyes a couple weeks ago.  The Estate Lagrein is aged 2 years in 50% new American oak.  Only 125 cases were produced.  SRP $58

    Join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers on Twitter this Saturday @ 11am EST at #ItalianFWT as we share many other Italian grapes around the world.

    • Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla: “Cheesy Bites, a Colorful Board, and a Barbera...from California”
    • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm: “Italian Grapes Grown Outside of Italy and Served Out of a Box? Che Diamine!!!”
    • Andrea at The Quirky Cork: “Tuscany Meets Turkey with Chateau Murou Montepulciano Sangiovese”
    • Marcia at Joy of Wine: “Exploring Italian Grape Varieties Down Under with Zonte's Footsteps”
    • Jeff at foodwineclick: “Italian Grapes from Unti Vineyards at the Winter Grill”
    • Martin at ENOFYLZ: “A Splendid Cal-Ital: 2016 Giornata Nebbiolo Luna Matta Vineyard”
    • Terri at Our Good Life: “Italian Grapes in Lodi Paired with Grilled Salmon Tacos”
    • Nicole at Somm’s Table: "2 Italian White Wine Blends Born in California"
    • Gwendolyn at wine predator: “Italy in California: from Aglianico to Zinfandel” and “Italy in California: Nebbiolo from Humbolt's Terragena and Santa Barbara’s Silver”
    • Susannah at avvinare: “Vermentino, A Star In and Out of Italy”
    • Linda at My Full Wine Glass: “Native Italian grapes find a home in the land of Pinot Noir”

    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

    Sunday, February 28, 2021

    Expressions of Terroir with Chianti Classico

    I attended a virtual horizontal tasting last month called “Expressions of Terroir” sampling the different communes of Chianti Classico led by Jeff Porter in partnership with the Chianti Classico Consortium.  The tasting was focused on learning and understanding the difference between the communes and the styles they produce.  Each have a variety of different soils, altitudes, climates etc. each playing their own role in the development of the grapes. 

    Chianti Classico is the oldest appellation in Italy.  The land had been defined in 1716 by Cosimo del Medici, but the specific Classico territory wasn’t established until 1932.  What we know as the “recipe” for Chianti Classico was created by Bettino Ricasoli in 1848, which originally included white grapes that have been removed as of 2006. 

    The territory contains 10,000 hectares under vine with 7,200 hectares dedicated to Chianti Classico over 515 estates.  Forty percent of these producers are either certified or under conversion to be certified while 70% of them are practicing sustainability.  Even one third of them are using alternative sources for energy so there is a strong focus in this appellation for the preservation of the environment and it’s resources. 

    There are 4 different soils that primarily make up the vineyards of Chianti Classico including alberese, lending acidity, galestro producing wines with sapidity, macigno Toscano, a sandy and light well drained soil and lastly argille, a clay based soil good for moisture retention. 

    The Wines

    Now a focus on the Chianti Classico wines tasted.  There were a taste of seven samples from the northern part of the territory in the Florence province to the southern part of Chianti Classico in the Siena province.  Although I enjoyed them all, four of them were my particular favorites.

    Chianti Classico wine producers

    San Cassiano in Val di Pesa (Florence) – Fattoria I Collazzi

    This is the closest commune to the city of Florence just southwest on the outskirts.  San Casciano in Val di Pesa is a lower altitude and one of the warmer communes.  It’s a smaller territory with Fattoria I Collazzi occupying 400 hectares with 200 hectares planted to olive trees and only 10 hectares dedicated to Chianti Classico vineyards at about 1,000 feet above sea level.

    San Casciano is located along two ancient rivers, Greve and Pesa, that are west and east of town.  The soils are alluvial consisting mostly of clay and galestro along with some river pebbles that allow the wines some softness and approachability.  The galestro helps with the acidity in the wine and provides structure, but elegance.    

    The 2018 I Collazzi I Bastioni Chianti Classico DOCG is made of 80% Sangiovese with 18% Merlot and 2% Malvasia Nera.  It’s aged 12 months in barrel with an additional 4 months in the bottle.  It’s a medium bodied wine with tart cherry and a vibrant acidity with cedar and tobacco notes on the finish.  Alberto Torelli mentioned that the 2018 vintage was one of the best in the last 10 years with a balanced climate.  ABV 13.5%

    Greve in Chianti (Florence) – Podere Castellinuzza 

    Greve in Chianti is located southeast of Florence.   It’s a quick jaunt outside of Florence and is a quaint town with a great town center.  Podere Castellinuzza is located in the village of Lamole, only comprised of 9 producers total in the Monte del Chianti so the vineyards are at high altitudes.  The area is known for their irises, olives and vines with an aquaphor underneath the village providing water to the area.  Podere Castellinuzza has about 3.5 hectares of vines.

    The soil in the area is made primarily of macigno del chianti, a sandstone that faces a lot of water stress and results in wines that are more floral, elegant and with the higher altitudes you’ll see wines with higher acidity.

    The 2018 Podere Castellinuzza Chianti Classico DOCG is made of 95% Sangiovese and 5% Canaiolo.  It’s aged 18 months in barrel with 6 months in the bottle. A sweeter nose of ripe cherries.  It’s vibrant, floral and fresh being more fruit forward than the others.  ABV 14%  

    Barberino Tavarnelle (Florence) – Il Poggiolino

    Barberino Tavarnelle is on the northwestern side of the appellation, therefore receiving some of the winds from the Mediterranean Sea.  The winters are milder with the summers cooler and breezy so the vines sprout earlier with a later harvest.  The soil here is mostly made of galestro with some flysch sediment and blue clay that maintains humidity and balance for the summer months. 

    The 2018 Il Poggiolino Chianti Classico was a favorite for me.  Made of 95% Sangiovese with 5% Colorino this wine is aged 8 months partially in both big and small barrel with an additional 4 months in the bottle.  A balanced wine with nice structure and moderate tannin.  Deeper cherry flavors with a licorice, herbal notes and tobacco.  Higher acidity with nice length.  ABV 13.5% SRP $25

    Chianti Classico communes
    Copyright of Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico

    Castellina in Chianti (Siena) – Tenuta di Lilliano

    Castellina in Chianti is located northwest of Siena in the southern part of Chianti Classico.  It’s a bigger subzone that is hard to define.  It is a warmer climate and Alessandro Ruspoli from Tenuta di Lilliano defined the commune of Castellina in Chianti’s wines as “savory, balanced with freshness”.  The winery was started by Alessandro’s grandmother in 1920 and was commercially bottled in 1958. 

    They own about 1,100 acres with 100 planted to vineyards and the rest occupied by crops, olives and forest.  The soils are rich in alberese that result in wines that are fresh with good acidity.

    The 2018 Tenuta di Lilliano Chianti Classico DOCG was another chosen favorite.  Made of 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot.  It was showing deeper, riper fruit of cherries and violet.  Acidity was prevalent on the back tongues with low to moderate tannin on the finish.  This wine was aged 12-14 months in botti with an additional 3 months in the bottle.  Momentarily the winery is using 5% Merlot as the Canaiolo is being regrafted, but they plan to go back to a heavier amount of Canaiolo to replace the Merlot.  ABV 14.5%

    Radda in Chianti (Siena) – Monteraponi

    This is the smallest area of Chianti Classico just about 20km north of Siena.  A large part of this territory is forest.  Monteraponi has been farming organically since 2009.  Their soil is primarily based on alberese lending acidity to the wines.  This is one of the oldest soils in Chianti Classico.  They have 12 hectares mostly planted to Sangiovese with some Canaiolo, Colorino and Trebbiano.

    The 2018 Monteraponi Chianti Classico DOCG is made of 95% Sangiovese with 5% Canaiolo.  It spent 16 months in French and Slavonian oak with an additional 2 months in the bottle.  This wine had juicy acidity showing more black cherry and a hint of menthol with moderate tannin and a silky finish.  When I went back to retaste the wine after I even picked up a little toasted marshmallow.   ABV 13.5% SRP $28

    Gaiole in Chianti (Siena) – Badia a Coltibuono

    Gaiole in Chianti is northeast of Siena and there are about 45 producers there.  It overlooks three valleys and receives a lot of water from the mountains.  It’s a larger territory and Roberto Stucchi Prinetti of Badia a Coltibuono recommends that the territory be divided into 4 sub zones since it’s very diverse between altitudes and soils.  The soil contains a lot of limestone and in northern Gaiole there is a lot of macigno that is lighter and sandier. 

    Monks had been making wine on their property since the 11th century.  The abbey is located in the north of Gaiole, but the vineyards of Badia a Coltibuono are located in the southern part of Gaiole and Roberto describes these typically as “concentrated, robust and elegant”. 

    The 2018 Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico DOCG is made of 90% Sangiovese with 10% native red grapes including Canaiolo, Colorino and Ciliegiolo.  It spends 12 months in large botti with an additional 2 months in bottle.  I’ve always been a fan of Badia a Coltibuono so this was another favorite pick of mine.  Well-balanced showing beautiful cherry notes, fresh acidity, and supple tannins.  ABV 13.5% SRP $21

    Castelnuovo Berardenga (Siena) – Felsina

    Castelnuovo is the most southern part of Chianti Classico.  It is more hilly than some of the other communes and receives a light breeze and is an open area so it has nice ventilation.  They own a number of vineyard sites over 72 hectacres so there are a variety of altitudes and soils.  Most of it is white alberese and the sandy soils and limestone lend more florals to the wine. 

    The 2018 Felsina Berardenga Chianti Classico DOCG is made of 100% Sangiovese selected from 11 of their parcels.  It’s aged 12 months in barrel with an additional 10 months in the bottle.  This is their mostly sold wine with a production of 280,000 bottles.  This is their estate wine with the first vintage released in 1967.  Chiara Leonini from the winery says the main characteristics of their wine show herbal and balsamic notes.  The wine is fresh with bright acidity, cherry, herbal and tobacco notes.  A well-balanced wine.  Another fav of the day!  ABV 13.5% SRP $26


    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

    Monday, February 15, 2021

    Vite Colte Barbera d'Asti Superiore with Orecchiete and Sausages

    A couple months ago I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend a virtual tasting event from the Vite Colte winery in Piedmont.  The Piedmont wine region in northwestern Italy produces some of my favorite Italian wines and the fact that they were all based on the Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes were just icing on the cake. 

    The Winery ~ Vite Colte 

    The winery I’m highlighting today, Terre da Vino, was a first for myself to experience.  Terre da Vino plays a large role in the wine industry in Piedmont.   A coop of their size working with over 2,500 members with over 12,360 acres (5,000 ha), I'm surprised I haven’t experienced them sooner.  There is always so much to learn and try when it comes to Italian wine it’s a non-stop learning curve.   

    Terre da Vino started a project back in 2010 under the subsidiary, Vite Colte, that takes their wine production to another level focusing on selecting the best vineyards and growers to produce top quality wines from about 780 acres.  The project consists of about 194 growers that have been selected that each dedicate a portion of their grapes to Vite Colte.   The winery is located within Barolo and as they state on their website Vite Colte is like a “winery in a winery”. 

    How does Vite Colte select their growers?  They have strict protocols and selection criteria based on a multitude of factors including soil, altitude of the vineyards, vine density, low yields and the grapes grown.  The vineyards must be over 15 years of age.  The growers must prune based on the number of buds.  Close attention must be paid to the plant’s nutrition with manual vegetation management.  All grapes must be harvested by hand with a production of 4.4 pounds per vine and the harvest date has to be closely monitored.  So as you can see the growers work closely with the agronomist, Daniele Eberle and Winemaker, Bruno Cordero, on making sure all of this is achieved to attain the highest quality that Vite Colte is looking to attain. 

    The Wine 

    At another point I’ll share the Barolo and Barbaresco wines that I sampled from this virtual tasting, but today I’m focused on Vite Vole’ts Barbera d’Asti wines that are the flagship wines of Vite Colte. Their first vintage working with Barbera was in 1988.  Per Vite Colte’s website they have the largest amount of acres dedicated to the Barbera grape at about 222 acres.  They produce about 450,000 bottles of Barbera d’Asti.  The grapes under the La Luna e I Falo label come from 44 growers over 148 acres.  They are all located within the Asti province including the areas of Ronchetta Tanaro, Nizza, Monferrato, Monbaruzzo, Calamandrana and Agliano Terme. 

    Vite Colte Barbera d'Asti Superiore

    2012 Vite Colte La Luna e I Falo Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG 

    Deep ruby in color.  Medium-bodied with some spice on the nose.  This wine leaned more toward dark red fruits, mostly cherries and raspberries.  Lively acidity, smooth and well-balanced and elegant with vanilla notes.  SRP $20-25 ABV 14%  

    2018 Vite Volte La Luna e I Falo Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG 

    I found this more recent vintage to lean more towards rich dark fruits, blackberries and black currants, with some herbal undertones.  Great acidity and silky tannins towards the finish.  Richer Barberas than most, but also still a young wine with time age.  SRP $20-25 ABV 14.5% 

    Pairing with Barbera d'Asti: After the tasting I resampled these wines with an orecchiette dish I prepared in a marinara sauce with sliced Italian sweet sausages topped with 24 month aged parmigiano reggiano.  The one great thing about Barbera is that due to it's high acidity it pairs well with many dishes, including this one.  Plus, since this Barbera was rich in style with depth it stood up well to this marinara sauce and sausage that had a little spice.

    Orecchiette with Sausages paired with Barbera d'Asti Superiore


    *These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.