Saturday, October 21, 2017

The success of Argentinian Susana Balbo & her value wines Crios

Venturing outside of Italy today I've always enjoyed the wines of Argentina and today's particular focus I was intrigued by when presented with some samples as the owner and winemaker of these wines is a very successful woman in the wine industry, which we all know is a male dominated industry. Her name is Susana Balbo and she is owner of the Susana Balbo Winery, which was established in 2002 in the town of Agrelo in the Lujan de Cuyo province of Mendoza at the foot of the Andes Mountains. Susana's son and daughter later joined her at the winery in 2011-2012.
Susana is the first female enologist in Argentina whom graduated from the Don Bosco University in Mendoza, Argentina. She began her wine career working in the wine area of Salta where her workings with the torrontes grape are what grasped the attention of others with her 1st vintage in 1983. Torrontes is an aromatic grape that does particularly well in the higher elevations of Salta and is typically used as a blending grape and Susana was working wonders with it as a single varietal.
Susana is well respected and highly praised wine figure in the Argentinian wine industry. She is known for her innovative spirit working with a variety of barrel sizes during fermentation as well as egg shaped concrete tanks for her premium wines. She also works with wild yeasts for fermentation. Her motto best states it all, “where there's a will, there's a wine”.
She has received a list of awards including being named Woman of the Year in 2015 by the Drinks Business. Luis Gutierrez of the Wine Advocate named her barrel-fermented Torrontés as one of the “10 Argentine Wines to Drink Before You Die”. She has also been elected three times as President of the Wines of Argentina association.

I sampled 5 of the value wines that Susana Balbo creates called Crios that are very fruit driven wines. The Crios line of wines was named by Wine & Spirits 3 times as the value brand of the year. You can't beat the price. Have you tried them yet?

  • 2016 Crios Torrontes Argentina - Pale yellow, almost clear in the glass with a slight green tinge. aromatics of peaches and green apples. Medium bodied, crisp and delicate on the palate with nice acidity and flavors of guava and pineapples.  A tingly touch on the finish. (SRP $15)
2016 Crios Torrontes Argentina
  • 2017 Crios Rose' of Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina Deep pink in color. A dry wine with good body full of ripe raspberries and strawberries and a hint of spice.  Make sure to drink in its youth.  (SRP $15)
2015 Crios Rose of Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina
  • 2015 Crios Red Blend Mendoza Argentina - Comprised of 40% cabernet sauvignon, 30% malbec, 20% cabernet franc and 10% merlot.  It's aged 8 months in French oak. Juicy, dark and red fruits with some complexities.  A little earthiness and a great price point.  (SRP $15).
2015 Crios Red Blend Mendoza Argentina
  • 2015 Crios Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza Argentina - Dominated by cabernet sauvignonn with an addition of 5% cabernet franc. Herbal notes on the palate balanced with fresh fruit and spice creating a wine with elegance. (SRP $15)
2015 Crios Cabernet Sauvignon Lujan de Cuyo Mendoza
  • 2015 Crios Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina - Ruby with purple tinges. Toasty and blackberries on the nose.  On the palate there are fresh and juicy berries combined with bright acid and firm tannins ending with a nice finish.  (SRP $15)

2015 Crios Malbec Uco Valley Mendoza Argentina
  *Wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own.  Pictures copyright of Susana Balbo Winery.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Chianti of Terricciola with Fattoria Fibbiano

This month our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group is celebrating a Chianti extravaganza.  Having toured this area of Tuscany many times before I was excited to write about the area and one of my favorite Italian grapes, sangiovese.  One of my fellow Italian wine lovers, Katarina of Grapevine Adventures, introduced me to Matteo and Nicola Cantoni of Fattoria Fibbiano, the sons of founder Giuseppe Cantoni.   

Fattoria Fibbiano is located in Terricciola, which is within the province of Pisa and close to one of my favorite Tuscan towns, Volterra.  Located on only about 50 acres of vines,  the soils are treated with organic fertilizers.  What I love about one of their philosophies is Nicola's following statement, "We pursue the dream of the indigenous, the real Tuscan wine. We have no intention chasing the tastes of the moment, but we believe in the contrary, that the market has expanded its borders and that the consumer is ready to taste and appreciate something unique, that is born and grows only in a precise place and that becomes like a book that tells the story of a land and
men who live it."

I have yet to visit this winery myself, but did an interview with Matteo and Nicola to get a better understanding regarding the history of the winery and the area.  Enjoy!

How did the winery begin and when was it established?
In 1997, Nicola and Matteo's family moved to Tuscany and bought the Fattoria Fibbiano Winery.  The winery itself has been operated by the family ever since.  They have a very old vineyard estimated to be about 118 years old.  The Cantoni family is from south of Milan and have been farmers for generations and moved to this area to start the winery to rediscover their roots.
Fattoria Fibbiano winery Tuscany
Tell me about the area, Terricciola, and what makes the area unique for winemaking.
Terricciola, known as the city of wine, and together with the Old Valley used to be based on a seabed. Today, the winery is located on top of the hill, at approximately 150 meters above water level and the soil is the same seabed, very rich of sea shells, clay and coral reef. The area is unique for wine making due to the the terroir, the exposition and the climate.  The vineyards have been growing there since Etruscan times, back 3,000 years.

What is the family's background in the wine industry?
The family is quite newer to the wine industry as it's only 20 years that they started. However, they've been farming for generations and their belief is that to make great wines starts with the production of great grapes.  Many times people just talk about wine making, but this is just the end of a very long process, where the grape is the origin of everything.  The family continues to keep learning day by day.
Matteo Cantoni of Fattoria Fibbiano winery
Matteo Cantoni
Why did the family choose this area to establish the winery?
There are two reasons why they chose this property: 

  • The location is perfect. On top of a hill, beautiful landscape views with a beautiful old stone big house (that they fell in love with) and in the middle of everywhere in Tuscany
  • The fact that on this property there was (and still is) an old vineyard.
Torricciola Fattoria Fibbiano winery Tuscany
What does the winery pride itself on and are their particular wines that are considered your flagship wines?
They are very proud to produce what they call "real Tuscan wine", meaning Tuscany wines produced with old indigenous varieties.  Everything started from the old vineyard, where they selected old clones for all the existing vineyards within the property.  They believe that people are ready to taste and appreciate something unique, that is born and grows only in a unique place, like a book telling the story of a land and men who live it.
Wines of Fattoria di Fibbiano
What are the goals of the winery in upcoming years?
Their goals are to continue to increase the quality and soon they're ready to launch on the market some new wines produced with very old indigenous unknown Tuscan varieties that will make unique wines for unique people.

Do you export to the United States and in what markets?
Actually USA is still our biggest market with 45-50% of the whole production. We do export 90% of our production all over the world: Europe, Asia, Canada and North Africa.

I sampled the 2014 Fattoria di Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore DOCG which is comprised of 80% sangiovese and 20% ciliegiolo.  With a ripe bouquet of red fruits and bunches of cherry jumping out on the palate this wine has rather smooth tannins with nice acidity.  
2014 Fattoria Fibbiano Casalini Chianti Superiore

Join our Italian Food Wine and Travel group on Saturday Oct. 7 at 11am EST on Twitter as we discuss our Chianti findings. We'll all be posting and chatting, join us! Just look for the #ItalianFWT hashtag on Twitter Saturday morning! 

See what our Italian Food Wine & Travel Enthusiasts have to offer:
*Wines were received as samples, but opinions are my own.  All pictures copyright of Katarina Anderson of Grapevine Adventures.