Friday, May 25, 2018

Malvasia on the Island of Sicilia with Tasca d'Almerita

A few weeks ago I was invited to a tasting of the Dalla Terra portfolio where 9 families of Italian wine producers were visiting Boston.  I love opportunities like these, especially when they all Italian.  It was the perfect opportunity to take the day off of work and meet these folks.  I made it through 7 of the 9 so I have plenty of stories and wines to share with you in upcoming weeks.  Life is a little crazy right now with getting our house ready for sale while trying to find one never mind balancing two little ones under 2, but that's why we have wine right?!
Giuseppe Tasca of Tasca d'Almerita
Giuseppe Tasca

The wines I'm sharing with you today are made from the malvasia grape from Tasca d'Almerita on the island of Sicily.  This was my first stop of the day and I was greeted by co-owner of the winery and VP, Giuseppe Tasca.  Giuseppe, along with his brother Alberto and father Count Lucia Tasca, manage the operations of the winery today.  Giuseppe greeted me with such enthusiasm and was so proud to tell me the history of his family and the estates that they own.  He walked me through all his pictures and explained the differences between the 5 farms, known as tenuta, and how the expressions of the grape varieties differ from the variety of landscapes that they're grown on.  Those 5 estates include
  • Tenuta Capofaro (Salina)
  • Tenuta Tascante (Mt. Etna)
  • Tenuta Whitaker (Mozia)
  • Tenuta Regaleali (DOC Sclafani county)
  • Sallier de la Tour (Palermo province)
Tenuta Capofaro of Tasca d'Almerita
Tenuta Capofaro
The malvasia wines I'm sharing come from the Tenuta Capofaro estate.  This particular estate is located on the Aeolian island Salina, a UNESCO World Heritage site, off the northeastern coast of Sicily.  At the estate they only grow malvasia, known there as malvasia della lipari, on their vineyards that consist of 6 hectares situated on ancient lava rock.  This area is known for malvasia typically produced as a sweet wine.  Tenuta Capofaro wanted to present it also in a different light and show it as a dry style wine with freshness and elegance, hence their Didyme wine I tasted below.
Malvasia della Lipari Tenuta Capofaro
Giuseppe was showing me pictures of the resort that guests can stay at on their estate. Looked like heaven to me!  They purchased this estate back in 2002 and at the time majority of the hectares were already planted with malvasia, but they restructured some of the vineyard and kept the best quality vines.  
Tenuta Capofaro Sicily
The 2 wines I tasted were the 2016 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Passito called "CapoFaro" and the 2017 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Didyme.  I hope you have an opportunity to taste these wines and to experience malvasia in its different styles.

2016 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Passito "CapoFaro" Salina IGT made of 100% malvasia.  These malvasia grapes are dehydrated indoors, concentrating the sugars in the grapes.  They're fermented in stainless steel and aged for 6 months.  The wine showed a beautiful balance of sweetness and acidity without the heavy viscosity of other dessert wines.  Beautiful notes of honey and peaches.  SRP $38 (wine-searcher)

2017 Tenuta Capofaro Malvasia Didime Salina IGT made also with 100% malvasia.  This wine is named after the old name of the island "Didyme".  A light-bodied dry wine that is crisp, elegant, showing nice minerality and acidity combined with some citrus, flowers and herb notes.  SRP $16 (wine-searcher)
Tasca d'Amerita Malvasia Bianca Didyme
Happy Memorial weekend to everyone!

*Pictures and information sourced from Jarvis Communications and Tasca d'Almerita.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Vermentino of Toscana with Aia Vecchia

In the Boston area this past week we have experienced a blast of heat and definitely got me into the mood for some whites, which is the highlight of our Italian Food, Wine & Travel groups feature this month as we discuss the white grape of Italy, vermentino. 

Vermentino is a grape that can be found in a number of regions within Italy and as if it's not hard enough to learn about all the indigenous grapes of Italy, but in certain regions it is known under a different name.  This grape can be found in Tuscany, Piedmont where it's known as Favorita, Sardinia and Liguria where it's known as Pigato. 

Vermentino is a dry, light-bodied aromatic white wine with refreshing acidity, floral and citrus notes and a finish at times that includes almonds.  Jancis Robinson calls vermentino a grape that is "racy, citrus, often mineral and sometimes marine character of refreshing dry wine, usually unoaked and moderate in alcohol".

I opened a 2015 Aia Vecchia Vermentino of Tuscany that I had on hand last week and days later happened to receive an invitation to meet one of the members of the Pelligrini family that produces the wine so it all happened at just the right time.
Elia Pelligrini from Aia Vecchia
Elia Pelligrini
Aia Vecchia is located between Bolgheri and Castagneto Carducci and lies oalong the Tyrrhenian Sea.  The winery began in 1996 with their first vintage in 1998.  Their aim was to produce wines of high quality from small plots that were Super Tuscans.  Prior to producing their own wines most of their grapes were sold to other historic estates in the area. 

They have vineyards in both the Maremma and Bolgheri areas of southern Tuscany.  Of their 104 acres of vines planted, 74 of those are under the Bolgheri DOC.  Within Bolgheri you’ll find more international varieties like merlot and cabernet sauvignon vs. the more indigenous grapes of Italy. Aia Vecchia grows Bordeaux grapes including cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc, merlot and petit verdot which are showcased in their wines "Sur Ugo and Lagone" that I tried at the event this week and will share in an upcoming article. 
Tuscan wine regions including Maremma and Bolgheri
Tuscan wine regions including Bolgheri and Maremma copyright of Wine Folly

2015 Aia Vecchia Vermentino Toscana IGTThe vermentino I’m sharing today grows on their estates known as Magiano in Toscana and Orbetello located in Grosseto.  There is a small percentage, 5%, of this wine that includes viognier for weight and florals.  The 2015 Aia Vecchia Vermentino Toscana IGT was straw colored with lemon and citrus notes in the glass.  A dry white light on the acidity and a round mouthfeel with some tropical notes and a hint of almond.  I enjoyed the 2016 that I had at the tasting more than the 2015 due to its salinity and citrus notes, but I personally feel with a lot of these white wines the fresher the better. SRP $14. 13% ABV.

Join the rest of our Italian crew this Saturday May 5th live on Twitter at 11am EST #ItalianFWT and learn all about vermentino around Italy.  Join in the fun! See you then for a taste of summer.