Friday, May 31, 2019

Over 150 Years of Dedication to Lambrusco with Cleto Chiarli

Let’s talk lambrusco today and put a little pep in your step with this sparkling wine hailing from the Emilia Romagna region.  Earlier this week I gave some insight into the lambrusco of today and shed some light on its origins and how far it is has come along with the different styles and areas of Emilia Romagna in which it is produced.  
A little late to the game in sharing these wines, but last year I attended a portfolio tasting from the importer Dalla Terra. I met with owner Anselmo Chiarli and Beatrice Pellini. I have wanted the perfect time to write about the wines from Cleto Chiarli that I enjoyed at that tasting.   The time is now so let’s go!  
Anselmo Chiarli and Beatrice Pellini of Cleto Chiarli
Anselmo Chiarli & Beatrice Pellini
The Winery ~ Cleto Chiarli 
Cleto Chiarli has been in the family producing wine for over 150 years and has been instrumental in getting lambrusco to where it is today.  They were the first wine producing company in Emilia Romagna back in 1860.  Founder Cleto Chiarli decided to close his osteria where he had been using his wines and to sell them on the market.  Today the winery is run by the 4th generation of family members including the great grandsons, Mauro and Anselmo Chiarli.   

The size of Cleto Chiarli’s production is tremendous.  Back in 1910 the winery was producing 1 million bottles and today produces over 20 million bottles.  An interesting fact, but they were the first in Emilia Romagna to adopt the charmat method. 
2016 Cleto Chiarli Vigneto Cialdini Lambrusco Grasparossa  
Wines ~ Cleto Chiarli  
2016 Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di CastelvetroVigneto Cialdini” DOC (Brut – RS 13 g/l) 
Definitely the favorite of the line of wines I tried.  This is produced from a single vineyard of 12.5 hectares (30 acres).  A beautiful deep, ruby color with gorgeous fruit exuded on the nose.  A dry lambrusco rich with plums and blackberries with fizzy bubbles to liven up the palate with some tannins left behind lingering on the finish.  ABV 11% SRP $14-16 
Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro “Centenario” NV DOC Amabile (RS 50 g/l) 
As you can see this lambrusco has a high residual sugar and is low in alcohol at about 8%.  Deep ruby in color with a purplish tinge.  An aromatic nose of blackberries, black cherries, plums and raspberries.  Semi-sweet and frothy bubbles.  Medium in body as well as acidity and tannin with ripe berries.   A perfect refreshing sipper for the warm weather upon us. ABV 8% SRP $12-14 
2016 Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara “Premium Vecchia Modena” DOC (Brut – RS 8 g/l) 
The flagship wine of Cleto Chiarli this was my 3rd favorite of the bunch.  It’s grown at one of their 3 estates, Tenuta Sozzigalli, which is the largest just north of Modena near the Secchia river.  A juicy wine with intense strawberries on the nose and palate.  A fresh, floral wine rather dry with crisp acidity. SRP $15-17   
So what’s the difference between lambrusco di sorbara and lambrusco di graparossaFrom this tasting alone there was a noticeable difference between the two.  Those lambrusco di sorbara were lighter in color showing fresh fruit and bright acidity.  The grasparossa di castelvetro were deeper in color leaning towards purple with a heftier body.  The fruits tended to be between red and dark fruits with tannins present.  All depends on personal preference and maybe mood as I appreciated both styles. 
With these wines only costing about $15 give or take per bottle it would be a shame not to experience them for yourself.  When I toured this region they were quite enjoyable with a platter of the local prosciutto, salami and local cheeses. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Emilia Romagna and the Lambrusco of Today

Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group will be exploring lambrusco from the region of Emilia Romagna.  I'm thrilled to be hosting and featuring lambrusco this month as I don't think it gets enough attention that it deserves.  It's a shame that some of these wines including lambrusco, pinot grigio etc. face tarnished images from the days of when the quality was low and the focus was more on quantity.  Gone are those days of low quality as there are wineries doing great things and putting lambrusco back on the map.

Emilia Romagna is located in northern Italy bordering Tuscany and Le Marche to the south and Lombardy, the Veneto and Liguria to the north.  There are 5 noteworthy DOC sub zones within Emilia Romagna where lambrusco is produced including: 
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara
  • Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
  • Reggiano
  • Salamino di Santa Croce
  • Lambrusco di Modena
Each sub-zone produces a different style of lambrusco that I've highlighted previously.  You'll find lambrusco produced in different styles that may be labeled as spumante (sparkling), frizzante (semisparkling), amabile (semisweet) and dolce (sweet).  Many of what is remembered from the past falls into the amabile category, but there are beautiful dry versions showing the true potential of this wine.
An interesting discovery from my studies during my certification program was that lambrusco was a "wild vine" that grew in the brughi, or water canals/ditches, in the plains and fields of southern Emilia Romagna.  It's a cross between the classic vitis vinifera vines and "wild" species vitis sylvestris.
Emilia Romagna wine region
Copyright of Federdoc
Besides lambrusco, Emilia Romagna also provides many gastronomic delicacies.  Home to balsamic vinegar, aceto balsamico tradizionale, tortellini, parmigiano-reggiano and prosciutto di Parma to name a few.  There is a reason they say what grows together goes together.  There is nothing like a cheese and fresh meats board with some parmigiano, prosciutto and a glass of lambrusco. Cin cin!  Don't forget Emilia Romagna is also home to Ferrari, Maserati and the amazing Luciano Pavarotti.  This region has something to offer for everyone.

Here is a preview of what is to come on Saturday June 1st amongst our group of food and wine bloggers.  Plenty of lambrusco to go around.  Pick up a bottle and join us for our online Twitter chat Saturday June 1st 11am EST at #ItalianFWT as we chat all about lambrusco.
  • Camilla from the Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be featuring "Every Wine Deserves a Second Look: Warmed Brie with Mulberry Chutney + Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena 2018"
  • Jill at L'Occasion shares "La Collina Biodynamic Bubbles -- Lambrusco!
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm highlights "Lambrusco? Really??"
  • Deanna from Asian Test Kitchen will showcase "Top 5 Fast Food Pairings with Lambrusco"
  • Jeff at Food Wine Click will share "Lambrusco Shines with Red Fizz and Fun"
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences will feature "Italian Old-School Classics: Easy Drinking Lambrusco with Spicy Vegetarian Pensa Romana"
  • Marcia of the Joy of Wine will be highlighting "Lambrusco - The Star of Emilia-Romagna" 
  • Linda from My Full Wine Glass will be sharing "Drinking Lambrusco in Strawberry Season"
  • Pinny of Chinese Food and Wine Pairings  is focused on "Picnicking with Scarpetta Frico Lambrusco"
  • Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will be sharing "Revisiting Lambrusco with Francesco Vezzelli Rive dei Ciliegi"
  • Nicole with Somm's Table shares "Cooking to the Wine: Pezzuoli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro with Antipasto Pizza"
  • Gwendolyn of Wine Predator will be showcasing "Bugno Martino's Organic Lambrusco Defy Expectations"
  • Susannah of Avvinare will be featuring "Sparkling Lambrusco from Vitivinicola Rota"
  • I'll be hosting and sharing "Over 150 years of Dedication to Lambrusco with Cleto Chiarli"

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Petrolo: The Hidden Gem of the Val d'Arno

A couple weeks ago I attended a portfolio tasting with Martignetti Companies in Boston and discovered a gem that I’m not sure how I haven’t come across previously.  I had recognized one of the labels, but guess have never guided myself in that direction to try it and boy have I been missing out.  The wines of Petrolo was this sangiovese lovers dream.  What drove me to try them at the tasting was my research the night prior when I discovered the winery is based in Bucine, Tuscany.  This is a very small town in Tuscany and happens to be the very same place where I got married.  Want to get married in Tuscany?  Check out my book, Planning Your Dream Wedding in Tuscany.   
Rocco Sanjust of Petrolo winery Tuscany
Rocco Sanjust in Boston
The Winery ~ Petrolo 
The Petrolo winery's name is rooted in Roman origins.  It comes from petroliarum meaning country residence or mansion.  The first vines of the Petrolo property were back in 1947 when it was acquired by the Bazzocchi family.  Today it is under the ownership of the Bazzocchi-Sanjust family, where the 4th generation is operating the winery.  Luca Sanjust was an artist in Rome in the 80’s and moved to the family’s estate to work in the business in 1993.   
Luca Sanjust of Petrolo Winery
Luca Sanjust, middle left, copyright of Petrolo
With over 600 acres planted to sangiovese, merlot and cabernet sauvignon the Petrolo winery believes in producing high quality wines.  An interesting fact I found on their website was that in the 50’s they had about 1500 plants per hectare that allowed them to produce 3,500 hectoliters.  Today they have about 5,500 plants per hectare only producing about 600-700 hectoliters.  With keen attention in the vineyards the yields are kept low with strict pruning to allow full concentration of the grapes.  Their goal is to truly reflect the characteristics of the land.   
Copyright of Petrolo
The Land ~ Val d’Arno di Sopra
One of Tuscany's smaller wine regions and newer DOC's established in 2011. It was previously regulated under the Colli Aretini of the Chianti designation. Winemaking in this area goes back as far as the Etruscans in 4th century BC.  

This area is located in the Arezzo province in the east and west hills of the Arno river valley.  Scattered amongst the rustic towns are hills and fields full of vineyards, olive groves and ancient farmhouses.  What is not to love.  

The Wines of Petrolo 
2015 Petrolo Torrione 
Primarily made of sangiovese blended with french varietals, about 5% cabernet sauvignon and 15% merlot.    Certified organic starting with the 2016 vintage.   Vinified in concrete vats.  This wine is aged in 15 months partially in concrete, French barriques and 40 Hl barrels.  Full-bodied wine of dried cherries with firm tannins. SRP $35 

2016 Petrolo Galatrona 
Petrolo’s flagship wine and considered their cru wine from their Galatrona-Feriale vineyard site.  This wine is 100% merlot.  Interesting story how this wine came about.  In 1994 Petrolo had forgotten to pick their merlot grapes so they decided to vinify the grapes separately unaware of what the quality may be.  James Suckling, one of America’s top wine critics, was stopping by for a visit when he had to try it.  His convictions in bottling it as a pure merlot led the wine to where it stands today as a highly acclaimed wine.  Aged in new French oak for about 18 months with about 6 of those months on the lees.  Left to age another 6 months in the bottle.  A meaty merlot with good acidity and tannins to match.  Beautiful fruit rich in plums, blueberries and blackberries with notes of spice.  SRP $130 

2015 Petrolo Boggina "C" Classico 
Both the Boggina and Galatrona wines are Etruscan names with the Boggina name stemming from a family that lived in the area over 3,000 years ago.  With vines planted back in 1952 from the original owner, Gastone Bazzocchi, this is the oldest vineyard site of the estate.  Aged up to 18 months in 40 HL French oak and 27 Hl barrels.  It spends the first 6 months on the lees and an additional 6 months in the bottle.  A more complex, full-bodied wine with depth over the Boggina A.  Floral aromatics with dried cherries.  Firm tannins. SRP $75 

2016 Petrolo Boggina A” Amphora 
This wine is produced from 100% sangiovese.  The wine is fermented and aged in amphora above ground for oxygenation.  This and the previous wine, Petrolo Boggina Classico are harvested from the same block, but just used with different methods.  Silky tannin and feminine in style with pure expression of classic sangiovese cherry notes.   
Boggina vineyards of Petrolo wines
Boggina Vineyards - Copyright of Petrolo