Friday, July 19, 2019

Native Grapes of Liguria

Liguria is one of the wine regions I don’t write about too often on here just due to the opportunity of not trying wines from there too often.  Earlier this summer I attended some tastings in Boston including the Gambero Rosso event and tried a variety of unique grapes from Liguria.  The grapes included pollera nera, cruvin, rossese di dolceacqua and good old vermentino and sangioveseLets dig into the region and these Ligurian wines that await exploration. 

Lunae Bosoni 
Lunae Bosoni is only about a couple miles from Tuscany between the areas of Ortonovo and Castenuova Magra.  Five generations of the Bosoni family are currently operating the winery today.  Lunae Bosoni is one of the larger producers of Liguria.  What I loved discovering about this winery is their proximity to Massa Carrara in Tuscany.  This is where my mothers part of the family hails from and I had the opportunity to go there on my honeymoon.  If you aren’t familiar with this area they are known for their marble shipped all over the world.  As you drive closer the mountains look like they’re covered with snow, but its all marble.  We took a tour inside.  Amazing! 
Massa Carrara marble caves
Tour inside the marble caves of Massa Carrara
The Bosoni family owns 85 hectares with additional land that they partially lease as well as their work with other small growers.  The name Lunae Bosoni stems from the ancient Roman city “Portus Lunae” meaning “port of the moon”.  The winery takes pride in their vermentino as well as working with other local red grapes of the area including massareta, pollera nera and sangiovese.     
2018 Lunae Bosoni Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera
Pics sourced from Montcalm Imports
2015 Lunae Bosoni Colli di Luni Rosso NiccoloI tasted the 2018 Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera and their 2015 Colli di Luni Rosso NiccoloThe Etichetta Nera is made of 100% vermentino and goes through a cold maceration for 12 hours that lends to a richer wine with more complexities.  The grapes are sourced from 35+ year old vines.  This is considered the winery’s flagship wine.  The nose reminded me of gewurztraminer with its aromatics.  Round, soft, clean with apples flavors on the palate.  This wine is done in all stainless steel spending about 3 months on the lees.  Just beautiful.  13.5% ABV SRP $21 

The 2015 Colli di Luni Rosso Niccolo is made of 70% sangiovese with 15% pollera nera and 15% merlot.  The goal is to eventually replace the merlot and make it 30% pollera nera.  Pollera nera is an old vine from the 12th century that has been rediscovered.  You will find it only in Liguria that I am aware of.  I appreciate the work that wineries like Lunae Bosoni do to reinvigorate these ancient grapes and prevent them from extinction.  Pollera nera is a thin skinned grape like pinot nero.  This wine spends about 12 months in barrique with about 6 months in the bottle.  The wine is named after Pope Niccolo that was born in the nearby town of Sarzana.  I loved the structure of this wine, the ripe cherries with herbal notes and hints of pepper.  13.5% ABV SRP $19 

Punta Crena 
Two other producers that stood out mostly because of the uniqueness of the grapes.  This tasting was the first time I had a cruvin, or at least from what I can remember.  Punta Crena is owned by the Ruffino family that have been caring for the vineyards for 500 years.  It is today run by 4 siblings of the family.  The winery is located in the tiny village of Varigotti.  Located only about 1200 meters from the sea the breezes coming off the Ligurian Sea definitely moderate the climate here for the grapes.  Punta Crena works with some unique grapes very unfamiliar to myself including crovino, mataossu and barbarossa.   

2017 Punta Crena Cruvin
Picture sourced from Kermit Lynch
Crovino is a grape that is rather difficult to work with and produces very small yields.  I believe that Punta Crena is the only winery that actually grows this grape.  In local dialect cruvin means to fall and these grapes are ones that basically fall off the vine once ripe.  The 2017 Punta Crena Cruvin is both unfiltered and unfined and spends all its time in stainless steel with about 4 months on the lees.  I immediately smelled earth and dirt upon smelling this wine.  Lots of dark fruit, some spice, lower in tannin with a smooth structure.  Quite interesting to say the least and worth seeking out.  SRP $34  

Azienda Agricola Danila Pisano 
Danila Pisano Rossese di Dolceaqua
Picture sourced from Louis Dressner
Danila Pisano is a winery located on the far west side of Liguria bordering France in the Val Verbonne Valley.  Danila, owner of the winery, restored the family vineyards in 1990 and has been making wine every since.  They became certified organic back in 1996.  Danila grows exclusively the Rossese grape, native to Liguria.  It is typically called Rossese di Dolceacqua named after the village from which it grows.  The 2017 Danila Pisano Rossese di Dolceacqua is a soft, delicate wine displaying red fruit.  Light in body with a hint of pepper, violets and currants.  For those that love red wines and are looking for something lighter to drink in the warm months you may want to check this out.  SRP $24

Friday, July 12, 2019

Oven Roasted Italian Sausage with Rioja Reserva

Usually a couple times a year I feature wines of Spain.  Our Wine Pairing Weekend group led by Jeff of Food Wine Click chose Rioja to highlight with some BBQ pairings.  Let’s get creative!   

Rioja Wine Region 
The Rioja wine region of Spain has been making wine since Roman times.  It’s one of Spains major wine growing districts located in the north central part of the country.  Only about 200 miles from Bordeaux one can really delve into some of the famous wine regions of Europe.  Back when the phylloxera vine attacking disease hit in the late 1800’s into early 1900’s some Bordeaux producers relocated to the area of Rioja since many of their vineyards were destroyed.  The area had a similar climate and growing conditions in comparison to Bordeaux.  The winery I’m sharing today, Bodegas LAN, is one of the respected wineries on this region. 
wine regions of spain
Copyright of Wine Folly

The Winery ~ Bodegas LAN 
Bodegas LAN was established in 1972 and is based in the town of Guenmajoy in the heart of Rioja Alta.  Their vineyard, Vina Lanciano, is situated along the Ebro River and is where many of their wines are  produced.  I was intrigued by the LAN in the title as I thought it was rather unique.  Come to find out it represents the 3 provinces that make up the Rioja D.O.C, Lagrono (known as La Rioja), Alava and Navarra.   

The Grapes ~ Tempranillo 
Rioja is primarily a red wine region.  The red grapes used in the wines of Rioja include tempranillo, garnachamazuelo, graciano and maturana tinta.  When it comes to Spanish wines I have always gravitated towards tempranillo as I found many similar characteristics to sangiovese, one of my favorite Italian reds.  They are medium to full body in weight displaying red fruits, primarily cherry as well as some earthy qualities and leather notes.  As you’ll see the wine I sampled was primarily tempranillo with a small amount of mazuelo
The Wine ~ Bodegas LAN 
2012 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva
The 2012 Bodegas LAN Rioja Reserva is made of 92% tempranillo with 8% mazuelo.  The grapes are grown from long time suppliers of theirs from both the areas of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa.  The vines average about 25 years old.  It is aged 18 months in oak plus an additional 21 months in the bottle.  I loved the aromatics of this wine.  The red fruit smelled luscious with vanilla notes and a hint of spice.  The wine was medium-bodied with quite a silky texture.  Well-balanced with mostly cherry notes and some blackberry showing in the glass.  A lingering finish with the tannins making an appearance at the end.  For only about $16 I find this wine to be quite a value. 

Whats unique about the oak aging of this wine are the hybrid barrels used.  Looking through the photos of their wine cellar they’re structured in a beautiful pyramidal shape.  The barrels are comprised of French oak bases with American staves.  Per their website the French lends “aromatic complexity with delicate notes of spice, touches of menthol, smoke and cocoa.  It addes a considerable amount of tannins giving great structure”.  The American oak on the other hand lends vanilla and coconut nuances.  
Bodegas LAN hybrid oak barrels
Wine cellar of Bodegas LAN ~ Copyright of Bodegas LAN
The pairing  
When I think of red spanish wines whether its garnacha or tempranillo I always gravitate to roasted meats or BBQ grilled foods.  I chose to pair the Bodegas LAN Reserva with an oven roasted Italian sausage dish with roasted potatoes and veggies.  I love the summer time as I belong to a local farm and participate in their CSA program so weekly the veggies are abundant in our home.  A super easy one pan dish to prepare and in this house the easier the better, plus my kids love sausage.  The vino is for me!  The pairing went well and I think grilling everything would be even better.  
Oven Roasted Italian Sausage with Vegetables & Potatoes
Join the rest of my fellow food and wine lovers as their share their wines of Rioja with some BBQ pairings.  If you catch us in time join us live on Twitter Saturday July 13th at 11am EST on #WinePW.  Hope to see you there! 

*Most wines were received as samples, but opinions are all my own.