Saturday, September 28, 2019

Leading the way for Teroldego in the Trentino with Elisabetta Foradori

For a long time now I’ve heard about the wines of Elisabetta Foradori, but had yet to try them.  I attended a tasting and tried a couple of the teroldego wines that she produces.  Until I did my research into the Foradori winery as well as studing for my Italian Wine Scholar certification I didn’t realize that impact she has made on the wine industry in the Trentino wine region, especially with the teroldego grape. 

The Winery 
The Foradori winery was started back in 1939 by Vittorio Foradori.  Due to the passing of Vittorio, his daughter Elisabetta Foradori took over upon her graduation in enology from the Istituto di San michele all’Adige.  
Biodynamic wines of Elisabetta Foradori
Elisabetta Foradori
Elisabetta has made many changes including becoming biodynamic in 2002 with a later Demeter certification in 2009.  In 2010 Elisabetta and 10 other producers established the I Dolomitici consortium in Trentino.  Their site provides an in depth look into the close care and attention that she takes in producing wines biodynamically.  It’s all about a relationship with nature, the vines and the land with the least amount of manipulation to allow the grapes to show their true selves in the glass. 

Campo Rotaliano wines of Elisabetta ForadoriThe Grape ~ Teroldego 
Teroldego is a grape native to Trentino and grows particularly well in the area of the Campo RotalianoThis plateau of flat land surrounded by the mountains in northern Trentino is made of stony alluvial soils, limestone and gravel.   

Teroldego wines are dark and deep in color, full-bodied, rather fruity with ripe berries, smooth tannins and a little spice.  Aged wines developer further dense, complex characteristics.   

The Wine 
2015 Foradori Granato TeroldegoThe 2015 Foradori Granato Teroldego Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT is made of 100% teroldego.  It is sourced from 3 vineyards of theirs in the Campo Rotaliano.  The wine is fermented in large open oak casks and spends 15 months in old oak botti up to 22 hectolitres.   It is unfiltered with an additional year of age in the bottle.  A beautifully dense and concentrated wine rich in blueberries and blackberries.  Full-bodied, but nice elegance with a lasting finish.  SRP $53 

The Granato is the longest aged wine they have.  The first vintage of Granato was produced back in 1986.  This wine brought international attention and recognition to what Elisabetta was and is achieving at the winery.  

On their 70 acres of land, 75% of it is dedicated to teroldego with the rest including manzoni bianco, nosiola and pinot grigio.  The winery originally used new French barriques with some of their wines, but hasn’t used any new or used barriques since 2008.  Elisabetta felt it was better to shift to a “gentle and traditional, true terroir focus”.  Winemaking choices like this, plus being organic, biodynamic, hand-harvesting grapes, spontaneous fermentation and other methods are what make her wines special.   

Today Elisabetta is joined in the winery by her two sons and I look forward to hopefully trying some of the other wines that she produces and learning more about her mark in the wine industry in Trentino.  

*Pictures copyright of Elisabetta Foradori and photographer Andrea Scaramuzza.

Friday, September 20, 2019

Tasting with Matteo Ascheri of Ascheri Winery in Piedmont

I’ve been wanting to revisit wines from the Ascheri winery in Piedmont since I traveled there back in 2009.  Recently I had the opportunity to be reacquainted with the owner, Matteo Ascheri, at a tasting in Boston sampling a large lineup of his wines.  Such a passionate and jovial man and it’s a pleasure to share some of my favorites from the day.   
Matteo Ascheri wines of Piedmont Barolo
Matteo Ascheri, owner of Ascheri winery
I won’t go in depth into Matteo’s winery as you can view my previous article, Touring the Ascheri Winery in Piedmont, I wrote close to when I started my blog some years ago.  What I found interesting reflecting back is that one of the wines I’m sharing today was also my selection in a different vintage during my visit.  When you have a style and type of wine you like I guess it is what it is. 

The Winery 
The Ascheri winery has been producing wines since 1880 and after so much time, dedication, hard work and passion it’s no wonder that their wines are an “expression of the vineyard it comes from, of the grapes it is made of, and above all of our own ideas” as stated on their site.  They believe in sustainable practices and “non intervention”  with use of moderate technology and larger oak casks to display the best expression of their wines. 

And a big congratulations to Matteo for being appointed President of the Consortium of Barolo, Barbaresco, Alba, Langhe and Dogliani in early 2018. 

The Wines 
2018 Ascheri Pelaverga di Verduno – This grape, pelaverga, is a rather rare red grape with only about 150,000 bottles produced in total on 22 hectares amongst the growers, according to Matteo.  I appreciate that the winery donates 10% of the wine to an organization for the poor. The label is designed after the organization.  Pelaverga, meaning green skin, is only found around the town of Verdune within the Langhe appellation.  Another grape that almost faced extinction until some producers, including Matteo, decided to reinvigorate it.  It’s a wine that is very easy to drink, lighter red in color with a bouquet of strawberries and a little spice.  Nice bright acidity and moderate tannins.    SRP $18 

The next 2 wines are part of Matteo’s “collectible collection”.  Per their site what makes these wines special to him is that “after years of investments in the vineyards and in the cellar, trying to develop a personal approach I was able to produce these wines that best represent my ideals and my ideas.  Mainly because they are the perfect fusion of my thinking and the reality.”  

2015 Ascheri Barolo Pisapola Verduno – As they call it “forward and stylish” this is a wine they produce only in the best vintages.  This nebbiolo is something I would really love to taste in years to come.  Although the tannins were gripping it had a beautiful velvety finish to it.  Newly released. 

2015 Ascheri Barolo Sorano Serralunga d’Alba - Again my pick of the barolos at the tasting.  This is what the winery calls their “classic barolo”.  Beautiful fruit, dried flowers, spice, nice acidity and a wine rather approachable in its youth, but with many years to develop in the bottle.  Newly released. 
Ascheri Barolo Sorano in Piedmont
Sorano vineyards at Ascheri winery ~ Copyright of Ascheri
Have you visited Piedmont and what are some wineries you have enjoyed? 

Friday, September 13, 2019

Brazilian Sparkling Wines with Salton Brut

Learning about wine is a never ending process and even though I like to focus on Italian wines I believe it’s important to understand wine on a broader scale as well. I’m always intrigued when I discover Italian grapes being grown on different terroirs.  This month our Wine Pairing Weekend group is discovering Brazilian wines.  Definitely another first for me.

Brazil’s Wine History
Brazil has been making wine from some time, but more table wines kept for local consumption.  In recent decades is where they have becoming more prevalent on the wine scene and producers are focusing on increasing the quality of the wines.  With the first appellation, Vale dos Vinhedos, only just recently established in 2002.  Today the number of wineries stands at around 1,000. 

Although Brazil is known mostly for their sparkling wines there are plenty of still wines getting recognition as well.  Many of the varietals produced throughout the country are Italian and French.  Per Decanter, grapevines were brought to Brazil back in the 1530’s by the Portuguese.  It wasn’t until Italian immigrants came in 1875 bringing their wine knowledge and establishing a wine culture that would get the Brazilian wine producers to start to bottle their wine for commercial use.

The Winery
I tried wine from the Salton winery located in Bento Goncalves, the main city of Brazil’s largest wine region, Serra Gaucha.  Serra Gaucha is in the southern part of Brazil near Uruguay in the state of the Rio Grande do Sul.  About 80-85% of the country’s production comes from this region. Serras means low mountain ranges and Gauchos are the cowboys of the Brazilian Pampas, or lowlands.    

The Salton winery is stated to be the oldest running winery and was founded in 1878 by Italian immigrant, Antonio Domenico Salton.  He came over from Northern Italy to seek out land and establish himself in Brazil.  In 1910 Antonio involved his 7 sons into the business.  They’re actually so large they produce around 9-10% of Brazil’s wine production.  Pretty amazing!  Although a large portion of their grapes are purchased from small growers that they have established long term relationships they do also grow some of their own grapes. 

Salton Alma Sparkling BrutThe Wine
Although I’m not a fan of sparkling wine how can you not beat a bottle sold at $5 a bottle.  The Salton Alma Brut is made of 60% moscato and 40% trebbiano grapes.  All Italian grapes obviously.  I was surprised with it being so dominated by moscato that it didn’t let off more florality.  A dry, crisp bubbly with lingering lemon and minerality on the finish.  ABV 11.5% 

The pairing: Although sparkling wines can be paired with a large array of foods a simple appetizer and glass of bubbly is a perfect way to start any occasion.  I paired the Alma Brut with crostini topped with Fig and Walnut Butter from Stonewall Kitchen and an Artichoke Antipasto spread from Trader Joes.  Of course I had to add some slides of fresh pecorino cheese, my favorite!  It was the perfect day to end the work week for me and was quite enjoyable. 
Brazilian sparkling wine food pairing with Salton winery
Please join me, Wines of Brasil and my fellow bloggers while we share our wine pairing suggestions for Brazilian wines. It is easy to join along, even if you don’t have a blog. Just tune in to Twitter and follow #winePW Saturday at 11am EST. In the meantime, check out my friends suggestions for meals to pair with Brazilian wines.

      *This wine was received as a sample, but opinions are all my own. 

      Friday, September 6, 2019

      An Amarone Pairing with a Visit to Brunelli

      The Valpolicella wine region is one I have probably explored the most in depth as it was my first press trip as a wine blogger.  I’ve even been a number of times including my own personal travel there so I have a pretty good understanding of the land, the grapes and the styles of wine grown there.  Our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group this month is exploring passito wines.  It gave me the perfect excuse to open a bottle that I brought back from Italy when I traveled through this wine region in 2009, prior to being a blogger at that time.   

      Passito Wines 
      What are passito wines?  They’re wines that undergo a unique process of drying the grapes, known as the appassimento process, before they go through fermentation. The grapes are either laid out of mats to dry or as I saw from my journey there they were laid in crates with fans blowing on them.   As you can imagine this concentrates the sugars in the grapes developing a more richer, complex style with depth.  Think about your average grape and then think about raisins.  Very different flavor there as the water evaporates from the end product.   
      These weren't from Brunelli, but during my travel in the region.
      Amarone stems from the word amaro meaning bitter as this wine can be compared to its sweeter counterpart, recioto della valpolicella.   Amarone is the dry version of a recioto.  Back in the day producers let natural fermentation take place until some discovered by accident that the sugar of the dried grapes had all been metabolized.  It was initially labelled as Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone until the 1990’s when it stood on its own as you see it today, Amarone della Valpolicella.    
      The Land ~ Valpolicella 
      The Amarone DOCG wines are an appellation within the Valpolicella wine region of the Veneto.  Just north of Verona this wine region borders the Monti Lessini Range along the Adige River on the western side.  The name Valpolicella stems from a Latin word meaning “valley of many cellars”  and wineries here are a plenty.  I remember from my travels that the valleys fan out throughout the region looking almost like fingers.  It reminded me a little of the Finger Lakes wine region of upstate NY I travel to annually.   

      The Grapes 
      Amarone wines are produced from a variety of grapes at differing percentages including corvina, corvinone, rondinella and molinara.  The Brunelli Amarone I’m sharing today is  made of 65% corvina, 25% rondinella and 10% corvinone.     Corvina is the primary red grape produced in the Valpolicella wine region.  Rondinella is another popular varietal of the region typically blended in many of the red wines found in Valpolicella as well as the wine area of Bardolino.  It’s considered a relative of the former corvina mentioned.  Corvinone is used in smaller percentages, but adds some beefiness and body to the blends in which it is used. 

      The Winery ~ Brunelli 
      The Brunelli winery is located in San Pietro in Carino, within the Amarone Classico wine zone.  This is the most western part of the Valpolicella wine producing area and like most classico wine zones is considered the heart of the wine region.  Considered the best wines of the area, although I hate to generalize as we know there are always diamonds in the rough. 
      The history of the Brunelli winery starts back in the 18th century when three brothers were sharecroppers that worked the land of a noble family out of Verona.  They produced a variety of crops and took care of the farm animals.  At one point they decided to produce recioto and valpolicella wines giving half to the owner of the land.  Word got out of the quality of the wines they were producing by locals and a visiting bishop.  At the beginning of the 20th century they had an opportunity to become full owners.
      My visit back in 2009
      The great grandfather of today’s current manager, Alberto Brunelli, started the winery in 1936.  After World War II past he passed the winery down to his son, Giuseppe, whom started to bottle the wines.  This was at a time when most growers of the area were selling their wines in bulk.  Alberto’s father, Luigi, took over the winery in 1976 purchasing 2 parcels of land in the Classico area.  These parcels were called Campo Inferi and Campo del Titari.   

      I love that these parcels of land have such meaning as Luigi had a childhood horse whom he named the vineyard of Campo del Titari after.  It produced wines that reminded of grace and power.  The tobacco and leather notes reminded him of the horse’s saddle while the deeper color reminded him of the black horse.  The wines produced there are considered to have a “determined and enigmatic character” like himself.  The other parcel, Campo Inferi, has more gentler, feminine style traits like his wife.     
      The Wine 
      The 2006 Brunelli Amarone della Valpolicella Classico that I opened was quite the treat.  Amarone wines are ones that definitely need some oxygen to open up.  I personally like to taste it through its many stages upon opening, some hours later and even the next day if some is left over.   

      This Amarone was a deeper ruby in color, paler on the edges.  With a nose of dark cherries and rich raspberry notes.  Upon tasting at the back of my mouth it left a beautiful silkiness or glycerol taste you’ll find in some of the wines of this area.  A well balanced wine with softer tannings, good acidity an nice concentrated fruit.  More feminine in style with elegance.   

      It was drinking well for being 13 years old and I’m glad I opened it at this point.  Amarone wines are ones that can age for decades if you have the time and patience.  At an SRP at $45 it’s not a wine you can splurge on every day, but its one I always typically enjoy with my Thanksgiving meal and the occasional splurge.  ABV 15%  
      Pairing: Since the cool weather is upon us I chose to pair this Amarone with a pot roast drizzled with an amarone based gravy.

      Join us live this Saturday September 7th on Twitter at 11am EST to learn all about passito wines from the rest of our winelovers.

      Jeff at Food Wine Click will share “Dip Your Biscotti in Montefalco Sagrantino Passito
      Linda at My Full Wine Glass will share “Passito and peaches –perfect late-summer fare (#ItalianFWT)
      Camilla Mann at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “Polpette al Forno + Sartarelli Verdicchio Passito 2013
      Wendy Klik at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “Appassimento Method explained in Layman Terms
      Kevin Gagnon at Snarky Wine will share “Great Sweet Wines of the World Part 2: Passito
      Cindy at Grape Experiences will share “Italian Night? Pair Appassimento from Abruzzo with Homemade Wild Mushroom Ravioli
      Nicole at Somm’s Table will share “The Sweet Side of ILatium Morini: Sette Dame Recioto di Soave Classico with an Old-Fashioned Strawberry Cake
      Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will share “Pasqua Puts a Little Love in Your Life Part 2: White and Red Appassimento
      Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will share “3 Different Italian Appassimento Wines That You Will Love