Tasca d’Almerita ‘Regaleali Le Rose’ Terre Siciliane IGT 2016

Estate: The Tasca d’Almerita family of estates consists of the Regaleali, Capofaro, and Whitaker estates. The Tasca family has farmed the Regaleali estate since 1837. Today the 8th generation of the family, Count Lucio Tasca, oversees all of the nearly 600 hectares of vineyards along with his sons, Giuseppe and Alberto. The family is committed to sustainability; they are behind the ‘SOStain’ programme, an organization that guides companies towards increasing their sustainability. The name of the wine reflects the “thousands of roses, brought in from all over the world”, that flourish throughout the Regaleali estate.

Philosophy: Passionate about eco-sustainability, the Regaleali estate is nearly completely self-sufficient; all of their food is grown on the estate and they are working toward a carbon neutral rating. Their goal of achieving eco-sustainability “is a self-regulated, pro-active scheme to reach our goals through positive actions both in the short term and in the mid-to-long term” that they achieve using “science, technology and organization”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from the Santa Rosa vineyard at the Regaleali estate from vines planted in 1986. “Fermented in stainless steel tanks and partially macerated with the skins of Nero D’Avola.” Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes: Copper pink in colour with aromas of strawberry, cherry and clean minerals. Tasting similar to the aromas, with red fruits and minerals culminating in citrus zest notes on the dry finish. Fresh and fruity with a zippy finish, this is a gluggable Rosé to enjoy all summer long.

100% Nerello Mascalese
Terre Siciliane IGT
Italy
Bottled by Conte Tasca d’Almerita SOC. AGR. a R.L.
13% Alcohol
$11
Enjoy now

Exploring the Diverse, Vibrant Personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir

I was delighted to attend the Made in New Zealand Pinot Noir Seminar held at Pier A Harbor House in NYC last month. The seminar was an extension of Pinot Noir NZ 2017 held in Wellington New Zealand. The 3 day event, as described by The Drinks Business Magazine: “New Zealand’s entire wine industry gathered alongside a host of international sommeliers, buyers and writers to debate all things Pinot, letting their hair down in the process, in true Kiwi fashion. It was the sixth time that the Pinot Noir NZ event had been held, hosted every four years, with 115 New Zealand wineries showcased this year representing seven regions.”

From left to right, Joe Czerwinski, Brett Feore and Michael Henley.

Hosted by New Zealand Wine, the NYC event was under the direction of David Strada, the marketing manager for New Zealand Wines USA. The distinguished panel of presenters were Joe Czerwinski, managing editor of Wine Enthusiast, Brett Feore, sommelier and wine director at the New Zealand influenced Muskat Room in NYC, Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier and wine director at Mandarin Oriental in NYC, and Michael Henley, CEO of Trinity Hill Wines.

With such an esteemed panel, the tasting was an engaging, informative journey through the different personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Here are my impressions from the seminar:

Wine regions of New Zealand. Courtesy of New Zealand Wine.

  • There is a wide range of style and diversity within New Zealand Pinot Noir. There are 10 growing regions, each displaying distinctive, regional character ranging from fresh and bright, graceful and subtle, to bold and tannic. For example, the hillside areas in Marlborough are known to have red fruits, fresh acidity, good structure and tannic backbone. Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir, with its cool climate, along with water and wind issues, tend to the more savory and earth side, with spice and supple tannins.
  • The average vine age is 15 years. Pinot Noir is a relatively new adventure in New Zealand winemaking. As Joe Czerwinski stated, “While there is a maturity being seen in both the wines and winemakers, winemakers are still figuring things out”.
  • Committed to protecting the land, nearly 100% of wines produced are certified sustainable, with many also being certified organic and biodynamic.
  • The majority of wineries take their name from the dominant feature of the land that they cultivate.
  • As seen also with many Italian winemakers, there is a drive to move away from oak to allow the fruit to come thru. Wine with oak aging generally has a low percentage of new oak.
  • Alcohol levels have to be within .5 % of what is stated on the label. For those of us familiar with the fun “11%-14%” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ alcohol level commonly seen on Italian and French labels, the accuracy is striking.

All of the wines below are 100% Pinot Noir. Prices listed are the average online cost.

Trinity Hill Pinot Noir Hawke’s Bay 2015

Winemaking Notes: No new oak was used in order to let the fruit express itself; the structure comes from the abundant fruit, not oak.

Tasting Notes: Bright aromas of cherry, raspberry, wild flowers and clean minerals. Fresh and fruity with a streak of granite minerality, silky tannins compliment the fruity, dry finish. Accessible and fun, fantastic on its own or a great companion at the table.
13% Alcohol
$15

Te Kairanga ‘John Martin’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2015

Winemaking Notes: Savoury notes are derived from the stems, a percentage of the grapes were left in whole cluster bunches. Aged in 25% new French oak.

Tasting Notes: Smoky fruit and herb aromas, a savoury expression of Pinot Noir. Big and bold with dark fruit, clove and a shake of white pepper. Great acidity keeps everything bright, red berries, herbs and earth notes comprise the dry finish. Wonderfully unique, the savoury edge keeps you reaching for more.
13% Alcohol
$50

Craggy Range ‘Aroha’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2014

Winemaking Notes: Grapes were sourced from the best parcels of a terraced vineyard with clay and stony soil. Produced with 50% whole cluster bunches and fermented with native yeasts. Aged in 30% new French oak for 10 months. [‘Aroha’ means love in Maori.]

Tasting Notes: Engaging aromas of red berries with a kiss of funk. Raspberry and cherry integrate seamlessly with fresh herbs and velvety tannins. Peppery spice, earth and a trace of vanilla infused oak on the plush finish. Fantastic on its own, and a versatile companion at the table.
13.5% Alcohol
$76

Greenhough ‘Hope Vineyard’ Pinot Noir Nelson 2014

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from clay rich, gravel soil. Unlike the previous 3 wines, grapes were totally destemmed. Batch fermented with wild yeasts. Aged in 20% new French oak for 12 months. Bottled without fining or filtering.

Tasting Notes: Cheerful aromas of cherry, black current, candied flowers and a hint of summer woods. A subtle herbaceous streak and flinty mineral edge illuminate concentrated blackberry, cherry, black current and peppery spices. Chocolate dusted berries and a trace of menthol linger between each sip. Well integrated oak and a great balance of fruit and peppery spice keep you reaching for more.
14.5% Alcohol
$33

Tohu Awatere Valley Pinot Noir Marlborough 2015

Winemaking: The first Maori owned winery; grapes were sourced from high elevation vineyards in the Awatere Valley of southern Marlborough. The climate is cooler, drier and windier then other areas, as well as more exposed to cold weather from the south, which tends to create a later ripening crop and even longer growing season. Aged in a combination of old and new French barriques.

Tasting Notes: Lively cherry and floral aromas. Tangy cherry, red current, pomegranate and a nip of eucalyptus glide atop silky tannins. Crushed white peppercorn and toasted oak round out the lengthy finish. Whilst the oak is present, the fruit is really the star; so energetic and fresh, it pops with bright, pure fruit.
13.5% Alcohol
$21

Greywacke Pinot Noir Marlborough 2011

Winemaking: Headed by Kevin Judd, one of the pioneers of New Zealand wines, Greywacke takes its name from the high amount of greywacke river stones found in the vineyards. Aged in 45% new French oak.

Bringing the funk in the best way, bright fruits [cherry, raspberry, strawberry] are draped over an oak frame. Forest floor, dried flowers and the slightest trace of truffle comprise the plush finish. Well balanced fruit/earth/spice make this an engaging sip that keeps you reaching for more.
14% Alcohol
$36

The Boneline ‘Waimanu’ Pinot Noir Waipara Valley 2014

Winemaking: Boneline takes its name from the high amount of fossils found in the soil. Their tag line is “wine grown on the shoulders of giants”. Besides being cool to have fossils in the soil, they make the soil rich in calcium. A small portion of whole bunch fermentation, aged for 12 months in Burgundian French oak.

Tasting Notes: Concentrated aromas of Baked fruit [think cherry, strawberry and plum] with a hint of sweet oak. Rich plum and cherry fruits are dusted with graham cracker and white pepper. Food friendly acidity and a mineral backbone harmonize with the fruit and oak on the dry, lengthy finish. Focused and refined, fantastic on its own or a versatile companion at the table.
14% Alcohol
$25

Mount Edward Pinot Noir Central Otago 2014

Winemaking: Located in what is known to be some of the most beautiful spots in New Zealand, famous for its huge mountains and wild countryside. Minimal intervention in both the vineyard and cellar. 25% whole clusters, fermented with indigenous yeast, unfined and unfiltered, and aged for 11 months in 20% new French oak.

Tasting Notes: Sweet, ripe fruit with a hint of cigar box spice aromas. Well structured, with velvety black and red cherry notes balanced by dried herbs and dusty earth. Firm tannins fuse with the harmonizing lengthy finish of fruit and spiced oak. Intense and lively, an engaging sip.
13.5% Alcohol
$28

 

Media event hosted by New Zealand Wine.

La Maldita Garnacha Rioja 2015

Brand: Produced by one of the “oldest winemaking families in Rioja”, with the intention of inspiring “a resurgence of the Garnacha varietal in the Rioja region of showcasing that world-class Garnacha can still be produced there”. The name ‘La Maldita’ means cursed, and is what many winemakers in Rioja refer to Garnacha as. Thin, sensitive skin and low yields were one of the reasons that most Garnacha vineyards have been replanted with “less temperamental varieties”. Although historically the Garnacha used to represent “roughly half of the entire region under vine, today it accounts for less than 10% of all vineyard plantings in Rioja”.

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed, estate-owned, high elevation vineyards with gravel and alluvial silt “which help with drainage and contribute a hint of minerality to the wine”. The majority of the wine rested on its lees in stainless steel for a few months, whilst a small percentage was aged in small French and American oak barrels “for a hint of complexity”.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries, black pepper and brambly shrubs. Flinty mineral driven, with fresh blackberry and tart cherry flavours. Crushed black peppercorn and fresh berries linger on the dry finish. Simple and pleasant, best with food, a cheerful, gluggable Garnacha.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Enjoy with everyday favorites such as pizza, pastas, burgers, and grilled vegetables.

100% Garnacha
Rioja
Spain
Produced and Bottled by Viñeds La Maldita
13.5% Alcohol
$9

Rated 89 points by the Wine Advocate

Ptujska Klet Pullus Pinot Grigio 2015

Winery: One of the largest and oldest cellars in Slovenia, Ptujska Klet is located in the steep, winegrowing hills surrounding the city of Ptu. The oldest town in Slovenia, winemaking dates back to at least 69 AD when it was the Roman town of Poetovio.

Philosophy: “We believe in our wines. We believe in Pullus. We know why :)”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with layered gravel, clay and marl soil. An orange wine, with the white grapes being produced as if they were red, with maceration of crushed skins and seeds. Macerated for 72 hours with the skins, partial lees and aging with 10% neutral oak aging.

Tasting Notes: Pale copper in colour, highly aromatic with peach, melon, minerals and a touch of citrus. Lush peach, apricot and melon flavours in the nearly medium body culminate in a smooth dry finish, pink grapefruit and white pepper linger between each sip. Not your typical Pinot Grigio, this is lovely on its own or able to stand up to a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Perfect for pasta, white meat and young cheeses.

100% Pinot Grigio
Štajerska
Slovenia
Produced and Bottled by Ptujska Klet
13% Alcohol
$14
Enjoy now

At the End, the Bottle Must be Empty: A Glass of Chianti and a Chat with Caterina Gargari of Pieve De’ Pitti

Organized by the Consorzio del Chianti, I was delighted to attend Chianti Lovers Anteprima Chianti 2017 held at Fortezza da Basso in Florence, Italy on February 12th. The ‘antiprima’ tasting featured 2015 barrel samples from more then 100 producers, along with older vintages and Vin Santo. I thoroughly enjoyed attending Chianti Lovers Tasting in 2015 in New York City, and was enthusiastic to be able to attend in Florence. It was an engaging, informative tasting in which I was able to catch up with some of my favourite winemakers, along with meeting new wines and friends.

Pieve De’ Pitti is a family estate headed by Caterina Gargari and is located in Tuscany, in the heart of the Alta Valdera, in the convergence point of the valley. The name Pieve de’ Pitti comes from the Florentine Pitti who owned the estate until the end of the 17th century and from the parish chapel of St. John of Pava, that was built on the ruins of an ancient Etruscan church.

The family estate consists of 198 hectares of woods and olive groves, along with 16 hectares that are hilly vineyards with sand/clay/fossil rich soil. It is this distinctive soil, coupled with “sea winds which come from across the hills of Miemo and Castellina”, that give their “grapes a mineral and savoury flavour”. Committed to the philosophy that “great wine is made in the vineyard” the estate uses sustainable and organic methods, along with minimal intervention in both the vineyards and cellar.

‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore is the estate’s first label and is based on a classic family blend of Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Malvasia grapes, traditionally crafted from the oldest vineyards in the estate [planted by Caterina’s grandfather in the 1960’s]. Caterina preserves this tradition and puts her own mark on it by using Sangiovese grapes from vineyards planted in 2001.

Gracious, friendly and knowledgeable, I always look forward to speaking with Caterina and discovering how her latest harvest was and the taste her striking wines. The 2015 summer in Italy was very hot, thankfully the clay soils at Pieve De’ Pitti kept the vine roots cool along with providing fresh water reserves, rescuing them from drought and withering. The heat gave way to frequent storms with lots of rain in august. The somewhat extreme combination has brought forth one of their best vintages.

Soil composition is such a huge component to understanding and appreciating the character of a wine. I always try to include it in my reviews, as it assists it conveying a sense of place. Caterina displayed the soil the vines grow in next to the wines, a fantastic visual aid in comprehending the role soil plays. When you see the density of the clay soil, you understand how it was able to hold water and cool the roots even in hot, dry weather.

Below are the 3 wines I had the pleasure of tasting with Caterina:

Pieve De’ Pitti ‘Poggio alla Volpe’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2015

Winemaking: Sourced from grapes grown in clay soil, this will be bottled in a couple of years; it will spend 2 years in cement.

Tasting Notes: Intense fruit and spice with a cheerful agility. A splash of coffee lingers with the light tannins and dry mineral finish. Engaging, well balanced and already fun to drink.

Pieve De’ Pitti ‘Cerretello’ Chianti Superiore DOCG 2013

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with two different soils [pictured above]: One is the classic mix of sand rich in shells, typical of Tuscany in general. The second is richer in minerals, a little bit light, with many white stones from the river. Cerretello is aged in cement to allow the terroir and grapes to be the highlight of each sip. Caterina stated that 2013 is her most elegant vintage, the wine is “very feminine in the nose, flowery more then the usual fruitiness”, the tannins are present yet gentle.

Tasting Notes: Abundant floral aromas with a trace of cherry lead into wonderfully balanced, silky fruit and floral notes. A clean mineral streak peeks thru soft spices, earth and leather. Gentle tannins highlight the bit of saltiness on the dry mineral finish. Nearly gossamer in character, an incredibly refined sip.

Pieve De’ Pitti Vinsanto del Chianti DOC 2008

Winemaking: Trebbiano & San Colombano grapes were harvested early in the season, in early September. Then they dry on racks for 4-5 months in a special room, the Vinsantaia. After hand pressing the juice is put in chestnut and cherry barrels, where it remains for at least 5 years.

Tasting Notes: Silky smooth, with deep, sunny flavours of apricot, nectarine, honey and candied orange zest. A savoury streak and bright acidity along with clean minerals on the dry finish keep each sip fresh and balanced.

The elegant, friendly, accessible wines are a reflection of Caterina and her passionate commitment to crafting great wines that are a pleasure to drink. “Pieve de’ Pitti wines are made to be enjoyed with good friends and good food. And at the end, the bottle must be empty.”

 

 

Media event sponsored by Consorzio del Chianti.