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

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.

Produttori di Govone Barbera d’Alba DOC 2015

Winery: Produttori di Govone is a community of grape growers founded in 1957 by Giovanni Dalmasso with a mission to unify and create great wines. Today the cooperative consists of 250 members and 270 hectares. Blending tradition with modernity, they are pursuing organic viticulture; currently they have 5 hectares that are farmed organically.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with engaging aromas of dark berries, pink pepper and a trace of sandalwood. Ripe red berries are given a drizzle of caramel and balanced by bright acidity and soft tannins. Finishing dry and spicy, keeping you reaching for more. Straightforward and a versatile companion at the table.

Pairing Suggestion from Astor Wines: Enjoy this with cured meats, cheeses, briny olives, tomato sauce, sweet Italian sausage and arugula.

100% Barbera
Barbera d’Alba DOC
Italy
Estate Bottled by Produttori di Govone
14% Alcohol
$9
Enjoy now

Oreste Buzio Freisa Monferrato DOC 2015

Estate: Oreste Buzio is a small family estate founded in 1860 by Agostino Buzio. It is located in the village of Vignale Monferrato, within the rolling hills of Monferrato Casalese in Piedmont, northern Italy. Agostino’s grandson Oreste, along with his wife Daniela and sons Andrea and Marco, head the estate today. Respect for the environment and organic farming has been passed down from father to son. The estate focuses on indigenous grapes such as Barbera, Grignolino and Freisa; the wines are celebrated for their delicate, pure character.

Winemaking: Vinified in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes: Garnet with brick edges in colour. Light and bright, with a fantastic mix of bright fruit and savoury herbs. Tart cherry, wild strawberry and raspberry notes have a savoury edge, crushed white peppercorn and minerals comprise the dry finish. Straightforward and refreshing, great on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. Serve cool [15-20 minutes in the fridge].

100% Freisa
Monferrato DOC
Italy
Bottled by Oreste Buzio
13% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now

Chianti Classico as Far as the Eye Can See

It has been just over 300 years since Cosimo III de’Medici; the grand duke of Tuscany established the boundaries for the production of Chianti. Now known as the only production zone for Chianti Classico, the 70,000 hectares [173,000 acres] consists of 10,000 hectares [25,000 acres] of vineyards located in the center of Tuscany. Only within this area can wines be designated ‘Chianti Classico’.

Courtesy of Chianti Classico Consorzio

The production of Chianti Classico wines are overseen by the Chianti Classico Consorzio. Chianti Classico must be comprised of a minimum of 80% Sangiovese and a maximum of 20% indigenous or international red grapes. The wine has to have a minimum of 12% Alcohol and 12 month minimum of ageing. The trademark black rooster [the historic symbol of the Chianti Military League] is found on every bottle of Chianti Classico. For more details on Chianti Classico, please visit the Consorzio Vino Chianti Classico site here.

Organized by the Consorzio Chianti Classico, I was delighted to attend Chianti Classico Collection 2017 held at Stazione Leopoldo in Florence, Italy on February 14th. Held every year in Florence, the ‘antiprima’ tasting featured 2015 [barrel sample], 2014 and 2013 vintages of Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Riserva, IGT, Vin Santo and the new premium category Gran Selezione. Presenting 675 wines from 185 different estates in Chianti Classico, it was truly Chianti Classico as far as the eye can see!

A quick note about vintages:
2014 was a challenging year; the growing season was cool and damp, making it stand out from the previous hot seasons. The overriding consensus is that the success of the wine is entirely up to the savvy talent of the producer.
2015 has been hailed as a phenomenal year, so hot and dry, the Sangiovese bunches were smaller then usual, which is actually quite good for the varietal. Ripe and juicy, its predicted these will be spectacular, with long aging potential. All of the 2015 wines presented were barrel samples.

I wish I had the time to taste more, if not all the wines, but I feel that this is a good goal to work towards!

Below are the wines that I feel conveyed the classic, traditional personality, and the ones that expressed a unique, intriguing identity of Chianti Classico.

So happy to be surrounded by Chianti Classico.

 

Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico 2015


Sweet aromas of cherry, watermelon and candied flowers. Very fruity and accessible with cherry, white pepper and traces of vanilla bean, culminating in a clean, dry finish.
90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino

Castello di Volpaia ‘Volpaia’ Chianti Classico 2015


Interesting and intriguing, with aromas of cherry, anise and black pepper. Dark fruit and tarry earth wrap around a spicy core. Finishing spicy with a hint of truffle funk.
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2015


As I find all Isole e Olena wines to be; well structured and elegant. Subtle cherry, dusty earth and floral aromas introduce cherry, sour cherry herbaceous flavours. Clean minerals highlight the spice driven finish. Balanced, with a good synthesis of flavours already.
80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah

L’Orcio a Ca’ di Pesa Chianti Classico 2015


Great play of fruit and spice with black cherry, black pepper, anise and a lengthy finish of toasty oak and hints of baking chocolate. A bit of complexity to the layers, yet light and easy drinking.
95% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino

Tenuta di Capraia Chianti Classico 2015


Desert dry, with cherry, fennel and a hint of funk. Minerals and savoury elements on the dry finish. Straightforward and simple, with a bitter edge.
90% Sangiovese, 5% Canaiolo, 5% Colorino

 

Casaloste Chianti Classico 2014


I find Casaloste wines to be a classical expression of Sangiovese, and this does not disappoint. Soft aromas of leather, pepper and thyme. An herbaceous streak runs thru cherry, wild berry, leather and light spice flavours. The clean, dry finish is accented by earth and espresso elements. Well balanced and accessible.
90% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot

Castelvecchi Captondo Chianti Classico 2014


Bold and big with concentrated ripe, sweet fruit, black pepper and savoury elements. Earth and clay minerals are the backbone of the dry fruit finish.
88% Sangiovese, 12% Canaiolo

Isole e Olena Chianti Classico 2014


Genteel and elegant, with soft layers of cherry, black pepper, wisps of peat and traces of funk, accented by the spice driven, plush finish.
80% Sangiovese, 15% Canaiolo, 5% Syrah

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