Estate: Mirko Meneghello and Stefania Negro are the driving force behind La Mondianese. The 15 hectare estate is located in the hills of Montemagno in Piedmont, northwestern Italy. They restored the original farmhouse on the property and built a modern cellar. They passionately cultivate indigenous varieties; Grignolino and Barbera in addition to the ever-elusive Ruché. [Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is one of the lowest production, single varietal wines in Italy.]
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards with marine sedimentary layers and calcareous loam in texture. Vinified in stainless steel tanks.
Tasting Notes: Brick-garnet in colour with aromas of wildflowers, cherry, dusty earth along with an herbaceous streak. Bright cherry, red currant and pomegranate dusted with white pepper envelop a savoury core. Flint minerals and black cherry tantalizing linger between each sip. Intriguing, refreshing and so easy drinking, well worth seeking out this hard to find grape.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Cheese and herb and early stuffed egg pasta dishes like agnolotti. It adapts to red meat and roasts. It also goes well with white meat in structured or spicy dishes, such as curry or mustard.
Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato
Produced and Bottled by La Mondianese
Estate: Descending from more than 7 generations of wine growers, Michele Chiarlo began producing wine in 1956 with a philosophy of only using indigenous grapes. He was a pioneering force in establishing a market for the fine wines of Piedmont. Always an innovator, he was one of the first producers to use methods such as limiting yields and decreasing maceration time in order to create a soft, more traditional style of Barolo. With 148 estate acres and an additional 50 acres, he has achieved ownership of the most acclaimed and prestigious vineyards in Piedmont, from Barbera to Barolo to Barbaresco. Still very active in the estate, Michele’s son Stefano now overseas all of the winemaking and continues the estate’s title as one of the leaders in Barolo and Barbera wines. There are offerings for every price point and appetite, from $10 to $200.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards in the southern area of the Asti province, especially in the hills around Nizza Monferrato. Aged in large French oak casks for 8 months.
Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with a hint of sage, dusty earth and floral aromas. An herbaceous streak illuminates tart blackberry and cherry flavours. Silky tannins and clean minerals gloss the clean, fruit finish. Tart, but balanced, this a fantastic expression of food friendly, versatile Barbera.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with a wide range of dishes: chicken scallopini with sage and wild mushrooms, farfalle pasta with pork sausage and broccoli rabe and grilled or roasted red meats.
Barbera d’Asti Superiore
Bottled by Michele Chiarlo
Rated 88 points by Wine Enthusiast
Estate: Marchesi di Barolo consists of 430 acres of vineyards located in the distinguished Barolo region of Piedmont in Italy. Their vineyards are in some of the most renowned areas of Barolo, including the prestigious Cannubi cru. 185 acres are estate owned, with 245 acres farmed by long standing relationships with family and friends. The family estate has been passed down from parents to their children for over 200 years and is currently headed by 5th generation winemakers Anna and Ernesto Abbona. They maintain the work established by their ancestors and value the great heritage of knowledge and tradition that allows them to continue crafting quality wines.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards located in the community of Maranzana in the Asti area. The soil is calcareous sand, clay, and rich in quartz. Aged for 1 year in Slavonian oak barrels. The name Maraia refers to “a group of rowdy kids, or ‘little rascals’, in Piedmontese dialect, referring to the lively nature of this wine”.
Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, sour cherry, sweet wild flowers, and pepper spice. Rhubarb along with tart, sour and regular cherry interlace with silky tannins. Mouth puckering acidity backs tart blackberry and sour cherry on the dry finish. A bit too astringent for my personal taste, others may find it refreshing with fatty foods.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, from antipasto to pasta with red sauce and light meals.
Barbera Del Monferrato DOC
Bottled by Marchesi Di Barolo
Estate: Housed in a 16th century castle with medieval foundations once run by Basiliani monks with a long winemaking tradition, Castello Monaci is located along the Adriatic Sea in Puglia, southeastern Italy. The estate is owned and run by Lina Memmo, whose family has owned the property since the 19th century, along with her husband Vitantonio Seracca Guerrieri. The estate is dedicated to a sustainable philosophy of the cultivation of indigenous grapes such as Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from certified sustainable estate vineyards. Fermented in stainless steel, followed by 6 months “in the cellar where 25% the wine will rest in French oak and the remainder in stainless steel”. The name ‘Liante’ is the name of the “wind of the Levant” which blows across the Adriatic region.
Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of dark berries with a shake of crushed pink peppercorn. Inviting blackberry, black cherry, a hint of bitter dark chocolate and smoky herbs culminate in a clean fruit finish with the distinctive bitter edge Negroamaro is renowned for. Rustic and easy drinking, super versatile at the table.
80% Negroamaro, 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce
Salice Salentino DOC
Bottled in the own cellars by Castello Monaci
Enjoy now thru 2019
Rated 88 points by Wine Spectator
Winery: For many generations the Pozzi Family has been making and selling wine. Beginning in Cremona, northern Italy the current owner’s great grandfather established relationships with local growers and producers and travelled throughout Italy selling their wines. The winery and vineyards were established in northwestern Sicily in 1860, today 4th generation winemaker Daniele Pozzi, who continues expanding the family’s connections, heads the estate.
Philosophy: The family’s motto is “Res non Verba” [Deeds not Words], and aims to produce high quality wines at affordable prices.
Winemaking: All of their wines are “made to be enjoyed upon release and have a ripe, fruit-forward style”. Vineyards are located in the hills surrounding Marsala, Salemi and Mazzara del Vallo in northwestern Sicily and have an average vine age of 25 years. Grapes were sourced from hillside vineyards with clay soils in western Sicily. “Finished in stainless steel instead of oak, which lets the fresh fruit character of Sicily’s native Nero d’Avola grape shine through.”
Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cherry pie, spiced oak and dusty earth. Cherry driven with streaks of pomegranate, red currant and sour cherry dusted with a shake of white pepper. Baked cherry, vanilla and toasted oak comprise the dry, lengthy finish. A good value and companion to everyday dishes like pizza and pasta.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Enjoy with rich pastas and grilled meats.
Nero d’Avola [I could not verify varietal percentage, although it must be at least 80% for DOC status.]
Produced and Bottled by Cantine Europa SCA