Monte Zovo Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG 2013

Estate: The Cottini family has been passionate about land and wine since 1925, when Carlo Cottini founded the family estate. Today, his great grandchildren, Michele and Mattia, are carrying on the family’s tradition of respecting the land and crafting the best wine possible. Monte Zovo takes its name from the hill on which it is located, encircled by the vineyards, in both the Bardolino and Amarone della Valpolicella regions of Veneto, northern Italy. There are over 100 hectares of vineyards, along with 25 hectares of woodland.

The estate is currently in its second of the required 3 years for organic certification. They are already certified “bio-diversity friendly”. The modern winery makes 100% of its energy needed for winemaking from a biomass feeder fed by grape and vine compost.

Winemaking: Grapes are from the estate’s renowned Roccolo vineyard. The 45 hectare vineyard is at an elevation of 500 meters, making it one of the highest altitude vineyards in the Amarone DOCG. The limestone soil sits atop a substratum rich in clay, which contributes to the wines distinctive fresh character. Grapes remain in the drying facility for 120 days, during which time they lose 30% of their weight and develop concentrated sugars. The grapes are destemmed and pressed in January. Fermented for 20-24 days at controlled temperature [20-24 C]. Aged for 18 months in 60 liter and 150 liter oak barrels, the blended wine is then aged 6 months in large casks, followed by 12 months in the bottle.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with lush aromas of cherry, strawberry, mocha and spice. Decadent layers of dark fruit, chocolate and espresso, along with a mercurial herbaceous element are framed by silky tannins and fresh acidity. Black cherry, black pepper, and vanilla linger endlessly between each sumptuous sip. Intense, dynamic and agile, a spectacular expression of Amarone.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Risotto, braised meat, red meat, game, aged cheese, or simply a wine to meditate over.

Blend of Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella
Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG
Bottled by Azienda Agricola Monte Zovo
16% Alcohol
$37 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2033

Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

Masi ‘Costasera’ Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2012

Estate: For over 200 years, the Boscaini family has been crafting wines in Veneto. Masi takes its name from the “Vaio dei Masi”, a small valley in Veneto purchased at the end of the 18th century by the Boscaini family. With an impressive range of wines, and an estate that includes the historic lands of the legendary 14th century poet Dante; the Masi name is instantly recognizable. Today the estate is headed by Sandro Boscaini, the 6th generation of the family, and have expanded their holdings, along with Count Serego Alighieri into Tuscany. Committed to preserving the land for future generations, Masi works closely with the Italian Ministry for the Environment, participating in various projects such as “Safeguard of Land and Seas”, a 3 year project measuring “the sustainability quotient for the entire wine production process from vine to wine, beginning with a calculation of the “footprint” of water and carbon consumption”.

Philosophy: “Quality begins in the vineyard.”

Winemaking: Committed to the environment and preserving their unique terroir, sustainable and organic methods are used, including biodiversity initiatives to protect the indigenous flora and fauna in the vineyards. Grapes are from vines located on western facing slopes facing Lake Garda. Traditional passimento winemaking methods are used, grapes are semi-dried on racks for 3-4 months, losing 35% of their weight and developing highly concentrated sugars. After gentle pressing; partially de-stemmed grapes undergo fermentation for 45 days in large Slavonian oak or stainless steel vats. The wine is then transferred to 30-40 hl barrels; alcoholic fermentation continues 35 days with alcohol-resistant yeasts, before malolactic. Aged 24 months; 80% in Slavonian oak botti, 40-80 hl, and 20% in small Allier and Slavonian oak barrels (40% new, 30% one year, and 30% two years old), and at least 4 months in bottle.

Harvest Note from Masi: High temperatures and the lack of precipitation over the summer caused a reduction in the quantity of grapes (-10%), but the quality remains excellent and the grapes themselves are healthy, small and widely spaced, ideal for appassimento with their good acidity and sugar-level readings. Outstanding vintage.

Tasting Notes: Inky red-violet in colour, with inviting, concentrated aromas of cherry, raspberry and strawberry, along with a hint of baking spice and black pepper. A savory streak materializes between saturated layers of baked cherry, blackberry and plum. Wonderfully balanced and structured, with firm tannins and bright acidity. A dry, plush finish that goes on forever with eucalyptus, clove, chocolate, dark fruit, orange zest and peppery spice. Complex and intense, yet agile, silky and so easy drinking.

Pairing Suggestions from Masi: Grilled or roasted red meats, game, and hard cheeses like parmesan. Considered a ‘wine for meditation,’ to be sipped on its own, this is also a perfect after-dinner wine.

My Favourite Pairing Advice: “Avoid too much ceremony. Wine is for enjoyment, especially if there’s a fire going—it makes for the perfect atmosphere!” – Raffaele Boscaini, Director of Sales and Marketing and Technical Team of Masi Agricola

Blend of Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara
Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG
Bottled by Masi Agricola SPA
15% Alcohol
$50 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2042

Rated 91 points by Wine Spectator



Sample submitted for editorial consideration.

A Family Affair: The Grandi Marchi Experience of Italy’s Iconic Wineries


Last month I had the honour of attending ‘The Grandi Marchi Experience, Tour and Taste Italy’s Top Terroirs’, moderated by Gloria Maroti Frazee of Wine Spectator fame and held at the always exceptional Del Posto in NYC. The seminar and guided tasting showcased the signature wines of Italy’s most prestigious group of wineries. Founded 11 years ago, the Grandi Marchi is comprised of 19 members hailing exclusively from family estates throughout Italy. Their driving force is to defend terroir, with a philosophy of putting friends and people together in order to preserve the historic values of their families. The group focuses on the synergy of friendship between each of the winemaking members, along with the unique legacy and terroir of each of these estates. With such devotion and perseverance, it comes as no surprise that the members of Grandi Marchi are some of the most renowned estates in all of Italy.

It was an enlightening, educational experience to be privy to many family stories and background information on so many iconic estates and wines. I enjoyed all of the 15 wines presented, and yes returned to my seat with lunch and finished them all! Below are the wines that I felt to be most engaging, with an inviting story of where they’ve come from.

Ca’del Bosco
Since founding Ca’del Bosco Winery in Lombardy, Maurizio Zanella has been crafting Franciacorta wines for over 40 years, embracing a philosophy of “excellence in wine, the integrity of the territory and respect for tradition”. The iconic Cuvée Annamaria Clementi is dedicated to his mother, with only the best grapes from the best years being used.

Ca’del Bosco ‘Cuvée Annamaria Clementi’ Franciacorta Riserva DOCG 2006
The 40th vintage, complex, intense and elegant, and I imagine this is a reflection of his mother’s character. Pear, peach and citrus notes gleam atop hints of brioche, whilst super fine, consistent bubbles highlight steely minerals on the finish.
55% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Bianco, 20% Pinot Nero
12.5% Alcohol
$80 [average price]

Michele Chiarlo
I had the pleasure of meeting Alberto Chiarlo a few months back, please check out Molto Barolo! Exploring the Nuances of the King of Wines with Alberto Chiarlo for details on the Michele Chiarlo winery.

Michele Chiarlo ‘Cerequio’ Barolo DOCG 2011
Elegant though still young, with wild cherry, red berry and lively mint accented by earth and spice notes. The finish is stunning, with glorious fruit, honey and floral hints all balanced by dry tannins.
100% Nebbiolo
14.2% Alcohol
$75 [average price]


Tasca D’Alimerita ‘Rosso del Conte’ Contea di Sclafani DOC 2011 and Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2011

Pio Cesare
Pio Boffa is the 4th generation of the family to head the estate his great grandfather, Pio Cesare founded in 1881. Located in Piedmont, the family estate has prestigious holdings in both the Barolo and Barbaresco regions. In addition to his dedication to preserving the individuality of each terroir, Pio is also a pioneer in bringing the Barbera grape to the forefront of Italian winemaking. His philosophy is to “depend on the skillfulness of mother nature not the skillfulness of the winemaker”.

Pio; gregarious and engaging, had the room in laughter as he explained his Barolo is known simply as ‘Barolo’ on the label. He emphatically stated that is enough and no other name is necessary, but don’t mistake the clarity for something that is “regular or basic”. It is a classic wine, a statement of its own that does not need any other embellishment.

Pio Cesare Barolo DOCG 2011
Focused and pure with an engaging play between a profound intensity and ethereal delicateness. Glimpses of herbaceous chamomile are seen between the plush cherry and black currant fruits, whilst dense tannins and a complex finish of earth, smoky spice and menthol linger philosophically between each sip.
100% Nebbiolo
14.5% Alcohol
$65 [average price]

Tasca D’Alimerita
Tasca D’Alimerita, located in Sicily, is headed by the 8th generation of the family now, Count Lucio Tasca, who oversees all of the nearly 600 hectares of vineyards along with his sons, Giuseppe and Alberto. The family has 5 estates throughout the island, all with a different appellation and terroir. Committed to eco-sustainability, their Regaleali estate [right in the heart of Sicily] is nearly completely self-sufficient; all of their food is grown on the estate and they are working toward a carbon neutral rating. They strive to relay a sense of elegance in their wines, to that end they take a minimal approach in the vineyard, and do not use any new oak in the winery. Although known for their work with indigenous grapes, Rosso del Conte [translating to “the red of the count”] has 2 international varieties in addition to the star of the blend, the native Nero d’Avola.

Tasca D’Alimerita ‘Rosso del Conte’ Contea di Sclafani DOC 2011
Incredibly interesting with layers of cherry, herbs and peppery spice, silky tannins and a clean finish. An engaging synergy of fruit/spice/savoury elements that keep you reaching for more.
62% Nero d’Avola, 30$ Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Cabernet Franc
13.5% Alcohol
$35 [average price]


Argiolas ‘Turriga’ Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011

Founded in the 1938 by Antonio Argiolas, the seminal Sardinian estate is headed by the 3rd generation of the family today, Antonio’s grandchildren. The family also focuses on the preservation and revitalization of native Sardinian grape varieties. The sustainable estate is comprised of 8 vineyards, all in different regions of Sardinia, which confer a variety of microclimates and soils, providing quite a diversity in terroir for the grapes.

Argiolas ‘Turriga’ Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011
Powerful, dense and well balanced [colour, fruit, acidity, structure, tannin, alcohol all are splendid], this lives up to its title as the “benchmark wine of Sardinia” A concentrated dark fruit backbone supports a captivating streak of garrique, whilst soft velvety tannins enhance the super lengthy finish of toast, coffee and earthy spices.
85% Cannonau, 5% Bovale, 5% Carignano, 5% Malvasia Nera
14.5% Alcohol
$45 [average price]


Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone Classico DOC 2009 and Rivera ‘Il Falcone’ Castel del Monte Riserva DO 2009

Located in Puglia, the Rivera estate was founded in the late 1940’s by Sebastiano de Corato, today it is his grandsons Sebastiano and Marco that continue on with his vision to “eloquently express the intense yet elegant character of this land and its native grape varieties”. The estate focuses on sustainable practices in order to preserve the land and achieve the highest quality possible. Although they have very hot summers, they do get snow in the winter from the Balkan Sea. Vines are planted in a manner in which they receive less sun so the grapes do not become overripe. Il Falcone is their “defining wine”, and again, as with so many other of the prestigious wines in the tasting, an agile hand is seen with the use of oak; it is aged for 14 months, with 60% in 30hl French oak casks and 40% in French oak barriques.

Rivera ‘Il Falcone’ Castel del Monte Riserva DO 2009
A powerful wine that announces its presence with wonderfully contrasting aromas of delicate floral notes along with smoky crushed black peppercorn. Gamey, meaty elements connect with grippy tannins and good acidity over a core of cherry and earth, the aromas are echoed in the plush finish. Elegant and powerful, this is a wine that lives up to its association with Homer’s Troy.
70% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano
13.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]

For over 200 years, the Boscainis family has been crafting wines in Veneto. With an impressive range of wines, and an estate that includes the historic lands of the legendary 14th century poet Dante; the Masi name is instantly recognizable. Today the estate is headed by the 7th generation and has expanded their holdings, along with Count Serego Alighieri into Tuscany.

Masi Agricola Riserva di Costasera Amarone Classico DOC 2009
A consistent award winner, this is a spectacular example of combining indigenous grapes with a harmonizing blend of both traditional and modern techniques. Concentrated fig, baked cherry and plum join tobacco and dark chocolate elements, rich honeyed fruit and baking spices comprise the seemingly never ending finish. A perfect companion to gamey cheese, rich dishes and desserts.
70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta, 5% Molinara
15.5% Alcohol
$50 [average price]



Media Event Sponsored by Istituto del Vino Italiano di Qualita – Grandi Marchi