Rainoldi ‘Sassella’ Valtellina Superiore DOCG 2011

sassella

Estate: The Rainoldi estate was founded in 1925 by Aldo Rainoldi and is located in northern Lombardy, an area noted for its Nebbiolo cultivation. The “current Aldo” heads the 9 hectare family estate today, using sustainable methods in order to encourage and protect “the ecosystem balance of the vineyard, and consequently, the health and longevity of the plants.” The estate has become renowned for crafting wines “with strong personalities”.

Winemaking: The vineyards are located on intensely steep slopes [350-600m above sea level] with shallow, loose soils and an average vine age of over 60 years. In addition to receiving full sun, there is an extreme range in day to night temperatures, “which allows to have healthier grape bunches and more aromatic wines”. Integrated production and sustainable methods are used; in fact the only time pesticides are used at all is in extreme cases to combat “Flavescence Dorée, a serious disease transmitted by vine leafhoppers”.

Grapes for Sassella are sourced from vineyards rich in iron soils. Aged in Slavonian oak barrels “for about 20 months”, then 9 months in the bottle before release.

Tasting Notes: Nearly transparent garnet in colour with inviting aromas of rose, tarry earth, cherry and a wisp of eucalyptus. Tasting similar to the aromas, with cherry and strawberry overlaying the earthy, tar core. Silky smooth tannins compliment crushed white peppercorn, dried rose petal, fruit and earth on the lengthy finish. Fantastically engaging, light and airy yet packed with rich dense flavours, great on its own but also a wonderful pair with hearty dishes.

Pairing Suggestions From the Winery: It is specially recommended for red meat, but it can be perfectly combined with hearty first courses and semi-mature cheeses.
Serve at 16-18°C [61-64°F]

100% Nebbiolo
Valtellina Superiore
Italy
Estate Bottled by Aldo Rainoldi
13% Alcohol
$17
Enjoy now thru 2017
*Only 666 cases made

Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno Cannubi Barolo DOCG Riserva 2008

Estate: For 5 generations the Borgogno family has been producing wine in the heart of the Cannubi area of Piedmont in northern Italy. The family has a total of 3 hectares of vineyards on the famed Cannubi hill. Today sisters Anna and Paola Borgogno are in the process of handing the reins over to daughters Emanuela and Federica.

Cannubi is the oldest single vineyard, most historical cru within the commune of Barolo [there is a bottle of Cannubi 1752 in a museum]. A hill of vineyards, there are only 5 parcels total. Cannubi wines are renowned for their elegance and finesse, specifically their floral notes. Although incredibly age worthy [20 years +] they can also be enjoyed earlier on, typically beginning at around 6 years old.

Philosophy: Believing that wine is a reflection of the earth from which it comes, the family  “grows our grapes with love, protecting our ancient craft, the one of wine-making, based on deep roots, handed down from generation to generation”.

Winemaking: Vineyard soil is a mix of fine sand and limestone. Aged for 5 years in large Slavonian oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Maroon with brick edges in colour. Significantly aromatic with aromas of sweet dark fruit, tar, leather, anise, spice and dark chocolate. Cherry jam, raisin and floral layers are laced with wisps of smoke and joined by harmonizing acidity in the full body. Backed by substantial yet silky tannins, an herbaceous undercurrent runs thru, fusing into menthol hints that compliment the elongated, plush fruity finish.

100% Nebbiolo
Cannubi Barolo DOCG
Italy
Estate Bottled by Fratelli Serio & Battista Borgogno
14.5% Alcohol
$36
Enjoy now thru 2030
bottle N. 8208

Rated 95 points by Wine Enthusiast
Rated 91 points by Wine Advocate

Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo ‘Il Mimo’ Nebbiolo Rose 2015

Processed with Snapseed.

Estate: Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo is located in Ghemme, at the top of the Piedmont region of northern Italy. The property has been handed down from father to son for centuries, all the while cultivating grapes for their own use or selling to other wineries. [The family’s “viticulture presence in Ghemme is documented from the beginning of the 1500s onwards”.] In 1977 Alberto Arlunno took the reigns of the estate, revitalizing and increasing the vineyards and began estate bottling the grapes. Today the estate consists of 100 hectares, 34 of which are under vine.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards located on alluvial hills where “in ancient times the great Monte Rosa glacier receded. The soil is rich in easily fragmented pebbles providing the vines with a quantity of minerals.” The Nebbiolo Rosé takes its name from an ancient Roman mime mask that was found at the base of the Ghemme hill. Both theatre and wine are areas presided over by the ancient Greek god Dionysus, [or Bacchus during Roman times].

Tasting Notes: Deep coral orange in colour with aromas of cherry, strawberry and hibiscus flower. Loaded with red fruits, [think cherry, raspberry strawberry, current] with an engaging play between a food friendly acidity and a streak of sweet honey. More body then most Rosé, this is a great pairing with a wide range of summer dishes.

100% Nebbiolo
Colline Novaresi DOC
Italy
Estate Bottled by Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo di Alberto Arlunno
13.5% Alcohol
$12
Enjoy now

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

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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]

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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]

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Argiolas ‘Turriga’ Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2011

Argiolas
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]

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

Rivera
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]

Masi
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]

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Rainoldi Grumello Valtellina Superiore DOCG 2011

 

grumello

Estate: The Rainoldi estate was founded in 1925 by Aldo Rainoldi and is located in northern Lombardy, an area noted for its Nebbiolo cultivation. The “current Aldo” heads the 9 hectare family estate today, using sustainable methods in order to encourage and protect “the ecosystem balance of the vineyard, and consequently, the health and longevity of the plants.”

Winemaking: The vineyards are located on intensely steep slopes [350-600m above sea level] with shallow, loose soils and an average vine age of over 60 years. In addition to receiving full sun, there is an extreme range in day to night temperatures, “which allows to have healthier grape bunches and more aromatic wines”. Integrated production and sustainable methods are used; in fact the only time pesticides are used at all is in extreme cases to combat “Flavescence Dorée, a serious disease transmitted by vine leafhoppers”. Aged for over 18 months in Slavonian oak barrels, then bottle aged in the cellar for at least 9 months before release. Serving in large glasses is recommended by the winery.

Tasting Notes: Translucent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry and hints of oak. Light and lean, yet with expressive layers of black cherry, black peppercorn, licorice and hints of tar. The clean, super dry finish highlights the fantastic balance of fruit, silky tannins and subtle oak undercurrent. Wonderfully easy drinking on its own, and a great companion to a wide variety of dishes.

100% Nebbiolo
Grumello / Valtellina Superiore
Italy
Estate Bottled by the Producer Aldo Rainoldi
13% Alcohol
$17 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2016