Maremma Toscana

 

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On March 15th the I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management), a Miami based agency that organizes, markets and manages events held a press release/seminar for wines from the Maremma region of Italy, “From the Mountains to the Sea…A Pristine Land: The Tuscan Maremma”. The event was for members of the restaurant trade and they held a sit-down tasting of eleven wines followed by a walk around tasting of about thirty more wines. The I.E.E.M. held  this type of event last October at the same venue, Il Gattopardo restaurant at 15 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. 

The Maremma district is in Tuscany, Italy along the coast, west of the more famous Chianti and Brunello di Montalcino wine districts. In a country with vineyards planted for hundreds of years, the Maremma is a relatively new wine district since for most of its history the area was swampy. Those swamps were drained in the early 20th century.

Some famous Super Tuscans such as Sassicaia and Ornellaia are produced in the Maremma but this tasting was to showcase and focus on the smaller, lesser well know producers looking for exposure and importers and to showcase the local grape varieties such as Ciliegiolo and Alicante. 

 

These were the wines served at the sit-down tasting:

2019 Argentaia “Le Papese” Rosato: A Rosé from 100% Sangiovese. Clear light copper, cantaloupe on the nose, melony finish with mouth watering acids. 

2019 Sassotondo: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple, cedar and crushed red berries on the nose, dusty, metal shaving notes on the fruit with tight tannins and acids on the finish. 

2019 Sequerciani: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple, sweet nose of tar, fresh herbs and olives with juicy, dusty, tart cherry fruit. 

2018 Cantina “I Vini Di Maremma” Alberese: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark purple to black, closed nose of pixie stix and green herbs, moderate juicy fruit, nice balance with olives , herbs and silky tannins on the moderate to long finish. 

2018 I Cavallini: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark red, tar, leather and wet earth on the nose, moderate bright fruit with very tart cherry on the finish. 

2016 Cantina LaSelva: 100% Ciliegiolo. Opaque dark red with some garnet on the rim, tar and leather notes on the nose, juicy with mouth coating tannins and tart cherry. 

2015 Sassotondo “San Lorenzo”: 100% Ciliegiolo, Pitigliano single vineyard. Opaque black with a purple rim, black olives and red leather on the nose, slate notes on the fruit with mouth coating tannins. 

2016 I Cavallini: 100% Alicante. Dark garnet, green herbs and black olives on the nose, moderate fruit with silky, firm tannins and tart earth notes on the finish.

2016 Fattoria Mantellassi “Querciola”: 100% Alicante. Opaque black with sweet spice on the nose, medium juicy fruit followed by firm, gritty tannins and low acids.  

2017 Cantina “I Vini Di Maremma” Territorio: 100% Sangiovese. Opaque dark red with some earth notes on the nose, light fruit with cooked fruit notes on the finish with mouth filling tannins. 

2018 Le Sode Di Sant’Angelo “Sassi Dautore”: 85% Sangiovese, 15% Alicante. Opaque dark red to black, closed nose of crushed rocks. tight with slate notes on the fruit, firm acids. 

 

 

 

2016 Brancaia “Tre” Rosso Toscana

 

 

2016 Brancaia Rosso Toscana “Tre”

Juice from three of their Tuscan estates with 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Clear medium brick, complicated aromas of gun metal, tar, roast meat and sweet red fruit on the nose, starts out with dark fruit notes and ends with bitter cherry, dark chocolate and firm tannins at the finish. 

 

 

2016 Felsina Winery Chianti Classico Riserva “Berardenga” Tuscany

 

 

Felsina is a thousand year old estate in the hills of Tuscany. The estate was bought in 1966 and turned into the present winery.

As a Riserva, the DOCG rules mandates that it must be aged a minimum of two years in barrel and three months in bottle before release.  

The Berardenga is one of several Chianti this estate produces from the Classico district. In addition to Classico, there are also seven sub-districts in Chianti; Arentini, Fiorentini, Senesi, Pisane, Montalbano, Montespertoli and Rufina. 

 

2016 Chianti Classico Riserva Berardenga

100% Sangiovese. Clear, medium red in color, classic nose of sweet violets, graphite, tar and leather, silky, tight tannins with some wood notes, firm acidity. Still hard edged at this point, needs some more time in the bottle.

 

 

I.E.E.M. Italian Tasting Day 3

 

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This was day three of the I.E.E.M. three-day seminar event. Each day they ran three seminars, this day I attended two of them.

 

Prosecco DOC: More Than Just A Sparkling Wine!

NV Masottina Extra Brut: Light gold, honey nose, crisp lime notes on the finish. 

NV Ruggeri Treviso Brut “Argeo”: 100% Glera grape. Light gold, cooked asparagus and honey on the nose, sweet fruit followed with moderate acidity. 

NV La Gioiosa Treviso Brut: Light gold, lemony asparagus on the nose, peachy fruit with mouth watering acids, nice finish.

NV Val d’Ora Treviso Extra Brut: Light gold, white flowers and tree bark on the nose, moderate tart lemon-lime fruit ending with crisp acids. 

NV Le Rughe Extra Dry: Light gold, dried herbs and cooked fruit on the nose, tight and firm with big acids. 

NV La Marca Extra Dry “Blue Label”: Medium gold, sweet peaches and cooked asparagus on the nose, moderate fruit with a “dirty” finish. 

 

Discovering the unique taste of wines from North-East Italy.

2017 Sant ‘Andrea Riesling (Oltrepo Pavese): Medium gold, with  a fragrance of lychee and white flowers, moderate fruit with a bitter melon finish. 

2019 Poderi dal Nespoli “Pagadebit” (Romagna): Pagadebit is the local grape varietal. Light gold with a stinky, grassy nose of white flowers and slate, tongue tightening acids with a lingering finish. 

2018 Sant’ Andrea Pinot Nero Spumante (Oltrepo Pavese): Medium gold, very stinky nose of rotting fruit with a stinky, crisp finish. 

NV Matteo Soria Extra Dry “Bric Prima Bella” (Asti): Light gold, canned peaches on the nose, floral fruit with crisp green apples on the finish. 

2018 Sant’ Andrea Bonarda Frizzante (Oltrepo Pavese): Opaque dark purple with a purple rim, sea air and barnyard on the nose, juicy, grapey with bitter cherry cola on the finish. 

2018 Sant’ Andrea Barbera (Oltrepo Pavese): Opaque dark red with a dark purple rim, closed nose of black cherry and leather, juicy red fruit with bitter red fruit and some earth at the end. 

2019 Ricossa Barbera “Appassimento” (Piedmont): Opaque dark red, black cherry and barnyard on the nose, chewy black fruit with smoky tree bark on the firm finish, balanced. 

 

 

I.E.E.M. Italian Tasting Day 2

 

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This was the second day of the series of Masterclasses from the I.E.E.M. I attended two of the three classes.

Prosecco is a sparkling wine produced in North-East Italy in the providences of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Guilia. It’s one of the ingredients in the classic cocktails of a Bellini and an Aperol Spritz.

Since it’s made using the less expensive Charmat process in which the bubbles are added in bulk compared to the more time consuming Methode Champinoise which is when a secondary fermentation is introduced in the the bottle, much Prosecco are commercially produced inexpensive sippers.

There are two sub districts within the DOC of Prosecco, Conegliano/Valdobbiadene and Asolo that are granted Superiore DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita) status. Wines from these zones are usually a notch up in quality from the wines produced in the DOC zones. 

Prosecco must be made with a minimum of 85% Glera grape with the rest indigenous varieties.

 

Masterclass: “Asolo Calling” by Montelvini

NV Montelvini Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Extra Dry”

Light yellow, canned peaches and cantaloupe on the nose, crisp with lemon curd notes on the fruit, nice balance of sweet and tart. 

NV Montelvini Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Brut”

Light yellow, white flowers and honeydew on the nose, bone dry and crisp finishing a little closed. 

NV Montelvini Prosecco Superiore DOCG “Millesimato-Extra Brut”

About half the sugar per liter as the Brut. Very light yellow, sweet floral nose, bone dry and crisp with floral stone notes on the finish. 

 

Friuli is a providence in North-East Italy. It’s borders have been very fluid in the past centuries and the area has a Germanic/Slavic influence.

They are well know for their whites and their signature white is Friulano. 

 

Masterclass: “When Fruili Gives Its Best” by Genagricola

2019 Torre Rosazza Pinot Grigio (Colli Orientali)

100% Pinot Grigio. Very light gold, floral melon on the nose, moderate, lycee fruit with lime notes on the nice balance. 

2019 Torre Rosazza Friulano (Colli Orientali)

100% Friulano grape variety. Medium gold, somewhat closed nose of earth, moderate, juicy fruit finishing dry and light. 

2016 Torre Rossazza Altromerlot (Colli Orientali)

100% Merlot. Opaque dark red to black, very aromatic with bell pepper, tar and prunes, chewy at first and ends with bitter black cherry tannins. 

 

 

Italian Tastings: I.E.E.M. Master Classes Day 1

 

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October 3-11 was Milano Wine Week 2020. The event was curated by the I.E.E.M. (International Event & Exhibition Management), a PR agency for the wine industry.  Promoted as “the first international event of 2020” they ran tastings, exhibitions and seminars in Milan and several international cities. In New York they held a series of sit-down “master classes” during the course of three days which were held at Il Gattopardo restaurant at 15 West 54th Street in midtown Manhattan. 

Master class: “Discover The Unique Expression of Pinot Noir From Oltrepò Pavese” 

The wines were from the Confagricoltura Pavia, an agricultural trade organization. 

Oltrepò Pavese which translate into “Pavia across the Po” is one of Italy’s 329 DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) zones and is located about 50 miles south of the city of Milan in the region of Lombardy.

The flagship wines from that region are Spumante but they were one of the first regions in Italy to plant Pinot Noir (Pinot Nero).

As Lombardy is in North Italy, these are cool weather Pinot Noirs and I wasn’t expecting the type of lush, fruit forward Pinot Noirs that  you would get from warmer weather wine regions such as California.  The wines were young and for the most part hard as nails with tight fruit and high acidity. 

 

2017 Marchese Adorno “Rile Nero”

2015 Conte Vistarino “Pernice”

2018 Conte Vistarino “Costa del Nero”

2017 Tenuta Travaglino “Poggia della Buttinera” Riserva

2018 Frecciarossa “Carillo”

2016 Frecciarossa “Giorgio Odero”

2017 Mazzolino “Noir”

2019 Mazzolino “Terrazze”

 

Master Class: Vermentino Phenomenon: Discovering The Top 10 Vermentino.

 

Vermentino is a white grape varietal grown around the Mediterranean.

The Maremma is on the western coast of Tuscany and in a country where grapes have been planted for centuries, a relatively new vinicultural area.  Viticulture was introduced in the 19th century after the drainage of the swampland in the region. 

At this tasting we sampled ten Vermentino from Consorzio Tutela Vini della Maremma Toscana. They are an association of wine grape growers, wine makers and wine bottlers which was established “to protect the quality of Maremma Toscana DOC wines and to promote them in Italy and abroad”. They poured wines from the Grand Prix 2020 and the new low sugar versions. 

For the most part the wines were bone-dry, delicate, crisp whites that would go well with shellfish and other seafood. 

 

2019 Balbino 2019 Vermentino
2019 Nudo Vermintino 2018 Leardo
2018 Balbinvs 2018 Codice V
2017 Montero 2017 Matan
2019 Scalandrino 2018 Cobalto
 
 

 

2015 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva

 

 

The Frescobaldi family have been involved in the political and social life of Tuscany for over 700 years. They’ve been making wine as well.

They produce wine from their six estates in Tuscany as well as producing famous wines such as Ornellaia from outside the region.

This wine is a DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantitia) that comes from Rufina which is the smallest of the seven sub-zones of the Chianti region. As a Riserva it’s aged a minimum of 24 months in oak before release.

 

2015 Frescobaldi Nipozzano Chianti Rufina Riserva:  Opaque medium brick, perfume of camphor, black olives and roast meat, moderate fruit with big, silky tannins on the finish. 

 

 

2016 Allegrini “Palazzo della Torre” Red Blend

 

 

The Allegrini family has been making wine in the Veneto region of Italy since the 16th century. The most famous red wines from that area are Valpolicella and Amarone, both red blends made from indigenous grape varietals.

Allegrini produces both Valpolicella and Amarone as well as single vineyard and proprietary wines. Their Palazzo della Torre wine is stylistically somewhat in the middle of those two wines. It’s made in the “ripasso” method in which some of the grapes are set aside to partially dry out and then blended with the finished wine to undergo a second fermentation. This adds body to the wine.

 

2016 Palazzo della Torre

40% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, 5% Sangiovese

Clear dark red in color, perfume of violets and dark cherry, dusty red fruit with gunmetal notes with bitter dark cherry and dark chocolate notes on the finish. 

 

 

IWM Holiday Grand Tasting 2019

 

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Italian Wine Merchants (IWM) is a wine shop that, not surprisingly, specializes in Italian wines. It’s located at 108 East 16th Street across from Union Square Park in Manhattan.

Unusual for a wine store, they have a small room and a dedicated kitchen in the back of the shop that they use as a venue where they host wine dinners and wine tastings.

On the weekend after Thanksgiving Day they hosted their Black Friday mini grand tasting. On this Saturday afternoon, it was a casual walk-around tasting of 32 Italian wines. I’ve been to a few tastings at this venue and I know they pour quality juice. It was a mostly a red wine list with a couple of sparking wines, a rosé and a handful of whites thrown in. They poured a good representation of Italian wines from the North to the South of the boot.

As usual they put out a nice spread of food with good bread and an excellent selection of charcuterie. The kitchen cooked up a couple of tasty pasta dishes as well.

It’s a popular event and the crowd became a little thick at times but I was able to sample as many wines as I wanted, everyone was in a festive mood. My favorites of the afternoon were a couple of Nebbiolo based wines, the 2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili and the 2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia.

Wines poured:

NV Cima da Conegliano Prosecco Extra Dry 2011 Castello Bonomi Franciacorta Brut Cru Perdu
2018 Cornarea Roero Arneis 2015 Drago Collio Friulano
2018 De Concilus Falanghia 2018 Masut da Rive Maurus Chardonnay
2015 Per Luna Cerasuolo 2016 Hilberg-Pasquero Vareij
2016 Hilberg-Pasquero 29.5 Per Alessandra Barbera d’Alba 2016 San Giuliano Barbera Fiore di Marcorino
2015 San Giuliano Barbaresco 2017 Scarzello Langhe Nebbiolo
2013 Scarzello Barolo 2015 Luigi Giordano Barbaresco Asili
2015 Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Gaja Costa Russi
2017 Masut da Rive Maurus Pinot Noir 2018 Per Linda Montepulciano d’Abruzzo
2017 Schiena Vini Salento Enneoro Negroamaro 2017 Schiena Vini Impero Primitivo di Manduria

2017 De Conciliis Donnaluna Anglianico

2010 De Conciliis Naima
2017 Begali Valpolicella Classico 2012 Nicolis Amarone dell Valpolicella Classico
2008 Giuseppe Quintarelli Rosso del Bepi 2014 La Corsa Settefinestre
2014 La Corsa Teroldego 2015 Trecciano Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva
2017 Collemattoni Rosso di Montalcino 2016 Le Mortelle Botrosecco Maremma
2011 Talenti Brunello di Montalcino

2012 Livio Sassetti Pertimali Brunello di Montalcino Riserva

 

 

Italian Heritage On Long Island

 

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Italy is one of the great wine-producing countries, vacillating between itself and France as the largest wine producer in the world. With a climate ideally suited to viticulture, wine had been a part of the country’s culture and everyday life for thousands of years. With more than 350 varieties, the peninsula is one big vineyard.

With millions of Italians migrating the New World and many to the New York City area, it was only natural that some of the ancestors of those immigrants would be a part of the burgeoning wine industry on Long Island.  

With that, Italian wine varietals are very rare at the north and south fork wineries. You would think with many varietals grown in the cooler areas of the Italian peninsula, that wine makers would adapt those grapes for Long Island. Channing Daughters Winery on the south fork grows several such as tocai friulano, lagrein, teroldego and ribolla gialla but on the north fork there is practically none grown. The only winery I remember making an effort to grow Italian varieties on the north fork was Southhold Farm + Cellars but they closed down and moved on to greener pastures in Texas.

I spent one Sunday afternoon stopping at some of the wineries owned by Italian-Americans.

 

 

Macari Vineyards  150 Bergen Avenue, Mattitiuck

Owners: Joseph and Alexandra Macari

This is one of two tasting rooms they have on the north fork. As with a typical Italian-American experience, in his youth Mr. Macari made wine with his grandfather in the basement of his grandfathers home in Corona, Queens. On this Sunday, the tasting was decked out in Christmas decorations and a good crowd of people.

2014 Red Blend “Dos Aquas” A blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Cabernet Sauvignon. Opaque dark red with a purple rim, roast coffee and crushed black fruit on the nose, thick and juicy with some hazelnut notes, moderate tannins and acids.

 

 

Raphael Vineyards  39390 Main Road, Peconic

Owners: Jack and Joan Petrocelli

A family built, owned and operated winery named for the owners father and that “continues a centuries old family tradition of winemaking”. There are tasting rooms in the north fork that are cozy and rustic but this is not one of them. This is a huge facility built to look like an Italian villa that often serves as a wedding venue.

2015 White Reserve “Primo” An interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon and Riesling.  Dark gold with a honeyed nose with ripe tropical fruit though dry. The wine is starting to show its age and I think it’s past its prime.

 

 

Pugliese Vineyards  34515 Main Road, Cutchogue

Owner: The Pugliese Family

One of the original wineries out East established in 1980 and family owned and operated since. They were one of the first to make sparkling wines out East and the only winery I know on Long Island that grows Sangiovese (3-4 acres). They specialize in hand painted bottles and gift baskets which are on display in the understated tasting room.

2012 Sangiovese Clear medium red, crushed red fruit, black licorice and rosemary on the nose, soft red fruit with moderate to low tannins and some tartness at the end.