Despite the tundra where we now live, it will be warm inside and tonight’s a big night for those who follow the movies as well as for all Downton Abbey (DA) fans. I count myself in both camps and I’ll be hard pressed to decided which to watch. I know I will have a glass of something while I flipping between them. When watching DA, I always think I should have a claret (Bordeaux) but while watching the Oscars, a wine from California. I can split the difference and have a Bordeaux style wine made in California most certainly. What might that be? Perhaps a blend Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and other grapes or a Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend? So many different styles of wine to choose from.
There is a whole association dedicated to this pursuit in fact. Meritage is the term for wines made from these blends in the United States. I rarely used to drink these wines but as I am now enrolled in the mighty Master of Wine program, I am tasting everything I can and thinking about wine styles in a new way.
This week’s indigenous varieties are all ones that I had never heard of and first met in a book I own on indigenous varieties in Italy. Goldtraminer as you might expect is a cross created in 1947 by Rebo Rigotti at San Michele all’Adige between Traminer and Garganega. The grape is aromatic and is especially useful in making late harvest wines.
Gosen Nero was also created by Rebo Rigotti at San Michele all’Adige but this one was done in 1950 and is a cross between Carmenere and Teroldego. It has a very thick skin and is well suited to Northern regions in Italy with wet autumns. It is a very vigorous grape variety and thus needs to be limited in order to produce quality fruit.
The third variety for today is Granoir Nero which grows in the Valle d’Aosta, a cross between Gamay and Reichsteiner, created by M. Andre Jaquinet.
None of these varieties are ones that you will likely find at your local liquor store but you may come across them in your travels within il Bel Paese.
This week’s wine of the wine is from Tenuta Patruno Perniola located in the Murgia pugliese, in the town of Gioia del Colle, which is between the provinces of Bari and Taranto. The family has owned the property since the 1800s. It is focused exclusively on Primitivo which they make in a number of different versions, oaked, aged in stainless steel and sweet. The vineyards are located at 350 meters above sea level with constant breezes, good thermal excursion and rich soils filed with minerals that give the earth a red color and the nickname “red earth.”
I tried a number of their Primitivos at Vino 2015 and the one that I preferred was that made in a neutral vessel. Not a huge fan of the grape, I was surprised at how elegant and refined it was without being over the top. According to the winery’s website, their goal is to let the grape speak for itself and neither to make a big oaky version nor one that is a fruit bomb. I think they were successful in their efforts and I quite enjoyed the wine, much to my surprise. I worked at the Puglia tasting that day and tried a number of other wines made with this grape that were very interesting, albeit a bit too alcoholic for my taste. I’d love to go back to Puglia to taste these wines in situ, one of the loveliest of Italian regions, and that is certainly saying something.
This week’s wine of the week is from Rolland & Galarreta, a joint project between Michel Rolland and Javier Galarreta. The pair teamed up to make wines in Rioja, Ribera and Rueda. The Rioja was from Alavesa from 25-40 year old vines. It was made from 100% Tempranillo and was lush ruby red in color with an elegant bouquet of floral and fruit notes as well as American oak undertones. On the palate, the wine was elegant and voluptous with a long finish.
This new project which they announced in October at an event at the Tribeca Grill hosted by the Connected Table produces 500,000 bottles from 500 hectares of vineyards throughout the regions. They make approximately 150,000 of each one of the wines. The Rioja spent 10 months in American oak and is made to drink now rather than age, according to Rolland. He is interested in the more modern versions of Rioja he noted. The pair are able to pool considerable resources and to use such modern techniques as optical sorting. The wine retails for $23.
Charlie Arturaola was also part of the event, presenting a trailer of his movie The Duel of Wine. Charlie is a friend and I’m a big fan of his so whenever he is part of something I know it is something to consider.
Two big events in Italian life this week, a new President, Sergio Mattarella and Italian wine week in New York City with both Vino and I Tre Bicchieri slated for this week. I know they are not of the same order but both matter to the health of Italy – politically the former and economically the latter. Additionally rather than joining with Vinitaly this year, Slow Wine is part of Vino.
I’ll be at both shows this week working in one of the seminars at Vino and for a Sardinian producer at Tre Bicchieri. Come say hello. I’ve barely recovered from my introduction to the world of Masters of Wine during the intense residential seminar in Napa this past January. Looking to taste with renewed focus, I’m excited about the opportunities available in NYC despite the weather. Vino’s focus this year is on Southern Italian regions including Puglia, Campania, Calabria and Sicilia.I look forward to seeing old friends and maybe making some new ones in the trade.