Category Archives: Wine of the Week

Wine Wednesday: Petite Arvine from Ottin (Valle d’Aosta)

Ottin Petite Arvine

This week’s blizzard has really made me miss ife on the slopes, all of it. I always remember the panini with speck and asiago cheese that I would eat when skiing in Italy and the desire to drink Vin Brule but the knowledge that too much of it would make me a worse skier. Hopefully, a settimana bianca will again be part of my life as Niccolo’ learns to ski and wants to go. It’s a great tradition in Italy that I miss.

This week’s wine of the week for wine wednesday is about Petite Arvine from Ottin. It was very clear and crisp with nice minerality and acidity. A straight-forward wine, “franco” the Italians wood say.

This is a fresh and friendly white wine which is a perfect drink on the mountains after a tough day on the slopes or after a hike in that beautiful countryside. I’ve always had it with mountain cheese such as Fontina DOP, charcuterie such as Jambon de Bosses DOP, Lard d’Arnad or alone as an aperitif.

I wish I had great pictures from the Valle d’Aosta. It is such a marvelous and special place. I have been skiing there a number of times (Monte Cervino, Monte Bianco, La Thuile) in my years in Italy and each time came back with a renewed respect for the mountains, the land and the wines. I have not spent much time there during the summer but I am sure the hiking rivals the skiing.

Each year they have an exposition for their wines in September. The association is called the Associazione Viticulteurs Encaveurs. In Italian, the term “viticultura eroica” means that those harvesting the wines are basically “heros” because it is so difficult in terms of the slope of the terraces.

In terms of wine production, there are a number of cooperatives as well as many individual producers. I also learned that some 40% of the members of the cooperatives are women, a fact I found quite interesting.

I spent a long time with a sommelier from the Valle d’Aosta at VInitaly one year. He was so incredibly well prepared and knowledgeable that I felt I had taken a trip through the region and through the vineyards with him. In fact, I highly suggest going to the sommelier booths at Vinitaly in years to come. You learn a lot and can taste many wines. I went on the last day of the fair at 900 AM and was alone with him for about one hour. I realize not everyone has that luxury. I felt very lucky that I did. It was one of my favorite tastings at the fair and among the most instructive.

For now, just an invitation and a suggestion – visit the Valle d’Aosta on your next holiday, winter or summer and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Valle d'Aosta, Wine of the Week, Wine of the Week, Wine Schools, Wine Wednesday, wines

Wine Wednesday: Trabocchetto from Talamonti from Abruzzo

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This week’s Wine Wednesday is dedicated to Abruzzo. A region that has seen its fair share of trouble this month with record snow falls, earthquakes, and an avalanche that claimed the lives of guests at a hotel and yesterday, a helicopter crash during a mountain rescue. It has been on my mind all month and I think of all those who live there. Certainly hardy folk as is evidenced by their long history and often rugged terrain. Luckily this spirit will help move beyond this terrible month and into a better moment in time. I have visited the region but not recently and have never been to their incredible parks, the Gran Sasso and the Maiella. They are also bordered by the Appenines and the Sibylline massif.

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The winery I am writing about today is co-owned by someone I met years ago through a work contact, his father in fact. I have been following the amazing development of the winery these last years and have been impressed with these friendly, reliable wines that present good values as well. Talamonti makes both indigenous and international grapes. I was quite fond of Trabocchetto made from Pecorino. They are located in Loreto Aprutino, an area that has very old soils that are the remains of glaciers and volcanic ash. They are near the “Ghiacciaio del Calderone”, known to be “the southernmost glacier in Europe and the only one in the central Mediterranean area,” according to their website.

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The winery was founded in 2001 by the Di Tonno family. They have 32 hectares in production with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Pecorino and other varietals. They are at 300 meters above sea level in the Tavo Valley region. The wines were all very well made and clean wines. Approachable, food friendly and inviting, I think Talamonti has a long and happy road ahead. I look forward to tasting the new vintages either at Vino or Vinitaly. They are very well distributed and nicely priced. Click here for a link to see if they are near you.
Salute!

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Wine Wednesday: 2013 Kolbenhof Gewurztraminer Vigna from J. Hoffstatter

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Let me begin by saying that I have never been a huge fan of this grape variety and that this week’s wine is one I thought I would not be keen on. However, I have learned to be both humble and have an open mind about the wines I taste and so I tried this Gewürztraminer from Hoffstatter at Operawine.com and I was very surprised at how much I enjoyed it.

This Gewürztraminer is made from grapes grown in their Kolbenhof estate which overlooks Tramin. Thanks to the microclimate, soils of clay, gravel and lime, the southeastern exposure of the vineyard and the age of the vines, they produce a beautiful example of what this variety can do.

The wine is somewhat more textured than many I have had and that is thanks to the skin contact that it undergoes for a few hours and the 8 months it spends on the lees with battonage once a week. It had the opulent aromas and fruit flavors that are typical of this variety but it also had great acidity. It would be great with Indian food which I am currently craving. I wish I had a bottle on hand this evening.

Josef Hofstätter founded the winery in the year 1907 and it is now run by the fourth generation. They have 50 hectares of vines at between
800 and 2.600 feet above sea level.

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Filed under Alto Adige, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian indigenous varieties, Wine of the Week, wine wednesday, Wine Wednesday, wines

Wine of the Week: Valferana, Gattinara D.O.C.G. 2005

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This week’s wine of the week is from Piedmont, from the winery Nervi. I had the pleasure of sitting next to Enrico Fileppo, the oenologist from the winery who has worked there since 1984, last year at a dinner during VinoVip 2013 in Cortina. I had never had the pleasure of tasting this exquisite wine previously and it was such a treat that I highly recommend it to everyone.

Nervi, founded by Luigi Nervi in 1906, is one of the older wineries in the area if not the oldest. They have 24 hectares (59.3 acres) of Nebbiolo vines, spread among different vineyard sites. The Valferana vineyard dates all the way back to 1242 according to local documents. The vineyards are protected from Northernly winds by the nearby mountains which also ensure cool breezes for the vines. The soil is a combination of volcanic and clay soils. They have a high pH and the combination favors the absorption of minerals (manganese, iron and zinc).

In order to qualify for the designation Gattinara D.O.C.G., the minimum aging requirement is three years of which two in wood. The Gattinara D.O.C.G. Riserva and single vineyard minimum aging requirement is four years of which three in wood. Gattinara is certainly less well known than some of its counterparts in Piedmont but it is definitely a wine to put on your list. The wine must be made from 90%-100% Nebbiolo which they call Spanna locally. A very elegant wine in my opinion, it was recognized as a D.O.C.G. in 1990.

Nervi

In order to make the Valferana Gattinara D.O.C.G. wine, Nervi used about 10% whole grapes and fermentation lasted at least 22 days in concrete vats. The oak fermentation vats, which are from the 1960s, have no temperature control beyond their thick oak staves. They use ambient yeasts and the wine spends at least 40 months in oak barrels. Nervi uses only large oak casks for aging, ranging in capacity from 750 to 8,000 liters. Nervi´s casks are all made in Slavonian oak with the exception of six 3,200 litre casks made in oak from the Black Forest in South Western Germany.

The wine was gorgeous and balanced according to my notes with freshness and minerality as well as the wonderful violet and floral notes typical of Nebbiolo. It also had hints of blueberries, eucalyptus and earth. I loved this wine and couldn’t get enough of it that night but there were many of us at the table and of course I had to share…

I found the wine on wine-searcher.com for $45.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Piedmont, Travel, Wine of the Week, wine wednesday, Winery of the Week

Wine of the Week: Movia’s Veliko Belo

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This week’s wine of the week is from Movia, a classic Slovenian winery that has a true cult following in the United States. Slovenia is on my mind after I read an article in the Travel section of the New York Times this week that renewed my interest in visiting this country that borders with Italy.

Despite Slovenia’s close proximity to Italy, especially Trieste and Friuli Venezia Giulia, I never made it there for a visit during my years in Il bel paese. If one can’t visit a country, I firmly believe that sipping their wines and learning about them is a good interim substitute until the occasion presents itself.

This wine from Movia, imported by Domaine Select, is a blend of Chardonnay, Ribolla Gialla, Sauvignon, and Pinot Gris, in varying percentages. The average age of the vines is 41 years and the grapes are late harvested. Secondary fermentation takes place in barriques with no racking or sulphur added. The wine then spends three years in oak barrels before being released into the market.

The Movia estate has about 22 hectares and dates back to the 1700s. The Kristančič family which owns the estate inherited it through a wedding in 1820. About half of the estate is on the Italian side of the Goriška Brda (Collio). Everyone is enamored of the winemaker on this estate, Ales, who is often seen in photos standing on his barrels using a wine thief to taste wine. Here he is in a more relaxed pose.

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I have not had the pleasure of meeting Ales but I have tasted a number of his wines and they are all interesting, different and memorable. I particularly like the minerality and the acidity in his wines which I imagine comes from the soils (marl) and climate (Mediterranean) as well as his wine making techniques. Likely a combination of all three, if you want to taste a wine from Slovenia, Movia is a great place to begin and to end up as well.

This particular wine reminded me of another wine I know well from the Italian side of the border from Lis Neris, Confini. Both are complicated wines that pair with a number of foods and occasions. I think we don’t see enough of these white blends in the United States but maybe that will change.

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Wine of the Week- Terre Bianche Pigato D.O.C. 2013

Liguria

This week’s wine of the week is from Liguria, a Pigato D.O.C. 2013 from Terre Bianche. The winery is located in the town of Dolceacqua. A well-known red wine comes from that area, Rossese di Dolceacqua but today I am writing about the lovely Pigato 2013 that I tasted this year at Vinitaly. I met Filippo Rondelli about four years ago at a tasting during that same fair. I see him at least once a year at the OperaWine event held by the Wine Spectator and Vinitaly/Veronafiere that he is often asked to participate in with one of his wines.

Filippo, like many Ligurians, is somewhat reserved and quiet, except when he is extolling the virtues of his wonderful wines. Apparently the winery was created by a relative, Tommaso Rondelli, in 1870. The winery is named “Terre Bianche” to reflect the white soils around their area. They make three red wines and three whites as well as olive oil. Filippo took over the winery in the late 1990s from his father and uncle.

Dolceacqua is in the part of Liguria known as the Ponente. The winery is not far from Bordighera and Ventimiglia. They make about 60,000 bottles a year and Filippo said they run out of stock every year. The area has mostly white and red clay soils and sandstone. The Pigato comes from a vineyard at 400 meters above sea level. It had nice white fruit and floral aromas and flavors. I also found a considerable amount of sapidity and minerality in the wine which I love. Pigato is said to be related to another Ligurian grape variety, Vermentino. The winery is all about the terroir of the vineyards and this Pigato showed that philosophy as well.

While I had this lovely wine during Vinitaly, I can imagine sitting outside either in the hills or by the sea in Liguria and really enjoying it with seafood or pasta or even on its own. On a dreary day like today in New York, thinking about this wine and Liguria brings a smile to my face.

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Liguria, Memorable Events, Travel, Wine of the Week