Wine Wednesday: Falesia Chardonnay from D’Amico Winery

This week’s wine Wednesday is dedicated to one I tasted a while back but have not been able to forget. It’s the Falesia chardonnay from D’Amico Winery located at the confluence of Umbria/Lazio/Tuscany. I met the couple during a lunch in New York at Marea organized by the lovely Tony DiDio. I had never heard of the winery and was intrigued. The couple made their mark in other industries and started their winery out of a passion for the vine in 1985. The winemaker is quite young and french which was a further twist. Their winery is located in the Calenchi valley on volcanic soil which brings lots of minerality to the wines.

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Vaiano, is a UNESCO protected area on the border between Tuscany, Lazio and Umbria.
It is said to be the birthplace of the Etruscan culture. The exciting and moonlike landscape is a result of water passing over tufa stone which led to these amazing cliffs.

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I have never visited the property but it looks very interesting and the cellars apparently have been excavated underneath the vines and the hanging gardens, attempting to recreate an Etruscan cellar that was found on the property.

We tried a number of wines that day, both reds and whites. Like many others, I tend to be a little less enthusiastic when I try an international varietal from Italy rather than an indigenous one, of which they have so many,  but I decided to suspend my usual thinking and was richly rewarded throughout the tasting. I really enjoyed the Calanchi and Falesia Chardonnay wines. The latter particularly as it was made from 30 year old vines. I even got some petrol notes on the Falesia which were unexpected The wines also both spent time on their lees and this creamy texture came through on the palate as well. According to the winemaker, they have a regime of using a low level of sulfites. Lees can also do the job to protect the wines from oxygen, the winemaker said. Commenting on the high level of acidity, he noted that volcanic soil helps to maintain freshness and acidity in wines.

Vaiano, Private Property (http://www.cedricreversade.com), Italy

We also tried a wine called Noe which was a blend of Grechetto, Pinot Grigio and Trebbiano. It was very aromatic and fresh. I am sure on a hot day like today, more than one bottle would be poured at my table.

The Falesia which was my pick for today had a bit of everything I like, great minerality, white fruit notes of apple, pear and some herbaceous notes. as well as a creamy texture from the lees. It reminded me a lot of some of the Antinori chardonnay I have tasted from Italy. The volcanic soils also brought sapidity to all of these wines, another characteristic I favor.

The winery also makes a Pinot Noir and a Cabernet Franc which we tasted and were inviting. I’m in love with Cabernet Franc as a grape so I will write about that one as well. The Cabernet Franc had just the right amount of pepper and spice and elegance that I look for with that grape together with great mineraity, something I love to find in a red wine. I hope to see more of these wines on various lists in the city. I know you can find them both at Marea and at the Lincoln. You can also find some of the wines in these places on wine-searcher. A winery to watch, I hope to visit on a future trip to Italy.

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Filed under Grechetto, Italian regions, lazio, Tuscany, Umbria, Wine Wednesday, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Rosa from Piacenza

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This is my 16th and last post in the series on Malvasie. It has been very interesting to see just how many variations there are of this grape from the Malvasia family. This week’s variety is Malvasia Rosa which is a mutation of Malvasia di Candia which I wrote about here. This Malvasia can be found in the province of Piacenza in Val Nure. This wine makes a rose that is fruity and can be made into a sparkling wine, either spumante or frizzante.

This winery. Azienda Vitivinicola Mossi from 1558 which had until 2014 14 generations owning the property. They sold it to a young couple who are continuing the traditions of the Mossi family and are one of three wineries producing wines from this variety. That makes it quite that noteworthy and one that I would love to taste. Maybe the next time I am in that area. Another producer is Azienda Vitivinicola Montesissa. They also make a passito using this grape. What a pleasure these weeks of Malvasia have been. I had no idea it was such an interesting variety.

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Filed under emilia romagna, Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Lombardia, Memorable Events, Piacenza, Travel

Wine Wednesday: Primitivo di Gioia del Colle Muro Sant’Angelo-Contrada Barbatto 2013

My wine of the week for wine Wednesday is from Apulia, from Tenuta Chiaromonte. It is a Primitivo from Acquaviva delle Fonti in La Murgia which is near Bari in Apulia. The winery started in the 1800s with 3 hectares and now has 32 hectares. I tried this wine at the Gambero Rosso tasting earlier this year. It had won the award for best red wine of 2017 and the owner, Nicola Chiaromonte was happily pouring this big, bold wine. At 16.5% alcohol, it didn’t fit into what I consider my typical wine style. Moreover, I am always hard pressed when it comes to Primitivo to find one I really enjoy but this one won me over. It had all of the juicy red and black fruits, spice and pepper, and garigue or Macchia Mediterranea notes one would expect from a wine from Southern Italy. However it didn’t have the oak treatment that I have found to be very common in that part of Italy. What you got in that glass was pure primitivo made on Calcareous soils in Southern Italy. I found it offered in California on Wine-searcher but I believe they also have a New York importer, Masanois.

According to the winery website, Primitivo can also called Primativo or Primaticcio. This last because it is an early ripening grape. The Phoenicians were already selling Primitivo in their day. Apparently a priest from Gioia del Colle, Don Filippo Indellicati, started the first monocolture of this variety.

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Monday Musings: Drinking French Wine & Celebrating Democracy

Like many others, I am celebrating today, drinking French wine and singing the Marseillaise. This clip from Casablanca is one of my absolute favorite movie scenes.

Let’s toast to France today and to democracy! No better way to do that than with Pol Roger, a Champagne house that I am quite partial to.

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Italian Producers Beef Up Sparkling Offering

Italian Sparkling Wine

Italian sparkling wine is an ever expanding category these days. In addition to the traditional regional wines from the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia of Prosecco, Trento DOC from Trentino-Alto Adige, Asti Spumante from Piedmont, Franciacorta and Cruasé  from Lombardy, and Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna, producers throughout Italy are making sparkling wines from indigenous varieties to complete their range.

Part of this growth can be attributed to the amazing sales of Prosecco throughout the last 5-10 years. Everyone has tried to get on the Prosecco train. Additionally indigenous varieties are now considered more interesting  and thus people are extending and combining the two trends.

As a lover of Sparkling wine, I think this is a fantastic addition to the Italian wine scene but not everyone agrees. Of the wines that I have had, some of the best sparklers are made from indigenous white grapes such as Vermentino in Liguria and Sardinia, Grechetto in Umbria, and Passerina in Le Marche. I have also had sparklers made from Ribolla Gialla that were interesting.

In terms of red grapes, I had had sparkling wines made from Sangiovese in Toscana, Cannonau in Sardinia and even from Nebbiolo. Some have been inspiring while others are forced into a role that isn’t theirs. A similar trend is happening with Rosé.

Another recent trend is for producers to have sparkling wines made in other parts of the country that they offer in their agriturismi as their own. I have seen this often in Toscana. I am told that clients like to have a sparkling wine at the agriturismo as well as typical Tuscan wines.

A further reason this seems to be happening, is that people are now drinking sparkling wine with the entire meal rather that just at the end of the meal. This is also pushing producers to offer options. Most of the newer sparklers are made using the charmat method rather than the traditional method with secondary refermentation in the bottle but not all of them.

Whether indigenous varieties or not, newer sparkling wines in Italy are here to stay and on the whole, I think that’s a great trend. Looking forward to today’s Twitter chat at 1100 ET on #Italian about sparkling wines.

Here are the rest of my fellow bloggers look into sparkling Italian wines.  Check them out!
Jennifer Gentile Martin at Vino Travels with “There is Prosecco and then there is Valdobbiadene Prosecco”
David Crowley of Cooking Chat  finds for us examples of “Italian Sparkling Wine Beyond Prosecco”
Lauren Walsh the Swirling Dervish will teach “Why You Should Learn to Love Lambrusco”
“Pink Bubbles, Paté, and Pecorino” is the topic from Camilla Mann of  Culinary Adventures with Camilla
Mike Madaio of   Undiscovered Italy   offers up “One Great Bottle: Fiamberti Oltrepò Pavese 2012”
Italian Producers Beef Up Sparkling Offering is the offering from Susannah Gold of avvinare.
Rosina Wilson of Drink Wine With Dinner may be joining us for the first time too with a post about Metodo Classico Spumante Brut, Lugana DOC.
Here at Wine Predator we have “Three Trento Sparklers with Seafood Risotto for #ItalianFWT”

Please join us for the twitter chat (#ItalianFWT) about Italian sparkling wine on Saturday May 6 from 11-12pm EST and check out our blogs!

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia Nera Lunga

Piedmont

This week’s variety is called Malvasia Nera Lunga and hails from Piedmont. It grows in the provinces of Asti and Turin. It is a grape with a long shape hence the name. It is a hard and vigorous grape. It can lose acidity relatively quickly so the picking date for these grapes is key before the alcohol and acidity gets out of balance. It works well as a dessert grape as well for its particular characteristics. The grape is often compared and contrasted with Malvasia di Schierano. Malvasia Nera Lunga is an earlier ripener that Malvasia di Schierano and it has less acidity traditionally. It is also heartier and more vigorous. Often Malvasia Nera Lunga is made into a mono-varietal wine or blended with Malvasia di Schierano. In the wine known as Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco DOC which I wrote about a few weeks ago, the rules call for 85% min. Malvasia di Schierano and/or Malvasia Nera Lunga.

This is my penultimate post on Malvasia. It has been wonderful finding out about so many versions of this amazing grape and all of the places it is grown in Italy. Both the white and the red versions of Malvasia are very interesting. This one can make a rich, full-bodied still wine and can also make beautiful sweet wines.

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Filed under Italian indigenous varieties, Piedmont, Sweet Wines, wines

Monday Musings: Society of Wine Educators Conference in Portland in August

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I am so looking forward to this summer’s Society of Wine Educators conference. Founded in 1977, SWE’s Annual Conference is for educators, students, and enthusiasts to convene and learn more about the world of wine and spirits. In 2017, SWE will host this event in Portland, Oregon. I’ve never been to Portland and this is my chance. The 41st Annual Conference will be held Thursday, August 10th through Saturday, August 12th. Featuring over 65 sessions with topics, I will be speaking on wines from Lombardy, hence the picture of Sant’Ambrogio in Milan.

I was lucky enough to meet with many producers from the various consortium at Vinitaly. I think I will have a great and interesting line-up of wines for people to taste. This will be my eighth or ninth conference and has become part of my summer patterns. I look forward to visiting a few wineries and getting to know the city as well.

Baptistery Bergamo Alta

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Filed under Lombardy, Memorable Events, oregon, Society of Wine Educators Conference, Wine Education