This week’s wine Wednesday is dedicated to Re Manfredi’s Aglianico del Vulture from Basilicata. The winery has 120 hectares and the vineyard that makes this wine is at 420 meters above sea level. I tasted it last at this year’s Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri event. The woman who was showcasing the wine, Tiziana from GIV is a lovely person that I met in Italy many years ago. I tried the wine because I know her but also because I have a love affair with Basilicata as a region.
I have only visited a very small part of Basilicata, Matera, but it has been a crucial part of my Italian journey throughout the years. I always used to say I couldn’t leave Italy until I visited Basilicata. When I finally did, it still took me three more years to leave. The first time I heard about Aglianico del Vulture was in a wine class in Italy many years ago. Aglianico del Vulture is considered the most prestigious area for Aglianico in Basilicata. The Re Manfredi winery is located in Venosa, the birthplace of Horace, the Latin poet. Mount Vulture is an extinct volcano and the soils near it are particularly fertile with nitrogen, calcium and tufa. Wines made from volcanic soils all have mineral notes I find and a certain elegance and grace. This one was no different. Aglianico is a tough grape because of its powerful tannins yet those from this area are rounded and more refined than some others I have had. This wine ages in oak for 10-12 months. You can taste some oak and vanilla flavors but they are not overwhelming. The wine is a nice balance of fruit, earth and spicy aromas combined with tertiary notes from the oak. Really enjoyable, it made me want to eat a very large steak although I am no longer a huge meat eater. The wine retails for about $34 and is imported by Frederick Wildman.
Celebrating life with Champagne. I love Champagne and I love this particular one quite a lot. Pol Roger is one of the last few champagne houses that are still entirely family owned. In fact, my very first wine tasting in New York years ago was a Wildman portfolio tasting, Pol Roger’s importer, and a member of the family was there pouring their wines. A very elegant older gentleman, it was a memorable experience. The family has some 220 acres of vineyards, mostly in the south of Epernay and the Cotes de blancs. This particular Champagne is composed of one third Pinot Noir, one third Chardonnay and one third Meunier. It spends three years on its lees. Each grape brings different aspects to the blend: Pinot Noir brings body, Pinot Meunier provides freshness and fruit notes and Chardonnay enhances the experience by adding an elegant lift.
This Champagne has a beautiful perlage, lovely floral and fruit notes as well as nutty and toasty aromas and flavors that make this a classic and a great one to celebrate sweetness in your life. I drank it right after my beautiful, long desired son arrived in 2014. Every time I have this wine, I think of how marvelous that bottle was indeed. Cheers to life and to Niccolo’, my exquisite boy.
Like everyone else, I’m snowed in. I’m supposed to be on my way to Austria for a ski trip with friends but the airports are closed, flights are canceled and more delays are expected. What to do, blog about Austria wines. Hopefully before the week is over, I will be drinking some in situ.
Over the course of the last two years, I have had the occasion to try many wonderful Austrian wines. The first person who truly introduced these wines to me was Monika Caha. I don’t remember how it came to pass but I worked at a Frederick Wildman tasting with Monika in New York, pouring her wines.
The wines from Stadlmann which Monika brings in were exceptional. Stadlmann’s winemaking dates back seven generations. The winery is located some 20 miles South of Vienna The region is known as Thermenregion. The region is supposed to be among Austria’s warmest with brown soil mixed with sandy loam. Some of the vineyards have 40 year old vines.
I remember meeting the indigenous grape varieties, Zierfandler and Rotgipfler, and being floored. These white wines were at once full bodied and minerally, filled with delicate floral and fruit notes, and a zing on the palate. The Zierfandler has a fascinating combination of acidity and sweet notes. This is because the grape ripens unevenly producing both sugar and acidity. The wine ferments in large wooden barrels. Both wines can age as well. Zierfandler is the signature wine for the Stadlmann family. It can be fermented dry or made in one of the sweeter Pradikatsweine levels such as Auslese or TBA. The Zierfandler Mandel-Hoh was truly memorable.
I order these wines whenever I see this producer on a wine list.These same indigenous varietals apparently were cultivated when the Habsburgs reigned. I’d like to think my great grandparents might have had a glass when they lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Stadlmann also makes very noteworthy Pinot Noir. The wine spends time in large oak barrles for 12 months and has classic pinot noir aromas and flavors including soft berry notes and elegant tannins. I have had the occasion to try these wines in the years since that first meeting and they never disappoint.