METODO CLASSICO PAS DOSE, D'ARAPRI
Grape: Bombino bianco and Pinot Nero
Region: San Severo (Puglia)
Pairings: good friends, a romantic dinner, and just about anything from lobster, shellfish, white fish, quality cured meats…the perfect way to start an evening
Notes: No dosage, harvested by hand, hand riddling, 30 months of aging
Drink by: now through 2019
Description: A sparkling wine in South of Italy? Are you crazy? We just did a tasting of Clos du Mesnil Champagne last week, 6 different vintages starting form 1985 and you want me to drink a sparkling wine from Puglia made on Bombino Bianco? And what the hell is Bombino Bianco. I know 'bambino' but not 'bombino'. Why don't you just try it and be quiet? Ok whatever. I'll do it, but it will be a waste of time and taste buds. It will surely be a super creamy, yeasty, sickly wine. I already know it. The south of Italy is too warm for sparkling, so what is the point? Aren't you bored? Of what? Of being who you are? Just try it. You're a professional sommelier right'? Your job is tasting right? Ok ok. A sip.... and so?... Well... quite... impressive, actually. No strong yeast, no strong honey or sickly flavors, nice and refreshing... and a hint of light flowers... even salty a bit, with a ncie refreshing acidity...I just, actually not bad.. not bad at all... Bambino what you said? No, Bombino Bianco. And what is that? Is a local grape variety. These three crazy guys are jazz players and 35 years ago they started to produce a sparkling wine based on one of their mother's vineyards. They happen to adore Champagne so as a game they tried to make a local one. After 35 years now they are considered on of the best sparkling fo Italy. The pas dose is their more characteristic sparkling. Mainly Bombino is refreshing and easy drinking at the same time. Pairs with raw fish, as an aperitif, with a red prawns salad
CODA DI VOLPE 'QUARTA' 2016, ENZA
Grape: 100% Coda di Volpe bianco
Region: Montemarano (Campania)
Pairings: medium aged cheeses, salami, fish or chicken
Notes: fermented in stainless steel, 500 bottles produced, organically produced
Drink by: now until 2020
Description: I want to stay with them, now, at Christmas time. The thing I liked most is the shy father that let this energic and beautiful woman to take care of the family vineyard. Maybe her father is relaxed because he found in his daughter was essentially the mother for his vines. Do you really need me to say something else? Isn’t she clear enough? I've rarely had in my life such a direct and beautiful experience, on a sunny morning of November. Chatting in front of homemade salami, with this white wine, Coda di Volpe, that previously I thought was a useless grape variety. But grape varieties are like children, they need a mom and not a rude oenologist. Coda di Volpe was a scared orphan that found a home here, someone that took car of her. That understood that it was better to keep her in touch with the skin for at least 12 days and someone that knew when she had to leave the cellar for us. Sense the depth and the complexity, the crispy fruit flavour, and the salty finish. This is not just a white wine, this is a warm hug of Mediterranean sun.
NERO DI TROIA 2014, CARPENTIERE
Grape: 100% Nero di Troia
Region: Castel del Monte (Puglia)
Pairings: unique on its own with its strong floral component, but could work with beef or lamb dishes
Drink by: now through 2021 (let this one open up for at least 30 minutes)
Notes: 12 months in large barrels, strict organic farming
Description: Simply said, we make wines based on terroir, not based on market demands, even though the market rewards artificial wines. Tradition, heritage and terroir is what this wine is based on. A family vineyard that he continues to care for, as this land has been around for thousands of years and will be for possibly thousands more, and preserving and maintaining that heritage while he is there is the most important thing. This wine could possibly be the feminine wines on the nose, as it reminded me of roaming through the rose gardens in Rome, smelling all the 1100 varieties of roses planted there. The terroir of this region also gives the wine a unique minerality, and you'll likely pick up the bitter honey aromas as you come back to it. Just like a rose, this wine needs time to open up. Give it some time before you judge it, but I think you will find this to be one of the most unique wines in terms of its aromas and palate. Not just a 'girly' wine...this wine has a nice grip and depth to it as well.
CESANESE DI OLEVANO ROMANO SUPERIORE 2014, ALBERTO GIACOBBE
Grape: 100% Cesanese d'Affile
Region: Olevano Romano (Lazio)
Pairings: Meats like pork or lamb, pasta dishes, and friends.
Drink by: now through 2028
Notes: fermentation in stainless steel 12 months, 6 months in bottle, organic farming
Description: Alberto Giacobbe has a story that starts like many of ours. He went to school and was preparing to be an accountant (let's face it, following the family heritage and making wine wasn't going to pay much more than the bills), until that is that he fell in love with his family's vineyards and choose to take a complete turn in life. In the recent years, certain producers of Cesanese have made improvements, even if this isn't a 'marketable' grape to be sold to the masses. This wine is one of them. 65 year old vines from a specific clone not easy to find these days from a small village Affile planted by his grandfather (unfortunately he lost both father and grandfather just recently), coupled with organic practices and love and passion for what he is doing in life and out comes a wine that gives you a wine that could almost compete with some Burgundian wines, but at a fraction of the price. This complex yet easy drinking wine is best paired with a homemade dinner and great friends, and a perfect way to surprise them with a lesser known, indigenous grape that has been cultivated in Lazio for thousands of years. Nice fruit, but a more interesting refreshing minerality that comes from the soil of an old volcanic lake bed in the area.
UMBRIA ROSSO 'CIUF CIUF' 2016, CALCABRINA
Region: Montefalco (Umbria)
Pairings: red meat, prime rib, medium aged cheeses
Drink by: now through 2023
Description: I know I told you more than once that winemakers are the biggest liars in the world but you should, you have to, trust someone like Diego Calcabrina. He's so direct and straight. His thougts are so simple and truthful. The concept is undisputable: You can work in the fields the get more quantity or to get more quality. Simple as that. Work for quality costs more time and money. That's it. He also says: I deal with my limits, the limit of the number of bottles I can produce (a few thousand), the limits of the grape variety, Sagrantino, the limit of nature, that is potentally limitless if you understand her limits. It's all about that but nowdays it seems that all the issue is about going beyond the limits. the limits of or planet to be sustainable, the limit the soil that can't be over-fertilized or chemically treated, the limit of what I really need as a wine and cheese maker (only few thousand bottles produced, and cheese made only in summer time) and the limit of our capicity of drinking a wine full of suphites and chemicals. I said that I trust in Diego because when I asked him what does he think about the Sagrantino grape he aswered: this grape sucks. Not an easy thing to say in front of the camera. Here we have their Merlot (I know...you're saying we thought this wine club was based off unique Italian grapes, not ones we can find anywhere), but this is a different one, planted where it takes a different flavor of the terroir and land, unlike the commercial, jammy, fruity wines built up in cellars that you may be used to.
BARBERA D'ALBA 2014, CASCINA DELLA ROSE
Grape: 100% Barbera
Region: Barbaresco (Piedmont)
Pairings: red meat dishes, medium aged or seasoned cheeses, savory dishes, or lamb
Notes: aged in large Slovenian oak barrels for 15 months, from old clones
Drink by: now until 2022
Description: Non c’è niente di più semplice ed evidente della bellezza. Niente di più lineare e diretto dell’eleganza. (There is nothing more simple and evident than beauty. Nothing more linear and straight than elegance).
Of the two brothers, one is really shy, nearly panics when he has to speak, especially in front of the camera. The other is more practical, knows what he has to say even if these two young guys are so simple and direct, isn't filtered, in a way like their wines, but slowly decanted. The soil of Rio Sordo is a magic one, so here no one is able to make a bad wine. This Barbera has a beautiful nose of red plums and cherries, with a touch of spice and will feel tender and elegant on the palate with a slight touch of tannins and refreshing acidity, and lingers on the palate with a refreshing red fruit finish that is anything but heavy and jammy.