METODO CLASSICO GRAND CUVEE 21st CENTURY, D'ARAPRI
Grape: Bombino bianco, Montepulciano 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: Harvested and riddled by hand, 60 months of aging
Drink by: now through 2020
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. Is it all Bombino?
CODA DI VOLPE 'QUARTA' 2016, ENZA
Grape: 100% Coda di Volpe bianco
Region: Montemarano (Campania)
Pairings: fish, chicken, and simple cheeses
Notes: fermented in stainless steel, 500 bottles 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.
ETNA ROSSO 'DON PIPPINU' 2013, SCIRTO
Grape: Nerello Mascalese and a bit of Nerello Cappuccio
Region: Etna (Sicily)
Pairings: grilled meat, braised meats, wild game
Drink by: now through 2021
Notes: Minimal sulphur added, stainless fermentation, aging for 12 months oak casks
Description: Valeria and Giuseppe, partners in every sense, are the masterminds behind this natural and artisan wine. Scirto is one of the very few producers to be able to say they actually are from Etna (they didn't arrive once Etna recently started to make a name for itself). This is true Garagiste 'garage wine' that they make in a tiny little warehouse for their minuscule production of 6,000 bottles. Everything stems from tradition here. Giuseppe not knowing what to do just followed all the heritage his grandfather passed along to him (even paying homage to him with the name of the wine), and was lucky to inherit vines of around 90 years of age. Drink this wine to have an experience completely different from your soft, sweet, plush and jammy California Red Zinfandel. This is a terroir driven wine that takes its mineral, smokey flavors directly from the volcanic soil it grows in. Open this bottle hours in advance or decant it to have a more enjoyable experience with it.
TAURASI 'PADRE' 2011, ENZA
Region: Montemarano (Campania)
Pairings: Red meat dishes, steak, grilled meats
Drink by: now through 2022
Notes: 6 years before releasing, 24 months aging in oak, 1300 bottles produced
Description: And after warm hug from Coda di Volpe, he is the silent and powerful father, the Aglianico, tannic and dense. Deep and taught but with a soft and fruity balance just like Enza’s father. Someone calls this grape variety the Nebbiolo of the south. It's origin is probably Greek. Agliancio comes from Hellenicus, Hellas is Greece. Possibly imported from that land 2600 years ago when the south of Italy was called Enotria. I have to say that usually I find Aglianico too hard when it's young and too old when it's old. Enza was patient enough with this tantrum-throwing son to wait the right moment, 6 years, to release it. Now the strong tannins are tight but soft at the same time, the palate is filled with concentration but the after taste is licorice and refrshing balsamic. Let it decant in the glass for a while, drink it slowly with some hard cheese, take your time as the bottle did in the barrel and the cellar before you opened it.
ROSSO DI UMBRIA 'FOGLIO II' 2014, CALCABRINA
Grape: 100% Sagrantino
Region: Montefalco (Umbria)
Pairings: a big T-bone steak
Notes: organically produced
Drink by: now through 2023
Description: I know I told you more than once that winemakers are the biggest lairs in the world but you should, you have to, trust someone like Diego Calcabrina. He's so direct and straight. His thoughts are so simple and truthful. The concept is undisputable: You can work in the fields to get more quantity or to get more quality. Simple as that. Working 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 (a few thousand), the limit of the grape variety, Sagrantino, the limit of nature, which is potentally limitless if you understand her limits. It's all about that. But nowadays it seems that all the issue is about going beyond the limits - the limits of our planet to be substainable, the limits of the soil that can't be over fetilezed and 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 capacity of drinking a wine full of suphites and chemicals. I said that I trust in Diego because when I asked him what he thinks about the Sagrantino grape he aswered: this grape sucks. Not an easy thing to say in front of the camera. So he knows the limit also of this grape variety which tends to be always too green and tannic and he decided to adjust it with a natural trick: a late harvest. So born was a sweet and tannic, dry and raisiny, bold and soft wine. You finally found the perfect pairing for your big bone steak.
BARBARESCO 'TRE STELLE' 2014, CASCINA DELLA ROSE
Grape: 100% Nebbiolo
Region: Barbaresco (Piedmont)
Pairings: rich, savory dishes, red meat, stews, truffle risotto.
Drink by: now until 2026
Notes: non filtered, 20 year old vines
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 as 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. Rio Sordo is a beautiful amphiteather of stratified blue marl that donates to wines that typical stoney, mint, balsamic and tannic flavor of the nebbiolo. But there’s a small spot beside Rio Sordo called Tre Stelle, not more than 150mt I guess, just on the side of the hill. Here you can experience the marriage between power and elegance. The Rose's house is the name of the winery and when I first tried this Barbaresco Tre Selle I felt I was weightless running on a field of flowers. One of the greatest meomires I had about wine. Please, do not taste this wine with indifference, nor smell it with superficiality. Like one of those ‘Piccolo grande amore’ that you’ll regret in the future if you’re not able to take when they come. Seriously, this is a unique bottle, really hard to find so better preserve it.
Pair it with calmness, patience and time for yourself.