Showing posts with label Piedmont. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Piedmont. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Another Fine Italian White Wine - Gavi

California wine n├ęgociant Cameron Hughes owns no vineyards and has no official winery.  He sniffs out good wine which has already been produced by established makers, then buys it on the down low with an agreement not to reveal the source.  He then sells the wine online through his wine club - he calls it a wineocracy - bringing top-shelf wines to lower-shelf wallets.  Hughes says he keeps prices low by removing the middleman, the distributor and retailer through which store-bought wines must pass.

Lot 752 is a Gavi wine from northern Italy's Piemonte region.  The area centers around the commune of Gavi, in the province of Alessandria, quite near the border with Liguria.  Hughes says "Chablis and Pinot Grigio drinkers will love" this wine, made from the Cortese grape, vinified to 12% abv and selling for $15.  He says the wine has been made the same way for nearly two and a half centuries.

This pale wine has an explosive nose which jumps up from the glass.  Aromas of minerals are here - lemon, orange peel, apricot, wet sidewalk, along with a floral aspect.  There is a pale, yellowish tint to it in the glass.  The palate shows citrus and salinity, with a mighty fine streak of acidity racing through it.  Pair it with shrimp, crab or any kind of seafood, really.  Delightful.


Monday, October 19, 2020

Sweet Piedmont Mosketto Wines

There is a big market these days for sweet wines.  Sweet in the sense that they are not dry, but not exactly dessert style.  These three Mosketto wines - from Bronco Wines - should appeal to those looking for low-alcohol beverages in the White Claw vein.  I was not bowled over by complexity in these wines, but for sweet, fizzy fun, they fit perfectly.  All three were made with grapes from Italy's Piedmont region, Moscato and Brachetto.  All three also hit only 5% abv for alcohol content and they all sell for $12.  Don’t pair them with dessert, by the way - they go better with salty snacks.


Mosketto Frizzante Bianco

This one is all Moscato.  The wine is actually a partially fermented grape juice.  Sweet on the nose, sweet on the palate - with a bit of fizz thrown in to make it feel more like a party.  This is a wine for gulping by the pool, not a wine for ruminating upon.  

Mosketto Frizzante Rosato

Combining Moscato and Brachetto grapes, this one is a little more tart on the nose, but with the same sweet palate.

Mosketto Frizzante Rosso

All Brachetto here.  The wine is much earthier than the previous selections, and actually quite tasty.

The Mosketto wines are imported by Mack and Schuhle of Miami.


Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Asti Sweeties For The Summer Porch

Wines with a gimmick generally leave critical wine tasters flat.  Tropical Moscato has a gimmick, and the gimmick is fruit.  The Moscato wine from Italy's Asti region is infused with real fruit, aside from grapes. 

Tropical's wines are made with Moscato grapes grown in vineyards that sit some 200-300 feet up in the hills of Santo Stefano Belbo in Piedmont.  The sparkling effect comes from the charmat method, in which the second fermentation happens in the tank.  Then comes the blending with real fruit.

The mango variety of Tropical Moscato is made from 88% Moscato grapes, 10% mango pulp and 2% passion fruit pulp, while the passion fruit is 95% grapes.  There is now also a strawberry version, which I did not sample.

Both are sweet and fruity on the nose, with a strong floral sense.  They're sweet on the palate, too, and low in alcohol at just 5.5% abv.  The passion fruit bottle shows a nose that's a bit earthier.  Honestly, I knew which was which and I couldn’t really tell the difference.  Both are sweet and simple and don't require much in the way of thought.  I'm guessing they'll be best served quite chilled, outdoors, on a hot summer day.  They will probably make a good base for a summery cocktail or two, with some gin or vodka in the mix.


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Monday, November 2, 2015

Sweet Bubbles Of Brachetto!

A sparkling wine brings enough fun to the table simply by turning on that bubble machine. If you throw in a nice, sweet flavor profile, you get a wine that is impossible to drink while frowning. The smile is as natural as the bubbles.

The southern Piemonte winery where Rosa Regale Acqui is made, has been around since 1860.  Castello Banfi bought the property in the 1970s. This is where the Brachetto grapes are grown, in the La Rosa Vineyard in the town of Acqui Terme.

According to Banfi, cold maceration lasts 4 to 5 days, the grapes in contact with the skins for full color extraction. This also allows the wine to develop its characteristic aroma and complexity. "The wine is then filtered and stored at 0°C," they continue. "Refermentation follows in stainless steel tanks in the Strevi cellars, where this special wine achieves its final sweetness and sparkling character." Alcohol is extremely low - just seven percent - and the wine retails for around $17.

Rosa Regale's medium-dark red color carries a brick tint with it, giving the impression that this non-vintage wine is much older than it appears. Moderate bubbles provide a celebratory feel - it is spumante, not frizzante. On the nose, muted black cherry and raspberry aromas ride under a dominant earthy note. The palate displays some beautifully sweet cherry and pomegranate flavors. The taste of the earth presides again, with an undercurrent of toast. A nice acidity and a firm tannic structure complete what is a very attractive picture. The wine finishes sweet and delicious.

Banfi suggests pairing with fresh strawberries, fruit cakes, fruit salads, pastries and chocolates. It’s an ideal aperitif as well, so acquiring some for the holidays would be a great move for entertaining.


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Monday, March 17, 2014

Going Italian At Whole Foods: Banfi Principessa Gavia, Gava

This month and next, Whole Foods Markets has the spotlight on Italian wines at great prices.  Get the details on the wines and the April virtual tasting event on Twitter here.  Today we sample one of those wines.

The Banfi wine empire began in 1978, when brothers John and Harry Mariani bought an 1860 winery and named it after an ancestor, Teodolinda Banfi.  According to the Banfi website, she had quite a life.  She was "adopted by the Ratti family of Milan [and] grew up alongside Cardinal Archbishop Achille Ratti who, in 1922, was elected Pope Pius XI.  Governess for the Archbishop of Milan, she also followed him to the Vatican, becoming the first lay woman to live within the walls of the Sistine Palace."  She is said to be cited in the Vatican archives as "diminutive in stature but with a big personality, wielding great authority, especially in the kitchen, and above all a great expert on wine."

Banfi's Prinipessa Gavia is made from 100% Cortese grapes, estate-grown in the Gavi region of Novi Ligure in the lower Piedmonte area.  It features a soft pressing of the fruit and stainless steel fermentation at low temperatures to maximize the crispness.  Partial malolactic fermentation means there is plenty of malic acid to give this food-friendly wine a lot of zip.  At 12.2% abv, the alcohol doesn't overwhelm.  It sells at Whole Foods Markets for $16.

It's almost clear, with just a faint yellow tint in the glass.  The nose is so expressive - bursting with flinty minerals and enough apple to keep the doctor away for several days.  The zippy palate is loaded with fresh citrus zing and minerality.  The wine finishes clean and refreshing, enough so that another sip is invited.

In the Twitter conversation, @DrinkWhatULike tweeted, "IMHO, Principessa Gavi could be used in wine class as great example of ‘chalk’ notes in a wine. Digging it."  @WineWonkette noted, "Principessa is crisp and reminds me of sunshine!"  @DeniseClarkeTX chimed in with, "I love that flinty characteristic...so awesome."  Yes, in fact, it is awesome.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Castellari Bergaglio Fornaci Gavi 2008

It seems a shame sometimes to just write about wine, when the food so often steals the show.  That was the case at the great Los Angeles Italian restaurant, Locanda Veneta.  My wife will tell you that I wear out the phrase "this may be the best ever," but it was impossible to stifle it at this lunch.

I opened with grilled calamari, spicy enough for me to wave off the offer of fresh ground pepper.  The grill flavor permeated the squid and the portion would have been sufficient for lunch, had I not also ordered the porchetta - stuffed with fennel sausage and served in a confit of onion.  Was it the best ever?  I'm saying "yes."

The wine was great, too.  It may not be a list-topper, but it's right up my alley.  The Gavi region in located within Piemonte, and wine production there dates back a millennium.  The white grape Cortese - the grape from which this wine is made - has no recorded history there until the mid-1600s.  It is usually fermented in steel and consumed quite young, but this one - four years old - showed some fairly complex aromas and flavors.  those who know Gavi better than I do say you should cellar it for a while before enjoying it.

Produced by Castellari Bergaglio, the Fornaci Gavi shows no trace of oak, in fact it's as steely as a white can get.  The golden hue belies the mineral-driven nose, although after a bit of warming, herbal notes start to appear that we're not apparent upon pouring.

On the palate is a savory note coming through the curtain of minerality.  Notes of tart apples and a hint of pineapple also find their way to my taste buds, but the minerals define this wine.

Was it the best ever?  Maybe not.  But like a good Italian wine should, it served as the perfect complement for this meal.



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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

COLLINE NOVARESI NEBBIOLO 2007 AT IL BUCO


Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo

Italian food calls for Italian wine, and that's a rule I try not break - ever.  Fortunately, one of my favorite Italian restaurants, Il Buco, has a wine list with a whole page of Italian wines that never disappoint.
Colline Novaresi D.O.C. is in Piedmont, in extreme northwestern Italy.  The Nebbiolo grapes used in this wine are farmed biodynamically in Fontechiara vineyards.  The wine is 100% Nebbiolo and has a 13.5% abv number.  It shows a deep and beautiful red color in the glass, quite dark in fact.  When you pick up the glass, that's when the fun begins.
One whiff and I was sold.  This Nebbiolo has such a rich aroma I just sat and smelled it for quite some time.  A floral smell leaps out first, and is quickly joined by notes of tar.  Finally, I start to sense the fruit and realized it was there all along.  It makes me think of black plums that have been trampled into the earth underneath the tree where they fell.
Then, on the first sip, I expect it to be a bit tannic.  It's not, though.  It's very smooth, and the fruit really shines through.  Blackberry and black cherry flavors are almost candied.  There's licorice, too.  The flavors keep reminding me of Port.  The wine is so juicy and complex I can only marvel at it.  By now, I expect the finish to be lengthy - and it is.  The flavors linger through a moment of reflection and the next bite of farfalle with sauage and peas.  It's one of my favorite dishes at Il Buco in Beverly Hills, but this time it takes a back seat to the wine.
By the way, Il Buco has this Colline Novaresi Nebbiolo for eight dollars by the glass.  With a nose and a palate like this, it's one of the better bargains I've encountered recently.

Friday, August 13, 2010

ARALDICA LA LUCIANA GAVI 2008


Araldica La Luciana Gavi

It's high time for another Friday Wine Treat.  In Culver City, there are plenty of good places to have a glass of wine with lunch on a nice, sunny day.  One of my favorites is Ugo .  It's actually two restaurants on one corner. 
An Italian place with full meals is backed up on the other side of a wall by a cafe which specializes in smaller, tapas-style portions.  Both sides have a nice list of Italian wines from which to choose.  If you are on one side, but want to order something from the other side, they are more than happy to oblige.
To go with my insalada spinaci, I ordered a wine from Gavi, in the Piedmont region in northwestern Italy.  Araldica 's La Luciana is made from the Cortese grape.  It sits golden in the glass and offeres a nose of melon and minerals.  It's a light-bodied wine, but feels nice and full in the mouth.  The taste of wet rocks and citrus is nearly zesty, but the overall feeling is one of silkiness.  The finish is medium-long and leaves a hint of lemon custard in its wake.

Monday, July 26, 2010

MICHELE CHIARLO BARBERA D'ASTI PIEDMONTE 2007


Michele Chiarlo Barbera d'Asti

It's birthday month for Denise.  We don't wait for the one day to celebrate, we try to stretch it out over the entire month.  We've been a little bit distracted by other events this month, so we really have let things slide a bit where celebrations are concerned.  She's been a pretty good sport about it, though.  So good a sport has she been, I wanted to have a really special dinner with her. 

It's always a little chancy, we've found, trying new dinner spots.  We've had so many rude awakenings in Los Angeles restaurants we have sworn off new places several times already.  I felt good about this one, though.  And it turned out to be just fine.

Pane E Vino on Beverly Boulevard is an Italian restaurant - a nice one - that we hadn't visited for quite some time.  Why we hadn't been there in forever was a mystery to both of us, but we are both glad we stopped staying away.

We opened with a shrimp and Feta cheese appetizer and a plate of melon and prosciutto.  Denise had the lobster tortellini while I ordered the spaghetti with calamari and leeks in a light marinara sauce.  It was delicious all the way around the table.

On the suggestion of the waiter, I ordered the 2007 Barbera d'Asti from Michele Chiarlo .  I'm glad he suggested it, because I get into a Sangiovese rut in Italian restaurants.  Not that it's a bad rut to be in, but I like to keep it varied when I can. 

This Piemonte red is medium in color with aromas of cherry cola and some soft spices.  It feels medium full in the mouth with a big, fresh taste of cherry and raspberry.  The oak shades the fruit with a very light touch of leather.  It pairs well with marinara sauce and would no doubt be a hit with pork, too.

Monday, July 19, 2010

PONTI VERMOUTH ROSSO DI TORINO


Ponti Vermouth

Most folks know vermouth more as something to put in a mixed drink than something to sit and sip.  I tried sipping a red vermouth, and enjoyed it very much.

Vermouth is a fortified wine, usually infused with brandy, and usually running about the same sort of alcohol number as Port.  The Ponti I sipped is 16% abv.  Vermouth can be dry – white vermouth is dry, and it's sometimes called French vermouth – or sweet.  Red, or rosso, is sometimes called Italian vermouth.

Spices and herbs are the big ingredients that give vermouth its unusual and lively character.  Wormwood – the stuff of absinthe – is one of the leading herbs in vermouth.

I sipped it straight up, on the rocks and chilled.  The iced version got diluted quickly and straight up neat it seemed a little brash.  Chilled is definitely my choice for vermouth.  The Italian rosso vermouth I tried is a sweet vermouth about which I can find almost nothing online.  That's usually not a good sign, but in this case the proof is in the tasting.  It comes from Turin, in the Piedmont region.

The color of the Ponti vermouth is a dark, dull red, almost nut brown.  The tinge around the edges is a whiskey brown color.  The nose is a delight: burnt caramel raisins is an aroma I'd like to smell everyday.  On the palate, a very familiar taste appears, one I had a bit of trouble identifying.  It's reminiscent of Blackjack gum, something I may not have had since childhood.  Clove and cinnamon mingle with charred candy flavors and coffee.  The finish reminds me of a marshmallow burnt over a campfire.  There is a lot of sweetness here, but the spice profile puts enough of a bitter spin on it that it does not seem overly sugary.

In Europe – particularly Spain – vermouth is customarily sipped straight up, especially before dinner.  I'm told that many bars have it on tap.  I like it this way, although the intensity of the flavors does become a little burdensome if I drink much more than half my usual wine serving.