Showing posts with label Pinot Bianco. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pinot Bianco. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Collio Wines Bring The Minerals

The Italian wine region known as Collio is located in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region of Italy's northeast corner, between the Giulian Alps and the Adriatic Sea.  It offers its winemakers a mild microclimate and soil - called ponca - which is a remnant of a time when the ocean covered the land, consisting of marl and sandstone, with marine fossils abundant.  The land gives Collio wines their striking minerality.

Toros Pinot Bianco Collio 2019

Franco Toros is known for his wines which accentuate the minerality of Friuli, and especially Collio.  The 100% Pinot Bianco grapes were grown in the hillside vineyards and fermented in steel tanks, where the wine also aged.  Alcohol rings in at 14% abv and the wine sells for around $19.

The Toros Pinot Bianco Collia 2019 has a nice golden color in the glass. I get a muted nose with apricot aromas foremost and citrus minerals chasing. The palate shows stone fruit and minerals galore. Acidity is nice and fresh, even zippy.  The finish is medium long and carries the minerals back for a revisit. 

Borgo Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019

The winery Borgo Conventi says its name comes from the legend concerning the commune of Farra d'Isonzo.  So the story goes, Count Strassoldo - il Rizzardo to the locals - donated a piece of land to Dominican friars who then built the first monastery in the area.

The Conventi Pinot Grigio Collio 2019 was fermented and aged in steel tanks, enhancing the minerality and freshness.  The alcohol number is 13.5% abv and the wine sells for around $20.

The yellow-tinted wine smells floral and tropical, with white flowers, apricot and mango coming through on the nose.  There is also a bit of citrus minerality, like a sidewalk after a rain.  The palate shows the stone fruit and tropical aspect, with a hefty slice of acidity to go along with it.  So fresh and racy is it that one can feel free to pair this Pinot Grigio with seafood rather than restrict it to salads. 

Ronco Blanchis Collio Friulano 2019

Ronco Blanchis is in the process of converting to organic farming, which they say will be complete sometime in 2021.  The operation is headed up by Giancarlo Palla and his sons Lorenzo and Alberto.  Winemaker Gianni Menotti was named Italian winemaker of the year in 2006.  

The winery refers to vintners as "poets of the land," a land which once belonged to the Greeks, then the Romans, Austria and Spain, a land influenced by its proximity to mountains and sea.

This wine was made of Tocai Friulano grapes, vinified and aged in steel.  Alcohol tips 14% abv and it retails for around $15.

This clear yellow wine pours up very slightly frizzante, with a small collection of tiny bubbles clinging to the glass.  On the nose there is a sweet apricot aroma mixed with a delicate blend of herbs and minerals.  Those minerals drive the palate, which is exquisitely citrus.  The acidity comes on strong, then softens through the sip into a gentle tingle.  It is an elegant white wine, offering a perfect balance of herbal notes, earthiness and freshness.

Vina Borut Blazič Malvasia Collio 2019

Blazič is actually located in Slovenia, right on the border with Italy.  Some of the Blazič vineyards are in Slovenia, some are in Italy's Collio region.

Their 100% Malvasia wine was aged for seven months in concrete and another couple of months in the bottle.  Alcohol is 14% abv

This wine has a yellow-green tint and a nose that is a bit closed, or maybe subtle is a better word.  Very light citrus notes give way to a mix of cantaloupe and honeydew.  The palate is anything but subtle.  Big toasted almond flavor elbows past Meyer lemon and tangerine to lead the way.  The acidity is fantastic - just enough but not too much.  The finish wraps up the sip with a beautiful salinity.  The more of Collio I taste, the more I love that region.

Conti Formentini Raiante Ribolla Gialla Collio 2019

The winery's U.S. importer indicates that the Formentini family has owned the castle on the tallest hill in Friuli since the 16th century.  The wine that was made there was reported, even way back then, as being "exquisite."  The name Raiante comes from the local word for "a ray of sunshine."

A little more than a third of the Ribolla Gialla grapes that make up the wine are set aside for a month to dry, then added to the fermenting wine.  The process is said to give more body to Raiante.  Alcohol is restrained at 13% abv and it can probably be found for less than $20.

This wine colors up a medium-pale yellow with green highlights.  The nose is earthy and mineral-driven, with mango, guava, apricot and citrus aromas.  The palate offers salinity and stone fruit, along with a decent acidity that refreshes.  The citrus flavor that plays through the strongest is lime.  This is a really great wine for crab cakes or shrimp dishes. 

Polje Fantazija Bianco Collio DOC  2019

The Polje winery was named after the geological depressions, or sinkholes, formed in limestone which has been eroded over time.  It is this limestone element of the soil which lends the incredible minerality to the wine.

Fantazija was made from Ribolla Gialla, Chardonnay and Sauvignon grapes, fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks.  Alcohol hits 13.5% abv and the retail price is around $20.

The nose on this wine from Italy's Collio region is explosive enough to make an impression before the glass has been raised.  Floral, then herbal, then honeydew melon, then limes, then - of all things - smoke!  It's a showstopper.  The palate offers a mineral-driven flintiness, with citrus, melon and a fine acidity.  Pair it with oysters, shrimp, or a calamari and scungilli salad. 

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Three Proseccos

Ca di Prata Prosecco makes Italian sparkling wines which are imported and distributed by Mack & Schühle, a German company with a U.S. base of operations in Miami.  I was provided with three different Proseccos for review, which are listed below.  

People sometimes don't think that wine importers are very important, that all they do is have crates of wine shipped in from who-knows-where to be peddled on the shelves in the lower reaches.  The best importers are those with a nose for wine, who can sniff out good stuff through endless trials, then bring the product to us.  Mack and Schühle are not only importers, they also produce wine in Italy and Spain and distribute other wines globally.

The Ca di Prata Prosecco DOC Brut is made from 85% Glera grapes and 15% Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay.  Alcohol stays low at 11% abv and the wine retails for $16.

This wine is fun in a bottle.  The apple aromas on the nose translate directly to apple flavors on the palate.  The bubbles are lively and festive, which is about all you can say about bubbles.  It's great as an aperitif, and it was great with some slightly peppery ginger cookies.  Enjoy!

The Ca di Prata Valdobbiadene DOCG Prosecco Superiore Extra Dry is also 85% Glera and 15% other varieties.  Still a low alcohol reading at 11% abv the retail is a bit higher, at $18.

Hints of apple, citrus and a floral note make the nose, while the bubbles are frothy and fairly quick to dissipate.  The palate shows more minerality than the DOC bottling, and a more complex flavor profile which features earth, spice and Meyer lemon.  The minerals stick around the longest after the sip.  I snacked with the wine, and it went well with pretzel bits stuffed with peanut butter, although it went better with some mixed olives.

The Ca di Prata Prosecco DOC Rosé Extra Dry Millesimato is also 85% Glera, but with the remaining 15% composed of Pinot Nero.  Millesimato also means that at least 85% of the grapes came from the same vintage, in this case 2019.  Alcohol remains at 11% abv, and the retail sticker splits the difference at $17.

This pink bubbly offers a ton of froth, which dissipates rather quickly.  The nose shows strawberries, cherries and red apples.  The palate is fruity and fun, and there is more than enough acidity to make this a refreshing sip or a nice wine to pair with a salad or seafood dish.  It’s also great with aperitif munchies or a cheese and salami plate.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Italian Wine: Walch Pinot Bianco

Denise and I celebrated our fifteenth wedding anniversary the way like to celebrate - a nice meal in a nice place featuring the things we like best.  It doesn’t always mean expensive, and it hardly ever means fancy - we like our dining and our food to be simple and delicious.

We get a craving for cheese every now and then, and one of our favorite places for a fantastic cheese plate is Cube.  Cheese and more are on the menu - they are feeding the current frenzy for fried chicken in L.A. - and they have a wine selection that has never failed to exceed expectations without putting undue stress on the bank account.  They specialize in Italian wines, as suggested by the “What’s up D.O.C.?” sign above their La Brea Avenue location.  We love supporting Cube and we would be terribly disappointed if it suddenly were not there.

A mess of cheese and meats from all over the world were ordered to be brought on the slate platter, and an extremely nice Pinot Bianco from Italy’s Alto Adige region got my attention.  Wines from this part of northern Italy always get my attention.

Elena Walch took over the wine estates of the family into which she married - kind of makes it sound like a coup, doesn’t it?  Well, if the family isn’t happy with the job she has done, I don’t know what’s wrong with them.  She has instituted sustainability measures at her vineyards which encompass biology, society and economics - which she calls the “triangle of sustainability.”

The Elena Walch Kastelaz Pinot Bianco is a single vineyard wine - the Kastelaz vineyard - that sells for around $20 online, making the $10 by-the-glass price seems downright courteous.Two-thirds of the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks, while a third is treated to new French oak, and aged there for five months after fermentation.

The color of this wine is simply stunning - a beautiful, golden tint with copper and green highlights throughout.  A wonderfully savory aspect is apparent on both the nose and palate.  Aromas of smoke and minerals join the smell of apples while the flavors of savory nuts and wet rocks are lifted by a fantastic acidity.  It worked with all the cheeses on the platter, but it took on a transcendent quality with the Swiss cheese from Hoch-Ybrig.

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Monday, November 22, 2010


Bianco y rosso at Terroni

After a busy Sunday of running all over the rather unfamiliar terrain of downtown Los Angeles, Denise and I decided to stop at Terroni on Beverly Boulevard.  Truth be told, it’s a place where we often would like to stop and dine, but it always seems so crowded and there are never any parking spaces available on that rather restaurant-y stretch of Beverly.

This time, as we passed by: No crowd!  Parking spaces!  Let’s eat!

Terroni started in Toronto - there are still three locations there - and spread to Los Angeles a few years ago.  We love the southern Italian cooking there, and the Italo-centric wine list that pairs so well with it.

Terroni’s space is big and informal with a mix of high bar tables, big wooden tables and small round kitchenette-style tables with plastic Eames chairs.  It’s a family place, and when we walked in on a cloudy-dark Sunday afternoon, there were several families with little ones at the table having a Sunday supper while keeping one eye out the window awaiting the apparently imminent cloudburst.

We all enjoyed our meals and made it home before the rains came.  Denise and I enjoyed a pair of wines which paired quite well with the food, while tasting great on their own, too.

I had the wine on the left,  the ‘09 Erste & Neue Pinot Bianco Weissburgunder, Prunar, Südtirol Alto Adige d.o.c.  In addition to being a mouthful, that's a $12 entry on Terroni’s wonderful list of biancos and rossos.  This grape seems to go by its Italian name as well as its Austrian one, Weissburgunder.  It’s from the Alpine region of Alto Adige.

Light green-tinted straw in color, the nose features minerals, lots of ‘em.  The smell of wet rocks near a stream is what I call it.  Pineapple aromas make an appearance, but they have to fight their way out from under those huge, wet rocks.  Pineapple and minerals dominate the palate similarly, with an almost-bracing acidity and a fruity finish.

The mineral-laden white wine paired perfectly with my spaghetti ca’ muddica, with anchovies, black olives, cherry tomatoes and breadcrumbs.

Denise had the wine on the right, the ‘06 Zerbina Torre di Ceparano, Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore, Emilia-Romagna d.o.c. at $14 by the glass.  Emilia-Romagna lies right across a mountain range from Tuscany.  The region is known for its dry Lambrusco - nothing like the sweet type Riunite made famous - and its own clone of the Tuscan Sangiovese grape which has a tendancy to take on much darker characteristics than those of its Tuscan cousin.

The wine, sure enough, is quite dark, and the nose shows black cherry, blackberry and anise.  On the palate, raspberry and black cherry join hands for a velvety smooth walk.  The smooth texture and full mouthfeel somewhat disguise the great acidity this wine shows.  It produces a slight mouth-puckering effect without the tannic edge.

It was delicious, and great as a match with her agnolotti filled with braised beef in a butter, Parmesan and sage sauce.