Friday, July 25, 2008

Fontaleoni Vernaccia di San Gimignano (2007) Tuscany

A delicate, floral Italian white wine from Fontaleoni, a small (28 hectare) Tuscan producer of Vernaccia, Sangiovese, Merlot, and Chardonnay. The estate was established in 1959 when the Troiani family, vignerons for generations, moved to Tuscany. In the 1990's the estate was rebuilt, the cellar renovated, and new vineyards were planted; all to improve quality. The estate practices "lotta integrata" and "inerbimento" viticultural practices (which sound sexier than integrated pest management and the use of cover crops) in order to produce a "green" white wine. Fontaleoni's Vernaccia is clear, straw-yellow in color with a light, peachy nose. This soft, fresh wine pairs well with similarly light dishes. Fontaleoni also produces a critically acclaimed single-vineyard Vernacci/Chardonnay blend called Vigna Casanuova.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Reverend Jesse Jackson: “Cutter-Off of Nuts” and Italian Wine Lover

The Italian Cellar has discovered through a careful examination of the videotape of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s recent “hot-mic” incident, that not only is he still a relevant political figure, but a lover of Italian wine as well. Let’s take a look at the Fox News transcript of the July 9th episode of "The O'Reilly Factor," in which Reverend Jackson leaned over and whispered to fellow panelist Dr. Reed V. Tuckson, executive vice president and chief of medical affairs for UnitedHealth Group:

Reverend Jesse Jackson: “See, Barack been, um, talking down to black people on this faith based ... I want to cut his nuts off ... Barack ... he's talking down to black people." (Jackson appeared to make a stabbing or cutting motion with his hand as he made the remarks.)

Dr. Reed V. Tuckson: “Jesse, keep it down, the mic’s are on!”

Rev. JJ: “You know what Doc? After the show, what do you say we go out for some deep-dish and some dego red?” (Jackson appeared to make an eating and drinky motion with his hand as he made the remarks.)

Dr. RVT: “Uh, we’ll see Jesse.” (Dr. Tuckson appeared to roll his eyes in disbelief.)

Rev. JJ: “Do you know what word rhymes with Montepulciano?”

Reverend Jackson did not reply to requests for comment by The Italian Cellar.

Castello di Luzzano Carlino Bonarda (2006 ) Lombardia

A 20 megaton fruit-bomb from Italian winemaker Castello di Luzzano. The 120 hectare estatate, recently purchased by the Flying Fugazza sisters, Giovannella and Maria, lies in the Oltrepo Pavese DOC in Lombardy near the border with the region of Emilia-Romagna. Made of 100% Croatina (Bonarda), and aged entirely in stainless, this Italian wine is dark, ruby-red/purple in color with a beautiful young fruit nose. I was disappointed with the short length. (Thankfully, I have never heard that said of me - then again, I don’t hear that well.) The wines fantasy name is the nickname of winemaker Carlo Ferrari, who passed away a few years ago. The wines label is graced with a beautiful design taken from an 18th century vase found on the estate.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Damilano Langhe Arneis (2006) Piemonte

A refreshing Italian white wine from Damilano, a family run Barolo maker that has been around since the late 1800’s. From their small Piemontese winery, the great grandchildren of original owner Giuseppe Borgogno make a traditional line up of Barolo’s, Dolcetto’s, Barbera’s and Arneis. The 2006 Arneis is a light straw-yellow in color, with a fine, fruity nose. Aged entirely in stainless. Fresh and elegant, this wine is perfect with appetizers, fish and white meats. Albeisa bottle.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Ambra Carmignano Santa Cristina (2005) Tuscany

A terrific Italian red wine from Ambra, a smallish (18 hectacre) estate in the Carmignano DOCG, northwest of Florence in Tuscany. The Carmignano region was the first to allow Cabernet Sauvignon in a blend. Current regulations allow up to 50% of complimentary grapes to the Sangiovese with at least 10% being Cabernet Sauvignon and/or Franc. Because of the cooler temperatures, wines from Carmignano tend to be more leaner and fragrant then wines from the more southerly Chianti Classico DOCG. Ambra takes part in Measure No. 6 (EU Regulation 1257/94) which promotes sustainable development through the use of integrated insect and disease controls, organic fertilizer, and the use of "green manure". The Santa Cristina is a blend of 75% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Canaiolo, and 5% Colorino, Syrah, and Merlot. Ruby red in color with a powerful dark cherry nose. Smooth, long finish. Aged for 12 months; half in tonneaux and half in large oak casks. Possibly the classiest looking wine label of any wine. Also enjoyed by some wine-guy named Parker.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alois Lageder Haberle Pinot Bianco (2005) Alto Adige/Sudtirol

A delicious Italian white wine from the premier estate in Alto Adige/Sudtirol. Lageder, whose approach to winemaking is almost Zen-like, offers wine in several distinct “classes”; Classic, which includes wine from the traditionally grown grapes of Alto Adige/Sudtirol; Single Vineyard, which make use of grapes from select, individual vineyards that are separately vinified; and Single Estate, which are the flagship wines of Alois Lageder made from grapes grown in exceptional locales and exposures that are matured in French oak barriques. Their Haberle Pinot Bianco hails from their Single Vineyard class. Brilliant straw-yellow in color. Very fine, apple/peach nose combined with a well integrated oak spice (the wine is fermented and aged for 3 months in stainless and then matured for 6 months in large slavonian oak casks). A clean, elegant, and fresh wine. I enjoyed this wine with Bucatini alla Gricia.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Santa Martina Rosso di Toscana (2005) Tuscany

An inexpensive, well-structured “Super-Tuscan” from Santa Martina. Ambrogio and Giovanni Folonari’s Vigne a Porrona estate in Tuscany’s Maremma region and their Nozzole estate in Chianti Classico provide the fruit for this wine. Comprised of 40% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 20% Syrah, the grapes are hand harvested and vinified separately. The Chianti and Maremma regions contribute specific qualities to the final blend. Soils in Chianti Classico have higher clay content well-suited to the Sangiovese portion of the blend and the Maremma’s unique climate and sandy soils are optimal for the Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah grapes. The wine is both fermented and aged in stainless, so the fruit is unmasked; a nice contrast to often over-oaked Super-Tuscans. The full-bodied wine has an intense ruby red color with hints of violet and aromas of wild berries. It has a subtle, spicy bite which finishes smooth, and ripe, rounded tannins.