Travis on Le Coste at Ruby Wines

There is something about a long train ride through a strange country which can teach you more about yourself than you would have thought.   I had my headphones in, probably listening to some kind of french pop which I had become obsessed with while living abroad in Paris for the last 6 months.  It was 2013 and it was my last day in Europe and I rode through the sun drenched Italian countryside traveling from Tuscany to Lazio, looking out the window at the passing farmers plowing their fields.  As if time had stopped and I had been transported into a more simple time.  The earth smelled as if rain had been starved from the land, and the sun beat down hard like a hammer straight into the soil.  It was on that train I was ready to reflect upon my last 6 months of life.  My arms spread wide, and heart full of life as I rode towards Rome with a sadness to leave and an eagerness to return.
IMG_7612Every time I drink the wines of Le Coste I get taken back to this rustic Italian countryside train I sat on that summer.  The wines speak of freedom, the vines grown with the philosophy of beyond organic.  The wines made themselves, and taste as if they have life within them and are telling you their story while you consume.   Le Coste has been making wines on the corner of Lazio and Tuscany since 2004, and are not only vignerons, but tend to herds of livestock and keep a garden full of fruit trees and olive branches. The wines shine of that rustic Italian sun, I imagine being on a picnic table telling tales of that adventure we took years ago with my friends drinking their liter red “Litrozzo.”  This wine you could call serious, but by the way it is made it is meant for nothing other than to share, to laugh, to fall in love with someone or something.  This is wine which speaks of freedom from a conventional way of life.  The wines are all made of local varietals, the whites and reds enjoy long macerations, and the rosato makes me think of drinking pink lemonade when i was just a boy.  They seem to glow in the sun
We are privileged to pour the wines of Le Coste. Come taste them all or take a glass, either way it will be a good time.
Cheers,

Travis Montague Parker

 

Let’s make Gragnano great again!

Great little article by Patrick Comiskey on the LA Times called “what wines to drink with pizza” featuring our awesome Gragnano Poggio delle Baccanti. Cheers!!

Pizza has become a moving target: toppings, sauces, cheeses and other adornments can go in a thousand flavor directions, all held together, more or less, by the world’s most perfect comfort food: crust. That leaves the task of pairing wine with pizza a bit more fraught than it used to be but no less delightful. Just let comfort be your guide.

Italians know a bit about this: The universe of Italian wine has a kind of built-in hierarchy where modest, everyday wines are as cherished and embraced as the grand wines. It’s why Montepulciano Rosso coexists alongside Vino Nobile, why Barbera and Pelaverga vines are within shouting distance of the Nebbiolo vineyards of Alba. The reason Italians invented everyday wines is because they love to drink wine every day. A second reason might be pizza.

Pizza purveyors in Los Angeles and their beverage directors have been taking this as a rule of thumb ever since. Certainly this is true of Jeremy Parzen, wine director at Sotto, chef Steve Samson’s lauded southern Italian restaurant — which includes a 15,000-pound pizza oven. Parzen has been going to Italy since the late ’80s and has frequented his share of pizza parlors in Naples and elsewhere. As he got into wine he started to pay more attention to what people were drinking with their pizze — and it wasn’t wine. Often as not it was beer, or Coke, but invariably, it was fizzy. “It’s become my No. 1 criterion for pizza wine,” he says. “It has to sparkle.” So with a white pizza, the go-to wine for Parzen and his staff are the sparkling wines of Franciacorta.

A pizza with red sauce, meanwhile, calls for a red sparkling wine; Lambrusco in its drier forms can fit the bill, but Parzen generally prefers the wines from Campania, grown on the hillsides surrounding Naples, principally Gragnano and its sister appellation Lettere. “Both are made primarily from a red grape called Piedirosso,” he says, “and there’s nothing like it: fresh, sparkling, light in alcohol, grapey, and with chewy red fruit.”

In American restaurants, the wine most associated with pizza is Chianti, the Sangiovese heavy Tuscan blend served, historically, in the archaic, bottom heavy, straw-girdled bottles known as fiasci. The Chianti fiasco was a ubiquitous fixture of cheap dates and cheap chic home design (as wax-encrusted candle repositories), a preferred lubricant in overlong Billy Joel ballads, a vinous cliché par excellence, tinged with a tawdry sentimentality that was often far more potent than the wine — which was invariably sour, reedy and thin.

It turns out the easiest thing to change was the bottle’s contents. In 2013, an Italian wine retailer living in San Francisco named Ceri Smith managed to reclaim fiasci in all their kitschy splendor. Smith had just been hired to write a new wine list for Tosca, a storied restaurant in North Beach, and wanted something emblematic to pour and display for the reopening. So she reached out to Michele Braganti, owner of Monteraponi, a venerable organic winery in Radda in Chianti, to see if he’d be willing to put new wine in old bottles.

5 pizzas in L.A. | Try this pizza oven

Braganti signed on; the wines were delivered days before opening and were an immediate hit, simple and spectacular, with the fiasci enacting their Proustian magic upon every tabletop they graced. Braganti no longer produces this wine, but American Michael Schmelzer, who owns an organic Chianti winery called Monte Bernardi, agreed to take up the project. For about $25, you can get a liter of delicious, mouthwatering, organically grown Chianti en fiasco, smelling of roses and dried cherries, lightly tannined, rippling with fat-cutting acidity, conveyed in a vessel that would make Billy Joel proud.

food@latimes.com

Three pizza wines available at Sotto and elsewhere:

The Le Marchesine Franciacorta is available at the Wine Exchange, about $30.

The Poggio delle  Baccanti Gragnano is available at Wine House and Domaine LA, about $16.

The Paolo Palumbo Lettere is available at K&L Wine Merchants, about $18.

New Wine in Old Bottles

The 2014 Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico is available at Wally’s, Lou Wine Shop and Mission Wines. About $25 for 1 liter.

Conventional/Organic/Natural

We unfortunately live in a polluted world and as Natural Wine drinkers, we don’t want more pollutants to end up in our wine. There are a variety of pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides that are widely used in conventional wine-making, not to talk about the “ingredients” allowed at the winery and the amount of sulphur used to sterilize the wine.

Here is just a small summary for you to understand why we drink, import, distribute, and promote Natural Wines or at least Organic Wines. We definitely condemn conventional-industrial wine-making.

Sulphur guideline:

CONVENTIONAL WINES:
Vini rossi: ≤ 150 mg/litro –
Vini bianchi: ≤ 200 mg/litro

ORGANIC WINES BEFORE 2012
Vini rossi: ≤ 150 mg/litro –
Vini bianchi: ≤ 200 mg/litro

ORGANIC WINES AFTER 2012
Vini rossi: ≤ 100 mg/litro –
Vini bianchi: ≤ 150 mg/litro

DEMETER DISCIPLINARY
Vini rossi: ≤ 70 mg/litro –
Vini bianchi: ≤ 90 mg/litro

NATURAL WINES
Vini rossi: ≤ 30 mg/litro –
Vini bianchi: ≤ 40 mg/litro

INGREDIENTS ALLOWED FOR CONVENTIONAL WINES:

Acido citrico / Acido L(+)tartarico / Acido L-ascorbico / Acido L-malico D,L malico / Acido lattico / Acido metatartarico / Acidificazione tramite elettrodialisi a membrana bipolare * / Albumina d’uovo / Anidride solforosa (SO2) / Autoarricchimento tramite evaporazione * / Autoarricchimento per osmosi inversa * / Batteri lattici / Bentonite / Bicarbonato di potassio /Bisolfito di potassio / Bisolfito di ammonio / Carbonato di calcio / Carboximetilcellulosa (CMC) / Gomma di cellulosa (CMC) / Caseinato di potassio / Caseina / Carbone enologico / Chitina-Glucano / Chitosani / Citrato di rame / Colla di pesce / Cloridrato di tiamina / Biossido di silicio (Gel di Silice) / Scorze di lieviti / Elettrodialisi * / Enzimi beta glucanasi / Fermentazione alcolica spontanea * / Pastorizzazione rapida * / Gelatine / Gomma arabica / Fosfato diammonico / Cremor di tartaro / Lieviti secchi attivi (LSA) / Lisozima / Mannoproteine dei lieviti / Proteine di origine vegetale ottenute dal frumento o dai piselli / Metabisolfito di potassio / Microfiltrazione tangenziale * / Chips di legno di quercia / Mosto concentrato / Mosto concentrato rettificato / Polivinilpolipirrolidone (PVPP) / Enzimi per l’attivazione della pectinasi / Resine scambiatrici di cationi * / Solfato di rame / Solfato di ammonio / Tannini enologici / Tartrato neutro di potassi

INGREDIENTS ALLOWED FOR VINO BIOLOGICO

Acido citrico / Acido L(+)tartarico / Acido L-ascorbico / Acido lattico / Acido metatartarico / Albumina d’uovo / Autoarricchimento tramite evaporazione * / Autoarricchimento per osmosi inversa * / Batteri lattici / Bentonite / Bisolfito di potassio / Metabisolfito di potassio / Bicarbonato di potassio / Carbonato di calcio / Caseinato di potassio / Caseina / Carbone enologico / Citrato di rame / Colla di pesce / Cloridrato di tiamina / Biossido di silicio (Gel di Silice) / Scorze di lieviti / Fermentazione alcolica spontanea * / Gelatine / Gomma arabica / Fosfato diammonico / Cremor di tartaro / Lieviti secchi attivi (LSA) / Proteine di origine vegetale ottenute dal frumento o dai piselli / Microfiltrazione tangenziale * / Chips di legno di quercia / Mosto concentrato / Mosto concentrato rettificato / Enzimi per l’attivazione della pectinasi / Solfato di rame / Tannini enologici / Tartrato neutro di potassio / Anidride solforosa (SO2)

INGREDIENTS ALLOWED FOR DEMETER:

Dall’ Agosto 2013 è in vigore il nuovo disciplinare:

Anidride solforosa (SO2) / Fermentazione alcolica spontanea * / Bentonite / Acido ascorbico (solo in quantità ridotte per raggiungere i minimi stabiliti dalle denominazioni di origine)

NATURAL WINE INGREDIENTS:

Anidride solforosa (SO2) in super low dosage or not even used.

 LIST OF HERBICIDES, PESTICIDES, AND FUNGICIDES THAT CAN END UP IN YOUR WINE AND ARE ALLOWED IN CONVENTIONAL WINE-MAKING:
Acetamiprid
Acrinathrin
Alachlor
Aldicarb
alfa-Cypermethrin
Ametoctradin
Amisulbrom
Amitraz
Azadirachtin
Azinphos-methyl
Azoxystrobin
Benalaxyl
*Benfuracarb
Benthiavalicarb-Isopropyl
beta-Cypermethrin
Bifenthrin
Boscalid
Bromopropylate
Bromuconazole (sum of diasteroisomers)
Bupirimate
Buprofezin
Cadusafos
Captan
Captan and folpet (sum of captan and folpet)
Carbaryl
Carbendazim
Carbofuran
Carbofuran
*Carbosulfan
Carfentrazone-ethyl
Chlorantraniliprole
Chlorpropham
*Chlorpropham
Chlorpyrifos-ethyl
Chlorpyrifos-methyl
Chlorthal-dimethyl
Clofentezine
Clothianidin
Cyazofemid
Cycloxydim
Cyflufenami
Cyfluthrin
Cymoxanil
Cypermethrin
Cyproconazole
Cyprodinil
Deltamethrin
Desmethyl-Pirimicarb
Diazinon
Dichlobenil
Dichlorvos
Dicloran
Dicofol
Diethofencarb
Difenoconazole
*Diflufenican
Dimethenamid
Dimethoate
Dimethoate
Dimethomorph
Dinocap
Diphenylamine
Dithianon
Dodine
Emamectin benzoate B1a,
Endosulfan
Endosulfan-alpha
Endosulfan-beta
Endosulfan-sulphate
Ethalfluralin
*Ethirimol (Bupirimate metabolite)
Ethoxyquin
Etofenprox
Etoxazole
Famoxadone
Fenamidone
Fenarimol
Fenazaquin
Fenbuconazole
Fenhexamid
Fenitrothion
Fenoxycarb
Fenpropidin
Fenpyrazamine
*Fenthion
*Fenthion
*Fenthion-sulfone
*Fenthion-sulfoxide
Fenvalerate and Esfenvalerate
Fenvalerate and Esfenvalerate
Flazasulfuron
*Fluazifop
Fluazifop-P-butyl
*Fluazifop-P-butyl (fluazifop acid (free and conjugate))
Fluazinam
Fludioxonil
Flufenoxuron
Fluopicolide
Fluopyram (R)
Flusilazole
Folpet
Gibberellic acid
Haloxyfop-R-methyl
Hexaconazole
Hexythiazox
Imidaclprid
Indoxacarb as sum of the isomers S and R
Iodofenphos
Iprodione
Iprovalicarb
Kresoxim-methyl
Lambda-Cyhalothrin
Malaoxon
Malathion
Malathion
Mandipropamid
Mepanipyrim
Meptyldinocap
Metalaxyl and metalaxyl-M (sum of isomers)
*Metaldehyde
Methidathion
Methiocarb
Methiocarb
Methiocarb-sulfone
Methiocarb-sulfoxide
Methomyl
Methoxyfenozide
Metrafenone
Myclobutanil
Naphthylacetic acid, 1- (NAA)
Omethoate
Oxadiazon
Oxydemeton-methyl (Demeton-S-methylsulfoxide)
Oxyfluorfen
Paclobutrazol
Penconazole
Pendimethalin
Phosalone
Phosmet
Rotenone
Simazine
Spinosyn A
Spirodiclofen
Spirotetramant
Tebuconazole
Tebufenpyrad
Thiamethoxam
Thiobencarb
Thiophanate-methyl
Tolyfluanid
Trichlorfon
Trifloxystrobin
Triflumuron
Valifenalate
Vinclozolin
Zoxamide

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PLEASE DROP THE CHARMAT…..

I have been living back in Modena for almost 2 years now and I see that there are only a few people here who are into natural Lambruscos. The majority still prefers the mass produced round sweeter Lambruscos made with the Charmat method.
Some of the best natural Lambrusco producers don’t even sell in Emilia but save their delicious juice for other more lucrative and sensitive markets like the US, England, Australia, or Japan.
It’s sad to see since Lambrusco up to 40 years ago was always bottle re-fermented in the spring of the following harvest year and made with its own yeasts.
The Charmat Lambruscos (not natural) made in a pressurized tank, at any time of the year with selected yeasts are in most cases very conventional. For business purposes, Charmat is very convenient. If I need 50 cs in January…..I can order them, and the producer adds a bit of concentrated must to the tank, makes it re-ferment with sugar and selected yeasts, filters them in a sterile way, and bottles it under pressure with a good amount of sulphur in many cases well over 100 parts.
There is no need to wait for spring and natural sunny warmer days that re-ferment the wine. Why would you wait when you can be in control with the Charmat method? Charmat is faster, destroys terroir and favors industrial homologation.
The taste is flat and synthetic, and once the bottle is open for 15 minutes it dies very quickly. These supermarket Lambruscos are generally cheaper and they can be less than 2 Euros a btl. God knows what’s in it.
Natural Lambruscos are full of nuances and layers of flavor and actually get better as the bottle stays open. Vivid fruit notes, Terroir, and different shades of flavors (primary and secondary) are all in that glass. The wine is still alive!! They are better with food and usually have better acidity to play around with. The last glass…..like in every great bottle of wine….is always the best. Their low level of sulphur and the lack of chemicals allow you to finish a bottle and wake up without a headache. These real Lambruscos can age well since the dead yeasts (native) present into the bottle works as antioxidant and adds complexity and longevity. These real Lambruscos are made in small quantities by stubborn individuals with care and without chemicals which is the opposite of the “fake” Lambruscos made by large cooperative who make millions of bottles in most cases.
What’s even more sad…..is that when you taste closed minded people on a good natural Lambrusco, they will tell you that they are to dry, or to acidic, or to rustic since they are so used to drinking rounder, sweeter, and fruity manipulated versions of it. These are the same people who in most cases don’t care about knowing where their food comes from and don’t believe in anything natural. These are the people who believe and feel comfortable with homologation….these are the people who shop in supermarkets. In my opinion…..it’s standardization that is bringing a country like Italy down and it’s shopping in supermarkets that is running independent shops out of business. The farmer and the artisan are key figures in our country and have to be protected first by our government and then by our consumers.
If we want to save Italy and relaunch the economy, we should start from the way we consume agricultural product and the way we purchase things. Having less taxes wouldn’t hurt.
Paying attention to details could make the difference.
In a way, drinking natural Lambrusco, not only is healthier and tastier, but it could also be the beginning of a rebirth of the Italian economy.
Natural Lambrusco could save us all!!!!
So do yourself a favor……
drop the Charmat and embrace the naturalmente Frizzante.
Cheers!

Scuola Di Vino currently carries a small winery called Il Folicello that makes 2 delicious Frizzante Naturali. Simply email us at scuoladivino@gmail.com to try some.
IL FOLICELLO BIANCO ANCESTRALE (Montuni, Pinot Bianco, Trebbiano) $15.00 per btl
IL FOLICELLO ROSSO ANCESTRALE LAMBRUSCO (100% Grasparossa) $15 per btl

ANCESTRALE BIANCO INGLESE-001

ANCESTRALE ROSSO INGLESE-001

Very soon, we will also bring in the delicious frizzanti of CA’ DE NOCI. (below photo)

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Legendary Le Coste Wines are in SF

I am super excited and honored to be the one bringing the Le Coste wines to San Francisco and Los Angeles and very soon in New York and New Jersey. Gianmarco Antonuzi and Clementine Bouveron are the husband and wife team behind this amazing reality. They both worked in Alsace for the iconic Schueller and once married, they relocated in Italy and bought a beautiful abandoned piece of land in Gradoli, facing Lake Bolsena, at the border of Tuscany. Their approach is extremely strict and based on byodinamic principles. These are some of the most natural wines of Italy. Extremely pure and expressive, they are a joy to drink.

Here is some info about the winery and the wines:

THE VINEYARD.

Fruit of a passionate interest in wine and the desire to revalue a magnificent territory, Le Coste Vineyard began in February 2004 with the purchase of three hectares of abandoned land known as “Le Coste”, which had once been a “garden” of vines and olives.                The vineyard has since grown and now covers about 14 hectares, 3 of young vines planted by us, 4 of old vines (40 to 60 years of age) which we rent, 4 of olive trees, and 3 of ancient terraces returned to woodland which we intend to clear in order to reintroduce the old system of mixed farming and the rearing of local breeds of animals for both meat and milk.

The vineyard is situated in Gradoli, in the province of Viterbo, on the border with Tuscany, 40 kms from the Mediterranean coast and about 150kms from Rome. Lying at 450ms above sea level, in the hills overlooking the Lake of Bolsena (of recent volcanic origin, about one million years old), the soil is loose and friable, derived from the underlying volcanic rocks and ashes, rich in iron and minerals.

On all the property we practice “natural” agriculture, without any official certification, but with great respect for the environment, in order to create a natural balance which intensive farming would certainly disturb. To this end we cultivate mixed crops, vines, olives, fruit trees and green manures.

THE VINES.

The first vines were planted in 2005 with the intention to create a healthy and long living vineyard, where the plants grow strong and healthy from the start.  We chose a high density of planting, (10000 plants per hectare) as in the past, to favour a healthy competition between the plants and control their productivity.        A third of the plants were rooted cuttings, and two thirds were grafted onto rootstock in the field as dormant buds in August 2006. They are the traditional vines of the area, chosen carefully from the remaining old vineyards, all grown as a low bush sustained by a post of chestnut wood.

Red grapes: Greghetto and Aleatico, Ciliegio, Canaiolo, Colorino and Vaiano.

White grapes: Procanico, Moscato, Malvasia, Ansonico, Verdello, Greco, Roscetto, Vermentino, Petino and Romanesco.

.While waiting for these vines to begin producing, we rented about 4 hectares of old vines in the hills around the lake, some cultivated in the old way on narrow terraces called “rasole”, others in open fields together with olive and fruit trees.

In 2010 we planted another 7000m2 of vines on former pasture next to Le Coste, facing south/south east, using the same choice of varieties and the same kind of grafting and pruning.  Soon we intend to plant the last and lowest terrace at Le Coste, an area of about 6000m2 facing south east.

To favour the development of humus and a natural fertility, we do not use chemical fertilizers or mineralized organic fertilizers, only our own compost and horn manure 500 preparation.

For weed control and to aerate the soil we limit ourselves to two mechanical diggings and two or three hand diggings between the vines and around the olive trees. On the new vines, the planting density and cultivation as a low bush on a post allows us to work in both directions.  We spray with natural sulphur and copper sulphate, helped by biodynamic preparations such as horn silica 501 in the growing season, and infusions of horsetail, yarrow, willow and nettle to discourage the growth of parasitic fungal diseases.

HOW WE PRODUCE OUR WINE.

We harvest by hand from the beginning of September (for early varieties like Aleatico and the old Moscato), up until the beginning of October. The wine is made without technological processing or chemical additives; fermentation occurs spontaneously due to indigenous yeasts without adding sulphur dioxide; malolactic fermentation follows naturally, usually after the alcoholic fermentation, sometimes ending in the spring.

Winemaking varies from season to season depending on the maturity and health of the grapes, the variety and age of the vines.  We choose grapes from particular vines according to the wine we wish to make, using several methods of natural fermentation; with skins, with or without stalks, in containers of resin or of wood, carbonic maceration, ageing in vats or in barrels of various sizes.

After one siphoning to prepare the bulk, all the wines are bottled by gravity, without filtering or adding clearing agents or sulphur dioxide.

THE WINES.

Currently we produce about 25000 bottles, with more than 14 different wines which vary from year to year depending on the season. A general guide to our wines:

Bianco (white): 80% Procanico,  with Tuscan Malvasia, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Greco, Ansonico and other grapes, macerated briefly with the skins, fermented in vats for about three weeks, matured in barrels of various sizes for about a year.

Le Coste Bianco : 85% Procanico, Malvasia di Candia, Malvasia Puntinata, Vermentino, Roscetto, Verdello, Greco Antico, Ansonico, all from Le Coste, crushed briefly by foot, pressed and decanted for a few days, then fermented slowly in a 12 hl barrel of French oak in a natural cave for about a year.

Bianco Vecchie Vigne: Procanico and other local varieties chosen from the best of the old vines (averaging 50 years old), pressed immediately. The first free running must is fermented in barrels of 5 or 10hl of French oak where it ages for about 2 years.

Bianco del Paino: 100% Procanico, the best grapes from plants of limited production (only about 400 grams per plant), picked last, sometimes with a little “muffa nobile”. After removing all the stalks, the grapes ferment with their skins in open wooden vats for between one and three months depending on the season; the wine then ages for 24 months in demi muid (600 litre oak barrels).

Rosato (rosé): made from Aleatico grapes, macerated with the skins for about a week, then fermented in small barrels of Slavonian oak for about six months, where it then ages for another 12 months before bottling.

Rosso (red): mainly Greghetto (a local variety of Sangiovese), with a little Cannaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, and Vaiano, as they grow mixed on the vines. Fermented for about a month with the skins in vats of French oak and chestnut, then matured for about a year in barrels of Slavonian oak.

Le Coste Rosso:  made from the local Greghetto and older strains of Sangiovese, cru Le Coste.  Yielding naturally about 30hl per hectare, the whole grapes are macerated in open vats of French oak where they ferment for about two months. After pressing, the wine ages for about two years in small barrels (6 or 7 hl).

Carbo’: (not produced every year). This wine is made from the carbonic maceration of Greghetto and Ciliegio grapes from an old vineyard, in flattened cone shaped vats of French oak for about two months.  After pressing the wine finishes fermenting and ages for about two years in demi muid of French oak.

Rosso Riserva: a wine produced instead of Rosso Più, in exceptionally good years using only the highest quality Greghetto grapes from the best of the old vineyards, depending both on the season and on the quality testing of each vineyard. After removing some of the stalks, the must ferments with the skins in chestnut vats for about two months, then ages for 12 months in demi muid, and for a further 12mths after bottling.

Alea Jacta Est: made from an ancient local grape variety, Aleatico, picked a little over ripe.  The whole grapes ferment with their skins for about two months, in open vats of French oak.  After pressing the wine ages in small 700 litre barrels.

Litrozzo Bianco, Rosso, Rosato:  wines produced naturally with the grapes from the pergolas, table grapes and those of lesser quality, with the idea of offering a light unpretentious wine, table wine as it used to be, to drink with meals every day.

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Bressan

Great afternoon spent at the Bressan’s winery in Farra d’Isonzo, Collio, Friuli. They have been making wine for 9 generations. The wines are incredible. Some of the very best of Italy. It will be an honor to bring them back to the US.

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Scuola on the Road in Piglio visiting Mario Macciocca

As a natural wine importer, I always try to search for the rising stars of a region. The best producers, like Bea, Radikon, Foradori etc…. are already imported but it makes me extremely happy when I find a young talented producer whose wines can potentially become a benchmark, a cult, something that my buyers can’t get enough of.

Mario Macciocca (below) is my rising star in Lazio, more specifically in Piglio in the province of Frosinone, an area called Ciociaria. I have just visited him and I was extremely impressed. He studied Physics and Art but felt at home in the country.. “I don’t like people very much…I am at ease when in nature and when making wine” he says.

Mario

His vineyards are beautiful, completely surrounded by nature, far from factories, cities, and roads. The volcanic minerally soils are red and vines are old and can easily age up to 60 or 70 years old.Mario inherited them from his grandfather and has also just purchased more land and planted new vines.Mario mainly cultivates Passerina del Frusinate, Malvasia Puntinata, Cesanese, and Nostrano but in the vineyards he has some other crazy grapes like Uva Barese, Uva Turca, and some other funky names I can’t even remember.After taking all sorts of photos and trying to learn as much as possible in a short period of time, we left the vineyards and went to his splendid small Cantina that is 600 years old and all built out of stone right in town.

Macciocca

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The ’14 wines were stunning.2014 was generally a bad vintage in Italy because it rained for basically the whole summer. Peronospera or rot kicked in and most producers lost everything. Mario made very little wine. Less than half of his normal production (around 5000 btls) but the quality remains very high.I have tasted the unsulphured 2014 Monocromo (Passerina+Malvasia) a couple of months ago and it was already delicious so we didn’t bother opening it. Mario just made a new white, the Terra Bianco 2014 (Passerina+Malvasia Puntinata) elevated in Acacia. An “orange” wine since it macerates for a long time but the color is more similar to gold than orange. A bit of V.A. but super fun full of ripe mineral lemony notes, good body, and a good amount of acid. A super solid wine that I can’t wait to bring to SF. We tasted my favorite. The Terra Rosso 2014, a blend of Cesanese and Nostrano made in old barriques and steel. Cesanese gives power and fruit while Nostrano adds freshness and earth. It’s the perfect wine where you can do whatever you want with it. It will go well with pretty much everything. Last was the Cesanese Civitella 2014. This is the quintessential Cesanese full of ripe fruit and power with a discreet amount of acid. With time, it turns into a more austere, complex wine…..we tasted the 2013 (I still preferred the ’14). With a lot more time (we opened a 1989), it can be surprisingly fresh and elegant.

Mario doesn’t mess around and besides 4 or 5 treatment a year of Sulphur and Copper and a very tiny amount of Sulphur in most wines, everything else is done in a non-interventionist way (native yeast, no filtration, no manipulation). What I like about his wines is that the flavors are pure and honest. They are easy to drink and alcohol level is in check. That mineral red volcanic soil is in the glass. “I just make wine like my grandfather used to do……there is no other way for me….I don’t do much……Nature does everything” he explains, “I realized that I could be part of the Natural Wine Movement and I did”, and he finishes “I hope that Natural Wine won’t just be a trend in Italy and that more and more winery realize of the importance of making wine this way”.

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After the tasting we went to a local Trattoria right in the middle of the picturesque Medieval town of Piglio. Mario’s favorite place was closed, so we had downgrade. Food was still solid: an appetizer of local cheese and verdure, “sagna” (similar to scialatielli pasta) with tartufo nero e guanciale, grilled lamb, and potatoes and chicory. All washed down with the 1989 Cesanese we brought.After pre-ordering most of his inventory for SF, I left happy. Mario’s wines will probably be a big hit.

What an amazing year in Italy

It has been an amazing year for Scuola di Vino in Italy!! I have been able to become a better wine-guy, discover new-amazing producers, understand my culture better, see beautiful places and eat fantastic food. I can’t get enough of it and the more I travel, the more I realize that it’s and endless research. There is always something new to learn and I try to bring it back to the US and share it with Scuola di Vino’s friends and customers.

Amazing Lambrusco MakersDiscovering the awesome wines at Il FolicelloCon Marco BurattiBack in SFAlberto of Podere PradaroloMeeting the one and only, crazy wine-collector....FlaminioAlbengaMassimo of Il GiardinettoLa Valle dei Laghi. Trentino. Land of Nosiola and Schiava.Just above Bolzabo. Awesome Santa Maddalena. Best out there at the moment.Monte ConeroLiving in Modena

RavelloSF friendsSerralunga d'Alba, land of BaroloRomagna. Land of Sagiovese and Albana.Vermentino VineyardsDSCN1489Visiting a Myth. Lino Maga with Aran.The Magic of Timorasso ValBorberaFausto fo Rocche del Gattoin Gratena, Arezzo, land of ChiantiVermentino Vineyardsphoto 2_opt

SCUOLA DI VINO AT RUBY WINES IN SF ON FRIDAY THE 19TH FEATURING CANTINA GIARDINO

THIS IS WHAT MY GOOD FRIEND ARAN, OWNER OR RUBY WINES, WROTE ABOUT THE EVENT.

This Friday we will welcome Giovanni of Scuola di Vino back to Ruby wine.  He will be pouring our all time favorite wines from Campania, in Cantina Giardino!
Giardino is the most influential natural wine producer in Campania, carrying the torch for organic viticulture, and chemical free wine.  Their wines are one of a kind, unique expressions of their varietal and terroir.  We get small amounts of these wines every year, and drink them almost as fast as we can pull them out of the box.

Giovanni will be pulling corks on some very special bottling for us to try this Friday night, including two limited cuvees, only bottled in Magnums.  Fiano, Greco and Aglianico.

The tasting is $10, and will go from 5 until 9pm.

BELOW:

DANIELA OF CANTINA GIARDINO, ARAN OF RUBY WINES, FRANCESCO FROM AVITA, ANTONIO OF CANTINA GIARDINO