Mario Macciocca and his wines

Cesanese Terra 2013 (80% Cesanese, 20% Nostrano)
In Roman times, Piglio was considered privileged to cultivate the vine. This territory known as Civitella was in fact an old Roman town. Many signs of ancient wine-making have been found like the discovery of old Anfore or wine-making tools.
Before Cesanese this area was full of Nostrano. An ancient grape that Mario Macciocca is trying to bring back to life. Nostrano was removed to plant Cesanese because it wasn’t very productive. Nostrano hasn’t been registered yet a grape variety.
The word Cesanese comes from the Latin word Cese which means “small forest”. Deforesting was necessary in order to plant Cesanese vines.
Cesanese arrives in Piglio in the 800s. The Clone arrived from Affile but found a much better habitat in Piglio.
Cesanese is a grape that generates wines that are full of strength and power. It shines in the area of Piglio which is a town under the province of Frosinone in Lazio. Piglio terrains may vary from limestone when closer to the mountains to volcanic soils in the valley. At Mario Macciocca’s winery, the terrain is a mixture of clay and rock. Cesanese prefers clay over a rock-bed. On a rocky terrain, it becomes too high in alcohol and has too many tannins and acidity. Some producers end up with wines that are 16% and therefore very hard to drink.
The Cesanese Terra 2013 from Mario Macciocca is 80% Cesanese and 20% Nostrano. It macerates for 10 days in stainless steel from a spontaneous fermentation. The 1 year elevage in wood is in large chestnut barrels (20 hl) or used French oak. The rest of the elevage is in bottle. It’s unfiltered and very low sulphur is used (30 mg).

Monocromo #1 (80% Passerina and 20% Malvasia Puntinata)
Mairo challenges himself by making a wine that is completely unsulphured. Just like in contemporary art, Monocromo which means “one color” was utilized with the desire to erase everything that has been invented or created before. A unique wine. Very extreme.
Passerina is a variety that prefers humid zones. It is vigorous and resistant. Much stronger than the Cesanese for example. It’s almost pink when it reaches full maturity and you can end up with a wine that is very high in alcohol. Picking it a bit sooner helps to save some freshness.
Malvasia Puntinata is more delicate and aromatic. It also has less alcohol. It adds flavor and aromas to the more neutral Passerina.
The fermentation is spontaneous and the maceration lasts 4 days. It’s bottled after a few momths in Acacia Tunneaux. A few months of bottle ageing follow. It’s unfiltered and it is free of sulphur.

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Mario in action

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Cantina Giardino

On my last trip to Campania, I had a wonderful lunch at Cantina Giardino’s headquarters in Ariano Irpino with Antonio and Daniela. Food was great as usual and wines just keep on getting better. Elegance and harmony in the Sophia 2012, purity of fruit and definition in the Le Fole 2011, power and sumptuousness in the Nude 2006, wildness and complexity in the Clown 2010, and toughness and nerve in the Drogone 2008.

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It was just another confirm that Cantina Giardino has become the most exciting Campanian producer out there giving hope to a region that has some serious wine-making potentials. Their wines are slowly reaching a high status in the natural wine world at the levels of Bea and Radikon. They are happily represented in some of the top restaurants and wine-bars in SF and LA that run a cool wine-program.

Antonio doesn’t mess around: very old vines, great vineyard sites, no chemicals in the vineyards and at the winery, no manipulation, no sulphur, a manual torchio or footpressing, large barrels of chestnut mainly (some acacia and cherry as well), clay amphoras, long macerations, long elevage, no sulphur, and no filtration. He started making macerated whites 10 years ago when wine critics were not easy on him and orange wines were not trendy. He stuck to his principles and continued with his solitary work. I think that he has achieved his goal. “Vini naturali e di terriorio”….natural wines of terroir. Cantina Giardino’s wines are a work of art capturing the wild spirit of Irpinia with their smokey rustic elegance, agile acidity, and purity of fruit. They represent the future of Campanian wine-making. To top it off…..Antonio and Daniela are super sweet people and have a big heart.

These are some of my tasting notes. These wines will be available in SF in a couple of weeks.
FIANO SOPHIA 2012: “Una bomba” (A Bomb) this is how I described it. Even my mom, that doesn’t really drink, was very impressed by this Sophia 2012. The nose and the palate are full of fruit and smokey nuances. The palate is agile and elegant with a very long finish.
Grapes come from the Comune of Candida. It is foot pressed and macerated in Amphora for 6 months. 6 more months in large barrels and some bottle aging. No sulphur and no filtration. This is a quintessential Fiano.
AGLIANICO LE FOLE 2011: More fruit and easier to drink than the more angular 2010. Grapes are sourced in Montemarano where the soils are a combo of clay and limestone. Of the Irpinian crus, Antonio considers it a cooler one. 30 days of maceration. 1 year in large chestnut barrels. No sulphur and no filtration. 2 years in the bottle. I love the simplicity and the purity of the Le Fole. It’s around 12.5% alcohol and always very drinkable. I think 2011 will be a success in SF because it has a bigger fruit component that makes it very enjoyable even without food.
AGLIANICO NUDE 2006: This is a nectar. Brian from a16 is a big fan. It’s an extract of Aglianico. Grapes come from Paternopoli which is an area that is a bit warmer and there is more sand in the soil. The maceration is 60 days. The elevage in barrels is about 4 years. First in exhausted Tounneaux and Barriques, and then in 20 HL barrels. The wine is unfiltered and no sulphur is used. This is a wine that needs a piece of meat. Rich, powerful, and dense. It’s everything you want an Aglianico to be. This is basically a declassified Taurasi.
AGLIANICO CLOWN 2010: The grapes come from Montemarano. It’s foot pressed and it macerates in Anphora for 1 year. 1 more year of elevage is in large barrel. I am a huge fan of the clown. It’s the most wild red that Antonio makes. The anphora keeps thing extremely fresh and agile and I always find some cheese and mushroom notes in this wine that I don’t recall in the other cuvees. Great acid and lots of pure dark and red fruit.
AGLIANICO DROGONE 2008: One of the greatest wines from Cantina Giardino with a beautiful label of a Dragon sitting on a barrel and sipping wine. I can’t even get in SF for 3 weeks that is usually already gone. 2007 was in my opinion (Shelley agrees) the most magical version. In 2008 the large barrels were new and they give this Drogone a more modern approach. Grapes come from Castelfranci which is a zone that doesn’t have the power of Paternopoli and it’s not as cool as Montemarano. “It’s somethings in between” Antonio explains. 60 days of Maceration. 4 years in 20 HL barrels made of chestnut. No filtration and no sulphur. A big wine (not as powerful as the Nude) with great acid. Textbook Aglianico: Smokey, gamey, rich of red and dark fruit, leathery, and full of ripe tannins. Pure.

Giovanni Pagano

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IL PROSECCO COLFONDO 2011 DI CAROLINA GATTI

Il Prosecco colfondo 2011 di Carolina Gatti has arrived in SF !! Re-fermented naturally in the bottle and basically sur lee and not disgorged. This is the first time that Carolina’s wine is in the US. It’s an honor to be the one bringing her awesome juice in.

This is not “the ginger-ale of Italy” like Joe Bastianich called an industrial version of Prosecco that I poured him one night at Esca, back in the days. This is not a standard wine….where we add a bit of peach juice and the Bellini is ready. This is not a well marketed Prosecco colfondo that claims to be all natural but doesn’t taste like anything and it’s all over the US. This is a true version of Prosecco colfondo like it was made in the 50’s. Delicious, complex, and refreshing.

Carolina, who comes from a family that has owned this azienda since the eighteen hundreds, is the most hardcore, anarchic, and extreme of the colfondisti. Her equipment is “what the smurfs would use” she told me. Her vines are 80 to 90 years old average and they are trained in an old-school Belussi system where vines look almost like trees.

She has the smallest production. We are looking at 10.000 bottles. Her current vintage is 2011 ! Her Prosecco (she doesn’t call it Glera) needs time just like all great wines. It takes about 3 years for a natural protein stabilization. I have tried the 2012 but it wasn’t ready.She is not in a hurry. She is the only one that waits this long. Zero chemicals are used in the vineyards and at the winery. A very slow fermentation kicks in spontaneously. The wine stays in cement vats for over a year. It is then bottled and some of the juice from the first pressing, that was previously frozen, is used to start the natural re-fermentation.

Her Prosecco “sur lee” is slightly fizzy, rich, salty, complex, cloudy, and long. All kept in check by great “cedro” like acidity.  I like to decant it.

She is not into marketing her wines and she is not running a business. She works the land with great ethics and respect and makes great natural wine. I think that her wine will be a big success. To bad that there is so little of it.

Salute,

GP

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Best New Bruschetteria in SF…..wait….it’s Biondivino!!

photo 4 photo 3 Biondivino-the cool little wine shop owned by Ceri Smith at 1415 Green Street in SF is now serving bruschettas Wednesday through Sunday from 5 pm on. Ceri had the young owner of Troeggi,probably the best bruschetteria in Italy located in Genova, come to SF and run the bruschetta station! You can now go there and see him in action. His name is Emauele. Prices go from $4 to $10 per bruschetta plate. Wines go for $10 a glass. I had the gorgonzola and prosciutto San Daniele….and the burrata with fresh anchovies. They were perfect. The tiramisu’ that Emanuele makes is also kick-ass. While there, I was hanging out with Massimiliano-the owner of Calabretta winery on mount Etna. His wines are solid and he is a super nice guy. So…congratulations to Ceri for this great idea and I am sure that Biondivino will soon become the new hot-hang-out spot for thirsty wine-guys like me.

Learning the mysteries of Gaglioppo at ‘A Vita in Calabria


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Learning the mysteries of Gaglioppo in Calabria with Francesco and Laura at ‘A Vita winery. The wines are stunning and they are an amazing family with their 3 year old Andrea and 5 dogs. Some of the sweetest people we have ever met. It was quite an experience to be there. Gaglioppo is a crazy grape that resembles Nebbiolo in taste. It doesn’t have a lot of color and it’s actually super pale with almost a brownish note that could make you think that it’s oxidized when it actually isn’t. In the right vintage, like the 2009, and with the right maceration that can go from 4 days to 35 days, it can truly be something outstanding……very similar to a complex Piemontese but at one third of the price. Spices, dried flowers, and cherries….rustic and yet elegant….and full of warm ripe tannins. Extremely drinkable. “The maceration is key” says Francesco. “One extra day and the wine can become hard to drink” he explains while we drink the 2010 where the tannins were a bit out of control hitting you with the force of a giant wave. “I am still learning as I go” he admits “but in 2009 I just got it right”. True…the wine was incredible. From my point of view: Gaglioppo is like a crazy horse that needs to be tamed and it can be magic. It can also be fantastic as a Rose’. One of the best I ever had. Even better when you sit outside Francesco and Laura’s beautiful country house as you stare at a 180 degree view of the sea, while the wind blows constant of the secular olive trees.

Falanghina Agnanum is back

Agnanum is the best producer in the Campi Flegrei area. Very old vines, extremely low yelds, a special soil composition that is extremely mineral and saline. The approach is natural and no chemicals are used in the vineyards and at the winery. In the vineyards, all the work is done by hand. At the winery after a fermentation that starts with natural yeast, all the wines are elevated in steel or large barrels. The wines are just awesome and the prices are very honest.

The Falanghina 2012 is back. Smocky, minerally and saline. Full of ripe citrus notes and super long.The alcohol is only 12%. The price is $17.00 per btl. Email scuoladivino@gmail.com if thirsty.

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CLAUDIO ANCARANI AND HIS WINES

DSCN0921 Claudio Ancarani is the latest addition to our small portfolio. His winery is in Santa Lucia, a little town next to Faenza in the Romagna zone. He is a true Vignaiolo and spends most of his time in the vineyards that he inherited from his grandfather who taught him how to make wine. He is a non-interventionist: indigenous varietals, organic grapes manually picked, native yeast,no manipulation of any kind, no oak barrels but vitrified cement instead. Claudio’s wines are intense, full of nuances and shades of freshness, with good body and agility. This intensity comes from the soils that are a combination of clay mainly with smaller percentages of lime and sand. Claudio doesn’t believe in the use of any type of oak because he only wants the pure flavor of his grapes to shine. Using oak would mask nuances and add spices that don’t belong. I can’t blame him. All of his wines are truly terroir driven with a perfect equilibrium of drinkability, structure, and elegance.

ALBANA SANTALUSA 2011 Golden and rich, it’s powerful and warm like a great Albana should be. Full of aromas of yellow peaches, nectarines, honey, and mineral notes. It is deep and creamy thanks to the late harvest of 1/3 of the grapes. On the palate it’s a game between softness and firmness kept in check by the good acidity. A happy wine that doesn’t hide. It will easily stand up to white meats or an intense cheese and will age beautifully.

SANGIOVESE BIAGIO ANTICO 2011 A Sangiovese that you can drink every day. Agile and full of nuances. Blackberries and cherries but the word that comes to mind is freshness. Light and drinkable and extremely food friendly. It was the winner at my last meal at Central Kitchen with my friend Gene Tomko.

SANGIOVESE ORIOLO 2011 A single vineyard Sangiovese with more power and structure than the Biagio Antico. It’s darker and full of dark and red fruit. On the palate it’s earthy, deep, and warm. Still elegant and drinkable but in need of a rich pasta or red meat.

CENTESIMINO 2011 A graceful wine where the aromatics of the Centesimino grapes are jumping out of the glass: violets, rose petals, more flowers (I am not the best at describing which kind), blueberries and raspberries. Warm and clean on the palate with a beautiful salinity with soft tannins and an almond finish. Perfect wine to have with Asian food or aromatic cheeses.

CENTESIMINO PASSITO 500 ml The iconic wine of the winery. A passito (dessert wine)…the grapes were left to raisinate on the vines. Crazy nose of blueberry, red currant, prunes, cocoa, and amarene cherries. Simple but captivating and not overly sweet. The acidity is high and keeps the palate fresh. The perfect pairing would be a cheese cake or a blue cheese.

If you are interested in some of these wines just email us at scuoladivino@gmail.com

 

AGLIANICO CLOWN OENOLOGUE 2009

clown 08THE AGLIANICO “CLOWN” FROM CANTINA GIARDINO 2009 IS THE MOST EXCITING WINE THAT WE CARRY AT THE MOMENT IN OUR SMALL PORTFOLIO. ONCE AGAIN, ANTONIO DI GRUTTOLA SHOWS ITS GENIUS.I RECENTLY OPENED A BOTTLE AND I WAS BLOWN AWAY BY HOW GREAT IT WAS.

80 YEAR OLD VINES CULTIVATED ORGANICALLY

THE GRAPES ARE NOT DE-STEMMED (WHOLE CLUSTER) AND THEY ARE FOOT PRESSED. NATIVE YEAST STARTS FEEDING.

THE MACERATION IS FOR 1 YEAR IN ANFORA (THE ANFORA IS HAND MADE BY DANIELA, ANTONIO’S WIFE)

AFTER 1 YEAR IN ANFORA THERE IS 1 MORE YEAR IN LARGE CHESTNUT BARRELS (THE CHESTNUT BARRELS ARE MADE IN CAMPANIA WITH LOCAL CHESTNUT…..JUST LIKE BACK IN THE DAYS)

AFTER THE YEAR IN BARREL THE WINE IS BOTTLED WITHOUT FILTRATION

NO SULPHUR IS USED DURING WINE-MAKING AND AT BOTTLING. NATURAL WINE ALL THE WAY….

THIS WINE IS FRESH, INTENSE, PURE, COMPLEX, WITH JUMPING OUT OF THE GLASS AROMAS OF DARK AND RED FRUIT, FERMENTED CHEESE, AND SMOKE.THE 1 YEAR MACERATION IN ANFORA HAS PAID BACK ON THE FRESHNESS AND PURITY AND SINCE THE WINE HAS BEEN DELICATELY  FOOT PRESSED, THERE IS NO ASTRINGENCY AND BITTERNESS. IT KEEPS GOING ON THE PALATE ALMOST EXOTICALLY AND EVERYTHING IS IN CHECK THANKS TO THE EXCELLENT ACIDITY.IT IS GREAT AND HARD TO RESIST NOW BUT IT CAN PROBABLY AGE FOR ANOTHER 10 YEARS.

IT IS A TRUE MONUMENT OF AGLIANICO D’IRPINIA THANKS AGAIN TO CLEVERNESS OF THIS NATURAL WINE-MAKING MAESTRO.

 

 

JOIN US AT TERROIR ON FRIDAY 28TH FROM 6-8

DSCN0941 JOIN US AT TERROIR, NATURAL WINE MERCHANT, AT 1116 FOLSOM STREET (415-5589946) ON FRIDAY 28TH MARCH FROM 6-8. WE WILL BE POURING SOME OF OUR NEW CAMPANIAN CULT PRODUCERS. AGNANUM FROM CAMPI FLEGREI, MONTE DI GRAZIA FROM THE AMALFI COAST AND CANTINA GIARDINO FROM IRPINIA. THESE ARE HARD TO FIND NATURAL WINES THAT HAVE NEVER BEEN IN CALIFORNIA BEFORE.

THEY SHOWCASE THE POTENTIALS AND THE NATURAL BEAUTY OF CAMPANIA: VINES THAT ARE WELL OVER 100 YEARS OLD, SMOKY MINERALLY VULCANIC SOILS, ORIGINAL AUTOCHUCTHONOUS CLONES. AT WINE-MAKING THERE ARE NO CHEMICALS WHATSOEVER,NO FANCY TOOLS, TRADITIONAL METHODS (FOOT PRESSED, NATURAL YEAST, LARGE BARRELS, LITTLE OR NO SUPLPHUR TO NAME A FEW…), AND COMMON SENSE IS ALWAYS USED.

THE TASTING IS $18 DOLLARS. A PRESTO.