Posts tagged ‘feudi di san gregorio’
It’s early of course, but it appears that 2009 may be judged a great year for Italian wines throughout the country. I’ve written earlier posts about the white wines and now that I’ve tasted a few dozen reds from this vintage, I’m beginning to think that you really can’t go wrong with just about any 2009 Italian wine type.
The Italian whites from 2009 are first-rate, offering the depth of fruit of the 2007s with the structure and acidity of the 2008s. I’ve tasted several dozen of these wines, predominantly from the regions of Friuli and Campania and many of the top examples show the potential to drink well for 3-5 years. Among the top 2009 whites I’ve tasted so far are the following:
- Edi Keber Biano (Collio)
- Gradis’ciutta Sauvignon (Collio)
- Livio Felluga Sauvignon (Colli Orientali)
- Isidoro Polencic Ribolla Gialla (Collio)
- La Tunella “Biancosesto” (Colli Orientali)
- Zuani “Vigne” (Collio)
- Feudi di San Gregorio “Cutizzi”
- Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo “Nova Serra”
- Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino
- San Paolo Greco di Tufo “Montefusco”
- Marisa Cuomo “Fiorduva”
- Coffele Soave Classico “Ca’Visco”
- Guado al Tasso Vermentino (Bolgheri)
- Lunae Bosoni Vermentino Lunae “Etichetta Nera” (Liguria)
- Malvira Roero Arneis “Trinita”(Piemonte)
- Planeta Fiano “Cometa” (Sicilia)
Of course, many of the top whites, especially the blended whites and selezioni from Friuli, Campania and Alto Adige are yet to be released, so the list should dramatically expand.
As for the reds, a few 2009s have been released, ranging from Dolcetto and Barbera in Piemonte to Valpolicella from Veneto and Chiantis of all types and Morellino di Scansano in Toscana. I love the purity of fruit, concentration and acidity of these wines. It was a warm year, especially in Piemonte, so there is an explosion of fruit in these wines. Yet as there were several cool spells during the growing season, there is beautifully defined acidity, as the grapes experienced a long hang time. Among my favorites so far are these:
- Cascina Roccalini Dolcetto d’Alba
- Cascina Roccalini Barbera d’Alba (arriving in the US market in a few months)
- Pio Cesare Dolcetto d’Alba
- Fontanabianca Langhe Nebbiolo
- Motta Morellino di Scansano
Of course, most Italian reds from 2009 have not been released and in some instances, such as Barbaresco, Barolo, Amarone, Taurasi and Brunello di Montalcino, we will not see them in the market for at least another 1-5 years. But based on what I’ve tasted so far, Italian wine lovers should be in for several years of finds from the 2009 vintage – white and red.
Without further ado, here is a partial list of my choices of the best Italian red wines of the year. A full list (along with the best whites of the year and a list of the best producers) can be found in the next issue of my Guide to Italian Wines. For subscription information, click here.
2007 PRODUTTORI DEL BARBARESCO BARBARESCO
There are so many wonderful bottlings of Barbaresco from the excellent 2007 vintage; given space limitations, I’ll only mention one. This is the normale Barbaresco from this great producer, a blend of several different vineyards within the town of Barbaresco. The 2007 vintage for Barbaresco was all about finesse and not power; this wine has gorgeous aromatics and beautiful acidity along with the subtle oak and ideal balance this producer is so well known for. This should drink well for 10-12 years. Also among the finest wines of the year were the 2005 cru bottlings of this producer from the Rio Sordo, Pajé and Montestefano vineyards.
2006 ELIO GRASSO BAROLO “GAVARINI CHINERA”/BAROLO “GINESTRA CASA MATE´”
So many outstanding bottlings of Barolo from 2006 – again with space limitations, I have room for only a few. Here are two wonderful wines from this ultra consistent Barolo producer in Monforte d’Alba. Both of these wines offer impressive concentration and a distinct spiciness that emerges from the local terroir. These are both aged in large casks, so oak plays a supporting role and does not dominate. 2006 was an old-fashioned, classically structured vintage for Barolo, so these wines should peak in 25 years plus. Purchasing an Elio Grasso Barolo is always a wise choice, especially from the 2006 vintage.
2004 IL POGGIONE BRUNELLO DI MONTALCINO RISERVA
Hardly a surprise here, given the long-term excellence of this producer combined with the excellent 2004 vintage. This wine is from the I Paganelli vineyard, planted in 1964 and displays the concentration and complexity of these older vines. Medium-full, this has layers of fruit and a lengthy finish with subdued wood notes (grandi botti aging), lively acidity and polished tannins and offers exceptional harmony. This should drink well for 20-25 years.
2004 STEFANO ACCORDINI AMARONE “IL FORNETTO”
This excellent producer releases this special bottling only in the finest vintages; this 2004 certainly lives up to that entitlement. Medium-full with an explosion of fruit, this offers flavors of red raspberry and fig with light raisiny notes and has a rich finish with youthful, but refined tannins and lovely balancing acidity. Look for this wine to drink well for 12-15 years. It may be difficult to find this wine, but if you are lover of Amarone, you need to taste this!
2002 FEUDI DI SAN GREGORIO TAURASI RISERVA “PIANO DI MONTEVERGINE”
Taurasi is Campania’s contribution to the list of Italy’s most accomplished red wines and Feudi is one of leading producers of this wine type. This is from a site very close to the town of Taurasi; planted more than 25 years ago, this is an outstanding Aglianico vineyard. Medium-full, this is a beautifully structured wine with excellent persistence and silky tannins to accompany the delicious black cherry and candied plum fruit. As I wrote in my review in my Guide to Italian Wines earlier this year, “2002 was not a year that led itself to greatness in this area, but this is an accomplished bottling.” As this bottling is a bit lighter than a typical vintage (though still quite rich), expect this to peak in 12-15 years.
Just announced are the 2011 Tre Bicchieri winners, the top rated Italian wines of the past year, as judged by the editors and tasters of Gambero Rosso, that country’s most famous wine publication. Here is the link
As always, lists such as this will be debated and my list will be different in some cases than that of Gambero Rosso (and so will just about every Italian wine lover’s). But it’s certainly an excellent list and one that highlights every region in Italy, so good for them!
Rather than bring up wines that I thought should have made the list, I want to focus briefly on a few wines I am most excited to see receive the award (an honor that carries a great deal of weight in Italy as well as some influence in America). To start with, I am excited that my friend Davide Rosso has finally been awarded a Tre Bicchieri: this is for the Giovanni Rosso 2006 Barolo Ceretta. This is good news for three reasons: first, Rosso has been crafting some beautiful Barolos from Serralunga vineyards for several years now, so this award may finally give him some overdue attention. Secondly, Gambero Rosso is in total agreement on this wine with me – I rated this wine as one of the top 10 Barolos from 2006 that I have tasted to date (out of 125) – so I guess great minds think alike! Third, taste this wine and see if you don’t agree with me that this is an sublime Barolo that is floral with appealing fruit and elegant tannins. 2006 was an old-fashioned vintage with deep concentration and big tannins, so the wines will age for quite some time, but this wine is going to be more drinkable over the short term than most of its competitors. By the way, this is a traditionally aged Barolo in botti grandi – it is a gorgeous traditional Barolo. Complimenti, Davide!
Gambero Rosso also agrees with me on several other 2006 Barolos, most notably the Ceretto Bricco Rocche, Vietti Rocche and the Renato Ratti Rocche (note: the Rocche vineyard of Ratti is located in La Morra, while the Rocche of the other two wineries is in Castiglione Falletto.) These are superb wines with impressive concentration and structure; expect them to be at their best in 20-plus years. It is also nice to see Gambero give their highest award to the 2006 Ascheri Barolo Sorano Coste e Bricco; this is an elegant, polished Barolo that is only produced in the finest vintages and one I’ve loved for some time now. I didn’t have the 2006 rendering of this wine rated as high as previous vintages (such as 2004), but no mind, I have it rated as excellent and it’s nice to see Matteo Ascheri receive this honor.
Briefly, I think GR missed the boat on a few bottlings of 2004 Brunello di Montalcino Riserva, but I am pleased to see that they did honor the Canalicchio di Sopra and Caprili, two excellent estates that make their wine in a traditional style. I’m also pleased to see the 2004 Lisini Brunello di Montalcino Ugolaia get the award; this winery just keeps improving year after year.
Other wines I’m delighted to note received a Tre Bicchieri:
- Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino 2008
- Inama Soave Classico Foscarino 2008
- Agostino Vicentini Soave Superiore Il Casale 2009
- Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2006
- Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva Il Poggio 2006
- Panizzi Vernaccia di San Gimignano Riserva 2007
- Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino Pietracalda 2009
- Villa Diamante Fiano di Avellino Villa di Congregazione 2008
- Mastroberardino Taurasi 2006 and Taurasi Riserva 2004
Of course, there are many other wines that I’d like to salute, but can’t list, given space limitations. But let me note one final wine, one you wouldn’t think would get the same honor as a wine such as Sassicaia or Ornellaia. The wine is the 2009 Cantine Lunae Bosoni Vermentino Nera, a rosé from this exemplary estate in Liguria. What’s that you say, a rosé from Liguria being rated as one of the year’s best Italian wines? Well it’s true and in my mind, it deserves the award. I tasted this wine at VinItaly this past April and loved the wine and reported about it in a previous post.
Including a Ligurian rosé is an excellent decision by Gambero Rosso and proof of the tremendous variety and outstanding quality of Italian wine being produced throughout the country today. Who says Italy only makes great red wines?
Feudi di San Gregorio in Campania is an estate that is continually at the forefront of this region’s ever-changing wine scene. The wines are first-rate and the company’s president, Antonio Capaldo and his team are always looking at new ways of expressing the local terroir and traditions. Their newest wine, from a centuries-old variety, is Sirica, a sublime and dynamic red.
I sat down with Capaldo for a recent lunch at their breathtaking Marennà Restaurant at the winery in Sorbo Serpico (the dining room is located a few floors above the cellar) and was able to sample the wine and learn of its history. The winery’s agronomists found three enormous plants that were two centuries old growing in the Taurasi area and determined that they were not Aglianico (the principal variety in Taurasi). DNA research was undertaken and according to Capaldo, they found some elements of Refosco, Teroldego (both from the northeast of Italy) as well as Syrah, “so nothing like Aglianico,” in his words.
The origin of the name Sirica (pronounced seer-e-ca) is not entirely clear, but the best reasoning is that is comes from the word syricum, used to describe a red dye used in the first century before Christ. Pliny the Elder refers to Sirica in his writings, so the name is clearly Roman, though the grape may be of either Roman or Greek origin. The writer Catone specified that the introduction of this variety into Italy occurred many years before the founding of the city of Rome.
Upon rediscovering this variety, the viticultural team reporoduced the plant and the winery now has a little more than one and one-half hectares of Sirica vines. The wine is aged in tonneau (mid-sized barrels) for six months and then for the remainder of the time in the bottle. The wine is a blend of the new vines planted about six years ago along with the two hundred year-old vines.
I tasted the 2007, of which only a few hundred bottles were produced. The 2009 will be the first commercial release, with the wine available to the market in 2011. My notes on the 2007 are as follows:
Bright purple with rich aromas of black raspberry, boysenberry, black cherry and hints of menthol. Very good to excellent concentration – rich mid-palate, excellent ripeness; beautifully balanced with polished tannins and very good acidity. This should be at is best in 7-10 years.
Best of all, this wine is quite elegant and approachable, a quality Capaldo is looking to emphasize more and more with all of his wines. He also believes in using less oak on his red wines these days and has even made a small lot of Sirica aged only in stainless steel. It’s a lovely food wine – and I think that’s important, as this gives the wine an appeal greater than just its curiosity factor.
If you can wait until 2011, you will be able to try the first commercial release of this wine from the 2009 vintage (according to Capaldo, the wine will only be sold in Italy, unless there is a demand for it in the United States – as approximately 2000 bottles of the 2009 were produced, a small amount may be offered for export). Until then, we should thank Capaldo and his team for their work in reintroducing this centuries-old variety into the modern world.
I have just returned from Campania where I toured vineyards in the Avellino province, home to two DOCG whites, Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino. The province is more commonly referred to by vintners and wine writers as Irpinia, its ancient name.
While Irpinia is also home to a famous DOCG red – Taurasi, produced from Aglianico – many believe this province is best suited to white varieties. Much of this has to do with the rainfall, which moderates temperatures, thus providing acidity and structure in the wines. The cool climate also benefits white grapes, assuring a long growing season, which in turn yields wines with more complex aromatics.
There are nine towns approved for vineyards for the production of Greco di Tufo, including Tufo, Santa Paolina and Montefusco. The name of the town of Tufo comes from the tufaceous soil, which is a yellowish clay that is easily broken up. Below is a photo of the Cutizzi vineyard of Feudi di San Gregorio, located in San Paolo, a frazione of Tufo. You can easily see the makeup of the tufo soil in this vineyard, one of the finest in the zone.
As for Fiano di Avellino, there are 26 towns where vineyards are permitted for production of this particular white, yet total acreage in this area is less than the nine towns of Greco di Tufo. The major towns for Fiano di Avellino include Montefalcione, Lapio, Sorbo Serpico and Santo Stefano del Sole.
Comparing the wines, Greco tends to be a bit lighter on the palate with notes of almond, while Fiano tends to offer notes of honey in the aromatics or in the finish. Both wines, especially selezioni or those made from a single vineyard (cru) can age well, sometimes as long as 10-15 years. Even in average vintages, both wines from the top producers age for 3-5 years; generally Fiano di Avellino ages longer than Greco di Tufo, though this is not always the case.
There are subtle differences among the wines and where the grapes are grown. For Greco, the town of Montefusco at 707 meters above sea level (about 2300 feet) is the high point of the zone. Grapes ripen later here thanks to the cooler temperatures and the wines are very high in acidity. In an area such as Tufo at a lower elevation, the wines have a more distinct mineral quality. The Cutizzi Greco of Feudi di San Gregorio is a prime example of this style, while the Nova Serra Greco from Mastroberardino is a flavorful and elegant bottling of the Montefusco style.
For Fiano, there are also differences due to origin. Near Sorbo Serpico or Santo Stefano del Sole, the wines are quite aromatic with good structure, while in the towns of Montefalcione and Lapio, the wines offer more mineral notes. The former style is represented by the Pietracalda bottling of Feudi di San Gregorio and the Radici bottling of Mastroberardino, while the latter style is evidenced in wines from Colli di Lapio, Joaquin, San Paolo (Montefredane), Vadiaperti (Aiperti) and Villa Diamante (Vigna della Congregazione).
What’s helpful about touring these vineyards and then tasting these wines is the sense of terroir. Few producers work with much oak for these wines, so the variety is the focal point, meaning the local terroir has a chance to emerge. We don’t often think about terroir for too many white wines, but I can promise you that sampling the best examples of Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino will be an educational and rewarding experience – as well as a most pleasant one!
In a few weeks, I’ll be at VinItaly, the huge wine fair held in Verona over a period of five days. Besides being able to taste wines from all over Italy, a major benefit of this event is to sample brand new releases, from be it big reds from Toscana or Piemonte or beautifully crafted whites from Alto Adige, Liguria and Friuli.
As readers of my blogs and articles know, I’m a passionate fan of the white wines of Campania. I’m currently working on a print article on these offerings, which has given me the oppportunity to catch up on some wines I first tried almost one year ago.
The 2008 whites from Campania are in a word, lovely. There have been several impressive vintages for the whites of this region lately, going back to 2004, which produced wines that were quite rich. The wines from 2005 were a bit more subtle, while the 2006s were in-between the 2004s and 2005s in terms of weight. 2007 was a superb vintage with excellent concentration and very good acidity levels.
Following that wonderful year, the Campania whites of 2008 were not as rich, but offered beautifully defined acidity and outstanding aromatics and in my opinion, are more typical than the bottlings from 2007. When I first tasted these wines, I was delighted with their quality, but now after another 9-12 months in the bottle, they are showing brilliantly. So while trying wines upon release (or even a month or two before the official release) can be eye opening, trying them again after some time passes is a great example of how a little evolution can help define what a wine is all about. (To argue in another way, the snap judgments on wine that dominate coverage these days from the smallest blogs to the most influential international wine publications may be necessary, but we all need to take them with a grain of salt. Time is the ultimate judge of a wine.)
A few of my favorite Campanian whites from 2008 include:
- Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi”
- Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo “Nova Serra”
- Colli di Lapio Fiano di Avellino
- Pietracupa Fiano di Avellino
- Terredora Fiano di Avellino “Terre di Dora”
- Mastroberardino Falanghina “Morabianca”
- Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina “Serrocielo”
- La Sibilla Falanghina (Campi Flegrei)
- Giuseppe Apicella (Tramonti Bianco)
- Joaquin “110 Oyster” (Greco/ Falanghina)
- Luigi Maffini Fiano “Kratos” (IGT Paestum)
Each of these wines offers beautiful varietal character, lively acidity and admirable structure; each bottling will drink well for at least another three years, with a few showing their best qualities in as many as five to seven years from today. I would award each of these wines (and there are several more I haven’t listed) as excellent or outstanding. A few of the wines are priced in the low $40 range, but many of them are $25 and under, offering notable value.
So while I’m curious about the 2009 whites, which I’ll report upon soon, I’ll be enjoying the 2008 whites from Campania for some time to come.