Posts tagged ‘banfi’

Little known wines from Piemonte

Vigne Regali just released two new wines from Piemonte, one a new release of a sparking wine and one, a release of a red wine made from a variety grown by only four estates in Italy. Both deserve your attention.

Vigne Regali is the Piemonte project of Banfi, located in the province of Alessandria. For years, they have produced Gavi (in several versions) as well as Dolcetto d’Acqui as well as a charming Brachetto d’Acqui (Rosa Regale), a lightly sweet sparkling wine made from the Brachetto grape that is a real delight, especially served with fresh strawberries, peaches or even dark chocolate.

Now they are producing a dry sparkling wine from Piemonte that is quite good and hopefully will help to make this wine type better known in the country. The wine is an Alta Langa DOC, a sparkling wine made in the classic method where the secondary fermentation is in the bottle (as is practiced in Champagne); the new Vigne Regali version is a lovely rosé made entirely from Pinot Nero; the name Cuvée Aurora and the vintage is 2006.

I like the balance and freshness of this wine; medium-bodied, this has appealing flavors of fresh bing cherry, Anjou pear and strawberry backed by good acidity and good persistence in the finish. This has a lively mousse and is beautifully styled for food; I think it would be especially good with duck breast or lighter seafood done in an Oriental style. Enjoy this over the next 1-2 years, especially for its freshness; the $30 price tag is quite reasonable.

The other new Vigne Regali release is something very unique; a wine made solely from the Albarossa variety. Accordging to the press release on this wine, this variety was conceived in 1938 when a professor Dalmasso crossed two of Piemonte’s most famous red varieties, Nebbiolo and Barbera. Apparently, nothing was done with the grape until 2002 when four Piemontese producers – Vigne Regali, Michele Chiarlo, Prunotto and Gancia, joined forces to plant an experimental hectare. Two years later, this planting produced the first cutting and the following year, Vigne Regali produced its first bottling. All four producers previewed their initial releases of their own Albarossa (loosely translated as “red dawn”) at the VinItaly wine fair in 2008.

The new release I tasted is the 2007 “La Lus” Albarossa from Vigne Regali (La Lus is local Piemontese dialect for “the light” or “rising sun”); I admire the red plum, licorice and tar notes and its pleasing ripe fruit. The tannins aren’t there until the finish when they sneak up on you, so while they’re never obtrusive, another 2-3 years of cellaring would help round this wine out. If I have one criticism of the wine, it’s the use of small oak barrels, which is evident, though not over the top. Given that this is a Banfi project, I can’t say I was surprised by the use of barriques, but I would have preferred aging in large casks to allow the varietal character to emerge. This is especially important, as this is a variety that few are familiar with, but again, the oak influence certainly doesn’t interfere with the wine’s pleasures. I’d drink this with most red meats, although I think it’s a bit showy for pastas. The price is $30, which is quite understandable, given the scarcity of this wine.

Thanks to Banfi and the Vigne Regali winery for producing this wine and giving Italian wine devotees a chance to try this rare variety.

October 25, 2010 at 11:44 am Leave a comment

Best Brunello Producers


Plaque hanging outside the offices of the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino

Plaque hanging outside the offices of the Consorzio Brunello di Montalcino


A few weeks ago, I wote a post on Brunello di Montalcino (read here) in which I discussed ths wine’s characteristics and makeup along with listing some of the finest producers. I thought readers would be interested in learning what some of the top authorities in Italy as well as this country think about Brunello, so I asked several experts in this field to provide me with a list of whom they believe are the finest producers of Brunello.

I asked for a list of ten, letting them know they could add brief comments if they wished. One contributor gave me twelve names, saying he couldn’t get his list down to just ten, while another gave me his list of his top ten followed closely by another ten. No problem- the more the merrier – and it shows you how many excellent producers of Brunello di Montalcino there are.

So without further ado, here are the lists:


Jeremy Parzen – Author of dobianchi wine blog and co-author of vinowire blog. Italian wine writer, educator and marketer, currently living in Texas.

“Based on what I feel are indicative, traditional expressions of Brunello, available in this country… 

  • Le Presi
  • Il Poggione
  • Poggio di Sotto
  • Salvioni
  • Canalicchio di Sopra
  • Paradiso di Manfredi
  • Campogiovanni
  • Collemattoni
  • Caparzo
  • Fornace


Alfonso Cevola – author of On the Wine Trail in Italy blog and The Blend blog. Italian wine writer and marketer, currently living in Texas.

  • Altesino- cellar worthy
  • Angelo Sassetti – ultimate contadina
  • Argiano- stylish and elegant
  • Costanti – another classic their 2004 reminded me of their 1964
  • Fattoi- great pruners and dog trainers
  • Il Poggione – Love these guys
  • Lisini – classic archetype
  • Poggio alle Mura (Banfi) – their ’71 was so great
  • Poggio San Polo –  new young winemaker and energy


Tom Maresca – America’s leading writer on Italian wines, having contributed hundreds of articles on the topic for more than 25 years. Lives in New York City.

  • Banfi: great quality-to-price ratio
  • Barbi: very traditional house
  • Biondi Santi: self explanatory
  • Casanova di Neri: elegant
  • Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona: big, structured
  • Donatella Cinelli Colombini: very true to Montalcino character
  • Col d’Orcia: great finesse
  • Fuligni: a pace-setter in recent vintages
  • Lisini: the essence of Montalcino
  • Nardi: great strides in recent years
  • Poggio Antico: more and more, intensely Sangiovese
  • Il Poggione: superb vineyards


Charles Scicolone – Author of the blog Charles Scicolone on Wine. One of America’s leading authorities on Italian wines. Wine writer and restaurant consultant. He lives in New York City.

  • Fattoria dei Barbi- Some where between traditional and modren but I think more traditional
  • Biondi-Santi -Traditional and one of the best
  • Caparzo – Some wines in Traditional style, others modern
  • Casanova di Neri – use of botti, small french oak barrels and tonneau
  • Col d’Orcia
  • Il Poggione
  • Constanti- I think he is still traditional
  • Poggio Antico- They changed their style went modern with the 2001 vintage -loved the wine before this
  • Mastrojanni – in between
  • Pian delle Vigne- Antinori

” I really liked the 2004 Brunello from Banfi- I think it is the best Brunello they ever made. 

“It is difficult to tell the modern from the traditionalist except for Franco Biondi- Santi.

“In most cases the “traditionalists” are using more modern methods and the modern producers less small oak. Some make one Brunello in a traditional style and other in a modern style.

“I find Brunello to be very confusing. That is why I like my Brunello to be 1990 or older.”


Franco Ziliani – Author of vinoalvino blog and co-author of vinowire blog (with Jeremy Parzen). One of Italy’s most important wine writers and arguably the most influential in the country. Lives near Bergamo in the province of Lombardia.

  • Case Basse
  • Il Greppo Biondi Santi
  • Il Colle
  • Poggio di Sotto
  • Giulio Salvioni Cerbaiola
  • Lisini
  • Col d’Orcia
  • Fuligni
  • Gianni Brunelli
  • Capanna

Plus others like:

  • Il Poggione
  • Caprili
  • Gorelli Le Potazzine
  • Le Macioche
  • Sesta di Sopra
  • Il Marroneto
  • Uccelliera
  • Pian dell’Orino
  • Salicutti
  • Mastrojanni


And finally, my choices (in alphabetical order):

  • Biondi-Santi
  • Caprili
  • Col d’Orcia
  • Fuligni
  • Il Poggione
  • Le Chiuse
  • Pian dell’Orino
  • Poggio Antico
  • Poggio di Sotto
  • Sesta di Sopra
  • Talenti
  • Uccelliera


Do you have favorite Brunello producers? I’d love to read your choices- send them along.

July 22, 2009 at 8:44 am 3 comments

tom hyland

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