Archive for June, 2008

New from Luca Ferraris

June 27, 2008

Ruché, Grignolino, Barbera d’Asti… and baby Ilaria!

This week we are excited to be featuring the wines of Luca Ferraris, one of Piedmont’s youngest new producers. Luca’s wines have just arrived at Domenico Valentino, and we are thrilled to add them to our portfolio.

It’s been a special week for the young winemaker, who is also celebrating the birth of his first daughter, Ilaria. In honor of both these new arrivals, Domenico Valentino is offering these three Luca Ferraris wines for tasting next week.

Chiara and Luca Ferraris with little Ilaria, the
latest addition to their happy family.

All three wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email michele@domenicovalentino.com or call 718 902-1140.

Our full portfolio and pricing is available at domenicovalentino.com.

Luca Ferraris samples his Ruché in the cellar.

One of the most exciting young producers to emerge from Piemonte in recent years, Luca Ferraris’ vineyard is located in Castagnole Monferrato, a comune in the province of Asti. It is home of the variety Ruché and the DOC Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. Some of Ferraris’ production is vinified and aged within the town’s castle walls, in an ancient vault purchased by the young producer’s great-grandfather. This network of chambers is dominated by a narrow central room which Ferraris calls Il Salotto del Ruché or, “The Ruché Parlour”. It is here that medieval history and modern technology combine to further Piemonte’s winemaking tradition.

Barbera d’Asti
One of Piedmont’s oldest grape varieties, Barbera d’Asti is believed to have originated in the Monferrato hills. Its first formal citation appeared in a 17th century document now housed in the city hall of Nizza Monferrato. A DOC since 1970, Barbera d’Asti is generally found in the calcareous, clayey land between the provinces of Alessandria and Asti. Luca Ferraris’ Barbera d’Asti comes from his “Vigna del Martin“, a single vineyard in Castagnole Monferrato named after the producer’s grandfather Martino.

Grignolino d’Asti
Grignolino is a grape variety which has long been grown in Piedmont, though the Grignolino d’Asti DOC is often overshadowed by some of the region’s more famous denominations. Its name comes from “grignole“, which in local dialect refers to the unusual abundance of seeds inside the grapes. What was once an abundant variety, Grignolino cultivation suffered especially when a plague of vine destroying parasites swept through the region. As a result, production is limited, a problem which has served to only enhance the wines’ appeal. The variety is being resurrected by fine young producers such as Luca Ferraris, whose Grignolino d’Asti comes from his “Vigna del Casot“, a single vineyard in Castagnole Monferrato.

Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato
The cultivation of Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is limited to Castagnole Monferrato, making it one of the smallest denominations in Italy. Though a once of modest output, production is now expanding due to its award of DOC status. Luca Ferraris’ flagship wine comes from his “Bric d’Bianc” vineyard, part of an entire hill between Castagnole Monferrato and Scurzolengo which Ferraris purchased himself in 2000. He divided the land into four parts, three of which are devoted to the cultivation of Ruché.

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Just arrived: new Enzo Mecella wines from Le Marche

June 20, 2008

This week we are excited to feature the 2000 vintage of Enzo Mecella’s Verdicchio di Matelica Casa Fosca, which is only available in 1.5 liter magnum bottles. We always carry the current vintage of Casa Fosca, but we’ve managed to secure a small amount from Enzo Mecella’s cellar, where he keeps a limited quantity of all his age-worthy wines in magnum format.

We’re also pleased to announce the arrival of Enzo Mecella’s Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2007, an excellent new addition to our portfolio.

These wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email michele@domenicovalentino.com or call 718 902-1140.

Our full portfolio and pricing is available at domenicovalentino.com.

Amidst the hype which has begun to surround wines from Le Marche in recent years, winemaker Enzo Mecella (left) has stayed true to his game, producing wines of excellent quality which typify the region.

The Mecella winery (located roughly 60km west of the Adriatic coastal town of Ancona) was founded by Enzo’s father, Marsilio, over 50 years ago. Enzo, with a degree in Oenology from Conegliano Veneto under his belt, took over the family business in 1977. He immediately set about overhauling its methods and policies, which included introducing judicious “barrique” aging to the region.

Le Marche, thanks to a good climate and optimum soil, lends itself to the cultivation of high-quality vineyards. Enzo has forged close relationships with his grape suppliers in order to personally oversee the development of his vines. Choosing to ignore fleeting commercial wine trends, Mecella’s focus is the production of superior wines from old vines of local origin.

Verdicchio di Matelica Casa Fosca 2000 (magnum only)

Many of Enzo Mecella’s wines are made from Verdicchio di Matelica DOC. While Verdicchio di Castelli di Jesi is perhaps the more noted appellation, Verdicchio sourced from vineyards in the lesser-known Matelica appellation is coveted among Italian wine connoisseurs. Made with grapes obtained from a single vineyard ideally located some 300-400 metres above sea-level and surrounded by forest, Mecella’s Verdicchio di Matelica Casa Fosca has been considered the company’s flagship wine since its first vintage in 1997. Vinified in stainless steel where it is left to age on the lees, Casa Fosca is released only once Enzo himself feels it has reached its fullest expression. This invariably means it is left to age in cellars for 7-10 months, and therefore does not appear before July of the following year.

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2007

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba is one of the most exciting new grape varieties to emerge from Central Italy. Only recently available in North America, it is a round, fruity, aromatic grape that produces an approachable but intensely flavored red. A great food wine. Its name lacrima, meaning “tear drop,” is due to the “tears” that this rich grape shows in hot summer months when the skins of some berries split and the grapes “cry.” Morro d’Alba, not to be confused with the township of Alba in the Langhe, is a township in Le Marche where the grapes are grown and the wine is made. Historically, the grape has also been cultivated in other parts of Central Italy and the South. Many believe it related to the Aleatico variety.

Screw-cap summer wines: encourage spontaneous picnicking

June 13, 2008

With temperatures rising this week, we’re excited to introduce two refreshing wines from Alto Adige producer Castel Sallegg. These wines are definitely made to be enjoyed on a hot summer’s day, and each of these bottles is available with a screw-cap closure, making them perfect for an outdoor picnic or serving by the glass.

These wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email michele@domenicovalentino.com or call 718 902-1140.

Our full portfolio and pricing is available at domenicovalentino.com.

Castel Sallegg
Nestled in the Dolomite Alps, the winemaking subzone around Lake Caldaro in the German-speaking region of Trentino-Alto Adige represents a fascinating combination of high altitude, warm days, cool summer nights, plus excellent ventilation. In 1851 Castel Sallegg and its surrounding vineyard were bought by Archduke Rainer of Austria, Viceroy of Lombardy-Veneto, who eventually passed it on to the Von Kuenburg counts. Today, Count Georg Kuenburg carries on the family tradition of producing a line of excellent wines, typical of Alto Adige’s quality and style, with grapes sourced from some of the finest vineyards in the Lago di Caldaro district.

Lagrein Rosato Nives 2007
Nives is made from the same Lagrein grapes as those sourced for Count Kuenberg’s velvety Lagrein Riserva. The tannic Lagrein grapes give this wine complexity and structure while the enologist at Castel Sallegg ensures that the wine expresses the pillars of rosato: refreshing, easy-to-drink and adaptable. The screw-cap bottling is an invitation for spontaneous gatherings, preferably outdoors.

Pinot Bianco 2007
The sandy, pebbly lime subsoil in the slopes that surround Lake Caldaro are ideal for creating mineral-driven, fresh-in-the-mouth Pinot Bianco. Traditionally, Pinot Bianco is vinified in a dry style in Trentino-Alto Adige. This wine’s crisp, balanced acidity makes it a great “food-friendly” wine that pairs well with the often sharp flavors of the local cuisine (like the smoky flavors of speck, the Alpine prosciutto). This year Castel Sallegg’s Pinot Bianco is available with either cork or screw-cap closures.

Indigenous varieties from Northern Italy

June 6, 2008

This week, we’re excited to introduce three diverse wines from three regions in Northern Italy. Each wine is made from 100% indigenous varieties, and perfect to be enjoyed during these warm summer months.

All three wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email michele@domenicovalentino.com or call 718 902-1140.

Our full portfolio and pricing is available at domenicovalentino.com.

Friulano 2007 Ronco dei Tassi

Ronco dei Tassi owner and winemaker Fabio Coser may have won Gambero Rosso’s “White Wine of the Year” in 2005 for his blend “Fosarin”, but he also makes award-winning mono-varietal or single-grape wines. Using the Tocai Friulano grape found in the Friuli-Venezia Giulia region and neighboring Slovenia, this wine is a classic expression of both the variety and the Collio appellation.

After Hungary’s accession to the E.U., in 2007 European law stated that Tocai Friulano exported from Italy be renamed, in order to protect the Hungarian Tokaji. Some Italian Tocai producers have been reluctant to accept this new ruling, and there is still no official verdict on what the appellation should now be called. Ronco dei Tassi seems more concerned with continuing the job of winemaking, and its 2007 Tocai is known simply as “Friulano”.

Pelaverga Basadone 2007 Castello di Verduno

Used in blended wines since the 18th Century, and bottled as a single-grape wine since the 1920s, Verduno Pelaverga finally achieved DOC status in 1995. Today the appellation is one of Italy’s smallest: the wine is made from the rare pelaverga piccolo variety, found exclusively in the piemontese hamlet of Verduno, in the Barolo zone.

The wine’s label depicts one of the many poppy flowers which bloom among Castello di Verduno‘s Pelaverga vines. Local’s believe both the flower and the grape possess aphrodisiacal properties, hence the name Basadone or baciadonne in Italian, the “lady kisser.” Fruity, spicy and aromatic, the medium-bodied Pelaverga Basadone 2006 is excellent paired with lighter dishes.

Schiava Bischofsleiten 2007 Castel Sallegg

In the village of Caldaro it is custom to have your first slightly chilled glass of Schiava at noon (Pinot Bianco is appropriate before noon). Schiava is perhaps the grape most associated with red wine production in Alto Adige. While Schiava was by far the most widely planted variety in Alto Adige for many years, it was often seen as only having local interest (with the only major exports going to Germany). As international varieties entered the scene, many Schiava vineyards were ripped up to make space for the more “exportable” varieties.

The Lago di Caldaro DOC is a small zone on the western side of Lake Caldaro, recognized as the premier Schiava site in Alto Adige. The Castel Sallegg vineyard was originally planted by the Bishop of Trento, hence the name Bischofsleiten, or “Bishop’s Slope”.