Archive for the ‘Orsolani’ Category

How sweet it is…

October 10, 2008

Presenting four passito dessert wines

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Originating with the Greek passum, a wine made from partially dried grapes as early as 800BCE, comes one of the world’s finest wine traditions. The drying of grapes after harvest results in added aromatic complexity and naturally concentrated sugars that produce sweetness in the wines. In Italy, this style is most commonly referred to as passito, but can be found under a number of names more specific to the traditions of a particular region.

Vin Santo Chianti Rufina 1999 Travignoli
Although it is perhaps Italy’s most famous passito, there is some debate as to the origin of the name Vin Santo, or “Holy Wine”: some say that a 16th-century Greek humanist compared it to the wines of Xantos when he tasted it on a visit to Florence; others believe the name derives from the wine’s “miraculous” second fermentation in the spring, just coinciding just the resurrection of Christ. One thing is certain: Vin Santo represents an entirely distinct tradition of winemaking unique to Tuscany.

Picolit 2005 Ronco dei Tassi
Picolit is one of Italy’s rarest and most coveted dessert wines. Unfortunately, the wine due to the difficulty of cultivating the Picolit grape variety, and many producers have abandoned it in favor of more profitable international varieties. Ever true to tradition and great believers in their Friulan terroir, Enrico Coser and his father Fabio continue to produce this excellent, sweet wine.

Sulé Caluso Passito 2001 Orsolani
Often compared to the Greco variety of Central and Southern Italy, Erbaluce is a white grape grown exclusively in the Canavese district of Northern Piemonte. For his flagship wine, of which he is the fourth-generation winemaker, Gian Luigi Orsolani uses late harvest grapes, some affected by botrytis, dried on mats through winter. Slow fermentation in oak casks lasts up to a few months, followed by three years in casks.

Ambrato Le Muraglie 2000 Ezio Voyat
The name of late winemaker Ezio Voyat‘s Ambrato Le Muraglie refers both to the wine’s rich “amber” color, and to the ancient cloister walls (“le mura“, in contemporary Italian). Partly due to technique and partly a result of this narrow valley’s extreme conditions, the wine has a unique flavor and aromatic character. Ezio’s daughter, Marilena, tells us that she recently enjoyed bottles of the Ambrato from the 1950s: this dessert wine is ready to drink but also offers remarkable aging potential.

La vita in rosa!

August 8, 2008

Four diverse rosé wines from four unique producers hailing from four different regions of Italy

August, with its sunny days and sultry evenings, is the best time of year for dining al fresco. And when temperatures are high, there’s no greater accompaniment to a meal than a chilled glass of rosato. Though often wrongly overlooked by some wine enthusiasts, Italian rosé is certainly enjoying an increase in popularity stateside this summer.

This week we are pleased to feature four of our finest rosé wines, from four unique wineries. Though Italy’s climate and attitudes towards food vary tremendously up and down the country, each region still produces its rosé, or “rosato” as it is known by Italians. In fact our four featured wines originate from four wildly different regions: Alto-Adige, Tuscany, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna.

Lagrein Rosato Nives 2007 Castel Sallegg
Grown on the slopes of Lake Caldaro in the German-speaking region of Alto-Adige, 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. Named Nives (a reference to the region’s snowcapped mountains) this refreshing screw-capped Lagrein Rosato is the perfect outdoor picnic wine for summer.

Vino Rosato 2007 Guido Gualandi
Archeologist, artist, writer and wine producer: Tuscan renaissance man Guido Gualandi produces all-organic and sustainable wines in the Chianti Classico subzone of Montespertoli. Full bodied and smooth, this 100% Sangiovese rosato owes its character to the ripeness of the fruit before harvest and Guido’s innovative practice of ageing the wine for six months in old acacia and chestnut barrels.

Canavese Rosato Rubiconda 2007 Orsolani
Piemontese producer Gianluigi Orsolani’s family name may be synonymous with local white variety Erbaluce, but this year the fourth-generation producer has broken with tradition. Using Nebbiolo, Barbera and Uva Rara, Orsolani has created a small production of Canavese Rosato named “Rubiconda“. This fresh, fragrant and exquisitely dry rosato, a blend with enough structure to stand up to summer favorites like ribs and barbecue grilled chicken.

Lambrusco Rosé 2007 Lini 910
In the Lambrusco heartland of Emilia Romagna, Lini has been making wine for nearly 100 years. While most of Lini’s Lambruscos are made with the Lambrusco Salamino grape, Lambrusco Rosé is made with Lambrusco Sorbara. The light skins of this clone give the wine its gorgeous rosy hue. Lini Lambrusco Rosé is one of our favorite picnic wines: gently sparkling and low in alcohol, it’s the ideal wine to take to the park on a hot summer day and pairs well with anything grilled — from vegetables and seafood to burgers.

The wines featured above 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 or call 718-902-1140.

Our full portfolio is available at

Erbaluce Innovator: Gianluigi Orsolani

July 11, 2008

Often compared to the Greco grape variety found in Central and Southern Italy, Erbaluce is a white grape grown around the small town of Caluso, located a few miles north-west of Torino, where it is synonymous with the Orsolani family name. In the last forty years the Orsolani company has developed three benchmark wines made of Erbaluce, confirming their expertise and burnishing their reputation as masters of the variety.

All three of these wines will be available for tasting by appointment next week, July 14-18. If you are interested in tasting the featured wines and wish to arrange a meeting, please email or call 718-902-1140.

Caluso Sulé 2001
The ancient Erbaluce grape gets its colorful name (literally “Grassy Light”) from the remarkable green-to-amber hue it obtains as it ripens in the gentle autumnal sunlight in the Alpine foothills of northern Piedmont. The small town of Caluso was already renowned for its Erbaluce long before the arrival of the Orsolani company — it was appreciated by the Romans for its ability to produce a luscious dried-grape passito. The gentle use of barrique gives the wine a rich auburn color and a nutty overtone.

Cuvée Tradizione Caluso Spumante 2004
In 1967, Francesco Orsolani (Gianluigi’s father) created the zone’s first metodo classico Erbaluce. The Caluso Spumante Cuvée Tradizione is made from 100% Erbaluce grapes using the metodo classico, whereby the wine is undergoes a second fermentation in the bottle to create its fine pinpoint bubbles, yeasty aromas and white stone-fruit flavors. Orsolani’s groundbreaking sparkling wine lent credibility to an otherwise dismissed variety and showed that the estate was willing to take risks in support of the region’s rich winemaking heritage.

La Rustìa 2007
Orsolani has been making La Rustìa since 1985. While dry Erbaluce had been common in the area for years, the concept of selecting the ripest grapes from the best sites in Caluso’s trellised vineyards had not yet taken hold. The Orsolanis understood that selecting such fruit would result in a wine that was richer on the palate and milder in its acidity, resulting in a remarkably fresh, balanced white. Orsolani calls this Erbaluce di Caluso “La Rustìa“, a dialectal reference to the “roasted” slopes where the grapes are grown with an ideal exposure.

Our full portfolio is available at

Limited supply: Canavese Rosato “Rubiconda” 2007 Orsolani

May 21, 2008

Piemontese producer Gianluigi Orsolani‘s family name may be synonymous with local white variety Erbaluce, but this year the fourth-generation producer has broken with tradition. Using Nebbiolo, Barbera and Uva Rara, Orsolani has created a small production of Canavese Rosato named “Rubiconda”. This exquisitely dry rosé from one of our favorite Piemontese producers is available now.

Canavese Rosato “Rubiconda”

For more information on Orsolani’s wines visit the producers page of our website.

Domenico Valentino Spring Portfolio Tasting

May 13, 2008

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008
25 W Houston St
New York, NY 10012
(Between Mercer and Greene)

For more information:
Jim Hutchinson


We love fresh Lambrusco!

2007 Labrusca Rosso

2007 Labrusca Bianco

2007 Rosé

Dry, sparkling, delicious!

Castel Sallegg

Lagrein Rosé Screw Cap Sensation!

Great selections for summer from Count Kuenburg and the team at Castel Sallegg. Grapes are sourced from some of the finest sites on the slopes above Lago di Caldaro.

2007 Lagrein Rosé Screwcap

2007 Pinot Bianco Screwcap & Cork

2007 Schiava Bischofsleiten

2007 Moscato Giallo


Natural wines from a Renaissance Man!

Archaeologist, painter, musician and wine-maker, Guido Gualandi is a true Renaissance Man, and one of the most interesting producers to emerge from the Montespertoli subzone of Chianti in recent memory. All of Guido’s wines are made using 100% natural vinification: no herbicides or pesticides are used in the vineyard, only organic fertilizers are used.

2007 Rosato

2006 Galante

2005 Cavalleresco

2005 Gualandus

Conti Sertoli Salis

Prime sites help produce great wine!

That the Salis family first bottled wine in 1869 tells us they had an unusual commitment to quality and an unwavering confidence in the potential of their land. Producers at the time seldom chose to meet the expense of such a labor-intensive process, prefering instead to store and ship wine in cask or demijohn. Today Conti Sertoli Salis continues to make superb examples of Valtellina Sforzato and Superiore using the local Chiavennasca, a type of Nebbiolo that has been cultivated in sub-Alpine Lombardia for generations.

2006 Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo vinified white)

2004 Valtellina Superiore Sassella

2003 Valtellina Sforzato Canua


Canavese Rosato in limited supply!

Gian Luigi is the fourth-generation Orsolani to commit to Erbaluce, the Piedmontese variety known for its luscious acidity and grass-and-melon perfume. The family is also one of only three commercial producers of the rare Nebbiolo-based Carema, a wine named for a lovely sub-Alpine village where the vines are grown a pergola on terraces carved into a steep south-facing slope. This year, in addition to his usual line-up, Orsolani has produced a limited quantity of Canavese Rosato.

2006 Erbaluce di Caluso La Rustià

2004 Erbaluce Metodo Classico Cuvee’ Tradizione

2007 Canavese Rosato Rubiconda

2006 Canavese Rosso Acini Sparsi

2003 Carema Le Tabbie

2001 Caluso Passito Sulè