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The 2012 Adalia Recioto della Valpolicella DOCG comes from vines planted at 350 meters above sea level to calcareous soils. The wine is composed of 40% Corvina, 40% Corvina Grossa, and 20% Rondinella. The vineyards are trellised, following the regionally specific system of pergola trentina. Grapes are selected and picked by hand in the first part of October, before naturally drying in a room known as a fruttaio, specifically designed to create the best environment for the grapes to lose moisture. In February, after 4 months in the fruttaio, the grapes are destemmed and gently pressed. Natural fermentation begins in oak casks and lasts for a month before malo spontaneously occurs. The wine is aged for 12 months in oak barrels before release.
The 2016 Ruvaln Amarone della Valpolicella DOCG from Adalia comes from vines 400 meters above sea level, planted to calcareous soils. The vines are planted in in the double pergola trentina trellising system, which gives the leaves the best exposure to the sun's rays, while keeping the grapes cool under a shady canopy. The Ruvaln is made up of 40% Corvina, 40% Corvina Grossa, and 20% Rondinella. The grapes are selected by hand in the first part of October and let to naturally dry for 3 months. At the beginning of February, the grapes are destemmed and gently pressed. Spontaneous fermentation begins in stainless steel, followed by malo. In the cellar, the wine ages in barrel for 24 months before release.
A while ago, my fiance filled me in on an interesting fact. Many of the grapes that go into the red wines of the Valpolicella DOC are named after the birds that eat them. Corvina is based on "corvo," which means "crow." Rondinella is based on "rondine," which means "swallow." The Adalia 2018 Laute is 35% Corvina, 35% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, 10% Molinara. The grapes are trellised in the regionally traditional pergola trentina system, allowing the leaves of the vines to catch optimum sunlight, while the grapes are shaded underneath their canopy. Fruit is picked by hand at the end of September, destemeed, and gently pressed. Fermentation begins with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel. The wine sees one week on the skins before malo. Aged in stainless before bottling. On the nose, the Laute shows red cherry, stripped tree bark, clove and pepper. The palate has juicy cherry and plum, coffee, and with cool green herbs. The mouthfeel is fresh, lush with it's fruit, and soft with it's tannin. David Hatzopoulos
The Adalia 2018 Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Superiore Balt comes from a blend of the regions traditional red grapes. Composed of 35% Corvina, 35% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella and 10% Molinara from vineyards planted to calcareous soils at 300 meters above sea level. Like all of the Adalia wines, the vines are set up in the double pergola trentina system, allowing the leaves to obtain as much sunlight as possible, while shielding the fruit below the canopy. The grapes are picked by hand in the second half of October, before being destemmed and gently pressed. Fermentation begins with native yeasts in stainless steel. Maceration on the skins lasts for approximately one week. At the end of February, the wine is then "passed over" the skins of the dried Amarone grapes for 7-10 days. Aging is done in oak barrels for 18 months, where secondary fermentation finishes before bottling. On the nose, the wine has plummy dark fruit, with cherries and herbs. There is a hint of raisin. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied, with cherry and earth on the palate. David Hatzopoulos
Beginning with Auosnia's pied de cuve, new grapes are added and kept to ferment for 15 days on the skins before wine is pressed off. This is the same procedure for Ausonia's more fundamental Apollo bottling. However, in this case, aging is done in amphora. One vessel is 8 hectolitres and one is a smaller 2 hectolitres. This lasts 12 months before the wine is bottled unfiltered and aged 6 more months in bottle. The color is black in the center with purple edges. Compared with Ausonia's standard Apollo, this wine shows much less fruit. It is more reserved. The wine's nose is soft, with notes of iron, tobacco, soy sauce, raw almonds and walnuts, and dried, savory red cherry. The palate has black cherry and a mix of warm herbs. In structure, the wine displays a soft texture of well-integrated tannins and medium acidity. David Hatzopoulos
From guyot trained Montepulciano vines planted to clay and limestone soils. Picked by hand in the first half of October. Primary fermentation begins with skin contact for 15 days in stainless steel tanks before malo. Wine is bottled unfiltered. Against my white notebook paper, the wine has a core of very dark purple, with a lighter shade around the rim. The nose is a blast, packed full of an array of fruits and earth. Fragrant aromas of summer peach, strawberry, and cherry create a lush base for more subtle accents of sun-dried tomato and loamy, cool earth. On the palate, there is plummy dark fruit and red cherry, with a touch of dark mineral zest. The wine is tannic, a touch more so than I anticipated, with good grip balanced by medium acidity. If you're looking for a new house red, this bottle from Ausonia could very well be your answer. Lots of flavor, structured but drinkable, and under $20. David Hatzopoulos
Il Fortunato aced it with their Rosato Spumante; another lively sparkler produced from organic vineyards with only a minimal addition of sulfur. The nose is playful with a mix of bright berry fruits and fresh red cherries cut by tart apple skins. On the palate, a delicate mousse lifts the wine showing some weight, great acidity, and just touch of sugar. Absolutely lovely! Pair with charcuterie, simple pasta, or simply drink on its own. Andy Paynter
The nose on La Visciola's 2015 Priore Superiore brings a warm wood shop to mind. Fresh resin, smoke, pine and candle wax. Additionally, there are airier aromas of dark flowers, clove, mint, and even a hint of something savory, like paprika. The palate is generous, with low acidity and a plush softness structured by imposing tannin. Displayed are flavors of deep red cherry fruit, pine, birch, and turned earth. The color of the wine is rustic, balancing between it's dark red core and clear mahogany edges. One of the most soothing Cesanese wines I've tasted, combining power with a certain mature, tempered character. Drinking great right now. David Hatzopoulos
The 2017 Vignali from La Visciola has a deep red core, with earthy red edges. Freshly picked cherries and strawberries, red plum, dark flowers, loamy earth, and a hint of smoke and aromatic herbs combine on the wine's pronounced nose. The palate has a distinct flavor of roasted coffee, along with a depth of cherry and plum. A beautiful wine that doesn't lack strength, high in acidity with medium tannin. David Hatzopoulos
Bauccio is a special selection of 50+ year old vines in the Liscone vineyard. After fermentation in open-topped wood, the wine is matured in large tonneau; the wood seems to integrate seamlessly. The 2013 has a dark purple robe. Violets, leather, cassis, black fruits and leather mingle on the nose. The palate is muscular and ripe and it’s quite a mouthful: black brambly fruit and plum stone, a bit of game, obsidian stone, and cracked pepper. Rich, but deft, this has firm, but fine-grained tannins and a bit of mineral smoke on the after aromas. This is still young and probably in need of a year or two more in the cellar, but delicious and quite satisfying with a lamb ragu with mezze maniche, chilis, mint, and pecorino with enough freshness to make the mouth water in anticipation of the next sip and bite. A fine Aglianico Del Vulture that veers more towards elegant than rustic, while still capturing the wild character of the DOC. Fine stuff and treat with richer dishes. John McIlwain
Liscone is an old Contrada, or farm; Paulo says that the fruit for the Liscone bottling comes from younger vines — only 30 years old... After about 2 weeks in open-top fermenters, the wine goes in old tonneau. It's intense — smokey, very mineral. Savory, with ripe tannin, this isn't a fruit-driven wine, but a really sophisticated expression of the Vulture. The wine is certainly drinkable now, but this is a fine candidate for mid-term aging.
2017 was a much riper vintage than 2016, and this wine shows it. Francesco added a tiny bit of sulfur just at bottling. The nose opens with notes of plum, a hint of prune, dark forest fruit, stewed raspberry and blackberry, dried cherry, grape jam (a high quality one), baking spice, nutmeg, and a hint of forest undergrowth. The palate is juicy, still with a lot of energy and acidity to retain balance. Though lacking some of the subtlety and fascination of the 2016 vintage at the moment, it may be best to hold for a year or two, as I feel this will be a wonderful wine with some time to settle. That being said, there is no harm in opening it now, and indeed at a recent tasting some folks preferred the more forward aspects of the 2017. Oskar Kostecki
Wow. Full-bodied and full-blooded, this Primitivo is an intense and profound example of this variety. As with the 2017 Negroamaro, Francesco added a small amount of sulfur at bottling. The nose shows notes of red currants, black currants, black cherries, raspberry preserve, plums, raspberry leaves, cedar, dried herbs, and a hint of earthiness. On the palate there is a similar mélange of red and black fruit, with a hint of dried fruit and raisin. The wine has prominent tannins and quite warming alcohol, though with good acidity and still some modicum of freshness and lift. A serious wine. A bit edgy at the moment, this will perhaps be best in 3-5 years, though if enjoyed now, give a decant of an hour or more. Oskar Kostecki
2017 was not an easy vintage for producers on Etna. Extreme heat and no rain posed a huge threat to production. With yields down, many consumers were worried about the quality of the vintage. Masseria del Pino's I Nove Fratelli 2017 is one of the most expressive bottles of Etna Rosso that I've ever tasted. Complete with a mix of fresh and candied red fruits, green herbs and fresh volcanic soil, this is a dynamic bottle in aroma and taste. It doesn't lack structure either, though it is leaner and fresher than the 2016 vintage. It goes to show you how wonderful farming and great winemaking can turn a scary vintage into a real success. Bravo to Federica and Cesare for delivering such a fantastic bottle of wine, despite the hardship. David Hatzopoulos
Sisma bottles come from a single vineyard in the crater of the Monte Rosso cone at the base of Mount Etna. The 2016 vintage conditions were excellent; it had the appropriate amount of sun and rain, all at the right times. This led to perfect fruit maturation. The nose offers wild fruit (strawberry, raspberry, blackberry) with pepper and spice. The palate offers flavors of plum (and plum peel), Provençal herbs, and pepper. There is a plush tannic framework – engaging but far from mouth-drying. David Hatzopoulos
In addition to farming their two hectares, the Monterosso team sources organically-farmed Nerello Mascalese for their Volcano bottling. The 2017 vintage was hot and had very little rain, resulting in an extremely small harvest. Grapes were picked two weeks earlier to ensure freshness. The wine is bold and robust. The fruit on the nose is dark (blackberry, cherry), with a hint of amaro-like aromas and smoky earth. The palate has a character of bitter and herbaceous red/black fruit and savory cured meats. David Hatzopoulos
What an awesome vintage for one of our staples here at Chambers Street. The wine is always delicious, but the 2018 might be the best I've had so far. My notes for the wine's bouquet reads: "smokey, dark roses, tar, and savory cherry." It is almost startling how complex the nose is upon first whiff. The palate has classic red berries, with a little spice and fresh herbs. The structure is bright, with only a hint of pleasant tannin and some lovely acidity. David Hatzopoulos
Vittorio Savino, owner of Fenicotteri, joined Foti’s small association of producers called i Vigneri (some of whose wines from Mt. Etna we always have on our shelves). I Vigneri offers unparalleled expertise in every aspect of viticulture and production (including the services of Ciccio, the group’s mule). Foti’s work at Gulfi, and his knowledge derived from the vines in Pachino must have been very valuable when trying to restore a vineyard that’s virtually on the shore of the lagoon. The farming is impeccable (only copper and sulfur and sheep manure are used on the bush-trained vines) but it’s the location that brings an incredibly compelling mineral and saline lift to the wine. Called Fenicotteri (flamingo, in Italian) after the migratory flamingoes who visit the lagoon next to the vineyard. JW Firmly medium-bodied, the 2015 shows beautiful notes of black cherry, blackberries, black currant, raspberry jam, a hint of leather, cut hay, cocoa, coffee grinds, with hints of black pepper and a black olive brininess. Well integrated and soft, but quite present tannins and medium acidity. Wonderful complexity which just keeps unfolding the longer the wine is open. There is a certain plushness, without anything extravagant. This wine is very compelling all the way through the bottle. Oskar Kostecki
This is the second vintage of Terraquila Falconero Zero that I've been able to taste. Less earthy funk than the 2017, but full of the same dried fruits and herbal tonic essence. The wine is made from organically grown Lambrusco Grasparossa and Malbo Gentile. It is fermented on the skins for 6-7 days and rests on the lees for 15 months before being discorged. On the nose, there are dark flowers, raisins, dried cherries and blueberries. On the palate, the wine has flavors of crushed dark stones, plum peel, a touch of licorice, quinine and clove, all rounded out with savory black cherry. What I like most about the Falconero Zero is that it has a blanket of dense, firm bubbles initially, but when the carbonation softens, a wonderful mouthfeel follows. Its as dry as dry can be, fitting perfectly with the wine's slight bitterness. Paired with homemade caponata and a marathon of Michael Douglas movies... a Sunday that'll be hard to beat. David Hatzopoulos
In Emilia-Romagna, Terraquila creates red méthode ancestrale sparklings from organic Lambrusco Grasparossa. The wine goes through a cold maceration with the skins. It is aged for 15 months on the lees and is released without disgorgement. The color of the Falcorubens is a dense red. Aromatically, the wine offers roasted coffee and dark forest fruit, with a touch of barnyard and earth. Similarly, the palate is full of burly flavors like smoke, plum, raw herbs, and espresso. The structure is soft with a touch of tannin. A lovely wine to sip, a great bubbly for the cooler weather. David Hatzopoulos
Produced in a 250 year old Palmento, the traditional winery building found on Etna famrs. This is a blend of mostly Nerello Mascalese on the northern face of Etna. There are typically white grapes included in the cuvee. The fruit comes from vines ranging in 60 to 100 years of age.
From high altitude Nerello Mascalese, vines ranging from 60 to 100 years of age. Typically there is a small amount of Nerello Cappuccio and Grenache included in the cuvee. The grapes are destemmed and put in Georgian qvevris (sizes between 1500 and 800 litres) that are buried on the estate.