Tuesday, April 26th
10% off the lowest price listed for the tasting.
Featuring wines from one of Italy’s great wine estates – Masciarelli. We’ll also have wines from France, Austria and South America on another table.Prior to his untimely death in 2008, Gianni Masciarelli helped usher in a new level of internationally-oriented winemaking techniques in Abruzzo. His death was a big loss for the region, which has been hit hard recently, especially with the devastating earthquake of April 2009. Masciarelli made fat, soft, pleasing Montepulciano. The impressive Villa Gemma will appeal to those who like huge, superconcentrated wines.
In 1984, his Villa Gemma Montepulciano created a new benchmark for wines from Abruzzo…..and he kept raising the bar throughout his life.
Gianni Masciarelli aimed for and often achieved levels of quality that both encouraged and forced other winemakers to follow suit. His achievements and accomplishments helped raise the quality of wine from Abruzzo and all of Italy.
Gianni’s wife, Marina Cvetic, is also a winemaker and she shares the passion AND skill for producing great wines that Gianni exhibited throughout his life.
Abruzzo is one of the least populated and most natural parts of Europe. Abruzzo is home to 3 national parks…….Masciarelli farms all of its vineyards and olive orchards organically and sustainably.
Villa Gemma Bianco 2009 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $21.99, Sale $18.99 – This is a pale straw color. It has aromas and flavors of white flowers, apples, green bananas and jasmine. 80% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, 15% Cococciola and 5% Chardonnay. Aged 5 months before bottling. Stainless steel production. This goes through 100% malolactic fermentation giving the wine more weight and a softer feel than most Italian whites, but it is not buttery or creamy. Food pairing – fish and seafood dishes. Lighter poultry dishes.
Villa Gemma Cerusola 2009 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $21.99, Sale $18.99 – this is more akin to a red wine with the freshness of a white wine than it is to a rosé. It’s significantly darker than a Provencal rosé (Italian ones tend to be so). It sees much longer skin contact (30 hours) than most Provencal rosés do. This definitely has aromas and flavors of fresh, ripe cherries, pomegranates, lilacs and violets. 100% Montepulciano fermented and aged in stainless steel. Hand-harvested and destemmed. Food pairing – charcuterie, cold cuts, pizzas, grilled chicken, seafood soups such as Brodetto or Vasto.
Marina Cvetic Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2006 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg.$31.99, Sale $28.99 – The Marina Cvetic Vineyard is located at San Martino in the coolest part of the DOC. It is adjacent to the Villa Gemma Vineyard. This is where the Abruzzo grape-growing Renaissance began. Gianni Masciarelli converted the vineyards from low-density, Pergola Abruzzese planting to high-density, low-pruning that is similar to Burgundian vineyards. The old style in Abruzzo was 185 vines per acre; this vineyard is 7,000 vines per acre and the vines are pruned weekly. Gianni Masciarelli was heard to say, “”I couldn’t grow the old way – I feel the pain of the vines.”
This transformation of the vineyard transformed Montepulciano wine. The Marina Cvetic vineyard yields 2 tons of fruit per acre….just over ½ a pound of grapes per vine (typically one bunch per vine). Fermented in 100% new Vicard Prestige oak barrels (500 gallons – these are huge) and aged in new French oak barriques.
This is distinctly an Italian wine, but with great roundness and lots of fruit. The rich fruit is balanced with the natural aromas of the San Martino area – wildflowers, wild herbs, dusty soil, minerals, truffles and herbs. The Masciarelli vineyards are surrounded with woods, forests, shrubs, herbs and more and these plants influence the flavors and aromas of the wines. The wine shows bright dark cherry aromas and flavors. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points
Marina Cvetic Iskra Rosso Colli Aprutini 2004 (Abruzzo, Italy) $52.99 – This is a big, rich red! Aromas and flavors of blackberries, dark fruit (black cherries, plums), black truffles, dark mushrooms, smoke, new leather, baking spices and dusty minerals. Iskra – “The Spark.” This is from Contraguerra, about 65 miles from Masciarelli’s home area near Monte Amaro. It’s home to Abruzzo’s biggest, boldest and ripest reds; as well as being Italy’s newest red wine DOCG. Aged one year in new French oak barriques and 2 years in the bottle before release. This will peak from 2012-2024. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points; Gambero Rosso, “Due Bicchieri,” 2 glasses
Marina Cvetic Merlot 2007 (Abruzzo, Italy) Reg. $42.99, Sale $32.99 – this smells like Abruzzo (according to the winemaker who was here a couple of months ago). This has fine tannins and a velvety feel (which, Merlot should have). It’s a dark, dark color. It has aromas and flavors of dark chocolate, dark berries and a peppery spiciness midway. 100% Merlot. Aged one year in French oak. Food pairing – lamb, grilled meat, aged cheeses, game.
Villa Gemma Riserva di Montepulciano 2004 (Abruzzo, Italy) $84.99 – This is a full-bodied red that is loaded with aromas and flavors. Ripe red fruits, blackberries, vanilla, cocoa, leather, forest floor, peonies, roses and eucalyptus. 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Aged 18-24 months in new French oak barriques and at least 12 months in the bottle before release. This will drink well through 2024 and is just beginning to mature. Food pairing – wild boar, roast lamb, game, roasted meats, dark chocolate, strong cheese. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 pointsThe second table will feature wines from the importer, Frederick Wildman & Sons.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre 2009 (Loire Valley, France) $27.99 – This is a pale color. It has aromas of limes, green herbs, black currants and minerals. Flavor wise this is racy and fresh. It’s clean and youthful. This is a dry and elegant wine. Pascal Jolivet’s style is to make natural wines that pair well with food. This Sancerre is from 3 vineyards in the heart of the appellation – 50% from “Les Caillottes” and its chalky soil, 30% from the hillside vineyard “Les Terres Blanches” and 20% from the flint and limestone riddled vineyard of “Silex.” 100% made in stainless steel.
Forstreiter Grooner 2009 (Neiderosterreich, Austria) $11.99 – People have made wine in this part of Europe since Roman days; the Forstreiter family has made wine here since 1868. Recently, they decided to named their Grüner Veltliner “Grooner” and their Zweigelt “Zvy Gelt” in an effort to help those of us who are often confused by many grape and/or wine names.
This is fresh, dry and zippy. It pops with acidity and makes one think of summer. Aromas and flavors of citrus and green apples.
Michel Torino “Don David” Torrontes Reserve 2009 (Cafayette Valley, Argentina) Reg. $19.99, Sale $16.99 – Cafayete Valley is in northernmost Argentina at an elevation of about 5,500 feet. It’s a dry, arid area and home to the best Torrentes in Argentina. Michel Torino practices sustainable agriculture. The winery dates to 1892 when brothers Salvador and David Michel founded it. This Torrontes has bright, piercing acidity with tight flavors and aromas of orange and grapefruit. It also has subtle lychee and rose petal aromas that are characteristic of Torrontes. This has a nice roundess to the texture and a clean, crisp finish.
Don David Malbec Reserve 2008 (Calchaques, Argentina) Reg. $18.99, Sale $15.99 – Cafayate Valley shares a desert-like climate with Mendoza – lack of rain, need for irrigation, warm days and cool nights. Those cool nights are key because they slow down the ripening process allowing the acidity to fully develop. This has great aromas and flavors plums, red fruits, black cherries, cassis and toasted oak. The tannins are ripe and soft. This has spice, pepper and nutty notes on the long finish. Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 90 points
Melini La Selvanella Chianti Classico Riserva 2006 (Tuscany, Italy) $27.99 – La Selvanella was the 1st wine made from a single vineyard in Chianti in 1969 (and one of the 1st in Italy). Gambero Rosso has declared La Selvanella a “crowning glory” and the “standard-bearer of the zone’s most traditional style.”
What makes Chianti (and Chianti Classico in particular) so suited to growing Sangiovese is the soil. It’s a limestone-clay rocky marl that is called galestro and albarese (albarese is sandier and is at higher elevations). Fattoria La Selvanella’s vineyard is at over 1,200 in elevation, with a southwest-facing orientation. It’’s one of the highest cultivated hills in Chianti Classico’s Radda commune, where it benefits from long, sunny days and cool nights. The vines are densely planted and yield no more than 2 pounds of grapes each.
This is a clear, dark color. Complex aromas of raspberries, leather, vanilla, baking spices, plums and licorice. Flavors that are full of ripe red raspberries, baking spices, underbrush, vanilla and more. This has great breadth and complexity. Long, lingering finish. Everything is well-balanced.
100% Sangiovese Grosso is hand-harvested. The wine is aged in Limousin oak casks for 30 months. This will easily age 10 more years, and it is drinking nicely now. Gambero Rosso, “Tre Bicchieri,” 3 glasses (Italy’s highest wine award)
Nino Negre “5 Stella Sfursat 2005 (Lombardy, Italy) $89.99 – Think of this as an Amarone-style Barolo.
“Nino Negri has confirmed itself a star of first magnitude.” – Gambero Rosso (Italy’s highest wine authority).
This winery dates to 1897. It’s the premier estate in the Valtellina DOCG. In 2007, Gambero Rosso named Nino Negri’s winemaker, “Casimiro Maule, its “winemaker of the Year.”
Lombardia sits in the center of northern Italy bordering the Alps with Piedmont to the west and Trentino in the east. The region is known for a vast array of wine styles, which include the Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) based reds from Valtellina, often made in the style of Amarone. Nino Negri represents the top wines of this region. “
The Valtellina region, located at the base of the pre-Alps on Italy’s border with Switzerland, is extremely challenging terroir. A narrow, 25 mile-long amphitheater of terraced vineyards that line the north bank of the Adda river, it forms a deep gorge amid mountainous terrain. This is Italy’s largest terraced area of viticulture: an impressive 1,500 miles of dry walls that support the terraces are distributed over the 25-mile strip. Working this land is monumental, back breaking toil.
Steep, nearly vertical vineyards from 2,400 to 3,000 feet elevation rule out the use of any mechanical equipment. All work, from removing soil to harvesting grapes is done by hand. The star and primary varietal here is Chiavennasca, the local name for Nebbiolo. The variety has been cultivated here for over 1,000 years and it is said that it was brought from here to neighboring Piedmont in the 14th Century.
This is Nino Negri’s flagship wine and it is only produced in the best years. It’s made from their finest parcels of Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo). This is from the best vineyards at the higher elevations sitting over 1,200 feet in height. The vineyards face south-east. The vines are densely planted to reduce yields.
Only the best 25% of the grapes are harvested for this wine.
After harvest, the grapes are sorted into wooden crates where they dry until December 12th. The grapes are then crushed and the wine is aged in Allier oak for 16 months.This is full-bodied with solid, fruit-coated tannins and a fresh, firm, fruity finish. Big, brooding. This has dried Nebbiolo character – so, it will remind you some ways of a Barolo or a Barbaresco, but, not completely. Leather, dark ripe fruit, tar, smoke, licorice, toasted oak and more round out the flavors and aromas. This has an impressive richness and vibrancy. Gambero Rosso, “Due Bicchieri,” 2 glasses; Robert Parker, Wine Advocate, 91 points; Wine Spectator, 90 points