Piedmont: Braida “Montebruna” 2003


Piedmont: Braida “Montebruna” 2003

Montebruna: A hillside of vineyard land so loved that artists have written lyrical poetry of an encounter with the 100% Barbera wine called simply, beautifully, Montebruna.  In fact, the Montebruna bottle label is fashioned from words of the written poetry, for more on that see here:  http://www.braida.it/ita/montebruna.pdf .

The greatness of Giacomo Bologna, gifted winemaker and founder of Braida, lies at the heart of the Braida story.  Giacomo transformed Barbera production with a decision to mature Barbera in oak casks, a trend in Barbera production that continues today.

Sadly, Giacomo is gone now, but his work, his dream, is continued on by wife Anna and children Rafaella and Giuseppe.  We must also mention Braida Exports Manager Norbert Reinisch whom I’ve worked with on a few different
occasions, a wonderful person indeed, a former Austrian doctor whose passion for wine has led him both to Braida and Rafaella, his wife.

Montebruna is a lush wine, soft and “sexy” in the mouth, fragrant with fresh cherries and berries, and a long, almond toned finish.  A full bodied wine of great balance and class.  At this writing, the 2003 vintage is still drinking wonderfully.

The soil at Montebruna is a sandy, clay marl type with a south-southeast vineyard orientation at 250m altitude. Fermentation takes place in steel tubs over 2-3 weeks with pumping of must over the dregs.  Malolactic fermentation in wooden casks (6 months).  3 months fining in bottle.

Vintage Note:  Barbera especially benefitted in this vintage

Food pairing suggestions:  Risotto, polenta (especially with leek sauce) , agnolotti or gnocchi with sage & butter sauce, medium aged cheeses, onions stuffed with veal & breadcrumbs, hearty bread & cheese soup, classic “bagna cauda”

Italy, Recipe: Pasta with Broccoli Rapini


Italy, Recipe: Pasta with Broccoli Rapini

Take the stems off the broccoli rapini and boil for 8-10 minutes till soft.   Put your favorite pasta into boiling water.  Saute some garlic in good olive oil, drain the broccoli rapini, put in the oil / garlic, saute on low till the pasta is done or about 8 minutes.  Drain pasta, put into the broccoli rapini & oil, add some of the pasta cooking water, mix well.  Dress with grated pecorino cheese, maybe some red pepper flakes if you like them.

Spectacular with Vernaccia, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo

Italy, Recipe: Roast Pork with Rosemary & Garlic


Italy, Recipe: Roast Pork with Rosemary & Garlic

Pierce the meat the several places with a sharp knife and insert sprigs of rosemary and garlic.  Drizzle good olive oil over the top of the meat.  Slow roast in the oven at about 300 degrees till done.

Amazing with Chianti Classico, Brunello, Rosso di Montalcino, Vino Nobile, Rosso di Montepulciano, or Super Tuscan.

Featured Producer: Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta

Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano 2006
Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano 2007

Eran d’ intorno violette e gigli
fra l’ erba verda, e vaghi fior novelli

Violets bloomed round about and lilies too
                In verdant grass and buds of every hue

                                                   ….ANGELO POLIZIANO, 1454-1494 *

Renaissance scholar and poet Angelo Poliziano, born in Montepulciano, is well known for having written exquisite prose with a great individuality of voice.  The wines of Montepulciano – Rosso di Montepulciano and Vino Nobile – like Poliziano, demonstrate a style and polish all their own, decidedly Tuscan, yet distinct from the wines of Chianti and Montalcino.

Both Rosso di Montepulciano  and Vino Nobile are made from predominately Prugnolo Gentile, a variety of Sangiovese local to Montepulciano, grown in the same area.  Of the two, Rosso di Montepulciano is the younger – 2 years aging for the Nobile versus 1 year for the Rosso – and is more expressively simple, being available for bottling the spring after harvest.

tenuta-gracciano-rossi-di-montepulcianoTenuta di Gracciano della Seta produces both Rosso di Montepulciano and Vino Nobile.  Vineyards lie at an altitude of about 300 meters with a southeasterly orientation and a loose clay and limestone soil.  The farm re-grafts its own vines to preserve their antique clone stock with the youngest vines being more than 20 years old.  4.5 hectares are dedicated to production of Rossi di Montepulciano. The estate ages its wines using a combination of French tonneaux and Slavonian oak.

Tasting Notes:

Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano 2006

Ruby colored and fresh, the Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano 2006 conveys with elegant simplicity scents of violet and cherry that continues on the palate and crescendo gently to finish.  Notes of licorice, menthol, rosemary, earth, leather, tobacco.  Medium body, solidly structured core.

Tenuta di Gracciano della Seta Rosso di Montepulciano 2007

Medium ruby color with a perfume of red and black cherries, violets, with the black cherry introducing a slightly moodier feel in comparison to the 2006. On the palate, cherry, blackberry, subtle herb and menthol notes. Very well made, not overly complicated, but elegant and supple. Open bottle held up nicely over 2 days.

Food pairing suggestions:

Classic “pici”, pasta with red sauces, roast pork, roast chicken, rabbit, porcini mushrooms (especially stuffed and done on the grill), bruschetta, pizza

* translation by Lorna de’ Lucchi http://www.elfinspell.com/PolizianoPoem.html