Icario “Vitaroccia” 2004

Icario Vitaroccia 2004

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icario-vitaroccia-1A bit of wine and classical mythology, shall we?

Dionysus, known to the Romans as Bacchus, was the Greek God of wine, intoxication, festivity and pleasure.  Icario is inspired in name by the legend of Dionysus who, in gratitude for kindness and hospitality received, gave the gift of wine to a man of Attica named Icarius , prevailing upon him to spread the culture of wine among mortal men.

Since 1998, Icario has grown from the estate’s original 4 hectares to the 22 hectares currently under vine among the hills around Montepulciano in Tuscany. The Icario estate is owned by Giancarlo Checchetti and family, originally of Rome, and produces wines that embody the spirit of traditional Montepulciano winemaking as interpreted through a modern lens.  A key part of Icario’s self identification is a sincere connection to the culture and traditions of the Tuscan region.

Icario’s south / southeast facing vineyards are located between 450-550 meters altitude, occupying six hilltops in one of Montepulciano’s best grape growing areas.  Vineyards are planted in greatest measure to Sangiovese – known in these parts as Prugnolo Gentile – and Merlot, in a primarily medium clay soil.  With a “quality begins in the vineyard” mindset, Icario vines are looked after year round to ensure harvesting the best possible grapes.

Vitaroccia, the flagship wine of Icario, is a Vino Nobile produced in limited quantities and only in best vintage years from the estate’s best manually selected grapes.  Made of 100% Prugnolo Gentile, Vitaroccia’s fermentation takes place over 22-25 days.  After malolactic fermentation, Vitarrocia is drawn off and refined in French oak for 18 months, and further refined for 6-8 months in bottle.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

With a glorious, gem like ruby color, Vitaroccia fills the glass with alluring scents of ripe cherries, Tuscan herbs, and anise.  On the palate, sublime dark cherry and plum tastes are deliciously embellished with hints of smoke and vanilla spice.  A long and lingering elegant finish with firm tannins.

NOTE:  If you pour Vitaroccia directly to glass, I’d recommend to take your time, let the wine unwind a bit before you drink.  Otherwise, just do a “quick” decant and let it get 15 minutes of air before you pour to glass.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meats:  slow roasted beef, porchetta, lamb, or veal;  Birds:  roasted duck or chicken;  Pasta: pappardelle with rich sauces, especially with rabbit or duck;  Rich Stews:  lamb or beef;  Aged Cheeses

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Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino 2006

Are you up for learning a bit of ancient Roman winespeak?

Easy.  “Vitis Apiana”, spelled just like it sounds 🙂

Translation:  Fiano di Avellino !

Fiano, an antique vine of the Campania region of Italy, was known to the Romans by its Latin name vitis apiana, referring to the “api” or bees attracted to the honey sweet clusters of Fiano grapes.

Feudi di San Gregorio, Producer Snapshot:

Located in the Irpinia region of Campania at Sorbo Serpico and established in 1986, Feudi di San Gregorio is a great champion of varietals native to Campania and Southern Italy. Feudi’s wine book is a diverse catalog based upon ancient varietals with wines presented in a updated style showcasing regional terroir while maintaining a vital link with tradition.  Feudi retains the services of Riccardo Cotarella, one of Italy’s elite consulting winemaker-oenologists.

feudi_fianodavollino_label_hrThe wine:

This Fiano di Avellino is made of 100% Fiano grapes grown in the volcanic soil of Campania’s Irpinia region. Irpania, or “land of wolves” as it was known by the the Osci tribes who inhabited its woodlands, derived its name from the Oscan word “hirpus”, meaning wolf.  Today, the wolf remains the symbol of the province of Avellino where Fiano is grown.

Grapes harvested by hand from production areas that include the communes of Candida, Parolise and Sorbo Serpico are destemmed, gently pressed, and left briefly on the skins. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A lovely straw yellow with enticing scents of toasted hazelnuts, herbs, and spring honey.  The wine shows an amazing harmonization of flavors that include fresh peach, pear and dried dried orange peel. Supple on the palate with good, clean acidity, mineral and salt notes.  Nicely structured with an aristocratic personality, medium body and a long, creamy finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

A sublime choice for Fish / Seafood:  great with elegant dishes like fettucine with lobster, or less formally with linguine and clam sauce, or even a humble fisherman’s platter of fried seafoods; Poultry:  try boneless chicken breast with artichokes, capers, and sun dried tomatoes; or a turkey “rollatini” with prosciutto and peppers; Risotto:  seafood risotto.  Also:  this wine is a winner with Neopolitan style pizza and / or grilled vegetables.

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Sangiovese Meets Soy Sauce !

sangiovese-soy-sauceAlthough I find my center of culinary gravity in Italian food traditions, I totally appreciate and enjoy other international cuisines.  I am always on the lookout for exciting, creative pairings of international foods and the Italian wines I love to drink.

Soy sauce, as ubiquotous in Asian cooking as is olive oil on the Tuscan table, is a very interesting counterpoint to the Sangiovese varietal.  The earthy, mushroom-y nature of soy sauce – a taste profile not at all uncommon in Italian food – pairs incredibly well with Sangiovese.  And the salt component of soy sauce, when tasted against Sangiovese, is good on my palate in the same way that I find the saltiness of, say, regional cured Italian meats delicious when paired with Sangiovese.

High quality sushi / sashimi / maki, dipped in the traditional mixture of soy sauce and wasabi, and paired with a bottle of slightly cooled, good Sangiovese, is a sleek, minimalistic thing of culinary beauty.

The Sangiovese-Cabernet-Merlot-Syrah blends are relevant here too and for the same reasons.  Additionally, the influence of the international varietals can make for a rounder, smoother mouthfeel, which can be incredibly sensual against the fish oils, balanced by the slightly elevated acidity of Sangiovese.

If your looking for something more imaginative than the “order white with fish” evening, give this pairing a try!  You can easily identify some good Sangiovese wines by clicking on the Sangiovese tag in Vintrospective’s right sidebar!

Tasca d’Almerita Lamuri 2005, Sicilia IGT

Tasca d’Almerita, Producer Profile:

It’s said that the inspiration to complete the opera Parsifal came to composer Wagner under a giant banyan tree at the grand residential estate of the Tasca d’Almerita family.  Who said there is no connection between wine and music! 🙂

Founded in 1830, the 1200 acre Tasca d’Almerita estate is owned by the aristocratic Tasca d’Alermita family and is located just more than an hour south of Palermo in Sicily.  The family has been making wine for 7 generations and produces 15 or so different wines based on both native and international grape varietals. Approximately 40% of production is exported.

The family history extends back to the 19th century, but it was Count Giuseppe who overcame the trend of bulk production which dominated Sicilian wine making.  Instead, the Count innovatively pushed ahead with a vision that encouraged experimentation and quality over quantity, beginning a new chapter in the family wine business.

Although technologically advanced, the company “mind” is still focused upon history, culture, and especially quality: meticulous care is administered year round in the fields and cellar.  And the family has engaged wine consultant Carlo Ferrini to provide the impeccable guidance for which he is famous.

In the estate vineyards, as vines are replanted every year, vine ages span from 1 to 40 years. Vines are predominately grown on espalier and pruned by single or double guyot.  The area microclimate is ideal, with days and nights ushering in and out significant transfer of heat and the higher elevation of Tasca d’Almerita vineyards allowing slower, gradual ripening and maturity of the grapes.

lamuri-labelTasca d’Almerita Lamuri 2005, Sicilia IGT

Nero d’Avola is the main red varietal of Sicily, producing deeply colored wines that respond well to maturation in oak barrel and have good ageing potential.  Nero d’Avola is bottled as 100% varietal and is often partnered with Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Merlot for blending.

Lamuri is made from 100% Nero d’Avola grapes grown from 10-15 year old vines sited in sandy soil at 450m – 750m elevation.  Maceration in contact with skins is carried out over 12 days.  After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged for 12 months in French Oak (20% new, 80% second and third passage).

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

With a polished, gem like ruby red color and redolent of berry fruit, herbs and spice, this wine oozes posh sophistication.  An irresistably sensuous, soft velvet core on a palate of concentrated fruit underscored by good acidity and outlined by silky, but sturdy tannins. Finishes long with a last lick of vanilla spice.  An incredibly well made wine, stylish and balanced, a proverbial “finger pointing to the moon” suggesting just how good Nero d’Avola can be without sacrificing terrior.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meat:  roasted meats, especially lamb or pork;  Pasta:  pasta dressed with pesto or red sauces, baked pasta, especially lasagne with ricotta & red sauce; Cheeses:  ricotta salata, pecorino, provolone;   Also Consider:   Eggplant parmigiana; Arancini with ragu;    To Note:  This is another great wine candidate for pairing with mild to medium spicy dishes of India, Asia, and the Meditteranean !