Zeni Sorti 2007

Zeni Sorti 2007, Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT

After seeing photos of grandfather Roberto Zeni and grandson Roberto Zeni – and I say this with great affection – 4 generations in the wine business remain connected both in name and moustache !

What began in the late 1800’s when Roberto Zeni secured a tavern license and poured Teroldego from a first vineyard harvest has, since the mid-1970’s, been transformed by the brothers Zeni, Roberto and Andrea, with great attention to tradition, innovation and quality. The brothers were educated at the distinguished San Michele School of Wine. Today, Azienda Agricola Zeni specializes in wines made from the rather unusual, but exciting grape varietals found native to Trento.

Geography: let your mind reach north at Verona and look as the crow flies toward Innsbruck and Munich. Zeni is located in Grumo, a hamlet of the municipality San Michele all’Adige, about 15 km north of Trento, in a tradition-rich region of Italy called Trentino-Alto Adige where local customs blend Tyrol and Italian influences.

zeni-sortiZeni Sorti 2007 is produced from predominately Pinot Blanc and Riesling harvested from Guyot pruned vines planted in rocky, alluvial soil with a layer of river silt. The winemaking is unique and masterfully carried out: the Pinot grapes are harvested and allowed to dry naturally for about 4 weeks, bringing about a concentration of aroma and flavor; the Riesling is allowed maximum time on the vine and harvested late. For Pinot, fermentation is carried out in oak barrels at low, controlled temperature, with time allowed on the lees; the Riesling is done separately in steel tanks. Blended in the Spring, the wine is bottled and allowed a brief rest.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Don’t let the grape-drying process – normally associated with “dessert” wines – through you off track: this wine is gorgeously dry and complex. The wine’s warm, glowing shade of straw yellow color is as inviting as a light in the window. Hints of vanilla and cinnamon that seem to linger for a moment, vanish, and then return provide intrigue to a perfume of tropical fruit, pear and mountain herbs. The wine’s good weight and rich mouth-feel are a nice counterpoint to its delicate layers of fruit. Note of lightly toasted bread. Delicious acidity and minerality set up for a dry, persistent, elegant finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

APPETIZERS: especially that include prosciutto, speck, pate, white or green asparagus; SOUPS: rich, hearty soups, such as with “Canerderli”(like dumplings) flavored with porcini or liver; RISOTTO: try this wine with apple risotto scented with cinnamon; FISH: most kinds of fish and seafood will work, but lake fish, prawns and sea bass will be especially nice; PASTA: dressed with light cream sauces flavored with mushrooms, speck, prosciutto, or seafood. CHEESES: younger, Alpine style cheeses


Featured Producer: Vietti

Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2006, Langhe DOC
Vietti Roero Arneis 2007, DOCG

“…use no style as style, use no way as the way…”
— Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee was a visionary man, an actor, martial artist and philospher who realized that truth in movement existed outside of systems and patterns.

vietti-nebbiolo_perbacco-bottleTo hear Luca Currado of Vietti wines tell his *story of being neither traditionalist nor modernist, of having no particular style and of deciding what it is that each vintage wants from him, I am reminded that winemaking, too, has its truth.

Based in Castiglione Falleto in the heart of the Italy’s Piedmont’s region, the Vietti estate and Luca Currado represent 5 generations of Langhe winemaking. In the early 1900’s Mario Vietti led the family farm through a renewal that resulted in the estate growing its own grapes and offering its own wines for sale. But it was Alfredo Currado – husband of Luciana Vietti and father of Luca – who was one of the first pioneers in the early ’50’s that dared produce single Cru Barolo. In the late ’60’s, it was again Alfredo who almost singlehandedly restored life to the Arneis varietal that came close to being lost in time. Luca attended oenology school at the prestigious winemaking college of Alba, Italy and after working abroad both in France and California, Luca joined the family business in 1990. The Vietti estate owns approximately 35 hectares spread out across some of the best sites in several appellation zones.

Luca pursues a creative, artistic, terroir driven approach to winemaking, with a humility that is both sensitive and aware: good wine, he says *”…comes from the soil, not from you”.

Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2006

Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco 2006 is made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes sourced from several important Crus: Scarrone, Bricco Boschis, Valletta in Castiglione Falletto, Fossati in Barolo and Ravera in Novello. Each Cru is vinified and aged separately with fermentation taking place over 18-21 days; malolactic is carried out in stainless steel and barrel. Aging is a cru-dependent combination of 10 months in barrique / 16 months in Slavonian oak cask.

[ I encourage you to learn more about the important Crus named above, especially if you are interested in Barolo. There is great information in a book called “Wine Atlas of the Langhe”, more info on that book found here.]

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Like the music of a prolific composer written during youth, this wine bears a likeness to greatness. Vietti Nebbiolo Perbacco is a child prodigy in whom we sense a junior version of great Barolo. Faded ruby color and complex aromatics that, had they been represented as musical notation, would have been marked for playing as espressivo, giving scents of withered roses, autumn leaves and ripe fruit. Lively interplay of ripe cherry flavors, good acidity, and tannins is given drama by inner mouth aromas that come and go da niente al niente. Finishes with impressions of dried flowers that linger and hang like the final notes of a live, romantic classical guitar recital.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Robust stews and casseroles, especially beef or veal; roasted meat and game – try wrapping the meat in pancetta before cooking or topping with wafer thin sliced truffle; hearty polenta dishes; mature cheeses.


vietti-roero-arneisVietti Roero Arneis 2007, DOCG

Vietti Roero Arneis is produced from 100% Arneis grapes harvested from 25 year old vines at Santo Stefano Roero, territory in the heart of the Roero area of Italy’s Piedmont. Vineyards are planted to a density of about 4,500 in a soil mix of mostly clay and sand. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel autoclave at controlled temperature, capturing a bit of natural C02. The wine undergoes no malolactic fermentation, maintaining optimum freshness and acidity. The wine is then held in stainless tank until bottling during the January or February after harvest.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

An appealing, muted shade of saffron, with apple, grapefruit, and flowers on the nose. Crazy fresh fruit with hints of melon and papaya take center stage on a palate that is individualized by delicious acidity and minerality. Great balance and a tight frame – reminds me why I love my Mondonico road bicycle! A lingering and complex finish trails off with a suggestion of marzipan.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: chicken, pork, and especially veal – recommend the classic vitello tonnato (veal in tuna sauce); PASTA: simply prepared, thin pasta, like cappellini, dressed with a light cream sauce; SALADS: hearty salads, perhaps with chunks of chilled seafood or chicken, bacon, apple, etc., tossed with creamy dressings; ANTIPASTI: this wine will pair nicely with most flavorful antipasti – for example, roasted sweet peppers dressed with anchovy, garlic and oil. SOUPS: go for soups with a chicken broth base, flavored with lighter ingredients, for example, spinach, egg, rice, pastina, etc.; ALSO: don’t miss trying this wine with slightly – medium spicy Asian dishes that feature ingredients above.


* taken from Luca’s interview with Grape Radio, found here.

Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza 2007

Ferrando Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza 2007, DOC

To understand the story of Erbaluce, I suggest you awake early in the morning. Have your coffee in the very moments when Sun light comes and Dawn departs. Observe the impossibility: goddess-lovers Dawn and the Sun could not meet one another because of their assigned comings and goings. In frustation, they prevailed upon the Moon for an eclipse and made love behind its cover.

Daughter Albaluce – “Alba” for Dawn and “Luce” for the light of the sun – was born upon a hilltop near the town of Caluso. Albaluce looked after the lakes and waterways of Piemonte. Saddened, one day Albaluce cried; where her tears fell to the Piemontese earth, vines grew forth and continue to bear fruit today.

That is how legend tells us of the grape we call Erbaluce.

ferrando-erbaluce-la-torrazza-2007-2Ferrando family tradition in the wine business goes back five generations. Founded in 1890, Ferrando Vini was established when Giuseppe Ferrando made the move from Piedmont’s Acqui to Ivrea with the intention of bringing Piemontese wines into Italy’s Valle d’Aosta. The company made an early mark with its production of Carema, a relatively rare wine made from nebbiolo. Success lead to expanded production and new cellars. Today, Ferrando, run by Roberto Ferrando, produces a range of wines that well represent Piemonte’s Canavese region and has done much to elevate the status of Erbaluce.

Ferrando’s Erbaluce di Caluso La Torrazza is made from 100% hand-harvested Erbaluce from the Borgomasino, Masino, and Piverone vineyards, grown in glacial moraine soil. Production is typically small, only about 20,000 bottles.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

An illuminated, golden-copper toned color. Floral aromatics, delicate scents of fresh cut hay. Impressions of citrus and honey notes on the palate combine for subtle complexity. Dry, elegant, good weight, exciting acid and minerality. Super fresh and balanced on the finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

FISH / SEAFOOD: will pair well, generally speaking, but freshwater fish will be especially good – recommend marinated trout; PASTA / RISOTTO: flavored with seafood or fish (no red sauces); APPETIZERS: stuffed vegetables, such as mushroom, zucchini, artichoke, zucchini flowers, sweet pepper; ***THIS WINE is great candidate for unique pairing with sushi, vegetable maki rolls, fried tofu appetizer, and “Tempura” vegetables!


Capanna Rosso di Montalcino 2006

Capanna Rosso di Montalcino 2006, DOC

montalcino-areaIt has a way of wrapping itself around you, first under your feet, a terrain that can be veined, cracked and rocky. You walk upon planetary impressions of solid terra firma. Next, the landscape of Montalcino invades your eyes: the territory’s softer side of rolling hills, golden fields, gloriously red poppies pour into you. You imagine more seraphic origins. You sense a special place.

It stays inside you, around you, until, in someone, something, you recognize it again.

Capanna, owned by the Cencioni family since the late 1950’s, is located just north of Montalcino in the well regarded Montosoli area, long known for producing extremely elegant wines, and cultivates approximately 12 hectares of vineyard. The estate is run entirely by the Cencioni family whose operational mindset seems to reflect tradition balanced with modern open-mindedness toward technological improvement where it may raise the quality bar.

Capanna Rosso di Montalcino is produced from 100% hand harvested Sangiovese grapes grown in stoney soil. Careful attention is given to vine pruning and selection of grapes. Fermentation takes place over 18 or so days at controlled temperature. Maturation in Slavonian oak for 12 – 15 months, with several additional months of bottle aging.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Typical ruby-garnet color and elegantly soft scents of cherries, stawberries and herb on the nose. Rich cherry-berry flavors with overtones of plum, balsam and tar, soft and smooth in the mouth. A sense of place and landscape remembered from this wine’s irresistible counterpoint of solid structure and elegant softness; a young wine that speaks with authority. Long on the finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS / POULTRY: Roasted, grilled, or pan cooked veal, lamb, beef, pork, turkey, or chicken; especially try pan fried veal wrapped with prosciutto; PASTA: try the traditional “pinci” with meat ragu or seasoned with breadcrumbs fried in oil and garlic; POLENTA: polenta with meat ragu; RISOTTO: I suggest a mushroom risotto or risotto flavored with radicchio and plenty of grated pecorino! CURED MEATS / CHEESES: this wine will pair well with most cured meats & cheeses, especially young-medium aged pecorino, parmigiano-reggiano, prosciutto, salami.


Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2007

Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2007, IGT

Sometimes, things which are innately different combine to create a new experience. Mother Nature knows this. Every morning, she rolls up her sleeves and busily glues together Alpine and Mediterranean landscapes, ergo uniting a collection of German and Italian traditions that create the geo-cultural experience known as Alto Adige.

The greatness of Alto Adige is found in its incredible individuality: the greatness of Alois Lageder is that he manages to capture that individuality in a bottle.

alois-lageder-pinot-grigio-dolomiti-thumbThe Lageder family wine cellar was established at Bolzano in the mid-1850’s and became well known early on for a focus on quality that today remains a guiding principle at Lageder. The business expanded in the 1930’s with an acquisition of the Löwengang estate in Magrè and afterward with purchases of other vineyards in the area. Today, the business is run by Alois Lageder and oenolgist brother-in-law Luis von Dellemann who is responsible for the winemaking.

The many asymmetric natural factors that comprise Alto Adige terrain result in local sites of varied but specific characteristics. It is part of the Lageder approach to deeply understand these nuances and to match the grape to its preferred growing conditions.

Interesting bottle label: the photograph by Elisabeth Holzl, “…shows the passage of light through a perforated surface, and thus refers to respiration, to the porosity of the soil, and the leaves of the vine, to the exchanges always taking place between the earth and the surrounding atmosphere.”*

Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti is produced from 100% Pinot Grigio grapes sourced from vineyards in Magrè and Salorno slightly southwest of Bolzano and from the northern part of Trentino. Soils tend to be of sand and gravel with a high limestone content. Daytime temperatures are warm with wide fluctuation between evening temperatures.

Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks followed by maturation on the lees for 4 months. Lageder’s wines are natural and adhere to the tenets of organic wine making.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Core color of golden summer straw highlighted by magnificent, diffused greens. Clean citrus and flower aromas, smooth melon on the palate, notes of lime, and sexy, racy acidity. Super fresh finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Generally speaking, fish, poultry, shellfish, will all be good pairings, but standouts include: Pâté & Terrines, consider liver pâté topped with bacon and sauteed mushrooms, or a smoked salmon terrine; Baccalà alla Vicentina; Chicken salad with peaches and bacon; a simple starter of smoked herring.


*Artist label quote taken from the rear label of Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Dolomiti 2007.

Selvapiana: Chianti Rufina


selvapiana-chianti-rufina-2005-2–Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2005
–Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2007

Like the magnificent ceramics of Romano Innocenti, Selvapiana Chianti Rufina is a unique expression of style and the natural world. I find a certain finesse, purity, and a freshness in both that speak to me of rural Tuscany.

[ Incidentally, you can find out more about Romano Innocenti and his ceramic works here. ]

The Selvapiana estate is located east of Florence in the Rufina subzone, the smallest geographical subzone of the Chianti production area. Selvapiana and Rufina winemaking have gone hand in hand for an astonishing 182 years across five generations since the estate was purchased in 1827 by Michele Giuntini Selvapiana. The wines of Selvapiana demonstrate the uniqueness of Rufina terroir and are known for their longevity. Heirs Silvia and Federico (Giuntini) Masseti manage operations day to day. Franco Bernabei has been consulting oenologist at Selvapiana since 1978.

Please do dust off your wine map, locate Chianti, and then, locate Rufina, just northeast of Florence, in the top right of the Chianti zone. Rufina’s northerly situation, in comparison to the other Chianti subzones, yields a somewhat longer growing season with exaggerated differences between day and night temperatures. Grapes tend to ripen more slowly. The oscillation of temperature, in combination with the high percentage of limestone in the Rufina soil influences the wine profile toward pronounced aromatics, higher acidity, and a structure suited to extended aging. The wines of Rufina express terroir with as much individuality and distinction as any of its sister Chianti subzones.

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina is comprised of Sangiovese and a small amount (approx. 5%) of Canaiolo from various Selvapiana estate vineyards at altitudes of up to 200 meters. The soil is galestro – a typical rocky Tuscan soil – mixed with clay and limestone. Fermentation is carried out in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks and traditional glass-lined concrete vats. Frequent pumpovers and punchdowns are performed encouraging extraction and color. 30% of the wine goes to stainless steel tanks for maturation; 50% heads off to oak casks; and 20% find its way to barriques. After blending, the wine is further refined in French oak casks for 10 months; then, the wine is laid down in bottle for an additional 3 months before release.

Tasting Notes:

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2005

This is a traditionally styled, well bred chianti with classic aromatics of dried cherries, tobacco, leather, herbs, and earth. Wonderfully concentrated flavors of cherry, strawberry, and a hint of balsam, swirl with delicious acidity around fine, round tannins. An exceedingly fresh and satisfyingly long mineral finish.

Selvapiana Chianti Rufina 2007

Medium garnet color and a delicate perfume of dried cherries, plums, earth and spice. As with the 2005, cherry and strawberry flavors predominate the palate, with grace notes here of powdered chocolate and herb, underscored by good acidity. Supple and classic, with smooth tannins and a softness at the edges that make for a rather elegant, easy drinkability.

NOTE: I found the wine benefitted by a good 20 minutes of air time.

Food pairing suggestions:

Roasted / grilled meats, especially with herbs; pork or veal chops wrapped with prosciutto; pasta dishes, particularly when flavored with mushrooms or rich sauces; hearty soups; cheeses.