Giovanni Rosso

Giovanni Rosso Barolo Serralunga 2004

Giovanni Rosso Barbera d’Alba Donna Margherita 2006

When the conversation moves to Barolo or Barbera, it seems of late that many are determined to label producers either traditional or modern (aka reformist). There are differences to be sure, but upon tasting wines from Piedmont producer Giovanni Rosso, the word I best like to describe that producer is NOW.

Giovanni Rosso’s Barbera and Barolo are wines that are totally “in the moment” and will appeal, I think, to both traditional and modern tastes, and represent a fine portal of entry for wine lovers wishing to explore Barbera or Barolo.

Braced by nearly a century of Rosso family experience farming vineyards in Italy’s Piemonte, Giovanni Rosso restructured vineyards during the 1980’s with the intent of growing exceptional fruit. Since 2001 son and current proprietor Davide Rosso has laid a very talented hand upon winemaking at the estate. My guess is that we can expect more very cool things from Davide in years to come.

Located in Serralunga d’Alba, the Giovanni Rosso estate is comprised of ten total hectares involving eight or so different crus. Great respect is given to the individuality and nature of each cru, its soil conditions, altitude, exposure, etc.

giovanni-rosso-barolo-2004Giovanni Rosso Barolo Serralunga 2004

Made of 100% Nebbiolo from crus Costa Bella, Broglio, Sorano, Meriame that together bring into play soil characteristics of sand, limestone, clay. Vinified in cement tank using wild yeast, fermentation takes place over 25 days. Refinement is carried out in large Fontainebleau Forest French oak. Bottled without filtration.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A pretty gem stone ruby color, the wine shows cherries, dried roses, autumn leaves, dark berry preserves and spice. With absolutely incredible presence and body in the mouth, this Barolo exerts a sensuous, soft, luxuriant character with good tannic grip and a long finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: slow cooked beef casserole; veal cutlets stuffed with Fontina cheese; roast duck; PASTA: wide pasta noodles served with duck “Bolognese”; VEGETARIAN: tortelli stuffed with pumpkin and amaretti cookie crumbs, scented with nutmeg; whole wheat spaghetti or tagliatelle served with toasted bread crumbs and walnut pesto; egg pasta with creamy gorgonzola mushroom sauce; plate of mixed medium and aged cheeses.


giovanni-rosso-barbera-dalba-2006Giovanni Rosso Barbera d’Alba Donna Margherita 2006

Made of 100% Barbera from crus Damiano, Costa Bella and Cerretta, soil elements include limestone, mineral and clay marl. Fermentation carried out over 18 or so days, refined in French oak for 12 months and an additional 3 months of bottle ageing. Bottled without filtration.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Deep ruby red core, speckled with lighter garnet reflections. A super fresh mix of red and black berries, mineral, conifer, occasional hints of milk chocolate. As does the Barolo above, this Barbera connects with remarkable presence and body in the mouth. Friendly tannins and a deliciously smooth finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: pancetta wrapped chicken or game bird; baked or pan fried sausages; pork chops with apples and sage; PASTA: oven baked pasta or gnocchi, served with meat sauce; RISOTTO: sausage risotto; CHEESES: young and medium aged cheeses, I preferred creamier cheeses; VEGETARIAN: egg and cheese soup scented with nutmeg served over toasted French bread slices; shorter pasta cuts like penne served with mushroom cream sauce; arancini stuffed with either mozzarella, fontina, or taleggio, and perhaps mushrooms.


Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2006

Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2006, DOCG

Put out the candle, clear the dinner plates away. Grab the bottle and glass.

With a free elbow, I push open the door and take an after dinner seat outside. Under a psychedelic sky brilliant with a million diamond-like stars what’s left of the Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2006 spills into my glass.

felsina-chianti-classico-riserva-rancia-2006Nice that nature has arranged stars so they needn’t compete: all stars shine, some just a bit brighter than others.

In the constellation of Italy’s Sangiovese wines, Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia 2006 certainly radiates a bright light.

The Fèlsina estate, located at the southern end of Chianti Classico and north of Castelnuovo Berardenga, produces several wines made of one hundred percent Sangiovese. The estate’s Chianti Classico, Fontalloro, and the stellar Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia, are all outstanding expressions of Sangiovese that demonstrate great individuality, elegance, and personality.

Differing percentages of sand, clay, stone, and rock, along with varied microclimates, add up to a complex and unique vineyard terroir at Fèlsina which is situated in an area demarcated by local geology shifts and soil types. Also of note, Fèlsina has carried out research targeted to selection and propagation of vines which have performed especially well in the estate’s unique vineyard conditions.

Fèlsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia is made from 100% hand harvested Sangiovese sourced from Vigneto Rancia situated at approximately 410 meters altitude with southern exposure. Maceration is carried out over 12-15 days. The wine spends 12-18 months maturing in small to medium barrels, followed by 6-10 months bottle aging.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Gorgeously pure, dark fruit anointed with a subtle perfume of violets, wild flowers and tarragon. The magnificent dimension of this wine conveys a stirring impression of intrinsic spirituality, like the feeling you get when standing silent inside of a great cathedral. Impressive, fantastically integrated tannins show silky power, elegant strength. An astonishingly long finish resounds of that gorgeous purity even at its final cadence.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: roasted or grilled, especially rosemary scented roast lamb or pork loin, or grilled steak; pan-cooked rabbit is also a nice choice; PASTA / POLENTA: with mushroom or meat sauces; RISOTTO: with sausage or mushroom; VEGETARIAN: grilled porcini mushroom caps; thick slices of grilled bread served topped with cannelloni bean “pate”; grilled or pan fried polenta squares drizzled with truffle oil and shavings of aged pecorino; CURED MEATS / CHEESES: mixed plate of cured meats and medium aged cheeses.


Photo background, “The Starry Night”, 1889, Oil on Canvas, Vincent Van Gogh, Museum of Modern Art, NY.

Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2008

Cantina Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio 2008, DOC

Tonight, my wife caught me with my hands all over Fiona. That’s what we call our refrigerator. Fiona Frigidaire, actually. At that point, there was no turning back: we had to make it a threesome.

At first, it was all hands and lots of clumsy grabbing. But, nature eventually took its course and, given the situation, we found what we were after:

thin sliced speck, a wedge of cave aged Gruyere cheese, Normandy butter, and a tin of smoked oysters from the cabinet.

cantina-terlan-alto-adige-pinot-grigio-20082008’s Terlan Alto Adige Pinot Grigio spilled from bottle into big Bordeaux glasses and, for a moment, connected both with a pretty trail of straw yellow.

Born in the sandy soil around Terlano, Italy, Terlan Pinot Grigio is produced by the spectacular Alto Adige cooperative of Cantina Terlan. Approximately 100 growers and 150 production hectares comprise the Terlan cooperative whose wines could model a “what’s unique about Alto Adige” wine study. And please…don’t worry about the cooperative thing… well known as one of Italy’s top producers, Cantina Terlan will not let you down in the quality department.

The melon fruit character of Terlan’s Pinot Grigio played deliciously well against the speck. Notes of peach, pear and apple were super counterpoint to the Gruyere, with a hint of almond echoing the Gruyere’s nuttiness. The wine’s round, creamy palate made mad harmony with Normandy butter on French bread creating a super-sensual mouthfeel, while crisp acidity and minerality were appreciated with bites of smoked oyster.

Anyway, I looked around the room now, suddenly aware of us in it, a nearly snapshot effect: leather sandals on the floor, her ankle socks, the candle burning on a low marble and wood table, stacks of books, the Beatles playing in the background. We laughed about always being a bit short of money and about the $163.00 dollar speeding ticket she had gotten today.

I poured a bit more for both of us. I felt lucky.


Lights out.

[ Fiona humming softly ]


Piona Corvina Veronese Campo Massimo 2006

Piona Corvina Veronese Campo Massimo 2006, IGT

Winemaker Albino Piona thinks of grapes as providing a palette of colors for his “paintings”, the wines. And, as great artists do, Piona stays personally involved with his “paintings” from their earliest beginnings as buds in the vineyard, through harvest, to cellar and bottle.*

piona-corvina-veronese-campo-massimo-2006Piona winemaking is informed by four generations of passion for wine at Piona, where history and tradition appear to remain as important as any opportunity for innovation or improvement.

The winery is located just south of the town of Custoza, below the southern tip of Lake Garda in Italy’s Veneto region.

Piona Corvina Veronese Campo Massimo 2006 is made from 100% varietal grown among hills distinguished by glacial morain.

Maceration is carried out in stainless steel for 10 days followed by racking and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for nine months in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A pretty, medium ruby color, the wine shows scents and flavors of cherry, blackberry, strawberry, with hints of almond and pepper spice. Wonderfully fresh and clean with good persistence on the palate. Tannin and acid are nicely dialed in, balanced in just the right way for a wine that really shines at table.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: grilled or pan fried meats – do consider steak au poivre; FISH: grilled salmon! ; STEWS: good “gravy” type stews, long simmered, with meat, potato, carrot, etc. PASTA: egg pasta served with ground meat red sauces, a touch of cream added; POLENTA: suggest going with grilled polenta; RISOTTO: creamy sausage or mushroom risotto; VEGETARIAN: try grilled polenta, pasta e fagioli, mushroom risotto, or grilled salmon if you eat fish!; CHEESE / CURED MEATS: your choice, but I loved this wine paired with French Morbier and Brie; ALSO: give this wine a try with mildly spiced, creamy Indian dishes!


*described on Albino Piona website

Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Terra di Vulcano 2006

Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Terra di Vulcano 2006, DOC


It’s been a good vibe all day long. And I am hungry now: bison burger, frites, and salad almost ready. The sun that warmed the leather of my sandals so nicely is starting to go down on one of Spring’s first warm evenings.

As I pull the cork of Bisceglia’s Aglianico del Vulture Terra di Vulcano 2006 an already nice day is about to get better.

bisceglia-aglianico-del-vulture-terra-di-vulcano-2006Bisceglia’s Aglianico del Vulture Terra di Vulcano 2006 is a wine that I just love to love: thoroughbred character, charming style, and an interesting taste experience all at a price point that makes me feel like I just got a real good bargain.

Azienda Agricola Bisceglia was established in 2001 by Mario Bisceglia and is located in the Basilicata region of Italy on the slopes of extinct volcano Mount Vulture. The estate produces two product lines of wines based on indigenous and international varietals.

Bisceglia Aglianico del Vulture Terra di Vulcano 2006 is made from 100% Aglianico grown in volcanic calcareous and clay loam soil rich in potassium. Vineyards are south – south east facing at 300m altitude.

After 4-5 days of cold maceration on the skins the wine is aged in steel for 12 months and then in bottle for an additional 4 months.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Dark cherry licorice stick, anise, conifer, brooding chocolate and spice underscored with exciting mineral vitality and delicious acidity. Immediate and fresh with beautifully intense, garnet color. Soft yet firm, balanced tannins maintain good grip on the finish. Remarkable quality / price ratio.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: a perfect “chops / steaks / burgers” wine. If you haven’t tried a ground bison burger, do it now! …topped with mushrooms, carmelized onions and melted gorgonzola 😉 PASTA: pasta dishes, generally speaking, rock with this wine, but I especially like baked pasta here with a red sauce of both meat and cheese; VEGETARIAN: no brainer -> baked pasta with cheese and good marina sauce, manicotti, stuffed shells, etc.; CHEESES: try a good aged provolone or sharp Italian table cheese.


Fattoria La Massa “La Massa” 2007

Fattoria La Massa “La Massa” 2007, Toscana IGT

Here’s a wine that I thoroughly enjoyed for its pinpoint balance and sensual mouth-feel. Moments that it took me to the edge of ripeness – but not beyond – were nothing short of orgasmic.

Meanwhile…as they say in the real estate biz: “…location, location, location”.

la-massa-2007-1Fattoria La Massa is located in an area known as the “Conca d’Oro” or Golden Basin, an area ideally suited to the production of wine and part of Tuscany in Italy. The estate is comprised of 25 hectares of south facing vineyards on land which has produced wine since the 1500’s. Originally from Napoli, Giampaolo Motta took a pass on the family leather business and acquired the estate in the early ’90’s. He collaborates with consultant Carlo Ferrini to produce the estate’s wines.

Soil at Fattoria La Massa is generally of a clay marl type and altitudes range from approximately 315-460m. The 2007 vintage of La Massa (the wine) is made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon aged for one year in a combination of new / used oak.

Tasting Notes:

A stunning dark ruby color, La Massa 2007 has an earthy, provocative perfume of black cherry, plum, warm spice and floral-herbaceous overtones of violet and rosemary. The plush, dense palate feels luxurious in the mouth, lots of velvety-intense fruit without a trace of over ripeness. A magnificently balanced wine, with fine, firm tannins and a smooth finish.

NOTE: decanted for 30 minutes.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEAT: grilled or roasted red meats, poultry and game are good pairings generally speaking, but especially recommend grilled steak or lamb seasoned only with olive oil, salt, and rosemary, perhaps a squeeze of lemon. PASTA / POLENTA: served with rich sausage ragu, maybe a touch of cream added; VEGETARIAN: thick slices of grilled bread topped with a meatless porcini mushroom / carmelized onion ragu; CHEESE: best with hard cheeses like aged pecorino or Parmigiano Reggiano.