Cascina Garitina Barbera d’Asti Bricco Garitta 2007

Cascina Garitina Barbera d’Asti Bricco Garitta 2007, DOC

I am a hunter. I move stealth-like down rows of wine bottles, stalking the bargain, hunting the interesting wine. Friday nights are especially good for that purpose: few people, lots of prey.

I spot a solitary bottle, a one of a kind, defenseless, alone…I move in for a closer look: a bottle of Cascina Garitina Barbera d’Asti Bricco Garitta 2007 sits unaware.

I pounce, pay for the wine, and head back to the den with my prize 😉

cascina-garitina-barbera-dasti-bricco-garitta-2007Tucked away in the hills around Castel Boglione in Italy’s Piedmont, the family-run estate of Cascina Garitina allocates 70% of their 13 hectares to Barbera from which it produces the estate’s most important wines: a Barbera d’Asti normale and two Superiore bottlings. The remaining 30% is allocated to Dolcetto, Pinot Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Brachetto, accounting for an array of four other wines which the estate also produces.

At Cascina Garitina, the effort to produce high quality fruit begins in the vineyard with short pruning, green harvest, and controlled grass growth. From vineyard to cellar to bottle, the family remains “hands on” involved to ensure quality from start to finish.

Cascina Garitina Barbera d’Asti Bricco Garitta is made from 100% Barbera grown in medium clay soil of southwest exposure at 280m altitude. Fermentation is carried out for approximately 20 days after which 10% of the wine is aged in barrique for six months, the balance held in vats until both are brought together in bottle to mature for another six months.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

To say Cascina Garitina’s Barbera d’Asti Bricco Garitta is good Barbera would be insufficient: it’s Really good. Although a basic Barbera bottling, it absolutely poured through my senses with vibrant intensity. Gorgeous ruby and pomegranate in color, the wine conjures up scents of pure, clean dark berry fruit against an arousing background of smokiness accented by a hint of spice. In the mouth, the wine gives a sense of fullness with good concentration of fruit flavor, impressions of cocoa and herb. Strength, character, good structure and superb acidity are all on this wine’s curriculum vitae. A satisfying, nicely balanced finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: slow cooked beef or veal stew ; roasted chicken; cubed ham salad with mayonnaise and pickled vegetables; herbed beef, bison or turkey burgers cooked on the grill; PASTA: gnocchi alla fontina (potato gnocchi with melted fontina cheese), cannelloni stuffed with veal, prosciutto, parmesan served with béchamel sauce; fettuccine with ham and cream; your choice of pasta served with a fresh tomato sauce; POLENTA: served with a béchamel leek sauce; RISOTTO: with butter and parmesan cheese; VEGETARIAN: classic Piemontese Bagna Cauda; spaghetti “integrale” with bread crumbs, parmesan, and walnut sauce; risotto with butter and parmesan cheese; “minestrone” soup w pasta, beans, vegetables; CHEESES: generally speaking, go with medium aged cheeses, but, I loved this wine with French Camembert and Chevre; CURED MEATS: especially Mortadella with pistachio.


Kofererhof Kerner 2008

Kofererhof Kerner 2008, DOC

A Volvo blows by me, an Audi following inches behind. I downshift and pull the performance-tuned GTI in behind them. Over Sirius radio, musician Sting reminds me of how Fragile we are and the Massachusetts Turnpike opens up wide out in front of me. The leather covered stick shift feels good in my hand grip. I’ve thought about a lot of wines in this car. Today, my mind is busy with a white from Alto Adige that is decidedly not fragile.

kofererhof-kerner-2008The Kofererhof estate finds its home in Italy’s Alto Adige, just 5 hectares of vines at the base of the Dolomite mountains. Acquired by the Kerschbaumer family around 1940, the Kofererhof estate had existed as part of South Tyrol for 850 years beforehand. Kofererhof transitioned away from selling grapes around 1995 when it began bottling its own wines for sale. Today, Kofererhof produces an interesting array of wines that includes Gewurztraminer, Gruner Veltliner, Muller-Thurgau, Sylvaner, Riesling, and their superb Kerner.

I don’t believe the estate is certified “organic” at this time, however, Kofererhof does adhere to organic production practices using organic fertilizers, manure, cover crops, etc., to improve soil nutrients. Copper and sulfur based treatments are applied as agricultural controls. And S02 is used in very low dose to preserve the wines.

Kofererhof’s Kerner is made from Kerner grapes, a white grape developed from a cross between Riesling and Trollinger (aka Schiava Grossa), bred earlier this century. Grapes are grown in soil of loam / sand / gravel on vines averaging 5 – 20 years old. Production vineyards are south-facing at approximately 650 meters altitude.

Kofererhof’s Kerner harvest is carried out in three stages: an early harvest intending freshness and perfume, a regular harvest for general balance, and a late harvest seeking richness and body. Each is vinified separately with fermentation carried out in stainless steel, aging on the lees for about six months.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Straw yellow color refracted with green highlights. An absolutely panoramic palate with notes of lime, orange creamsicle, honey and mint. In the empty glass, subtle hints of ginger emerge. Wearing its 13.5 – 14.0 degrees alcohol super well, this wine is no light weight, offering generous structure and ample body. Love the overall harmony and focused minerality / acid / ripeness. A long, flavor-filled finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

This is a great white to pair with hearty foods where a white wine profile is desired:

MEATS / FISH: pan fried veal or pork prepared weiner schnitzel style; pan fried fish fillets; mild sausages served with pan fried potatoes; kielbasa; NOODLES / PASTA: egg noodles or egg pasta served with mushroom flavored brown sauce; spaetzle with cheese and onions ; pierogi; VEGETARIAN: baked, stuffed mushrooms; large boiled or poached bread (or potato) dumplings (known as knodel in German or Canerderli in Italian) served with brown mushroom sauce (Canerderli can be served in soup broth); potato pancakes; spaetzle with cheese and onions; potato and cheese pierogi; CURED MEATS / CHEESES: try with thin slices of speck and a mountain cheese !


Epistle to Winemaker

epistle-to-winemaker-2I don’t want to drink the wines of Perfection.

Perfection is a lie. Always.

Give me wines of emotion, soul. Balance.

Fill the bottle with liquid memory, that

recalls the earth where it was conceived. Your

mother’s kitchen, your father’s hands,

a way of work and life. Tell me. Of sunlight

on your land, in your heart’s passion; molecules

in conversation with history and tradition, give me

wines of Truth.

Pelissero Langhe Nebbiolo 2007

Pelissero Langhe Nebbiolo 2007, DOC

During a working day or two I spent with Giorgio Pelissero, I observed him to be similar in personality to many Pelissero wines: vivacious, intense, with a gentle austerity and an air of refined complexity.

Coincidence, I’m sure. But, I like both winemaker and wines immensely 🙂

pelissero-langhe-nebbiolo-2007A smallish, family run estate, Pelissero is located in Italy’s Piedmont around Treiso, an area pretty much at Barbaresco zone ground zero. The estate’s early business of growing and selling grapes blossomed into full winemaking activity using estate grown grapes during the 1960’s. At the 20 or so hectare estate, the Pelissero family seems to do it all, from vine pruning through to marketing of the wines. Today, Pelissero produces an interesting array of wines based on Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbera, Grignolino, Favorita, and Freisa.

[ Pelissero’s Barbaresco Vanotu is not to be missed, by the way, should you have the opportunity (loved the 1998) . ]

Pelissero Langhe Nebbiolo is made from Nebbiolo grapes, some of which hail from vineyards not yet mature enough to source the estate’s Barbaresco bottlings. After moderate maceration, ageing is carried out 20-30% in barrique with the balance held in oak cask for eight or nine months. After blending, the wine is aged in bottle for an additional two months.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Garnet red color, great clarity, and a fresh cherry perfume brightened by hints of red raspberry, strawberry, subtle anise and spice. The wine’s lively character reminds of a young colt at play, with a firm backbone and tannins that never let you forget you are drinking good Nebbiolo. A refreshingly bracing, persistent finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: pan cooked veal chops stuffed with Fontina cheese slices; rich, savory meat stews; pan fried chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto and spinach; PASTA: tube shaped pasta stuffed with spinach and cheese then baked with béchamel sauce; baked gnocchi with Fontina cheese; RISOTTO: topped with cheese fondue, perhaps scented with mushroom or truffle; POLENTA: with mushroom cream sauce; VEGETARIAN: try the risotto topped with cheese fondue (above); polenta vegetable casserole; hearty cabbage soup topped with oven melted Gruyere or Fontina cheese, served on top of thick bread slices fried in butter; CHEESES: Fontina, Taleggio, Raschera, Gruyere