Fratelli Alessandria Barolo San Lorenzo 2005

Fratelli Alessandria Barolo San Lorenzo 2005, DOCG

I don’t like categories. Well, no, that’s not quite true, actually… what I don’t like is the way categories are often applied.

Categories are tools for organizing, not for describing.

Misuse = instant homogenization.

fratelli-alessandria-barolo-san-lorenzo-2005I do like when the greatness of a thing resists categorization: J.S. Bach’s Sonata No.1 Adagio; Michelangelo’s Pieta; a poem of Pablo Neruda.

Add to that list –> Fratelli Alessandria’s Barolo San Lorenzo 2005.

NOTE: technically speaking, the list should also include a Balinese girl I met at the seashore during the summer I was 17 years 😉

Existing in a realm insufficiently described by terms like traditional or modern, Fratelli Alessandria Barolo San Lorenzo is pure soul floating across a timeline of taste, some ageless liquid prayer.

Owned by the Battista family, Fratelli Alessandria is located in the municipality of Verduno in Italy’s Piedmont and consists of approximately 12 hectares. The estate makes about 250 cases per year of its single cru Barolo San Lorenzo. The wine is made of 100% Nebbiolo from 20 year old vines of southern exposure grown in calcareous slimy limestone at 300m altitude.

Fermentation takes place over 12-15 days, followed by 6 – 10 months in 500 litre French oak barrels, then 16 – 20 months in 20 – 30 hectolitre oak casks, 3 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 12 months in horizontally laid bottles. Bottled in the summer 33 months after harvest.(1)

Tasting Notes / Impressions

Ruby red with chromatic curves of garnet. An aromatic polyphony of scents dangles in time and space: smoke, tar, violets, hints of burnt orange, dark caramel. Quiet complexity slowly unravels itself in the glass, bringing additional notes of coffee, anise, spice, earthy mushroom, awakening in me a perception of non-linear time, wordless terrestrial language. On the palate, impressions of rich, yet unimposing fruit marry beautifully to matching tannins. Finishes long with sensual, soft intensity.

The wine will please modernists [ that’s organization, not description 😉 ] with its good measure of fruit and will win over traditionalists with firm tannins and good structure. All will appreciate the wine’s superb all-round balance.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: generally speaking, rich meats, casseroles and stews are the name of the game, BUT, especially good will be: rack of lamb; beef tenderloin; veal cutlets stuffed with Fontina cheese; roast duck; if you like Asian flavors, do try this wine with Beijing Duck! PASTA: agnolotti / ravioli stuffed with beef, pork, or rabbit; VEGETARIAN: tortelli or ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and amaretti cookie crumbs, scented with nutmeg; wide egg pasta served with creamy gorgonzola- porcini mushroom sauce; herb risotto, using a mix of majoram, rosemary, basil, chives, parsley, sage, tarragon, served with butter and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese; or radicchio risotto cooked with a small glass of the Barolo added, serve as above.

1, from Fratelli Alessandria website


Fontodi Chianti Classico 2004

Fontodi Chianti Classico 2004, DOCG

Respect. Rispetto. A word our family elders made sure we kids understood when we were growing up.

A word… that has made all the difference.

And a word, I’ve observed, that so often keeps company with good wine.

fontodi-chianti-classico-2004At the Fontodi estate, located in the heart of Italy’s Chianti zone nearby the town of Panzano, Respect plays an important role in producing one of Italy’s best Chianti Classico wines.

Purchased by the Manetti family in 1968, Fontodi has great DNA, that is to say, the estate has a lot to work with for sure: spectacular location in the amphitheater-shaped valley known as the Conco d’Oro; advantageous microclimate, warm and dry, with day and night temperatures that obligingly oscillate low and high; calcareous clay schist soil that a grape can love; high altitude; abundant light.

But, there is more, I think: a theme of profound respect can be observed at work as a natural part of the Fontodi mentality… respect for nature; for an idea called Quality; for Chianti tradition extending beyond the estate itself; respect that informs Fontodi passion and that here, too…makes all the difference.

Fontodi is an organically run estate (first certified vintage is 2008, I believe) consisting of approximately 130 hectares, 70 of which are under vine. The estate’s approach to agriculture is modeled upon respect for total environment: no chemical products are used and an initiative to more effectively utilize the estate’s own resources creates less dependence and consumption of outside resources.

Fontodi Chianti Classico is made from Sangiovese grapes, planted to a density of 6,000 vines per hectare, grown in the property’s vineyards. Fermentation is carried out in tanks using natural indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged in Allier and Troncois barrels for about 12 months.

Tasting Notes / Impresssions:

Incredibly pure, clean aromatics of dark cherry and blackberry brightened by a hint of strawberry; earth, tobacco, rosemary and spice. Voluptuous and supple palate showing good concentration / intensity, notes of milk chocolate. Beautifully structured, delicious acidity, great length on the finish. A wine with tons of elegant style.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

I loved this wine with roasted pork loin served with brown gravy made from roasting juices, scalloped potatoes layered with ricotta cheese and baked till golden brown, swiss chard with oil and garlic.

MEATS: roasted, grilled or pan fried red meats; I especially like roast pork and char grilled lamb or beef with this wine; game birds; PASTA: suggest wide noodle pasta types such as Pappardelle, served perhaps with rich rabbit ragu! POLENTA: soft or grilled, sauced with sausage ragu; RISOTTO: sausage or mushroom risotto; VEGETARIAN: adapt the wide style Pappardelle noodles mentioned above, serving it instead with porcini mushroom cream sauce, or tossed with toasted olive oiled bread crumbs and topped with a juicy fried egg; of course, the mushroom risotto will work for vegetarians, too, as would an earthy seitan risotto.


Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto Dogliani “Maioli” 2007

Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto Dogliani “Maioli” 2007

Even though attending an art school may apparently have nothing to do with my actual job, I must say that my studies didn’t prove completely useless, as I consider producing wine of quality a form of art.”

—- * Anna Maria Abbona

anna-maria-abbona-dolcetto-dogliani-maioli-2007I do not disagree: The Artist remains.

Anna Maria Abbona’s Dolcetto Dogliani “Maioli” 2007 is a gorgeous argument for agriculture as a medium of artistic expression 😉

Around 1989, Abbona decided to leave behind professional life and along with husband Franco (Schellino), made plans to work the family vineyards. On the estate, located in Farigliano, Italy in Piemonte’s Dogliani production zone, the two determined to make wines of quality.

Mission accomplished.

“Maioli” is made from 100% Dolcetto grown at 500m altitude in medium chalky soil of the estate’s oldest vineyard by the same name. Maceration is carried out over 8 – 10 days, refinement in stainless steel tanks. The wine is bottled unfiltered.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Intensely colored deep ruby with refractions of violet and blueberry purples. On the nose, spectacular clarity of fruit lays over pretty floral scents. Rich, full bodied palate finishes long with fresh, ripe fruit and almondy overtones. A great food wine that strikes an aesthetic balance of elegance and structure. Just lovely.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: Grilled sausages, perhaps served with soft polenta; veal chops stuffed with fontina; rich meat stews; grilled lamb chops; RISOTTO: sausage risotto; PASTA: egg pasta with rich meat sauces, try pappardelle with duck!

VEGETARIAN SUGGESTIONS: Roast beef; grilled Portobello mushroom caps; Earthy-flavored “Seitan” dishes; PASTA: Egg pasta with mushroom or carmelized onion sauces of butter or cream; Gnocchi with a melted fontina cheese sauce; RISOTTO: with butter and parmigiano cheese, perhaps scented with truffle oil; APPETIZERS: mixed veggie appetizers served with a plate of assorted soft and/or semi-hard cheeses


* Quotation from