Montenidoli: ” il Garrulo” Chianti Colli Senesi & Vernaccia Tradizionale

Montenidoli Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi 2006
Montenidoli Vernaccia Tradizionale 2007

When the special needs children for whom they cared during summers set out down their own paths, Sergio and Elisabetta, called by the spirituality of gold-backed Madonnas & Child of 13th century masters, came to care for the land: Montenidoli.

And care they did. Without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, Montenidoli produces several organically farmed wines that are pure joy at table.

montenidoli-il-garrulo-chianti-colli-senesiMontenidoli’s Il Garrulo Chianti Colli Senesi reflects the tradition of Chianti set by Baron Ricasoli, a classic blend of two red grapes and two white grapes. Il Garrulo is made from Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Trebbiano and Malvasia del Chianti, using the traditional Tuscan technique known as “governo alla Toscana” (juice from grapes dried in the sun is added to wine which has already undergone the usual maceration / fermentation).

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A lovely faded ruby color. Magnificently perfumed nose of cherries so bright it is as if they were played from a trumpet. Light, fresh, fruity on the palate, overtones of earth and delicious acidity. Refreshing and pleasant finish. A great food wine.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meats: bison or beef burgers; mild sausages; roasted chicken or turkey; Pasta: with red sauces, with or without meat; Soups / Stews: hearty soups or stews of vegetables & legumes or with a combination of fish & seafood; Spicy “International” Dishes, recommend Singapore Mei Fan with shrimp; Indian curry; I loved this wine with a dish of Texas Chili ! Vegetarian: try this delicious Chianti with a meatless chili, perhaps one featuring a smokey seitan !

montenidoli-vernaccia-tradizionaleMontenidoli’s Vernaccia Tradizionale is a wonderfully honest and focused white wine made from hand harvested Vernaccia that receives long maceration on skins.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Golden straw color of great clarity. Delicate, fruity perfume with hints of chamomile, sage, and hay. Tongue-smacking minerality underlines generous fruit that settles with good weight on the palate. Lingering finish shows notes of almond, hay, wisps of ginger.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meats: chicken salad with celery and grapes; pan fried chicken livers with carmelized onions; Seafood: grilled coconut shrimp; Japanese cut rolls that feature seaweed, salmon, crab, tuna, caviar, avocado or cucumber; all manner of sushi; Pasta: cappellini “angel hair pasta” with asparagus tips in a light cream sauce; Vegetarian: thick slices of char-grilled eggplant with miso sauce; dishes featuring tofu, tempeh or seitan; soba noodles; spinach, egg, cheese quiche; Asian style vegetable dishes.

Simply Italian – Great Wines 2010 US Tour, NYC

Almost two years ago, one of the first sentences I wrote on Vintrospective:

“That its wine regions are beautifully different, distinct and many is Italy’s strength and its difficulty. “

simply-italian-diversity-1Underscoring that very point, the Italian wine event called Simply Italian – Great Wines 2010 kicked off its US Tour from New York City this past Monday with a panel discussion, “The Diversity of Italy”. Presented by the Instituto del Vino Italiano di Qualità together with the Institute of Masters of Wine, the panel included Piero Antinori and producer representatives of the Grandi Marchi, along with Charles Curtis, MW, of Christie’s, moderating, and Gregory dal Piaz, Editor in Chief of Snooth.

Held in the Trustees Room of the New York City Public Library, the panel discussion illuminated the diversity and quality of Italian wines, a message I believe is vastly important in the promotion of Italy’s wines. The topic revealed some intriguing questions: What is the best tool to communicate the message about Italy’s oenological diversity?, raised by Jose Ralla of Donnafugata, and Who is controlling that message?, raised by Gregory dal Piaz of Snooth.

simply-italian-tasting-roomIn addition to other seminars, the day included a walk-around tasting which showcased traditional wine regions while shining a light upon lesser known territories and varietals: wonderful Zibibbo of Donnafugata, emotional Nero di Troia produced by Rivera, and sensational Verduzzo from Giovanni Dri were all tasting highlights for me.

simply-italian-glassesThe New York City Public Library, a place where Knowledge and Appreciation are a natural part of the physical environment, proved a wonderful choice of venue for this Italian wine event where Discovery, Learning, and Understanding served as important themes.

From concept through execution, an event Well Done.

I leave you with the following words, from above the fireplace in the Library’s Trustees Room:

“I look to the diffusion of light and education as the resource most to be relied on for ameliorating the condition, promoting the virtue, and advancing the happiness of man.”

—– Thomas Jefferson, third President of United States and well-known wine lover 😉

An Italian Wine Reading List

italian-wine-reading-listAllow me to rewind this thread just a bit:

Recently, a fascinating concept caught my attention, the brainchild of @tirebouchon, born when he suggested use of the #tutor hashtag to support a wine learning / sharing initiative via the social media application Twitter.

The initiative summarizes a growing trend among enlightened wine appassionati to take responsibility for one’s own palate (learning), and help friends and wine lovers to do the same by acting as tutor-mentors who give advice and transfer knowledge via social internet (sharing).

It’s happening on Twitter. It’s happening on Vinix. And on Blogs. Everywhere.

AKA –> Real Wine Culture.

You can find more about #tutor here on @tirebouchon’s blog, including a list of friendly, helpful #tutors

BTW: The extraordinary wealth of wine information on the internet Is Not always available in your first language. If you don’t already use Google’s Chrome browser with auto-translation, I politely suggest that you install it immediately. It will automatically render translations of foreign language web pages. If you’re an English speaker, for example, exposure, say, to the French, Italian or German conversation about wine and food oftentimes provides perspective invaluable to any real understanding of either topic.

Meanwhile, in the spirit of sharing, and since several persons have inquired, I list below a few books about Italian wine for home reading, available in English, which I have found to be interesting and helpful in their respective topics:

A Wine Atlas of the Langhe: The Great Barolo and Barbaresco Vineyards
Authored by Vittorio Manganelli and other writers, Published by Slow Food Editore, Edited by Carlo Petrini
ISBN 88-8499-041-6

Barolo to Valpolicella: The Wines of Northern Italy
Author, Nicholas Belfrage, Published by Faber & Faber LTD / Octopus Publishing Group LTD, London
ISBN 1 84000 901 2

Brunello di Montalcino
Author, Guelfo Magrini, Published by Morganti Editori sas
ISBN: 88-87549-27-3

Brunello to Zibibbo: The Wines of Tuscany, Centra and Southern Italy
Author, Nicholas Belfrage, Published by Faber & Faber LTD / Octopus Publishing Group LTD, London
ISBN 1 84000 790 7

Chianti and the Wines of Tuscany
Author, Rosemary George, first published for Sotheby’s Publiscations by Phiop Wilson Publishers Limited, London. In US, Rizzoli International Publications, New York
ISBN 1-55949-881-1

Italian Wine
Author, Victor Hazan, Published by Alfred Knopf, New York
ISBN 0-394-50266-3

Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy
Authors, Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch, Published by Clarkson Potter Publishers, New York
ISBN 0-609-60848-7

Wines of Italy
Author, Patricia Guy, published by Tide-mark Press LTD, Windsor, CT
ISBN 1-55949-881-1

Seems like a bit of work, you say? What’s the alternative? Believe me, you don’t want to know:

“Here’s a great bottle of wine, produced by one of our biggest advertisers, we gave it 97pts and just happen to have it available for your purchase today.”

Feelin’ motivated now ? 😉

Cascina ‘Tavijn: Barbera d’Asti, Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato, Grignolino d’Asti

Cascina ‘Tavijn Barbera d’Asti 2006
Cascina ‘Tavijn Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato 2009
Cascina ‘Tavijn Grignolino d’Asti 2008

From the movie titled Good Will Hunting*:

Will: Beethoven, okay. He looked at a piano, and it just made sense to him. He could just play.
Skylar: So what are you saying? You play the piano?
Will: No, not a lick. I mean, I look at a piano, I see a bunch of keys, three pedals, and a box of wood. But Beethoven, Mozart, they saw it, they could just play.

cascina-tavijn-barbera-dasti-2006Like Beethoven or Mozart, when it comes to producing wines that make real music, Nadia Verrua of Cascina ‘Tavijn can just play.

Located in Italy’s Piedmont, among the hills of Monferrato in the province of Asti, Cascina ‘Tavijn is a small, family run winery that is evolving a cultish following of wine lovers who appreciate Nadia’s work with indigenous varietals Barbera, Grignolino, and Ruché.

Owned and run by the Verrua family, with father Ottavio managing the vineyards and Nadia in the cellar, Cascina ‘Tavijn’s approach to wine focuses upon natural methods with a leaning toward to the organic.

The winemaking palette includes stainless steel, concrete, fiberglass and wood to ferment and age the wines. Cellar techniques are non-interventionist, with moderate maceration times, light filtrations, and only moderate dosing of metabisulfite. Use of selected yeasts in the cellar seems to be eschewed.

The Barbera, Ruché and Grignolino, made from 100% varietal, are massively drinkable, real wines for real enjoyment, expressive and of super quality, with lots of personality at table.

Cascina ‘Tavijn Barbera d’Asti 2006

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Gemstone ruby color with streaks of amethyst. A vital, energetic nose of mixed berry fruit with hints of cola, medicinal herb, minerals. In the mouth, the fruit strikes a superb balance of tartness / ripeness, coming together w delicious acidity and pleasantly firm, though unimposing tannins. I find a synchronicity in the way the wine’s components coalesce, reminding me of how gears of a well-made clock work together to keep accurate time. Finishes long with delicious overtones of cherry.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: roasted red meat & poultry; recommend roast beef, pork chops with apple & sage, herbed turkey; PASTA: pasta served with red sauces, try rigatoni with sausage or fettuccine with meatless ragu; POLENTA: served with “cacciatore” style chicken or rabbit; VEGETARIAN: Whole wheat fusilli or rigatoni with Swiss chard, carmelized onions, balsamic reduction; “Farro” spaghetti with walnut-mushroom cream sauce; CHARCUTERIE PLATE: assorted crackers, bread, cheeses, cured meats; CHEESES: Brie, Morbier, French Muenster, Gruyere, Gorgonzola Dolce, Toma, Bra, young Gouda

Feel like an eclectic night at table? Enjoy Casina ‘Tavijn’s Barbera d’Asti with Chinese double-cooked pork, or steamed rice with roast duck wrapped in lotus leaves.

cascina-tavijn-ruche-di-castagnolo-2009Cascina ‘Tavijn Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato 2009

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Ruby-velvet in the glass, magnificently perfumed with essence of wild berry and dried floral scents that, at times, modulate toward spice like cardamom and mace. The nose transfers to the palate, ushering in layers of flavor and inner mouth aromas including new berry, cherry, and plum. In the mouth, the wine is warm and smooth on the palate, underlined with well-balanced acidity and tannins. The wine communicates through depth of flavor an unbroken connection to the natural world, beyond language, closer, perhaps, to philosophy or spirit.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: pan-fried breaded veal chops; roast beef; chicken breast stuffed with prosciutto, asparagus & chevre; STEWS: beef stew flavored with onion & diced pancetta; GRATIN/s: try potato / onion / gruyere gratin!; PASTA: ravioli with butter & sage sauce; “Farro” (emmer wheat) pasta with walnut pesto; tagliatelle with prosciutto and saffron cream sauce; RISOTTO: simple, creamy risotto with butter, mushroom & parmigiano cheese; VEGETARIAN: Penne with creamy Gorgonzola sauce, pinch of nutmeg; pumpkin ravioli with butter & sage sauce; do try the Gratin or “Farro” pasta mentioned above; CHEESES: Robiola, Raschera, milder Gorgonzola.

Something different, perhaps ? Cascina ‘Tavijn Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato is a super wine choice for Chinese dishes featuring braised meat or tofu served with silky sauces, creamy Indian plates or tandoor.


cascina-tavijin-grignolino-dasti-2008Cascina ‘Tavijn Grignolino d’Asti 2008

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Pretty pale rose color. On the nose, a commingle of cherry, berry and spice, hints of rain-soaked rose and orange blossom. Good transfer to a light, gorgeously dry, lively palate showing good grip. Finishes with a note of pleasantly bitter cherry-almond. A stunning, original artisan effort not to be missed.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meats: appetizer platter of cured meats & cheeses; pan cooked rabbit with Dijon mustard cream sauce; chicken breast served with chive cream sauce; Pasta: filled meat & cheese served with béchamel or light cream sauce; Vegetarian: ravioli filled with ricotta and spinach; fondue of Fontina cheese; egg omelette with asparagus and brie; baked tempeh with apple-mustard sauce; Cheeses: Robiolo, Raschera, Toma, Brie, St. André


My thanks to Vittorio Rusinà, aka @tirebouchon on Twitter, for first bringing Cascina ‘Tavijn to my attention. I also thank Fabrizio Gallino, aka @enofaber, for his assistance.

* The Coffee Coaster, movie review of Good Will Hunting, here

Cascina Gilli: Freisa d’Asti & Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco

Cascina Gilli Vigna del Forno Freisa d’Asti 2007
Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco 2009

All that I know of freshness was learned from a girl named Susan who, on Halloween night, delivered to my thirteen-year old lips a first kiss, a provocative cocktail of lipstick, saliva, and bubblegum.

Rarely, if ever, has it gotten any fresher.

Until now.

cascina-gilli-freisa-dasti-2007I am totally slain by the awesome freshness of two wines I tasted from Cascina Gilli.

Cascina Gilli is located in Italy’s Piemonte, northwest of Asti, tucked away in Castelnuovo Don Bosco. Proprietor Gianni Vergnano seems to provide the center of gravity around which orbits several talented, dedicated individuals, not least among them oenologist Bruno Tamagnone and, in the vineyard, Giovanni Matteis. The estate calls upon Freisa, Barbera, Bonarda, Malvasia, and Chardonnay, producing eleven different wines, four of which are versions of Freisa.

Cascina Gilli Vigna del Forno Freisa d’Asti 2007

Wine lovers, get ready: you are about to fall in love.

Made from 100% Freisa grown in the grey-blue clay marl soil of vineyards located at 380m with south-southwest exposure, this wine is all about focused freshness.

To obtain good extraction of color, the skin is left on the grapes, soaking in must for 5-6 days. The technique also moderates transfer of excessive tannin. The wine is held in steel for a period of one year to preserve freshness before receiving a short period of bottle maturation.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

It begins, as many love affairs do, with eye appeal: the wine is an intense ruby color with fuschia highlights. Then, an irresistibly fresh perfume of mixed berries – raspberry, strawberry, blackberry – captures your attention. Charmed by the wine’s sleek, hip, urbane personality, you allow contact: a lush palate of chocolate covered cherry finishes you with licks of cherry kirsch and a suite of soft tannins.

Oh, Yeah. Sounds like love to me 😉

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEAT: a great wine for most meat / poultry dishes, especially recommending with braised short ribs; veal and lamb stews; classic steak and frites; pan-cooked chicken sauced with crème fraiche and chives; roasted turkey or duck. PASTA / VEGETARIAN: “cheese-y” pastas, like an elegant “mac & cheese” with grated parmesan and heavy cream. CHEESES: a very cheese friendly wine, try with Brie di Nangis, Comte, Taleggio, Bra, Tome, Parmigiano Reggiano, to name a few.

Cascina Gilli Malvasia di Castelnuovo Don Bosco 2009

cascina-gilli-malvasia-di-castelnuovo-don-bosco-2009I gave this romantic dessert wine a real road test – low light, leather sofa, a good movie, shared bites of tiramisu, panforte, biscotti, nibbles of white and dark chocolate.

Advice: do not delay in reserving your Valentine’s Day bottle.

Made from 100% Malvasia di Schierano grown in the grey-blue clay marl of south facing vineyards around Castelnuovo Don Bosco at 340m altitude.

After a brief maceration / fermentation, the wine is temperature controlled to preserve freshness and perfume. A second fermentation is introduced in autoclave to set alcohol (5.5 degrees) and liveliness. Micro-filtered before bottling.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A raspberry-lipstick sheen with traces of carmine, the wine pours with a vibrant pink foam. The freshness factor of this Malvasia is astonishing: the delicate berry-floral scents are almost virginal. Sensuously effervescent on the palate, this dessert wine shows more weight and grip than do Brachetto d’Acqui or Moscato d’Asti. The level of sugar is well balanced and not at all cloying or too sweet. Finishes clean and lively with a delicate taste of raspberry-lemon sorbet. A dessert wine of incredible finesse and style.

NOTE: Be certain to chill well before serving, recommend 7-8 C / 44-46 F.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

As a dessert wine, you will want to serve it, of course, with dessert, sweets, or fresh fruit. I recommend a “sweets” tasting plate, one with different textures, i.e., creamy, crumbly, etc., giving the wine’s effervescence opportunity to “play” with mouth-feel. Do pair with good dark and white chocolate, both are not to be missed. WARNING: Should you pair with immaculately fresh chocolate-covered cherries or strawberries…be sure to be in the immediate and private company of someone for whom you have romantic feelings 😉

Both wines imported by Domenico Selections, NY, NY