Rainoldi Sassella Valtellina Superiore 2006

Rainoldi Sassella Valtellina Superiore 2006

I like to think about harmony in wine as I do about harmony in music: a super-connection of relaxations and tensions that manage to stay balanced in a way that’s pleasing to the senses.

And, Rainoldi’s Sassella Valtellina Superiore 2006, I’ve found, is a wine that is, first and foremost, one of harmony.

rainoldi-valtellina-superiore-2006Rainoldi is based in Lombardy’s famous Valtellina, a great Nebbiolo terroir and the northernmost wine region of Lombardy. Here, Nebbiolo, known locally as Chiavennasca, is cultivated predominately by hand on steep slopes where mechanization is nearly impossible.

Rainoldi makes its Sassella from 100% Nebbiolo, grown in the rocky, sandy soil of high altitude vineyards, approximately 250 – 550m altitude, with southern exposure.

The wine matures for close to two years in Slavonian oak followed by refinement in bottle for at least 1 year before being released to market.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A magnificently interwoven spectrum of aromatics and flavors – cherry, orange peel, herb, plum, anise and smoke – resolves beautifully into the wine’s structure. Moderate tannins with good grip and a long finish showing a mature smoothness. Harmonic and balanced, an astounding value for money.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

I find this wine works well with dishes enriched with cream, butter, and / or cheese… hearty courses – with or without meat – of soups, risotto, pasta and polenta are going to pair well. For example, consider a first course of rich risotto with butter, cheese and thin slices of the cured meat called Bresaola (if you are vegetarian, substitute porcini mushrooms for the Bresaola). Cheeses like Mascarpone, Robiola, Gorgonzola, Camembert, Taleggio, Brie de Nangis, will be especially good. Of course, this wine, as you’d expect, is awesome with red meat: try a main course of veal roast with cream.

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Nusserhof Tyroldego 2006

Nusserhof Tyroldego 2006

Nearly forty years have found their way by me since I walked with my dog Storm through the forests surrounding my boyhood home in New England.

Warm days of skunk cabbage, lady slippers and princess pine, watching the ground for specimens to add to my pine cone collection, hands all pine pitch and never once thinking beyond what might be on for suppertime.

nusserhof-tyroldego-2006-1Tonight, I remain somehow connected to those days, brought back courtesy of this fine Tyroldego by Nusserhof.

Heinrich Mayer-Nusser produces his Tyroldego (yes, with a “y”, in this case) from a small amount of Teroldego grown on the family estate of 2.5 hectares at Bozen / Bolzano in Italy. Viticulture is certified organic.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

The breath of woodlands lifts up and out of the glass, permeates my consciousness with recollections of forest berries, pine sap, cocoa and coffee. Waves of juicy, tart berry rise up onto the palate, spice in the undertow. Soft in the mouth and super clean. Finishes long, letting me hold on long enough to hear Storm barking as we come back home 😉

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Enjoy Nusserhof Tyroldego with pork roast, bread dumplings with speck or bacon, vegetable casseroles au gratin, dishes of hearty polenta with meat or mushroom sauces, stews / goulash, cheeses

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Two wines from Arianna Occhipinti: Sicilia Bianco 2009, Nero d’Avola e Frappato 2009

Two wines from Arianna Occhipinti: Sicilia Bianco 2009, Nero d’Avola e Frappato 2009

Sprezzatura, that Italian word which refers to the art of doing something difficult with nonchalant ease, echoes its meaning in Arianna Occhipinti’s SP68 Bianco Sicilia and her SP68 Nero d’Avola / Frappato.

occhipinti-sicilia-bianco-nero-davola-frappato-2009In true sprezzatura fashion, I found both wines to be effortlessly fresh, focused, natural in style and attitude, approachable yet serious, flirtatious and fun.

The SP68 adorning the bottle label, I’ve read, gives a nod to a road used often for vineyard travel which passes nearby Vittoria in Sicily, the hometown of Occhipinti whose passion for wine was inspired in part by uncle Giusto Occhipinti, a partner of the well regarded Sicilian winery COS.

Arianna practices biodynamic methods, eschewing chemical interventions, to produce her wines from indigenous grapes with approximately 5 hectares under vine.

Occhipinti Sicilia Bianco 2009

Occhipinti’s SP68 Bianco Sicilia 2009 is made from Albanello and Moscato di Alessandria (regionally known as Zibibbo) grapes grown at 280m altitude in medium sand soil with a limestone component. Maceration on skins is carried out over 15 days. The wine spends six months in steel tanks and one month in bottle and is bottled unfilitered.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

I felt as though I had stepped through some thin atmospheric membrane into Sicilian air scented with lemons and exotic cardamom. Citrus, honey, pistachio and herb on a deliciously dry, almost tannic palate that keeps magnificent balance. A beguilingly good wine.

We enjoyed this Sicilia Bianco with farro pasta tossed with eggplant, pistaschio, shrimp and tomato. Broccoli rapini with garlic olive and salt. Sheep’s cheese with rosemary rind.

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Occhipinti SP68 Nero d’Avola

Occhipinti’s SP68 Nero d’Avola / Frappato 2009 is made from vineyard and soil conditions similar to those noted above for SP68 Bianco, with winemaking following a like course, however, maceration in this case extends to 30 days.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

As elegant and classy as anything I’ve tasted from Burgundy, this wine stirs the emotions with fantastically fresh raspberry, cherry, pomegranate, cinnamon and herb underlined by delicious minerality. Simply precious.

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Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri 2011, NYC: Belated Recollections

I knew there would be good wines. It was, after all, a prestigious Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting. But, even good wines can have the nasty habit of wanting a lot of other things from you besides that you enjoy them.

Today, my attention is directed to wines heroic in their ability to spark my imagination without obligation to think or feel a certain way about them at the expense of experiencing them, if that makes any sense.

Not as easy as it sounds, even at a prestigious wine event: during the course of the day, the narcissistic, the selfish, the vain, and the egotistical would all make their appearances in my tasting glass.

But, I prefer to tell you of heroes – they include:

The sublime, late harvest Albana di Romagna Secca Codronchio ’08 from Fattoria Monticino Rosso that offered the delicious gifts of pure enjoyment, emotion, and owing it nothing in return.

Fattoria Monticino Rosso
Fattoria Monticino Rosso

Cuvee Annamaria Clementi from Ca’ del Bosco, Berlucchi Palazzo Lana Extreme and the stunning Pas Dosé QdE Riserva ’04 from IL Mosnel transformed the tasting experience with mind-expanding Franciacorta tonalities.

IL Mosnel
IL Mosnel

And I loved Le Piane Boca, blended of Nebbiolo (85%) and Vespolina, a structured and expressive wine that possesses a vocabulary to ignite heart and soul.

Staggeringly good was Pelissero‘s dark, moody, vividly alive Barbaresco Vanotu ’07, a wine that, like language, seems to exist only to communicate. Poetic.

To end, as a side note, a constructive thought relating to event planning: the queues to enter the Metropolitan Pavilion generally moved along well, but the welcome experience could be improved next time around by avoiding these.