. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: Day VI

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Day VI

It was, as I had hoped, another gorgeous day. I woke up at 8:30, ready for winery-hopping, and after a nice refreshing shower and a typical Italian breakfast, consisting of espresso and cornetti, I started out to do my - "tasting".
The first stop was in Torrenieri, where Wine Circus and La Stazione del Vino are located. There I was welcomed by Billy, Cipresso's assistant.
The project is magnificent: for La Stazione del Vino, they are renovating the old Torrenieri station, which is where the "wine travelers " end their trip. On the second floor, there was a tasting and multimedia room in progress, where people can watch and taste wine.
The second building will house the wine museum, with the second floor containing a room for conventions and symposia. And across the railroad is where the wine is made (the Wine Circus is a cellar were selected grapes from around Italy come to be turned to nectar).
Billy took me for a tour, and then started filling the glasses. First, he poured a nice Cesanese, a grape from Lazio that tends to be floral and peppery. This particular sample had been resting in the barrel for some time. - It is not easy to judge a wine coming from the barrel, you have to find the flavors that are hidden in the wine's youth. Obviously, the wine was still very green, and the wood flavors were predominant, but it was very promising. With the Cesanese, I was able to taste the same wine from 2 recipients with different "toasting marks" (every barrique is marked with the wood used and the "toast" level, which is responsible for the smoky flavors to a wine).
After that, it was time to have a taste of the Castello di Vicarello. Roberto had spoken to me about this estate and the owner, Carlo Baccheschi Berti, during the dinner in Osti; it is a great project that could only be realized by way of a crazy mind and varied assets; but - Carlo's creation is going to be the subject of a future post. I tasted the 2006 vintage from two different barrels, as with the Cesanese.
Once again the wine was a baby, but it was a baby with an already big voice, something like Baby Herman. We kept on going, tasting various wines and talking about Billy's experiences in Australia, and how it has affected his training as a winemaker. -Sooner or later, I need to go there, rent a motorcycle and travel around wineries...
It was time to move on to my next stop; Casanova di Neri!
I used to carry Giacomo Neri's wines long long ago, at Il Bagatto before they went with another distributor. I always like the Tenuta Nova for the power and elegance that it showed. -
I went in without an appointement, but Giacomo was kind enough to take some time and show me around; while he was finishing with his current appointment, I tasted the new releases in their tasting room: 2001 Brunello, 2005 Rosso, 2001 Brunello Cerrealto and the 2004 Pietradonice.
The Rosso was medium bodied, with fresh cherries flavors and leather hints. The Brunello was full with dark cherries in the bouquet, and flavors of wet saddle... very long, and still tight, as it should be. the Cerrealto had firmer wood flavors and higher complexity, silkier and more mature tannins. The Pietradonice, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese, was more international in style, velvety full and round in the palate, slightly peppery with pleasant flavors of fresh berries.
Then Giacomo took me into their new cellars, three stories built underground (the deepest part of the cellars are 75 feet below the surface). It was, I must say, a state of the art "cantina".
The grapes are recieved and selected at ground level, and using only the power of gravity, are transferred to the 1st level underground, where the stainless and steel tanks are.
After the fermentation, the wine is transferred into barriques (again using gravity) on the 2nd level down. The temperature and the humidity are naturally controlled, thanks to the material and some clever construction ideas.
Here, juices undergo malolactic fermentation and stay for one year; the wine is then transferred to the bottom level (gravity again) and placed in second-hand barriques for at least one year before being bottled and stored in an adjacent room. Here also, the temperature and humidity are naturally controlled and the winery operates successfully, leaving a very small carbon print.
It was time to go again, and after I thanked Giacomo for his time.
My next stop was at Pian Dell'Orino, a small winery owned by Jan and Caroline. Jan is a winemaker who spent a few years in France as part of his training. Caroline's family owns the Castel Katzenzungen in Alto Adige, where the oldest and largest vine of Europe (over 350 square meters (3768 square feet) and 350 years of age, for a production of 600 bottles) live and grow; 600 bottles, that is, of a very good white wine from just one plant - that's intriguing.
Jan came and welcomed me, surrounded by dogs, left and right. Just behind him was Caroline, wearing an apron. I hadn't looked at my watch, but it was lunch time, and I think I interrupted their meal.
I felt bad but they were happy to see me again - we had previously met in NYC, and Caroline told me to have a seat and share some salad and cheese.
During lunch, Jan opened up an unlabeled Rose, made from Sangiovese. They produce that wine for themselves, but I suggested them to label it and sell it - a full rose, dry with elegant flavors of fresh cherries.
Then he opened up a bottle of Brunello from the 2002 vintage; a very difficult year, but the wine was still powerful and structured. It was interesting to hear Jan taking pride in making an outstanding product in such a difficult year.
After lunch, he took me to his new cellars, also well-built and underground, using gravity to move the juices to the different levels. Jan as well built the cellars so that he has no need for a forced climatization system.
All of a sudden, it was 4 PM, and after saying goodbye to Pian dell'Orino, I went to visit my good friends at Winemaking in Castelnuovo dell'Abate.
Winemaking is Roberto's company with a team of Agronomists, Winemakers and Accountants created to follow the life of a winery in every aspect of the business.
After a quick chat with Maurizio Saettini, I jumped in the car again for the last visit of the day: La Fornace.
La Fornace is a small winery owned by the Giannotti family. When I arrived, Fabio was parking his tractor, as he had just finish some treatments on the fields. His cellars are on on a single level, and he has an air conditioning system, so he can control the temperature in the different vinification phases.
We tasted the 2005 and 2006 Brunello from the barrels and the 2004 Riserva, as many told so far it looks like the vintages are getting better from 2004 to 2006, and considering the 2004 was an excellent year I'll be looking forward for the 06's to be released.
Wow. What a day. The sun was getting low over the horizon and the sky started to show some pinkish colors - it was finally time to go home for the first time in 4 years.
To Be Continued...

1 comment:

Lorenzo said...

wow... i'm so jealous. we stock some of the casanova di neri wines ourselves, but i've only recently tried the 2001 tenuta nuova and have yet to taste the cerretalto.

sounds like a heck of an awesome trip though. hope the rest of it is just as enjoyable! *thumbsup*