Category Archives: Italian Wine Club

Italian Wine Club Tasting Notes: October 2015

We hope you enjoy the October Italian Wine Club tasting notes, courtesy of Elio Longobardi of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits.

Autumn is finally here with its glowing gold colors all around, and it is one of the best seasons to be in Tuscany. Between September and mid-November you can really enjoy this region and its countryside taking on a different pace. Even big cities like Florence and Siena aren’t crowded with zillions of tourists and you are able to get a glimpse of true Tuscan authenticity.new balance basketball

Talking about Toscana with all its history, art and beauty can become overwhelming. So much so, the term ‘Stendhal’ syndrome’ originated here – which is described as becoming so overwhelmed by beauty (particularly as it pertains to art) that one is overcome with rapid breathing and heart rate, dizziness and sometimes even hallucinations. Dante, Leonardo, Giotto, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, the Medici; they all came from here. This month we will journey to ‘la mia Toscana’, or my Tuscany, where I used to call home. I hope you will enjoy the trip.

Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist

PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valley


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Toscana, a.k.a Tuscany is part of central Italy. Firenze is the regional capitol with nine provinces (Arezzo, Grosseto, Livorno, Lucca, Massa e Carrara, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena). The main economy of the region was agriculture until the 1960s, followed by what is called Boom economico (the economic and industrial expansion at the end of the 1950s). After that, many people that used to farm left for higher paying jobs in safer industries, leaving the countryside abandoned and neglected. It severely affected the wine production in the land of Sangiovese. It was not until the passionate and wealthy people from northern Italy started to rediscover Chianti that the renaissance of Tuscan wine restarted. Germans, Swiss, English and then Americans soon were buying even the most decrepit estates and bringing them back to a second life. Only a few Tuscans were able to preserve their properties, the noble Florentine families who have owned the land for centuries. Nowadays we see a more democratic distribution of the wine production, with younger farmers interested not only in the vineyards but also in agriculture other then grapes.url
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My family and I arrived in Toscana in 1960, leaving our hometown near Napoli. We left the south searching for a better life, and arrived in the countryside north of Firenze in a town called Prato. Not the fancy hilly Tuscany of many books and tourist pamphlets but a humble and active working community whose main occupation was textile production. Outside of town was an agricultural world with its rhythms and hard work ethic. The people, the food, the landscape – was all so different from where we come from. I was only four, but I distinctly remember feeling the difference and I felt in love with this region right away.
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Nowadays only a few patches of field have survived: industrial buildings and factories cover the rest. I was lucky to have witnessed the last of that agricultural world. Where my parents and I were living was mostly in the countryside, next to farmers and their land. When I wasn’t at school I was following Corrado, the old farmer, around the field or in the stable, where he had cows and pigs. I was helping carrying wheat to the combine in June and with harvest in September. Crushing grapes in the barrels on the wagons and taking them to the cellar. I still remember the smell of the must starting to ferment. The last day of the harvest there was this huge dinner with all the workers seated at this long table set in the farmyard. Great food, wine, and many stories the old farmers knew. After the ‘vendemmia’ it was time to prepare the land for the following season, so we would plow the fields. I can see the tracks of fresh soil dark, dense, almost wet and with intense smell of fresh clay.
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Now everything has changed and if I want to see a countryside that reminds me of my younger years I go toward the west side of Prato’s flatlands. Carmignano lies on the hills below the Montalbano ridge. The mountain systems divide the provinces of Prato and Pistoia from the western part of Florence province and the lower Valdarno valley toward Lucca, Pisa and Livorno.
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The hills are no less charming than those in Chianti or Val d’Orcia. The Medici family chose Poggio a Caiano and Artimino for two of their most beautiful villas for good reason. Easy to reach from Florence, clear visuals on the valley below, pleasant weather to escape the cold winter and the humid hot summer in the city. I recommend visiting if you are planning a trip to Italy, get a car and drive to those places and you sure will be rewarded with an enriched experience.

Conte Contini Bonaccossi, Trefiano, Carmignano Riserva DOCG, 2007
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The Capezzana estate was purchased by Count Alessandro Contini Bonaccossi from Marchese Niccolin in the beginning of the Twentieth century when he moved back from Spain with his family. He had made his fortune with a successful business in antique trades. Capezzana is situated in the commune of Carmignano in the province of Prato, 20 km from Florence, on the slopes of Monte Albano and close to the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines.
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The Tenuta Capezzana estate comprises 670 hectares, of which approximately 100 acres are vineyards and 140 acres olive groves. The estate is home to a Renaissance Villa with an adjacent farm, it has historic cellars beneath the complex which date to the 16th century, a modern olive mill and a huge “Vinsantaia” (where Vin Santo grapes are dried), above the cellar.  The “Tinaia” (fermentation cellar) was built in 1938 by Giovanni Michelucci, who was one of the most innovative architects of the 1900s, having designed both the Florence train station and the church of San Giovanni Battista on the Autostrada del Sole near Florence.

After the war in 1945, Count Alessandro’s son Ugo earned a degree on farm management and joined his father on pursuing excellence in wine production along with the other cultures such as olive oil, wheat and fruit trees. The Tenuta Capezzana estate is divided into three parts and incorporates more than 120 sharecropping farms, producing high quality wine and oil.  Today, Capezzana is in the almost unique position of having bottles dating back to the 1925 vintage.

Wine production in Carmignano dates back to the Etruscans and later the Roman period. Carmignano was designated in 1716 by the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici as one of the four best areas for wine growing in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany – Chianti, Pomino and Valdarno Superiore the other three. The ‘Motu proprio’ Decree and ‘Bando’ laid down precise rules for production, set out geographical boundaries and regulated trade for the wines from these areas, thereby making up the first “D.O.C.” in the world. The Carmignano wine disciplinary allowed the use of Cabernet Savignon because this varietal was introduced here by Caterina de’ Medici in the Sixtieth century when she was queen of France, and the grape is still called Uva Francesca by the old farmers.
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Trefiano Carmignano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Uva Francesca and 10% Canaiolo. The harvest occurs between the end of September and beginning of October. All the grapes are handpicked. The initial fermentation takes places in stainless steel tanks, followed by malolactic fermentation in French oak where it ages for 16 months, followed by another 12 months in the bottle prior to release. The wine presents a rich ruby color with purple highlights. The nose offers dark fruit and spice nuances with fresh hearty notes. The palate is elegantly wrapped with ripe fruit and berries. The tannins are smooth with a long finish. Pair with Sedani alla Pratese (see recipe), grilled meat and aged cheeses.

Assolati, Dionysios, Vermentino, Toscana IGT, 2013

The Assolati estate has a different history from Capezzana. Here are the humble grandparents of Loriano Giannetti. Farmers who acquired this small property in the 1950s and through hard work and perseverance cleaned a large area covered with Mediterranean shrubs to uncover the fertile soil underneath.

Assolati is located in the hilly west side of Mount Amiata near Montenero d’Orcia, in the province of Grosseto, not far away from Montalcino, Pienza and Siena. Loriano and his family are dedicated to the vineyards as well as raising the indigenous Chianina cows, famous for their tender and exquisite meat and used for the famous Bistecca alla Fiorentina. This two inch Florentine steak is a must for meat lovers and can be eaten only in Toscana! Besides farming, the Giannetti’s are running a beautiful agriturismo in their restored casale that faces the valley below toward the Maremma. The main grape grown here is Sangiovese with a small amount of Colorino, Ciliegiolo and Cabernet for the reds, along with Vermentino and little Chardonnay for the whites.

The ‘Dionysos’ Vermentino is a simple yet beautiful wine crafted with the same care and passion dedicated to the reds. The vines are growing on mix of clay and calcareous soil that provide a nice vein of acidity and minerality to the wines. Yellow stone fruits on the nose and mouth with a citrusy touch. The grapes are harvested manually in late August/beginning of September. After a gentle pressing the wine goes through cold maceration and fermentation in stainless steel tanks, where it rests for six months before bottling. This Vermentino would be a great pairing for squash or pumpkin soup, and an absolute hit with fresh cracked Dungeness or a Crab Louie Salad.

 

Sedani alla Pratese

(Stuffed celery Prato’ style)

This is a classic example of a cucina povera dish. Using left over meat and ingredients that are cheap and available. That said, this preparation requires time and attention.

Ingredients (serves 4)

Prepare a tomato sauce, with or without ground meat enough for 4 serving

8 large celery stalks, about 2 inches wide at the bottom

200gr ground veal

150gr chicken livers, chopped

200gr ground mortadella

4 eggs

2 garlic cloves chopped with a spring of parsley

Black peppercorn, freshly grounded

Nutmeg freshly grated, plenty to smell

Parmigiano

2-3 tbsp. of flour

Breadcrumbs

Olive oil

Vegetable oil

Salt

  • Cut the celery by the root side about 4 inches long and blench in plenty hot salty water for 10-15 minutes along with some celery leaves
  • Drain the celery and set them on kitchen towel, cover with another towel where we place a cutting board with some weight, to help squeeze the excess water
  • When the celery are cold and drained remove the stringy parts
  • In a bowl mix the ground veal, chopped chicken livers, mortadella, 2 eggs, garlic, parsley, nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • Scoop the mixture in the 8 wide celery pieces, using the other one as cover
  • Tie the two pieces of celery with kitchen string on both end and let rest for 20 minutes
  • Using the other 3 eggs, flour and 2tbsp of olive oil mix together to obtain a batter enough dense to coat the celery
  • In a fryer or cast iron pan, using high heat vegetable oil, fry the stuffed celery, being careful do not overcrowd the pan
  • Fry the celery for about 10 minutes, until they get a golden color. Let them rest on paper towel to lose some of the oil
  • Transfer all the celery in a large pan, with the tomatoes’ sauce and cook for about an hour over low flames
  • Serve two celery in each plate, scooping on top some sauce

Now, tutti a tavola, it is time to eat!

Italian Wine Club Tasting Notes: August 2015

We hope you enjoy the August Italian Wine Club tasting notes, courtesy of Elio Longobardi of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. With its characteristically shaped heel of a boot at the tip of the Italian peninsula – Puglia has a similarly long history with wine like the other southern regions. The region has benefited from cultural and commercial exchange with the Greeks due to the close vicinity of its coasts with the Hellenic civilization. The particular geography of this territory was perfectly suited for the two main Mediterranean crops: olives and vines. There are still orchards of millennially old olive trees in the region. These beautiful monuments of nature are worth the trip there alone – the wine is the bonus.stephen curry blue and yellow shoes

Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist

PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valleywomen nike air max 90

Puglia a.k.a. Apulia, is located in the south eastern region of Italy. The geography of the area is mostly flat with a big plain called Tavoliere that covers just over half of the territory, leaving the other half full of rolling hills and a few scattered mountains. With almost 500 miles of Adriatic coastline, Puglia is a region with lots of coastal development. The weather is typical Mediterranean, with hot dry summers and mild winters and very low precipitations. With the Adriatic Sea on the east and the Ionian Sea to the south, it borders with Molise in the northwest and Campania and Basilicata along the western boarder.
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The wine history of Puglia has been less noble than the olive cultivation because up until just a few decades ago the grapes where pushed to massive production. Long months of hot weather in a flat lowland area produced grapes rich in color and sugar. That meant they were traditionally used in blending wines to add body and alcohol to other non-mature grapes. Today the quality standards are up to par with the more advanced regions. There are six major provinces: Bari (the regional capitol), Foggia, Andria-Barletta-Trani, Brindisi, Taranto and Lecce – containing about 25 D.O.C.’s. The most planted grape varietals are all red and indigenous to the region, such as Primitivo di Manduria, Malvasia Nera, Negroamaro and Uva di Troia – which legend says was brought over by Diomedes who came to Italy after the fell of Troia. They also plant some Sangiovese, Barbera and Montepulciano. White varietals are found in lesser quantities, and you will find Fiano, Malvasia, Verdello, Coda di Volpe and Trebbiano.
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Cantine Menhir Salento, Sale, Salento IGT, 2013
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Salento, in the southern part of Puglia, has become one of the major tourist destinations in the last few years. It includes the entire province of Lecce and is full of the finest Baroque architecture. The pristine sea, the food, and laidback lifestyle help to attract people looking for places not totally exploited by commercial tourism. Here you will find Cantine Menhir, a winery owned by the Marangelli family in Minervino di Lecce, located very close to Otranto in the extreme southern part of Puglia. The vineyards are situated on 25 acres along the fertile coastal strip of Laghi Alimini adjacent to the Adriatic Sea. The Alimini Lakes are part of a protected natural wildlife reserve rich with rare species of flora and fauna.
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Marangelli has planted Primitivo, some vines as old as eighty years, along with Negramaro, Malvasia Nera, Fiano Minutolo and Malvasia Bianca. In honor of the connection with archaic traditions deeply rooted in the territory, they named their property Menhir (from the Breton words men and hir meaning long stone). The area is full of Neolithic relics.

Sale is made from 50% Fiano Minutolo and 50% Malvasia Bianca. Fiano Minutolo is an aromatic varietal not related to Campania’s Fiano. Malvasia Bianca is another native Puglia grape, different than the Malvasia Moscata of Piedmont. The vines are planted on red clay soil. The harvest is done manually in the early morning hours at the beginning of September. Soft pressing and fermentation takes place at controlled temperatures for 60 days. The wine then spends 4 months on the skins, sur lies, and another two more in the bottle prior the commercial release.
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Sale, which means salt in Italian, here is short for Salento, but it is aptly named because this wine has certain salinity qualities to it. The nose is surprisingly rich with yellow and white flowers; stone fruits such as peach and apricots also come to mind. Notes of acacia flowers, elderberry, dry oregano and a whiff of seaside air permeate from the glass. After a few initial sips, the sensations are supported with a refreshing acidity. This wine brings to mind a warm late afternoon, after a day spent on the beach. It pairs well with grilled octopus and boiled small potatoes, dressed all with quality olive oil, parsley, garlic and a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt flakes.

 Tenute Rubino, Torre Testa Susumaniello, Salento IGT, 2012
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In the mid-80’s the Rubino family started the acquisition of several parcels of land and began building their farm, stretching from the Adriatic coast to the hinterland of Brindisi. Tommaso Rubino was one of the first to understand the potential of Salento. His son Luigi followed his father’s footsteps in the beginning of 2000 when he took on the leadership of the family business. He set out to upgrade and modernized the winery, with a focus on promoting the quality of the indigenous grape varieties of Salento: Malvasia Bianca, Negroamaro, Primitivo, Susumaniello. Luigi also understood the possibilities other grapes can add to their panel of wines, so he planted some Montepulciano, Aglianico, Alicante, Vermentino and Chardonnay. There are four estates on their property, Jaddico, Marmorelle, Uggio and Punta Aquila, all planted with the same varietals in different soil compositions and microclimates – all individually reflecting wines produced from each estate.
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Luigi Rubino dedicates the same passion for each wine he makes, but there is a special spot in his heart for Susumaniello. This varietal doesn’t have the respected pedigree of some other southern red grapes such as Aglianico, Nero d’Avola or Primitivo. Matter of fact, it has been treated as the workhorse vine of Puglia, or more accurately the loaded donkey of the regional viticulture. Susumaniello has been thought to be of Dalamatian origin but recent DNA test shows that it is the result of crossing Garganega with Uva Sogra, a varietal now extinct. The name Susumaniello means in Apulia dialect to ‘load up the donkey’. The vine produces a huge number of grapes if not properly pruned or stressed. When these vines receive the proper care, they reward you with a wine that shows depth and elegance that is usually unexpected by other big southern reds.

The Torre Testa Susumaniello fruit comes from the Juddica estate, situated on over 123 acres of loose sandy limestone terrain, providing the perfect drainage of any excess of water and letting the roots thrive by reaching nutriments in the sub soil. The oldest vines were planted in 1930. This wine shows a deep and dense dark red garnet color with violet reflections in the glass. As Torre Testa opens up, it shows you the multilayers of perfumed dark fruits; cherry, blackberry, black currant jam and brandied plums. Spices like cinnamon, clover, nutmeg emerge when you swirl it in the glass. This wine is rich and intense, with notes of dark chocolate on the finish. This ‘little donkey’ goes a long way, providing solid enjoyment after being opened for a few days. Big wines like this need intense flavors in food. Pappardelle with sausages, Penne with cinghiale sugo, grilled meats and aged cheese such as Canestrato Pugliese DOP will all make exquisite pairings.

Tiella alla barese

(Rice, mussels & potato pie)

Paired with the Cantine Menhir Sale

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This recipe takes its name from the baking pan used to cook the dish. Tiella is a commune name used in the southern regions of Italy, and each one has its own version of it. The tiella is a low rim pan with a cover. It could be a clay, ceramic or metal pan. In the past it was the only dish cooked by farmers during the week, when time and ingredients were scarce, basically one dish meal. Tiella alla barese is a recipe from Bari, Puglia’s capitol town. This dish is fun to make, a feast for the eyes and the palate.

 

Ingredients (serves 4)
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1 Kg Mussels
500 g Potatoes
500 g Tomatoes
1 white onion
1 garlic clove
1 spring of parsley
300 g rice (superfine Arborio or Roma)
100 g Pecorino or Parmigiano, grated
2 tbsp breadcrumbs
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

  • Clean the mussels under cold running water pulling the beard and scraping each one. Then open the mussels with a flat blade knife reserving the liquid. If it’s too hard you can get the mussels in a pan under high flame for 2 minutes until they start to open. Discard the top shell and keep them face up.
  • Slice the onion very thin, then potatoes and tomatoes (~ 1/8th inch)
  • Rinse the rice and the potatoes if you don’t like to starchy.
  • Chop the garlic and parsley.
  • Drizzle the olive oil in the baking pan
  • Start to build the pie by placing the onions on the bottom of the dish, and then fan the potatoes to cover the dish, add the tomatoes on top, then sprinkling with garlic and parsley.
  • Set the mussels face up, and add the rice over the mussels.
  • Slowly pour the mussels juice on the side of the pan.
  • Build another strata of potatoes, tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle the cheese and finish with breadcrumbs
  • Pour slowly enough water to cover the rice but not the cheese and breadcrumbs!
  • Set in the oven at 400F for 1 hour.
  • Let rest 10 minutes and serve.

 

 

Italian Wine Club Tasting Notes: June 2015

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We hope you enjoy the June Italian Wine Club tasting notes, courtesy of Elio Longobardi of PlumpJack Wine & Spirits. In the northwestern corner of Italy nest a tiny jewel of region. Tucked above Piemonte, surrounded by the Gratian Alps in the north, where it shares a border with France and Switzerland. The Monte Bianco, or Mont Blanc, towers over the valleys’ region at 4,810 meters (15,781ft) making this mountain the highest peak in Europe and the 17th in world. Valle d’Aosta is more renowned for their naturalistic beauty, striking alpine range, bringing thousands of rock climbers, alpine skiers and avid excursionists into the region. Beautiful castles dot the valleys, 72 in the main valley alone, built between the II and the XVI centuries. The castles are one of the principal attractions for tourists. The wine is a pleasant and unexpected surprise, as it is hard to imagine this place suitable for growing vines, but Valle d’Aosta produces some very fascinating and unique wines. Get your hiking boots on, and let’s start to climb up to reach the wine region at the top of the world.mens nike air max

 Elio Longobardi, Italian Wine Specialist
PlumpJack Wine & Spirits – Noe Valleynike air max junior

Valle d’Aosta a.k.a. Vallée d’Aoste, was originally a big glacier, when the glacier receded it left a wide valley furrowed by the river Dora Baltea that cut across the region for 100km (62mi). This mountain territory, 3268 km2 (1261 square miles), with a population of 126.000 inhabitants, makes the small and less populate region of Italy. Aosta is the capitol and also the only province, and has been populated since the 4th century B.C. by Celt tribes until the Romans annexed it 25 B.C. Always in constant commercial contact with their neighbors, France, across the Alps made the Valdostani a bilingual ethnic group where French is spoken equally if not more than Italian. The Fascists forbide the use of French language in the schools and in the press, and for this reason Valle d’Aosta was not a fertile ground for Mussolini and his ideology. The opposition to the dictatorship was strong. In 1948 the region acquires the Autonomist Regional Status that grants the right of self-government, though still part of Italy. Nowadays we have a total of five regions in Italy that benefit of the same legislative powers; beside Valle d’Aosta also Trentino-Alto-Adige, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Sicilia and Sardegna are elevated to this status.
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Who would have thought you could plant vineyards at 4,000 feet and make wine too? The geography is alpine, high peaks, and temperatures below zero most of the year would discourage any sane vintner. Not the Valdostani. They terraced the steep slopes with walls of rocks and bricks to contain the scars terrain formed by glacier alluvial soil of rock moraine and sand. The vines did the rest of the job, digging deep in search of nutriments they also helped to keep the soil from getting loose and prone to slide downhill. Working the land in this condition requires giving up the support of mechanization and industrial technologies, all the job in the vineyards is up to the farmer’s arms and legs. The terrain often reaches inclines up to 30% requiring you to be more of a climber than farmer. Many call this ‘Viticultura Eroica’, which can be accurately translated as ‘Extreme Viticulture’.
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Valle d’Aosta produces 0.1% of the total Italian wine production, making of about 1 million bottles on an area apt to cultivation of 1290 acres. What makes those wines more alluring is their unique peculiarity. We’ve already talked about the many grape varieties of each Italian region, here are even more. Grapes that are limited only to this specific area and you wont find them elsewhere. White grapes: Prie’ Blanc, Malvoisie, Petit Arvine. Red grapes: Cornalin, Mayolet, Petit Rouge, Premetta, Vien de Nus and Fumin. There also other important grape such as Nebbiolo from near by Piemonte, here called Picotendro. Gamay, Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay are cultivated as well. 
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Aosta Valley, Italy

Aosta Valley, Italy


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Pavese Ermes, Blanc de Morgex et de la Salle, Vallée d’Aoste 2002 D.O.P.
Ermes Pavese is a youthful grower in the commune of La Ruine just outside of the town of Morgex in the high Alps, just minutes from the summit of Mont Blanc.  Pavese works with the native grape known as Prié Blanc. This is the old varietal of the region was first mentioned in documents dated in 1691. The name probably refers to the wine’s use in Sunday Mass by priests (priest, in French). Starting with barely two hectares of vineyards, situated at about 1200 meters (~4000feet) a.s.l., Ermes has gradually expanded his holdings in this high altitude zone. He now produces three versions of Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle. Besides the bottle that we’ve selected, Ermes makes a version barrel aged and a dessert wine. Basically an ice-wine, the grapes are harvested in December when temperatures are between 17 and 14 Fahrenheit. Because these vineyards are so isolated, Pavese has been able to work with the original, pre-phylloxera rootstock since that parasite never infiltrated this area, because of the high elevation and sandy soil, when it came sweeping through Europe at the end of 1800. To understand the difficulties and the hard labor required in making wine here, you must understand that in order to plant vines the farmers have to remove all the rocks that cover the terrain until they get to the soil. Removing them manually, one by one. This labor of love produces wines that are the pure expression of this terroir. Nervy, crispy and racy with minerality that speaks of glacier and moraine rocks.
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Pavese Ermes

Pavese Ermes

Pavese Blanc de Morgex fruit is harvested between the end of September beginning of October. All the clusters are softly pressed, vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks and then filtered and bottled. This wine in the glass has a bright clear yellow straw color with golden reflections. Aromas are clean, the palate loaded with fresh acidity with a whisper er of aromatic herbs such as thyme and chamomile, floral notes of hawthorn, white fruit tones, pear Williams and yellow plums. The finish is long with accents of white pepper notes. Perfect as aperitif, it also works great with fish and white meat dishes as well with semi-firm aged cheeses.
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La Cantina di Cuneaz Nadir, Badebec, Rosso-Vallée d’Aoste 2012 DOP
Nadir Cuneaz is a young and enthusiastic wine maker, driven by a passion for his land, he puts all his energy into the vineyards owned by his family for over a century. The Cuneaz family has a mere 0.5 hectares near the town of Gressan, in the southern part of the region, reflecting a local mix of grape varieties, some of which were planted over 100 years ago. All the work in the vineyards is rigorously maintained and manually done by hand. The harvest usually happens at the end of October to allow plenty of time for the fruit to reach maturation. The grapes harvested earlier are left to dry for a couple of weeks until they achieve the right sugar concentration and then combine together for the vinification. The wine spends then one year in barrels in the cellar, which also serves as one of the rooms in their home.

The wine we’ve selected is composed of 90% Petit Rouge with small amounts of Fumin and Vien de Nus. The wine hints at the passito element, with rich, ripe fruit. Open the bottle, pour a glass and let the olfactory sensations bring reminders of mountain fruits and herbs. There are dark, sweet notes of blackberry, complimented by alpine flowers that reflect the position of the vineyards. The rich, balsamic notes of stone ripe fruits envelopes the palate with a soft, warm alcoholic accent well supported by a fresh and sapid structure. The name of this wine ‘Badabec’, comes from the mythical monster that is said to roam the forests above Gressan and occasionally feast on misbehaving children in the village! The perfect match for this wine is the Soupetta di Cogne (see recipe below).

Soupettas di Cogne (Cogne’s soup)
This dish, as all the Valdostana traditional cuisine are made with the few ingredients available in those remote valleys in the past when long winters made impossible any contact and exchange with the regions around. You may not think this recipe as a summer one but after a long day of hiking in the high elevation I can ensure you’ll be very hungry and something like this will put you in the right mood.

Ingredients (serves 4):
500 g fontina* cheese cut in ¼ inch slices
200 g butter
500 g rice
2 and 1/2 cup beef broth
1 kg stale rye bread
¼ tsp. grated nutmeg
Salt

1. Cut the bread in ½ inch slices and fried in 100 g of butter until the bread has a nice golden color.
2. In another pan, with 50 g of butter cook the rice as you do risotto, adding slowly 2 cups of beef broth and a pinch of salt. Cook on medium-high heat until the rice is almost done, 15-20 minutes.
3. Using a baking pan, start with strata of bread, then rice and top with slices of fontina. Repeat the process until all the bread, rice and cheese is used finishing the last top with fontina.
4. Pour now over the half-cup of remaining broth, melted butter and the nutmeg.
5. Bake in the oven at 375F for 4 minutes and serve warm.

* Fontina is the most famous regional cheese. It get its name from the pasture area called Font.