Great to see recognition for a fantastic (and cheap) Pugliese white….

On my last trip to Italy last April, I did a 400km mercy dash to Puglia from Abruzzo to visit the wineries and vineyards of some of the producers I was interested in importing. One white wine blew me away and I ordered 400 dozen as soon as I tried it.

Well this wine: Luccarelli Bianco Salento 2010 from Puglia is now getting some fanstistic reviews from some of the best wine journalists in Australia. I always have a bottle of this wine in my fridge at at A$15 retail, it is such a fantastic wine.

It has really good distribution in independent retail in Melbourne and Sydney as is already on the lists of some pretty smart Italian restaurants.

Here are some other reviews and some background information on the wine.

Comes from the heel of Italy (Puglia), is made from local grapes (Malvasia Bianco, Verdeca, Bombino Bianco), that are no longer just for local people, and is boot full of personality.     Importer: Mondo Imports

Spicy, mineral, a sort of pear/apple fruit and floral too. You might think it’s fat and round, but then controlling lemony acid brings it back to feeling lean – a wine of contrasts. There’s some orange, dried herb and fennel flavours in there too – especially on the finish which features just a tweak of bitterness. Toothsome good value. The score? Don’t think any will complain about my rating, and indeed, some may find it churlish – but this is a wine made for drinking, not scoring. Recommended. Drink : 2011 – 2015 90 Points Gary Walsh, The Wine Front

Deep and plump smelling, some lees creaminess, yellow stonefruit. But it’s all about the taste: excellent weight and intensity, pith and peel and creaminess, tight and really lip-smacking fruit. The fruit lasts long on the palate in a refreshing, primal, unaffected way. Can’t think of an Aussie or New Zealand white now I’d want to drink at this price. But I would buy this. 90/100 Tim White, The Financial Review

Love the Lucarelli Bianco Salento. Made up of MALVASIA BIANCO – VERDECA – BOMBINO BIANCO This fantastic white is made of three indigenous grape varieties from Puglia

In the heart of D.O.C. Primitivo di Manduria area, centre of production of one of the most intense and scented Italian wines, the art of vine-growing has moulded the landscape through the patient and meticulous care of very old bush-vines, which are still manually treated, with millenary techniques dating back to the times of Basilian monks or even earlier to the ancient Greeks. Together with ideal climatic and environmental conditions, the bush vine system allows to bottle wines of great organoleptic quality, and uniqueness. The aim of Terre di Sava is to make its work the faithful expression of the traditions related to the territory it was named after, through a moderate, non-invasive use of modern vinification technologies. This intuition generated the Terre di Sava challenge: to enhance and make fondness grow around the villages, the bush vines, the grapes; ancient traditions – combined with modern technologies – which are never to be lost. Terre di Sava Bianco Salento is a beatiful coupage of varieties: Malvasia Bianca, Verdeca, Bombino Bianco.

Patience is a virtue: especially after 35 years…

After thirty years of trying, we have finally purchased the last freehold property in the groups of shopfronts which our family retail wine and food business Boccaccio Cellars sits. We settled yesterday and it is such a weird feeling and still feels almost surreal. This now unifies all our buildings which is fantastic. All up we will have 100 metres of street fronts which we will now redevelop and aim to build a benchmark Oz but Italian inspired Supermarket.

Wine (of course) and Italian imported goods (beer, mineral water, pasta, cheese, etc) will become an even bigger focus together with our own smallgoods and pasta. We hope that Boccaccio will a benchmark for all things Italian Food and Wine in Melbourne.

Plenty of room for more Italian wines and corks 🙂

Time for a glass of Champagne, it is long overdue!!

Who needs Brunello when you have Chianti Riserva…..?

Ten years ago, if you were to ask me my favorite wine style Brunello would have been up there. Ask me what I thought of Chianti Riserva and I would have shrugged my shoulders and given the impression that it was good without being great.

Fast forward ten years and my perception of Brunello has changed quite dramatically.  Recently I was asked if had an 2006 Brunello from my import stable and I politely stated that I gave up importing Brunello years ago when I could not justify buying it at double the price of Chianti Riserva.

Don’t get me wrong there is some truly amazing Brunello out there. Brunello that I do consider ‘great’ and ‘world class’. There are dozens of producers that make benchmark Brunello and I would be happy to (and do) have these wines in my cellar.

However, it seems for the rest that using the words ‘Brunello’ on the label regardless of the quality gives them the automatic right to charge top dollar for some seriously average wine. Why is Brunello double the price of most Chianti Riserva? It doesn’t make sense. What makes more sense is having Chianti Riserva in your cellar. It arguably ages for longer than Brunello and for me makes a better example of both the terroir of Tuscany and also Sangiovese as a grape variety.

I have had some great old bottles of Chianti Riserva (none better than this Castello Monsanto Chianti Riserva 1980 which we drank in Italy two years ago) and whilst I have not drunk many bottles of old Brunello, aged Chianti Riserva and Brunello drunk at the same ages has shown to me, that I prefer aged Chianti Riserva.

If your looking for benchmark Chianti Riserva in Australia, make a beeline for the single vineyard Felsina Chianti Classico Riserva Rancia.

Expression of a vineyard

If there is exceptional location to gaze out over all of Fèlsina and its surrounding areas, that place is the vineyard on the ancient Rancia estate, at over 410 metres altitude. Its grapes are vinified and bottled separately. The vineyard lies completely within the Chianti Classico zone; its climate and soils are characteristic of the entire valley centred on Siena and bear witness –not only ideally- to its close relationship to the areas of Montalcino, of Montepulciano, and of the Maremma.

From 1983 on, Rancia’ s 100% sangiovese has consistently reflected its own terroir, demonstrating a lengthy progression, a liveliness, and an elegance truly rare and distinctive.

If you looking for good vintages of Chianti Riserva, I would buy 2004, 2006 and 2007. Vintages 2004 and 2007 are classic Tuscan years with perfectly weighted savoury fruits and tannin in perfect balance. Vintage 2006 is a more robust year, with darker, richer fruits and equally sizable tannins. It will be a very long lived vintage.

The time as come: Carlton into a final and I am going!!!

I will be wearing my Carlton beanie for the next three days and maybe even longer if we win!! For those outside Australia, click on link to find out more

The game is on Sunday afternoon at 2.30pm and if we win and beat our arch rival Essendon, I will be celebrating with Champagne and Florentine T-Bone on my weber (see below 🙂 for dinner Sunday night.

My brother’s trek back to Italy & Mount Etna to do vintage at Passopisciaro….

Being from a good Italian family, my father and his brother bought land out in the Yarra Valley, Australia in the late 1960’s. They bought 120 acres and for thirty odd years this land was used to raise different sorts of cattle more as a hobby than anything else. In the late 1990’s whilst we were at University my brother decided that wine making was his thing, and he along with Mario Marson (ex Mount Mary, Jasper Hill and now Vinea Marson) planted out the first twenty acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc on our site in the Upper Yarra Valley.

Fast forward fifteen years and Franco is now considered one of the ‘young gun’ winemakers in Australia crafting out some pretty smart Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and smallish quantities of Pinot Blanc, which has established quite a cult following.

Whilst we might be twins, Franco is as Italian as a meat pie and the exact opposite of my brother Stefano and myself. That’s what happens when you become a farmer in country Australia!!

Well this year, Franco is making the trek to Mount Etna, Sicily to do vintage at one of the wineries we import and distribute in Australia called Passopisciaro. An Australian with a Southern Italian heritage making Chardonnay in Southern Italy. Passopisciaro do not make average Chardonnay, it is considered one of the best in Italy so it will be interesting to see what he thinks.

Mount Etna is one of those special almost surreal places. This is an amazing part of Italy with unbelievable scenery, amazing food and beautiful wine and women. How can you beat that?

“New wave Etna wine could be said to start from 2001 when Andrea Franchetti identified something special…”

Jancis Robinson, Financial Times, Aprile 2008

History of Passopisciaro….

In 2000, prior to the Etna and its ancient vineyards become a place of pilgrimage and home to a new generation of wine, Andrea Franchetti, decided that it would create a new farm on the slopes of the volcano. Born Passopisciaro cellar, 40 acres in the town of Castiglione di Sicilia, on the north side of Etna, about a thousand meters of altitude, where Andrea Franchetti vinified grapes from old and very old vines in the area. The first wine produced is Passopisciaro,nerello mascalese brilliant ruby color, perfume of great elegance, with that extraordinary, mineral depth that characterizes the great wines of Etna. A wine “Bordeaux”, made with grapes coming from the same ancestor Botanical Pinot Noir .The vision of Andrea Franchetti allowed to continue with a high-altitude vineyards in order to reduce dramatically the yields with no risk of overripe and excess alcohol.

In 2009, four other producing wines that are named The Contrade Etna: Porcaria, Guardiola, Chiappemacine, Sciaranuova, Rampante.Contradas are cru ‘s Mount Etna, ancient feudal property which over time were split but still well mapped. Andrea Franchetti realized immediately that the ‘grapes reach the cellar, gave different wines depending on the district came from. Contradas are each on a lava flow with minerals, grain size and different altitudes: this has led to Andrea Franchetti winemaking wines each district separately. Today, the wine gives his reason, and maintains a prominent place in the excellence of the great red Etna.

The Chardonnay is grown at 1000 meters and whilst Chardonnay from Etna is never going to pay the bills, it is a fascinating wine to try. It speaks more of the place than the variety which I do not think is a bad thing. It will interesting to see and taste Franco’s take on it.