Sometimes it is more about the bottle than the wine: 64 Masi Valpol absolutely singing…..

Steak and Valpolicella.
Steak and Valpolicella.

Last week I pulled out an old bottle of Masi 64 Valpolicella that I picked up for under $20 a bottle in Italy. With wines this old, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes it is more about the bottle than the actual wine. Luckily for us, this wine was in peak form and showed so beautifully. Imagine the life and the travels of this wine before it landed on my table 39 years after being made….

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D’Anna family tradition: Pizza e Vino as a family….

Images courtesy of Stefano D'Anna
Images courtesy of Stefano D’Anna

Last Friday night we headed round to my parents’ house for a swim, eat pizza and drink some good wine.

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My father was in top form and banged out roughly twenty different pizza’s that were as good as any I have eaten in Australia. Matched with old school Australia Cabernet and old Bordeaux it was one of the best Pizza experiences (and there has been lot’s both here in Australia I have had.

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In the next few months his wood fired pizza oven from Napoli will be ready and shipped to Oz for my father to work his magic.

Awesome Italian summer white: Giuseppe Quintarelli Bianco Secco 2010

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I love the wines of Guiseppe Quintarelli and when I get the time, my aim is to put together over a ‘dozen of his wines over a time span of a dozen years’ with my fellow Quintarelli wine loving friends just to illustrate what a master he was. In his passing and in the future I think he will be (if he is not already now) recognised as one of Italy’s greatest forward thinking and most talented winemakers. He was able to think outside the square when most could only look in.

This wine, whilst made from primarily the Garganega grape which forms the basis of Soave, also includes smaller percentages of Sauvignon Blanc and Soarin (believed to be related to the Hungarian ‘Tokay’). and whilst not as ‘great’ or as complex of Quintarelli’s Amarone’s or Valpolicella’s it is a deserving wine under the great man’s label.

On the fourth day of being open, it is still as fresh and vibrant as day one and I would love to see this wine in four or five years time. Killer wine from a legendary producer.

Welcome Mr Franco Biondi Santi (Montalcino) in Oz to the @mondoimports family…..

20121025-102744.jpgBiond-Santi remains a beacon for traditionally made Rosso and Brunello. At 90 years of age, Franco Biondi-Santi insisted on leading my tasting of wines from cask and bottle. The years go by for all of us, but I haven’t seen any decrease in Biondi-Santi’s enthusiasm and passion. The Biondi-Santi wines are more approachable young than they used to be, but little else appears to have changed. Biondi-Santi harvests on the early side. The wines see long macerations on the skins – in steel for the straight Brunello (also known as the Annata) and oak for the Riserva – and are then aged in large oak casks. Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate Wine Advocate #200 April 2012

Over the last few months I have been working on a new Brunello producer to go with awesome wines of Il Palazzone. Well today I can tell you the second Montalcino producer are the wines of Franco Biondi Santi from Montalcino. During my Vinitaly 2013 trip I will visit the estate and taste and try the wines of Mr Franco Biondi Santi.

I have always admired the traditional styles wines of Biondi Santi and it will be an honour to sell his wines in Australia. We are bringing in the 2008 Rosso di Montalcino, 2006 Brunello di Montalcino and 2009 Rosato. All three wines will land down under around mid March.

Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino
Biondi Santi Brunello di Montalcino

Below are Antonio Galloni’s thoughts on the wines we are bringing in:2008 Rosso di Montalcino: The 2008 Rosso di Montalcino is a beautiful, sexy red laced with sweet cherries, flowers, spices and licorice. Firm yet well-integrated tannins frame an expressive core of fruit as this mid-weight, gracious wine opens up in the glass. The Biondi-Santi Rosso isn’t inexpensive, but it does provide plenty of insight into the wines of the estate that first put Montalcino on the map. Biondi-Santi uses their youngest vines for the Rosso. Anticipated maturity: 2012-2020. 90 points, Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #200

Brunello di Montalcino 2006: The 2006 Brunello di Montalcino is remarkably harmonious at this young stage, quite a departure at Biondi-Santi. The 2006 shows dazzling richness and integrity in its powerful fruit in a totally captivating, sensual style. This is a beautifully centered, complete Brunello with a bright future ahead of it. The Brunello was fermented in cement and aged for three years in cask. Anticipated maturity: 2016-2036. 94 points Antonio Galloni Wine Advocate #194

Rosato 2009: no reviews

The last born created by Franco Biondi Santi. It is a pink ruby coloured wine , with a nose of violet and light vanilla, produced by vinifying in white the grapes of Sangiovese from the Greppo Estate and aged for 18 months in stainless steel vats.Apr 2012

Forza Campania: a stunner from Nanni Cope….

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Over the next couple of months, Campania will be front and centre in my line of thinking. Next month I am presenting two dinners on Campania for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival with good friend Naz Fazio and importer of this stunning wine. I am also heading to Campania in early April to visit the producers that we import via @mondoimports and also touch base with a growing band of friends who call Naples home.

When it comes to native varieties in Southern Italy, Campania has been leading the charge since the early 1990’s. Recently it has been great to see other regions like Puglia, Calabria, Sicily and Basilicata follow suit and this is where my interest lies with these regions. I love native varieties grown in the region they originate in. The Nanni Cope TERRE DEL VOLTURNO IGT 2009 is exactly that wine and it is one of the best wines to come out of Campania for a very long time.

This wine is a blend of Pallagrello Nero 85%, Aglianico 12% and Casavecchia 3% and shows how good the grape variety Pallagrello Nero can be. Whilst it has similarities to Aglianico, it is more feminine, delicate and structured slightly different on the palate. Awesome wine and a real highlight for the red wines of Campania.

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Nanni Cope’ is the fruit of the inner passion of Giovanni Ascione for wine, as well as of
his encounter with a unique vineyard at Castel Campagnano, in the upper region of
Caserta, Campania. It is a beautiful, unpolluted area, with vineyards alternating with
woods, highly draining sandy soils, 25% slopes, and daily draughts, throughout the
year. The Taburno and the Matese massifs are nearby, the sea is about thirty kilometres
away, and the middle course of the Volturno river flows in the neighbourhood.
Vigna Sopra il Bosco spreads over a 6.2 acres surface at about 700 feets above sea
level, mainly exposed to the north-west. The plants are aged over twenty years on
average. The main grape is Pallagrello Nero, a late variety with a thick skin, austere,
characterized by ultra-fine tannins, which produces wines of strong personality. Its
rows, directed from the east to the west, also include Aglianico, which contributes to the
wine’s structure and acidity; both varieties are complemented with a very small share of
Casavecchia from own centuries old ungrafted vinestocks, in the region of Pontelatone.
Vigna Sopra il Bosco is a true obsession. The plants are registered one by one and the
whole vineyard is divided into sectors subject to different pruning, foliage management,
surface management, and harvesting approaches.

The whole agronomic philosophy is aimed at minimizing interventions. The use of
herbicides or pesticides is utterly excluded. Harvesting is performed row by row,
sometimes plant by plant, based on the desired maturation level, over a period of time
that spans from the end of September to mid-October. The grapes are selected bunch by
bunch and blended, without distinguishing between varieties, however at equal
maturation stages.

Winemaking occurs under constant temperature control, with minimum two-week
maceration and malolactic fermentation in new 500-l french tonneaux, where the wine
matures for one year, followed by bottle ageing for about eight months. The entire
process is aimed at pursuing maximum elegance. No overriping, no over-concentration,
but only the purest expression of two noble varieties, grown on soils that are perfectly
suited for high-quality vine-growing.

Giovanni Ascione, Nanni Cope’ as a child and forever in his heart, first developed his
passion for wine as a young man in France, when he was a manager in a multinational
automotive company. After a long and successful career in several companies, he
became management consultant, providing strategic support to organizations of various
sizes and in a wide variety of sectors. Meanwhile his mad passion for wine made him
travel through the world and write about unique places, people, and wines, also as a
contributor to major guides and specialized magazines. He tastes two thousand five
hundred wines a year on average, and never stops travelling, confronting with others,
trying to discover and taste new things or enjoy the utmost emotion of a great wine.

Varieties
– Pallagrello Nero 85%, Aglianico (clones VCR 23-VCR11) 12%, Casavecchia 3%.
Vineyards
– Vigna Sopra il Bosco, over 95%, in the Village of Castel Campagnano, district of
Monticelli. Average age over 20 years. Varieties Pallagrello Nero and Aglianico.
– Vigna Scarrupata, about 5%, in the Village of Pontelatone. Average assumed age
120 years. Variety Casavecchia.
2009 harvest: from September 26 to October 9.
2009 yield: 34 hl/ha (13,7 hl/ac).
2009 production: 7,500 750ml bottles and 120 Magnum bottles.
Alcohol: 13.30%.
Ph: 3.45.
Non reducing dry extract: 31,3 g/l.
Total polyphenols: 3,220 mg/l.
Net volatile acidity: 0.49.
Total sulfites: 75 mg/l.
Collection: in cases of about 16 kg (35 lb) each.

Wine-making technique: manual selection, soft crushing, fermentation and maceration
in steel vats at a 27°C (80.6°F) maximum temperature, wish short manual pump-over;
maceration differentiated according to the properties of the individual grape varieties,
for a total of 14 to 19 days; malolactic fermentation in 500-l new french tonneaux;
maturation in new casks (50%) and old casks (50%) for 13 months; bottle fining for at
least eight months.

 

Learn about Italian wine from the master: Jane Faulkner….

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For those who want to learn more about Italian wine but do not know where to start? My good friend, mentor and all round expert on Italian wine has resumed her very popular classes on Italian wine at Carlton Wine Room in Carlton, Victoria. Well worth it if you want to learn more.

On the 6th and 14th of March, I will be hosting dinners on Campania at the Carlton Wine Room for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. More on those events later…