Tag Archives: Roagna

The crazy month of September…

Our new wine store for Boccaccio.
Our new wine store for Boccaccio.

September has been a crazy month. I can’t remember anything like it so I apoligise for the short break in blogging. Lots have been happening: new shipments from our favourite producers like Roagna, Fatalone, Lucarelli and Passopisciaro and a massive amount of building works going on. So good but so crazy.

Our new underground bakery for Boccaccio Continental Supermarket nearly ready.
Our new underground bakery for Boccaccio Continental Supermarket nearly ready.

Whilst our new wine store will be ready in the month, most of the cosmetic changes for our Continental supermarket won’t be seen visually until early next year. Over the last couple of months we have been building a new underground bakery for our Italian bakers and it will be double the current space they operate in. Needless to say, moving a three tonne oven originally shipped from Verona had it’s challenges. Just fitting it through the door (see above) took a day and our technicians are installing it as we speak. It all should be operational by mid next week.

On the importing front, lot’s of awesome stuff has landed. Think the new 2012 Etna Rosso from Passopisciaro has just landed and already snapped up by the best wine stores and restaurants in Oz and the demand for these wines is now crazy and it has been a great five years building up the goodwill for Passopisciaro in Australia.

Next week things will quieten down a touch and I look forward to hosting a private dinner looking at four decades of the standard Produttori del Barbaresco at Sosta Cucina next Thursday. Notes will be posted here later in the week.

A new month, a new batch of wines arrive in Oz


Well after a great holiday it was back to reality yesterday with a container waiting at my back door on my first day back.

Whilst I have been away, new wines from a variety of producers have been rolling through the door. It is always a highlight when new release wines from Luca Roagna arrive and last night I opened a bottle of the new Roagna Le Coste Barolo 2007.

This famous vineyard has been making some of the best wines in Barolo for close to one hundred years. Some of the first Giacomo Conterno Monfortino Barolo came from this vineyard and Luca has managed to buy grapes from this plot for the first time.

It is a beautiful wine and I can’t wait to see it develop over the next two decades.

With holidays over, it is going to be a busy month ahead.

Roagna, Gaja & Mister Bianco:Two fantastic Italians and an awesome meal.

Last night I went to Mister Bianco with three mates and some fantastic Italian reds.

If you live in Melbourne, Mister Bianco in Kew is definitely worth a visit. It has been only open for a week but has already gathered a big following.

Mister Bianco

285 High Street
Kew Victoria 3101
Tel +61 3 9853 6929
E info@misterbianco.com.au

The best wine of the night was Pichon Lalande 1986 (thanks Chris H) but the Roagna Paje Barbaresco 2000 and Gaia Conteisa Barolo 1996 were fascinating. The Roagna had the Gaja last night but in the long run, I think the Gaja will be the better wine.

This was my second visit within a week and both times Mister Bianco has not disappointed. And yes, it also BYO for those who want to enjoy some special bottles. Please if you are going to take bottles of wine to restaurants like Scopri and Mister Bianco that actually go out of their way to allow you to bring a bottle, give you fantastic service and a great meal; make sure that the bottle of wine you bring is worthy of the effort they put in.

New wines and new vintages due next week…


Talk about a kid in a candy shop, next week we will recieve new wines from our existing producers Luca Roagna, Piero Benevelli and Cristo di Campobelli.

We will also be receiving the first shipment for Australia for Dogliani producer Bruno Porra who specializes in kick arse Dolcetto. We discovered by good fortune that Bruno is a mentor of sort to Massimo Benevelli and it is a real honour to introduce his wines into the Australian marketplace.

We also have the wines of Barbaresco producer Traversa. Think old school and old vines. 80 year old Barbera vines and 55 year old Nebbiolo vines all add up to some pretty special wines. The only ‘spanner in the works’ was the fact that they speak no English and don’t believe in email so it was phone and fax to get things done. Talk about old school.

Well I can’t wait for the wines to arrive and get them into the mouths of Italian wine lovers.


Barolo Chinato: the eternal nectar…

Whilst nearly every lover of Italian wine (and wine in general) has probably drunk Barolo, I doubt the majority of these people have made the trek over to Barolo Chinato.

For me Barolo Chinato is an exotic and mysterious drink that reminds me of the times when Piedmont was a very different person to that we know of today. When it is dark, cold and raining I drink Barolo Chinato and imagine. Imagine what it must have been like all those years ago when one of the sole comforts for old men and women was a strange and mysterious drink conjured up pharmacy in Serralunga d’Alba using a grape variety to which they had known and loved.

It seems slowly by word and mouth, almost like Chinese whispers, Barolo Chinato spread and soon other wineries like Ceretto, Marcarini, Roagna and Borgogno all had their own recipe for this mysterious wine. In the cellars of Alba, you can still buy Vecchio (old) Chinato from the 1950’s and it does taste like the eternal nectar, a digestivo made by the wine gods for everyone to enjoy.

The history of Barolo Chinato according to Ceretto.

‘Barolo Chinato originated at the end of the 19th century in the pharmacy of Dr. Cappellano in Serralunga d’Alba, and the first producers were the chemists in the various local villages. In just a short time, it became a mythical elixir with extraordinary properties, permeated with the ring of mystery that is typical of the secrecy of alchemic formulae. Its success story was helped by the fact that it was made using Barolo, the wine of Kings. With this background it spread initially amongst the country folk as a medicinal infusion, and then gained popularity as an aromatized wine, also becoming the flagship product of leading wine-producing families. Following a heyday period it began a decline that has led to just a few labels remaining on the market today, along with the vivid memories of more elderly consumers’. 

Well what is exactly Barolo Chinato? This is Luca Roagna’s take on it.

Barolo Chinato has been made by the Roagna family with a secret recipe for hundreds of years. It has been the digestive of the family for decades and a few years ago we decided to introduce this product in our range of wines.

As a beautiful and unique wine excellent as digestif or in combination with desserts, Barolo Chinato has its origins in the heart of the Barolo area in the second half of the 19th century. It derives from an ancient recipe that has been passed on from ancestors. It is made by the infusion of China Calissaya bark and alpine herbs, peel, bark with alcohol and Barolo wine.

In Barolo Chinato Roagna we use 33 different kinds of herbs which are macerated in grappa di Barolo, a little ‘sugar and Pira Barolo Riserva from the vineyards of Castiglione Falletto. Aged for a long time in large oak barrels, this elixir with 16 ° alcohol has an amber-colour with reflexes of ruby red. The intense and persistent, bitter taste from the China Calissaya bark and the complexity of the Barolo wine, makes it delicious and inviting. A rare specialty for connoisseurs which was for a long time regarded as a medicament.

There are several great ways to serve this wine: With mineral water and ice as an aperitif, smooth like a liqueur or heated and served with orange peel it becomes the ideal beverage for chilly evenings.

It is not just a wine for meditation; Barolo Chinato is fantastic accompanied by chocolate desserts. After opening a bottle it is possible to continue to enjoy if for weeks or even years as the nectar is an almost eternal.

Barolo Chinato should be served in a white wine glass to fully enjoy the olfactive qualities. The production is very limited: less than 1000 bottles for each bottling.

Grapes: 100% Nebbiolo Barolo D.O.C.G.
Wine-making: that of Barolo Riserva La Rocca La Pira and after wine aging proceeds to the maceration of herbs in brandy.’

Probably the most famous Barolo Chinato is that of Teobaldo Cappellano. I have had in on a number of occasions and it is for me, with the Roagna the best Barolo Chinato available. If you are ever in Piedmont, make sure you take the opportunity to try this amazing wine: and for the ultimate pairing, try it with some chocolate.

Barolo Chinato has limited availability in Australia but you should be able to buy a glass of it at most top line Italian restaurants (like Scopri) and Italian focused wine merchants like Enoteca Sileno, City Wine Store, Boccaccio Cellars and Prince Wine Store.

The amazing Luca Roagna


Last year after Vinitaly, I took the time to spend a few hours with Luca Roagna looking at wines that he had made in the past and with a glimpse to the future.
I walked away amazing and assured that his wines would have a home in Australia. However this was not always the case. I would classify Roagna as an ultra traditional producer. In fact, the wineries motto is ‘Roagna does not change’. This is a pretty powerful message to the wineries that go points chasing. To Luca Roagna, he does not care if his wines score 96 points or 69 points. It will not change the way he makes wine. Maybe a few years ago this would have frightened me off. Not anymore. In fact these are the sort of producers I have imbraced over the last couple of years.
It is true that Roagna is not for everyone. No problems with that. However, if you do dig the wines, each different cru will blow you away.