WinePosted by L'Enoteca di Mr. Brunello Thu, May 11, 2017 15:11:31
By Jennifer Delaloca
What the #VIA Program is bringing to the World of Wine and what it should mean to the Native Italian Wine Market in Copenhagen
Few years ago Stevie Kim & Ian D’Agata decided to join forces and launch a new educational initiative: The Vinitaly International Academy Program. First edition took place in 2015.
The main purpose with the course is to pamper, nurse, protect, clean up, push, hail, praise and let people (re) discover the Italian legacy of native grapes together with the compelling range of different wines these grapes foster in the hands of now numerous talented wine producers throughout Italy.
Traditional and international grapes such as Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon have for decades been the most obvious, secure choices to grow in many commercially important parts of Italy with families to bread -Chardonnay, Cab S & F + Merlot all being well recognised among consumers, thus easier to sell.
But while consumers are getting ever more wise on wine, hence more critical to what they drink, an eagerness to extent the vinous horizon (finally) seems to have taken place. And this is where the decade long exhaustive work of people like Ian D’Agata (VIA Scientific Director) and the late Luigi Veronelli (founder of the Italian Veronelli Guide) comes into right, having dedicated significant parts of their lives to preserve and protect the authenticity of Italian agriculture.
Ian D’Agata, a man in his best age, is –besides from all the almost geek-terrifying wine stuff he stores mentally- also a trained medical doctor specialized in pediatric gastroenterology (management of diseases of the gastrointestinal tract and liver) and pediatric liver transplants (!) (the exclamation point would be me unable to get over my impression) and has, among others, studied in important universities like Harvard, has won grants in cellular and molecular biology research and has taken the expertise gained from these medicine and research studies and ‘donated’ all of it to his continuing and tireless studies of The Native Grapes of Italy in all their biological essence. A path he’s now been on for +30 years.
The challenge of mistakenly identified grape varietals and the much needed clean up
Due to lack of other measures (like DNA-testing and biochemical methods) grapes used to be examined ampelographically (morphological visualisation of a bunch of grapes and determination of it’s organs performed only by the instrument of the human eye and the expertise belonging to who possessed that eye) until the beginning of this century. You might imagine how difficult and challenging this task has been. How do you recognize one bunch from another? They all look fairly the same, don’t they? Right, there are specific differences in between them, but I’m sure anyone who has visited a vineyard now and then -as well as plenty of times- will get my point; it can not have been easy to identify whether one certain bunch of grapes might have been Pelaverga, Vespolina or Nebbiolo. Or Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc. Or Merlot (even though Merlot should be easier to recognise in the spring, it has a sort of white shoot tip that makes it different from Cabernet S & F with which it is often confused (D’Agata; 2014)).
Nevertheless the study of ampelography (in short; ‘manual’ identification of grape varietals) was and is a very precise one, being of course taking very seriously, where every detail from the bunches’ shoot tips in spring to the colours of veins are minutely examined. Nonetheless, many mistakes have been made. And a lot of work has had to be done to ‘clean up’ all the wrongly identified grapes throughout times. Unfortunately the cleaning up is definitely not over yet.
One of the biggest problems with the situation of wrongly identified grapes today occurs when a grape thought to be X (for instance, fostering one style of wine) is examined in comparison to grape Y (for instance, fostering a completely different style of wine) to figure out whether grape X and Y might or might not be the same. Scientists are capable of declaring X and Y to be in fact the same. Even though they might foster completely different wines. Appearance, aroma and flavour wise. Why could that be? Might you say, could be obvious if the grapes were cultivated in two completely different environments? You’re right. It could be. But they could also be cultivated in the same environment and still foster different wines. And scientists who have ‘proven’ them identical to each other will (most likely) remain with their conclusions. But the reason why X and Y produce completely different wines, side by side or in different environments, might well also due to an ampelographers work from back then. Who could (quite easily) have mistaken the ground material, in this example, for instance of grape X. If X wasn’t X in the first place, but an ampelographer from back then concluded it was, then scientists of today will stick to the conclusion of X being ‘X’, even though it isn’t. What are their options? Go and do all the examination of all the grapes once again. That’s one h… of task.
Let’s think of Peino Noia (Pinot Noir), like Ian says, and take one of Ian’s examples too; Peino Noia, Pinot Grigio and Pinot Bianco all look very different to everyone (one is blue, one is pink and one is white) and foster different wines. But their genetic material is the same. Or so it seems. But anyone in his right mind will argue that they can’t possibly be. They’re different! But they aren’t, say scientists…
(Of course there’s an explanation, but it’s long and concerns (in short) how DNA testing is and can be provided. If you wish to dig deeper I suggest you buy Ian D’Agatha’s book “Native Grapes of Italy” from 2014).
All this actually also opens up another question. If so many grapes have been ampelographically mistaken in the past, how can we be sure that we’re really drinking what we think we are, when we’re having let’s say, a Barolo? Or a Barbaresco?… Well, that’s too big a question for now so I’ll let it rest.
This is all very confusing, amusing and at the same time absolutely lovely. It’s why we should be happy in Copenhagen. Because challenges like these are why Ian D’Agata has dedicated his life to Italian Native Grapes and their biological essence, stressed innumerable wine makers not to give up their sacred native vines and by all means make them native wines with all their fine material, grapes like Fenile, Picolit, Vermentino, Schioppettino and, of course, Tazzelenghe… Plus many others.
In Copenhagen we should be happy and thank ampelographers from the last century, indeed did they pave the way for today’s hungry Millennium world wine lovers, ready to look up from our main stream vanilla and chocolate flavoured glasses of wine and take our wine knowledge, passion and experience to the next level.
We should be happy in Copenhagen, because due to ampelographical challenges Ian and Stevie Kim made the VIA program possible, managing to involve wine professionals from all over the world to become completely hooked and so willingly entangled in this complicated affair of passing on the ‘new’ knowledge and understanding of these ‘new’ wines with deeper philosophies. Of nativeness.
Authenticity and deeper Philosophies of Wine
We know for a fact that consumers are looking for deeper purposes and interesting philosophies to attach to the wines they enjoy. Organic growth, biodynamic farming and natural wine making is for one a direction wine lovers around the world are keen on taking. Sustainability seems to be the most important value in this category, thus the reason to the rise of sales (Denmark has seen a strong growth of sales of organic wines and Fair-trade over the past years (source: Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nov 2016). In the extremely technologized, digital and increasingly robotized world we are all now living in, it makes perfect sense that core, fundamental values like how to take care of our planet, stands stronger than ever. ‘Nativeness’ is in this same league, together with the concept and usage of 0-km agriculture, both philosophies about keeping agriculture authentic. And sustainable. Authenticity is what we want, together with Sustainability + 0-km. It all goes hand in hand with Nativeness. These are the key words summing up the categories of wine and agriculture you and I and our times consumers are looking for.
It is know up to restaurateurs, hotels, wine shops, wine journalists and other good people from around the Globe to push the Italian Authentic Native Wine legacy to reach the recognition it deserves. Just like we’ve done with 0-km agriculture, sustainable natural, biodynamic and organic growth.
And it is my humble and honoured job as Scandinavia’s 1st Vinitaly International Academy Italian Wine Ambassador in the World, to pass on the knowledge I have in the field of Italian Native Grapes and the wines they foster by staying hungry and keep learning with the purity and excitement of a 5-year old, writing and teaching about what I now know and what I learn, continuing to import wines to Denmark, exposing them to the private market, to Horeca and certainly offering them to our guests at our restaurant (lenoteca.dk) on a frequent basis. And it’s my privileged job to invite all interested to follow me and the VIA Community on this journey, and become part in the manner that suits one the best.
The Journey has started
The journey has started and I don’t know where it’ll take us besides from right here, now and the third weekend of May 2017 (Friday 19 and Saturday 20) where I will be hosting a Franciacorta and Northern Italian White wines Dinner, to taste, discuss, enlighten our selves, and most likely meet some new lovely people too.Tickets can be purchased by going to madbillet.dk
WinePosted by L'Enoteca di Mr. Brunello Wed, January 27, 2016 13:38:23
By Jennifer Delaloca
Why is Chile so perfect when it comes to planting a vineyard? Or considering buying wines as a consumer? Be it excellent value for money wine or premium quality?
Analyzing and discussing some essential viticultural factors like weather & climate, soil, grape varieties and general wine making, points it out pretty well. Here is some you might want to know if you’re looking to become better at buying Chilean wines.
- Historically in short
- Regions and wine law
- Weather, climate, soil & viticulture
- Grape varieties
- What to look for when buying Chilean premium quality wine
Historically in short
Chile has been a wine producing country since the 16th century but didn’t get into the global match until full democracy came along in 1990. And this even though Miquel Torres was up on his toes already in the 1970s as a front runner wanting to ensure the world discovered what he declared Chile to be, nothing less than a “Viticultural Paradise”. Torres, and people like the Grand Marnier family (with Alexandra Marnier in front) & the Lafite-Rothschilds’ in Bordeaux, invested hugely in Chile and have had a significant impact on the wine industry, as we now know it. When the political renaissance starting in the late 1980s came along the way for that of the wine was paved as well. During the late 1980s and 1990s enormous investments were made in technology, equipment and expertise (mainly French winemakers were hired) facilitating a great development -a revolution- in both quality and quantity while Chile went from being a third wine producing country to the Bordeaux of South America. Still at pretty good prices. In fact, Chile has now for more than 20 years been well known for making excellent value for money wine. The trigger here is -what many might yet not know (or refuse to know)- Chile is also a great choice when it comes to premium quality wines.
As of 2015 Chile ranks sixth among wine-producing countries world wide
Regions and wine law
In 1994 a wine law was formalized, the Denominación de Origen (DO), covering the wine producing regions. A fifth region (the Atacama) to the original four principal ones -with each their sub-regions (before 13, now 15 in total)- are from North to South:
The northernmost desert like: Atacama (Cociapó Valley, Huasco Valley) + Coquimbo (sub-regions: Elqui, Limarì, Choapa Sub-regions)
In the middle (Chile’s historic wine center and where most of the best wine districts are found): Aconcagua (sub-regions: Aconcagua Sub-region, Casablanca, San Antonio Sub-regions) + Central Valley (Maipo, Rapel, Curicó, Maule. Rapel Valley subdivided in two zones; Cachapoal & Colcagua)
The coldest: Southern Regions (Itata, Bio Bio, Malleco)
Further, a preliminary geographical division of the wine valleys to better enhance terroir effects vs grape plantings is on the drawing board, dividing the regions into three; Andes, Entre Cordilleras (between mountain ranges) and Costa (coastal) (do note that Reserva and Gran Reserva labelling doesn’t have any formalized restrictions on how much time the wines need to have aged in oak)
Weather & climate
Chile benefits from a warm, dry and sunny Mediterranean climate (in the growing season with more than 30 degrees) with moderating temperatures due to a high range of diurnal temperature (up to 20 degrees) thanks to the cold air descending the Andes and the cool winds coming off the Pacific. The cool winds may also result in morning fog, which attributes to the development of complexity and natural acidity in the grapes throughout the growing season (in Southern Regions though, climate is wetter and colder due to heavier rain). Geographically Chile is indeed, like Torres once said, a Viticultural Paradise when it comes to wine production (as well as growing a number of other kinds of crops) situated with the splendid Pacific Ocean to the West, the Majestic Andes bordering Argentina to the East, The Atacama Desert up North, the South covered by the magnificent Patagonian Ice Field (with more than 600 km across the water of frozen masses of ice from the Antarctic, impressive), the cold Humboldt Current flowing up the Antarctica along the Pacific Coast to the west blowing cool air inland along the river valleys and the river valleys punctuating the low-lying range of mountains referred to as The Coastal range which are fed with water from the melting snow on the Andes, making irrigation easy and almost cost free. Thus, wine production costs lower. And bottle prices better.
Soil and viticulture
Generally, the vineyards of Chile are planted on flat, fertile land (in the Central Valley all though mainly infertile) with -thanks to the climate- shallow irrigation (half of Chile needs irrigation while some areas suffer from poor drainage and need no irrigation at all). In Aconcagua alluvial soils predominate and from south of Curicó in Central Valley to Bio-bio in Southern Regions soils are volcanic. Within the Central Valley soils of granitic mainly hug the hillsides spanning the five sub-valleys Maipo, Cachapoal & Colchagua (the Rapel Valley), Maule and Curicò. For the rest soils are mainly alluvial, clay, sand and loam. Because of the country’s physical isolation very few vine diseases see daylight (phylloxera for instance has never occurred) making the need of almost all sprays and chemical treatments unnecessary; these circumstances have encouraged organic winemaking essentially! Fertilizers (products rich in plant nutrients) are employed but their use is regulated to avoid too much vigor. Rootstocks are mainly European Vitis Vinifera (which is normally really difficult to experience in the New World due to V. Vinifera’s lack of resistance to phylloxera). The first rootstocks were Spanish varieties planted back in the mid-sixteenth century by Spanish missionaries. The rest are all new plantings deriving from the 1970s till today. Grafting is hardly necessary (no phylloxera threat considered) again making viticulture a little less expensive (and so wines even more economic).
White grape varieties are dominated by three, the first two are true traditional international ones; Chardonnay & Sauvignon. The last, Muscat de Alexandriawith North African origins, is mostly used to make Chile’s famous and traditional distillate Pisco (originally developed in Peru). Premium quality Sauvignons are now quite common in the cooler coastal sites, notably Casablanca and San Antonio. They have benefited greatly from being planted in cooler vineyard sites. This together with the fact that producers seek to avoid excessive herbaceousness (e.g. green bell pepper, jalapeños, grass), allows much more fruit and alcohol to thrive in the wines (lemon juice/zest, white peaches, passion fruit). Some have even gone through lees stirring and oak ageing adding more richness and structure. Chardonnays are frequently made in an international style with typical dairy flavors from malolactic fermentation, nutty and toasty notes from oak ageing and ripe fruit from the sunny climate. Aromatic grapes such as Viognier, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling also starts to get some recognition.
Among the black varieties, Pais (or listán prieto, originally known as criolla chica) dominated the plantings until the late 1990s when French fellows like Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, Carmenére and later, even Pinot Noir, was brought in. Today it is estimated that near to half the plantings of red varieties is Cabernet Sauvignon frequently Bordeaux-blended with merlot or with Syrah/Carmenére varieties – all are made in styles that go from simple and fruity to premium quality examples, full-bodied with ripe fruit, high tannins, acidity and excellent ageing potential. On the second place of the most planted variety Merlot is officially in but Carmenére, which wasn’t identified until 1994, has showed to be what is actually planted in many sites thought to be Merlot-plantings! The n. 2 sought after variety right after Cabernet Sauvignon is Syrah, which has almost become a success over night. It comes in a range of different styles depending on the site it’s planted in. The premium quality examples are from the coastal or cooler sites such as the Elqui Valley in Coquimbo or San Antonio in the Aconcagua. And finally the class’ everlasting fragile and delicate boy, Pinot Noir, is despite of shyness showing to have joyous days when planted in cooler locations, also like e.g. San Antonio.
What to look for when buying Chilean premium quality wine
The explanations about the grape varieties paired with the premium sites in Aconcagua; San Antonio and Casablanca. Do also look for wines from the up-coming Leyda Valley inside San Antonio and all five sub-valleys in the Central Valley, specially Maipo and Colchagua which are napping Napa Valley in California at its heals.
But also Bio Bio in Southern Regions + Limarí in Coquimbo are growing good reputations for Chardonnay while Elqui, also in Coquimbo, show good examples of Sauvignon and Syrah.
WinePosted by L'Enoteca di Mr. Brunello Sun, November 08, 2015 19:33:31
Last week I had the privilege of sitting through a Master Class on Macedonian wines, held by Wine Journalist Darrel Joseph from the Decanter. I was up for some quite interesting informations on the lands wine history as well as on the core quality of some of the wines from what may be referred to as the country's best producers. 'Best producers' seen from a, wonderfully, very enthusiastic Wine Journalist's point of view (Darrel), as well as some internationally heavy tongues such as Robert Parker/Wine Advocate.
First of all, I knew absolutely nothing about macedonian wines and I have to admit, that I hadn't even tasted some until this joined Master Class and tasting. I don't know how many out there are like me, but considering that Macedonia until recently was practically only known within Macedonia itself and Yugoslavia (until the breakup of the state in 1990) for its big volumes of bulk production with high yields and no investments in quality and/or branding, it's possible that the wines from this country might also be very new, if not unknown, to you as well. If so, this is where you are in for some great news.
Macedonian wines have a lot to offer. Leading producers and wine makers have from the late 1990's invested intensively in developing the grape growing and wine making. New wineries have been build while old ones have been restructured and the effort was with the establishment of the NGO Wines of Macedonia (WOM) in 2010 backed up. WOM provides strategic support to the Macedonian wine sector, advocating and branding. Macedonian wines have a great and growing potential but unfortunately - at least for now - a much too heavy use of wood. I truly hope that Macedonian producers will soon realise this. The country, a landlocked republic in the heart of the Balkans, situated with an altitude of 110-650 meters above sea level, borders Serbia, Kosovo, Albania, Bulgaria and Greece and has a population of 2 million people, an annual harvest of up to 300.000 tons of grapes and 120 million liters of wine production, 3 wine regions and 16 districts within, a few handfuls of indigenous grapes (28; 50% red and 50% white), the country's second biggest agricultural export product right after tobacco, a transitional climate (mediterranean to continental), 270 sunny days, rich alluvial souls (mineral, clay and limestone), the largest winery in Southeastern Europe, almost 225.000 ha within a total vineyard area of 33.500 representing 0,4% of the world's vineyard total and entering as the 25th country in world wine production. 60% is still sold in bulk and the remaining 40% in bottles.
We had 10 different wines, one rosé and nine reds, almost all reds made on the country's #1 grape pride; Vranec. No whites. I didn't have time to do the open wine tasting that followed the seminar with Darrel, so while still there I never found out why there were no whites at the Master Class. In the meantime I've passed by the homepage www.winesofmacedonia.mk to get wiser. Out of the approximately 14 indigenous green grape varieties Macedonia is blessed with, three of them are explained on winesofmacedonia.mk. The first; "Smederevka" (which again is supposed to originate from Serbia) should give high yield and wines with fruity aromas & low alcohol to be drunk young. The other two listed in there; "Zhilavka" and "Temjanika" on the other hand should leave top quality wines what goes for Zhilavka and for Temjanika, intense flavours of thymes and aromas of Muscat. Temjanika also comes in a dark, and rare edition, leaving top quality wines as the Zhilavka. I look forward to taste some of these ones and more in near future.
"Vranec" is the absolute king of grapes in Macedonia. I understand why. It has got a fantastic potential. Unfortunately, practically all the producers we tasted Vranec from make wines overloaded wines with oak. This is too bad. I'm convinced that Vranec can do much more a bit more on its own and become much more elegant and high-quality segment competing internationally, if applied with more delicate wine making techniques. I am looking forward to follow Vranec on its journey. Primarily, aroma and flavours of red and black berries were very intense and very pleasant in most of the wines we had. A bit to much jammyness in some and an interesting diversity in others, particularly one; Dissan Barrique 2012 from Bovin Winery. The wine had stored six months in new Macedonian oak barrels and both nose and palate came through with doubts of faultiness from cork. However, it was not cork. The characteristic taste and smell of cork fault slowly disappeared. And left me something 'different' that I find difficult to explain.
The best Vranic-based wine we had at this tasting was with no doubt the : Vranec Barrique 2011 from Ezimit Vino. A ruby red with pronounced aromas of red berries, sweet spices, wet leaves, savoury elements and an intense well structured body with pronounced flavours of oak, vanilla, red and black berries, chocolate, floral notes and a pleasantly long finish. 13,5% abv. Great glass.
Vranec Veritas 2011 from Stoby Winery. A purple youngster with intense aromas of red and black berries and sweet spices, in particular cinnamon. On the palate, full bodied and pronounced flavours of re berries, oak, vanilla, sweet spices and bitter chocolate. Long finish.
N. 3 left me thinking. A wine with a lot to say. And yet not as balanced as could have wished for. Vranec Terroir Grand Reserva 2012 from Chateau Kamnik. A heavily purple fellow with intense aromas of red fruits, sweet spices, vanilla, oak, coco and ... volatile acidity (nail varnish remover). Which is normally judged as an aroma fault. However, on the palate it didn't show. Instead it had high levels of tannins, burning alcohol (too much), pronounced flavours of coco, red fruits, oak, vanilla, chocolate, sweet spices and resinous. Long finish and purchasable at Skovgaardvine.dk in Denmark at 650 dkk.
Macedonian wines have inspired me.
WinePosted by L'Enoteca di Mr. Brunello Tue, August 25, 2015 14:40:32
By Jennifer Delaloca
Every day -but good- wine recommendations
Yesterday we had the pleasure of having Philipson Wine and Feudi-Ceo Francesco Domini over for a tasting. They were here to represent the biggest -and one of the most prestigious- houses in Campania: Feudi di San Gregorio
With an annual production of around 4 million bottles, 3.5 in Campania and the rest in Basilicata, Sicily and Puglia, Feudi di San Gregorio takes it home when it comes to quantity but indeed too in what goes for quality, value and
brand reputation. The family runned winery (Famiglia Capaldo) is highly renowned from South to North in Italy as well as in many parts of the world - and has managed to become so in only roughly three decades. Considering them starting out in the heart of where the 1980 devastating earth quake took place, in Irpinia, only five years after the disaster left the village and surrounding municipalities (e.g. Napoli, Benevento, Avellino) in brackish for years and decades to come (even today certain areas are absurdly still heavily effected) their accomplishment is quite remarkable. Our tasting covered seven examples from the basic ones to the top ones
Albente 2014, Falanghina 2014, Cutizzi 2013Reds:
Lacryma Cristi Rosso 2013, Rubrato 2012, Taurasi 2009, Serpico 2009They were all very good but here's our top 3 recommendations:
- appearance: clear, lemon coloured, light intensityNose:
Intense, aromatic, tropical (melone, passion fruit, banana) and green fruits (apple and pear)Palate:
High acidity, pear and green apples with medium finish
Basic good quality, will for instance do well as an aperitif or with low spiced vegetable and/or fish dishes + easy going salads.
Cutizzi Greco di Tufo 2013
- apperance: clear, light lemon coloured and light intensity
Nose: Citrus (grape fruit), jasmin, green apples
Palate: Citrus (lemon), green apples
Well balanced dry white, will for instance do well with shell fish, fresh cheese and light (not to heavily spiced) fish/vegetable pasta dishes. Has got three glasses in Il Gambero Rosso.Lacryma Cristi Rosso 2013
- apperance: clear, light purple red, medium intensityNose:
Spicy, red berries, crushed pepperPalate:
Acidic, red berries (red currant), balsamic, light stable
Good glass of every-day wine produced in basalt soil on Mount Vesuvio, will for instance do well with pasta, poultry and acidic food (like corn, lentils, currants, cranberries, blueberries)
All wines can for the moment only be purchased through Philipson Wines here
The other wines, specially Taurasi and Serpico 2009, were absolutely great bottles but you have to wait for them to experience their full potential.