Sherry, Andalucia and More

Brown Barry and his Officer's Cross of the Order of Civil Merit

Barry Brown was awarded Spain’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit for his work promoting Spanish wines.

 

Toronto-based Barry Brown is likely North America’s foremost authority on the wines of Spain.  He has visited the country’s wine regions dozens of times and has founded long-lasting relationships with producers old and new on his knowledge, charm and wit.  I once walked with him down a large thoroughfare in Jerez de la Frontera while locals shouted “Eh, Barry” from both sides of the street.  He’s more at home there than in his home town of Kitchener Ontario.

Barry has just announced the details of his 2017 trips to Seville and Jerez.  Like his previous tours, this one will feature exclusive visits, tastings and meals with producers, and artistic and cultural events. The accommodations are painstakingly selected and arranged.  I’ve pasted his “pitch” letter below.  If you’ve got the time and the tastes,  contact Barry for more information.  He’s got a few places left.

 

THE SOUL OF ANDALUCIA: SEVILLA AND SHERRY

Wine, Cuisine, Art, and Architecture 

As I had shared so many months ago—in light of the overwhelming responses to our tours,  in 2017 I am taking four groups to Andalusia in southern Spain—and finally—I have the dates! The tours will commence in Sevilla for three glorious nights in the Hotel Alfonso XIII (Grand Deluxe rooms!), after which we travel to Jerez de la Frontera for eight nights in the         always so charming and welcoming, Hotel Sherry Park.

Group I – May 17 arrive Sevilla – May 28 depart Jerez de la Frontera

Group II – May 30 arrive Sevilla – June 10 depart Jerez de la Frontera

Group III – August 29 arrive Sevilla – September 9 depart Jerez de la Frontera

Group IV – September 10 arrive Sevilla–September 21 depart Jerez de la Frontera.

Andalusia – the vast south of Spain is bordered by the Mediterranean on the south, Extremadura and Castilla-La Mancha on the north, the Atlantic on the west, and the Mediterranean the east. Here you can experience the historic and monumental cities of Granada, Cordoba and–Sevilla.

While the lands north of Andalusia create excellent reds, whites , rosados, and cava—here, in the south-west corner of Andalusia, an hour south of Sevilla – in the Sherry Triangle comprised of the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, El Puerto de Santa Maria, and Sanlucar de Barrameda,  is crafted the world’s most undiscovered elixir—“Sherry”—an incomparable white wine.

As I have shared in the past—I of course enjoy the various styles of red wine—and as well, I very much appreciate the range of white wines, as I value dry, crisp rosados. But Sherry, the waiting to be discovered jewel – I treasure!

Our adventure will commence in magnificent Sevilla. This corner of Spain was inhabited by a strong Iberian culture by the Iron Age in 800 BC. Phoenicians, Greeks, and Carthaginians followed—and in 206 BC the Romans arrived on the peninsula, ruling for 700 years, until replaced by the Visigoths from the north. The Moors from North Africa then invaded dominating much of Spain for almost 700 years—leaving a legacy of astonishing science, agriculture, architecture, and cuisine.

In 1492 with the fall of Granada to Isabella and Fernando—the reunification of Spain under the Catholic monarchs was complete—with Spain entering an era of imperial expansion and prosperity, which included the discovery of the New World. With ships sailing from and returning to Sevilla—the city became one of the most affluent in Europe. Building upon the foundation created by the Moors, outstanding palaces, churches, and public buildings were built. Artistic life flourished with new vigour.

There is the serene Parque Maria Luisa which originally formed the grounds of the Baroque Palacio de San Telmo dating from 1682. Many of the exquisite buildings now in this park were erected for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929—one of which is the magnificent five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII our opulent, if not breath-taking home for three nights. The architecture is Neo-Moorish with an abundance of beautiful “azulejo” tile work—glazed ceramic tiles, first introduced by the Moors, esteemed in the south of Spain, with wrought iron and ornate brickwork. The Alfonso XIII is a magnificent work of art in itself.

We will experience Sevilla’s rich history, art, and architecture on our guided walking tours, including the spectacular Cathedral of Sevilla and the Real Alcazar—the royal residences. Velasquez was born in Sevilla—his art hangs in the 16th century Ayuntamiento (City Hall), while Zubaran, Murillo and Valdes Leal adorn many buildings—which we will also see.

While our guided walking tours will focus upon art and architecture in Sevilla—cuisine also occupies an equal and significant place within our adventure. As well as our banquet in the grand dining room of the Alfonso XIII, we will taste cultural culinary specialties during tapas sojourns and dinners redolent with local flavours.

And did I mention that Sevilla (and Jerez) is where you find the soul of flamenco —guitar, dance, and singing. We will experience a flamenco performance that will be both artistic and intense—a memorable evening is promised!

Following three glorious days and nights in Sevilla—we will depart for Jerez de la Frontera—and the jewel of the vinous world—Sherry, where we will experience the inner sanctum of this special part of the world of wine.  Jerez de la Frontera is the capital of the Sherry region.  While a modern town, a turn down this lane and a quick left there…and you are whisked to centuries long gone.

Sherry is an elixir that few understand and most presume is simply a sweet drink that Auntie enjoyed in the afternoon … hardly!!  All Sherry is vinified bone dry from Manzanilla and Fino, to Amontillado, to Palo Cortado, to Oloroso.  A sweetened Oloroso is known as Cream Sherry.

Fino and Manzanilla are pale straw-coloured, elegant and yeasty in character.  Served well-chilled, they are the world’s most sophisticated aperitifs.  Amontillado is golden in colour and more pungent, with a bouquet of hazelnuts and wonderful old wine.  Oloroso is darker amber and richer on the nose, with a full bouquet of dried fruit.  And yes… there are the delightful and exquisitely rich and sweet Pedro Ximenez (PX) Sherries (over ice cream…delicious!).  As the world comes to discover these fine wines, the costs will begin to soar, although today, high quality Sherry, with years—if not decades of aging in barrel, continues to be available at a fraction of their true value.

In Jerez we are invited to the grand Consejo Regulador—the Regulatory Counsel for Sherry and Brandy de Jerez—for an educational introduction to the region and the wine.

As in Sevilla, we will also be introduced to Jerez via our informative guided walking tour of the town—established by the Moors, in approximately 780 AD and claimed by

Alfonso X in 1264 as part of the retuning Spanish Catholic nation.

We will visit artisan bodegas to experience how Sherry is created in its various styles—all with much in common, while being unique.

At Gonzalez Byass, we will experience a fascinating and illuminating seminar and tasting at this venerable and architecturally notable bodega established in 1835—followed by dinner in the bodega—which will include the family’s red wines from their Bodegas Beronia in Rioja and their superb red from just outside the Sherry region, Bodegas Finca Moncloa. Lepanto Brandy de Jerez Gran Reserva after dinner—I think yes!

On a much smaller and charming scale, at Bodegas Fernando de Castilla, while we will participate in a tour and Sherry tasting—we will also experience the bodega’s range of stunning Brandy de Jerez . A hearty Andalusian lunch in the bodega will follow, during which we will also be poured the bodega’s red wine, again from just outside the Sherry region—very tasty!

And then there is Bodegas El Maestro Sierra established in 1830 where the bodega stands today, with regal 91 year old matriarch, Doña Pilar Pla at the helm of this most special place. Her Sherries remain remarkable to say the least, with great presence and persistence throughout the Sherry styles. You will experience them for yourself during our visit back into history.

The Bodegas Valdespino, established in 1264(!) is considered to create some of Jerez’s most focused if not fabled Sherries. Valdespino’s Fino Inocente’ solera (Sherry’s fractional blending system to provided assured uniformity) has ten criaderas (levels of barrels) rather than the more typical three or four. And the overall age of Inocente Fino at bottling is ten years (rather than the usual three to five years), an exceptionally long time under flor (the naturally occurring protective yeast layer) for a Fino.

Bodegas Tradicion while originally established in 1650 by the Rivero family, achieved great fame in the 19th century—and was invigorated in the 1990s by decedent, Joaquin Rivero, who with the great Jose Ignacio Domecq, established one of the most “traditional” and remarkable boutique Sherry bodegas—with casks of Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, and Pedro Ximenez purchased from the superior houses of Valdespino and Domecq and then developed further.  And the Brandy de Jerez Gran Reserva—superb! During our tour and structured tasting, we will be able to view Sr. Rivero’s art collection which includes, Zubaran, Valazquez, Hiepes, Valdes Leal, Goya and more. Our visit will be memorable. Again—access to the inner sanctum.

In that Jerez is also closely associated with Carthusian horses or “Cartujanos”, the performance at the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre, is truly a delight, you are certain to enjoy.

A visit to “El Palacio de Tiempo”… The Palace of Time (or The Clock Museum) is remarkable… expect significantly more than just clocks!

The second town of the Sherry Triangle is El Puerto de Santa Maria—where we will visit Bodegas Gutierrez-Colosia  established in 1838  situated at the mouth of the Guadalete River, ensuring sufficient humidity and cool sea breezes—and the most unusual Bodega Obregon—seemingly more an ancient, delightful tavern than a bodega. The Sherries of Puerto, I find, have a character between the roundness of Jerez Sherries and the elegance of the wines from Sanlucar de Barrameda. We will determine for ourselves!

We will also visit the third town of the Sherry Triangle Sanlucar de Barrameda where the elegant Manzanilla is created in this unique, more humid micro-climate at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River on the Atlantic. In Sanlucar we will visit the ancient Bodegas Barbadillo, established in 1821, to experience their superb range of Manazanilla Sherries and sips of their historic Amontillado, Palo Cortado, Oloroso, and PX from their ancient and dazzlingly expensive “Reliquia” bottlings.

From Sanlucar—we will drive the short distance to the vast and protected nature reserve of dunes and wetlands, Parque Nacional de Doñana to witness the rare vegetation, birds, and animals that find refuge there. The reserve can only be visited on “official tours” in the park’s rugged bus—and such arrangements are presently underway.

Before returning to our hotel in Jerez—for those who revel—and I mean revel in fresh, exotic, and superbly prepared seafood—that was in the sea some few hours—or minutes prior,  the name “Casa Bigote” is paradise!! Dinner will be special!! Manzanilla will be served!

And in speaking of cuisine—for those who joined me on our tour of Alicante, Jumilla, Yecla, and Almansa—and our most recent Parador tour—you will assuredly remember our “way beyond the norm!” cheese and wine tastings (in Alicante and Siguenza)—quite remarkable! The cheeses of Andalusia are artisanal and delicious—we will experience a focused Sherry and cheese tasting illustrating the perfect matches created. Sherry and Queso!

And there will be more—I continue to fine tune! And there will be a wonderful surprise per group!

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Cost of Tour 

Air is not included. As noted, the tour commences in Sevilla on the dates associated with the respective groups. The cost includes our hotel rooms in the Alfonso XIII and the Sherry Park, our welcoming banquet at the Alfonso XIII, all breakfasts and lunch or dinner, our restaurant meals, our flamenco performance, our two guided walking tours in Sevilla, and our walking tour in Jerez, our guided tour of the Doñana nature reserve, our presentation at the Consejo Regulador of Jerez, admission fees to all historical sites and museums, admission to the Royal Equestrian performance and the Palacio del Tiempo (the clock museum), all bus and taxi transfers—and of course,  all bodega tours, tastings, and dinners or lunches in the bodegas, including our wine and cheese event. And also, a wonderful surprise awaits—you will not be disappointed!

Cost per person double occupancy      3222 Euros per person 

Single Supplement                                 290 Euros 

A non-refundable deposit of 940 Euros is required to confirm your reservation 

For further information, or for Reservation Forms, contact me at 416 927 9464. Do not forward your deposit without first receiving the Reservation Form

MADRID: Many of you intend to spend a night or some few days in Madrid—always a wonderful experience, prior to and/or following our adventure in Andalusia. Our hotel in Madrid, the so elegant Hotel Wellington www.hotel-wellington.com provides us with their very good group rate. If you wish to spend some nights in Madrid as I am, I will be pleased to make your reservations, under The Spanish Wine Society.

Salud!

 

Barry

 

What the writers say: 

“Thank you for sharing your energy and vision and for originating the most fun trip we have taken anywhere in this decade.  Thank you for sharing your passion with us.”

                   Jim and Carol White,International Food and Wine Writers Napa California 

“Perhaps no one in North America has a better grasp and understanding of the soul of Spanish wine making than Barry Brown.  I have seen the itinerary.  This tour will be memorable.”

                   Tony Aspler, Wine Educator, Writer and Author 

“The Spanish Wine Society is under the direction of the quixotic Spanish wine lover Barry Brown who travels, eats and drinks Español at every opportunity.  His annual Spanish wine tours are considered pivotal life experiences by those who have signed on.”

David Lawrason, Wine Educator, wine columnist for Toronto Life Magazine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deeply Meunier: Champagne Moussé Fils

Pinot meunier hasn’t had much respect in the wine world.   For winemakers in Champagne, it’s the secret lover they embrace with pleasure but don’t want their friends to find out about.  The historical poor reputation of the the grape (called meunier in the region) is the result of poor understanding of how and where to grow it and how to handle the fruit in the winery.  Today, producers understand the need for clearer juice, long fermentation, strict temperature control during fermentation (15o C) and malolactic fermentation.  These (and other) technical advances have promoted the use of meunier to add richness, elegance, and telltale toasted bread notes and a hint of red berry fruit to Champagnes.

Champagne Moussé Fils produces wines predominately based on pinot meunier.  Their house motto is “profondement meunier,” which translates as “deeply meunier.”  The varietal thrives on the fertile soils in the vineyards Moussé owns or controls at the western end of the Montagne de Reims (black clay over green clay over mixed clay and sand over Champenoise chalk).  The vignoble covers five family-owned hectares in Cuisles and two rented hectares in other villages on the same hillside.  These sites are largely unsuitable for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

Champagne Moussé Fils was founded in 1923 by Eugène Moussé.   His great grandson Cédric is the current winemaker at the house.  Cédric is a convivial and energetic fellow who delighted CWW members visiting the winery in early October of 2016 generally and by disgorging a bottle à la volée.  His innovative inclination has led to heavy investment in sustainable practices at the winery ranging from using and recycling well water to relying on solar and other renewable energy sources at the winery.  He also engages in ongoing experimentation to identify best practices in the vineyard and the chai.

The Moussé range of Champagnes includes Cuvée Extra Or d’Eugène (Blanc de Noirs – Extra Brut, Solera 2003 – 2011, 80% Meunier, 20% Pinot Noir, low dosage), L’Or d’Eugène (Blanc de Noirs Solera 2003-2013, 80% Meunier, 20$ Pinot Noir), Terre d’Illite 2011 (Blanc de Noirs, 95% Meunier, 5% Pinot Noir), Spécial Club 2012 (Blanc de Noirs, 100% Meunier), Spécial Club 2012 (Rosé de saignée, 100% Meunier), Anecdote (Blanc de Blancs, 100% Chardonnay, Lieu dit “Les Varosses”).  None was less than very good, and the rest were excellent to outstanding.  The house produces fewer than sixty thousand bottles a year.  Two thirds of that is exported to markets in Europe, Canada, the US, South Africa and Asia.

 

Left:  Cédric Moussé’s energy, intelligence and creativity are strongly reflected in his family house’s physical plant and sustainable green practices as well as their wines.

Centre:  This scale model of the soil profile in the Moussé vineyards demonstrates the fertile black and green topsoils that make them too fertile for pinot noir and chardonnay.

Right:  Cedric obtained this stainless steel amphora to determine whether its shape might improve wines fermented and stored in it.

 

 

 

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Champagne: Stars in a Glass

Although good or better sparkling wines are produced around the world and have earned a place at your table, champagne is the very best of the bunch. It’s got a whole range of intense aromas and flavours ranging from apple, lemon and peach fruit (with a dash of raspberry in rosé versions), minerals and telltale autolysed yeast.  It manages full ripeness and creamy richness in the mouth held aloft on wings of crisp acidity.  It lingers on the palate for a very long time.  Champagne is not just refreshing fizz.  It’s real wine, to be savoured and reflected upon.

There are several reasons why champagne is so good. The Champagne region (starting about 50 km east of Paris) is located on the 49th parallel, making it a (thermally) cool place to grow grapes.  Full ripeness is hard to achieve in some years, but acidity is rarely cooked out of the fruit by warm weather as it can be in more southerly regions of production.  That acidity is responsible for champagne’s freshness which in some specimens can be frankly bracing.  Because most champagne is blended from wines grown in various subregions and in different years, fuller and older reserve wines can pack in such ripeness as is necessary for good balance with those acids.  The stock of reserve wines in Champagne amounts to 1.6 billion bottles, a five year supply.  Blenders won’t be running out of these wines any time soon.

The chalk soils of Champagne also contribute to the quality of the region’s wine. The soils, a kind of light loose limestone, are made up of fossilized animals which lived in the ancient ocean that covered the area.  It’s porous enough to allow rainwater to drain from the surface of the vineyards without flooding the vines, but it also holds water deeper down where it can be reached by deep roots in times of drought.  The chalk may also enhance the flavours of the grapes which grow on it.

Champagne acquires its particular character from its vinification and aging. However, the grape varietals used to produce the wine contribute their own tastes and textures to the final product.  The three types most commonly used are pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier.  Pinot noir, the grape of the velvety red wines of Burgundy, is planted on 38% of the region’s vineyards.  It provides the body, flesh and grip, the structural backbone essential to champagne’s blends, and the occasional raspberry nuance.  Pinot noir juice is racked off its black skins before it acquires their colour to produce a white wine.  (Still red pinot noir is added to white champagnes to create most rosés.  Others get the pink in by leaving the juice on the skins for a longer period, the saignee method.)

Chardonnay covers 30% of Champagne’s vignoble. Its wines are leaner than their Burgundian counterparts.  Sometimes difficult to enjoy in youth, chardonnay in champagne becomes exciting and snappy while remaining fine and delicate.  Its colour is paler than that of champagnes with black grapes in the blend.  Paradoxically, this white among the reds confers the greatest ability to age.  Chardonnay in blends and blanc de blanc champagnes have gained popularity over the years.  Wines like Salon, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne and Krug Clos de Mesnil now command superstar ratings (and prices).

Four other white grape varieties are permitted in champagne but are rarely used: pinot blanc, pinot gris, meslier and arbanne. (You can seriously impress your wine friends by naming them.)

Pinot meunier, planted on 32% of Champagne’s acreage, had a bad reputation until recently. It wasn’t meunier’s fault.  So little of the stuff is grown around the world that the folks who grew it in Champagne didn’t know what it needed to shine: different handling around harvest and in the winery.  Today, champagne houses acknowledge and take full advantage of meunier’s richness, elegance, telltale toasted bread notes and a hint of red berry fruit in champagnes.

The “méthode Champenois” by which champagne is made plays a central role in the quality and character of the wine. The original sparkling wines were created accidentally when the yeasts performing alcoholic fermentation became dormant when the temperature grew cool enough in autumn and came back to life the following spring.  At that time they could resume fermenting the sugar remaining in the wine, generating alcohol and CO2 gas.  The gas would form bubbles when the bottle was opened but caused bottles to explode with alarming frequency.

The champagne method, made possible by sturdy English bottles in the late 18th century, involved carrying out a deliberate second fermentation of the base wine in the bottle.  This is achieved by adding yeast and sugar to the still wine and capping it tightly to keep the gas in.

The champagne method does more than add the bubbles. It leaves behind the cadavers of the yeast cells from the second fermentation.  These deceased yeasts are dissolved by their own enzymes in a process known as autolysis.  Long aging of the wine on the yeast components (lees aging) ensures that champagne is well endowed with its sweet yeasty decadent flavours and aromas.  Autolyzed yeast also deters oxidation in champagne as it ages.  The bottles are gently shaken and gradually moved from the horizontal to the vertical (cap down).  When the time is right—eighteen months or decades later—the neck of the bottle is immersed in freezing saline.  The cap is removed and the potentially turbid solids accumulated on it are blown out in a winey ice plug.  Some sugar is added (the dosage), as little as 2 g/l for brut wines to over 20 g/l in extra dry or “riche” styles.  The bottle is then corked and laid down for a while (18 months or more is best) while it settles down and its components marry.  Et voilà, le champagne!

The organization of the wine industry in Champagne has led to great improvements in the wines, their sustainability, and environmental impact. The Comité Champagne, the latest name for the region’s wine advisory and regulatory body, is managing the status and evolution of champagne.  It also serves to maintain harmony between the 20,455 harvest-declaring growers who own 90% of Champagne’s vineyard area (holding less than 2 Ha on average) and the champagne houses responsible for 2/3 of the region’s total production and 90% of its exports.

Most people are familiar with big champagne houses like Moet et Chandon, Mumm, Roederer, Taittinger, Laurent-Perrier and Heidsieck. Each offers a range of styles from multi-vintage blends to blancs de blancs, blancs de noirs, wines of a single vintage, and single vineyard bottlings.  In Canada, prices begin around $45 and rise well into three figures for grand marque champagnes like Dom Perignon, Roederer Cristal, and La Grande Dame.  Many growers have begun producing and marketing their own champagnes, some of which are extremely exciting.  The holiday season is the perfect time to celebrate with something more than a modest new world bubbly.  Life is short.  Drink champagne!

[In early November I traveled in Champagne as an international member of the Circle of Wine Writers. We were hosted by the Comité Champagne.  Over the next while I’ll be publishing profiles of eight interesting and individual houses.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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CBC Radio One “Fresh Air”interview on managing Vacation Tensions

This link will take you to Mary Ito’s interview with me broadcast Sunday July 10.

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Fresh Air Interview, Sunday July 10

You can hear me talk about managing vacation conflict Sunday morning between 7:30 and 8:00 am on CBC Radio One’s province-wide show Fresh Air, hosted by the charming Mary Ito, who will be doing her last show next weekend after seven years hosting the series.

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Canadian Wines Entering the English Market

This link will take you to a piece about the UK firm Bibendum taking on representation of Canadian wineries Norman Hardie and Stratus.  Our products are getting out there!

Bibendum PLB adds Canadian agencies

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In America, they Went West. In Italian Wine, I Go South

The contents of my wine cellar vary widely over time, but you’ll always find a clutch of wines from southern Italy in my cupboard. These products offer high quality, interesting character, and very fair prices.  The grapes used to craft them are from unusual indigenous often ancient varietals.  The reds are palish and often garnet-tinged with rich (but rarely fat) ripe fresh and dried red fruit, pungent gravel or volcanic mineral notes, and enchanting sweet spices.  The whites are full-ish but fresh with perfumed noses and pear-ish or tropical fruit.   

At the 20th annual Italian Wine Fair’s visit to Toronto last November, several dozen local wine folk were treated to a tasting of wines from Southern Italy.

Dr. Attilio Scienza (yes, he’s really named ‘Dr. Science’), professor of viticulture and oenology at the University of Milan, was on hand to illuminate tasters.  Wine man Jamie Drummond acted as emcee, keeping things moving along nicely while providing both information and entertainment.  If you can’t find the specific bottlings noted below, look for others from the same regions or producers.  You won’t go far wrong. 

Reds:

Salento Rosso IGP—Rosso Camillo 2011 Pirro Varone Società Agricola S.R.L.($24.05, score 89+): From the heel of the Italian boot, this wine is a pretty medium scarlet colour with delightful ripe black cherry blackberry and black current fruit and dusty sweet spicy and floral notes.  It’s fresh and finely grippy with a long well-fruited finish.

Primitivo Salento IGP, Cantine Due Palme 2013 ($15.95, score 89+):  Primitivo is the same grape as California’s Zinfandel and it shows in this deep dark cherry red wine.  It flaunts big fresh and dried raspberry and red cherry fruit with an earthy farmyard note and a metallic nuance.  It’s fresh and velvety with dep sweetly ripe fruit and grace notes with a long, fruity mouth-watering finish.

Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC 2012 Duca San Felice, Librandi Antonio E Nicodemo SPA ($17.95, score 89+): This Calabrian wine is vinified from the Gaglioppo grape.  This medium-pale wine has a mineral nose with luscious mixed red berry and blackberry fruit with sweet spicy lilac notes.  Its texture is grippy velvet with fresh acidity to carry the sweet ripe berry fruit through a lively finely tannic finish.

Melissa Rosso Superiore Mutrò DOC Val di Neto SRL 2008 ($24.95, score 89+): From the southern part of Cirò, this wine adds 25% Greco Nero to the Gaglioppo.  Despite its age it’s still a glass-staining wine with a lovely fully mature nose of pungent minerals and dried cherry fruit.  The velvety tannins and plush fruit persist through the long finish.

Etna (Trecastagni—districts of Ronzini and San Nicolò, Catania) Outis 2013 ($44.50, score 89+): The Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappucio (identified as Carignan) blended into this wine grow on volcanic soils around Sicily’s Mt. Etna which endow it with a pungent minerality.  The lovely perfumed nose also has bright red cherry fruit with root beer, floral and sweet spicy notes.  It’s very soft with fresh flavours and a gentle refreshing bitter note through a long finish.

 

Whites: 

Taburno Falanghina di Montagna, Masseria Frattasi di Beniamino Clemente 2014 ($19.95, score 89):  Falanghina is named for the falanga, a Roman battle spear, acknowledging the varietal’s tall vines.  This wine has an aromatic nose with mango and pear fruit, acacia, and mineral and sweet spicy notes.  It’s sweetly ripe and freshly acidic on the palate with a creamy texture and a refreshing bitter finish.

Sicilia DOC—Donnafugata SurSur Grillo 2014 ($24.95, score 89+): This white features pear fruit and intense aromas of acacia blossoms with a grassy herbaceous note.  It’s fresh, creamy and sweetly ripe in the mouth through a long finish.

[For more information about Italian wines email Natalia Banoub of energy PR at natalia.banoub@energipr.com]

 

 

 

 

 

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