TASTING ITALY (Part 2)

8 Wineries, 5 Days, 1,638 km across half of Italy … and unknown number of wines

continued from Tasting Italy (Part 1)

Stop E

Garofoli – Loreto, Le Marche, 12 April 2011

Tasting at Garofoli’s Tasting Room & La Torre Restaurant, hosted by Gianluca and Daria Garofoli

The shale white soil that’s unique to the land in Loreto

The origins of Garofoli dates back to 1871 and currently helmed by the fourth generation, brothers – Carlo and Gianfranco Garofoli. Blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate and cool breeze from the Adriatic Sea, Marche is a region rich in culture and tradition. And true to its origins, Garofoli produces wines that are a clear reflection of its terroir.

Garofoli’s vineyards located right in the middle of a nature conservation zone, with a splendid view of Loreto’s town

At Garofoli’s cellar door that showcases a wide array of wines that they produced since they started business

Garofoli’s processing plant – Neat! 

With its vast portfolio, the tasting was conducted by Daria and Gianluca Garofoli (mother and son) at two locations – at the winery’s tasting room and over dinner.

Garofoli’s Tasting Room

2010 Monte Reale Sangiovese IGT

 2010 Farnio Rosso Piceno DOC

~ Simplicity. Fruity, youthful with light tannins

2010 La Meriggia Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

~ A pleasant inky nose with cocoa beans. Soft tannins yet has a strong structure with fair length on the palate 

2008 Colle Ambro Rosso Piceno

~  Aged in large barrels, quite similar to Farnio but with more pronounced chocolate and heavy licorice

2008 Piancarda Rosso Conero

~ Aged in large barrels for at least one year and one year in bottle. Like a cheerful basket of cherries, chocolate beans, licorice and marshmallows. Great length and beautiful structure.

2007 Camerlano Marche IGT Rosso

~ Blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Montepulciano. A portray of Marche – New world style with Old world elegance. Powerful fruits with reminisce of worn-out Italian leather boots on the nose. A really decent drop!

 2007 Grosso Agontano Conero DOCG

~ Aged for 18 months in Barrique and at least two years in bottle. A selection of the best grapes goes into this bottle and adapted for prolonged aging. Strong cocoa and spice overtones with structure, that probably requires a few more years to develop its complexity. Highly astringent with a sharp bite – possibly due to its young age

2006 Grosso Agontano Conero DOCG

~ What a difference a year makes! Chocolate chip cookies and soft musky leather with a leaner structure on the palate that is still astringent yet without being harsh. Slight bitterness in the aftertaste.

La Torre Ristorante (http://www.latorrenumana.it/)

La Torre – a beautiful restaurant perched on the cliff overlooking the Adriatic Sea that serves some fantastic seafood and fish dishes. Like they say – Mama Mia!

NV Guelfo Verde Vino Frizzante Bianco

~ Lively light frizz that is simple and pleasantly refreshing on the palate. Its a nice aperitif to start with.

2006 Rose Brut Metodo Classico Spumante

~ 100% Montepulciano with prolonged maceration on the yeasts from 18 to 24 months. Hello Barbie! Classy fruit tones with a sweet zesty personality.

2008 Rose Brut Metodo Classico Spumante

~ More delicate and feminine with a mild temperament

2010 Serra de Conte Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC

~ Super fresh, lots of complex minerals with an enthralling length on the palate. Hmm… did they bottle the Adriatic Sea instead?

2010 Macrina Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore

~ Outstandingly fresh with fossil-like minerals on the mid-palate, develops further after every sip. This should be drunk whilst lazing on a balcony with an ocean view at sunset, with a book in hand.

2008 Podium Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore

~ Star anise and raw vegetables with a hint of bitter almonds. Strangely delicious.

2004 Podium Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Superiore

~ Wow! Wow and wow! A lovely honeycomb scent that’s almost Sauternes-like, with four more years of age. Honey, toasted almonds, peaches and cream with well-balanced acidity. Bears a slight resemblance to a Manzanilla sherry.

2003 Serra Fiorese Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi DOC Classico Riserva

~ Soft honeycomb and toasty oak on the nose, displays more elegance and length

2000 Grosso Agontano Conero DOCG Riserva

~ The hallmark leathery nose with a tinge of patina that’s almost like a well aged Bordeaux, yet it’s juxtapose with an unbelievably liveliness and freshness on the palate.

This was an eye-opener or rather “palate-opener”, especially the two varietals – Verdicchio and Montepulciano. Both, coupled with fine winemaking skills, display interesting depth that aim to surprise and impress.

A little break from the winery and vineyards, Daria Garofoli showed the cultural and heritage side of Loreto that is all so charming.

Basilica of Loreto where the Holy House of Virgin Mary is located

Statue of the Pope with all the names of the past Popes engraved onto the facade of the cathedral

The sacred Holy House that is said to grant wishes and miracles

The breathtaking Renaissance paintings that donned the ceilings of this huge Basilica

Daria Garofoli – the charming and gracious host (middle) 

The portfolio of wines from Garofoli may be impressive. But what is truly amazing at Garofoli, is the strong chemistry amongst the family members; their profound understanding and support given to one another is apparent in almost everything they do. The passion for the wines they produce and the genuine warmth that exuded from the hospitality they extend to every guest. These are the intangibles that many corporations today will never be able to replicate – that is to create that emotional engagement between a mere product and the user. Garofoli has nailed it in true Italian fashion.

More about Garofoli: www.garofolivini.it

Stop F

Carpineto– Montepulciano, Tuscany, 13 April 2011

Tasting at the home of Antonio M Zaccheo Jr’s, hosted by Antonio Zaccheo Snr, Jr and family

Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Tuscany and sleepy-looking vineyards between Montepulciano (not the grape but the region) and Chianciano, is the home of the Zaccheos.  The family welcomed us into their abode, which made the entire experience heartfelt and humbling.

Tuscany, where Carpineto is located – Picturesque and peaceful

Carpineto’s existing cellar. A huge new cellar is underway and will be ready next year

Antonio inspecting the rose bush, a traditional ‘disease’ prevention alert method

The prehistoric fossil soil that’s prevalent in Carpineto’s vineyards. That’s the size of a prehistoric oyster… OOOOO000000…….

Wines that were tasted

2009 Dogajolo Rosso IGT

~ A fantastic wine with modern style; aromatic on the nose, extremely fruit-centric, nice supple structure yet easy to drink with a suitable length. No wonder its dubbed as a ‘Baby Super Tuscan’!

2009 Chianti Classico

~ Fresh acidity on the nose, a more complexity that is fruit-driven with an elegant structure and well-balanced acidity. Quite a modern wine produced from an old world region.

2005 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva DOCG

~ The noble wine! This internationally acclaimed wine has been given the Carpineto treatment; meticulous effort throughout the vinification resulted in a Vino Nobile that transcends purity and profound fruits flavours. Still extremely youthful at 2005 but shows a stunning complexity. At Carpineto, Vino Nobile is aged for at least two years in large 5,500L Slovenian oak barrels and small parts in French oak, in volcanic rock caves that maintains a natural constant temperature year round. And its aged a further for at least on year in bottle before releasing.

2006 Farnito Cabernet Sauvignon

~ Inky but not over powering, coupled with bold ripe fresh cherries and strawberries on the palate 

2001 Poggio Sant’Enrico Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

2001 La Fornace

 1988 Vino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva

~ A leggy 23 year old, young, bright and fresh! Marvelous!

1992 Farnito Vin Santo

~ Bears the style of a Sauternes

Deliciously fragrant extra virgin olive oils from their very own ancient Olive Trees – Out of this world!

Perhaps, one of the most memorable dinner that was put together so far – dinner started with small bites of home-grown olives and homemade salami at the family’s kitchen whilst watching Antonio Jr grill the meats for the mains. Fresh vegetables, homemade sausages grown from their own farm were also served.  Not forgetting the most amazing homemade pici and wild boar sauce as well as their very own fragrant olive oils!

Home is where the heart is. For the Zaccheos, the wines they produce evoke that heartwarming sentiment.

*Do you know? Vino Nobile di Montepulciano dates back more than 1350s. And it was said that Pope Paul III presumely after toweling off from a good soak in Vernaccia – gushed about this red wine in his late-16th century poem ‘Bacchus in Tuscany’. Later in the second half of 18th century, it was granted the description of ‘noble’ and was predominantly a wine drunk by the nobles.

More about Carpineto: www.carpineto.com

Stop G

Fattoria Mantellassi – Magliano, Tuscany, 14 April

Tasting at Ristorante da Guido, hosted by Aleandro Mantellassi and Riccardo Pecchioli

The Mantellassis are vine-growers since 1860. Located at the heart of Maremma, they are the first ones who started to bottle Morellino di Scansano, in 1977, and have based all their production on the tradition of Maremma and have since produced one of the most iconic wine in the region – Le Sentinelle Morellino di Scansano, which has been awarded 2-Glasses by Gamero Rosso and 90pts Wine Spectator.

A quick shot of Mantellassi’s facade before the downpour and biting cold wind began and shortened the tour

Riccardo talking about the capacity of Mantellassi’s cellars and core wines at the underground cellar

It was a wet and dreary afternoon in Magliano, and so the winery tour was brief. Tasting was held at one of the region’s popular restaurant, Ristorant da Guido – a quaint almost ‘cantinetta-like’ restaurant that specializes in Cinghiale (or wild boar).

Wines that were tasted

2010 Sasso Bianco

~ 90% Trebbiano. A fresh aromatic wine with bold stone fruits and fossil-like minerals

 2010 Lucumone Vermentino

~ Named after an advisor to an Etruscan king, the Lucumone displays a pleasant refined fragrant, linear structure and good strength on the palate

 2010 Scalandrino Vermentino

~ Aged 2 months in oak and additional 1 month in bottle before release. Faint hint of spice and a lengthier after-taste, perhaps needs a little more age

2010 Il Canneto Maremma Toscano Sangiovese

~ No oak integration with long maceration. Looks like a bull in a glass, but taste like a gentle lamb. Strong thick ruby yet mild and slow on the palate

 2009 Mentore Morellino di Scansano

~ High tannin levels that offers secondary oakiness that is almost raw-like. Interesting.

 2009 San Giuseppe Morellino di Scansano

~ A beautiful bouquet that linger, has pleasant vibrant fruits balanced with a refined oak structure and acidity. Great wine to have for a casual dinner!

 2006 Le Sentinelle Morellino di Scansano Riserva

~ 85% Sangiovese with Alicante. Extremely concentrated with tight tannins with some sweet notes

 2007 Vino del 50

 2006 Querciolaia Alicante

As Aleandro does not speak English, Riccardo was the translator and managed to convey his vinification techniques clearly. Although Fattoria Mantellassi is a relatively young and small-sized winery as compared to many other producers in the same region, the wines that Aleandro and his brother – Giuseppe make, had garnered rave reviews and a following of loyal fans around the world.  Small, but stunning!

More about Fattoria Mantellassi: www.fattoriamantellassi.it

Stop H

Michele Chiarlo – Asti, Piedmont, 15 April

Tasting at Michele Chiarlo’s wine room, hosted by Michele and Alberto Chiarlo

Piedmont – the domain of Asti sparkling wines, the great Barolos and some of the world’s most sought after white truffles, is also home to Michele Chiarlo. A highly successful family-owned winery that has garnered much international acclaim and recognition, Michele Chiarlo’s distinctive winemaking style follows its philosophy closely, that is to produce wines that are complex, distinct, with refined elegance and freshness.

Michele Chiarlo, the winemaker and owner himself – showing the winery and explaining each wines with a passion that is shared by the family

The Chiarlo family – Alberto (left), Michele (centre) and Stefano (right), all who are intensely involved in the business.

*Some images here were extracted from Michele Chiarlo’s Photo Stream on Flickr

A patron of the arts, creative sculptures and art installations dotted across the vineyards, that they themed as Arti Stic Park, with each plot of land bearing a unique theme. Almost all of Chiarlo’s stunning looking wine labels were created painstakingly by artist Giancarlo Ferraris, whom depicts the elements and process of winemaking and the terroir within these ‘art labels’. Like how the saying goes; when you feast, you first feast with your eyes. The wines tasted as beautiful as what the label promises.

The winery tour was conducted by Michele Chiarlo himself, whom at his age is still actively involved in all aspects of the business. Alberto, his son presented the tasting and shared an interesting project that will be completed end of this year – Palas Cerequio Barolo Resort, a stylish luxury resort based on Michele Chiarlo’s Barolos as a theme located in Piedmont. read more

Wine that were tasted:

2010 Le Marne Gavi

~ 100% Cortese. Honeysuckle, elderflowers and cantaloupe on the nose with a nice sturdy finish.

 2010 Le Madri Arneis

~ Herbaceous and youthfully refreshing

 2010 Rovereto Gavi di Gavi

~ Means Gavi grapes from Gavi. More pronounced honeysuckle with a spritz of natural sweetness. Like a pot of golden wild flower honey!

 2008 Fornaci Gavi

 2009 Le Orme Barbera d’Asti

 2008 Vigne di Chiarlo

~ Blend of Nebbiolo, Barbera and Alberosso. Soft inky mix of black berries and juicy blueberries, finish with soft plushy tannins

 2009 Il Principle Nebbiolo d’Alba

~ Like a handsome young prince decked in finery, perfumed bouquet with strong berries, strength and elegance on the palate without being overpowering

 2009 Vigne di Chiarlo

~ Being a hotter year that was highly conducive for Barbera, shows a more complex character and texture on the palate than 2008

 2007 Reyna Barbaresco

~ An excellent vintage! Bright dark berries on the nose and has great balance in terms of tannin structure.

 2006 Barolo Tortoniano

~ Like beautiful ripe cherries bursting with summer freshness

 2007 La Court Nizza Barbera d’Asti

~ Velvety and supple with intense dark cherries and red fruits, well-integrated tannins that provides a beautiful length

 2007 Asili Barbaresco

~ This has everything! An aromatic nose. Strength on the palate, and a beautiful plushy mouth feel.

 2006 Cerequio Barolo

~ One of Chiarlo’s best Barolos ever produced. Pronounced cassis and aromatic bouquet, coupled with delicate tannins, an aristocratic structure and commanding length. Yet not being overbearing.

 2006 Cannubi Barolo

~ 93pts by Robert Parker. If Cerequio is a Duke, then Cannubi will be the Duchess. Much softer and silkier in style with a hint of tobacco and tea leaves astringency in its after-taste but finishes softly

 2001 Triumviratum Barolo Riserva

~ The name pays homage to the three ‘kings’ of Barolos in ancient Rome. For those who yearns a more powerful sip.

 2010 Nivole Moscato d’Asti

~ Like what the wine label depicts; like a soft light cloud at dawn – Delicate, fresh and dewy.

Piedmont was the last stop (and last drop), ending this quest of approximately 1,638km and tasting of the wines from Grandi Vini’s portfolio. Perhaps, the most important learning from this visit; is the amount of effort, the intensity and dedication of all the eight families displayed in their work. It is not just business for them, winemaking is the family’s honour and heritage. A legacy.

cheers!

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