Showing posts with label La Stoppa. Show all posts
Showing posts with label La Stoppa. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni. I wish my wines to live for many years

La Stoppa’s Elena Pantaleoni
I wish my wines to live for many years

Elena Pantaleoni is part of the “Triple A” movement; you’ll see the sign on some of her wines. What's it all about? Mostly, it is against the standardisation of wines, the dumbing down, the loss of variety, of personality, of terroir, of local grapes, of character. Agriculturists, Artisans, Artists.

Essentially, it is Elena and her equivalents in Italy, in France, in Spain, in Portugal, wherever, who are up against Big Food, Big Drink. It is for nature. Natural Resistance is a film in which Elena had a leading part. And it is not just wine. The monopolising influences are everywhere, in all sectors. So wake up, get up, get out and support your local food and drink producer. Otherwise, some boring day in the future, breakfast will be Tablet 1, lunch Tablet 2, dinner Tablet 3; interchangeable. And your wine will be white or red. No variety.

Triple 'A': AGRICULTURISTS Only who cultivates directly the vineyard can build a fair relationship between man and grapevine, and obtain healthy and mature grapes through exclusively natural agronomical interventions. ARTISANS Artisanal methods and capabilities are required to carry out a viticultural and oenological productive process that does not modify the original structure of the grapes and of the wine. ARTISTS Solely the “artistic” sensibility of a producer, respectful of his own work and his own ideas, can give life to a great wine in which the characteristics of territory and vine are exalted.

Read, a little, more on the subject here.

La Stoppa Trebbiolo 2013 (Emilia rosso IGT), 13%, €19.95 Le Caveau

This certified organic natural red is a blend of Barbera (60%) and Bonarda (40%) and thereby hangs a tale.

For twenty years, La Stoppa estate had been growing mainly international grapes but, in 1996, Elena Pantaleoni and winemaker Giulio Armani decided to concentrate on the Italian grapes Barbera and Bonarda.

Elena: “I wish my wines to live for many years; so that when selected, they can be enjoyed for their colour, their taste and their bouquet.”

Colour here is a vibrant medium red. Aromas are fresh and  rather complex and include red and darker berries, vanilla hints, spice too. On the palate, it is light, fruity, simple, some spice too, a very refreshing acidity, lively, lovely and juicy; good on its own or with food. A wine for all seasons and Very Highly Recommended.

I met Elena for the first time at a recent lunch in Good Things in Skibbereen and she told me that they also make a frizzante version of the Trebbiolo, an everyday wine that, helped by its pleasant acidity, goes well with the local cuisine. The name Trebbiolo, she told us, comes from a local river valley.
Elena (1st left, 1st row) at lunch in Good Things, Skibbereen.

La Stoppa Malvasia Dolce Frizzante, Emilia (IGT) 2015, 7%, €18.95 Le Caveau.

And that same valley produces the fruit, the Malvasia di Candia, for this unusual moderately sweet bubbly wine. Unusual to me anyhow. Single fermentation is via the Charmat method (also used in Prosecco). Note that the ABV is just 7%.

Note too the beautiful golden colour. Not that many bubbles. It is frizzante, not spumante! Easy drinking (not a hint of cloying), moderately sweet, honey and fruity and a good finish. This lightly sparkling beauty is a must try, perhaps with a nougat by Miena, maybe with some poached/grilled fruit such as peaches. Recommended.

La Stoppa Ageno, Emilia (IGT) bianco 2011, 13.5%, €31.95 Le Caveau

The Malvasia pops up here again and is indeed the major component in the blend for this rather amazing orange wine. Ortrugo and Trebbiano, both white grapes, also contribute. The wine is called after the founder of La Stoppa Estate, a man from Genoa. It is produced using an old traditional winemaking method, where the grapes are macerated on their skins (indigenous yeast, no added sulphur) for up to a month, or more, to create an orange wine. It is rich in colour, tannic and complex.

That colour is quite amazing. In addition to the maceration, it also helps that Ortrugo tends to orange in any case. The aromas are complex. For a second or two, I thought I was on a cider as I detected an autumnal orchard mustiness.

For all the intense colour and complex aromas and initial sweetness, this rich and elegant wine is definitely dry with a tannic finish (you notice it as your lips dry!). Made in the traditional manner, aged for a year in large barrels and two years in bottle, it is unique and Very Highly Recommended.
"The first Ageno was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena in Skibbereen and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

That unique quality is exactly what Elena wants for this wine, for all her wines. She spends a lot of time on the road selling her wines. She knows La Stoppa will makes its mark and succeed if it has a strong identity. She and winemaker Giulio have certainly achieved that with this trio.


Monday, April 25, 2016

Good Things Cafe. People Together.

Good Things Cafe
Good Food, Wine, Company
Orange dessert

When we think of international, we think of country: Ireland v Italy in football, New Zealand v Australia in rugby, and so on. In food though, it struck me during an “international” meal in Good Things Cafe, in its sparkling new Skibbereen location, that we should be thinking more in terms of the individuals.

The Colombian farmer who grows your coffee beans, the Irish farmer who raises your free range pigs, the Indian who produces your spices and rices, the organic grower who sends us delicious clean wines and so on. The world is becoming to some small degree a collection of like-minded individuals, a collection of local producers, working hand to hand across the world, and not depending on some giant distributor who’d prefer to have the same food “from Nigeria to Iceland”.*

Orange wine
The conversation though wasn't anywhere near as serious as that. Carmel Somers, the owner of Good Things, got us off to a good start. “One of our growers has just delivered some asparagus. We are serving it with Coolea Cheese and some balsamic. Would you like that?” There was instant international accord.

“This Coolea Cheese? Is that from here?” Italian winemaker Elena Pantaleoni asked me. I had just met the lady from the famous organic vineyard of La Stoppa and she was delighted to hear that Coolea was very local indeed. Among those at the table were Pascal Rossignol, the Frenchman (now well seasoned with Irishness) who runs Le Caveau, and Sally Barnes renowned for her Woodcock Smokery in Castletownsend.

Many tongues, one language
Left to right: Clare, Elena, Billy, Nico, Pascal, Sally, Colm.
Elena’s Trebbiano was already in our glasses and she told me that they also make a sparkling version, “for food”. It is sold mainly in the local area and is great in summer, served a little chilled.

The delicious asparagus was now at the table along with a Mezze plate along with La Stoppa Macchiona 2007. “It is made from the same grapes, Barbera and Bonarda, as the Trebbiano but has spent two years in big barrels. This is the current vintage, it is warm, more powerful, more fruity,” said Elena.
Spectacular seasonal salad
The dishes and the wines, all exquisite, continued to come. Pascal asked Eleana for the story behind the names. Trebbiano is a valley, Macchiona is a very small village, and Agento is the name of the founder of the vineyard, a man from Genoa. The Agento is an amazing wine and not just because of its bright orange colour. The colour, and the extra tannin, come from three months skin contact. "The first Agento was first produced in 2002 so we do not have a long experience of this wine,” said Elena and she recommended serving it at 15 degrees.

By now we were on to our main course. I was very much enjoying my Crab Tart, Salad leaves and a Soda Scone. And that was just one of the many tempting dishes on the menu. Pascal pointed out: “The Agento is very versatile at the table, a wine for sharing!” And Elena echoed that sentiment.

Carmel & Elena

Desserts, like other courses, are somewhat different here at this very highly recommended spot who make a “priority of sourcing locally”. Mine, and it was superb, was an Orange and Rhubarb Salad, with a Coconut and Pomegranate Praline. Finished off the Agento and then moved on to a delightful Malvasia Frizzante! Coffee by the Golden Bean set us up for a trip to sample the fresh Atlantic air at the Woodcock Smokery.

Sally's operation has been going since 1981. She pulled out some kippers, smoked with no dyes, no additives. But she wasn't very happy: “Not a great batch. Herrings can live up to twenty years but there is now a poor population due to intervention on the market by the EU a few decades ago.”

Sally and kippers

Sally, who travels quite a deal in her role in the Slow Food movement, specialises in products from slow-smoked, “fresh wild-caught fish devoid of any artificial additives or preservatives. We don’t use farmed fish; the fish we buy in is caught locally and from sustainable sources.”

She wasn't too happy with bureaucrats in general though she did acknowledge a big improvement in the bluefin tuna population. It’s been a tough enough battle for Sally over the years and no surprise that she and Elena (who also had her battle as detailed in the film Natural Resistance, shown in Cork last week) are friends. Individuals are key, locally and internationally, not countries, not big companies.

  • A quote from the film Natural Resistance. See trailer here

Sally's kit!