Showing posts with label cortese. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cortese. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.


Two Outstanding Wines from Lesser-known Grapes.

“Semplicemente Vino” Bellotti Bianco 2017, 11.5%, €22.75 

A simple wine, made for everyday drinking. Will do well at weekends too, I’d say. Highly Recommended. 

Cascina Degli Ulivi is a biodynamic farm located on the hills of the Gavi region (South Piemonte, Italy) and it is here that the Cortese grapes for this white wine are grown biodynamically. No sulphites are added and unusually the closure is a crown cap. 

The Cortese are raised in 11 ton oak vats (50%) and the rest in stainless steel. The result is described by Le Caveau as “like a Jura wine”.

It has a mid yellow colour. Aromas are a rich mix of white fruits from the orchard (think apple peel), honey, with some spice too. More citrus-y in the mouth. It is subtle on the palate, complex too with a long dry finish, toasty, nutty, hints of sherry. 

Crown cap
Simple yes but not for slugging. Just take a sip, it has got so much going for it in terms of flavour and aroma and satisfaction. Best drunk young and here are a few food recommendations from the winery: great with vegetable starters, egg based pasta or soft cheese.

Cortese is not that well-known, though it is the grape from which Gavi is made. Can have too much acidity but barrique fermentation can counter this. No over-acidity in this young and well-made Bianco so it looks as if those huge barrels have done their work well.

In 2017 the estate lost 80% of production due to the frost in April and the summer drought. “In order to be able to produce this wine we have bought biodynamic grapes from various friend producers whom we trust and thank."

Adega Cachín “Peza do Rei” Ribeira Sacra (DO) 2015, 13%, €19.35


Ourense is the name of both a city and a province in Galicia in North West Spain and here on the steep hillsides you’ll find the spectacular vineyards of Ribeira Sacra (the sacred riverside). Adega Cachín is a small (70,000 bottles), compact no-frills winery built into the hillside.

Many of us will not have heard of Ribeira Sacra, the DO, and the grape Mencía is also among the lesser known.  It is pronounced “Men-thee-ah”, according to Wine Folly, who go on to say that it is a  “medium-bodied red wine grape that produces high quality wines with floral and red fruit flavors. If you love aromatic red wines like Pinot Noir and Gamay, Mencía is definitely worth tasting.” This Peza do Rei would make an excellent start on that particular journey of discovery.

Colour is a mid-ruby. Aromas of medium intensity (lighter red berried fruits). Fresh and fruity with good acidity, not unlike a young Cabernet Franc from Chinon or Bourgueil. Redcurrant and raspberry in the flavour mix. This is a balanced, soft easy-drinking wine with a long refreshing finish. Highly Recommended. 

Le Caveau indicate matching it with local chorizo stew, cured meats, even the local pulpo a la galega octopus with paprika and olive oil. I think the “local” is in Galicia but I’ve no doubt we could come up with some very worthy Irish equivalents! Think too it would go well with some of those sharing boards down in Kinsale’s Crackpots Encore. Pulpo, piano and Peza all night long!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Fontanafredda, important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

Fontanafredda: important player in Italian wine. Three examples.

The Modern History of Italian Wine (2016), to which we'll be referring often over the next few months, picks Fontanafredda, renowned for decades for its Barolo, as a key player in Italy's wine industry. The important company now produces some 7.5m bottles a year and you can find quite a few of its products, including the Barolos, in Karwig Wines. Below are just three examples. 

Fontanafredda Raimonda, Barbera D’Alba (DOC) 2009, 14%, €21.15 Karwig Wines


In 1858, an area close to the village of Serralunga D’Alba was registered to the King Vittorio Emanuele II. Here he indulged his passion with the commoner daughter of a drum major and it was eventually their son Emanuele Guerrieri, Count of Mirafiore, who devoted his life to making wine here, “with a very modern approach”.

Success with Barolo followed later but, after war and economic strife, the banks took over in 1931 and appointed a winemaker to take charge. In recent years, the property passed to Oscar Farinetti, “another visionary” according to the recently published Modern History of Italian wine, “who revitalized its sale and the commercial image of the brand”. 

Dressed with the colours of the estate, the Stripes series “is the central line of production by Fontanafredda”. And the Barbera for this striped bottle is grown around Serralunga.

Part of the wine is aged in large French and Slavonian oak casks, the rest stored in small barrels of medium toasted French and American oak for about a year. The two parts are blended prior to bottling.

Colour is a deep ruby. There are intense aromas of cherry and plum, notes of vanilla. Quite a striking velvety mouthfeel on this one, round with ripe and tangy fruit, hints of spice, and an excellent acidity. A very pleasant drop indeed and Very Highly Recommended.

Karwig’s also do another excellent example of the grape: Renato Barbera D’Alba.

Fontanafredda Gavi (DOCG) 2015, 12.5%, €23.10 Karwig Wines

This is another of the vineyard’s Stripes Series and the Cortese vines from which it is produced are grown near the village of Gavi in south east Piedmont. Serve between 10 to 12 degrees and you’ll find it is ideal for starters and light meals.

It is a light straw colour with a definite green tint and micro-bubbles cling to the sides of the glass. There are fairly intense aromas, a melange of white fruit and blossom. Lively fruit flavours predominate as it rolls smoothly across the palate. It is an easy-drinking well-balanced wine with a long dry finish. Highly Recommended.

Fontanafredda “Le Fronde” Moscato D’Asti (DOCG) 2012, 5.0%, €9.95 Karwig Wines

This is a gorgeous moderately sweet wine, another string to the impressive Fontanafredda bow. Try it with all desserts, they encourage. I had a few of those delightful cheesecakes from Charly and tried the two together. Excellent, though I'm told it may be even better with drier cakes (e.g. panetone). And, by the way, it is also lovely on its own.

May not have much alcohol on board - yes, that five per cent is correct - but it has quite a lot going for it otherwise. It is slightly fizzy, lots of bubbles in evidence, mainly clinging to the sides of the glass, a frizzante rather than a spumante. Indeed, the low alcohol count means it can be convenient to use within a multi-course meal, either as aperitif or with dessert. I prefer to use a normal white wine glass rather than a flute.


It is aromatic (this one sage and honey) and floral, full and fruity also. Well worth trying, ideal in the garden in summer, with three or four friends. Recommended.

Recently reviewed:

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Gavi: a wine off freshness and simplicity


BRICCO DEI GUAZZI GAVI DOCG 2010, 12.5%, €11.99 Red Nose Wines

This is bright in the glass with a light honey colour. Micro bubbles cling to the glass. The nose is delicately aromatic. On the palate, it is fresh and fruity (more apple than melon for me) with a whisk of acidity.

This dry white is made in Piemonte, in the north west of Italy, and the grape, apparently native to the area, is 100% cortese.

Quality of Gavi can vary a bit but most are cool, clean and crisp. That excellent book Vino Italia says: "Gavi is usually a wine of freshness and simplicity, which may not be fashionable but is often pleasurable.”

And that pretty much sums up this lively Red Nose offering, another alternative to add to your white wine rota. Enjoy with pasta, salads, fish and shellfish.