As the only Piedmont rosé that is made entirely from Barbera, the Cascina La Ghersa Piagé 2012 comes to us from the Pastura family whose ancestors first replanted their Vignassa vineyard in 1925, after their vines were destroyed by phylloxera. With four generations of vine owners and growers behind him, Massimo Patura joined his parents to help run the family estate in 1989, the same year that they extended their cellar and modernized their winery equipment. A boutique winery with 24ha of vineyards that yield their annual production of 170,000 bottles, Cascina La Ghersa cultivates their grassy vineyards with organic treatments, committed to preserving the health of their land for future generations by avoiding all chemical fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Driven by the belief that “The more man loves and respects nature, the more she will be generous with him, offering him prized and precious fruits,” Massimo aims to craft wines of limited production and great quality from low-yielding vines in the town of Mosca, in Asti, Piedmont.
Giuseppe Fanti, Photo Credit
Twenty years ago, Alessandro Fanti, the son of Giuseppe, was the first in the Trentino to plant Manzoni Bianco– a cross between Riesling and Pinot Blanc– in two plots, at 300m and 600m. A champion of indigenous varietals, he was also a pioneer in elevating the quality of Nosiola, an indigenous grape from Trentino that was at the time, near extinction. A true farmer who lives close to the land, Alessandro Fanti took over Giuseppe Fanti from his father in 1972, and became the first in the family since the 18th century to start bottling his wines.
Living as a sharecropper until 1969, when he purchased 40ha of land in Umbria, Cav. Antano Milziade planted vines and produced his first wines in 1975. Following the passionate steps of his father, Francesco, the family’s youngest son, released his first wine in 1997, employing his father’s farming and vinification techniques, which are traditional to the region. With 12 of the family’s 40ha planted to vines, the Larks Hill Farm at Milziade Antano is situated atop a hill just 1km from Montefalco. And while Antano is traditionally a producer of Sagrantino, he produces 5,000 bottles annually of this Bianco di Milziade, which is made from a field blend of Trebbiano, Grechetto, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Tocai.
Enrico Lippi of Frascole
“Organic. It’s how it’s been done for generations,” said Enrico Lippi, the proprietor and winemaker at Frascole. ”Even our grandparents didn’t want to use pesticides. They knew it was bad for the vineyards and bad for their health working in the vineyards.” Now totaling 16ha, with 12ha always in production and the other 4ha in flux, the family vineyard sits at 350-520m, just northeast of Florence, yielding wines that are “more floral, with more acidity and lifted.” Sitting at such an elevation that is high and cool, the vines here are tucked away in a small corner of Tuscan Appennines where insects are a minimal problem. And while Elisa Lippi’s grandfather made wine, he “wasn’t using copper or much sulfur,” said Enrico. ”They were selling it in demijohns; it wasn’t necessary to use sulfites. People drank it young and fresh.” And though Elisa and Enrico, who met while studying agriculture in Florence, are no longer making wines for local consumption, their Frascole Bitornino 2011 is just as lean and bright with incredibly fresh acidity, as a young wine that doesn’t need sulfites.
There’s been a number of unexpected changes in the news this week, especially in regards to Italy. For the first time in 600 years, the Vatican has been shattered by the sudden resignation of Pope Benedict XVI; and perhaps with less astonishment, Antonio Galloni announced his departure from The Wine Advocate. And while both migrations will (potentially) aid the ushering of the church and of Galloni into the twenty-first century, the evolution that occurred at La Massa in time for the 2009 vintage, was perhaps a little less revolutionary than the elimination of Sangiovese from the 2007 vintage of Giorgio Primo.
Christy Frank from Frankly Wines (top) Hana Muniz from Mari Vanna (bottom)
At yesterday’s Big Red Tasting in Studio 206, all the city’s players came out to taste. With older vintages secured from Il Colle Brunello di Montalcino, Mauro Veglio Barolo and Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco, we showcased over 70 wines. ”The Milziade Antano Sagrantino di Montefalco 2004 was a good discovery,” said Rocco Spagnardi of Locanda Vini & Olii. ”It’s a big wine like a Sagrantino should be, aromatic with herbal notes that maybe you don’t normally see in a Sagrantino. The 2004 shows great persistence; it’s a great wine after ten years.”
Representing both old friends (ZD Wines, Robert Sinskey, and Vineyard 29) and new (Matthiasson, Tertre Roteboruf, and Casa Marin), the room was abuzz with offerings from a select portion of the portfolio that’s been in the making for 19 years. ”It was exciting to try the new vintages  from Forlorn Hope,” said Christy Frank, of Frankly Wines. “They seem a little more approachable than the last vintage; a little softer straight out of the bottle, and they’re very weather appropriate now.”
Vinified from the indigenous Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, a slow-ripening varietal that thrives in warm temperatures and direct sunlight, the Marco Cecchini Refosco 2008 is made with estate fruit that is naturally farmed at the hands of Marco Cecchini. By engaging select organic and biodynamic practices, Cecchini aims to spotlight the terroir of his native Fruili, where what was once a 0.5ha plot that he inherited from his grandfather, now totals 8ha under vine.
After two seasons of the Cooking Channel’s Extra Virgin, Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos moved from L.A. to Brooklyn for the start of season three. A marriage between a native New York actress–of Entourage, Ugly Betty and Goodfellas fame–and a musician from Tuscany who learned the traditional ways of the kitchen from his grandmother and mother, Extra Virgin offers the viewer a place at the couple’s kitchen table. And because every Tuscan table would be incomplete without bottles of wine, TEW joined forces with this dynamic duo for Episodes 6, 7,8 and 9.
Alberto Longo (center) with Bruce Phillips of VHR (left) & Greg Reeves, Our Italian Portfolio Director
Last week, Alberto Longo came to town and threw us a rooftop party near the South Street Seaport, and let us tell you, not only does this man make amazing wines from Puglia, but he also throws a kick-ass party. For party pics, scroll down to the bottom of the post.
“I started with my mother and father in 1968, when I was ten years old,” said Alberto, when we sat to chat in Studio TEW. ”After school and every Sunday, I went to work in the [1ha] vineyard. At the time, everything was handmade. Vineyard rows were short, so there was no room for machines…We pressed with our feet, me and my father. He did other agriculture too, but he loved this. He was the only one in the village to produce nice wines, the others were undrinkable.”
Matt & Luigi
We just received this harvest report from Katia at San Polino, a certified organic-biodynamic producer in Montalcino. Thanks Katia!
2012 Vendemmia at San Polino
Well here we are again, four days into the harvest…it’s incredible to think that another year has passed…