Category Archives: Italian wines

Pernice 2015, the Pinot Noir according to Conte Vistarino

 

 

The Pernice cru wine is grown in a vineyard that legendary Luigi Veronelli, back in 1961, already recognised as the cradle of a “superb Pinot Noir (…) with a lovely pale ruby and intense nose…”  

Lying at 350 metres’ elevation and planted in largely limestone soils, the south-southeast-facing Pernice has been yielding Pinot Noir grapes that since 1997 have been vinified as a separate cru. Harvest after harvest, they have consistently produced an elegant, complex Pinot Noir that boasts a near-endless, spice-laden finish that embodies the quintessence of Conte Vistarino.    

 

The 2015 growing season was characterised by an unusually warm spring. Contrary to the previous season, rainfall was not particularly heavy (about 600mm in total), but groundwater reserves that had been previously charged allowed the vines to cope well with the hot, dry months. The vineyards are managed according to sustainable, low environmental-impact viticulture, and yield never exceeds 6 tons of grapes per hectare. Following the harvest on August 31—obviously completely manual—, the grapes went through a chilled pre-maceration, and fermented part in oak and part in steel. The wine then matured in small oak barrels, and was released about 40 months after the harvest as Pernice, IGT Province of Pavia.   

 

A proud ambassador of the Oltrepò Pavese, Pernice 2015 Provincia di Pavia IGT Pinot Noir has always played a leading role in the history and current reputation of its growing area. 

It was, in fact, Conte Augusto Giorgi di Vistarino who, in the mid-1880s, imported the noble grape directly from France, and it flourished to become today one of the main grape varieties planted in the Oltrepò area. For Conte Vistarino Pinot Noir is a true passion, planted on 140 hectares and produced in a variety of styles.   

“Our objective,” states winery director Ottavia Giorgi di Vistarino, “is to bottle the finest selections of Pinot Noir that we grow in our estate vineyards, wines that will continuously improve the reputation of the Oltrepò denomination, whose beckoning natural beauty and simply stunning wine quality, have the potential to carve out a high reputation in the Italian and international wine world.”  

Conte Vistarino’s new wine cellar, “La Casa del Pinot Nero” (The Home of Pinot Noir), has everything to give the winery’s iconic grape the finest vinification technologically possible, through use of cutting-edge equipment, micro-vinifications, and gravity-fed transfers. This modern temple of wine, which evidences as well a meticulous sensitivity to its environment, welcomes visitors, who, struck by the contemporary-keyed complex of glass, light, and steel, can follow the entire course of winemaking, as well as a small rural museum. Following the visit is a tasting of a broad portfolio of Pinot Noirs in a suggestive tasting room surrounded by stacks of barrels.          

 

 

Conte Vistarino is one of the truly historic wine producers in the Oltrepò Pavese growing area. The wine estate extends over 826 hectares, of which more than 200 are in vineyard (140 just in Pinot Noir). Pinot Noir, its main grape, is produced in a number of styles. Costa del Nero is the house standard-bearer, while Pernice, Bertone, and Tavernetto are renowned individual cru wines, and Saint Valier stands out as the grape’s white version. Equally prominent are the sparkling wines, which include Metodo Classico 1865, Saignee della Rocca rosé, and Cépage brut. Conte Vistarino also pays homage to traditional expressions of its growing area, with Bonarda or Buttafuoco, and it makes an intriguing White Riesling, Ries. The soul of the estate is the historic Villa Fornace, still today the family’s private residence; as of a few months ago, alongside it now rises the new winecellar, the fruit of a radical re-structuring of the old farmstead complex dating back to 1904.  

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2016: An exemplary vintage reconfirms the legend of Masseto

In Masseto’s thirty-year history, each new vintage is eagerly awaited with the anticipation that this wine deserves.  An anticipation which was fully satisfied with a 2016 which, thanks to a textbook vintage, was able to capture and fully express the distinctiveness of the hill it comes from.

Masseto 2016 is once again a remarkable expression of power and class, of silky concentration, of extremely balanced complexity coming from a vineyard located 120 meters above sea level, only a few kilometres away from the Mediterranean coast and planted on blue clay soils, which are unique in the Bolgheri area.

In the glass, the wine reveals “a particularly intense and young colour, on the nose, the intense aroma of ripe dark fruit blends with subtle notes of cocoa and spices. On the palate, the rich and dense structure of ripe and silky tannins is balanced by a sensual and vibrant fruity note and a lively acidity that creates a long finish that is clean and full-bodied”. This is how Eleonora Marconi describes it, the winemaker of Masseto who works under the directorship of Axel Heinz. A verdict unanimously shared by influential wine critics who reviewed Masseto even before its official release on the market.

After a legendary 2015, it was perhaps ambitious to expect another textbook vintage but 2016 turned out to be highly successful with a dry and sunny growing season, plenty of sunshine and the right amount of rain, which accompanied the grapes to a perfect maturation. After verifying the excellent phenolic potential of the grapes and the balanced sugar/acidity ratio, harvest began on 24 August, starting from the youngest vines/rows and ended on 20 September in the ‘Masseto Centrale,’ section of the vineyard, home to the older vines/plants.

Today Masseto, a wine that has been internationally acclaimed since its inception in the 1980s, has its own winery.  Only the grape receiving area and a farmhouse called ‘Casa Masseto’ are externally visible. It is within the depths of the hill that most of the winery is located. A series of spaces with varying internal volumes, heights and levels that are reminiscent of a sacred place and offer the perfect wine-making and aging conditions for Masseto.

In the heart of the winery lies the ‘Masseto Caveau,’ – the winery’s historical library. Few bottles from each and every vintage are preserved here as the jewels of the winery, suspended inside a stainless-steel mesh. And it is right here where a few bottles of Masseto 2016 have been laid down to age in a perfect environment.

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This April, Masseto has inaugurated its “home” with a wine cellar designed by the architects ZitoMori. Carved deep into the ancient blue clay that underpins the vineyard, the Masseto winery is a physical and symbolic tribute to the Estate’s history and rapid evolution from intuition about the hidden potential of a vineyard site, to internationally acclaimed wine.

Masseto, located on the Tuscan coast close to the small village of Bolgheri, is a wine that was never meant to exist. The potential of the slope where the vineyard now sits was finally seen in the 1980’s, when, against all odds, advice and local tradition, the first vines were planted. Intuition paid off. The blue clay, cooling coastal breezes and abundant refracted light from the Tyrrhenian Sea all contribute to Masseto’s intriguing combination of power, elegance and complexity. Masseto has received international acclaim since its birth in 1986.

The Masseto estate is controlled by the Frescobaldi Family group.

Siddura, pure Sardinia

In Siddùra, in the valleys near the medieval village of Luogosanto, in the heart of Gallura, there is a slice of Sardinia that seduces the world with an infallible weapon: the quality of its wine.

A dream that soon became reality considering that the winery was born from the passion for Sardinia of the German impresario Nathan Gottesdiener and the Sardinian entrepreneur Massimo Ruggero, has conquered a place in the world ranking of the best wines. The company has made Sardinia a brand of purity, tradition, quality and innovation. Siddùra, which means saddle in Gallurese, from the shape of the hills on which the rows of vines climb, was born by collecting the legacy of an ancient wine production that already in the fifties of the last century bottled vermentino to sell on the nearby and flourishing market of La Maddalena. Thirty hectares of vineyards that give life to a collection of nine wines: the vermentini of Gallura Spèra, Maìa and Bèru, the rosé cannonau Nudo, the cannonau – DOC and Riserva – Èrema and Fòla, the Cagnulari Bàcco, the international Tìros and the passito Nuali.

The production philosophy is based on the belief that wine production begins in the vineyard, the wine being a true reflection of its terroir. “This line – comments Massimo Ruggero, managing director of the winery – influences all aspects of production: limited harvests to guarantee the highest quality, selective harvesting by hand, micro-vinification and aging in the best French oak barrels”. It is in this scenario that tradition and innovation are integrated.

Siddùra travels with the times, but above all with time, specifically the meteorological one. The wine of the future was born in the countryside of Luogosanto, thanks to the vision of this company that has been enabled to anticipate the times. The wine of the future, in fact, has to deal with the effects of global warming. Copious rains and sudden drought. Frosts and floods. Crazy temperature. In Siddùra was created a weather station, able to map and provide the climatic variations of the week on the field and in the fields. The sense of technology applied to human knowledge of the earth is to transform climate change into advantages, prevent the risks of plant disease and take advantage of a decision support system to deal with any limits. “Reaching innovative solutions before others – glosses Ruggero – is essential to maintain a quality level of their wines”. Speaking of quality, the wines of the Gallurese winery have received excellent reviews on the reference sites of world enology: James Suckling, Wine Enthusiast and Wine Advocate of Robert Parker.

ORNELLAIA VENDEMMIA D’ARTISTA ONLINE AUCTION COMES TO A CLOSE AMOUNT COLLECTED US-$ 312.000

 

From 29 August to 13 September, eleven precious lots of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, “La Tensione” were auctioned off. All profits went to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation for the “Mind’s Eye” program

 

Last Friday evening at the headquarters of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the spectacular Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the ceremony was held which marked the conclusion of the online auction of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, “La Tensione”, hosted by Sotheby’s. Thanks to this initiative, conceived by Ornellaia in collaboration with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, 312.000 $ were collected, with profits entirely allocated to the “Mind’s Eye” program.

 

The “Mind’s Eye” program, conceived by the Guggenheim’s education department, helps blind and visually impaired people to experience art through the use of all the senses. This promotes the development of creative impressions, emotional connections and memories, the perception of which lasts over time. As in art, the appreciation of great wines requires the involvement of all the senses. The sharing of this idea has led Ornellaia to support the growth of this particular program. The donations collected through Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista enable the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to further develop the activities of the “Mind’s Eye” program with the aim of spreading the model to other art institutions, ensuring that its excellence continues to guide the museum’s programming for the blind and visually impaired throughout the world.

 

During the closing ceremony of the auction, which gave bidders the chance to win the precious nine 6-litre Imperials and the only 9-litre Salmanazar of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016, created by the internationally renowned artist Shirin Neshat, Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja declared with satisfaction: “The appreciation of great wines, as well as the enjoyment of art, requires the involvement of all the senses, and that’s why we decided to support a high-value project like “Mind’s Eye”. In so doing, we are able to help adults with disabilities to experience art by means of activities which, through the use of the senses, provide a model of access to art that can be implemented worldwide and a legacy for future generations”.

 

Words shared by Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, who added: “The founding mission of the Guggenheim has been to collect and exhibit art that was not simply modern, not just new, but revolutionary. Thanks to Ornellaia, we are able involve an even wider public in this mission”. 

 

Tension is the character chosen to define the wine produced by the 2016 grape harvest, a highly successful vintage which, according to the Director of Ornellaia, Axel Heinz “highlights all the virtues of the climate of Bolgheri: abundant sunshine, not excessive heat, a dry summer which allows the grapes to reach a perfect level of ripeness, concentration and sufficient rain to avoid water stress. All these elements combined allow us to obtain a perfectly mature and opulent wine, firm and intense; opposite forces create a sense of deep vigour which we like to call “tension”. 

 

These are the notes on which Shirin Neshat worked to provide his interpretation of Tension. 

The artist was inspired by the Persian poet Omar Khayyām, who claimed that wine should be “enjoyed during our short time on earth”. His work theme is declined through elements of Middle Eastern culture such as female faces, hands and bodies decorated with Persian calligraphy and henna decorations in continuity with the poetics of the artist.

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The Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista project celebrates the exclusive character of each new Ornellaia vintage. Every year, starting with the release of Ornellaia 2006 in May 2009, a contemporary artist has signed a work of art and a series of limited edition labels, drawing inspiration from a word chosen by the winemaker and which describes the character of the new vintage.

The project provides that in each case of Ornellaia, one of the six bottles (750 ml) bears the label created by the artist. As in previous years, the project includes a limited edition of 111 large-size bottles (one hundred 3-litre Double Magnums, ten 6-litre Imperial bottles and one 9-litre Salmanazar) numbered and signed personally by the artist. Every year a selection of these bottles with exclusive labels, designed and signed personally by the artist and extremely sought after by art and wine collectors, are auctioned at SOTHEBY’S, for both charity and commercial purposes; the proceeds are donated to art foundations around the world. From ORNELLAIA 2006 to the present day, a total of over two million dollars has been shared out between the Whitney Museum in New York, the Poldi Pezzoli Museum in Milan, the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the H2 Foundation in Hong Kong and Shanghai, the Royal Opera House in London, the AGO Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York.

Opera House in London, die AGO Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, die Beyeler Fondation in Basel, das Hammer Museum in Los Angeles und das Guggenheim in New York gespendet.

ORNELLAIA VENDEMMIA D’ARTISTA: ONLINE AUCTION OF SPECIAL BOTTLES DESIGNED BY SHIRIN NESHAT

 

From 29 August to 13 September, 11 valuable lots of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016 “La Tensione” will go under the auctioneer’s hammer online, with the profits donated to expand the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s “Mind’s Eye” programme.

 

The online auction of the valuable bottles of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista 2016 designed by renowned artist Shirin Neshat, begins today.

 

To mark the eleventh edition of Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista, the American artist of Iranian origin, Shirin Neshat, has interpreted the vintage character of Ornellaia 2016 – “La Tensione.” With her destabilising and poetic visual language, the photographer, video artist, and director alludes to the strength and dynamism of this vintage using the verses of the illustrious 11th century Persian poet, Omar Khayyām. These works of art will be auctioned off online at Sotheby’s from 29 August to 13 September. Collectors from all over the world can vie to take home a work of art and a wine of exceptional value, while displaying a gesture of outstanding generosity. The profits from the auction will be donated to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to support the innovative “Mind’s Eye” programme.

 

“Over the past ten years,” explains Ornellaia’s CEO, Giovanni Geddes da Filicaia, “Ornellaia has donated over two million dollars to different institutions in the art world: from the Whitney Museum in New York to the Neue National Galerie in Berlin, from the Fondation Beyeler in Basel to the Royal Opera House in London and the H2 Foundation in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Beginning in 2019, we wanted to contribute to the development of artistic perception for the blind or low-vision persons, and therefore we decided to become a supporter of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation’s Mind’s Eye programme.”

 

This sponsorship and the end of the auction will be celebrated with an exclusive gala event taking place at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in the spectacular Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, overlooking the Grand Canal in Venice.

 

The international auction is open to the public; anyone can place a bid by simply registering at http://www.sothebys.com/ornellaia. The profits from the online auction will be announced at 8 p.m. on 13 September at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice.

“Sotheby’s Wine is proud to participate in the eleventh edition of Ornellaia’s superb Vendemmia d’Artista art program. We have enjoyed incredibly special events in New York (2010 & 2017), Hong Kong (2012), London (2013 & 2018), Toronto (2014), Basel (2015) and Los Angeles (2016), each of which was wholly unique and exciting, in the same way that every vintage has its own distinct character. These unique large-format bottles will find homes in new cellars and will always remind their new owners of the joys of bringing wine, food, art and friendship together.” Jamie Ritchie, Worldwide Head, Sotheby’s Wine

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The “Mind’s Eye” programme created by the Guggenheim education department, helps blind and low vision persons experience art by using all the senses. This encourages the development of creative expressions, emotional connections and memories, the perception of which lasts over time. As in art, the appreciation of great wines also requires the involvement of all the senses. It is precisely this idea that prompted Ornellaia to support the growth of this particular programme.

The donations collected through Ornellaia Vendemmia d’Artista will allow the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation to further develop the activities of the “Mind’s Eye” programme with the aim of extending the model to other art institutions, ensuring its excellence in favour of blind and low vision people all over the world.

ORNELLAIA, THE 2019 HARVEST HAS BEGUN

The harvest began at the Bolgheri estate with the youngest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards. A late year, but it promises to be high quality.

 

The 34th harvest of Ornellaia began last Monday and, as usual, the first grapes to be picked were the youngest Sauvignon Blanc vineyards, while for the reds we will have to wait until the beginning of September.

The Estate Director Axel Heinz commented: “Up to today, the weather of the 2019 growing year has been a ‘roller coaster’. After a particularly cool spring, the start of growth was delayed for over a week, and this delay continued until the flowering, in the first days of June. Immediately afterwards came a very hot June and July, among the warmest and driest in recent history, with substantial rains at the end of the month that interrupted the long period of drought. Veraison has since completed in all the vineyards and harvest has begun“.

He continued: “It is still early to make a prognosis on the vintage’s quality level, and the weather conditions of the second half of August and the month of September will certainly have an effect. Meanwhile, we can confirm that this harvest is a late one; we started with the younger Sauvignon Blanc vineyards that go into production this year, while for the other whites we will begin harvesting between the last week of August and the first of September. We will wait until the beginning of September to harvest the reds, between the first and second week, but everything bodes wonderfully”.

 

At Ornellaia, enthusiasm for the harvest is quite visible, once picking started with the Sauvignon Blanc, an important variety for the winery and part of Ornellaia Bianco and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia, the two white wines produced by the estate with the same attention to quality as the well-known red wines.

 

We realized more and more that there’s space for intriguing whites if you are selective and choose the right sites,” confirmed Heinz.

In 2002, production of the single-variety Sauvignon Blanc “Poggio alle Gazze” ceased altogether. However, Axel Heinz’s intuition upon arrival in 2005 led to a change of heart with respect to the estate’s white wines, and the first vintage of the new “Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia” was released in 2010 (2008 vintage). Several years of continuous research and development led to the launch of Ornellaia Bianco (2013 vintage).

 Passopisciaro, Mount Etna Passorosso and Passobianco 2017

 

“The 2017 growing season was exceptionally hot, even on Mount Etna,” commented Andrea Franchetti, the oenologist who was one of just a handful of pioneers to recognise the winemaking potential of the volcano’s utterly unique soils and climate. His research led him to select 26 hectares of terraced vineyards that today constitute the Passopisciaro wine estate. “Nonetheless,” he continued, ”that intense heat, which continued unabated into September, with diurnal temperature fluctuations less marked than usual, had no negative impact at all on wine quality; rather, the marriage of the site’s unique conditions of sunlight, elevation and volcanic soils retained its determining influence and yielded wines of powerful character.”      

 

Passorosso 2017

Passorosso 2017, 100% Nerello Mascalese, is an eloquent interpretation of its Etna home, and in particular of the villages of Malpasso, Guardiola, Santo Spirito, Favazza, and Arcuria, lying at elevations of 500 to 1100 feet. Soils in the highest zones are composed of large-size gravel, while those lower down are deeper and finer-grained, derived from ancient lava flows. In 2017, ripening in the vineyards was slow and gradual, and harvest arrived slightly early, between 20 and 29 October. Following fermentation in steel, Passorosso concluded malolactic in large oak ovals, where it matured over some 18 months. The wine boasts an ultra-crisp acidity and earthy minerality, impressive structure and body, and restrained alcohol.   

 

 

Passobianco 2017

The all-Chardonnay Passobianco 2017 is grown in four hectares at an elevation of 850-1000 metres, where the steep terraces in the Guardiola district offer loose, deep soils of lava derivation with high mineral content. During the 2017 season, the Chardonnay vines required spray irrigation at night to ward off heat stress, and harvest came early, between 13 and 30 August, bringing yields that were lower than normal but with concentrated fruit. The must fermented 20 days at around 23°C in steel, then Passobianco matured for 10 months in both concrete vats and large oak ovals. Today, it is crisp and zesty, with its prominent tropical fruit promising significant longevity.       

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When Andrea Franchetti met Mount Etna, the offspring of the encounter was Passopisciaro. In 2000, Franchetti began to reconstitute the terraced vineyards of Nerello Mascalese, successively planting new vineyards at densities of 12,000 vines per hectare and then restructuring a building, at 800 metres’ elevation, that would eventually become the Passopisciaro winecellar. Thus began Etna’s winemaking renaissance. Andrea Franchetti was likewise the proponent of the concept of the “vini di Contrada,” or wines reflecting the various individual districts, which today is celebrated by the international-level event “Le Contrade dell’Etna” that focuses on the Nerello grape.

Today, the Passopisciaro estate relies on 26 hectares of vineyards distributed over the north flank of Etna; most are planted to Nerello Mascalese, often un-grafted vines 80-100 years old, but there are Petit Verdot, Cesanese di Affile, and Chardonnay as well. Eight wines are produced. In addition to Passorosso and Passobianco, the portfolio boasts five crus: the contrade of Chiappemacine, Porcaria, Guardiola, Sciaranuova, and Rampante, plus the prestigious Franchetti, a marriage of Petit Verdot and Cesanese d’Affile. Andrea Franchetti is the owner of Tenuta di Trinoro as well, located at Sarteano (Val D’Orcia) in Tuscany, famous for its Bordeaux blend wine of the same name.

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