Analog Wines For the Digital Age

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Francois Chidaine wines from Loire highly rated in Wine Spectator

Chidaine Sheep

Francois Chidaine

Some great ratings for a top producer imported by Beaune Imports

Wine Spectator Insider Dec. 16, 2009

François Chidaine Vouvray Clos Baudoin 2007

93 points | $31 | 475 cases made | White

This is loaded with ginger, warm brioche, white peach, chamomile flower, honeysuckle and quinine notes that all ripple through the long, concentrated finish. Ripe, but steely and dry. A beauty. Should age nicely. A three-hectare parcel of 70-year-old vines. Drink now through 2017.-J.M.

François Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Clos du Breuil 2007

92 points |$26 | 1,415 cases made | White

Dry in style, with delicious green almond, fig and dried pear notes waiting in reserve, while hints of biscuit, heather honey and orange blossom flitter throughout. The finish is racy. Best from 2011 through 2013.—J.M.

François Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Les Tuffeaux 2007

92 points |$28 | 1,690 cases made | White

Still a touch tight, with a core of pure Bosc pear and Jonagold apple notes waiting in reserve. Hints of orange blossom, quince, cardamom and green almond chime in on the lengthy finish, which has latent depth. Should open nicely with brief cellaring. Drink now through 2012.—J.M.

François Chidaine Vouvray Le Bouchet 2007

92 points |$29 | 865 cases made | White

Very bright and floral, with lovely, racy honeysuckle, Jonagold apple and chamomile notes that course from start to finish. Long and mouthwatering, with the fruit offset wonderfully by riveting acidity that offset the 15.8 g/l of residual sugar wonderfully. Drink now through 2014.—J.M.

François Chidaine Montlouis Sur Loire Clos Habert 2007

91 points |$29 | 958 cases made | White

Lovely, focused pear and quince flavors glide along, while honeysuckle and mineral notes extend through the pure, mediumweight finish. Just off-dry in feel, with 12.1 g/l residual sugar. Drink now through 2012.—J.M.

François Chidaine Vouvray Les Argiles 2007

91 points |$26 | 1,680 cases made | White

Though broad, with a wide swath of blanched almond, brioche, dried lime peel and pear flavors, this white is also taut, with an underlying lanolin note that leaves a firm, dry feel on the finish. Drink now through 2012.—J.M.

Monday, November 30, 2009

G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato Cocktails


So G.D. Vajra makes one of the best Barolo Chinatos (Barolo wine fortified and flavored with herbs and spices, mainly Quinine, an herb that was was used in the Colonies in Africa, Australia, and South America to ward off malaria.)

Erik Adkins at Heaven's Dog in San Francisco has been a big supporter and I had him and his bartender buddies work up a few cool drink recipes for the G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato the last time I was up in the Bay Area.

Ask for them to whip one up for you.

2 oz Sazerae Rye
3/4 oz G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato
1/2 oz Apricot Brandy
Stirred up with a lemon peel and served in a rocks glass.

with Gin,

2 oz Millers Gin
1/2 oz G.D. Vajra Barolo Chinato
1/2 oz Apricot eau de Vie
1/2 oz lime juice
1/2 oz simple syrup

served shaken, not stirred

A great time was had making these and luckily I had my designated driver for the ride back home!

Anyone want to name these creations?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Visit to Macea by Erik Kelley of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - Part 5

Antonio and Erik

Some local cheese for the folks.

Visit to Macea by Erik Kelley of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - Part 4

A little home cured prosciutto never hurt anyone, eh?

Bottles of Macea Campo Catturesi 2007 bound for CA!

The old chapel on the property. The Macea property is one of the oldest in the valley and the chapel is over 600 years old.

Visit to Macea by Erik Kelley of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - Part 3

Antonio and Erik checking out the Campo Catturesi as it ferments.

The old basket press. Lots of elbow grease goes into these wines.

Oh, just grab a stick from the tree across the way to use to punch down the cap!

Visit to Macea by Erik Kelley of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - Part 2

Lovely, fermenting grapes. Can you smell them?

This old stick, oh, just something I found outside . . .

Surely Antonio is talking about how great the grapes were in 2009

Visit to Macea by Erik Kelley of Cheese Store of Beverly Hills - Part 1

So, I set my buddy Erik Kelley of the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills up with a visit to Az. Ag. Macea during his vacation in Italy/family reunion. Macea is in the Colline Lucchese (the hills of Lucca)where they produce wine and olive oil from a little agriturismo run by brothers Antonio and his Cipriano Barsanti. They are really into biodynamic winemaking and taking care of the earth and native yeast fermentation, in essence, what is now being called "natural winemaking". They are cool cats and incredibly sweet. Below are some photos from Erik's afternoon with his family and Antonio Barsanti tasting wine and eating cheese and home cured prosciutto.

He loved it. make special note of the stick Antonio uses to punch down the cap on the fermenting wine and the blankets used to cover the open topped fermenters. Oh yeah, and did I tell you that Antonio is a classically trained flutist? Check out his hands. And don't miss the old basket press they use to press the wine from the skins after fermentation. High tech, maybe not, but it gets the job done.

The agriturismo with 2 apartments for rent by the day or week.

The Campo Catturesi hillside getting afternoon sun.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

G.D. Vajra 2009 vintage report with photos


2009 vintage report / part 1


Barolo, martedì 13 ottobre 2009

Cari amici,

As you all know, I am quite allergic to any kind of newsletter or “news from the winery” and always try to avoid any communication, even if asked a few times. Blame it on me.

But Sunday morning something happened. Something so unexpected that made us all happy and thankful and I couldn’t but write to share this happiness with you all.

We woke up at 6am, not too early for a harvest day at Vajra, but early enough to see the last part of the night fading away and letting space to the dawn. The sky was bright, no clouds, and plenty of stars, with a crispy wind and a temperature of 11°C (52°F, roughly 9 Celsius degrees less than the previous day!). So, when finally the sun came, we could see the glory of a perfect Nebbiolo day: no clouds ( we have had a foggy, very Piemontese weather for the previous two weeks, which culminated on a light rain in the night between Friday and Saturday), no humidity, a strong wind from the Alps that dried the night dew and the residues of the week-end rain in a bunch of hours. And –oh yes- I could finally see the Monviso (that tall and lonely mountain that you see in the distance, in the picture above, sorry for the poor quality of the image). Monviso is the first mountain I see every day from my window, and to see it again after days and days of Nebbia, you can’t imagine the pleasure of that moment!

My father said these days are called OTTOBRATE, let’s say “the October days”, when the last sunshine comes to Piemonte, the sun is warm, but the cold continental winds already fight and ram the Alps to overcome them and conquer Italy. It’s a perfect combination of climatic factors for a rough variety such as Nebbiolo, and you can feel it, just by standing in the wind.

So, where is the point? We left some of our Nebbiolo grapes still ripening on the vines. We risked, as usual, and left some of the fruit behind to wait for a perfect phenolic ripening, despite the alert of rain for the week-end. As always, our risk is a move of hope: we look the sky and simply ask for some more days of good weather. What if we were unheard? Well, we would use that fruit for some table wine. But with that genius of my father, hazard is quite safe and there we are.

We have been harvesting yesterday and today but only picking two or three bunches per plant. The others won’t ripen until next week. Max temperature today was a quite chilly 18°C (64°F) and will drop down to a very cool 7°C (44°F) tonight, for the second time in a row. The daily sunshine and wind are drying the fruit, with a maximum increase of approx. 1°Babo = 0,6 Beaumé a day. The night cold is helping the synthesis of the aromatic compounds, which I imagine will be terrific. And when I look the skins, still thick and strong, and the stems, and see the pedicello (the portion that connect the berry to the stem) is red, I freak out.

Ok, got to go back to cellar now. Sometimes during the night I will complete my thesis report, since I am getting my degree on the 23rd. Anyhow, I promise I will be diligent and write you more about the 2009 vintage in a bunch of weeks. Here a few pictures taken in the last days.

A presto

Giuseppe per Aldo, Milena, Francesca e Isidoro Vaira.

Barolo village and castle, from La Volta vineyard where we harvested today. Exposure: south-south-east, around 12am.

Nebbiolo from a CVT-142 clone.

Average data for the 142 clone (one of the 6 planted in La Volta Vineyard):

Mosto: concentrazione zuccherina elevata (22,6 %), acidità pronunciata ma equilibrata (pH 3,02 - ac. tartarico 9,20 g/l - ac. malico 3,10 g/l).

Vino (da microvinificazione): rosso rubino molto intenso (antociani tot. 88 mg/l); intenso profumo florale e speziato, etereo; gradazione alcolica elevata (13,3 %), acidità sostenuta ma equilibrata (pH 3,30 - acidità tot. 6,29 g/l), tannicità moderata (polifenoli tot. 1,60 g/l); particolarmente adatto all' invecchiamento.

Gabri, il braccio destro di Aldo. He has been with us for almost 20 years, and he is still one of the few in short-sleeve today… look at the blue sky above, no clouds on the horizon.

A picture of some days ago: Aldo with Federico, Maria Jose ( a young Chilean winemaker) and Claudio on the sorting table.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Harvest notes (in Italian) from Castel Noarna in Trentino . . .

Ricomincia la vendemmia

August 25th, 2009

Il caldo straordinario della settimana scorsa ha portato ad una maturazione anticipata. L'uva è bellissima molto sana e con gusto pieno, come annata assomiglia al 2007.

Nel frattempo in cantina l'uva da base spumante vendemmiata la settimana scorsa sta gia fermentando.
Eccovi alcune foto prese stamattina a Castel Noarna.

Tullio alla pressa

August 25th, 2009





Giulio in vendemmia

Eccoci alla fine della giornata a riempire la pressa. L'uva è veramente splendida !

L’ultimo chardonnay …

September 3rd, 2009


Ieri abbiamo vendemmiato l'ultimo chardonnay del 2009. Il 'pergola doppia' che di solito è il nostro migliore, quello che normalmente viene selezionato per le riserve come il Campogrande e l'Emotional Wine. Anche quest'anno la qualità sembra ottima.

Oggi Gewurztraminer !

September 9th, 2009


Ecco. un'altra foto delle nostre uve del 2009


September 10th, 2009



Oggi è il turno della Nosiola ...

Lagrein e Merlot

September 11th, 2009



Visto che il tempo è bello e l'uva matura abbiamo vendemmiato anche i rossi. Uve dolcissime molto sane. Per i rossi potrebbe essere un'annata eccezionale !

Riesling e l’ultima Nosiola

September 25th, 2009

Questa vendemmia è senz'altro eccezionale. In 20 anni che facciamo vino a Castel Noarna non è mai successo che il tempo in vendemmia sia così favorevole.

(This harvest is without a doubt exceptional. In the 20 years that we are making wine at Castel Noarna the weahter has never been this favorable during harvest.)

Ieri e l'altro ieri abbiamo terminato la vendemmia delle uve bianche.

(Yesterday and the day before we finished the harvest of white grapes.)

Abbiamo raccolto una bellissima Nosiola (sua sorella ha già finito di fermentare ...). L'uva si presenta ancora sanissima ma più matura e con aromi più evoluti. Questo ci permetterà di fare un vino ancora più complesso formato dal blend delle due vendemmie. Anche questa come la sua sorellina sarà fermentata spontaneamente con i suoi lieviti indigeni.

Nosiola 2009

Nosiola 2009

Nosiola 2009

Nosiola 2009 e la Vallagarina

Abbiamo raccolto anche il Riesling Renano. L'uva aveva caratteristiche straordinarie per questa varietà: 19 babo e 6.5 per mille di acidità. Per molti questi dati non vorranno dire molto. In pratica significa circa 13 gradi di alcool naturale con una buona acidità (che da freschezza al vino). Il Riesling contribuirà al Bianco di Castelnuovo 2009.

Riesling Renano 2009

Riesling Renano 2009

Cabernet Sauvignon - la vendemmia è finita !

September 30th, 2009

Lunedì 28 e martedì 29 abbiamo vendemmiato il Cabernet Sauvignon. Il nostro storico vigneto (ormai ha 20 anni, uno dei primi vigneti a spalliera in Trentino !) quest'anno ci ha donato un uva straordinaria.

Assaggiare i chicchi del Cabernet Sauvignon quest'anno era una vera delizia: frutto, acidità, croccantezza della buccia, sanità .... Una vendemmia eccezionale !

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

Il castello

Il castello

I filari di Cabernet

I filari di Cabernet

Lunch with Francesca Vaira at Terroni DTLA . . . best lunch ever!

Francesca Vaira  2010 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library  2006 Langhe Freisa Kye` Library 2014 Luigi Ba...