Trentino Winemaker’s Lunch at Del Posto: An Intimate Glance at Cooperation, Dedication, Stories and Superb Wines

I was honored to be invited by The Consortium of Trentino Wines to attend their winemaker’s lunch at DEL POSTO restaurant in October. The Trentino region produces about an equivalent amount of both red and white wines, using indigenous and international grapes. The focus of the lunch was to highlight the character driven sparkling and white wines, which have drawn significant acclaim. With its unique location and history of German influence, the area produces white wines that display easy drinking fruit and mineral flavours with a backbone of crisp acidity that are emblematic of the region.

The fundamental motif of wines presented was one of mutual cooperation amongst growers and winemakers. Cooperative wineries offer small family growers an opportunity to retain and work their ancestral lands, where otherwise there would be no economic opportunity to do so. The generally small plots of land these farmers own are on steep slopes of the Dolomites in the Alps, necessitating all vineyard processes to be done by hand. The cooperative provides the growers with the freedom to maintain their family cultivation traditions that have been passed along from generation to generation, along with the benefit of access to modern winery facilities and international marketing resources.

matteoandrea

Matteo Mattei and Andrea Pedrolli at Del Posto, NYC, October 28, 2014

I was seated with Matteo Mattei, General Director of Cantina D’Isera and Andrea Pedrolli of Cantina Roverè della Luna. It was such an amazing experience to enjoy phenomenal wines and a lovely lunch in a relaxed atmosphere with Matteo and Andrea. I had the opportunity to seek their insight on their processes, and feel that experience reciprocated by producers on their first trip to the United States, exuberant to share their passion with a new land.

The highlights of our wonderful conversation [my Italian is rather rusty] revolved around the protection of the environment and the preservation of the culture of the generations of families that live and work on the land. Farmers know that they are passing the land down to their future generations, and therefore vineyard cultivation is done without the use of chemicals [although not certified and not advertised].

The wine that Matteo presented was a sparkling wine made solely of Chardonnay grapes in the Champagne method. This is his family’s “Sunday wine”, it is meant to be enjoyed throughout the long family meals traditionally held on Sunday. It is light, airy and its purpose is to be a palate cleanser for all of the wonderful food served. Every house [family] in the area has their own version, Matteo’s grandfather passed the tradition down to him. “It’s a story, not a wine.”

The inner workings of the co-op were presented in great detail from Andrea. She relayed how involved the individual growers are in all stages of the wine making processes. In addition to typical interactions of living and farming in close proximity, they hold a yearly “sharing of ideas” meeting, which becomes a very vocally democratic process for determining changes (if any) to all aspects of wine-making operations. Additionally, I received a sneak peak into next year; she said the summer of 2014 was very rainy, “luckily this didn’t damage the quality of the grapes, the vintage is safe” but they will unfortunately have a reduced production.

Andrea, with her English skills, reflected the spirit of the cooperatives, she was there to promote her wines, yet also was instrumental in translating for her fellow winemakers. Just as important to her was promoting and disseminating knowledge of the Trentino region, in addition to her wines.

Cantina D’Isera 1907 Riserva Brut Trentodoc

bruttrentodoc
Winery: Cantina d’Isera was founded in 1907 under the name Cantina Sociale when the area was still under the rule of the Hapsburg Empire. Today there are over 200 members that cultivate 230 hectares of land. The cooperative operates under the principle that “A good wine is born in the vineyard”.

Philosophy: To “appreciate and love the wines created from the passion of man and the generosity of the hills of Isera”.

Tasting Notes: Pale straw in colour with a sparkling mineral aroma. Delicate apple and floral notes glided on an undercurrent of silky bubbles, whilst clean minerals comprised the elegant finish. Incredibly refined and easy drinking, this is a glass you keep reaching for.
100% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
€8 [Average price in Italy, it does not have a US importer yet.]

La Vis Ritratti del Diaol Chardonnay 2012

ritratti
Winery: Cantina La Vis is located in the Avisiane Hills and dates back to 1850 when the Cembran family began producing wine. Officially established in 1948, today the cooperative has 800 members that cultivate more than 800 hectares of vineyards. The label is the work of Giovanni Segantini, a Trentino born artist known for his landscape paintings of the Alps along with rustic scenes of people such as peasant, farmers and shepherds, working the earth. Noted for the connections people have with nature, the cooperative chose his paintings as they resonate with their own ideals and people, the growers are passionate and proud of their interwoven relationship with the earth.

Winemaking: The grapes were sourced from a single estate vineyard located on a steep hill. It is the highest quality wine they make, with only 9000 bottles produced in this vintage. Unoaked, each vintage is known to age quite well.

Tasting Notes: Brilliant gold in colour with aromas of lemon along with hints of pineapple. The lengthy finish of slate minerals complimented rich lemon and buttered bread flavours. A wonderful display of rich plush flavours that maintain a delicate edge.
100% Chardonnay
13.5% Alcohol
$55 [average price]

Roverè della Luna Winchel ‘Quaranta Jugheri’ Gewürztraminer 2012

winchel
Winery: The cooperative of Roveré della Luna was founded in 1919 by 14 winemakers passionate about crafting excellent wines. It is located in the most northern village of Trentino at the base of an “immense calcareous landslide” in an area known for its oak trees. Today the cooperative consists of 300 members cultivating over 420 hectares of vineyards in the DOC’s of Trentino, Alto Adige and Valdadige.

Winemaking: A dynamic, holistic approach is given to winemaking. The “extremely modern” winery is based on the people and the passion they have for growing and producing wines, respect for the land, along with a dedication to research and innovation. This is their first vintage of Gewürztraminer, grapes were sourced from the Winchel vineyard, and only 1480 bottles were produced.

Tasting Notes: Deep gold in colour with radiating aromas of juicy peach, rose and traces of petrol. Fresh apple and peach flavours harmonized with spicy ginger and crushed white peppercorn, whilst clean minerals lingered refreshingly between each sip.
100% Gewürztraminer
13.5% Alcohol
No. 0028 of 1480

Fondazione Edmund Mach Castel San Michele Moscato Rosa delle Dolomiti IGT 2012

moscatorosa

A luscious pairing: Moscato Rosa with chocolate hazelnut mousse bar, spicy hazelnuts & citrus syrup

Winery: Fondazione Edmund Mach was founded by the Tyrolean Parliament in 1874 when they opened an agricultural school and research center in the former Augustinian monastery of San Michele in Trentino. They chose renowned Austrian Dr. Edmund Mach to run the center, with a goal of increasing agricultural production. Today the farm consists of 120 hectares of vineyards and apple trees, a distillery, and a wine cellar located in the 12th century Augustinian monastery. This blend of modernity and antiquity creates “an atmosphere suspended between history, where the art of winemaking has been practiced uninterruptedly for almost a thousand years”. In addition to the winery, the farm “promotes and carries out research, scientific experiments, education and training activities technical assistance and extensions services to companies”. The center strives to improve and advance “cultural and socio-economic growth in the agricultural sector”, using a model of sustainable agriculture and “low environmental impact”.

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from 2 vineyards; Becchetti, which was planted in 1960, and Oberrauch, planted in 1988. Moscato Rosa is somewhat of a rarity, as there are very few vineyards planted with it, and yields tend to be low. It is not classified as late harvest or passito since the grapes “accumulate unusual concentrations of sugar, resulting in wines with high alcohol and natural residual sugar while retaining excellent levels of mouth-cleansing acidity”.

Tasting Notes: Brilliant red-violet in colour with radiant aromas of rose and red berries. Sweet raspberry and cherry flavours were complimented by candied roses and hints of spicy clove. A vivid acidity and wonderfully dry finish maintain a balance with the sweet notes, making this fantastic with desserts, especially chocolate.
100% Moscato Rosa
Vignetti delle Dolomiti IGT
12.5% Alcohol
$20 [average price]

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Podere Giardino ‘Suoli Cataldi’ Reggiano Lambrusco Rosso 2013

poderelambrusco

Estate: Since the end of the 19th century, the Crotti family have been farming Podere Giardino, located in a “small hamlet alongside the historic Via Emilia in the direction of Modena” in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. At that time the estate was headed by Donnino Crotti and was primarily for raising cows in order to produce the famed Parmigiano Reggiano cheese of the region. In 2001 his grandchildren, Paolo, Marco and Federica Crotti took over the estate from their parents and began combing family tradition along with modern technology to produce Lambrusco on a larger scale. They are devoted to organic viticulture and production methods “that respects human well-being and defends environmental biodiversity, it is a model of sustainable development aimed at protecting the environment and enhancing the quality of the soil and the resources of local communities”.

Philosophy: Carrying the family’s traditions into the future, they are committed to “the respect of the natural rhythms imposed by nature and our constant effort to recover the authentic tastes and fragrances of the products of our land: these are our values, the ones that allow us to respect the certified biological method”.

Winemaking: The estate has been certified organic since 2003, and GMO free since 2005 in regards to vine stock and feed for the Parmigiano Reggiano cows. Grapes for the Lambrusco Rosso are sourced from clay soil vineyards located near the city of Reggio Emilia, in the “Cataldi”estate”.

Tasting Notes: Dark red violet in colour with aromas of cherry, traces of balsamic and earthy funk. Morello cherry, blackberry and earth elements ride along a currant of smooth, low key bubbles that magnify the velvety texture. A cleansing acidity and dry mineral finish make this fantastic with a wide variety of dishes, especially rich ones. [It was spectacular with an array of Italian cheese, including Parmigiano Reggiano, Pecorino Fosso and Provolone Mandarone]

30% Marani, 30% Salamino, 30% Oliva, 5% Ancellotta
Reggiano Lambrusco
Emilia Romagna
Italy
Produced by Azienda Agricola Podere Giardino, Bottled by ICQRF 2019/RE
11.5% Alcohol
$17 [average price]
Enjoy now

Ricci Curbastro Sparkling Wines: Innovation Becomes Tradition

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Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro leading the Quality Italian Wines and Franciacorta Seminar at Simply Italian Great Wines US Tour 2014 New York. Image courtesy of Ricci Curbastro Azienda Agricola.

I had the pleasure of attending an enlightening seminar given by the incredibly interesting and multifarious Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro, who is the owner, Managing Director and head of marketing of Ricci Curbastro Farm Estate Winery located in Lombardy, northern Italy. In addition to explaining the numerous safeguarding components of Federoc [National Confederation for Voluntary Consortia for the oversight of the Denominations of Origin], he passionately described his distinctive sparkling wines and progressive, unique estate.

The Franciacorta region [‘free courts’] takes its name from the 11th century winery French monks from Cluny had there and refers to the fact that the land and monks were free from Italian authority. Regarded as Italy’s best sparkling wines, Franciacorta received DOC status in 1967, followed by DOCG in 1995. Non-vintage wines are aged for 18 months, Rosé and Satèn wines for 24 months, vintage wines are 30 months, and Riserva wines are aged for an astounding 60 months.

The Curbastro family has been farming the estate since the 13th century. Close to the Alps, ancient glaciers left the valley soil rich in minerals. The estate consists of 32 hectares, 27.5 of which are vineyards. With such a remarkable history they consider the land as “a gift from our fathers”, and therefore do not use any chemicals or fertilizers. Their carbon neutral initiatives are incredibly progressive, so much so that their carbon footprint is under zero. In addition to producing all of their own electricity, all facets of every process has been proactively examined and transformed. Lubricants for tractors, renewal of barrels, office supplies, bottles, labels, pallets, even the flight from Italy to NY is included in the evaluation and rating.

Dr. Riccardo Ricci Curbastro is renowned for his pioneering work regarding the role of yeast and amino acids in wine production. Through cutting edge experimentation he has been able to replace sulphur with amino acids from extract yeast. The amino acids act as an antioxidant and protective component, entirely eliminating the need for sulphur. For detailed information on his work and the role of amino acids, please see click here.

He so eloquently summarized his family’s history along with the pioneering technological advances as “innovation becomes tradition”. As to be expected, his wines are a reflection of this synthesis, displaying complexity and refinement.

franciacorta

Top left: Brut NV, top right: Satèn Brut 2010, bottom left: Rosé Brut NV

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Brut NV
Straw yellow in colour with aromas of white flowers, pear and peach. Well structured with light fruit notes harmonizing with nutmeg and honey notes, culminating in a lengthy dry finish. Dr. Curbastro recommends enjoying this as an apertivo, yet it can also carry thru the entire meal.
60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco, 10% Pinot Nero
12.5% Alcohol
$40 [average price]

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Satèn Brut 2010
My personal favourite, with intricate notes of lemon, peach, fresh bread and floral hints that harmonized with consistent, delicate bubbles. The incredibly light, crisp finish makes this fantastic with any dish.
100% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
$45 [average price]

Ricci Curbastro Franciacorta Rosé Brut NV
Pale coral pink in colour with compelling aromas of honeycomb and rose. Delicate red berries, honey and herbaceous hints raced along a backdrop of silky bubbles, whilst lightly sweet notes evaporated in the dry, cleansing finish. Elegant, versatile and wonderfully easy drinking, Dr. Curbastro refers to this as “a summer tuxedo”.
80% Pinot Nero, 20% Chardonnay
12.5% Alcohol
$52 [average price]

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Ameztoi ‘Rubentis’ Getariako Txakolina Rosado 2013

gatotxk

Snappy and fun, this is a wonderfully food friendly Rosé. With its modest alcohol content it will vanish before you realize it.

Estate: The Ameztoi family has been making wines in the Basque region of northern Spain for 7 generations. The vineyards are located near the ocean in the town of Getaria. They are known for crafting wines with exuberant character that are the “most representative and classic txakoli”. Their Rosé is produced in limited amounts and has gained a cult following in New York City and the California Bay area.

Winemaking: White Hondarrabi Zuri grapes are fermented and then blended with the red Hondarrabi Beltza grapes.

Tasting Notes: Rose pink in color with aromas of wild strawberry and clean minerals. Fresh strawberry and raspberry notes ran atop a racing undercurrent of bright acidity in the slightly effervescent body, whilst the snappy finish displayed an edge of clean minerals along with flashes of tart green apple.

50% Hondarrabi Zuri, 50% Hondarrabi Beltza
Getariako Txakolina
Spain
Bottled by Amesguren S,L.
11.5% Alcohol
$24 [average price]
Enjoy now

Vigneto Saetti Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce Rosso Viola 2012

saetti

Lively and charming this is an easygoing sparkler fantastic with simple dishes and lovely for sipping on its own.

Estate: Founded in 1998 by Luciano Saetti, the Vignetti Saetti Winery is comprised of 2.8 contiguous hectares located in the Santa Croce appellation of the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy. The Saetti family has been growing grapes for many generations, and practice traditional viticulture, without the use of any chemicals.

Philosophy: Crafting wine that is “capable of unleashing fragrances and flavors that evoke the time-honored traditions and display sincere flavor”.

Winemaking: The vineyards were planted in 1964, and “every effort has been made to not upset the natural organic harmony of the
vineyard”. The vineyards are farmed using organic methods without the use of any chemicals, only native yeasts are used during fermentation, and sulphur is not added.

Tasting Notes: Dark ruby red in colour with aromas of black cherry and rain-washed slate. Black cherry, grape and herbaceous notes culminated in a fizzy, clean mineral finish.

Pairing: Cured Italian meats and cheeses [from the winery].

100% Lambrusco Salamino
Santa Croce / Emilia-Romagna
Italy
12% Alcohol
$19 [average price]
Enjoy now thru 2015

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