Award-Winning Carmignano Riserva – Le Farnete 2013

Tuesday, April 11, 2017 12:52 PM

In my last post I wrote that Enrico Pierazzuoli was in San Francisco to pour his wines at Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri World Tour held at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavillon. Enrico is a practical man who does not place too much importance on scores, awards and such, but when his estate in Carmignano, Le Farnete, received a “Tre Bicchieri” for their 2013 Carmignano Riserva, he was clearly honored. It feels good to be recognized for your efforts, especially when it’s by Italy’s most influential wine and food publication.



Tuscany’s Carmignano is a lesser-known appellation, but its history of wine growing traces back centuries. In 1716, the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici legally recognized and identified this area for wine growing. Enrico appreciated the timing of receiving his first-ever “Tre Bicchieri” while celebrating Carmignano’s 300th Anniversary! The 2013 Carmignano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barrel for a year and then another year in bottle before being released to market, it is a full-bodied expression of Sangiovese. The inclusion of a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is enough to give the wine significant back-bone and structure. Less than 200 cases are produced of the Riserva and only in the best years. It is a wine with a long life ahead of it.



The Pierazzuoli’s run a traditional osteria on their estate in Chianti Montalbano. They sent out a notice earlier this week that they no longer have any reservations open for Easter. Of course there is lamb on the menu, so I am guessing patrons will be enjoying the 2013 Carmignano Riserva as it should be a perfect match. Shame I can’t be there! Buona Pasqua! -Anya Balistreri

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Enrico’s Chianti – Life’s A Beach!

Monday, March 27, 2017 12:18 PM

This year’s visit from the Enrico and Gianlorenzo Show coincided with the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri World Tour’s stop in San Francisco on February 15. Enrico was pouring his wine on the tour and Gianlorenzo Picollo, his friend, fellow winemaker, and traveling companion, came along too. Those two usually travel to the States together, which works out perfectly for us because we get the pleasure of meeting with two of our favorite Italian producers at the same time. I lovingly call their visit a “show” because they remind me of a duo á la Jay and Silent Bob, as Enrico is the talkative one and Gianlorenzo, shy and less sure of his English, taking on the role of the sidekick.



Enrico, Gianlorenzo and David


The “show” begins with Gianlorenzo pouring his fabulous Gavis. Pete wrote about the Rovereto earlier in the year. Since there are only two Gavis and the winemaking here is fairly straight forward, this portion of the show is quick. Next up is Enrico with his line-up from two estates; one from Chianti Montalbano and the other from Carmignano. This can take a while because Enrico is adamant on explaining all aspects of his wine production, not to mention that he is not one to hold back on sharing his opinion on, well, most things. I for one relish these presentations by Enrico. His enthusiasm and devotion to his work comes through with equal parts seriousness and humor. Enrico has a dry wit and delivers it with grand hand gestures and animated facial expressions.



2015 Chianti Montalbano


The first wine Enrico poured for us was the 2015 Chianti Montalbano and it was clear right off the bat that this is one of his finest efforts. Enrico, swinging his arms up and folding them behind his head, explained it this way, “in 2014 you really needed to make the wine, in 2015 it made itself…you could go to the beach”. 2015 was a favorable vintage across Italy and Montalbano was no exception. The Sangiovese fully ripened while retaining all the necessary structure, acid and tannin to make great wine. In general, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano tends to be fruit-driven and light-to-medium bodied, but the 2015 is noticeably fuller and dense. The vines are now over twenty years old and that also contributes to the quality of the grapes.



Tenute Pierazzuoli


TWH staff and Enrico spoke at length about the challenges of making and selling Chianti. So much of what is produced is what Enrico calls “industrially made”. These mass produced Chiantis are antithesis to the approach Enrico and his family take to making wine. For the Pierazzuoli’s, it is a real family affair. In addition to making wine, they produce their own olive oil as well as other food delicacies like vegetable conserves and fruit jams. They renovated their farmhouse into an agriturismo and most recently converted an ancient hayloft into a traditional Tuscan osteria. Last summer, my niece had the pleasure of staying a night at one of their apartments during a tour through Italy. She and her fiancé had dinner at the osteria. It was the highlight of their trip. I think I’m due a trip there myself! In the meantime, it’ll be bowls of pasta Puttanesca and glasses of 2015 Chianti Montalbano to tie me over until then.– Anya Balistreri

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Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi

Monday, November 14, 2016 5:17 PM

The Chianti sub-zone of Colli Senesi covers a large area, so as a whole, its reputation for quality does lag behind the more famous and narrowly defined Chianti Classico. But discerning eyes and palates know that drawn borders and appellations only tell part of the story. Take Le Rote as an example, located just a mile north of the famous towers of San Gimignano, you might also notice that it is just 16 miles due west of Castellina, the sweet spot of Chianti Classico. The soil, climate and altitude are quite similar to each other.


To continue the story, Le Rote is owned by Massimo Scotti and his family. They run a successful agriturismo business, make olive oil and produce wine. Their wine production is small, most of it consumed by the guests staying at their restored 18th century farmhouse and also sell a large portion of their fruit to off-set costs. Their Sangiovese is grown on a south-west facing hill with a 100 meters of separation from top to bottom. Depending on vintage conditions, they may either harvest from the top, the bottom, or the middle of the slope. Because they can afford to harvest by altitude, their Chianti has incredible consistency. The importer for this wine explained to me that "we've never met anyone else with the circumstance and ability to be so surgical in their harvest". Their enologist, Paolo Caciorgna, who also makes wines nearby for Andrea Bocelli, is a native of San Gimignano and appreciates the approach the Scotti's take to viticulture. The historic clone Sangiovese grapes are hand-harvested, sustainably farmed and dry farmed. Total production of the Chianti Colli Senesi is shy of 600 cases with yields averaging a bottle a plant.


The 2011 Chianti Colli Senesi from Le Rote is jam-packed with black cherry flavors, some sweet earthy aromatic notes, and a satisfying, easy-going finish. It's drinking optimally right now and should stay so for months to come. To inaugurate The Wine House's 39th Anniversary Sale, the 2011 Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi is now on sale for $14.95 per bottle, down from $19.98. To sweeten the pot even further, we are also offering the enticing special full-case price of $142 - that's less than $12 per bottle! Now that's a deal, non ci piove! Take advantage of this deep discount to spread holiday cheer far and wide. A bottle for your neighbor perhaps who pet-sits in a moment's notice or for the friend who is always available to help out on demo-days? Stashing a case is going to make last minute gift-giving a cinch. Who wouldn't love a bottle of Chianti?


During my research for this write-up, I felt it compulsory to test out a bottle with a bowl of classic red-sauced pasta. Talk about comfort food. You could put a candle on it and serve it to me in lieu of a birthday cake. No joke. There is something magical about the combination of Sangiovese and a tomato-based pasta sauce. The fruit flavors of Sangiovese waltz seamlessly with the acid of the tomato. A dusting of Parmigiano Reggiano completes the sweet/salty balance to achieve flavor nirvana. Cook up a pot, open some bottles of 2011 Le Rote Chianti Colli Senesi and invite a bunch of friends over for dinner. Do it - it'll be good for you! - Anya Balistreri

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The July 2016 Dirty Dozen

Saturday, July 2, 2016 6:47 PM



The Dirty Dozen

 

 

As 2016 continues to buzz away, here we are past the halfway mark. July is a great month for oh-so-many reasons. The fourth falls of a Monday this year, and that’s great for those of us who like three day weekends! Baseball’s mid-summer classic is coming up soon, and the long summer days of July are great occasions to get outdoors and enjoy yourself! It’s always good to have some reserves, so we’ve put together a great July Dirty Dozen to keep you prepared for any vinous emergency. Happy July!

Reorder Special !!! 20% off 6 bottles or more of any one regularly priced Dirty Dozen wine! Or 10%/Net Wines – 5%/ Sale Wines

2014 Screen Porch White, HRW $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Going back in time here with a Napa Valley Chardonnay for $12! Some Pinot Gris was added to the blend to perk up the acidity, making this the ideal, hot weather sipper from the folks at Hendry Winery. We’re told this is a one-off, so enjoy it while its still available. Crisp and crunchy peach flavors abound. Pair with a main course salad out on the veranda.

2014 Sauvignon Delle Venezie, Torre di Luna $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Torre di Luna Sauvignon is a refreshing, simple and delicious white wine from the region of Trentino in Northern Italy. The light – only 12.5% ABV – crisp flavors are especially welcome this time of year as we head into summer’s heat. Chill it down well to accentuate the fresh tropical flavors. Pair with light pasta dishes, pizza bianco, or fresh spring rolls.

2015 Soave San Rocco, Monte Tondo $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Monte Tondo specializes in Soave. Their hilltop estate, not far from Verona, overlooks the valley. The San Rocco is their entry level Soave, but it is by no means inferior to their estate-branded wines. Offering incredible value, this Soave is vibrant and mineral-driven. Tank fermented, try it with bay shrimp stuffed avocados or a Panzanella salad.

2012 Gewurztraminer Rosenberg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder
Rose petals and lychee nuts are descriptors that follow Gewurztraminer around as the aromas of this variety are definitely marked by these distinct fragrances. This single-vineyard Gewurz is a bit off-dry, as evidenced by the sweetness scale that the Ehrharts use on the back label. Pair this opulent nectar with spicy curry or red beans and rice.


2014 Rosé Les Trois Frères, Domaine Des Aspras $17.59, $14.07 reorder
Every now and then something fancy lands in the DD, and this month, we’ve got a full-fledged Provençal Rosé in the box! Domaine des Aspras is located in the village of Correns, which is an all-organic village. It’s a blend of Cinsault and Grenache, and has aromas of mint, strawberry, peach, and orange blossoms. Pair it with a simple salmon roasted in butter.


2014 Montravel Blanc, Château Calabre $8.95 sale price, $8.50 reorder
Longtime friend of TWH, Daniel Hecquet continues to turn out delicious wines for a song, and his Château Calabre Montravel Blanc is another winner on a long list of winners! Here, the blend is 50% Sauvignon Blanc, 40% Sémillon, and 10% Muscadelle just like many whites coming from nearby Bordeaux. Fresh and zippy, pair it with a chicken salad.


2014 Poggio d’Elsa, Bruni $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
This 50/50 blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon hails from the region of Maremma Toscana, a two-hour drive southwest of Florence. Maremma Toscana was only recently promoted to DOC status, though Azienda Bruni has been making wines since the 1970’s. Rustic, spicy with bright tart red fruit, a must for pizza or meaty baked pasta dishes.


2012 Minervois Cuvée Spéciale, Château de Paraza $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder
Château de Paraza, like many wineries in the Minervois, can trace its history back many centuries. In 2005 the Danglas family purchased the winery with the intent of bringing its reputation back to its former glory. The quality has improved exponentially and has been a favorite here at TWH for the past five vintages. Juicy, robust, supple. Try it with lamb!


2014 Rosso Conero, Marchetti $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder
Maurizio Marchetti’s Rosso Conero is made with Montepulciano grapes grown along coastal vineyards near the Adriatic Sea south of the seaside town of Ancona. A gentle pressing ensures freshness and supple tannins. A short rest in barrel, maybe 3-4 months before bottling, also aids in making a juicy, delicious red. Serve with chicken cooked under a brick.

2014 Chianti Montalbano, Tenuta Pierazzuoli $13.49, $10.79 reorder
Having visited us earlier in the year, Enrico Pierazzuoli showcased this newly-arrived Chianti Montalbano and our staff happily closed out the day sipping this textbook, 100% Sangiovese with some fresh salumi and provolone. It’s a medium bodied red with fresh acidity making it kind of the utility player of wines … it just goes with everything.


2013 Agrippa, Vignobles Boudinaud $17.49, $13.99 reorder
Thierry Boudinaud doesn’t make his Agrippa every year; the conditions must be just right for this 100% Syrah named in honor of the Roman statesman who oversaw the construction of the famous Pont du Garde. Good thing he’s in southern, Mediterranean France! It’s a concentrated complex Syrah, great for barbecue season, perfect with grilled smoky meats.


2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, Vinum Africa $17.99, $14.39 reorder
This Cab Sauvignon from South Africa is a great wine to wrap up this month’s DD. The fruit comes from two prized vineyards in the foothills of Helderberg Mountain, just south of Stellenbosch. It’s a full-bodied Cabernet with a core of red and black fruit, earthy mineral, a hint of herbs, and good grip. This is best served with rack of lamb or a rib-eye.

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Chianti, Relationships, And Family Business

Monday, March 7, 2016 11:48 PM

 
Three winemakers from TWH’s Italian portfolio paid us a visit last week. The trio consisted of Giavi’s Marco Cuscito,Ernesto Picollo’s Gianlorenzo Picollo, and Tenuta Pierazzuoli’s Enrico Pierazzuoli. A visit from a producer is a mix of business and pleasure. David drove “the boys” all over the Bay Area, meeting with restaurants and fine wine shops. The trio had also “worked the market” in LA, getting their wines placed on some pretty impressive wine lists. To say the wines were well received is an understatement. Our back stock of their wines have dwindled. David spent several days after they left trying to figure out the quickest way to get more wine imported from Italy!
 
 
I had met Enrico in Italy a few months after I started working at TWH. I had planned the trip in advance of accepting a position at TWH and it happened to coicide with this new relationship between TWH and Pierazzuoli. That was nearly twenty years ago! My boyfriend, now husband, and I drove north from Radda to Montelupo and somehow managed to find our way to Pierazzuoli’s estate tucked in the rolling hills of Montalbano. Enrico proudly showed off his new vineyard plantings, the cellar, and a farmhouse that he said he hoped to renovate to make into an agriturismo. Seeing Enrico in San Francisco reminded me of how hard he has worked to make his dreams come true making wine on his family’s estates. I’m guilty of this too, to think “wouldn’t it be great to have your own winery in Tuscany” without considering all it takes to make that a reality especially if you are not being funded by deep pockets. Enrico is a talker and he talks a lot about the trials and tribulations of running a family business in Italy. When it is quiet at the winery, Enrico is out promoting his wine abroad. He comes to the US every year as he knows it doesn’t just end at making great wine…you need to make sure it gets into the right hands.
 
Enrico Pierazzuoli
 
Enrico’s 2013 Chianti Montalbano is a great example of a simple wine that delivers charm and purity of fruit. In comparison to most Chianti’s out in the market below $15, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano offers more delicious fruit andclean flavors. I have been tasting quite of few value-priced Chianti’s lately and I am appalled at the shoddy quality and metalic flavors. Some are downright awful and undrinkable. On the other hand, Enrico’s Chianti Montalbano has fresh-picked, bright cherry fruit flavors. It may lack girth but that is not its purpose. It is meant to be that perfect back drop to your favorite bowl of pasta. For me personally, I adore the Chianti Montalbano with a Bolognese sauce. The tangy, red cherry fruit marries well with the tomato sauce and the acidity level is just right not to overwhelm the dish.
 
Marco, David, Gianlorenzo and Enrico
 
Over dinner at the newly opened Fiorella in SF’s Richmond District with Enrico, Gianlorenzo, Marco, David, Tom and I in attendance, stories were shared with much laughter emanating from our table. Those Italian boys are good people and that matters! I left home that evening with a feeling of satisfaction knowing that when I recommend a bottle of 2013 Chianti Montalbano there is a real person who made every effort to make the best wine they could.Tenuta Pierazzuoli is not a label but a family business. I like to think I’m part of that family. So cook up a whole lotta pasta and gravy and invite your family over to share stories, laugh, eat and make sure to serve the 2013 Chianti Montalbano to make it all that much better!– Anya Balistreri
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