Where the Hell is Victor Rallo?
This is a good question and I don’t have an answer! However, I do know where he was! Piedmont, Alto-Adige, Emilia Romagna, Trentino and Lombardy; Victor was zigzagging his way across Northern Italy in search of the very best food, wine, and life for his new show “Eat, Drink, Live Italy with Victor Rallo” set to air this winter on PBS.
Victor’s pursuit is to bring you the best of Italy! Not only will he be delving into such items as truffles, pressing olives, and finding the perfect cheese caveau, he will be eating some of each region’s top food and drinking the finest wine. And yes, he’s even keeping an eye on Burlisconi and Italy’s bees. So, stayed tuned for news on the upcoming show, and to keep tabs on his antics throughout Italy.
On his most recent trip, of the hundreds of wines he tasted, the following are the ones you cannot miss!!!
The wines July 5, 2012 to July 17, 2012:
1. Oddero Barbera
Isabella and Cristina Oddero are working hard to continue the family tradition of making great wine in La Morra. I believe the Barbera di Alba is one of the best values in Italian wine. Drink it, love it, and follow the heritage. I love to drink this wine year round; even with a slight chill at a summer BBQ.
Founded in 1878 in the hamlet of Santa Maria located in La Morra, Poderi e Cantine Oddero is a historic name among Piemonte’s producers. Run for generations by men, it is now in the hands of Maria Cristina and Maria Vittoria, the daughters of Giacomo Oddero, Barolo patriarch and a man whose fame reaches beyond the Langhe. Over the generations, the Oddero family has gradually expanded its vineyards to today's impressive 60 hectares, many of which lie in the illustrious Barolo vineyards of Brunate, Rocche di Castiglione, Villero and Mondoca di Bussia. Since 2001, with the help of young and talented winemaker Luca Vaglio, Oddero winery has become one of the leading producers.
Oderro Barbera d’Alba 2009 -$18.25
2. Vietti Castiglione Barolo & Vietti Arneis
Luca Currado of Vietti in Castiglione Falletto is arguably one of the best wine makers in Barolo. Try any of his wines and you will understand my statement. His family is the only Barolo producer to own Cru vineyards in all of the 11 villages that make up the Barolo DOCG. The Barolo Castiglione 2007 is a slam-dunk for nebbiolo lovers, whether you drink it now or cellar it for 10-15 years. And please do not overlook the Arneis 2011; a terrific alternative to sauvignon blanc.
Based in Castiglione Falletto in Piedmont’s Langhe wine region, the Vietti winery is owned by the family’s fourth generation. In 1919 Mario Vietti made the first Vietti labeled wines. By mid-century Alfredo Currado married Mario’s daughter and made a name for Vietti’s single vineyard Barbera and Barolo. Alfredo was one of the first to select and vinify grapes from single vineyards, a radical concept at the time. He also put the varietal Arneis on the wine map and is recognized as the father of Arneis. In 1990, Luca joined the Vietti family business as winemaker after working at California’s Simi Winery, Opus One, Long Vineyards and Bordeaux’s Mouton-Rothschild. His innovative winemaking utilizes a unique combination of the modern and traditional. He eliminated equipment that measures acid and tannin levels in favor of a more intuitive approach. Vietti organically farms more than 25 single vineyards with vines up to 90 years of age.
Vietti Castiglione Barolo 2007$45.99
Vietti Roero Arneis 2011 - $21.99
3. Paolo Scavino Barolo, Langhe Nebbiolo and Langhe Bianco
At Paolo Scavino in Castiglione Falletto, Piedmont it is a family affair. Sisters, Elisa and Enrica, sit beside their father, Enrico, producing historical wines vintage after vintage. I love the base Barolo; it is an outstanding value. Also, try the Langhe Bianco 2011, it is a blend of chardonnay, sauvignon and 2011 is the first vintage with viognier in the blend.
The Paolo Scavino winery was founded in 1921 by Enrico Scavino’s grandfather Paolo. Today Enrico runs the winery with the help of his daughters Enrica and Elisa. The winery is located in Castiglione Falletto, one of the eleven communes of the Barolo appellation, in the historical Langhe hills. The Scavino winery is rare in their possession of grand cru’s in six of the eleven villages of Barolo. The Scavino family owns grand cru vineyards in the townships of Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, La Morra, Roddi, Verduno and Serralunga. This diversity of terroir gives the Scavino’s a unique opportunity to produce wines of extraordinary quality. The single vineyard crus have been a personal mission of Enrico since he conceived and created the Bric del Fiasc single vineyard label in 1978: The first Scavino cru. The uniqueness of each vineyard’s terroir today can be tasted in their four esteemed single vineyard bottlings.
Paolo Scavino Langhe Bianco2010$13
Paolo Scavino Nebbiolo DO NOT HAVE IN INVENTORY
Paolo Scavino Barolo 2007 - $37
4. Saracco Moscato
In Castiliglione Tinella, Piedmont Paolo is simply the king of Moscato. His wines have a perfect balance of fruit, acidity, and frissante. At Saracco, they bottle the wine on demand and beside the vintage on every bottle, it has a bottled on date that’s fresh!!! You can drink this wine all day, from sunrise to sunset. Try it with Prosciutto di Parma, speck, or a full bodied aged cheese. Have fun and step outside the box.
Luigi Saracco, the great grandfather of Paolo began growing Moscato grapes in the early 1900's. With each generation the legacy and commitment to quality continues. Paolo Saracco grew up in the vineyards and even at an early age had a desire to make a wine with the family name. Upon completion of his Enological studies, Paolo began experimenting not only with new winemaking techniques, but also a more modern vineyard management style.
The vineyards belonging to the Saracco family are in a perfect micro-climate for Moscato: the soil is comprised of limestone mixed with sandy veins and the elevation provides just the right temperature and humidity balance. Vineyard management and strict control over the wine-making process has resulted in consistent acclaim in the press and strong loyalty from Paolo Saracco’s customer base making him the leader of this important and unique Piedmont wine.
Saracco Moscato 2011 - $13.99
5. Chiarli Lambrusco
A resurgence of Lambrusco throughout the world is lead by the Chiarli family in Emilia Romagna, producing extremely high quality Lambrusco with modern technology. These wines are delicious with salume, prosciutto and cheeses. At a BBQ with spicy sauces, or as an aperitif to get the party started. This is not Riunite; this is the oldest most prestigious producer in Emilia Romagna. Do not be afraid of the fizz……..
Cleto Chiarli is the oldest producer of Lambrusco in Emilia Romagna. The winery was founded in 1860 by Cleto Chiarli, a restaurateur, who was already producing his own Lambrusco for customers of his restaurant. This movement into wine production proved to be a momentous turning point which would indicate the direction to follow for the future generations, and which would bring about nothing short of a revolution in the selling of Lambrusco. Today, Chiarli owns seven estates, six located in the Modena DOC and one in the Colli Bolognesi DOC, located in Bologna. The vineyards extend throughout the fertile alluvial soils of the river Secchiaon on the plane north of Modena.
Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco 2011 - $13
6. Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige
Sparkling wine in Italy has higher production standards than Champagne in France. With the ideal microclimate to grow chardonnay and pinot noir, Ca’ del Bosco, uses a state of the art winery to ensure that the aroma, fruit, acidity, all remain in perfect balance. I have not tasted a more delightful sparkling wine in years. Ca del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige, step out of France and drink sparkling made in the traditional Champagne method. You choose…Italy or France.
The founder of Ca’ del Bosco, Maurizio Zanella, has been one of the foremost advocates of the Franciacorta region. His work was fundamental to the area’s receipt of the DOCG designation for its sparkling wines, and he has also endeavored to secure an official designation—Curtefranca—to represent the area’s still wine production.
Regarded as one of Franciacorta’s foremost practitioners, Ca’ del Bosco produces a full range of sparkling wines as well as still wines utilizing both the principal international varieties and those indigenous to the area. Zanella’s impact has extended far beyond the parameters of his immediate location, earning him recognition as one of the defining figures in Italy’s wine renaissance. The Gambero Rosso has honored Ca’ del Bosco and Zanella with over 20 Tre Bicchieri awards, an achievement that is equaled only by Angelo Gaja.
Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige
DO NOT HAVE IN INVENTORY
7. Abbazia di Novacella Gewürztraminer and Kerner
Valle D’Isarco is in Alto Adige in Northern Italy, just 30 miles from the Brenner Pass. It is the Northern most point of Italy that grapes grow. Only white varietals grow here because it’s too cold for red grape varietals to thrive. However, the whites that are grown here produce some of the most aromatic, crisp, acidic white wines in Italy. Abbazia seems to have it all wrapped up, with an unbelievable price-to-quality ratio. These two seemingly German varietals, Gewürztraminer and Kerner from Abbazia di Novacella, tell the story of this terrior perfectly.
Abbazia di Novacella, located at 1,800 feet above sea level in the Isarco Valley of the Alto Adige region, is Italy’s northernmost winery, specializing in cool-climate white wines, many of which are made from grapes of Germanic origin. The Abbey was founded in 1142 by the Augustinian order of monks.Unlike other orders, such as the Benedictines, Augustinian monks are a ’working’ more than a contemplative order, without the required vows of silence.
Abbazia di Novacella has three major vineyard areas: the valley around the abbey itself, where white varieties grow, and two vineyard areas in southern Alto Adige: one around Lago di Caldaro, where the red Schiava and Pinot Noir grow, and one near Bolzano, the warmest area, where the red Lagrein grows. The moronic nature of the soil is particularly suitable to grow aromatic white grapes like: Sylvaner, Muller Thurgau, Veltiner, Kerner and Gewurztraminer. The vines grow in a cool continental climate. All of its varietal white wines carry the DOC appellation, ’Alto Adige Valle Isarco.’
Abbazia di Novacella Gewürztraminer 2011 - $23.99
Abbazia di Novacella Kerner 2011 - $19.99
Kofererhof is one of my all time favorite Italian wineries, but their wines are currently sold out in America. Stay tuned for the next vintage, 2011 coming in mid August.
Acquired and managed by the Kerschbaumer family since 1940, the Kofererhof estate has existed in southern Tyrol, a region that is as Austrian in spirit as it is Italian, for over 850 years. In 1995, the winery started to bottle its own wines after having sold its fruit to local wineries for years. Kofererhof’s tiny 5 hectares of vines are located at the base of the Dolomite Mountains between 700 and 800 meters above sea level. At this high altitude, the variation in temperatures from day to night is ideal, and the carefully tended, high-density vineyards yield intensely fragrant, concentrated and well-balanced wines. All grapes are harvested by hand, and attention to detail is paramount in this limited production winery; Total production for the estate is only around 3,500 cases of wine per year! Farming practices are currently of low environmental impact but will become fully organic in the near future. The quality of these wines raises the bar for all whites from Alto Adige.
9. Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco and Pinot Bianco Vorberg
I say the best Pinot Bianco made in Italy. Pinot Bianco Vorberg sees one year in large neutral oak, while the Pinot Bianco typically ferments and ages solely in stainless steel. I drank a vertical of Vorberg 2009, 1996, 1980, 1970, 1955…whoever said white wines from Italy do not age they are absolutely wrong!!!!!
In Terlano, the wine-making tradition dates back more than 2000 years. Mild microclimatic conditions give the wines certain unique characteristics, thus adding a special flavor to themThe Cooperative of Terlano was founded in 1893. Today it has over 100 associates trained and specialized in natural viticulture. Together they keep the rich tradition with important innovative elements alive. The fruits of this process are aged in modern cellars under strictly controlled conditions to cultivate their many indigenous grapes. Vineyards composed of red porphyric rocks with high mineral content accumulate and retain the day’s warmth, while the porous soil allows the water to drain, keeping the soil dry around the roots of the vines. To insure the highest standards of quality, Terlano compensates their growers for the quality of their grapes, not the quantity. And in the vineyards, emphasis has been placed on reducing yield in favor of producing more concentrated fruit. These factors combined with the cool evening temperatures contribute to the wines’ enhanced quality.
Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco 2011 - $16.99
Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco “Vorberg” 2009 - $19.99
10. St Michael Eppan Sauvignon Blanc
Ever since 1977, when Hans Terzer assumed responsibility of wine production in the St. Michele winery, the quality standard of its wines has grown consistently, reaching a peak in the year 1997 when Italy’s leading wine magazine “Il Gambero Rosso” made Hans Terzer “Winemaker of the Year.” Three years later, in 2000, his winery was awarded the title “Italian Winery of the Year.” Throughout this time, Terzer has devoted innumerable hours to persuading people, engaging in experimentation, and living his lifr with a unconditional passion for wine – wine which the charismatic winemaker calls the “best friend of philosophical discourse”.
I tasted 2011, 2001 and 1991 Sauvignon on my recent visit to the winery, I was blown away. Drink this sauvignon now, or cellar for 2-5 years. Italian whites to the rescue again.
At the heart of the impressive vineyard landscape of the South Tyrolean Oltradige, scattered among the sunny slopes and hidden in age-old estates, we find the farmhouses of the 350 members of the St Michael Eppan winery.It is the vines that give the region its unique features and its inhabitants have written their histories into their wine: stories that speak of pristine rural traditions and courageous visions. Like a fortress the St Michael Eppan winery towers above the South Tyrolean wine route. Founded in 1907, the winery has come to be one of the largest and most successful wine businesses of South Tyrol and, indeed, of Italy. The renowned winery’s members are passionately dedicated to their task and deeply respectful of the gifts of Nature.
St. Michael Eppan Chardonnay 2010 - $13
11. Renato Ratti Barbera di Asti
In La Morra, Piedmont Renato Ratti is a legend in Barolo-land, being the first person to map the Cru vineyards of the Barolo DOCG. It was not until after his death that the mapping was completed and recognized. Today, his son, Pietro, is in charge and doing a great job. He is currently the president of the consortium and helps to keep Barolo amongst the best red wines in the world. I love his Barolo Marcenasco, but you must try his traditional Barbera di Asti.
In 1965, Renato Ratti bought his first vineyard for the production of Barolo, in the historical zone of Marcenasco, right below the Abbey of L’Annunziata at La Morra. In 1969, his nephew, Massimo Martinelli, joined the company and together, they perfected a technique of vinification, maturation and refinement for their Marcenasco Barolo, with the declared aim of obtaining the elegance, subtlety and longevity worthy of the variety's full potential. Since then, Renato Ratti has become an important point of reference for Langhe wines and Italian wines in general.
Renato Ratti Barbera di Asti 2009 - $17.99
12. Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera d’Asti
The Chiarlo family holds a special place in my heart, as they were one of the first winemaking families to invite me into their home. Michele in his late 70’s is still the king but his son Stefano has taken over the wine making role in the family and Alberto his oldest son is in charge of sales and marketing.
Recently the family renovated and built a beautiful resort that pays homage to the Cru’s of Barolo called Palas Cerequio. Each of the nine suites is dedicated to one of the grand cru’s of Barolo. Please check out the website www.palascerequio.com and sip on a great barbera from an old friend.
Since 1956, the Piedmont winemaker Michele Chiarlo has foreshadowed the continuing quest for quality on the part of so many of Italy's conscientious producers. From the beginning, the Chiarlo family winery has made superior Barberas and high quality Barolos that today are consistently among the most renowned expressions of these wines. From the beginning, Michele Chiarlo has directly managed or personally overseen every aspect in the production of his wines. Since the early 1990s, his sons, Alberto and Stefano, have also held management roles. Alberto, the elder, directs marketing and sales; Stefano, an enologist by profession, manages vineyard operations and collaborates in production in the cellars.
Michele Chiarlo Le Orme Barbera di Asti 2009 - $12.99