A look at our dinner with Alessia Antinori and Piero Incisa della Rocchetta
Recently, IWM was honored to host two of Tuscany’s young stars Alessia Antinori from the historic winemaking family behind Tignanello, Guado al Tasso and Solaia, and Piero Incisa della Rochetta, whose family owns Sassicaia and associated properties and who founded Argentine estate Bodega Chacra. Both have been tireless ambassadors, particularly here in the United States, for their family properties. Coincidentally, because of their incredible busy travelling schedules and the necessity to spend an inordinate amount of time in the Americas, they each have residences in Manhattan. The cause for this wonderful evening of great wine and food was to bring together these cousins for the first time to do a co-presentation of two different projects of unique origin, that are very near and dear to their hearts.
Suffice to say Alessia and Piero have a drive, tenacity and spirit of discovery to tackle challenges that most winemakers wouldn’t care to entertain.
Alessia is proprietor, along with her two sisters Albiera and Allegra of Fiorano Wine Estate. Fiorano is situated near the Via Appia Antica in the region of Lazio (Latium) region, 25 miles from the center of Rome. . Fiorano was an Italian wine-producing estate owned by the sisters’ grandfather, Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, a prince of Venosa of the Ludovisi family, active during a period from the late 1940s to 1995. Fiorano is situated in the vicinity of Rome near the Via Appia Antica in the Latium district. Famed wine critic Burton Anderson dubbed Fiorano’s wines “the noblest Romans of them all” in his 1980 anthology Vino. The Ludovisi family lineage may be traced back 1,000 years. Alessia, Allegra and Albiera, who are the 26th generation of the Antinori winemaking family, are restoring their grandfather’s vineyards, making them biodynamic, and slowly, with a lot of grit are making this work in progress a thing of magnificence
In 2004, the fabled wines of Fiorano came to IWM and, their first time at a US wine retailer, they caused a sensation in the wine world. The wines of the Fiorano estate are nearly impossible to get. The Fiorano wines are the product of a dedicated and passionate prince whose avant-garde, organic approach was way ahead of its time. His two whites, one made from Malvasia and the other from Semillon, created a phenomenon for their extreme age-worthiness, but they became a true rarity. It was exciting to drink these Fiorano wines made by the Prince and to drink as-yet-unreleased interpretations from Alessia’s renovation of the vineyards.
Piero Incisa della Rochetta of brought a selection of Pinot Noirs and a Merlot from his Bodega Chacra, in Patagonia, Argentina. Piero grows his grapes in what is in essence a desert, and the harshness of this landscape almost defies how these Pinot Noirs transform into artful elegant wines full of soul and passion.
We started the evening with Chef Kevin Sippel’s glorious antipasti of house-cured salumi, Assorted antipasti, fresh Italian chesses with a delicious Montenisa NV Brut Rosé from Franciacorta, which is made and owned by the Antinori sisters. We also had the pleasure of sampling Bodega Chacra 2009 Merlot Mainque, a sumptuous wine that went perfectly with Chef Kevin’s pre-dinner delights
For the sit-down dinner Alessia presented an amazing array of Fiorano Estate Wines: Fiorano 1988 Rosso & Fiorano 2010 Rosso; Fiorano 1995 Bianco Botte #45 & Fiorano 1995 Semillon Botte #48; finishing with Fiorano 1987 Semillon Botte #42.
Piero enlightened us with an array of fabulous Bodega Chacra pinot Noir’s: Bodega Chacra 2010 & 2011 Pinot Noir Rio Negro Cincuenta y Cinco and Bodega Chacra 2008, 2009, and 2010 Pinot Noir Rio Negro Treinta y Dos.
Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Barda 2010
This has been the strangest winter I have experienced in the six and a half years I have lived in the Northeast. My wife and I grew up in sunny South Florida, and “winter” meant spending a handful of mornings and evenings of mid-50 degrees bundled up in light cotton sweaters. This past Saturday, I was pleasantly surprised as the weather felt like an early spring day. To embrace the beautiful weather, my wife and I wanted to drink something fresh, vibrant and gorgeous. The Bodega Chacra Pinot Noir Rio Negro Barda 2010 was an excellent choice.
Sassicaia’s Piero Incisa della Rocchetta and his skillful team know how to make extraordinary wines—no matter where he is. Bodega Chacra’s vineyards are located in the Rio Negro Valley of Northern Patagonia about equidistant east to west from the Atlantic to the Andes. This wine region has the pristine air, yielding a tremendous luminosity of sunlight for the grapes. Biodynamically made, the wines are as natural and pure as winemaking gets, and it is most certainly evident in the glass.
The 2010 Barda (meaning ridge) is beautiful, vivacious, clean, and pure–and a steal at $26. It shows a light ruby color in the glass, a light yet intriguing nose with violets and delicate red fruit, and a clean surprisingly long finish. The wine matched the gorgeous afternoon perfectly.
On one of his visits, Piero Incisa della Rocchetta taught our staff to reserve a few drops of wine at the end of each glass, swirl around, and take in a huge whiff capturing the essence of the wine; even in a nearly empty glass, this wine smells beautiful. At a low alcohol percentage of 12.8, this Barda is very enjoyable on its own (especially on a day like Saturday); if enjoying with food, I would recommend an array of wild mushrooms sautéed lightly with a little butter and a tiny bit of herbs, or perhaps a really fresh salad. I know that we are nowhere near out of winter’s woods, but it was a thoroughly enjoyable to see a preview of spring, helped by this pure, fresh, and totally enjoyable Pinot Noir.
enjoying autumn on the cheap
I am madly excited for autumn’s arrival; the change of seasons allows me to unpack clothes, foods and wines I’d put away when the weather got hot. I’m really looking forward to once again enjoying one of my favorite cool-weather wines, an affordable luxury by the name of Barda. Produced by the house Bodega Chacra and first purchased by Piero Incisa della Rocchetta in 2004, the estate was once an abandoned Patagonian vineyard planted nearly seventy years back. I am always on a budget, so I often go for the gorgeous Barda, filled with velvety tannins and yummy fruit. It’s a wine that shows me how a wine made well outperform some higher end purchases.
However much I’m looking forward to seeing the frost shine on the pumpkin, I’m also looking forward to those serendipitous warm days of Indian summer. Last summer, I discovered Stella’s Grignolino d’Asti. Grignolino, an obscure, indigenous Piemontese varietal, and I’m loath to say good-bye to it quite yet. Possessing a superb light-bodied wine full of fruit and flowery aromatics and a slight effervescence, it’s perfect for warm-weather hors d oeuvres and cocktail parties. I’m looking forward to watching the leaves change from a New York City rooftop while enjoying this refreshing wine with the city, the sunset, and a warm breeze.
Now that it’s fall I will be falling in love once again with my beloved Pinot Noir from Argentina. I’ll also look forward to those serendipitous warm autumn evenings to spend with my Grignolino. But my heart is expansive. I’d love to know what your favorite value-conscious wines are, because I’m always on the lookout for new inexpensive gems.
Serving scintillating complements to the season
As the seasons quickly change and cool, severe clear skies replace the hot summer sun, I can’t help thinking about fall. Autumn is my favorite season of all not only because of the multi-colored leaves and the crisp breeze in the air, but because of the fall harvests of food and of wine. Harvest time deserves celebration in the form of unique, eclectic food and wine pairings for some of my favorite fall recipes. Lately I’ve been dreaming of pairings that I’m enthusiastic to try out in the very near future.
Apple-Nut Stuffing with Colpetrone 2003 Sagrantino di Montefalco: This thick, savory, slightly sweet stuffing needs a dry, nutty, aromatic wine full of dark plums and spice. Sagrantino is one of my go-to wines whenever possible, and it makes the perfect companion for this dish.
Stuffed Zucchini alla Melanzana with Grosjean 2006 Torrette Superieur Vigne Rovetta: I love sinking my teeth into the light, buttery goodness of a freshly baked zucchini stuffed with breadcrumbs and eggplant. When I create this dish from scratch and pair it with the lighter bodied, distinctly aromatic Grosjean Torrette, it will be well worth the wait.
Mushroom and Herb Macaroni and Cheese with Poggio di Sotto 2006 Rosso di Montalcino: Although this wine isn’t currently in stock at IWM, it’s my first choice for a gourmet version of mac and cheese with gruyere, wild mushrooms and herbs. The complexity and smoothness of this Rosso makes you think it’s a Brunello; the 2007 should be just as perfect.
Classic Roast Turkey with Bodega Chacra 2008 Pinot Noir Rio Negro Treinta y Dos: Pinot Noir is a classic pairing for roasted turkey, and nothing could pair better than Bodega Chacra’s ultimate expression of Pinot Noir, Treinta y Dos.
Spicy Cranberry Chutney and Rye Toast Points with Masciarelli 2009 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Rosato: Cranberries are one of the most difficult foods to pair with, but I think the Masciarelli Montepulciano Rosé has just the right amount of sweetness and acidity to complement this chutney.
Sweet Potato Casserole with Hofstatter 2000 Yngram: The density and smoothness of the Yngram holds tons of currant and raspberry jam notes, which pairs perfectly with the thickness and sweetness of this wonderful baked sweet potato dish.
Salted Caramel Apples with Castello di Cacchiano 2001 Vin Santo: Nothing sounds better to me than a salted caramel apple paired with one of my most beloved choices in wine, Vin Santo. The salt in the caramel brings out the complexity and sweetness of the caramel itself, and it complements the savory nuttiness of the Vin Santo perfectly. If you’re interested in a more adult version of this classic, try a Parisian Apple Tartlet with Salted Caramel Sauce.
Pumpkin Pie with Quintarelli 1990 Amabile: Beyond indulging in as much pumpkin pie as I desire, I love the idea of pairing it with Quintarelli’s infamous Amabile dessert wine. Mixing the silky, spiced pumpkin dessert and fresh cream topping with the Amabile’s buttery notes of burnt sugar, orange rinds, toffee and caramel makes for a truly seductive, decadent dessert.
Rambunctious friend silenced by Quintarelli
When I joined IWM in New York a few years ago, I brought what I believed to be an above average knowledge of Italian wine. I had just returned to New York after living in Rome for two years and felt motivated to promote the culture of Italian wine and to work with the producers who had inspired me in this new career path. It took less than one week at IWM for me to realize that everything I thought I knew about great Italian wine was about to be irrevocably altered—in fact it only took one sip of Giuseppe Quintarelli 1995 Amarone Riserva. It was that one defining wine moment that many of us have had when you know there’s just no turning back.
Last night at Tuscany by H, located in my newly adopted city of Hong Kong, I was able to pay it forward. Chef Harlan blew away my group of dining companions with his Roasted Scallop in Porcini Mushroom Puree and a perfectly done Rib Eye with Barolo Sauce, which our rambunctious crew paired with Gravner 2003 Ribolla Anfora, Bodega Chacra 2007 Treinta y Dos and Farnese Edizione Cinque Autoctoni (a beautiful Montepulciano-based blend from Abruzzo and Puglia). Yet all the while as we sat eating and drinking and laughing, a bottle of Quintarelli 1998 Amarone sat waiting, almost teasing, in the background. When the Quintarelli finally made its way into our glasses, something rare happened at our table: silence. First giddiness, then silence. Sipping my wine, I watched the same expressions I’d made the first time I drank a Quintarelli Amarone; mirrored around me were my friends’ faces, all struck with that singular expression of trying to understand the astounding symphony that was playing loudly in their wineglasses.
That night, I saw that the rabid Quintarelli cult had a few new members, and I was proudly re-initiated myself. While a few others at the table emphatically chose the stunning Bodega Chacra as their Wine of the Night, for me it was—and will often be—Quintarelli. We wine drinkers are generous folks; all of us are eager to pay it forward and introduce our friends to these new favorites. I hope it won’t be long before we’re all back at that same table discovering new classics and laughing so hard that our faces hurt far more than our stomachs.« go back — keep looking »