Wineries of the Month
Cascina Cucco is located at the foot of the 14th century Serralunga d’Alba castle, which overlooks the whole area of Alba Langhe in Piemonte, on whose hills the famed vineyards of Barolo are planted. The Cucco estate is named after one of Serralunga’s many celebrated crus and covers about 12 hectares of land. Cascina Cucco includes another prestigious vineyard in neighboring Cerrati, where over half of its Barolo comes from. Wine guide Gambero Rosso describes the wines as “discreetly modern,” in other words well balanced somewhere between a richer modern style and the more austere classical one. This organically farmed estate was recently purchased by Girogio Rossi Cairo, who since 2003 has owned and farmed the 180 hectare La Raia property in Gavi and over time transformed it into a pristine bio-diverse environment, certified by the Demeter Association, including vineyards, pastures, row crops, and honey. “My children Caterina and Piero suggested that I take up biodynamic-organic farming to recover the original essence of this terroir, which has nurtured the indigenous Cortese vine for centuries. That approach was coherent with my desire to create a balanced and harmonious place in all its components….” The family’s plans for Cascina Cucco are as yet unannounced, but given its history at La Raia, we should expect even more profound wines from Cascina Cucco.
Cantine San Silvestro is located in the town of Novello and mainly produces the leading red wines of Piemonte, including Barbera, Dolcetto, Grignolino, Barbaresco, and Barolo, and the white Arneis. The grapes vinified by Cantine San Silvestro are mostly grown in the Langhe from vineyards in the Roero and the Monferrato. Today, San Silvestro represents the continuation of a project begun by Giovanni Sartirano and carried forward through four generations. Over the years the business, run today by cousins Guido and Paolo Sartirano, who is the winemaker, has gradually expanded beyond the local market, and now the production of Cantine San Silvestro is sold throughout Italy and abroad. The family also owns Tenuta Arnulfo Costa di Bussia in Monforte d’Alba and Tenuta Ghercina with vineyards in the villages of Barolo and Novello.
Winery of the Month
Jacuzzi Family Vineyards & Cline Cellars
Fred Cline learned the magic of grapes from his maternal grandfather Valeriano Jacuzzi, one of seven Jacuzzi brothers who together pioneered American aviation and water pumps after family members began to arrive from Italy in 1907. Fred learned the joys of the table from his grandmother Giuseppina.
Those early experiences with his grandparents on their Oakley farm in Contra Costa County, embedded themselves in Fred’s psyche. Today, he owns this 200-acre ranch. The vineyards are planted with Mourvèdre, Carignane and Zinfandel, some of the vines as old as 120 years. After obtaining an enology degree from the University of California at Davis, Fred began his first commercial winemaking with grapes from those vines.
In 1989, Fred purchased the historic 350-acre Cline Cellars home ranch. Located in Sonoma County’s famed Carneros appellation, the land is planted with Syrah, Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne, and a small amount of Merlot. A simple farmhouse remains as the tasting room but is surrounded by 185 acres of lush vineyards, swaying willow trees, red rose gardens, wide green lawns with curved walkways, and a series of large ponds circled by fieldstone. In 1832, Father Jose Altimira raised a cross here and intended to build the Mission San Francisco di Solano but instead built it a few miles away in what is now the town of Sonoma.
The Petaluma Gap property is a more recent acquisition. The zone is about to become an American Viticultural Area and is known for the cool breezes that sweep in from the ocean through a gap in the coastal mountain range. Fred has planted Sangiovese, Merlot, and Viognier there, among other cool-climate grape varieties.
Directly across the street from Cline Cellars lies the 190-acre Jacuzzi estate. The elegant 18,000 square-foot winery is Fred’s tribute to his Jacuzzi family, the core of the building modeled on the family’s original home in Italy. The two-story structure is built around a court yard that is open at the back, and beyond the imported 17-foot stone fountain, visitors see vine-covered hills and the distant outlines of low mountains at the horizon. The tasting room offers California versions of Italy’s noble wines, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Nero d’Avola, Sagrantino, and Nebbiolo, among others.
Fred Cline is now passing on his remarkable vision to his seven children, three of whom work in the business or are preparing to do so.
ITALIAN Wines of the Month
San Silvestro 2012 Barbera Ottone
Clean acid provides the framework for this 100 percent Barbera, which has a smooth texture and wonderfully bright aromas and flavors that burst with ripe berries and cherries. Aged only in stainless steel tanks to emphasize its fruit flavors, this medium bodied wine will pair with most foods (13% alcohol).
San Silvestro 2013 Roero Arneis
This Arneis has everything, bright aroma, beautiful fruit flavor, and a long clean finish. What makes the whole package so rewarding is delicious acid that imbues the wine with absolute class (13% alcohol). Serve chilled.
2012 Barbera d’Alba Superiore
Weighing in at 14.5 percent alcohol, this beautiful Barbera from the Elia vineyard in Roddi d’Alba is nevertheless entirely elegant, with great acidity that balances flowers and cherries on the palate. The wine was aged for 12 months in smaller oak barrels, only some of which were new so that barrel flavors don’t interfere with pristine fruit from organically farmed vineyards. Serve at cool room temperature.
Cascina Cucco 2013 Nebbiolo
Another truly elegant wine from Cascina Cucco, its translucent brick color and flowery aromas giving way to subtle fruit flavors on the palate. Nebbiolo is the same noble grape variety that comprises esteemed Barolo, only this fruit was grown outside of the Barolo crus in Serralunga d’Alba. Aged for a mere four months in oak barrels, the wine normally rests only in stainless steel tanks to preserve the freshness of pristine grapes (14% alcohol). Serve at cool room temperature
2011 Nebbiolo Neboise Rosé
A gorgeous salmon color, this sparkling Rosé of Nebbiolo is made in the classic style, undergoing a second fermentation in the bottle after a bit of yeast and sugar is added. Carbon dioxide is a bi-product of this fermentation and remains trapped in the bottle, creating bubbles in the wine. Despite the wine’s beautifully delicate appearance, this Brut Rose` should be paired with food to complement its yeasty fruit flavors (13% alcohol). Serve chilled.
2008 Barolo Serralunga
The 2008 Serralunga Barolo is powerful but at the same time demonstrates the impressive elegance of Cascina Cucco wines. The color is luminous and the nose vibrant with rose petal qualities, typical of Barolo. On the palate, initially sweet fruit evolves into tobacco and dried herbs. Organically farmed grapes and hands on craftmanship add up to a memorable wine (14.5% alcohol). Serve at cool room temperature.
2007 Barolo Cerrati Vigna Cucco
The Cerrati is a single vineyard within the Barolo cru at Saralunga d’Alba. The winey so prizes this wine that it describes it as a “meditation” wine, in other words a wine that we could drink with just a little cheese or nuts apart from the context of a meal. Now eight years old, the 2007 Cerrati is still lively and vibrant and demonstrates the enormous aging potential that is so much a part of the Barolo mystique. The wine was aged in smaller French oak barrels and larger casks for 24 months as is required by regulations. The nose is floral and the palate a combination of berries and earth. Enjoy!
ITALIAN Region of the Month
Half of Piemonte, which means “foot of the mountain,” lies in the great arc of the Alps and the Apennines, from which the Po River flows east through its broad valley to the Adriatic. Bordering Switzerland and France, Piemonte was part of the Frenchspeaking principality of Savoy between the 11th and 18th Centuries. The ancient Liguri tribes first cultivated the wild vines of the Apennines and later learned wine making from the Greeks about 600 BC. In the 19th Century, the wines of Piemonte gained distinction when the Savoy and others began to use French methods. Piemonte has 58 DOC and DOCG zones, more than any other region. In the Langhe hills above the town of Alba are the vineyards of Barolo, one of Italy’s most prestigious wines, “the king of wines and the wine of kings,” although Barbaresco may be its equal, both wines made from the noble Nebbiolo vine. Barbera and Dolcetto are popular reds. Whites are equally prominent. Asti Spumante from Moscato d’Asti is the nation’s second DOCG in volume after Chianti. Among still whites, Gavi from the Cortese grape is highly regarded along with Arneis.
CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month
Jacuzzi 2013 Sangiovese
Sangiovese is the noble grape of Tuscany, and here in California it shows a lighter style. Jacuzzi Sangiovese is made from grapes that were harvested from the Cline Lazy C vineyard, located within Sonoma County at Sonoma Gap. The area is swept by coastal breezes and specializes in coolclimate grapes, especially Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Aged in mostly neutral French oak barrels for a period of 11 months, the wine is medium bodied and will pair with many different dishes (13.5% alcohol).
Jacuzzi 2014 Giuseppina Chardonnay
Honoring Fred Cline’s grandmother Giuseppina, this full flavored Chardonnay has just a touch of oak after aging for just four months in French oak barrels. Altogether the wine emanates clean Chardonnay flavor that will complement roasted chicken, frittata, and grilled salmon (14 % alcohol). Serve chilled.
Cline 2013 Estate Merlot
The Estate Merlot is a serious wine with big aromas and noticeable tannin, made for dishes like ratatouille and lamb. The fruit was harvested from the Carneros Home Vineyard and the cool climate Lazy C Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap area of Sonoma Coast. These cool locations have nurtured this fine aromatic and flavorful wine that is well balanced with acid and tannin. The wine was aged for 14 months in French oak barrels, only 35 percent of which were new (13.5% alcohol).
Cline 2013 Los Carneros Estate Syrah
Harvested from the 18-acre hillside estate vineyard in Sonoma’s Carneros district, the Los Carneros Syrah is a richly concentrated wine, aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Pair with grilled lamb, braised red, yellow, and green bell peppers, or pinto beans with basil-garlic pesto.
Cline 2014 Estate Viognier
Viognier is prized for its distinctive aromatics, normally described as suggesting peaches, apricots, orange blossoms, and honeysuckle, a delicious mix that you’ll find in the glass. Grapes for the 2014 Viognier were harvested from the cool climate Carneros Home Ranch and the Lazy C Vineyard in the Petaluma Gap area of Sonoma. Pair this delicious wine with grilled fish topped with fruit salsa. Serve chilled.
CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month
Russians planted the first vineyards after establishing a colony at Fort Ross on the Pacific in 1812. In 1824 while he built the Mission in the Town of Sonoma, Father José Altimira planted grapevines to provide sacramental wine for religious services and for the table. Sonoma County is large and boasts a huge diversity of vines and wine styles because micro climates, soils, and topography are infinite. Some of these micro climates are hospitable to grapes that require warmer temperatures, like Cabernet Sauvignon and associated Bordeaux varieties or Zinfandel and other Mediterranean grapes. The County also offers cooler areas where Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and additional white varieties thrive. Marine fog, breezes, and cool nights prolong ripening to produce complex flavors. Sonoma County so far includes 16 distinct American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) recognized by the Federal government. AVAs include Alexander Valley, Bennett Valley, Carneros, Chalk Hill, Dry Creek Valley, Fort Ross-Seaview, Green Valley, Knights Valley, Moon Mountain District, Northern Sonoma, Pine Mountain-Cloverdale Peak, Rockpile, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Coast, Sonoma Mountain, and Sonoma Valley.
MENU OF THE MONTH
Avocado Hummus, topped with pistachio nuts, sumac, and nigella
seeds, and served with mini whole wheat pita rounds
Roasted rabbit coated with olive oil, smoked paprika,
and a sprinkle of salt, served with Blue Lake string beans,
braised with red onion and red bell pepper slivers
Spinach salad with finely sliced red onion
and a lemon-olive oil vinaigrette
A platter of chilled red and green grapes
Rabbit is a delicious and totally lean meat, but you’ll probably have to do some on-line searching to find it since most markets don’t carry it. I treasure my source from the Sierra Foothills here in California. Most recipes for rabbit recommend stewing, which is very tasty. But my simple and preferred method is to rub the rabbit with generous amounts of olive oil and then dust it with equally generous amounts of smoked paprika followed by a sprinkle of salt. Roasted skinless chicken breasts on the bone are delicious with the same olive oil and smoked paprika treatment. Even fresh feta cheese in brine takes on drama with these condiments. After preparing the rabbit, place it in a roasting pan with the cavity side down and legs spread to either side. Bake in a hot oven, about 390 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the size of the rabbit. It’s important not to over-cook rabbit since the meat is without fat. Let the rabbit rest for five to ten minutes after cooking, then cut into serving pieces. A three-pound rabbit will serve 4 to 5 people. Enjoy!