ITALIAN

Wineries of the Month

Terredora di Paolo
Terredora di Paolo is located in Campania in the province of Avellino. The winery and vineyards had been owned by the Mastroberardino family, but in 1978 brothers Walter and Antonio split the business into two properties. Both separately continue to make highly respected wines. Terredora is owned by Walter Mastroberardino and his children Paolo and Daniela. Before his sudden death in 2013, their brother Lucio was the technical manager and winemaker at Terredora di Paolo but also an important influence in the entire Campagna region. Paolo subsequently took over Lucio’s duties as winemaker. The family owns 494 acres of vines on the sunny, windy hills of Irpinia not far from the Bay of Naples and Pompeii, some vineyards planted on the high sides of dormant volcanoes. More than 50 percent of the production is devoted to the noble white wines of the region, Fiano, Greco, and Falanghina, originally planted by the Greeks in the Seventh Century B.C.E. Aglianico and Piedirosso are the equally ancient reds of the area. Less than 40 miles apart, the Aglianico del Vultura and the Taurasi appellations both demonstrate the potential of the Aglianico grape for wines on par with Piemonte’s Nebbiolo and Toscana’s Sangiovese. In fact, Taurasi is called the “Barolo of the South.”

Statti
Since the 18th century, the family of Baron Statti has lived on the same 500-hectare property in Calabria. In the past, the family devoted the land mainly to olives and citrus. But vine-growing has a long history in this heart of Enotria Tellus, the ancient name for Calabria, meaning land of wine. Alberto and Antonio Statti now run the company, and over the last 15 years have expanded vineyard plantings to 100 hectares, which run along the slope of a hillside that protects the vines from maritime winds, blowing in from the nearby Tyrrhenian Sea. They also made a major investment in a new winery. Italian wine guide Gambero Rosso states, “The quality of all their wines, whether top flight or produced on a larger scale, is rising steadily.” The outstanding Gaglioppo Batassarro and the Arvino, both from the 2011 vintage, were the first wines to receive critical acclaim outside of Calabria. Referring especially to the red grape Gaglioppo, Antonio Galloni writes for Vinous Media, “Statti is one of the top producers in Calabria and an example of what can be achieved here, in particular with native varieties.”

 


CALIFORNIAN

Winery of the Month

Sol Rouge
Bryan Kane gets around, but wherever he is making wine, you will recognize his distinctive style. Purchased in 2004, Bryan’s 70-acre estate Sol Rouge, or “Red Soil” in French, is located in the Red Hills appellation of Lake County on the side of Mt. Konocti, one of the tallest mountains in the Mayacamas range. With elevations ranging from 1450 feet to 1950, his vineyards climb steep slopes between 35 and 60 degrees, a configuration that is reminiscent of Cote-Rotie in France. The terrain accommodates his favorite Rhone varietals, and he produces just 1200 cases of ultra-premium wine from this estate. Sol Rouge wines are receiving the highest scores that Lake County has ever seen.

Bryan is a managing partner and oversees winemaking at The Winery San Francisco, located in a 2,200 square-foot warehouse that dominates the entrance to Treasure Island, a short drive from downtown San Francisco. He purchases all of the fruit for this urban winery and specializes in the staples, Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Viognier, making around 5000 cases per year.

Bryan and partners at Vie, which like Sol Rouge specializes in Rhone varietals, purchase grapes from prestigious vineyards, producing about 1000 cases. Bryan’s new project, Sottomarino concentrates on Italian varietals, Sangiovese, Primitivo, Lagrein, and Dolcetto, and the whites Pinot Grigio and Muscat Caneli, again from purchased grapes.

Bryan Kane’s influence on these wineries is obvious. Regardless of price, the wines weigh in at a moderate 14 percent alcohol and are medium bodied. They age in neutral oak barrels and sometimes larger casks, so they are without oak barrel flavor influences. Most of the reds are moderately pigmented instead of inky dark. And most are fermented with native yeasts from the vineyard rather than selected yeasts that might add extraneous flavors. In other words, color, structure, aroma, and taste are direct reflections of the fruit because they have not been subjected to unnecessary additions and techniques. The overall impression of the wines is that they are elegant, fragrant, and subtle, the new and exciting direction that California winemakers are taking.

 


ITALIAN Wines of the Month

ARTISAN SERIES

Statti 2014 Lamezia Rosso
Vine cultivation around the town of Lamezia Terme dates back to 2000 BCE, when the Phoenicians introduced it along the coasts of Calabria. The region did not replant with international varieties, so most vintners still feature indigenous grapes. The intriguing Lamezia Rosso is a blend of 40% Gaglioppo, 40% Greco Nero, and 20% Nerello Cappuccio (13.5% alcohol).

Statti 2014 Lamezia Bianco
The Lamezia DOC covers the plains and hillsides near the town of Lamezia Terme, a warm, humid region along the Tyrrhenian Sea, where grapes can fully ripen and develop rich textures. Close proximity to the Mediterranean is also important, as the mass of water helps to moderate the intense heat of the southern Italian summer. Flowery and fruity on the nose, this delicious wine is 50% Greco and 50% Malvasia.

WINEMAKER SERIES

Statti 2012 Arvino
In the Calabrian dialect, Arvino is the name for Gaglioppo, the noble red grape of Calabria. Possibly of Greek origin, it thrives in dry conditions and can make robust wines. Aged in old oak casks, which don’t transmit flavor, the 2012 Arvino is a blend of 60% Gaglioppo and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon. With intense aromas of ripe berries and cloves along with other spices, this medium-bodied wine pairs beautifully with a variety of dishes from pasta to roasted meats (13.5% alcohol).

Terredora di Paolo
2011 Lacryma Christi
Lacryma Christi wines are made in white, red and rosé versions. Several legends surround the origins of the name Lacryma Christi, or “tears of Christ” in English, and how it was applied to the wines of Mount Vesuvius. The popular legend is that the Archangel Lucifer, cast from Heaven, desperately grabbed a piece of it as he fell and placed it on earth near the Gulf of Naples. Noticing the loss, the Lord wept, and where each of his tears fell, the first vines grew on earth. Aged for eight months in oak barrels, the Lacryma Christi is soft and elegant and pairs with roasted poultry and lentil dishes.

Terredora di Paolo 2014 Fiano
Fiano di Avellino takes its name from the variety that the Latins called Vitis Apiana, referring to the sweetness of the grapes that was irresistible to bees (“api”). The varietal’s sugar content is high, but years of experimentation have enabled winemakers to produce a dry Fiano, a wine of great elegance and refinement with intense aroma and balanced flavor (13% alcohol).

COLLECTOR SERIES

Terredora di Paolo 2008 Pago dei Fusi
The first vintage of Pago dei Fusi was produced in 2003, the result of painstaking research into orientation, chemical, and physical characteristics of the terroir and topography. Its personality, structure, and aromatic concentration are the primary features of the Pietradefusi vineyards above the Calore Hills River. Aged for 14 months in older oak barrels that transmit little flavor, the 2008 Pago dei Fusi is an elegant wine, less concentrated rather than more, with cherry aromas that transfer to the palate with added flavors of plum and herbs (13.5% alcohol). Decant and serve at cool room temperature

Terredora di Paolo 2010 Taurasi Normale
The Avellino area, extensively planted in vines, produces excellent wines, including Taurasi. The community of Taurasi is the center of production for Aglianico-based red wine of the same name. With ancient origins, this wine has great body and structure with an aromatic vein. This richer, more intense 2010 Taurasi when compared to most others still has the lighter touch that is typical of Terredora di Paolo reds. Beautiful notes of earth, spice, and fruit dominate the nose and palate while fruit, tannin, acid, and oak form an integrated whole. Decant and serve at cool room temperature.

ITALIAN Region of the Month

Campania

The capital of Campania, Naples was founded by the Greeks, enlarged by the Romans, and subsequently invaded by the Normans, Hohenstaufen, French, and Spanish among others. Established by the Greeks in the 11th Century BCE, Naples was the earliest of a cluster of far flung settlements throughout southern Italy. Many important figures of the age, including Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Aeschylus lived in these settlements, and today some of the best ruins of the ancient Greek world can be found there. Along with mathematics, architecture, and drama, the ancient art of winemaking also flourished. Aglianico and Greco, vines that the Greeks introduced, are still highly prized. The Greek historian Herodotus called this part of Italy Oenotria, the land of wine. Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo are among Italy’s most distinguished white wines, while Taurasi from Aglianico has been called the “Barolo of the South” because of its aging ability. Taurasi, Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, and Aglianico del Taburno are the four DOCG wines to date in the government system of laws that regulate wine production. There are 17 DOC areas and nine IGTs.


 

CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month

ARTISAN SERIES

The Winery San Francisco 2012 Zinfandel, North Coast
Instead of the jammy prune flavors typical of Zinfandel in the past few years, this wine is made in a more elegant style that is now popular among younger winemakers. Without color augmentation, Zinfandel is typically less pigmented like this wine. Aromas of spice and wild berry are pronounced, and the balance of fruit, acid, and tannin is impressive (14.4% alcohol, 500 cases produced).

The Winery San Francisco 2013 Chardonnay, North Coast
Bryan Kane has chosen to make a leaner, cleaner, and more balanced Chardonnay with stony scents and tropical flavors. He has fermented the wine with wild yeasts from the vineyard instead of added yeast that contribute extraneous flavor and has aged the wine in larger casks rather than smaller barrels that imbue the wine with oak nuances. For maximum flavor, put just a light chill on this Chardonnay, about 65 degrees (13.6% alcohol, 500 cases produced).

WINEMAKER SERIES

Sol Rouge 2011 Mourvedre,
Red Hills, Lake County
Bryan Kane made just 75 cases of this beautiful Mourvedre, usually used as a blending grape in France’s Rhone Region, but gorgeous on its own from his steep estate vineyard. Deep black and blue fruit infuse the palate together with mineral flavors and spice. Aged for 16 months in neutral French oak barrels, tannins structure the wine but still render smooth feeling in the mouth (14.1% alcohol).

Sol Rouge 2011 Gypsy Rouge,
Red Hills, Lake County
The 2011 Gypsy Rouge is the highest scoring ultra premium wine to exit Lake County, awarded 94 points by Wine Enthusiast with other Sol Rouge wines not far behind. The wine is a blend of 76% Grenache, 13% Mourvedre, 4% Syrah, and 7% Counoise, Cinsault, and Petite Sirah. Apart from the Petite Sirah, this is a typical Southern Rhone blend. Aged for 18 months in neutral French oak barrels, the nose is intense, the balance great, and the palate delicious. This medium bodied wine is versatile and can be paired with almost everything (14.4% alcohol, 350 cases produced).

Sol Rouge 2013 Gypsy Blanc,
Lake County
The Gypsy Blanc is a Rhone-style blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, and Viognier. Marsanne contributes structure and acid; Roussanne informs the palate; and Viognier contributes peach and apricot in the nose. Aged for 11 months in neutral French oak barrels and true to Sol Rouge style, white or red, the wine is subtle and elegant and is best served just slightly chilled (13.5% alcohol, 150 cases produced).

CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month

Lake County

Without easy access, Lake County is an obscure location despite its natural wonders although just two and a half hours from San Francisco. Narrow country roads wind up to an elevation of 1,400 feet, where Clear Lake stretches 23 miles across its basin, the largest lake in California. Above the lake, volcanic Mount Konocti with five distinct peaks rises to 4,300 feet. This mountainous area boasts the cleanest air in California. Spanish missionaries were the first to plant vineyards in the 18th Century, followed by European settlers in the 1840s. The County has always been an agricultural haven, but crops have changed, premium winegrapes dominating now. With 30 wineries, most with tasting rooms, and 8400 acres of vineyards at various altitudes, the county is developing a diverse viticulture, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, and Sangiovese. Because land values are much lower that surrounding Napa or Sonoma counties, prominent growers and winemakers are developing vineyards there, Andy Beckstoffer, one of Napa’s most important growers, among them. The region now has five American Viticultural Areas, including Benmore Valley, Clear Lake, Guenoc Valley, High Valley, and Red Hills Lake County.


 

MENU OF THE MONTH

A Fireside Supper

Appetizers
Sage leaves sautéed in olive oil, mushroom & caper toasts,
mixed olives, assorted cheeses

Main Course
Chicken, Hunter’s Style, served with roasted Fingerling potatoes

Salad
Baby arugula with sliced red radishes, dressed with olive-oil & vinegar

Dessert
Caramelized oranges with brandy, garnished with fresh mint leaves

Chicken, Hunter’s Style

This rustic but classic dish presents itself elegantly for a small dinner gathering or as casual for a week-night supper. For either occasion, it delights the eyes with bright color and warms the soul during cold winter months.

Ingredients
1 organic chicken cut into serving pieces
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
6 tomatoes, diced
½ cup white wine
½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
12 thickly sliced crimini mushrooms
Black & green olives
Salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Put chicken with skin (or without for faster cooking) over medium heat in a sauté pan with olive oil and brown lightly, turning occasionally for about 5 minutes. Remove the chicken to a dish. Put onion, carrot, celery, and tomatoes in the sauté pan and cook, stirring for about ten minutes until soft. Add wine
and season with salt, then add chicken pieces to pan. Simmer for about 25 minutes, if necessary adding water or more wine to maintain moisture. Add
mushrooms, olives, and pepper to taste and simmer for another ten minutes. Add parsley at the end and simmer briefly until just wilted. Transfer to a warm platter and serve. Serves 4.