An Evening with Roberto Stucchi and the wines of Badia a Coltibuono

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Early this year Oliveto sous chef Hans Huysentruyt scored a stage at famed Osteria Le Logge. Thanks to the assistance of our friend Roberto Stucchi of Badia a Coltibuono, Hans spent three weeks in the kitchen “of arguably the best restaurant in Siena” according to Oliveto owner Bob Klein, “…and I’ve been to a lot of restaurants,” he quantified. With Roberto in town this month and some of his older wines ready to drink, we thought it would be cool to arrange a particularly Tuscan menu to accompany them.

Prix Fixe Le Logge-inspired menu

Crostini of whipped lardo
Crostini of almond puree
Arancini with tomato conserva

Ribolita with poached egg

Penne with albacore and tomato

Due of Liberty duck with ricotta and black garlic

$60.

Roberto will have on hand the following wines from Coltibuono’s catalog which will be available for purchase by the glass and half-glass:

2010/2011 Chianti Classico
90% Sangioveto 10% canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo. From the Monti (Gaiole) and Vitignano (Castelnuovo Berardenga) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 1 year in 20 hl (400 gallons) austrian and french oak casks. True Chianti expression, elegant, complex, fresh and food friendly. Chianti that tastes like Chianti at it’s best.

2008 Chianti Riserva
90% Sangioveto 10% Canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo.From the Monti (Gaiole) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 2 year in 20 hl (400 gallons) austrian and french oak casks. The top selection from the vintage, the deepest expression of the estate; a wine made to live and evolve for decades.

2009 Cultus Boni
80% Sangioveto 20% Canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo+Mammolo+Fogliatonda+Pugnitello+Malvasia Nera+Sanforte. From the Monti (Gaiole) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 12 months in french oak barrels, 10% new oak. A modern expression of a classic.

2009 Sangioveto
100% Sangioveto. From 30+ year vineyards, the oldest in the estate, in Monti, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 12 months in french oak barrels, 10% new oak. One of the original “Supertuscans” created in 1980 to make a statement about the potential of Sangioveto in its purest expression.

2007 Vin Santo
50% Malvasia 50% Trebbiano from the estate’s Monti vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years. Grapes partially raisined indoors, wine fermented and aged in sealed barrels in attics. The true tuscan hospitality wine. Sweet and crisp and aromatic, more than a dessert wine.

And in very limited supply:
1985 Chianti Classico Riserva

On “Chianti Classicos With an Identity Crisis”

by Chris Ryerson

In Monday’s New York Times, wine writer Eric Asimov described a recent tasting of twenty Chianti Classicos and lamented the lack of classically styled wines from the region, particularly at the Riserva level. His primary complaint centered on the unnaturally dense, dark appearance of many of these wines, often due to over-extraction, heavy use of oak, or blending of international varietals such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  We here at Oliveto couldn’t agree more. From the outset our wine program has focused on sourcing Italian wines made in a more traditional style: “Typicity, authenticity, and honest, traditional methods are key factors in the wines we typically find interesting.  Balance, elegance, and the ability to age gracefully are defining characteristics that guide each selection for our list.”

Of course, defining exactly what is typical, authentic, and honest is not a black and white issue; as Asimov points out, the indigenous grape, Colorino, has long been used to deepen the color of Tuscan wines, preceding the influence of international varietals and globe-trotting critics. Nevertheless, in our opinion and for our palates, over-extracted, heavily-oaked wines supplemented by non-indigenous varietals rarely, if ever, offer the balance, elegance, and ability to age that we prefer.

Thus, we took great pleasure in noting the top two producers that emerged from the NY Times panel’s tasting:  Fèlsina and Fontodi.  Both estates are well represented on our regular list and our Wine-in-Time list of older vintages. We have been fortunate during the last 15 months to have Caterina Mazzocolin of Fèlsina and Giovanni Manetti visit Oliveto for wine dinners. While their styles are somewhat different (Fontodi is a bit more toward the modern end of the spectrum) we believe both estates strive to produce wines that are typical of what they are supposed to be and that reflect the distinctive qualities of the Sangiovese grape.  Each wine from these two producers is unmistakably Tuscan.

Finally, although the NY Times panel focused specifically on DOCG designated Chianti Classico Riservas, it is worth noting that a number of producers make similar quality wines either as basic Chianti Classico or even outside of the DOCG regulations. Two prime examples from our list are the tiny producer Le Boncie and the legendary Montevertine. At Le Boncie, Giovanna Morganti makes only one wine, “Le Trame,” which she designates as a simple Chianti Classico.   She focuses all her energy and best grapes into making one great wine and frequently produces what I consider to be the epitome of elegant, refined Chianti.  In 1968, Montevertine was one of the first producers to forego the prestige and marketing prowess of the Chianti designation in order to make wines exclusively from Sangiovese. At the time Chianti had to be a blend, but Sergio Manetti believed in Sangiovese as a noble grape. He parted ways with the Consorzio to pursue this vision, and today Montevertine is revered by Tuscan insiders and aficionados around the world for this unwavering commitment.

2017-09-12T15:48:39+00:00 July 22nd, 2010|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Tasting Notes: Montevertine

montervene

by Chris Ryerson

Admittedly, this isn’t my most timely post ever; my notes on the wines of Montevertine date from April 27th when the owner and winemaker, Martino Manetti visited the Bay area. However, in a way it seems appropriate to have taken my time. These wines are imbued with a sense permanence and classic style, with an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation. Since 1968 when Martino’s father, Sergio, started this fabled estate almost nothing has changed in the winemaking style, and I get the very strong feeling nothing will be changing in the near future either. The elder Manetti was among the first in Tuscany to leave the Consorzio and to forego the status of the Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. in order to follow his conviction that authentic and truly great wines can be made entirely of Sangiovese or other indigenous varietals such as Canaiolo and Colorino. 

Montevertine makes three wines. The entry-level “Pian del Ciampolo” is essentially the equivalent of most producers’ Chianti Classico. “Montevertine” is the standard-bearer of the estate, made from at lest 90% Sangiovese with the balance Colorino, and aged 24 months in large barrels. Finally, made from 100% Sangiovese, “Le Pergole Torte” is the top wine only made in the best vintages. Although it used to be a single vineyard bottling, it is now a selection of the best grapes from the estate’s oldest vineyards.

2003 production and produced no “Le Pergole Torte,” so all the best grapes went into the regular “Montevertine.” Deeper notes of baked raspberry, coffee grounds, and grilled meat are offset by fresher notes of bright cherry showing through now and then. The smoky, earthy complexity is punctuated by the expected tangy flashes of great Sangiovese. At only 13% alcohol and with impeccable balance it should have a very long life ahead, however, the softer nature of this vintage allows for great enjoyment now.

The 2004 “Le Pergole Torte” is a remarkable wine from an outstanding vintage. The bouquet is intoxicating; ripe Bing cherry, licorice, baking spice and pipe smoke all make an appearance. The palate offers similar flavors, densely packed yet somehow finely delineated. The wine has impressive power and intensity, but like all Montevertine wines it exhibits fantastic purity and balance.

2017-09-12T15:48:40+00:00 June 25th, 2010|Italy, Tasting Notes, Tuscany, Wine Journal|0 Comments

Tasting Notes: Canalicchio di Sopra

Canalicchio di Sopra

by Chris Ryerson

It was a pleasure to have Francesco Ripaccioli from Canalicchio di Sopra visit us last week, and an even greater pleasure to enjoy three older vintages of their Brunello di Montalcino together over dinner…

In addition to their recent Tre Bicchieri-winning 2004 Brunello and their 2007 Rosso di Montalcino, we also featured the 1998, 1999, and 2000 vintages of Brunello from our “Wine In Time” program. All three showed very well and it is great to see such fantastic results from the efforts of our owner and my predecessors holding back vintages of traditionally made wines for enjoyment when they are actually showing their best, ten or more years down the line.

Not surprisingly, the 2000 was the most accessible and open of the three. Definitely focused more toward the red fruit end of the spectrum, with light baking spice notes, subtle integrated earthiness, and supple tannins, it is delicious right out of the bottle and is a wine to drink now. The 1999 still has formidable tannins and took the longest to reveal its core of dark red fruits and leather notes. Greater complexity and range of flavors are lurking in this dense wine, but it seems we’ll have to be patient – it still has a long life ahead of it. The 1998 was the star of the show, however. During the first twenty minutes in the glass, it was a bit closed, but after that, it continually offered an evolving range of aromas and seemed to be the one wine we all regularly kept coming back to. It certainly offered the most complexity and balance, with a mix of red and black fruits, dried herbal notes, and hints of dried tobacco.

We have stored away our 2004 Brunello di Montalcino from Canalicchio di Sopra and look forward to sharing a bottle with Franceso on a future visit five or six years from now. In the mean time we’re well-stocked on older vintages that are drinking great right now!

2017-09-12T15:48:47+00:00 March 5th, 2010|Italy, Tasting Notes, Tuscany, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Fèlsina Visit

by Chris Ryerson

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We’re excited to announce a visit from Caterina Mazzocolin of Fèlsina, one of the great wine estates of Tuscany. Caterina will be presenting Fèlsina’s exquisite olive oils along with some exceptional wines available by-the-glass or in various flights including: Chardonnay “I Sistri” 2007, Chianti Classico “Berardenga” 2007, Chianti Classico Riserva “Berardenga” 1994, Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia” 1995, Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia” 1999, Chianti Classico Riserva “Rancia” 2006, Vin Santo 2000, and their 2009 Tre Bicchieri winner: “Fontalloro” 2006.

Last year we visited Fèlsina and had a chance to talk with Caterina and her father Giusseppe in the vineyard:

Chef Canales will include some special items on Tuesday’s a la carte menu in honor of our guest.  Caterina will be in the dining room all evening.  Please join us.

510-547-5356

or reserve online

Canalicchio di Sopra – Profile

In 1962, Primo Pacenti founded Azienda Agricola Canalicchio di Sopra. Situated on the northern side of the Municipality of Montalcino and in the middle of the tourist itinerary of Val d”Orcia, the farm extends for about 60 ha., 15 of which are cultivated with vines and 2 with olive groves.

Three generations currently live here with the common aim of producing quality wines; the generation of the grandfather, Primo Pacenti, who founded the farm and managed it until the 1990s, as well as participating actively in the social life of the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino; that of the father Pier Luigi Ripaccioli, who along with his father has undertaken to increase the quality by proposing careful and meticulous work; that of the grandchildren, Simonetta, Marco and Francesco who joined the management in 2001 bringing with them new ideas and new technologies always in respect of ancient methods and customs.

The vines grow in two of the zones with the highest vine growing and wine making vocations in Montalcino: Canalicchio di Sopra and Le Gode di Montosoli. The varied exposure and the geological differences of the soils produce a wide array of Sangiovese grapes. Balance is attained in the wine cellar through the patient work of blending, which always with the purpose of finding the best of examples of both tradition and innovation.

2017-09-12T15:48:51+00:00 December 12th, 2009|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Podere Le Boncie – Profile

Podere Le Boncie is the private estate of Giovanna Morganti, daughter of Enzo Morganti, who, at San Felice, was one of Tuscany’s most visionary pioneers. Giovanna’s small estate of just a few hectares is adjacent to San Felice, but is planted to only Sangiovese and other indigenous Tuscan varietals. All vineyard operations are carried out by hand and reflect a deep passion for natural vine growing. Her traditional, artisan approach and perfectionist attitude inform each step of making her one wine, “Le Trame.” Unconcerned with the trend of producing multiple wines at various levels, Morganti focuses all her attention on “Le Trame” and the result is a Tuscan wine of incomparable finesse and subtlety.

2015-01-22T15:06:24+00:00 December 12th, 2009|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Fontodi – Profile

The Fontodi estate is located in Panzano, almost at the centre of the Chianti Classico region. Like Felsina, which claims an Etruscan origin for its name, Fontodi also has a long history; vines have been cultivated here since the time of the Roman empire, and documents prove there was vinification here as far back as the 16th Century, at a farmhouse then referred to as Case Via. The current owners, the Manetti family, also have many centuries of history in Chianti, although not with viticulture. For three hundred years this family has been renowned for the manufacture of terracotta, but it was not until 1968 that the family decided to move into wine, with the purchase of Fontodi.

The Fontodi wines skillfully straddle the line between traditional and modern styles and do so with a distinctive character all their own. The use of new oak, especially on the top crus, is more pronounced than some of out other favorite producers, but the quality and intensity of fruit produced by this exceptional estate admirably absorbs and integrates it. The Chianti Classico is always a top value, and the top crus, “Vigna del Sorbo” and “Flaccianello” are renowned for their power and ageability. The current proprietor, Giovanni Manetti, is forward-looking and yet, at the same time, deeply committed to traditional and sustainable practices. He runs a thoroughly modern operation, yet seems most passionate when describing how his compost heap is just one part of his completely self-sustaining estate.

2015-01-22T14:19:07+00:00 December 12th, 2009|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Journal|0 Comments

Badia a Coltibuono: Profile

roberto_redleaves

Home to one of the greatest cellars of old Chianti in all of Tuscany. The winemaking focus at Badia a Coltibuono reflects a dedication to long-lived wines and traditional methods. Roberto Stucchi, the winemaker of the estate until 2001, is an old friend of Oliveto and has been an invaluable participant in the creation and development of the Wine In Time project.

Badia a Coltibuono (which means Abbey of the Good Harvest), dates from the middle of the eleventh century. In 1051 the monks of the Vallombrosan Order, a Tuscan reform of the Benedictines, founded the Abbey and also began planting the first vineyards in the Upper Chianti area. Over the centuries they extended their vast land holdings to include many thousands of acres. In 1810, when Tuscany was under Napoleonic rule, the monks were forced to leave Coltibuono and the monastery was secularized. The estate was first sold by lottery and then in 1846, Coltibuono was bought by Guido Giuntini, a Florentine banker and great grandfather of Piero Stucchi-Prinetti, the present owner. Under the guidance of Piero Stucchi Prinetti, the estate grew and built a solid reputation in Italy and abroad through the high quality of its products. Nowadays, his children Emanuela, Roberto, Paolo and Guido continue the activities embarked upon by their ancestors.

Conversion to organic growing methods began in the early 90s with 20 hectares of olive groves and was concluded in 2000 with 70 hectares of vineyard being cultivated using organic methods. They first reduced and then eliminated the use of chemical substances which may be harmful to the soil, the farm workers and the environment. Vineyards are now fertilized with compost and manure, but mostly the soil is managed with careful observation of the native weeds. The maintenance of the native cover crop between the vines helps preserve and rebuild the organic substance, essential to the health of the plants.

Insect pests are reduced at a minimum through the increase of biodiversity in the vineyard: striving to protect the diversity of insect life means first and foremost eliminating the use of insecticides; the use of pheromone traps and visual inspections allow us to determine the number of insects present. This helps us to identify and prevent potential disease.

Fungi and mildew diseases are kept under control by careful canopy management, and by improving the health of the soil. One of the obvious effects on the winemaking is the improvement in the fermentation process. The naturally present yeast benefits from the increased nutrient content in the must, and the fermentations are easier and cleaner: over time this has helped reduce the amount of sulfites used. The intensity and brightness in the fruit flavours has noticeably increased.

2017-09-12T15:48:54+00:00 October 7th, 2009|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Fèlsina: Profile

Fèlsina is one of the great estates in Tuscany, and one of the most famous properties in all of Italy. The winery was founded in 1966, though didn’t start bottling under the Fèlsina label until the early `80s. The estate is owned and run by Giuseppi Mazzocolin.

As compared to some other top estates in the region, Fèlsina relies exclusively upon Sangiovese for its Chianti Classicos as well as its IGT “Fontalloro.” Each Fèlsina wine, from the overachieving Chianti Classico normale, through the earthy, iconic “Riserva Rancia,” and the powerful “Fontalloro,” exhibits a deft combination of power and elegance. While some new oak is used on the wines, it is used in a measured way as to not dominate the texture and aromas of the wines.

2017-09-12T15:48:59+00:00 July 23rd, 2009|Italy, Tuscany, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments