Sunday, June 11, 2017

Vines on the Verge: Mezzacorona's Cliffhanger Wines #Trentino #Vino

On a Cliff, But Not Left Hanging  

Photo: Courtesy of Mezzacorona
Mezzacorona's Cliffhanger Vineyards are located in Trentino. Along with South Tyrol, these two make up the northern region in Italy known as Trentino-Alto Adige (Sudtirol) in the autonomous province of Trento. Trentino-Alto Adige borders Austria and Switzerland. This area is reknown for its awesome mountain peaks, such as the Dolomites and its rivers, such as the Adige River, along with other notorious geographic features. Needless to say, Trento is great for skiing, hiking, mountain climbing, snowboarding and more.  It's also great for wine production and Mezzacorona is at the forefront.
Arco di Trento Cliff in Trentino, Italy
Since 1904, Mezzacorona has been caring for, protecting and molding their Trentino vineyards and producing wines that are true expressions of their environment. Mezzacorona has a deep respect for the environment and have been promoting the "Protocol of quality in vine production in Trentino" in an effort to "control green methods of cultivation and upkeep of green areas and sustainable agriculture." Their state-of-the-art winery manifests their respect for the environment, as its wavy or undulating roof resembles the pergolas typically used to grow their vines.  In fact, Mezzacorona's winery is known as a "Cittadella del Vino" or Citadel of Wine, because it is a "work of contemporary architecture in amongst vineyards where the most modern technology meets environmental sustainability."
Photo: Courtesy of Mezzacorona
It is not easy to produce wines in high altitudes, and the Alpine climate presents another set of challenges.  Despite that, Mezzacorona produces some great aromatic white wines, delicious red wines and tasty sparkling wines. Mezzacorona's wines "are fragrant and elegant wines, authentic and virtuous just like the men who have produced them, they are as special as the land which bears them." While the company produces several wines, Cliffhanger is one of their lines that showcases their wine-producing passion and skill.

Introducing Cliffhanger Vineyards 
Video: Courtesy of MezzaCorona

The Wining Hour: Tasting Cliffhanger Wines

According to Mezzacorona, "Cliffhanger is our concept for wines crafted on the “Edge of Perfection” the closest one can come to such an ideal."

No dispute here.  We tasted two wines from the Cliffhanger line:

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio

When it comes to Pinot Grigio, some of the best are produced in northern Italy.  The Trentino DOC area is prime for producing Pinot Grigio, given the composition of the soil, its conditions and the mico-climate in the area. The grapes used in Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio are cultivated along the Adige River which leads to the fresh, fruity notes and acidity.  Other grapes are selected close to Lake Garda, which enrich the taste of the wine. After manual harvesting, the grapes are crushed, destemmed, soft pressed and then allowed to settle. Following is fermentation in stainless steel tanks. Once complete, the wine rests for 3-4 month with periodic batonnage. Lastly, half of the wine undergoes malolactic fermentation, which lessens the acidity and increases the mouth-feel of the wine.

Cliffhanger Pinot Grigio is a lemon-lime color. It smells light and elegant with notes of honeysuckle, Asian pear and peach.  The palate exudes delicious citrus zest and peach, as well as mineral notes like crushed rocks or concrete, which manifests the composition of the Dolomite minerals (calcium and magnesium limestone). Mezzacorona maintains that this Pinot Grigio "shows the two faces of Trentino region: the cool climate of the north with some citrus and white fruit aroma and acidic touch; and the warm and Mediterranean climate of the south, with ripe stone fruits and floral notes, complete with round and soft acidity."

Cliffhanger Proprietary Red Blend

Cliffhanger Proprietary Red Blend is made from 70% Teroldego and 30% Lagrein, which are grapes indigenous to the Trentino region. After the grapes are harvested, de-stemmed and separated from the skins, maceration begins. Fermentation follows and the wine is then aged for 24 months, 12 of which occurs in oak barrels (Allier and Troncais). Finally, it is refined in the bottle.

The Teroldego and Lagrein used in this red blend produce a very intense ruby-garnet color. It emits aromas of ripe blackberries, red currants and baking spice. Given the fact that these grapes are related to Pinot Noir and Syrah, an interesting and complex flavor profile can be expected. The palate is juicy, with spicy black and red fruits (black cherry, red plum, black raspberry ) clove and earthy notes.  This wine is balanced with just the right acidity and would pair with almost anything.

Mezzacorona's Proprietary Red Blend is a rich, delicious, full-bodied, bodacious treat.  It does not hold back at all. Instead, it delivers bold and intense flavors that will please almost any palate.  I would even say that this Cliffhanger seals the deal.

Cliffhanger Vineyard wines are delicious wines that expertly convey the region from which they are produced.

Are you ready to go off a cliff in the World of Mezza? Try Cliffhanger Wines from Mezzacorona.

Check back soon for our review of their Italian Glacial Bubbly, which was also featured on #WiningHourChat!

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #WiningHourChat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit­­­

Sunday, May 21, 2017

24K Magic in the Air: Bottega Gold Prosecco

It Really is Liquid Gold!

Ok, so if you know me, you know that I love vini Italiani and I loooovvvvee prosecco!  I sip prosecco almost every day as an aperitivo.  I stumbled upon these beauties a few years ago while in Italy and I fell in love.  It's about time that I share the goods...or should I say, 'gold?'  Bottega Gold Prosecco is definitely a liquid treasure!

Photo Credit: Bottega SpA

About Bottega

Photo Credit: Bottega SpA
Alexander Blown Glass
on Bottega Grappa
Bottega SpA, originally known as Distilleria Bottega, is located in the Veneto region of Italy and was established in 1977 by Aldo Bottega, who followed in the footsteps of his forefather, winemaker, Domenico Bottega.  While Bottega initially made grappa, in 1992, they began producing Il Vino dei Poeti, a Prosecco that was their segue into the wine market. The 1995 launch of Fragolino helped to solidify their position in the industry.  Bottega acquired their head office in Bilbano di Godega di Sant'Urbano in 2007.  This area, which is close to the Venetian alps, proves to be ideal for wine-growing and producing prosecco due to its climate and the hills of Valdobbiadene.  As Bottega continued to grow, direct management of two wineries in Valpolicella and Montalcino followed between 2009 and 2011. This acquisition served to help them control the production of Amarone, Brunello and other varietals indigenous to these regions.  In 2011, the Alexander Blown Glass factory was opened in Pianzano.   Alexander is a trademark under Bottega, where artistic bottles are produced.  Today, Bottega SpA is distributed in more than 120 countries worldwide.  
Hills of Valdobbiadene, Italy

Here's a little more about Bottega's History:
BOTTEGA - Presentazione Aziendale (ITALIANO)

About Prosecco

The sparkling Italian white wine, known as Prosecco, is made from Glera grapes.  Glera, formerly known as Prosecco grapes, was named after a regional town with the same name.  In making prosecco, up to 15% Glera grapes are used, along with other varietals such as Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Verdiso and a few others.  Both Prosecco DOC and DOCG are produced. Prosecco DOC, which is produced in nine provinces between Veneto and Fruili Venezia Giulia, can be sparkling (spumante), semi-sparkling (frizzante) or still (tranquillo).  Prosecco Superiore DOCG is available as Prosecco Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG, which can only be made in Treviso between Conegliano and Valdobbiadene, and Asolo Prosecco Superiore DOCG, which is made near the town of Asolo.

Charmat, also known as Metodo Martinotti or Metodo Italiano, is the method used when making Prosecco.  This method was first developed and patented Federico Martinotti in 1895 and expounded upon by Eugène Charmat in 1907.  In regards to production, the wine, sugar and yeast are mixed in stainless steel tanks. Once the sugar is converted into alcohol, the yeast is filtered and removed. Second fermentation takes place and the wine is bottled until the desired bubble or sparkle quality is achieved. 

Now, let's get more acquainted with Bottega Gold Prosecco.

The Wining Hour's 24K Prosecco Tasting: 

The Bottega Gold line was launched as a limited edition in 2001. It wasn't long before everyone wanted the gold, and it was distributed in Duty Free and the best bars all over Europe, America and Asia.

Although the focus of this writing is on my other tasting (below), I would be remiss if I didn't include my this one.

Bottega Gold IL Vino Dei Poeti,  Conegliano Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Spumante Extra Dry
My first experience with Bottega SpA was in Italy, of course.  I had the pleasure of tasting Il Vino Dei Poeti, and this is, by far, one of the best Proseccos I've ever tasted. According to Bottega SpA, "Vino dei Poeti is a name that evokes the way poets, artists and art lovers raise their glasses to toast the joy of being alive and drink their beloved light, fragrant sparkling wine." Exactly. This prosecco transports me to Italy with every sip. There is no question that this is a high quality prosecco. Glera grapes are picked in cases by hand to produce this wine. The must is extracted via soft pressing. Following is "static decantation and fermentation with selected yeasts coming from the production area. Second fermentation (usually with must and wine) in autoclave occurs according to the Charmat method at a temperature of 14-15° C. The wine is then cold stabilized at a temperature of -3° C and finally filtered and bottled."

Il Vino Dei Poeti is pale yellow to the eye.  On the nose, are floral notes of acacia and honeysuckle. The palate delights with yellow apple, pear and honeysuckle. Fresh, crisp and dry.  Rich and persistent.  IL Vino Dei Poeti is perfect as an aperitivo and will go well with almost anything.

This bottle of bubbles absolutely evokes life and energy.  I search for it on every trip to Italy and I am beyond delighted when it is in my glass.  However, Bottega Gold does not stop here.  Their sparkling portfolio is hidden treasure. 
Bottega Gold Prosecco DOC
Bottega's Venetian Gold Prosecco is a spumante made with Glera grapes grown in the Valdobbiadene hills. The grapes are picked manually and then soft pressed.  In line with the Charmat method, the must is stored in stainless steel then fermented for nearly 40 days, with the addition of selected yeasts. Afterwards, it is filtered and bottled. The length of fermentation affects the quality of the bubbles, as longer fermentation preserves aromas and leads to finer and bubblier bubbles. Bottega Gold Prosecco is a straw yellow spumante, with floral and fruity scents of lily, pear and melon.  The palate is dry, tasting of green apple and citrus blossom. Elegant and persistent.

Bottega Rose Gold Prosecco DOC
Bottega's Rose Gold Prosecco is a spumante made from Pinot Nero grapes. Those who love rosé or bubbly rosé will love this one. As Bottega harvests manually, these grapes are hand picked and vinified at a controlled temperature. Typical when making rosé or other skin-fermented wines, the skins stay in contact with the must for 24 hours. Then the must and skins are then separated by soft pressing and followed by fermentation. The year after the harvest, second fermentation occurs in steel containers.

Bottega Rose Gold is salmon-pink in color. A nose of cranberry, strawberry and rose petal and wild strawberry, red currant and celery on the palate.  This bubbly rosé of Pinot Noir is a real treat, perfect for any occasion.  It is delicate with good acidity.  

The golden, metallic bottles were selected to protect the wine from light, preserving its aroma and freshness thus giving the wine a longer life.  Note: Unless you are a very skilled at taking photos, it is very hard to photograph these beautiful bottles without capturing the reflection of the surroundings as well!  Nevertheless, these bottles are very classy and the contents are golden!
Despite the fact that these bubbles did not stay around long in my house, Il Vino Dei Poeti, as well as both Bottega Gold Prosecco and Bottega Rose Gold Prosecco demonstrate excellent perlage, or the ability to retain its effervescence.  Bottega Gold Proseccos are trendy, deliciously refreshing and worth their weight in gold.  These sparkling wines will definitely get a party started, take any celebration to the next level and make anyone feel special whenever they are consumed.  Go for the gold.
Photo Credit: Bottega SpA
About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #WiningHourChat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit­­­

Saturday, May 13, 2017

#Vinitaly2017: 51 Years Of Innovation #Wine #Vino

Highlights from Vinitaly 2017 Verona, Italy

Vinitaly “where business meets tradition, innovation and glamour,” is “the leading wine event in the world in terms of exhibition area and international operator and visitor numbers.”  This international wine and spirits exhibition event embraces the historic city center of Verona and, for 2017, it extended to Bardolino on Lake Garda. Vinitaly included many activities, b2b meetings, workshops and a multitude of tasting events.  There was the Executive Wine Seminar organized by VIA-Vinitaly International Academy, Tasting Ex…press and other numerous tasting events.  Additionally, Sol&Agrifood and Enolitech were held in conjunction to highlight the biodiversity of the local area and to provide an overview of the quality Italian food and wine sectors based on culture, products and unique technology.

Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
Vinitaly debuted in 1967 and has continued to expand each year and receive global recognition. Milan Expo 2015 showcased the Vino: A Taste of Italy pavilion, which was the first ever dedicated to wine in the history of the Universal Exposition. The expo featured 150,000 bottles, about 800 tastings and was visited by 2.1 million people.  Read more with our post on Milan Expo 2015

Milan Expo 2015:
Vino: A Taste of Italy
 The 50 year celebration in 2016 was inaugurated by President Sergio Mattarella.

This year (2017) marked the 51st anniversary of Vinitaly in Verona.  Verona, Italy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and famous for Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.  Verona is beautiful and the whole city relishes in the festivities.  Vinitaly was held for four days, April 9-12 and attendance is always extremely diversified, with Vininternational and international exhibitors, as well as many international buyers. While the event attracted more than 49,000 international visitors from 140 countries last year, 2017 saw even greater numbers. There were over 4200 exhibitors and over 2100 journalists in attendance from all over the world.

The City of Verona, Italy

Arena di Verona, Piazza Bra

Ponte Pietra, Verona
It is without question  that Vinitaly is “the event that more than any other has marked the evolution of the wine system on a national and international scale, helping to make wine one of the most exciting and dynamic realities in the primary sector.”

The Wining Hour(s) at Vinitaly:
In terms of wine, Italy is confirmed as the world’s largest producer for the second consecutive year, with an estimated 50 million hectoliters in 2016.  The country is also the second largest exporter in terms of volume and value.* There are 75 DOCG, 344 DOC and 118 IGT wines.  Vinitaly celebrated and represented every part of Italy, and also highlighted wines from the main international wine-making countries.

*Source for world statistics: ISMEA based on OIV and HIS/Global Trade Atlas data 2016

A major highlight was our participation in a vertical wine tasting with Fattoria di Montemaggio. The Montemaggio Estate is located in Radda in Chianti and situated where there was once a 14th century tower.  MonteMaggio, or Monte Maggiore, means big mountain, indicating its elevated position. They specialize in Chianti Classico, of course, and their wines provide an elevated experience for the palate!

Montemaggio certainly did not hold back in giving us the good stuff!  Dennis (cellar guy) bought out wine after wine.  Our vertical tasting consisted of:

1999 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This vintage showed that it is still very much alive and kicking. Earthy, leathery notes, limited red fruits such as ripe plum.

2007 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This is an amazing vintage.  Notes of graphite, sand and ripe fruits, like cherry and blackberry. The typical light color of Sangiovese is evident.  We learned that no chemicals are used, but instead, indigenous yeast.  Dry ice is also used to preserve the must against oxidation.  This also preserves the aromas and further extract the color.  

2011 Chianti Classico di Montemaggio
This is the vintage on the market now. An intense and elegant bouquet, balanced, mineral, earthy notes.  This wine is a very different vintage.  It's young, more fresh, less concentrated.  It is a mixture of characteristics of the previous two.

Montemaggio Chianti Classico Riserva
paired with yummy Ribollito 

1997 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
The riserva is clearly an old style, big barrel-aged wine.  Even after 20 years, the fruit is still there. This is a balanced vintage, with smooth, round tannins.

2004 Chianto Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
Only 4500 bottles of this vintage were made.  This wine would pair perfectly with ribollito, or wild boar stew (and it did!)  The color of this wine is much richer, deeper.

2007 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
The color is a more intense ruby red and full of spice.  This wine is elegant, with smooth tannins and leathery notes.  It is very well balanced. 

2010 Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio
Spicy plum, chocolate and vanilla on the nose.  Black cherry and coffee on the palate.  Pleasantly tannic with a lingering finish.

We discussed Montemaggio's new Etruscan logo, and how it represents women as growers of wine or viticulturists.
Montemaggio's Logo

Notetaking as Ilaria speaks about Montemaggio Vini 
2003 Torre di Montemaggio
Torre is a Merlot di Toscana, made with 100% Merlot grapes. It is aged in barrique and then tonneaux. This vintage was a low yield, but has long life. Great for aging.  Torre is intoxicatingly aromatic, with baking spices, vanilla, red berry fruit and anise on the nose. This vintage is packed with flavor, balanced and more towards the full-bodied end of the spectrum. Montemaggio's Torre is truly a game-changer.  This was my favorite vintage of Torre. 

2006 Torre di Montmaggio
The tower of Montemaggio is on the label. This vintage has aromas of vanilla with notes of clove. Very tasty.

2007 Torre di Montemaggio
Intense purplish-red and very aromatic.  Elegant and smooth like velvet on the palate, Torre is full of rich, dark berry fruit, ripened red plum and black cherry, spicy vanilla, chocolate, coffee and cedar. Ok, actually, I cannot decide between the 2003 and 2007.  I just need cases and cases of both vintages!

2015  Rosé di Montemaggio
This delicious, refreshing rosato is an IGT, and is an organic Tuscan wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes.  Bright rose color, with strawberry and mineral notes.  A beautiful summer wine. We discussed the pink, reusable glass cork, which preserves the quality and the authentic taste of this wine. 

We had a wonderful vertical tasting and 'wining hour' experience with Montemaggio at Vinitaly 2017. Special thanks goes to Valeria (owner) and Ilaria (manager) for hosting, and to Katarina of Grapevine Adventures for facilitating this tasting.  Be sure to check out our other experience with this winery at their estate in The Marvels of Montemaggio Vini!

We had our pick of guided tastings, walk-around tastings, vertical tastings and a multitude of other tasting events and exhibits.  Here are a few:

Consorzio del Vino Chianti
Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino

Vinitialy Bio
This exhibit was dedicated to certified organic wine made in Italy and abroad.

Well....of course!  
As there were many contacts to meet, meetings and workshops to attend, exhibits to see, Italian gastronomy to indulge and wines to taste, we could not do it all. We did try though!  Next year, we plan to allocate more time to partake of all the Vinitaly has to offer.  

About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel.  The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items.  The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday's at 9 p.m. EST.(For more, see links at the top of this page)

For more information, please visit­­­

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Marvels of Montemaggio Vini #Organic #Wine

The Distinctive Wines of Montemaggio 

Photo from Fattoria di MonteMaggio 
The Tuscan region in Italy is chock full of rich tradition, history, culture, food and wine.  There is an overwhelming amount of wineries in Tuscany, and Chianti, the jewel of the wine country, produces one marvelous wine after the next.  How does one decide which wines to taste and which wineries to visit?  While it is nice to taste and visit them all, there are some that should not be missed. Montemaggio is one of them. Located in Radda in Chianti, which is in the heart of the Chianti Classico region between Siena and Florence, is the magnificent Montemaggio Estate.  Fattoria di Montemaggio is situated where there was once a 14th century tower and is also featured on a map, dating back to 1560.  MonteMaggio, or Monte Maggiore, means big mountain, indicating its elevated position.
Photo from Fattoria di MonteMaggio
The mountainous position of Montemaggio and other elevated wineries play a huge role in wine-making and the affects on the wine. It is known that high altitude wines are affected by several factors, such as the amount of oxygen, the temperature, the amount of sunlight and the soil composition. The altitude has an impact on the concentration of oxygen the grape vines receive, as higher altitude usually means lower oxygen, which lengthens fermentation, but can enhance the taste. The temperature also plays a key role as higher altitudes usually mean cooler temperatures, which results in slower ripening and longer growing seasons.  The variation of temperatures between day and night allow the flavor profile, acidity and structure to develop over time, and can lead to richer fruit, aromas, appearance and taste.  Exposure to sunlight helps in this regard as well.  Increased exposure to sunlight can lead to more intense flavor and color, or phenolic ripeness, which is the ideal flavor ripeness of a grape.  This occurs when there is the perfect balance between tannins and pleasant, ripe tasting fruit.  Lastly, even the soil has an impact.  Rocky soil tends to put the vines in stressful position where they have to work harder and grow deeper to get the necessary nutrients and water.  As this may yield less fruit, it yields fruit that is rich and full of character.  Montemaggio's soil is rich on galestro, sandstone, and alberese.  Authenticity, character and quality are the goals of Montemaggio. "These characteristics, in addition to the exposure (south – south west), the slopes, the micro-climate, the soil and the hard and accurate work done, guarantee the production of excellent and authentic Tuscan wines."

Montemaggio is a female-run company, as the owner is a woman and the agronomist is also a woman.  Attention to detail is manifested in everything they do and everywhere on the estate.  The new wine label, which is a design of an Etruscan woman, symbolizes the strength of women and highlights women as wine growers or wineviticulturists.  This further represents their attention to detail.

Montemaggio mainly produces Sangiovese, with small additions of Merlot, Pugnitello, Chardonnay, Malvasia Nera, and Ciliegiolo.  In addition to wine, they also produce grappa and extra virgin olive oil.

"Montemaggio follows the concept of a very high quality “Terroir” wine."

As mentioned, emphasis is placed on authenticity, character and high quality.  Montemaggio is certified organic since 2009. "We practice organic agriculture and thus cultivation is carried out with the maximum respect for the nature, without introducing any foreign or chemical element that can damage the environment." It was interesting to learn about several of their all natural and organic methods, such as the use of aloe to strengthen the vines, the use of dry ice to facilitate long maturation and others.  One particular method, that of "sexual confusion" to control the insect population, was especially interesting.  Instead of having to treat the vines for insects, "sexual confusion" is done to protect the vines by confusing the male insects so that mating with the females does not occur.  If they do not mate, there are no eggs or anything further to damage the vines.  I like it! Moreover, I also was delighted to see their beautiful garden with a vast array of herbs, rose bushes, plants and vegetables. It was a true expression of biodiversity and sustainability.
"Sexual Confusion" technique

The garden at Montemaggio
Since it is an organic winery, the harvest is executed manually, as Fattoria di Montemaggio strives to "preserve all the quality of the elements that are a part of the land where they have been cultivated."

The Wining Hour: Wining with MonteMaggio Vini
I was acquainted with Montemaggio last year (Please forgive me for my delayed write-up!) and I tasted the following wines:

Rosé di Montemaggio 2015

Montemaggio's Rosato is an IGT, and is an organic Tuscan wine made from 100% Sangiovese grapes.  It is produced with grapes picked from an early harvest from the cooler areas to obtain the ideal acidity, lower alcoholic gradation and freshness in the wine. This skin-fermented varietal had contact for only one night to achieve the desired color and complexity. Next, the skins are separated and fermented at low temperatures in stainless steel vats for about 10 days. The wine is bottled after 8 months and placed on the market after at least one year. It is very interested that Montemaggio chose to cork this rosato with a pink glass cork (see below), which is reusable, to preserve the quality and the authentic taste of this wine.

Rosé di Montemaggio is bright rose in appearance, with a fruity bouquet of strawberries and rose petals. It is fresh, dry and balanced with notes of sweet cherry, wild strawberries and crushed rocks. This rosato is delicious as an aperitivo or paired with salads, fish or other white meat dishes.  As rosé usually embodies summer, this is a good one! Do note, however, that I would sip this any time I want something light and refreshing-all year long.
Glass corks on Montemaggio's Rosé and Chardonnay
Chianti Classico di Montemaggio 2010

The Chianti Classico di Montemaggio is produced from predominantly Sangiovese grapes (95%) and a small portion of Merlot (5%). Both grapes undergo fermentation separately in stainless steel tanks for 25 days. The Sangiovese is then put into Slovenian and French oak casks, while the Merlot is put into second-hand barrels, it undergoes malolactic fermentation and then aged for the next 24 months.

Montemaggio's Chianti Classico is vibrant ruby in color, with a floral bouquet of marjoram and potpourri, as well as cherry and violet.  This wine has delicate flavors of cherry, strawberry and clove and is a medium-bodied wine with dry tannins and good acidity.  Chianti Classico di Montemaggio is versatile and would pair well with any antipasto, array of cured meats and cheeses or a juicy hamburger.  I tasted this with olives, mozzarella di bufala, salume toscano, stuffed peppers and a few other local treats.

This 2010 vintage of Chianti Classico by Montemaggio was awarded the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2016 and Decanter World Wine Awards 2016, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 and Veronelli 2015.

Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio 2009
Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio is a beautiful manifestation of its region of the same name. It keeps the style of the Chianti Classico and uses 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot grapes.  After harvesting (by hand), the grapes are fermented for about 30 days in conical wood trunk vats. Next, malolactic fermentation occurs in stain- less steel and wooden vats. The wine is left to mature in large barrels and tonneaux for about 28-36 months.

With its deep ruby red color, it greets with aromas of cherry, black pepper, clay and tobacco. According to Montemaggio, "It is produced from a selection of the best Sangiovese grapes that comes especially from the oldest vineyards. The elevated locations of the vineyards (from 450 to 600 metres above sea level) and the large variation in temperature between night and day gives the wine their particular bouquet."  The palate is intense with earthy, rustic notes, spicy cherry, clove and plum. This wine is appropriately tannic, medium-full bodied, well-balanced and has a lingering finish.  Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio would pair with most read meats and strong cheeses, such as the local pecorino.  I was able to taste this wine (and the next) with a traditional pasta, pici, with zucchini, saffron and leeks.  Delicious!
Pici with zucchini, saffron and leeks
This 2009 vintage of Chianti Classico Riserva di Montemaggio was awarded the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2016 and Decanter World Wine Awards 2016, Decanter World Wine Awards 2015 and Veronelli 2015.

Torre di Montemaggio 2012

Ahhh, Torre... Where do I begin? First, I am still shocked to say that this wine is made from 100% Merlot grapes.  The flavor profile of this wine could certainly deceive in a blind-tasting. Apparently, Torre, an IGT, is one of the first wines that was produced at Montemaggio. Torre, meaning tower, refers to the century tower that once stood above the old Roman road between Siena and Florence. Torre undergoes fermentation for about 30 days in stainless steel and wooden vats. Following is malolactic fermentation in stainless steel vats. The wine is then allowed to mature for about 18 months in barrels mainly for the second passage and partially in tonneaux.

With its intense purplish-red color, Torre is intoxicatingly aromatic, with baking spices, vanilla, red berry fruit and anise on the nose. Elegant and smooth like velvet on the palate, Torre is full of rich, dark berry fruit, ripened red plum and black cherry, spicy vanilla, chocolate, coffee and cedar.  This Merlot is packed with flavor, balanced and more towards the full-bodied end of the spectrum. Pairings? Steak, burgers, chicken, veal, you name it.  I cannot deny it--this varietal blew me away!  I truly did not expect to enjoy this wine as much as I did.  My cellar is not exactly stacked with Merlot, yet, Montemaggio's Torre is a game-changer.  

The 2012 vintage of Torre di Montemaggio was awarded the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2016 and Decanter World Wine Awards 2016.

On my most recent visit to Italy this month, I was graciously hosted by Montemaggio at their gorgeous estate and further delighted my palate with the aforementioned and some of their other wines including the following:

Chardonnay di Montemaggio 2015
Another gem was found in Montemaggio's Chardonnay.  This IGT Chard is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and was produced for the first time in 2010.  After harvesting, the grapes are stemmed and softly pressed. The must is then placed in stainless steel and then fermented in tonneaux or barrique. After fermentation, yeast is added, the wine gets decanted and returns to tonneaux. After about 8 months in wood barrels, the wine is bottled and ready to for the market. Just like the Rosé di Montemaggio, their Chardonnay is bottled with transparent glass corks (see photo above) to preserve its authentic taste and prevent deterioration. Only 600 bottles were produced.

Chardonnay di Montemaggio is straw yellow to the eye.  It has an inviting perfumed bouquet of honeydew melon, pear, honey and citrus blossom.  The palate gets tricky, and it's what makes this Chardonnay very unique.  There's delicious of apple, chamomile, toasted almond, hazelnut and notes of crushed stone. This is a very unusual Chardonnay, as it demonstrates the perfect balance for those who do not want abundant minerals or an abundance of butter and oak. Montemeggio's Chardonnay is versatile and delicious, and it can be enjoyed on alone, or to pair with white meat and fish.

Quinta Essentia di Montemaggio 2011

According to the ancient Greeks and Indians, the world is composed of 4 elements: earth, water, fire and air.  The Greek philosopher, Aristotle, added a fifth element, aether (ether), also known as akasha in India and quintessence in Europe. Fortunately for all of us, at Montemaggio, the fifth element, or Quinta Essentia, is wine!

Quinta Essentia di Montemaggio is a Tuscan IGT wine produced by for the first time in 2008. It blends 60% Merlot and 40% Sangiovese grapes. After that harvest, the grapes are fermented separately for about 30 days in stainless steel tanks and wooden conical vats. After malolactic fermentation, the Merlot is refined for about 18 months in oak barrels, while the Sangiovese is refined in large barrels and partially in tonneaux. Then, the two wines are blended and put in barrique for about 18 months. Quinta Essentia is a special wine, as it was inspired and created by a lover as a birthday gift for her husband as an expression of her love.  This wine itself is a quintessential love story! Only 1000 bottles of this vintage were produced.

Quinta Essentia di Montemaggio has a profound ruby red appearance. The nose is elegant, emitting notes of raspberry, red currant and leather.  Merlot and Sangiovese is a common blend, as the Merlot usually softens the texture.  As this blend consisted of more Merlot, it contributed to the juiciness and added more fruit.  The palate is smooth consisting of black cherry, raspberry, plum, cedar and clay. Quinta Essentia is full-bodied and would pair with rich meats, lasagna, mushroom pappardelle and other pasta or tomato-based dishes.

This 2011 vintage of Quinta Essentia di Montemaggio was awarded the Decanter Asia Wine Awards 2016, the Decanter World Wine Awards 2016 and Veronelli 2015.

Ilaia di Montemaggio 2012

Pugnitello vines
Ilaia di Montemaggio is an IGT made from 100% Pugnitello, a lesser known grape indigenous to the Tuscan region. The grapes grow in small bunch-like fists, and fist is pugno in Italian. Hence, the name Pugnitello.  While this grape is susceptible to disease and requires a lot of attention, Montemaggio's owner saw its potential, and Ilaria, the agronomist, followed suit.  In fact, the name “Ilaia” is very similar to “Ilaria,” which means joy.  Having met Ilaria, I see why!

The Pugnitello is grown in a small plantation of 3 high-density vineyards terraces at Fattoria di Montemaggio. Following a careful selection, fermentation takes place for about 25-30 days in stainless steel. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is refined for about 18 months in oak barrels.

Ilaia di Montemaggio is an intense purple-red, with fruity, yet warm, savory aromas. Think blackberries and cured meats.  The palate is absolutely unique and fresh, tasting of cherry, blackberry, almond toffee, and leather.  This wine has lots of character and a potential for aging 15 years or more. Ilaia is a full-bodied wine, balanced with good acidity and a persistent finish. This wine is quite versatile, and it would pair nicely with a roast pork, steak or delicious stew. 2012 was the first harvest for this wine.  Despite the challenges, the results show that it was clearly worth it.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience(s) with Montemaggio.  I could not have been more pleased! Be sure to visit Fattoria di Montemaggio when in the Tuscan region, and also check out our vertical tasting experience with Montemaggio and our Highlights of VinItaly 2017-51 Years of Innovation.

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