Harvest 2011 in Italy kick-off.

Harvest 2011 in Italy kick-off.by Filippo BartolottaThis summer has been quite a busy one. Actually summer hasn't left us yet. I came back from Piedmont where most wineries had already harvested Dolcetto, some where half way with Barbera and a few were beginning with Nebbiolo![caption id="attachment_3035" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Langhe 2011"][/caption]The harvest is at least 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule. Most wine makers are now speeding up the harvest to avoid complete backing of the berries. A lot of wineries will tell you that is all ok, but the truth is that is going to be a very difficult vintage. Augusto Cappellano puts it quite simple: like most rush-things in life don't come out well, even such a pre-mature harvest will risk not to be balanced.Although I like to things with a certain rhythm, I must agree with Augusto here as despite the experience and ability of each wine maker, there's only so much one can do to fight against difficult weather conditions. On a side note I tried Cappellano's 2009 Barolo Pi Franco -possibly released in 2015- Mineral, tight smooth tannins, juicy, rich and really long...can't wait to drink it![caption id="attachment_3039" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Cappellano Barolo Pi Franco 2009"][/caption]This year I had one of the greatest tasting with my partners at the Guide on Italian Wines by the EspressoGroup. I can't discloseyet the results, but we have been really selective. Out of 20.000 wines we reviewed only a few more then a hundred get the top awards.That means that among the many wines we tasted we have selected what is best representing that given area this given year. I am very proud to be part of this group and very confident that our system is getting more and more reliable by the year.After the many days of blind tasting though I like to go and shake hands with some of this wine makers and possibly eating a bite with them and "drinking" some wines together. The most recent great wine I tried was a Pelaverga Bassadone 2010 from the Castello di Verduno: leather and a track full of black pepper and balsamic notes on a smooth velvet palate for 10!!!![caption id="attachment_3037" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Castello di Verduno Pelaverga Bassadone 2010"][/caption]Also while in the area I stopped at Castello di Neive to try the very dense and sweet delicious Barbaresco Santo Stefano Riserva 2007 and the first release of a very floral, crispy and juicy Barbaresco Gallina 2008.Claudio, the very skillful and kind wine maker has been opening also many more bottles to share his knowledge and passion with me and a couple of very thirsty (of knowledge of course) friends.From here I had tostop to say hello to Maurilio at La Ciau del Tornavento. He brought out the kitchen an amazing Sanremo red shrimp carpaccio with burrata and the dust of the shrips head cooked in the oven...mmm,then an Ovuli salad with black truffle and 3 minutes egg: ohhhhh my gosh! Then as if by miracle a tajarin with the first White Truffle of the season which wasn't as powerful as the November ones but, man, what a delicacy!Now, what else can one do after all this? Go say hello to Elisa Scavino and try some of Paolo Scavino's Barolos.We tried all the 2007 crus and I thought Paolo Scavino Barolo Cannubi 2007 was the one with more class and elegance, particularly for the touch on the palate, dense and kind and the very perfumed and intense nose. I like to see the new generations taking pride in their family business. But I like it even more so when talented ones are stepping in. Elisa isn't just a young winemaker with a great sense of quality, but also a very intelligent person with a natural philosophical and curious mind.Behind a great wine there's always some great people. There's no doubts that Enrico Scavino has played some very good cards there.Time for me to go back to Monforte and from here home where I gotta look after my son finishing his homework before going to school...tomorrow.So summer is back in Italy and that reminded me of some few great days I managed to have with my family this last month...Some of the best days of summer 2011 were spent in the Dolomites, aside from the day I manage to loose my camera with all the pictures of ten days!!! So some shoots might look a little blurry like this one and nonetheless still breathtaking. [caption id="attachment_3048" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="The mighty Dolomites"][/caption]A few days alone Vanessa and me, hiking the highest mountains all the way up to the Piz Bo at 3125 from the Gruppo Sella: it is like being on the moon.The greatest part of it isn't just the landscape which is so poetic but the fact that most of this spots must be conquered by foot alone if one wants to enjoy them. Reaching up the picks of this mountains is a total experience which regenerates mind and body. I was kind of hoping to eat a little less and find some less interesting wines here, but i am afraid I was wrong. In fact after all those thousands of calories burt away, and all the spiritual expenses one would eat and drink even more. So here come Schlutzkrapfen (half moon pasta filled with fresh spinach) or the Canederli (bread balls with speck, local smoked ham, dipped in broth) or the luscious pork shank.Usually here is best to drink Sylvaner or Kerner, but also great Riesling,Muller Thurgau or Gewurtraminer. Producers like Kofererhof, Kettmeir, Haas, Pacherhof, Tiefenbrunner, Niedrist Ignaz,
Nssing Manfred-Hoandlhof, Kuenhof, Abbazia Novacella,
Strasserhof, Taschlerhof, Termeno, Waldgries
Unfortunately most pictures were lost with my camera so not a great portfolio of images here. This wine makers from Alto Adige though release super crystalline and pure wines which reflect the very mineral and immaculate natural force of the mountain soil and air which anyone can experience over here. It is my intention to explore in more details this amazing land and its wines. I was meant to go to try some stuff in October but it is more likely that I'll be going to Russia to train a group of sommeliers in Moscow and San Petersburg. The Dolomites have been so nice to Vanessa and I that we then decided to drive 7 hours back home, pick the kids up and go back. So we drove from 2500m asl to 0 asl to the Tuscan coast, we took a bath with the kids, some spaghetti with clams and off back we went to Valgardena. And hop...up on the Alps again. [caption id="attachment_3056" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Milo and the Sasso Lungo"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_3057" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Milo proud in the Alps"][/caption]Again most pictures got lost and Daphne isn't here because she was always in my baby backpack!One of the greatest adventure we had was the one of the Sasso Lungo and the Forcella Pordoi. In both occasions we had to stay over night as it was getting too cold and dark to go back down. The Demetz at the Forcella of the Sasso Lungo was the best with the greatest welcoming and loving care and one of the best room with the view I have ever given. If you plan to go there though remember there's no shower or hot water:))) but the canederli are awesome![caption id="attachment_3061" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Hiking on the Forcella Pordoi"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_3060" align="alignleft" width="640" caption="Almost on top of the Forcella Pordoi"][/caption] [caption id="attachment_3062" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Reaching the Pordoi"][/caption][caption id="attachment_3063" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="The view from Pordoi"][/caption]Honestly next wine tour must be a Dolomitic Wine Tour. Imagine sipping a great Sylvaner in front of this sunset after a long day of hiking...I loved it, but like all great things there's got to be an end to it. Work was calling us and we had to drive back to Florence once again.On the way back though we stopped in the Casentino with our friends Jacopo and Francesca for a little walk in the forrest near their house. A month before I married them and I wanted to go check them out.So Daphne and Milo came along to share some walks that Jacopo and I took in their near forrest. Of course they managed to sneak something to eat during the little hike and they found a house where to rest a little.Now back to real world. We jump in the Fiat 500 where home and work is awaiting us. First to Porto Ercole for an exurision with a Napa Valley Reserve Cruise on the Tuscan Coast in Porto Ercole, then for a visit at Doctor Franco Biondi Santi. [caption id="attachment_3072" align="alignleft" width="480" caption="Franco Biondi Santi"][/caption]The Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1998 was actually much denser and sweeter then I remembered which I guess made a nice come back home for me. Now I better put things in order for the first day of school or I'll be in trouble. Yours truly,Filippo
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