Archive for March, 2016

Barone Ricasoli in Chianti

March 7th, 2016

Barone Ricasoli wine
By Bep (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Ricasoli name dates back in wine to 1141 when they acquired the Brolio castle in Chianti. In 1993 the current owner Francesco Ricasoli the 32nd Baron of Brolio rescued this great Estate that is now the largest winery in the Chianti Classico area comprising 1200 hectares with 235 in vineyards and 26 in olive groves. More details at An educational seminar on February 25, 2016 @VanWineFest led by Barone Francesco Ricasoli spotlighted 9 of their wines worth exploring:

1. ALBIA Rose Toscana IGT 2014 – Separate the sangiovese  & merlot off the skins immediately and ferment separately resulting in a fresh fruity floral spices Rose with refreshing acidity under a screw cap closure. 2015 just bottled a month ago.

2. TORRICELLA Bianco Toscano IGT 2013 – Unusual blend of 80% chardonnay for structure & 20% sauvignon blanc for freshness works well using 2 vineyards one with sandstone and the other at lower altitude on alluvial soils.

3. BROLIO Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 – 80% sangiovese, 15% merlot & 5% cabernet sauvignon all in open vats using cooler maceration with even the first week important for colour extraction, structure and softer tannins resulting in good value savoury cherry notes. 2013 had a cooler Spring & hail for a shorter crop but weather at harvest good making a 5 star vintage for the sangiovese variety.

4. BROLIO RISERVA Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva 2012 – Same blend but better grape selection in the Riserva. They have mapped out 19 different soils at the Estate with 5 of them the more interesting ones at different altitudes (200-500 feet) using 100+ clones of sangiovese and 200 vinifications (to monitor style, quality and consistency) so lots of choices to make. 2012 a more rainy year resulting in less intensity but fresh acidity for earlier drinking. Ricasoli do a good job of delivering in the wine the style of the vintage conditions each year.

5. COLLEDILA Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG 2010 – 100% Estate grapes required for Gran Selezione passed into law in 2014 and this is their first one (a bigger 2011 at 14.5 and not made in 2012). Yields low limited to 30hl/ha (or about 1.2 kg of grapes per vine) from plantings at 5500 vines/ha. A single vineyard of 7 ha on limestone soil this one is 100% sangiovese showing balance elegance finesse and compact tannins with length which will easily age 20 years. Excellent.

6. CASALFERRO Rosso Toscano IGT 2010 – Making this since 1993 initially with sangioves but a little merlot added for the first time in 1997. Learned through experience that the limestone calcareous soil of this vineyard parcel site was particularly suitable for that variety adding more of it to the sangiovese each year now resulting in a “Tuscanized” fresh 100% merlot. 2011 with a hot August/September worked well for merlot and Franceso prefers his Casalferro 2011 (which I tried and was impressed with also) over the 2010. Both distinctive.

7. CASALFERRO Rosso Toscano IGT 1997 – Almost all sangiovese with about 5-10% merlot added for the first time. The young vineyard has showed a Tuscan character all along with green & black pepper aromas. 100% merlot cru since 2007. This bottle of 1997 was showing quite a bit of maturity. I have had recently both the 1998 & their superb fresher 1999 ( a 3 glass Gambero Rosso selection as was 2003, 2005, and 2008).

8. CASTELLO DI BROLIO Gran Selezione Chianti Classico DOCG 2010 – Usual 80/15/5 blend. Best cuvees selected resulting in a spectacular bottle with nicely integrated wood and complex minerals. Trying to decide presently how much 2014 to produce because it is a more difficult vintage for sangiovese like the 2012. Some good 2014 will be produced but the great years are 2015 and 2013 as well as 2011 and 2010.

9. CASTELLO DI BROLIO Chianti Classico DOCG 1997 – 100% sangiovese showed bottle variation as expected. Mine lovely leather smoky aged bouquet complexity with more freshness than some bottles. More recent vintages will age even better.

Congrats to Barone Francesco for his dedication in experimenting with but maintaining classic top quality Tuscan wine. His style has evolved and improved into wines with more elegance, finesse, suppleness, and balance of integrated wood & softer tannins.

In my opinion sangiovese is still somewhat underrated because of its naturally vibrant savoury character that matches so well with food and like nebbiolo does so well in Piedmont finds the very best expression of the variety in Tuscany. Certainly the grape is not as well known as say cabernet or chardonnay nor has it adapted as well to the many wine regions around the world. Enjoy it from Tuscany!

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10 interesting facts about Brazilian wine

March 4th, 2016

10 interesting facts about Brazilian wine

By Joseph Temple

While Chile and Argentina are clearly the two best-known winemaking countries in South America, the Federative Republic of Brazil, which produces approximately 84.5 million gallons annually, was recently declared “The Hippest Wine Destination You’ve Never Heard Of” by Of course, being situated on and near the equator, Brazil is mostly famous for stunning beaches and an outrageous Carnival that attracts visitors from across the globe. With such intense heat and humidity, one would think that growing vines would be next to impossible—after all, there are no references to viticulture in The Girl from Ipanema! So you might be surprised to know that the fifth most populous country in the world is also the fifth largest producer of wine in the Southern Hemisphere. Making everything from Cabernet Sauvignon to sparkling wine, Brazil has quite a lot to offer as they gear up for the 2016 Summer Olympics in August. And below are ten interesting facts proving that Brazil is much more than just soccer balls and bikinis.

Scope of Brazilian wine and vineyards

1. Today, Brazil has approximately 215,000 acres dedicated to wine grapes. Spanning over 2,500 miles, it encompasses seven states and six different climate zones.


Rior Grane do Sul wine
By TUBS [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

2. However, the majority of the country’s plantings are in Rior Grane do Sul, Brazil’s southernmost state.


Brazil is in the top 15 wine producing nations
By Clístenes Cardoso e Cristianne Haydée [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

3. Brazil is the third largest producer of wine in South America and among the top 15 largest producers worldwide.


Rainfall and humidity in Brazil

4. The average rainfall is very high – 1,800mm or 70 inches of which 700mm falls during the growing season from September to February.


Isabella grapes Brazil wine

5. Nearly ¾ of all plantings are Vitis labrusca or hybrid varieties, such as Isabella grapes, which are better at handling the humidity and higher rainfall.


Italian immigrants and Brazilian wine

6. While winemaking began with Portuguese colonization, Italian immigrants are credited with successfully introducing European vitis vinifera varieties to Brazil in the 1870s.


Rio de Janeiro Brazilian wine

7. A national wine market wasn’t established until the 1920s when the southernmost regions were able to connect to the more populous cities like Rio de Janeiro.


Moet Chandon enters Brazil
By Andreas Levers from Potsdam, Germany (Blurry) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

8. Wines of serious quality did not appear until the 1970s when companies like Moët & Chandon established a foothold in Brazil.



9. In 1967, an annual festival known as FENAVINHO Brazil was created in order to promote native wines.


What do Brazilians drink?

10. Despite this history, per capita wine consumption in Brazil is only a quarter of what it is in the United States. Its citizens tend to prefer beer, vermouth and other spirits.


Brostrom, Geralyn G. & Brostrom, Jack. The Business of Wine: An Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2008.
Estreicher, Stefan K. Wine: From Neolithic Times to the 21st Century. New York: Algora Publishing, 2006.
Goldstein, Evan. Wines of South Americas: The Essential Guide. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.
Robinson, Jancis. The Oxford Companion to Wine, 4th Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

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Ask Sid: Best value white wine?

March 2nd, 2016
Ask your question here The International Wine & Food Society

Ask Sid: Best value white wine?

Question: What is the best value white wine you have discovered so far this year Sid?

Answer: Clear winner for me is the new 2013 white Bourgogne Chardonnay of Domaine Michelot from their Monopole property “Clos De Montmeix” right in the village of Meursault but not actually within that Appellation. Clay & rocky limestone planted in 2002 is delivering classy balanced very Meursault-like aromas and flavours for earlier drinking at very good value. Tasted as a special buy by Joey Restaurants in Vancouver but look for it elsewhere as well. Impressive!

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