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Celebrate with Ferrari!

December 29, 2016 5 comments

Would anyone argue that holidays are better with Ferrari? Both of eponymous Italian hallmarks of quality would greatly enhance one’s holiday, but one of them – the car  – is a bit less accessible to the general populace, so let’s talk about the one which is – sparkling wine from a beautiful region in the Italian Alps – Trento.

More than 100 years ago, Guido Ferrari recognized the potential of the green slopes to grow world-class Chardonnay. While Chardonnay is an undisputed star of the still white wine, its swan song might be delivered best with the bubbles. Champagne comes only from Champagne, but Méthode Champenoise is successfully used around the world to produce sparkling wines easily rivaling Champagne in quality.

This is what Guido Ferrari set out to do in 1902 – produce world-class sparkling wines – the task which he completed successfully. As Guido Ferrari had no direct heirs, in 1952 he sold the winery and vineyards to the Bruno Lunelli, a friend and wine merchant. Now in the third generation, Lunelli family proudly continues Ferrari traditions into the 21st century.

Earlier in the year, I had a virtual conversation with Marcello Lunelli, a winemaker at the Ferrari winery – you can find that post here. Then during summer I had an opportunity to meet, talk to and taste the wines together with Camilla Lunelli, Managing Partner at Ferrari, who visited New York on the occasion of attending The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards ceremony, where Ferrari was sponsoring The Art of Hospitality Award (it went to Madison Eleven restaurant in New York city). As we combined conversation with the tasting of the wines, I want to share here my brief notes about both the winery and the wines we tasted.

Camilla Lunelli, Ferrari wines

Today Ferrari is producing about 2 million bottles per year. They are working in close cooperation with the network of 500 growers and employ 8 agronomists who work literally around the clock to ensure the quality of the grapes. All Ferrari vineyards are certified organic, which is something not to be taken lightly – think about the work required to convince 500 growers to change their ways, to adapt Best Practices developed by Ferrari and get certified (it took most of the growers between 3 and 5 years to change). Talking about the vineyards, an interesting side note: Trento is a mountainous region, and all Ferrari vineyards are located on the slopes which provide for large temperature shifts between day and night, which is significant for the development of the Chardonnay grapes.

Italy is the biggest market for Ferrari sparkling wines. However, when I asked which market is the next big one after Italy, I got a surprising answer – it is Japan! (Yeah, I knew it is not the US, as Ferrari wines are hard to find in the US stores).

I also asked what would be an interesting food pairing for the Ferrari sparklers, and Camilla recommended Rosé sparkling wine with Pizza (yes, I can see it) and then bubbles with the BBQ, which is something I will need to try.

Okay, let’s get to the wines now, shall we?

NV Ferrari Brut Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $25, 100% Chardonnay) – Delicious. Perfect acidity, lightly yeasty, refreshing, clear acidic finish.

2007 Ferrari Perlé Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $38, 100% Chardonnay) – complex nose, minerality, complex palate with musk undertones, full bodied and refreshing

2009 Ferrari Perlé Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $38, 100% Chardonnay) – we didn’t taste this wine with Camilla – I recently got a sample of 2009, so it was a good opportunity to include it here. On the nose, fine fizz, mostly closed nose with just a touch of an apple. The palate showed toasted bread notes, restrained, good acidity, tart, very clean and austere. Perfectly reminiscent of a good Champagne, however, too astringent for my personal enjoyment. I would definitely prefer 2007.

2008 Ferrari Perlé Rosé Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $59, 80% Pinot Noir, 20% Chardonnay) – Delicious nose, hint of strawberries, yeast, great concentration, complex, toasted bread, refreshing.

2008 Ferrari Perlé Nero Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $79.99, 100% Pinot Nero) – great nose, plump, open, full-bodied, lots of fruit on the nose, fresh baguette, not just yeast or toasted bread, toasted caramel, butterscotch

2006 Ferrari Riserva Lunelli Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $56, 100% Chardonnay) – the grapes for this wine come from the single area around Villa Margon. This wine is aged in neutral Austrian oak casks. Excellent, seriously complex nose, with a touch of tropical fruit; tremendous palate – roasted meat, super-complex, delicious.

2004 Ferrari Riserva del Fondatori Giulio Metodo Classico Trento DOC (SRP $120, 100% Chardonnay) – the grapes for this wine come from a single high altitude vineyard called Maso Panizza. The wine has the classic nose, great acidity, it just screams “classic vintage Champagne” all the way.

Here you are, my friends – a full range of beautiful sparkling wines, worthy of any celebration you will have. I wish they would be a bit easier to find in the US, but these are the wines worth seeking. Cheers!

Month in Wines – December 2014

January 5, 2015 Leave a comment

Feels a bit strange when we are already in 2015, and I’m writing about the wine highlights from the month which belongs to the last year. Well, but then it is just a calendar, after all, and another month is just another month.

December 2014 was not super-eventful when it came to wines – but some of the wines stood out. Here are the most interesting wines of the December 2014:

2007 Ferrari Perlé Trento DOC, Italy (12.5% ABV, $35, 100% Chardonnay) – Delicious. Perfectly round, with all the undertones of a great sparkling wine. 8+

NV Rivarose Brut Rosé Provence  – Unexpectedly delicious. Never had Provence Sparkling until now, and this was an excellent wine, clearly reminiscent of Provence Rosé, but with the addition of toasted bread and yeast. 8

2011 Bodegas Volver Volver La Mancha DO (15% ABV, $27/Magnum) – One of my all times favorite Spanish wines. Dark, dense and powerful – good amount of fruit, but also lots of spices, espresso and pencil shavings in every sip. Also pretty much an unbeatable value. 8-

1998 Ceretto Monsordo Langhe DOC (13% ABV, $NA) – This was my last bottle. Sigh… It doesn’t show as a young wine, but at the same time the fruit is well present, coupled with excellent tannins and acidity. 8+

2010 Chateau Saint-Pierre Tradition Cotes de Provence, France – While Provence is famous for their Rosé,  this was an excellent red wine. An old world profile, blackberries, spices, touch of pepper, very elegant and restrained. 8

2004 Tenuta Friggiali Rosso di Montalcino DOC, Italy (13.5% ABV, $30?) – Unmistakably Italian. Fresh acidity, leather, earthiness, well present tannins with good astringency, kitchen spices, tart cherries, medium to long finish. Needs food. 8-

2011 Barton & Guestier Bistro Pinot Noir 2011 Pays d’Oc IGP (12% ABV, $9) – Simple, but without any flaws, which makes it a great every day wine (look at the price). Fresh fruit, good acidity, touch of lavender. 7+

2009 Chateau Roland La Garde Blaye-Cotes de Bordeaux AOC (14% ABV, $17) – Good Bordeaux, especially at a price. Warm, inviting, touch of cassis and bell peppers, eucalyptus, blackberries, good acidity and good balance. 7+

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2007 Erba Mountainside Vineyards Proprietary Red Wine Napa Valley (14.8% ABV, $55) – Delicious, textbook quality Bordeaux blend from California. Perfectly round, supple, luscious, heart-warming with every sip. 9-

2011 Cuveé Wine Cellars Pinot Noir Saralee’s Vineyard Russian River Valley (14.9% ABV, $28) – Another textbook classic from California, this time – a textbook California Pinot Noir – warm, dense and concentrated. Let me leave it at that. 8+

Graham’s 20 Years Old Tawny ($45.99) – delicious complexity of the aged Port – dried fruits, nuts, good amount of sweetness and fragrant lightness which shows in a well made, well aged Port. 8

Blandy’s Malmsey 10 Years old Madeira ($23.99) – A depth of flavor only Madeira can show – lots of dried fruits and nuts with a dash of salinity. Very elegant, good acidity makes it quite refreshing. 8

And we are done here. If you had any of these wine, let me know what do you think. If you tasted any great wines in December – please share. Cheers!

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