On Thursday April 26 at 6:30 we continue our current series of Wine Dinners by presenting a five-wine, five course appreciation of one of the most celebrated of all modern Italian wineries, La Spinetta of Piedmont and Tuscany.
One of Piedmont’s iconic modern wineries, the history of La Spinetta goes back to 1977 and Giuseppe Rivetti who established the original winery at Castagnole Lanze. Since then it is the second generation, spearheaded by Giorgio Rivetti, that has put La Spinetta on the map with the development of vineyards and estates, talented winemaking and an endless desire to try new things.
We will sample wines from the entire spectrum of the wineries offerings. The evening starts with a unique Vermentino from La Spinetta’s Tuscan vineyards. You’ve heard of Super Tuscans? Well, our next wine is Pin, a SUPER PIEDMONT, a blend of Barbera and Nebbiolo grapes.
Barbaresco is one of Italy’s very greatest wines. We will taste not one but two Barbarescos, from different vineyards. And finally, a golden hued dessert wine called, appropriately, Golden Passito.
SHRIMP AND SCALLOP AGNOLOTTI with olives, spring onions and new peas
Pin Monferrato Rosso
NATIVE MUSHROOMS with Fonduta and Spoonbread
BEEF in BARBARESCO with gorgonzola pasta
ROASTED PEACH & WALNUT CROSTATA
As always professional commentary will be provided by Mr. Mark Fratto of M.S. Walker.
Cost for the evening, including all food and wine, is $65 per person. Please make your reservations by calling Stellina at 617-924-9475 in person.
“One of Italy’s most fashionable winemakers/proprietors, Giorgio Rivetti displays a masterful touch whether he is making Barbera, Moscato d’Asti, or his proprietary red wine Pin.”
– Robert Parker, Jr.
MEET LA SPINETTA’S WINEMAKER: GIORGIO RIVETTI:
Giorgio Rivetti’s magic touch with Moscato, Barbera, Nebbiolo and, more recently, Sangiovese, Colorino, Vermentino and Sangiovese Rosé has taken the wine world by storm. He produces approachable yet age-worthy wines that command the attention of wine critics and consumers alike, year-in and year-out; their lushness, concentration, aromatics and length are unrivaled. Giorgio’s speedy ascent from Moscato producer in the 1970’s to venerated Barbaresco and Barolo vigneron today is studded with success.
The genius of La Spinetta encompasses a vast array of great wines, all boasting an inimitably approachable and voluptuous style. From Moscato to Nebbiolo to Sangiovese, whatever Giorgio touches turns to gold. His pioneering single-vineyard Barberas and Barbera/Nebbiolo blend “Pin” are considered to be the best of the Langhe. His Barbareschi and Baroli are at the very top of their category. In fact La Spinetta’s wines are among Italy’s most celebrated, as the winery has attained the coveted Tre Bicchieri award for more than 30 of their wines throughout their relatively short career. Let it never be said, however, that the greatness of La Spinetta is inaccessible to the average consumer; from the longtime favorite Barbera d’Asti “Ca’ di Pian,” featured in numerous magazines as a Best Value, to the Langhe Nebbiolo, a bottling of young vine fruit from the famed Starderi vineyard in Barbaresco, the winery offers incredible opportunities to experience the beauty of their best crus at a fraction of the cost.
In addition to the wines of La Spinetta, Giorgio Rivetti and his son Andrea have recently taken ownership of the beautiful and historic Contratto estate, where they produce both sparkling wines and a line of spirits. Giuseppe Contratto founded Contratto in 1867, and the estate remained in the family’s hands for 126 years. In 1993, Carlo Bocchino purchased the property, and the historical cellars underwent substantial renovations. In 2011, Giorgio Rivetti and the La Spinetta took ownership of this understated jewel with the goal of reviving Contratto to its former glory. Today, a UNESCO World Heritage site, Contratto produces traditional method sparkling wine and selected spirits that we are proud to represent.
THE STORY BEHIND LA SPINETTA:
The Rivetti family story began in the 1890s when Giovanni Rivetti, grandfather to brothers Carlo, Bruno and Giorgio, left Piedmont for Argentina. Like many Italians at that time, he dreamed of returning rich and a powerful man, and perhaps even one day having the opportunity to make a great wine in his homeland. Though Giovanni never did, his son, Giuseppe (nicknamed “Pin”), fulfilled the dream. Pin married Lidia, purchased vineyards, and began to make wine. In 1977 the family took up residence at LA SPINETTA (meaning “top of the hill”) in Castagnole Lanze, located in the heart of the area well-known for Moscato d’Asti, a rather light and simple dessert wine at the time. The Rivetti’s believed, however, that Moscato had the potential for greatness and set out to prove it by producing the region’s first single-vineyard Moscato wines, Bricco Quaglia and Biancospino.
Over time, the family’s vision became even grander, and in 1985 LA SPINETTA made its first red wine, Barbera Cà di Pian, with many great reds to follow. In 1989 the Rivetti brothers named their red blend (Nebbiolo/Barbera) “Pin” in honor of their father. The first Barbaresco, Gallina, was produced in 1995 followed by Barbarescos Starderi, Barbera d’Alba Gallina in 1996 and and Barbaresco Valeirano in 1997. Barbera d’Asti Superiore entered the lineup in 1998.
In 2000 the family’s ambition of adding a Barolo to the winery production became a reality. The Rivetti’s acquired vineyards in Grinzane Cavour where a state of the art cellar, LA SPINETTA Campè, was also constructed.
In 2001 LA SPINETTA expanded beyond the borders of Piedmont, acquiring 65 hectares (160 acres) of vineyards in Tuscany, between Pisa and Volterra, where three different 100% Sangiovese wines are produced. For LA SPINETTA Sangiovese is the true ambassador of the Tuscan terrain. From 2004 to 2012 the indigenous Tuscan portfolio was completed with the production of a Colorino, a Vermentino, a Prugnolo Gentile, a Chianti and a Rosé wine made from Sangiovese and Prugnolo Gentile.
In 2011 LA SPINETTA yet adds another winery to the exisiting thrre and purchases Italy’s oldest Metodo Classico sparkling wine producer, CONTRATTO, in Canelli, Piedmont. The exquisite bubbles of CONTRATTO as well as the Vermouths and Bitter make LA SPINETTA’s already large wine portfolio complete
“Giorgio Rivetti, owner and winemaker of La Spinetta in Barbaresco, has become one of the leading forces in Piedmont. He’s making exciting ripe, fruit-forward Nebbiolos that would give many highly rated New World wines a run for their money. Now he’s making waves in Barolo….Rivetti is first and foremost a winemaker—one of the best and most innovative winemakers in Piedmont today. But he is also in tune with today’s consumer, whom he believes shares his preference for wines that are more approachable on release.”
— The Wine Spectator
What’s with the Rhino?
This is undoubtedly the question we get asked most often. This unique animal adorning our bottles catches people’s attention, but quite frankly there is no real connection between this animal and LA SPINETTA. The unspectacular truth is that Giorgio Rivetti has always been a great admirer of this celebrated drawing and woodcut by the German artist Albrecht Dürer, and therefore decided to depict the image on the labels of LA SPINETTA’s wines.
Although there is no LA SPINETTA rhino story, there is certainly a great story behind this particular rhino, which is perhaps why Giorgio fell in love with this artwork.
The drawing records the arrival of an Indian rhinoceros in Lisbon, Portugal in 1515. It was the first animal of its kind to be seen in Europe. As a gift from the governor of Portuguese India to the king of Portugal, a fight between a rhino and an elephant was arranged. The story goes that the elephant turned and fled.
A description of this magnificent rhinoceros soon reached Germany, presumably through sketches, from which Dürer prepared this drawing and woodcut without ever having actually seen the animal in real life.
So convincing was Dürer’s fanciful creation that for the next 300 years European illustrators borrowed from his work, even after they had seen living rhinos without the plates and scales depicted in Dürer’s drawing.
Inspired by the artistic talent of Dürer, we also chose one of his pencil drawings, the lion, to grace the label of our first Barolo Campè. As Barolo is generally known as the king of Italian reds, we thought that a representation of the king of all animals made for an ideal match.
Light golden color. Sliced-pear, lilac and apple character on the nose. Beautiful length and refinement yet wonderful dense palate and plenty of fruit and structure, the mineral finish is proof of the approximaty to the Mediterranean Sea.
Vermentino, an Italian white grape, is a wonderfully versatile grape. If you have never enjoyed a Vermentino, you should. Vermentino is produced throughout select regions of Italy. However in Tuscany, it takes on a wonderful and unique quality.
Elegant on the palate, La Spinetta’s Vermentino is light golden in color with a rich bouquet and complex aromas of citrus, rosemary and pine. You can almost smell the coastal water influence in the glass. The aromas are so inviting it draws you in brimming with fruit and floral notes adding minerals at the end. Medium-bodied, the wine’s core reveals notes of fresh apricot and white peach, which are supported by crisp acidity and a long finish.
90 POINTS- James Suckling
PIN MONFERRARTO ROSSO
Something truly unique: A SUPER PIEDMONT! A blend of the two most important regional grape varieties.
Dark red in color. Luscious and complex aromas of plum, red cherry and raspberry. Gentle mint flavor, silky texture and persistent finish, but very elegant. Should last up to 25 year
“(a 65/35 blend of nebbiolo and barbera, aged in one-third new barriques, down from nearly 100% prior to 2009): Good bright red-ruby. Currant, mocha and dark chocolate on the moderately oaky nose. Densely packed and sweet, with terrific acid spine giving energy and balance to the mid-palate. Dark berry, mineral and dark chocolate flavors offer impressive concentration. Finishes lively and long, with a light touch. A very successful blend of nebbiolo fruit and barbera acidity.”
The wine has a deep red color, with a bouquet which is complex and gently spiced, with white truffle and herb aromas. On the palate, the wine is well structured, with fine tannins, yet with plenty of fruit, smoke and earth notes.
This opens with aromas suggesting new oak, new leather, coconut, dried herb and a whiff of underbrush. The assertive palate shows oak, licorice, a green note of powdered sage and the barest hint of dried sour cherry. Grainy wood-driven tannins lead to a raspy finish.
91 POINTS Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate The 2006 Barbaresco Vigneto Valeirano is another exuberant wine. Here, too, the aromatics literally jump out of the glass, as layers of perfumed super-ripe fruit are intermingled with a persistent vein of minerality. The powerful, focused Valeirano offers outstanding balance, but needs a few years in bottle for the tannins to melt away
Dense red color. Rose petal, mint, anise and sweet red berries on the nose. A striking, nuanced Barbaresco loaded with class, personality and perfume, the style is pliant and expressive throughout, with a lovely balance of classic tannins and sweet berry fruit.
94 POINTS James Suckling Crazy aromas of Indian spices and fresh herbs with an undertone of ripe plums. Full body, round tannins and rich, delicious palate. Shows so much beauty and length. Needs two or three years to soften, but already decadent and seductive
93 POINTS Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate The 2012 Barbaresco Gallina Vürsù is a gorgeous expression that marches to the beat of its own drum (as do all of Giorgio Rivetti’s fascinating wines). The wine delivers intensity, density and freshness in equal measure throughout its balanced presentation. The perfumed bouquet offers dark fruit and dried cherry with subtle touches of cinnamon and dark cola in a background role.
This passito from 100% Moscato grapes — the same used in Spinetta’s renowned sparkling Moscato d’Asti — ferments and ages 2 years in new barriques. It then spends up to 4 years in the bottle before release to become this dense dessert wine, with ripe notes of apricot, lime flower, hazelnut and orange rind. This spectacular wine deserves the name “Passito d’Oro”, or “Golden” Passito.
This super-rich and intensely complex sweet wine bears almost zero resemblance to the fresh and relatively simple style of typical, effervescent Moscato from Piedmont. It is the brainchild of winemaker Giorgio Rivetti’s son, and it would never have been produced if it weren’t for the precocious young man’s determination.
Oro has a truly spectacular, star-bright, amber-gold color. Its viscous, glass-coating character is indicative of a concentrated sweet wine. Aromas are opulent, tropical and wrought with distinct notes of orange blossom (the hallmark of the Moscato grape), apricot and honey. Rich concentration and sweetness on the palate is matched by mouthwatering acidity – a trait that is hard to come by in Moscato.Back in 1998, the first vintage of the Passito, Andrea Rivetti convinced his father to let some fruit – previously destined for the typical sparkling style – hang on the vines much later than usual as an experiment. The results were so impressive that Giorgio has continued to make the wine in any vintage that delivers favorable weather.
This is a serious, age-worthy sweet wine that holds its own next to Sauternes, Tokaji or Port. Try one of the bottles in this set with some salty cheese and the other on its own, at the end of a meal.
95 POINTS- INTERNATIONAL WINE REPORT