Join us on Thursday March 5 at 6:30 when we go back in time to taste the “WORLD’S OLDEST WINES”. This will be our first wine dinner of the new year, and will feature five wines paired with a five-course menu.
What does World’s Oldest Wines really mean? We know that the first wines were made either in the old Soviet republic of Georgia or in Armenia around 4100 BC. (Visit the Armenian Library next to Stellina for more information) But in this case we’re going back to the northern Mediterranean to follow the Greco-Roman growers and adventurers who made popular the world’s first international wine grapes. While some of these varietals have gone on to great acclaim, others are only now being rediscovered by the public, and are beginning to receive the attention they deserve.
We’ll travel to the south of Italy to taste an Aglianico from Basilicata. Then up to Cortona in Tuscany to taste an unusual Syrah, a relative of the grapes that the Romans brought to southern France. Then over to Sicily for a classic Greek-style grape, the Nero D’Avola.
Then it’s back down the the south for a Primitivo (the predecessor of Zinfandel) from Apulia. And finally something really unusual: a “lost wine” made with the rare grape Nascetta, an aromatic white wine from Piedmont, the land most famous for its reds.
Read the story of Aglianico, as told in this Huffpost blog of 2016 by historian and writer Joseph V Micallef:
Aglianico: The World’s Oldest Cultivated Grape is Italy’s Unknown Wine Treasure
“Among Italy’s most remarkable wine offerings is a little known grape called Aglianico (pronounced ah-l’yee-an-nee-koh). This is an ancient grape whose origins are still buried in the recesses of antiquity. First cultivated in Greece, it was brought by Greek settlers to ancient Cumae in southern Italy around 800 BC. Its name is likely a corruption of the Latin term Vitis hellenica or “Greek vine.” Until the 15th century it was referred to as Ellenico – the local term for Greek.
Aglianico was possibly the principal grape variety in the Roman world’s most expensive wine, Falernian.
The Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder described wines made from Aglianico as among the greatest in antiquity.
Dennis Dubourdieu, a Bordeaux winemaker and a professor of oenology at the University of Bordeaux, has described Aglianico as “probably the grape with the longest consumer history of all.”
We will taste five of THE WORLD’S OLDEST WINES paired with a five-course menu. Cost for this dinner is $65 per person, including all food and wine. RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED! Please call Stellina in person at 617-924-9475 to insure prompt confirmation.
RE MANFREDI AGLIANICO DEL VULTURE
Re Manfredi is located in Venosa, in northern Basilicata. Basilicata is located in the “instep” of the boot in the south of Italy bor¬dered by Campania to the west and Puglia to the east. This is a region of relatively little wine, but when the right climate manages to combine with perfect soil, the resulting wines can be of a truly outstanding quality. In particular, the nearby Mount Vulture volcano, extinct since antiquity, dominates the plateau rising to a height of 4,300 ft. Its lava mixed with the soil rich in clay, calcium, nitrogen and tuff, creates a ‘volcanic’ terroir that is rare in Europe’s winemaking panorama. The component of volcanic origin gives the wine a particular minerality and flavor.
The Re Manfredi estate was founded in 1998 and has been managed by the Montrone Family since. The 271-acre estate is run with an unswerving focus on quality. It is perfectly situated on the slopes of Monte Vulture, an ancient extinct volcano, which rises tall over the Apennines mountain range. Here, plentiful sunshine, parched, hilly vineyards at fairly high elevation and volcanic soils found on Monte Vulture all combine to form ideal growing conditions in the Aglianico del Vulture DOC. The estate vineyards are located in an entire plot at the lower elevations of the volcano’s base and a unique single vineyard of 50-acres is located on the steep slopes of the Vulture Volcano. 80% of the land is dedicated to the indigenous Aglianico, with smaller amounts of the white Müller Thurgau and Traminer. This benchmark Aglianico producer has earned numerous Tre Biccheri awards, one of Italy’s most respected wine honors.
Terroir: The Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture is sourced from 128 acres of estate vineyards located on the lower elevations (1200ft) of an extinct volcano. Vines average 30 years and are planted at a dense ration of 3000 vines per acre, and are raised using the guyot and cordon pruning methods.
Vinification: Grapes are manually harvested upon full ripeness beginning in mid-October. Fermentation takes place in neutral vats over a period of 15-20 days with daily pumping over of the must. Upon completion the young wines are racked and aged for 12 months in French barrique. Barrels range from 1-5 years old. 40,000 bottles produced.
Re Manfredi Aglianico del Vulture has been awarded the prestigious Tre Bicchieri award from Gambero Rosso for vintages 1999, 2005, 2010, 2011.
“When you put your nose into a glass of the Re Manfredi 2016 Aglianico del Vulture you might imagine that you are grabbing a fistful of volcanic earth and lava dust. This pretty wine is extremely rooted in its territory and in a sense of place, virtually transporting you to the Vulture crater. Black fruit, spice, tar and licorice root come up at the back. The mouthfeel offers power but a medium build overall. There’s no mistaking this wine for anything other than an Aglianico del Vulture.”
From The Wine Advocate Author: Monica Larner
Date: Thursday, October 10, 2019
LA BRACCESCA “ACHELO” SYRAH
Achelo is a full flavored and delicate wine produced entirely with Syrah grapes to honor the historic and cultural importance of Cortona’s territory. The wine’s name was inspired by the Etruscan divinity Achelo, who appears on one of the most important Etruscan artifacts in the museum in Cortona, Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca.
Tenuta La Braccesca
The estate’s name comes from the historical farm that once stood there, owned by the Count of Bracci, whose coat of arms appears on the estate’s logo: an arm covered with armor brandishing a sword. Marchesi Antinori acquired the estate in 1990. The property extends over an area of 508 hectares (1255 acres) and the vineyards cover an area of 340 hectares (840 acres) divided into two blocks: the first is 366 hectares (904 acres) of which 237 (585 acres) are planted with vineyards and is located on the border between the cities of Montepulciano and Cortona. The other block is 142 hectares (350 acres) of which 103 (254 acres) are planted with vineyards, it extends all the way to Montepulciano encompassing three of the most famous parcels of land known for the production of great red wines: Cervognano, Santa Pia and Gracciano.
DON ANTONIO NERO D’AVOLA RISERVA
Although the Morgante family has been growing quality grapes for nearly 40 years in Sicily, the production and sale of wine under their own label is a relatively recent venture. However, Don Antonio, named after the estate’s owner, was an immediate success in the market. This hearty red is made from the finest Nero d’Avola grapes grown in the estate’s oldest vineyard.
The pursuit of excellence has always been the philosophy of the Morgante family, situated in Grotte, a small town in the province of Agrigento, found about 21 kilometres from the coast and the Valley of the Temples. The various vines are scattered among a charming landscape interspersed with natural hills and small valleys placed at different altitudes varying from 350 to 550 meters above sea level.
The Nero d’Avola Don Antonio is a prized red wine and the most fitting and emblematic example pf this grape variety: it took years of sacrifice, work and sweat to honor the name of Sicily, respecting the territory and enhancing its peculiarities. A difficult area due to the climate, scorched by the sun and poor in water, to be worked with the hands, with sweat, but a territory capable of giving splendid wines, such as this one: unique structure, magnificently integrated with the final tannin, absolutely pleasant and soft.
Deep ruby red color, with deep violet flashes. Its strength and complexity immediately stand out at the nose. Blackberry and cherry notes balanced with vanilla scent. Soon there are tobacco aromas, and towards the end balsamic notes, and elegant vegetal notes. Fruity taste, intense, elegant tannins and freshness. Very long at the palate.Match with tasty red meat and medium and long aged cheeses. Pour into a wide crystal glass.
TORMARESCA TORCICODA PRIMITIVO
Tormaresca. A Tale of populations and traditions in the heart of Apulia.
Viticulture in Apulia is history and at the same time innovation. The Tormaresca estate is the expression of these two spirits. Character, personality and the potential for high quality are the characteristics that the Apulian territory imparts to all varieties grown here, indigenous or not. The Antinori family started investing in the area in 1998 as they believed that this is one of the most promising regions in Italy for producing top quality wines with a strong territorial identity. Tormaresca has two estates located in the best-known areas for the production of high quality wines: The Bocca di Lupo Estate in the heart of the Castel Del Monte DOC appellation; and Masseria Maime in one of the most beautiful areas of Upper Salento.
A modern style Primitivo that was aged in French and Hungarian barrels for 10 months, then the wine was rested for another half a year in the bottle. Intense and rich aromas of sour cherry, raspberry, cherry, plum and amazing barrel spices. Ripe yet lively, thick and juicy palate with a long, fruity finish.
_____________________________________________________________________________________ELVIO COGNO ANAS- CETTA NASCETTA
del Comune di Novello DOC “Anas-Cëtta”
Area: 2 hectares
Grape variety: Nascetta (native Novello white grape variety) Density: 4,000 vines per hectare
Cultivation: vertical trellised, Guyot pruning
Average altitude: 350 m above sea level
Harvest period: end of September
Wine making: in stainless steel – temperature controlled Aging: 6 months in stainless steel
Lysis: 180 days
Bottle aging: 3 months
Straw-yellow in color with golden highlights. The nose is fine and elegant with just the right intensity. It exudes complex, lingering scents of wild flowers, herbs, citrus, and exotic fruits. The bouquet suggests acacia honey, sage, and rosemary. Its pleasant, warm, and balanced structure makes it ideal as an accompaniment to vegetable dishes, white meats, fish, and soft, fresh cheeses.
Serving temperature 10-12°C.
- Anas-Cëtta is an invented name that was used initially because the wine was not a DOC. (In Italy it is not possible to use the varietal name if the wine is not DOC.) That changed in 2010, when Nascetta of Novello gained DOC status. Since the first limited production in 1994, the Elvio Cogno winery has drawn upon the knowledge of the old-timers in Novello to make a wine for the youth of today.
Anas-Cëtta is a historical wine of the township of Novello. Since the first limited production made in 1994, working with tenacity and love for the land of the Langhe, the Elvio Cogno winery has used the memories of old-timers in Novello to produce a wine for the youngsters of the 21st century.
Mentioned in winemaking documents as early as the second half of the 19th century, this white wine with Mediterranean origins has a sapidity reminiscent of the great hot-climate varieties such as Vermentino (from which, according to some ampelographic studies, it may derive
An enological discovery that wants to become the great white of the Langhe
The most unusual and even most typical native variety of Novello, yet perhaps least-known, is not Barolo, as many believe; it is Nascetta, a white Piedmontese variety that emerges from a troubled, though fascinating, past. For a long time, this was a forgotten wine, made from just a few, meager rows of vineyard. It nearly went the way of extinction. It was a true enological discovery, its lost fate saved only by the foresight of several producers, including Elvio Cogno.
A noble past
The first documents that record the presence of Nascetta, known also as “Nas-cetta” and “Anascetta”, tell of an extraordinary wine. In 1877, the scholar Giuseppe of the Counts of Rovasendalo defined Nascetta as “a very delicate grape and exquisite wine” in his Saga of a Universal Viticulture (Saggio di un’ampelografia universale). The viticulturist Lorenzo Fantini also mentioned “Anascetta” in 1895, comparing it to the fineness of Moscato. His colleague Giovanni Gagna coined today’s name “Nascetta,” saying “it should to be used together with Moscato bianco and Favorita.”
These initial mentions reveal a curious fact: once, Nascetta was made into a sweet wine and appreciated as an aromatic variety in blends with other white Piedmontese grapes. Even oral tradition confirms this in Novello, long considered the best area for producing this variety: Nascetta was used as a wine for Mass, a sweet wine made from slightly dried grapes, and able to withstand time.
The Nascetta vine is, by nature, delicate and unstable. It is difficult to cultivate and unpredictable in yield, going from abundant to sparse production. Over the course of the 20th century, more productive varieties and, most of all, nebbiolo for making Barolo were favored over nascetta until this variety almost completely disappeared. Its cultivation was not entirely abandoned, but the variety survived in the meager lines of vines, interspersed with other varieties, maintained mostly out of affection than for serious wine making.
Like a sauternes
Fortune favors the bold. In 1993, Elvio Cogno and Valter Fissore, together with other producers from Novello, accepted an unusual invitation. In the presence of the journalist Armando Gambera, they uncorked a few bottles of Nascetta from 1986.
It was love at first sip. “The Nascetta astounded everyone for its fine and elegant profile. Notwithstanding the years, it had evolved towards passito notes and resisted oxidation,” says Valter Fissore. “It was completely unique, and almost resembled a Sauternes. It was a white wine without equal in the Langhe.”
After this legendary tasting, Elvio Cogno and Valter Fissore were convinced that Nascetta was destined for a great future. Experimentations began immediately: in 1994, he helped with the first harvest. Not one vineyard cultivated with 100% nascetta remained, and so the grapes had to be cherry-picked from among the vineyards throughout Novello. The producers had to study grape bunch after grape bunch, recognizing their variety among the others like artifacts in an archeological excavation. From this harvest came the first production of 800 bottles of Anas-Cetta by Elvio Cogno, one of its first labels on the market. It was a “clandestine” wine, without classification, much less with officially defined characteristics for its commercialization.
The work of Elvio Cogno and the producers of Novello primarily brought about important results, stimulating research, fostering recognition, and most of all, distinguishing itself for high quality.
In 2002, Nascetta became a DOC “Langhe” wine. In 2010, it obtained the most prestigious recognition of its own appellation, “Langhe Nas-cetta of the Township of Novello,” whose production is only authorized within the confines of the township of Novello and using 100% Nascetta.
A versatile wine
Today, Nascetta is recognized as one of the great white wines of the Langhe. About 20 hectares of vineyards are cultivated with the variety for a yield of 55 quintals. The variety has grown over the confines of Novello, though it remains at its purest and best expression in its designated appellation.
The principle characteristics of this wine are its versatility and adaptability to different wine making styles. Whether in stainless steel or wood, the variety maintains its typical characteristics and is capable of expressing its territory, while allowing the producer to leave his or her signature.
Anas-Cetta by Elvio Cogno is distinguished for its brilliant gold color, fruit of an attentive extraction. On the nose, it has notes of citrus and exotic fruits, while on the palate it reaches a notable savoriness with hints of sage and rosemary. It is ready to drink but can withstand aging, providing the excitement of a great white made in a land of red wines.