Snowy Day in Friuli

We had our first significant snowfall last night here in Friuli. Lovely to look at, but tough for driving…

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Some chunks of ponca under snow…

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The terraces behind the winery…

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We got about 5 or 6 cm (3 inches) but its slushy and slippery now… Windy too… Best to stay inside and warm up with a glass of Calabrone!

Looking Forward, Looking back…

Buon Anno Nuovo friends! Welcome to the new BUZZ… the Official blog of the Bastianich and La Mozza wineries!

We are working to improve the look and the effectiveness of the blog in some ways you can see and some ways you can’t. We are migrating to a new host, new design, and plenty of features “under the hood” that will make it better…

But really, what could make a blog better than creating content?

Well, that’s changing too. The blog is no longer a one-man show (yours truly), but I have some very capable help from Julia Segal in New York who will keep me on time with posts (we have already started filling in an editorial calendar! *gasp*) She will also be contributing on a regular basis, (she has her own excellent blog here) So look for posts about the wineries but also about other wine related stuff…

Lastly we are working on guest posts from Joe and Lidia Bastianich, winemakers and other folks connected with the winery. I know I’m excited!

A Brief recap of 2012…

From a winery perspective, 2012 was a great year. The harvest was very good this year, with the biggest problem being heat and lack of rainfall that lowered yields by 25% and shrivelled a lot of berries. Concentration and ripeness were great though, and early tastings point to some really dense and intense wines. The sorting table was an important addition to the cellar and we look forward to seeing it’s effect on quality.

From a sales perspective, we had a fantastic year in Italy in general, Friuli in particular and we opened more international markets in 2012 than in any other calendar year ever! The US market is always our best and we continue to see growth overall in the States.

We also had a proud moment when Vespa Bianco was voted the best Italian Superpremium white wine in Snooth.com’s “Peoples Voice Awards”… News so exciting it was covered in Italy!

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The single most exciting addition of 2012 was the opening of the tasting room at the winery in Gagliano…

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You can look out to neighbouring  vineyards through the 15-foot glass entrance. It has two Enomatic wine dispensing machines, a serious temperature controlled wine room and a bar complete with a fridge, drawers, glasses and everything –  I’m like a kid in a candy shop! It’s what I’ve personally wanted for the winery for years, and a great way to taste wine and meet folks who come to the winery. And with Joe’s success on the USA and Italian MasterChef TV shows, more and more people are coming every day.

All in all, I can’t complain about 2012. The new year brings possibilities for showing the Bastianich wines in such exotic places as Istanbul, Moscow and the Turks and Caicos Islands!

Finally (and possibly most exciting of all) will be the release this spring of the 2011 vintage of Vespa Bianco. Why am I so excited about the release of a new vintage? I’ve been tasting the elements and the progression of the 2011 Vespa for more than a year now and every time I try it, I get goosebumps. It’s that friggin’ good. I’m looking forward to showing the wine at the new and improved 4-day VinItaly in April just to see if everyone else is as enthusiastic about it as I am. Quite possibly the greatest Vespa EVER.

Buon Proseguimento!

Vespa Bianco gets a mandate from The People’s Voice and Reverse Wine Snob!

6a00e553ed63f08834017d3e3839fa970cJust a few days ago Snooth.com announced the winners in their “Peoples Voice Awards” and Vespa Bianco WON in the Super-Premium Italian white wine category. Very exciting! The memebers of Snooth (and there are many) chose us over the likes of Jermann, Villa Russiz, Paolo Bea and Cantina Terlaner.

This news was SO exciting that it even got picked up but the Italian Newsletter “Prima di WineNews” where the wine was featured prominently. (The link downloads a small pdf of the newsletter.)

Finally, rounding out a very nice week for Vespa Bianco, blogger Jon Thorsen of the popular Reverse Wine Snob blog named Vespa Bianco in his “Saturday Splurge” where once a week he recommends a wine thats OVER $20 retail. What’s even cooler? Saturday was my BIRTHDAY! What a cool present!

I like to think of these accolades from Snooth and Jon Thorsen as a mandate from the people. A message to strive and move forward, pushing the limits of quality and progress. Can we make a better Vespa Bianco? Yes, we can! And we will do so every year until Joe Bastianich’s goal of Vespa Bianco becoming Itay’s BEST white wine is realized. For now, the people have spoken, and they have chosen Vespa Bianco!

Thanks to all who helped and voted at Snooth and to Jon Thorsen for the kind words!

Vendemmia 2012 has begun!

After a very hot and dry Summer, the 2012 harvest has begun here at Bastianich! THe whites have been coming in beautifully clean and ripe, but the dry season has thickened the skins and reduced the yields. That means less juice from the berries (and the possibility for some very structured reds!) but really great quality.

Low quantity, high quality… guess you cant have everything!

Another big addition to the process this year is our brand-new SORTING TABLE!

 

This is some fantastic Chardonnay coming in and going down the sorting table. All the imperfect bunches are removed, and cleaned (if possible) or eliminated. Ther are usually at least 2 people at the table making sure the grape are perfect and ONLY grapes go into the press (leaves and other “MOG” – material other than grapes – are removed).

The quality here is really good, but we are always pushing to see if we can ger even BETTER…

Gwen and Roger Pratesi from Bunkycooks blog in Friuli!

6a00e553ed63f088340176175c17ca970c-800wiWell, Welcome me back after a lovely, but too short, vacation in Istria! I wanted to Immediately bring everyone’s attention to the first in a series of blog posts by Gwen and Roger Pratesi at BUNKYCOOKS.COM.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending a lot of time with Roger and Gwen here in Friuli and am really honored by their mention on their James Beard Award-Nominated blog. It’s always a blast showing folks around Friuli, my adopted home, and introduce them to the food and wines and people of this area.

Rarely, though, does a writer manage to transmit the soul of a place a well as Gwen has in this first post. I hope you’ll all go check it out HERE and stay tuned for more from Gwen and Roger about their Friuli tour… Next up I believe is Roger’s take on the wines of Bastianich, as well as Moschioni and Ronchi di Cialla.. Don’t miss it!

THANK YOU SO MUCH GWEN AND ROGER!

Joe Bastianich @ Meregalli HQ, Monza.

On June 19th, I had the pleasure of attending a special event at the offices of our Italian distributor, Meregalli, featuring Joe Bastianich. Joe presented his new book, “Restaurant Man” along with the full spectrum of wines we produce.

From the very beginning of the winery in 1998, Joe and Lidia have always been concerned about reaching the Italian market. Meregalli and Bastianich have been working together for about 2 and a half years, and things keep on improving every year. It has been a great fit between producer and distributor, and the growth of the Bastianich wines with the Italian peninsula continues.

Here are some pics from the very well-organized event: JB_Meregallis

L to R: Giuseppe Meregalli, son Marcello Meregalli and Joe Bastianich

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Joe Bastianich addressing the group…

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Specially-commissioned portrait of Joe created in unique media… including salt and 2008 CALABRONE!

The main event was a lunch tasting where each of the wines were paired with a special creation. The most interesting were the combinations with 2008 PLUS, paired with rasted veal and toasted gorgonzola and with 2008 Calabrone, paired with a squab carpaccio with a chocolate sauce (sounds strange, but it was fantastic!)

Congrats and thanks to the whole staff and crew who made this event so special!

Tell me: What makes a wine “Great”?

I had a great discussion with Joe Bastianich a while back and I ased him what he thought made for a Great Wine.

We weren’t talking about the “great bottle of Pinot Grigio” that we had once… That just means “I really enjoyed that bottle of Pinot Grigio.”

I’m talking about “The Great Wines of the World”… that kind of great. Something somehow beyond subjectivity, if that’s possible.

Joe gave me a lovely and very well-thought-out response. It was more than I expected it to be, and it resonated so much with me that I have adopted it as MY definition of Great Wine. I will share it here when I’ve gotten a few responses…

SO HERE IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION: Tell me, What makes a wine “Great”? I really need your comments and feedback below…

Give it to me!

Another New Year… 2012 starts with The Morellino Challenge!

I’m a big fan of New Years… Blank calendars, infinite possibilities, new beginnings, resolutions, all that stuff. I enjoy looking back on the good things, jettisoning the bad things, and I love looking forward to the new… New journeys, new wines, new vintage…

What matters here is my desire (I fear using the word “resolution”) to commit to TWO BLOG POSTS PER MONTH. I think this is a reasonable and attainable resolution and the minimum frequency to honestly and respectably call this a “blog”. I put this out there as a way of self-motivation and the risk of humiliation if I don’t follow through…

So let’s kick off 2012 with what has become an annual event here… The Morellino Challenge!MorellinoChall1

This year we conducted the challenge at the beautiful home of AnnaMaria Cruciata (right, above) and her husband Hugh Maxwell, owners of the Val di Toro winery… And what a place to taste Morellino! MorellinoChall2
Smack-dab in the middle of the gorgeous hills of Maremma…

We had a battery of 16 Morellini to taste blind. In attendance there was Maurizio Castelli, Gabriele Gadenz, Luca Felicioni, Giulio Serafinelli, along with AnnaMaria and Hugh, our gracious hosts. We also had our own Emilio del Medico and Dennis Lepore, with yours truly rounding out the tabel of 9… MorellinoChall3

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(L to R: Emilio, Luca, Gabriele, Giulio, AnnaMaria)

These tastings are important for us because it gives us an idea of where we stand compared to the competition, and if there are any trends in the Morellino world we should know about. For that reason I never show results here, but the 2009 I Perazzi Morellino from La Mozza arrived more or less in the same position as last year’s challenge, but we noticed a trend with some wines to lean toward the sweet and overly oaky. Let’s hope it doesn’t become a trend. Morellino should be fruity and generous, but with good structure and a level of acidity lower than, say , chianti… Making it quaffable and easy for a red, but not insipid.

The wines that did well were mostly well-known producers, which seems to me to indicate that their fame was a result of quality, not marketing or mass production. Ours being one of those that faired well in the scores…

MorellinoChall5Plenty of debate, too.. Here Emilio is explaining something passionately to Maurizio…

This is a format we will repeat for other wines this year, for Aragone, for Vespa Bianco, for Adriatico

Hey! Counting this. that’s 4 out of 24 blog posts right there!

2011 Harvest Overview

It has been a crazy fall/harvest season here at the winery! Apart from a fantastic vintage I’ve been everywhere from New Orleans to Vienna… Merano to Monza… and it ain’t over yet! I’m in Serbia this weekend and Belgium the next!
Travel aside, I came back after an extended tour of the US to have a talk with Emilio about his overall impression of the harvest. He basically said he had never seen a vintage like 2011… The dry, warm August started to dry the fruit on the vine. The 2011 vintage was feared to be a very early one, with picking anticipated for the middle of August, but the lack of water stressed the vines and slowed the ripening process, actually extending the season a little longer. A short burst of rain at the end of August re-activated the vines. Apart from another quick thunderstorm in the middle of September, the season was very dry and warm during the day and cool at night. The lack of humidity ensured super-clean and healthy fruit. The result? Very mature ripeness levels with great acidity and beautiful aromatics.
It’s basically EVERYTHING you could hope for in a vintage! What better than fully mature, healthy grapes with acidity and perfume… Quantity! There was about 20% less production overall, so I guess you really CAN’T have everything.
In Maremma where I Perazzi Morellino and Aragone are made at La Mozza, Gabriele Gadenz reported that the vintage was extremely hot and dry (and continues to be very dry to this day) allowing for a very ripe vintage. Gabriele was happy with the high ripeness levels and beautiful color of the 2011 reds from Maremma, but the lack of acidity might make them a little less age-worthy. Gabriele says he wasn’t worried about this because when folks taste the 2011 La Mozza wines, they won’t want to wait for aging! They’ll be awesome upon release!
All in all good news from our wineries for 2011.