Tag Archives: Bastianich

All About Aragone

ImageLa Mozza was founded in 2000 after our esteemed consultant and agronomist, Maurizio Castelli was informed by his talented winemaker son Simone (owner and winemaker at Podere 414) that there was a lovely vineyard for sale just over the hill from his own…Image

Morellino di Scansano was the first logical step, but a flagship wine was in order. The idea of a “Super-Tuscan” was obvious, but the approach needed to be different.

The area of the Maremma is much hotter and drier than the central part of Tuscany where haunting mists cling to the vineyards in the mornings. Maremma has a more Mediterranean climate, so rather than fall into the usual “Sangiovese + (Bordeaux) = SuperTuscan” formula, Maurizio looked at grape varieties that thrive in hot, dry climates. Maurizio explained that the culture of winemaking had disappeared in this area after the Etruscans disappeared, until the Spanish revived it there 400 years ago. So the idea of a “Super-Mediterranean” was born: 40% Sangiovese holds down the fort for Tuscany, with 25% of Syrah representing southern France, 25% of Alicante connecting with Spain, and a dash of 10% Carignan to represent Sardinia.

The result is a ripe red with body and structure that doesn’t come off jammy or cloying… Spicy and earthy and brooding… Velvety tannins, supple acidity and plenty of complexity that never tires out the palate.

And the goodness doesn’t stop there… Just last week we had the biggest Aragone competitive tasting EVER here at the winery in Friuli..

Image(L to R: Gabriele Gadenz, Winemaker La Mozza – Emilio Del Medico, winemaker Bastianich – Maurizio Castelli, superconsultant)

We BLIND-TASTED 2 vintages of Aragone against some of the heaviest hitters in all of Tuscany (Tignanello, Paleo, Ca’ Marcanda (Gaja), Grattamacco, Saffredi to name just a few!) and we noticed a couple of things:

–We could have stayed there tasting for hours. Maurizio commented that for these wines at this level and seeing how the wines developed in the glass over time, we SHOULD have spent another THREE HOURS examining these wines.

–All of these wines were very good. The general level of quality was quite high and the difference between the best and the worst was not very large.

–The key to success in this category is over-delivering on price… And for that, Aragone won hands down.

Everyone’s notes rated Aragone 2007 or 2008 in the top 4 or 5 wines. But then factor in price and we could only conclude that in terms of absolute quality, the ROI on spending 2 or 3 or 5 TIMES the money for one of those big names just isn’t worth it. Aragone was the best way to get a great “Super-Tuscan experience” without spending tons of $$$.

We liked that.


Good times with PLUS in Switzerland.




Last week I was working the market(s) in Switzerland with two sales agents from Meregalli, our distributor there. First thing that struck me (after I snapped out of my trance at how beautiful the place was) was the vast area that the guys had to cover. My first day consisted of visits in Lucern, Zurich and Bern. Very hardcore!

The next two days were visits in the Ticino area, further south and closer to the Italian border. This area is simply stunning with various lakes that lie in the parallel valleys surrounded by spectacular mountains with incredible lake views (and really tiny, steep roads).

One of the stops was particularly memorable for the food. Locanda Orico is in the center of Bellinzona, surrounded by awesome castles. Chef/Owner Lorenzo Albrici was nice enough to come out after lunch and taste wines with us…

Image(Above, Dario, Chef Albrici and Saverio @ Locanda Orico)

By chance I had mentioned how much I loved the Bastianich PLUS with Foie Gras… Chef Albrici jumped up and went to the kitchen, returning with a fresh plate of Foie…

Image(That’s our man Maurizio lunging for another taste of PLUS with his Foie Gras…)

It was really a magic moment to see people get as excited as I do about the wines and about a great pairing. Plus is such a special wine, unlike anything else you find in Friuli… Super-concentrated (Tocai) Friulano grapes from 60-year-old vines, 10% of which are dried for about a month to concentrate them EVEN more…


Vinification done in stainless steel to let the grapes do all the talking and let the majestic power of this wine show without interference from wood. It’s a little gem we make here, just 6000 bottles or so. 

Old-vine Friulano is rare because usually Friulano is a fresh and relatively inexpensive daily drink… When the vines get past 30 or 35 years-old they start producing less fruit, making the resulting wine more expensive, but the concentration is so intense! It’s a shame that only a handful of producers in Friuli make an old-vine Friulano. 

Foie Gras is only one of the great pairings with Plus, it’s intensity and body works great with spicy dishes (I remember a stewed octopus with pepperoncino in Croatia that was AWESOME with Plus) like Thai or Indian but it’s also a wonder with Shellfish (lobster and scampi come to mind) because of the slight sweetness echoing between the wine and the fish…

OK, now I’m hungry… 



Snowy Day in Friuli

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

Some chunks of ponca under snow…

The terraces behind the winery…

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!


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


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!

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!


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

(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!

European Wine Bloggers Conference (and WiseQueen) @ Bastianich!

Last week I had the pleasure of attending my second European Wine Bloggers Conference (ewbc) in Brescia. Two days of great talks and seminars, tastings and dinners with wines from Franciacorta to Chile, and LOTS of camaraderie between bloggers from 34 different nations!

As usual, there was a serie of post-trips, and one of them came to Friuli for 3 days to experience what makes this place so special for producing world-class wines. Day 3 of that tour brought the group to the Bastianich vineyards in Buttrio/Premariacco and then for a quick tasting of 4 wines (’09 Adriatico Friulano, ’09 Vespa Bianco, ’07 Plus and ’07 Calabrone) at the winery…


I truly appreciated the time and attention everyone paid to me while I told a little bit of our story here…


I’d like to personally thank all the great people I met and hung out with at the conference and those nice enough to come and visit us at Bastianich. I wish I had the time and the energy to list your names here, but you are all on the EWBC list on Facebook, and if I remember you, I have “friended” you there…

Also, on Sunday, I drove, hungover and somewhat tired, from Brescia with my dear friend and blogger Sabina Maffei (If you read Italian, please read Sabina’s brilliant blog HERE) and another well-known blogger, Donna Jackson aka “WiseQueen”. Donna was slated to come on the Friuli trip, but realized she had schedule conflicts at the last minute. She asked if we could do Sunday, and even though I was NOT in TipTop shape, I managed to get her here and give her a taste of Friuli, first at Buttrio’s Trattoria Al Parco (where we were treated to a full tasting of Meroi wines), and then on to the cantina in Cividale…

(Wisequeen and I tasting Vespa Bianco and Plus at the Foresteria)

At Valentino Butussi, I was really starting to fade fast. My Red Bull had worn off and all I could think about was sleeping. But we tasted a couple wines instead…


Filippo (whose blog you can read HERE) took Donna out to dinner as I retreated home…

Photographing the photographer – vInception?

Woke up in the dark this morning to meet Daniele Borghello, pro Photographer, at our Buttrio vineyard for a sunrise shoot. The weather has been astounding recently, and it has been a fantastic vintage so far (more details to come). Today did not disappoint, although Daniele did complain of a little bit of foschia (haziness, light fog) that made the morning light more yellow than red.

Now, I’ll admit (and you may have guessed) that I’m horribly jealous of great photographers who really know how to use those “big clicky cameras”, as my friend Samantha calls them. Someday I’ll get me one of those big clilcky cameras and take some good pictures… For now I entertain myself trying to snap a couple shots here and there, and I thought it would be interesting to take pictures of someone taking pictures… Like the movie “Inception”, but with vineyard photos… vInception!


The sun came up and revealed a gorgeous morning, lighting the vineyards in Buttrio in a way I haven’t seen since I worked the ’02 vintage. I managed to pop off a couple of my own before heading home to shower and properly dress for the office. Daniele stuck around to watch the pickers do their thing and get some poetic shots of the old Tocai Friulano vines in the “Plus” vineyard… Something I have not managed to capture with my small, non-clicky camera.

I’m sure Daniele’s photos will be stunning, but in the meantime, I’ll hit you with my best shot…


Vinography’s Alder Yarrow reviews Adriatico!

Alder Yarrow’s Vinography blog is certainly one of the most popular and best-written wine blogs on the internet, bar NONE. So how happy are we that Mr. Yarrow has taken the time to write a great post about the Adriatico line of wines from Bastianich.

I particularly like how complete and well-researched the post is. There is plenty of info there that he didn’t get from a press release, showing a dimension of care and accuracy in his writing. Bravo! and thanks for the blog-love!