Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Nolet's Silver shows the Floral side of Dry Gin

 Dwight The Wine Doctor with Carl Nolet  Jr., Executive Vice President, Nolet Spirits U.S.A.
                                                          NOLET'S SILVER DRY GIN
                                          A toast with the CLEAN BREAK Nolet's cocktail
    BOKA was the chic setting for the pairing dinner with journalists, sommeliers and beverage industry leaders

                    Nolet's U.S.A. President Bill Eldien (r) with Carl Nolet Jr.

Aromatics are similar to qualities found in wine

By Dwight Casimere
Photos by Peter Wagner for NOLET SPIRITS, U.S.A.

CHICAGO---BOKA, the chic wine-focused restaurant in Chicago’s Lincoln Park, across from Steppenwolf Theatre was the scene of a significant culinary event, the unveiling of NOLET’s Silver Dry Gin. The event featured a rare visit by Carl H.J. Nolet Jr., Executive Vice President, Nolet Spirits, U.S.A. who hosted a dinner pairing NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin with Boka’s unique cuisine.

NOLET’S Silver features a unique combination of botanicals never before used in gin. These botanicals are individually distilled and macerated to give the gin its distinctive floral and fruit-forward flavor and aroma. The distilled beverage can almost be compared to wine, in terms of its flavor complexity and aroma. Premier among the botanicals used is the rare Turkish Rose, also known as the Damask rose, which gives the gin its distinct flavor profile and aroma. Turkish Rose flowers are harvested for rose oil, which is used in perfumery. It has a delicate flavor and a fine fragrance that makes NOLET’S Silver an exquisite drinking experience.

The Boka dinner pairing featured a selection of specially prepared cocktails, featuring NOLET’S Silver Dry. The evening began with the CLEAN BREAK, which featured NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin with Pimm’s Cup No. 1`, Cucumber and Grapefruit Oil with a delicious serving of Black Cod, prepared with pickled cucumber, Sunchoke and Yuka Sauce, with Hericort Vert Cous Cous.

The centerpiece and main course was Juniper Marinated Venison Loin with Temper of the Times cocktail, made with NOLET’S Silver Dry, Orange Blossom water, Blackberry, Mint Syrup and Lime.

The final course and piece de’ resistance was Grapefruit Gin Sorbet, consisting of Rosemary Cake, Burnt Grapefruit Caramel and Summer into Spring cocktail featuring NOLET’S Silver Dry Gin with Raspberry Syrup, Sous Vide Apricot, Lemon and Egg White. The frothy confection served as both a palette cleanser and a fitting sweet finale to a delightful evening of gustatory pleasure!

The affable Carl Nolet gave a brief history of NOLET’S, which is distilled and bottled at Nolet Distillery in Schiedam, Holland. This eleventh generation son, in collaboration with his brother Bob, and father, created the recipe for NOLET’S Silver Carolus St, the tenth generation distillery owner. The recipe for Carolus Sr. The distillation of NOLERT’S Finest Gins also perfected NOKLET’S Reserve for 40 years is a proprietary process that blends tradition with innovation. The closely guarded secret recipes achieve a precise balance that is unique in the world of distilled spirits.

Over the course of the last 321 years, members of the Nolet family have played integral roles in the history of spirits distillation, most famously the introduction of Ketel One ® Vodka to America in 1983. It was a privilege to be in such esteemed company for an evening of rare culinary delight.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Journey to Historic Bersano in the Monferrato of Piedmont, Italy

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

ENIZZA MONFERRATO (ASTI), ITALY—“If you want to drink well, get yourself a vineyard.” Those were the words of Arturo Bersano when he took up the family business of making wine in the 1950’s. Founded by his uncle, Guiseppe Bersano in 1907, the history of Bersano winery is rooted in the early years of the last last century in the Nizza Monferrato Piedmont, in the heart of Barbera d’Asti district, at the dawn of the Industrial Age.
 The territory and vineyards reflect the soul of the grape. Beauty and enchantment surround the estate. Tradition and passion are its bellwethers. One can see tangible evidence of the tradition in the ancient farmer’s tools, including the first farmer’s carts used in the Barbaresco and its first railway locomotive engine and winemaking equipment and  documents dating to the time of Napoleon and beyond. Passion is evident in the marvelous collection of old wine labels, bottles and 19th century Menus, vineyard maps, poster art, publicity materials, paintings and engravings that are on display at the Bersano Museum. Among the masterpieces of the museum is the “Pomona Book,” which is the first complete collection of Italian grape varieties written by Giorgio Gallesio in 1817. It is recognized as the first database of Italian wine.

Erika Abate is the Export Manager for Bersano and its chief ambassador. “Our vineyards are in a land strongly linked to the production of quality wines that are unique and with a strong personality.” Acclaimed winemaker Roberto Morosinotto is the man at the helm of a team of talented winemakers and agronomists whose abilities exemplify the best of human effort to produce bright, approachable classic wines done in the traditional style.

 Gavi di Gavi. The name of the appellation is almost poetic in its sound. So it is also in its execution. The grape varietal is Cortese, unique to the region. Gavi is both the name of the DOC as well as the name of the town. It is considered one of the premiere grapes and wine growing areas of the region. “Good wine starts with good care of the land.  That is the philosophy of Casa Vinicola  Bersano,” according to Abate.
1. GAVI del Comune di Gavi –This is a classic white wine made from the Cortese grape, one of the most important of the dry white wines produced in this area. The wine is rich, with a bright yellow straw color and a fragrant bouquet with hints of pineapple and white peaches and a touch of apricot on the palate. This wine has a long, fruity flavor that fills the mouth and leaves a persistent aftertaste. The wine is produced by cold maceration in stainless steel tanks.  Cortese is considered the most important white grape in the region and this wine is one of its most outstanding expression. Great with shellfish and firm white fish, it is also versatile as an aperitif and with salads and hors d’oeuvres. It’s perfect for a summer lunch or dinner al fresco. Besides its outstanding flavor, one of it’s most laudable attributes is that it sells for only $12-$15 a bottle!
2. “CREMOSINA” Barbera d’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Barbera . The bouquet is quite lovely and dominated by oak, Some say it is a perfect example of the “Rose” bouquet so typical of the area. It is very herbal. The primary characteristic of the grape is that it has very good maturation potential. According to winemaker Morosinotto, the vineyards lie between Langhe and Monferrato areas. “The winery creates original crus (blends) from selected grapes,” Morosinotto explained. “Our experience and our passion drive the winery toward the creation of these great wines,” he said confidently, as he proudly poured the wines. “We exalt the personality of the grapes with our passtion.”
3. RUCHE’ Di Castagnole Monferrato DOCG San Pietro. The grape variety is Ruche’, a Ruby-red gem with a brilliant violet hue. The wine is very intesnse with a fruity and aromatic bouquet. The flavorful with a pleasant and harmonious velvety flavor. It’s dry but very approachable. Excellent as an aperitif, it’s great with a light meal of appetizers, white meat and a classic local dish known as “bagna cauda.”(More on that later.)
4. Barbera D’Asti DOCG Costalunga-Costalunga (means ‘the long coast’) estate bottled classic Barbera aged in oak 8 mos. This is a special cuvee. The goal, according to winemaker Robrerto Morosinoptto, is "to be 100% independent and buy grapes only from special partnerships." Thus, the quality of the wine is preserved. 230  
5. BARBERA D’ASTI DOCG SUPERIORE “NIZZA” GENERALA- This is the maximum expression of Barbera. Nizza was created in 2000. 
6. "Our first Barolo," sys Export Manager Erika Abate-Nirvasco Barolo. It is made from the native Nebbiolo varietal. The wine is vinified in stainless steel, the aged 36 mos in large oak casks and then in the bottle. The wine has intense ruby red color with a fascinating bouquet and hints of spice and ripe fruit followed by licorice or anise aromatic notes.
7. Barolo Reserva 2005-"The wine is not produced in all vintages so this is a very special wine in very limited quantities," says winemaker Morosinotto. Once again, this is a wine from the  "long coast." The wine has a food friendly profile making it a perfect accompaniment with local   truffles and mushrooms. Its also great with any type of pasta and our local favorite, bana cauda (hot stew). "It's made with a combination of anchovies, Olive oil and garlic," Morosinotto explained. "You then dip some local vegetables into this ragu (stew). Then you smell for two days after you cook and eat it! This is a typical Sunday lunch or in supper the winter, when its served boiling." 

8. Langhe Bianco 2011---Well known in Liguria, it is the second indigenous white varietal in laguria. Historically produced in Barolo, the current name is just a fantasy name on the bottle now." Morosinotto explained. 
9. Manzone Rosserto Langhe Bianco 2010 -A speciality of the Manzani estate the rosso bianco grape is a varietal of the langhe region. "It was saved from extinction in 1880 and kept in one of the family’s old vineyards,." Abate explained. " Giovanni grafted the vines and has been making the wine with this varietal for 30 years. This wine is intriguing, structured and perfect for aging, which is unusual for a white wine. Only tiny parcels of this wine and the next one are produced. This is a rare tasting opportunity." 
10. Rivetto Langhe Nascetta 2010  “Matire’”
11. VERDUNO BASADONE 2011 estate bottled by Castello di Verduno  This is a light apperitif wine, perfect with quiche. It's very elegant. 
11a. Andaluccia-late harvest Gavi.
12. Valter Bosticardo  Gambadipernice…Tenuta dei Fiori Vino da Tavola Rosso bottled by Tenuta dei Fiori by Valter Bosticardo   HYPERLINK "http://www.vinoparlante.it" www.vinoparlante.it. (talking wine)Calosso-Italia.

13. Prunent Vino Rosse from Cantine Garrone.  Intense perfume and fragrance dominate the nose. It is very persistent with a deep ruby color.
                                               Hills and vineyards in the Monferrato
                           Trying my hand at winemaking "Old World" style. Move over Lucy!
                                                Bersano Export Manager Erika Abate
                       The original Land Grant for Bersano, signed by Napoleon Bonaparte, himself!
                                         Arturio Versano, The Founder of Bersano Vineyards
            Erika Abate with winemaker Roberto Morosionotto at a private press tasting led by wine expert                        and author Paul Balke (top right)

                          The first locomotive engine to transport grapes and wine from the vineyards

14. The last wine is UCELINE Cascinacastlet….Monferrato Vendemmia 2011. Only one hectare was produced making this wine extremely rare. It’s a very tannic wine that represents the culimation of the winemaking tradition of the family generations, whose pictures are represented on the label. It is very tannic and extremely dry. This is not a commercial wine by any means. It is the most interesting grape in the entire tasting session. It’s extremely chewy with a pronounced varietal “edge”. It is a rustic Barollo designed for the connoisseur. The variety is the Uvalino grape. This is a very old grape and they are the only ones who produce it. It was made first in 1990 and there is only one hectare produced. I am one of the fortunate few in the world to taste it!
15. Bersano Monteolivo Moscato d’Asti (the mount of olives) 2011. Acacia with notes of pear and lemon. It has an intense character, aroma and freshness with a light effervescence. It is perfect with a wide range of light foods from fish to desserts. There are creamy undertones and a light toast and fresh fruit on the palate. Almond cookies are great with this wine that is called “happy juice” by its creators! Pastas and fresh fruit are also on the short list for this bright, crisp beauty. 
16. Brachetto Passito from the tiny village. It is an exceptional sweet red wine. The passito brachetto is a very rare wine made with rare grapes. It is bottled by Forteto della Luja, Loazzolo, Italia. This concludes our tour of historic Barsano.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Holiday Time Is Time for Morellino Di Scansano

by Dwight Casimere

NEWYORK—Corkbuzz Wine Studio in New York’s famed Union Square was the scene of the Second U.S. tour of Consorzio Tutela Morellino di Scansano D.O.C.G., “Tuscany In A Glass.”
Corkbuzz is the epicenter of wine appreciation and education.  Owned and operated by Master Sommelier Laura Maniec with menu pairings by Executive Chef Hayan Yi, Corkbuzz is a great place to hang out, enjoy a glass of wine and share a bowl of pasta or sample hamachi crudo in a living room setting. With over 50 wines by the glass and 200 bottles covering the gamut of regions and styles, it’s the perfect place to learn about wine in a casual, unpretentious atmosphere.

Morellino is one of the great “undiscovered” regions of Tuscany. It is one of Italy’s hidden gems in one of the most charming regions of Tuscany. Somewhat unknown to most wine drinkers in America, the history of Morellino dates back to antiquity. Its distinguished reds, made from the pre-eminent Sangiovese grape is among the most distinguished wines produced in the hilly area around the medieval village of Scansano. 

Morellino is the local name for the grape varietal. Although the origin of the name is today unknown, scholars believe it refers to the word morello, which means “the little dark one,” referring to the color of the horses unique to the coastal district of Maremma where the DOCG is located. Its unique microclimate, altitude and volcanic soil produce grapes and wines of distinction.

Scansano underwent massive development in the 1500s and became one of the most important territories in the hills of Maremma. By the 1800s, it became renowned as a grape-growing and winemaking region, thanks to the groundbreaking work of two agronomists, the Vannuccini brothers.

The Consorzio Tutela Vino Morellino di Scansano was created in 1992 to regulate and product the production of quality wines in the region and educate producers and consumers. Their point was made with stunning clarity at the Corkbuzz event, with a presentation by wine educator and Master Sommelier Charlie Arturaola and a small plates walk-around tasting featuring producers from the region who poured their wines on at the event.

Here is a sampling of the wines tasted and their flavor profiles from this year and from last year’s tastings. It is interesting to see how they have evolved with a little age on them:

Fattoria Le Pupille Morellino di Scansano 2010 DOCG $18

A blend of 90% Sangiovese with 10% Malvasia Nera, this is a beautifully rich, complex and full-bodied red wine.  It’s a terrific food wine that will match perfectly with savory Holiday foods such as Sage-roasted Turkey, Standing Rib Roast and rich, dark chocolate desserts.

Terre di Fiori Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2010 $15.99

A straightforward 100% Sangiovese. I would put this superior wine up against any of the better known Chianti Classico wines. The difference is that, because of its virtually unknown presence in the U.S.  market, it’s a fraction of the price. A big, robust wine, great with Prime Rib, game meats, such as a Christmas Goose or heavy Sage-dressed Turkey.

La Selva Morellino di Scansano 2011 DOCG $19.99

This 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot varietal is well integrated and complex. It is also the only one of the wines that is certified organic. A true expression of the terroir, this one is a also a great choice for the holidays.

Azienda Bruni Riserva Laire 2008 DOCG $30

This 85% Sangiovese and 15% Syrah wine was a real knockout. Richer and more layered than the other wines, it can be paired with both rich and roasted meats but also with dessert. An interesting play on Morellino, it would appeal to a number of hearty red drinkers.

Fattoria Mantellassi
Morellino di Scansano
San Guiseppe DOCG 2009  $13.99

A blend of 85% Sangiovese with 15% Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon, this is a rich, complex and full-bodied red wine. Mantellassi was the first family to bottle the Morellino in 1977. They also produce fresh, crisp white wines that reflect the volcanic mineral terroir of the region from the native white grape variety Vermentino, another terrific and versatile Holiday choicer. The wines are an exceptional value.

Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini
Morellino di Scansano DOCG 2009  $18

A straightforward 100% Sangiovese and is aged for a year in the barrel, this wine has plenty of sweet spice on the nose and a fruity dominance that makes it pleasant to drink. Full and powerful with plenty of integrated wood and fruit, it makes for a terrific mouth filling experience at the Holiday table. Not a lot of this wine was produced so, if you find it at your local shop, grab a case for now for the family “tribe” at the Holiday table and save a few bottles for later for personal enjoyment!