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Friday Night Wine 4/19/19: Italian wines from Kermit Lynch!

We will be joined by Geoff Bell of The Robins Cellars to taste through a selection of Italian wines from Kermit Lynch.

Azienda Agricola Tintero Elvio Bianco Secco
”In 1900 a Frenchman named Pierre Tintero set out for Piedmont in search of work. He found an opportunity to do odd jobs at a small estate where widow Rosina Cortese was struggling to handle all the work herself. Pierre, called “Pietrin” by the locals, quickly became a vital part of the estate and also fell in love with the widow, whom he married two years later. The couple continued to work the vines together and bottled their own Dolcetto for the first time just as war fell in 1914. Years later their grandson would find a stash of this vintage hidden within the walls of the cellar, certainly a precaution against ransacking troops who passed through the area. Pietrin and Rosina’s two sons, Giovanni and Carlo, eventually took over the estate and expanded it by purchasing adjacent vineyard plots. Moscato was just a tiny part of their production since it is only practical to produce it in large quantities, but after the Second World War giants Cinzano and Martini began producing the wine, so the brothers planted more of the variety to sell to these negociants while they continued bottling their still wines themselves. It was not until the 1980s that Carlo’s son Elvio began experimenting with the challenging process of frizzante wine production, allowing the family to take advantage of the grape’s special affinity to the local terroir. Elvio has now handed the reins over to the next generation, but he continues to help his son Marco and daughter-in-law Cinzia run the estate.”
Vino Bianco Secco:
The Favorita, Arneis, and Chardonnay are fermented separately and stocked at a low temperature. Vinification is continued only when an order is received in order to provide the freshest wine possible The fermented Favorita, Arneis, and Chardonnay are blended with unfermented Moscato, and the sugar in the Moscato must sets off the second fermentation. Just before the bottling a small dose (2-3%) of finished (frizzante) Moscato is added. There is no malolactic fermentation. This wine is produced and bottled by vintage but due to the fact that Tintero sources his grapes from different parts of Piedmont there is no specific DOC and it is currently not permitted to display vintage on table wines of this type.”

Kermit Lynch Verdicchio dei Castelli
As with every region in Italy, the Marche is a world all unto itself. On Italy’s less traveled Adriatic coast, in between Emilia-Romagna and Abruzzo, the Marche is relatively sparsely populated, and largely composed of gently rolling hills, green with agriculture, that end along steep limestone bluffs on the coast. This is the home of the Verdicchio grape, whose name comes from the root verde, describing both the greenish hue of the grapes and the resulting wine. The Castelli di Jesi DOC is one of the largest of the zones in which Verdicchio is grown, and surrounds the town of Jesi and its ancient fortifications.  

Verdicchio, also known as Trebbiano di Soave, has been cultivated in the Marche for many centuries. It is capable of making vibrantly fresh and crisp white wines that are a wonderful accompaniment to seafood. The Riserva bottlings can age gracefully. From Azienda Santa Barbara we have a wine in the former camp. During a recent tasting trip in the Marche, this stainless steel tank vinified Verdicchio was one of the stars among many, many wines tasted. The perfume is entrancing—at once fresh and rounded, and typical of the grape. There is absolutely no pretension. Pure Verdicchio, vinified and aged with no makeup, with a bit of prickly CO2 left in the bottle to keep it sprightly. Owner Stefano Antonucci has a three-decade track record of creating benchmark wines from the Marche and we are excited to bring our clients this Verdicchio as our first import from this little-known region of Italy.
Hand harvested
Grapes are sorted in the vines during harvest. Alcoholic fermentation lasts 3 weeks in stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation. The wine ages in stainless steel for 3 months. Aged 2 months in bottle before release.”

Tenuta La Pergola, Il Goccetto
There is a romantic, yet misguided myth among Americans that one can sit down in any roadside trattoria in Italy and be served a delicious glass of wine. However, this idealistic notion is sadly at odds with the hard reality: it is rare enough for the vino della casa to be drinkable, let alone anything truly noteworthy.

And yet, this most infrequent occurrence—the wine importer's dream—is exactly what fate would have in store for Kermit and Dixon one day as they trekked the back roads of Piemonte several years ago. The wine in the pitcher—an Arneis from a local producer—was not only drinkable, but it was really quite good: refreshing, balanced, typical of the grape and of the region, and an ideal companion to the antipasti of the day. Oh, and it was cheap.

That pitcher of Arneis led them to the cellars of Tenuta La Pergola, in the town of Cisterna d'Asti. Alessandra Bodda now runs the estate her great-grandfather founded in 1903, farming thirty hectares of indigenous Piemontese varieties with the help of her son Emanuele. The sandy and clay soils of the Roero and Monferrato, where their vineyards are situated, give softer wines than the marl-dominated terroirs of the neighboring Langhe, creating aromatic wines that bestow immediate pleasure.
“Il Goccetto” is Italian for “A little nip”
The grapes are 100% de-stemmed. Maceration lasts four days. fermentation is done in stainless steel and the wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months. All fruit comes from one vintage but Vino Rosso cannot take a vintage date because it does not have a regional specificity. All grapes comes from the Monferrato Rosso appellation and it is declassified to Vino Rosso because of the unique blend and character.”

Punta Crena Lumassina
The tiny village of Varigotti sits on the Mediterranean, just a few rows of houses and restaurants on a pristine beach, with its back against steep hills. Climb up into the hills and you will discover neatly terraced vineyards on the slopes and in hidden clearings further up on the peaks. The Ruffino family has been tending these vineyards for over 500 years, hardly changing a thing as they pass their knowledge and wisdom from one generation to the next. Today the estate is run by four siblings: Tommaso, the eldest, is the winemaker; Paolo is the salesman; Anna handles logistics; and Nicola helps out in the vineyards and winery. Their mother, Libera, was a strong businesswoman who revolutionized sales by dealing directly with clients rather than working with the merchants who controlled the market at the time; but today she stays in the background, happily cooking for the constant flow of guests and tending the home-grown vegetable stand in the courtyard as her numerous grandchildren scamper around her. These unpretentious people are firmly rooted in Varigotti, and the wines they craft are infused with local tradition and character.
The native Lumassina (loo-mahss-SEE-nah) is a cousin of Mataòssu and has a similarly difficult vegetative balance. Punta Crena’s still bottling has a snail on the label because the grape ripens very slowly (it is also a pun on the name Lumassina, which resembles the Italian word for snail, “lumaca”).”