Italy’s greatest rosé? Biondi Santi’s Rosato di Toscana

I couldn’t resist translating this post by Italy’s top wine blogger Mr. Franco Ziliani for VinoWire today. And the mimetic desire was so overwhelming that I was compelled to post my translation here as well. I haven’t yet tasted the 2008 Rosato by Biondi Santi but the 2006 was fantastic. Until I get back to Italy, I’ll just to live vicariously through Franco’s post… Buona lettura!

When my fifty-fifth birthday arrived this year, I didn’t reach for a powerful red, nor an elegant Champagne, nor a juicy Franciacorta. No, I drank a stunning rosé on my birthday, perhaps the most important and most celebrated of all the Italian rosés (and probably the most expensive, since more than one online wine store offer it at Euro 33). I’m talking about the Rosato di Toscano, 100% Sangiovese, created by the Gentleman of Brunello, Franco Biondi Santi on his Tenuta del Greppo estate in Montalcino.

On another occasion, I wrote the following about this wine: It is the youngest child of the Greppo estate, a wine obtain by vinifying estate-grown Sangiovese at 16-18° C. without skin contact, aged for 18 months in stainless steel. We could call it a youthful Sangiovese, a quasi Brunello… in pink, obtained from young vines roughly 5 to 10 years in age. The vineyards are located in zones rich with stony subsoil and galestro [schist], with exposition to the North-East, South, and North, and elevation ranging from 250-500 meters.

I drank the 2008 Rosato di Toscana by the great Franco Biondi Santi with a simple however delicious, everyday dish: exquisite beef meatballs braised in tomato sauce and paired with green beans that had been sautéed with bread crumbs. We’re talking about enthusiasm cubed here: a truly extraordinary rosé in every sense.

Light cherry in color, jus of squab with an orange hue. Dry and direct on the nose, very salty and focusedd, dominated by red cherry followed by a gradual evolution of citrus ranging from pink grapefruit to mandarin oranges and citron. Then came notes of multi-colored Mediterranean maquis, tomato leaf, flint, and hints of rose. Together, they created a weave of color and mosaic of aroma.

Ample in the mouth, juicy, overflowing with personality and refined, ample layers of texture. Well structured on the palate, with vertical depth, endowed with focus, an absolute release of magnificent vitality and complexity.

A stony, salty wine, with perfect balance of fruit, acidity, and tannin (the magnificent tannin of Sangiovese from Montalcino). Great harmony, extreme polish, aristocratic elegance, and absolute drinkability despite the 13.5% alcohol and richness of this highly enjoyable Rosato di Toscana.

It would be suited to a wide variety of dishes, from Caciucco alla Livornese to fish soup, to baby octopus cooked in red wine to braised calamari with peas. But it also could be paired with a roast beef, braised beef, or even veal… and even a well-stocked pizza. Why not?

The greatest of Italian rosés and one of the greatest rosés in the world, including France. Chapeau bas!

Franco Ziliani

In all fairness to Gallo rosé…

You may remember my post from the other day, Rosé and just how far America has come.

In all fairness to Gallo rosé, I found the above Gallo spot from the 1950s. Pretty sexy, huh? I love it when the lady bites into the chicken as the dude is pouring the pink wine… (This video was posted the other day and I wonder how long it will take before Gallo yanks it.)

I’ll be tasting more than 40 pink wines tomorrow at the best little wine bar in Austin, Vino Vino, where they’ll be pouring more than 40 rosés at the 5th annual Pink Fest 2011.

Rosé and just how far America has come (watch it while you can)

 

Just had to share the above video (circa 1978?). I stumbled across it as I was doing some research for a piece on rosé I wrote for the Houston Press (watch it before Gallo yanks it!).

Isn’t it incredible to see how wine was marketed in this country a generation ago?

You’ve come a long way baby! (Who can name the ad campaign for this slogan?)

Killer rosé from Grenache on what (already) felt like the first day of summer

Temps had already reached the mid 80s yesterday afternoon when I rolled into Houston. Luckily, my buddy Sean Beck has some AWESOME 2009 Mas de Gourgonnier rosé from Grenache chillin’ for me when I stopped by Back Street Café for an aperitif before meeting cousins Marty and Joanne for mussels and fries last night.

Sean just got some love from Houston Chronicle wine writer Dale Robertson after snagging Houston’s Iron Sommelier title for the third straight year. This dude knows his shit! Mazel tov, Sean! Keep that wine cold! It’s gonna be a scorcher!

Tocai Friulano: the story behind the EU decision to change the name

In her 1913 poem “Sacred Emily,” Gertrude Stein wrote famously that a rose is a rose is a rose.

The best English-language account (that I could find) of the EU litigation that led to Tocai’s name change was posted by DiWineTaste here.

The bullet points are as follows:

In 1993, Hungary filed a complaint with the EU, petitioning the legislative branch of the European government to block Italy from labeling wines as “Tocai.” The Hungarians’s complaint was based on a common precept of trademark law: the Hungarians were the first to use the name Tokaji (a toponym and enonym and homonym of the Friulians’s Tocai) in commerce.

A protracted legal battle ended with a 2005 EU decision that the Italians could use the designation “Tocai” only on bottles sold in Italy (and not abroad).

The decision went into effect in March 2007, so technically the 2007 vintage was the first to fall under the restrictions created by the ruling.

Surprisingly, as Mr. Franco Ziliani and I reported at VinoWire, sales of bottles labeled with the new designation “Friulano” increased in Germany and the U.S. after the new labeling restrictions went into effect.

Maybe Stein and Shakespeare were both wrong: What’s in a name? that which we call a rose Tocai / By any other name would smell as sweet sweeter!

Our personal SXSW and why wine blogging is so cool

Tracie P and I take SXSW pretty easy. Since we live in Austin, Texas, the “live music capital of the world,” we’re treated to the good stuff year around. For me, SXSW is special mostly because so many of my good friends from the music world come to town. Here are some highlights from our personal SXSW…

Tracie P had an heirloom martini (above) and I sipped some bourbon with my old bud Billy at the High Ball.

My friend and ex-label-mate Robert Francis put on a rocking show at the Atlantic Records showcase. Man, he’s going to be a huge star. The dude’s so friggin’ talented. Great show…

After the show, Tracie P and I snuck off to Max’s Wine Dive for a little Bollinger rosé and a chili dog. @TWG I know, I know! Tomorrow the diet begins again!

In other news…

There’s been a lot of chatter lately in the enoblogosphere about the futility of wine blogging. I haven’t really been following it, although I have enjoyed some of the reactions, intellectual here and visceral there.

Previously my virtual friend and only recently my real-life friend (after he and 5 other wine bloggers, nearly all of them COMPLETE STRANGERS, joined me in Asti for the Barbera-athon), Thor likes to tease me that I don’t write a wine blog but rather a relationship blog. He’s right. I don’t author a wine blog: I write a blog, a web log (as the etymon reveals) whereby I chronicle my life, my relationships, the music I like, the food I eat, and the wines I enjoy. It just so happens that a lot of my life is centered around wine. I make a living writing about, talking about, teaching, and selling wine. I also happen to be deeply in love, to enjoy music immensely, and to see poetry and inspiration in the world around me — sometimes in a glass of traditional-style Barbera, sometimes in a guitar solo played by a friend.

Wine blogging is really about sharing experiences and connecting with like-minded folks. After all, if it weren’t for wine blogging, I would have never met really cool folks (who are now part of the fabric of my life, even though I have very little real-time contact with most of them) like Alfonso, BrooklynGuy, McDuff… not to mention the LOVE OF MY LIFE.

It’s Sunday morning and Tracie P and are sitting around sipping coffee and listening to This American Life and we’re both “blogging away” (she’s working on a post about Lacryma Christi). I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t care how useless it is… I wouldn’t give it up for the world…

Buona domenica, ya’ll…

More grape porn triple x

This just in… Chardonnay from Salento, Apulia. For a while, I repped my friend Paolo Cantele’s wines here in Texas. I’m a big fan of his Salice Salentino and his Rosato is one of my favorite rosés from Italy this year. I’ve always found that Negroamaro is one of the best grapes for rosé.

You can see Paolo’s entire photo stream here and man, are those some sexy Chardonnay grapes or what! I can almost hear my mother knocking on the bathroom door and saying, “what have you been doing in there so long?”

You may remember a post I did about Negro Amaro and a possibile answer to the riddle of its name. Paolo subscribes to the theory that amaro is not Italian but rather a corruption of the Greek mavros meaning black (see the post for the background on the debate).

It recently occurred to me, however, that the commonly accepted explanation for the name of the Greek red grape Xinomavro is that it means acid black or bitter black from the Greek oxy (sharp, keen, acute, pungent, acid) and mavros (black). Could this be a clue that the origin of Negro Amaro’s name is indeed black bitter?

I don’t have time to get to the bottom of this today but rest assured, I will!

Twister scare: you’re not in La Jolla anymore, Dorothy…

We interrupt this wine blog to inform you that a tornado warning is in effect for Travis County

Above: I grabbed these images from the Austin CBS affiliate site, KeyeTv.com. They were all taken not far from where Tracie B and I live.

It was as if the extreme weather was following me: yesterday, I awoke in Dallas at Italian Wine Guy’s to one of the worst storms I’ve ever experienced. On my way to a morning tasting at the Royal Oaks Country Club, I literally saw trees fall along the road, lightening strike not far from me and Dinamite, and a flash flood that had me in a foot of water. When the emergency alerts come on over the radio, one of the things they stress is to avoid deep water because that’s how a lot of folks drown, thinking that they can make across a flooded road. You can lose control of a “standard SUV,” they say, in just 2 feet of water.

Above: It’s not hard to understand why Texas is such a God-fearing country.

At least one of my accounts had to cancel our appointment yesterday because the store had flooded and one of my accounts — a leading Italian restaurant in Dallas, Nonna — had to close for the evening because they had lost power: when restaurants lose refrigeration, tens of thousands of dollars of food can go wasted.

Above: Talk about hail of “Biblical proportions”! My goodness!

As I drove back down to Austin in the afternoon, it seemed I was driving just ahead of the storm. I picked up some pizzas and Tracie B and I hunkered down at her apartment. At a certain point, the storm hovered about a mile away from us as we watched the storm reports on the local news. At that point, tornados had been reported and the storm was heading directly toward us from the north west. We stepped outside to watch it over Ramsey Park (across the street from Tracie B’s apartment complex). It was an amazing, truly awe-inspiring, and beautiful thing to see.

Above: I took this shot in Dallas yesterday from my car using my phone. The two cars had been washed away in a flash flood.

We’re headed to La Jolla today, which is a good thing since triple-digit temperatures are expected today and this weekend. Tracie B and I love our life here and we are so fortunate to enjoy a life so rich with good work, good wine and food, and wonderful loving people around us — literally and virtually, out there in the blogosphere. But, man, I sure understand now why Texas is such God-fearing country!

In other news…

I’m in the Marines Too got married! Congratulations to Philip and ImAMarinesGirl! Tracie B and I wish you all the best and hope you can get over to Japan soon!

In other other news…

Tracie B and I will be dining Chez Jayne tonight. Can’t wait to taste the Terrebrune Bandol Rosé that Jon put on his list… If you’re in San Diego tonight, please stop by…

Worth reading: Google Earth, terroir, Italian women in France, and an interesting take on the war of rosés

From the “I wish I would have thought of that” department…

My life in Italian wine began twenty years ago when I first visited Bagno Vignoni near Montalcino and began tasting some illustrious and not-so-illustrious bottlings of Sangiovese thanks to my friend Riccardo Marcucci.

While the single-vineyard system of Barolo and Barbaresco offer the Nebbiolophile a legend by which to navigate the terroir of those appellations, lovers of Brunello di Montalcino have little guidance in negotiating its various and highly diverse subzones.

My friend Alessandro Bindocci of Tenuta Il Poggione has unlocked some of the mystery behind one of the Brunello subzones, Sant’Angelo in Colle (the southernmost growing area in the appellation), in a series of posts entitled Understanding Brunello Terroir Using Google Earth. The most recent post is particularly fascinating: I’ve downloaded and installed Google Earth and it’s amazing to use it as a tool in understanding the unique macroclimate of Sant’Angelo, just as Alessandro suggests in his post. Damn, I wish I would have thought of that!

In other news…

However chauvinist and intrinsically bourgeois, the flier for yesterday’s Paris tasting of natural wines produced by Italian women winemakers is utterly irresistible. Did I hear someone say “movie rights”?

Click the image above to view in detail (hosted at Arianna Occhipinti’s blog).

Lastly…

While nearly everyone was relieved yesterday to see the EU drop plans to alter way rosé is made, Tuscan winemaker Gianpaolo Paglia offered some interesting insight in a comment over at VinoWire:

    I’m a wine producer. I’ve never made nor I do intend to make rosé wine in the future. I’m saying this because I wouldn’t want to be accused of having a vested interest in what I’m going to say now: can someone explain to me why a rosé wine made with the saignée method (salasso, in Italian) would be by default better than a blended rosé? Isn’t Champagne the only wine in EU always been allowed to be made that way and has that consequently resulted in the production of poor quality, but premium priced, Champagne wines? Are all the rosé wines made outside EU, largely produced by blending white and red wines, worse than the worst EU wine made with the saignée method?

    I confess my ignorance, but I don’t see the point in this “battle for quality agro-food heritage and wealth.” To be honest, and perhaps even a bit rude, all this nonsense looks to me [like] a lot of political rubbish.

Thanks for reading!

Popcorn recipe and Bandol rosé pairing by Kermit Lynch

Above: Rock star importer Kermit Lynch is one of nearly every natural wine lover’s heros. Me? Guilty as charged. (Photo courtesy the SF Gate)

I cannot conceal my thrill that Kermit Lynch commented on my blog yesterday. In case you missed it, he wrote:

    One of my favorite pairings is the Bandol rosé (Domaine de Terrebrune also makes a winner) with popcorn. No, not buttered popcorn. To really make the wine and popcorn work wonders, I use olive oil, salt, and dried thyme stirred into the popped corn. A hit of Provence.

Mr. Lynch, thank you for stopping by and thanks for reading.

I also heard from Clark Terry who works with Kermit. He contacted the “Beaune” office: roughly 5,000 cases of Bandol Rosé are released by Tempier each year. I’m glad that a few of them make to Austin so that me and Tracie B can enjoy our Bandol with our Idol! Next week, we’ll have to try Kermit’s popcorn…