Interview: Andrea Moser, Chief Enologist Erste+Neue Alto Adige Region, Northern Italy & Review: E+N Pinot Nero 2021

Erste+Neue is the product of the 1986 merger of two wineries that began in the early part of the twentieth century. Erste Kellerei and Neue Kellerei combined to form Erste+Neue. The two wineries moved forward as one with a commitment and determination to stay on the cutting edge of alpine winemaking. 

In 2018, Erste+Neue was awarded the prestigious international seal for sustainable viticulture by FAIR’N GREEN. The goals and standards of FAIR’N GREEN mirror the same deeply ingrained beliefs that guide the winemaking culture at Erste+Neue. Sustainability, protecting the environment, biodiversity, natural viticulture, and the protection of natural resources are the guiding principles that drive all decisions made at Erste+Neue. 

The wines of the Alto Adige Region are famous for being terroir-driven and their bias to a specific area of the region. I was curious to hear how the vineyard managers and winemakers at Erste +Neue balance the demands of preserving and integrating the “terroir” factor into their wines while balancing the needs of the local ecosystem with the standards of producing world-class grapes and wine consistently. 

Seeking answers to these questions and others, I posed them directly to a leading viticulture professional and Chief Enologist at Erste+Neue, Andrea Moser. The following is our interview published in his own words.

How does Erste+Neue approach the unique challenges that making wine in the Alto Adige present while still being able to produce the highest quality wines that display a “sense of place?

“Facing the challenges of climate change is becoming increasingly important in every wine-growing region of the globe, and in South Tyrol, too, it is no different.”

However, Alto Adige and specifically our area are at a great benefit with respect to this issue, in fact, our orographic situation is very particular. The vineyards start in fact with the red varieties at about 230 m.a.s.l. and arrive in just a few kilometers to elevations of about 700 m.a.s.l. where the white varieties find excellent ripening conditions. This large elevation range, combined with a constant south-to-north wind “the Garda Hour” and strong temperature fluctuations between day and night due to the mountains surrounding us (Mendola range), allows us to consistently obtain high qualities on both red and white grape varieties.

Ripe but fresh and elegant reds and whites with low pH, good acidity, crisp and fresh that perfectly embody the spirit of our territory and our vineyards located in the middle of the Alps.”

How has being FAIR’N GREEN certified complemented your winemaking practices and philosophy in both the vineyard and cellar?

“For us, sustainability and especially respect for the environment has always been a key point to consider during our work from vineyard to bottle.

Since we have been working with Fair&Green we have made this commitment measurable and have strived to improve our efficiency and sustainability a little more each year.

In the first year of certification, we scored 68 percent while we are now at 82 percent on the scale that verifies, measures, and evaluates our degree of environmental commitment. Today, having reached the fifth year of certification, we have made many steps forward, such as completely eliminating some synthetic molecules for the phytosanitary defense of the vines, eliminating chemical weeding by 92%, increasing the areas under green manure thus increasing biodiversity in the field, and introducing sexual confusion in the vineyard to combat certain types of harmful insects. All our wines can be considered vegan since we have not used any clarifiers of animal origin for several years now, only yeast derivatives. By now, all the facilities for the production of cold, compressed air and nitrogen are equipped with energy recovery to produce hot water. We have equipped ourselves with photovoltaic panels that can provide us with about 40 percent of the energy we use.

In terms of packaging, the biggest step has been taken by eliminating bottles that are too heavy. In fact, we have gone from 700/750-gram bottles to 500-gram bottles, reducing our CO2 footprint by a third.

The road to true all-around sustainability is still a long one, but we are very committed and determined to get there as soon as possible.”

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Martin Klammer, Sales Director of Erste+Neue for his support because without it this article would not have been possible. I would also like to thank Andrea Moser, Chief Enologist of Erste+Neue for his time and candid insights into the ideology behind the winemaking mindset at E+N. I found his comments about how the culture at E+N and the environment are intertwined extremely informative because I hold a degree in nature conservation. The following is my review of Erste+Neue Classic Pinot Nero 2021.

Pinot Nero is known internationally as Pinot Noir. Pinot Nero is an early-ripening grape with a thick skin that has the reputation for being a “Heartbreak Grape” variety because it requires a great deal of care in the vineyard thus making it difficult to produce a successful harvest consistently. 

Erste+Neue Classic Pinot Nero 2021 is a sophisticated well-made wine that can be purchased at a very fair price. This Pinot Nero is ruby red in the glass and opens with the aromas of cherry & faint raspberry that is followed by the prominent flavor of cherries on the palate while smooth tannins and lively acidity are borne on the medium body of this wine. The finish is lengthy and agreeable.

Toasting the New Year with Ruffino Prosecco

We rang in the New Year not with a French Champagne made in the Méthode Champenoise but an Italian Prosecco. The prosecco was the affordability priced (under $15) Ruffino Prosecco. Ruffino is best known for their hugely popular Chianti but they also make a very enjoyable prosecco. 

Light yellow in the glass with more than adequate effervescent small bubbles and the flavor of fresh grapefruit. It is not overly dry and with an 11% ABV Ruffino Prosecco is a good option when planning any event from a brunch to a celebratory toast, as we did. 

CIAO! Stanley Tucci

CNN has canceled Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy and all of its original programming. But all is not lost because I heard Stanley tell Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show that he was exploring the possibility of reviving the show on another network, whether it be broadcast, cable, or streaming. This was more than just a travel show that featured the traditional tourist attractions, and scenic vistas of the Italian countryside and coastline. This production had that special feeling one gets when traveling with a friend who knows all the best spots and interesting locals that really allows you to immerse yourself into the culture of each region you visit. Tagging along with Stanley Tucci I experienced the Italy that only Stanley could show me with his adventurous palate, wry smile, and that all-knowing look of his.

When I heard CNN wouldn’t be renewing a new season of Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy I got that same feeling you get when the plane lifts off the runway on your return home from a great vacation. You know that feeling of joy in the memories you made but a hint of sadness because there was more to see and do.

With that said, I am thankful to have had the opportunity to see Italy through Stanley’s eyes. If you are wondering where he went here’s a recap. Season One: Naples and the Amalfi Coast, Rome, Bologna, Tuscany, Milan, and Sicily. Season Two: Venice, Liguria, Piedmont, Puglia, Sardinia, Umbria, London, and Calabria.

Luckily for anyone who may have missed any or all of the episodes they are available through a number of media outlets that can be easily found with an internet search. If you have a cable subscription you can access all of the Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy episodes from both seasons for free by going to go.CNN.com/vod (http://go.cnn.com/vod) and find Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, click on it, and log in using your cable provider when prompted. I have found the Microsoft Edge browser works better for this site than Mozilla does for streaming its content.

All that is left to say now is Grazie di tutto, Stanley! 

Photos Credit: CNN Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy

Frescobali Remole Toscana Rosso 2020

Frescobaldi Remole Toscana Rosso 2020

This Toscana is produced in Tuscany, Italy. It is a blend of 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. This is a lighter wine than many of the more complex and pricey Toscana bottlings from Tuscany.

Frescobali Rèmole Toscana Rosso 2020 is a balanced wine with its “middle of the road” approach when it comes to body, acidity, and flavor profile. With an approachable 12.5% ABV and bewitching scarlet red color in the glass, the faint aroma of berries leads you into the muted flavors of cherry and raspberry on your palate. It pairs well with lean red meat and pasta dishes with red sauce. Priced at less than $10 it is an excellent choice for a “weekday wine”

IL Burchino Toscana 2015

Tenuta di Burchino IL Burchino Toscana 2015 is a red blend of 85% Sangiovese 10% Cabernet Sauvignon & 5% Merlot from the hills of Pisa in Tuscany, Italy. 

James Suckling gave it 92 points saying it was “Perfumed with dark fruits, orange blossoms, and cherries following through to a medium body. Integrated tannins and just a hint of vanilla. Long and linear.” 

Quoted initially at $40 it is now available at P.L.C.B. stores in Pennsylvania as a “Chairman’s Selection” for $12.99. This is a bargain price for a wine of this quality. IL Burchino Toscana 2015 pairs perfectly with grilled red meat and pasta in a red sauce.

Far From The Shallow

Let’s play a game. Close your eyes and imagine your favorite Italian winemaking region. Next, conjure up images of its beautiful landscapes, vineyards, and signature architecture. Finally, remember how wonderfully the wine reflects its terroir and expresses the true characteristics of the land. Now, open your eyes and tell me was it Alto Adige? No, then let me tell you about this spectacularly grand alpine province which includes parts of the Dolomites and is also known as South Tyrol. This enchanting Italian wine region is nestled between Switzerland to the west, Germany to the north, and Austria to the east.

 Alto Adige is home to Elena Walch wine estate. The Elena Walch wine estate is among the elite of Italian

IMG_3840_Original

wine producers and has been the standard-bearer for quality and innovation under the guidance of Elena Walch and now her daughters Julia and Karoline. The estate’s philosophy toward winemaking has always been defined by its dedication to the land and terroir. Elena Walch wines are a direct expression of their soil, climate, and care in the vineyard. The disciplines of sustainability and care for the land are strictly adhered to and passed down to future generations. Julia and Karoline Walch have steadily advanced and evolved the viewpoint of their mother since taking over as General Managers of the estate in 2015. 

I recently had the opportunity to ask Karoline Walch about how they are carrying on that commitment to excellence and how you can taste it in their wines.

Elena Walch wines have always been faithful to the ideology of respecting the land and the environment so your wines are a direct reflection of the terroir. How do you see your commitment to that principle manifest itself in your wines?

Since the beginning, my mother wanted to produce wines that are a true reflection of a single site. Our two most important single vineyards are the Vigna Castel Ringberg and the Vigna Kastelaz, both very distinct and unique sites. With a combination of limestone soils and its microclimate given the lake influence, the vineyard Vigna Castel Ringberg is farmed sustainably to best adapt to the characteristics of the site. It is finally the salinity and depth that distinguishes it from many other wines within that category. The Vigna Kastelaz, on the other hand, is one of the very few vineyards facing completely South, and hence, benefitting from very sunny and dry growing conditions. Not only, it is extremely steep and due to its proximity to the Mendola mountain ridge, the temperature fluctuations are huge. This allows us to develop the primary aromas to the full spectrum, yet retaining the acidity. Not surprisingly, this is our icon site for Gewürztraminer. Finally, to further highlight the importance of those two vineyards, since 2014 our wines that grow on those two sites, carry the prestigious denomination of Vigna –  It is an additional mention of a smaller geographical origin and designs the smallest historical/geographical unit of a vineyard. Every single Vigna must be officially admitted and registered within the regional government. It expresses the ultimate thought of terroir philosophy with the idea of a parcel wine from an exact plot and hence having a historical or traditional name.

How does your state-of-the-art fermentation cellar help you in accentuating all the unique terroirs of your diverse vineyard sites?

Our estate’s philosophy is inherently connected to terroir – the idea that the wines are an individual expression of the vineyard’s soil, climate, and cultivation. We start with quality in the vineyard, but the way the grapes are handled at the winery is an important step in how the finished wine expresses its sense of place. Our new, high-tech cellar allows us to be flexible and adjust to the requirements of both single vineyards and individual varieties. 

With the new cellar, there are three important changes: the option between whole-berry or whole-bunch fermentation; the strict use of gravity to process the grapes as gently as possible; and four different points of quality control before the grapes reach the fermentation tanks. The aim is to create wines that have more structure, more fruit, and soft, supple tannins with great aging potential while being more elegant and refined at the same time. KW

Elena Walch set sail into uncharted waters when she built her winery on the idea of producing the highest quality wines that are terroir-driven and sustainably grown. Her daughters, Julia and Karoline, are continuing the journey she started but are always adding their own contemporary interpretation to their winemaking.

We can talk about how Elena Walch wines express their terroir and how producing wine sustainably can be tasted and experienced in a tangible way but it is impossible to truly understand what Elena Walch wines are like without tasting them for yourself. I feel quite confident that after reading Karoline Walch’s perspective on how she approaches making wine that you have a desire to taste her wine just to see for yourself why it is so special. The only question that remains is which one to try first. Luckily for us, Elena Walch wines are superior wines so you can’t make a mistake. Since Alto Adige is the northernmost region in Italy the Germanic grape varieties tend to be prevalent but that is to be expected since it is so close to Germany that 70% of its population speak German while only 25% speak Italian. Elena Walch is known for its white wine, which includes their popular Gewürztraminer and “Beyond The Clouds” but their reds are also top-notch.

When I explore a wine region I am always curious about the wine made from its indigenous grape IMG_3843_Originalvarieties. When I looked at Alto Adige, Schiava caught my eye. Schiava is an indigenous grape varietal often associated with the region. Schiava typically produces an aromatic light but acidic red wine that is highly versatile when it comes to food pairings. Elena Walch Schiava is a solid choice because it ranks high in quality and taste for this varietal. Elena Walch Schiava 2019 has a cranberry color, mild tannins, and bright acidity with flavors of red fruit and Schiava’s signature tinge of bitter almond on the finish. It is best when served between 60-65ͦ F/16-18ͦ C. This wine pairs well with Mediterranean fare and pasta. 

Elena Walch wine estate is only one of the extraordinary wineries in the Alto Adige region of Italy that are

eager to share their enchanting culture and remarkable wines with you.  

Photo Credit: Elena Walch

Ruby Slippers

The Burchino Estate is in the village of Terriccola. Their 37 hectares of vineyards in the Pisan hills of Chianti are on some of the best land in the Chianti Area.

Tenuta di Burchino IL Burchino 2010 Toscana is a Toscana made up of a perfect 85% Sangiovese – 10% Cabernet – 5%Merlot blend. With floral and blueberry aromas this medium-bodied red is soft and round on the palate. Balanced with good acidity and flavors of cherries, berries and earth makes this wine a nice pairing for any grilled red meat, especially beef. James Suckling gave this Tuscan wine 93pts.

Food & Wine Festival Venice, Italy

     The inaugural Venice Food & Wine Festival will be held May 3-6, 2018 at the J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa in Venice, Italy.  Exquisite grounds and private-island (Isola delle Rose) ambience provide the perfect backdrop for

Main Entrance J.W. Marriott Photo Courtesy: J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa

guests to indulge their epicurean curiosities with cooking demos, tastings and culinary-themed events while interacting with celebrity chefs. Notable names from the world of food, wine and spirits will guide attendees on unforgettable adventures. Among the internationally-renowned collection of chefs scheduled to appear are: Giancarlo Perbellini, Melissa Kelly, Scott Conant, Jonathan Waxman, Anthony Giglio and T.P. Fetherston, to name a few. 

Photo Courtesy J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa

Tickets and accommodation packages are available at jwvenicefoodandwine.com now thru February 9, 2018 via an exclusive pre-sale to American Express card members before going on open sale.

If you are contemplating a visit to Venice this would be a unique opportunity to experience the luxurious J.W. Marriott Venice Resort and Spa with its Michelin-starred Dopolavoro restaurant, Sapori Cooking Academy and yes, resort-grown olive oil. Access to the heart of Venetian culture with all of its Old World treasures and local Vento traditions is only a short boat ride away. 

Photo Courtesy J.W. Marriott Venice Resort & Spa

 #jwveniceFW    #jwtreatment

 

2013 Cossetti Dolcetto d’Asti

2013 Cossetti Dolcetto d'Asti

2013 Cossetti Dolcetto d’Asti

I tried this wine purely on a recommendation made by Trib Total Media wine expert Dave DeSimone and I am glad that I did.  2013 Cossetti Dolcetto d’Asti is offered by the P.L.C.B. as a Chairman’s Selection on sale for $15.99 (Product code Luxury 33495).  The Cossetti family have grown wine grapes and made wine since 1891 in the rolling hills of Castelnuovo Belbo.  To keep the pure flavor and aromas of the delicate Dolcetto grapes they are fermented in stainless steel tanks.  In the glass it displays a light ruby-red color with a floral nose.  The flavors of cherries and red berries are contained in a medium body of fresh acidity and mild tannins.  The finish is dry but retains some fruit flavors.  I think if you pair this wine with Italian food you should avoid the red sauces and match it with the light sauces especially if they contain mushrooms or mild cheeses.

The Pennsylvania Winery Association

Photo Courtesy: Pennsylvania Winery Association

Photo Courtesy: Pennsylvania Winery Association

      The Pennsylvania Winery Association has a very useful and informative website and you can get access to it by going to http://www.pennsylvaniawine.com..  Starting on the homepage you can explore many interesting features including an extensive list of winery events for the upcoming year plus trip planning info coupled with downloadable winery maps available under the Trip Planner tab.  Pennsylvania is divided into seven wine growing regions with my favorite designation being the “Groundhog Region”.  Let France have Bordeaux and Italy have Tuscany, give me that Groundhog A.V.A..  Pennsylvania is home to eleven wine trails and P.W.A. reports that there are one hundred twenty-three wineries in the Commonwealth.  While you are visiting the site take the opportunity to add your e-mail address to their e-mail list or consider following them on Twitter.  The Pennsylvania Winery Association has done an excellent job with their website and it will certainly offer anyone researching it with an insight into the state’s wineries that isn’t available anywhere else.  http://www.pennsylvaniawine.com