Archive for January, 2012

Finding The Pretty From Puglia

January 24, 2012

Puglia, subtle rolling hills, fertile plains with lots of sunshine, pretty.  Puglia, surounded by The Ionian and Adriatic Seas, very pretty indeed.  Puglia gave us the calzone, the pretty pasta shape of orecchiette and the pretty looking tarantula.

What’s not so pretty about Puglia is its mass production of wine.  Tied with Sicily for bulk output of grape juice, Puglia has long supplied the rest of Italy (and the rest of the world) with cheap, forgettable table swill.  Wine from Puglia is frequently used to thicken up wines from other regions and is also a base ingredient for many vermouths produced in the northern city of Turin.  Commercial wines from Puglia can taste roasted and oxidized, dirty and alcoholic.

Grower-producer wines can be pretty though.  There are people that make distinct and balanced wines from grapes that they grow themselves  from vineyards passed down through generations.  Wines that are a thoughtful celebration of Puglia’s hotter than Africa climate.


Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera di Orfino Rosa is a pretty wine estate that produces pretty wines.

Big, rich, spicy and fragrant you would never believe that the pretty Fatalone wines have a sinister alcohol content…

2007 Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” Gioia del Colle Primitivo.  $17. Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  A slick, high octane, dark fruit attack that is perfectly balanced by a refreshing dose of minerality.  Aged for 18 months before release.  Drink it with roasted meats, spicy pasta dishes and aged cheeses.

2009 Azienda Agricola Pasquale Petrera “Fatalone” I.G.T. Terres Primitivo.  $15. Imported by Williams Corner Wine.  From free run juice that is fermented in contact with the grape skins for only 30 hours, this wine is light and lively.  Almost rose in color but structured and spicy.  This is a perfect pizza wine.  Serve it slightly chilled.


Steak and Chénas?

January 12, 2012

Perfect wine for steak, refreshes the palate after every swig.  Elevates a beautiful ribeye the same way worcestershire sauce elevates rancid meat.

Not quite.  Yes, Chénas is one of ten Cru villages in the northern most part of the Beaujolais wine region, it is a tough wine and you can enjoy it anytime of the year.  The ten Cru’s sit on rolling schist and granite hillsides that capture a lot of sunshine ensuring an earlier and riper harvest than the flatter, clay lands of the south.

Chénas is the smallest growing area that sits atop the more famous Moulin-à-Vent with some of the vineyards overlapping each other.  The permitted wine yields in Chénas are 48 hectoliters per hectare (1.7 tons to 2.47 acres) compared to the rest of Beaujolais’ 55 hectoliters per hectare meaning the fruit grown is more concentrated and full.  The wines are richer in structure, darker in color and mature gracefully.

The tiny vineyards of Domaine Pascal Aufranc hug steep mountainsides and are remote from other growers in the area.  The only neighbors being a pine forest to the west.    The average vine age is 65 years.  Old vines produce less grapes, the roots have to struggle to reach deep into the soil to find nourishment making the already low yielding Chénas fruit much stronger and long lived.  The pressed juice undergoes a 10 day fermentation in large foudres (the big barrels) then is settled in stainless steel tanks for 7 months before bottling.

No need for an aggressive, tannic blockbuster every time you prepare a big piece of meat.  Sometimes refreshing and racy will do just fine.

2009 Domaine Pascal Aufranc “Vieilles Vignes de 1939” Chénas.  $17.  Imported by Wine Traditions.