Category Archives: Carmignano

Award-Winning Carmignano Riserva – Le Farnete 2013


In my last post I wrote that Enrico Pierazzuoli was in San Francisco to pour his wines at Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri World Tour held at Fort Mason’s Festival Pavillon. Enrico is a practical man who does not place too much importance on scores, awards and such, but when his estate in Carmignano, Le Farnete, received a “Tre Bicchieri” for their 2013 Carmignano Riserva, he was clearly honored. It feels good to be recognized for your efforts, especially when it’s by Italy’s most influential wine and food publication.

Tuscany’s Carmignano is a lesser-known appellation, but its history of wine growing traces back centuries. In 1716, the Grand Duke Cosimo III de’ Medici legally recognized and identified this area for wine growing. Enrico appreciated the timing of receiving his first-ever “Tre Bicchieri” while celebrating Carmignano’s 300th Anniversary! The 2013 Carmignano Riserva is a blend of 80% Sangiovese with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. Aged in small oak barrel for a year and then another year in bottle before being released to market, it is a full-bodied expression of Sangiovese. The inclusion of a small percentage of Cabernet Sauvignon is enough to give the wine significant back-bone and structure. Less than 200 cases are produced of the Riserva and only in the best years. It is a wine with a long life ahead of it.


The Pierazzuoli’s run a traditional osteria on their estate in Chianti Montalbano. They sent out a notice earlier this week that they no longer have any reservations open for Easter. Of course there is lamb on the menu, so I am guessing patrons will be enjoying the 2013 Carmignano Riserva as it should be a perfect match. Shame I can’t be there! Buona Pasqua! -Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Carmignano, Tuscany

2012 Le Farnete Carmignano – A Wedding Gift

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Whew! As another week zooms by, what lies in its wake? Well, the big event this past week, no doubt, was Gambero Rosso’s Tre Bicchieri tasting. Gambero Rosso is a well known Italian wine publication which rates the country’s wines by bicchieri, or glasses, three being the highest. Each year they hit the road with the latest recipients of this designation, and the show was here in SF this past Thursday. Believe it or not, coincidentally, two of our Italian producers were also here on Thursday, though neither was part of Gambero Rosso’s event. Gianlorenzo Picollo was here pouring his family’s Gavi and Gavi di Gavi, and he was joined by Enrico Pierazzuoli from Le Farnete. I have to say that Enrico’s Carmignano has been a personal favorite of mine for many vintages, and as I’ve alluded to recently, this can create lofty expectations, which of course are sometimes difficult to live up to.
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So this past Thursday at closing time, Gianlorenzo and Enrico stepped into our staff tasting area and opened some of their recent releases for us. The wine of the tasting? For me, it was the 2012 Le Farnete Carmignano. I don’t know what it is with this wine, but as I said, I have some history with this wine. I remember loving the 2004. I stocked up on the 2005 after we put it on sale, as it was the mother of no-brainers. Anya and I both thought enough of the 2008 to write about it. The 2009 was another winner, so when it came time to taste the 2012 with Enrico in the room, the pressure was on. I remember the warmth cloaking me and the smile that I couldn’t hide after I put my nose in the glass. Wonderful stuff. Incense, clove, black cherries, forest floor, black tea.My kind of wine. The palate was lush, well balanced, and complex. The finish was firing on all cylinders, another winner!

Le Farnete’s Carmignano is a blend of Sangiovese (80%) and Cabernet Sauvignon (20%), a wine that might be misclassified as a Super Tuscan. But no, this is not a Super Tuscan. As we have previously reported, under Italian law, Cabernet Sauvignon has been allowed to grow in Carmignano since Medici times. What we didn’t know was this tidbit that Enrico let us in on. In the 16th Century, when Catherine de’ Medici married French King Henry II, as a wedding gift, the French delivered some Cabernet Sauvignon vines that would be planted in Carmignano. And the rest is history.

Considering the price of this wine, it’s another no-brainer. Wines of this kind of quality can sell for double this price or even higher. It’s 13.5% alcohol and can pair with a myriad of cuisine. All of the traditional Italian dishes are easy pairings; osso-buco, bistecca alla Fiorentina, or rabbit pappardelle would be lovely, but the Carmignano is inexpensive enough to pop with simple pasta with Bolognese or Arrabiata sauce and is perfect with a sausage pizza. We had a lovely visit with these two Italian gentlemen.
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I hope you all had a wonderful Valentine’s Day. The weather here in San Francisco was incredible, or as I’ve said many times, “If it’s not going to rain, it may as well do this.” We’ve got some exciting stuff on the horizon coming your way soon. It starts on Monday. Yes, we’ll be open on President’s Day, normal weekday hours of 10am-6pm. There was no footy, or at least not for my team this weekend, but that’s okay because the Champions’ League knock-out phase begins Tuesday!!! We’re up against French giants Paris Saint Germain. This will be one of those rare weeks when I won’t have my usual Wednesday off. Come on you Blues! – Peter Zavialoff

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Filed under Carmignano, Peter Zavialoff, Tuscany

The September 2014 Dirty Dozen

On we go, into the ‘ber months! Kids are back in school, the French are back from their holidays, and here in San Francisco, it’s time for our summer! For the occasion, we’ve sourced some special wines to make our September a memorable one. Six reds, one crisp Rosé, and five whites, all chosen for their versatility, are screaming values on their own. Pack them all in a box and knock the price down 35%? Magic. The September Dirty Dozen!

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2012 Falanghina Nina, Torre Quarto $12.98 net price, $11.68 reorder

Give it a chill, just not too much, otherwise the lovely melon fruit and fragrant aromas (look for that slight hint of pine) will be muted. Falanghina, an ancient Italian grape, is grown in the south – Puglia in this instance. Yellow-gold in color, this lush white has a round texture that complements seafood, fresh salads and cold entrées.

2012 Côtes de Gascogne Cuvée Jean-Paul, Boutinot $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

From southwest France, this dependable refrigerator door white’s beauty – a classic blend of Colombard and Ugni Blanc – lies in its simplicity. Notes of lemon and citrus zest move into tangy grapefruit on the palate, leaving a refreshing, lingering lightness. Nothing complicated, but it’s oh so nice ice cold out of the fridge on a warm late summer’s eve.

2012 Pedro Ximenez PX, Cucao $10.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Pedro Ximenez is a varietal known mainly for its role in Spain’s sweet sherries, but this dry example is grown in the northern-most wine region of Chile – the Elqui Valley. Sunny weather ripens the fruit while the high altitude ensures freshness. A delightful blend of acidity and concentrated fruit; try with miso-dressed soba noodles or coconut shrimp.

2013 Ventoux Rosé l’Instant, Domaine Fondrèche $15.99, $12.79 reorder

This wine gets you at ‘hello.” Just look at that color! As pale as pale Rosé gets, winemaker Sébastien Vincenti blends 50% Cinsault with 30% Syrah and 20% Grenache and the wine is light, lean, crisp, and delicious. It’s a versatile little Rosé, textbook southern French style. Got a hankering for Salmon Étoufée? If you do, try it with this.

2012 Grenache Blanc/Rolle/Roussanne, Domaine de la Petite Cassagne $12.89, $10.31 reorder

In 1998, Diane Puymorin purchased this domaine and re-named it Château d’Or et de Gueules. TWH regulars know all about her and those wines, but Diane keeps it real and pays homage to the history of her property with this bottling. Here she blends three classic white Rhône varietals. It’s crisp, clean, and fleshy. Pair it with a seared tuna sandwich.

2012 Gewurztraminer Herrenweg, Domaine Ehrhart $21.99, $17.59 reorder

Gewurztraminer is known for its profound bouquet reminiscent of lychee nuts and rose petals. The Ehrharts’ single-vineyard, Herrenweg is a tad off-dry, and is rich and expressive, both aromatically and on the palate. Not for sipping, this one needs food. Especially spicy food. You must try it with a spicy curry dish, or spicy Cajun red beans and rice.

2010 Tempranillo Dauco, Bodegas Martúe $13.98 net price, $12.58 reorder

Hailing from central Spain, this friendly Tempranillo has silky smooth tannins and rich cherry fruit. Outside Rioja, Tempranillo can show many faces, but here it shines as a versatile, charming red, reminding drinkers what makes Tempranillo just so darn delicious! Surely Paella works but so does Pollo con Arroz, Plov, or Tadig with kebabs.

2012 Malbec, Ecologica $11.98 net price, $10.78 reorder

Argentian Malbec is unquestionably a favorite for those looking for value and quality in an everyday wine. Ecologica sources only organic fruit and is Fair Trade Certified. Medium-bodied with welcoming notes of green herbs, red plum and cassis fruit, the acids and tannins hold up well to heavily-seasoned grilled meats or a quesadilla with fresh Pico de Gallo.

2010 Dão, Proeza $11.98 net price, $9.88 reorder

Looking for a full-bodied red that goes easy on the pocket book? Look no further than this voluptuous Portuguese red from Proeza. Loaded with big flavors courtesy of Touriga Nacional and Tinto Roriz, grapes traditionally made into Port, this dry red is grippy and broad-scaled. A lot of wine for the money! Hearty, rib-sticking meals would work best.

2010 Touraine Rouge, Domaine des Corbillières $14.99, $11.99 reorder

We’ve been working with Dominique and Véronique Barbou for two decades, their wines can magically transport us to the land of France’s most majestic chateaux. This blend of Pinot Noir, Côt (Malbec), and Cabernet Franc is marked by juicy fruit with an herbal twist. Drink it on its own or with anything you would want to pair with a cheerful red.

2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano, Le Farnete $14.59, $11.67 reorder

In the rolling hills just west of Firenze is the commune of Carmignano. Long before the days of the ‘Super Tuscan’, Cabernet Sauvignon was allowed to grow here, only to be blended with the native Tuscan Sangiovese. It’s a zippy little red table wine with another layer of complexity. Pasta with fresh tomatoes and basil is all you need with this one.

2009 Côtes-du-Rhône Villages, Tour de l’Isle $14.59, $11.67 reorder

Proprietor of Tour de l’Isle, Robert Rocchi acts as a negociant in the southern Rhône Valley who advises a handful of growers on improtant aspects of winemaking. The results in bottle are not only delicious, they are reflective of their places of origin. Or as Anya likes to say, “He’s not afraid to make wine that tastes good.” Try this with a grilled steak.

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Argentina, Carmignano, Costieres de Nimes, Cotes du Rhone, Cotes du Ventoux, Peter Zavialoff, Portugal, Rose, The Dirty Dozen, Touraine, Wine Clubs/Samplers

Pierazzuoli’s 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano

Le Farnete’s 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano combines Sangiovese’s lush red cherry fruit and fresh acidity with Cabernet Sauvignon’s structure and backbone. Not some newfangled blend, Carmignano, a Tuscan region just northwest of Florence, has championed this combination of grapes since the 18th Century! A Super Tuscan before there were Super Tuscans. The Barco Reale di Carmignano will see less time in barrel and comes to market sooner than its big brother, Carmignano. I find the inclusion of Cabernet Sauvignon extremely complimentary to Sangiovese and in no way detracting from Sangiovese’s intrinsic juiciness and vibrancy. July’s heat has found me drinking plenty of Rose, that’s for sure, but when I am in need of a red wine that has softer tannins yet still has body, the 2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano from Le Farnete fits the bill beautifully.

 

Le Farnete is one of two Tuscan estates owned by the Pierazzuoli family. Enrico is the owner and is assisted by his wife, brother and two sisters. Along with the wines, the Pierazzuoli’s produce olive oil and vegetable preserves and also run an agriturism business. It’s a true family affair for the Pierazzuoli’s. This close connection to each other and to the land is what fuels their passion for making the best wine possible. When Enrico took over from his father in 1990, he began an extensive replanting of the vineyards, choosing low-yielding clones which were densely planted. Improvements also occurred on the production side including building a state-of-the-art winery. All this investment has paid off as their wines continue to impress and provide a high quality to price ratio. I’m not sure exactly how The Wine House was introduced to Enrico Pierazzuoli but I am sure it was his confidence and vision that attracted us to his wines. Believing in Enrico and his vision for the future, The Wine House began importing his wines. That was nearly two decades ago!

 

Sangiovese in summertime. Sounds good and tastes good! Checking out our blog, I noticed that the last two times I wrote about wine from Pierazzuoli it was in summer. I can tell you honestly that stuffed zucchini and Barco Reale di Carmignano are dynamite together! My garden is exploding with zukes and I have a couple of recipes using them that need a red but one where the tannins are in check, has good acidity and rich fruit. Ba-da-bing…2011 Barco Reale di Carmignano from Le Farnete!
 

Last weekend I rushed from work for a quick trip up to the River to meet with childhood friends for a “Russian River Rats” reunion. Many of them I hadn’t seen for a very long time – too long! Lots of laughter and reminiscing ensued and continued well into the night. Funny how we all fell into our roles behaving like we did all those years ago. I brought along a bottle of the Barco Reale di Carmignano. It was a big hit, especially with the lamb shashlik that my brother grilled over a Weber while three of us held flashlights allowing him to see in the darkened backyard. Summer fun! – Anya Balistreri

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Filed under Anya Balistreri, Barbecue Wine, Carmignano, Tuscany

2009 Le Farnete Carmignano

October 2013. It has been with much excitement that we’ve proudly reported here that we (in the form of David) have found and have begun importing the wines from more than a handful of new producers over the past couple of years. There’s Claudie Jobard, Stephane Magnien, and Philippe Pernot with their lovely Côte d’Or Burgundies; the Côtes Chalonaise producer Michel-Andreotti; northern Rhône producer Stephane Pichat, and Robert Rocchi, with his stable of southern Rhône wines. That is exciting stuff!! If you think about it, that represents a great deal for you. Buying directly from the importer is the best way to get the wines you want for the lowest price in town. We’ve been doing this a long time, and just as excited as we are about all of our new producers, we’re happy and proud to have so many more producers already as a part of TWH family!

We’ve been directly importing the wines from Tuscan producer/winemaker Enrico Pierazzuoli for 20 years now. Why? The quality is high, they speak of a place, and they’re very fairly priced. Enrico has two estates, one in Chianti Montalbano, and the other in Carmignano, west of Firenze. The estates are located in areas with a high wine growing and wine production culture, as stated by the Bando Granducale of 1716, which was issued by Cosimo de’ Medici and is considered the first law in the world declaring specific wine production to come from vineyards in specific prestigious areas. See here for a reproduction of the Bando Granducale. A wine coming from the prestigious DOCG of Carmignano is the 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano. Enrico’s Carmignano has been the stuff of legend around here for years! Both Anya and I having written about it in years past. In a past life I remember drinking some fancy, high falutin’ Super Tuscans which were pretty special, but did they ever leave a mark (in the pocketbook). If you think about it, the Super Tuscan is a relatively new concept, beginning in the 1970’s. Aha! But in Carmignano, they’ve been allowed to grow Cabernet Sauvignon to bolster the indigenous Sangiovese since Cosimo de’ Medici’s Bando Granducale! This wine has a special place in our hearts and on our tables, as it is truly a special wine that has a great history, and best of all, it can be had for less than $20.

 

2009 was a stellar vintage in Carmignano with wines that show power and concentration, yet they have finesse and can be accessed at present. Enrico’s 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano is alive with expressive purple fruit aromas, hints of smoky incense, and a kiss of the earth. The palate is rich and lively, yet deep, with a good dose of the aromatic complexity, and barely noticeable tannins. The finish is bright and balanced, the fruit and earth persisting. A great food wine, it boggles the mind as to the possibilities … Let’s see, meatballs seem to be all the rage in my world these days; some pork/veal meatballs with an herbal infusion, on a bed of polenta with a rich arrabbiatta sauce along with some sauteed broccolini. Yeah, that’ll be just fine. You’re welcome to try something fancier, but when you get home at 7:00, quick, simple, and delicious is always welcome.

Rumor has it that we’re soon to be celebrating an Anniversary. It’s true, TWH will enter our 37th year of business this weekend. We owe you all a big, giganticTHANK YOU! As we wouldn’t be here without you. We greatly appreciate your continued patronage, as well as the positive feedback we receive regarding our wines and promotions. As we continue to meet and introduce you to new producers, we would like to take the time to focus on the passion and dedication of one of our stalwarts, Enrico Pierazzuoli and his 2009 Le Farnete Carmignano. – Peter Zavialoff 

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