Tag Archives: FRescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni

Rehabilitaion Lives – Buy Frescobaldi

20 Oct

I wasn’t going to do this but. I mean, it’s Gord Downie we’re talking about. “There’s no simple explanation for anything important any of us do”.

We’ll eulogize Tom Petty next time.

I was reading a recent Wine Enthusiast and lingered on the last article. It was a great story about a visit by Amiee White Beazley to the island of Gorgona off the coast of Tuscany. Gorgona is a penal colony. A real penal colony where bad guys are isolated from the Italian population to do penance for whatever crime they’ve committed.


The deal at Gorgona is that the Frescobaldi family has a vineyard and winery there. It’s built on the remnants of an historic vineyard. The vines and buildings have been rehabilitated with the manpower and support of the inmates of the island. Although the Frescobaldi family lead the whole operation, the article tells us how involved the guests of the state are in the day-to-day operations – training to become vineyard managers, winemakers. And, how the work has forever changed them. I don’t say that off-hand. I mean it. They are changed. People can and do change if given the opportunity and kept away from firearms, reality television, and FoxNews.

I’m second from right in back row

As some of you know, I used to work in the corrections system. I left. Offenders have since pleaded with authorities for a sympathetic ear and an empirically-based approach to their rehabilitation. Can we just get some love and mercy (channelling Brian Wilson)? Anyway, this article touched me – took me back to an early passion and a heartfelt belief.

We used to have correctional farm operations in this province. I worked at an institution that had a woollen mill, an abattoir (misplaced optimism that a murderer or someone who pulls wings off flies would benefit from killing cows?), vegetable, livestock, and grain operations. I didn’t stay long enough to see the kind of change that this article talks about. However, having worked on farms, I can attest that it does change you and for the better. It provides a connection to the land, your place in it, and the onus of stewardship on us all. It humbles you. Despite the hard work (or perhaps because of it) getting your hands dirty in a tomato patch or baling hay is damn near spiritual. And yes, somedays, I hated spiritual but am glad I experienced it.

So, to honour Fescobaldi’s commitment to and investment in change, I’m reviewing the available Frescobaldi products in our market today plus a few I tasted in Italy last month.

A little history first:
(From Frescobaldi website) “The history of the Frescobaldi family starts over a thousand years ago and is closely connected with the history of Tuscany. At the high point of medieval Florence, the Frescobaldis spread their influence as bankers, earning the title of treasures (sic) to the English crown. A little later, with the flowering of the Renaissance, they became patrons of major works in Florence, such as the construction of the Santa Trinita bridge and the Basilica of Santo Spirito.

The family has always looked to develop and celebrate the diversity of Tuscany’s terroir. Being proud owners of some of the greatest vineyards in this region they have always sought to maintain the identity and autonomy of each property.”

Basilica di Santo Spirito

Cool, that part about the Basilica of Santo Spirito. When we were in Florence in September, our flat backed on to the Giardino di Palazzo Frescobaldi. And was a stone’s throw from the basilica. We dined al fresco on the Piazza Santo Spirito in front of the basilica. Isn’t that the beauty of Italy? All the cool stuff around you all the time.

As mentioned above, the Frescobaldi holdings are wide and varied, and include: Tenuta Castiglioni; Tenuta Remole; Castello Pomino; Castello Nipozzano; Castello Giocondo; Tenuta Ammiraglia; Gorgona; among others. Iconic labels include: Mormoreto; Giramonte; Montesodi; Masseto; Ornellaia (with Mondavi); and, Luce della Vita (with Mondavi). We’ve probably all quaffed a bunch of their wines. Hell, you couldn’t go wrong stacking your Tuscan racks with just their stuff. So, let’s get to the tasting!

In no particular order (and, as always, these were not samples – no inducement provided by Frescobaldi or their agents – I do this just for you):

2015 Frescobaldi Campo al Sasso Rosso di Montalcino #429415 $21.95 Rosso di Montalcino is wildly variable in quality, in my experience. This had a mustyish nose which got my heart racing. Crystal clear ruby red – really pretty wine. This wine opens with a burst of acidity. It put me off at first but over time, it tamed down significantly and you get the pure cherry fruit, clean mouthfeel and a medium finish. This would be a great pairing with a simple tomato/basil pasta. But, let the air out of this for awhile.

2015 Castello di Nipozzano Montesodi (2012 is available in limited supply at LCBO #304501 $51.00Enjoyed this at the Dei Frescobaldi wine bar in Florence (a story for later). This 2015 was surprisingly mature for it’s age. It might have been the wine bar situation – being open for awhile. However, it oozes leather/tobacco both on the nose and on the swish and swallow. I love that vibe. Dried berry fruit reinforcing the aged quality – oak integrated. A big wine. A really big wine, actually.

2014 Terre More Ammiraglia Cabernet Maremma Toscana IGT €8 (N/A at LCBO) This is a Cabernet-based red wine from Maremma which is in the southwest corner of Tuscany, near the coast. I’ve always viewed Maremma as good value but also quite variable in quality. The rule for using the Maremma nomenclature means that the wine is at least 85% of the variety on the label. Well, you could definitely pick out that fact without instruction. Straight forward Cab. Faint nose (but tasted in a tumbler not proper glass)- cassis on the swish – no oak effects – light to medium body – some lingering hint of Tuscany but can’t tell you what – maybe style rather than substance on that point. Matched our early evening cheese board, olives, and bread.

2016 Albizzia Chardonnay Toscana €11 (N/A @ LCBO) Like the one above, first night in Tuscany wine. A light to medium weight Chardonnay. Definite citrus nose. Peach in the mouth with some slight butteriness on the finish. Very good effort. A great sipper – maybe you’d want something a little more dynamic for food.

2007 Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino (2012 is available at LCBO in their Essentials program #650432 $52.95When you join CellarTracker, you’re asked to identify your dream wines. Brunello is one of mine. It just represents so well. It’s usually wise beyond its years, extremely food friendly or just fine being your friend, and always provides me an image of a seasoned (read: old) Italian gentleman standing at a cellar door with an inviting smile. I adore it. This 2007 was at a perfect age to create that image. Just starting to brown around the edges, tobacco on the nose with some cherry pie peeking its head out as well as some fumes indicating the power lurking. In the mouth, it replayed the cherry pie emphatically with some funk, liquorice, and leather. All in all a very elegant, balanced wine. I buy a few of these each year and wonder when to open. I’ve been too early (tannins really chewy and hard to get to fruit) and too late (flabby). I hit a home run with this one.

2014 La Vite Lucente #747030 $34.95 A Merlot, Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon bend this qualifies as a Super Tuscan. And before the purists ‘harrumph’, I agree that not all Super Tuscans are ‘Super’. And, many aren’t that ‘Tuscan’ either. Well, put away the daggers. This is both. And both in a big way. My notes on the 2013 suggest musty cherry aromas – solid replay of the cherry with cola and liquorice on the swish and swallow. Medium finish. The Tuscan part is the restraint. I feel like they could have hit us over the head with ripe fruit – heavens knows it’s warm enough to ripen the fruit pre-harvest. However, there’s a veneer covering the fruit component, it’s fruit last not first – the nice acidity which I associate with Tuscany.

2015 Castello di Pomino Bianco #65086 $19.95 This is a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco. It’s a superb sipper. Think sitting on a piazza with a plate of charcuterie, fresh tomatoes (I know there are always fresh tomatoes with me), olives, bread and olive oil. Perfect match – enough weight to carry the meats and enough acid to cut the fat of that meat and olive oil. Enough fruit to battle the tomatoes and lift the flavours of the Chardonnay. I’m not a big fan of Italian white wines but the three profiled here are ‘mighty fine’ which is a wine professional’s term. And, I’m a professional, so don’t try it at home.

2015 Benefizio Pomino Bianco Riserva (N/A @ LCBO) Enjoyed this wine at the Dei Frescobaldi wine bar in Florence. Not sure what the price might be here but I’m thinking…….high. This is a small production Chardonnay blend. Moderately oaked, apples and citrus on the nose – butter and peaches on the finish. A very sophisticated wine. Very, very nice. We sipped it with nothing other than conversation. But, I’m thinking this is a food wine – chicken, pork, mild to medium cheeses.

2015 Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 OK. I’ve promoted this wine from the beginning of my on-line life. This is pure Italy at a reasonable price. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sangiovese that leans toward a truly Tuscan wine. All that to mean that the Sangiovese is present enough that you’ll know where this wine comes from. The style is medium body, streak of acidity that provides a bit of bite on the first sip, and moderate tannins. Fruit is red – “No shit Bill, it’s a red wine’ – but what I mean is that it is cherries and strawberries. Some leather but no real evidence of major oak. Easy drinking, interesting wine.

I’m taking a deep breath here. Ok, on to the next. The 2013 Nipozzano Vecchie Viti Riserva Chianti Rùfina #395186 $29.95 brings a classic vibe to the path we’ve been on here. Put your hand up if you remember Chianti as the wine in the basket (candle to be applied later) that was weak, variable in quality and perfect for the third bottle of the night. I see some hands up there. Well, this isn’t your second year university Chianti. It exudes ‘old’. It screams ‘traditional’. There’s a solidness to this wine. It’s a wine for grown ups (wonder why I like it?)  – elegant, sophisticated, and settled. No one is going to take a sip of this and fall over in ecstasy. But give them a second and third sip and they will fall in love. I read a review of another vintage and they used the term ‘honest’. That pretty well sums it up. Great, great food wine.

I know that I’ve been absent from these pages. I will be posting a bunch of stories in the next few weeks on our Italy trip and about some great wines coming to the mothership.



Essentials Recommendations

10 May

A couple posts ago, I used a video of The Blind Boys of Alabama with Susan Tedeschi singing People Get Ready. I got a few responses saying that they had never heard Susan before. So, I’ve added another of her tracks above – a great John Prine song – great flute solo. Susan’s an accomplished blues guitarist and singer. Her main squeeze is Derek Trucks. How much great music must come from that house? Listen to it as you scroll.

On to the wine. Last week, I was asked by a golf buddy what would be a good red wine to take to a friend’s house for dinner. After I asked the requisite question about what the food was going to be (“Who knows?”), I kind of stalled. Oh, I finally gave a couple suggestions but I felt inadequate. Aren’t I supposed to know these kind of things off the top of my head? I think the issue for me was availability. What wines would be in stock and, ergo, a good recommendation?

The mothership has a cadre (over 100) of higher quality wines and spirits that are usually available in larger stores and they’re called the Essentials Collection. They range from Cristal Brut Champagne ($297) and Tignanello ($103) to Cathedral Cellar Cab Sav ($16) and Anselmi San Vicenzo ($17). It’s a broad spectrum but you should be able to find something that fits the occasion and your budget.

Budget Reds

Monte Antico #69377 $15.95 This is a food wine and it’s Italian. Meaning serve it with pizza, pasta with a tomato sauce, etc. Maybe even a mushroom dish. It has that bite that I love.

LAN Crianza #166538 $15.95 A $16 Rioja Crianza that carries the day. Perfect everyday medium-bodied red. I’m having ribs tonight and might pair them with this unless I get paralyzed down in the basement (so many choices) and end up bringing up something else. If you can find the Viña Real Crianza @ $18.95 – grab a couple bottles as it is very nice as well.

kaikenKaiken Malbec #58339 $14.95 This is a good value Malbec for those that love that grape. I know there are cheaper ones out there but step away from the Fuzion and make a very little step up price-wise to this much better version.

Mid-Range Reds

Muga Reserva #177345 $23.95 If there is even a hint that your guests or you, for that matter, like Iberian wine, this is the the ‘go to’ choice from Essentials. Consistent and typical Rioja cedary goodness. Food or just plain sipping.

Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon #193573 $22.95 If it’s VQA you’re looking for, this is a great example of Niagara Bordeaux red. A hint of green pepper but not distracting from the dark fruit. Good steak wine. It’s tasty.

tenutacastigligoniMarchesi de’ Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castiglioni #145920 $21.95 I have recommended this wine so many times that I can type the name without checking the spelling. Pure Tuscan goodness. Spicy and fabulous with a simple lamb dish.

Honourable Mention

Wynn’s Coonawarra Black Label Cab Sav, Flat Rock Cellars Pinot Noir, Espãrao Reserva, E. Guigal Côtes du Rhone, Montes Alpha Cabernet Sauvignon

Budget Whites

Anselmi San Vicenzo #948158 $16.95 If you like the vibe of whites from north-eastern Italy (Soave), grab this one. A perfect paring would be sun and friends.

Willm Reserve Riesling #11452 $15.95 An extra dry Riesling from Alsace. Stony, citrus. Great food wine.

Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontés #1834 $13.95 I couldn’t forget Susana. This is her entry-level Torrontés. I think it’s the perfect grape for sipping.

Mid-Range Whites

cloudy bayCloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc #304469 $32.95 The SB that started the whole Kiwi love-in. Powerful, clean, gooseberry. Perfect with grilled seafood. It can handle spicier, heavier fare – maybe even blackened grilled fish.

Mission Hill Reserve Chardonnay #545004 $21.95  BC wines are available in short supply here. So grab a bottle of this judiciously oaked Chard. Perfect with chicken, salmon or for just you and your imaginary friend (never drink alone).

Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre #542548 $25.95 This would be a nice counterpoint to the Cloudy Bay above. Both SB’s but totally different styles. This one is restrained, minerally, and better with cleaner foods – like scallops or salads. Friends that winter in Florida start their evening imbibing with a white, frequently a Sancerre. Good sipping.

Honourable mention

Mer Soleil Chardonnay, Tawse Quarry Road Riesling, Malivoire Chardonnay, Astrolabe Province Sauvignon Blanc


Malivoire Lady Bug #559088 $15.95 Have recommended this almost every year. I’m typed out on it.

So, if you need a wine that’s not from the General Listing aisles – something with a little cache, wander to the Vintages section, search these out and please let me know what you think. After all, I am all alone and appreciate contact with the outside world. Well I’m alone except for my imaginary friend, that is. Clink, clink.



Patrick, Alexios and The Red Daily Slosh

17 Mar

Love this song and the timing seemed right. Happy St. Patrick’s 2015! Caution: there are some naughty words.

Being part of a wine blogging community is great. You gather in the ether with like minded souls, you kibbitz back and forth on what you’re drinking, you get great comments on your web site, you learn a lot about wines that you haven’t really had that often, and you unfortunately fall off the wagon. What? Let me explain. Yesterday afternoon, I had decided to forego my usual glass or two (read: bottle) of wine with prep realgrand dinner. It’s kind of a masochistic deal where I tell myself that I drink too much, too often and I need a break and then I proceed to try to talk myself out of that position with mixed results. Yesterday as I prepared our dinner, Anatoli of Talk-A-Vino sent out a tweet to some of us that showed a label shot of 2004 Cvne Viña Real Gran Reserva with the tweet, “This is what I call ‘a damn good wine”. Well, if you’ve read these pages a bit, you’ll realize that Spanish wine has become my Achilles Heel. It’s so damn tasty (a professional wine blogger’s term – do not use it at home). I thought, “I have a few bottles of the 2009 Viña Real Reserva downstairs. Umm. No, resist Bill. Stay the abstinence course” Then, in response to Anatoli’s tweet, Stefano of Flora’s Table tweeted, “Nice, I’m on a Basilicata trip: Re Manfredi, Anglianico d V ‘07”. With a label shot. And it is a very cool, inviting label – “Hey, why not drink a little Aglianico?”, it said. I love Aglianico too! What is a mere man to do? Well, you guessed it – open a bottle of anything as quickly as possible. Rather than taking the time to wander downstairs for the Viña Real, I pulled a wine from the rack upstairs – and with shaking hands and sweaty brow pried the cork out of a 2009 LAN Gran Reserva. How was it? Well, I should have decanted for hours to allow it to open; which wasn’t going to happen. Slosh, sniff, slurp, swish, swallow. Maybe tonight the remaining glass – yes, there was a little left – will be a bit more robust and present. The moral of the story? If you want to dry out a bit, stay off social media.

The March 21st release features ‘Cali Icons’. But, I have a bit of a problem and not just the abstinence thing. I’m overweight in California wine. Being overweight for me doesn’t necessarily mean that I have a ton of them. It means that I will never drink the the ones I have – they never diminish. There’s never an Open That Bottle Night that will get me to pop the cork on these wines. That’s not just the California wines, it’s all the really good ones. What I see happening? In a few years, I will be in the HWID (Home for Wine-Induced Dementia) – along with Anatoli and Stefano it seems – my cellar at my bedside still not able to Open That Bottle. It’s weird. All this to say that I’m not getting any of the offered Cali Icons until I open something else Cali. And, you need company for that. Anyone want to join me?

remofarinaWhat’s the biggest growing trend in wine? Prosecco? Well, yes but what else? New World Rhone blends? OK, but what else? Ripassos? Right On! You cannot go to a restaurant in my town (#ldnont) that serves anything vaguely Italian in origin without a few Ripassos on the wine list. They are everywhere. And we know what happens with this race to make a certain style or varietal of wine. There are way too many pretenders and sloppily made wines. Think oaky Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Cava. Because of that, I seldom order or buy Ripasso unless I’m familiar with the label which does limit my experience. One that I do guzzle with gusto is the 2013 Remo Farina Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore #999946 $16.95. This wine is ready to guzzle right now. You might think light, fresh, red fruit but you’d only be partly right. There’s the red fruit but the additional process (re-passing) has lent a heavier character to this wine, not particularly fresh – ready for more substantial foods than straight up Valpolicella. Balanced. No pizza for this wine unless there’s sausage and mushrooms on it. Good value. Recommended.

castiglioniI have recommended a lot of Italian wines. Italian wines are wines of place – they express their culture perhaps better than any other region’s wines. And, among all those recommended, one certain Italian label appears more than any other for it’s great QPR (Quality to Price Ratio) – Marchesi de’Frescobaldi Tenuta di Castigligoni #145920 $21.95. This week it’s the 2011. Now, I realize that $21.95 isn’t what many might spend for an everyday wine. I say, “Really? Let’s fix that.” What you do is you justify the purchase by telling yourself that it was recommended by a brilliant wine guy and that you’ll drink it on a weekend – say, a Friday night after a brutal week. And then you find an excuse to open it on a weekday. Say…………you decide that you’ll pop it open to accompany The Voice Battle Rounds on a Tuesday. Yes, that works. I mean, who will Adam choose? Slurp. That’s how it starts. Commit to the inevitable upselling and buy this. Drink it whenever you want. Why this wine? This is a perfect representation of mid-range Toscana – cherries, backbone and a long surprisingly luxurious finish. Have with any meat with rosemary, Italian fare like Caprese salad with great Balsamic, Neapolitan pizza – yum – or just by itself. Full-bodied and presenting us with the possibility that we might like Tuscany reds the best. Now, what to tell our exes – Rioja, the Southern Rhone, Niagara, Washington State, Piedmont,………….Highly, highly recommended.

boutariGreek wine – what do those two words conjure up? Sitting on the edge of the cauldera in Santorini with a cool glass of Assyrtiko. Been there. Unbelievable, pinch me. But, it also conjures up a very bad glass of red wine, doesn’t it? I’ve been to Greece a couple times and had sworn off their red wine. Ask me about the barrel red and the re-purposed plastic water bottles on Tinos. There was a reason it was a Euro a bottle? But, swearing off a whole country of wine is like never drinking Ontario wines because you once had a glass of Cold Duck. It’s a bad idea to generalize that much. It’s all about point of reference. Plus, life is boring if all you try is stuff that’s the same and safe. So, I jumped back in a few years ago and since opening my eyes to Greek reds, I’ve enjoyed a bunch of them. You should too. And, the safest label for me is Boutari (FYI, Boutari has been named a ‘Winery of The Year’ 17 times by Wine and Spirits Magazine – only three wineries with more nods). This week, the 2008 Boutari Grande Reserve (Naoussa) #140111 $17.95 arrives. If you’ve never had a wine that’s musty, you ‘must’ try this. On my cheat sheets I don’t have the descriptor ‘truffle’ so I just wrote it in the margin. It has a distinct truffle aroma and that follows in the mouth. Wet earth. Love that. Not a fruity wine. In fact, I don’t have a single fruit in my notes. Sturdy in the mouth and on the finish. Almost the mouthfeel of a CdP. Highly Recommended. March 17th just so happens to be Saint Alexios Day in Greece (I’m not kidding, I looked it up on the internet). So, Irish stew, Guinness and a chaser of Ouzo on the rocks with a splash of water. Well, maybe two ouzos – it is a holiday, you know. I’ll tweet Anatoli with a cool picture of the Ouzo – poor bugger, he’ll have to have one too. That’s how it works.

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