Tag Archives: Italy

Manincor Wine Estate, Alto Adige, Italy

2 Oct

Our recent visit to Manincor was impressive, to say the least. (for more information, go to http://www.manincor.com/default_en.asp). The wines are clean and precise with a beautiful elegance and complexity, just like Michael, the owner and winemaker who spent 2.5 hours with us explaining his approach and philosophy. He strives to be in harmony with life, and does everything biodynamically and sustainably.

All the grapes are harvested by hand and the vineyards are managed with nature in mind. For instance, insects are encouraged to live in harmony in the vineyards. This is depicted by symbolic ants on one of the walls at the winery (see picture).

Their quest towards harmony has many aspects. For example, a tall cement/gravel wall (Michael could have sold for “good money”) next to his underground winery provides a thermal mass to help keep the rooms at the right temperature without using electricity. During dry weather, water is trickled down along the wall to increase humidity, again without using electricity. This is just one of the many ways Manincor is organized to make the most natural and efficient use of the environment.

Manincor also makes some of barrels for winemaking. They harvest oak from a forest they own, and make oak barrels. The picture shows both a trunk of oak as well as oak slats that are drying for later use to make barrels.

Manincor also purchased new unlined cement tanks to have a means of supplying oxygen to wines in a way similar to oak but without the wood. Although Michael uses oak in some of the wines, the cement tanks provide another tool to make wines precisely the way he wants. He can let wine evolve naturally, without the influences of wood on the taste.

Art is a part of their culture, and they support a local artist who uses recycled materials (see picture, with vines and the background)…reminding us of our local friend and artist Madi Lord.

At the end of our visit Michael poured us 14 Manincor wines, a real treat. Unlike most tastings, we liked all of the wines (brief notes here).

  1. Moscato Giallo (yellow) – floral & lovely (already at our store, Pairings Wine and Food)
  2. Riserve della Contessa –Pinot Binaco, Chardonay, Sauvignon Blanc – bright and delicious, already at Pairings
  3. Eichhorn Pinot Bianco – sunny green apple notes, with intense minerality and persistence
  4. Tannenberg Sauvignon Blanc – delicious, intense minerality, kiwi and kumquats
  5. Sophie Chardonnay with a hint of Viognier, SB, and Semillon (as seasonings), lovely nose with complexity; will age well; nice persistence; named after Michael’s wife.
  6. La Rose de Manincor – 6 red varietals – lovely in the mouth – delicious;
  7. Kalterersee Keil – strawberry, red cherry, almond notes, elegant – nice persistence
  8. Reserva del Conte Lagrein-Merlot-Cabernet– beautiful on the nose, fresh luscious red fruit; (at Pairings)
  9. Lagrein –powerful red and black fruit nose; full, black pepper, nice tannins
  10. Cassiano a blend of 5 reds; fragrant red fruit on the palate; hints of pepper; black fruit and minerality –elegant and layered – can age 6-10 years;
  11. Mason Pinot Nero  – pretty on the nose and in the mouth
  12. Mason di Mason 2009 Gran Cru (1 hectare) – only in some years – longer – pretty and full on the nose – fresh and long.
  13. Canstel Campa Merlot (hint of Petit Verdot and Cab Franc) –“dense”; beautiful full bodied black fruit on the nose; delicious, balanced, complex and long;
  14. Le Petit Manincor- Petit Manseng–late harvest, apricot notes – balanced sugar & acidity

Michael also made stellar restaurant recommendations. One was for lunch at Gretl Am See near the winery, which overlooks the same lake we saw from Manincor. The other was “Zur Rose”, where we had a nice dinner the next night.

Anna Maria Abbono

17 Sep

Our visit to Anna Maria Abbono was one of the many highlights of our research trip to Northern Italy. We’d met Anna a couple of years ago in the Boston area and brought several of her wines in to Pairings…her Barbera is our favorite in the store and her Dolcetto’s have been impressive as well.

Anna’s winery is located near Dogliani, in the Langhe area of Piedmont, on a dead end road up Imagehigh where the view is spectacular. It’s wonderfully quiet and the life is a balanced multi-culture. They grow hazelnuts and have geese and various vegetables. Anna is in the fourth generation of a small family winery and where they continue to develop new wines. Their small Imageproduction of 70,000 bottles includes 10 types of wines (see picture of Lori behind the wine bar) because they like to experiment. They’ve bought some property in the Barolo area, so in the future we can also drink Barolo from Anna.

The wines are grown sustainably, exceeding requirements for organic. For instance, their wines are very low in sulfates (a preservative in all wines), 40ppm where the organic requirement is being under 80ppm. This low level eliminates the headaches that Anna gets from many other wines. It was interesting to hear her talk about sulfites and how whites tend to need more than reds since the tannins, acidity and alcohol in reds are natural preservatives.

We started with a new line of white wines, which make sense because of the high altitude, large daily temperature changes and wind. One is Nechetta (yes, that’s the grape), which we never heard of before this trip and a Riesling, very unusual for the area…both fresh and nice….and they’re still experimenting with these wines.

Next was an unusual rose of Nebbiolo, lovely and fresh with big acidity and notes of strawberry rhubarb. The grapes are pressed and the skins immediately removed because of the tannins in Nebbiolo.  This rose was complex on the palate and long, and changed in the glass as we sipped.

San Bernardo is a special single vineyard Docetto that Anna makes only in the best years….awesome! The line-up of wines is excellent, but this was Ray’s favorite. Before leaving, Anna Maria gave us two bottles of this, one perhaps to drink during the trip…we’ll see. I hope you will have the chance to try this wine (at Pairings or elsewhere).

The 2007 and 2009 Dolcettos, the Barberas, the  Cado (this means gift) Langhe Rosso (Barbera and Nebbiolo),  and her Nebbiolos are impressive as well. Perhaps we should have a (blind?) tasting of her reds?

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After going through the wines Anna brought out three cheeses and salamis for lunch and we continued the wonderful friendly visit with Anna and sipped some wine. We especially liked trying cheeses from very nearby. Bra, a hard cheese from the town of Bra a few kilometers away, a Morazano, like the Robiola due Latte we have in the store but firmer, and a Castelmano which was crumbly and assertive at the same time.  The graciousness and hospitality is definitely something we try to emulate in the store – great reasons to travel to learn about wine, foods, and how to live life.