Luigi Valori – “Chiamami quando piove”

On a recent visit to Italy, we visited Luigi Valori’s  vineyard in Abruzzo as renovations are ongoing. Luigi is one of those wine producers who lights up a room with his beaming smile and energetic presence, and although its been a few years since he visited Ireland, people still say ‘Ahh Luigi, how is he?’ with a smile in their voice.

Luigi has had many careers over the years (including a spell as a Serie A soccer player!), but there is no doubt that he has found a true vocation in wine production in the heart of Colline Teramane in  Abruzzo, with a focus on quality and indigenous grape varieties.

Valori Wines are organically certified since 2013, at the end of a five year conversion process, heavy on paperwork, time and money.

 

More recently, Luigi has updated his wine labels (it took us a while to get used to the new ones to be honest!) and now he is upgrading his production facilities with a splendid new roof…

 

 

 

 

 

Valori wines are produced only from grapes grown on his own property, with 6 different wines produced, two white, one rose and three reds. The whites are made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, which is a far cry from the insipid Trebbiano wines available in most winebars! Its got citrus, ripe white peach and tropical fruit with just enough minerality to balance the fruits.  His second white is made from the revived grape variety Abruzzo Pecorino, again with lively minerality, more stone fruits on the palate. Cerasuolo is the Rose in the range, fresh yet rich wine made from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo grapes, perfect as a summer aperitivo or as an alternative to red wine in warm weather.

Red wines are mainly produced from Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, which Luigi produces from low-yield vines, thus concentrating the flavours, the current vintage is smooth and full bodied with red fruit flavours and also deeper blackberry notes. The Vigna Sant’Angelo is a reserva, made with single vineyard Montepulciano grapes, with lots of plum and dark berry fruit flavours with a long long finish – truly a Vino da Meditazione (a wine for meditation). The last of Luigi’s wine range is a dark and inky Merlot called Inkostro (only available by pre-order and a long waiting time!).

And the quote “Chiamami quando piove” – translates into ‘Only call me when it Rains’ which shows the deep link between Luigi, nature and wine, and was the frequent refrain from Luigi when his graphic designer was trying to get Luigi to meet with him to finalise the ideas for the new labels… finally he came up with the idea of the umbrellas to signify that rain is also part of the natural cycle with sunshine to produce wine!

 

The picture shows Luigi with Colm on the recent visit to Valori Cellars in Sant’Omero Teramo Province, Abruzzo.

The care that is taken with the grapes includes ‘green harvesting’ which involves stripping out grapes and leaves to allow the grapes that remain ripen to full maturity in optimum sunny conditions. Check out the video of Luigi demonstrating this technique on our recent visit… https://www.facebook.com/Honest2GoodnessWine/videos/305635880207963/

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Rioja’s Bordeaux-like Classifications

valenciso bottlesTim Atkin MW recently published his 2018 Rioja Report which is a very comprehensive guide to the region.
Tim is a very well respected and renowned wine journalist and as part of his report he classifies the top producers similar to the 1855 Bordeaux Grand Cru Classe divisions.
We were delighted to see that 3 of the producers in Rioja we import from were listed in the classification:
Valenciso – An iconic producer from Haro in Rioja Alta. Well known for their sublime Rioja Reserva Tinto who also make a fantastic white from 100 year old vines.
Classified as a Second Growth.

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Gregorio Martinez – The highlight of this estate for us is the Seleccion Blanco which blew us away when we tasted it in Spain last year. Fermented in American oak and aged for 24 months in the same barrels it has amazing complexity.
Classified as a Fourth Growth.

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Bodegas Biurko – An organically certified producer based in Rioja Alavesa, the wines are very elegant mineral and fresh. They are great value too offering very accessible price points for consumers and restaurants alike.
Classified as a Cru Bourgeois.
Please contact colm@honest2goodness.ie or brid@honest2goodness.ie

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Reviving the Sherry tradition

In June 2017, H2G Wines took delivery of our first consignment of Sherry – from the highly respected family producers Colosia, owned by Juan Carlos Gutierrez Colosia. So far, we have been delighted with our customers’ reactions to this most traditional drink of Spain’s Jerez, which has links with Ireland going back many centuries, and more recently, there is an Irish grandfather in Juan Carlos family tree.

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These unassuming bottles modestly hide the work and time that goes into sherry production, and with the Colosia family at the helm, care and attention is given to each stage of the production process.

colosia cellar

The sherries go through two types of maturation. The first is the ‘flor’ phase which is the name of the film of yeasts which cover the wine for a period of up to 5-8  years – each year some young wine is added to ensure that the flor stays alive. These wines (with the flor layer) are  aged in oak barrels using the complex Solera system (multi-layered barrels through which the wine moves from the youngest to the oldest layer). The wines remain amazingly fresh and dry (Fino).

The second and further type of maturation is an oxidative one, resulting in Amontillado, Oloroso and Cream sherries (closer to the wines reminiscent of a Christmas Sherry Trifle or the bottle brought out by the elderly aunt on Christmas Day!). The wines have added alcohol to stop the flor developing (typically to 16-18%), and must be aged for a minimum of 3 years in a complex system called Criaderas y Soleras. Without the flor and with contact with oxygen, the wines develop and darken in colour and the flavours slowly develop. These wines have multi-layered flavours, with even the Cream Sherry retaining a freshness and length which is unusual in this style of sherry. The Colosia Cream Sherry has no added sugar (unlike many cream sherries), rather it gets an addition of Pedro Ximinez (PX) grapes to add natural sweetness.

colosia bodega

These wines come from a long and complex tradition and it is wonderful that they are enjoying a revival. We are delighted to be in partnership with a very old and respected Sherry Producer in the Colosia family, whose location in El Puerto de Santa Maria provides the perfect location for the long and slow maturation of these Spanish treasures.

These sherries are/will be available in independent wine shops and at Honest2Goodness Market (open Saturdays).

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Benanti Wines visit Ireland

Honest2Goodness Wines are delighted to be welcoming Antonio Benanti to Dublin later this month. We import all the Benanti wines into Ireland, subject to availability.

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Pictured above – Guiseppe, Antonio and Salvino Benanti

The Benanti family are credited with much of the revolution in wine making in Sicily, and in particular wines from Etna. Almost forgotten grape varieties have come back to the forefront, including Carricante (white) and red wine varieties Nerello Cappuccio and Nerello Mascalese. These iconic and world-class wines are mostly in a Burgundian style, although as Antonio Benanti says:

We shouldn’t be trying to imitate Burgundy, or Barolo – Etna stands perfectly well on its own” (quote from Decanter Magazine)

Last September saw us visiting the Benanti Winery on the volcanic slopes of Mount Etna on a dull and rainy day, where Agatino Failla and Antonio Benanti gave us an insight into their philosophy and wine-making.

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As we slid along the wet stony soil, it was immediately apparent that the soil composition and the altitude and slopes play a critical part in the vineyards.

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Gnarled old vines and stone walls support each other in the misty rain, as Agatino tells us that there are over 70 different minerals in the soil, which explains the wonderful minerality in the wines…and the altitude prevents the grapes from becoming over-ripe.

Back in the winery, still very damp from our guided tour of the vineyard outside, Antonio Benanti brings us through a guided tasting of the wines, including some back vintages, showing the wonderful ageing potential of the white wines.The keyword is quality which shines through in everything that Benanti set out to achieve.

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Wines include:

Pietra Marina Bianco Superiore:

Benanti_Pietramarina_btl_shot-332x455Pietra Marina Bianco Superiore: Ian D’Agata, in Decanter Jan 2015 opens his review with these remarks: …many experts consider Pietra Marina to be Italy’s best white wine… his description reads … not unlike a dry Riesling… yellow flowers, flinty minerals, dried herbs, fresh citrus and diesel fuel… this wine is made from the Carricante grape variety and it has lots of ageing potential.

 

 

 

 

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Etna Rosso

Etna Rosso is the mainstay of the Benanti red wine production, and has been compared to a fine Burgundy Pinot Noir, it is a blend of two indigenous grape varieties, Nerello Mascalese (80-85%) and Nerello Capuccio (15-20%). Like Pinot Noir, the colour of the wine might be light, but the wine has plenty of flavour, lots of strawberry and cherry with long silky tannins

 

 

Antonio Benanti will be in Ireland from Wednesday 17th of May til Sunday 21st. Highlights of his visit are a 7 course WineMakers Dinner at 64 Wines in Glasthule (Wed 17th May) and an instore tasting in Terroirs in Donnybrook all day Sat 20th May.

The winery is open for visitors, but prior booking is essential. You can get in touch here

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Honest2Goodness Wines Portfolio Tasting April 2016

From Betomish Wines in Spain’s North East to
Estate Argryos on Santorini,
Honest2Goodness Wines offer a great value proposition to the
discerning Restaurateur or Wine specialist.
These are all wines with a story to tell – stories that resonate with fine food provenance.

We have narrowed down the selection for the 4th of April

to about 80 wines that best represent our philosophy, including:

Betomish Wines – two Irish brothers producing excellent wines in Spain

Organically certified wines from

Pago Casa Gran in Valencia
Luigi Valori – former Serie A Footballer,turned Winemaker

Verdicchio di  Matellica DOC
Ch Segue Longue Monnier in the Medoc


World-class terroir from volcanic soil:

Benanti Wines, Mount Etna, Sicily
Estate Argyros from Santorini, Greece
Mount Vesuvius – Tenuta Cavalier Pepe
(Falanghina, Fiano,  Greco, Aglianico)

Superb new range from Bordeaux
Small estates doing great things in the Medoc and

Puisseguin St Emilion

New Cotes du Rhone Villages from Rousset les Vignes

One of the best Blanc de Blanc Champagne Producers –

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Gimonnet Champagne ‘The best-value sparkling wine of any kind that I have tasted in the past five years’

photo gimmonet articleThis pronouncement was made in this month’s DECANTER Magazine about Pierre Gimonnet & Fils Special Club Millesime de Collection Blanc de Blancs 2008. Although the 2008 is no longer available to us, the 2009 Vintage is shaping up to be just as good, and is available in limited quantities from Honest2Goodness Wines!

Here’s more of what Decanter had to say: ‘A beguiling transparency of pure acid drive propels an incredible finish that splashes long and strong with breathtaking, scintillating, crystalline minerality. This is a cuvee of effortless poise and boundless energy.

H2G have been importing Gimonnet since 2014. The wines are produced from grapes grown on the 28hA vineyards in Premier and Grand Cru sites in the Cote de Blancs area of Champagne, with much of the vines planted over 40 years ago. The wines are intense and rich but yet also fresh and well-balanced – and they are exceptionally well priced for their quality.

The Decanter article (Stelzer’s Dream Dozen Prestige Cuvees – Dec 2015) is written by Tyson Stelzer, a well-known Australian Champagne expert, and the Gimonnet entry features alongside better known Champagne houses such as Pol Roger, Louis Roederer, Krug and Tattinger, so they are in top-notch company, without the high-end price tag… Here’s the RRP for our range of Gimonnet:

Gimonnet Cuis NV Ier Cru Blancs de Blancs Champagne €51.00

Gimonnet Gastronome 1er Cru 2009 Champagne €56.00

Gimonnet Special Club Vintage 2009 Champagne €78.00 (this is the newer vintage of the wine in the Decanter Article).

WHOLESALE Customers – please contact us for pricing.

A great, relatively affordable place to start would be with the Gimonnet Cuis NV Ier Cru Blancs de Blancs Champagne – made with 100% Chardonnay:

 ‘Beautifully pure, floral nose and on the palate, nuances of stone-fruit, acacia, brioche and an underlying minerality,  with a long crisp, nutty finish’.

You can read more about the Gimonnet family here

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Waxing lyrical about Greek wines

We recently travelled to Prowein and Vinitaly Wine Fairs to ‘recruit’ some new wines to expand, improve and freshen up our wine portfolio.

One of the highlights for me was meeting the Sales Mng from Estate Argyros a top producer from Santorini in Greece famed for its dry and mineral scented white wines made mainly from the Assyrtiko grape. What we didnt realise is that the same grape varieties can also produce amazing sweet wines, the best of which can outshine their Tuscan counterparts.

The dry wines we already import have lots of complexity and freshness – they are also fabulous food wines and cellar really well giving masses of pleasure years after the vintage.

We met Stefanos on the Sunday afternoon in Prowein and I was impressed with his total professionalism and enthusiasm; he is a great ambassador for Argyros, Santorini and Greek Wines (a wine producing country on the up and one to watch).

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We tasted the new vintages of the dry white wines and as usual they didn’t disappoint. He asked myself and my colleague Kenny to taste the VinSanto’s and I was thinking of saying ‘hard sell etc etc’ but happily I said ‘yes lets have a quick taste’. Stefanos seemed really proud of these wines as the VinSanto tradition goes back to the 8th century. The explosion of flavours on the palate on these sweet wines was amazing. The wines are made from the same white grape varities but picked very late and aged in bottle the wines turn a copper colour. The intense caramel, toffee and cooked fig flavours are balanced by an incredible acidity that keeps the whole thing fresh. The best bit is that saline acidity remains giving the whole wine a great kick of salted caramel!

‘Nichy’ and hard sell they might be but they will definitely be making their way to these shores on our next order!

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