An Evening with Casanova di Neri

by Bob Rallo

I’ve been drinking wine for over 40 years. Some of the world’s best…and worst! My favorites have always been the ones made by farmers, families, fathers, lovers, artists, and the believers in a simple life. Honest wines, not fancy wines. Giacomo, in recent history, has treated me to some of the most special moments in my wine experience.

Throughout my life, when it came to wine, I’ve always related it to a color spectrum. This spectrum begins with the corporate wineries; the conglomerates, pushing out large quantities of wine at all price levels. No love, all business. To me, if you’re going to drink these types of wine, drink coca-cola.

At the other end of the spectrum are the Brunellos of Casanova di Neri; small production wineries with emotion and passion. I see it as the treasure at the end of the rainbow… as good as wine gets. Like the Barolos of Vieti and the Montepulcianos of Emedio Pepe, Casanova di Neri’s Brunellos, although not commercially or always critically acclaimed, one sip makes you scream, cry, and laugh all at once.

Luckily, you don’t have to wait until you reach the end of the spectrum. Nestled high atop the arch, are some equally spectacular views. You can undoubtedly spend many enjoyable nights now with Casanova di Neri’s Rosso di Neri and Pietradonice.

I hope one day I can inspire Giacomo with a plate of my food the way he has inspired me with every sip of one of his wines. Mille Grazie Giacomo!

TASTING

Rosso di Casanova di Neri 2008
Aromas of violet, fruity and dry, a 5 star every day wine. Drink it now!

Casanova di Neri Brunello do Montalcino 2006
Way too young. Alcohol. Relaxed notes of cherries and spice. Look forward to drinking in 5+ years.

Casanova di Neri Brunello do Montalcino 2005
Dry and tart. Ethereal, with hints of tar. Visions of sugar plums 10 years away!

Casanova di Neri Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Nuova 2005
Light color and viscosity. Pleasant tastes and aromas of rose petals. Very special wine.

Casanova di Neri Brunello do Montalcino Cerretalto 2004
Fruity with dry finish. Great with bold foods like Lasagna Bolognese. Good stuff! Future is exciting.

Casanova di Neri Pietradonice 2006
A long, smooth, and elegant Cabernet. The future is now!

Undici Now Offering Casanova di Neri Tasting Flight

 

The response to the tasting with Giacomo Neri at Undici was outstanding, with many guests asking if there were be another one down the road. Our guests enjoyed the Casanova di Neri wines so much, that we’re now proud to offer a superb tasting flight of Neri’s wines. The Casanova di Neri flight will be $36 and offers diners a 2 ounce tasting of four wines that were handpicked by Neri.

The flight which will be available through June 2011 includes:

  • 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Peitradonice comes from the land where the wine is planted, which is very rich in onyx. It is a wine which uses exclusively Cabernet and Sauvignon grapes: almost a challenge, to achieve a product which fully returns the flavor of the earth and its stone.  If we add very low yields per plant and the climatic factor, we can see it – and we say this with a touch of conceit – as the wine which most tangibly represents Casanova di Neri. Pietradonice succeeds in reconciling international flavor with local tradition and, in the end, all the personality of Montalcino floods out.
  • 2005 and 2006 Brunello Etichetta Bianca (renamed White Label for the American market) Brunello di Montalcino Casanova di Neri is characterized simply by its white label, to the point where it has now been renamed “White label” on the American market. This “Etichetta Bianca” is born in vineyards that look to Montalcino from the east, at an altitude which varies from 350 to 480 metres above sea level, very close to our cellar. The main characteristics of this wine are elegance, finesse and longevity.   It matures in big old barrels for about 42-45 months and perfectly represents the desire to express a product distinguished by character and tradition.
  • 2008 Rosso Casanova di Neri is possibly the wine that best represents the attempt to marry innovation and tradition. It is the synthesis of the strong personality and character conveyed by Sangiovese, together with the immensely drinkable quality of Colorino, a typically autochthonous grape, which makes it particularly well suited to drinking with meals every day.

So if you find yourself in our neck of the woods, stop by and request this limited edition Casanova di Neri wine flight.

Giacomo Neri knows wine and anyone who has the opportunity to talk with him will quickly see what differentiates him in the wine world. Passion, family and tradition are synonymous to him which I quickly learned during our time together at this year’s Vinitaly. The chat at Vinitaly fueled our next meeting – a meet and greet wine dinner at my restaurant Undici in Rumson, New Jersey. The sold out event brought local wine aficionados together in one room to hear from Neri and I, taste 6 of his choice wines from Casanova di Neri which we paired with classical Italian cuisine, and share on his vision for his vineyards. The next day found Neri and I together again to support our good friend James Suckling at his “Bellisimo Brunello’s” event which was held at City Winery in New York City with the support of wine merchant, Zachys. Neri has received much notoriety for his wines, including earning 100 points from James Suckling for his 2006 Tenuta Nuova.

Before the sold-out wine dinner at Undici, Victor Rallo had time to catch up and talk with Giacomo Neri, Mr. 100 pointer himself. Great vineyards in Montalcino, tradition, and a little bit of luck has made Casanova di Neri wines a powerhouse in Italian Brunello.

 

Click here to view the photo gallery from the event

Giacomo Neri at Undici Restaurant

Baroli 2007: Collectables Coming to the US This Spring

By: Victor Rallo

The 2007 Baroli are some of the best young Baroli I have ever tasted and a lot has to do with global warming. I do not believe any wine region in the world has been helped by the global warming more than Piemonte in Italy. In the past it was those rare years when the weather held out in late October and November that the Piemontese had stellar vintages, but I believe global warming is changing that and the 2007 vintage is a prime example.

The winter of 2007 was almost non existent in Piemonte, with no snow and very little precipitation, the flowers and vines began to bud almost one month early. The summer was warm but never had those heat spikes in late July and August and by late August the nights became cool and perfecto. This extended the growing season and the vegetation cycle, in fact even with its early start it lasted the normal amount of days, possibly a few days longer. Nebbiolo flourishes with cool nights at the end of the season, it is when the magic happens for me with Nebbiolo it allows the perfume of Nebbiolo grape to blossom. The 2007 Baroli have the richness and power of a warmer vintage and the beautiful delicate bouquet of a cooler vintage which is very rare for Baroli and makes this vintage truly unique.

The 2007 vintage is unprecedented and the age ability of these wines may be in question because we have never seen a growing season like that of 2007, but after the tasting of 2007 Baroli I attended on March 19, 2011 in New York City, I can assure you this is a collectors vintage.

The Tasting:
Antonio Galloni of the Wine Advocate, bought together 15 of the great Barolo producers for a tasting in New York City, at Del Posto restaurant on March 26, 2011.

I think it is important to list the producers, we could argue about a few but I think Galloni was dead on. The producers:

  1. Elio Altare
  2. Luciano Sandrone
  3. Roberto Voerzio
  4. Azelia
  5. Ceretto
  6. Vietti
  7. Paolo Scavino
  8. Bruno Giacosa
  9. Conterno – Fantino
  10. Elio Grasso
  11. Domenico Clerico
  12. Guiseppe Mascarello
  13. Brovia
  14. Guiseppe Rinaldi
  15. Giacomo Conterno

WOW!! WOW!! WOW!!

The producers were at a head table in the order listed and each spoke about there vision of 2007 vintage before we tasted their wine, what a format! I can tell you that Antonio Galloni has reviewed every wine we tasted and each wine has received 94 points or higher in his first review of the 2007 vintage.

My favorite person at the event: was Marta Rinaldi of Giuseppe Rinaldi Winery. He had never travelled out of Italy prior to this event; Antonio Galloni had to get him a passport after he accepted the invitation to attend. When it was his turn to speak he stood up slowly in a nervous but confident manner, he took the microphone from Antonio and spoke in Italian. Antonio translated and it went something like this;

His voice was far more gentle then his looks, he spoke soft and assured. He thanked us for joining him on his first trip to NY and said it was difficult for him to come. After all he was a farmer and he had never left his vines or cellar before, who would take care of this while he was gone. The trip was only 5 days and total but it should the passion, the pride and integrity Marta had for his wine, his land and his home. His wines portray this dedication vintage after vintage. I love this man and his values I hope I grow old in the same vain as Marta Rinaldi.

My Favorite Wine at the event was the:

Vietti 2007 Barolo Rocche, from the village of Castiligione Faletto

Let me first say that tasting all of these wines was like the finals a Beauty Pageant, every wine was delicious, well made and little intricacies separated the wines for me.

The Vietti 2007 Barolo Rocche, immediately caught my attention, when I put my nose in the glass. The nose was like a great symphony with many layers, and complexities. Ripe berries, burnt sugar, roses and fresh flowers it was truly fascinating. The beauty continues this wine has lovely tannins for a young Barolo and an exciting long finish. This is one of the most well integrated, balanced young barolo’s I have ever tasted.

The wine spends 5 weeks on the skins and malolactic fermentation takes place in French barriques. After fermentation the wine is aged in traditional large neutral Slovonian oak for 2 years. This wine will age for 15-25 years.

A MUST HAVE IN ANY BAROLO CELLAR.