Michael Corso of Michael Corso Selections

Michael Corso was curating a wine tasting from selections of his inventory at The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan.  Michael Corso began his wine career in 1972 at The House of Glunz, Chicago’s oldest wine retail shop and since then he has been in wine sales at restaurants, wholesale, distributor, and importer.  He helped create Chicago Wine Merchants, one of the leading fine wine distributors in the United States.  The basis of Michael Corso Selections was formed during this time frame.  In 2008, he established MCS as an independent importer of high-quality estate wines and spirits from France and Italy.

The goal at Michael Corso Selections is simple and that is to import top quality wines at the best possible prices.  He abides by the adage that I have heard often during my fifty years of wine enjoyment that “good growers will always make good wine” and that is true from the garagiste growers to the First Growths.  His focus is on small vignerons who keenly appreciate the land and are great stewards of the land as it is usually passed on the next couple of generations of family growers.  Hence, many of the winemakers that they represent work with the concept of sustainability (before it was a new catch word) and most are organic farmers and don’t want their wines to be disturbed by “interventionist importers.”

The first wine that we tasted was Les Vignerons Reunis Montagny Premier Cru 2020.  Les Vignerons Reunis is a small cooperative of thirty growers based in Montagny and the Cote Chalonnaise.  They are known for their Bourgogne Blanc “Cuvee Reserve” and their Montagny Premier Cru.  Montagny Premier Cru wines are from classified vineyards in Montagny, and all of the wines are made from Chardonnay.  Years ago, the Premier Cru status was awarded by the alcohol level, but it has since been changed to individual sites in the district.  There are actually over fifty named parcels, but even though they can use the parcel name, they just use the Premier Cru designation.  Of the 306 hectares of Montagny, 202 hectares are classified as Premier Cru.  This particular wine is made from a five-hectare plot of black earth, shallow and stony, and the subsoil is a limestone clay and crumbly limestone.  The fruit is hand harvested and undergoes cold maceration followed by a natural yeast fermentation in Stainless Steel.  The wine is then aged in used French Oak barrels.  Five thousand cases were produced and they feel that it has any aging potential of five to ten years.  This very soft straw-yellow wine offers notes of white florals and honey.  On the palate tones of dried fruits, hazelnuts, and flowers blend into a very full complex white wine with a very nice medium finish of terroir.       

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The Fine Wine Source Wine Club Selections – May 2023

One of my favorite pastimes is to stop at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan to pick up the monthly club selections.  Of course, the great news is that they were having a curated wine tasting from one of their vendors, and I ran into many familiar faces, and it was a most pleasant way to spend a couple of hours. 

As always, the wine club features one wine from the Old World and this is one that I just recently wrote about from an earlier tasting, but a new vintage, with the winemaker the Podere Ciona “Ciona Rosé” Toscana IGT 2021.  I was reading the history of the winery on their website “Franca and Franco Gatteschi were looking for a place in the countryside to retire to, after many years of working in Italy and abroad, when they came across a small, beautiful, albeit run down property: 100 acres of land, mostly wooded with 10 acres set aside for cultivation, of which 2.5 acres already had vineyards; a house from the 18th Century, abandoned for more than 40 years; and, above all, a view without equal on the Chianti hills, with Siena in the distance.”  It really sounds idyllic and makes one ponder how this property was neglected and ignored for years.  “They purchased the estate at the beginning of 1990 and they immediately started the reconstruction work on the main house (it took nearly three years). They also set up a small but well- equipped wine cellar for making wine. In 1996 they permanently moved to live on the estate and the following year, the great 1997 vintage, saw the birth of the first “official” wine of Podere Ciona: A Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva.” The Rosé was made entirely of Sangiovese in the saignée method.  The vines are from six to nineteen years of age and planted on quartz, clay schist and marl.  The fruit is harvested manually in small baskets and then de-stemming, berry by berry for a slight crush in Stainless Steel vats for ten to twelve hours of skin contact and no Malolactic Fermentation. The wine is then aged for about six months in Stainless Steel and then further fined and bottle aged for six months before distribution. There was about one-hundred-eighty cases produced of this wine.  A pretty salmon-pink color with notes of fruit and spices, just a well-balanced light and easy drinking wine with a nice medium count finish offering terroir.

Tortoise Creek Zinfandel Clement Hill Lodi 2018 represents the New World and we have had several wines from this company and they are part of Winesellers Limited.  Winesellers Limited was founded by Yale Sager in 1978 and began as a one-man operation selling wines in the Midwest and over the last forty years has become a recognized importer and marketer of family-owned wineries produced in both well-known and unique regions of the world. The concept of Tortoise Creek is to work with small farmers who focus on sustainable farming in California.  The wine is a blend of eighty-five percent Zinfandel, then percent Petite Sirah and five percent Tannat.  The grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed vineyard in the Clement Hills region of Lodi where the soil is clay and loam of volcanic origin.  The grapes are crushed into Stainless Steel fermentation vats for ten days and then extended maceration for an additional ten days on the skins.  The wine then under goes Malolactic fermentation and then aged for six months in American Oak.  The wine is described as having deep color with notes of spicy aromas of dark berries and plums.  On the palate a big round wine with tones of red fruits and the Petite Sirah and Tannat add additional complexity and nuance to the finished product. 

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It is a Gamble

Some people are very organized that have a cellar, I have to tell you, we are not them people.  Some times we are thinking of a certain wine to go with a dish for dinner, and at the last minute, another wine clicks in.  Other times you think that you are getting organized and will have optimum performance from the cellar, and then it is, I don’t feel like that tonight.  Here are two stories.

I went into the cellar and came back with a bottle that has been kind of a go-to for me since high school and it was a bottle of Domaines Perrin La Vieille Ferme Rhone Valley 1996 which is now called Famille Perrin.  While Famille Perrin, a wine maker and a negocient, is a relatively new company founded in 1997, the Perrin family has been making wine since the early 1900’s when Pierre Perrin inherited the Chateau de Beaucastel estate.  They are now in the fifth generation of a family owned and managed business.  Besides the original estate, they make wines with famous appellations, and regional wines from the Rhone Valley.  Their portfolio also includes the La Vieille Ferme brand which started in the 1970’s and they also have Miraval.  They produce Red, White and Rosé wines and surprisingly the majority of the wines that they produce center around the three famous varietals of the region; Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre, though there are nine more varietals that are sanctioned, but seldom seen. The Cotes du Rhone appellation was created in 1937 as a catch-all for all the wines not from the more prestigious regions of the Rhone Valley and it is now one of the largest selling districts in France.  The name of the wine translates to “the old farm.”  This old of a wine is not on their site, but it is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvedre.  The cork was in excellent condition and so was the wine, which was a wonderful surprise for a twenty-six-year-old, which is older than our eldest grandchild who is out of college.  A deep ruby with no browning or foxing and still offered notes of black cherry.  On the palate the wine had traces of fruit, the tannins were all mellow and a short finish.  This wine over performed for its grade level.

The second wine that we experimented with from the cellar was Robert Talbott Vineyards Chardonnay Monterey Cuvee Cynthia 1999.  Now this winery is near and dear to my heart, as I used to get Christmas Cards from Audrey Talbott (the mother of Robert) for years, because she and her husband back in 1950 moved to Carmel and began making silk ties for men’s stores. Young Robert had no desire for the men’s wear and in 1982, the Diamond T Vineyard was planted and it began.  The Cuvee Cynthia was a small production of less than five-hundred-cases.  I have had this wine in the past, but alas the kitchen sink was the recipient of the wine, as it had stayed too long in the cellar, perhaps forgotten.   

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Two Brunello di Montalcino Wines

Had a chance to taste some wonderful wines at my local wine shop, The Fine Wine Source in Livonia, Michigan, and we compared two wines from Brunello di Montalcino.  Brunello di Montalcino is a small district in Tuscany and is considered one of its greatest wines, along with its neighbor Chianti Classico.  It is made only using the Sangiovese Grosso varietal.  In July 1980, it was formally recognized as Italy’s first DOCG designation, and today there are about two hundred winemakers there.  By decree, the wines must be aged for four years (five for Riserva) with at least two years in oak and at least four months in the bottle before the release.  Originally in large Slavonian oak vats, but now some use French Oak barriques.

We started with the Societa Agricola Altesino Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018, and this wine is usually referred to as Altesino.  The Palazzo Altesi which still overlooks the estate was built in the Fifteenth Century.  In 1975, there were one of the first to introduce a Cru wine, a single vineyard wine.  Altesino has been owned by the Gnudi Angelini family since 2002.   Altesino has about fifty hectares of basically all Sangiovese, the grape of the region, and referred locally as Sangiovese di Montalcino.  This ruby red wine offered notes of red and black fruits, violets, and spices.  On the palate tones of black cherry and plums, and its famed earthiness; the wine is big, with velvety tannins and bright acidity and a nice long finish of terroir and fruit.        

Then we enjoyed Tenimenti Angelini Val di Suga Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 and the parent company is known as Angelini Wines & Estates.  The company’s origins are in the Marche region, where pharmaceutical industrialist Francesco Angelini took over the management of Fazi Battaglia in 1949, best known for their Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico.  They really started to expand when they acquired Val di Suga in Montalcino and now they have six properties in Chianti, Montalcino, Le Marche and the Veneto.  All part of Angelini Holding SpA based in Rome.  The wine is a blend from three slopes with diverse soils of limestone and sandstone.  The grapes from the three vineyards are fermented separately and then maceration on the skins for about twenty-five days.  The wine is aged for twenty-four months in Slavonian Oak, then twelve months in concrete vats and at least twelve months of bottle maturation before release.  A ruby/garnet red wine that offered notes of black cherry, violets, and violets.  On the palate tones of cherry, and coffee beans with silky tannins and good acidity and a nice finish of fruit.    

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C. King & Co. Pizza & Wine

Periodically I find out about a new restaurant by a review or by social media, this time, it was almost simultaneous.  I found out about C. King & Co. the same time as most of the world, some were ahead of the curve.  As I have stated often, I have a soft spot for pizza, especially the old-fashioned type of my youth, and I am always concerned about new takes on pizza.  I am the first to admit that I have a problem with what I call frou-frou pizzas, but I still will give it a go.  C. King & Co. is housed in a building that originally carried that name in 1838, by an English mercantile dealer, just fifteen years after the founding of Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Very eclectic setting with a tin ceiling, cobbled benches and non-matching tables and chairs.  Fun and totally unpretentious and it works.  We got there almost an hour before our reservations, and it is in the downtown district near the City Hall, instead of the trendy Depot Town in Ypsi as well, and our earliness was not a problem. 

The menu was computer printed pages using clipboards.  There were specials, appetizers, salads, desserts, wines, and cocktails.  Very concise and probably ideal for when menus were being tossed after one person touched them.  We relied on our waitress to guide us through. She suggested that we share a pizza and a salad.  We had the Asparagus Vinaigrette Salad of Asparagus, Buffalo Mozzarella, shaved Parmesan, Prosciutto, and an aged Balsamic drizzle.  My Bride loved the Mozzarella and we were both a bit disappointed with the stringy-ness of the Prosciutto.  We also shared a Mushroom Pizza with Ricotta, Bacon, and Truffle Oil.   When she brought out our salad, she also brought out a Clam and Garlic Pizza that she mistakenly ordered for us, and told us to take it home, compliments of the restaurant. The two pizzas were excellent, and the so was the salad as a side.  We also shared a Baked Alaska with Mint-chocolate Ice Cream.

They had a nice neat wine carte, and as par for the course, for this last year or two, my first choice was sold out, an interesting Dry Furmint.  We had a bottle of Poderi dal Nespoli “Nespolino” Bianco Trebbiano-Chardonnay Rubicone IGT 2021.  The history of Poderi dal Nespoli has it roots in four generations of Romagna winemakers and almost ninety years in a mix of hospitality and wine production.  The Rubicone IGT basically covers the entire Romagna region that was blended into the Emilia-Romagna region during the unification of Italy.  It is basically concerned with varietal wines and sanctions almost forty grape varieties, outside of the restrictive DOC implementations.  A single varietal must have at least eighty-five percent of the named varietal and blends listed with two wines, the first variety must be at least fifty percent of the blend.  Trebbiano is the most planted white varietal and gone so far as to annex localities where it is exceptionally memorable, in France it is known as Ugni Blanc and best used in the production of Cognac.  There were no production notes to be found, but I will venture to say that the wine is produced using Stainless Steel.  The wine is a pale straw-yellow color, maybe leaning to a tinge of green and offers notes of pineapple and papaya (more from the Chardonnay as Trebbiano is usually just light and fresh).  On the palate tones of papaya and mango with good acidity and a short finish, but I think this would be best to be drunk young.        

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Dinner at Champs

I was tagging along with my Bride as we were going to have dinner at Champs and we had both presumed that it was the chain sports bar with two “P” s.  We were pleasantly surprised to find that we were going to an independent establishment, a rotisserie style restaurant that also did seafood for decades.  We were meeting some of my Bride’s friends, some going back to Elementary School and their spouses.  As you may have noticed, my Bride is very sociable.  We ended up getting there ahead of the rest and they ended up seating us near the fireplace in the dining room, which was appreciated as there was still a nip in the air, it is Michigan after all.

Since we were there early, it gave us a chance to study the menu, which I should have done at home and then I would have realized that it wasn’t the restaurant that we thought of.  My Bride saw that they had Perch offered in three different preparations, so she immediately decided on a sauté version.  I checked with our waitress about the ribs, which is something we normally don’t do at home, and I had to make sure that the meat fell off of the bone.  The last thing that I want to do in public is gnaw on a bone.  It did, I was happy, she decided on a house salad and I went with Cole Slaw, which I think is mandatory with ribs.

Since, we still had time I also studied the wine list and my Bride said that she would have a red wine, because I was going to have the ribs, I mean isn’t that a great spouse.  The wines were all in the same price points, within a few dollars and I always am looking for a new wine to write about.  I mean I would get bored always writing about the same wines over and over again, especially since so many have become the mainstays of popular priced restaurants.  I thought that French Blue Bordeaux Rouge 2019 sounded intriguing.  The winery’s theme is “Kiss French, Be True, Drink Blue” as created by the winemaker Stephanie Rivin, who states that she wishes to create an “American Twist” on French wines.  The wine is estate grown in Perissac, Bordeaux on sixty hectares of limestone and clay soils.  The wine is a blend of eighty percent Merlot and twenty percent Cabernet Sauvignon with average aged vines of twenty-five years of age; aged for twelve months in fifty percent American Oak and fifty percent French Oak barrels.  A pretty deep ruby red in color offering notes of black fruit.  On the palate, black cherries and currants lead the way with a fruit-forward, but not jammy taste, just a touch of vanilla, nice tannins and a decent finish offering more fruit compared to terroir.  It was a very good basic Bordeaux wine that I especially reminded me of my youth and this wine I would say probably even has a potential for aging for five to eight years.      

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Eleven Years of The Wine Raconteur

I know it is hard for me to believe that I have been doing this for so long, I just looked it up, and the average is two to three years.  I guess if you are having fun and don’t look at it as a job, it is easier.  I think that I started this out of restless energy and with the realization that I would not be working forever.  My life as a clothier, while an excellent profession, had changed and was not the industry that it was, when I started.  I sometimes think that today, the term proper attire, means clean clothes.  I wanted to see, if a blog was something that could keep me occupied a bit, during my retirement, after all, I haven’t chased a little white ball across grassy plains since college.

Periodically, I take a look at my early writings and cringe, not that I am a great writer today, but I think that I have matured and acquired a “conceit” of writing, meaning that I think that I have found a voice that I am comfortable with.  At first, I tried to emulate some of the other writers that I respected, and to be told, there is a small group of us that are still pounding away on their keyboards for the same eleven years and some maybe even longer.  It eventually evolved into my meandering mind, creating an image of someone across the table from me, as we nibble on food, drink some wine, and talk about wine as well; though the cigars and the smoke have now dissipated.  The first year, I wrote an article every night, and after the first year, I became a slacker and only publish every other day, and always at the same time of 01:10 GMT, just because I like the appearance of it, as I log it in with my publisher.  Of course, the big question that I always get, is do you get paid to be a blogger and an influencer?  I still don’t know what an influencer is, though I think it means getting plenty of free stuff, under the guise of writing glowing reports, well that is not me, because first I would be embarrassed to ask for anything free and second, since I shave every morning, I have to look at this face each morning.  As for getting paid, hah, it costs money to do this, not to mention, that I think that I am on my third or fourth desk chair since it started.

I write an article, and send it to my publisher and eventually when the time comes for it to publish it magically appears; I like to have articles waiting, in case my Bride and I decide to go somewhere, I usually have enough articles that if we are gone a week or ten days, my announcements of the trip won’t appear, until we are back home, why let the world know that your house is empty.  The new article magically appears on Twitter, which I still don’t understand, but it does seem to have a life of its own.  It used to appear magically on Facebook, but they keep making it more difficult for a blogger, because they want to wring money from me, for a labor of love.  For a mere seven dollars an article, a pittance, they will guarantee me thousands of loyal readers for each publication, but it isn’t real, just like Facebook, so I continue limping along there, mostly to keep track of family and friends.  In March of 2017 I started on Instagram, being coaxed by other bloggers.  I have systematically been attempting to get every photo and article entered on Instagram, usually two postings a day and hopefully I will have it all in sync within a year, so that my articles will eventually make sense in a real time manner.  When this is published, I will probably have 3,990 photos and mini-articles posted on Instagram and this should be my 2,193rd article that I have published and my poor Bride has had to endure some crazy times with me.  

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Twas the Night Before Cinco de Mayo

We are seldom Mr. and Mrs. First Nighter anymore, in fact, we prefer for the dust to settle on a new establishment.  We also seldom go out, when everyone, including the amateurs think that they need to go out and drink.  We have been there and done that, and the service usually is less than adequate.  So, we thought that we would kill two birds with one stone, as the saying goes.  We went out on “May the Fourth be With You” and I made a meme for it, a couple of years ago, not really original, but we had seen an exhibit on the props and costumes of all things “Star Wars.”

We were also looking for a new replacement for our local Mexican restaurant, as ours weakened the Margaritas, and changed the menu to more “Tex-Mex” and the biggest sin was that they discontinued their Molé Sauce, and no, this new place doesn’t offer it either.  Maya Cocina Mexicana opened their doors on 17 August 2020, a most inopportune time, but they survived despite our harridan.  Well, we decided it was time and when I made a reservation, they asked that we do not bring children under thirteen for dinner, which was not a problem, as even most of our grandchildren are now in college.  The first thing we noticed is that they don’t automatically toss a basket of chips and salsa at you.  We shared an order of Guacamole and House-made Chips and we both marveled at how crisp and un-greasy they were, as well as their distinctive size and shape.  My Bride had a special entrée of grilled Mahi-Mahi with grilled Pineapple, white rice steeped in chicken broth, zucchini with street corn and a Pineapple Salsa.  Her dish was cooked to perfection and moist.  I had an order of Alambre de Asada which was thin-cut Angus short ribs grilled with bacon, onions, Poblano peppers, in a skillet with Manchego cheese (my substitution) with corn tortillas and a Jalapeno Sauce.  I was expecting a potentially greasy presentation and I was very pleasantly surprised.  We shared a dessert of Pastel de Cocoa, a house-made flourless chocolate cake on a bed of Raspberry Sauce with Whipped Cream.  Our only fault for the evening was they couldn’t make us any Decaffeinated Spanish Coffee; it looked like their coffee equipment was down for the evening.

My Bride started off with a Silver Margarita made with El Mayor Tequila Blanco, Cornbier Orange Liqueur, and fresh Lime Juice.  I asked for the House Margarita, and be careful of what you ask for; it was made with Don Julio Tequila Reposado Private Cask, Grand Marnier, Dry Curacao, organic blue agave nectar and fresh Lime Juice.  They both came in classic cocktail glasses and it was more than enough.  In fact, we couldn’t have a second, they were that potent.  We switched over and shared a split of Terra Alpina by Alois Lageder Pinot Grigio Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT 2020 from the Alto Adige region in northern Italy.  Alois Lageder is a reknowned wine producer from the Alto Adige region and the winery was established in 1823 and has been family owned ever since.  The winery has one-hundred-ten hectares of vineyards spread across the region.  The top wines are from their “Masterpieces” series, followed by their “Compositions” and then some classical grape varieties.  Then they have Terra Alpina and the fruit is harvested from partner-growers in the area.  Vigneti delle Dolomiti IGT designation is basically from the Trentino-Alto Adige region with a bit in the Veneto district as well and is named for the Dolomite Mountain range which is the main range. The IGT was introduced in Italy in 1997 and for this region covers red, white, rosé, blend, varietal, dry, still, sparkling, and sweet wines.  The majority of the white wines are from Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay, this was a charming and easy drinking Pinot Grigio that had some character and a nice finish.  It is a mountain wine on a limestone soil that sees a large swing in temperatures from morning to night.  The vines are between thirteen and thirty-three years of age.  It has Initial Fermentation and then matures for four months on fine lees in Stainless Steel tanks.  A nice straw-yellow colored wine that offered notes of white stone fruits and toasted hazelnuts.  On the palate tones of pear, lemon zest, and nuts with some crisp acidity and a nice finish of fruit.  

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Podere Ciona and Two From 2015

The last two wines that Lorenzo Gatteschi, a family member, and winemaker at Podere Ciona was pouring at my local wine store, The Fine Wine Source were his two premium wines and both of the same vintage.  The owner of the shop and Lorenzo have become fast friends over the years and when he is town, he even stays with the owner at his home, and they have dinner at his restaurant after the tasting session is concluded.  Not only that, but Podere Ciona has some guesthouses on the property that date back to the 18th Century and fully modernized and can be seen on their website. Since the property is between Florence and Siena, it is the perfect location for a vacation and a chance to do enjoy some wonderful wines. During the tasting sessions there were people that were also making inquiries, which I am sure also make Lorenzo happy.

It is always a pleasure to have Podere Ciona Le Diacce Rosso Toscana IGT 2015 and Le Diacce is the estate’s flagship wine featuring their finest Merlot grapes and a touch of Alicante Bouschet.  Outside of Chianti Classico Riserva, Toscana IGT is the other famous designation of Tuscany, and Toscana IGT is the most famous of all the IGT designations in Italy.  Back in 1984 when Sassicaia was granted it very own title of DOC Bolgheri Sassicaia, instead of Vino de Tavola, the floodgates were opened for Toscana IGT and whatever the winemaker can create.  This wine is ninety-seven percent Merlot and three percent Alicante Bouschet.  All hand-harvested and the best grapes are selected for this wine and the initial fermentation was for ten days in French Oak.  This was followed by post-fermentation maceration on the skins for about thirty-five days and Malolactic fermentation in French Oak.  The wine was then aged in French Oak for twenty-four months, and then another twelve months in the bottle.  There were three-hundred-thirty-three cases produced.  A rich deep purple-red wine with notes of red fruit, chocolate, and nuts.  On the palate deep tones of cherry and red fruit (very fruit forward), totally balanced and lush with a nice long finish of fruit and terroir.

To finish off the afternoon we had a tasting of the Podere Ciona Chianti Classico Riserva 2015. I think that when most people think of Tuscany, their first thoughts are a traditional Chianti Classico and if they can get a Riserva, all that much better. The wine is estate grown on their quartz, clay schist and marl soil.  The wine is a blend of ninety-five percent Sangiovese, seven percent Merlot and one percent Alicante Bouschet; and the vines are between fifteen and sixteen years of age. The fruit is all hand-harvested and the initial fermentation is for about ten days in Stainless Steel.  Then malolactic fermentation of the juice on the skins is for about a month in French Oak.  With this being a Riserva, the wine is then aged for twenty-four-months in a mix of French Oak of which ten percent are new, and then an additional twelve months in bottles, before being released.  There were about eighteen-hundred six packs of this wine made. From my notes for 2015, this was a powerhouse vintage for Chianti and this deep ruby-red wine offered notes of plenty red fruit.  On the palate, the cherry and other fruit was excellent, was well balanced and velvety tannins and a nice lingering finish of terroir.  This bottle will cellar well and it needs at least an hour to breath before serving.  

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Podere Ciona Semifonte and Chianti Classico

Lorenzo Gatteschi was holding court, as we used to say, at my local wine club and store The Fine Wine Shop in Livonia, Michigan.  Lorenzo Gatteschi is not only the owner and winemaker of Podere Ciona from Gaiole in Chianti, but he is what we called a “Gentlemen of the Old School.”  He answers all of the questions, and I am sure some of the questions are repeated several times over the course of the day, when new tasters arrive at the allotted times.  While the shop is not large in area, the loyal followers and customers always make it work and have a great time, as they enjoy their wine tastings. 

The first red of the tasting was the Podere Ciona Semifonte Toscana IGT 2018.  This happens to be one of my favorites consistently from the winery as I think it offers a great bang for the buck, as we used to say when I was young.  The soil of the vineyards is a mix of sandstone, clay schist and marl. Depending on the vineyard the vines are between seven to eighteen years in age.  The wine is seventy-five percent Merlot and twenty-five percent Alicante Bouschet.  They still maintain hand harvesting and initial fermentation is in Stainless Steel for about ten days with extended post-fermentation maceration on the skins for about a month, followed by malolactic fermentation, and then aged in French Oak for about eighteen months, finally refined for twelve months in the bottle.  This light-ruby colored wine offered notes of red fruits and spices, and on the palate fresh fruit, soft tannins, and a velvety texture from the Merlot with a nice medium finish of fruit and terroir.

The next red and in fact, all the rest of the wines were reds, was the Podere Ciona Chianti Classico 2019.  Their winery is in one of the oldest parts of the Chianti region on a south-facing hill and the estate has thirteen acres of vineyards, two acres of olive groves and one-hundred acres of woodlands, plus assorted fruit trees, chickens, vegetable gardens and soon apiaries.  The Podere Ciona Chianti Classico 2019 is the winery’s basic Chianti wine and they still maintain their desire to only produce one bottle of wine per vine.  Depending on the vineyard the vines are between seven to eighteen years in age.  The wine is eighty-nine percent Sangiovese, nine percent Merlot and two percent Alicante Bouschet.  They still maintain hand harvesting with manual destemming grape by grape for inspection.  Initial fermentation is in Stainless Steel for about ten days with extended post-fermentation maceration on the skins for about a month, followed by malolactic fermentation, and then aged in French Oak for about eighteen months, finally refined for twelve months in the bottle.  This light-ruby colored wine offered notes of red fruits and spices, and on the palate fresh fruit, soft tannins and a velvety texture from the Merlot with a nice medium finish of fruit and terroir.

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