Subscribe to our mailing list

* indicates required

We will not sell your email address.




Mon-Sat 9am-6pm

The Tasting Room is open
Mon-Saturday until 6pm

Closed Sundays

Prices Posted on our site are
subject to change without notice.
We are seeing our trade partners
increasing prices at a fast & furious rate.
(They're Fast and we're Furious.)




Not Tuscany






Good Wines for $5-$15























Napa Valley Grape Info


















Adventuresome  Wines














Spanish Sherry
& Other Delights
















Even Real "Bud"!













January 2018





German Wine "Master Class" Tasting




2020 COVID

2019 SF


2017 SF

2016 SF








Periodically Amazing

The Nose Knows!






A Vertical Tasting of Nalle Zinfandels






A Photo Gallery



Bob's Venetian Diary

Bob's Paris Notes Updated Spring 2007

Wine Writer's Confession


Some Restaurant Reviews

Info For Brokers and
Wine Distributors.


Mainly for Foreign Vintners


Study Reveals Experts Taste More Than What's In the Glass!



Gerald's Tour de France 2006





PONZI'S 40th




Grape Goddess

Ross Bruce Birthday







ITALY: Northern Italia

There is an incredible array of wines made in the Northern part of Italy.   Let's define this region narrowly, including the Val d'Aosta, Liguria, Piemonte (we've got a whole separate page for this area), Lombardia, the Veneto, Alto Adige, Trentino and Friuli.

Northern Italy and Major Wine Types

AOSTA Rarely seen in the U.S. as the wines are relatively "minor" in the context of international quality.  If you visit this mountainous area neighboring France, you'll find grapes such as Prié Blanc,  Nebbiolo, Barbera, Gamay, Petit Rouge, Petit Arvine, Moscato, Malvasia, Blanc de Valdigne, Vien de Nus, Syrah, Grenache, Müller-Thurgau, Fumin and perhaps some Dolcetto.
LIGURIA This small coastal area along the Italian Riviera has Genoa as its main city.  Famous for basil (friends swear the basil for their pesto is best grown on some little hill outside Genoa!), the region has relatively modest quality wines. Cinqueterre is a famous white wine, but what we've seen in our market has been rather average in quality.  Two white grapes are of interest, Pigato and Vermentino, while in red there's a Dolcetto-like wine made from what's called "Rossese di Dolceacqua". 
LOMBARDIA Only recently gaining some fame, thanks to a couple of high-profile winemakers, this region between Piemonte and the Veneto has a curious assortment of wines and grape varieties.  Wines of note include:  Buttafuoco, Franciacorta, Grumello, Inferno, Lugana, Oltrepo Pavese, Sassella, Sfursat, Valcalepio and Valtellina.   Grapes here include Pinot Nero, Chardonnay, Nebbiolo, Barbera, Trebbiano (of various clones), Bonarda, Sangiovese, Marzemino, Schiava Gentile, Rondinella, Merlot, Pinot Bianco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Müller-Thurgau, Riesling, Croatina, Tocai, Pinot Grigio, Brugnola and something called Uva Rara.
TRENTINO This region, north of Verona and south of the Alto-Adige (Sudtirol), produces a wide variety of varietal wines.  Cabernet, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Nero, Moscato, Riesling, Nosiola, Pinot Grigio, Riesling Italico, Riesling Renano, Lagrein, Marzemino, Merlot, Teroldego, Müller-Thurgau and Traminer are typical varieties. 
All the villages here have names in German and Italian and many of the wineries offer their wines with both German and Italian names on the labels.     The locals grow up speaking German as their first language and speak of Italians as though they're foreigners!  There is an incredible assortment of wines here.  The Italian names are listed below, with the German name noted parenthetically.
Moscato Giallo (Goldenmuskateller), Pinot Bianco (Weissburgunder), Pinot Grigio (Rülander), Riesling Italico (Welschriesling), Muller-Thurgau,  Riesling Renano (Rheinriesling), Sauvignon, Sylvaner, Traminer Aromatico (Gewürztraminer), Malvasia, Merlot, Cabernet, Lagrein (the rosé being called Rosato, while the "dark" or red is called Scuro in Italian, Dunkel in German), Pinot Nero (Blauburgunder) Schiava (Vernatsch), Moscato Rosa and Tschaggeler. 
VENETO This large region touches a piece of Austria at the north, with land just west of Verona all the way east to Venice.  The most famous wines include Soave (made of Garganega and Trebbiano), Valpolicella (Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara   as its principal varieties), Bardolino (Corvina, Rondinella and Molinara, principally), Prosecco and Bianco di Custoza.  There are other denominazione such as Breganze, Colli Berici, Colli Euganei, Lessini Durello, Lison-Pramaggiore and Piave.   Producers of Valpolicella pride themselves on Amarone and Recioto wines, both made from dried grapes, the former tending to be powerfully dry, while the latter tending   to be strong and in varying degrees of sweetness.  Soave producers also, often, make a dessert wine of dried grapes called Recioto di Soave.  You can find many wines of the region as varietal wines, so there's a lot of Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Noir, etc. 
FRIULI In Italy's northeast corner, this region has about six sub-regions and wineries here tend to make a range of varietal wines.  Many produce curious proprietary blends.  Frankly, we don't look to this region for "good value" wines.  For example, Sauvignon Blanc wines here cost the importer about the same number of dollar that most California Sauvignons fetch at a retail or consumer level.
The DOC of "Colli Orientali del Friuli" is probably the most prestigious, while "Grave del Friuli" tends to produce less pricey wines.  In addition to the "standard" varieties such as Sauvignon (Blanc), Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay and Riesling, a number of local varieties are noteworthy.  Refosco is a modest red, while Tocai Friulano is a typical white.  Now they can't call it "Tocai Friulano," so you'll see these wines labeled simply as "Friulano."  Schioppettino tends to be a spicy, lightly peppery red.  Pignolo is a rare red wine of interesting quality.  A couple of white grapes make wonderful dessert wines:   Verduzzo (sometimes made into a bubbly or fizzy wine) and Picolit. 

Some Wines We Like:



This is a famous, highly-regarded winery located way up in the hills overlooking the Trentino region.


We first visited this estate in the early 1980s and they were nearly "cult" figures back then.  Today our European friends, all of whom are fans of this winery, reserve their purchases long before the wines are even bottled!  Happily production has grown a bit and we were able to introduce P&S to a good importer who features artisan and environmentally-friendly wines.

The climate in this area is varied and the list of varieties made here is impressive.  For years Pojer & Sandri were thought of as bianchisti, or white wine producers.  But they even make impressive red wines.  So impressive, in fact, that they were invited a couple of years ago to come to Oregon's famous International Pinot Noir conference!  But they also produce a dynamite red blend featuring Cabernet.

For the most part, the wines come from high-elevation vineyards just north of the city of Trento.  You need an hour and 20 minutes in the car if you're coming from Verona.  And you're 45 minutes south of Bolzano in the Alto Adige.  The village of Faedo is a sleepy little place, apart from this landmark-of-a-winery and a few other small cellars.

Fiorentino Sandri inherited a few hectares of vineyards and he teamed up with his buddy, Mario Pojer to create a little boutique winery in the mid-1970s.  Sandri handles the vineyard work and Pojer is the cellar-master.  

The pair continually strives to make better quality wines.  CLICK HERE to go to a web page on the winery site enumerating their pioneering efforts with respect to various wines and innovations with gizmos and machinery to improve quality.

Over the years we've become almost a family member...the kids have come to California and have "hung out" with their American Zio (uncle).

Mario is one of those brilliant fellows who looks at everything, makes an evaluation and, if he likes a concept, works to perfect it.  He came to our shop and saw how we use a tank of argon in our wine-tasting room.  On a trip to Italy we saw they now have a tank of argon gas in their tasting, but Mario devised a really cool dispensing gizmo to sparge open bottles and preserve them after each pour.

He's worked with a company which builds pumping machines.  The innovation there was aimed at minimizing the potential for oxidation when moving grapes and wine.  This translates to winemaking with less SO2 for example.

They've designed a machine to clean the grapes immediately after harvest and prior to their being crushed.  
In fact, we visited Ca' del Bosco, the famous Franciacorta -sparkling wine- producer,  and saw they employ this machine now as are other wineries.
We found a video showing this grape-washing in action at Ca' del Bosco.  CLICK HERE to have a look at that.
We were skeptical about this frankly, thinking the "spa" might wash away beneficial components adhering to the grape skins.
Apparently it is not detrimental to wine quality.

Mario Pojer

Fiorentino Sandri


Now that their kids are grown up, it's great to see they have an interest in the family business.  Elisa Sandri has been in charge of sales and administration for a number of years.  Her brother Federico seems to be the winery ambassador and travels around the world to promote their wines.  Meanwhile, Matteo Pojer was sent to Friuli to a winemaking school in 2017.  Now he's speaking German and learning at the famous wine school in Geisenheim.  His sister Marianna is learning about Public Relations and handles some social media projects for the winery.  


It's a really wonderful enterprise and if you have not tasted their wines, you should consider exploring these.  The wines are "mountain wines" and you won't find them to be the fruit bombs made in warm-climate California sites.  For some tasters, the wines may be a bit too subtle.  These are usually not extreme in alcohol potency, for one thing.  

is a bit of a specialty and it's grown on a hill close to the winery.  Palai is the name of the specific site and the wine takes that name.
It's vinified in  stainless steel and does not see any wood.  It's a rather delicate, crisp dry white and, frankly, oak would do nothing for this wine aside from covering it.
You'll find nice lemon and lime notes on the nose with a faint herbal tone, along the lines of a good Sauvignon Blanc.

It's not a very "big" wine and we enjoy this as a cocktail white or paired with seafood.  It seems to work nicely in tandem with Asian-styled foods, white fish or mildly-season vegetable pastas.

The 2020 is in stock  and we've sale-tagged it at $19.99


The Nosiola grape may be an offspring of something from Northwest Italy's Aosta region.  It had been viewed as a table grape until someone made it into a Vin Santo in the early 1800s.  This catapulted the variety to much greater prominence.  
It got another boost in the 1930s when the Archbishop of Trento decided to stop using red wine for religious ceremonies and change to white wine.  If he spilled Nosiola on his white vestments, who would notice?  

Nosiola these days is made by a number of wineries in the Trentino area.  We've tasted, amongst others, the wine made by the wine university at the base of the hill near Pojer e Sandri.  The Instituto di San Michele all'Adige bottles and sells its wines and theirs is a perfectly good rendition.  
But the 2021 from Pojer e Sandri has more life and character.  Still, it's a light, dry, crisp white wine...think of a French Chablis, for example, but perhaps a tad more quiet and reserved.  We're told this wine can actually age well and so holding it for five years, or more, is not out of the question.
You can pair this with white-sauced pasta dishes, simple risotto, light salads and mildly-seasoned seafood.

Our friend Fiamma Sandri says Nosiola pairs well with any sort of avocado dish, including her Mom's surprisingly good, mildly spicy Guacamole.




You may note have experienced wine made from the Rotberger grape.
It's a grape that makes a light red, at best. 

The grape is thought, these days, to be a crossing of Trollinger (or Schiava in Italy) and Riesling.  The Geisenheim university brought this grape to life and it's not widely-planted.

Rotberger shines brightly when vinified as a Rosato and we were delighted to find the local importer brought in some more Vin dei Molini.

The wine is bottled in the late winter/early spring to retain its mildly berryish, lightly herbal notes.

CLICK HERE to see a little video we shot when they were bottling this wine.
The wine is fresh and mildly herbal.  We detect red fruits and a some currants.  It's dry and light...we paired it with lunch at a San Francisco Dim Sum restaurant and it was delicious.  But it can also be matched with a salumi platter, oysters, prawn dishes, mild pasta and risotto or white meats.


Pinot Noir comes from high elevation sites.  One parcel is about 1000 feet above sea level, another is at 1640 feet while the highest is 2300 feet.  In addition to the cooling influences of these mountainous sites, there's the breezes called "Ora" that flow in off the nearby Lago di Garda.

As a result, this is a light and delicate Pinot Noir, but it's not a weak or feeble red wine.
If you're expecting a wine of the depth and weight of a good vintage from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, why then, yes, you will be in for a disappointment.
But if you understand that it's sort of a picnic wine and intended for lighter fare, served lightly chilled along the lines of a Rosé or Beaujolais, you will be delighted.



Their signature wine for us is called Rosso Faye.  Faye is a reference to their hometown, Faedo, not the name of one of the wives or kids.

We believe the current bottling to be half Cabernet Sauvignon and the other half comprised of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and the wildcard, Lagrein (a local red grape).

We currently have the 2016.  This vintage doesn't display as much cedary oak character as the previous bottling we had (2012).  It's a medium bodied red and seems to do best when it's decanted about an hour ahead of service.  
Our dear friend Claus Bonifer treated us to a magnum of a nicely-aged Rosso Faye.  It was a 1996 vintage and served at 20 years of age.  My, oh my, this was a handsome bottle of wine.
We found it to be reminiscent of well-aged Saint-Julien wines, for example.  It develops more rapidly than those magnificent wines from France's Bordeaux region, but this certainly was a ringer for a wine which might have been a decade, or so, older.

The 2011 is an exceptional wine.  It's got a pretty good backbone, but is drinkable now.  If you pair it with grilled or roasted red meat dishes, you'll be in for a treat.  It's not "Spaghetti Red," so pairing it with a tomato-sauced pasta won't show off the wine to the fullest.  The P&S families suggest Veal Shanks with Polenta, grilled steaks, rack of lamb or cheeses.  They're partial to local cheeses such as Trentigrana or Vezzena.
The 2012 was exceptional, but now sold out.
2016 is currently in the shop...damned good and it seems to be improving with aging.

In addition to their bottle-fermented sparkling wines, they make a curious bubbly called Zero Infinito.

In the nearby Val di Cembra they cultivate a vine called Solaris.  It's a variety born the same year as the Pojer e Sandri winery as a viticulturist in Germany's Freiberg crossed "Merzling" with "Gm 6493."  
The professors doing this work were trying to create a disease-free vine and it seems they are successful.

The lack of vineyard treatments, then, is one Zero.  No filtration.  Zero.
Then, as it finishes its fermentation in the bottle, it has no sweetening dosage, yet another Zero.

Some may describe this as a "Pet Nat," a currently popular fizzy wine. 
Others may say it's a Méthode Ancestrale sparkling wine...

The wine is rather cloudy and hazy when it shows up at the shop.  If the bottles are left untouched for a week, the wine becomes clear as the yeast sediments settle to the bottom of the bottle.

There are two ways to serve this.  One is to decant the clear wine off the sediment which yields a more aromatically fruity bubbly.
If you prefer something a bit more rustic, gently agitate the bottle and pour the wine with its sediment.

When you have the clear fizzy Zero Infinito, you'll find fragrances of a fruit bowl.  We've enjoyed the grapefruit-like notes in some bottles.  Others are reminiscent of fresh honeydew melon, pears and peaches.

Every bottle, though, is unique.  

While they're not making large quantities of sparkling wines, they do make an excellent bubbly which is extremely dry.  Like French Champagne, the wine is made of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.  The wine spends about two and a half years on the spent yeast before disgorgement.  No sweetening dosage is added, so the wine is too dry for most people.  



Tasting the current line-up.

Currently in stock: 2016 ROSSO FAYE (List $65)  SALE $49.99
2021 NOSIOLA  $21.99
2021 VIN DEI MOLINI (Rosato) $18.99
2018 PINOT NERO  $24.99

Their grappa finally arrived.  Pinot Nero Grappa   Sale Priced at $64.99

Here's a Link to a little's in Italian, but you can see people flock to taste their wines at the Italian wine fair, Vin Italy.
The comments from those interviewed is quite enthusiastically laudatory.
These people are in the wine business in Italy, people who work in wine shops and restaurants for the most part.



You could not know the Trentino grape called Teroldego without knowing the wines of Elisabetta Foradori.
You could not.

Her wines had been the reference point for this wonderful grape, a variety that's particular to the Campo Rotaliano, a small region north of Trento.  There's lots of limestone and granite to the soil here.  Ms. Foradori has worked diligently to plant and re-plant good "clones" of Teroldego, preferring vines which will produce quality fruit, often at the expense of quantity.  The region, actually, had been carpeted with Teroldego from more vigorously-producing clones, so Foradori took cuttings from her family's oldest vines (heirloom Teroldego, if you will) to propagate.  Elisabetta says they have about 17 clones of Teroldego presently.  
The Famous Principessa of Teroldego.

In the cellar...

It was a warm morning, so we tasted outside...a "Fuoradori" tasting.

Her basic Teroldego is labeled simply as "Foradori."  It carries the "Rotaliano" D.O.C.    It comes from various vineyard sites from her major holdings in the Rotaliano "region."   The average age of these vines is older than the winemaker, which is a good thing.   The fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the wine is matured in seasoned oak for about a year.  These are routinely delicious and a great alternative to wines such as Chianti Classico, Barbera, etc.  We currently still have her 2009 vintage.

"Granato" is a wine that's also made entirely of Teroldego, but though it's the more "special" wine, it has the lesser denominazione of the I.G.T. of Vigneti delle Dolomiti Rosso.  The wine comes from various vineyard sites, all cultivated with more severe pruning in the winter to reduce the yields and maximize the intensity of Teroldego. 
This used to be, for us, a benchmark wine.
More recently the Granato has become a more standard quality wine to our taste.
Interestingly the critics have routinely awarded the wine high marks, despite it being so different and for us, less complex and less striking than the wine she made in the early 2000s.

We recently tasted the 2015 was merely a standard bottle of red wine.  No longer is the majestic wine of the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Some winemaker friends we've queried say they're perplexed by the various ratings as they think the wines have been less interesting.

A trio of other wines rounds out her portfolio.  A white wine called "Myrto" features Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Bianco and Incrocio Manzoni.  There's a particular red blend featuring Cabernet Sauvignon with Syrah, Petit Verdot and 10% of local, "Foradori" varieties.  And, finally, she's been bitten by the Syrah bug, creating a wine called Ailanpa of which she makes about three bottles every few years.  

Elisabetta has recently become enamored with terracotta amphora containers for her wines. We wondered about the use of these and how it might impact the wines.

We have felt the quality of the wines we've tasted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 has been a bit disappointing.

In 2018 we tasted the range of wines and felt the basic bottling had improved, but we were not thrilled by the various whites, nor the current Granato.
A couple of single vineyard Teroldego wines were rather nice and of good quality.

We currently have the 2018 Vintage of her's a medium-bodied version and you won't find wood to be a part of the flavor profile in this wine.
It's best served lightly chilled and probably a wine for immediate drinking.


Currently in stock:  2018 Foradori Teroldego "Normale" $27.99




Peter Dipoli is a highly-regarded vintner in Italy's Alto Adige region and he's been making a full-throttle dry white made of Sauvignon Blanc for years.

He's an Alto Adige native and studied at the wine school in the Trentino region, the Istituto Agrario di San Michele all'Adige. Armed with his degree, he then went to work for a branch of the Centro di Sperimentazione Laimburg.  

In 1987 he was able to purchase a small vineyard of 1.2 hectares (not quite 3 acres) near the town of Cortaccia.  The vineyard was planted with the local red grape called Schiava, but Dipoli said he wouldn't slavishly make this little wine so he replanted it with Sauvignon Blanc, feeling this would make a more noteworthy wine.

The first vintage was the 1990.  Today he's got 3 hectares of Sauvignon, working out to not quite 7.5 acres.  

The winery also produces some interesting red wines, with Cabernet and Merlot being the players there.
The vineyard for the Sauvignon is located about 500 to 600 meters in elevation (1600-2000 feet, roughly) and the soil has sandy soils with limestone, a good combination, Peter explains.

The swing between warm temps during the day and cold nights allows the fruit to retain good levels of acidity.  The Sauvignon then has lengthy "hang time" so it loses the vegetal or bell-pepper notes and takes on a more exotic fruit character.

The vineyard was planted with a number of different clones of Sauvignon Blanc, but Dipoli says if and when he has to replant, he'd select just two or three.  "Loire Valley clones of Sauvignon might work well in France, but they don't necessarily produce the best wine here," he told us.

The wine is fermented in wood, but not French oak:  Acacia barrels.

It stays in wood until May following the vintage.  They will stir the spent yeast sediment several times a month for the first few months and then simply allow this haziness to settle in barrel before bottling it.

It seems to age handsomely, too.  We tasted a couple of young vintages on our visit and then one that was 8+ years old.  It resembled a wine you might identify as being from France's Alsace.  Exotic notes of baked apple-like fruit.  
A 5+ year old bottling was very fine and quite complex and elegant.

A tank sample of a recent vintage was very shy and quiet, not unlike Dipoli himself.  "My wine needs a couple of years to develop." he explained.

The 2015 is currently in stock.  It's the product of a rather warm growing season.  It's ripe and mildly herbal with a suggestion of a woodsy note.  Quite elegant, but it's not a bright, fruity Sauvignon along the lines of Sauvignons from New Zealand or the Loire.  
No...there's a "wild" element to this wine, along with some of the herbal notes of Sauvignon.   It's dry and slightly minerally on the palate.  The flavors change a bit as the wine gets some air and warms up from the cold refrigerator temperature.  

It's not for every palate, but if you're in tune with this wine, it is quite enjoyable.

Dipoli, by the way, also has a side business of representing some of his neighbors and other wineries, so he's well-connected in the world of Italian wines.  He's a good judge of wines, too.  We were amused to hear him use the term "siliconato" to describe wines that are pumped up and overly alcoholic.  These would be some of the "fruit bombs" that get huge numerical scores from so-called experts.
Siliconato.  As in "silicone" implants to augment someone's appearance in an artificial way.

Currently in stock:  2015 PETER DIPOLI Alto Adige SAUVIGNON  $27.99



Yes...that's an empty bottle of wine from Santa Barbara's Au Bon Climat winery.

Il Professore tasting Voglar.
Tasting a tank sample

Restaurant Weingut Köfererhof - Varna - Novacella / Neustift - Vahrn -  Valle Isarco / Eisacktal


With much of the Alto Adige wine production made by some top-notch grower's co-op wineries, we applaud some of the small, independent, single family cellars.  One such producer the that called Köfererhof and it's run by Günther Kerschbaumer and his wife Gaby (who's also a chef).

The vineyards are in the Valle Isarco (in German it's the Eisacktaler), a region running northeast of Bolzano on a diagonal.  It's higher elevation and so the wines from this region can have great aromatics.  They tend to be a shade lighter in body, too.

The winery has about 6 hectares of its own vineyards and they rent or lease a handful more.  Fruit from the early years of the Kerschbaumer family ownership was sold to local co-ops, but in the mid-1990s they began vinifying and bottling their own.  This fellow is a perfectionist and is highly-regarded by neighboring wineries as quality is the name of the game.

Wine and grape guru Ian D'Agata has written of this winery:
“Weingut Köfererhof is one of Italy’s smallest and best white wine producers. Just about any grape variety owner Günther Kerschbaumer touches turns to gold. Over the years, he has fashioned remarkably delicious and age worthy wines from the likes of Sylvaner, Riesling, Kerner, Müller-Thurgau and other varieties”  

At dinner in San Francisco's famed Acquerello restaurant we were served a Köfererhof Müller-Thurgau with a Hiramasa (Yellowtail Kingfish) excellent pairing as it turned out.

We've had a few wines from this cellar on several occasions in Northern Italy and once or twice around the Bay Area.

We currently have Köfererhof 2021 Kerner in the shop. 

This grape is a crossing of Schiava (a red grape) and Riesling.  The crossing became available in 1969 and had been enthusiastically planted in Germany.  Over the years, that enthusiasm seems to have waned in Germany but it's waxing to some degree in Italy's Alto Adige.

Köfererhof's wines are typically DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata), but their Kerner is "merely" an IGT (Indicazione Geografica Tipica).  It seems a neighbor decided to rip out a vineyard of Müller-Thurgau and replace it with Kerner.  The site is said to be exceptional and Kerschbaumer knew it could produce remarkably good fruit so he signed a lease.  

Only when it came time to fill out documentation for the government did it become apparent the best they could do was label it as an IGT wine.  It seems the neighbor neglected to fill out the paperwork for retaining the DOC status of the vineyard.  
Since there is routinely massive red-tape to deal with, presently the only way to correct this mistake is to rip out the young vines of Kerner and replace them with new vines fresh from the nursery.  Then they can wait several years for some grapes to be produced, while losing maybe three or four harvests.

Of course, Mr. Kerschbaumer would prefer to make damned good wine as it can speak more eloquently for itself than can a wine label.

So some people may be slightly mislead into thinking this is, somehow, not as good as Köfererhof's other wines.
But don't be fooled.

The aromas are fantastic...there's melon-like fragrances and perhaps a touch of peach.
Maybe you'll find a slightly herbal tone here as well.

The melon notes come through on the palate with a suggestion of citrus, pineapple and maybe mango or papaya.

This is a stellar bottle for cocktail service, but it pairs handsomely with sushi and Asian-spiced dishes.

We will have to pair it with dim sum next visit to Dumpling Time in The City.

Stay tuned for that.  (Or grab a bottle and do some of your own 'research.'

Currently in stock: 2021 KÖFERERHOF KERNER  $26.99







This story sounds similar to other top, little wineries in Italy's Alto Adige.  The grapes from this place had been sold to a local grower's co-op winery but when Manni was ready to take over the azienda, he decided he would prefer to make his own wine.  Add to that, the co-op closed its doors.

Nössing's father made money raising cows and selling milk.  The vintages for milk are less important and the customer base is decidedly more local.  Nobody more than a few kilometers away knew the family name.  But Manni is well-known around the world in the connoisseur wine market.  

Nössing spent some time at the winery of a nearby artisan, Peter Pliger.  Kuenhof.  Pliger is a white wine "meister" and produces an impressive range of elegant and flavorful white wines.  We feature Kuenhof's Riesling called "Kaiton" as it's our favorite of his line-up.

Nössing, though, makes a similar range of wines but his Kerner is really stellar.  In fact, all his wines are damned good.  

There are perhaps 2.5 hectares of Kerner in Nössing's vineyards, by far his largest planting.  

The grape is a crossing of Riesling and the red grape called Schiava.  

We've enjoyed a number of Kerner wines from the Alto Adige, but Nössing's is probably the most intensely aromatic and the most lively.  

Nössing told us "I am called Mister/Signor/Herr Kerner" by many people.  And why not?
His wine is remarkably good.

He described the Kerner grape as "a sugar factory" and said the grape requires great attention during the growing season and, especially, around harvest time.  

"Years ago, when I first started, we made very light, acidic wines.  Now, thanks to warmer weather we're making slightly bigger wines.  And we make wines to drink, not to swirl in a glass for examination and wonderment.  My wines are made to drink."

And how.

We have his killer 2016 Kerner in stock.  It's beautifully aromatic and displays some peach-like fruit.  I thought it might have a little bit of residual sugar, but Mister Kerner says there's but 3 grams of sugar (5 is the threshold for most people), so it will taste dry to the vast majority of tasters.  The acidity is a bit high, too, so it's crisp and zesty on the palate.  
If you want to taste a benchmark for the Kerner grape, this is a good place to start.  And maybe to stop.

Currently in stock:  2016 MANNI NÖSSING Eisacktaler KERNER  Sold Out Presently

Vineyards in late winter near the Nössing winery behind the winery.

Here's a view out to the front of the winery.


Meanwhile, downstairs in the cellar...

Mostly white wines, of course...

...but a little bit of red.  A St. Magdalener.









When we try to explain the Carso wine region, most people are befuddled.  They have enough trouble imagining precisely where Friuli is located until we say "an hour's train ride north of Venice."

Trieste is a town many people have heard of but few could point on a map with any confidence and peg its location.  The Carso region is north of Trieste along the sea (the Gulf of Trieste, actually) and it's a region with wines most Italians would consider to be "foreign."

One of the leading winemakers, if not THE leading vintner, is Edi Kante.  His wines are regarded as the benchmark of Carso winemaking.  And one of the curious varieties I'd tasted from some Friuli producers who are located close to or on the border with Slovenia is a wine called Vitovska.  

Kante's is a remarkable bottle of wine.  You can 'taste' or sense the chalky soils where the vines are planted.  Some tasters may find an element or influence of the sea, as you might find a note of salt air in the wine.  I found a definite minerality in the wine, with a touch of apple and pear notes.  You could mistake this for some stony, minerally Chablis perhaps. It's less aromatic than a good Sancerre, but has that almost chalky element on the palate.

Got oysters?  

We purchased a bottle of Kante's Malvasia and Sauvignon Blanc.  The Sauvignon is nice, but not as compelling as the Vitovska.  

Currently in stock:   KANTE Carso VITOVSKA  Sold Out Presently



There's a marvelous cellar well below ground.

Some wineries have a guest book for visitors to sign.
Kante's guest book is a bit unusual.





This is a 302 member grower's cooperative winery whose Gewürztraminer is amazingly fine!  The winery was started in 1898 and in 1971 it merged with another co-op. They are located in storybook town of Tramin (or Termeno in Italian).  
If you visit this village, you'll immediately notice is does resemble some of the towns in France's Alsace, another bastion of the Gewürztraminer grape.

You might think they make loads of industrial-quality wine, but this is an exemplary cellar and they have rather high standards.  The winemaker is Willi Stürz and he's a perfectionist.  It's challenging to manage 302 small parcels owned by people whose idea is to harvest the maximum possible quantity of fruit while your idea as a winemaker is to create something of top quality.  Quantity and quality don't usually pair up in the world of wine, so pick one or the other.

The vineyards of the member growers are situated in the hometown of Tramin, of course, and nearby Ora, Egna and Montagna.   That's Auer, Neumarkt and Montan in German.  Each town has its name in both Italian and German.  

The entire line-up of wines is of good quality and a few of the wines are really exceptional.



Winemaker Willi Stürz

The Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer is extraordinary and holds its own with just about any dry Gewürz from France's Alsace region.  The vineyards are in clay and limestone, the exposure being south and south-west.  A portion of the grapes are picked somewhat late, when they're really ripe and intensely aromatic.  The juice is macerated with the grape skins to further intensify the spice notes.  What a wine!  Intense fragrances of lychees, grapefruits and rose petals waft from the glass.  The wine is quite dry, too, with but 7 or 8 grams of sugar per liter, typically.  This balances the slight bitter finish and balances the wine quite handsomely.
During the holiday season a woman visiting us from San Francisco asked about Gewürztraminer, wanting to see our selection of wines from Alsace.  She looked at me sideways when I proudly showed her a bottle of Nussbaumer.  
"How could an Italian Gewürztraminer possibly be any good?" she asked, still looking at me sideways.  
She reluctantly bought a bottle and nearly a year passed before we heard from her again (San Francisco, you see, is so far away!).
There was a call saying "Hello, I came to your store last year and you suggested some Italian Gewü any chance, do you have more of that?"
And she ventured down to Burlingame and bought some more bottles to share with friends and family that holiday season!

We visited the winery one summer and winemaker Willi Stürz opened a 5 year old bottle of the Nussbaumer...amazingly good and still very much alive. 

Their special bottling of a fantastic dry white blend is called Stoan.
This is a wonderful blend and the 2020 is the current offering.

The wine is based on Chardonnay, but don't let that dissuade you.  There's Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and a small percentage of Gewürztraminer in this blend.  For having such a high amount of Chardonnay, it seems to be more influenced by the Sauvignon Blanc, as there's a nicely citrusy tone.
The Pinot Blanc may give a bit of texture and the tiny drop of Gewürztraminer surely accounts for a bit of the aromatics.  The Chardonnay did see a bit of wood, but the oak is well in the background here as it is matured in larger oak.

When we were able to offer wine-tasting, people tasting this Stoan white would routinely leave with several bottles.

It's one of those interesting wines where everyone at the table is interested to see the bottle to make a mental note (if they didn't take a snapshot of it).

The entry-level Pinot Grigio is quite good and it's a good, medium-bodied, dry white.
They ferment the juice in modest-sized stainless steel tanks and even have a bit of malolactic fermentation to add a note of complexity and soften the wine slightly.
But you won't find buttery or creamy notes here.
This winery offers good value, too and this ends up being well-priced.

There's a "killer" Pinot Grigio from Tramin which carries the name Unterebner.
This wine comes from vineyards which yield a smaller crop than the entry-level wine listed above.
The juice is fermented in wood and they do a bit of malolactic fermentation to create this full-throttle, mildly toasty Pinot Grigio.
It's a far cry from the simple, ordinary "dry white" we see in most bottles of Pinot Grigio and it costs a bit more, too.
It ages handsomely, too.
But we find the wine to be of serious quality and worth the splurge.


Currently in stock: 2020 NUSSBAUMERHOF GEWÜRZTRAMINER $39.99
2020 STOAN White Blend $39.99
2016 STOAN White Blend (magnum)  Sold Out
2020 PINOT GRIGIO "Unterebner" $38.99
2021 PINOT GRIGIO "Normale"  SALE $16.99




The doors into the cellar have the names of all the staff members.
Our friend Sigrid said her name was not yet on the door because she was recently hired.
We asked her to stand on the other side of the glass so we could take a picture:
We noticed her name was on the door and this was a great surprise to Ms. Pichler!






The Haas story begins in 1880, we're told and the current owner, Franziskus Haas is yet another Franz Haas.  It seems the family routinely names its first born as Franz.  Or in this instance, Franziskus.

We have known the Haas wines for many years.  The winery is located in the mountains in a town called, appropriately, Montagna.  They own or lease maybe 29 hectares of vineyards, but with regularly-purchased grapes, the entire enterprise tallies to about 60 hectares we were told on our visit in early 2018.

Haas was a fussy guy and he spoke about making wines without compromising, as he said "it's all about quality."

We were sad to learn of his passing in February of 2022 at the age of 68...he was still a youngster!

The wines of this premium estate were sold here through a national importer, but something must have happened during the Covid shutdowns and Haas apparently severed his ties with that company.  

As of Spring in 2022, we no longer have access to these wines...

So, please view this write up as a bit of nostalgia and a memorial to Haas.

Old Labels...

Current vintages are adorned with a more colorful label which makes the wines as distinctive on a display as they are in the glass.

Haas makes a lot of white wine and only about 5% of the production sees an oak barrel.

Pinot Noir from Haas is well-regarded.

Franz Haas wines and Franz Haas...


One of the most famous wines from Haas is a proprietary white blend called Manna.

It's named in honor of Franz Haas wife, Maria Luisa Manna.  While they were engaged to be married, the couple had dined in a particularly fancy restaurant and enjoyed numerous courses of elegant cuisine, each accompanied by a particular wine.  
Franz was taken by the experience and dreamed of producing a wine of complexity and elegance which would be worthy of being offered in such a temple of high gastronomy.

And so, some years after their dining experience, Haas assembled a blended white from the 1995 vintage.

Early vintages were made of Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc.  Since the 2013 vintage they've included a small percentage of a moderately prominent variety called Kerner.  

Each variety is cultivated in a site they feel is well-suited to the grape and, in fact, Haas' vineyards are planted from 240 meters to 1150 meters above sea level.  
The Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc wines are done in wood, while the others are vinified in stainless steel.  At about 10 months after the harvest Haas works to make a final blend. 

The wine shows a bit of oak, but that's not the center of attention for this wine.  The fruit elements fit together nicely with lovely fragrances of each variety.  The Riesling and Gewurz are quite apparent and there's a touch of a citrusy note which we suspect is the Sauvignon.  

We brought a bottle of this to a dinner at a nice dining spot where a few wines had been brought to the table.  We tasted this in the middle of the various wines and at one point, having found most of the offerings to be lacking, we dumped out our glasses and quickly refilled them with Manna when the host wasn't looking.  This is far more satisfying, especially if you like an aromatic wine with some 'snap' on the palate.

We read a recent article describing the results of a vertical tasting of multiple vintages of Manna.  It seems the wine ages quite well and the critic whose assessments we read said a 15 year old vintage of Manna was stellar.  

Haas also considers himself a Pinot Noir aficionado.

He makes three Pinot Noirs...this one is his entry level which shows very nice varietal character.
To its credit, a capable taster will easily find it to be Pinot Noir right off the bat.  It's a medium-bodied red with light oak notes and a touch of tannin.


The wine is fermented in open top, stainless steel tanks and they punch down the "cap" frequently (this is the mass of grape skins and berries that are pushed to the top of the tank thanks to the carbon dioxide that forms during the fermentation.

Once fermented, the wine then goes into barriques for about a year.  

It's intended for immediate consumption, though it might develop a bit with additional time in the bottle.

We suggested serving this lightly chilled...cellar temp...maybe 50-55 degrees.

It pairs well with mildly-seasoned red meats, chicken, pork, cheeses, etc.

The next tier in Pinot Nero from Haas is called Schweizer, as that's the name of the artist whose designs adorn the Haas bottles.  The late Riccardo Schweizer has quite an interesting history and interactions with many hugely famous artists (Chagall and Picasso, for example).  CLICK HERE to visit a page with his history and some of his artistry.
It's also a good Pinot...more wood, to be sure, but not solely oak (30% new barrels).

They make a rarity called PÒNKLER Pinot Nero...This comes from a particular vineyard site that is about 750 meter above sea level.  Haas tried to buy the land but the owner was reluctant to sell it, but that site is now rented to Haas.  
The name of the vineyard site, Pònkler also comes from an old Alto Adige song about Lagrein.

The wine also honors a wine critic whom we met in Piemonte back in the 1990s, Francesco Arrigoni.    This fellow had been a protégé of Luigi Veronelli when we met him ages ago.  He then worked for the Gambero Rosso group and finally for the newspaper Corriere della Sera.  Arrigoni was a passionate wine and food aficionado and, unlike so many critics, was quiet and unassuming.  He had been a fan of the Haas wines and so a portion of the proceeds from this Pònkler Pinot is donated to a foundation set up in Arrigoni's name.

We were able to taste the 2012 of this Pònkler Pinot, the first vintage made.  It's very elegant, nicely aromatic and quite expressive of Pinot Noir with some oak and cherry-like fruit. There's a bit of tannin, but it's probably best in the next few years.

Moscato Rosa is a remarkable sweet wine and it comes in half-bottle format.

The grapes are grown in a breezy site which Haas says is desirable to avoid the grapes getting attacked by "noble rot," Botrytis cinerea.  This would shrivel the grapes and detract from the marvelously aromatic perfumes of this red Muscat grape.

The juice is fermented with the skins for a short maceration period...this helps add to the character of the wine,  They have to be careful, though, to not pick up too much tannin from the skins, lest the wine have a bitter finish.

The fermentation is stopped when the wine retains about the desired amount of residual sugar.  It's stopped by dropping the temperature in the tank so that the yeast are n longer active.

The wine is rather expensive and you may wonder why they ask so much.  The answer is in the size of the crop in the vineyard.  The production in the vineyard is maybe 15-20% that of, say, their Pinot Grigio and maybe 20-30% that of Pinot Noir.  

Has does a great job of capturing the essence of Moscato Rosa.  It does have a rose petal fragrance and there are notes of brown spices here, too.  Haas claims this to be a good aperitif before a meal, but we prefer it after  dinner (or lunch), as it pairs handsomely with chocolate/raspberry desserts.



Currently in stock:  FRANZ HAAS "MANNA" White Wine Blend Sold Out
FRANZ HAAS PINOT NERO  $44.99  (Last bottles)






This is one of the storied estates in the Veneto making Valpolicella.  (The other is Quintarelli, as if you didn't know...)

A young Romano Dal Forno had met the legendary Giuseppe Quintarelli, as he was starting out in the wine world.  Dal Forno had a passion for the business, which Quintarelli noted, though the family vineyard holdings were located in the Val d'Illasi, a place Giuseppe felt was better suited to cultivating corn than grapes.

In those early days, Dal Forno's family had sold its grapes to the local grower's cooperative winery.  Romano and his wife Loretta were married in 1979 and the notion of wine was a bit of a fantasy...but they found they made a bit of money in selling wine and so this helped convince them that wine was a good idea.

Romano's grandfather had some vineyards as did Loretta's family...and so they embarked on a wine adventure and today Dal Forno's wines are a bit of a enological trophy.  They are expensive, indeed, but the family (their three sons are now involved in the family business) goes to extraordinary lengths to make wine.

They own around 12.5 hectares of vineyards and rent additional vineyards.  They farm, in total, around 27 or 28 hectares, including a modest quantity of an obscure variety called Oseleta.  This is a variety which has thick skins and very little juice.  As a result it was on the verge of extinction.   

Dal Forno bought cuttings of Oseleta and in 1988 started planting it in hopes of improving the quality of his Valpolicella.  Not a fan Molinara grapes, Dal Forno's wine is based upon Corvina and Corvinone which he says are not especially intense in color.  He likes Rondinella for its color and, as we understand it, the Corvina and Corvinone may extract a measure of color when fermented in concert with Oseleta.  Romano also is a fan of the Croatina grape.

His vineyards are densely planted and we have found his wines to have the intensity of Cabernet Sauvignon...very curious for Valpolicella.  But with his regimen of low yields and modern fermentation tanks, drying the fruit to further intensify the wine, perhaps it's possible to make the remarkable nectar offered under the Dal Forno label.
The tanks are equipped with special punch-down pistons to help extract color and character from the fruit.

And, of course, the cellar is computerized, allowing them to program each tank.
They program the computer to routinely "punch down" the cap of the fermenting juice...something like every 90 minutes, which may contribute to the intense, deep color of their wines.

Of course, the tradition in making wine in this region is drying the grapes to intensify the character of the resulting wine.  Dal Forno has designed a special system to facilitate this process and they dry or dehydrate fruit not only for their Amarone, but for their "basic" Valpolicella, as well.

The underground cellar is a work of art.

Romano Dal Forno is a fan of American oak cooperage.  

As we walked through the cellar, Dal Forno, ever the perfectionist, would top off with wine each barrel from which we'd tasted...he'd then clean off the barrel and rinse the glass 'thief' as well as thoroughly cleaning the sink (more like a fountain, actually, as you can see behind wine aficionado Carlo Perini).

Domaine de la Romano Dal Forno.  It looks a bit like a Bordeaux wine cellar or something out of the Napa Valley.

Some tasters may fault the Dal Forno wines for being excessively oaky.  I've usually been reminded of the wines of Silver Oak or BV Private Reserve Cabernets of the early 1970s when tasting the young Valpolicella of this estate.  It's darker in color than wines of neighboring properties...perhaps the low yields, particular fermentation tanks, oak regime, etc., all allow the Dal Forno family to produce a wine more reminiscent of Cabernet Sauvignon than of Beaujolais.  

Romano points to the drying of the grapes as a contributing factor to the quality and character of their wines.  "This is a totally different dynamic than working with 'fresh' grapes."

He likes the American oak barrels (many being coopered in the Southwest of France in the Armagnac region).
"Oak for our wine is a bit like a good suit or a haircut for a gentleman.  It makes a good first impression for most people."  And, as with many wines, as the wine matures in the bottle, the oak tends to become less prominent and, eventually, the grape takes over and shows its qualities.


We have the 2016 presently...  It's deep and dark in color and shows a fair bit of wood and dark fruit notes.  This is the "Silver Oak Cabernet of Valpolicella."  It's a very showy wine on its own (Romano often suggests consumers drink it by itself!) and it pairs handsomely with grilled steaks, lamb, prime rib or duck.  The wine is matured in oak for two years and then it gets another three in bottle before being released.  This sort of maturation is akin to California Cabernet production in the 1960s and 1970s.

We're told the blend is typically 45% Corvina, 25% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella, 5% Croatina and 5% Oseleta.
It's typically matured for 36 months in new barriques.


A fellow asked us to send a few special bottles for a birthday celebration.  He was willing to spend about a hundred bucks a bottle and left the selections to us.  We included a bottle of Dal Forno's 2013.  
A week after his birthday celebration he wrote a note saying now he's wondering if he's "missing out" by not purchasing somewhat more costly bottles.  He typically goes for wines in the $25-$40 range.
We explained that we do have an idea of value and while a hundred bucks is a small fortune for a Valpolicella (generally), this is no ordinary Valpolicella.
Anyway, he was blown away by the wines we selected and this was one.

We can order the Amarone, if you like.  Be sure there's 'room' on your credit card.

Currently in stock:  2016 DAL FORNO VALPOLICELLA  Sale  $119.99
Amarone by Special Order




If you follow baseball, you know that it's rare for a kid to come out of high school or college and make it directly to the Major Leagues.

Typically a kid might get drafted out of high school and head directly to the minor leagues, starting at the bottom.  Or he may attend a college or university and play on the school team for a few years before being drafted and then, typically, he'll go to the minor leagues, starting at the bottom.  Some guys spend a decade waiting for a call to come to The Show.  For some, it's maybe for as cup of coffee, just to get a taste of major league ball and then it's back to the minors.

What's this got to do with Monte Santoccio?  Is he a first baseman for the Verona Romeo's baseball team?  

Well, actually, Santoccio is a little area near the "big city" of Fumane and the winery is the work of a young fellow named Nicola Ferrari.  And his first winemaking "gig" was in the major leagues at the winery of Valpolicella legend, the late Giuseppe Quintarelli!   He didn't spend a decade laboring in a big grower's co-operative or large industrial winery before deciding to make his own...Nope.  

This kid was in the major leagues right away, making him a bona fide "bonus baby."  (I wonder if any young fans have ever heard this term?)

Nicola Ferrari was 26 years of age when he was hired by Quintarelli.  There he saw all sorts of traditional vineyard protocols and winemaking techniques.

We teased him about his having learn what to do and what not to do.  Quintarelli's wines have a lot of personality, to be sure.  And they don't come with a price tag, but instead, there's a ransom note on the bottle.  You'll pay $350+ for a bottle of the "regular" Amarone, for example.  If you want the fancy bottling, that's $1200 a bottle. Happily, Signor Ferrari doesn't apply the Quintarelli pricing policy to his artisan production bottlings.

The family estate now comprises about 5 hectares and they produce about 35,000 bottles annually at the present time.  We've noticed Ferrari started with but three hectares and these day's, it seems, they've grown.
And why not?  The fellow is making some outstanding wines!

They also cultivate some olives.
The vineyards and cellar are approximately at 350 to 400 meters in altitude.  The soils are rather chalky which accounts for good acidity in the wines.  The Monte Santoccio wines are not especially "big," but they're not shy and retiring, either.

No weed killers, but they're not certified as biologico, either.  "My wife and I have two young kids.  We live here.  We don't want to pollute our environment with chemicals."

The cellar was under construction when we visited the first 2017 the place has been completed and it's fully functioning.

Mostly tonneaux in the cellar for aging the wines.  Mostly French wood, thought there's a tiny bit of American oak.  These puncheons are for the Ripasso and Amarone.

Nicola is a thoughtful winemaker.  "You have to have passion to work in wine if you're going to make good wines."

And does he!  We have a 2018 vintage of Ripasso.  This is a serious bottle of wine and it's clearly a level or two above most ripasso wines.  Many large producers make technically sound Ripasso but they rarely have the soul of a wine such as this from Monte Santoccio.

Ferrari has a good blend for the wine.  Typically it's mostly Corvina and Corvinone, with maybe 20-25% of Rondinella the rest being Molinara.  Ferrari leaves the Valpolicella in contact with the Amarone skins for nearly 3 weeks, his "secret" in making a seriously good Ripasso.  The wine then spends about 20-24 months in those puncheons you see in the photo above.  

Monte Santoccio's Amarone is a real show-stopper.  

The fragrances are bright and display red and black fruit.  It's not a rustic, raisiny red wine as are some.  And it's not sweet, usually having but three grams of sugar, below the threshold for most palates (of 5 grams).  The grapes are picked towards the end of September to early/mid October. The grapes are dried until sometime in January when Nicola begins vinifying this masterpiece.  The wine is matured for about 30 months in those puncheons, resulting in a mildly tannic, robust, full, fine red.  

It's a really showy wine. 

We have the 2016 in the shop presently.  It is outstanding.  Ferrari was kind enough to share an older bottle with us on a visit some years ago and we tasted a 2009 Amarone.  At 7+ years of age we found the wine to be very showy.  Great nose and still fresh.  Nicely woodsy with fine tannins, yet deep fruit.  It seemed to show a hint of sweetness, but still very complex and impressive.

Nicola told us "I'm not big on vini da meditazione but more vini da pasto."  The former are wine for contemplation while the latter are perhaps less complicated and more for sheer hedonistic enjoyment.

Of course, the irony here is Ferrari makes wines worthy of consideration and contemplation so he's modestly under-selling the Monte Santoccio wines.  

We were not fooled, in any case.  

Nicola understands, though, that good wine is meant to be shared with friends and family, not to be put on a pedestal as some museum piece and worshipped.

His wife Laura was a clothing designer and she's quite an artist.  

That's some of her artistry on the label.  
His artistry is in the bottle.  
Both are masterpieces in one form or another.

His Recioto is quite good...not imported yet, but damned good.  The other bottle in that photo is called Viola, a Passito of some sort and named after one of their daughters, Viola.

This is a seriously good producer and the passion and enthusiasm for winemaking is evident in every bottle.

Currently in stock:  2018 MONTE SANTOCCIO VALPOLICELLA Classico Superiore Ripasso  $31.99





The Giovanett family launched this winery in the town of Egna back in 1969.  From the humble beginnings of Alfons Giovannett, today the winery is run by his son Günther and grand-children, Ivan and Ines.  The name of the winery comes from an old fortification which is up in the hills, not too far from the cellar.  It's said there are perhaps 160 buildings there in various states of ruins.  The oldest is said to be prehistoric, while there's an old chapel said to be from the 6th Century.  

The currently have about 60 hectares of vineyards, 20 being owned outright by the Giovanetts and 40 spread amongst a bunch of small growers.

We are often surprised to see so many tanks outside and not housed within a winery building.  But keep in mind that these do have a temperature-controlled cooling jacket on them and, since they make predominantly white wines, these are usually emptied towards the end of winter or in early spring, so the contents are not subjected to hot summer temperatures which might have an adverse effect on the wines.

They make a range of good wines.  Pinot Bianco here is quite good and so is their Pinot Grigio.  They make Chardonnay and Pinot Nero, along with Kerner and Lagrein.

Most impressive, to our taste anyway, is Gewürztraminer.   While we have been big fans of the Gewürztraminer of the Tramin cellar, especially their Nussbaumer wine, the 2015 Castelfeder is every bit its equal in all respects except price.

It's got the name "Vom Lehm" on the label and this is not exactly a vineyard designation but more a description of the wine coming from loamy (lehm) soils.

The Giovanetts say this is the secret of this wine, apart from picking the fruit at precisely the right moment and fermenting it under temperature-controlled conditions.

The fragrance of this wine is magnificent and intensely aromatic with notes of rose petals and grapefruit.

There's ample acidity to balance the slight touch of sweetness (it's around 6/10ths of a gram of sugar, so barely perceptible to the most sensitive of palates).

If you're a fan of good Alsatian wines, you'll likely be delighted by this...

Seriously good.

Currently in stock:  2015 CASTELFEDER GEWÜRZTRAMINER  Sold Out





Ines Giovanett






colterenzio.gif (59478 bytes)I have known the wines from this co-op for many years, having done extensive tastings of the wines from the Alto Adige.  On a trip (more than a decade ago, maybe two!) to the area my friend Stoffi (and avid wine aficionado and apple grower in the northern reaches of the Alto Adige) scheduled Colterenzio as our final appointment.  Apparently he'd saved the best for last. 

wpe10.jpg (4770 bytes)The winery was run by Luis Raifer, a serious wine man.  The place, located in the town of Cornaiano (or Girlan in German, if you prefer), was started in 1960.  Today they have more than 370 hectares and the production is large.  While many claim the Produttori del Barbaresco to be Italy's model of a cooperative winery, I would have to say, given the quality of the production here, Colterenzio deserved a piece of that title.

Raifer was hell-bent on making quality wine and we visited the place a few times over the years during his tenure.

He was quite demanding of the growers and he had to convince some 300 vineyard owners that they would make superior wine if they managed the vineyards differently, aiming for quality.  You can imagine it's difficult to explain to people they will come out ahead if they cultivate few grapes per hectare than if they pay no attention to the vineyard production.
The trade of typically is quality or quantity.  Pick one, because you usually cannot have both.

We witnessed Raifer age more rapidly than an American President!  The pressures he was under in driving the company to be amongst the elite wineries in the Alto Adige were stressful. 
They made a wonderful range of wines.  Raifer's son Wolfgang took over when his dad retired and they continued to make some good wines.

But in the recent past he's departed to run a winery near Verona if I remember correctly.

Raifer planted a number of grape varieties in a vineyard site called Lafóa near the winery.  This site had the Schiava (or Vernatsch if you speak Deutsch) grape planted there, producing a simple, light-colored red (more like dark pink) wine of drinkable quality.  Nothing special.
Raifer replaced the Schiava with Cabernet Sauvignon and then brought in some clones of Sauvignon Blanc from France's Bordeaux region.

The various wines bearing the showy, artistic Lafóa label (Chardonnay, Pinot Nero and Gewurztraminer, as well) are amongst the top from Italy.

We're often smitten by the Lafóa Sauvignon Blanc.  We'd missed tasting this for a couple of vintages and we bought a bottle from the importer in hopes of rekindling our fondness for the wine.

The 2019 is exceptional and we were delighted by this.
We opened a bottle with some wine friends in San Francisco.  They're a tough crowd, too, by the way.  I was especially amused watching one fellow take a look at the wine as he swirled it in the glass and finally take a sniff.  His eyebrows were raised as the wine easily offered more complexities than he was expecting.

Aside from smallish yields in that vineyard, the grapes for this were harvested at a good level of maturity but more important than picking ripe, sweet grapes is harvesting the fruit while it has ample acidity.  And this does!

The grapes are crushed and left to soak with the skins for a short period of time.  Then when they press the juice away from the skins, half is put into stainless steel tanks to ferment.  The other half goes into some sort of cooperage, part of this is smaller barrels and part are larger puncheons.  The half that sees wood undergoes a secondary, malolactic fermentation but the acidity is still high.  They leave each portion to age on the spent yeast.  After maybe 8 or 9 months they blend the various lots together, creating a compelling bottle of very distinctive (and complex) Sauvignon Blanc.

If you're matching salmon, this is a great choice.  But dishes featuring lemongrass, ginger, chili peppers and citrus will be enhanced by this intense, dry white.  It's a very distinctive white with unmistakable characteristics of Sauvignon Blanc.


Their Lagrein is made along the lines of a care-free Dolcetto from Piemonte, though without the tannic edge of some of those wines.  Lots of red fruits, virtually no tannin, mild acidity and it's begging to be served lightly chilled on a warm day.  It's perfect for picnic fare, pizza, lasagna, simple pasta, sausages, roasted chicken, etc.



Currently in stock:  

2019 LAFÓA  SAUVIGNON BLANC   Sale $42.99
2018 LAGREIN  $18.99



A small explanation about the Colterenzio grower's co-op winery and its membership of vineyard owners.
This is from 2020, or so.




More Northern Italian Wines

















winepour.gif (12696 bytes)

Wine Tasting Today

Copyright © 1999    WEIMAX   September 30, 2023