Lugana bubbles on the riddling rack at Cà Maiol
Walter Contato knew potential when he saw it.
Like an inordinate number of Italians before and after him, this successful Milan-born businessman took holidays in the sometimes-too-charming-for-words (as in, how-the-hell-are-we-gonna-get-the-car-through-these-narrow-Medieval-streets?!?? levels of charming) Lake Garda town of Sirmione. As an inordinate number of successful white businessmen seem to want to still do, Contato eventually decided that he wanted to become a wine producer, and chose the site of his presumably favorite vacation spot – home to the Lugana wine region – as the place he would try his vinous hand.
It worked out; Contato eventually went on to help establish the Consorzio Tutela Lugana (still in existence today). In the 1990s, he handed over the reigns of his wine venture, Cà Maiol, to his mellifluously-named sons Fabio and Patrizia.
Contato picked a great spot, from a wine-growing perspective; the nearby Dolomites protect the vineyard area (now measuring about 100 hectares in Lugana) from the cold winds coming out of the north. They vineyards sit on enviable calcareous soils. They even have the requisite Older Building, erected in the early 1700s.
I visited Cà Maiol as part of a Lugana-area media jaunt, but I’d had ample access to one of the company’s flagship Lugana releases – Molin – long before that, during previous visits to the region, L’Anteprima Lazise, and even as part of library tastings during that most recent tour. And so I thought that I’d share a bit of perspective on how the Molin fares in bottle over a decade or more (SPOILER ALERT: it fares well)…
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- 13 Schild Estate Moorooroo Shiraz (Barossa Valley): You'll wanna drink it until the cows come home; it might just age that long, too. $100 A >>find this wine<<
- 15 Bird in Hand Nest Egg Chardonnay (Adelaide Hills): Adorned all over, but not weighted down by it,never really losing its balance. $65 A- >>find this wine<<
- 16 Donnafugata SurSur Grillo (Sicilia): Perfect for those Summer evenings during which you can hear the chirps of its namesake. $20 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 13 Fattoria I Veroni Chianti Rufina (Tuscany): Chewy, vibrant, delicious & seemingly tailored made for whenever gourmet pizza night is $15 B >>find this wine<<
- 15 Aia Vecchia Vermentino (Toscana): Easy to get your head & arms around, but requires a relatively large hug for you to do so. $13 B >>find this wine<<
- 13 Abadia Retuerta Seleccion Especial (Vino de la Tierra de Castilla y Leon): Sporting ninja levels of focus, potency, & intrigue. $30 A- >>find this wine<<
- 16 Hacienda Lopez de Haro Blanco (Rioja): All you need is fun; all you need is fun; all you need is fun, fun, fun; fun is all you need. $9 B >>find this wine<<
- 16 Etude Grace Benoits Ranch Pinot Noir Rose (Carneros): Rose crafted from the ground up; & that's lucky – & textural – for us. $25 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 16 Olianas Vermentino (Sardegna): Apparently, a little amphorae fermentation is good for the V, & in this case, for the soul, too. $23 B+ >>find this wine<<
- 12 Alessandro Rivetto Vigna Rionda Barolo (Serralunga d'Alba): Lifted like a kite, tight like a tourniquet, grippy like a glove. $145 A >>find this wine<<
Due to family vacationing, I’m getting a slight jump start on the monthly wine product review roundup (I’ve got plenty of wine coverage coming, so don’t worry your pretty little inebriated heads over that, ok?). And, thankfully, I’ve got two fairly-priced wine preservation gadgets from the sample pool that are absolutely worthy of your (sober) consideration.
First up is the ingenious little Repour Wine Saver (a 4 Pack runs about $9). The Repour is the brain child of chemist Tom Lutz, and employs similar oxygen-absorbing tech used in the produce industry. The idea is that the slightly top-heavy but also non-toxic repour is used in place of the bottle’s original closure after opening, and chemicals in the Repour attract most of the oxygen in the bottle, thus prolonging the life of any wine you have left over in the bottle. Effectiveness is, naturally, reduced the longer you leave the bottle unstopped, and the more open space that’s left in the bottle, etc.
The Repour was run through some independent lab tests, has the nod from some sommeliers and wine pros, and in my limited experience works, almost too well, causing some of the wines I “Repoured” to close up temporarily. The only real drawback is that the Repour is a one-and-done product (you basically use one per bottle) and needs to be discarded after each bottle is finished. It will definitely get you several extra days of drinking from an open bottle of vino; the company claims that you can get up to a month, but anyone who is doing that either doesn’t known how to sell wine (in on premise settings) or doesn’t know how to drink it (in consumer settings)…
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The latest article in my storytelling Monferrato journey is now available over at MyNameIsBarbera.com, and in it we take a deeper dive directly into the terroir (and I mean down to the dirt level!) of the venerable Nizza DOCG.
Those of you who have been following along with my Northern Italian antics might recall that we already compared Nizza Barbera wines to James Bond, and I need to warn you that I inject that comparison with a healthy dose of prose steroids in this most recent piece. You have been warned.
What I didn’t have opportunity to dig into during the penning of this article was the specifics of my personal experience with older Nizza wines, which came via the excellent talents (and, thankfully, well-stocked wine library) of the venerable Tenuta Olim Bauda. I close with a handful of pics from my 2016 visit to that beautiful estate, ostensibly to increase whatever jealous rage I’ve already induced by mentioning the library tasting (warning, cute winery-dog-eating-grapes included)…