Vias Italian Wine Tasting at Wine Watch

Thursday, July 25, 2019 - 07:30 PM

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"At least once a day you should do something purely for enjoyment, and wine is my way of relaxing." - Young Uck Kim, Wine Collector

We try to do things that are relaxing more than once a day here at the Wine Watch… but that's just us...

We’re trying to keep our “Wine Drinking People” busy every Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at the Wine Bar this summer.


Italy has some of the world’s greatest wines in both the white and red category and if you want to find the best wines from Italy just look at the back of the bottle and see who the importer is.  One of the best importers of Italian wines in the USA is Vias Imports.  Over the years we have sold many bottles of wine from this great importer and when our good friend Alberto Prealoni suggested we put together a tasting with two of their top wineries Vie di Romans and Rocca Di Frassinello I immediately put a date on the calendar to taste the new releases from these two outstanding properties.

This tasting is $75 per person and includes dinner and gratuity, only tax is additional.  For reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail

Image result for Vie Di RomansImage result for Rocca Di Frassinello

Vias Imports Italian Wine Tasting Featuring
Vie Di Romans and Rocca Di Frassinello at Wine Watch
Thursday, July 25, 2019
7:30 PM



2016 Vie Di Romans Pinot Grigio Dessimis
Price: $34.25       Sale $30.14

(90 Points) This rich Pinot Grigio is a pale salmon color, with toasty, smoke and oak spice accents and a minerally underpinning layered with flavors of apricot and lemon meringue pie. Balanced by lively acidity, this is round and lingering on the finish. Drink now through 2021.  Wine Spectator

2016 Vie Di Romans Flors Di Uis (Malvasia/Tocai Friulano/Riesling)
Price: $35.25       Sale $31.02

(90 Points) Spice and mandarin orange peel accents lead into this aromatic, light- to medium-bodied white. The silky palate boasts finely meshed flavors of pink grapefruit sorbet, stone, Thai basil and fleur de sel. Elegant and mouthwatering. Malvasia, Riesling and Friulano. Drink now through 2022. Wine Spectator

2016 Vie Di Romans Sauvignon Blanc Piere
Price: $34.25       Sale $30.14

This Sauvignon Blanc comes from the 10 hectare Piere vineyard and is aromatic and floral, rich and concentrated with attractive mineral notes from the well-drained, gravelly soils.

2016 Vie Di Romans Chardonnay Ciampagnis Vieris (Unoaked)
Price: $27.50       Sale $24.20

Pure unadulterated Chardonnay without the influence of oak you really notice the terroir here which is rather shallow, with generous gravel-pebbly texture, some clay, reddish hue due to presence of ferrous and aluminum oxides, well-drained

2016 Vie Di Romans Chardonnay Vie Di Romans Oaked
Price: $42.00       Sale $36.96

Bright straw yellow color. Intense and complex nose with aromas of vanilla, citrus, ripe golden apple, and hints of toasted coconut. On the palate it is fresh, rich, well balanced with a persistent mineral finish.


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2016 Frassinello Poggio Alla Guardia Maremma (45% Merlot 40% Cabernet Sauvignon 15% Sangiovese)
Price: $20.75       Sale $18.26

(90 Point) This is pure and focused, delivering blackberry, black currant, violet and herb flavors. Dashes of mineral and spice add complexity as this glides to a long conclusion. Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Drink now through 2028.  Wine Spectator

Image result for 2015 Frassinello Le Sughere (50% Sangiovese/ 25% Cabernet Sauvignon 25% Merlot)

2015 Frassinello Le Sughere Maremma (50% Sangiovese/ 25% Cabernet Sauvignon 25% Merlot)
Price: $25.50       Sale $22.44

(91 Points) The 2015 Maremma Toscana Le Sughere di Frassinello is a great value blend of 50% Sangioveto, 25% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon (aged in French oak for one year). This wine boasts a proven track record for its consistent value and accessibility and can be counted on for both. It releases a steady flow of dark fruit and spice aromas that build in momentum. The mouthfeel is generous and softly velvety in texture, especially in this warm vintage. Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Image result for 2014 Frassinello Rocca Di Frassinello (60% Sangiovese 20% Merlot 20% Cabernet Sauvignon)

2014 Frassinello Rocca Di Frassinello Maremma (60% Sangiovese 20% Merlot 20% Cabernet Sauvignon)
Price: $45.00       Sale $39.60

(93 Points) Brooding and thick, the 2014 Maremma Toscana Rocca di Frassinello takes all the intensity of the vintage and pours it into the glass. That's saying a lot because this vintage infamously lacked in intensity overall, although you'd never know it here. Rocca di Frassinello makes good on the excellent environmental factors that contribute to this wine. There is the sunshine of Coastal Tuscany, the light sea breezes and the reddish Maremma soils. This Bordeaux blend born in Tuscany offers dark fruit aromas, savory spice and bitter chocolate. The tannins are soft, but the wine does deliver solid structure to keep it firmly stitched together.  Robert Parker's Wine Advocate

Image result for 2013 Frassinello Baffonero Rosso  (100% Merlot)

2013 Frassinello Baffonero Rosso Maremma (100% Merlot)
Price: $225.00    Sale $198.00

Baffonero takes its name from a vineyard, 100% Merlot, that was one of the first to be planted at Rocca di Frassinello. The company was born of a joint venture between Castellare di Castellina and Domaines Baron de Rothschild-Lafite, the most famous chateau in the world. The Baffonero vineyard lies below the winery designed by Renzo Piano, on terrain with perfect exposure.
Intense ruby red. The nose is fruity with aromas reminiscent of various black fruits, in particular blackberries, blueberries and vanilla. In the glass, the aromatic component changes, evolving towards tobacco, chocolate and a slight hint of coffee. In the mouth it has a perceptible complexity. Full and robust with a freshness that makes it long and pleasing.

Charcuterie Selection: Bresaola Sweet Aromatic Dried Cured Italian Beef & Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Jota - White Bean Soup with Sauerkraut
Bistecca alla Fiorentina with Red Wine Demi, Roasted Baby Potato’s and Rapini
Hazelnut Almond Biscotti with Grappa Whipped Creme


This tasting is $75 per person and includes dinner and gratuity, only tax is additional.  For reservations call 954-523-9463 or e-mail


Vie Di Romans

The unswerving dedication of the Gallo family to vineyards and wines, dating back over a century, is rooted in the labour and determination of family members such as Basilio, Stelio, Gianfranco and their relatives.

Gianfranco, who has managed the estate since 1978, introduced radical and far-reaching viticultural programmes and has devoted painstaking attention to winemaking practices; these initiatives have given the stamp of unique personality to the wines of Vie di Romans over the last 20 years.

There were a number of  important steps in this historic process. 1978 saw the first bottling and label on the market, followed by vineyard reorganization aiming at improving quality in 1982; in 1989 the new three-storey winery building was erected.  Wines from distinct vineyards were produced separately beginning in 1990, and in 1992, with the release of  the 1990 vintage, the custom was established of releasing all whites a full two years after harvest.

An in-depth understanding of all the factors underlying a specific sensory experience is of course the goal of anyone who strives for a deeper appreciation of the fruit of the winemaker’s art. The production of outstanding grapes and wines is linked to a broad range of factors, but considering these in a cursory manner will not reveal the intimate character of a winemaking enterprise: instead of simply co-relating good quality with terroir or with winemaking practices, one must attempt to trace the synergy of agents which interact to produce that wine. In the following pages, then, we intend to consider only those factors which contribute the most to defining the character of Vie di Romans’ wines; they fall into three categories: environment, viticulture, and man.

•  Environment – Everything encompassed by climate and soil.
•  Viticulture – All of the options deliberately selected to ensure an efficiently managed vineyard.
•  Man – The central node of the entire winemaking endeavor.

Through an intimate awareness of the environment, man is enabled to take the first step in orchestrating the tools of viticulture towards a specific goal. Man thus positions himself at the heart of the process, discovering his role both as creator and as part of a world far larger than himself, one which ultimately recedes into mystery. The interface, the dialogue, of man and land, of man and the articulated language of the created world, spins out of itself something novel and different, uniquely complex and wondrous.


Castellare di Castellin

Castellare di Castellina was born of the union of four estates (Castellare, Caselle, San Niccolò and Le Case) on the initiative of Paolo Panerai, with the aim of producing wine of the best possible quality. This was in the 1970s, when the so-called Renaissance of Italian wine had begun. A Renaissance to which Castellare made its own contribution with a combination of tradition and innovation. Tradition in caring for its vineyards and terrains, distinguishing between fields and sodi (in which fields are the more easily worked terrains and sodi - "hard" soils - are the hardest but the best for growing vines), in its decision to continue producing wine according to the Tuscan method, and in its respect of the Chianti Classico denomination - only using indigenous Tuscan grape varieties to produce a wine that is internationally acknowledged as one of the greatest reds in the world. Innovation was pursued first of all with the creation of the first experimental vineyard in the Chianti region together with the University of Milan - directed by Professor Attilio Scienza - and the University of Florence, implementing the first scientific selection of Sangiovese clones (here called Sangioveto). And then by introducing the use of the barrique, following the in-depth research and advice of Emile Peynaud, the most renowned oenologist in living memory, as well as by paying constant attention to each ongoing wine-making process in the incessant, ever-evolving work of producing quality wines. This is a story that demonstrates how tradition, also in the installations, and innovation can draw the best out of the land, showing the younger generations how the hard work and lives of the Mezzadri - the people who once ran the estates as neither owners nor labourers - has been fundamental in shaping the extraordinary landscape of the Chianti. To the Mezzadri and their work Castellare has dedicated a sculpture by Matteo Spender, which stands in the centre of Castellina. The two photos by the great portrait photographer Giuseppe Pino illustrate this sacrifice, but also the joy that making wine brings with it.

Why do people become so gripped by the passion to make wine? I asked this question together with Luigi Veronelli, the most important wine philosopher-writer in Italy when, many years ago, my then associate Edmond de Rothschild invited us to Château Clarke to spend a long weekend with Emile Peynaud, the greatest oenologist in France and beyond as well as professor at the University of Bordeaux. Edmond was the largest single shareholder of Château Lafite, but his cousins – with whom I later founded Rocca di Frassinello in the Maremma – were not inclined to involve him in its management. For this reason he decided to buy Château Clarke, with the ambition of making it the Lafite of the 21st Century. Edmond didn’t succeed, because he left this world before he could bring his project to fruition. But that weekend he gave Veronelli and myself the answer to the question that we’d asked ourselves, he as narrator and I as a journalist already bitten by a passion for winemaking. Wine becomes a passion, according to Edmond (and I agree), because it is a permanent challenge, almost like being the official challenger for the America’s Cup every year, all year round.

Because making wine, like competing in the America’s Cup, forces you to consider every fundamental detail, to search frantically for the best solutions when you come up against the vagaries of the weather, and even if the crew on-board or in the winery are perfect you never know how things will turn out; you think you know the race course or your vineyards perfectly, but there is always the unexpected – the changing wind, the soil of the vineyard which, with huge variations even within the space of a hectare, can give different results from one year to the next. You do everything to achieve the best possible outcome, but there is always the unexpected to excite and surprise you. It’s like this because the vineyard is life, it lives and often reacts like a person if you don’t know how to caress it, to treat it as the one you love most on earth. Not to mention the moment when the wine is finally in the cellar and the energy taken from the vine’s roots continues to live; first in the vinification vats and then in the barriques, or “carati”, as Veronelli correctly called them in Italian. Luigi always remembered the Italian proverb that said “good wine comes in small barrels”, coined well before the fortuitous discovery of the qualities of barriques, which in the 1800s were used on sailing ships to transport wine from Bordeaux to England. As Professor Peynaud explained to us in a long interview – later a book called 100 questions and 100 answers about barriques (which we published under the Castellare-Fattoria name and was very important in enabling Italian wines to equal and then overtake the quality of the French) – their small size (225 litres) allowed a larger quantity of wine to come into contact with the wood, and the thin slats, narrower than those in large barrels, enabled oxygen to pass through and transfer to the wine the noble tannins of oaks from the Massif Central.

And precisely for this reason we joined Edmond, in-love with Italy and its wines like few others, in founding the Compagnie Vinicole Conseille for the exchange of technology between Italy and France.
Challenge (and therefore passion) is the engine of all activities, but in making wine and in sailing there is always the added excitement of the unexpected. A passion for sailing and for making wine has gone together in our family for many decades. The same was true of Edmond, who was as fond of his Gitana, which he used to race in the maxi yacht category, as he was of Lafite and Clarke. That may be why we were such great friends. And it was certainly that first connection with the most famous banking family in the world that later, after developing Castellare di Castellina in the Chianti Classico region, enabled us – together with Eric de Rothschild, cousin of Edmond and president of Domaines Barons De Rothschild-Lafite – to found our family’s second estate, Rocca di Frassinello, in the Tuscan Maremma a few kilometres from Bolgheri.

The starting point for my friendship with Eric and his highly-talented CEO Christophe Salin was the stock market listing of Class Editori, the publishing house that I founded in 1986. Eric and his cousin David had successfully relaunched the Banque Rothschild in Paris after its nationalization, ordered by French President François Mitterrand during his first term when he was supported by the French Communist Party. The Milan branch of the new Banque Rothschild acted as advisor for the listing, giving us the opportunity to meet Eric. While he was on a short stay at Bolgheri we found ourselves having lunch at Gambero Rosso, a restaurant created by one of the world’s most brilliant chefs, Fulvio Pierangelini.

During lunch (Fulvio opened at 1 p.m. just for us) I told Eric that since there were no longer any terrains suitable for wine growing left in the Chianti I had bought 50 hectares in the hinterland of Castiglione della Pescaia and Punta Ala. “Let’s go and see them”, replied Eric, with the curiosity that has always driven him. Once we were there, appreciating the position and the terrain devoid of vineyards he said to me: “If you manage buy the various estates of the valley, 500 hectares, then let’s do a joint venture because, Paulò, le vin est un affair fonciér pour nostres nephews”, in a spontaneous mix of French and English. Over and beyond being a matter of passion, Eric’s idea was and is that wine can bring about an increase in land values so that it is advisable, before planting the vineyards, to buy a lot of land.

Rocca di Frassinello, designed by Renzo Piano, was inaugurated 21 June, 2007 – the summer solstice. In creating this, the first joint venture in wine between Italy and France, the passion that drove us was not the desire to create a monument to customers or to wine. As Renzo Piano says, a winery is first and foremost a production plant, even if it transforms the products of nature rather than manufacturing cars. In full agreement with Renzo, a close friend since well before his first great achievement of designing the Beaubourg in Paris, we put great passion into creating a workshop, as efficient and rational as possible, without marble or luxuries, with exposed concrete walls and a completely innovative layout. A large square design centred on the most important phase in the ennobling of wine: the barrel room, large enough for 2,000 barriques; around it, like a large frame, two sides at one level only for the vats and two sides at two levels for the other functions.
Everything is arranged so as to never require the use of pumps: the grapes arrive in a large square, which Renzo baptised the “sagrato” (churchyard), are selected and end up in the fermentation vats by force of gravity through small windows in the floor. Renzo had also already tasted the passion for making wine at his family’s winery in Ovada, Piedmont, and he often chides me about the fact that he devoted much more time to Rocca di Frassinello, his only winery, than to creating the new headquarters of the New York Times. And Renzo too loves sailing as much as architecture.

The nearly 100 hectares of vineyards, being conceived as an Italian-French joint venture, are planted with equally divided grape varieties: 50% Italian and 50% French, while all wines are blends, excluding the Baffonero which, in the spirit of the America’s Cup, serves as a challenger to Masseto, (100% Merlot), the most famous Italian wine produced by our friends, the Marchesi Frescobaldi family, owners of the Ornellaia estate. Exactly the opposite of the philosophy of Castellare di Castellina.

The legacy of the days spent at Château Clarke with Peynaud was extraordinary, and led me to take three decisions regarding Castellare:
1) that I would go all out for Sangiovese, which in the Chianti we call Sangioveto, since in Peynaud’s opinion it was a vine of extraordinary untapped potential
2) that I would plant the first experimental vineyard in the Chianti, with 30 different clones of Sangioveto to fill a void left by the oenological authorities (which took place in collaboration with Professor Attilio Scienza of the University of Milan)
3) that the greatest, most important wine that we would make at Castellare would be made from Sangioveto and another indigenous vine, Malvasia Nera, completely contradicting the approach of the greatest Italian winemaker, Giacomo Tachis, who for Tignanello had decided to unite Sangiovese with the two main French varieties.

Our passion hit the skies in 1988, when the first edition of the Wine Spectator Top 100, the magazine that was already the wine Bible, placed I Sodi di S. Niccolò (as we baptised that wine of our dreams with Veronelli) in sixth place out of all the wines in the world. This was for I Sodi di S. Niccolò 1985. The next vintage of I Sodi di San Niccolò, 1986, repeated this feat by appearing in the Top 100 as the top Italian wine. Almost like winning the America’s Cup. But it was much more than that because it gave us the chance to really get to know Tachis, who would soon be leaving Antinori. Our relationship with Giacomo has never been of a professional nature but only of friendship, with the incredible inspiration that he has given to myself and Alessandro Cellai, our chief winemaker and CEO of all our estates.

Tachis’s friendship and respect for Alessandro, who the creator of Tignanello, Sassicaia, Solaia and Turriga chose as his ideal successor, led to our passion for the other two Domini Castellare di Castellina estates, Feudi del Pisciotto and Gurra di Mare. Both of which are in Sicily. Feudi is located in the only Sicilian DOCG area at Cerasuolo di Vittoria, while the vineyards of Gurra di Mare extend right up to the beach at Menfi, the homeland of Planeta. It was a violent passion because Tachis, a native of Piedmont who became famous for Tuscan wines, was the architect behind the rebirth of Sicilian wine as Regional Institute of Vines and Wine consultant. This is probably the most praiseworthy initiative to have been taken on what is the most remarkable island in the Mediterranean, but also the most devastated by inefficiencies. Tachis explained to Alessandro and myself that, as Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei and also Dante also believed, Wine is Light and Mood. And nowhere else in the world are the light (the sun) and the moods of the land so extraordinary as in Sicily: it is no coincidence that thousands of years ago it was called Enotria, which by transposition gave the word “enos” the meaning of wine (thus oenology). To increase our passion for winemaking, Tachis threw us an even more exciting challenge: he suggested that we produce grape varieties in Sicily that no one would think capable of producing great wines in the Sicilian heat. And so we planted Semillon and Gewürztraminer to make passito, and Pinot Noir to make the best wine of Feudi. Pinot Noir in particular is an extraordinary challenge, because it is the dream of every producer to vinify the noblest of grapes. Others had also attempted this in Sicily, but only the secrets given to us by Tachis along with Alessandro’s passion, expertise and specialisation in the most difficult grape variety on earth, enabled us to reap not the heat, but the light and moods of the lands of Sicily. Our Pinot Noir is called L’Eterno, and the label shows the hand of the extraordinary sculpture by Giacomo Serpotta, the greatest sculptor in the history of Sicily. Feudi del Pisciotto funded the restoration of this sculpture with part of the proceeds from sales of wines with labels designed by Italian fashion designers, including Versace, Ferrè, Giambattista Valli, Alberta Ferretti, Missoni and others. All agreed to waive their royalties in order to help the rebirth of Sicily-Enotria. This for us is another passion, as great as and intertwined with our passion for wine, because wine is civilization, history, and – being derived from the Latin word venus – beauty.