Rebel with a cause – Alessandro Cellai
We have been extremely fortunate this year to welcome some amazing winemakers into the store. This week’s tasting is one though that makes me think I should pinch myself. Allesandro Cellai, enologist and director of Castellare di Rocca (overseer of two vineyards: Castellare di Castellina and Rocca di Frassinello), will be in store pouring wines from Rocca di Frassinello and Feudi del Pisciotto.
Frassinello and Pisciotto are the result of two international powerhouse wineries – Chateau Lafite Rothschild and Castellare di Rocca. Chateau Lafite is among the world’s great wine houses and Castellare is among the great Chianti producers. In the early 2000s they joined together to purchase 500 hectares in an area north of Bolgehri in Tuscany known as the Maremma. They sought to produce wines considered to be the meeting of the best of Italy and France. Allesandro Cellai has been at the helm of this project alongside Christian Le Sommer, the renowned wine maker for Lafite.
Cellai, readers, has on the one hand been an integral participant in the complete remaking of the Italian chianti scene, and on the other hand he’s been an integral participant in the further institutionalization of classic chianti-making methods. And, in 2009/’10 he was selected by his peers as one of Decanter Magazine’s Italian “Stars of Tomorrow,” a distinction which, by many accounts, he has more than lived up to.
When not reinventing the Italian wine landscape, Allesandro is skiing, or he is, you know, racing his fiat:
The Castellare half of Cellai’s equation is the traditional side. For those bottles there is no blending of indigenous and international grape varietals, and Sangioveto grapes are the focus. The Frassinello half is where Cellai’s modern, innovative approaches have bloomed because, as he says in a 2010 interview, “there is no historical relation between terroir and grape varietals.
“Now, there, I think we are in the right place to blend part of our great experience of Castellare with Sangioveto and part of the experience of international varietal like cabernet merlot and cabernet franc, some Bordeaux blends.”
Cellai fell in love with winemaking in a very organic, ancient way: his uncle, a priest, taught Cellai by letting his young nephew have his grapes with which to experiment.
From the same interview, above: “My uncle was a priest in his first church. I was very young, so 4 or 5 years old, and he introduced me to the vineyard world. I think my passion is connected with him.”
The uncle is still a priest. It was once more common for churches to have a little vinyard around them from which the priests would make wine for their own uses and for the community. Cellai recounts in a second interview that his father was often away on business, and so he had ample time to learn from his uncle. He recalls it was the ’73 vintage. His uncle gave him a basket of grapes, and told Cellai to use the knowledge he’d learned to date.
As he says, “I produced. I was crushing the grapes, I was making a fermentation. It was a very empiric fermentation but it was fermented. At the end I produced 25 bottles of my own wine on that field. I still have one or two bottles in my house.”
Cellai went on to winemaker school, as he calls it, in his early adulthood and then to university where he studied chemistry.
We’ll have to leave it there as that should give you a sense of what you will be getting into if you visit us Wednesday. The first two bottles are from Cellai’s Frassinello’s operation, and the latter two? Oh my. They are from a Sicilian side project that represents the collaboration of Cellai and world-famous French winery Lafite.
This tasting could change your life.
2012 Frassinello Ornello, Tuscany Italy
Super Tuscan :: $40 Sale $36
The “Maremma cowboy,” a symbol of elegance and strength typical of the earth of Maremma. Still today Ornello is the name of the lance wood used to move the cattle. The only one blended with Syrah. Balsamic notes and roasted coffee at the nose and a full and rich wine with a nice elegance and freshness, typical of Rocca di Frassinello style.
2012 Frassinello Le Sughere, Tuscany Italy
Super Tuscan :: $31 Sale $28
The second label of Rocca di Frassinello. A wine of great character in which Sangioveto, Cabernet and Merlot are blended together to realize an ideal Italian-French wine. Floral notes at the nose and very expressive from start to finish.
2012 Feudi del Pisciotto, Sicily Italy
Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 :: $34 Sale $30
Sicily is a region where many varieties give their best with Cabernet acquiring and absolutely unique personality. Devoid of the vegetables notes which are often an undesirable characteristic of this variety, in Sicily Cabernet Sauvignon produces wines with excellent structure and a polyphenolic element that gives them a great attitude for ageing.
2012 Feudi del Pisciotto, Sicily Italy
Frappato :: $34 Sale $30
Like the Nero d’Avola, Frappato also demonstrates all that Sicilian winemaking has to offer and is capable of great vigour, persistence and elegance, characterized by the first unmistakably fragrant notes.
Wines will be featured through Tuesday, November 8th.
This Saturday we’re all about whiskey, friends. Laws Whiskey, to be precise. It doesn’t get any better in our estimation. Nor more local: Laws is made exactly one mile from our store. Want a sense of what’s in the bottle? From their website:
“If you can’t trust us how can you trust what’s in the bottle? We are an integrity-based distillery providing ethically-made high quality whiskey. We’re eager to share that which we are so proud of, our whiskey, made in Colorado, with a character that can be appreciated by urban pioneers and high country people alike.”
We start sippin’ and tastin’ at 4pm. Hope you can make it!
Tag your pics #pickitupatpearl so we can CHEERS!
1st Anniversary Tasting
It’s hard to believe we’ve been open one year already! To celebrate, we’re hosting a grand tasting at DU’s School of Hospitality. We will be opening 200+ wines along with a few of our favorite whiskeys. In addition to being able to try everything, we will be offering you special event-only pricing! This is going to be a great way to pick out a few favorites for your Thanksgiving dinner or stock up for the holidays 🙂
Wednesday, November 9th, 5:00-8:30pm
DU University’s Joy Burns Center
2044 E. Evans Avenue, Denver
(light appetizers also provided)
Discover why 5280 Magazine Readers and Editors voted Pearl Wine Company Denver’s BEST BOTTLE SHOP. PWC takes pride in being Denver’s best wine shop–a craft liquor specialty store. Conveniently located on South Pearl Street in Denver’s Platt Park neighborhood.