Category: Bele Casel

Happy Earth Day from Bele Casel!

The “day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace” across the world.

Happy Earth Day, everyone!

That’s a photo of wild arugula in our top vineyard, our Prà Grande vineyard in the township of Monfumo (in the Colli Asolani or Asolo Hills in Treviso province).

Wild arugula is EXPLODING across our vineyards. It couldn’t be a better sign that our organic farming practices have created robust biodiversity. That’s the key to making great wine in our opinion. And we also believe it’s the key to taking care of our environment, our planet, and ourselves.

Here’s a little bit of history about the holiday (from Wikipedia).

In 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco, peace activist John McConnell proposed a day to honor the Earth and the concept of peace, to first be celebrated on March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. This day of nature’s equipoise was later sanctioned in a proclamation written by McConnell and signed by Secretary General U Thant at the United Nations. A month later a separate Earth Day was founded by United States Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in first held on April 22, 1970. Nelson was later awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom award in recognition of his work. While this April 22 Earth Day was focused on the United States, an organization launched by Denis Hayes, who was the original national coordinator in 1970, took it international in 1990 and organized events in 141 nations.

Numerous communities celebrate Earth Week, an entire week of activities focused on the environmental issues that the world faces. In 2017, the March for Science occurred on Earth day (April 22, 2017) and was followed by the People’s Climate Mobilization (April 29, 2017).

On Earth Day 2016, the landmark Paris Agreement was signed by the United States, China, and some 120 other countries. This signing satisfied a key requirement for the entry into force of the historic draft climate protection treaty adopted by consensus of the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Joel Mack, leading American expert on Italian wine, explains Prosecco Col Fondo.

Bele Casel Prosecco Col Fondo: “A merry-go-round of complex aromas and tastes, orchard fruit, rising bread, floral scents, and bread crust.”

Joel Mack, one of America’s leading authorities on Italian wine, published an excellent overview of Prosecco Col Fondo this week in the Italo-Americano.

Here’s an excerpt of his piece (which is only available in print), including a tasting note for Bele Casel Col Fondo. THANK YOU, Joel!

“Col fondo means ‘with sediment,’ that is to say, Prosecco Col Fondo is bottled on its own yeasts, i.e., sur-lie, undergoing a second fermentation in bottle… Yeasts consume sugars, slowly creating carbon dioxide gas and — voilà — bubbles. Spent yeasts remain in bottle, a part of ‘col fondo’ goodness. The result is an intense, complex Prosecco with a decidedly unique personality.”

“Prosecco Col Fondo provides a different sensory experience from Charmat produced Prosecco. If you’re used to the extreme clarity of the latter, don’t be surprised by the beautifully pale Prosecco Col Fondo, a result of its retention of sediment in bottle. Do expect from Prosecco Col Fondo complexity and exquisite texture, notes of bread crust, yeast, ripe fruit and bright acidity.”

“As is true of Prosecco in general, Prosecco Col Fondo is not just for celebratory quaffing. Prosecco are indeed great food wines, cleaning the palate, leaving it refreshed and ready to fully taste next bites. But, I must tell you, Prosecco Col Fondo is truly one of Italy’s ‘pairs with anything’ wines and is to be enjoyed throughout the full meal. Prosecco Col Fondo grandly accompanies foods from gourmet burgers to charcuterie to pasta dishes, fish, and spicy Asian and Indian cuisine.”

And here is Joel’s tasting note for Bele Casel Colfòndo (thank you, Joel!):

“And they say Nebbiolo changes in the glass!? A merry-go-round of complex aromas and tastes, orchard fruit, rising bread, floral scents, and bread crust. Elegant, at moments delicate, with palate-cleansing crispness and splendid texture.”

About Joel Mack, from the about page on his excellent wine blog Vintrospective: “Joel Mack is a freelance journalist and consultant focusing on the wines of Italy. He has studied Italy’s wines, wine regions and native wine grapes at Vinitaly International Academy in Verona, Italy, earning certification as Italian Wine Ambassador.”

Vinitaly 2018: Thank you for a great fair!

Thanks to all our friends who came out to taste with us at this year’s Vinitaly!

Vinitaly is the Italian wine world’s largest trade fair. It takes place each spring in Verona, usually after the Easter holiday and three-day weekend.

Even though Bele Casel attends a number of fair throughout the calendar year, there is no fair that comes even close to being as big as the fair in Verona each year. It can have its slow moments, although those are rare and far and few between. But mostly it’s a non-stop parade of clients, friends, and colleagues who come to taste with us at the behemoth event, which is held on the Verona Fiere fair grounds.

One of the most exciting things about this year’s fair for us was that we presented our first ever vintage-dated Prosecco Colfòndo.

We call it “Quindici” in Italian, meaning “fifteen,” because it a Colfòndo, sourced as it is every vintage from our top vineyard in Monfumo, from the 2015 harvest.

It was a really big hit at the fair and it was a real thrill for us to get to share this new wine and label with fairgoers, including so many we had never met before. Too many to count!

The fair ended yesterday, Wednesday, and today is Thursday and we are finally back at the winery.

We are utterly exhausted! It’s really demanding work to be at the stand from 9:00 in the morning until 6:00 at night. And then, of course, because we live not far enough from Verona to justify the cost of a hotel room there, we have to commute to and from Caerano di San Marco, the small town where we live not far from Asolo. It’s exhausting!

But we love it because it gives us the opportunity to see so many of our friends and share our wines with them.

Thank you for a great Vinitaly!

See you at Vinitaly, April 15-18: Hall 8, Stand B 20 (in the FIVI pavilion)

Please visit our stand in the FIVI pavilion at Vinitaly, April 15-18: Hall 8, Stand B 20 (the FIVI pavilion).

Every year, the Italian wine world gathers in Verona in the weeks that lead up to Easter at Vinitaly: The Italian wine industry’s largest wine trade fair and tasting and, according to some trade observers, “the largest wine show in the world” (see the Wikipedia entry here for some background on the fair and its importance on the Italian wine community’s calendar).

Now in its 51st year (the inaugural gathering was held in 1967), the fair extends over 95,000 sq. ft. of the Veronafiere (Verona Fairs) grounds each year, hosting more than 4,000 presenting wineries and more than 150,000 visitors.

As you prepare to attend the fair, we highly recommend that you visit this page on the fair’s website for attendee information.

In particular, be sure to download a copy of the fairground’s map.

Another very useful tool is the searchable online directory of exhibitors (called a “catalog” on the site).

In recent years, exhibitors and attendees alike have welcomed the addition of parking shuttle buses, which make it a lot easier to reach the fairgrounds.

If you haven’t already reserved your accommodations, you might find it challenging to reserve anything in Verona or immediate surroundings. Most hotels are fully booked by October of the previous year (as a rule of thumb).

One solution is to stay in neighboring cities like Vicenza (to the east) and/or Desenzano (to the west): You generally can find last-minute lodging there and Vicenza is just a 20-minute train ride to Verona, while Vicenza is a 25-minute ride.

Dining in Verona can be another challenge during the fair. Most of the restaurants are booked well in advance and unless you attend a dinner organized exhibitors or marketers, it’s almost impossible to find tables available in the historic center of Verona. But if you venture out beyond the city’s historic center, you will find some dining options still available.

One secret of professional fair-goers is that many exhibitors have excellent artisanal salumi that they share with tasters.

Many attendees and exhibitors will agree that Vinitaly’s greatest conundrum is parking. Finding space for your car can be extremely challenging, even though the situation has gotten a little better in recent years.

If you’re not staying in the city center, our best advice is to commute to Verona by train. And if you really have no other way of arriving at Veronafiera than by car, well, good luck! Some “best-kept” secrets are just that!

Joking aside, we wish everyone a great and productive fair experience. We look forward to seeing you in the FIVI (Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers) pavilion (Hall 8, Stands B8-E9, Desk 15).

Image via Fabio Ingrosso’s Flickr Creative Commons.

Reduction (lack of oxygen) poses a challenge in December: Prosecco Diaries

December is a really busy month for Prosecco growers like us!

December is a month to reflect on the wines that we have yet to bottle. It’s the time of year when the wines undergo a little bit of reduction (owed to the absence of oxygen in the tanks) and it makes it complicated to determine the true potential of the base wines that will ultimately be transformed into sparkling wine.

In January, we’ll begin racking and we’ll start with the tanks that need a little bit of oxygen. Our dad did such a great job during harvest: Not only did he keep the fruit from each vineyard separate, he also managed to keep individual parcels within the vineyards separated.

Our Cornuda vineyard was divided into four different parts: The shorter rows in the northern section; the long southern rows that were hand harvested; the southern rowas that were machine harvested; and the eastern rows. It’s always really useful to make these comparisons. And the thing that always amazes us is how the neighboring rows, each of which has been inoculated with the same yeast, manage to give aromas and flavors that are very different from on another. It’s a great example of the diversity in our vineyards.

uva di san martino

Grapes from San Martino.

Unfortunately our vineyard in Monfumo produced very little because of the freeze this year. And this will automatically impact the production of our sparkling wine for 2018.

Yet another year will go by without us being able to increase our production. It’s going to be hard to meet the demand for our wines in new markets. And we’re not going to be able to grow in markets where we are already working. The most difficult decision for us was not to produce our Asolo Prosecco Superiore Dry from the 2017 vintage. Instead, our vineyard in Maser will be used to make our Colfòndo. God willing, we will bottle a new lot of Prosecco Dry in spring of 2019.

This year we first harvested only local grape varieties from our vineyards: Rabbiosa, Bianchetta, Marzemina Bianca, and Perera. We vinified them apart from the Glera and we hope to bottle them toward the end of 2018. We have really high expectations for this fruit. So stay tuned for more in an upcoming post.

bosco vigna cornuda

It’s extremely important to keep our woods clean, especially for our vineyards. A 100-year-old chestnut tree that fell in the valley will keep us warm next winter.

This is a frenetic month for us. During the Christmas holiday, sparkling wine sells like hot cakes! We finished our Extra Brut and Dry at the last minute (we apologize to our clients who didn’t receive it in time for the holiday!) and our Extra Dry really came down to the wire.

colfondo bele casel il mattino

We were happy to have good company in the newspaper “Il Mattino.”

Back in the vineyards, we continue to prune. Cornuda and Caerano are almost done. Now we move on to the deshooting and shoring up the arcs of the canes. We’ll wait as long as we can before we start working on our Monfumo vineyard.

pranzo vigna potatura

Now that pruning is done, we can celebrate!

La Cucina Italiana: Bele Casel Colfòndo is “dangerously drinkable.”

Italy’s premier food magazine recommends our wine!

La Cucina Italiana.

It’s the greatest Italian food magazine of all time. All time, period!

It was founded in 1922 by a group of Italian intellectuals who recognized the unique stature of Italy’s gastronomy and cuisine.

It is the be-all end-all magazine for the best Italian recipes, the best Italian food photography, and the best feature stories about Italian cuisine, new trends in Italian cuisine, the history of Italian cuisines, and profiles of food and wine producers, chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs. It’s also a leading Italian travel magazine and often features top destinations in Italy and abroad for Italian cuisine.

One of the coolest things about the magazine is that Italians love it.

It’s kind of like America’s National Geographic. If you’ve ever been over to someone’s home in Italy, you might have seen their collection of La Cucina Italiana, all lined up on a bookshelf just like you would see a collection of National Geographic in an American home. People often boast of how far back their archives stretches (some families we know even have issues from the pre-World War II era!).

We couldn’t have been more thrilled about having one of our wines featured in the current issue of the magazine. Our current-release Prosecco Colfòndo was the recommended pairing for one of this month’s featured recipes and dishes, “Grilled Cabbage topped with Trout Roe.” Sounds good, right?

The editor notes how the wine’s freshness and citrus character is ideal for the saltiness of the dish and the roe.

And here’s the tasting note:

“Fresh with citrus notes, dangerously drinkable.”

To be featured in such a special magazine, so closely identified with the best in Italian cookery, is a really and truly special honor for us at the winery. We couldn’t be more pleased.

And the pairing sounds 100 percent delish!

Green manure (cover crop) flowers remind us it’s spring.

It’s that time of year when the cover crop begins to bloom!

Manure. It can be animal-made and it can be plant-made.

Here at Bele Casel, we adopt an approach to farming that’s very similar to biodynamic practices. Even though we don’t use the so-called “preparations” that biodynamic farmers use, we like them work to invigorate the “life” in our soil. To make it come to life with biodiversity, including all kinds of animals and micro-organisms that help to replenish its nitrogen and ability to support life. Just like our biodynamic counterparts, our soils are farmed 100 percent organically, without the use of any chemicals or pesticides whatsoever. Like our biodynamic counterparts, one of the ways we gauge the health of our soil is by how many earthworms we find when we stick our hands into the earth. The more there are, the healthier the soil. The more the merrier!

Another thing we do that is very similar to the approach that our biodynamic counterparts take is that we plant a so-called “cover crop” each fall after harvest. These include kinds of legumes typically and different types of wild flowers and plants that are believed to help in replenishing nitrogen levels and the soil’s general health.

Depending on the vintage, we will mow the cover crops at a certain point and let the organic material become a sort of “green manure.”

Those flowers in the photo above reminded us that our cover crop and green maure is coming in nicely!

The very presence of the plants helps to enhance the health of the soils and the growing site in general. Then, the green manure will help the health even more by adding even more biodiversity to the soil and encouraging the development of micro-organisms.

It’s all part of an overall approach to make healthier soils and better crop — without the use of chemicals.

Cinecittà to host Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers Fair May 19-20

The legendary movie studio will be the backdrop for the trade and consumer event.

Ever wanted to see the inside of Cinecittà, the legendary Italian movie studio and lot where many of the great Italian films of the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were shot? That’s not to mention the current productions on the grounds of this icon of the international film community.

On May 19 and 20, the Italian Federation of Independent Grape Growers (FIVI) will host its second Rome tasting and fair on the grounds of the studio.

It was built in early 1930s by Mussolini and the fascist regime. Mussolini understood early on the power of mass media and he invested heavily in film production. The studio and the Experimental Center for Film that he founded as well were part of that campaign.

After the fall of the brutal fascist regime in the final years of the Second World War, the studio became home to the celebrated Neorealist movement. Its brilliant films, which in many cases depicted the atrocities of the fascist regime, are today considered masterpieces of international filmmaking.

The most famous of these is Roberto Rossellini’s “Rome: Open City.” But there are countless others, like “Bicycle Thieves” and “Umberto D.” among many others.

In the 1950s, the studio was home to productions that included Italian new wave directors like Fellini and Antonioni. Much of Fellini’s masterpiece “La Dolce Vita” was filmed there, for example. While many of the outdoor scenes were filmed in the city of Rome itself, the interiors were mainly shot on the studio lot.

Even today, it’s a working lot where you’ll find all kinds of productions, international and Italian. It’s renowned for its ancient Roman sets like the one in the photo above.

FIVI still hasn’t published details beyond the dates (May 19-20) but we’ll post an updated link as soon as it goes online.

In the meantime, here are photos from last year’s event.

Image via Dalbera’s Flickr.

ALMA was pouring our 2015 ColFòndo when we visited last November: Prosecco Diaries

November 2017 was a busy month for us!

ALMA, the cooking school in Colorno (Parma), was a highlight this month.

November, as always, is the month when we stay away from the vineyards in order to concentrate our efforts on the wines and our clients.

Every day, we taste the wines in our cellar and we compare notes as we determine what’s the best path forward.

The wines are taking a lot of time to clarify this year. But there are doing fine otherwise.

They have a lot of structure and balanced mineral character, the two common denominators for this vintage.

The other thing that we will remember about the 2017 vintage is that this year, we have a few empty tanks because of the spring frost.

As always, we wait until November to talk about how are wines are doing. And we are happy to report that we are really pleased with this year’s results.

November 1: The beloved hills of Asolo, the Colli Assolani.

colli asolani asolo docg

November 2: We were mentioned in Spirito di Vino!

“We recommend tasting the 2015 Prosecco ColFòndo by Bele Casel. It has aromas of pear and white peach. Very approachable in the mouth, this light wine has a savory and fruit flavors. Made using Glera grapes and other varieties native to the Asolo hills like Bianchetta, Perera, Rabbiosa, and Marzemina Bianca, this wine is farmed organically. And it has the classic cloudiness.”

spirito di vino bele casel asolo

November 3: We just rack once. The wines are taking a while to clarify. But they will get there in time.

base spumante asolo prosecco docg

November: Monfumo in all its splendor.

monfumo bele casel

November 8: Thanks to Seth for this wonderful photo, taken in one of our favorite restaurants in Honolulu, The Pig and the Lady.

colfondo honolulu bele casel

“Wait, what? At first glance, this was a curious pairing. Prosecco, native to Veneto in northern Italy, is a light, dry sparkling wine with bright expressive aromas and flavors of green apple, honeydew melon, pear, and honeysuckle. With all of this fruit bursting from the glass, prosecco usually presents rather sweet. Not the first wine to come to mind for this rich, earthy, creamy course.”

“This wine, however, was no ordinary prosecco. The Bele Casel Colfòndo Prosecco uniquely utilizes a fermentation process similar to the Champagne method, with secondary fermentation occurring in the bottle (rather than large tanks typical for prosecco). In a diversion from the Champagne method, the yeast is not disgorged and instead remains in the bottle until consumed. As a result, the wine possessed complex flavors of fruit and earthiness, with a texture that paired excellently with the creamy mushroom filling and flaky pastry. In typical prosecco style, the finish was dry, cleansing the palate and leaving you ready for the next course.”

The above comes from the blog Musings by the Glass.

November 10: We had a magnificent evening with Saggi Bevitori (the “Wise Drinkers”). We were able to share Bele Casel’s story with more than 60 wine lovers.

Thank you, Saggi Bevitori!

November 19: Unearthed wines, 2017, Helsinki. People seemed to love the ColFòndo 2016 and the Extra Brut.

bele casel helsinki

Thank you Vinonostrum!

November 20: Bele Casel and Aqua Crua at ALMA in Colorno. An evening hosted by the international culinary school there. They happened to be pouring our 2015 ColFòndo, which was showing beautifully.

bele casel alma colorno

November 21: We start pruning in our Caerano vineyard. We can see the damage created by the spring freeze. It’s going to be the thing that this vintage is remembered for. That’s a cane ruined by the freeze when it had 3-4 buds on it.

 

November 25: The Mercato dei Vini is finally here! It’s the biggest fair we take part in and so we need some big wheels!

mercato fivi bele casel

Harvest is over but there’s plenty of work to do in the vineyard: Prosecco Diaries October

Unusual weather conditions have added to the work we need to do in the vineyard.

Harvest is finally over but that doesn’t mean that everything slows down at the winery and that we can look forward to long days with nothing to do but relax. In fact, this year, things got really busy right away.

We spent numerous days working in our Pra’ Grande vineyard this month. We shored up the rows and we planted cover crops. We fixed up the stakes and iron wires. And we fixed the anchors and the ties.

We were a little worried because we are experiencing yet another dry month. The plants will have trouble budding and the ground needs to be damp. Instead the soil is totally dry.

Unusually high temperatures have caused the grasses to grow. And we were forced to mow very late in the year.

We continue to fertilize using only manure. And this year we scattered the manure through the vineyard. We decided to do it like this because we want to compare the results with those from last year when we only distributed the manure beneath the vines themselves.

October 5: The work in the Pra’ Grande vineyard continues.

vigna pra' grande monfumo

Shoring up the iron wires in the rows.

lavori vigna pra' grande

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to present the “yellow soil of our Pra’ Grande vineyard”…

terra gialla pra' grande

October 6: Fall/Winter Collection 2018. Bepi, who guards our Pra’ Grande vineyard, gets a new look.

bepi monfumo pra' grande

October 10: Regular maintenance.

bepi guardiano vigna pra' grande

October 14: The annual Slow Wine tasting where the award-winners present their wines.

slow wine bele casel montecatini

October 20: A ColFòndo tasting presented by Stefano Caffari.

degustazione colfondo ais caffarri

degustazione prosecco colfondo

October 20: When you look carefully at the landscape in Asolo where we grow our grapes, you realize that Asolo and Valdobbiadene have more things in common than you would think.

morfologia colli asolani

25 Ottobre: Sfalcio erba a Monfumo, come sempre manual

October 25: We mow between the rows in Monfumo. As always, the mowing is done manually.

sfalcio erba monfumo

autunno vigna monfumo