A few days ago I told you about the pre Blend 2021 at Alpago, at Riccardo De Prà's Dolada Restauranta magical evening thanks to superlative cuisine and wine symmetries carefully chosen by Umberto Cosmo by Bellenda among the wineries it distributes. Today, however, I will tell you why Blend is a special event for me, starting with the fact that I find it 'on a human scale' and in particular on the scale of the trade. At Blend, one does not seek quantity, but pleasure. The pleasure of discovery, synergy and research. The result is a well-kept tasting counter where you can sample not only Prosecco DOCG, but all the wines distributed by Bellenda, savour them and understand them. All interspersed with amazing things coming out of the kitchen!
Blend 2021 opened with the Conference 'Where is the wine? a title that caused me some concern (maybe they attacked Bellenda at night and stole all the bottles!). Fortunately, my beloved Antonio Paolini (food and wine journalist), also an excellent moderator this year, immediately reassured us by saying that the wine was out on the terrace and there was no need to worry as the title was about wine containers. In fact, the subject of the conference is the relationship between container and content, a very interesting idea. The wine vessel phenomenon used for fermentation was discussed by Elisabetta Foradori (producer of the Foradori farm in Mezzolombardo -TN), Giuliano Boni (wine technician and owner of the consulting company Vinidea), Slawka Scarso (lecturer in wine marketing at the Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna in Pisa) and Pietro Pellegrini (President of the distribution company Pellegrini S.p.A.).
I really liked Antonio Paolini's parallel, seeing wine as the fruit of conception between grape and yeast, and the wine vase as the womb that houses it until it is ready to enter the world. And I really enjoyed hearing the same topic from completely different perspectives. On my side, I have no prejudices whatsoever: I am interested in what is inside the glass and when a wine is made well and I like it, I am happy. The same goes for conventional farming, organic farming, biodynamic farming... I look at the result and I am really interested in the 'poetry'.
Now I want to introduce you to the companies distributed by Bellenda and show you the wines I liked best in the photos!
Not only Prosecco DOCG: Ilocki Podrumi, Croatia
The wines I fell in love with at Blend 2019 have been confirmed again in this edition! Ilocki Podrumi is the Croatian winery built around 1450 under Ilock Castle by Nicholas the Great, lord of the lands of Slavonia. The first traminer vines were planted by the Odescalchi princes in 1710 on a hill called Principovac around the family residence. This wine-growing area is considered the Grand Cru of Slavonia for traminac (roter traminer) and grasevina (riesling italico).
Of all the labels my favourites are the Graševina Velika berba (black label) and the Traminac Principovac. Exceptional bouquet on the nose and semi-sweet on the palate, it has a particular affinity with oysters and duck or pigeon meat. A curiosity? This 1947 vintage Traminac Principovac was served for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
Also a spectacle was the magnum of Chardonnay 2018 in which the grape variety took a back seat - while remaining itself - according to the terroir, so characteristic of Ilocki Podrumi's wines.
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Not only Prosecco AOCG: Champagne Roger Coulon, France
An excellence in the heart of Champagne that here presented a new gem: Les Hauts Partas 2014 - Chouilly Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs. Named after the chardonnay parcel of the village of Chouilly in the Cote des Blancs. The estate's vines are 30 to 45 years old, have a planting density of 8,500 vines per hectare and are rooted in chalk. The wine is aged for 10 months in small oak barrels and, after a gentle mousse, spends 7 years in the bottle before disgorgement and subsequent dosage with only 1 g/l of sugar.
The result is a fabulous champagne, elegant and balanced, mineral and citrusy on the nose, buttery and briny in the mouth.
Not only Prosecco AOCG: Domaine des Carlines, France
In 2015, Patrick and Sophie Ligeron created Domaine des Carlines (11 hectares) in the small village of Menétru-le-Vignoble part of the Château-Chalon appellation, Grand Cru of the Vin Jaune (Jura).
Voile de Chardonnay Côtes du Jura 2018 is a blend of chardonnays from different plots characterised by grey marl soils and different exposure in the Château-Chalon area. Each parcel is first vinified separately with fermentation and ageing in oak barrels for 12 months with topping up. After blending, the resulting wine is aged for at least 24 months in wooden barrels under the veil that develops naturally on top of the wine. The result is a delicious, buttery wine with notes of ripe pear, apple and cinnamon strudel and hazelnuts. Structured, soft and with good length, it lends itself particularly well with soft raw cow's milk cheeses such as theAisy Cendré.
La Vouivre - Côtes du Jura 2018 is a blend of chardonnay (65%), savagnin (30%) and chardonnay sous voile (5%). A very fresh, upright and mineral wine with intense aromas of cinnamon, dill seed and candied pear. During a quality aperitif, one glass leads to another, but it is also perfect with risottos. Divine with pheasant risotto, which I will tell you about in a moment.
Not only Prosecco DOCG: Bodegas Menade, Spain
In the Spanish region of Castilla y León, the three Sanz brothers have created an extraordinary winery that produces three crazy wines: Adorado, Sobrenatural and La Misión.
La Misión 2018 It needs a little more in the bottle, but it is already wonderful. I found it more vertical than the La Misión 2017 (tasted at the Pre Blend dinner at the Dolada Restaurant in Alpago) which I enjoyed even more.
Sobrenatural 2016 is a special wine made from verdeja grapes that undergoes 30 months of oxidative ageing in vats and used oak barrels. I fell in love with it at Blend 2019 and the love continued in this edition. It is a beautiful bright golden yellow with antique gold hues, consistent. The nose is broad, with those oxidised notes that I adore, hints of pastry, candied fruit and a great minerality. In the mouth it is enveloping, balanced, elegant and with a pleasant alternation of sweet and savoury notes. For me, it is drunk on its own, to be paired exclusively with the bathtub.
Adorado 1967 is a metodo solera wine made from verdejo and palomino grapes. It is a brilliant intense amber colour, consistent. The nose is ample, intense, ethereal, incredible and presents all the nuances of dried fruit and then paraffin, dried porcini mushrooms, whole candied Apt mandarins (they are different, try it to believe it!), cane sugar, fermented tobacco, vanilla. In the mouth, it is balanced, very smooth, structured and very long. To be paired with a Nicaraguan Vintage cigar, perhaps a 1997.
Not only Prosecco DOCG: Costers del Siò, Spain
In a historic estate that has now become a true nature reserve, they produce fantastic wines and a powerful and tasty extra virgin olive oil (I would have liked a kg of Altamura bread to scarp all over the plate).
The Finca Sios 2017 is a red wine made from garnacha (75%) and syrah (25%) grapes vinified in 12th-century stone lagares next to the vineyards. Alcoholic fermentation takes place with indigenous yeasts in tanks dug out of natural stone and located in the open air with continuous manual punching-down. It matures 12 months in 500-litre tonneaux. It is intense ruby red, consistent. The nose is very intense with notes of dried plum, black mulberry jam and liquorice that fade into a balsamic finish. In the mouth it is fresh, soft, balanced with well-blended tannins and a good structure. Long spicy finish. A perfect wine for the whole meal, from cured meats to wild boar stew.
This is good Crianza! In a similar style to its predecessor, it is an elegant blend of ripe fruit and spices with that exceptional drinkability that makes you finish the bottle without realising it!
Not only Prosecco AOCG: Domaine de la Croisée and Domaine Bernard Fleuriet & Fils, France
I love Sauvignon Blanc and I love the Loire... here, this grape variety takes on a truly unique character thanks to the fossil-rich soils and continental climate.
The Sancerre Côte de la Marloup by Domaine Bernard Fleuriet & Fils is a wine that is bright and consistent straw yellow. The nose is intense and mineral with hints of citrus and herbs. In the mouth it is elegant, balanced and long, but I would like to taste it again in a few years to hear it express its full potential.
The Pouilly-Fumé is definitely on the podium of my favourite appellations and this Magma from Domaine de la Croisée shows great promise. It needs a few more years of bottle ageing to express all the smoky notes that sauvignon takes on in these areas. Today, it is more shifted to citrus, with notes of star anise and white peach jam. In the mouth, it is slightly buttery and very fresh, structured and with a long, bitter finish.
Not only Prosecco AOCG: Chateâu Puybarbe, France
The wines of Château Puybarbe are a triumph of wood in full Bordeaux style, dare I say it as Médoc would have it. The Côtes de Bourg is one of Bordeaux's most historic AOCs, also called 'la petite Suisse girondine'. The appellation is located 35 km north-west of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Gironde estuary around the village of Bourg-sur-Gironde. The vines take root on alluvial soils rich in gravel, clay, limestone and quaternary silt.
The Gaia de Château Puybarbe 2016 is very good with exceptional value for money. It is made from merlot (88%), cabernet sauvignon (8%) cabernet franc and malbec. It has an intense, 'woody' nose with notes of red fruits, coffee, cocoa, black pepper, cloves and grilled yellow peppers. In the mouth it is consistent, intense, structured and very long. A wine that is ready and can be enjoyed immediately with grilled meat and cured meats, but should also be tried with the Venetian tramezzino with salt cod.
Not only Prosecco DOCG: Foradori, Italy
As I've already said, I don't care about organic, biodynamic and natural, I value what's in the glass which, in fact, is what I drink. Although I do admit that I have a soft spot for the sheep you see wandering around the vineyards of Bellenda!
I really liked Elisabetta Foradori's Granato. Teroldego delle Dolomiti IGT, is made from biodynamic vineyards in the heart of the Adige Valley. It is intense and impenetrable ruby red, consistent. Both on the nose and palate the fruit is dominant, although it has a long, delicate spicy aftertaste.
Le vigne di Alice, Italy
What a pleasure to taste my wedding wine again! ". G" Prosecco Superiore Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG Metodo Classico 2010 disgorgement 2012in full maturity, but still full of emotion!
I also found the .G 2011 disgorgement 2015 particularly intriguing. This is the wine to dedicate to all those who consider Prosecco DOCG a mediocre wine to bring them to their senses. It is an intense and brilliant straw yellow with golden hues. The perlage is fine, very numerous and persistent. The nose is a triumph of dried fruit, fruit tart with custard, aromatic herbs, vanilla and citron zest. In the mouth it is silky, intense, consistent, structured and very long. For me it is perfect on its own, but excels with risotto, mortadella and seafood such as sea bass and sea bream.
From this marvellous winery that I never tire of telling you about - and 'hosts' of Blend 2021 - I want to bring you a wine that you might not expect and so I have chosen a red wine. I confess (Umberto forgive me!!) that I did not know that Bellenda also produces red wines! And here he succeeds again in surprising me with a "Contrada di Concenigo' Colli di Conegliano DOCG Rosso 2012 which is a lot, but a lot. It is made from merlot, cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and marzemino grapes. After 24 months in barrique and tonneau it spends many years in the bottle taking on hints of cherry jam, bitter cocoa, tomato leaf and dried roses. In the mouth it is consistent, structured and rather long. It goes well with semi-hard and hard cheeses such as grana and is perfect with braised meats.
You already know all about Pluck Blanc de Noirs Classic Method 2012 I tasted the previous evening at the Dolada Restaurant in Alpago?
Locanda San Lorenzo, Alpago
I had already tried the delights of the Chef Renzo Dal Farra at Blend dinner 2019 and I still remember that wonderful risotto with pumpkin, capers, burnt leek and bitter almond paired with Ilocki Podrumi's Traminac Principovac. This year he confirmed himself as the 'prince of risottos' with this one with pheasant ragout: delicious! The venison tagliata was also delicious: excellent quality meat cooked masterfully.
Blend 2021 was a treat and I am already looking forward to the 2022 edition. Was Umberto brave to confirm Blend right at Vinitaly? Perhaps... but given the success, the professionalism and the personalities who participated again this time he was right. Quoting him:
Always look for
Breaking the mould
Never be satisfied'
PS I recommend you visit the Bellenda website to discover how extraordinary Prosecco DOCG can be in all its nuances!