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2016 "Folle"

Rosso Conero Riserva

La Calcinara


Paolo and Eleonora of La Calcinara

For our Marche shipment we couldn't not feature one of the most famous red wine DOCG's of the area- Rosso Conero Riserva, which is made from the Montepulciano grape.  When most people think of "Montepulciano", they generally either think of Montepulciano d'Abruzzo or Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (both of which have no relation to this wine).  Montepulciano d'Abruzzo is also made from the Montepulciano grape, but it's from Italy's region of Abruzzo, which is just south of Marche.  While Vino Nobile is a wine made from Sangiovese, in the town of Montepulciano in Tuscany.  It's super confusing, we know!!  But the expression of Montepulciano from Conero in Marche is still relatively unknown in the US and the international market.  During our research & tastings at Vinitaly 2018, we met Paolo, the young owner and winemaker of La Calcinara.  Their "Folle" Rosso Conero Riserva is considered one of the best producers of the appellation, and we are excited to share this exceptional bottle with you.

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The Wine


2016 "Folle" Rosso Conero Riserva by La Calcinara

Grape:  100% Montepulciano

Tasting Notes: The color is a dense ruby red.  On the nose the wine is complex and elegant.  It's earthy with notes of red and black fruits, spices and hints of balsamic.  In the mouth it's smooth with soft tannins, bright acidity and sapidity.  In the aftertaste you get cocoa and chocolate powder.

Recommended Drink Window:  Best now-2040

Temperature of Service:  62-66° F

Decanting:  We suggest opening 1-1.5 hours ahead of time.  Once opened you can let the bottle sit open (for example, as you cook dinner).  However, if you don't have time to open in advance you can decant for a faster oxygenation.  We suggest trying to get your own personal idea by tasting the wine, little by little, and discovering new notes and aromas while the wine is opening up.  It's interesting to see how the wine changes from when first opened to 30 minutes or an hour+ later.


Fermenting Montepulciano in barrel at La Calcinara

The wine takes the name from "Folle", an adjective that in Italian means crazy, mad or foolish.  Paolo explained to us that they decided to dedicate this wine to those people who always challenge themselves, even if sometimes they can appear crazy or mad on the eyes of the others.  This is something that resonated with us as we should always chase after our dreams, no matter how big or crazy they may seem.  We certainly did with Bravino!, and we couldn't be happier that we did.

Rosso Conero (Red Conero) takes its name from Monte Conero, a huge mountain of 572 meters above sea level, south of Ancona in the Marche region.  Rosso Conero has two denominations:  Rosso Conero DOC and Rosso Conero Riserva DOCG.  The wine was recognized as a DOC in 1967 and the Conero Rosso Riserva received its DOCG title 2004.  This wine is the perfect expression of the latter, the areas highest denomination.  It's made from 100% Montepulciano, a native grape of the area, and aged for 18 months in a combination of new and older French barrique barrels, followed by 12 months of aging in bottle before release.  


Conero's winemaking history can be traced back centuries.  According to naturalist Andrea Bacci (1524-1600), which Hannibal was marching on Rome, he provided his weary army and even his horses with large amounts of Conero wine.  Montepulciano is an interesting grape, it possesses much color and phenolic content and matures relatively late, which is why it needs a warm climate to grow properly.  The wines made from Montepulciano grapes typically express power, complexity and elegance with higher level tannins tannins that aren't aggressive, but very smooth.  The typical bouquet includes aromas of red fruits like cherry and maraschino cherry with spices and balsamic notes.

Montepulciano is a grape that is not exclusively grown in the Conero Riserva DOCG appellation.  Its other more famous expression is the Montepulciano d'Abruzzo, or Montepulciano from the region of Abruzzo in Italy.  However, Conero Riserva is totally different from other Montepulciano wines, due to the special territory of Mount Conero.  We will discuss this further in the territory section below.


The grape Montepulciano is a native grape of central Italy and it's not related to the town also named Montepulciano, which is in province of Siena in Tuscany, where the Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG is made mostly from the Sangiovese clone native of the town.  Confusing, we know!


Paolo with Montepulciano

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The Territory


La Calcinara Montepulciano vineyards

The DOCG is located around the area surrounding Monte Conero, a mountain of 1877 ft above sea level, in the province of Ancona of the Marche region on the east coast of Italy.  As discussed above, Montepulciano is grown in other parts of Italy but this is the most northern spot for Montepulciano.  The climate and soil of this specific territory creates unique characteristics, or terroir influences, for the wines.  The climate is softened by the sea-breeze from the nearby Adriatic.  The sea can be seen from many vineyards, but Mount Conero protects them against cold winds from the north, as they are positioned mostly on the southeast side of the mountain.  The subsoil is a clay of Pleistocene period with high chalk content.  Some even note that Monte Conero is essentially a big piece of chalk sticking out from the sea.   


Just like other famous wine regions, the style of each wine varies from vineyard to vineyard and is very site specific, marked by the soil type, topography and climactic traits.  The foothills around the town of Poggio take advantage of limestone-rich land that long ago lay beneath the sea and gave forth wines with minerality and freshness.  Further inland, Montepulciano grapes grown in the water-retaining take advantage of the muscular clay soils that provide more powerful wines.  As a result, the Montepulciano from here can age many years, generally a period of 10 years is recommendable, but it's no surprise to find a 25-year-old Conero Riserva DOCG still fresh and drinkable.

The vineyards of "Folle" Rosso Conero Riserva lie at over 700 ft above sea level with southern exposure.  The soil here is a combination of clay, sand and limestone, rich with marine fossils.  Within the vineyards you can see the white dust on the grapes skin because of the Bora, the name of the wind that blows from the sea, and brings the chalk and salt crystals that you can feel in the great sapidity and freshness in the wine.


The winemaking heritage here spans thousands of years and has been influenced by the Greeks, Etruscans and Romans.  The presence of these various cultures goes a long way to explaining the breadth of vinicultural tradition and wine styles.  


Monte Conero in the distance with its noticeable chalky soils

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The Winery


Berluti family at harvest

La Calcinara is managed by Paolo and Eleonora Berluti, siblings that are young, vibrant, and dedicated to producing the best wines in their territory.  The company is still fairly young, founded in 1997, in the Calcinara district of Cadia of the Marche region in Italy.  Mario Berluti, a local viticulture expert, identified the site with great potential for growing Montepulciano grapes.  But despite planting the first vines in 1999, the first wines weren't made until 2005....a real passion project!  During this time, the vine plantings increased until they had nearly 20 acres of vineyards, all managed organically.

La Calcinara is a genuine, hands-on, family business in all aspects, from pruning the vines, harvesting, destemming, the cellar work, and to the eventual bottling and release of the wine.

The wine has now been passed down to the next generation.  Mario's children, Paolo and Eleonora, are young, enthusiastic and extremely passionate about the world of wine.  Paolo, a graduate of Viticulture and Oenology, has worked for a few months in New Zealand as a specialized technician at Hunger's Winery in Marlborough.  Then he moved to Chile, where he discovered the fascination of organic and biodynamic agriculture.  Then in Bordeaux, he learned the art of refinement and blending of wines.  Eleonora has followed the same path of her brother.  She joined the Graduate Degree in Viticulture and Oenology in Ancona, and then complete her studies at the. Faculté d’Oenologie in Bordeaux. Their preparation and passion is reflected in all the wine they produce, but especially in their higher end product, "Folle" Rosso Conero Riserva.

The entire production of the winery is very small, only 3500 bottles.  The grapes of "Folle" are manually harvested in October,  the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks and than aged for 18 months in new french oak barrels, 6 months of assembling and then 1 year refinement in bottle.  They are known to produce some of the best wines of the region, and we are thrilled to be able to share this special bottle with you.

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Paolo & Eleonra

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Food Pairing

The Rosso Conero is a medium plus-bodied wine, with good structure and smooth tannins.  The bright acidity makes it a perfect red wine for food like pasta with meat sauces, or red meat that is grilled or baked.  This Riserva is a little more rounded and velvety, which can pair really well with gamey meats like grilled duck or cinghiale (wildboar).  And if you have left the last glass after dinner, try it with a more aged cheese like Pecorino or Parmigiano for dessert! 


The recipe we chose to include for pairing with this wine is a traditional baked pasta dish of the Marche region that is similar yet different than your typical lasagna.

Click the link below to get our recipe pairing!



What do you think of this wine?!
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