Where’s Gina? In Soave with the Dal Cero Family

We had such a wonderful visit to the Dal Cero family winery located in the Soave district of Veneto. Soave is one of my favorite white wines, so it was a much anticipated visit.  Greeted by Francesca Dal Cero and her father Dario, we started off with a tour of their winemaking facility. This was the first time I had visited a winery that only makes white wine. A noticeable difference was it was mostly all steel tanks. Only a few oak barrels were on hand to age their single vineyard “Runcata” Soave Superiore wine.

The Dal Cero winery was founded in 1934 by Dario’s father, Augusto Dal Cero. Three generations later they are producing top quality wines in the Soave district. [Note the 5 Star “Outstanding” rating in last month’s Decanter Magazine.]  Owner, Dario is a very kind man, with a great sense of humor. Even though he doesn’t speak very much english, it didn’t stop him from showing us around, including his special technique of adding dry ice to the crushing machine to help protect the grapes from oxygen. That was a new one to me!

After the winery tour, Francesca drove us up to their vineyard sites, a winding road that took us up over 300 meters to a hillside that is now an extinct volcano (one of two in the area). The view of the valley below was spectacular even on a cloudy day. But the best part was their single vineyard site home to 80 year old garganega vines that her grandfather had planted.

The tour ended with a fantastic lunch prepared by Francesca’s mother Laura where we had the opportunity to taste their wines (and some aged Soave) with pasta, local meats & cheeses. We felt honored that the whole family took a break from their winery duties to enjoy lunch with us including Francesca’s two brothers Davide, Enrico and his girlfriend.

One of the most fun moments was watching Davide chill down their spumante in dry ice (since they have it around?) then opening it a la “sabrage style”, yes sword and all! Bubbles never tasted so good. Apparently he and Enrico are passionate about bubbles (they have an impressive collection of Champagne) and are determined to make high quality brut sparkling with 100% Chardonnay.

The Dal Cero family are unique because not only do they own and operate a winery in Soave, but in 1980, Dario Dal Cero bought a vineyard in Cortona, Tuscany, where they produce several whites, Sangiovese, Supertuscan and Syrah wines. Guess where I’ll be headed to next time I’m in Tuscany??

Note: The principal grape of Soave (white wine) is Garganega but other grapes such a Chardonnay are allowed in small amounts. Often light-bodied with fresh, fruity notes Soave can also be aged into elegant, rich and complex wines. We proudly carry the following Dal Cero family wines at Portalis:

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Soave (Decanter: 5 Stars “Outstanding”)
$15.66 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Pinot Grigio
$15.66 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $

Tentua di Corte Giacobbe 2011 Pinot Grigio Blush
$17.66 | INSIDER $16.99 | Mixed Case $

Tenuta Montecchiesi 2010 Selverello IGT
$15.66 | INSIDER $14.99 | Mixed Case $

Stay tuned … La Farra (Prosecco) is next!

Cheers from the road,

Where’s Gina?

Every spring & fall, Gina builds her repetoire of where to take her Seattle wine tourists when she makes her Premier Vineyards Tours to Italy each year.  She’s there now, and here’s what we heard from her on Day #1 when I checked in Friday night (via Viber) to see if she had arrived. She immediately buzzed back with:

Awake in Alto Adige! Holy Moses, this is the most beautiful wine region I’ve even seen! Haven’t been to Germany yet, though. A sneak peak:

We barely made it there! We were exhausted, flew from Atlanta to Zurich, the we had a 6 hour drive to Alto Adige, then straight into a 4-hour tour with Castelfeder.  Tell Jens the drive through the Alps was like nothing I’ve ever seen – so beautiful!

Nestled in the most northern part of Italy bordering Austria, Alto Adige is special. Though it is a part of Italy, it has a complicated past with its history bonded to Austria until the early part of the 20th century. (Note: Alto Adige is also known as Südtirol or South Tyrol.) This was definitely different for me to experience. I haven’t quite mastered Italian yet, so it was extra challenging for me with the added German that everyone spoke. (Jens, you would have been handy on this trip!) My first day, we visited one of our direct imports, Castelfeder. Castelfeder is named after this historic hillside in the middle of the valley. This family-owned winery is now run by 3rd generation Günther Giovanett, his wife, Alessandra, winemaker son, Ivan (this makes 4th generation) plus his daughter, Ines, who is currently living in San Francisco expanding their brand.) We had the pleasure of having Ines at Portalis a few weeks ago for a tasting of their wines. If you missed it, she’ll be back!)

Günther met us on his bike. What an awesome guy! He gave us a 2-hour vineyard tour. Here he’s pictured center with me (left) & Paul Zalgar (right), one of his growers:

He then dropped us off with his son, Ivan, who’s the winemaker at the estate:

He gave us an awesome 2-hour winery tour & tasting. So wonderful of them since it’s harvest and such a busy day for them at the winery. Here’s a beautiful shot of the winery with the mountains behind:

Come by Portalis and taste their remarkable wines for yourself! We currently pour Castelfeder 2011 Grauvernatsch/Schiava Grigio “Kegl” at the bar by the glass & we carry 4 others:
Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Bianco “Vom Stein”
Castelfeder 2011 Pinot Grigio “15”
Castelfeder 2011 Kerner Vigneti dell Dolomiti “Lahn”
Castelfeder 2011 Lagrein “Rieder”

Cheers from the road; I’m off to enjoy some local food now that I’m dialed into the wine! ~Gina

Gina has been the Store Manager at Portalis Wines since we opened in 2003. In addition, she’s a sommelier, the wine buyer at Bisato & several years ago she started Premier Vineyard Tours, where she takes Seattlites on wine tours to Italy.