From Tuscany, A New Kosher Wine With Real Heart And Soul | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

From Tuscany, A New Kosher Wine With Real Heart And Soul

From Tuscany, A New Kosher Wine With Real Heart And Soul

Plus a review of Cantina Giuliano, Primizie, Italy, 2014 ($18)

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At one of the many recent wine tastings I attended, I had the good fortune to taste something new and really rather nice. There is an impressive new kosher Chianti by Cantina Giuliano, a new small kosher wine producer in the suitably small village of Casciana Alta, in the heart of Tuscany (they offer tours for the thirsty traveler too). Besides wine, they also—according to their informative website—make their own olive oil and cured meats in-house, as well as bake pizzas and breads in a wood fired oven; their fruits and vegetables are grown in their own garden, and they soon intend to add home-made cheese to the lineup.

The young but clearly talented Eli Gauthier, a religious Jew from Paris, is the proprietor and winemaker accompanied by his wife Lara, originally from the same small village where the winery is situated. In fact the winery is located in the same 250 year old building where her grandfather, Giuliano, and the generations before him made wine—the family counts at least five generations there. Gauthier is a passionate and enthusiastic winemaker and foodie, with a French winemaking degree and on-the-job experience in a high end non-kosher organic winery in Alsace.

To help Gauthier with the winemaking is wine consultant Luca D'Attoma, one of the top consultants in Italy. D’Attoma’s own winery, Due Mani, produces wines that are regularly in the 92+ points category from Robert Parker’s Wine advocate. As Gauthier notes on his website: “We are excited to be lucky enough that he took such an interest in our project! Today more than a consultant, Luca has become a friend, always pushing us to better ourselves and to never settle for what we thought was good enough.” If D’Attoma’s reputation is anything to go by, Gauthier is very lucky indeed.

Cantina Giuliano has no vineyards of its own—the family long since sold it all off after Lara’s grandfather, Giuliano, passed away—but Gauthier sources grapes form local vineyards. We corresponded online. “I'm buying really good grapes from the best vineyards around, Sangiovese, Merlot and Ciliegiolo on steep south-facing heavy calcareous [sea shell fossils]-clay soils,” he wrote. “I have a working relationship with the grape grower whereby I tell him the direction I want him to take and he works accordingly...”

Under the kashrus supervision of Rav Eliezer Wolff, Dayan of Amsterdam, as well as the OU, Gauthier is meticulous and hands-on: “I do everything myself and I would like to be able to keep it that way in order to lower costs and keep control of every step of the grape choosing and winemaking process. This would also allow me to keep down the level of stress to insure that I might continue learning full time in a beit midrash in Strasbourg when I'm not in Italy.” Gauthier divides him time equally: 6 months in Tuscany making wine and welcoming tourists, and 6 months in Strasbourg, France learning Torah full time. Without further ado:

Cantina Giuliano, Chianti D.O.C.G., Primizie, Italy, 2014 ($18)

New to the kosher wine world, this is lovely Chianti with real heart and soul, made from a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 17% Merlot, and 13% Ciliegiolo (pronounced “she-liay-joe-lo”; a local Tuscan variety). Made more for finesse and early consumption than for oomph and long-term cellaring, this is very light and soft yet fresh, fruity, expressive and aromatic. It offers herbal and red berry fruit notes, with a nice dollop of fresh cherry. This is refined and elegant, yet friendly and vibrant, with very good structure and balance. It is refreshing and even charming, and represents terrific value. Overall a most impressive first wine! Ready now, but should improve with a few years of additional maturation in bottle. Serve lightly chilled.

As this is brand new (still in the distribution pipeline for some areas), you might not yet see it in your favorite store, but it is readily available online and at the larger NYC retailers like Gotham and Skyview. If you can’t find it at your local mom-and-pop type wine shop, do ask them to try and order or stock it for you. Just tell them it is imported by Allied Importers, the same folks who bring in Dalton and Borgo Reale—it’ll be well worth it! L’Chaim!

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