Le Caniette: Wines from The Marches

Le Caniette is a historic winery of the Marches, though it didn’t start out that way: when Raffaele Vagnoni purchased the property in 1897 and moved in with his family, they did make wine, among other things, but also concentrated upon animal husbandry, raising stud bulls of the Razza Marchigiana. His son Giovanni planted their first vineyards in the 40s, while his grandson Raffaele decided to shift the farm’s emphasis to winemaking, replanting most of their 11 hectares of land to vineyards in the 60s.

They began bottling Rosso Piceno in 1990, and since then, with the entry of the current generation – Giovanni and Luigino Vagnoni – have increased the hectares under vine to 16. They concentrate primarily on indigenous varietals, Montepulciano and Sangiovese for their reds (though they also grow a red varietal locally known as Bordò, which turns out to be related to Grenache), and Passerina and Pecorino for their whites.

While Montepulciano and Sangiovese are well known, Passerina and Pecorino are less so. Passerina’s origins are uncertain, but it appears to be related to Trebbiano Toscano, and is grown in much of central Italy, where it contributes to the blends of a number of appellations. Wines from Passerina tend to be acidic, which makes the varietal a good base for sparkling wines. Pecorino was instead common in central Italy (and Puglia too) in the past, but in the mid-1800s fell into disfavor among farmers due to its low productivity. The grape is capable of displaying considerable grace, however, and in this century Guido Cocci Grifoni took it upon himself to reintroduce it to the Marches, where it now is the backbone of Offida Pecorino DOC. Its name, you wonder? One story holds that it smells so good when it’s ripe that the flocks of sheep who would pass by the vineyards during the transumanza, the twice yearly migrations from summer to winter pastures, would deviate from the path before them – a decidedly unsheep-like behavior – breaking into the vineyards and feasting on the grapes.

Having said all this, the wines:

Le Caniette Passerina IGP 2012
Lot 12340
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh and bright, with lemony loquat fruit and acidity supported by some honeysuckle and floral accents that have faint hints of gooseberry. Refreshing. On the palate it’s equally bright, with lively lemony fruit supported by some minerality and fairly pronounced gunflint bitterness that carries into a fairly long rather bitter mineral finish that gains definition from underlying savory accents. It’s quite zesty, a wine that will work well with grilled fish, and also has the acidity and backbone necessary to work well with fried fish or meats, and will go quite fast. You may want a second bottle.
2 stars

Le Caniette Veronica Offida DOCG Pecorino 2012
Lot 13045
Brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with heather and the greenish accents one finds in a cut field mingled with sea salt and savory notes; there’s also slight loquat acidity and some minerality. On the palate it’s ample and languid, with fairly rich citric laced loquat fruit supported by bright slightly sour lemony acidity that carries into a fairly long slightly bitter citric finish with some underlying gunflint and savory accents. It’s approachable in a fairly bright zesty key, revolving nicely around acidity, which makes it (for me) interesting, and will work quite well with grilled or roasted fish, or creamy white meats. I’m not sure I would serve it with fried fish, because I prefer scrappier wines with fried foods. Given its acidity it also will age nicely for several years.
2 stars

Le Caniette Io Gaia Sono Offida DOCG Pecorino 2011
Lot 13045
Pretty label that looks hand-drawn. The wine is a more charged gold than the Veronica, with brilliant golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with some loquat fruit supported by honeysuckle and butterscotch; wood is quite evident, and though it does come to the fore it doesn’t detract. On the palate it’s languid, with fairly rich bitter lemon fruit supported by gunflint laced lemony acidity that gains definition from bitter savory notes, and flows into a rather bitter finish with some flinty tannic accents. The oak is much more evident on the nose than palate, where it primarily confers a certain languor, and as I said, while it is present it doesn’t distract, and this is especially true for the palate, where the nuances of the grapes come though quite well. It is pleasant in a charged key, and will work well with grilled or roasted fish, and I might also be tempted to serve it with white meats, while its body is such that it will also work nicely with Oriental cuisines.
2 stars

Le Caniette Rosso Bello Piceno DOC 2010
Lot 13046
Deep cherry  ruby with ruby reflections and cherry rim paling towards ruby. The bouquet is fresh, with savory cherry fruit laced with black currants and supported by greenish acidity and slight hints of cedar and spice. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with smooth nicely rounded cherry and forest berry fruit supported by moderate acidity that has some underbrush accents, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fresh rather sour finish that gains definition from greenish vegetal accents. It’s quite approachable and will drink well with simple grilled meats or light stews, and will do a nice job of supporting what it’s served with rather than demanding the limelight. Expect it to go quickly.
2 stars

Le Caniette Morellone Rosso Piceno DOC 2006
Lot 12207
Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with some garnet in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cedar laced forest berry fruit supported by slight jammy accents and some vegetal notes with some leaf tobacco as well; it has a brooding feel to it. On the palate it’s full, with fairly bright cherry and black currant fruit supported by currant acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long bright forest berry fruit finish with a slightly bitter underlay that carries at length. Pleasant, and pleasingly fresh; it will work quite well with red meats be they roasted or stewed, and also has the capacity to age nicely for at least 3-5 years. A nice discovery.
88-90

Le Caniette Nero Di Vite Rosso Piceno DOC 2005
Lot 11315
Nero di Vite is a black color obtained by burning the pruned canes of grape vines, and was used by Michelangelo, among others. The wine is impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with rim tending towards violet. The bouquet is fairly intense, and rather vegetal, with greenish accents mingled with savory notes and some cedar, and underlying sour berry fruit. On the palate it’s full, with fairly rich slightly sweet forest berry fruit, currants and blackberries in particular, supported by mineral acidity and tannins that are warm and cedar laced with some balsamic accents and slight greenish savory notes that carry into the finish, providing support to the fruit. Powerful and full, and by comparison with the Morellone is a little more brooding and a little less rich, a combination that gives the impression that the 2005 vintage was somewhat cooler. In terms of food pairing, I would go with red meats, for example roast beef cooked medium rare, or with hearty roasted white meats. As was the case with Morellone, a pleasant discovery.
2 stars

Le Caniette http://www.lecaniette.it/ is a historic winery of the Marches, though it didn’t start out that way: when Raffaele Vagnoni purchased the property in 1897 and moved in with his family, they did make wine, among other things, but also concentrated upon animal husbandry, raising stud bulls of the Razza Marchigiana. His son Giovanni planted their first vineyards in the 40s, while his grandson Raffaele decided to shift the farm’s emphasis to winemaking, replanting most of their 11 hectares of land to vineyards in the 60s.

They began bottling Rosso Piceno in 1990, and since then, with the entry of the current generation – Giovanni and Luigino Vagnoni – have increased the hectares under vine to 16. They concentrate primarily on indigenous varietals, Montepulciano and Sangiovese for their reds (though they also grow a varietal locally known as Bordò, which turns out to be related to Grenache), and Passerina and Pecorino for their whites.

While Montepulciano and Sangiovese are well known, Passerina and Pecorino are less so. Passerina’s origins are uncertain, but it appears to be related to Trebbiano Toscano, and is grown in much of central Italy, where it contributes to the blends of a number of appellations. Wines from Passerina tend to be acidic, which makes the varietal a good base for sparkling wines. Pecorino was instead common in central Italy (and Puglia too) in the past, but in the mid-1800s fell into disfavor among farmers due to its low productivity. The grape is capable of displaying considerable grace, however, and in this century Guido Cocci Grifoni took it upon himself to reintroduce it to the Marches, where it now is the backbone of Offida Pecorino DOC. Its name, you wonder? One story holds that it smells so good when it’s ripe that the flocks of sheep who would pass by the vineyards during the transumanza, the twice yearly migrations from summer to winter pastures, would deviate from the path before them – a decidedly unsheep-like behavior – breaking into the vineyards and feasting on the grapes.

Having said all this, the wines:

Le Caniette Passerina IGP 2012

Lot 12340

Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh and bright, with lemony loquat fruit and acidity supported by some honeysuckle and floral accents that have faint hints of gooseberry. Refreshing. On the palate it’s equally bright, with lively lemony fruit supported by some minerality and fairly pronounced gunflint bitterness that carries into a fairly long rather bitter mineral finish that gains definition from underlying savory accents. It’s quite zesty, a wine that will work well with grilled fish, and also has the acidity and backbone necessary to work well with fried fish or meats, and will go quite fast. You may want a second bottle.

82

Le Caniette Veronica Offida DOCG Pecorino 2012

Lot 13045

Brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with heather and the greenish accents one finds in a cut field mingled with sea salt and savory notes; there’s also slight loquat acidity and some minerality. On the palate it’s ample and languid, with fairly rich citric laced loquat fruit supported by bright slightly sour lemony acidity that carries into a fairly long slightly bitter citric finish with some underlying gunflint and savory accents. It’s approachable in a fairly bright zesty key, revolving nicely around acidity, which makes it (for me) interesting, and will work quite well with grilled or roasted fish, or creamy white meats. I’m not sure I would serve it with fried fish, because I prefer scrappier wines with fried foods. Given its acidity it also will age nicely for several years.

85

Le Caniette Io Gaia Sono Offida DOCG Pecorino 2011

Lot 13045

Pretty label that looks hand-drawn. The wine is a more charged gold than the Veronica, with brilliant golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with some loquat fruit supported by honeysuckle and butterscotch; wood is quite evident, and though it does come to the fore it doesn’t detract. On the palate it’s languid, with fairly rich bitter lemon fruit supported by gunflint laced lemony acidity that gains definition from bitter savory notes, and flows into a rather bitter finish with some flinty tannic accents. The oak is much more evident on the nose than palate, where it primarily confers a certain languor, and as I said, while it is present it doesn’t distract, and this is especially true for the palate, where the nuances of the grapes come though quite well. It is pleasant in a charged key, and will work well with grilled or roasted fish, and I might also be tempted to serve it with white meats, while its body is such that it will also work nicely with Oriental cuisines.

85-7

Le Caniette Rosso Bello Piceno DOC 2010

Lot 13046

Deep cherry ruby with ruby reflections and cherry rim paling towards ruby. The bouquet is fresh, with savory cherry fruit laced with black currants and supported by greenish acidity and slight hints of cedar and spice. On the palate it’s medium bodied, with smooth nicely rounded cherry and forest berry fruit supported by moderate acidity that has some underbrush accents, and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fresh rather sour finish that gains definition from greenish vegetal accents. It’s quite approachable and will drink well with simple grilled meats or light stews, and will do a nice job of supporting what it’s served with rather than demanding the limelight. Expect it to go quickly.

83-5

Le Caniette Morellone Rosso Piceno DOC 2006

Lot 12207

Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with some garnet in the rim. The bouquet is fairly intense, with cedar laced forest berry fruit supported by slight jammy accents and some vegetal notes with some leaf tobacco as well; it has a brooding feel to it. On the palate it’s full, with fairly bright cherry and black currant fruit supported by currant acidity and by smooth sweet tannins that flow into a fairly long bright forest berry fruit finish with a slightly bitter underlay that carries at length. Pleasant, and pleasingly fresh; it will work quite well with red meats be they roasted or stewed, and also has the capacity to age nicely for at least 3-5 years. A nice discovery.

88-90

Le Caniette Nero Di Vite Rosso Piceno DOC 2005

Lot 11315

Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with rim tending towards violet. The bouquet is fairly intense, and rather vegetal, with greenish accents mingled with savory notes and some cedar, and underlying sour berry fruit. On the palate it’s full, with fairly rich slightly sweet forest berry fruit, currants and blackberries in particular, supported by mineral acidity and tannins that are warm and cedar laced with some balsamic accents and slight greenish savory notes that carry into the finish, providing support to the fruit. Powerful and full, and by comparison with the Morellone is a little more brooding and a little less rich, a combination that gives the impression that the 2005 vintage was somewhat cooler. In terms of food pairing, I would go with red meats, for example roast beef cooked medium rare, or with hearty roasted white meats. As was the case with Morellone, a pleasant discovery.

88

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About Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.
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