The vibrancy of Lisa Anselmi radiates in her surroundings just like the Anselmi wines I experienced at a wine tasting luncheon at Obica Mozzarella Bar in West Hollywood. By far some of the most outstanding wines I have experience utilizing the Garganega grape from the Soave region. Needless to say I was impressed from the start.
Having visited Soave last May I was quite familiar with the region and what it has to offer yet I had not come into contact with the wines from Anselmi until this month. Anselmi started in 1948 when Lisa’s grandfather started purchasing grapes and was making cheap wine, the kind of wine that put a stigma on Soave wines until recently. It was Lisa’s father, Roberto that changed this beginning in the 1970s. His goal was to buy back the vineyards that his father lost in the 1940s and 1950s. You might say he was a maverick as he bought quality vineyards and planted them with a strain of Garganega that is more aromatic and produces lower yields. Instead of using the pergola system of trellising the vines he uses a horizontal spurred cordons and plants the vines densely. Another big difference from other wineries in the area is technological involving Nitrogen. There is no oxygen contact with the wine. Roberto is one of the only vintners to produce a Cru or a single vineyard wine.
In 2000 Roberto broke with the Soave DOC by labeling his wines Veneto IGT. He did this in order to insure his wines were of the quality he expected. Roberto was able to open a new door allowing for increased innovation and to make any decisions he chooses in the production of his wine.
The winery located in Monteforte produces five wines. I experienced four of these five wines. The fifth is an unusual varietal for the Soave region as it is a red grape, Cabernet Sauvignon. The four wines I sampled speak for themselves.
We started our tasting with the 2015 Ansemli San Vicenzo, which is the winery’s flagship wine. The wine is named after the saint that protects the growers. In fact you will often find a shrine located on many vineyards in the region protecting the vineyards for the upcoming harvest. The wine is a blend of 80% Garganega, 10% Chardonnay and 10% Sauvignon Blanc. The chardonnay rounds out the wine. This is a great stand-alone wine. It is fruity and fresh with aromas of tropical fruit and white flowers. On the palette one finds tropical fruit especially pineapple with some citrus. I found a lovely viscous quality to the wine. The wine was paired with an assortment of appetizers, which all worked excellently. I particularly liked combining it with the Tartare di Salmone, a salmon tartare with avocado and poppy seeds.
The 2013 Anselmi Capitel Foscarino is named after the volcanic Foscarino Hill, which is the vineyards, are located. The vineyards lie on the south-facing slopes. This wine is a blend of 90% Garganega and 10% Chardonnay. The wine displays citrus and honey aromas, while it reveals stone fruit with a hint of lime on the palette giving the wine a nice minerality. Like the San Vicenzo there is also a viscous quality to this wine.
The next wine was the 2013 Anselmi Capitel Croce, this wine come from a different hill known as Zoppega Hill. The vineyard is located on 10 acres at the top of this hill. The soil is limestone. This wine is made of 100% Garganega and is aged for 6 to 9 months in neutral French oak barrels. This wine has a higher acidity and is what Roberto was striving to create by utilizing a single vineyard. I found the wine more powerful and it displays the distinct flavor of limes. This wine grew on me with every sip.
Both the Foscarino and Croce were deliciously paired with a mushroom and black truffle risotto.
We ended our meal with a marvelously 2011 Passito. Made from 100% Garganega, the grapes are picked at the normal time but are laid out on mats to dry at 17 Celsius for about 2 ½ months. The wine is aged for 1 year in barrels. This wine is not made every year but rather it is chosen by the condition of the grapes each year. The wine exhibits wonderful Carmel and nutty flavors along with dried apricot. One also finds apricot on the nose. What was most impressive about this Passito was the fact that it was not overly sweet but rather displayed subtle nuances making this a very versatile dessert wine.
While I admired the view from the Obica Mozzarella Bar I found myself very enthralled with the Anselmi wines. Roberto innovative skills have proven that the Garganega grape has come a long way from its beginnings. I am sure with Lisa and brother Tommaso on board the winery will continue to move forward pioneering the way to improving the quality of the Soave and Veneto regions Garganega grapes.