An Italian Wine Tasting with Taub Family Selections & Palm Bay International

By Dirk Smits

Los Angeles, November, 2021

A few weeks ago, I tasted a selection of excellent wines from Taub Family Selections and its sister company Palm Bay International. They represent a portfolio of fine Italian wines produced by highly-regarded winemaking families with deep, long-established roots. Their portfolios center on true terroir-driven expressions that are benchmarks from the most heralded wine regions of the world.

Each wine in their portfolio embodies not only the terroir, but the passion of each family intimately involved from the vineyard to the table.

The tasting included a selection of wines from four producers:
Sella & Mosca from Sardinia,
Mastroberardino from Campania,
Rocca delle Macἱe from Tuscany
– and Beni di Batasiolo from Piedmont.

A jewel in the Mediterranean, Sardinia is a rustic and enchantingly beautiful island with extreme geography and vinous diversity to tempt travelers and wine enthusiasts alike. Mr. Sella and Mr. Mosca fell in love with this land over a century ago and established Sella & Mosca, one of Italy’s most renowned wine estates. As Sardinia’s foremost wine producer,

Sella & Mosca creates premium wines made exclusively from estate-grown grapes. In addition to native varietals such as Vermentino, Torbato and Cannonau, the winery has successfully pioneered the introduction of international grape varietals, notably Cabernet Sauvignon.

Torbato Brut Alghero DOC (sparkling)

Grapes: 100% Torbato
Suggested Retail Price: $21.00

> Rating: A+

A rare grape varietal, rediscovered and rehabilitated by Sella & Mosca over years, Torbato grows best in calcareous soil originating from ancient marine sedimentation. After harvest, grapes are soft-pressed and undergo a cold settling. The first fermentation is initiated by select yeasts and takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The second fermentation occurs on the lees over 20 days in stainless steel.

The wine has a straw yellow color and persistent effervescence. The bouquet reveals aromas of flower blossoms, grapefruit, white peaches and almonds. The palate shows good acidity and length with aromas of white stone fruit, iodine and minerality.

Monteoro, Vermentino di Gallura Superiore DOCG 2020

Grapes: Vermentino
Suggested Retail Price: $24.00

> Rating: A+

Gallura’s climate is hot, but with excellent temperature variations during the summer, offering Vermentino grapes an ideal growing environment. They are cultivated on the slopes of the south side of Mount Limbara, in soils composed of broken down granitic rubble. Grapes are soft-pressed and undergo a cold maceration prior to an extended fermentation in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged on its lees for four months in stainless steel.

This white wine has a vivid light yellow color with a nose rich in lemon, pear and apple aromas accentuated by hints of herbs and flowers. On the palate, this wine shows more citrus and a hint of minerality with good depth, complexity and extension.

Marchese di Villamarina, Alghero DOC 2014

Grapes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Suggested Retail Price: $55.00

> Rating: A+

Following harvest, grapes undergo a 24-hour pre-fermentation cold maceration. Grapes ferment on the skins for two weeks in stainless steel tanks. The wine is matured 18 months in French oak barriques (50% new, 50% second use), followed by an additional year in bottle prior to release.

The wine shows a rich crimson color. On the nose, it displays complex dark red fruit, followed by tobacco, shaved pencil and licorice. The palate demonstrates cassis, plum, black currant and fine, mature tannins all evolving in a well-balanced, lingering finish.

The Mastroberardino family is largely responsible for the revival and elevation of Irpinian and Campanian winemaking post WWII. Their efforts ignited resurgence in quality red and white wine production in all of Southern Italy.

Working primarily with Campania’s ancient, native varietals, Fiano, Greco and Aglianico, Mastroberardino has resuscitated would-be extinct grapes into world-class varieties.

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Bianco DOC 2019

Grapes: Coda di Volpe
Suggested Retail Price: $20.00

> Rating: A

The area is characterized by volcanic, loose soils, very rich in minerals and well-draining. The vines are albarello-trained (headtrained) and guyot-pruned, with an average age of 15 years. Hand harvested in October, grapes are fermented in stainless steel at controlled temperatures. The wine underwent refinement in bottle for at least one month, prior to release.

The wine shows a pale yellow color. The nose unfolds aromas of apple, citrus and white peach with a touch of Asian spices. Fruity flavors, juicy acidity and a heap of minerality show up on the palate.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2019

Grapes: Fiano
Suggested Retail Price: $22.00

> Rating: A+

The Fiano grapes were harvested from the Manocalzati and Montefalcione estate vineyards. The 12-acre Manocalzati vineyard is covered in clay soil, with northwest exposure and an elevation at 1,260 feet above sea level. The Montefalcione vineyard covers 24 acres, with sandy and volcanic soils and southern exposure, positioned at 1,350 feet above sea level. The average age of the vines is 15 years.

The wine reveals a straw yellow color with aromas of citrus fruits, exotic fruit and white flowers. The savory palate features peach, citrus, roasted almonds and a touch of salty minerality.

Naturalis Historia, Taurasi DOCG 2011

Grapes: Aglianico
Suggested Retail Price: $74.00

> Rating: AA

Named after Plini the Elder’s opus magnum, the wine is sourced from a single vineyard, Mirabella Eclano, known for its high-quality potential from old vines. It is the culmination of comprehensive research into clonal selection, rootstocks and site selection. Manual harvest takes place in October. Fermentation in stainless steel is followed by a long maceration period at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. Aged for two years in French oak barriques, followed by an additional 30 months of aging in bottle, Naturalis Historia Taurasi has an aging potential of 50 years or more.

The wine has an intense maroon-red color. It flashes exquisite aromas of black fruit, tea, herbs, cocoa and spices. The robust palate layers ripe black fruit, spices and chocolate accentuated by fine, ripe tannins all leading into a lasting, flavorful and well-balanced finish.

For well over 40 years the Zingarelli family (the founder, Italo Zingarelli, was a famous spaghetti western producer) has dedicated themselves to Tuscany’s Rocca delle Macἱe, crafting fine wines, providing meticulous attention to the vineyards, and championing the Chianti Classico DOCG. One of the most successful producers of Chianti Classico, Rocca delle Macἱe is a family-owned winery with true family values.

Chianti Classico DOCG Riserva, Familia Zingarelli 2018

Grapes: 90% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Colorino
Suggested Retail Price: S28.00

> Rating: A+

The wine is the result of a selection of the best grapes from the four estates of Rocca delle Macἱe in Castellina in Chianti, a blend of the different terroirs. Grapes are vinified according to traditional Chianti Classico methods. The wine ages in French oak barrels for two years and is then refined further in the bottle, for a minimum of three months.

The wine shows a ruby red color. Its bouquet reveals complex notes of plum, currants and spices. Flavors of ripe cherries, spices and almonds accompany the fine-grained tannins.

Chianti Classico DOCG, Tenuta Sant’Alfonso 2018

Grapes: 100% Sangiovese
Suggested Retail Price: $28.00

> Rating: A+

This is a prestigious cru produced with 100% Sangiovese cultivated exclusively on the Sant’Alfonso estate. Based on the studies conducted in the vineyard, it emerged that the most clay-rich and least gravelly soils of this estate, combined with the use of specific clones of Sangiovese, caused the grapes to develop and mature with a higher concentration of tannins and aromatic substances. It is fermented using the most advanced techniques to preserve the grapes’ natural concentration, and subsequently transferred to French oak barrels with a capacity of 35 hectoliters, where it ages for one year.

This Chianti displays a bright maroon color. Subtle aromas of plum, cherry, licorice and lemon zest emerge in the nose. The chewy palate is fruity with a long, savory finish.

Chianti Classico DOCG, Riserva di Fizzano, Gran Selezione 2018

Grapes: 90% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino
Suggested Retail Price: $41.00

> Rating: AA

The winery’s historic cru, this already had all the characteristics of the Gran Selezione before this new category was born. It is made using grapes grown in the vineyard of the same name in Fizzano, which extends across 84 acres of sandy, pebbly soils that are perfect for exalting the fragrances of the Sangiovese grape. After fermentation most of the wine matures in 35hl French oak barrels, while a small proportion is aged in classic French barriques. After the blending the wine rests in the bottle for another year.

The wine has a crimson red color. It displays aromas of garrigue, plum, cherry and spices which repeat themselves on the palate accentuated by polished tannins, flinty mineral notes and lively acidity.

Beni di Batasiolo is the largest family-owned wine producer in Italy’s Piedmont region. Owned by the Dogliani family, Beni di Batasiolo works with the land and allows nature to ensure their wines’ quality comes first.

The family has lived in Italy’s Langhe district for three generations, and since 1978 has grown Batasiolo to encompass more than 320 acres of vineyards. Batasiolo’s vines prosper across nine beni – or estates – in Piedmont. The estates’ soil, climate and position among the hills produce noble, elegant wines. Among these estates are five Cru vineyards that produce the most highly prized Barolos: Cerequio, Bussia Bofani, Brunate, Briccolina and Boscareto.

In 1978, the family purchased the historic Kiola winery and Batasiolo Hills in Piedmont. This purchase included two beni in the internationally renowned zone for growing the celebrated Nebbiolo grape, adding to the family’s existing seven estates. They named their company Beni di Batasiolo after the central vineyard where the winery and cellars are located.

Barbaresco DOCG 2017

Grapes: Nebbiolo
Suggested Retail Price: $40.00

> Rating: A

Nebbiolo grapes are destemmed and fermented on their skins for 10-12 days in stainless steel vats with periodic pumping over. The wine is aged 12 months in Slavonian and French oak and an additional year in stainless steel tanks.

The wine shows an evolved garnet color. The nose offers violets, Asian spices, strawberries and leather. Flavors of raspberries, spiced orange jam and mature but firm tannins emerge on the palate.

Barolo DOCG 2016

Grapes: Nebbiolo
Suggested Retail Price: $42.00

> Rating: A+

Nebbiolo grapes are picked from all five of Beni di Batasiolo’s Cru vineyards in early October and fermented on their skins for 10-12 days in stainless steel tanks with periodic pumping over. The wine is then aged in Slavonian oak casks for two years followed by an additional year in stainless steel.

The wine has a deep garnet color. Strawberries, cherries, tobacco and violets complete each other in the nose. The solid palate delivers berries, wet earth, solid tannins and present acidity all culminating in a polished finish.

Barolo DOCG Briccolina 2013

Grapes: Nebbiolo
Suggested Retail Price: $115

> Rating: AA

Nebbiolo grapes are destemmed and fermented on their skins in stainless steel for 8-12 days with periodic pumping-over. The wine is then aged for at least two years in French oak barrels followed by an additional year or more in stainless steel.

The wine displays a dark garnet color. Aromas of dark berries, spices, violets and earthy notes complete the bouquet. The palate is mirrored by the aromas and completed by firm, mature tannins and savory complexity evolving in a long, elegant finish.