CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY

We spent my birthday weekend in the Hamptons at the home of our friends, Ernie and Louise De Salvo. Louise is an excellent cook and Ernie and I have the same taste in wine. IMG_5970

We started with lunch on Saturday with zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies in a batter and deep-fried. This is one of my favorite foods and I have it whenever I am in Rome. With this we had a wine from a producer I did not know but it was a perfect combination with the flowers because it is a wine with a depth of flavor,hints of citrus fruit and good acidity.IMG_5956

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fonte Canale” 2011 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from old vines from Tiberio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, there are 2,500 vines /hectare and the training system is the tendone (vines form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun). Harvest takes place the last week of September. Cold maceration on the skins lasts for 6 hours. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains in the bottle for a short period before release.IMG_5985

Champagne Premier Brut NV Louis Roederer is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier from 50 different crus. It is aged for 3 years in the cellar and 6 more months after dègorgement.IMG_5988

One of the dishes that Louise makes, which I love, is a cold melon soup with ginger. This was an interesting combination that worked well because the wine had nice fruity aromas and flavors and a hint of creaminess.IMG_5964

Barbera d’Alba 2001 Giacomo Conterno made from 100% Barbera d’Alba. The vineyard is in Serralunga d’Alba, the soil is calcareous limestone and the exposure is west/southwest. Vinification lasts for 2/3 weeks in wooden vats with regular breaking of the cap. The wine is then aged in large oak barrels for two years. Note–With the 2012 vintage, the Barbera with have Francia on the label as opposed to Cascina Francia, but the wine will remain the same.IMG_5963

When there are many different flavors in the foods Barbera is always a good choice because it is a red wine with good acidity. This one worked very well with the 3 cheeses, salumi, prosciutto, mortadella and best of all the flavorful roasted peppers made by Louise. The better Barberas can age for 20 years and this one was showing no signs of age.IMG_5969

Taurasi Riserva 1995 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. This is the way I believe the 1995 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather. IMG_5974

I was in the mood for Taurasi for my birthday. My favorite pasta is Pasta Matriciana and I had to have for my birthday along with the Taurasi.IMG_5978

Hermitage 1999 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. It is made from 100% Syrah from 50 year old vines from some of the best plots in Hermitage with different soils. The wine is aged in 228 oak barrels for 18 months, 10 to 20% new and the rest 1 to 5 years old.IMG_5989

Ernie makes the best lamb on the grill. He takes pieces of lamb and thick slices of bacon and skewers them. A big wine like the Hermitage was perfect with its depth of flavor and hints of black and red fruit.IMG_5995

For dessert Louise made fig ice cream. I like it so much that the next morning for breakfast before we went home I had the fig ice cream Sicilian style — sandwiched on a warm brioche.

 

 

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Filed under Barbera, Champagne, Chave, Hermitage, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Louis Roederer Brut, Mastroberardino, Taurasi, Tiberio Winery

Metodo Classico Lambrusco and Negroamaro

This week I tasted two sparkling wines made with what the Italians call metodo classico, the Champagne method. One was a Lambrusco, a wine I am very familiar with but this was the first time I tasted one made in this way. The other was made with Negroamaro, a familiar grape variety, but not as a sparking wine and certainly not by the Metodo Classico.IMG_6018

Lambrusco di Modena Spumante Brute Metodo Classico DOC 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara- Cantina Della Volta (Emilia Romagna). This red wine is obtained by a selection of the best Sorbara grapes entirely gathered in small cases (max. 37 lbs.) by manual harvesting. The grapes are carefully handled in order to prevent them from being crushed during transportation to the winery. The clarification of the must is followed by fermentation at controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. After resting for at least 6 months the wine receives selected yeasts prior of being bottled. The bottles are then stored horizontally in piles for the re-fermentation process in a constant ambient temperature of 53°F. The last steps are the remuage, disgorgement and the addition of liqueur d ’expedition. This is a dark red wine with wild strawberry aromas and flavors and hints of other red fruits and berries.IMG_6029

 Salento IGT Spumante Brut Rose “Noitre” Metodo Classico 100% Negroamaro from Salice Salentino-Futura 14 (Puglia). The vineyard is at 40 meters and the soil is clayish and sandy. The training system is spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines/ha and the vines are 12 years old. Harvest is the last week of August. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in stainless steel and there is a partial malolactic fermentation. The wine rests in the bottle for 30 months before release. It is a very light salmon color with  red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of raspberries. Part owner of Futura 14, the company that makes the wine, is Bruno Vespa, a well-known Italian TV personality.

 

 

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Filed under Cantina della Volta, Futura 14, Italian Sparkling Wine, Method Classico, Sparkling wine, Spumante

Franciacorta’s Bellavista

It can be argued that that Italy’s best sparking wine made in the classic method comes from Franciacorta. One of my favorite producers from this area is Bellavista IMG_5274

At a Bellavista tasting and lunch at Del Posto in NYC, I noticed immediately that the labels on the entire line of wines were different. The labels may have changed but what was inside the bottles was the same as I have enjoyed in the past.

Mr. Vittorio Moretti founder and president of Bellavista spoke. He said that the winery is located in Erbusca in the province of Brescia in Lombardy. The winery has 190 hectares of vines, which is almost 10% of the entire Franciacorta appellation. Their first vintage was in 1984. Mr. Morettti introduced his enologist Mattia Vezzola. Mr Vezzola spoke about the wine. The Mèthode Champenoise bollicine (little bubbles) is used for the sparkling wine. The Bellavista cuvèes result from horizontal and vertical blends of about 90-100 selections from 107 micro-crus. These selections are separately harvested and vinified. Only free run juice is used and the must ferments in 1,500 pièces, 228 liter barrels, the youngest of which are 7 years old, while the oldest are about 28 years old.IMG_5271

Franciacorta Brut Vintage 2008 made from 72% Chardonnay and 28% Pinot Noir. This wine not only changed its label but also is name. It was formerly known as Grand Cuvee Brut. The grapes come from the finest selection of over 100 plots within the township of Franciacorta, which are all estate owned. Over 30% of the base wine is fermented and matures for over seven months in small oak barrels. The wine has nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors with hints of sage and dried leaves.IMG_5276

Bellavista Satèn 2009 DOCG made from 100% Chardonnay. Mr. Moretti said that when this wine was introduced in 1984 it was the first blanc de blancs to be made in Franciacorta. The chardonnay comes from the oldest hillside vineyards close to the winery with the highest elevation and a full southern exposure. Part of the wine (1/3) is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. Mr. Vezzolo said that Satèn in Franciacorta has less pressure than most sparking wine with 4.5 atmospheres of pressure instead of the traditional 6. This gives the wine more elegant bubbles, a more delicate mousse and a softer mouth feel.IMG_5270

Bellavista Franciacorta Pas Operè 2007 made from 62% Chardonnay and 38% Pinot Noir. The grapes for this wine come from the most vigorous selection of grapes from vineyards that are over 20 years old with an east and southeast exposure. Most of the must is fermented in small oak barrels. The wine is aged for 6 years before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of honey, apple and herbs. This wine not only changed its label but its name, it was formally known as Grand Cuveè Pas Opèrè.

Bellavista Rosè 2008 This is a special cuveè and is only 3% of the total production of the winery. It is a blend of at least 20% of the winery’s best selection of which part is fermented and aged in small oak barrels. For the 48% Pinot Noir, the submerged cap method is used for the maceration, allowing for skin contact to augment concentration up to the moment fermentation begins. The 52% of Chardonnay comes from 20 selections of the most prestigious estates owned by the winery. This is a very flavorful wine with hints of citrus fruit, strawberry and a touch of apple.IMG_5271

Bellavista “Alma” Cuveè Brut  Mr. Moretti said that alma means soul in Latin and this wine reflects the soul of Franciacorta and Bellavista. The symbol of this wine is the butterfly because it represents harmony and balance,nature at its purest and transformation and rebirth. Made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Bianco. The balance comes from 30 different selections from over 100 vineyards. Most of the wine is fermented and matures in 228 litter oak barrels for 7 months. The wine consists of at least 6 to 9 older vintages. This is a wine with a depth of flavor with hints of apple, pears and white flowers.

Bellavista Vittorio Moretti Franciaorta Special DOCG 2006. Made only in exceptional years. Made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir from the best crus in Franciacorta: Erbusco, Nigoline, Torbiato and Colombaro.The wine is aged for seven years before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of white peach, honey and a touch of berries.

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Filed under Bellavista, Saten, Sparkling wine, Spumante

The Wines of Lis Neris

After judging the Pinot Grigio Challenge in Cormons, in Friuli, I visited the Lis Neris winery in San Lorenzo about 20 minutes away. The winery is in the Isonzo sub zone close to the Slovenian border.

Alvaro

Alvaro

The owner Alvaro Pecorari who began by speaking about the winery greeted me. Alvaro said that it is a family winery and the family controls all of the production process. There are 70 hectares of vineyards planted between the Slovenian border to the north and the right bank of the Isonzo River to the south. Wines are produced exclusively with grapes from their own vineyards. They have introduced biological treatments against vine pests and avoid the use of chemical weed killers. The winery is energy autonomous, with solar panels, which collect and transforms solar power.

He feels that his wines are the best expression of the terrior

The Wines of Lis Neris- They have different lines of wine Traditional, Selezioni and Riserva.IMG_5798

Pinot Grigio 2013 100 % Pinot Grigio this is from the Traditional line where the grapes are from the younger vineyards. The training system is guyot and there are 5,200 to 5,600 vines per hectare. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel takes at a controlled temperature. Maturation is on the fine less in the same tanks for 8 months with frequent stirring of the lees. The wine remains in the bottle a short time before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with aromas and flavors of critics’ fruit, hints of apple and good acidity. I also had this wine with food at one of the best restaurants in the area La Subida and it is an excellent food wine. IMG_5801

Gris 2010 100% Pinot Grigio This is from the” Selezioni line where the wines take the name of the vineyard. The soil is calcareous, alluvial on a broad shelf at 60 meters above sea level. The vines are 25 years old. The training system is guyot and there are 5,200 vines per hectare and the harvest is in October. Fermentation takes place in 500 liter French oak barrels (tonneaux), at a controlled temperature. Alvero said that tonneaux gives the wine aromatic breath without modifying the intrinsic character of the wine. Maceration is on the lees in the same barrels for 10 to11 months with frequent lees souring? The wine is aged in bottle for 12 months before release. Alvero said the wine would last for 5 to 10 years. This was a more intense Pinot Grigio and he said that it was an international style wine reflection the more modern wines of today. That is why I believe he calls it “Gris”IMG_5800

Confini 2010 Venezia- Gulia IGT made from 40% Gewürztraminer, 40 %Pinot Grigio and 20% Riesling from 25 year old vines. This is from the Riserva line, the grapes come from the older vineyards. Fermentation takes place in 500 liter French oak barrels and maceration is on the fine lees in the same barrels for 11 months with frequent bàtonnage. The wine is aged another 12 months in bottle before release. He said that the Pinot Grigio constitutes the skeleton of the wine, giving it structure a full bodied frame, softness and warmness. Traminer is important for aromas and perfumes and Riesling for the right acidity and complexity of taste. Only Pinot Grigio and Traminer are late harvested and matured in wood.IMG_5821

Tal Luc 2010 made from 95% Verduzzo and 5% Riesling. The vines are 10 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 5,200 vines per hectare. After the harvest the grapes are dried for 120 days in an air-conditioned environment. Long fermentation takes place in new 225 liter French oak barrels. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. Alvero said that the wine could age for 15 years. It is in the Riserva line” This is an excellent dessert wine and I really enjoyed tasting it. I also had the pleasure of drinking the=is wine at restaurant La Subida the night before.

 

 

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Filed under Confini, Gris, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lis Neris Winery, Pinot Grigio, Tal Luc dessert wine

Only in Italia !

On Sunday night while I was in Udine for the International Pinot Grigio Challenge, I wanted to find a place to have dinner. One of my fellow judges said he knew a great restaurant, however it was closed, as were five others he tried. Finally he found a restaurant that was open and just a short taxi ride away. The name was Semplicemente di Vino

When we arrived we were the only customers in the restaurant and we began to think that we had made a mistake. The waitress, Lucia, who is also the sommelier, spoke some English and I speak restaurant Italian so that was not a problem.IMG_5826

Lucia offered us prosecco to start and when we could not decide which of two Refosco’s to order she let us try both. The wine we ordered was a 2010 Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso Friuli Colli Orientali DOP from Vigna Lenuzza. Lucia said it was made from 90% Refosco and 10% other grapes. It went nicely with the food.

We spoke about the menu and asked about the chef. She said that Enrico is an excellent chef and that they were going to be married shortly. We started with Prosciutto Crudo di San Daniele and Salumi. Next I had the ravioli con ripieno di melanzana e scamorza affumicato e battuto di pachino, ravioli stuffed with eggplant and smoked scamorza cheese with chopped cherry tomatoes.IMG_5825

The chef came out and showed me the meat for the next dish and described it. It sounded wonderful so I ordered it, spiedini di vitellona, rucola e salsiccia, skewered grilled veal rolls stuffed with arugula and sausage. IMG_5827

I ended this wonderful meal with a bowl of fresh fruit and of course café. Everyone could not have been nicer. It was a very informal restaurant but the young waiter who assisted Lucia was dressed very formally. He said he was attending culinary school and this is the way they told him to dress. When he saw the bowl of fresh fruit he said that in school he was taught how to peel the fruit before eating it. This is now a lost art.

It was a very pleasant, fun evening with great food and when we asked them to call a cab to take us to our hotel, Enrico would not hear of it and drove us back himself!

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Venice, La Serenissima

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As we approached Venice by water taxi I was struck once again by how magical and dream-like this ancient city is with its picturesque canals, graceful bridges and beautiful architecture.IMG_5581

The taxi docked right beside a café and restaurant that looked as if it would be an ideal spot to have breakfast called the l’Ombra del Leone. When we returned the next morning, the place was empty although the outdoor seating was the perfect place to watch the gondolas participating in the celebration of the Festa e Regata della Sensa, an annual event. Among the boats was an ornate one called the Bucintoro used by the Doge, the leader of Venice. The mayor, replacing the Doge of old, throws a gold ring overboard to symbolize Venice’s marriage to the sea. Yes, Michele and I agreed as we sipped cappuccino and ate our cornetti, Venice is a magical city and full of surprises around every corner.

The Restaurants We Enjoyed

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

Ai Gondolieri is a meat lover’s restaurant in a city surrounded by water and known for its seafood. The restaurant began as an old inn where locals could go to eat simple meats, drink a glass of wine and play cards. Today it has become a refined, quiet restaurant with excellent service and food. I had perfectly fried zucchini flowers to begin and then slices of calf’s liver on Venetian polenta, which was wonderful.

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

With dinner we had a wine that I have been drinking for many years, the Villa Capezzana Carmignano 2008 DOCG made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo.

IMG_5575 The hillside vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters and the exposure is south, southeast and southwest. The soil composition is shale and the harvest is in mid September. Vinification is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in 25HL Allier barrels for 10 months. It remains in bottle another 3 months before release.

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  I posted pictures of Venice on Facebook while we were there and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and that “the wine list will blow you away.” She added that we should ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this we just had to go. The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is out door dining.

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flwers

We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith highly recommended the restaurant to us.

Seppei

Seppei

We discussed the extensive wine list and I found a wine I had never had before from one of my favorite producers, the Cerasuolo di Abruzzo Rosato which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2012 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a “white wine” and are pressed by “foot” and the must is fermented without the skins. It was one of the best Rose wines that it has ever been my pleasure to drink.IMG_5597

The wine was an excellent combination with pasta with zucchini and zucchini flowers to start followed by seppie (cuttlefish) in a black ink sauce and peas with grilled polenta.

Fiaschetteria Toscana This restaurant began as a Tuscan wine shop where products from Tuscany were sold. It later became a trattoria and in 1983 a restaurant. Michele and I have been coming here for a number of years.

Moleche

Moleche

It has a very nice dining room and two upstairs rooms for larger parties and outdoor dining in a small piazza just across the street. I ordered the moleche, which are baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor and I order them whenever I can. We ended with Michele’s favorite, wild strawberries with crema gelato.

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Filed under Ai Gondolieri, Capezzana, Cerasuolo, Emidio Pepe, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Restaurant Wildner, Rose, Uncategorized, Venice

Eating and Drinking around Lake Garda

Lake Garda in Northern Italy is a favorite place to visit. Usually we stay on the western side but on a recent trip, Michele and I decided to stay in Bardolino, which is on the eastern side.

Sunset on Lake Garda

Sunset on Lake Garda

Bardolino is a very picturesque town right on the lake. We stayed in a hotel about a kilometer from the center and it was a lovely walk along the lake into town. There are many excellent restaurants in the area.IMG_5453

Enoteca con Cucina Il Giardino delle Esperidi This restaurant in the heart of Bardolino is a true gem. A friend and fellow wine writer, Tom Hyland, recommended it. There are about 700 labels on the wine list, both Italian and foreign, and a large selection of Champagne. The prices are very good.IMG_5446

When we arrived, Susanna Tezzon, who runs the front of the house and is in charge of the wines, greeted us. After speaking with Susanna, I ordered a bottle of Emidio Pepe 2003 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. 100% Montepulciano d’Abuzzo. The Emidio Pepe winery is both organic and biodynamic. The winery belongs to the Triple “A”– Agriculturists Artisans Artists, an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in Organic and Bio-Dynamic production, terroir, and as little interference as possible by the winemaker in the winemaking process. In their vineyard only sulphur and copper water are used along with biodynamic preparations. Only natural yeast is used which gives the wine more complexity because there are so many different strains of yeast on the grapes and in the air. The grapes are crushed by hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25hl. The wine remains here for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.IMG_5449

Susanna brought out a decanter and said it was a one made especially for organic wines. I had never heard of this before but the restaurant was busy and we were enjoying the food and wine so much that I did not ask any more about it.

Salami and Cultello

Salami and Culatello

The food could not have been better and we had a number of courses including Guinea Hen, Salami and Culatello

Locanda Sul Minico

Locanda Sul Minico

Antica Locanda sul Mincio in Borghetto Valeggio sul Mincio. This restaurant may be Michele’s favorite as far as location is concerned. The outdoor dining area is on the riverbank of the Mincio River and it overlooks the medieval village. The view is incomparable. The restaurant has more than just a picturesque setting, however, the food is also excellent.

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Among the dishes we had were grilled polenta with fresh salame, ravioli filled with pear and ricotta and for a main course, roasted goat. IMG_5516

With our meal we drank a bottle of Valpolicella Superiore from Azienda Agricola Marion DOC. 10% Corvina Gentile, 60% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, 10% Teroldego and other varieties.The winery is in the foothills of the Marcellise Valley some 100 meters above sea level. The vineyards lie on gently sloping hills facing from north to south. The soil is chalk with a little clay and stones. The grapes are harvested between the first and second weeks of September and the first week of October. Part of the grapes are collected in boxes and then placed on wooden racks in well-ventilated rooms, where they are partially dried for approximately 40 days. A second part is left hanging on the vines until it reaches super-ripeness, to be harvested during the first ten days of October, and then pressed. After fermentation the wines obtained are aged separately in small oak barrels for about 30 months and lastly blended and bottled.   This is a wine with a lot of body and aromas and flavors of prunes and blackberries.

Taverna Kus di Zanolli Giancarlo This restaurant is in San Zeno di Montagna and there is a great view of Lake Garda below and Monte Baldo above. There is a garden dining area, a covered outdoor area, and an inside area.IMG_5475

We drank a 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella from one of the best producers of Soave Pieprone. In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is South facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare, the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums. This is the first tine I have had this wine and I was very impressed by it.IMG_5479

We began our meal with plates of culatello accompanied by carrot mostarda, followed by a dish of artichokes baked with cheese, an unusual dish that we really enjoyed.

Ristorante Alla Borsa- this is a restaurant in center of the town of Valleggio sul Mincio. It used to be a trattoria where the merchants of the village met to conduct business. Because of this it was called Borsa, which means purse or stock exchange in Italian. The restaurant has a very nice outdoor garden where one can dine and view the old Scaligero castle.IMG_5459

We drank a Valpolicella Classico Superiore IGT 2010 “La Fabriseria” from Tedeschi. 35% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. The wine is made from grapes that are used for their amarone but are fermented without drying. The grapes are harvested in October and are slightly overripe. The pressing is very soft so that some of the grapes remain whole with the stem. The must ferments in small fermenting vats. Alcoholic fermentation lasts for about ten days. Skin contact is for about 20 days and malolactic fermentation is quickly terminated in Slovenian oak barrels. The wine is aged one year in wood and six months in bottle before release. The wine had hints of prunes and cherries and a hint of vanilla.

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

The town of Valeggio sul Mincio and the Restaurant Alla Borsa are renowned for their excellent tortellini, so we had three varieties: cheese, butternut squash and meat filled.

 

 

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Filed under Antico Locanda sul Minico, Emidio Pepe, IL Giardino delle Esperidi, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Lake Garda, Marion Valpolicella, Pieropan Amarone, Ristorante alla Borsa, Taverna Kus, Tedeschi