Best Pizza Since Naples

A friend raved about the homemade pizza made in his backyard pizza oven,  claiming  that  it  was  as  good  as  I could  find  in  many  pizzerias.  I was skeptical, but I said, bring it on.  I would love to try it.

Our friend’s daughter-in-law made the dough and wrapped it neatly in individual pizza size portions.  She told me that she made it with Italian 00 flour which gives a tender crust.  

The pizza oven is something called a Roccbox.  It uses propane gas and gets up to a temperature of 900 degrees F.

Our friend’s son Jason made the pizzas.  We started with focaccia,  topped with sliced fresh garlic and fresh thyme.

Dough ready for the topping

Homemade tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella on top ready to bake.

Pizza in the oven.  The oven is so hot that the pizzas cooked in just a minute or two.

 

The baked Margherita with a few leaves of fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Pizza this good deserves a good wine.

Barbera d’Alba 2015 Pre-Phylloxera DOC Cogno made from 100% Barbra Vitis Vinifera. The vineyard is 0,25 hectares at 520 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare.The sandy chalky terrain is a natural protection from philoxera. The training system is vertically trellised with guyot pruning. Harvest takes place the beginning of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pumping over. The wine is aged for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and a note of ripe cherry with a touch of prune and spice. This is a big wine for a Barbera and it will age.

The next pizza was topped with garlic sauteed escarole, Italian pork sausage and mozzarella.  

The finished pizza was a masterpiece.

Barbaresco 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo from various vineyards in the DOCG zone. The soil is limestone and clay, rich in calcium with sandy veins. Vinification in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is 30 days of skin contact and pumping over 2 to 3 times a day. The wine is aged for two years i large oak barrels. The wine has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice. It was showing very well. Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy.

White pizza with anchovies satisfied my craving for anchovies.

Margherita topped with prosciutto and arugula.  The prosciutto and arugula are added after the pie is baked and removed from the oven.  The heat of the pizza wilts them.  Outstanding!

Sausage  and  mozzarella  pizza.  All of  the  pizzas  were  excellent.  Rather  than exaggerating  how  good  they  were,  our  friend  had  understated  them   It  was  like  being  in Naples

Barolo Riserva 1971 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo.

 

Dessert was a blueberry pound cake with ice cream and locally grown black raspberries.

 

 

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Celebrating on the Fourth of July

Our second 50th Anniversary celebration took place at the home of a friend in New Jersey on July 4th.  We were so happy to be with friends once again.

Dinner began with

Dom Pérignon Brut 2009 Moet & Chandon made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey

Everyone pitched in for this menu.  Michele made me one of my favorite dishes, pasta alla Caprese, with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  The recipe is from her book, 1,000 Italian Recipes.

Vaucluse Blanc IGP 2013 Domaine Gourt de Mautens Jerome Bressay, Rhone, France. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc and Picpoul Gris. The soil is chalk, clay gravel and marl. The vines are 30 to 50 years old and the vineyard is at 220 meters with a northwest exposure. The grapes are hand harvested. They are pressed in a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place with natural yeasts in tanks. The wine is aged for 10 to 18 months in tanks and French oak demi-muids. The vineyards are certified biodynamic. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, white flowers, a note of honey and a note of hay hops.

A friend brought two salads, one with green beans and the other a Sicilian style potato salad with red onions and capers.  They were perfect with the main dish

Rack of lamb with a mustard and crumb coating.

It was a beautiful summer meal

Chateau Margaux 1983 (Medoc) made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Vinification takes place in wood and stainless steel vats. There are almost 100 vats made from oak and steel fused or the vinification. The vats range in size from 5H for experiments to 180 HL used for blending.The wine is aged for 18/20 months in new oak depending on the vintage. This is a rich concentrated full-bodied wine with hints of cassis, tobacco, cedar, herbs and floral notes. It was the perfect combination with the lamb.

Dessert was a simple one, old fashioned lemon ice paired with lime butter cookies, both made by Michele.  The ices had us all reminiscing about the Italian ices in a paper cup that we all loved to buy when were kids.

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Anniversary Dinner #1

We just ended a long weekend of 50th Anniversary celebrations with a little help from our friends. On Thursday, we had a pre-anniversary dinner in the beautiful garden of friends in near Gramercy Park in Manhattan.

We started with Champagne.

Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut 2008 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.”

With the Champagne we had crisp deep fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies.

Rosè Massoferrato 2018 Azienda Agricola Massoferrato made from 100% Sangiovese, picked early from vineyards located in Impruneta, on a south facing slope just south of Florence. The grapes are picked and are in contact with the skins for a few hours. The wine remains in stainless steel for a few months before release.  This is a fruity wine with good acidity, hints of cherry and a touch of spice. The Marzovilla Family owns the winery. Nicola Marzovilla is the owner of i-Trulli in NYC.

With it, we had a fig tart with caramelized onions, pine nuts and gorgonzola on puff pastry.

Rosso del Conte 1980 Regaleali, made from 90% Nero d’Avola and 10% Perricone from the Vigna San Lucio planted in1965. The vineyard is at 480 meters, the exposure is south/west, the training system is bush and the pruning system is short spur. There are 4,400 plants per hectare. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place. Back 40 years ago fermentation did not take place in stainless steel and the wines would have been aged in large chestnut barrels. The wine was showing its age but there were no signs of oxidation. This is a full bodied wine with hints of black cherry, tobacco, a touch of spice and a hint of mint.

This wine was a special treat for us and for our hosts. It brought back a lot of happy memories of visiting Sicily and the Regaleali Winery in 1993. It was the first of many that we have taken together.

We had Osso Buco, tender braised veal shanks with broccolini and orzo pasta.

Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2918 La Petite Grain D’Antonin Vignoble Alain Ignace. Made from 75% Muscat à petit blanc and 25% Muscat rouge.  The grapes are destemmed and pressed followed by a cool decantation for 18 hours. Vinification is in steel vats for 15/20 days on the lees before the mutage (adding alcohol to the must). This is a dessert wine with hints of rose water, violets, lychee nuts and unstated red fruit.

We had for dessert vanilla ice cream with a strawberry rhubarb sauce.

 

 

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Sampling Italian White Wines

Wine companies and public relations companies have in the past arranged professional wine tastings to enable buyers and journalists to sample their latest products.  But since they can no longer arrange these types of gatherings, I have been receiving more samples of wine than in the past. The reason for this I believe is that there is no other way to reach  the consumer. It may be months or even a year before there are organized wine tastings again. I miss attending these tastings and learning about the wines from representatives of wineries. I was able to ask questions and discuss the wines with the representatives, often the owner, and hearing what the other wine writers that were there had to say.

Here is my report on 8 wines that I received as samples.  Each of them is made with unique varieties of Italian grapes.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG “L’Albereta Riserva” 2017 IL Colombaio Di Santachiara, the winery is certified organic. Made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The soil is rich in cave stone. The vineyard is at 280/230 meters. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Hand harvest begins at the end of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation with local yeasts takes place in durmast oak barrels at a controlled temperature. 70% maceration takes place in durmast barrels for 12 months and 30% is in cement. The wine ages in cement vats for 8 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of apricot, a touch of apple and a note of citrus fruit. It has a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It is a white wine that can age.

Colli Euganei Pinello DOC Vino Frizzante Antichi Reassi 2019 Azienda Agricola Reassi made from 100% Pinella. The vineyard is at 120 meters and the exposure is north. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the soil is clay and silt. The training method is guyot. Harvest is the second week of September. Hand harvest and manual selection of the grapes followed by destemming, a short cryo-maceration and a soft pressing . Fermentation is for about two weeks at a low temperature. Maceration is on the lees until the spring with periodic lees stirring. The second fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, according to the Martinotti method. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 months before release.This is a wine  with hints of grapefruit, pineapple and floral notes.

Tebbiano Spoletino DOC 2018 made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino Cantina Fratelli Pardi . The soil is of sedentary and clayey origin, the exposure is east, south east and the vineyard is at 220 meters. Harvest is in the middle of September. There is a soft pressing of the whole grapes and fermentation is at a constant temperature of 18C for 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release, 6 to 8 months after the harvest.

Colli Maceratesi Ribona DOC “ Le Grande” 2018 Boccadigabbia made from 100% Ribona (aka Maceratino)Ribona is a rare grape varietal grown only in the province of Macerata. The 23 hectares of vineyards stand on hills in two separate zones in Civitanova and Macerata. The soil is sandy-clayey and the exposure is northeast and the training system is guyot. The grape clusters are soft crushed and fermentation lasts for about 12 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, whole slightly overripe berries are added to the wine. This second fermentation lasts for 10 days and allows an added extraction of compounds and aromatics from the skins. It is a well-structured wine with fragrances of ripe citrus fruit with a hint of melon.

Donna Angelica DOC Sicilia 2018 made from Catarrato, Grillo and Zibibbo Assuli Production area Mazara del Vallo (northwest Sicily). The soil is clay with limestone, organic elements and nitrogen. The vineyard is at 200/250 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The training system is vertical trellises. Harvest is from the end of August and the end of September depending upon the weather. There is an extremely soft pressing of the grapes with a membrane press, followed by static clarification of the must and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tank. The wine spends 8 to 10 months on the lees with batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 3/4 months before release. This is a wine with a fruit bouquet, a touch of white flowers and hints of apricot and white peaches.

Moscato Sicilia DOC “Mosca” Barone Sergio made from 100% Moscato Bianco. The soil is of medium texture, mineral and calcareous. The vineyard is 70/80 meters and the system of cultivation is espalier. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The grapes are hand harvested. There is criomaceration for 24 hours followed by a soft pressing. Then cold clarification of the must followed by fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature. The rest is in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 6 months. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, sage and white flowers.

Friuli Colli Orientali Bianco “At Oasi “2017 Aquila Del Torre. Made from 100% Picolit grown on hillside terraces. The soil is flysch, interbedded clayey-textured marl and sandstone. The vineyard is at 175/ 300, the training system is guyot simple and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The wines are 14 years old on average and the exposure is south/southwest. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts in French oak barrels. The wine remains on the lees for 12 months. This is a dry white wine with hints of citrus, floral notes and a touch of balsam.

Soave Classico 2017 “Vigneti di FoscarinoInama made from 100% Garganega. The vineyard is at 150/200 meters, the soil is organic and the vines are up to 53 years old. The training system is the pergola. Selected yeast is used for fermentation and when fermentation is complete the wine remains in barriques (used) for 6 months with batonnage every 6 weeks. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques and there is cartridge filtration. This is a complex white wine with hunts of citrus fruit, spice, a touch of herbs and a nutty edge. It has nice minerality and good acidity. This is a white wine that can age.

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Dinner in a Garden

Living as I do in a NYC apartment, it is nice to spend a few days in the “country” even if it is less than 45 minutes away. As I sat beside the pool at our friend’s house in New Jersey, I could watch various birds in the waterfall.  

This bright red Cardinal  really  enjoyed  his  bath.

The Table was set for dinner.

We started with Champagne

Larmandier-Bernier “Latitude” Extra Brut Blanc De Blancs NV. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes which come from the same Latitude in the southern part of Vertus. There is 40% reserve wine in the blend and the dosage is 4g/l. The wine has hints of peach, white flowers, toast and a touch of almonds.

The first course was anchovies  on  burrata  cheese  on  homemade  toasts.

Champagne Marguet Grand Cru “Shaman 15” Dosage 0 g/liter. Bottled May 2015 made from 67% Pinot Noir and 33% Chardonnay. The soil is chalk. The wine is fermented spontaneously. Fermentation and aging in new oak. The wine is unfined, no added sulphites and no temperature control. The wine is filtered. The winery is Organic/Biodynamic. Horses plough the soil. This is a full-bodied, complex Champagne with hints of yellow fruit and brioche.

Sancerre 2014 Clos de Beaujeu Gérard Boulay made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The vines are over 45 years old and the soil is Kimmeridgian Clay terre blanche similar to the soils of Chablis. The soil is worked manually, grapes are picked by hand and organic farming methods are used. Fermentation is in the barrel with natural yeasts. The wine is aged on the lees in a combination of barrel and tank then bottled unfiltered in July.  The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with a hints of grapefruit, herbs and nice minerality. There is a touch of sweetness on the palate.

Salad

 

Spicy shrimp in a Cajun butter sauce was prepared by a friend of our host.

The shrimp were served with baguette slices to soak up the sauce.

A spectacular Neapolitan style Rum Baba with fresh berries from a favorite local bakery was the dessert.

Marc De Bourgogne De Chambolle Musigny is fantastic!  A glass of this marc brought a perfect day to an end for me.

 

 

 

 

 

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I-Trulli — A Perfect Restaurant for Outdoor Dining

Michele and I have been staying home, with a few exceptions, every day since we returned from Italy on March 6. That is 114 days! So we were very happy to hear that New York City was permitting restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining. We decided to celebrate by dining at a favorite, I Trulli, where I used to be the wine director.  We always enjoy the food and wine there and the  restaurant  has  two  spacious  garden  rooms  where  we  could  have  our  meal. 

Nicola Marzovilla, the owner, greeted us warmly. He wore a mask, as did everyone else on the staff, and escorted us to a table. All of the tables had been carefully placed 6 feet apart and guests were asked to keep their masks on until they were seated.

 

Nicola had taken every precaution. The menus were printed on a single page and the staff had been kept to a minimum. Nicola took all of the orders.

To start, we had octopus salad with potatoes, beans and arugula. The octopus was tender and the salad was lightly dressed with good olive oil from the owner’s Tuscan farm, and fresh lemon juice.

We also ordered Fritto Misto, shrimp, calamari and artichoke hearts fried in a crisp batter. Michele said she had had a craving for it since leaving Italy.

Our pasta was Cavatelli with Broccoli Rabe and Almonds. The restaurant is famous for its fresh pasta dishes, all handmade by Nicola’s mom, Dora. It is a specialty of the Puglia region of Southern Italy where the family is from.

We drank the Montefili Bianco IGT Toscana 20019 made from 50% Chardonnay and 50 % Sauvigon Blanc from vines planted in 1985. The terrain is hilly at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese, the training system is guyot.  Vinification in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged is steel tanks and then in bottle for 3 months. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of herbs a touch of white flowers and good acidity. Nicola is one of the owners of the winery.

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Finally, I had the restaurant’s version of Torta alla Nonna, lemon cream in a buttery tartlet shell topped with pine nuts.

It was an enjoyable evening from start to finish and we plan to go back again very soon. It lifted our spirits to be out and about and among people like back in the good old days – only 115 days ago!

I-Trulli  124 East 27th street NYC

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rosè for Summer Under $20

Summer and Rose’ are a perfect match.  Here are twelve good value wines to try.

Maison Belle Claire Rosé 2016 Cotes de Provence made from 35% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. The soil is clay and limestone. The grapes are destemmed and there is temperature controlled pneumatic pressing without maceration. The wine has a light salmon color very typical of the Rose’ from the Cotes de Provence. It has intense red fruit with hints of strawberries and raspberries, good acidity and a very pleasing finish and aftertaste $18

Château La Tour de l’Evêque Rosé 20014 Cuvée Pétale de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence.  France.  Made from 42% Cinsault, 38% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Ugni-blanc, 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Sèmillon, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Rolle. The hand harvest took place between August 16 and September 16. This is a wine with red berry aromas and flavors that is very easy to drink with a nice finish and aftertaste. $18

Domaine de Bila-Haut ”Les Vignes” Pays d”Oc Rose’ 2018 made from 55% Grenache and 35% Syrah. Michel Chapoutier. Located in Cõtes du Roussillon, Languedoc, France.  In the hills of the Agly Valley the 40-year-old vines are carefully attended. The juice is fermented and aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, a delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then carefully blended for bottling. It has hints of citrus and a touch of raspberry. $15

Cötes-du –Rhone Rosè “Samorens” 2017 Ferraton Pere & Fils made from 75% Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. The vineyards are situated on the right bank of the Rhöne. Alluvial soils: limestone, sand, pebbles and clay. Fermentation takes place for 15 days at a controlled temperature of 15C and 19C. The wine matures in vats. The wine is fresh and lively with hints of strawberries and raspberries with good minerality. $15

Les Vignes Rosé Bila- Haut 2017 Pays D’Oc Michel Chapoutier  this is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $15

Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto La Fraghe made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is south and the vineyard is at 190 meters. Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. They are given a cool temperature 6 to 8 hour maceration on the skins, which extracts just enough color to give a lovely, medium bodied hue to the juice. The must then ferments at a cool 17 degrees C. The finished wine matures on the lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. The wine has a elegant bouquet of strawberries and red currents while on the palate the wine is full bodied and balanced with a long finish the evokes the bouquet. $17

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglianico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked and destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

11 Minutes Rosé Trevenezie IGT Pasqua. Italy. Made mostly from Corvina with Trebbiano Lugana, Syrah and Camenere. The wine is in contact with the skin for 11 minutes which gives the wine its name. Once the must is obtained, it is cooled and transferred to a steel tank where it remains for about 11 hours, the necessary time for the more solid parts to decant. The must is inculcated with select yeasts. During fermentation there is daily monitoring of the wine. Then the wine remains in contact with the lees for about 3 or 4 months. The wine is filtered and bottled in January. The wine has hints of raspberry and strawberry, with floral notes and a touch of spice. $16

Rosè Massoferrato 2018 Azienda Agricola Massoferrato made from 100% Sangiovese, picked early from vineyards located in Impruneta, on a south facing slope just south of Florence. The grapes are picked and are in contact with the skins for a few hours. The wine remains in stainless steel for a few months before release.  This is a fruity wine with good acidity, hints of cherry and a touch of spice.The Marzovilla Family owns the winery. Nicola Marzovilla is the owner of i-Trulli restaurant in NYC.$19

Barone Sergio Sicilia Nero d’Avola Rosato “Luigia” 2018 made from100% Nero d’ Avola the vines are 10 years old and are at 70 meters. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures in steel for 6 to 7 months and in bottle for 2 months before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with a touch of raspberry.

Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, “Pescanera” Calabria Rosé IGT 2018 made from 100% Greco Nero which is a local grape from Calabria. The grapes come from the best vineyards on the coast and after a manual harvest are soft pressed without any maceration. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of strawberries and raspberries with citrus notes and a touch of wild flowers.  Rosé wines have a long history in Calabria and Ippolito was one of the first to produce them.

Sokel Blosser Dundee Hills Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018 (777,115 & Pommard clones) Alex said the 2018 vintage was their coolest growing season since 2012 and he believes it will be their best vintage since then as well. The grapes were carefully hand harvested (brix at harvest 19.5), de-stemmed and loaded into the press where the juice soaked on the skins for four to six hours. It was then gently pressed to minimize extraction of tannins from the skins. The juice was divided into multiple stainless steel tanks, one portion was inoculated with natural yeast, and the other with a yeast focused on lifting the fruit aromas within the grape. An extended, slow, cool fermentation took place. There is just a hint of residual sugar (1.5g/l) to balance the firm acidity. This is a crisp refreshing rose’ with hints of melon, white peach and a touch of raspberry

 

 

 

 

 

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A Touch of Provence in NYC

Friends who live nearby invited us for an al fresco lunch the other day.  It was a beautiful day and we sat properly social distanced at two separate tables.  Ours was set up under a pergola.  With the dappled sunlight shining through, the setting was magical and reminded us of our travels  in Provence.

The appetizers

We started with an appetizer of endive leaves filled with a creamy tuna tonnato sauce.


There were crunchy French breakfast radishes to dip in butter and salt, too.

Nuts

TrentoDOC Ferrari Perlé Method Classico 2011 made from 100% organic Chardonnay from vineyards at 300 to 700 meters with a southeast or southwesterly exposure. The soil is loose not too deep made of volcanic and glacial deposits. There are 4,500 to 5,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand from in the middle of September..Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 60 months. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of apple, almonds, and a touch of brioche. I was very impressed by this wine. Residual sugar 6g/l.

Breads  Bakery  provided  the  delicious  sourdough  bread.

The soup was served in a beautiful hand painted terrine.

It was a  cold  pea  soup  finished  with  a drizzle  of  cream.

Rosè Massoferraro 2018 Azienda Agricola Massoferrato made from 100% Sangiovese, picked early from vineyards located in Impruneta, on a south facing slope just south of Florence. The grapes are picked and are in contact with the skins for a few hours. The wine remains in stainless steel for a few months before release.  This is a fruity wine with good acidity, hints of cherry and a touch of spice.The Marzovilla Family owns the winery. Nicola Marzovilla is the owner of i-Trulli in NYC.

 

Potato salad  with red  onions,  green  beans  and  herbs.

Grilled  steak  with  sauteed  peppers  and  onions.

On the plate

 

Gigondas 2008 “La Reserve” Domaine Du Pourra made from 80% Grenache, 10% Mourvèdre, 5% Syrah and 5% Cinsault. From 20 /40 year old vines. The clay and limestone soil is planted with vines that are more then 40 years old. There are organic practices in the vineyard and minimal intervention in the vineyard. Older vintages were aged in Foudres ( old wooden vats), more recent ones in concrete. This is a complex wine with hints of blackberries, cherries, pepper, a touch of spice, undertone of lavender, a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It was perfect with the grilled steak.

 

Michele made and orange yogurt cake which she served with local strawberries and vanilla ice cream.

With the cake and in keeping with the Provencal theme, we had a delicious Beaumes  de  Venise.

 

Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2918 La Petite Grain D’Antonin Vignoble Alain Ignace. Made from 75% Muscat à petit blanc and 25% Muscat rouge.  The grapes are destemmed and pressed followed by a cool decantation for 18 hours. Vinification is in steel vats for 15/20 days on the lees before the mutage (adding alcohol to the must) This is a dessert wine with hints of rose water, violets. lychee nuts and unstated red fruit.

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A 1978 Chianti Classico with Lunch

During a visit to the Fattoria di Monsanto in 1983, I tasted the Santa Caterina Chianti Classico for the first time.  That day, I spend several hours speaking with the owner, Fabrizio Bianchi.  He introduced to Laura Bianchi, his daughter, who now runs the winery, as well as her sister and their mother. It was a wonderful visit and one I still remember after all these years. Recently when I saw the wine for sale I just had to purchase it.

Santa Caterina Chianti Classico 1978 DOC Fattoria di Monsanto –the wine was likely made mostly from Sangiovese with a little Canaiolo. They stopped using white grapes in 1968. This was their wine to be drunk young  and for everyday drinking. They stopped making it in the 1990’s replacing it with a wine called Monrosso, which is not a Chianti Classico.

For a  wine that was made to be drunk young this wine has lasted for 42 years, once again proving that Sangiovese can age.  The wine had hints of red berries, leather, cooked  fruit. and a hint of violets with no signs of oxidation.

With the wine we ate  grilled  lamb kabobs  with  peppers,  onions  and tomatoes.

We finished the wine with two cheeses,  Parmigiano Reggiano and  a young Piave. 

Michele’s anise and wine cookies are a staple in our house and I finished the meal with them and a good cup of espresso.

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Ten Favorite Red Wines $20 and Under

Here are some of my favorite red wines that you can buy for $20 or less.

Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG “Garabei” 2017  Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Dolcetto grapes planted in 1968. The estate is situated on a hill in Diano d’Alba at a high altitude. They own 11 hectares of vineyards. The soil is sandy with a lot of gravel. The juice is fermented naturally on the skins for 8 days in stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel and spends 4 more months in bottle before release. The wines are not filtered or fined. Sustainable farming methods are used. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries. $16

Mustilli Piedirosso Sannio DOC 100% Piedirosso from the Pozzillo vineyard, which is at 800 ft. The soil is volcanic and clay and the exposure is southwest. The wines are between 10 and 20 years old. The grapes are hand harvested in late October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks for 6 months. Very nice fruit with hints of plums, violets and a hint of bell peppers.

Elena Walch Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Schiava from high side vineyards above Lake Caldaro at 1,312 ft. The soil is limestone and dandy clay. There is temperature-controlled fermentation at 27°C in stainless steel tanks for 7 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation and maturation take place in traditional 8,000-liter Slovenian oak casks. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry and a nice bitter almond touch on the finish. $16

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012 Sartori di Verona made from 45% Corvina, 30% Covinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Croatina. The Valpolicella Classico area is north of Verona and the soil is calcareous with fine layers of limestone. There is soft pressing with skin maceration for 8 to 10 days. After pressing 10% of the must is extracted to obtain better color and tannin. After racking and malolactic fermentation the wine is aged partially in stainless steel and partially in oak for 15 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. It has aromas and flavors of rich red fruit with hints of black cherry, nice minerality and soft tannins. $20

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 10% Merlot and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place by hand from the last ten days of September to early October. Vinification is exclusively with natural enzymes. The wine does not undergo any kind of stabilization or filtration. The presence of sediment should be considered a guarantee of authenticity. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for about 12 months and aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherry, violets and floral scents and a touch of spice. $19

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2015 Tenuta Del Mariggio made from 100% Aglianico from estate vineyards located in Montemiletto at 500 meters and in Taurasi at 300 meters. The vineyards were planted between 2003 and 2012. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place at the end of October and the beginning of September. This is a wine with red and blackberry flavors and a hint of spice and should be drunk within the next 5 years.$16

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT Michele Alois made from 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for 18 months  and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

Castelluccio Miano “ Perric One”  DOC, 2015 Sicily, 100% Perricone The average age of the vines is 20 to 30 years and the training method is guyot and spur-pruning. Before fermentation, the grapes are dried, then the wine is made using the “ripasso technique”. Traditional red wine fermentation with pump over during the initial spontaneous fermentation stage. Complete malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 3 months in steel tanks, then 10 months in small oak barrels and another 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied red wine with aromas and flavors of dry fruit with a nice aftertaste and long finish. $20

Nero D’Avola 2018 Cusumano 100% Nero d’Avola . Production zone San Giacomo, Butera. The vines are 14 years old and the exposure south, southeast. Training system is espalier and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Destemming and cold maceration takes  on the skins for 2 days. Fermentation is with frequent re-circulation and removal of the must. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel an the wine remains on the lees for 5 months before release. This is a fruity easy drinking wine and a great value. $14 

Primitivo Salento “Mezzapezza” 2016 Trullo di Pezza made from 100% Primitivo from vines 20 to 30 years old at 5 meters. The soil is sandy clay, south exposure and the training system is Espalier. Harvest is manual. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with maceration for 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months and 1 month in bottle before release. This is a fresh intense fruity wine with hints of cherry, plum, and a touch of spice.$17

 

 

 

 

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