The Mustilli Winery: A Long Overdue Visit

When I was working as the wine director at a NYC Italian restaurant, Paola Mustilli from the Mustilli winery came in to have me sample their wines. We already carried some and I was more than willing to try the ones she brought.IMG_0810

After we tasted the Falanghina she handed me a book entitled “Falanghina” which included the work done by her father Leonardo Mustilli and her sister Anna Chiara Mustilli in saving the Falanghina grape. The authors are Antonella Monaco, Anna Chiara Mustilli and Luciano Pignataro.

She also invited me to the winery to taste older vintages of Falanghina. The winey is about 30 miles inland from Naples.

“Falanghina,” writes Luciano Pignataro in his opening line, “surely more than Aglianico, is the wine in which all Campania identifies, the wine that can best embody the local genius loci of the Neapolitan pleasure of the table.”


Paola and Anna Chiara

When I was in Benevento as one of the journalists at the Campania Stories tasting, I was finally able to take Paola up on her offer and went to the winery, over 10 years since our meeting in NYC. Paola, who takes care of the commercial end of the business and Anna Chiara, her sister who manages the vineyards and winemaking, greeted me.IMG_0172

Anna Chiara said that in 1979 her father, Leonardo Mustilli bottled the first single-variety commercial Falanghina in Campania. Then there were only 75 acres; today there are over 7,000 with the majority in Sannio. Sant’Agata dei Goti is a sub-region of the DOC Sannio and they are the only winery in the area. She said they have over 20 hectares all planted with indigenous varieties.

The Mustilli Family came to Sant’Agata dei Goti in the 14th century. Anna Chiara gave us a tour of the old underground cellar that the family has owned since the 17 century. In 2002 they built a new structure right outside the town.

We then tasted the wines;IMG_0174

Falanghina Sannio DOC 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards, at 800 ft. located in Sant’Agata del Goti, with volcanic soil, facing southwest. The age of the vines is 10 to 30 years. Hand-harvest in mid-October. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in tanks for 12 months. This is a fresh wine with hints of lemon and apple with good acidity.IMG_0177

Falanghina Sannio 2002 DOC 100% Falanghina The wine was starting to show some signs of age but still was very pleasant with nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors.IMG_0185

Greco di Santacroce 1977  I was very impressed with this wine. It was not showing any signs of age. In fact I drank as much of the wine as I could!IMG_0178

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. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of plums, violets and a hint of bell peppers.IMG_0175

Greco Sannio Sant’ Agata De’ Goti DOC 100% Greco. The grapes are cultivated in the vineyards of Presta and Pozzillo in the commune of S. Agata dei Goti. The vineyard has a southwest exposure at 250 meters. Training system is guyot and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the middle of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature at 15C for about two weeks. Aging is in steel with periodic batonnage. The wine has hints of white peach, apricot and anise with good acidity and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.IMG_0187

Aglianico Sannio DOC 100% Aglianico from vineyards at 800ft. with volcanic and clay soil and a southwest   exposure. The vines are 30 years old. Fermented on indigenous yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in French second passage barriques for 9 months and in bottle for 3 months before release.IMG_0182

Aglianico Sanno DOC ‘Cesco di Nece’ 100% Aliganico from the “Cesco di Nece,” organically planted vineyard in 1994 and is 3 hectares. Harvest is at the end of October. Grapes are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maturation is second passage French oak for 9 months. Lightly fined, unfiltered and a small SO2 addition before bottling. It is aged for 9 months in bottle before release.

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Filed under Aglianico, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mustilli, Piedirosso, Uncategorized

Castello di Meleto: The Wines of Tuscany

A few months ago I was contacted by, a PR agency based in Alba, Italy. They wanted to know if I wanted to taste wine samples from Castello di Meleto, a winery in Tuscany. Wellcom handles some of Italy’s top wine clients, so I told them I would except the samples and was very pleased that I did.

The Castello di Meleto estate consists of 2,470 acres of which 300 acres are planted with vines. It is located just over a half mile from the town of Gaiole in Chianti. The castle, the heart of the estate, once belonged to the monks of the Coltibuono Abbey. The name Meleto can be traced back to 1256. Today the vineyards are spread in five different plots that surround the castle, leaving the winery in an ideal central location.

The Wines IMG_0984

Vermentino 2015 IGT Toscana Bianco made from 100% Vermentino. The vineyard was planted in 2010 and is at 360 to 420 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. The grapes are handpicked in small containers in order to reduce skin breakage. After being gently destemmed and soft pressed the free run juice is chilled and left on the skins for a few hours. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. During fermentation, a small portion of the wine undergoes a brief aging in second or third passage barriques. The wine in aged in stainless steel for 4 months before release. This is a fresh slightly tangy wine with hints of citrus and nice minerality. $12 IMG_0985

Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and south-west exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vat. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly. $18IMG_0986

Chianti Classico Riserva “Vigna Casi” DOCG 2012 made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located in Gaiole in Chianti. The exposure is west, south and southwest at 400 meters. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon and alberello. The vines were planted in 1990-1995. Harvest and selection is by hand. Maceration and spontaneous fermentation is at a minimum temperature of 78-82F in wooden vats with delestage and pump-over. The wine is kept in contact with the skins for 20 to 25 days before it goes into cement vats for malolactic fermentation. One half of the wine is aged in 52 Slavonian oak barrels, the rest in second or third passage 225-liter barriques for 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of cherries, violets and spice and a long and intense finish. $30IMG_0987

 Chianti Classico “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2011 made from 85 % Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is south facing and is at 400 meters and were planted in 2000 and 2003. There are 5,000 vines per hectare; the training system is spurred cordon and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. Great care is taken in thinning shoots, foliage canopy management, and pruning. Harvest is by hand with 10-kilogram bins. In the cellar the grapes are refrigerated to a temperature of 8/10C for at least 24 hours. After the fermentation, which is in oak barrels, there is a long maceration. The Cabernet Sauvignon is aged in second passage French barriques, while the Sangiovese is aged in second and third passage barriques. The wine is aged between 14 to 18 months depending on the vintage. The wine remains in bottle for one year before release. This is an intense complex wine with hints of spice and berries. It will need a few more years to bring out all of its aromas and flavors.  $50

Gran Selezione is a new classification at the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid. The grapes for these wines must be estate grown and come from a single vineyard, or selected from the estates best-suited vineyards. Gran Selezione wines can be released on the market 30 months from the grape harvest, including at least 3 months of bottle age. The alcohol must be at least 13% IMG_0989

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2008 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla. $45 – 375 bottle

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Filed under Castello di Meleto, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Vermentino, Vin Santo

Dining at Tarallucci and Vino, NYC

Tarallucci and Vino just opened a new location at 44 East 28 Street and I couldn’t be happier. Michele and I attended a “soft opening” dinner last night and it was terrific. First of all, it is a great looking place with a large outdoor area, spacious bar room and comfortable dining room. The owner Luca Di Pietro greeted us and immediately offered us glasses of Pecorino, which was very welcome and refreshing on a hot night.

Luca and Lorenzo

Luca and Lorenzo

Lorenzo Baricca, the wine director, whom we had met on a wine trip several years ago, is a partner. He proudly showed us his impressive collection of older wines going back to the 1960’s.IMG_0962

We began our meal with some appetizers. Burrata cheese with roasted baby eggplant for Michele and grilled octopus with potatoes, celery and caperberries for me.IMG_0961

There was also an appealing list of small plates for sharing, such as fried polenta, ‘nduja with mascarpone and tomato, and pancetta with a confit of shallots. These weren’t available for the preview dinner, but they sounded delicious.IMG_0965

For our main course, both of us chose pasta. Michele had the Fregnacce with Duck Ragu, broad fresh pasta strips with a rich duck sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano,IMG_0963

while I opted for the Agnolotti, ricotta-filled ravioli sauced with mushrooms, hazelnuts, and basil.IMG_0964

We also had a side dish of roasted eggplant.IMG_0969

To finish off the wine, we ordered a cheese course. Three cheeses appeared: Parmigiano Reggiano, gorgonzola and robiola, all of them in perfect condition. A small bowl of good honey topped with chopped almonds accompanied the cheese.IMG_0971

We couldn’t leave without dessert so I chose the gelatoIMG_0972

and Michele had the panna cotta with verbena and peaches.IMG_0966

The wine list is extensive but not overwhelming. Lorenzo has some unusual wines on the list such as Caprettone, a white from Cantina Olivella, the aforementioned Pecorino, and a Nero D’Avola which we also sampled. The highlight for me was the bottle of Benanti Etna Rossa “Rovittello”   2004.IMG_0974

The older wines on the list include the 1962 Barolo Riserva Speciale from Marchesi di Barolo ($250) and Rivetto Barolo 1966 ($150), which are very well priced.IMG_0960

Tutto finisce a tarallucci e vino,” is an old Italian saying meaning that it all ends well.

To quote the menu, “The famous Italian saying comes from a tradition of resolving any matter over a glass of wine and tarallucci, the classic southern Italian cookie.  Since 2001 Tarallucci e Vino has adopted this philosophy and applied it every aspect of our dining experience. From our handcrafted pastries every morning to our fresh pastas and locally and seasonally inspired Italian plates at night, we invite you start or end your day and unwind at Tarallucci e Vino.”

What an appealing thought and we totally agree!

There are several Tarralluci e Vino locations in Manhattan. For more information go to 212-779-1100


Filed under Benanti Rovitello, Bertani, Etna Rosso, Tarallucci and Vino NYC, Uncategorized

Tenuta di Trinoro: Terroir and Cabernet Franc

Marsha Palanci, President of Cornerstone Communications, Ltd was involved with a project for the Tuscan winery Tenuta di Trinoro. She invited Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow, Mary Ewing Mulligan, MW and Ed McCarthy, and Michele and I to taste three wines from the estate and to give our views on the wines. Sarah Bray was there representing the winery. As we tasted the wines, a lively discussion took place about the wines and how they would be marketed.

Tenuta di Trinoro was founded in 1990 by winemaker and owner Andrea Franchetti. The estate in located in Tuscany’s Orcia Valley, 37 miles southeast of Siena. Franchetti is very interested in Cabernet Franc and planted cuttings from a Pomerol vineyard in Bordeaux. After years of experimentation, in 1997 he released the first vintage of a Cabernet Franc based Bordeaux blend.

In the spring of 2016 Franchetti announced the US release of three single vineyard 100% Cabernet Franc wines. Each wine is labeled with its vineyard name: Campo di Tenaglia, Campo di Camagi and Campo di Magnacosta.

The individual crus, known as campi in the local dialect, are located at different locations and elevations on the estate. Each is planted with vines that are over 20 years old and the largest is less than 4 acres. There is a strict selection and low yield. Franchetti sprays his vines with mixture of clay, propolsi and grapefruit seed extract.

The 2014 vintage marks the first launch of all three wines together.IMG_0922

Campo di Tenaglia 2014 IGT. This is a 0.8 hectare parcel on deep terrain made of crumbled limestone. It sits on a slope facing west at 550 meters. There are 10,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in steel vats for 12 days. The wine is aged in new French oak barrels for 8 months and 11 months in cement tanks. The wine was bottled during the waning moon in March 2016. This is an elegant wine with hints of cherry, spice and a touch of licorice. This was the most approachable of the 3 wines. $120IMG_0921

Campo di Camagi 2014 IGT. This is a 1.5 hectare vineyard of limestone and broken quartz with a thin layer of soil. The vines struggled to survive in this densely planted vineyard but it has all worked out. The vines are 23 years old and are at 450 meters. This is a concentrated wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries and cherries with a touch of vanilla. Production is 1,500 bottles. $120 IMG_0920

Campo Magnacosta 2014 IGT. A 1.5 hectare gravel parcel on the valley’s bottom where an old stream vanished under the surface. The water once eroded the side of a hill, hence the name magna eat and costa hillside. The vines are 23 years old. This wine seemed to be the most complex and powerful of the 3 wines and the one that would need the most time before it is ready to drink. It has hints of black and red berries with a touch of prune, spice and leather. This is the fourth vintage of this wine Production 1,500 bottles $120.

These wines show the importance of terroir in a wine. The 3 wines are all made from the same grape variety, same plant density, and are vinified the same way, yet all have very different characteristics.

Later, I was sent a bottle of Le Cupole, also from Tenuta di Trinoro. This is a wine I already knew and liked. We carried it when I was at iTrulli. IMG_0925

Le Cupole Rosso Toscana 2012 IGT made from 55% Cabernet Franc, 27% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Petit Verdot. The blend changes according to the vintage. There are 10,000 vines per hectare, and they are 22 years old. There is no fertilization. The vineyards are at 400/600meters and the harvest started on September 28th. There are 40 different pickings and vinifications, total destemming with automatic selection of single berries by density in sugar solution. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in 40HL stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine remains on the lees for 3 days before taking the wine off the skins. 1/3 of the wine is in contact with the skins before racking and 2/3 in 2nd, 3rd and 4th passage French oak barriques and then 10 months in cement. The wine was bottled in March of 2014. This is like a Bordeaux blend but with  Production 55,000 bottles $25



Filed under Campo di Camagi, Campo di Magnacosta, Campo diTenaglia, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Le Cuople, Tenuta di Trinoro

From the Alto Adige: The Wines of Elena Walch

Many years ago I owned a wine store in Brooklyn. One of the wine salesmen who came in regularly introduced me to the wines of Elena Walch in the Alto Adige and I really liked them and ordered them for the store. That summer Michele and I were visiting Northern Italy and decided to stop at the Elena Walch Winery. We had a memorable visit and tasted a number of wines along with the local food. territorio-canvas

The Alto Adige (Südtirol) Region, which borders on Austria and Switzerland, is at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites. It is Italy’s northern-most wine region. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and the Atlantic while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east.  Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes. The people that live here call their region the Sud Tirol and themselves Tyroleans. The food is decidedly Austrian with only a hint of Italy.

The Elena Walch Winery

This is a family owned and operated winery, led by Elena Walch and her two daughters, Julia and Karolina. There are 136 acres and there are two excellent single vineyards on the estate: Castel Ringberg in Kaltern which is 49 acres and the largest single vineyard in the Alto Adige, and Kastelaz in Tramin which is 15 acres. The philosophy of the estate is that the wines must be the individual expression of the soil, climate and cultivation in the vineyard.

The White WinesIMG_0909

Pinot Grigio Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Pinot Grigio from small vineyards around the villages of Tramin and Caldero. After the harvest the grapes are crushed and pressed. The fresh must is clarified at low temperatures then gently fermented at a controlled temperature (18C) in stainless steel tanks. The young wine matures in stainless steel tanks for several months on the lees. The wine has hints of pears, white pepper and a touch of sage with nice minerality. $17IMG_0910

Pinot Grigio “Castel Ringberg” Alto Adige DOC 2014 100% Pinot Grigio from the Castel Ringberg vineyard (1,150 ft.) which is located on the south-facing hillside above Lake Caldaro where the soil is glacial in origin with chalk and clay. Training system is guyot. The grapes are gently pressed and clarified, and then 85% of the must ferments in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The remainder of the must ferments in new, secon and third usage French oak barriques. The blending occurs shortly before bottling the following spring. It has ripe aromas of pear, sage and spice. The wine is full bodied and creamy with good acidity and minerality. $23IMG_0911

Pinot Bianco “Kastelaz” Alto Adige DOC 2014 100% Pinot Bianco from the Kastelaz vineyard situated on a very steep hill above Tramin at 980 ft. The soil is sand and clay and the training system is guyot. After pressing, the juice is clarified by refrigeration and natural sedimentation. Two-thirds of the must undergoes temperature fermentation at 18C in stainless steel tanks with extended yeast contact. The remaining third of the must ferments and matures in new 225-liter French oak barriques. Blending takes place the following spring. The wine has aromas of fresh green apples and a hint of white pepper. There are mineral notes and the wine has a long finish. $22IMG_0912

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2014 made from 100% Gewurztraminer from small vineyards around the villages if Tramin and Caldero. After harvest, the grapes are crushed and pressed. The fresh must is clarified at low temperatures then gently fermented at a controlled temperature of 20°C in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures in stainless steel tanks for several months on its fine lees. The wine has hints of white flowers and spice with a nice long finish. $20IMG_0913

Gewurtztraminer “Kastelaz” Alto Adige DOC 2013 made from 100% Gewurztraminer from the Kastelaz vineyard. It is a classic site, situated on a very steep hillside above Tramin, the birthplace of Gewurtztraminer. The vineyard is at 980 ft, training system is guyot and the soil is chalk and clay. The grapes are very carefully selected for ripeness during two harvests. Before pressing, the crushed berries are cold macerated for 6 hours, after which the juice is clarified. Temperature-controlled fermentation begins in stainless steel tanks with select, inoculated yeasts. The wine remains on its lees, with lees stirring, until bottling the following spring. This is an aromatic and full wine with hints of lychee, dried fruit and a touch of honey. $32

The Red WinesIMG_0915

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. $16IMG_0916

 Lagrein Riserva “Castel Ringbere” Alto Adige 2011 made from 100% Lagrein, which is indigenous to the Alto Adige, grown in the Castel Ringberg vineyard, at 1,500ft which is located on the south facing hill side above Lake Caldaro. The soil is glacial in origin with chalk and clay and the training system is guyot. The must is fermented for about 10 days in stainless steel tanks, followed by malolatic fermentation. The wine is then aged for 20 months in new French oak barriques. The wine is aged in bottle for several months before release.It has hints of spicy red berries, plums, and dry figs with a touch of smoke. $45IMG_0917

 Kermesse Vino d’Italia 2010 made from Lagrein, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Grapes come from Plon and extremely steep vineyard above the winery in Tramin and the two single vineyards Castel Ringberg and Kastelaz. The training system is guyot. All of the grapes except the Cabernet Sauvignon are harvested on the same day and crushed together. The must ferments for about 20 days in stainless steel tanks, followed by malolactic fermentation and maturation for 18 months in French oak barriques, almost all of which are new. The wine is aged for several months in bottle before it is release. This is a big wine with hints of spice, tobacco, pepper, wild berries and figs. $70












Filed under Alto Adige, Elena Walch

Taittinger Champagne, Calvisius Caviar and Jacques Torres: Christmas in July

The program read: Champagne Taittinger presents The Art of Celebrating The Holidays, Christmas in July.

IMG_0839 As soon as I arrived I was given a glass of Taittinger Champagne and bottles of Taittanger Champagne were everywhere. One room featured oysters, clams, shrimps and lobster to go with the Champagne.IMG_0855

It was shaping up as quite an event and the Taittinger Champagne and Calvisius Caviar seminar that I had signed up for was not going to start for another half hour.

Chantelle Pabros, Vitalie Taittinger and John Knierim

Chantelle Pabros, Vitalie Taittinger and John Knierim

The moderator for the seminar was Vitalie Taittinger, Aristic Director, Taittinger Champagne.IMG_0857

She said that Taittinger is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. It is located in Reims, France. Its distinctive style is influenced by a greater proportion of Chardonnay in the blends and a longer aging period before release. The panel members were Chantelle Pabros, Sommelier, and John J. Knierim from Calvisius Caviar.IMG_0856

John said that Calvisius is an Italian company located in Calvisano, between Milan and Venice. It is the world’s largest farmed caviar producer accounting for 20% of global caviar production from its 150 acres of sustainable aquaculture pools.IMG_0834

There were four champagnes matched with caviar. The Caviar was on small metal spoons next to each champagne. John said caviar should only be served using mother of pearl spoons because a metal spoon could change the taste. Since we only had metal spoons he suggested we put the caviar on the out side of our hand just below the thumb and taste it that way. IMG_0845

Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier. This is a champagne with aromas of peach, white flowers and brioche with fresh fruit and a touch of honey on the palate. $59.99

Paired with Calvisius Caviar Traditional Prestige. White Sturgeon (Acipenser Transmontanus) from the Pacific Coast of North America between Alaska and Baja California. The eggs are large, about 3 millimeters, color: dark gray to black. It requires about 11 years of the sturgeon life cycle. Delicate and elegant with hints of cream, butter and sea salt. 28 grams $74.99IMG_0846

Champagne Tattinger Prélude Grands Crus NV made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. Fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and a touch of cinnamon. $94.99

Paired with Oscietra Caviar Oscietra Classic (Acipenser Gueldenstaedii) Also known as Russian Sturgeon. it is an ancient species originally native to the Black Sea, Caspian Sea and the Azov Sea. Medium size eggs 2.6 to 2.9 millimeters. It requires a 12 to 13 year life cycle. It is a firm egg, dark brown in color with a golden hue. It has a rich nutty and creamy flavor with a hint of the sea. It was a perfect combination with the croissant and brioche aromas and flavors of the Champagne. 28 grams $ 119.99IMG_0847

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 100% Chardonnay. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grape fruit. $198.99

 Paired with Calvisius Caviar Siberian from Siberian Sturgeon (Acipenser Baerii) native to the fluvial basins of Siberia, from the Ob river to the Kolyma river and in the Baikal Lake. Its caviar has size that varies with age, 2.2 to 2.7 millimeters, in shades of grey and amber. It requires 6 to 8 years of the sturgeon life cycle. 28 grams\$ 261.99IMG_0848

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosè 2006 Made from 30% Chardonnay and 70% Pinot Noir. Delicate bubbles, complex aromas of strawberries, cherries and black currants and a touch of almond on the finish. $261.99

Calvisius Caviar Oscietra Royal. Special selection of Oscietra that has large grains that are dark brown with shades of amber. The roe has a velvety firm texture evoking rounder and more balanced flavors than the Classic. It is rich and creamy with notes of butter, hazelnut and a touch of the sea. 28 grams $139.99

John said that in theory this should not have paired well but to him it was one of the best pairings and the other two panel members agreed.


Jacques Torres

On the way out I saw in another room Jacques Torres, the famous chocolate and confectionary maker.IMG_0861

I sampled all of the chocolates, the macaroons, the chocolate cookies and last but not least the chocolate caramel popcorn.

It was an evening to remember and I kept thinking why wait for the holidays to celebrate with Taittinger Champagne, Calvisus Caviar and Jacques Torres chocolates? it was all so wonderful on a summer evening in NYC.

For more information and


Filed under Calvisius Caviar, Champagne, Jacques Torres, Taittinger Champagne, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne, Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rose Brut, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Uncategorized

Tom Maresca on Beaujolais Crus for Summer

Some Fine Beaujolais Crus, Including Drouhin’s New Ones

Tom’s Wine Line

Nobody needs to be told that deep summer is Beaujolais weather. I’ve been enjoying some old favorites for two months now, and I’ve also had the pleasure of discovering Drouhin’s new selection of three excellent Beaujolais crus, a Brouilly, a Fleurie, and a Morgon.

For me, the cru wines of Beaujolais are the quintessence of Beaujolais. Call me a snob (I probably am), but I never drink Beaujolais Nouveau: When I want candy, I will walk over to Li-Lac Chocolates and get some good stuff, thank you. And I only occasionally drink simple Beaujolais, from the larger zone that surrounds the heartland of the 10 crus. More often, I opt for a Beaujolais Villages, a smaller, better zone, and then usually from a producer I know and respect, such as Roland Pignard. But most often, my Beaujolais of choice comes from one of the named and quite distinctive crus – Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Régnié, and Saint Amour.

beaujolais map

There are many excellent producers in these appellations, some quite small, some quite sizable. Probably the best known in this country – and certainly the most widely available – is Georges Duboeuf, who produces Beaujolais in every category from the simplest to the most rarefied. Obviously, he is a big producer, and a pretty good one, though I usually find his wines ho-hum: They just taste too industrial to me, too made-to-a-formula.

Among the big producers, I think Jadot does a better job: I like particularly its well-structured Château des Jacques Moulin-à-Vent. Indeed, I have strong memories of visiting this cru years ago, when the iconic windmill had just been restored and was set to turn again for the first time in many decades. Jadot, I believe, was a major supporter of the restoration, and most Beaujolais old-timers saw the event as a kind of rebirth for the whole zone. It may be just post hoc, but in fact the wines of all the Beaujolais crus have been steadily improving ever since.


Moulin-a-Vent is popularly supposed to be the longest-aging Beaujolais, and it is certainly true that in a good vintage it will age beautifully for sometimes up to 20 years – but so will Morgon and Chénas, and I’ve tasted (admittedly ideally stored) 20- and 30-year-old bottles from several other crus that drank beautifully, with an almost Burgundian grace. But ageworthiness is only an added attraction of a good Beaujolais: What really counts in all the crus are their youthful charm and exuberance, their lightness of touch and sheer refreshing enjoyability.

The bottles I like best almost always come from smaller growers who cultivate very particular terroirs and microclimates. They won’t all be available everywhere, but they are worth the trouble of seeking out. Just because a wine offers light and pleasurable warm-weather drinking doesn’t mean it has to be anything less than a real and interesting wine. Some really fine ones include Jean-Paul Brun’s Terres Dorées Côte de Brouilly, Julien Guillot’s Ultimatum Climat Chénas, and Coudert’s Clos de la Roillette Fleurie.

I have made no secret of my admiration of the house of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies, so I was more than a little interested to find that three Beaujolais crus have been added to its portfolio. The Brouilly, Fleurie, and Morgon are all grown and vinified in the Domaine des Hospices de Belleville properties – 34 acres in all – under an exclusive partnership agreement that gives the Hospice the advantage of Drouhin’s viticultural know-how and distribution while still retaining the concentration of the small grower’s familiarity with the vineyards and its commitment to them. I tasted three samples – all 2014 vintage – and found each classically true to its appellation.


The Brouilly smelled of cherries and blackberries and tasted lightly of strawberry. It was characteristically dry and acidic, even a touch austere, with a long spice and leather finish – thoroughly enjoyable.

The Fleurie, a slightly bigger wine, showed scents of blackberry, earth, and black pepper. It was rounder in the mouth and less obviously acid, with dark berry flavors up front and a berry/pepper finish. Again, completely enjoyable, and a seemingly fine companion for any summer meal.

The Morgon, finally, was the biggest and most structured of the three, with an earthy, almost meaty nose with undertones of tar and bramble, an almost zinfandelish character (top quality zinfandel, to be sure). In the mouth, it was completely dry and sapid, rich with notes of blackberry, bramble, and earth, and with a long berry finish. Because of flavors like that, Morgon has always been one of my favorite Beaujolais crus, and this example instantly moved to the top of my short list.

All three will probably hold well, with no loss of youthful charm or vigor, for three to five years before any tastes of maturity set in – so, while these Beaujolais don’t need cellaring, you don’t have to fear putting a few of them away in a quiet corner for future enjoyment. If the stories I’ve heard about the horrific hailstorms in Fleurie this spring are half true, that may not be a bad idea.

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