Wine Books, Food Books and a Whiskey Book for Holiday Gifts

 

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017img_1561

Daniele Cernilli (aka Dr. Wine) is one of the foremost experts on Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of the Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) classification. Currently, he has is own web magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it.

Daniele’s book is divided by region and wines are rated in a 100 point system. There is a red wine of the year, a white wine of the year, sparkling wine of the year, etc. There are 1,000 wineries profiled and an average of 2.5 wines per winery. But it is the expertise of the author and his staff that sets this guide above all the others.

The Wines and Food of Piemonteimg_2025

by Tom Hyland

Tom is a wine writer and wine teacher that I have know for a number of years. I have travelled with Tom to Piedmont on press trips and have tasted wine with him.

In his book, Tom does a thorough job of covering the wines of Piedmont, not only the well known ones such as Barolo and Barbaresco, but also less well known ones like Pelaverga, Ruche, Timorasso and Nascetta. Tom is a true lover of the wine, food and people of Piedmont and conveys that feeling in this book.img_2023

Italian Wine and Cheese Made Simple (2ND Edition)

Italian Wine Notes

by Gary Grunner & Bob Lipinski

I first met Gary Grunner when I was the wine director for I-Trulli Restaurant in NYC. Gary has worked in the wine and food industry for many years and in 2009 was awarded The Italian Trade Commission’s Distinguished Service Award.

Bob Lipinski is a Certified Sommelier. He has written eight books and more than 500 articles on wine and spirits. The list of his accomplishments goes on and on. In this book he has teamed up with Gary Grunner to create a handy guide to Italian wine and cheese.img_2022

Italian Wine Notes

by Gary Grunner and Bob Lipinski

Gary and Bob make it easy for anyone to understand   Italian wines. The book covers all the basic topics about Italian wine and gives food suggestions, too. This is the perfect gift for someone looking to understand Italian wine.img_2024

101: Everything You Need to Know about Whiskey

Bon Lipinski

The title of this book says it all!! This is a comprehensive guide that belongs on every bookshelf.its

The Italian Slower Cooker

by Michele Scicolone

Easy recipes to make in a slow cooker, written by my wife, best selling author Michele Scicolone. Her recipes are based on the idea that good ingredients and simple techniques can produce outstanding dishes with little effort in a slow cooker or “crockpot”. She has also written The French Slow Cooker and The Mediterranean Slow Cooker.

The Italian Vegetable Cookbookthe-italian-vegetable-cover

by Michele Scicolone

Michele’s latest book. Learn to cook vegetables the Italian way. Simple, healthy, delicious food for every day and special occasions.

1,000 Italian Recipesitalian-slow

by Michele Scicolone

Yes, there really are 1,000 recipes and yes, she tested them all on me! In this book, Michele covers everything from Italian appetizers to desserts. The only book you will ever need on Italian cooking.

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Champagne, Wine and Ravioli with Truffles

Our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo invited us to their home for a special lunch featuring the season’s first white truffles. Their grandson Steven De Salvo, who is a terrific cook, would be assisting in the kitchen. I knew that Ernie would choose just the right wines to complement the meal.img_1845

We started with the Champagne Gosset “Celebris” Vintage Extra Brut 2002 made from 55% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot from Grand Cru grapes. This is complex Champagne with tiny bubbles, floral aromas and citrus fruits aromas and flavors, a hint of lime and a touch of vanilla. 2002 was an excellent vintage for Champagne.img_1838

We had this with dates stuffed with foie gras, nuts and Parmesan cheese wafers.img_1846

Barolo Bussia “Dardi Le Rose” 1995 Poderi Colla made from 100% Nebbiolo from the hamlet of Dardi in Bussia Soprana di Monforte. It was the first to be vinified separately by Beppe Colla in 1961 and identified on the label. The vineyard has a south/southwest exposure and is at 300 to 350 meters. The vines were planted in 1970 and 1985 and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. It is aged in oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, liquorice and tea. This is a classic Barolo.img_1848

Stephen prepared delicate ravioli in a brown sauce stuffed with duck breast.img_1843

Ernie showered the ravioli with white truffles. The combination was exquisite!img_1854

Barolo Monfortino Riserva 1997 Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. Another classic Barolo with hints of tar, tea, leather, red berries and faded roses.img_1851

With this we had Ernie’s interpretation of a classic Osso Buco served on whipped potatoes.img_1858

A 375 bottle of Sauterne Chateau Doisy-Véderines 2001.Made from 80% Semillon,15% Sauvignon and 5% Muscadelle. Fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats for a week and then the must is transferred to barriques for about 20 months. This is a full-bodied Sauterne with hints of apricot, orange blossom and a touch of honey and marmalade. It is a dessert wine that will age.img_1856

With it we had a rich Italian style cheesecake.

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Filed under Champagne, Chateau Doisy- Verderines, French Wine, Giacomo Conterno, Gosset Celebris Champagne, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Poderi Colla, Sauterne, Sauterne

A Thanksgiving with a Difference

Sometimes Michele makes a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and sometimes she cooks something completely different. This time it was completely different

We started with smoked duck breast, cashew nuts, green olives and foie gras on toast with fig jam.img_1861

For an aperitivo, we drank a Franciacorta Bellavista Grand Cuvèe Brut 1989 Classic Champagne Method. The wine today is made from 80% Chardonnay, 19% Pinot Noir and 1% Pinot Bianco but I do not know what the blend was in 1989 and they have since changed all their labels and the names of the sparkling wine.img_1865

The next wine was a Champagne Blason de France Perrier-Jouèt, A Epernay Brut Rose NV Prestige Cuvèe. Made from 50% Pinot Noir, 15% Meunier and 25% Chardonnay. The dosage: 10g/l and it matures for at least 3 years in the house cellars. This is a powerful wine with a distinctive flavor, roundness, hints of red fruit and a touch of brioche. I do not know how old it was but I do know this label is not used anymore. It was a perfect combination with the foie gras and fig jam.img_1875

The next course was mushroom soup made with chanterelles and other mushrooms, a splash of Cognac and finished with cream.

We began with the Roero Arneis 2001 from Bruno Giacosa. Made from 100% Arneis. The wine was showing very well. It had a depth of aromas and flavors that one would not expect from a 15 year old white wine. I was not surprised because I had the 1974 a few years ago and it was showing very well.img_1869

Volnay 1er Cru “Les Santenots” 1972 Domaine Potinet Ampeau. At a dinner with such remarkable older wines this was my favorite. It was all one could ask for from a Burgundy.img_1860

Our main course was a pork loin roast stuffed with mortadella, accompanied by a potato and Fontina gratin prepared by one of the guests, green beans with Parmigiano Reggiano and Brussels sprouts with pancetta and walnuts from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.img_1879

With it, we had the Vino Nebbiolo Sori Del Turco 1971 from Gaja. Angelo Gaja’s father made the wine. I would think it was 100% Nebbiolo but back then they often added Barbera to the blend. This is a classic wine with all the aromas and flavors of the Langhe.img_1871

We finished the main course and the cheese course with a magnum of Villa Antinori Chianti Classico 1964.

The wine was in excellent condition which did not surprise me because I had the Antinori Chianti Classico 1943 not too long ago. So much for those who say Sangiovese does not age. Sheldon Wasserman in his classic book “The Noble Red Wines of Italy” has a tasting note dated 1/83 on the magnum. He gives it one star and says it might be drying out. He was wrong. This is a wine with body and hints of cherry and blueberry, Chianti Classico just the way I like them.

Our dessert was roasted chestnuts and fresh fruit, followed by an airy pumpkin chiffon pie prepared by our friend Diane Darrow  https://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com for the recipe

We finished the meal with Romano Levi Grappa and cafè.

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Filed under Antinori, Arneis, Bellavista, Champagne, French Wine, Gaja, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Nebbiolo 1971 Gaja, Perrier- Jouet Blason de France, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook, Volnay 1er Cru Les Santenots Domaine Potinet Ampeau

Valpolicella: Microclimate Differences and Lake Garda

After speaking about Valpolicella and differences related to altitude (see  https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/valpolicella-background-and-the-influence-of-altitude/), Alberto Brunelli, the oenologist for the  Consorzio Valpolicella, turned to  the subject of  microclimate variations and the influence of Lake Garda. He divided the second group of wines accordingly.

The distance of vineyards from Garda Lake: the further  they are, the maximum summer temperatures are higher and can influence the vines and their expression in wine in many ways. From west (near the lake) to east (far from it), we have this trend:img_1775

 Distance from the lake, along with the vineyards’ sun exposition and altitude influence every single valley’s and vineyard’s temperature.  The daily temperature range affects the polyphenolic and anthocyanin potential in a vintage, as well as the body, the color and the aging of the wine.lake-garder

The Winesimg_1739

Gerardo Cesari Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from 75% Corvina and 25% Rondinella. Harvest is from September 20th to October 15. Traditional fermentation with maceration for 10 days and then malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine remains in stainless steel for at least 4 months and then in bottle for a short time before release. The wine is fresh and fruity with aromas of wild berries.img_1740

Scriani Valpolicella DOC Classico 2015 made from Corvina 60%, Corvinone 20%, 10% Rondinella, 7% Molinara and 3% Oseleta from the La Costa and Ronchiel vineyards in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone. The land ranged in altitude between 250 and 400 meters. The soil is composed of a mixture of clay, limestone and basaltic tufa. Harvest is by hand in early October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 12 days of maceration on the grape skins at a controlled temperature. The wine in fragrant and fruity with hints of red berries and a touch of sage.img_1741

Santa Sofia Valpolicella DOC 2014 Made from 70% Corvina and Corvinone with 30% Rondinella from vineyards with calcareous soils located in the municipality of San Pietro in Cariano. Maturation is in stainless steel and the wine remains in the bottle for another 3 months before release. The wine has hints of cherries, raspberries with a touch of spice and good acidity.img_1742

San Cassiano Valpolicella DOC 2014 made from 70% Corvina, 15% Molinara and 15% Rondinella. The training system is pergola and there are 3,300 vines per hectare. The grapes are left on the vine to dry for a week. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats, without the addition of yeast. The wine is aged in stainless steel vats for 12 months. They include 15% Molinara, a varietal abandoned by many producers, but they feel it gives the wine a salty taste with spicy notes. The wine has hits of red fruit and cherries.img_1743

Fattori Valpolicella DOC 2015 “Col de la Bastia” Made from 65% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 10% other varieties. 12 hectares located in Bastia, exactly on the valley between the Val d’Alpone and the Val d’lllai. The shaley clay-subalkaline land is formed in a broad plateau with slight slopes, produced by the alteration of limestone formations. The altitude is 450 meters. There are 5200 vines per hectare and the vines are between 20 to 35 years old. Harvest is by hand the last two weeks of September. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel and wooden barrels. The wine had fruity aromas and flavors with hints of cherries and other red fruits.

Next time vintages differences: The 2014 and 2015 and conclusions.

 

 

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Filed under Cesari Valpolicella, Fattori Valpolicella, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Lake Garda, San Cassiano Valpolicella, Santa Sofia Valpolicella, Scriani Valpolicella, Uncategorized, Valpolicella, Veneto

Valpolicella: Background and the Influence of Altitude

img_1749

with Olga Bussinello and  Alberto Brunelli

The Wine Media Guild’s November tasting and lunch featured 13 Valpolicella wines. These wines express their terroir and go well with food, qualities that I always look for in a wine. What’s more, they can be drunk young. Fresh and fruity, Valpolicella wines have hints of red fruit and good acidity. They are vinified in stainless steel and aged for a short period in stainless steel, and a few see a short period in wood. At under $20 they are a real bargain.

The speakers at the event were Olga Bussinello, director of Consorzio Valpolicella who spoke about the Consorzio and Alberto Brunelli Consorzio Valpolicella Oenologist, who spoke about the wines.

Tha Consorzio per la Tulta dei Vini Valpolicella is an association of grape growers, wine producers and bottlers in the production area, which includes 19 municipalities of the province of Verona. The Consorzio represents more than 80% of the producers that use the Valpolicella appellation.

The Valpolicella appellation is located north of Verona. It borders Lake Garda to the west and is protected by the Lessini Mountains to the east and north. It covers the Verona foothills area, which is part of the eastern Alps. The vines are traditionally pergola-trained according to the typical “pergola Veronese system.”

The main grapes are Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella and to a lesser extent Molinara. All of them are strictly indigenous and found only within the Verona province.

Valpolicella Superiore is made from select grapes grown in the best locations and is aged for a minimum of one year. It has a higher alcohol content and lower acidity then Valpolicella.

Alberto divided the wines into three groups. The first group was selected for the altitude of the vineyards.

Alberto said altitude plays an important part because it allows for grapes to develop complexity in terms of structure, acidity and flavors. It influences daily temperature range, the key factor for acidity, accumulation of anthocyanins and polyphenolic potential. Of course altitude is also responsible for retardation of ripening and consequently for the harvest.img_1770

He then said altitudes on the tasting sheet referred to a winery’s location and main vineyards, but wineries frequently have vineyards located at higher altitudes (as Monte Zovo). As you see on the map the Stefano Accordini wine, the wines did not make the tasting, has the highest vineyards at 520 meters, but Monte Zovo has the highest individual vineyard at 800 meters.

The Wines: img_1738

Monte Zovo Valpolicella DOC 2014 made from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella. Vineyards at 260 meters. The hillside vineyards located in Tregnago (eastern Valoplicella) are at 600 meters. The wine is fermented in steel to maintain the expression of the fruit. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of sour cherry and good acidity. This is an everyday wine, which goes with a number of different foods. 

This is a family run winery in Verona. All the grapes come from their 140 hectares of vines located in Valpolicella, Bardolino and Lake Garda. One vineyard is at 850 meters making it the highest vineyard in the Verona area. The vineyards will be fully converted to organic by 2018.img_1736

Vigneti Villabella Valpolicella DOC Classico “I Roccoli” 2014. Made from 60% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Vineyards at 140 meters. Training system is traditional Veronese Pergola. The soil is limestone mixed with clay and harvest is in the beginning of October. Fermentation takes place in contact with the skins for 12 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for a time in stainless steel to preserve the fruitiness and freshness of the wine.

The winery is located at Calmasino in the province of Verona, in the heart of the Classico zone, on a hillside overlooking Lake Garda. They have 10 hectares of vineyards that are organically cultivated and another 13 which are being converted to organic cultivation.

The wine has a fruity bouquet with hints of cherries and raspberries and a touch of violets with good acidity and soft tannins.img_1737

Buglioni Valpolicella DOC Classico “Il Valpo” 2015. Vineyards at 80 meters. Made from 60% Corvina 25% Corvinone, 10% Rondinella and 5% Croatina. The soil is dark, clayey and fertile with a high content of gravel, deep and drought resistant. The training system is double pergola with 2,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in early October.

There is a crushing and pressing of de-stemmed grapes. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and maceration of the must for 10 days in contact with the skins, with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is in steel tanks for 6 months and 2 months in bottle before release. It has a fragrant and intense aroma of cherries and wild red berries with good acidity. It is a wine to be drunk young.

The winery is located in Corrubbio di San Pietro in Cariano in the heart of the Valpolicella Classico zone.

Next time microclimate variations: The influence of Lake Garda

 

 

 

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The Wines of Castello del Terriccio

 

I was looking forward to once again tasting the wines of Castello del Terriccio and meeting the owner Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana. At dinner, I made sure to sit next to him and found him to be very charming, knowledgeable about his wines and easy to speak with.

Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana

Gian Annibale Rossi di Medelana

His family came to Italy 800 years ago when his noble ancestors followed the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and the Swabians. The family has held vineyards and farmland since 1271.

Gian Annibale inherited the winery in 1975 and took it in a new direction concentrating on making top quality wines.

At the time he was a passionate equestrian competing in international events. A riding accident brought this pastime to an abrupt end when his horse fell and rolled over him, leaving him without the use of his legs. He still manages the estate and drives his jeep over the estate to oversee the agriculture work.

The winery is located in the Maremma, south of Livorno in the region of Tuscany. There are 60 hectares of vineyards. Gian Anniable said the property allowed the vines to be planted in a leopard spot pattern on the most favorable plots, on the basis of the quality of the soil, dew point, exposure to the sea breezes and the light. The vineyards are facing the sea and therefore receive reflected light, with more exposure compared to areas lighted directly by the sun.

He said they are always trying to improve the wine and now use a lighter “toast” for their barrels.

The Winesimg_1688

Castello del Terriccio Toscana IGT made from a 50% Syrah, 2% Petit Verdot and 25% other red varieties. The vineyards are at 150 meters and the exposure is south/south west. There are 5,600 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest is by hand from September 12th to 29th. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 18 days. Malolactic fermentation is for 4 weeks. The wine is bottled in June. The wine has hints of violets, blackberries, black currants and chocolate.

Gian Annibale said the three roses on the label represent the rose bushes once found in abundance around the ancient castle. We tasted the 2004, 2006 and 2008 vintages.img_1685

Tassinaia Toscana IGT made from 50% Cabernet Sauvignon and 50% Merlot. The vineyards are at 100 meters and there are 5,600 plants per hectare. The grapes come from 37.5 acres of vineyards with sandy, stony soil and a moderating maritime climate characterized by a long ripening season. He said that the two green segments on the label symbolize the grasslands of Terriccio. Harvest is between August 28th and September 9th. Fermentation: The destemmed grapes were left on the skins for 24 hours with a dry ice covering and gently pressed. 50% of the wine was fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel vats at controlled temperature and the rest was fermented is second hand oak barrels with malolactic fermentation. The wine ages on the lees for 6 months and is bottled in July. This is a well-structured wine with hints of blackberries, black currents, tobacco and a touch of cedar. We tasted the 2010 and 2013 vintages.img_1681

Lupicaia made from 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Merlot and 5% Petit Verdot. Starting in 2010 the blend is 90% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are at 120 meters and the exposure is south/south west. The soil is mostly limestone. There are 3,600 to 4,200 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are picked by hand starting on September 6th for the merlot and from September 21 for the Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature: 16 days for the Merlot and Petit Verdot and 20 days for the Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine was aged separately in French barriques for 18 to 24 months. This is a complex wine, it has hints of black cherry, blackberry, blackcurrant, with a touch of spice and chocolate.

We tasted wines from the 2004, 2006 and 2010 vintages

He said the two characteristic red-brown segments on the label symbolize the typical red color of the soil. He referred to the Lupicaia as his Super Tuscan.

The name of the wine comes from the area where the grapes are planted which was a favorite hunting grounds for the wolves that once roamed in the area.

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Filed under Castello del Terriccio, Gian Annibale Rossi Medelana, Italian Red Wine, Lupicaia, Tassinaia, Tuscany

Dining in Rome with Daniele Cernilli- Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and his wife, Marina Thompson, have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both here and in Rome. Daniele is a true Roman, a Romano de Roma as the expression goes. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous “Three Glasses” classification. Currently, he has is own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it. There are two versions, one English and the other Italian, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly.

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine)

When we were in Rome recently, Daniele suggested that Michele and I meet him and Marina for lunch at the restaurant Baccano. He said it was a true copy of Balthazar in NYC. Copies of Daniele’s book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 were displayed on a table near the entrance so that customers waiting for a table could look at the Guide before they chose a wine to drink.img_1561

They were right. The place looked just like Balthazar.

I am always impressed with Daniele’s knowledge and enthusiasm. I was happy to let him pick the 3 wines to go with lunch. img_1569

Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classico Villa Bucci Riserva 2013. Made from 100% Verdicchio. The wine is aged for 2 years in large casks. It is the white wine of the year in Daniele’s guide. He also gives the winery 3 stars, the highest rating. This is one of my favorite white wines and I order it every time I see it on a wine list in Italy. Ampellio Bucci has been producing wine with the assistance of the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai for over 30 years. It has been my honor to meet both of them on more then one occasion. Daniele described the wine as very complex, mouth filling, well balanced with hints of flint, anise, fine herbs and a very long finish.img_1562

With it, we had smoked salmon.img_1565

Fiano di Avellino 2013 “Cupa” 100% Fiano di Avellino Pietracupa of Sabino Loffredo. Daniele said that Sabino does all the work himself, cultivates his vineyards which are at 350 and 550 meters and makes and ages his wines with the skill of a craftsman. He called his wines “exceptional,” gave the winery 3 stars and the wine 97/100 points. The Cupa is outside the DOCG and great in the 2013 vintage. The wine matures on the lees in stainless steel tanks. Daniele described the wine as elegant and intense, with notes of oregano, sage, cedar and lemongrass, great acidity and a slightly smoky finish. This wine will age for many years.img_1564

With the Fiano, we had a personal favorite, fried fresh anchovies.img_1566

After that we took Daniele’s advice and had Spaghetti “Mancini” with a sauce made from tomatoes from Mount Vesuvius, basil, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.img_1570

CA’ D’GalLumine” Moscato D’Asti 2015 100% Moscato Bianco di Canelli. Daniele said this might be one of the best Moscato d’Asti I ever tasted. He gave it an 88/100 rating. Alessandro Boido makes the wine and in his hands Moscato d’Asti becomes a great wine, Italian to the bone.

Daniel described the wine as having fragrant aromas of sage, exotic fruit and cedar with refreshing acidity.

Daniele said they also make a Moscato d’Asti Vigna Vecchia which can age like a great red. That one gets a 93/100.img_1571

We shared a portion of tiramisu with the wine.

Looking at The ULTIMATE GUIDE to ITLALIAN WINE 2017(third addition) I believe the title says it all. It is the Ultimate Guide to Italian Wines.

 

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Filed under Ca' D' Gal Lumine, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Fiano di Avellino, Moscato d'Asti, Pietracupa, Rome, The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017, Uncategorized, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Villa Bucci