Sunday Lunch in Florence

While we were in Florence, our friend Carmela Batacchi, the owner of wine store Vino al Vino, suggested that for something different Michele and I try an all fish restaurant called Burro & Acciughe.  Not only did it sound delicious, but it happened to be just around the corner from where we were staying, so we went for Sunday lunch.

IMG_5990Burro & Acciughe

IMG_5994Burro e acciughe del Cantabrico con pane caldo — For our first course we chose the eponymous butter and anchovies, served with toasted dark bread.

The anchovies are caught in the Cantabrian Sea in the north of Spain and are especially prized for their flavor and meatiness.  The contrast of the salty anchovies, cool sweet butter and toasty bread was incomparable .

IMG_6002Next we had more anchovies.  Spaghetti con acciughe, pinoli, briciole di pane nero tostato.  Thick spaghetti, anchovies, pinenuts, and crunchy toasted breadcrumbs.  Another great dish for anchovy lovers.

IMG_6005Our next course was Baccalà in tre cotture (mantecato, fritto, arrosto) — Codfish three ways:  whipped with capers and olive oil, fried in batter and roasted.  It was served with vegetables fried in a tempura-like batter.  Another excellent dish.

This meal called for a crisp white wine.

IMG_5999Falanghina IGP Campania 2020 San Salvatore from 100% Falanghina planted in 2008 with a south-southwest exposure.  Grapes for this wine are carefully selected by hand in the Cannito vineyard. Soft pressing and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks on the less for 6 months before release.  The wine has hints of citrus, mint, sage, lemon and green apples.  Falanghina is often my choice to accompany full flavored fish and worked perfectly with this meal.

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Perfect Combination: Pizza and Wine

I can’t imagine eating a pizza without accompanying it with a good bottle of Italian wine. Until the Covid virus came along, I was a member of a group that met once a month to drink Italian wine and eat pizza. Our conversations would focus on the best pizza and wine combinations, which wines were complemented by which pizzas, the latest wine vintages, and the latest doings at some of our favorite pizzerias.

I hope one day soon we will be able to resume our regular meetings, but even without my pizza and wine lovers group, I continue to indulge my passion for pizza and wine. I frequent a number of pizza restaurants, including Keste Pizza and Vino, Ribalta, and Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan, and Sottocasa in Brooklyn. Not only do they make great pizza, but each has a list of wines I enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the wine and pizza matches I have enjoyed recently.

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Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2019 Pighin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the sandy subsoil, the roots of the vines go down deep resulting in richer fruit. Training system is single guyot with 4,000 vines per hectare. These hand picked selected grapes of optimum ripeness are  gently pressed in a pneumatic press immediately after the harvest. This is followed by a 14 to 18 day cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is produced without malolactic fermentation or oak aging so it is a true expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is a dry wine that has hints of citrus, sage, tomato leaf and yellow bell  pepper.

IMG_5446 Pizza Zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh citrus, sage and vegetable flavors of the wine complemented the nutty, smoky and cheesy topping.

IMG_5792Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole (Tuscany). The vineyards are at 300 meters. The yields are kept low to obtain concentration and complexity in the wine. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place on the skins  in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for 24 months in large Slavonian oak vats followed by a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries, a touch of violets and a note of what my wife calls “sunshine on the Tuscan pines.” This is a traditional, classic Chianti  from the Folonari family.

IMG_5444 3Pizza Margherita — the simplest and the best pizza in my opinion is a pizza Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.  The quality of its Margherita is the true test of any pizzeria.  The fragrance and richness of the fruit and the warmth of this traditional wine makes it a perfect combination with Pizza Margherita.  

IMG_5794Barbera Nizza “Cipressi” DOCG 2018 Made from 100% Barbera, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont). The grapes are grown in a type of soil called “astiane sand.” It consists of  calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in micro elements, in particular magnesium. The exposure is southeast to southwest at 230 to 280 meters. The training system is guyot and low spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks with 10/12 days maceration with the skins with a soft “shower” system of wetting the cap. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months of which 12 are in large oak casks. The wine has hints of mature cherry, violets, blackberries, raspberries and a touch of sweet spice with good acidity which makes it a very good wine with food.

IMG_5373 2Pizza  with Sausage, Mozzarella, Onion and Peppers — Barbera is my first choice for this pizza because the hearty combination of toppings are enhanced by the wine’s fruit flavor and good acidity.  

 

IMG_5789Pinot Nero Rosé Umbria IGT 2020 Made from 100% Pinot Nero Tenuta Di Salviano. Made from a single vineyard located on the right bank of Lake Corbara in Umbria at 1,640 ft. The soil is calcareous-clayey. The farming is organic. The manual harvest starts in late August and only select bunches are chosen. Destemming does not take place so the grapes are pressed quickly. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a low temperature and then the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a fresh, fragrant, delicate and fruity wine with hints of red fruit, strawberry, cherry, a touch of citrus and good acidity.  The estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta Family, producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_5569Foccacia — Topped with rosemary, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil, a focaccia, while not exactly a pizza, is a close relation. With it’s simple clear flavors, I like to serve it with this delicate, fruity rose’, and perhaps some cold cuts as a starter or a snack.  

IMG_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

IMG_5442Summer Pizza–Mozzarella, prosciutto, whole grape tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, top this light and fresh pie and make a perfect combination with the lively, cool flavors of the Lambrusco.  The slightly salty flavor of prosciutto di Parma enhances the combination.

I hope you will enjoy these pizza and wine combinations. 

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Cipressi Nizza, Lambrusco, Nozzole CCR, Pighin, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Salviano PR Rose, Sauvignon Blanc

Autumn Menu at The Leopard at des Artistes

 

IMG_5810The Leopard at des Artistes, formerly known as the Cafe des Artistes, has a new menu and on a recent beautiful October day, Michele and I went to try it.  The chef is Jonathan Frosolone and he has added some exciting new Italian dishes that we had never tried before.  We started with glasses of sparkling wine from Benevento.

 

IMG_5804Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and then pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink. 

Antipasti–We tried several

IMG_5817Pesce in Carpione- Marinated luccio (pike), white wine vinaigrette, fennel, crispy capers–A light and refreshing starter.

IMG_5812Quaglia Ripiena- Quail, pork sausage, and red wine poached figs.  The quail was stuffed with sausage and figs and glazed in slightly sweet sauce.  I could eat a plte of these.

Pallott Cacio e Uova- Pecorino and egg croquettes, garlic, basil.  Cheesey balls of bread in a delicious tomato sauce.  Our helpful waiter told us they are a specialty of his region of Abruzzo.

IMG_5814Sformato di Tartufo Nero — Black truffle custard with arugula and parmigiano reggiano cheese.  These is a seasonal interpretation of a springtime favorite.  

IMG_5826Terre Del Volturo IGT 2018 Nanni-Cope Made from 85% Fiano, 12% Asprinio and 3% Pallagrello Bianco. The wine is aged in 500 liter barrels for about 8 months. The wine has hints of eucalyptus, hazelnut, apricot and lemongrass with good acidity.

Primi

IMG_5822Agnolotti-Robiola, Parmigiano Reggiano and rosemary butter sauce.  A lucious blend of cheeses, butter and tender pasta.

IMG_5820Struncatura–Multigrain spaghettoni, shrimp, neonata, lemon — A unique pasta from Southern Italy, made from several different types of grain including wheat and rye.  It is thick and chewy, and it was complemented by the neonata and shrimp.  

IMG_5824Raviolo Alla Piastra- Beets, poppy seeds, brown buttered sage sauce fill this unusual type of raviolo.  After stuffing the pasta is grilled which gives it a toasty flavor that went well with the sweet flavor of the beets.

Secondi-main course

IMG_9599 tausari

Taurasi “Radici” 1998 Mastroberardino made from 100% Aglianico.  The vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. The barriques were second and third passage. This is a wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather. It was fantastic.

IMG_5829Salmerino-Roasted sea trout, topped with charred scallions, trout roe, aged balsamic vinegar.  The skin was crispy and the flesh moist and perfectly cooked.  A great combination of flavors.

IMG_5828Anatra- Roasted duck breast, chestnuts, pears and spinach. The duck was perfectly cooked and crowned an assortment of seasonal ingredients.  

Dolce

IMG_5831Zabaione- Zabaione al Ramandolo with seasonal fruits made tableside.  A classic dessert that is always a treat.

IMG_5832Mousse di Ciocolato–Dark Chocolate mousse, white chocolate garnish and orange.  The mousse was coated in dark chocolate.  A little touch of chocolatey goodness to finish our meal.

IMG_5835Owner Gianfranco Sorrentino and Chef Jonathan Frosolone.

.We finished this wonderful meal with Digestivi. Congratulations to the chef, the staff and Gianfranco for another great meal. What a way to welcome the fall!

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Barolo

Chinato

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China

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Filed under Mastroberardino, Nani Cope, Sparkling Benepop, Sparkling wine, Taurasi, The Leopard at des Artistis

Gage and Tollner

The restaurant was opened 1879 in the Brooklyn on Fulton Street. It reopened in its present location on Fulton Street in 1892 with a Neo-Greco front and ornate interior characteristic of the late Victorian Era. fast-forward to 1973 John Simmons joins Ed Dewry in the ownership and management of the restaurant. John Simmons is a very close friend who now lives in Oregon. I also know the last owned Joe Chirico who closed the restaurant in 1995. 

gage and tollnerI first went to Gage & Tollner in the early 1970’s when I lived in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn and later when I lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn when Edna Louis, a groundbreaking chef, was there.  Michele and I have fond memories of it and felt we had a connection to the restaurant.  The restaurant had existed for many years, but closed in the early 2000’s.  The interior has landmark status, a rarity in this city, and recently reopened with a whole new owner and management team.  We made a date to meet friends there for dinner.  We were happy to see that the restaurant allows you to bring your own wines with a reasonable corkage fee.

IMG_5709We started with Champagne  Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV  Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche.

IMG_5764Chicken Pate — a delicate mousse-like pate with raisins and walnuts, served with warm toast.  This was one of several appetizers that we shared.

IMG_5771Cornmeal Fritters

IMG_5769Corn pudding

IMG_5766Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 1998. Fabiano made from 40% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella and 5% Croatian. The vineyards are at 190/370 meters and the soil is red compact with clay, rich in skeleton deposits and marly clay. The training system is Pergola Veronese in terraces contained by stone walls (marogne). Harvest is manual. The grapes are soft pressed and partially destemmed, then dried for about 4 months according to the traditional drying method. In the second half of January the grapes are gently pressed and destemmed. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for about 50 days after 30 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged in 40HL oak barrels for 30 months and 3 months in bottle before release. This is a complex full bodied wine but also soft and balanced with deep dark fruit, prunes, plums a touch of chocolate, a note of spiced and a hint of cherry. Very traditional and a good food wine. Residual sugar g/4.6.

unnamedfriesThe French Fries were excellent, light, crisp and not greasy

unnamed PorkPork Shoulder Rib Roast for two was juicy and perfectly roasted, topped with cherry mostarda.

Welcome back, Gage & Tollner!  We loved being back, our meal was terrific, and we will be back again soon.

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Filed under Amarone, Billecart- Salmon, Fabbiano Amaone, Gage and Tollner

A Late Birthday Celebration

During the worst of the pandemic, we regularly shared meals with a handful of friends.  Judith and Nat have a town house close nearby and as soon as the weather warmed up, they  invited us to have lunch in their backyard. We sat at separate tables in the garden and were very careful not to touch anything that was touched by someone else. We ate in the backyard a number of times and it was a perfect respite.  Last week as part of a late birthday celebration for me, they invited us again. This time we all sat at the same table and Judith made some of my favorite foods

IMG_5730 2We started with Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months The wine has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.

We started with homemade tapenade, both green and black from Provence.  Then we had:

IMG_5727Crunchy fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies–one of my favorites

IMG_5734A salad made with corn and shards of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.

IMG_5736Vacqueyras Blanc Le Jardin de Noemie Vallis Petra Made from Viognier 40% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, 15% Bouboulenc 30% The vineyard consists of two hectares and the vines are 30 years old. Organically farmed. The grapes are destemmed and pressed and fermentation takes place at a low temperature. The wine is vinified in 225 liter barrels for 9 months. The wine has hints of almonds, white flowers, pear, apricot, spice and a note of vanilla. This wine was brought back from Provence and it was a first for me.

IMG_5738Fresh grilled tuna ready to be served

IMG_5733The bread- Nat always surprises us with wonderful bread

IMG_5741On the plate

IMG_5744Marie’s Blueberry Tart–another one of my favorites.

IMG_5748Blueberry Tart with vanilla ice cream

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A Long Awaited Visit

The last time we had been to Tom and Donna’s Brooklyn home was New Year’s Eve 2019.  It was a long time without seeing these old friends but we managed to keep in contact on Zoom.  What a pleasure to see them again in person and enjoy a great meal.

IMG_5709We started with Champagne  Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV  Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche. It has become one of my favorite champagnes.

Appetizers

IMG_5704Prosciutto and Figs

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Marinated Australian Sheep and Goat Cheese, Olives, and Taralli

IMG_5715Crozes-Hermitage 2016 Ferraton Père & Fils made from 100% Syrah. The soil has terraces of glacial alluvial deposits with a lot of round pebbles, stones and gravel in the districts of Mercurol and Beaumont-Morteaux. The grapes are destemmed and lasts maceration for about 20 days. Extraction is by pumping over and punching down. The wine remains in vats for 12 months before bottling. The wine has hints of red fruits, with raspberries, cassis, blackcurrants and a touch of leather. 

IMG_5711Grilled Loin of Lamb

IMG_5716 2Sliced Lamb with grilled eggplant

IMG_5712 2Grilled Eggplant

IMG_5718Roasted Tiny Potatoes

IMG_5713Tomato, Cucumber and Bread Salad

IMG_5720Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2016 Mas De Boislauzon made from 70% Grenache and 30% Mourvèdre.  This is a full bodied and fresh wine with hints of black cherry, blackberries, licorice and lavender. It will last for another 10 years at least.

IMG_5719On the plate

IMG_5722Dessert was a light and creamy cheesecake with marinated berries

 

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A Late Summer Lunch with Friends

When Michele and I were in Rome in 2020, we had dinner at the apartment of an American friend who lives there. Among the guests were Maureen and Franco.  We became friends and when the virus stopped us from travelling abroad, we became part of a group of friends both here and in Italy who met for regular Zoom visits.

Maureen informed us that she and Franco would be in US toward the end of August. Since Michele and I were in NJ with our friend Ernie, he invited Maureen and Franco to come for the day.

We started with Champagne

IMG_5692Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond. 

IMG_5693Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir.  Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of  brioche and a hint of hazelnut.

Appetizer

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Mozzarella and anchovies crostini.

We also had salmon rillettes, but I forgot to take a picture of them.

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Tommaso’s Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Prosciutto — A recipe from our late friend Tommaso Verdillo, chef-owner of Tommaso’s restaurant in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

IMG_5675Butterflied leg of lamb on the grill

IMG_5682Grilled leg of lamb ready to be served

Side dishes

IMG_5681Potato and Scallion Salad

IMG_5684Green beans with Salsa Verde

IMG_5672Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

IMG_5673Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999 Poggio Antico made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at about 480 meters with a south/southwest exposure and are among the highest in the zone. The soil is rocky and calcerous with good drainage.  A cold soak was done at 12°C for 2 days. The fermentation lasted 9 days with a peak temperature of 30°C, after which a long maceration was carried out. Aging: 1 year in 500L French oak tonneaux, followed by 2½ years in large traditional Slavonian oak barrels. The wine was refined in bottle 1½ years prior to release. This is a complex Brunello with hints of cherries, cassis, leather a touch of violet and a balsamic note. It is a wine the will last for another 20 years.

Our friend Susan Westmoreland brought the dessert.

IMG_5691Both black and green figs poached in a spiced compote

IMG_5697Spiced Fig Compote served with Almond Pound Cake was an excellent finale. 

  

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Filed under Brunello, Champagne Wilmart & Co, Lisini, Poggio Antico

A Long Weekend with Ernie

Our apartment is being painted and our friend Ernie said we could spend the week at his home. It is always a pleasure to visit Ernie because the conversation, food and wine are always the best.

Below is just some of the wines and food that we enjoyed.

Antipasto

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Tomatos, Mozzarella and Basil — a classic Caprese Salad

IMG_5629 3Mortadella,  Mozzarella and Tomatoes — The cherry tomatoes were imported from our garden in Manhattan.

IMG_5633Arancini — Sicilian style rice balls from Palazzone 1960 in Wayne, New Jersey.  This pastry shop makes some of the best pastries I have had outside of Sicily. 

IMG_5656 3Prosciutto and melon

Side dishes

IMG_5659 2Asparagus with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

IMG_5619 2Roasted Sweet Peppers

 The wine 

IMG_5661 2Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori Riserva 1980 L&P Antinori the wine is mostly Sangiovese with some Cannaiolo and a very small amount of Trebbiano. Some of the wine was aged in 225 liter barrels. The wine has hints of sour cherries, leather, herbs and a note of violets. It had a low shoulder but was still drinking very well.

IMG_5625 2Barbera D’Asti “Scarpa” 2010 Antica Vinicola Casa Scarpa made from 100% Barbera from Monferrato. The vineyard is at 400 meters and the soil is clay. The vines were planted in 2000 and the training system is guyot. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation and aging for 12 to 18 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 6 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Barbera with hints of red fruit, cranberry, cherry and good acidity which makes it an excellent wine with food.

Pasta

IMG_5620Ravioli stuffed with Four Cheeses from Eataly.

IMG_5622 2With Buffalo ricotta on top

IMG_5630Fettuccine with Fresh Tomatoes and RicottaIMG_5631On the plate

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Barbera D’Asti “Ca’ Di Pian” 2004 Spinetta made from 100% Barbera from Castagnole delle Lanze, Costigliole d’Asti and Montegrosso d’Asti. The exposure is southern and the vines are 24 years old at 300 meters. The soil is calcareous marl. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled vats for an average of 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is done in used French oak barrels, followed by 12 months of aging and then about 3 months in bottle before release. This a balanced wine wine with hints of blueberries and peach.

IMG_5665 2Pasta Amatriciana  — my favorite, with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino

Dessert

IMG_5617 2 Figs — New Jersey grown by a friend.

IMG_5623 copyDeb’s Homemade Chocolate Cake and Ice cream — One of the best chocolate cakes I have had in years.

 

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Filed under Antinori, Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Scarpa, Spinetta

Celebrating My Birthday

Michele and I had plans for my birthday but things do not always work out as planned. We have been trying to have our apartment painted for months and a few days before my birthday the painter said he was ready to begin. We needed to find some place to stay.

So off we went to spend a week in NJ with our friend Ernie. We had invited Ernie to go out with us for my birthday but he said no. Instead, his son Jason and his wife Deb invited us to their home for my birthday dinner and I was very happy that they did.

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We started with Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”–100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited. Cedric Bouchard. This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single-vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity, a touch of pear and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

All the food was prepared by Jason and Debbie

IMG_5637Roasted Peppers Salad

IMG_5638Eggplant Mousse

IMG_5640Two different breads.  The seeded bread is made by Jason

IMG_5641Fiorano Bianco 1996 Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa made from 100% Malvasia Candia.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and very close to Roman’s second airport, Ciampino. This is the first time I had the 1996 and it was the last vintage the Prince produced before he died a few years later. There is a slight touch of oxidation with aromas of melon, honey and  wax.  It has  slight mineral notes with lots of flesh, good acidity and a medium long finish.

IMG_5644 2Pasta with locally grown cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes and Parmigiano Reggiano.

IMG_5646Grilled marinated organic chicken breasts

IMG_5649Mixed Salad with fennel, oranges, pine nuts and radishes

IMG_5650The plate

IMG_5645Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 1997 “Berardenga”Felsina made from 100% Sangiovese located in Castelnuovo Berardenga with mostly southern exposure between 320 and 420 meters (the soil here is rock quartz and calcareous alberese mixed with alluvial pebbles). The vineyards are on different slopes. There are about 5,400 vines per hectare. The training system is bilateral cordon and simple guyot with a maximum of 5 to 8 buds per vine. Harvest is staged due to different altitudes of the vineyards the first three weeks of October. The clusters are de-stemmed and pressed and the must is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Programmed punch downs and daily pumpovers take place. In March/April the wine goes into medium sized Slavonian oak barrels and French barriques of second and third passage. After 12/16 months of aging the final blend is assembled. The wine remains is glass for 2 to 6 months. The wine has notes of red and black berries with a touch of spice and mineral tones. It was drinking very nicely. I had this wine two weeks ago and it was just a wonderful then as it was now.

TIMG_5653Chocolate Layer Cake — Deb is a fantastic baker.

IMG_5655Cake with ice cream.  Moist and chocolatey, the cake brought back many fond memories of the cakes I enjoyed from the great Ebinger’s Bakery when I was growing up in Brooklyn.

This was a birthday to remember, thanks to good friends.

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Filed under Champagne, Chianti Classico, Felsina. Berardenga, Fiorano Bianco, Roses de Jeanne

Celebrating La Befana in August

January 6th in Italy is the Feast of the Epiphany.  It is the day that La Befana, a kindly old woman, brings gifts to the good boys and girls or a lump of coal if they are bad. We have been celebrating the arrival of La Befana at the home of our friend Lars Leicht for a number of years. However we missed it in 2019 and again in 2020, so Lars decided to celebrate in August to make up for the ones we missed.  In all there were 12 of us and lots of very good food and wine.

IMG_5507Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Cuvée Des Paladins” Brut Sparkling 2013. Tappero Merlo This sparkling wine is made from 100% Erbaluce with refermentation in the bottle (Classic Method). The wine is aged for 60 months on the lees. Soil is strongly acidic of morainic origin composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The vineyards are at 970/100ft. Harvest is in early September. Fermentation of the must is partly in steel and partly in very old barrels. The base wine is ready to become a sparkling wine in the spring following the harvest. The pied-de-cuvee (process using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wines) is prepared which starts the second fermentation in the bottle in a temperature controlled environment. After a slow passage over the pupitres (wooden frames for traditional riddling), the sparkling wine is ready for disgorgment which usually takes place in the spring. The wine rests for a few months and then is ready for release. The wine has hints of brioche, dried fruit, honey, and hazelnuts with citrus notes and complex minerality. This is the first time I tasted a sparkling wine made from Erbaluce di Caluso and I really liked it.

Note:The name of the  wines comes from the 12 loyal knights of Charles the Great, who on Christmas Day in the year 800 was crowned by Pope Leo III “Emperor of the Romans” and the Holy Roman Empire was established. There is a legend that during this time Erbaluce might have come from the Rhone Valley into Canavese in Piedmont, or vice versa, thanks to the agrarian reforms of Charles the Great.

0-3Vernaccia Di San Gimignano 2018 “Kalós kai Agathós Campochiarenti” made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The vines are 25 to 30 years old. The grapes are hand picked the second week of September. The  vineyard is at 180 to 240 meters. Soil is yellow sand and sandy clay with layers of tuff, a light porous rock made from volcanic ash, over the “mattaione”(contains rock salt and gypsum) with variable percentage of clay. The destalked grapes are softly pressed and after 18-24 hours the must is clarified and stored in steel vats for fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine is cold stabilized, filtered, and stored until the spring. The wine remains in bottle for at least 3 months before it is released. This is fresh wine with hints of citrus fruit, good acidity and nice minerality.

0-4Fiano di Avellino DOCG Reserve “Brancato” 2017 Cavalier Pepe  made from 100% Fiano from south facing vineyards in the municipality of Lapio. The grapes are hand harvested at full ripeness, undergo a strict selection, and are pressed whole. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation in barriques and later in stainless steel at a low temperature. The wine is aged in wood and steel followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of mature tropical fruit, apple, and hazelnuts with a hint of spice and a touch of toast.

IMG_5582Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden

We started with fresh Mozzarella, roasted peppers dressed with olive oil and herbs and bread baked by Lars

IMG_5588Seafood Salad prepared by two of the guests

IMG_5589Tomatoes and rice

IMG_2693 2Litina Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 CascinaCastlet made from 100% Barbera grapes from hillside vineyards, which are more than 30 years old. There are about 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the first weeks of October. At the winery the must is fermented in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for about 10 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in medium sized oak casks for about 8 months and then in bottle for more than one year. The wine is released the second year after the harvest. The wine has hints of woodland fruits a hint of spice and a note of vanilla.

IMG_5593Lars’ “Timballi di Bonifacio VIII”.  — A unique and historic family recipe from Lars’ relatives in Anagni, a town outside of Rome.0Valpolicella Superiore 2015 l Saltari made from 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The grapes are grown in the Mezzane Valley in the region of the Veneto on terraced hillside vineyards in calcareous and alkaline soil. After a careful collection of the grapes, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking, the wine is transferred to different size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine is unfiltered.  It has hints of small berries like currants and blackberry with tobacco, leather, and a touch of cherry.

IMG_5481 copyChianti Colli Senesi 2017 “San Nicola”  Az Agricola Campochiarenti, San Gimignano, Tuscany, made from 85% Savgiovese and 15% Canaiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda and Mammolo. The exposure is south, southwest along a hill at 180/230 meters. The soil is composed of silt and sand with a little clay. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins of 90hl at a controlled temperature with pumping over and delestage. Maceration lasts for 12/15 days in order to obtain the highest extraction of color from the skins. The wine is naturally clarified, without adding any chemical products. Aging is in 20hl oak barrels for at least 9 months. The wine is bottled and stored in the cellar until release. The wine has hints of red berries, spice, tobacco and a touch of jam with a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. This wine will age.

It reminds me of the old style Chianti, with all the local grapes and traditional fermentation and aging which I loved, but few producers make any more.

IMG_5597Pork Loin on the Grill — The pork was flavored with garlic, rosemary, fennel and other herbs

IMG_5596Roasted Broccoli Rabe with garlic.  Roasting brings out all of the bittersweet flavors of the broccoli rabe.

IMG_5599Ready to be served

IMG_5600The plate

IMG_5595Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2011 Az. Agricola Campochiarenti made from 85% Sangiovese, and 15% Canaiolo, Ciliegio, Mammolo and Foglia Tonda. The exposure is south, south-west at 180-230 meters. Soil is composed of silt and sand with a small percentage of clay. The grapes are manually chosen and selected at harvest. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins with a capacity of 90HL and are temperature controlled. There is pumping over and delestage. Maceration is for 20-30 days with frequent delestage and pumping over. The wine is naturally clarified without adding any chemical products. The wine is aged in oak barrels (20HL capacity) for 30 months, then at least 4 months in bottle before release. The wine is drinking now but can last for another 10 years.

Michael Apstein, a wine writer from Boston said it was the best Colli Senesi he had ever tasted and I have to agree with him.

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Uceline Monferrato Rosso 2013 CascinaCastlet  Made from 100% Uvalino. Harvesting is carried out towards the end of October when the grapes reach a perfect ripeness. The bunches are hand picked and carefully selected and then go into a well ventilated, temperature controlled room called a “fruit house.”  Here they stay for over a month and become slightly overripe and begin to wither. The must from the pressing is partially destemmed and undergoes fermentation and lasts for 20 days. Frequent stirrings causes the total dissolution of the anthocyans and the various phenolic components that for this wine play a very important role. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 5HL oak barrels.

The bottles rest for about a year before they are released. This is a full-bodied complex aromatic wine with hints of black fruit, prunes, blueberries and sweet spices.  It is tannic with good acidity and has a certain rustic quality. It is a wine that can age.

IMG_5594Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigneto Edoardo” 2012 100% Montepulciano d” Abruzzo. Zaccagnini. Bottled in honor of Ed Lauber, of Lauber Imports, a dear friend, who participated every year in the harvest at the Zaccagnini Winery.  His image appears on the label. This is a big wine with hints of cherries, leather, prune, and a touch of almond in the aftertaste.

IMG_5604Cheese

IMG_5609Desserts included a fresh raspberry pie and a peach cream pie both made with locally grown fruits.

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Some tempting chocolates followed.

IMG_5586Grappa Marolo “Dedicata Al Padre” made from a blend of several pomaces in the Roero area, This is a full-bodied, clear, pure grappa.  At 60% alc/vol (120 proof) it is the in alcohol clear grappa. It is non-vintage and un-aged. The grappa was brought by wine writer Tom Maresca, the only person I know that drinks grappa between courses to help his digestion.

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Grappa Marolo “Barolo” an aged Grappa

IMG_5612Our host for the evening with his friend . Carmyn 

 

 

 

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, CAMPOCHIARENTE, Cascina Castlet, Cavalier Pepe, Chianti Colli Senesi, Fiano di Avellino, Grappa, I Saltari