Pasta and More at Nonna Dora’s

For a number of years, I was the sommelier/wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC owned by Nicola Marzovilla. Nicola’s mother Dora made the pasta every day by hand and it was the most popular item on the menu.

IMG_6869A few months ago Nicola closed I Trulli after 27 years.  Dora however did not want to retire so with the help of Nicola she opened Nonna Dora’s. 

IMG_6873The restaurant has 24 seats divided between the bar and tables plus there is a private room that accommodates 12 people.  We had a 5:00 reservation and by 5:30 there was only one empty table.  The restaurant has quickly become very popular.

The menu lists a large selection of both cold and hot appetizers, many varieties of Dora’s handmade pasta such as saffron tinted malloredus, ear shaped orecchiette, and stuffed pastas, followed by a few desserts. There are no main courses.

IMG_7391Fried calamarı were crunchy and tender and served with a tasty tomato sauce

IMG_7392Panzerotti – Baby Calzones stuffed with San Marzano tomato and mozzarella.  In the background is a bite of Dora’s focaccia

IMG_7393Pulpo Salad – Octopus with white beans, celery and black olives was a winning combination

We drank the Chianti Classico and the Grand Selezione from Vecchie Terre di Montefili. Dora’s son Nicola is one of the owners of the winery.

IMG_7402Chianti Classico DOCG 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The terrain is hilly and the vineyards are at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese. The vineyards were planted in the late nineties and these were the youngest vines on the property. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is for a minimum of 15 months in 3,000 liter Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release.  This is a wine with hints of blackberry and cherry with a touch of violets and a note of almonds. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherry and blackberries with good acidity. 

IMG_7396Ceci e Tria- Fresh and fried pasta with chickpeas, tomato and pecorino, a specialty from Apulia.

IMG_7395 2Orecchiette with Rabbit Ragu

IMG_7403Vigna Vecchia “Grand Selezione” Vecchie Terre Di Montefili DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard called Vigna Vecchia planted in 1981. The training system is spurred cordon and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is rotated between 30HL and 10HL oak barrels for 26 months and 8 months in bottle before release.  This is an elegant wine with red and black fruit aromas and hints of blueberries and cherries and a hint of violets.

Dessert

IMG_7398Panzerotti with Nutella — fried dough pockets stuffed with Nutella. 

IMG_7399Tiramisu 

IMG_7397We ended with Affogato  — Espresso coffee over vanilla ice cream

Wine is available by the glass.  The bottle list starts at around $40 and goes goes up from there. As would be expected, the whole line of Montefili wine is on the list.

In addition to the extensive wine list, there is a full bar, plus a selection of cocktails featuring Negronis 8 different ways.

Nonna Dora’s

Nonna Dora is open for dinner Monday to Thursday from 5:00 PM to 10 PM and Friday and Saturday from 5:00 PM to 11:00 PM, 606 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10016

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Fiorano Tasting and Lunch with Alessia Antinori

Every time I am in Rome, which is often, I try to visit Fattoria di Fiorano. Alessia Antinori, the owner, invited me there for the first time several years ago while it was still under construction. It is only a 20 minute cab ride from the center of Rome and it is across the road from the  Ciampino Airport.

IMG_7343Alessia inherited the winery from her grandfather Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Venosa. Her mother, Francesca, is the daughter of the Prince and her father is Piero Antinori.

When Alessia told me she would be in NYC in May I invited her to come for a “Fiorano” lunch at our apartment. This is a tradition that has gone on for many years but was interrupted  because of the Pandemic.

My guests and I asked a lot of questions about the estate.  She said it is not only a winery.  Part of the property is now a country retreat for anyone seeking a day out of the city during the warmer months. It’s especially popular with Romans.  Visitors can come for lunch or dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. The guests can pick their own vegetables that they want to eat from the large organic garden and the chef will cook it for them or they can choose to eat at the restaurant, L’Orto di Alberico (Alberico’s Vegetable Garden), named in honor of her grandfather Alberico. He had taken very good care of the land and believed in organic farming.  Alessia said she was following in her grandfather’s footsteps. 

The wines

IMG_7345Alberico Lazio DOC Vino Bianco  2016 100% Sémillon, Fattoria di Fiorano.  After a careful manual selection, the best grapes were destemmed and soft pressed. Fermentation in casks and the wine completed its six months of aging in puncheons. These are oak barrels of 500 liters. They are used for wines that are do not need a high oak extraction.  The wine was aged in bottle for a minimum of 24 months. This is an exceptional balanced wine with complex aromas of subtle tropical fruit, hints of citrus fruit, and a slight touch of vanilla with a very pleasing finish and a long aftertaste. It is a very special wine. Alessia said it is a white wine that will age and I agreed. In fact I told her it was a white wine as good as the Sémillon or the Malvasia di Candia that her grandfather made!  

Both the Fiorano Bianco and Rosso are now named Alberico in honor of her grandfather.

IMG_7352Our first course was Basil Ricotta Gnocchi with Tomato Sauce — The recipe is from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook

The Fiorano Rosso is a balanced, elegant and stylish wine with the dominating aromas and flavors of black cherry and leather with a touch of cassis and a note of blackberries. On the palate it is smooth, with fruit, lovely balance and a long pure finish.

IMG_7346Vino Rosso Fiorano 2010 Fattoria di Fiorano, Rome. Alessia said she found on the estate eight vine rows of two red grape varieties, four of Merlot and four of Cabernet Sauvignon, that were planted over half a century ago by her grandfather and farmed organically. These are the vines which produced the legendary Fiorano Rosso.  By propagating these vines, Alessia is able to make wines as her grandfather once did. After harvesting, the two varieties are separated, the grapes destemmed and the juice fermented in temperature-controlled cement tanks. Alessia said this was to fully bring out their aromas and flavors. After being run off the skins, the wine goes into large oak casks for a minimum of 12 months. She said this is done to assist the full expression of the exceptional character conferred by the old vines of her grandfather, and by the singular volcanic soils created by an ancient lava flow. The wine completed its 24 months of oak aging in puncheon oak barrels and was then bottled before completing the process with a period of bottle aging, which lasts over two years. Alessia, like her grandfather, numbers the bottles. The 2010 is #243 of 510 bottles produced. Both the fruit and the leather were here but to a lesser extent. I believe the wine needs more time and am very happy that Alessia is following in her  grandfather’s footsteps.

IMG_7336The vegetables — Gratin of zucchini, potatoes and tomatoes.  

IMG_7347Fiorano Rosso 1997 Vino da Tavola Boncompagni Ludovisi  Alberico Boncompagni LudovisiPrincipe di Venosa

Many believe that 1995 was his last vintage. Alessia said the last vintage was 2000. However, the last 3 vintages were not as good as her grandfather was very old at the time. This bottle was missing the portion of the label with the bottle number. Leather was the dominating aroma and flavor in the 1997 with the fruit in the background.

IMG_7349Our main course was Roasted Rack of Lamb with Rosemary, the Gratin of Vegetables, and Sauteed Spinach. The perfect combination with Fiorano Rosso

IMG_7348Fiorano Rosso 1988 Vino da Tavola Boncompagni Ludovisi  Alberico Boncompagni LudovisiPrincipe di Venosa

Both the 1997 and 1988 were aged in large numbered barrels. Of the 1249 of the bottles produced in 1988, this was #30. The fruit dominated here with the leather in the background

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The Fiorano Group: Michele Scicolone, Maurizio di Rosa (owner of Locanda Borboni in Brooklyn) Gino Composto, someone-me- that had too much Fiorano, and Alessia Antinori. Photo taken by Lauretta Socci.

The wines were excellent and we all enjoyed them.  It’s always a pleasure to see Alessia Antinori and taste her wines.

 

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Drinking White Wine in Rome and Naples

On my recent trip to Rome, I found that many restaurants have wine lists that are not up to date.  The vintage might be listed incorrectly, or wines might be out of stock.  In one restaurant they did not have the first 3 wines that I ordered from the list and finally I just asked, “What do you have?” In Naples the situation is about the same.  Despite a few disappointments, I always managed to find good alternatives and even a few surprises.

Here are some of the white wines we enjoyed in Rome and Naples.

IMG_7018Frascati Superiore DOCG Bianco 2019 Castel De Paolis (Lazio) made from 70% Malvasia del Lazio, and 30% Trebbiano, Giallo, Bambino and Bellone. The soil is volcanic, rich in potassium and tufa. The vineyard is at 250 meters and the training system is trellised/cordon spur. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the average age of the vines is 30 years. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 18C for 8/10 days. The wine has hints of pear and apple, a touch of pineapple and a note of almonds. I visited the winery in Grottaferrata a number of years ago.  From the terrace, you can see the dome of St. Peter’s in Rome.  Restaurant il Falchetto

IMG_7086Bellone “Collesanti” Marco Carpineti (Lazio)  made from 100% Bellone. There are 4,500 grapes per hectare. The training system is spalliera and harvest takes place in September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and a natural fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in steel.  The wine is hints of citrus, fruit, lemon with floral fragrances. The winery is near Cori, a town established before Rome. The Bellone grape was cultivated here in ancient times.   Checchino dal 1887, Rome

IMG_7042NV Brut Spumante made from 100% Bellone Cincinnato (Lazio). The grapes are picked in September when the acidity is high. Fermentation for about 10 days at 15C and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Charmat method (tank) process for about 2 months and the wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has tiny bubbles, is slightly aromatic with hints of acacia, citrus fruit and white peach.

IMG_6978Fiano di Avellino DOCG Sertura made from 100% Fiano di Avellino(Campania). The vineyards are in Montefalcione, a tiny village perched on a hill a short distance from Avellino. The vineyards are at 380 meters and the soil is clay. The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in early October. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented for 21 to 25 days at a controlled temperature. This is a complex, full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, hints of pear and green apple.  Hostaria Manfredi  in the Hotel Civita in Atripalda (AV) about 45 minutes from Naples

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Costa D’ Amalfi “Fiorduva” Furore Bianco 2012 Cantina Marisa Cuomo (Campania). The wine is made from 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 40% Ripolo. The production zone is in Furore and the surrounding municipalities on the Amalfi Coast. The coastal terraces are at 200/500 meters and are south facing.  There are 5,000/7,000 vines per hectare. The training system is pergola. The soil is limestone-dolomite rocks. The overripe grapes are harvested by hand the third week of October and the grapes arrive intact in the cantina. After pressing, the juice is inoculated with selected yeast. Fermentation takes place for about 3 months in oak barrels at 12°C. The wine has very nice fruit with hints of apricot, raisins, a touch of candied fruit and good acidity.  It was very enjoyable.  Due Ladrone, Rome

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Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2019 (Campania) Alois 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.   Trattoria San Ferdindano, Naples

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Terra del Volturno Pallagrello Bianco IGT “Marrone” 2018 Alois (Campania).  Made from 100% Pallagrello Bianco from the 15 year old Morrone della Monica 2.13 hectare vineyard at 350 meters in Pontelatone. The exposure is east/west and the soil is limestone. There are 5,200 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot.  Harvest takes place in early September.  Two-thirds of the wine is vinified in stainless steel at a controlled temperature for one month and one-third of the wine is on the lees in neutral oak for nine months. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, melon, a touch of chamomile  and a note of apricot.  This is the first time I have had this wine as it was introduced in 2018 and I found it impressive. I visited the winery a few years ago and had a wonderful lunch matched with their wines.  Tattoria San Ferdinando, Naples

IMG_7163KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella  (Campania) The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period). The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of apricot and cantaloupe and good acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil.   Restaurant Casa Bleve, Rome

IMG_7136Falanghina del Sannio made from 100% Falanghina from Pozzillo vineyards. Società Agricola Mustilli (Campania) The soil is calcareous and volcanic, rich in clay and the exposure is southwest. The training system is guyot. There is a light cold skin maceration followed by alcoholic fermentation in steel. Aging is in steel for 10 months. The wine has floral notes, with a hint of pear, acacia honey, and touch of apple and lemon. I visited the winery in 2016 on a Campania Stories press trip and tasted a Falanghina from the 2002 vintage which was drinking very nicely.   Restaurant  Mimi  alla Ferrovia, Naples

IMG_7053Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo 2017 Made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo  Edoardo Valentini (Abruzzo) The winery is organic and biodynamic. They only keep 10% of the production, the rest is sold to a local co-op. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months, I believe. I visited the winery a number of years ago. Edoardo (d.2006) spent all the time talking to us about the terroir, the grapes and the vineyards.  He did not speak about how the wine was produced.  This is a very complex and full bodied wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and peach, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste and an extra something that is difficult to describe. It is a great white wine. When I am in Italy I drink this wine whenever I see it on the wine list because it is less costly than you can buy it retail in the USA. It is a very impressive white wine.   Restaurant Casa Bleve, Rome

IMG_7080Marche Bianco IGT “Campo delle Oche” 2018. Fattoria San Lorenzo made from 100% Verdicchio. The Campo delle Oche vineyard is at 300/320 meters and the soil is clay and limestone with savory components given by the salty aquifers. The vineyard was planted in 1965/1980. There are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest  takes place the first and second week of October. Fermentation is in concrete vats with indigenous yeast. There is 12 hours of cold maceration and malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged in cement for 2 years and in stainless steel for one year. The wine spent 36 months on the lees. Clarification/Filtration: no fining or filtering. The winery is certified organic. The wine has hints of peach, apricot and pear with a touch of citrus fruit.     Enoteca l’Angolo Divino, Rome

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Locanda Borboni

Salvatore Fraterrigo, the chef/owner at both locations of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan (one of my favorite restaurants), and Maurizio De Rosa, a chef, pizzaiolo, restaurateur and Italian wine expert, told me that they were planning to open a new restaurant together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Salvatore is from Trapani, Sicily and Maurizio is from Napoli. rs=w_500,h_500,cg_true locanda

In an homage to their culinary roots, the restaurant would feature the food of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, as the Italian region south of the Papal States from Naples through Sicily was once known.  The restaurant is named Locanda Borboni, a reference to the Bourbons who once ruled there.   Michele and I looked forward to trying it.

Located on Grand Street, Brooklyn, the restaurant has a cozy front room, a long bar and large backyard garden.  Maurizio greeted us and soon we were contemplating the menu and wine list and nibbling on olives and bread.

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Extra virgin olive oil with homemade bread in the Neapolitan style, both white and whole grain wheat, made from organic flour.  Both breads were full of flavor with a firm, chewy crust.

IMG_7266Olives — Assorted black and green marinated with celery, carrots and herbs

IMG_7268Two different types of croquettes, one the classic Neapolitan style made with a filling of mashed potatoes, salame and mozzarella and the other crocche’ di baccala’, made with mashed potatoes, and salt cod crusted with sesame seeds.  The crunchy coatings formed a good contrast with the tasty fillings.

IMG_7269Eggplant Parmesan – Called Parmigiana di Melanzane del Monzu’, eggplant, mozzarella, prosciutto and tomato sauce baked with an egg and Parmesan topping in the style of the Monzu’ chefs.

IMG_7270Peperone di Piedigrotta — roasted peppers molded around a savory filling of bread, anchovies, olives, pine nuts, raisins and anchovies.

IMG_7267 2Cacc’ e Mmitte di Lucera DOC (Northern Puglia}, Agricole Alberto Longo, made from  55% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo and 15% Bambino Bianco from a 6.5 hectare vineyard planted in 2002. The soil is calcareous with a sandy loam texture. Fermentation is with selected yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with prolonged contact of the must with the skins. Malolactic fermentation takes place in September. There is a light filtering and fining of the wine. The alcohol is 14%. The wine has hints of black cherry, plum, a touch of blueberries and a note of chocolate.

I have enjoyed the wines from Alberto Longo for a long time and was glad to see this one on Locanda Borboni’s carefully selected and well-priced wine list.

IMG_7273Paccheri Pasta al Ragu Napoletano — Traditional slow cooked beef and meat ragu’.

IMG_7278La Pastiera — the classic Neapolitan wheat berry and ricotta cake flavored with orange flour water.  Though originally an Easter cake, in Naples it is now enjoyed year-round.

IMG_7279Profiteroles — cream puffs filled with pastry cream and coated in a rich chocolate sauce.  Irresistible.

IMG_7281Passito IGT (Calabria) “Milirosu” Masseria Falvo 1727 (Calabria) made from 100% Moscatello. The soil is sandy clay and the vineyard is at 250 /300 meters. The training system is spurred cordon. Manual harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Aging is in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. The winery is organic. The wine has hints of dried and candied fruits including figs, raisins and dates with a seductively sweet almost honey like but not cloying flavor because of the good acidity.

Our first meal at Locanda Borboni was great and we look forward to returning soon to try the pizza, seafood, meats and other pastas from Southern Italy.

 Locanda Borboni  284 Grand Street, Brooklyn (Williamsburg) http://www.locandaborboni.com

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Krug Clos des Mesnil 1988. Barolo and Pizza

Ed “Champagne” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, was planning a Champagne and pizza meeting at Keste Wall St.  He said that he would bring an old and very expensive bottle of Krug Champagne and he asked me to bring an Italian red wine. I brought my most expensive and oldest

IMG_7231Margherita 

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Champagne Krug du Mesnil 1988 Brut Blanc de Blancs is a very rare Champagne because it is made from a single plot of Chardonnay harvested in a single year. This 1.84-hectare (4.5 acre) vineyard overlooked by the village church has been protected by a wall since 1698. The vineyard is located in the heart of Mesnil-sur-Oger, one of the most iconic villages for Chardonnay in the Champagne region.

This champagne is generous and round with hints of citrus, dried fruit, brioche, tart tatin and a note of honey. It lingers on the palate with a long finish and notes of honey ginger. The first vintage was 1979. 

This is the e-mail Ed sent to me about the Champagne he was bringing.

In 1698, residents of the small village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (in the section of Champagne known as the Cote des Blancs, where most of the great Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made, from 100 percent Chardonnay) decided to build a wall around a certain section of Chardonnay vines in their village, because the Chardonnay grapes grown there were so special. Called Clos du Mesnil, It became one of the only Walled Vineyards in the Champagne region; only about 3 or 4 Walled vineyards exist today in Champagne.

In 1971, Champagne Krug, which was using Clos des Mesnil for some of its Chardonnay grapes in its NV Grand Cuvée (then called Private Cuvée), decided to buy the Clos du Mesnil Vineyard, and in 1979, produced its first Krug Clos du Mesnil. it proved to be sensational, and Krug has been making a Krug Clos du Mesnil in every good vintage since.

I have purchased Krug Clos du Mesnil in only a few vintages, because it has always been about three times the price of Vintage Krug. I have been saving my 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil (which I purchased with a Vintage 1988 Krug about 20 years ago; Krug ages its Clos du Mesnil usually for about 11 years (!) before they release it).  The 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil is now priced at $3175—if you can find it. I am not getting any younger, and so I decided it’s time to drink it with a few friends.

My only answer was WOW!!!!

IMG_7229Pizza Margherita with Prosciutto and Arugula

IMG_7233Pizza with Fresh Black Truffles

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Conterno Francia Barolo 1996 made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Cascina Francia Vineyard which was purchased in 1974. The vineyards are at 500 meters and the training system is guyot. The exposure is to the west and the soil is calcareous. There is long submerged cap maceration and fermentation in large Austrian oak vats, followed by long refinement in large barrels (botti) for about 4 years and in bottle. This is a very traditional Barolo. It is a rich, powerful and seductive wine with hints of cherry, dried fruits, dark chocolate and leather. It was very impressive.

 

IMG_7238Dessert Pizza stuffed with Nutella and topped with Berries

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Roberto’s special Tiramisu

Michele and I felt privileged to enjoy these great wines. Thank you, Ed McCarthy, for sharing the Champagnes with us and to Ernie De Salvo, who gave me the Barolo.

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Eating and Sightseeing Rome

Michele and I are back from Rome where we spent about a month.  Here are some photos of my favorite experiences.

At Caffe Ruschena where we went often for breakfast. 

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Cornetto filled with pastry cream and a cappuccino. 

At Gran Caffe La Caffettiera, good for coffee break, drinks, light lunch

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Toasted focaccia with zucchini flowers, mozzarella and anchovies.

IMG_6377 2Piazza del Popolo from the Borghese Gardens

IMG_6944Water Buffalo chops, sauteed chicory and roast potatoes in a restaurant in  Anagni a town a short distance from Rome

IMG_7001 2Castello Sanit’Angelo

Ciampini is a caffe where you can enjoy a meal or a drink or a gelato with great people-watching.

IMG_7045Stracciatella and chocolate gelato at Ciampini

Hotel Raphael

IMG_7047The view from the roof of the Raphael Hotel where we met a friend for drinks before lunch

IMG_7166Casa Bleve

IMG_7052 2Anchovies with bread and butter

IMG_7055 2A view of the Vatican

Restaurant Cavaliere  Gino al Parlamento

IMG_7073Chicken and peppers Roman style

IMG_7075 2Castel Sant’Angelo at night

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Enoteca L’Angolo di Vino

IMG_7081Cheese and salumi

IMG_7085Crostini with broccoli rabe and sun dried tomatoes

IMG_2126Restaurant Roscioli 

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Serrano Ham at Roscioli

IMG_6133Roman Forum

Ditirambo Restaurant

IMG_6957 2Roast suckling pig with potatoes

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Trattoria Checchino del 1887

pig dskinAssaggio di Fagioli e Cotiche- pig skin with borlotti beans cooked with tomato.

IMG_7171 2Susan and Michele in the Piazza Novona

Trattoria Il Matriciano

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Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies

IMG_7174Fried artichokes alla giudia

IMG_7175 2Bucatini all’Amatriciana

IMG_6112Due Ladroni

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Roasted turbot with artichokes and potatoes

IMG_7109View from the Spanish Steps

 A side trip to Naples

IMG_7158 2Trattoria San Ferdinando 

IMG_7125Fried Seafood

Taverna Santa Chiara

IMG_7142 2Grilled Pork Sausages with Friarielli

Mimi alla Ferrovia

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Fried calamari

It was a wonderful trip and we are looking forward to going back soon!!

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Marina Colonna Olive Oli

I was at a Chianti Classico tasting in NYC when I ran into Michael Schaefer, a fellow wine writer. I have known Michael for some time and first met him in Udine where we spent time  together as judges at a Pinot Grigio event. I told him I was going to Rome in a few days and he suggested I meet a friend of his in Rome, Marina Colonna.  Marina is an olive oil producer in Molise and I told him that Michele and I would be interested to meet her.

IMG_6953We contacted Marina when we arrived in Rome and she invited us over an aperitif.  Her apartment was only a few minutes from where we were staying.

IMG_6949Marina was very charming and offered us a tasting of several of the olives that she produces.

IMG_6948Next we had assorted crostini topped with the olive pastes and preserved tomatoes that she also produces.  They were all good, the kind of thing that are a pleasure to have on hand for a quick meal or snacks.

IMG_6950Prosecco Numero Primo Brut made from 100% Glera  Francesca Dorigo.  It has hints of citrus fruit, pear and green apples with a note of wisteria.  This was a light and fresh accompaniment to the appetizers.

Marina told us that the Colonna family is a very old noble family that traces its roots back to 1195. They continued to play a large part in the ecclesiastical, cultural, political, military and civic life of Rome over the centuries.  Her Estate,  Masseria Bosco Pontoni, is near San Martino in  Pensilis, Molise and  the roots of the property go back to the 1800’s. 

IMG_7204The estate is 160 hectares of which 55 are covered with olive groves. 16 different olive varieties are grown, including the typical regional ones that produce the DPO Molise olive oil.

Marina inherited the farm in 1996 from her father, Francesco Colonna, and Marina’s Colonna’s extra virgin olive oil was born.

IMG_7201Molensis XXV – Limited Edition Extra Vigin Olive Oil

Marina explained that this extra virgin olive oil was a limited addition to  celebrate her 25 years of commitment to her estate in Molise and Molensis is the Latin word to define the region. It is a blend of  the 3 best varieties from the Colonna groves. Marina said the bouquet is herbaceous with a  note of vegetables, green tomatoes and artichoke. On the palate it is pleasant, medium fruity with hints of unripe almonds and a grassy aftertaste with balanced bitter and pungent notes which make it an ideal and versatile olive oil. It is bottled in the patented Amphora bottle.  At $39 it is her most expensive olive oil but worth the money.  It is one of the best and most complex olive oils I have ever tasted. We are enjoying it as a finishing oil on pasta and vegetable dishes, or simply drizzled on toasted bread.

All of the Marina Colonna products are available at William Sonoma and are worth seeking out.

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Tasting Chianti Classico

Before I left for Rome in March, I went to a Chianti Classico Consortium walk around tasting. There  were more than 60 producers presenting their wines. I attended a seminar entitled Chianti Classico UGA “No wine is an Island.” It featured 11 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines representing the nine UGA villages (see link above). After this interesting and informative seminar I was able to taste some of the wines.

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Giulia Cecchi

Chianti Classico Villa Rosa Gran Selezione 2016 Cecchi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 340 meters in Castellina in Chianti. The soil is calcareous clay characterized by heterogeneous profiles that combine “alberese” limestone with marl slate. There are 4,800 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Traditional temperature controlled vinification on the skins and fermentation and maceration lasts for 22 days. The wine ages for 15 months in tonneaux and 3 months in concrete and then a minimum of one year in bottle before release. The wine has floral hints, a touch of spice, anddelicate note of red fruit. I have been enjoying the wines from Cecchi for many years.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 Villa Cerna Cecchi made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino. The vineyards are at 280 meters, the soil is alkaline with stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Traditional temperature fermentation on the skins. Fermentation and maceration lasts for 15 days. The wine ages for 14 months in barriques and barrels of medium capacity and spends a minimum of 9 months in barrel before release. It is produced only in the best vintages. The wine has floral aromas with hints of red cherry, forest berries and a note of toasted almond.

IMG_6908Margherita Manetti

Chianti Classico Filetta di Lamole 2018 Fontodi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 620 meters and the soil is sandy. The wine has hints of cherry, plum, spice and a note of cranberries.

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Alex Pagano – Enoclassica Selections

Chianti Classico Tagliafune Riserva Villa Montepaldi made from 80% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet, 5% Alicante and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place from mid September to early October. Maturation takes place in wooden vats for at least 21 months. The wine has hints of dark berries, dried black cherries and a hint of spice. This renaissance property, once owned by Leonardo Medici, with its 300 hectares of vineyards and olive groves is also owned by the University of Florence and doubles as a field station for the Oenology department. It is run as a non-profit organization and therefore the wines are a good value. This was the first time I tasted this wine and I was very impressed with it.

IMG_6900Chianti Classico 2019 Castello La Leccia made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at 350 to 500 meters, soil is clay, silt sand, schistous clay and alberese. There are 4,500/ 5,200 vines per hectare and the vines are 9 to 15 years old. There is a south/southwest exposure and the training system is guyot. Harvest is manual in September/October and there is a selection in the vineyard. Destemmed grapes are gently crushed and transferred to steel thanks which are temperature controlled. There is a pre-fermentation cryomaceration for 24 hours followed by the alcoholic fermentation with short and frequent pumping over. Maceration lasts for 10 to 12 days. After racking, malolactic fermentation and maturation takes place in concrete tanks. The wine remains for 12 months in French and Austrian oak barrels of 2,000 to 2,500 liters. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, and violets.

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Elena Ercole – Export Manager

Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. 2019 Castello Di Radda made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% other grapes. The vineyards are at 400 meters with a southeast and southwest exposure. The soil has a clay and limestone structure with a good presence of silica skeleton. Harvest is by hand and then sorted in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel thermo-conditioned 50hl and 100hl vats, followed by maceration on the skins for two to three weeks. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in both stainless steel and wood. Part of the wine is aged in tonneaux and part in 20hl Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of violet, ripe plum, cherries and blackberries.

IMG_6901Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese. The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets. 

IMG_6886 2Chianti Classico 2016 Grand Seclezione Volpaia Made from 95% Sangiovese and 5%  Mammal vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2,564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in barriques of French oak of first and second passage  for 18 months  and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint, a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.

IMG_6891 2Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 3% Colorino and 2% Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The soil is sandstone content with limestone. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation lasts for 15 days with prefermentation maceration lasting 3 days in temperature controlled truncated-cone vats with indigenous yeasts.  Delestage and pumping over lasts for 22 days. The wine is aged in 38 HL French oak barrels for 18 months. The wine has hints of black cherry, cassis, coffee, tobacco and a note of violets. 

 I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.

IMG_6896Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2011 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico since the 1978 vintage.

IMG_6892 2Principe Corsini Villa Le Corti Don Tommaso  2016 Gran Selezione. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. The vineyard is at 270 to 350 meters and the soil is loamy stone content with limestone. Fermentation is in open, frustum cone-shaped stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days and after 24 hours at 20C the grapes are inoculated with selected indigenous yeast. Skin contact is for 10 days and punch down and delestage is in stainless steel. The wine ages for 16 months mainly in tonneaux of 500 to 700 liters. The wine has hints of black cherry, cassis, coffee, tobacco and a note of vanilla.

IMG_6902Banfi Tuscany Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 made from Sangiovese Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. The alcoholic fermentation takes place with a medium period of maceration. Aging for two years of which a minimum of 12 months is in Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is then aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This wine has hints of cherries, plums and iris with a note of leather.

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Filed under Badia a Coltibuono, Banfi, Bibbiano, Castello Radda, Cecchi, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Monsanto, Uncategorized, Volpaia

Two Lunches at Trattoria San Ferdinando in Napoli

Trattoria San Ferdinando is one of our favorite places to eat when we are in Napoli.  The owners, Aldo and Marco Bruno, are always there to welcome you.  In fact, on a recent visit to the city we went there twice, something we rarely do.

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On both occasions Marco suggested we drink the wines of Michele Alois. This is a family run winery which we have visited and we know Massimo Alois very well. In fact Marco informed Massimo that we were there and he surprised us with a phone call on our second visit.

IMG_7120 2While we pondered the menu, Marco sent us out a delicious salad to enjoy with our wine.  It consisted of cubes of provolone local cheese, prosciutto, arugula and cherry tomatoes in a light dressing.

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Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2019  100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. 

Here are some of the dishes we enjoyed on our two visits to Trattoria San Ferdinando.

IMG_7143Grilled anchovies lightly coated with breadcrumbs and served with tender arugula leaves

IMG_7125Fried calamari and shrimp — While this may seem like a familiar Italian specialty, it stood out for both the quality of the very fresh seafood and the skill of the frying.  And did I mention the presentation?  That’s fried spaghetti in the background.  

IMG_7145On our second visit, we ordered the fried fish and seafood combination.  It, too, was excellent with some small local fishes added to the mix.

IMG_7144A plate of assorted vegetables enhanced our meal.  There was roasted peppers and fried peppers, escarole with capers and olives, artichoke hearts, broccoli rabe and eggplant parmesan.

IMG_7153 2Terra del Volturno Pallagrello Bianco IGT “Marrone” 2018 made from 100% Pallagrello Bianco from the 15 year old Morrone della Monica in Pontelatone  2.13 hectare vineyard at 350 meters. The exposure is east/west and the soil is limestone. There are 5,200 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot.  Harvest takes place in early September.  Two-thirds of the wine is vinified in stainless steel at a controlled temperature for one month and one-third of the wine is on the lees in neutral oak for nine months. The wine remains in the bottle for 12 moths before release. This is a full bodied intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, melon, a touch of chamomile  and a note of apricot.  This is the first time I have had this wine as it was introduced in 2018.  It is a very  impressive white wine.

IMG_7128 2Fried arancini (rice balls) and potato crocche’

IMG_7152 2Calamarata Pasta with sea food and a light tomato sauce

IMG_7150Grilled calamari 

IMG_7151 2Asparagus and ceccinelli (tiny fish) risotto

IMG_7154 2For dessert — A tasting of cake layered with cream and homemade fruit jam.

Thanks to the Bruno Family for these two wonderful meals!

Trattoria San Ferdinando   117 Via Nardones, Napoli

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Tasting the Wines of La Madeleine in Rome

Just before we were to leave for Rome, I received an email from Gianfranco Sorrentino of the restaurant IL Gattopardo and The Leopard at des Artistes  NYC. He wanted to introduce me to Giulia D’Alema, owner of La Madeleine Winery in Umbria and suggested that I could meet with her in Rome. I contacted Giulia and we agreed to meet for lunch at a restaurant where I could taste her wines.

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    Giulia said that she had lived and worked in NYC for a number of years and still has an apartment there but each time she visited the winery she felt more and more at home there. She left her job in NYC so she could devote her time and energy to the winery. She also has an apartment in Rome which is only 40 minutes from the winery.

     Cantina Madeleine winery is in Narni in the the province of Terni  in Umbria. The winery was founded in 2008 by Linda and Massimo D’Alema. Today Giulia is the co-owner with her brother Franco. Giulia is also the General Manager of the estate. There are over 15 hectares of which about 7 are planted in vines.

     Giulia explained that after extensive research they decided to plant Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc on the property. This was a very unusual choice but they felt these were the perfect grapes to grow. They also plan in the future to make wine from the Ciliegie grape, which is an indigenous variety.

     Riccardo Cotarella is the enologist and they are in involved in “The Wine Research Team” network.

     Giulia said “The Wine Research Team” is a group of companies that represents an Italian winemaking industry that believes in the value of scientific research and uses this to produce better and healthier wines so that wine continues to be both a modern and a century-old source of pleasure.  The WRT logo, a ship with one unfolded sail, indicates the fascinating challenge between man and nature, the winemaker and his vines.
“The Team” was created as a brand during the harvest of 2012 with the aim of distinguishing 25 wineries that express the majority of Italy’s winemaking regions, from Piedmont to Calabria. The wineries all follow the technical guidance of winemaker Riccardo Cotarella. Since the 2012 harvest, a technical protocol has been set out in order to make outstanding quality wine without the use of added sulphates.
Following the positive experience shared by wineries with solid traditions as well as recently created wine producers, all representative of Italian winemaking, “The Wine Research Team” network was founded in June 2014 with the aim of sharing the experience and know-how between the members.

     La Madeleine has been part of the WRT since it was founded. 

THE WINES

IMG_7065Spumante “Nerosè” Brut 100% Pinot Noir (Classic method). The soil is medium textured, generally clayey and rich in skeleton. The vineyard is at 180 meters and the exposure is northeast. There are 5,400 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place the second half of August. Vinification is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for at least 36 months. This is an elegant sparkling wine  with hint of citrus fruit, almonds, a touch of brioche and a note of ginger. The first vintage was 2012.


IMG_7066Spumante “Nerosé 60” Brut Rosato
100% Pinot Noir (Classic method) everything is the same as above but the wine spends 60 months on the lees. This is a complex wine with hints of strawberries, currants, raspberries, good acidity and a note of minerality.

IMG_7068Umbria Rosso IGT “Sfide” made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Mixed textured soil that is clayey and rich in skeleton. The vineyard is at 160 meters. There are 5,400 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place in the middle of September. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in barriques for 8/10 months and in bottle for at least 4 months before release.  This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and cherry. The wine is produced without added sulfites based on an innovative technique shared with other companies in the “Wine Research Team” network, headed by Dr. Riccardo Cotarella. The first vintage was 2012.

IMG_7069Umbria Rosso IGT “Narnot” made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Mixed textured soil that is clayey and rich in skeleton, The vineyard is at 160 meters. The are 5,400 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place in the middle of September. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used barriques for 18 months and in bottle for 12 months before release.   This a rich full wine with red fruit aromas and flavors a touch of cherry, a note of bell pepper and a pinch of herbs. The first vintage was in 2011.

IMG_7067Umbria Rosso IGT Pinot Nero made  from 100% Pinot Nero. The vineyard is at 180 meters. Vinification is in steel. Aging is in barriques for 16 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of red fruit like cherry and raspberry with a touch of clove and a note of vanilla. First vintage was 2012. This is a very impressive Italian Pinot Noir.

It was a pleasure meeting and speaking to Giulia about her winery.

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