Making Carciofi alla Giudia at Home

Deep Fried Roman Artichokes – Carciofi alla Giudia

This article was written by Josephine Wennerhome,-see the link to her web-site below. Josephine is also an expert on the Castelli Romani area, espically the town of Frascati and is in the process of setting up a web-site called “Frascati Food Embassy”. When I am in Rome I love to have the Carciofi alla giudia – artichokes cooked in the Jewish style. I had to share her article! Now Michele can make them at home!

Perhaps not everyone knows that many a traditional Roman recipe owes its origin to the Jewish cuisine of Rome, which in turn harks back to techniques and textures that go all the way to southern Italy and Sicily.  I am fascinated by the history of food and by the resourcefulness and intelligence of human beings in developing deliciousness and sustainability at the same time.  The Jewish population endured terrible conditions in Rome for many a generation, contending with all kinds of cruel rules and regulations making life inordinately difficult for them when they were enclosed in the Ghetto, and yet their menus are a delight to eat even today.  Here is a link to some more background if you are interested:

“Carciofi alla giudia” means “artichokes cooked the Jewish way” and the area of Rome known as the Ghetto is famous for this speciality.  I personally do not know anyone who has cooked these at home amongst my group of friends.  It is definitely the sort of dish one only orders at a restaurant during this time of year.

Sunday evening, i.e. yesterday, however, I looked at three formerly glorious roman-type artichokes that were looking at me as if to say, “Look sweetie, we’re doing our best to keep fresh but there is only so much we can do! if you don’t eat us tonight, don’t expect anything tomorrow.”


They were somewhat flaccid to the touch, their colour was no longer resplendent, and their allure suffered definite signs of the slings and arrows of time.  This said, they were eminently edible I hasten to add.

2I trimmed them one at a time, and lay them to bathe in a bowl of acidulated water (i.e. water and lemon juice).  For those who are not intimate with artichokes, the reason for this is that an artichoke will turn a very sad shade of grey shortly after it has been trimmed of its outer leaves (i.e. it oxidises). The lemony water prevents this.  Sparkling water will have the same effect.  When you are ready to cook the artichoke, remove it from the water and squeeze it gently to remove any excess liquid.  Pat dry with a paper towel.3If you go to a restaurant and ask for this dish, the artichoke’s stem will be left nice and long.  I cut mine right back because I couldn’t find the saucepan that was deep enough to accommodate these little blighters.  I poured the oil into the pan above and waited for the oil to reach the temperature before I ventured to gently place the artichoke inside it.  The artichoke needs to fry for about 10-12 minutes, so the oil must not be too hot.4I added the second artichoke.  I used a set of tongs to turn the artichokes now and then, so that they would cook evenly on all sides.5I then removed them from the oil and left them to cool off over some kitchen paper.6If you look closely, you may spot a few beads of water.  That is because I sprinkled a little bit of water over the artichokes.  That helps them to crispen up when they are fried a second time.
7I then gently but firmly pressed the artichoke to flatten it a little …8And this time the temperature of the oil must be much hotter.  The artichoke is already cooked, all it needs is for its outer leaves to go very crisp (the same idea as with potato chips or French fries).  Fry for less then five minutes.9Use the tongs to help the artichoke fry all over, turning it this way and that …10I fried the artichokes one at a time.  I ran out of kitchen paper (it was one of those days) and so I resorted to a clean tea towel.    I sprinkled some salt all over …
11And here is my little trio on the plate …13Home-made carciofi alla giudia.  Not too shabby.

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Tommasi: La Forza della Famigila

Last May Michele and I were staying on Lake Garda. One day, we went to visit the Tommasi Winery in Valpolicella which is only a half hour away. Tommasi is a very traditional producer of Valpolicella and Amarone and I like their style of wine.IMG_5492

Annalisa Armani, the PR person and marketing director, greeted us and took us on a very nice tour followed by a tasting. She mentioned that the Tommasi family has other estates in Italy and that Pierangelo Tommasi was coming to NYC to speak about the Masseria Surani Estate in Manduria, Puglia.

Pierangelo Tommasi

Pierangelo Tommasi

When Pierangelo arrived in New York, he contacted me and we tasted the wines at lunch. Pierlangelo said that Tommasi Vinters is a family affair founded in 1902. The company has grown over the decades. It is a very large family working together, each member with a well-defined area of responsibility. I mentioned to Pierangelo that this was unusual because one hears often of Italian wineries where family members cannot get along. He said in Italian La Forza della Famigila, the strength of the family, is what makes the company a success

When the fourth generation of the family started to be involved, the company launched “Tommasi Family Estates project”, a major investment program dedicated to the acquisition of lands best suited for wine grapes which include:
Valpolicella Classica, DOC areas of Verona;  Prosecco in Treviso; the Maremma Toscana; Manduria Puglia; and Oltrepò Pavese in Lombardy. Each Estate has its own history and identity.

He said that they acquired about 80 hectares in Manduria in the Salento area, the best zone for the cultivation of the Primitivo grape. There are 55 hectares of vineyards now: 30 hectares of Primitivo, 5 hectares of Negroamaro, 10 hectares of Fiano, 5 hectares of Cabernet Sauvignon and 5 hectares of Chardonnay. They are in the process of planting another 25 hectares of vines. The soil is made up of limestone and clay. The training system is guyot and there are 5,500 vines/hectare. The vines are surrounded by nearly 25 miles of stonewalls, built from rocks pulled up when the vineyards were planted 10 years ago.  In the center of the vineyards lies the Surani manor and a complex of buildings originally used for agricultural purposes, all of which have been newly refurbished with vinification facilities (including many Slavonian oak barrels that were brought down from the Veneto).

The wines are named after Greek gods because this part of Puglia was founded and colonized by the ancient Greeks about 700 B. C.

The Wines all the wines sell for around $15IMG_7482

Arthemis (Goddess of the Moon) 2013 made from 90% Fiano and 10% Chardonnay. Pierangelo said that in the future it will be made from 100% Fiano. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine matures is stainless steel tanks for about 4 months before release. It has cirtius aromas and flavors and hints of grass and herbs.IMG_5502

Helios (God of the Sun) 2013 Rose made from 100% Negroamaro. One day skin maceration and about 10 days of fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. I tasted this wine at the winery in May. The wine has nice fruit with hints os strawberry.IMG_7480

Ares (God Of War) Rosso 2012 made from 50% Primitivo, 30% Negroamaro and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and matures in oak casks for 6 months. Nice black berry flavors and sromas with a touch of spice.IMG_7481

Heracles (Son of Zeus) 100% Primitivo. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12 days. The wine matures in oak casks for 10 months before release. This was the most impressive of the wines a true Primitivo

Pierangelo also said that the family owns the Villa Quaranta Park Hotel not far from Verona, the Albergo Mazzanti and the Caffe Dante in Verona, and an agriturismo at the Poggio Al Tufo in Tuscany. All are run by family members. Pierangelo was right when he said La Forza della Famiglia!

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Notes on Vinitaly 2015

IMG_7546Vinitaly, the annual wine fair in Verona, Italy, is much bigger now than the last time I was there eight years ago. There are 12 very large pavilions and a number of smaller ones. The fair used to last 5 days, but now it is 4.IMG_7547

At least one wine writer, Alfonso Cevola, was disappointed at the state of affairs at Vinitaly and wrote what he called a “Dear John Letter.” He made some very good points on why he may not return to the fair–here is the link to the blog. While I agree with Alfonso on many points, there is another side of the fair, that of visiting and tasting wine with old friends and making new ones, that I think is the best part.IMG_7540

Sunday was the first day and the most crowded. Our first visit was with Barbara De Rahm, a negotiant I have known for many years. There was a time when I was the Wine Director at I Trulli that I would sit all day at Barbara’s stand tasting wine.IMG_7542

The next stop was a visit and tasting with Valter Fissore and his wife Nadia Cogno of the Elvio Cogno winery. I have known Valter and Nadia for a number of years and like his style of wine. Travis and Nicole, the owners of Turtledove Wines and my travelling companions, like these wines and have a large selection in their store.IMG_7159

Next we stopped by to see Luca Currado of the Vietti winery who I have know for over 30 years. His 2007 Barolo Villero was the 2015 Gambero Rosso red wine of the year.IMG_7568

Next was a visit to my favorite maker of Chianti Rufina Grato Grati. We tasted the Chianti and then tasted a wine I have never had before, a Canaiolo Bianco di Toscana. It was very good.IMG_7566

Riccardo Gabriele does PR for Italian wines and one of his clients is Il Marroneto, producers of a traditional Brunello di Montalcino, Madonna della Grazie, which I believe is one of the best Brunellos made.IMG_7558

A Facebook friend, Steven Giles, suggested I visit Donatella Giannotti of the Cascina Montagnola winery. We tasted the Colli Tortonese Cortese and two wines made from the Timorasso grape, Dethma and the Morasso. They are looking for an importer in NYC and I highly recommend the wines.IMG_7641

Then we visited Dr. Alfonso and Anna Arpino of the Ag Az Monte Grazia Biological winery in Tremonti high above the Amalfi Coast. They make three wines–a white, a rose and a red, and are among my favorite wines.

Next we visited the Machesi Bartolini Baldelli of Fattoria di Bangolo in Tuscany. I have know the Marchese for a number of years and when Michele and I were at the fair or in Florence we would go out to dinner with him and his wife. His wife is from Scarsdale, NY.IMG_7541

We also stopped by to visit marketing specialist Marina Thompson and her husband, wine authority Daniele Cernilli, known as Doctor Wine.IMG_7572

Our last visit was to Clavesana, makers of Dolcetto in Dogliani. We talked with Anna Bracco and Mario Felice Schwenn from the winery. Siamo Dolcetto meaning “We are Dolcetto” is the slogan of this large co-op. They said that Dolcetto is no loner required on the label, all it has to say is Dogliani, where the wine comes from, to know it is Dolcetto.

We only spent two days at the fair, because as with so much in Italy, lunch comes before anything else!


Filed under Barbara De Rham, Canaiolo Bianco, Cascina Montagnola, Clavesana, Daniele Cernilli, Elvio Cogno, Fattoria di Bangolo, Grato Grati, IL Marroneto, Monte de Grazia Winery, Vietti, Vinitaly 2015

The 50 Best Italian White Wines

Tom Hyland on Italy’s 50 best White Wines.  I am in agreement with Tom on his choices.




by tom hyland

Sabino Loffredo

Sabino Loffredo, winemaker, Pietracupa, Montefredane, Campania 

His Greco di Tufo is one of Italy’s 10 greatest white wines 

(Photo ©Tom Hyland)

I’ll get right to it – Italian white wines are among the finest whites in the world. If you’ve been tasting them over the past decade, you know that to be true (unfortunately, there are too many wine critics that either have not been sampling them or have totally dismissed them. It’s their loss).

We live in a world where we are submitted to high ratings and overblown descriptors for too many wines; whether you trust these reviews or not, the fact is most of them are for red wines. Now some whites, especially white Burgundies and certain German and Alsatian Rieslings do receive great praise. But it’s rare to read much in the way of exemplary admiration for Italy’s best white wines, at least outside of Italy.

Thus, I’d like to change that with this post. I’ve tasted so many vibrant and compelling whites from Italy these past fifteen years that I feel the need to shout my acclaim for these wines, as they truly deserve it. I love the everyday whites from Italy as well – there are numerous examples of Soave, Gavi, Vermentino and Pinot Bianco that I’d drink in a heartbeat – but here is my list of the 50 Best Italian White Wines. (Note: This was incredibly difficult to list only 50 Italian white wines, so at the end of the post, I have listed an additional 25 wines that just missed out on the Top 50.)

I’m not going to list them from 1-50 (that list would probably change every day), but rather put them into five separate groupings of the Top Ten, Second Ten and so on.Each wine will be listed in its grouping alphabetically by the name of the estate.(Note: I did not include dessert wines – I’ll list those in a future post.)

1st Ten

Colterenzio Sauvignon “Lafoa” (Alto Adige)

Vigne Marina Coppi Timorasso “Fausto” (Colli Tortonesi)

Marisa Cuomo “Fiorduva” (Costa d’Amalfi)

Andrea Felici Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva “Il Cantico della Figura”

Livio Felluga “Terre Alte” (Rosazzo Bianco)

Pieropan Soave “Calvarino” (Soave Classico)

Pietracupa Greco di Tufo 

Cantina Terlano Pinot Bianco Riserva “Vorberg” (Alto Adige)

Cantina Tramin Gewürztraminer “Nussbaumer” (Alto Adige)

Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

If I had to name the best wine in this top ten, year in and year out, it would be thePietracupa Greco di Tufo. Medium-full with perfect balance, distinct minerality and ideal varietal purity, this is a reference point for Greco di Tufo – and in reality, for what a great white wine is all about. I rate this a bit higher than the winery’s superb Fiano di Avellino (see below), but both wines are stunning, a tribute to the work and passion of winemaker/proprietor Sabino Loffredo.

The Nussbaumer Gewürztraminer is simply delicious and sexy at the same time- you can get lost in the perfumes of this wine. The Colterenzio “Lafoa” Sauvignon is deeply concentrated and a great example of cool climate Sauvignon with distinctive herbal qualities as well as beautifully ripe fruit.

I rated the “Calvarino” Soave from Pieropan higher than the “La Rocca” (see below) because of its more classic profile, while the Terlano “Vorberg” is as complex and as dazzling a Pinot Bianco as there is in Alto Adige. The “Fiorduva” from Cuomo is an iconic Campanian white, made from local varieties Ginestra, Fenile and Ripoli and given oak treatment, this is as singular a white wine as any in Italy; it must be experienced to be believed.

The Felici Verdicchio, from a relatively new estate, is as pure and as focused a Verdicchio as I have ever tasted; cement-fermented and aged, this has exceptional length. The Coppi Timorasso is the finest example of this singular white from Piemonte, one with powerful minerality and stunning complexity. The Felluga “Terre Alte” is exhibit number one in Italy that with a great blended white (Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon in this instance), the total is greater than the sum of the parts. A wine that ages extremely well (twenty year-old versions are usually in excellent shape), this wine has stood the test of time.

Finally, what more can I say about the Valentini Trebbiano d’Abruzzo that hasn’t already been said? This great producer showed us the true potential of this variety; his version towers over most of the competition. Unlike the straightforward, relatively simple examples of Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from most producers, the Valentini version is powerful and tightly wrapped – it demands time. Boy, does it ever reward the patient! Another wine that is superb after a decade or two, it has richly earned its status as one of Italy’s finest wines – red or white.


2nd Ten

Cantine Lunae Bosoni Vermentino “Etichetta Nera” (Colli di Luni)

J. Hofstatter Gewürztraminer “Kolbenhof” (Alto Adige)

Lo Triolet Pinot Gris (Valle d’Aosta)

Manincor Sauvignon “Lieben Aich” (Alto Adige)

Pietracupa Fiano di Avellino

Planeta “Cometa” (Sicilia)

Tenuta Sarno Fiano di Avellino

Vadiaperti Greco di Tufo

Villa Bucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva

Villa Diamante Fiano di Avellino “Vigna della Congregazione”

Three versions of Fiano di Avellino here – all powerful, all superb. The Pietracupa the most refined, the Diamante the most dynamic, the Sarno, the most aristocratic. Each wine is a great representation of Fiano.

A different style of Fiano is the “Cometa” of Planeta. This has been one of Italy’s top whites for some time; recent vintages have been nothing short of brilliant. I love the exotic fruit profile along with the notes of chamomile and thyme. I love the slightly oily texture of this wine! The Hofstatter Gewürztraminer is deeply concentrated, has brilliant varietal focus and needs time to show its greatness.

The Manincor “Lieben Aich” is from biodynamic vineyards near Lago Caldaro in Alto Adige; this offers great varietal purity and persistence. The Villa Bucci is the most famous and perhaps the most consistent offering of Verdicchio; the wine is all about finesse and charm. The Vadiaperti is a first-rate Greco di Tufo with outstanding balance and distinct minerality. It becomes amazing with time; I tasted a twenty year-old version at the winery and was stunned by its color and freshness. Proof that bigger is not better.

The Lo Triolet Pinot Gris is the finest example of this variety in all of Italy. Produced from grapes situated 2900 feet above sea level (arguably the highest elevation in the world for this variety), this is a stellar wine with pinpoint perfumes of apricot, red apple and pear backed by vibrant acidity and white spice notes in the finish. This Valle d’Aosta offering is layered, engaging and impossible to resist.

Finally, the Lunae Bosoni Vermentino “Etichetta Nera” is arguably the finest aromatic white in all of Italy. Brilliant varietal purity with vibrant acidity and amazing length – a great white from Liguria and as good a Vermentino as you will ever taste.


Cutizzi Vineyard of Feudi di San Gregorio, Santa Paolina, Campania

Greco di Tufo zone (Photo ©Tom Hyland)

3rd Ten

Elisabetta Foradori Nosiola “Fontanasanta” (Vigneto delle Dolomiti)

Feudi di San Gregorio Greco di Tufo “Cutizzi”

Ettore Germano Riesling “Herzu” (Piemonte)

Manincor Pinot Bianco “Eichhorn” (Alto Adige)

Massa Timorasso “Sterpi”

Mastroberardino Fiano di Avellino “Radici”

Emidio Pepe Trebbiano d’Abruzzo

Pieropan Soave Classico “La Rocca”

Santa Chiara Vernaccia di San Gimignano “Campo alla Pieve”

Elena Walch Gewürztraminer “Kastelaz”

A wide array of regions and styles in this group. The Foradori Nosiola is a one-of-a-kind wine; made from an indigenous variety of Trentino, Foradori ferments the grapes with the skins in amphorae from Spain. This is a sensual, multi-layered white that reveals greater complexity over the years.

The Santa Chiara Vernaccia di San Gimignano is as rich, complex and as focused an example of this wine type I have ever tried – simply perfect! The Walch Gewürztraminer is appealingly fruity and spicy – a wonderful combination.

The Feudi di San Gregorio “Cutizzi” is a stylish Greco di Tufo from a single vineyard; the wine has subtle tropical fruit perfumes and great finesse. The Mastroberardino “Radici” has become one of the best examples of Fiano di Avellino over the past few years; this offers bright fruit along with lovely purity as well as an appealing charm. The “Herzu” from Ettore Germano is a marvelous Riesling with distinct minerality and subtle power; if you’ve never had Riesling from Piemonte, this will surprise you!


4th Ten

Anselmi “Capitel Foscarino” (Veneto)

Bastianich “Vespa” Bianco (Friuli Colli Orientali)

Bisci Verdicchio di Matelica “Vigneto Fogliano”

Castellari Bergaglio Gavi “Pilin”

Castello della Sala “Cervaro della Sala” (Umbria)

Castello di Tassarolo Gavi “Alborina”

Gini Soave “Contrada Salvarenza Vecchie Vigne”

Vigna Surrau Vermentino di Gallura “Sciala”

Cantina Tramin “Stoan” (Alto Adige)

Le Vigne di Zamo Friulano “Cinquantanni” (Friuli Colli Orientali)

Another great Verdicchio is the Vigneto Fogliano from Bisci, one of the premier producers of Verdicchio di Matelica. This is a single vineyard wine from thirty-five year old vines; there is great varietal purity (notes of spearmint and elderberries) as well as outstanding concentration and persistence. This is precise in its execution – and simply delicious!

Two examples of Gavi in the group, a wine many seem to have forgotten. The Tassarolo is from biodynamically-farmed grapes and offers exotic guava and candied fruit aromas, lovely acidity, perfect harmony and great finesse. The Bergaglio, is a completely different style, as it is barrique-aged; there is marvelous texture and outstanding complexity. The wood notes are evident, but play a supporting role; all in all, this is a strikingly distinctive Gavi.

The “Stoan” from Cantina Tramin, an ingenious cuvée of Chardonnay, Sauvignon, Pinot Bianco and Gewürztraminer, has a razor’s edge feel to it, given its vibrancy and minerality. There is tremendous depth of fruit and persistence; simply put, this is an original. The “Cinquantanni” (fifty years) Friulano from Vigne de Zamo is Friulano taken to a higher level – what amazing richness and focus!

The Bastianich Vespa earned it rightful place on this list more than a decade ago. That is appropriate, given that this blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon and Picolit, while very appealing upon release, is generally at its finest only after a decade in the bottle. Super consistent! The Anselmi “Capitel Foscarino” is a deeply concentrated and thrillingly concentrated Garganega (with 10% Chardonnay) that never fails to excite the senses.

The Surrau “Sciala” Vermentino is a great example of how tantalizing Vermentino di Gallura truly is. Offering excellent concentration and alluring perfumes of honeydew melon, jasmine and pear, this is a wine you can’t help but fall in love with every time you taste it.

The Cervaro della Sala is a barrique-aged blend of 85% Chardonnay and 15% Grechetto that is as complex and as singular as almost any wine on this list. This is a great combination of varietal character and richness with great finesse, charm and style; this is another white to be enjoyed years down the road. The Gini “Contrada Salvarenza” is made from vines ranging from 60 to 100 years of age; powerful in its approach, this is a great Soave with outstanding persistence and presence.


5th Ten

Abbazia di Novacella Kerner “Praepositus” (Valle Isarco, Alto Adige)

Stefano Antonucci Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva

Ca’ Rugate Soave Classico “Monte Alto”

Cave du Vin Blanc Blanc de Morgex et de La Salle “Rayon” (Valle d’Aosta)

Peter Dipoli Sauvignon “Voglar” (Alto Adige)

Filippi Soave “Castelcerino” 

Kuenhof Riesling “Kaiton” (Vallee Isarco)

Malvirà Roero Arneis “Trinità” 

Umani-Ronchi Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Riserva “Plenio”

Villa Raiano Greco di Tufo “Contrada Marotta”

The Cave du Vin Blanc wine from Valle d’Aosta is made entirely from Prié Blanc; the term Rayon is a synonym for Prié Blanc. Steel-aged, this is medium-full with aromas of stone fruit and apples, this changes to apple cider notes after three or four years. There is distinct minerality, excellent persistence and lively acidity. A fascinating wine, whether tasted at three or ten years of age.

Few vintners craft Soave with as much precision – or love – as Filippo Filippi. His Castelcerino offering, from one of the best sites in Soave has a chalkiness that is quite reminiscent of a Premier Cru or Grand Cru Chablis. Great complexity here as well as age worthiness. The Ca’ Rugate Soave Classico “Monte Alto” fermented in barriques and 20-hectoliter barrels, is extremely rich; there is a subtle nuttiness that accompanies the pear and melon perfumes. This is a serious Soave that takes this wine type to new places!

The Kuenhof Riesling is produced from soils containing quartz, schist and crush rock, which certainly give his wine a clear-cut individuality. The “Kaiton” Riesling has engaging aromas of apricot, petrol and even a note of green tea; medium-full with steely acidity, this has precise minerality and lovely varietal focus. Da non perdere!

The Malvirà Arneis “Trinità” has been an outstanding example of its type for many years. A small percentage is fermented in oak, giving the wine added texture. Lovely aromas of hawthorn, melon and pear; excellent persistence and notable minerality.

The Abbazia “Praepositus” Kerner displays the promise of this variety, grown in the Valle Isarco in far northeastern Alto Adige. Offering perfumes of papaya, melon and orange rind, there are also delicate yellow spice notes. Lovely acidity and complexity – I always find something new in this wine every time I taste it.

Umani-Ronchi is an accomplished producer of Verdicchio; their finest wine is the “Plenio” Riserva. One-third of the wine is aged in large Slavonian casks to give the wine a touch of wood as well as additional texture. Perfectly ripe fruit, lively acidity and outstanding complexity, this is at its best seven to ten years after the vintage.

Stefano Antonucci is one of the most dynamic personalities of the Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi zone – or anywhere in Italy, for that matter. His riserva, matured for about a year in barriques, is a gorgeous wine, one that is deeply concentrated, has outstanding complexity and persistence as well as enticing aromas of orange blossoms, spiced pear and acacia. This is more proof of how well truly great Verdicchio gains in complexity after several years.

Finally, the Peter Dipoli Sauvignon “Voglar” is all about varietal purity. Simply out, every component of this wine meshes seamlessly; taste this wine and you realize what a great Sauvignon – or white wine, for that matter – is all about. Simply perfect!

tom hyland | April 8, 2015 at 6:49 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:


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Milan to Venice: Eating and Drinking

For many years on and off, I had gone to Vinitaly, the wine fair in Verona, though eight years had passed since the last time. This year, Nicole and Travis, owners of Turtledove wine store in Manhattan were going and wanted to know if Michele and I would like to go with them. Michele said no, but I said yes. The trip turned out to be more about eating and drinking than about the wine fair.IMG_7527

I arrived in Milan to very nice weather and joined Travis and Nicole for lunch at Bacaro del Sambuco, Via Montenapoleone 13. This is the most fashionable street in Milan and the restaurant is open only for lunch Monday to Friday. The afternoon was warm and we sat outside in the lovely garden. Most of the customers were stylishly dressed women that had stopped in after a morning of shopping.IMG_7531

I had an excellent lemon pappardelle with anchovies followed by one of my favorites, langoustine. We drank a Franciacorta metodo classico spumante.

That night we went to Trattoria Milanese, Via Santa Marta 11. Michele and I had eaten here a number of years ago when she was doing an article for the Wine Spectator. She still talks about the risotto.IMG_7533

This time we started with an assortment of salumi with bresaola and lardo. I had cotechino with mashed potatoes and lentils.IMG_7534

I tried to order the risotto but the waiter said it was too much food! For dessert I had the fragolini del bosco with gelato.

Milan to Bardolino

Traverna Kus di Zanolli Giancarlo in San Zeno di Montagna, Contrada Castello 14. Michele and I had been here for lunch in May and the restaurant was crowded. We liked it so much that I decided to come back.IMG_7583

The restaurant is in on the ground floor of a restored 17th century farmhouse. There are three interior rooms, a glass enclosed veranda and outside tables for summer dining. We sat in the veranda.IMG_7584

This time we were the only customers. I started with culatello with mostarda,IMG_7587

then ravioli stuffed with asparagus and then a selection of cheese with more mostarda.IMG_7589

For dessert I had a Millefoglie Vite.

With the meal we drank Terre Alte Collio Orientali del Friuli  2012 Livio Felluga a blend of estate grown grapes: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in the Rosazzo zone. The soil is marl and sandstone and the training system is guyot. The bunches of grapes are carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period of time before crushing. The must is then allowed to settle.IMG_7585

Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small casks of French (no new oak is used) oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon mature in stainless steel tanks. After aging for ten months the wines are blended. The bottled wine is aged in temperature controlled binning cellars for 9 months before release. The wine has a touch of sage, hints of pear, peach and fresh almonds.IMG_7586

Schioppettino di Cialla 2007 Ronchi di Cialla (Friuli) 100% Schioppettino. The 1-hectare vineyard is at 165-180 meters with a south/southeast exposure. The wine ages for four years, 14 to 18 months in barrel and 30 to 36 months in bottle before it is released. This was one of my favorite wines but I have not had it in a long time so I had to order it. It was as I remembered it, hints of dark black fruit, spice, white pepper and a touch of leather. It can age for 20 years or more 

Antica Locanda Mincio, Via Buonarroti 12- 37067 Valeggio sul Mincio. This is one of Michele’s favorite outdoor places for lunch, sitting at a table overlooking the Mincio River and the medieval village. This time I sat inside because we had dinner and it was March. The dining room has a large fireplace and colorful mural on the walls, which creates a medieval atmosphere.IMG_7551

We started with Bresaola and I had Polenta with Salame, which I have every time I come here, followed by a specialty of the region tortelli di zucca and another favorite stinco di maiale, roasted pork shank.IMG_7549

We drank a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2005 from E. Valentino 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

Ristorante Piccolo Doge, Via Santa Cristina 46, Bardolino.

When Michele and I were on Lake Garda last year, we passed this restaurant several times on the way into Bardolino. From the outside it looked a little overdone with lights and Venetian trappings, so we never stopped there. This time the restaurant I had planned to go to was booked, so the receptionist at our hotel suggested it. It was a good choice since the food was excellent as was the service. There is an outdoor patio for summer dining overlooking the lake, which I imagine would be very pleasant.

I started with a warm octopus salad with potatoes and olives. The octopus was cooked just right.IMG_7578

Bigoli, a kind of thick spaghetti with sardines Venetian-style followed and I could not resist the grilled white fish from Lake Garda. For dessert, there was a delicious cake with pine nuts.

Since we were having fish we ordered sparkling wine.IMG_7577

Ferrari Perlé 2007 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast.IMG_7576

To our surprise there was a Moèt and Chandon Cuvèe Dom Pèrignon 2003 on the wine list for less money than it would sell for retail in NYC. It is made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. We ordered it and it was wonderful and could last for another 15 years.

On our way from Bardolino to Venice we stopped for lunch at Le Calandre in Rubino. They have a choice of three tasting menus, we ordered the Tinto, the spring tasting menu, which was very elaborate.

With all this food we had to have wine:IMG_7603

Champagne “Substance” Brut Jacques Selosse

We started with Champagne “Substance” 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Jacques Selosse. Low yields; organic viniculture and terroir are a hallmark of Mr. Selosse’s wines. He has all Grand Cru holdings in Avize, Cramant and Oger. He uses indigenous yeasts for fermentation and ages the wine in barrels, 20% new oak. The wine is left on the fine lees for an extended period. Dosage is kept to an absolute minimum. “Substance” is a solar Champagne created by Mr. Selosse in 1986, by marrying some 20 vintages in order to avoid vintage variation and allowing the terroir to speak on its own. This is full-bodied Champagne with good fruit, hints of orange peel and spice with good minerality.IMG_7604

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo DOC 2003 100% E Valentini The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 12 months. There was nice fruit, good minerality and just a touch of strawberry in the wine but that may be the only thing it has in common with other rose wines. It has a great finish and lingering aftertaste.IMG_7607

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2002 Emidio Pepe

The Emidio Pepe winery is both organic and biodynamic. The winery belongs to the Triple “A”– Agriculturists Artisans Artists–an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in organic and bio-dynamic production, terroir, and as little interference as possible by the winemaker in the winemaking process. In their vineyard only sulphur and copper water are used along with biodynamic preparations. Only natural yeast is used which gives the wine more complexity because there are so many different strains of yeast on the grapes and in the air. The grapes are crushed by hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25hl where the wine remains for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.IMG_7605

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1994 Soldera 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Only grapes from the Casa Base Estate are used. The vineyard is at 320 meters and the exposure is southwest. Natural fermentation is carried out in Slovenian oak casks. There is no temperature control and no artificial yeast is added. Pumping over takes place and frequent tastings take place. The wine can remain up to five years in Slovenian oak casks. 1994 was not a great year for Brunello but this wine was showing very well with


Filed under Dom Perignon, Emidio Pepe, Ferrari, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Jacques Selosse - Susbstance, Le Calandre restaurant, Livio Felluga, Restaurant Bacaro del Sambuco, Ristorante Piccolo Doge, Ronchi di Cialla- Schioppettino, Soldera, Taverna Kus, Terre Alte, Trattoria Milanese, Uncategorized, Valentini

Tom Maresca’s Campania Stories

This is a three part article by Tom Maresca on his adventures in Campania in March. I have printed the first article and have links to the other two.  I highly recommend them.

Campania Stories: Naples

Campania Stories is the name of an increasingly important twice-a-year event held at a variety of sites in Campania. In the fall, it features the white wines of the region, with a focus on the newest releases and – usually – a retrospective of a five- or ten-year-old vintage. In the early spring, it showcases Taurasi and other red wines, with the same emphasis on the newest vintages and some significant anniversary vintages. For me, Campania Stories has acquired crucial importance as the most convenient and thorough way for me to track the rapidly accruing changes in what I believe to be not only the most dynamic wine area of Italy but also potentially the richest of the whole peninsula.

campania stories

I attended Campania Stories’ mid-March red wine sessions, held this year in Naples and Avellino, and my only complaint is that the wine seminars and tastings took so much time and attention that I didn’t have a chance to worship at any of Naples’s shrines of pizza (though I did manage to wolf down some excellent pizza at Pozzuoli’s Dea Bandata – but that’s another story). At the portion of the sessions held in Naples, the main focus was on the Piedirosso variety, and they afforded me a great opportunity to learn just how important this formerly secondary variety is becoming.

Piedirosso is a grape as ancient as any grown in Campania, and that probably translates to about two and a half millennia of history. The name means “red foot,” and its more poetic dialect name, per ‘e palummo, means “dove’s foot,” for the same reason: its vivid red stems look like the feet of doves. Some growers – notably Salvatore Avellone of Villa Matilde – believe that Piedirosso is the grape that made the ancient Cecubum, a wine prized in the Roman Empire; accordingly, Villa Matilde produces a wine that the Avellones call Cecubo, a blend of Piedirosso and Aglianico.

Whatever role Piedirosso may have played in ancient times, in recent history the variety has been upstaged by Aglianico, to which it has for a long time played second string. It has traditionally been used largely in blends to soften the asperities of Aglianico, whose tannins can in youth be very harsh indeed. Piedirosso on the other hand has very soft tannins and a kind of easy, giving fruitiness that makes it an ideal complement to Aglianico. So, if, as many winos do, you think in terms of the Médoc, Piedirosso acts to Aglianico as Merlot does to Cabernet. And like Merlot, Piedirosso has been discovered to have numerous virtues of its own. In recent years, better field work and careful clonal selection have uncovered in Piedirosso an intriguing complexity and a healthy ability to age, so more and more growers are now producing monovarietal Piedirosso of genuine quality and interest.


Tom tasting


Here are some of those that impressed me:

Agnanum Campo Flegrei Piedirosso Vigna delle Volpi 2007

Federiciane Campi Flegrei Piedirosso 2013

Grotta del Sole Campo Flegrei Piedirosso Montegauro Riserva 2009

Sorrentino Pompeiano Piedirosso Frupa 2011

Tommasone Ischia Per ‘e Palummo 2012

While the stand-out wine for me was the Grotta del Sole Montegauro – for the intensity and concentration of its varietal character – all these wines showed real Piedirosso softness and accessibility, and were revelatory of the great potential of the variety.

Interesting as it is, Piedirosso is not the only not-Aglianico-red vine drawing attention in Campania. The region holds a wealth of ancient red varieties, many of which are in danger of disappearing because of various manmade and natural disasters. Of these blights, phylloxera, devastating as it was, may not be the greatest. The impoverishment of the countryside caused first by Italian unification – which, for the then Kingdom of Naples, meant occupation and exploitation by a foreign power – led to massive emigration and to consequent depopulation. Then throw in two world wars and a major depression between them, and the end result is abandoned farms and vineyards and a severely threatened, if not outright broken, agricultural tradition, from which Campania is still in the process of recovering.

But recovering it is, and many ancient, threatened varieties are being rediscovered and propagated. Chief among these are Casavecchia and Pallagrello nero (also Pallagrello bianco, but that too is another story). Saved and propagated by Peppe Mancini and Manuela Piancastelli (Terre del Principe is their estate) and championed by, among others, Giovanni Ascione (his estate is Nanni Copè), these vines – most if not all on their own rootstocks – are yielding extraordinary wines that are already winning Tre Bicchieri in Italy. (I’ve posted about these before.) Other producers to know about include Alois, Il Verro, La Masserie, Selvanova, and Vigne Chigi.

Palagrello wines

Other varieties, like Tintore, are still further back on the rebirth curve but are nevertheless already making wines of more than passing interest – for instance, Monte di Grazia rosso, made from ungrafted Tintore vines that survived phylloxera and hence are well more than a hundred years old – as were the surviving scions of Palagrello and Casavecchia, from which all the new vines have been propagated.

Still other vines are even less known and have yet to make their way into growers’ and drinkers’ consciousness. Nicola Venditti, for instance, a traditional producer in Benevento province, cultivates 20 different varieties on his property, several of which, as he says, aren’t even in the books yet. Campania still has a lot of stories to tell, and will have for years to come.

Also see Tom Maresca on:


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Alfonso Cevola: A Dear John Letter to Veronafiere

Alfonso Cevola  has been attending Vinitaly for many years.  He gives his opinion on this years event and why it may be his last Vinitaly. I attended Vinitaly for the first time in eight years and  have to agree with most of what Alfonso writes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Why this might be our last Vinitaly in Verona: A Dear Giovanni letter to Veronafiere

Dear Veronafiere,

We have been coming to Verona and Vinitaly since 1967. We have watched it expand over the years and have endured the labor pains of growth along with many other long persevering Italians, as well as people from around the world. But we are seriously considering not coming back to Vinitaly in Verona.

1) The first day of the fair, Sunday, has become a drunken party for people who have nothing to do with the wine industry. Booths in the Veneto, Trentino/Alto-Adige and Lombardia halls are impossible to navigate with the throngs of people looking to fill their glasses. No spitting, along with with sloppy drunks in abundance. It is impossible to get any business done in those areas on a Sunday.2) The parking scene is still a joke. Tonight we collectively sat in our cars in the parking lot across the street from Veronafiere, with hundreds of vehicles trying to leave and with only one exit. Two hours later we finally got out. Late for our evening appointments, again. Really, how hard is it to get some light rail to go from Veronafiere to other areas around Verona to ease the congestion? Or open two more exits? We’ve only been talking about this for 20 years!

3) What is with all the people hanging around the outside of the halls, blocking the doors, and smoking? This is supposed to be a trade show, not a place to light up while waiting for a hooker. And the people who hang on the doors, and then get irritated because one wants to open them to go to another hall? Who is policing the area? No one, that’s who.

4) The bathrooms are still, in large part, a disaster. They stink, the floors are urine soaked, and women still don’t have enough stalls that they have to invade the men’s room. How degrading is that to women (and men) who just need to take a pee? This is disgusting.

5) You have still not managed to keep some of the halls properly ventilated. How hard is it to put in LED lighting that won’t heat the place up, along with opening windows and preventing the rooms from getting stifling hot?

6) Once again, communications within the halls via cell phone, text, messaging and internet, all the different ways we use to communicate in this connected era, these are not possible at Vinitaly. Texts arrive hours later; many of us miss critical communication in order to meet up or change meeting places. Phone calls endlessly are dropped. And trying to access the internet to check on information about a winery or access an app, this is still a huge challenge within the halls of Veronafiere. How can we move our business forward if we cannot use the tools that are essential in today’s world? This is an ongoing scandal and one in which the leadership at Veronafiere have failed, once again, to address.

7) Three wineries, friends of ours, had their booths vandalized and wine stolen? How many more that we don’t know about? Was that a coincidence? Or lack of security. #ThisMustStop.

Do you want more? We spend our hard-earned money trying to promote the wines of Italy. And Verona and Veronafiere has let us down. We are tired of fighting the selfie-obsessed drunken crowds, the foul toilets, the dank halls and what appears to be incompetence of the highest degree of the management of Veronafiere. We would welcome a change; whether to Milan or even to not come at all. At this point we’d rather spend my time (and money) and personally visit the wine suppliers in their well-lit, fresh air, clean water and crowd-free, smoke-free environments. The infrastructure of Veronafiere and Vinitaly appears to have finally crumbled. Really Veronafiere, someone needs to clean the house out of all the inept leadership or risk losing the attention of hundreds of thousands of folks who just want to make the world safer for Italian wine. Where is Luca Zaia when we need him?

We love Italy and we love the wine community of Italy. We have many friends of Italian wine business and for many years. We all want a solution more than we want to complain about it, we really do. But Veronafiere, and Vinitaly by association, you have not proven to be capable of finding sustainable solutions. We’re considering to #BoycottVinitaly2016, the 50th anniversary of a show that had good original intentions. But, it appears it doesn’t have the will, the vision, and the leadership necessary, to take it to another 50 years.


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