Benvenuto Brunello 2022

Benvenuto Brunello 2022 returned to NYC presented by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. I have attended this event for a number of years and always look forward to going.  Virginia Cademartori, head of PR and Communication for Platinum Media LLC, sent me the invitation.

This was a seated tasting and waiters brought the wines five at a time. The focus was on the 2018 vintage.  The bottles were numbered according to the winery and the letter that followed indicated the type of wine.  We filled out cards with the number and letter because some wineries were presenting more than one wine.  68 producers submitted wines and I believe there were 116 wines in all. The event was very well coordinated and we had 3 hours to taste the wines.

IMG_8666The speaker was Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine.

BRUNELLO

The production area for Brunello is the commune territory of Montalcino. The wine can only be produced from 100% Sangiovese (Sangiovese Grosso).  In Montalcino the grape is called Brunello.

Brunello must be aged 2 years in oak casks and 4 months in bottle, or 6 for the Riserva. Bottling must take place in the production zone. The wine is available for sale from the 1st of January of the 5th year following the harvest (6th year for the Riserva). Brunello di Montalcino can only be sold in Bordeaux-type bottles. All Brunello is DOCG.

In my experience Brunello needs to age at least 10 years before (even in a not so great a year) I would even think of drinking it. Brunello improves greatly with age. If you want to drink something “approachable” and ready to drink young, then drink a Rosso di Montalcino which is produced for this reason.

2018 was a classic vintage  for Brunello. Temperatures were mild and not as hot compared to recent years. The vintage was given 4 stars.

The Wines

IMG_8646Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese.Tenuta Silvio Nardi. This Brunello is a blend of the finest grapes from the Manachiara and Castel del Bosco estates with a northwest and southeast exposure at 350 meters. The soil is a composition of jasper and shale. The grapes are hand picked and sorted and only 70% of the grapes are used to make the wine.  Fermentation and maceration takes at least 24 hours, depending on the parcel, at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 12 months in new and used Allier French oak barriques and then for 18 months in large Slavonian oak barrels. Then it remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, leather, tobacco and a touch of spice.

IMG_8658Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Casanova di Nevi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located south of Montalcino at 275/320 meters and the soil is galestro with tufo and clay. There are 4,000 vines per hectare. The raining system is spur-pruned cordon and the winery is organic but not certified. The wine is unfiltered and it is aged in 500-liter oak tonneau for 36 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of blackberry, black cherry, plum and a touch of violets and a note of spice.

IMG_8638Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2018 Poggio Antico made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at about 480 meters with a south/southwest exposure and are among the highest in the zone. The soil is rocky and calcareous with good drainage.  A cold soak was done at 12°C for 2 days. The fermentation lasted 9 days with a peak temperature of 30°C, after which a long maceration was carried out. The wine is aged for 2½ years in large traditional Slavonian oak barrels. The wine was refined in bottle 1½ years prior to release. This is a complex Brunello with hints of cherries, cassis, leather, a touch of violet and a balsamic note. It is a wine that will last for another 20 years.

IMG_8652Brunello di Montalcino “La Mannella” 2018 Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from the La Manella vineyards. The soil on the south side is sandy and rocky and the soil on the north side is clay with sand with good drainage. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the grapes and fermentation with maceration for 25 days in stainless steel tanks and Slavonian oak vats. The wine spends 36 months is large Slavonian oak casks. There are hints of red berries, blackberries, spice, leather and a touch of cedar.

IMG_8655Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Col D’ Orcia on the Sant’Angelo hill over looking the Orcia River facing south-south west at 300 meters. Particular clones of Sangiovese are used. Manual harvest with grape selection both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Fermentation is on the skins for about 18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 HL wide and shallow stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 3 years in 25-50 and 75 HL oak casks from Slavonia and Allier and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of small ripe fruit, and plum jam with toasted and vanilla notes.

IMG_8640Brunello di Montalcino 2018 La Gerla 2018 made from Sangiovese-Brunello biotype. The vines are 25 years old and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a manual sorting of the bunches and berries in the cellar. The bunches are destemmed and there is a soft pressing of the grapes. There is a prefermentative cryomaceration. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins for about 15 days. Aging is for 24 to 36 months in oak barrels 50 to 100HL with 2 decantings per year. The wine is in bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco, leather, and cinnamon and notes of violets and iris.

IMG_8642Brunello di Montalcino 2018 La Fiorita location Castelnuovo dell’Abate, made from 100% Sangiovese from Poggio al Sole, south exposure with tufo, clay soil at 220 meters, Plain Bossolini southeast exposure with galestro at 360 meters and Giardinello south exposure with sandy clay soil at 250 meters. 7 hectares in all. There are 7,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. They follow organic agriculture practices. Harvest September 28th, October 6th and October 14th. Fermentation is in Slavonian oak casks with pumping over and delestage for 20 days with selected yeast. The wine ages in French oak barrels of 26 and 37 HL for 24 months, in steel for 4 months and 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, leather, raspberry, with a hint of licorice and a note of tobacco.

IMG_8654Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Progetto “PRIME DONNE” Donatella Cinelli Colombini located in Casato facing Montalcino made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The 20-year-old vines are at 225 meters with a south-southeast exposure. The soil is Pliocene (sedimentary rock) and clay. Vinification is for 15 days with pumping over and delestages. Aging is in 5 to 7 Hl barrels, French oak for the first year and the remainder of the time in 15 to 40 Hl barrels. The winery is organic certified (2018). The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, herbs, cedar and a touch of violets. Only women are involved in the production of this wine. This Brunello always shows very well and is a pleasure to drink.

IMG_8650Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Fattoria dei Barbi The soil is marl, alberese limestone and the vines are 15 to 20 years old and at 300 to 500 meters. The exposure is South and the training system is Cortina semplice and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest took place from September 28 to October 7th. Before fermentation the grapes were subjected to a cold fermentation maceration which consists in cooling the grapes at a temperature of 16C in an environment protected by COC. Alcoholic fermentation lasts 16/17 days at a controlled temperature. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in small to medium size oak barrels 2.5 to 15HL for the first months. It then spends two years in larger oak barrels and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of plum and blueberry with a touch of rhubarb and a note of spice. I have a long history with this wine and drank it for the first time over 40 years ago. The current vintage can be drunk over the next 20 years or more. 

IMG_8660Brunello Di Montalcino 2018 DOCG Banfi 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soil. There is a meticulous grape selection (yield not exceeding 6 metric tons/ha) is followed by vinification in temperature–controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 20 days. The wine ages for two years in various sizes oak barrels, 305 liter barriques, 60 and 120 hl barrels; the wine is then aged in bottle for an additional 8 to 12 months. The wine is released 5 years after the harvest. The wine has hints of  cherry, plum, violets and a note of blueberry.

IMG_8645 2Brunello di Montalcino 2018 Villa Poggio Salvi the exposure is South-West, the soil is Galestro (marl) and the vines are at 350 to 500 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first week of October. There is a pre-maceration for 8 days at a controlled temperature in steel tanks with caps pushed down with automatic hydraulic system. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30 to 100 liters for 30 months. The wine then remains in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red fruit, lavender and a touch of spice. This wine will age for 20 years or more.

IMG_8639Brunello Di Montalcino DOCG 2018 Pian Delle Vigne Antinori. 3.5 miles south of Montalcino. There are 65 hectares under vines, and the soil is mostly clayey and calcareous with many small stones. After a careful selection both in the vineyard and cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and delicately pressed; the must then goes into temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where it ferments and remains on its skins for a period of about 3 weeks. The wine has then completed malolactic fermentation. Aging is in 30 to 80hl oak casks for over 2 years. This is a complex wine with hints of ripe red fruit, plums, dates and a touch of violets.

unnamed wingBrunello di Mantalcino 2018 100% Sangiovese Grosso Corte Dei Venti. The name means Court of the Winds because the wind blows across the vineyard 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The vineyards are located at 100 to 300 meters and the exposure is south east. The soil is rich in ferrous limestone clay with minerals. This is why the soil has a bright red color. The red soil is very rare and only a few producers in the southern part of the appellation have it. The are 5 hectare of vineyards of which 2.80 are Brunello. Harvest takes place by hand when the grapes are fully ripe. Vinification is in steel tanks with soft pumping over and delestage at a controlled temperature with maceration on the skins for about 25 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in steel and by the natural decanting phase during winter which precedes the transfer into oak. The wine is aged for 36 months in 25HL oak barrels and 8 months in bottle before release. This is a very traditional Brunello with hints of red berries, blackberries, hazelnuts, a note of clove and a touch of tobacco.

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Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2018  Franco Pacenti made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is north-east. The soil is medium clay with a low density of vines per hectare, divided into six plots with an average age of 25 years.  The training system is spurred cordon. There is a strictly traditional long fermentation on the pomace with frequent pumping over the cap and the maximum temperature  rises freely to 30C. The wine ages for more than 30 months  medium to large Slavonian and French oak barrels. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints of cherries, mushrooms, spice, a hint of violets and a touch of herbs.

Brunello is one of the world’s greatest wines and I look forward to drinking it throughout the year.  I am already looking forward to next year’s tasting!

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The White Wine of Lake Garda: LUGANA

One of me favorite places to visit in Italy is Lake Garda. Not only is the lake a beautiful place to visit, but I also enjoy drinking Lugana wines.  An invitation to Destination Lugana to be held at Scampi Restaurant in NYC seemed like the next best thing to a trip to the Lake, so I was happy to accept.  The invitation was sent by Virginia Cademartori head of PR and Communication for Platinum Media LLC.

IMG_8526When I arrived, Virginia explained that Destination Lugana is a full week of celebration of the area and the wine. 28 producers were offering their latest vintage to 13 restaurants and two private clubs in Manhattan. Each location would create a special menu to go with the wines. The event is made possible by the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC which has been promoting Lugana wines since 1990.

IMG_8542Fabio Zenato, President of the Consorzio  Tutela Lugana Doc, said, “After two years of pandemic we are back in the USA with a great event addressed to a wine range of different consumers that covers the whole month of November. For us, this market is one of the most important and crucial for the success of our appellation abroad.”

Lugana wines come from an area that is on the border between the two provinces of Brescia and Verona. The DOC region stretches along an area south of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. The word Lugana may come from the early medieval word “lucus” meaning wood. In the past the area was covered by the Selva Lucana, a dense, marshy forest. Today the area is characterized by a very particular soil. The soil is white clay and limestone and difficult to till. This, however, gives the grapes here an extraordinary elegance and tanginess. Many agree that the best grapes come from the area close to Lake Garda which has the most clay.

Lugana wine can be described as being fresh with body and a good balance between sweetness and acidity. Lugana is made from the Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, and may be related to Verdicchio.  There are 5 different styles of Lugana from sparkling to late harvest.  The wine sells at a good price around $20 to $25 a bottle. Lugana goes best with white meats or fish. Try it with sushi or turkey.  The biggest market for Lugana wines is Germany and Lake Garda is a favorite destination for them.

The Wines

IMG_8527Le Morette – Azienda Agricola Varicose Valerio Zenato Lugana DOC “Mandolara”  made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the La Mandolara vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. The soil is clayish.  Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple, peach  pear and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm. I visited the winery a few years ago and was very impressed with all of the wines. Fabio Zenato President of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana Doc is the owner.

img_6820limmiTenuta Roveglia “Limne”  100% Turbiana grapes from vines 25/35 years old grown near Lake Garda at 100 meters. The land is flat and the soil is a mix of mainly clay with some limestone and rich in mineral salts. Harvest is at the end of September by hand in small crates. Vinification is without the skins and there is a soft pressing of the grapes with extraction of a maximum of 60% free run juice. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks for 4 to 5 months. The wine is sold after 2 to 3 months in bottle. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with a touch of pear and a note of peach.

IMG_8536Lugana DOC Zamichele made from 100%. Turbiana in the Brescia/Lake Garda area. Manual harvesting into small crates followed by crushing and a soft pressing. Aging is in stainless steel. This wine has hints of tropical fruit, peach and mango with good acidity. 

IMG_8531Ca’ Lojera Lugana DOC made from 100% Turbiana from vineyards in Sirmione. The soil is Lugana white clay and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of melon, grapefruit, a touch of mint and floral notes.

IMG_8528Le Creete Ottella Lugana DOC. Made from 100% Turbiano from estate vineyards in  San Benedetto di Lugana overlooking Lake  Garda. The soil is white chalk. There is a manual harvest when the grapes are fully mature. After a brief maceration on the skins, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel vats and partly in large wooden barrels. The wine has hints of pineapple, grapefruit and tropical fruit.

IMG_8534Tommasi Lugana DOC “La Fornaci  made from 100% Turbiana grown in the unique clay rich soil. The grapes come from two vineyards: Le Fornaci close to Lake Garda just 2 miles from Sirmione and San Martino which is further inland. Lugana Le Fornaci is obtained through a delicate grape harvest. The grape skins are left in contact with the must for one day at low temperature. Racking  takes place for natural sedimentation and there is a slow, temperature-controlled fermentation for about 7 days.  The wine spends approximately 3 months on the lees, followed by a maturation period in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures for 5 months in bottle before release. This is a crisp white wine with hints of tropical fruit,  grapefruit, spice and a note of almond.

img_6817zeniZeni Lugana DOC Vigne Alte made from 100% Turbbiano from the southern shore of Lake Garda. Hand selection of grape bunches that have reached optimum ripeness at harvest. Maceration is on the skins followed by a gentle pressing and must fermentation at a controlled temperature. Aging is in stainless steel vats. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach and pear.

San Benedetto ZenatoZenato San Benedetto Lugana DOC made from 100% Turbbiano from vines between Peschiera and Desenzano at the southern tip of Lake Garda at 60 to 80 meters. The soil is chalky/clay and the training system is guyot. The vines are 20/30 years old. There is a manual harvest the last ten days of September and the first ten days of October.  There is a gentle pressing of the grapes and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in bottle for 2/3 months before release. The wine has hints of apple, peach, pineapple and a hint of vanilla

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Ilaria Petitto & The Wines of Donnachiara at Il Gattopardo

I have known Ilaria Petitto, CEO of the Donnachiara Winery, for some time and have always enjoyed her wines. I also have visited the winery in Campania a few times. Recently, Il Gattopardo Restaurant hosted a tasting and lunch, and I was very pleased to attend and see Ilaria again.IMG_8567

Ilaria spoke about the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. Ilaria’s mother, Chiara Petitto, is a big supporter of her work in the winery, which is named after her  mother’s grandmother whom everyone called “Donna” Chiara as a sign of respect.

 The consulting oenologist for Donnachiara is the legendary Riccardo Cotarella. It is the philosophy of the winery to preserve the traditional grape varieties of the local territory and keep the typical character of the wines from being lost to standardization, like many of the wines on the market today. They also follow “Misura CE n.1257/99 – “Produzione integrata della Regione Campania,” limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

Ilaria proudly announced that she is now the Vice President of the Conosrzio di Tutela dei Vini dell’Irpinia.

THE WHITE WINES

IMG_8555Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2021, 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay and there are 4,400 plants per hectare.  The vines are guyot trained and the harvest takes place in the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes that are quickly cooled to 50F for 4 to 6 hours. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a delicate and elegant wine with hints of pear, almonds, citrus fruit and floral. This grape variety was brought to Campania by the Ancient Greeks. The Romans called it vitis apiana – the Latin root for bees is apiana. Even today bees are attracted to the Fiano grape and Ilaria said you can see the honey bees in the vineyards in Montefalcione.

IMG_8554Fiano di Avellino  BIO “Empatia” 2021, 100% Fiano di Avellino  Ilaria said only the best grapes from the vineyard in Montefalcione, which is certified organic, are used for this wine.  The grapes are hand harvested the second half of October at the coolest part of the day and there is a very careful selection. The soil is chalky and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration (crushed grapes are held at low temperature) is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 14 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is an impressively elegant wine with hints of apple, almonds, tropical fruit and floral notes with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

WineGreco di Tufo DOCG 2020 made from 100% Greco. The soil is tuffaceous and the training system is guyot. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and after that a cold decanting of the must in steel vats for 15 days. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple.

img_1889GrecoGreco di Tufo “Aletheia” 2020, DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo  Only the best grapes from the Santa Paolina vineyard in the Tufa zone are used. The harvest is by hand during the coolest parts of the day, the second half of October. The soil is tuffaceous and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The fermented must is left to age on the lees for about a year with weekly batonnage. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in the bottle for a period of time before release. This is an intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, pear, apricot and a hint of hazelnuts and pineapple.

It was interesting to taste the Fiano and the Fiano Empatia side by side. You can tell the two apart because the Empatia has more body and a greater depth of aromas and flavors. Both are wines that will age very well and I have had Fiano and that has been 20 years old and still drinking very well. I can say the same thing for the Greco and the Greco Aletheia.

IMG_8559With the white wines we had Cavatelli di Grano Antico “Senatore Cappelli” con fagioli Spollichini e Cozze, cavatelli pasta made with high protein flour, fresh beans and mussels. All four the wines were a great combination with this dish.

Even though we did not have the Falanghina at this event, I must mention that Donnachiara’s is one of the best that it has been my pleasure to drink!

THE RED WINES

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Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2020, 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first  week in November. Fermentation takes place at 68 to 71 F in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Maturation is on the skins for 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. The wine is full and complex with hints of prune, blueberries and a note of spice.

IMG_8563Taurasi DOCG 2018.   The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique is subtle and did not mask the character of the wine. Taurasi is a wine that can age for many years and I have had Taurasi the has been over 40 years old that was a pleasure to drink.

IMG_8565With the red wine we had Tacchino del “Ringraziamento” ripeno di Castagne e Salsiccia con friatielli saltati in padella, Thanksgiving turkey stuffed with chestnuts and sausage with sauteed broccoli rabe.

Both the Aglianico and the Taurasi paired well with the turkey and the stuffing. Both had enough fruit and body to go along with  a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

The wines range in price from $20 to $36 and are a fantastic bargain.

The event was organized by Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communication.  Susannah is a true professional.

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Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a Great Italian Red Wine

The “Simply Italian Great Wines US Tour” came to NYC and I attended.

IMG_8447 2There were 4 very interesting seminars, one after another, so you could attend all of them. In order to accommodate all the people that responded, we were divided into two groups, A&B. It was a difficult choice but I went with group B. After the seminars there was a Grand Tasting. The event was organized by Marina Nedic, Executive Director of I.E.E.M. (International Event and Exhibition Management). I have been to a number of events organized by them and they always do a wonderful job.

One of the seminars I attended was  Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, a Great Italian Red Wine. I have visited Abruzzo a number of times, and in June I was there on a press trip, so I was looking forward to the seminar.

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Davide Acerra

The speakers were Davide Acerra, present of the Concordia Tutela d’Abruzzo and Joe Campanale, restaurateur and author of “Vino: The Essential Guide to Real Italian wine”

I first met Davide on a press trip a few years ago and again on the press trip in June as well as in NYC.  I have known Joe for a number of years through the wine trade. 

The Abruzzo Region of Italy, located to the east of Rome has everything going for it. There are beautiful national parks, a long coastline on the Adriatic, the rugged snowcapped Apennine Mountains, and little medieval towns perched precariously on hill tops. Abruzzo is situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massif. It is one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy with three national parks and more than ten national and regional natural reserves. Geographically, Abruzzo is more central than southern Italy, but due to its connection with the old Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, it is considered part of the South.

Most vineyards are in hilly areas of which 75% are in the province of Chieti.

img_7587AbruzziThe traditional vine training method is the Tendone system also known as Pergola Abruzzese.  The Montepulciano grape produces Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is the most planted grape in Abruzzo and is grown on about 17,000 hectares. It represents 80% of the total DOC wine produced in Abruzzo. The Montepulciano grape has been in Abruzzo since the mid 17th Century.

The wines

IMG_8446 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC “Parcella” 2021 Cantina Colonnella. The exposure is south/southeast. The training system is cordone speronato and Pergola Abruzzese with the same yields. There are 3,000 vines per hectare The soil is mainly clayey and well drained. Manual harvest from the end of September to the middle of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine spends 10 months in large oak barrels (botti) of 50HL and four months in bottle before release. This is a full bodied red wine with rich ripe fruit and hints of plums, black cherry, notes of rosemary and a touch of pepper.

IMG_8445 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC 2021 Gennaro Pigliacampo. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of October, immediately destemmed, pressed and left to ferment in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for about four months where spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place.  Aging: 4 months in steel, 12 months in second passage barriques or tonneaux and 3 months in bottle before release. This is a very fruity wine with hints of blackberry jam, blueberries, rasperries and a note of licorice.

IMG_8444 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC “Vere Novo”2020 Cantina Mazzarosa. The vineyard is located in Roseto degli Abruzzo is at 100 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The grapes are hand picked from the best selection in the vineyard. Fermentation and maceration takes place in stainless steel tanks with the inclusion of about 30% whole bunches with gentle pumping over and delestage. Retention on the lees and maturation in stainless steel for about 12 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine had hints of cherry and cherry jam and herbaceous notes.

IMG_8443 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC “Riserva 2019 Fosso Corno Harvest takes place from the end of September to the middle of October and for the Reserve only the best grapes are chosen. After a 14 day fermentation in steel vats, the wine is transferred to oak barrels of 15 HL for 12 months and then back to steel vats for another 12 months. The wine is in bottle for 2 to 4 months before release. This is a full Riserva with hints of black cherry, black plums, spice and balsamic notes. 

IMG_8442 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC “Constantini” Poderi Antonio Constantini. The soil is mostly limestone clays. Manual harvest. Grapes are crushed and destemmed  and fermentation takes place on the skins for about 7 days. The wine ages in large Slavonian oak barrels and a small percentage is in French oak tonneaux. The wine remains in bottle for 6 months before release. This wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, licorice, a hint of tobacco and a note of vanilla. 

IMG_8441 2Montepuliciano D’AbruzzoDOC “Capo Le Vigne” 2017 Famiglia Di Carlo-Vigna Madre. Vineyard exposure is south/southeast at 250 meters. The training system is Pergola Abruzzese (1,800 vines per hectare) condone speronato (4,000 vines per hectare). Harvest is in August/September. There is long maceration on the skins is stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Aging: 12 months in steel, 12 months in French barriques and 12 months in battle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, black cherry, leather with with a hint of leather and a note of cinnamon.

IMG_8440Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC Riserva Enisio 2017 Tocco. The vineyard is at 350 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The grapes are hand picked from October 25th to November 5th. After a careful selection, the grapes are picked from their stems and squeezed. The skins are left in contact with the wine must which contains its own wild yeast for about 18 days at a constant temperature. Aging is in barriques for 12 months and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry and licorice. 

IMG_8439 2Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC “Pepe Rosso” 2008 Stefania Pepe Agricola Bio Vitivinicola. The vineyards are in Torano Nuovo with a southwest exposure and the soil is clay-calcareous. They are at 250 meters, 15 km from the Adriatic Sea and 60 km from the Grand Sasso, the highest mountain in the Apennine Mountains. During the period of the full moon the grapes are harvested and destemmed by hand. Fermentation is in small concrete vats, keeping the temperature low, with 6-13 days of skin maceration. No additives are added, not even sulfites. The wine remains in concrete vats and is bottled by hand from a gravitational flow. Filtration does not take place and the wine is aged in bottle until it is ready to be released. This is a complex  wine with hints of red ripe fruit, blackberry, prunes, cherry with a touch of nuts and a note of black pepper. This was the oldest wine and the only one that was almost ready to drink. I have known Stefania for a long time and always enjoy her company and her wines.

Davide and Joe made the point that many winemakers in Abruzzo are going back to more traditional methods both in the vineyard and in the cellar. In the vineyard they are going back to the Tendone system also known as Pergola Abruzzese, where the leaves cover the grapes, especially now with global warming. In the cellar they are using more tradition aging methods such as concrete.

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Sip like the “Cool Kids”: What’s Trending in Italy

Last month I attended the Kobrand Tour d’ Italia held at the University Club in NYC.

IMG_8524There were three seminars followed by a Grand Tasting. I attended all three seminars and was intrigued by their titles. The first was Wine and Truffles which I wrote about a few weeks ago and the second had this interesting write up:

Seminar 2: Sip like the “Cool Kids”:  What’s trending in Italy- 12:40pm to 1:10pm

What are the vino cognoscenti drinking in Italy these days? Fashion hits Europe first, so it goes to follow that Italy’s wine trends are no different. Be the first among your wine group who’s in the know with a tasting of wines from around the boot. You’ll enjoy Super-Sardinians hailing from Italy’s isle in the sun, refreshing bubbles straight from the food mecca of Emilia-Romagna, prized labels from Italy’s green heart of Umbria, and more. Your taste buds will be alla moda with these trending wines!

   IMG_8088Wineries to be featured are Agricola Punica, Salviano, Villa Matilde, Medici Ermete, Tenuta di Salviano. The panel:  Salvatore Santus, Agricola Punica, Salvatore Avallone, owner Villa Matilda, Eleonora Spadolini, Project Manager for Tenuta di Salviano and Alessandro Medici, owner, Medici Ermete.

The following are the wines we tasted.

IMG_8089IGT Isola dei Nuraghi Bunica 2018 Agricola Punica made from 85 % Carignano, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Merlot. The soil is of medium texture, clay like, sandy and calcareous.  The training system is spurred cordon. Manual harvest begins in early September and ends in the first half of October. Whole bunches are destemmed and crushed. The must ferments with the skins at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Pumping over takes place as does malolactic fermentation.The wine is aged in French oak barriques of medium toast, 50% new and 50% one year old, for 18 months. Bottled without filtration or clarification and released after 6 months in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, spice, licorice  myrtle and a note of vanilla. The winery was represented by Salvatore Santus. Salvatore said the winery was founded in 2002 by an all-star team of winemakers and consultants including the legendary Giacomo Tachis.  This wine was made based on the “Super Tuscan model” but produced in Sardinia.

IMG_8090Greco di Tufo 2021 Villa Matilde Made from 100% Greco. From vineyards at the Tenute di Altavilla state in Campania about an hour drive north of Naples. The soil is tuffaceous and marly clay. The vineyard is at 400/500 meters. There are 2,500 to 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Vines are 35 to 59 years old. Harvest is in late October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel with selected yeasts. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented off the skins. The wine ages for 4 months in stainless steel.  This is a complex wine with hints of apricots, white peaches, citrus and almonds with nice minerality. I have visited the winery a few times and have always been warmly welcomed by the owners Salvatore Avallone and his sister Maria Ida. I have been drinking and enjoying their wines for many years. At this seminar, Salvatore represented the winery. He said this is a family owned winery founded by his father Francesco Paolo in the 1960’s a lawyer with a passion for ancient wines.

IMG_8091Grechetto 2021 Tenuta di  SalvianoCastello di Titignano produced from Ghechetto di Todi grapes from vineyards surrounding the medieval village of Todi in Umbria. The vineyards are between 20 to 25 years old and are at 400 meters. Exposure is southwest and the soil is of organic origin, tuffaceous with fine gravel. Training system is counter-espalier, with guyot pruning.
Harvest is manual and the ripening period is during the second part of September. Grechetto di Todi is one of the last white varieties on the property to be harvested. Upon arrival in the cellar, the grapes are de-stemmed and undergo a soft pressing. The must ferments in steel tanks at a controlled temperature of 18 degrees Celsius.  Aging on the lees follows until the following March to enrich its organoleptic characteristics. Before bottling, the wine is filtered with potassium caseinate-based cartridges. Finally, the wine is left in the bottle for at least four months before being marketed. The wine has hints of apple, pear, floral notes a touch of spice and almonds. Eleonora said this historic estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta family, the producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_8092Reggiano Lambrusco Concetto 2021 Medici Ermete. This red wine is dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco Salamino.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey.  It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Alessando said Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco and the wine is certified organic It should be is served lightly chilled. This is a family owned and operates winery and Alessandro  who represented the winery is the fifth generation. I was in Bologna two weeks ago and drank this Lambrusco whenever I saw it on a wine list. It was an excellent combination with the food.

“Sip Like the Cool Kids”:  What’s Trending in Italy, was the title of this presentation.  So now you know!

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A Home Cooked Lunch in Florence

Twenty-two years ago, a young man, Ciro Beligni, came from Florence to work with me at I Trulli Restaurant and Enoteca where I was the wine director.  His goals were to improve his English and learn about wine and we became friends.  Ciro was a quick learner and after 3 months he returned to Florence to work at  Le Volpi e L’Uva, his uncle’s wine bar.

IMG_8336 2We have kept in touch and now Ciro is the owner of Le Volpi e l’Uva which I always make a point of visiting when I am in Florence.  When I was there recently, Ciro invited me and Michele to have dinner with him and his family at his parents’ home.  He had told me that his mother was a great cook and promised to open some special bottles of wine for me, so I was really looking forward to it. Michele and I know what an honor it is to be invited into someone’s home in Italy and the warm greeting we received from Ciro’s mother and father made us feel very welcome.

IMG_8372We started with salumi.  Finocchiona, made from coarsely ground pork flavored with fennel seeds, is typically Tuscan.  There was also a local version of capicola, made from the neck and shoulder of pork.

IMG_0934Next we had lardo, flavored with lemon zest.

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There was also hand-sliced prociutto with chunks of well-aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.

IMG_8376Olive oil flavored with wild fennel was a delicious complement to focaccia.

IMG_8377Ciro’s mom, Bianca, made crostini topped with chicken liver pate.  It was flavored with vin santo and capers and was the best version of this typical Tuscan starter that I have ever tasted.

IMG_8381Malvasia secca “Infatuate” Salina 2021 Caravaglio made from 30 year old Malvasia di Lipari vines from the Infatata vineyard on a 2.5 acre north facing vineyard on Salina and is rich in volcanic soils. Fermentation takes place with local yeasts in stainless steel tanks. The wine remains on the lees for 3 months. This wine has hints of white peach, Meyer lemon, mandarin orange and a touch of herbs in the finish. Ciro always manages to surprise me with wines I have never had before.  This one went very well with the appetizers.

IMG_8397To go with the pasta, Ciro chose Duo Etna Rosso MeCori  made from 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccino grapes from 80 year old vines grown on the north side at 700 meter in Contrada Muganazzi, Solicchiata. Alberello training method. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel with selected yeast. There is a long maceration. The wine remains for ten months in stainless steel and 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of roses and violets, red fruit, cherry, rasperries and a touch of spice.

IMG_8382Cheese for the pasta

IMG_8384The pasta was Pici, thick handmade spaghetti from the area around Siena, served with Bianca’s homemade beef and pork ragu and topped with grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

 IMG_8408Vino Rosso “Pio Decimo” Tenuta Guardasole made from mostly Nebbiolo with the remaining balance of Vespolina. The winery is located in the Boca DOC area of Alto Piemonte.  Produced exclusively from estate grapes.  This is a small family run winery of only 2 hectares. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. There is a maceration of about 10 days before a 12 day refinement. The wine has hints of black cherry, leather, licorice and a note of spice. It is certified organic.

IMG_8387 2Ciro presenting a spectacular platter of roasted meats for our main course.

IMG_8389Kale with toasted pine nuts.

IMG_8391Cabbage salad.

IMG_8385There was duck, pork, chicken and pigeon, and roasted potatoes all seasoned with Bianca’s special seasoning blend of fennel, rosemary, sage and garlic.

IMG_8409Chianti Classico 2007 Poggerino (Radda in Chianti) made from 100% Sangiovese. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is bilateral cordon guyot. Manual harvest takes place from the last week of September through the first 10 days of October. Th vineyards were planted in 1994 and 2004. There is a careful selection of the grapes and then they are destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place with selected yeasts. Vinification and maceration takes place in concrete tanks for about 35 days with pumpers and manual punchdowns. In December the wine is racked into 20/25 hl of Slavonian oak and tonneau of 4/5hl of French oak where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wines ages for 12 months and is assembled and bottled the following spring.  It is aged for 8 months before release.

IMG_8406Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Riserva Pietroso made from 100% Sangiovese from a  single vineyard selection plot “Fornello” facing east at 1,260 ft. The soil is pure galestro-mineral rich compact clay. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation with indigenous yeast in wooden tanks (tine). Aging is in old French oak tonneaux for 6 months, then 30HL Slavonian oak casks (botti) for at least 24 months and in bottle of 18 months before release. The wine is unfiltered.  This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, blackberries, blueberries, a touch of spice and a note of licorice with a very long finish.

IMG_8400Dessert included fresh green figs, buttery nut cookies studded with pistachios and almonds, and my favorite, schiacciata al’uva, focaccia baked with wine grapes, a Tuscan specialty this time of year.

IMG_8411 2It was a meal to remember and my sincere thanks to our hosts, Miro and Bianca and their son, my friend Ciro.

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Kobrand Tour d’Italia–Wine & Truffles

The “Kobrand Tour d’Italia” was held last month at The University Club in NYC. There were 3 seminars followed by a walkaround tasting of their Italian portfolio. I attended all 3 seminars because their descriptions made them sound so appealing.  In this blog, I will cover the first of the three seminars.  Look for my report on the other second and third sessions in future blogs.

IMG_8222Seminar 1: Wines to pair with your Truffles

Truffles and wine are a wonderful duo, but how do you know which wines pair well with truffles? Join us for an interactive, educational, and (most important) delicious seminar about Italian wine and truffle, hosted by the renowned Tartuflanghe Truffle company and Italian Wine.  Wineries  featured : Michele Chiarlo, Tenute Silvio Nardi, and Pighin & Figli.

What made this session even more interesting to me was there would be representatives, and in most cases the owner, from each winery.

IMG_8080The speakers were Robert Pighin, owner of Pighin&Figli, Alberto Chiaro, Massimo Galvano Kobrand Italian wine specialist was the moderator , Emilia Nardi, Owner Tenuta Silvio Nardi and Barbara Bossini from TartufLanghe.

IMG_8083Pinot Grigio Collio DOC 2021 Fernando Pighin & Figli.(Friuli-Venezia-Giulia) Made from 100% Pinot Grigio  The soil in Pighin’s extensive western vineyards with its meager chalky stone and gravel soils is ideal for the cultivation of white gapes using the guyot training system. The grapes are handpicked and pressed in a pneumatic press. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats for 20 days at  temperatures of 18C and 20C. Aging takes place in stainless steel tanks at a constant temperature of 12C. The wine undergoes cold stabilization before bottling. The wine has hints of acacia blossoms, citrus fruit and a note of pineapple. In 1963 the brothers Ercole and Fernando Pighin brought  a 200 hectare estate in Friuli Grave area owned by a noble family of Friuli. In 2004 Fernando Pighin, along with his wife and children, bought the entire  property. 

IMG_8081Brunello di Montalcino Cru “Poggio al Doria” 2016 Tenuta Silvio Nardi (Tuscany) made from 100% Sangiovese from the Poggio Doria vineyard located on the northwest side of Montalcino with a south west, north west exposure at 260 meters. Soil composition is jasper, sand and clay. There are 5,200 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred  cordon. Harvest is manual in the second week of October. Fermentation and maceration is for at least 26 days at a controlled temperature (30C). Maturation is for 18 months in new and used French Allier tonneau. This is followed by 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is aged for it least 24 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, cherry, black plum, vanilla and a note of graphite and touch of dry herbs. The wine will unfold and develop over time. The winery was founded by Silvio Nardi. His roots in Montalcino go back to the 1950’s. Today his youngest daughter Emilia Nardi has taken over the management of the winery.

IMG_8082Barolo Tortoniano 2017  Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont)  Made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil is calcareous marl clay of marine origin from the Tortomian period ( 9 million years ago, 12% active limestone and a basic Ph. There is a significant presence of micro elements specifically magnesium and manganese. Vineyard exposure is south-east, south-west. The training system is guyot. Manual harvest is preceded by a summer thinning to eliminate the excess bunches of grapes. Vinification is in steel tanks. Maceration takes place with the skins for 17/18 days with a soft shower system of wetting the cap at a temperature between 32 degrees C and 27C. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of rose petals, juniper berries, spice, a touch of cherry and a note of violets. 

Alberto Chiarlo said this is a Barolo that can age but is approachable now and would make a great addition to any restaurant wine list. The Michael Chiarlo winery only uses native grapes and only uses big barrels for aging their wine. Michele Chiarlo has been making wine in Piedmont since 1956 and I have been drinking and enjoying his wines for over 40 years.  

Truffle Products from Tartuflange

The truffles came from  Tartuflange a company based in Alba, Piedmont.  In 1968 Beppe Montanaro opened Da Bepe, a restaurant specializing in truffles and mushrooms. In 1975, together with his wife Domenica, he started Tartuflange. Today they cultivate more than 20 hectares of truffle grounds and ship fresh truffles all over the  world. Their products include truffle pasta, truffle chips, truffle oil and many others. I tasted three of their products with the wine.

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p(Palatine con TarTruffle Chips–Patatine con Tartufo — A great snack with wine IMG_8216

Trifulòt – Tartufo dolce — Creamy dark chocolate blended with flavorful Piedmont hazelnuts would be a great way to end a meal.

IMG_8221Truffle Bite – Snack Al Tartufo — Crisp little pastry batons flavored with truffles would be a perfect snack or serve them with an assortment of salume or cheese for an easy appetizer with a glass of wine.

In enjoyed the opportunity to sample these wines with the truffle products and listen to the winery representatives as they introduced their winend Truffle Bite (Snack A). 

For more information contact Barbara Bosini, Marketing and Business Development manger for the US TartufLanghe Truffles    barbara@tartulanghe.us

 

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Daniele Cernilli (aka) Doctor Wine) on Super whites

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Daniele Cernilli Villa Bucci e Trebbiano Valentini

With the presentations of the 2023 Essential Guide to Italian Wine behind us (the past weekend in Milan), I turn my attention back to the great Italian white wines. In particular, I want to draw your attention to two undisputed very Italian greats, a Trebbiano and a Verdicchio.

I return here to a subject I am very passionate about: the great Italian white wines that, in my view, are generally undervalued, especially if they are made from native grapes rather than the “French” varietals. During the tastings for our Essential Guide to Italian Wine we tasted many this year that were of formidable quality while two were truly exceptional. In sports terminology you could say they were in “top form” because they were from years that were particularly favorable.

The first is an authentic icon among Italian white wines: a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2018 from Francesco Paolo Valentini. The harvest was difficult that year due to some excessive rain and a fairly widespread presence of powdery mildew and peronospora, which forced growers to make some harsh selections during picking. Francesco Paolo, however, is a great, serious and consistent winegrower and he was able to produce a true masterpiece, in my humble opinion.

The second is a Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva Villa Bucci 2019. The harvest in this case took place in almost opposite conditions with a hot and rather dry growing season that allowed for a very select production, with a lower number of bottles produced. Nevertheless, this is perhaps the best version I can remember.

We gave both wines a rating of 99/100 and three DoctorWine “seals” and chose Villa Bucci for our Best White Wine of the Year award because its price was slightly lower. It will save time if I just give you our tasting reviews and once you have tasted them for yourselves tell us which one you liked better.

Valentini
Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2018

99/100 – € 105

100% Trebbiano. Matures 4 years in big barrels. Bright straw yellow color. Bright straw yellow color. Complex and very clear aromas of renette apple, yellow citrus, wildflowers and hints of olive paste and flint. Tense and agile taste, savory and very elegant, dynamic body perfectly sustained by its acidity that makes it irresistibly easy to drink. Persistent finish. A great wine.

Bucci
Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva Villa Bucci 2019

99/100 – € 45

100% Verdicchio. Matures 18 months in big barrels. Intense straw yellow color with greenish hues. Wide, enveloping and very typical aromas of anise, yellow plums, alfalfa, wildflowers and flint. Enveloping and neat taste, savory, warm but agile and very elegant. Very balanced. Exceptionally long finish. Great version.

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Krug, Keste and Pizza

“Olivier Krug, Krug Grande Cuvée and the 1996 Vintage Krug at Keste NYC,”  read the email invitation from Ed “Champagne” Mc Carthy.  Ed has a long history with Krug going back 50 years. It was Ed that introduced Krug to Michele and I over 40 years ago and it quickly became Michele’s favorite Champagne. We met Ed along with Olivier Krug, and Nicole Burke, Brand Manager for Moet Hennessy, at Keste’ for lunch.  

IMG_0821 Keste

Charles, Ed Mc Carthy, Olivier Krug and Roberto Caporuscio

IMG_8147Krug Grande Cuvée 170 EME Edition Champagne  made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. The blend is made from 195 wines from 12  different vintages, the youngest from 2014 and the oldest from 1998. It is aged for seven years in the cellars. All Krug Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It has a long finish and a wonderful aftertaste. Fantastic!  Ed looked up and said obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. $135

IMG_8132Roberto Caporuscio, the owner of Keste, brought us some appetizers.  First was this large burrata cheese, rolled in a batter and deep fried.  To make the crust extra crispy, Roberto told us he uses gluten free flour.  When we cut it open, small balls of mozzarella in cream tumbled out.

IMG_8135Calzone — Instead of the typical ricotta filling, this calzone was filled with an assortment of meats and cheeses.

IMG_8137Roberto knows we always like to start with a Pizza Margherita to share, and then we let him choose the remaining pizzas.

IMG_8149Krug 1996 made from 48% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier. 1996 was one of the best vintages of the century. It was the last vintage blended by three generations of the Krug family working together. It is made from 17 different growths. This is a  champagne with rich mature aromas, full ripe flavors, hints of pear, ripe fruit, citrus, honey, gingerbread, butterscotch and brioche. It has a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste. This may very well be the wine of the century.  Disgorged in 2007. 

IMG_8140Olivier Krug told us that Krug vintage celebrates the distinct character of a particular year. A Krug vintage is a blend of the most expressive wines from a single year enhanced by a stay in the cellar of over 10 years. Every Krug is different.  Olivier added that “it is the music of the year catered by Krug.” 

The Krug philosophy is unique.  Olivier explained that, “We take a musical approach to to Champagne creation: each plot of vines is a musician and the Cellar Master a conductor selecting those who will together preform the most generous expression of Champagne every year, Krug Grand Cuvée. Sometimes the musicians of a certain year have a unique song to play and sometimes a virtuoso soloist emerges during the auditions.  Thus other Krug Champagne may also be born, making Music a natural way to reflect our craftsmanship.”

Oliver Krug told us that the 1996 vintage was a special year in Champagne.  It is said to be one of the best vintages of the century and is often compared to the legendary 1928. The 1996 has special meaning for him because it was his first vintage.  Also, it was the last vintage created by three generations of the Krug family working together:  Paul II, Henri, Rémi, and Olivier.

IMG_8141Pizza with golfetta salame and black summer truffles.  Golfetta is a type of salame imported from Italy made from lean cuts of pork leg.

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Pizza del Papa — Perfect for Fall, we ended with this pizza that Roberto named in honor of the Pope.  It was topped with butternut squash puree, cheese, peppers, and zucchini.

It was a great pleasure listening to Olivier Krug speak about his Champagne and tasting these great Champagnes with him and Ed Mc Carthy

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Le Gratin: A Taste of Lyon in NYC

Autumn in New York is shaping up to be an exciting one.  After the past two years of Covid shutdowns and uncertainties, the city is buzzing again and many new restaurants are opening.  Le Gratin Bouchon Lyonnais by Chef Daniel Boulud, inspired by the bistros of Lyon, the chef’s hometown, is one that I visited the other day.

Le Gratin is located in the Beekman Hotel across from City Hall.  The space was formerly occupied by  Keith Mc Nally’s Augustine and the beautiful Parisian decor remains the same.  A group of French speakers were seated nearby and Edith Piaf was singing La Vie en Rose.  It was a little taste of France in New York.

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The crisp bread was a French pain epi, named for its resemblance to a wheat stalk.  It was served with good butter swirled with crystals of sea salt.:

IMG_8111Assiette De Charcuterie – We started with a shared plate of Terrines, Saucisson and Parisian Ham served with coarse mustard, pickled vegetables and a salad of celery root.

IMG_8114Quenelle De Brochet Au Gratin — A mousse-like pike dumpling baked in a rich sauce of Gruyère cheese with Mushroom Bèchamel. 

The wine list has more than 100 wines with a special focus on the wines around Lyon, including Beaujolais, Maconnais, Cöte de Vienne and Collines Rhödaniennes. There is a $50 BYOB charge.

IMG_8115I couldn’t resist trying an order of pommes frites — French fries.

IMG_8117Mashed Potatoes, creamy and full of potato flavor accompanied my main dish.

IMG_8113Foie de Veau a la Moutarde — Calf’s Liver with Mustard Sauce was cooked perfectly.

IMG_8109Beaujolais “Saint-Amour” 2015 Domaine De Fa 100% Gamay from the single Vineyard Cötes de Besset at 400 meters one of the highest altitude sited in Saine-Amour. The vines are 40 years old and the soil is crushed granite, sand and big chunks of granite. Whole cluster fermentation takes place with a semi-carbonic maceration. The wine is ages in 1 -3 year old foudre. This is a  wine with hints of raspberries, cherries, a note of blueberries and a touch of rose petals. It was a delight to drink and a perfect combination with the food.

IMG_8118Blueberry Tart with Blueberry Ice Cream was a sweet finish.

Le Gratin 

5 Beekman Street NYC in The Beekman Hotel

212-597-9020

Open for Lunch and Dinner

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