Monthly Archives: October 2010

An Evening with Sabrina Tedeschi and the Wine of Agricola F.lli Tedeschi

It seemed as if the Veneto had come to NYC. There were Soave tastings, Amarone tastings, and Veneto product promotions at all the major Italian food stores.

I was invited to SD26 Restaurant to meet Sabrina Tedeschi of the Tedeschi winery, one of the leading wineries in the Veneto.  It is a family run winery with a long history in the Veneto.  Renzo Tedeschi runs the winery with the help of his three children, Sabrina, Antonietta and Riccardo.   I have been a big fan of these wines for a number of years and was very happy to accept the invitation.

Sabrina in the Tedeschi Wine Cellar

Sabrina was informative and knowledgeable and we had a very relaxed and enjoyable evening discussing her wines, the winery and the Veneto in general.  Sabrina made the point that they were very traditional wine makers and used botti, large barrels made from Slovenia oak to age their wine.  They did not use barriques.  This was music to my ears and to my palate. We tasted and drank with dinner six wines. 


The first wine that Sabrina Tedeschi presented was the Tenda Soave Classico Capitel 2009 100% Garganega.  Sabrina said that the grapes for this wine are 20 years and come from the oldest area of origin, that of the commune of Monteforte d’ Alpone. The vines are trained on the Pergola Veronese which is traditional in the Soave area. The grapes are harvested by hand at the beginning of October. The must has a brief contact with the skins and fermentation takes place for about six days in stainless steel tanks. The wine undergoes malolatic fermentation and is stored in these same tanks until bottled.  This is a well balanced wine with good fruit and acidity. It had more flavor and body then I expected with a nice finish and aftertaste. Sabrina believed that it should be drunk young within the first four years while it still has its fresh fruity flavors.


Valpolicella Classical Lucchine DOC 2009 It is made from 25% Corvina, 25% Corvnione 30% Rondinella 10% Mollinara and 10% Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara and Dindarella.

 Lucchine is the name of the vineyard where the grapes are grown. The vineyard is located in the plains at the foot of the Pedemonte hills in the historic heart of the Valpolicella area. The vines are over 25 years old. The grapes are hand harvested at the beginning of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. Sabrina said that grapes were in contact with the skins briefly–only eight days. This was to insure that the wine would be fresh and fruity. After malolatic fermentation the wine spends the winter in stainless steel and is bottled in March and released one month later. This wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherries, and very good acidity. It is the type of Valpolicella that many producers do not make any more.

I could see myself drinking it with fish on Lake Garda. In fact I could not stop drinking it. Sabrina said it was their every day wine

 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Capitel Nicalo Leggero Appassimento DOC 2006 Made from 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella, and 10% Rossignola, Oseleta, Negrara and Dindarella.

 The grapes are dried indoors in plastic creates for one month. Sabrina referred to this as “light drying.” The grapes lose between 8-10 % of their weight. She went on to say that this “light dehydration” enriches the sugar content of the grapes. Fermentation takes place in special small fermentation vats for 14 days. The must is pumped over during steeping to extract the maximum color, body and structure. The wine is then aged in 5000 liter Slavonia oak barrels for 14-16 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. Sabrina said the wine could age for 5- 8 years.

 Sabrina explained that their most important grape was the Corvina. It was the principal grape in Amarone because it dries so well. She also said that it must be blended with other grapes to be at its best.  This was part of a discussion on which grapes “dry” the best. As an aside she said that Cabernet Sauvignon could dry but made a wine that did not last. Merlot on the other hand did not take to drying at all.

 Valpolicella Capital San Rocco DOC 2006 – Vino di Rapasso. 
The grapes are harvested by hand at the beginning of October. They are then pressed and the stems are removed and the must is placed into small fermentation vats. Fermentation takes place with steeping that lasts for 14 days. After malolatic fermentation, it goes into stainless steel tanks where spontaneous clarification takes place. The partially clarified wine, in March, is poured over Amarone marc (skins and stems).

Sabrina went on to explain the Ripasso Method: Part of the Valpolicella Classico production from the preceding autumn goes into the same tanks that held the wine to be made into Amarone. The wine is removed but the marc (skins and stems) remain in the tank. The Valpolicella is then put into the same tanks – Ripasso=Passover.

 When the wine comes in contact with the amarone must ( skis and stems) it goes through another stage of slight alcoholic fermentation that lasts about 8/15 days. According to Sabrina this increases the alcohol content and structure of the wine, improving longevity. It also develops new aromas that create an interesting and complex bouquet. Then the wine is left to age for approximately 1-1/2 years in oak barrels before it is bottled. During this aging the wine acquires a balanced structure; new aromatic contents and its coloring substances are stabilize. The wine is bottled and released after 6 months.


Amarone del Valpolicella DOC 2006.   Grapes–same as above
Grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September/beginning of October, and are placed in plastic trays for drying. Drying is done inside in what Sabrina referred to as a fruttaio “fruit-drying facility” at controlled humidity and temperature. She went on the say that gray mold and Botrytis could be controlled in this way. This ensures that the bunches of grapes will be in good health at the end of the drying process (after about 4 months), and to make sure that everything is going well the grapes are periodically inspected during the drying period and especially during the first month. Grapes are more humid at the start of the process and consequently more subject to attack by mold. During January the grapes are gently pressed by a roller press. Fermentation takes place in steel vessels at a temperature of 15°C and with slow 40-day steeping. The wine does not undergo malolatic fermentation. At the end of fermentation the wine is put into Slavonia oak barrels where it remains for two/three years. At the end of this period of aging in the barrel the wine is bottled and refined in the bottle for 6 months before it is sold.

Capitel Monte Olmi

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico  Capitel Monte Olmi  DOC 2005  Made from30% Corvina,30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella  and 10% of Oseleta, Negrara,Dindarella, Croatina and Forselina
The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September and the beginning of October, and are placed in a single layer of plastic trays. These are then placed in fruit-drying facility (at controlled humidity and temperature) and the grapes are left to dry for about 4 months. This partial dehydration of the grapes leads to a natural increase in their sugar content. There is also an enrichment of the wine’s dry extract and an increase in the color. Elegant aromas are also formed during drying and blend with fermentation aromas and the tertiary aromas created during low-oxygen aging in oak barrels. These characteristics blend together to create a well-balanced wine with abundant bouquet and excellent body. Pressing takes place without destemming. The presence of stems during fermentation/steeping gives a softer and more permeable cap, preventing oxidation.

  Steeping lasts about 2 months, at the same cold (15°C) temperature as was used with fermentation. The wine is then transferred to Slavonia oak barrels for aging for more than 2 -1/2 years. During this period the wine rests on the skins and stems, and is cleaned of yeasts to give complexity to its structure and maintain its fresh and fruity aroma. Micro-oxygenation through the wooden staves helps create enduring color stability. Because of this process the wine does not go through malolatic fermentation. The wine, after aging in wood, is bottled and left to refine for 5-6 months, achieving a balanced aroma and flavor, before it is marketed. This is one of the best Amarones that I have tasted. It is a big, complex, full bodied wine with acidity. It has deep aromas of cherries, raspberries and hints of red currents. It has a very long finish and a great after taste. The wine will last for 20 years or more.

The Tedeschi Family


 Sabrina went on to explain that at the end of alcoholic fermentation they rack the amarone wine in a different stainless steel tank.  The fermented amarone grapes with the skins and stems are dry and not green like the grapes at the harvest time. The amarone stems and skins that remain in the tank are usually used for the ripasso vinification (Valpolicella refermented on the marc of amarone), but not the marc of Monte Olmi which is delivered to the distillery and produces a very specific Grappa.

The marc of the other amarones after ripasso vinification is delivery to the distillery for the distillation as well as, according to Italian regulation.

 I asked Sabrina about the 2005 and 2006 vintages as it applied to the two amarones  we tasted. She said that they were both good vintages but very different. The 2006 is a fruity, more approachable wine with softer tannins which will be ready to drink much sooner  than the 2005. The 2005 is less fruity, with very rich tannins and has the greater aging potential. She described the 2005 as a full bodied amarone, very complex with hints of spice and mineral notes, but also elegant with a long finish and memorable aftertaste.

 I also asked her what were the current regulations for Amarone and this was her answer.  The present regulation for Amarone is the DOCG regulations (decreto legislativo 24 marzo 2010).  The grapes are the following:

1.       Corvina from 45 to 95% (Corvinone may substitute Corvina for up to 50% of this amount)

2.       Rondinella  5 – 30 %

3.       Other authorized and recommended non-aromatic red varieties from Veronese area may be included for up  to 15% of the total. Of this amount, no more than 10% may be used of any single variety.

4.       Other authorized autochthones Italian varieties permitted in the Verona area may be included up to 10% of the total.

Molinara is now included in the group 3. Molinara was taken out in the previous regulations in 2007, as the grapes are characterized as having little color, low structure (opposite to the characteristic of Amarone ), but good minerality, good flavor  so it could helps to give some complexity to the wine.

Materngo Vineyards

As this very enjoyable and informative evening was coming to an end, Sabrina mentioned a new estate that the family had recently purchased.. Because of its terrain and location she felt it was the perfect place to produce quality grapes. I thanked her and told her I look forward to drinking the wines from the new Materngo estate.

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Piemonte Land of Perfection at Del Posto

The invitation to a luncheon and tasting at Del Posto was particularly timely since the restaurant had just been awarded 4 stars from the New York Times, and reservations were likely to be hard to come by.  Besides, the event was sponsored by the Vignaioli Piemontesi Association and it would be an opportunity to sample the wines of nine of the organization’s members who were in New York to launch their first non-European marketing campaign to promote the region of Piemonte and its wines.

Spumante and Moscato on Ice

 Gianluigi Biestro, director of the Vignaioli Piemontesi Association spoke about the Project, stating that the project would be linked more to the individual grape varieties than to geographical differences. He pointed out that Piemonte is known for its great red wines and the grapes that produce those wines: Nebbiolo, Barbara and Dolcetto. For the people of Piemonte, the first job of a wine is to be red, he said, and right up to the 1970’s red grapes counted for 90% of the production. Back then, white sweet and sparkling Moscato di Asti and Asti Spumante (the most-sold Italian DOC in the world) out-produced dry white wine 9 to 1. He went on to say that tastes change, but I think he was talking about the changing taste of the world market.  He indicated that 35% of the total production in Piemonte is now white wine to conform to that market.

 Part of the main objective of the project is the concept of “drinking in the Piemontese way”, meaning matching wine to any type of food.  The Piemontese have a wine to go with everything.

 It is always more interesting for me not to just taste wine, but to drink it with food.  For me, the true test of a wine is how well it pairs with food. I was pleased to see that all of the wines at the tasting would be served with lunch.

 We sat a table with other journalists, wine buyers, and restaurant owners and there was a lively discussion about the wine and food.

Lidia's Lobster Salad

 The AntipastoLidia’s Lobster Salad all Catalana with Tomato and Celery 

This was paired with the Alta Langhe Spumante NV from Fontanafredda. I have always been a believer in lobster with sparkling wine. Especially those like this one made by the Classical Method.  It is 80% Pinot Nero and 20 % Chardonnay. Dry with good bubbles and subtle fruit it was a good complement to the lobster. The second wine with this course was a Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2005 from Cantina di Govone Made from 100% Barbera.  Barbera is a red grape but it can be paired with fish because it has good acidity.  It goes best with tuna and swordfish but does not work well with shellfish because the “meat” is too delicate. This Barbara had undertones of oak which really overwhelmed the lobster. This wine would have gone much better with the next course.

Del Posto Agnolotti

 Primo– Del Posto Agnolotti dal Plin with Ramp Butter. This dish was paired with the Dolcetto di Dogliani 2009 and the Dogliani “Il Clou” 2008 both from Clavesana. Both are made from 100% Dolcetto and there are many who believe that the best Dolcetto comes from the Dogliani area. Both wines were typical of traditional Dolcetto with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry. They went very well with the Agnolotti bringing out the flavors of the dish.


 SecondoNew York Strip Steak with Fried Potatoes, Arugula & Tomato Raisins.

This dish was paired with four wines:Barbaresco Pertinace

Barbaresco 2004 100% Nebbiolo  Pertinace. This is a very well made traditional wine. Fermentation is on the skins for at least 15 days. Following the malolatic fermentation and a brief stay in stainless steel, the wine is aged in Slovenian oak for at least one year. 2004 was a great vintage in Barbaresco. This is a complex wine with good fruit, spice and tannin and will age for a very long time.

 Barbaresco La Casa in Collina 2004 100% Nebbiolo Terre Da Vino Fermentation on the skins for 20 days and then aged in grande botti – large oak barrels for about one year and 10 months in bottle before it is released.

 Barolo Paesi Tuoi  2005 100% Nebbiolo Fermentation on the skins for 20-25 days, 2 years in grandi botti  and one year in bottle, but the wine is not released until after 4 years. This is a wine that will age for a very long time.

 Barolo Serralunga100% Nebbiolo Fontanafredda Fermentation takes place is stainless steel tanks for 15 days. It is aged one year in Allier oak barriques and one year in Allier oak casks and 8-10 months in bottle before release. This is a dry full bodied wine with hints of spice and roses and an undertone of vanilla.

 I enjoyed all four of the wines with the steak. Both Barbaresco and Barolo are very tannic and need at least 10 years before they are ready to drink. Because of this they showed much better with the food than they did on their own.

 Dolce Tartufo al Caffe- Dark Chocolate, Sant’Eustachio Coffee & Cinnamon Croutons

 Moncucco Moscato d’Asti 2009 100% Moscato Bianco Fontanafredda Fermented in temperature controlled pressure tanks and aged in stainless tanks for 6 months followed by  pressure storage tanks where it waits to be bottled. The alcohol is only 5.5 % which makes it a perfect dessert wine. There were aromas of pear, peach, honey with hints of orange blossoms and it was the perfect wine for the chocolate dessert.

For more on the food at Del Posto

 . These wines were featured last week at Eataly, the new Italian market and restaurant complex located at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street.

  I am often asked which is my favorite region of Italy. This is a very difficult question since they are all so different and I love the wine and food from every region. However if I had to chose one that had the best wine and food it would be Piemonte.  I will have a full report on the wine and food of Piemonte when I return from my trip in the middle of November.

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Puglia Wine Week in NYC- Winemakers from the Heel of the Boot

The beginning of fall marked the beginning of Puglia Wine Week in the US and producers from the heel of the Italian boot came here to present their wines.  Five cities were visited: Chicago, Houston, Los Angles, San Francisco and New York.

 In NYC a seminar and tasting with 20 producers from the different wine regions of Puglia–Daunia, Murge, Valle D’Itria, Messapia and Salento – was the first event. In order to make sure that consumers were able to taste these wines, many wine stores held tastings of the wines from these producers during the week.


 A welcome dinner at Mia Dona, a restaurant specializing in the food and wine of Puglia, was hosted by the owner, Donatella Arpaia. In addition, during the week 13 restaurants held wine and food dinners for the press each one hosted by a representative from a winery. Each producer presented four wines to be paired with Apulian dishes.

 In another program open to the public, Italian restaurants citywide created special Puglia-inspired menus for the week of September 27 to October 2. The menus were individually price-fixed and accompanied by an optional selection of Puglian wines from one of eight participating wineries which included Albea, Barsento, Cefalicchio, D’Alfonso del Sordo, Due Palme, Tormaresca, Vallone and Vigne E Vini.

 These were some of the wines which I especially liked with some comments.

 Agricole ValloneSalento– This producer presented their wines at restaurant l’Artusi and I was able to taste the wines here with dinner. The representative from the winery at the dinner was Giuseppe Malazzini.

 Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Rosato DOC 2009 – 70% Negroamaro, 30% Montepulciano, $16

 Vigna Flaminio Brindisi Riserva Rosso DOC 2006. Grapes: 70% Negoamaro, 20% Montepulciano and 10% Malvasia Nera di Brindisi. $16

 Graticciaia Salento Rosso IGT 2005. 100% Negroamaro . This is one of the most expensive wines from Puglia, $75, and worth the money. When I was working for an Apulian restaurant, I introduced this wine in NY. This is a very particular wine because the grapes are dried on straw mats (a play on the wine’s name) between 15-20 days in the sun and wind of Puglia. Mr. Malazzini made sure we understood that the grapes were not late harvest. He felt that drying the grapes in this way produced a very special wine and preserved the wines acidity. The wine was then aged for one year in new barriques and another in steel before it was released.

 Alberto Longo Daunia – I met Alberto Longo in NYC in January at Vino 2010 and I tasted his wines with him at Keste Pizza and Vino in NYC.

La Fossette Puglia Bianco IGT 2009. 100% Falanghina.  Alberto said that production area was in San Severo’ in Northern Puglia and the soil here was calcareous with loam texture. The wine is cold fermented in stainless steel tanks and the wine is kept on the lees for three months.

 Donnadele Puglia Rosato IGT 2009. 100% Negroamaro. The production area was in Lucera also in Northern Puglia and the soil type was the same. It is vinified in steel in steel vats skin contact between 4-8 hours.

 Cacc’eMmitte di Lucera DOC 2008. 55% Nero di Troia, 30% Montepulciano and 15% Bombino Bianco. The wine is aged in cement vats for 6 to 8 months and then in bottle before release.

 Vini Coppa d’OroDaunia

 Donna lliana Anima Puglia Bianco IGT 2009 – 100% Bombino Bianco

 Donna IIiana Ammalia Puglia Rosso IGT 2009 – 100% Nero di Troia

 Torrevento Murge

 Torre del Falcone Murgia Rosso IGT 2007- 100% Nero di Troia

  Ghenos Primitivo di Manduria DOC 2007- 100% Primitivo

 ApollonioSalento This winery wine uses oak from America, France and Russia and ages one of its wines in acacia.

  Terragnolo Salento Rosso IGT 2004 – 100% Primitivo this wine was aged in large barrels (botti) made of American oak.

 Divoto Copertino Riserva Rosso DOC 2001- 70% Negroamaro and 30% Montepulciano

This wine was aged 24 months in large barrels (botti) made of French oak. The wine was not showing its age and I believe it could last for a number of years.

 Albea – Valle D’Itria

 Il Selva Locorotondo Bianco DOC 2009 – 60% Verdeca, 35% Bianco di Alessano and 5% Fiano Minutolo. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and does not undergo maloactic fermentation.

 LUI Puglia Rosso IGT 2006 – 100% Nero di Troia. Fermentation in stainless steel tanks ans maceration on the skins for 16 to 18 days with regular pumping over. It is aged 10 months in Never, Allier and Troncais barriques.

 Conti Spagnoletti ZeuliMurge

 Castel del Monte Rosso DOC 2009 – Nero di Troia and Montepulciano

 Tormaresca – Murge – This winery is owned by Piero Antinori of Tuscan fame. The representative at the tasting from the winery was Peppino Palumbo, managing director and supervisor for cultivation.  He made it clear that “Our daily commitment is to the territory identity of Puglian wines.’’

 Boca di Lupo Castle del Monte Rosso DOC 2006 – 100% Aglianico.  The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. The malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques made of French and Hungarian oak and the wine is aged in these same barrels for 15 months. It is aged another 12 months in bottle before it is released.


 Over all I was very pleased with the wines at the tasting and those I had with dinner at Mia Donna and I’Artusi. I have always liked the wines from Puglia and have been drinking them ever since I visited Puglia for the first time in 1983.

There will be a full report on the wines, food and olive oil of Puglia when I return from my trip there in late November. I have not been there in three years and am looking forward to the trip after tasting these wines and seeing what else I can discover.

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