Monthly Archives: April 2012

Fiorenzo Dogliani and the Wines of Beni di Batasiolo

When I was the wine director at I Trulli Restauant, we carried a number of Batasiolo wines. They were very well made wines and very well priced.  But I had not tasted these wines in a few years so when I received an invitation for a tasting and lunch at Il Postino, I was happy to accept.

Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani

My host was Mr. Fiorenzo Dogliani, a charming and knowledgeable man, not only about wine but also about everything in the Langhe.  During the lunch we spoke about Piedmontese wine in general, the food of the area and the restaurants. I really enjoyed speaking to him.

He related a little of the history of the winery.  Dogliani was the original name but it had to be changed in 1978. This was done, Mr. Dogliani said, to avoid confusion with a large co-operative, which produced Dolcetto in the Dogliani designation. He said that there were seven beni farmhouses with vineyards- when they brought the property in La Morra in the 1950’s. The name Beni di Batasiolo was chosen because it was in keeping with the tradition that identifies a real value with the term “bene”, here applied to the land, the vineyards and the farm. The winery now has nine “beni” covering a total of over 100 hectares, 60 of which are planted with Nebbiolo.  Mr. Dogliani said that they have a philosophy of the land, understanding the terroir and using mostly traditional grapes and methods.

The Wine

Gavi del Comune di Gavi DOCG 2010 100% Cortese The vineyards are at 100/200 meters and there are 3,500 vines per hectare. They use the Guyot system modified into small arches. There is soft pressing with static decanting, and the alcoholic fermentation is under strict temperature control. The wine is bottled after malolactic fermentation. The wine has aromas of white flowers with hints of white peaches, citrus and good acidity. $18.9

Barbera D’Alba “Sovrana” DOC 2009 100% Barbera.  Mr Dogliani made the point that the vineyards are in Barolo and La Morra at 400/450 meters, facing south and southwest in the area that is usually reserved for Nebbiolo. It is calcareous soil rich in potassium and the vines are 55 years old. He feels this excellent position and the age of the vines along with the soil makes it a Barbera with unique qualities that can age.

The harvest takes place on Oct 2nd. Alcoholic fermentation with maceration on the skins is in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days. In the spring the wine is transferred into oak barrels (second passage) where it matures for 12/15 months. After careful sampling the wine is assembled into the final product. The wine remains in bottle for 8/10 months before release.  This is a Barbera with good structure, tannin, fruit and acidity and it will age. $22.99

Barbaresco DOCG 2008 Made from 100% Nebbiolo. The area of production is the semi-circle of hills surrounding the three ancient villages of Barbaresco, Nieve and Treiso and part of San Rocco Seno d’Elvio, a tiny village overlooking the Tanaro River. Harvesting takes place from Oct 10 to 20.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place along with long maceration on the skins in stainless steel. The wine is aged for one year in traditional Slavonian oak barrels and one year in bottle. $36 

Barolo DOCG 2007 Made from 100% Nebbiolo, in its subvarities of Michet, Lampia and Rosé. Harvest takes place from the 10th of October to the first ten days of November. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel with long maceration on the skins for 15/20 days.  Aging takes place in traditional Slavonion oak casks for 2 years and one year in bottle before release. The wine had flavors and aromas of dried fruit, spice and a touch of tobacco and leather. $40

Moscato D’Asti DOCG 2010 100% Moscato Bianco. The vines are grown in the hill terrain of Serralunga with a north, northwest exposure at 380- 410 meters. There are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vines are 15 years old. The soil is of calcareous and marl. Harvest takes place during the last 10 days of September. The grapes are hand picked and delivered to the winery in 20Kg containers, keeping the bunches intact as much as possible. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and a partial fermentation with abundant residual sugar. The juice is then cooled to zero C and stored in refrigerated vats. Fermentation begins a month before the first bottling, a very slow process reaching 5.5% alcohol by volume. It has aromas and flavors of pineapple; melon and a slight hint of oranges $16.99 

Moscato Spumante Rosè 2010 Made from Moscato Bianco and Moscato Rosa. Mr. Dogliani said that the Moscato Rosa came from the Trentino area. The grapes are harvested at the peak of ripeness.  After pressing the juice is then filtered in specially designed centrifuges. The liquid is stored in thermally insulated containers at extreme low temperatures. The secondary fermentation takes place in pressure tanks following the charmat method. This was a very easy wine to drink, with aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit $16.99 (the wine is not a Piemonte DOC because the Moscato Rosa came from Trentino.

Leave a comment

Filed under Asti, Barbaresco, Barbera, Barolo, Beni di Batasiolo, Gavi, Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Piedmont, Sparkling wine, White wine

Easter “Linner” with Good Friends

We like to invite friends over for Easter “linner”, as I call it, my name for the meal somewhere between lunch and dinner. I prefer this time because enjoy a leisurely meal and still finish at a “decent” hour.  As usual, we stuck to my rule of one bottle less then the number of people so that everyone goes home relatively sober. There were 8 of us and there were 7 bottles of wine.

For the appetizer Michele made crostini with avocado and bottarga, salted mullet roe, which went very well with the Champagne.  Michele always makes lamb for Easter and since Bordeaux is a classic match with lamb we had three Bordeaux a 1990,1988 and 1966. One of the guests, knowing Michele likes Burgundy, brought a 1947.

The Wine

Champagne Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Vintage Reserve 1998 (Rheims) 2/3 Pinot Noir and 1/3 Chardonnay. This is a full-bodied champagne, round with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and good acidity. Ed McCarthy in his book Champagne for Dummies says, ”The Veuve Clicquot Vintage Reserve Brut is a great Champagne and clearly Veuve Clicquot’s best buy.” 1988 was a very good vintage

Champagne Dom Pérignon Oenothéque 1996 disgorged in 2008. The Oenothêque (black label) indicates that a Dom Pérignon vintage has reached either its second peak in maturity, optimized intensity, 15 to 20 years after the harvest (the wine above), or its third peak, with optimized intensity after 30 years on the lees. The cellar master is the only one that can determine when the wine has reached that optimal stage in its evolution and only then will it be released as Oenothéque. This is a champagne with great length, structure and depth, nice fruit and just starting to show a hint of toast on the palate. 1996 was an excellant vintage.

Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1990 (Pauillac) 80-95% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5-20% Cabernet Franc and 0-5% Petit Verdot, depending on the vintage. The wine is aged 18-20 months in new barrels. In 1990 the climate conditions were excellent. The yield was abundant and of outstanding quality. This is an elegant complex wine with hints of blackberries, smoke, leather, spice and a touch of vanilla in the very long finish. This wine will last for least 10 years or more.

Chateau Baron Pichon Longueville 1988 (Pauillac) 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 23% Merlot and 2% Malbec, the blend depends on the vintage. The wine is aged for 18-20 months in barrel. This wine is just starting to come around but should last for a number of years.

Chateau Montrose1966 (Saint-Estéphe) made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 55% Cabernet Franc depending on the vintage. Aged in barrel from 22-24 months. In his book Bordeaux, Robert Parker states the following about this wine in 1985: “The 1966 Montrose is austere and tough on the palate, with good fruit and firm dusty tannins.”  I wonder:  what are dusty tannins? He says the anticipated maturity is between 1986 and 2010. This wonderful Bordeaux has reached full maturity.

Gevrey-Chambertin “Les Caretiers” 1947 Leroy Thanks to the kindness of friends I have been lucky enough to have drunk a few of the 1947’s from different producers. This is classic Burgundy at it best, a mature wine but not showing any real signs of age.

Montefalco Sagrantino DOCG Passito 2006 100% Sagrantino Antonelli (Umbria)  As I mentioned in my last blog, the people of Montefalco have the passito with lamb on Easter Sunday. We tried it but most of the guests found it too sweet for the lamb. I guess you just have to be in Montefalco for Easter. Half bottle.

Passito di Pantelleria “Kbaggiar” NV Azienda Agricola Seraste (Sicily) This was a very pleasant dessert wine and a good way to end the dinner. Half bottle.


Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, French Red, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino

Scacciadiavoli-Drive Away Devils

When I was the wine director for ITrulli and Vino (when it was an all Italian wine store), I would play opera in the store much to the annoyance of the owner. I am a great fan of Puccini and would play Turandot again and again. One of my favorite arias in the opera is Non Piangere Liù.

One day, a wine producer’s daughter arrived at the store for a brief internship in order to learn about the wide range of Italian wines before she went to study in Bordeaux.

Her name was Liù and her father’s winery is Scacciadiavoli (drive away devils) located in Montefalco in Umbria. She was surprised when I told her that I had been to Montefalco. Before I could ask about her unusual name, she said that her father liked Turandot so he named her Liù.


Whenever I gave wine classes, Liù would sit in and we talked about wine whenever we had a chance.  The weeks went by quickly and she thanked me for all my help before she was off to Bordeaux.  A few years later, I saw Liu in Montefalco and she thanked me again saying that when she had arrived in Bordeaux to study, she made a big hit because she was the only one of the students that knew about Italian wine.

April 2012 is Sagrantino month in NYC and I was invited to a number of events.  One was at Tarallucci & Vino, one of my favorite restaurants in NYC and Liù was there presenting her wines.

The wines of Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli di Pambuffetti

Grechetto Dell’Umbria IGT 2010, made from 100% Grechetto. The harvest takes place the first ten days of September. Vinification takes place in steel tanks on the lees and malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release. Grechetto is a native Umbrian varietal. Liu said that this was a wine to be enjoyed when it is young. She described it being fresh and fruity with floral hints and good acidity.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2008 made from 60% Sangiovese 25% Sagrantino and 15% Merlot. The harvest takes place from the middle of September to the middle of October. The wine is aged in different sized oak barrels: used barriques, tonneaux, and 30HL barrels for 12 months. She said that the wine from each different type of barrels is blended together to make the final blend. It is aged in bottle for 6 months before release.

The Sangiovese is for the acidity and the Merlot for the fruit. She added that their soil is mostly clay and Merlot does very well here. Other grapes beside Merlot can be used such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Colorino up to 15%. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of spice and good acidity. It has a long finish and a pleasant aftertaste See…

Montefalco Sagantino DOCG 2005 100% Sagrantino Harvest takes place from the middle to the end of October. If I understood Liu correctly she said that the aging was the same as for the Montefalco Rosso but it remains in wood for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. Liu said that the 2005 vintage was given 5 stars, the highest rating by the Montefalco Consortium.

Liù said the Sagrantino is a big wine with a dark color and a lot of tannin and can age for a long time.

For me Sagrantino is one of the great wines of Italy but it is not very well know in this country. It is an elegant, complex wine with rich red fruit aromas and flavors of spice and leather, good acidity and a long finish. 

Montefalco Sagantino Passito DOCG 2004 100% Sagrantino.   Harvest is from the middle to the end of September. The grapes are dried on “graticci” (mats) until mid December.…sting-the-wine/ For more information on Sagrantino.

Vinification takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged in new barrels for 16 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of sweet dried fruits, and hints of blackberry, blueberry and spice, a long finish and lingering aftertaste. Liu said that in Montefalco this passito is drunk with lamb for Easter.


Filed under Momtefalco, Montefalco, Passito, sagrantino, Scacciadiavoli


The apartment we rented in Paris was near the Eiffel Tower. It was very comfortable and at night we would sit by the window and drink Champagne as we looked at the tower with its bright lights. Before leaving home, Michele made reservations in some of our favorite Bistros and we looked forward to a week of great eating and drinking.

Chez Georges– located at 1 Rue du Mail  Michele really enjoys the atmosphere of this classic Parisian bistro.  I always order the same three courses when I go there: Salade Frisee with lardons and a poached egg, calf’s liver al anglaise fried in butter with a big thick slab of bacon on top, and frites. For dessert, Tarte Tartin an upside down apple tart accompanied by a large bowl of extra thick crème fraiche

With the liver I chose to drink a Cornas “Vielles Vignes” 2006 100% Syrah from Domaine Alain Voge.  Cornas is a village in the Northern Rhone.

The vineyard is 6.5 hectares; the vines are over 30 years old on decomposed granite slopes also know as “gore”. Harvesting takes place by hand in mid-September.  After the grapes are destemmed they are fermented in temperature controlled small stainless steel vats 30 to 50 HL. Aging is in casks, the duration depending on the vintage. This is a big wine with a lot of dark fruit aromas and flavors and a surprising touch of violets. I like Cornas and find it to be a bargain compared to some or the other Northern Rhone appellations.

La Regalade49 Jean Moulin. This just might be my favorite bistro in Paris. The first time I went there I had duck in a fig sauce and I almost came off my chair. We go there whenever we are in Paris. Michele likes it so much, she brought their cookbook. When you sit down they give you a large terrine of pate de campagne and a crock of cornichons with bread that is toasted and crunchy. You can eat all you want! It is so good it is difficult to stop!!

But I did stop for I knew what was to follow. For the first course I had lentil soup garnished with crisp bacon and bleu d’auvergne, a creamy blue cheese.  This was followed by roasted pork poitrine on a bed of lentils and celery root puree. Dessert was a Grand Marnier soufflé–it is the best!

On the wine list was a Madiran 2007 from Chateau d’Aydie 100% Tannat. The winery is in Gascony in Southwest France. The fermentation is effected not by pumping but by délestage( a French term for racking the wine), the wine is regularly racked completely and rebottled on the pomace. Micro-oxygenation (a very small dose of oxygen is introduced into the wine) is also used. This is a big dark wine with black fruit flavors and aromas and went very well with the pork.

Sunday Brunch or Lunch at Drouant at 18 place Gaillon  When we were seated in this very comfortable and attractive restaurant we were given the menu and noticed there was an extensive brunch menu and the waiter recommended that we try it. As we looked around we noticed that most of the patrons were speaking French and had ordered brunch. Most of the Americans including the ones sitting next to us ordered lunch. Once I saw the wine list and heard the Sunday lunch special, it was lunch for me.

My first course was called the “Classic” four small plates:  Leeks in vinaigrette, Duck foie gras in port, a terrine of chicken and egg in mayonnaise.

Chicken with Frites

Their special on Sunday was roasted chicken with frites, how could I resist?

I had the “classic” dessert quartet–baba doused in old rum, vanilla ice cream, apple tarte tatin and lemon meringue pie.

They have a very good wine list and when I spotted the Cornas 1978 100% Syrah Paul Jaboulet Ainé I ordered it.  I knew it would cost more at retail or at auction.  In his book The Wines of the Rhone Valley and Provence Robert Parker states: “This is the best Cornas I have tasted from Jaboulet”. He describes it as “ a profound bouquet of truffles, earthy blackberry fruit, smoked meat. This very concentrated wine is just hitting its apogee where it will no doubt remain for another 6-10 years.” He was right — except he tasted the wine in 1984 and said it would peek in1994 but it is now 2012 and the wine was amazing!

Lavinia is a large wine store at 3 Boulevard de la Medeleine that has a modern, comfortable restaurant upstairs. It seemed to be very popular with people working in the area. What makes this very interesting is that you can buy the wine in the store, pay the retail price, and bring it upstairs and drink it with your meal at no extra charge. I ordered a terrine of foie gras to start and then a perfectly cooked cassoulet that was just the way I like it–not too thick.

In the store I had selected a Gigondas 2000 made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah/Cinsault, 5% Mouvedre and 5% Clairette ffrom  Domaine Les Pallieres. Vieux Tèlégraph and Kermit Lynch now own this winery. The property is located at the extreme end of the appellation. The vineyards are on steep terraced land, at 250 meters.  The grapes are partially destemmed and pressed gently by a pneumatic press. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place for 25 to 20 days in cement cuvees and 7 to 9 months in foudres. The wine is bottled unfiltered and released two years after the harvest.

Chez JoesphineDumonet  117 Rue Du Cherche-Midi  This is another classic bistro that Michele really likes. I started with a half portion of foie gras.  One of the specialties was Mille Foglie of Pigeon and confit legs.  How could I resist.  The perfectly cooked rare breast was in a red wine sauce with crisp potato pinwheels separating each layer. For dessert we shared an apple tart with great puff pastry.

Mille Foglie of Pigeon and Confit Legs

The wine was a Corbiéres Boutenage 2009 Made from20% Syrah.%40% Carignan 30% Grenach and 10% Mourvedre  Domaine De Villemajou of Domaine Gerard Bertrand. This is a recent wine appellation of the Languedoc region (2005) in Southern France. Named after the town of Boutenage which is at the center of the area. This is a fruity wine with black and red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of black berries and spice.

Aux Lyonnaise– this is a very nice and welcoming bistro owned by Alain Ducasse at 32 Rue St Marc

I had lentil soup to start followed by roasted quail that was excellent. We drank Crozes Hermitage 2009 Cuvee Albèric Bouvet made from 100% Syrah, Domaine Gilles Robin. The wine had flavors and aromas of black fruit, hints of cassis and blackberry and touches leather and tobacco. It was a perfect combination with the quail.

Note- Jaques Genin 133 Rue Turenne a great place to have hot chocolate, tea and pastries.  The candies are outstanding.  We shared a mille feuile with chocolate praline filling. And then there are the Caramels! They are expensive but worth it-they are indescribably delicious!

Chef Christian Constant has several restaurants on the rue Saint Dominique that was right around the corner from our apartment. For breakfast we would go to Café Constant #139.  It has the best coffee in Paris and the bread, butter and jam was delicious.

Café Constant “Les Cocottes” #135 looks somewhat like an American wine bar. The specialty is casseroles served in cocottes, small covered cast iron pots that are brought to the table.

We had such a great time that we have decided to go to Paris at least once a year. We hope!


Filed under French Red, French Wine, Paris Restaurants