Monthly Archives: November 2012

Michele and Charles Scicolone on TV

Michele and Charles Scicolone on NYC Life on WNYC Channel 25

Premiering Saturday, November 24, Michele and Charles Scicolone will be appearing in a weekly segment on I-Italy/NY, a new program covering all aspects of Italian life, the arts, and culture in New York City.  Michele and Charles will be visiting restaurants around town and talking about their favorite subjects — Italian wine and food!

Name:  I-Italy/NY           Time: 11PM on Saturdays and 1 PM  Sundays           Where: New York Public Television Channel 25 in the tri-state area

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dPCUt_cQmTw

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Champagne, Old Wine and Turkey


Thanksgiving lunch/dinner (linner) is traditionally served at 4:00PM at our house. This gives everyone the chance to eat and drink as much as they want and still not get home too stuffed or too late. Our Linner usually lasts for 5 to 6 hours. This year was no exception.

To start, Michele made persimmons wedges wrapped in prosciutto, followed by a chestnut soup, roast turkey with a fennel, sausage and rice stuffing and many side dishes.  Then we had a cheese course, followed by a hazelnut tar and caramel pumpkin pie for dessert.  We have been having Thanksgiving for several years with Tom Maresca http://ubriaco.wordpress.com and his wife Diane Darrow http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com.  Diane is a very excellent baker and brought a beautiful loaf of home made bread, as well as the hazelnut tart mentioned above.  Travis and Nicole joined us this year and brought some Champagne and old wines.

The WinesChampagne Grand Cru D’ay Füt de Chène Brut 2000 Henri Giraud. 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay harvested exclusively in the terroir of Aÿ Grand Cru. The wine is aged in small barrels made from Argonne oak for 12 months. The first vintage was in 1990. This is a full and rich wine with aromas of pear, stone fruits and a hint of mushrooms. It has a long lasting finish.Champagne Curvèe William Durtz Brut Millesimè (prestige cuvee) 1999 (Aÿ) made from 62% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 8% Pinot Meunier. This is a well-structured, complex, elegant Champagne with hints of herbs, dried flowers and a touch of toast.

Torre Ercolana 1982 Cantina Colacicchi – Anagni  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese dl Piglio  When this wine was produced, there were only 2 acres of vines and only 2,000 bottles were made, one fourth of them a white called Romagnano.

The wine is made by a natural fermentation, no filtration, sterilization or pasteurization. The wine is aged in barrel with four rackings a year.

I have been drinking the older vintage of this wine for a number of years and buy them in Rome at Trimani, who has the exclusive rights to the wine. The wine does not always taste the same; this is because the blend changes according to the vintage. In hot vintages the Cesanese does better so there is more of it in the blend. In cooler vintages the Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot does better so their percentage is increased. The best however is when all three varieties ripen perfectly.

Burton Anderson in his book VINO describes the wine in musical terms. “My first mouthful of Torre Ercolana was like my first earful of Beethoven’s Fifth: so overpowering it left me gasping for adjectives to describe it.”  Morey-Saint-Denis “Les Sorbets” 1976 Domine B. Serveau et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The soil is limestone and clay and the 7 hectares of Pinot Noir are in the heart of the Côte de Nuits. The grapes are picked by hand and the wine is matured in oak casks for 18/22 months. The Premiers Crus are aged 2/10 years before coming to market. This is a wonderful wine with aromas of red fruit and blackberries, round with a silky fruity feeling on the palate. It was a pleasure to drink.Reciotto Secco “Amarone” Vino della Valpolicella 1960. Bertani. This is one of my favorite producers and I like Amarone on Thanksgiving.  With turkey and all the side dishes, it makes for a great combination. So I was very disappointed because the wine was too old and tasted like sherry. Travis brought the wine.  He had had a 1964 a few days before and said it was wonderful. You never know with old wines — you take your chances and hope for the best.Alicante Bouschet 1996 Russian River Vineyards (old vines), Sonoma Country Topolos, made from 100% Alicante Bouschet from the Sequoia View Vineyards. The wine is unrefined. It was bottled December 16, 1997. Since the Amarone was not good and it was Thanksgiving, the truly all-American holiday, I decided to try this wine. It was interesting but it seemed they were trying to make an old style wine but could not get away from all the modern techniques. It was unbalanced with too much alcohol.

The winery was sold and the name changed to Russian River Vineyards and I do not know if they still produce this wine.

Because we had a cheese course and two pies, it was time for the dessert wines.Montefalco Sagrantino D’Arquata Passito Abboccato DOC 1981 Adanti 100% Sagrantino The grapes are naturally dried for two months (appassimento) followed by a slow fermentation. The wine is aged in large Slovenian oak barrels (botti). They still make a passito but the word Abboccato does not appear on the label. The wine had aromas and flavors of dry fruit, blackberries and a dry aftertaste.Anghelu Ruju 1979 Vino Liquoroso Tradizional di Alghero  Sella & Mosca (Sardinia) 100% Cannonau. This is a late harvest and after the grapes are picked they are dried in the open air for a long time. There is a long oak aging in fusti (small oak barrels of 20/50 liters). This is an aromatic wine with hints of cinnamon and walnuts. I do not think it was produced after the 2003 vintage. We ended the meal with the last of my last bottle of Romano Levi Grappa, which I bought a few years ago just before the great grappa maker died.

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Filed under Anghelu Ruju Vino Liquoroso, Burgundy, Champagne, Domaine b. Serveau et Fils, French Wine, Henri Giraud, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Passito, sagrantino, Topolos, Torre Ercolana

Amarone: the Gentle Giant Awakens

Last year I wrote about a tasting I attended called “The Amarone Families and the 2001 Vintage.”  The Amarone Families are a group of 12 wineries, all family-owned, that have joined together to promote Amarone in the international market.  For more on the Amarone Families and Amarone, go to:
https://charlesscicolone.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/amarone-2011-006.jpg
The families’ tasting this year was called “Amarone:  the Gentle Giant Awakens.”  The spokesperson was Sandro Boscaini, owner of the Masi Winery, who I know and respect both as a producer and for his knowledge of Amarone.  Sandro made a few opening remarks about the “Families” and Amarone in general and went on to discuss how Amarone is produced.

Amarone Families

He said that the weather during the drying of the grapes (appassimento) is just as important as the weather during the vintage.  The colder the weather, the better it is for drying the grapes. The grapes used for Amarone are thick skinned and can take a long drying period. This longer winter drying makes the resulting wine more concentrated. Only after the drying period takes place do they know if the juice is good enough to be made into Amarone.  Amarone is only made in the best vintages. Most of the producers try to avoid the formation of botrytis on the skins of the grapes. Of the 12 producers, only Sandro said that 2% of his grapes had Botrytis.  He did say however that he felt a touch of Botrytis might be present in the grapes, especially the Corvina, which may not be detected.
This was a very interesting seminar because it covered vintages between 2007 and 1988.

The Wines
Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Vignetto Monte Sant’Urbano D.O.C. 1988 Speri made from 65% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella, 5% Corvinone, 5% Molinara and other indigenous varities. The vines are 19 years old and the vineyards are at 280-350 meters. Manual selection of the best bunches the first week of October. The grapes were dried for 120 days on racks in the fruit drying rooms of the Monte Sant’Urbano estate where there are ideal conditions of temperature, humidity and ventilation. The grapes lost 40% of their initial weight and pressing took place at the end of January 1989. Fermentation took place in large oak barrels. There was no signs of Botrytis. The wine was aged in 50hl Slavonia oak barrels for 4 years, 10% new, and refined in the bottle.  Weather conditions were very good and1988 is considered an excellent vintage. It is a full, complex wine that still has aromas of ripe fruit with hints of cherries, dries figs and a touch of hazelnut. The retail price is $300 and there are about 60 bottles left.Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico “Mazzano” D.O.C. 1990 Masi made from 75% Corvina, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara.  About 2% of the Corvina was affected by Botrytis. Average age of the vines is 24 years and the vineyards are at 305/415 meters.  In the beginning of October the best clusters from the hillside vineyards are selected and laid in wooden boxes or on bamboo racks in large rooms in an old farmhouse in the hills until the middle of January. There are large openings and windows to allow the free flow of air that is vital to the drying process.  Sandro Boscaini said that the grapes lose 35/40% of their weight and have enhanced flavor as well as a high concentration of sugar. The grapes were affected by botrytis. He said it was an outstanding vintage for Amarone. This is an elegant wine, balanced with dry fruit aromas of prunes and figs and a touch of leather. $300Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico D.O.C. 1995 Allegrini made from 75% Corvina Veronese, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The vines are 24 years old and at 250 meters. Hand harvested the second week of October. The ground was dry and there was no rain, so there was no risk of mold of any kind. The grapes were dried naturally on bamboo/straw-lined racks in the drying lofts for 3 months losing about 45% of their original weight.  Pressing took place on January 10.  The wine was fermented and aged in Vosges and Cher oak casks of different sizes for 36 months. Aging in the bottle for 18 months followed blending. This is a highly structured complex and well-balanced wine that will last for a number of years. Not for sale by the winery.Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico D.O.C. 1997 Tommasi made from 50% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The vines are 40 years old and are at 220-260 meters. Selection of the grapes to be dried took place on September 18/October 7. After 5 months of drying with total control of the humidity, pressing took place on February 7.  Fermentation was in stainless steel tanks for 30 days.  Aging was in Slavonian oak barrels of 35hl for 36 months.  This is a concentrated wine, elegant and smooth, with long aging potential. $150 if it was available.

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico ‘Capitel Monte OLMI 2003 D.O.C. Tedeschi Made from 30% Corvina, 30% Corvinone 30% Rondinella, 5% Osteleta and 5% other local grapes. The vines are 30 years old and are at 150/200 meters and the harvest was by hand starting on September 3, 2003. Drying takes place in a fruit drying facility where the temperature is controlled (cold temperature process) as well as the ventilation and humidity The grapes are dried for 90 days and lose about 40% of their weight.  This increases the sugar content and changes the extract and flavor. Pressing of the grapes began on December 1, with a roller /crusher.  The grapes were not destemmed. Fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel with the tanks with periodic pumping over.  Fermentation and maceration lasts for about 45 days. The wine is aged in 25hl four year old Slavonian oak barrels for about two years. The wine was filtered and remained in the bottle for 8 months before release. While 2003 was not expected to be a great vintage Sabrina Tedeschi said that for them it turned out to be an excellent vintage and she expected the wine to have a long life. This is a balanced, complex wine with jammy fruit and hints of chocolate, pepper and a touch of balsamic. The current vintage of this wine is $75

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva “Sergio Zenato”  Zenato 1998 D.O.C. made from 80% Corvina, 10% Rondinella, 5% Sangivese and 5% Molinara. The age of the vines is 20 years and the vineyards are at 300 meters. The grapes are picked by hand and left to dry in the fruttaio (drying room) for 3 to 4 months in small trays with only one layer of grapes, well spaced to allow for good air circulation. The grapes are pressed in December/January.
Fermentation and skin contact is for 15/20 days and then the wine is aged in big Slavonian oak barrels for 48 months. The wine is aged in bottle for one year before release. The wine has aromas of dried ripe fruit with hints of liquorice and spice. The wine is drinking very well now but could last for a number of years.

One of my favorite wines to pair with the turkey and everything that goes with it is Amarone. The Amarone Families” make Amarone at different price points so you could find one for about $40. A wine not as big but with some of the same tastes as Amarone is the Valpolicella Ripasso which is less expensive and would also go well with the turkey

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MICHELE AND I WILL BE DOING A REGULAR FOOD AND WINE SEGMENT ON WNYC-TV CHANNEL 25 STARTING THIS SATURDAY AT 11:00 PM AND REPEATED ON SUNDAY AT 1:00 PM FOR i.ITALY| NY.  THE SHOW DEALS WITH EVERYTHING ITALIAN IN THE NYC AREA

 

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Filed under Allegrini, Amarone, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Masi, Speri, Tedeschi, Tommasi, Zenato

Umbria Comes to NYC

Mayor Bloomberg issues an Official Proclamation declaring November “ I Love Umbria Month” in New York City. There were events taking place in Eataly and Di Palo Fine foods among others. As I walked toward Eataly to attend a tasting of Umbrian wines, I could not help but think of the two major storms that we had endured in just one week:  the first was Hurricane Sandy and on this day it was a nor’easter bringing high winds, rain and snow.  Madison Square Park was closed as it had been during the hurricane and as I made my way across Fifth Avenue, I could only hope that the storm would not be as bad.

Porchetta for lunch


Only 4 of the 7 wines had made it to Eataly because of the hurricane but that was the least of the problems that Sandy had caused.Dan Amatuzzi, Beverage Director of Eataly, and Marco Caprai from the Arnaldo Caprai winery were the day’s speakers.  Mr. Amatuzzi spoke about Umbria and its wines in general and Mr. Caprai spoke mostly about Sagrantino.

The Wines

Bianco di Torgiano “Costelllato” DOC 2011 Terre Margaritelli made from Chardonnay, Trebbiano, Grechetto and Fiano. The winery is located on a hill called Miralduolo between Perugia and Assisi, the vineyards are 200-250 meters above see level, with clay soil and there are 4,000 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The wine is aged for a short time in French oak barrels from the Bertrange Forest in the Nevers region.  With Chablis to the northeast and Sancerre to the southwest, this is one of the most highly regarded forests in France since the variety of oak (Quercus Petraea) has a very dense grain.

The wine is well-structured with aromas of apple, dried fruit, herbs, and a touch of hazelnut. There is a nice aftertaste with a hint of almond.  Bianco di Torgiano is not seen very often in this country. Todi Sangiovese  “Belforte” DOC 2010 Cantina Tudernum made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot. The Cantina is located on the slope of Todi’s hills along the ancient Strada Tiberina. There are 3,300 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week in October. It is aged for 6 months in barrels of durmast oak (Quercus Petraea) and then additional aging in bottle prior to release. This is a recent DOC. It is a fruity, easy-drinking wine with fresh  aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and cassis.Sagrantino di Montefalco “Collepiano” 2005 DOCG Arnaldo Caprai. Made from 100% Sagrantino from the Collepiano vineyard at 200-300 meters above sea level. The soil is clay-calcareous and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. The training system is Cordone Speronato and the harvest takes place from the third week in September to the beginning of October. The wine spends 24-26 months in French oak barriques; Marco said that some of the barriques were second passage. It is kept in bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. This is a big modern style Sagrantino with concentrated red fruit aromas and flavors and undertones of vanilla.

Sagrantino di Montefalco Passito DOCG 2005 Tenuta Rocca di Fabbri made from 100% Sagrantino. The estate is on the rolling hill to the east of the Montefalco appellation. All the grapes are grown on the estate and the exposure is south-southeast. The harvest takes place at the end of October when the grapes are very ripe. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine is aged in oak barrels and then in bottle before release. The wine is bottled 32 months after the harvest. This is a full-bodied dessert wine with aromas and flavors of red berries and dried fruit. This wine for a passito also goes well with food and in Umbria they drink it with lamb on Easter Sunday.

The wines that did not make it to the tasting because of Sandy were:
Trebbiano Spoletino IGT 2011, Perticaia. This is a producer I know and have visited and like his wines but I have not tasted this particular wine.

Rosso di Torgiano “Rubesco” 2007 Giorgio Lungarotti. I have been drinking this wine since I visited the winery many years ago and consider it one of the best Italian red wines for the money.

Sargantino di Montefalco DOCG 2007 Tabarrini Giampaolo. I do not know this producer.

Monini olive oil from Umbria was also served. It is a mild olive oil with a nutty, buttery flavor and low in acidity.

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Filed under Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Olive oli, sagrantino

Surprising Portugal Wines Under $20

Port is what most of us think of when it comes to Portuguese wine. However there are some very good dry wines from the Douro, and most cost less than $20.  At a tasting and Lunch sponsored by The Wine Media Guild 26 wines from the Douro that are imported into the US were represented. There were 3 white and 23 red wines.

The speakers were Pedro Lopes Vieira, sales manager North America, Esporao and Jeffrey Ghi, Distributor of Quevedo wines in the U.S.  They were very informative about a wine region where my knowledge is very limited. The point both of them made was that these wines exist in the shadow of port, and it is only now that the port  houses have begun in earnest to make and promote these wines.

I am writing this blog because I think these wines are a great value.  I could not believe the price to quality ratio.  They are all very well made and I really liked all of the following wines.

White Wines
Vinho Oscar Quevedo Oscar’s 2011, 55% Viosinho, 35% Rabigato and 10% Gouvelo.  Quevedo is a port house, as are most of the others, but now also makes white and red dry wines. I was very impressed with this wine; it is aromatic with hints of apple and pear and floral notes.  $10

Red Wines

Vinho Oscar Quevedo Oscar’s 2009 made from 60% Touriga Nacional and 40% Tinta Roriz. This wine has good fruit with hints of strawberry, dried herbs and good minerality.  $10Quinta dos Murcas Assobio 2009 Made from Touriga, Truriga Franca and Tinta Morcas. Temperature controlled fermentaton. 20% of the wine is aged in new and used barrels of French and American oak for 6 months. The wine was bottled in November 2010. It has good red fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of violets. $13

Adriano Ramos-Pinto Duas Quintas 2010 The wine is made from 40% Touriga, 40% Tinta Roriz and 20% Touriga Nacional. The grapes are picked by hand, pressed, destemmed and fermented in steel vats. Maceration for a long as needed. After malolactic fermentation is completed, 20% of the wine is aged in French oak barrels. The rest remains in steel vats and the wine is bottled 18 months later. This is a wine with very nice fruit flavors of blackberries and cherries with a floral hint, long finish and nice aftertaste.  $ 11Dow Vale do Bomfim 2009 The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and aged in used American oak for one year.  As we all know, Dow is a leading producer of port but has done an excellent job with this wine.  The wine had black fruit aromas and flavors with hints of black cherry, blackberries and spice.    $12
Quinto do Castro 2010 made from Tinta Roriz, Tinta Barroca, Touriga Franca and Touriga Nacional. The grapes are hand picked and placed in small plastic crates. Temperature controlled and pumping over with hand pumps. Each variety is vinified separately.  Before destemming they pass through a conveyor belt in order to select the best grapes. Fermentation is carried out in stainless steel.  After 7 days at controlled temperatures the skins are pressed with a basket press in order to extract soft and round tannins. 90% of the wine is aged is stainless steel and 10% in French oak barrels for 12 months. The wine was bottled in March 2012. It has flavors and aromas of dark fruit with a touch of spice. $12
PV Duoro 2009   This wine is made from many different grape varieties. The grapes are coferemented as a field blend in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast and aged in seasoned oak barrels for a short time before being bottled  $11
Quinta de Roriz Pranzo de Roriz 2009  Made from 36%Tinta Barroca, 31%Tinta Roriz, 10%Tinta Francisca, 9%Touriga Nacional, 9%Tinta Franca and 5% other grapes. The grapes are hand picked and manually sorted.
They are inoculated with selected yeasts. Maceration is achieved by pumping over. The wine is aged in 400 liter French oak barrels and was bottled in March 2011. The wine had nice fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry and raspberry with a hint of spice in the finish. $16

Uinta do Popa Touriga Nacional  2008. Produced from vines over 60 years old – Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Barroca, Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz and Sousao. The wine was aged in 225 liter French oak barrels for 4 months. It has nice red fruit flavors and aromas, an easy drinking wine. $12

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