Monthly Archives: July 2013

Coevo- A Super Tuscan I Can Drink and Enjoy


Here was an invitation I could refuse — a tasting of a new “Super Tuscan” blend made from three international grapes from two different regions of Tuscany. I was going to turn it down, when I noticed the invitation came from Andrea Cecchi. Andrea is someone that I have known for many years and respect as a winemaker.  I went to see Andrea and find out what his new wine Coevo was all about.  Andrea Cecchi is the winemaker for the Cecchi family estates and with his brother Cesare, runs this family business.

Andrea Cecchi

Andrea Cecchi

Andrea said that even though Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot are used in the blend, more than 50% of the wine is Sangiovese and the wine reflects its Tuscan roots. He had bottled for the tasting each of the four grapes separately so we could taste them before tasting the blend. It was very interesting and my favorite was the Merlot, which had a hint of pepper which Andrea said is a reflection of the terroir. It is very important to him that this wine has a sense of place and that it tastes like where it comes from, Tuscany.

Coevo Toscana IGT 2007 and 2009Coevo-129x450

The area of production is Castellina in Chianti, for the Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon and the Maremma Toscana for the Merlot and the Petit Verdot.

Andrea said that the blend is made from 60% Sangiovese, 10% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. He said in Castellina in Chianti the vineyards were at 200mt and in the Maremma at 250mt.  He explained that the soil and climate were very different in these two regions and certain grapes did better in different zones.

There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the vine training is spurred cordon.

The grapes are picked by hand, the Merlot is harvested from August 23, Petit Verdot from September 12,Sangiovese from September 25, and Cabernet Sauvignon from October 5.

Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The alcoholic fermentation takes place with the skins.  Maceration is for 3 weeks for the Cabernet Sauvignon and 2 weeks for the Merlot and Sangiovese. The wine is aged in barriques and tonneaux for 18 months and in bottle for 12 months before release.

The 2007 is drinking very well, with no sign of vanilla of over concentration, the calling cards of Super Tuscans. It is a balanced, elegant wine with red fruit, violet and earthy aromas and flavors and a hint of pepper. It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. The 2009 needs more time but should develop as nicely as the 2007.


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Arriving in Provence


It is a long drive from the airport in Nice to the house we rented in Aubignan near Carpentras so we decided to spend night at the Bastide de Moustiers.IMG_3456

It is in a very beautiful setting and we had dinner on the patio over looking the valley and the mountains in the distance. We celebrated our arrival with Champagne Henriot Burt Rosé and looked forward to the next 3 weeks at the house.

The House

The House

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The Return of the League of Gentlemen

I have not written about the League because it has been over two years since we last met. Then last week I received an e-mail for a “pop up” meeting of the group to be held at Barbounia Restaurant on Park Ave South in NYC. The message also suggested that we dig deep into our cellars and bring our best wines.  Six of us attended and the wines were fantastic.  The food at Barbounia was very good. I believe they may make the best thin pizza (Roman style) in NYC.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The WinesIMG_3415

Champagne Salon Brut “Le Mesnil 1997– vintage blanc de blanc, prestige cuvee in Le Mesnil-sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay. The grapes come from 100% rated village (Grand Cru).  This is all they produce.  In his book “Champagne for Dummies,” Ed Mc Carthy says the following:  “this is a massive, complex champagne that uses almost no dosage, but tastes so rich that you do not miss the dosage. With age it takes on aromas of walnuts, honey, vanilla and coffee. It is a superb example of the grapes of the Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, the greatest Chardonnay village in Champagne. It can age for a very long time.” Ed is right on the money!IMG_3421

Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos” 1995 Dauvissat 100% Chardonnay. This is my favorite producer of Chablis and it was everything and more than one would expect from Chablis.IMG_3418

Corton Charlemagne 1994 Vincent Girardin 100%. Chardonnay The grapes are harvested by hand and are sorted twice-when picking the grapes and on the sorting table.There is a light pressing to get a slow extraction. After a gentle racking of the must, the wine is put in French oak casks (between 10 and 35% of new oak depending upon the appellation) The primary and malolactic fermentations can then begin with wild yeasts, which are on the grape berries. The aging is long on fine lees, between 14 and 20 months(depending on the “cuvees”).  They follow the lunar calendar for bottling.IMG_3414

Chateau Cheval Blanc 1970 St. Emilion 66% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot and 1% Malbec.IMG_3411

Chateau L’Angèus 1966 St. Emilion  60% Cabernet Franc and 40% Merlot.

Both of the Bordeaux wines were in excellent condition. There was a discussion as to which one was drinking better and it was a split decision.IMG_3413

Côte- Rôte 1994 “Côte- Brune” Gentaz- Dervieux Syrah with a tiny addition of Viognier. This is a wine I have only had once before. It is a traditional classic style Côte-Roti. The vines are 100 years old and there is fewer than 2 hectares of vines.  The wine is aged in old oak barrels. It is a complex wine with hints of cherry, a touch of apricot, a mineral and savory component and it needs more time to develop. I was very impressed with this wine.  IMG_3410

Barbaresco Riserva 1978 Borgogno 100% Nebbiolo. Borgogno is noted for their Barolo but they also make an excellent Barbaresco. 1978 was an outstanding vintage. This Barbaresco is drinking very well now and is at its peak.IMG_3427

Domaine de Trevallon 1994.  Made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. I have never had this wine before but really enjoyed it.  The winery is located in Saint-Etienne du Grès in the Bouches du Rhone. They use no pesticides or insecticides, only sheep manure. The use of close pruning methods reduces the yield and prolongs the life of the vine from 20 to 50 years. They believe that it is best to do as little as possible in the cellar, no use of exogenous yeasts and no corrections for acidity. The whole process is completely natural, either by punch over by foot, or pump over to aerate the wine. The wine is aged for two years in oak.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Corton Charlemagne, Cote Rote, Domaine de Trevallon, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gentaz-Derieux, Italian Red Wine, Salon, Vincent Girardin

Falanghina and Spaghetti con Vongole Veraci

Michele and I visit Rome as often as possible.  In addition to all of the city’s wonders, we love the food. One dish that I especially like is spaghetti con vongole veraci, carpet shell clams, so Michele makes it for me at home.  Since we can’t get that variety, Michele substitutes Manila clams or cockles which are small and tender just like vongole.  She sautés them as they do in Rome, with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper.IMG_3196

The perfect wine for this dish is Falanghina Beneventana IGT 100% Falanghina Donna Chiara (Campania).  IMG_3445

The soil in the vineyard is chalky clay and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation in stainless steel at controlled temperature for 40 days. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation and does not see any wood.
The wine is fresh with hints of citrus and floral aromas and flavors, good acidity, and is a very pleasant wine to drink.



Filed under Donna Chiara Winery

Lunch/Dinner with Friends

When I am having friends over who enjoy eating and drinking, I like to start around 4:00 PM so that we can take our time over the course of the late afternoon and evening. This time was no exception; there were 5 of us and eight bottles of great wine.  We did not finish eating and drinking until after 10:30.  As customary, we started with champagne.

The ChampagneIMG_3396

Delamotte Brut  Blanc De Blancs 1999 Le Mesnil –sur-Oger 100% Chardonnay.  The wine was disgorged in 2007. It is elegant, complex medium bodied champagne with fresh citrus flavors and aromas, hints of ginger and a touch of almonds. Delamotte is the sister house of Salon.IMG_3397

Louis Roederer Cristal Brut Prestige Cuvèe1995 Remis 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. Grapes are from Roederer’s own vineyards almost all of which are Grand Cru.

It was showing no signs of age. It is a champagne that when you are drinking it you cannot help to be impresses by its complexity, body, aromas and flavors.

The White WineIMG_3398

Domaine LEFLAIVE Puligny- Montrachet  2000 100% Chardonnay from seven different parcels. There is a long gentle pneumatic pressing, decanting over 24 hours, then racking and running the must into casks. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in oak casks 18% new. The wine is aged 12 months in oak casks and the 6 months in tanks before release. Homeopathic fining takes place and very light filtering if necessary.

For a snack, Michele prepared a sour cream dip with smoked salmon and gougeres.IMG_3400

Domaine LEFLAIVE Puligny- Montrachet “Les Combettes”(1.8 acres) 2000, 100% Chardonnay. They do manual harvesting with grape selection.  There is a long gentle pneumatic pressing, decanting over 24 hours, then racking and the must goes into casks.  Alcoholic fermentation is in oak casks. 20% is new, 1/2 Vosges and 1/2 Alier for 12 months. The wine is aged 6 more months in tanks before it is bottled. It is interesting to compare the reguler wine with the cru. While they were both very good, in this case there was no mistaking which was the cru as it was a more complex wine intense aromas and flavors.IMG_3401

Chablis Premier Cru “Monts Mains” 2000 Domaine François Raveneau á Chablis 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are gently pressed by a pneumatic press and only indigenous yeasts are used. The juice is left to settle and then racked off its lees into cuvee to ferment. Alcoholic fermentation lasts two weeks and malolactic fermentation takes place in barrels. The wine is aged for 18 months in old barrels and feuillette, a type of barrel (most made by the barrel-maker Chassin, only a small percentage of new barrels are used. This is a classic Chablis with nice fruit flavors and aromas, a touch of lemon and a hint of flint.IMG_3408

Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo 1990 Azienda Agricola Valentini 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months. This wine is very complex and full with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste, with that extra something that is difficult to describe. It may be the best white wine made in Italy. It is a wine that can age for a very long time.

Our first course was spaghetti Puttanesca, made with plump salted anchovies from Cetara.

The Red Wine

The Duck

The Duck

With the red wine we had glazed duck breasts.IMG_3405

Barolo 1983 Vietti DOCG 100% Nebbiolo. 1983 was not a great year for Barolo but this particular bottle was showing very well. It was ready to drink but showing no signs of age. It had all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.IMG_3406

Barolo Brunate 1978 Azienda Agricola Bricco Rocche Ceretto. 1978 was a great year for Barolo but this particular bottle was showing some age. It was very drinkable but had some VA and a slight celery taste on the palate. The wine was helped by the duck.


Filed under Barolo, Chablis, Champagne, Valentini, Vietti

Sparking Dry Lambrusco with Italian Sausages

Michele and I were invited to a friend’s house for pork sausages on the grill and I offered to bring the wine. I was looking for a light red wine to bring when I came across a bottle of sparkling dry Lambrusco. What could be better on a hot day?  It should be served chilled, the bubbles cut the rich food and the wine has only 11.5% alcohol.IMG_3387

The bottle I chose was the Lambrusco “Ottocentonero” from Albinea Canali made from 50% Lambrusco Salamino, 40% Lambrusco Grasparossa and 10% Lancellotta. The pressing of the grapes is followed by maceration at low temperatures for 3/4 days. After racking the juice completes its fermentation in pressurized temperature controlled vats to develop  its natural sparkle.IMG_3390

This is a wine with rich berry flavors and aromas, easy to drink and a great combination with the spicy sausages.



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“La Vie en Rose”

What better way to spend an afternoon in the summer than in a French restaurant drinking rosè wine? Especially when the restaurant is Le Perigord, a French classic with the kind of elegant dining that is difficult to find in NYC any more. It is a very comfortable place with old world charm and excellent unobtrusive service.

Our host for the lunch was Alain Bonnefoy, wine consultant for the House of Burgundy.  Alain was very knowledgeable and informative.

Alain Bannefoy

Alain Bannefoy

George Briquet, the founder and owner of the restaurant came by and told us the restaurant was opened in 1964. He added that after tasting these wines, for the first time he would put rosè wines on his list.  Each of the courses was paired with a different rosè.

 The WinesIMG_3314

Palais Prive Rosé 2012 Cotes-du-Luberon AOC  made from Grenache and Syrah. Michael Doyle, an American, owns the winery. This was the first wine served and it was very light in color with delicate red fruit aromas and flavors and a very nice finish and aftertaste.IMG_3319

Domaine Sorin “Terra Amata” Rose Côtes de Provence AOC. Made from 40% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Syrah.15% Mouvèdre 15% Carignan, 15% Rolle and 5% Orgi. The wine is vinified and aged in vats. They do not use chemical fertilizers or weed killers. The winery is located in Bandol. This was paired with Jonah crab cake with roasted red pepper sauce and it worked very well.IMG_3323

Arbaude, Mas De Cadenet 2011 Côtes De Provence 40% Grenache and 40% Cinsault and 20% Syrah. The grape bunches are destemmed. There is cold maceration and bleeding, the must is racked and fermentation tales place at low temperatures. The wine is a traditional salmon pink  color.

The Lamb

The Lamb

This was a rose with a lot of structure and flavor, a perfect combination with the seared lamb eye loin Barigoule.

Champagne Jeeper Rosè  N/V AOC de Champagne 70% Chardonnay, 20 Pinot Noir 10% AOC approved red champagne..

Alain told an interesting story about how the wine got its unusual name.   In 1944 the Second World War was coming to an end, Armand Goutorbe returned to his vineyard in Champagne badly handicapped. In order to be able to carry on the work, he was allowed to purchase an American Army Jeep.IMG_3325

.From then on there was no stopping him.  His vineyard flourished with his new mobility; the Jeep proved perfect for the awkward terrain. He was always with his trusty Jeep, his friends and neighbors nicknamed him Jeeper. So Mr. Goutorbe honored his much-loved Jeep by renaming his champagne vineyard JEEPER.  We drank this with a strawberry tart.

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Filed under Arbaude Rose, Champagne Jeeper, Domaine Sorin Terra Amata Rose, French Wine, Palais Prive Rose, Rose, Uncategorized

Champagne for the Week-End

Champagne Delamotte Brut N/V

This is a small house located in the Côtes des Blancs in Le Menil-sur-Oger and it is the sister house of Champagne Salon. It is made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.IMG_3303

The wine is aged for 30-36 months on the lees and no oak is used.  There is no particular yeast selection and a light dosage of sugar is added. This is a fresh, fruity elegant champagne with hints of ginger, pear with good mineralty and a slight touch of toast. $38IMG_3372

It went very well with the smoked salmon, gravlax, and Kerrygold butter with pumpernickel bread we had for a late lunch.


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Pays d’Oc Wines of Languedoc-Roussillon

At the end of July, I will be going to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.  I was looking into the local wines when I was invited to a tasting and dinner of the wines of the Pays d’Oc, part of that area.  The tasting was held at Ai Fiori restaurant in NYC and the speaker was Fred Dexheimer, a Master Sommelier and the spokesperson for Pays d’Oc IGP. I have known Fred for a number of years as a top sommelier and wine consultant. He gave a very interesting and informative talk on the wines and the restaurant and retail business in the US as to the marketing of the wines.IMG_3266

Fred began by saying that there are a range of styles within the Pays d’Oc (IGP denomination). There is a wine for every occasion, for every day, and for every budget. The model was based on California varietal wines and allows for more freedom and creativity.   He explained that these wines are outside the constraints of the traditional AOC laws. They are higher permitted yields and more approved grape varieties. The grape variety is on the label.  Pay d’Oc vineyards stretch along the Mediterranean Sea and span across 4 departments in the Languedoc- Roussillon Region of France.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

The Rosè Wines

Laurent Miquel Père et Fils Cinsault/Syrah Rosè 2012 Pays d’Oc IGP made from 70% Cinsault and 30% Syrah. The grapes come from the family estate near Beziers in the South of France. These two black grapes give the wine an attractive pink color. The soil is clay and limestone and the harvest takes place at night. After the pressing a selection of the juices is made.  There is a must clarification at low temperatures followed by temperature-controlled fermentation. The wine is aged on the lees in stainless steel vats, followed by a collage and slight tangential filtration before bottling. This is a fruity wine with refreshing strawberry and blueberry aromas and flavors.

The Sardines

The Sardines

The wine was served with Mediterranean cured sardines, black olive bread, tomato confit, Castelvetrano olives and basil. There were two surprises: the first that a wine priced at $8.99 could be so good and that it went so well with the sardinesIMG_3270

L’Ostal Cazes Syrah/Grenach Rosè 2012 made from 50% Syrah and 50% Grenach. The owner of the winery is Jean- Michael Cazes, owner of Château Lynch-Bages in Pauillac. The soil is a mixture of compact limestone and sandstone marl. There is an immediate pressing of the clusters at a low temperature to minimize the extraction of coloring and phenolic compounds. Because of this the wine is very pale in color

I was very impressed with this wine with its subtle fruit aromas and flavors and hints of rose petals and pomegranate. It was an excellent choice to go with the charred razor clams, fennel, chorizo and Manila clam vinaigrette. $12

The White WinesIMG_3271

Les Vignerons d’Alignan Du Vent Cinquante Cinq Sauvignon Blanc 2012, Pays d’Oc IGP 100% Sauvignon Blanc. This is the largest family owned and operated coop in France. Sustainable farming methods are used with no chemical or synthetic treatments. The vines are 15 years old. The bunches are destemmed and crushed and the wine is cold settled into stainless steel tanks. Selected yeasts are used and the wine is fined and filtered. The wine remains on the fine lees for three months. $10.99IMG_3275

Domaine Paul Mas, La Forge Estate Chardonnay 2012 Pays d’Oc IGP 100 Chardonnay from the Languedoc. The vineyards are on limestone and gravel soil. Fred said that the wine has some oak aging but it was very subtle. This is an aromatic wine with tropical fruit flavors with a hint of pineapple and hazelnut. $14IMG_3280

Grange Philippe Vermentino 2011 Pays d’Oc IGP. Made from 100% Vermentino also know as Rolle in Southern France. The terroir is stone, surrounded by garriques (a type of low-soft-leaved scrubland).  It is dry poor soil. There is a short cold prefermentation and complete de-stemming, pneumatic pressure followed by a racking of the must at low temperatures for 24 hours. Slow fermentation takes place at low temperatures for 3 weeks. The wine is matured in stainless steel tanks with a stirring of the fine lees.  The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors with a hint of lemon. $11.99

All the wines went very well with the food and they all were real bargains!

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Filed under French White Wine, French Wine, Pays d'Oc Wines