Monthly Archives: November 2014

5 Italian Coffees You Won’t Find Stateside

5 Italian Coffees You<br /> Won’t Find Stateside

Four of the five I have not even heard of before. The “Shakerato” I have had in Italy and enjoy at home. Next time I am in Italy I will try the other four.

The article was written by Francine Segan at

You can order espresso in dozens of ways: corto, a shot made with just a little water, or lungo, a shot made with more water. Ask for a splash of milk or foam and you get caffé macchiato, “marked” coffee and, of course, with lots of foam for classic cappuccino. There are many riffs on caffé corretto, espresso “corrected” with a splash of spirits.

But in addition to the long list of standards, each of Italy’s 20 regions has several specialty coffee drinks little known in the United States.

Here are five of my favorites, including a gorgeous bay leaf-infused spiked espresso, a riff on Negroni, and three iced coffee drinks.

Three-layer Espresso “Float” (Galleggiante)

This hot coffee drink is popular in the province of Lucca in Tuscany. A shot of espresso “floats” over warm spirits infused with aromatic bay leaf, creating three distinct layers: spirits, espresso and its crema. The bay leaf adds a surprisingly delightful aroma and flavor to espresso.

Ingredients, per serving

2 tablespoons each rum, cognac and Sassolino

1 heaping tablespoon granulated sugar

1 bay leaf

1 thick strip lemon peel, including white pith


1. Combine the spirits, sugar and bay leaf in a heatproof container and heat using the steam wand. Pour into a short glass, reserving the bay leaf for garnish.

2. Carefully place the lemon peel on top of the spirits and set the glass under the espresso machine so the espresso pours onto the lemon, a technique that allows the espresso to “float” on top of the liquor. Insert the bay leaf and serve.

Salento-Style Iced Coffee (Caffé in Ghiaccio Salentina)

This is a shot of espresso served over ice sweetened with homemade almond syrup. Invented in the 1950s in the Salento province of Puglia, it’s still one of southern Italy’s most popular summer drinks.


Homemade almond syrup

Latte di mandorla

Makes 1 quart

2 pounds blanched almonds

4 cups water

8 ounces granulated sugar


1. Grind the almonds, a little at a time, in a mortar and pestle or food processor slowly adding water throughout until a homogenous paste.

2. Let rest, for 3 to 6 hours, stirring occasionally, and then strain through a fine cloth. Discard the almonds. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks

Creamy Espresso Slushy (L’Espressino Freddo)

Serves 2


2 long shots espresso

2 teaspoons granulated sugar, plus more to taste

1 cup whipped cream

2 savoiardi or other cookies, optional


1. Put the hot espresso and sugar in a shaker with several ice cubes and shake until cold. Divide half of the strained cold espresso between 2 martini glasses.

2. Stir the remaining cold espresso into the whipped cream until just combined, spoon over the espresso and serve with a cookie, if you like.

Negroni “AJ” from Florence

Negroni, invented in Florence circa 1919, gets an update in the town of its origin. Created by Italy’s coffee expert Andrej Godina for ditta Artigianale, a cutting-edge new coffee bar in Florence, a shot of espresso is added to the classic cocktail recipe, creating a pleasing hint of bitterness and added depth of flavor and aroma.

Negroni© Provided by Zester Daily Negroni

Serves 1


1 ounce sweet vermouth

1 ounce gin

1 ounce Campari

1 shot freshly brewed hot espresso

Orange slice

Lemon peel


Fill a short chilled glass with lots of ice. Pour the ingredients into the glass and stir well. Top with hot espresso. Garnish with orange slice and lemon peel.

Espresso in a Shaker (Caffé Shakerato)

One of Italy’s most popular ways to enjoy iced coffee north of Rome isshakerato, hot espresso shaken with ice in a cocktail shaker, then strained into a martini glass.


1 long shots freshly brewed espresso

Sugar syrup


1. Combine the freshly brewed espresso, sweeten to taste with sugar syrup, and 3 to 4 ice cubes into a cocktail.

2. Shake vigorously until cold, about 10 seconds.

3. Strain into a martini glass. Open the shaker, and using a spoon, remove the coffee foam, placing a little on top. Serve immediately.

Main caption: Three-layer Espresso “Float” (Galleggiante) has a shot of espresso floating over warm spirits, infused with a bay leaf. Credit: Antica Locanda di Sesto

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Tasting Holiday Wines with Eric Asimov

I have know Eric Asimov, the wine critic for the New York Times, for a number of years and on occasion have been invited by him to be part of the Times’ Wednesday tasting panel. When my friend Suzy O’ Rourke of Cooking by the Book informed me that Eric was going to speak at a tasting and book signing there, I wanted to attend.


Eric Azimov

The topic was holiday wines and Eric said that he has been at the NY Times for 30 years and really enjoys his job. His enthusiasm and down to earth approach to wine have won him fans all over the world. For this tasting, he had chosen 6 wines from different countries but advised that we should drink whatever wines we preferred. He also gave us some pointers for holiday wines.

According to Eric, when it comes to Thanksgiving many people think of Zinfandel as the “all American wine” but Zinfandel is a big alcoholic wine and should be the last wine served. He said that when he wrote about holiday wines in his column, his suggestion was one bottle per guest. There were many readers that wrote to him and said that this is too much wine for most people. His answer was that just as you do not want to run out of food, you do not want to run out of wine. If there is left over food it is offered to the guest to take home, the same thing should happen with the open bottles of wine.

Eric said that New York City is the capital of the wine world because there are so many wine stores here and so many different kinds of wine to choose from. We should be adventurous and choose wines from different countries made from lesser known grapes. He recommended visiting retail stores and asking for recommendations. If the buyer likes the wines recommended they should built a relationship with the store. This takes away what he called the fear of wine, the fear of making a mistake.

He pointed out that in countries like Italy and France there is a wine and food culture and a long tradition of making wine. Terroir is very important in these countries, the place where the vines are grown. In America entrepreneurs without a long history started most of the wineries and a different type of wine was produced. Most Americans drink wine by itself and do not look upon it as a food.

He also spoke about wine critics and the terms that they use to describe wine. He said that many use obscure terms and descriptions that are way over the top. The consumer tasting these wines does not have the same reaction and this leads them to think that they do not understand the wine.

Eric also spoke about wine scores. If a consumer buys a wine rated 90+ and one that is rated 85 and likes the lower scored wine better, they may question their ability to understand wine. This of course is not the case. Wine scores are very subjective.

The evening was very informative and interesting. For more pointers from Eric, I recommend his book “How to Love Wine – A Memoir and Manifesto.”

Here are the wines we tasted at Cooking by the Book:IMG_6568

Cava Brut Reserve Natural NV Bohigas Eric said that the Cava sparkling wines are made by the champagne method–the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. The winery is located in the Catalunya region of Spain and the wine is made from the Xarello, Macabeo and Parellada grapes. Organic farming is practiced. The soil is clay and limestone and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The first fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is then put into bottles along with the yeast and some sugar is added for the second fermentation, which takes place in the bottle in the underground cellars. The wine remains in the cellar for 24 months before riddling and disgorgement. Dosage of 8 grams of sugar is added. For a Cava to be a Brut it can have between 6 to 12 grams of sugar. This sparkling wine has small bubbles, hints of apples and pears, and a hint of the aroma of brioche.   IMG_6572

Finger Lakes dry Riesling 2013 Ravines. Eric said that the Finger Lakes region had the most potential of any wine region in NYS. Made from 100% Riesling grapes. The Ravines wine cellars rest on a hillside overlooking glacier-carved Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region. It is a small family owned winery. The grapes for this wine were harvested in September 2013 and the wine was bottled in March 2014. The wine has citrus notes and hints of wild flowers, pears and apples.IMG_6571

Etna Bianco Nettaro 2013 Masseria SettePorte Eric said that the area around Mt. Etna in Sicily was making excellent wine, both white and red and he was having an Etna bianco for Thanksgiving. The wine is made from 65% Carricante and 35% Catarratto. The winery is located in the town of Biancavilla on the southwest slope of Mt. Etna, an active volcano. The terraced vineyards are south facing and are at 2,132 ft to 2,296 feet. After the grapes are harvested they are gently pressed. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains in the bottle for a minimum of 3 months before release. This was a balanced wine with good fruit flavors and aromas and a touch of smoke.IMG_6573

Lambrusco Salomino di Santa Croce 2013 Saetti made from 100% Salamino di Santa Croce. Salamino has tight bunches and thin skins. Eric said Salamino means little sausages. in Italian do to the formation of the grapes. He also said that Lambrusco in this country has suffered for many years because there were many bad examples which were not very good and too sweet. Today there are many good examples of Lambrusco that finish dry and go very well with food. The vineyards are located in the Santa Croce appellation zone of Modena in the region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. They make every effort not to upset the natural organic harmony of the vineyards. The original plantings are from 1964. He stopped using SO2 in 2006 after a gradual reduction year after year. 2007 was the first vintage completely without sulfur.

Luciano Saetti the owner/winemaker begins by de-stemming in the vineyard with a little mobile de-stemmer. There is no press juice here so as to avoid using SO2. Primary fermentation is in open topped steel containers of 100 liters in size. These stainless steel containers are also brought out into the vineyards and the crush is done in the fields in order to preserve freshness. The still wine is bottled with a bit of grape must in order to initiate re-fermentation.  Re-fermentation occurs the following spring and takes a minimum of two months. The wine is hand riddled by turning the boxes and then disgorged using a jerry-rigged freezer. There are red berry fruits with hints of strawberries and raspberries that give the wine a very pleasant fruity flavor. However the wine finishes dry which makes it a very good food wine. The labels are actually made of fabric (looks like black denim) and each bottle has a little paper note under the capsule.IMG_6569

Syrah de Rosette 2012 Benoit Roseau Saint –Joseph- Northern Rhône, France 100% Syrah. Soil is shallow granite. The harvest is by hand and the grapes are left to mature in whole bunches without crushing. Carbonic maceration is done to promote the fruit without extracting the tannins. The wine is aged in large containers half French oak 600 liter barrels and half in steel. It has very nice fruit with hints of violet, cherry, currant and a touch of spice. This was my favorite at the tasting and a bargain at about $20.IMG_6570

Ribeira Sacra “ Mencia” 2013 Algeria made from 100% Mencia grapes. The winery is located on the steep banks of the river Sil in the Ribeira Sacra zone in Spain. Most of the vineyards are on steep inclines and planted terraces. The soil is schist. All the work in the vineyard is done by hand. They practice organic farming but are not certified organic. The vines are 30 to 80 years old and are south facing in the Amandi sub zone. The wine is fermented naturally in stainless steel tanks and there is no oak aging. The wine has nice fruit aromas and flavors with hints of black cherry and a touch of black pepper and smoke.

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Brindiamo! and Moscato D’Asti


Ornella Fado

Ornella Fado, host of the TV show Brindiamo!, invited Michele and I to a preview of her first show for the new season. The program appears on WNYC Channel 25 in the New York Area. I first met Ornella a few years ago when I was consulting for Enoteca on Court in Brooklyn. Ornella taped a show there and interviewed me on wine and food parings and the Enoteca’s wine program. Michele has also appeared on her show.

Ornella’s program is mostly about Italian restaurants in this country and in Italy and it is always lively and fun to watch. Recently Brindiamo! received a nomination from the Taste Awards for best ethnic program

At the Brindiamo! preview held at Restaurant Rafele in Greenwich Village, I tasted a number of wines, but one I enjoyed very much that would be perfect for the holidays was the Moscato d’Asti from Azienda Agricola il Botolo. It is a slightly sparking wine, frizzanti in Italian that is low in alcohol at only 5 to 6% IMG_6353

Moscato d’Asti NV Azienda Agricola il Botolo.

il Botolo, a family owned company, is located in Nizza Monferrato in Piemonte. The wine is made from 100% moscato grapes. The vines are 25 years old and grow at 210 meters with various exposures. The soil is clay and marl. The training system is guyot and there are 4,600 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand. Vinification takes place in stainless steel vats for the second fermentation. Aging is in stainless steel vats for 4 months.

This is a slightly sweet wine with a golden color. The flavor is fresh, fruity and soft, balanced with hints of peach, apricot and honey. For the holidays I recommend drinking it chilled after the meal with nuts, cheese or dessert.




Filed under Italian Sparkling Wine, Moscato d'Asti, Uncategorized

Remembering Philip di Belardino

I first met Philip in 1981 with Antonio Mastroberardino, whose wines he then represented.  It was the first time I tasted the legendary 1968 Taurasi. Over the years Philip and I became friends and saw each other often. The last time we got together was at a lunch at SD 26 that we planned in honor of Antonio  Mastroberardino, who had passed away. The last time I heard from Philip was when he called me in August to wish me a happy birthday.
In March of next year Philip was to have been the guest speaker at a Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch at Felidia restaurant.  Philip was to speak about his long experience with Italian wines and the many Italian producers he promoted in this country.   I was very saddened to learn that Philip passed away last week.
 The following tribute to Philip di Belardino was written by Lars Leicht who worked with Philip for many years at Banfi.
Lars Leicht National Director – Cru Artisan Wines- Banfi Vintners.


Phillip at SD26 for  the lunch in honor of Antonio Mastroberardino

(New York, 13 November 2014) – The wine world mourns the passing of Philip “Filippo” di Belardino, legendary ambassador and missionary for fine wines.  His nearly half-century of experience and vast wealth of close personal relationships made him the “go-to-guy” for all things involving not only his expertise in Italian wine but his peripheral spheres of influence in French, Chilean, Argentine, and Australian wines; theater, opera, fine dining, and tourism — to name but a few.

Inducted into the Italian Trade Commission’sWines of Italy Hall of Fame in 2011, Mr. di Belardino’s most recent formal role was as “Artisan Vino Specialist” to Cru Artisan Wines, agent to the luxury portfolio of Banfi Vintners, which he joined in 1999. A perennial relationship builder, he formed lifelong connections on all sides of the business and continued to play a key role up until the week before his passing   on Thursday November 13  at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, from complications related to diabetes.

“Filippo befriended the great and small of our community,” noted Banfi co-CEO James W. Mariani. “He connected legendary winemakers with industry novices, and everybody between, in the truest dedication to a greater wine world and its most noble aspirations for education and inclusion.  A huge voice has been silenced, a big heart has stopped beating, but his fire lives on in each of us.”

Mr. di Belardino loved to tell audiences of his family’s migration from Rome to the United States when he was six months old, declaring that he was so upset he did not speak to them for a year. A passionate lover of wine, food, opera and theater, he united all of them in his greatest role as the ultimate “people person.” To many it was unclear if he was a standup comedian posing as a wine educator, or the opposite.

Mr. di Belardino formally started in the wine industry in 1973 with Mediterranean Imports, an import company founded by his late father Aldo di Belardino.   He was a key ambassador for leading Italian and French brands through the company’s subsequent sale and transition to Palace Brands and Heublein for three decades before joining Banfi as Vice President of Fine Wines.  But it was a previous opportunity as an on-stage entertainer at his family’s “Villa Italia” resort in New York’s Catskill Mountain region where he developed his signature presentation style that helped audiences relate to wine by loosely blending facts with puns, anecdotes, jokes, and stories.  He created and connected a rich network of consumers, producers, press and trade, lovers of wine, music, theater, opera, Italy, and of life itself, which made him wildly popular and sought after as an educator, travel guide, and all-around resource — especially in his beloved New York City.


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Champagne Bruno Paillard Reims- France

Francois Colas, the brand ambassador for Bruno Paillard, met our train from Paris. He told us that before we visited the winery he wanted to take us to see the vineyards. Even though it was raining he felt that we must see the vineyards in order to understand the Champagne region and Paillard Champagne in particular.


Matthieu Pingret and Francois Colas

The region of Champagne is very rainy, he told us as we huddled under umbrellas overlooking the vineyards. The vineyard manger, Matthieu Pingret, was there to give us a walking tour.

Francois said that the harvest usually takes place 95 to 100 days after the vines flower though in the end it really depends on the weather. The harvest was a few days later this year because the weather was nice and sunny. The grapes are crushed in the vineyard right after picking.

Paillard has a total of 79 acres from 15 crus (villages) of which 35 acres are in Grand Crus and Premiers Crus.

Young Vines

Young Vines

Matthieu explained that the vineyards were in the heart of Champagne and the Crus on the best chalky subsoil. They do not use chemical weed killers, but use plowing or sowing depending on the plot to improve the root system. Only organic fertilizer is used and only when necessary. Only wooden stakes are used for the vines. He said that they grow grass between the rows of vines because it helps to absorb the moisture because there is a lot of rain. As if to prove his point, it began to pour and we returned to the car.

Alice Paillard, Bruno’s daughter, greeted us at the winery. She said that her father began the company in 1981 and that they are the youngest and still one of the smallest Champagne houses. They do not produce a Sec or Demi Sec but only Brut Champagne.


Alice Paillard

She said that Paillard is unlike other Champagne houses because their winery was only on one level. The others have cellars at different levels and have to decide which bottles are stored in the lowest level, which is the best area. Because the Paillard winery is completely temperature controlled, a choice does not have to be made and all of the wines are stored in the best possible conditions.

Alice took us into the room were the riddling, remuage in French, was done. Traditionally the rotating of the champagne bottles to loosen the sediment thrown off by the second fermentation was done by hand. This process caused the sediment to collect in the neck of the bottle for disgorgement, the ejection of the sediment under pressure, which leaves the wine perfectly clean. Alice said that her father was the first in Champagne to use a automatic riddling machine called a “gyropalette.” The champagne bottles are put in a large square metal container, which rotates the bottles as if it was done by hand. On completion of the process of riddling, the bottles are neck down and ready for disgorgement, with no difference in quality. She added that now almost all Champagne houses use this machine because it is much more efficient. IMG_6474

According to Alice, in the past the workers called disgorgement the operation because it consisted of three stages: the sediment in the neck of the bottle that is collected by the riddling is forced out by pressure when the temporary cork is removed, the dosage is added to the wine and the final cork is inserted, then comes rest and the recovery after the operation. The bottles are placed in wooden racks to res and recover.

If it is a young wine it will recover sooner and can be drunk sooner. If it is an older champagne it needs much more time to recover and more rest before it is drunk. She added that most people drink Champagne too soon after it has been disgorged. IMG_6470

This is why Alice pointed out that the date of disgorgement is so important. She recommended that the wine should be drunk at least 6 months or better several years after this date. That is why every bottle of Bruno Paillard Champagne and very carton they are shipped in have the date- month and year that the “operation” took place.

We walked into a room with many barriques but I knew from the smell that they were not new barrels. New barriques give off a cloying vanilla odor that I find offensive requiring me to leave the cellar. Alice said that they buy used barriques from two French white wine makers. These barrels were three years old and they could be used for six or seven more years. IMG_6461

When asked who the winemaker was, she said everything was under the personal supervision of her father, Bruno Paillard.

Tasting Champagne with Alice Paillard.IMG_6473

Brut Premierè Cruvèe made from 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. The grapes are a selection from 32 villages vinified separately in stainless steel or in barrel. There is a systematic use of reserve wines from previous vintages from 25% to 48% when needed. The wine comes from the first pressing of the grapes. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 3 months. Alice said this was almost double the legally required minimum. She said like all their Champagne the dosage is kept very low, 5/6 grams of sugar per liter, so as to produce an authentic and pure wine, a true Brut. She added that this was the flagship of the house and must remain true to itself in the good and bad years. One very large tank is used for the assemblage so there will be consistency. Alice said the wine has aromas of citrus fruit especially lime and grapefruit that is so typical of Chardonnay. There are also aromas of red fruits like, cherry and raspberry, so typical of Pinot Noir.IMG_6475

Brut Millèsime “Assemblage” 2004 made from 48% Chardonnay and 52% Pinot Noir. The grapes come from 9 different villages, the proportions are a secret.  Alice said that 2004 was an excellent vintage for them. The dosage is only 5 grams per liter. Disgorgement took place in 2012–the month and date are on the back label. The wine rested in the cellar for 12 months before release. This was very impressive Champagne with a complex structure and hints of blackcurrant, blackberries, cherry and a touch of honey.IMG_6480

Blanc de Blancs Rèserve Privèe Grand Cru made from 100% Chardonnay grapes from the Còte des Blances, all with a 100% classification. Alice said they use a fermentation method established generations ago for Champagne “ Demi Mousse”. When the still wine is decanted for the second fermentation in the bottle, less sugar and yeast is added then for traditional Champagne. This results in a less powerful bottle fermentation, producing a pressure of 4.5 kg instead of the normal 5 or 6. The dosage is 5 grams residual sugar. Alice said that this is perfect for Blanc de Blancs because it enhances the finesse of the Chardonnay and adds freshness and elegance. This is a complex elegant champagne with an array of aromas and flavors with hints of citrus, white fruit, a touch of brioche, toasted almonds and good minerality. It has a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste.IMG_6472

Rosè Première Cuvèe the wine is composed of a majority of Pinot Noir and is produced from the first pressing. The Pinot Noir juice in its two forms: a rapid pressing with the juice separated from the skins immediately produces the white wine. The red wine is obtained by fermenting the skins with the juice for a complete extraction of the color- from Verzenay, Bouzy, Mailly or Les Riceys according to the year. Alice said there is also a significant percentage of Chardonnay, from the north of the Côte des Blances added for freshness. Both the percentage and location was a secret. There is 6 grams of sugar per liter. Minimum maturation in the cellar after disgorgement and before shipment is 3/4 months. Like all of the Bruno Paillard wines, the month and year of disgorgement is on the back label and the shipping carton. The wine is fruity with hints of raspberry, strawberry, cherry and violets. There is a long and delicate finish. The color of the wine is salmon pink.



Filed under Bruno Paillard, Champagne

The Aglianico Grape in Campania

Aglianico is an ancient grape variety. It was first cultivated by the Phoenicians and later brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks 3,000 years ago when they colonized the area.  In Italy, Aglianico was first planted near modern day Pozzuoli and from there it spread to other parts of Campania. Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) wrote about it in his Natural History. Wine made from Aglianico was called Falernian and was highly regarded by the Romans    The Aglianico grape was known as Elenico (Italian for Greek) until the 15 Century when it began to be called Aglianico. The name might also come from vita hellenica, Latin for Greek wine. The debate still goes on.

The Aglianico grape prefers volcanic soil and grows at altitudes of 300 to 500 meters. Aglianico is also used as a blending grape in Campania. It does very well in Irpinia, in the provinces of Avelliino, Bevevento and Taburno.

Aglianico reaches its highest expression in the form of Taurasi, one of Italy’s great red wines, which can age for many years. In fact there are many who believe that the three great grape varieties in Italy are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico. Wines made from the Aglianico grape are full-bodied with good fruit, tannins, and hints of blackberries, leather and smoke.

Wines tasted at the Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch on October 1, 2014IMG_6188

Aglianico Sannio Benvenuto “Janare 2012 I00% Aglianico La Guardiense. This is one of the largest agricultural cooperatives in Italy. The farmers that grow the grapes directly manage more then 1,500 hectares of vineyards that are at 350 meters. This wine is part of the Janare project for the perseveration of indigenous grape varieties in Campania. It is intended primarily to safeguard and improve local grape varieties especially Aglianico and Falanghina. The wine has hints of violets, cherry and a slight hint of vanilla, which comes from the barriques. IMG_6189

Irpinia Aglianico Redimore 2012 DOC 100% Aglianico from the Mirabella Eclano vineyards Mastoberardino. The soil is sandy clay with a deep presence of traces of limestone in the entire area. The vines are nine years old and the vineyard is at 400 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of October. Classic red wine vinification, long maceration on the skins at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 12 months in French barriques and for six months in bottle before release. There are aromas and flavors of red fruit, hints of strawberries, spice and a touch of tobacco. $25IMG_6190

Taurasi 2010 Antico Castello 100% Aglianico from artisanal vineyards, selected from the Sant’Agata locality, the soil is mostly clay and limestone, the vineyard is at 450 meters and the exposure is southeast. They only grow native grape varieties. The grapes are picked by hand in the beginning of November. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and lasts for   three months. The wine is aged in large French oak casks for 18 months and then in bottle before release. IMG_6191

Taurasi 2009 “Contrade di Taurasi” 100% Aglianico Azienda Agricola Cantine Lonardo. The soil is of medium mixture with a strong presence of sedimentary rock composed mostly of volcanic ash, dry and rich in organic matter, formed by the disintegration of the rocks. The rootstock is Virginia creeper. (This is American rootstock and a very unusual choice) The exposure is southwest, elevation is 300/400 meters, training system is guyot and there are 3,000 vines/ha. The vineyards are10/30 years old. Harvest takes place in early November by hand and the grapes are transported immediately to the winery in 18 kg boxes and crushed and destemmed. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts selected in the vineyard. Maceration lasts for 15 days. After racking 30% of the wine was stored in oak barrels of 5HL, the rest remained in steel. Malolactic fermentation started spontaneously and lasted for 13 days. All the wine was assembled in steel and was bottled without filtration. This is a wine with ripe fruit aromas and flavor with hints of balsamic, spice and licorice.  $35IMG_6192

Taurasi Opera Mia 2008 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe 100% Aglianico. The grapes come from the Carazita vineyard. Harvest takes place the first week of November and a selection is made in the cellar. Parts of the grapes go through a cold pre –fermentation/maceration to extract color and aroma. The alcohol fermentation is followed by a long maceration on the skins. After the wine is racked it is put into French oak (Allier and Troncais barriques) for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has ripe red fruit with hints of black cherry, prune, spice and is full bodied. $50IMG_6193

Taurasi “Poliphemo” 2008 Tecce Luigi 100% Aglianico. The Cantina is in Paternopli and the vines were first planted in 1935. There are 5 hectares of vines at 550 meters the highest in the Taurasi zone. The soil is limestone sediment, material from various Vesuvius eruptions, sand and clay. The wine is fermented in large chestnut casks where maceration lasts for 40 days and then it is aged in tonneaux for 12 months.

Written on the back of the bottle is what Mr. Tecce states is NOT IN his wine: No enzymes, No malolactic bacteria, No added tannin, No de-acidification. No clarification and No Arabic gum. This is very tradition Taurasi.  $?IMG_6187

 Falerno Del Massico Rosso “Vigna Camarato” Villa Matilde made from 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from a single vineyard. The soil is volcanic with high levels of phosphorous and potassium. The vineyard was planted in 1970, there are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Fermentation is on the skins for 20 to 25 days. The wine is aged in Aiiier oak barriers for 12 months, 1/3 new, 1/3 second passage and 1/3 third passage. Then 12 to 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black and red berries with notes of spice and vanilla. $55







Filed under Aglianico, campania

First Look Series: The Barollo Brothers

Gary Grunner of Grapes on the Go invited me to the first event of his First Look Series. Held at the Manhattan Club, a private club in NYC, the First Look Series features wineries that Gary will be importing over the next year.

Barollo Brothers, Nicola and Marco

Barollo Brothers, Nicola and Marco

The wines for this first event were from the Società Agricola Barollo Marco e Nicola. Marco Barollo represented the winery. The winery is located in Preganziol, near Treviso in the Veneto. It is near the Adriatic Sea and the Dolomites are visible in the background.

Marco Barollo speaking at the tasting

Marco Barollo speaking at the tasting

Marco said that 45 hectares are planted with vines.The grapes are harvested by hand and it takes about 20 workers to pick the grapes from one hectare of vines in a day. The wine presses are located near the vineyards so that the grapes remain intact right up to the time they are pressed.

Marco said that his wines reflect the terroir and the grapes that they are made from and therefore go very well with food. All the wines are fermented in 300HL stainless steel tanks. There was only one wine that was in barriques which were made of Allier oak by a barrel maker in Burgundy.

The goal of the winery is to reduce their ecological footprint and CO2 emissions.IMG_6389

Sauvignon Blanc 2013 100% Sauvignon Blanc. There are 5,080 vines per hectare, the grapes are hand harvested. Soft pressing, settling, traditional fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Three months in bottle before release. This is a subtle Sauvignon Blanc, with nuances of grapefruit, lime, current, citrus and herbal notes of grass and minerals. A slight trace of tomato leaf can be found in the finish. The wine was served with cold poached shrimp, yellow squash, baby kale, tomato confit and champagne vinaigrette. The wine and food matched very well, especially since kale can be very hard to match.IMG_6395

Pinot Bianco 2012 100% Pinot Bianco. The training system is spurred cordon and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in early September. Soft pressing takes place, settling and traditional fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with daily batonnage. The wine remains in contact with the lees for an extended period of time. The wine is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and 6 months in bottle before release. This wine is fresh and elegant with a pale yellow color. The bouquet is fruity, with a dominant note of apple and tropical fruit. It has good acidity, a mineral character and a long-lasting finish. This was served with pumpkin risotto drizzled with pumpkinseed oil. $18 IMG_6394

Manzoni Bianco 2012 100% Manzoni Bianco. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in the middle of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes, part is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and part is barrel fermented with daily batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 6 months before release. Marco said that this white wine is the exact replica of one of the most famous wines created and developed by Professor Luigi Manzoni, Dean of the Winemaking School in Conegliano. Manzoni conducted a series of experiments in the 1930s on genetic improvements to the grape through crossbreeding and hybridization. Manzoni Bianco, an indigenous grape from the province of Treviso, was created by the genetic crossbreeding of Riesling Renano and Pinot Bianco.

The wine has a golden yellow colour; it is fruity with floral notes and hints of apple with good acidity and a pleasant minerality. This was also served with the risotto and it worked very well with it but I gave a slight nod to the Pinot Bianco. $19

Frater Red 2013 100% Merlot (Frater means brother in Latin) The training system is spurred cordon, there are 3,700 vines per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested the last week of September. Maceration and fermentation lasts for 12 days in temperature controlled steel vats with daily pumping over, devatting and malolactic fermentation taking place. The wine is in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a balanced well-structured wine, with hints of ripe red cherries, a touch of spice and a nice fruity finish and aftertaste. This was served with grilled hanger steak caramelizes onion and oxtail marmalade. $17 IMG_6384

Frank 2010 100% Cabernet Franc There are 5,100 plants per hectare and the grapes are hand harvested the last week of September. Maceration and fermentation lasts for 15 days with daily pumping over, devatting and malolactic fermentation taking place. The wine is aged for 12 months in barriques, of Allier oak, 1/2 new and 1/2 second passage and in bottle for 6 months before release.
This wine is made with grapes from some of the world’s oldest vineyards. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of ripe berries, coffee and a touch of tobacco. It has a very long finish. This was also served with the hanger steak. $30IMG_6393

Prosecco DOC Treviso NV made from100% Gela from manually selected grapes. The soil is medium grained with limestone and clay. Training system is the syloz, this is a trellising system where the canes bend downward a few weeks before the harvest. There are about 2,700 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The Charmat method consisting of a natural fermentation in bulb tanks takes place and lasts for 90 days. Aging is for another 3 to 4 months. The wine has a light golden yellow color with hints of acacia flowers and fresh aromatic notes of yellow apple and peach. It has a nice fruity aftertaste. The Prosecco was served with a mini pastry platter consisting mostly of little bites of chocolate. It was unusual to serve the prosecco last but it made a very refreshing end to the meal and went very well with the chocolate.

This was an enjoyable tasting with wine and food pairings that were well thought out. I am looking forward to the next event.

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Filed under Cabernet Frank, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Manzoni, Marco and Nicola Barollo winery, Merlot, Prosecco, Sauvignon Blanc

Do the French really do it Better?

The following article appeared on Oct. 30th  2014 in the Internet Gourmet and I believe
he makes a number of good points
Why the French Do It Better#angeloperetti

The title, “Why the French Do It Better,” Refers to wine. And only to wine.
But, listen: I’ve been accused of being in Italy Francophile a when it comes to bottles of wine. My accusers argue That, from a quality point of view, Italian wines are not far from the French ones. Now That the Italian wines are even better.
They ask me, What is the difference?
I say, There are two differences.
The first Is that, usually you, French wines are blackberries faithful in territorial identity than Italian wines. It’s a fidelity to terroir, where the terroir is a set of human, cultural, and even environmental factors.
The second difference is That France Has a wide “memory” of history, and of Its most important wines. Italy does not have that.
Let me explain with an example.
In the October issue of La Revue de Vin France I read an article about a vertical of Chateau Figeac Saint-Emilion’s from 1959 to 2011. Fifty vintages in a row!
It’s true That, even in France, few producers can do the same.
But it’s not difficult to buy ten or will more vintages from the same producer in Bordeaux. Believe me: I buy and drink a lot of old bottles, and I adore red Bordeaux from the ’50s, the’ 60s and the ’70s.
Now, tell me: how many Italian producers can allow me to do the same? Maybe five?
This is the second difference: France Has a history of wine in the glass. Italy just does not have it. And still few Italian producers have Begun to set aside a good number of bottles of each vintage.
There is a gap to be filled.

OCTOBER 30, 2014
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