Monthly Archives: January 2015

2nd Annual Global Pizza Summit & 1st USA Caputo Cup Pizza Championship

The Second Annual Global Pizza Summit & First USA Caputo Cup Pizza Competition took place in NYC at Neapolitan Express on the Upper Eastside. The sponsors were Antico Molino Caputo makers of “La Farina di Napoli,” and Ciao Italian Peeled Tomatoes. Not only did I learn all about pizza but also I tasted pizza made by some of the top pizzaioli in the country.IMG_6984

Representing Antico Molino Caputo was Dott. Antimo Caputo, the owner and 4th generation flour maker. Representing Ciao Italian Tomatoes was the owner Constantino Cutolo.

Roberto Caporuscio

Roberto Caporuscio

Roberto Caporuscio of Keste Pizza and Vino and Don Antonio pizzeria, and US President of the Association of Neapolitan Pizza-Makers gave the first seminar I attended on Making Neapolitan Dough Using Caputo Gluten-Free Flour.

According to the package, Gluten Free Flour is a Caputo proprietary blend of “rice and potato starches, rice and soy flour, sugar thickeners and dietary fiber.” These are all natural ingredients and all are naturally gluten free.

Shaping Gluton Free dough

Shaping Gluton Free Dough

Roberto gave us his recipe for the gluten free pizzas he serves at his pizzerias

1 kg bag of Gluten Free Caputo Flour

25-27 oz of water (hint- start with 25oz and add more if  needed until you reach the desired dough

3g yeast

1 1/2 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3g baking soda (Roberto said that the oil and baking soda  helps the gluten free dough to stretch)

1oz salt

Roberto charges $5 more than a regular pizza for the gluten free because it is more expensive and labor intensive to produce and more dough is required for each pizza. He also makes bread from the gluten free flour

Because the dough is gluten-free, it will not stretch like a typical Neapolitan pizza dough made with 00 flour. All of the shaping of the dough must be done on a surface and the dough cannot be picked up or folded over to shape it


Whole Wheat Dough before it is mixed with 00 White Flour

There was also a demonstration of dough made from Caputo Integrale Whole Wheat Flour “00”.

This flour has a slightly coarse or gritty texture and beige color with light brown flecks. It is made by grinding up the whole wheat berry including the bran. The flour is produced by the traditional method of milling whole wheat grains. There are no additives, just pure wheat.IMG_6920

It is necessary to mix whole wheat flour with 00 white flour when making pizza or the dough would be too heavy.

The proportions are 30% to 45% whole wheat flour and the rest regular “00” flour. It needs less rising because of the sugar content and the bran. The dough made with a blend of 00 and whole wheat flour can be handled just like regular dough.IMG_6943

Dott. Antimo Caputo spoke about flour. His “00” flour is finely ground and has a lower gluten content than most flours. Gluten levels are controlled by selecting different strands of wheat for processing. Signore Caputo said that 00 is made from a selection of the finest grains available to give the dough just enough, but not too much, stretch at 12.5% gluten.  Gluten is the natural protein that remains when starch is removed from wheat grains. It creates the elasticity you feel when you bite into a crunchy loaf of bread. The lower the protein content of the flour, and the lower the gluten, the less elasticity there will be in your dough (cake flour has the lowest gluten level). In comparison, bread flour is high in gluten and is made from wheat that has 14-15% gluten. The “00” refers to the texture of the flour: Italian flours are classified by numbers according to how finely they are ground, from the roughest ground “tipo” 1, to 0, and the finest 00. IMG_6930

Here is a recipe for Neapolitan-style pizza dough for the home oven:  Makes Four  9 to 10 inch pizzas: 

I teaspoon active dry yeast

1-3/4 cups warm water-105° to 115° F

3-1/2 to 4 cups 00 flour

2 teaspoons salt

Olive oil for the bowl the dough will rise in

Caputo introduced a new flour called New York Style Pizza Flour. He said it had higher protein and gluten levels and added malt. I guess that you use it for all other types of Pizza except Neapolitan.IMG_6938

Constantino Cutolo of Ciao Peeled Italian Tomatoes, spoke about Italian tomatoes. He said his tomatoes came from North of Naples and South of Salerno and are pear shaped. In answer to a question he said that San Marzano tomatoes are longer and come from the area around Mount Vesuvius. Italian Tomatoes are sweeter than American tomatoes. He also introduced a new product called Authentica Pizza, peeled tomatoes for pizza made with Caputo NY Style Pizza Flour. Both were made for the American market. IMG_6966

There was also a mozzarella making demonstration by Pasquale Guerella, artisan cheese and mozzarella specialist, from Lasurdo Foods makers of Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella Cheese Curd.

Pizza Challenge: Neapolitan-Style.


It was difficult to keep track but there must have been close to 50 piazzioli that took part in the challenge.

Three trophies awarded:IMG_6998

Gazmir Zenili of Rossopomodoro in NYC 1st prize and the check for $1,000 dollars.IMG_6975

Francesco Montuori of Rossopomodoro Chicago came in second.

Israel Hernandez from Utah came in third.

A seminar on “Protecting Neapolitan Pizza with recognition from UNESCO World Heritage” took place at Rossopomodoro in Greenwich Village.   When I asked if gluten free and whole wheat flour pizza are included as Neapolitan pizza to be protected, the answer was yes.

See link below for information on protecting Neapolitan Pizza.



Filed under 1st USA Caputo Cup Pizza Championship, Pizza

This Just Might be the Best Article I Ever Read About Wine

Nonsense. Romance is the essence of wine.

Great wine by its nature is mysterious, unpredictable and perhaps ultimately unknowable. We understand a lot about it, and yet so much is unresolved. How does a wine express a sense of place, subject to minute differences of terroir? How does it evolve and become complex with time? I embrace these and many other uncertainties, which requires me to give up the illusion of omniscient expertise that is so often conferred to wine writers. Consider the sorts of questions that may arrive in one day’s inbox:

1. “I just bought a case of 2010 Barolo. How long until they reach their peak?”

2. “I recently inherited a bottle of 1982 Château Figeac. When should I drink it?”

3. “Give me a $15 bottle that’s good with spicy food.”

I love to hear from readers, and to respond to them. But these are not questions that can be answered with full assurance. So I offer educated guesses.

1. “Wait 10 years, open a bottle and see what you think. That’s what I would do because I like Barolo with some age. I might wait 20 years, though I already see people drinking 2010s in restaurants.”

2. “You could open it tonight, next week, in a year or in five years. Nobody can predict what sort of shape one bottle will be in after 30-plus years, though theoretically an excellent St.-Émilion from a terrific vintage should be superb now.”

3. “What kind of spicy food? Maybe a good bottle of spätlese riesling, though it might be more than $15. Sherry? Hard cider?”

Almost every aspect of wine raises questions, which can only be answered with more questions or best guesses. When should I decant a wine? Is 2007 a good vintage? What sort of glass must I use for my chardonnay?

You do not hear questions like these about soft drinks, or beer. Good wine, more than any other beverage, puts us off balance because it refuses to behave entirely predictably. But with wine, just as in politics, uncertainty and complexity don’t play for a mass audience. So the wine trade deals with this in two primary ways.

First is an effort to eliminate the unpredictability in the wine itself. The wine industry has the technology and the know-how today to control almost every aspect of production. Start with the vineyard: Even though good chardonnay and pinot noir, for example, require a cool, marginal climate and particular soils to achieve the beautiful characteristics that have bewitched generations of wine drinkers, the quality and quantity of the wine will be different every year. So, trade a marginal, labor-intensive area like the Sonoma Coast for the easy, predictable Central Valley, and companies can make vast quantities of wine that will largely be the same year after year, and cheap to boot.

This makes great business sense. You discover a style that people like and strive to recreate it consistently vintage after vintage. It’s not easy, and it takes great skills. Craft brewers, for example, marvel at how Budweiser achieves such uniformity in its beer at such a high volume.

But to my romantic mind, this is not what I am looking for in a wine. A great wine, to me, is alive to the nuances of the environment and the vintage. It may show consistency in that the grapes come from the same plot of earth each year, and are subject to a producer’s steady philosophy. But the wine itself will not be predictable. I find joy in a wine’s efforts to express itself and its place of origin. It’s like a live musical performance: Do you want a note-for-note rendition of a recorded piece? Or do you want to see where a band’s unfettered inspiration takes it, for better or worse? I know what I prefer.

The second way the wine trade deals with unpredictability is in the discussion that follows production. Wine authorities publish their scores and tasting notes, offering educated guesses about the profile and longevity of a wine under the guise of certainty. They tell you how to stock a good wine cellar, which wine to drink with any particular dish, 10 bottles to memorize so you are never embarrassed with a wine list, 10 phrases to master so you will always appear to be educated about wine. Books purport to “demystify” wine.

It’s all driven by a fear of making mistakes. But we should encourage mistakes; that’s how we learn. I’m with the wine importer Terry Theise, who, in his excellent book, “Reading Between the Wines,” called for “remystifying wine.”

By embracing wine’s mysteries, I don’t mean that we should not seek to understand it in all its aspects. The science of wine is fascinating and should not be ignored. No astrophysicist ever lost the sense of wonder that comes from staring at a starry night.

How do grapevines interact with the soil in which they’re planted? How does irrigation affect vines? Does it matter whether grape juice is fermented with indigenous yeast found on the grapes and in the winery? Or can commercial yeast be just as good? What are the choices that producers face in viticulture and winemaking, and what are the consequences of their decisions? How do we experience, physiologically and psychologically, as we drink it? The second edition of Jamie Goode’s book “The Science of Wine: From Vine to Glass,” is an excellent companion to Mr. Theise’s book.


Filed under Uncategorized

When in Rome!!


This article is of interest to me because I am going to spend a few days in Naples and two week in Rome in February. I always found Naples to be much more chaotic then Rome.  It will be interesting to see if the Romans will follow the rules. Good luck Mr. Mayor.

The following article appeared in The Wall Street Journal 

When in Rome, Follow the Rules, or So the Mayor Says
Marino’s Crackdown on Cafe Seating, Street Artists and Scooters Enrages Some Locals
Updated Jan. 20, 2015 2:10 p.m. ET

ROME—For a decade, Claudia Pizzuti, owner of Tre Scalini restaurant in Rome’s Piazza Navona, dished out pasta to tourists at some 35 outdoor tables, serving up the languorous meals and stunning views of the Baroque square that are the stuff of once-in-a-lifetime Roman holidays.

The fact that the tables—which spilled into the piazza—violated Ms. Pizzuti’s city license was of little concern to the restaurateur.

That was until Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino declared war on the rampant violation of rules governing outdoor tables that had spread willy-nilly over time.

“We had to do away with the insane invasion of the tables,” said Mr. Marino. “Do we care about the beauty and architecture of our piazzas, or not?”

Last summer, City Hall sent police to enforce the rules, compelling most restaurateurs to slash the number of outdoor tables and put the remaining ones into the perimeter set out in their license. Authorities even took to painting green lines demarcating the allowed areas to reduce squabbling with inspectors.

Today, patrons sit ear-to-jowl in a smaller clutch of outdoor tables at Ms. Pizzuti’s restaurant. But she still flouts the ban on gas-fired patio heaters and, when the police aren’t around, sticks a 5-foot menu stand back into the piazza. Meanwhile, she complains that scooters and trinket peddlers have flooded the space where tables once stood.

“Are the outdoor tables such a horrible thing?,” said Ms. Pizzuti. “Is this Rome’s real problem?”

The battle over outdoor tables is just one in a multi-front campaign Mr. Marino is waging to bring order to an unruly city that has at times blithely thumbed its nose at rules and regulations. He has taken on Rome’s burgeoning army of unlicensed trinket sellers, portraitists of questionable skill and swarms of scooters clogging up magnificent squares.

The result: the mayor is locked in a citywide version of Whac-A-Mole as he encounters lawsuits and protests to his beautification campaign. One poll, published in October, found him one of Rome’s least-popular mayors. Detractors brand Mr. Marino—a 59-year-old transplant surgeon who spent two decades in the U.S. and U.K.—“The Martian.”

“We will be unyielding” in cleaning up the city, said Mr. Marino in written answers to questions. “Of course, it’s nice to sip a coffee in a sunny square in front of a Baroque church or Renaissance palazzo. But it is just as important to stick to rules.”

The mayor was first struck by the degradation of Rome when an American friend asked how the city could allow a traffic-choked thoroughfare to pass so close to the Colosseum, which has grown blackened by soot in recent decades. Within a month of taking office in June 2013, Mr. Marino announced a plan to close the boulevard to private traffic—enraging the shops and restaurants in the area.

Since then, he has taken aim at other Roman institutions. For instance, he is forcing a storied group of souvenir sellers known as urtisti away from the Colosseum. The urtisti have a proud history, originating as Jewish vendors who received permits from the pope 150 years ago to sell religious items. But more recently, they have stooped to also selling trinkets such as bobblehead images of a shirtless Mario Balotelli, the Italian soccer star.

Mr. Marino is even challenging Romans’ love-affair with scooters, banning them from picturesque sites such as Piazza di Spagna, where he says they thronged sidewalks, blackened the buildings and marred the splendor of the square. In response, drivers staged a flash mob in October to protest the ban. Some still find a way to evade traffic cops by snaking through Rome’s back streets. Others exploit a loophole in the rules by pushing a turned-off scooter past an officer.

“They have so many things to do that they let their guard down sometimes,” says Stella Romano, who says Rome’s dilapidated public transport system means a scooter is the only practical way to get to her job in the center near the Trevi Fountain. The fines she receives have hardly deterred her.

A central problem has been a thicket of contradictory rules, city-issued exemptions and lax enforcement that have encouraged everyone from drivers of tourist buses to vendors of roasted chestnuts to do what they liked.

For instance, restaurateurs who planted unauthorized tables in squares and on sidewalks often just paid a fine to get seized tables back or bought new ones. When Francesco Taurino took over a restaurant in June off Piazza Navona, he crafted a business plan based on outdoor seating for 60—even though he had a license for a handful of al fresco tables. After the crackdown forced him to remove them, he says he had to fire more than half his staff.

“It is true that in the past things may have gotten out of hand, but now we have too many rules,” says the 27-year-old. “Too much has been done too quickly. Can’t we find a middle ground?”

Nearby, Mr. Marino’s dragnet has also caught up artists who have long sold their own works and whipped up portraits of tourists for as little as €10 ($11.80). In recent years, the number of artists in Piazza Navona had grown to double the number actually authorized, topping 100 by early 2014.

City authorities—who would like to use Piazza Navona to showcase promising young artists—complained that the artistic quality was lacking, and say some tourists felt cheated by artists fobbing off prints as original works.

So last spring, municipal police officers cleared out painters lacking authorization. The city then decided that remaining artists must present their work this year to a new committee made up of an art critic and culture authorities if they hope to keep their license.

The move has outraged older artists. “It will be total war,” says Mario Rosi, 55, who has been painting in Piazza Navona since 1988.

City officials say they won’t back down. “If those who have been in the piazza for decades are brilliant artists, they have nothing to fear,” says Orlando Corsetti, head of the city commission that handles business activities, including licenses.

Mr. Marino says he remains determined to force Romans to change their bad habits, confident that his campaign will win over the majority.

“We want Romans to enjoy the city and for tourists coming from across the globe to make it the trip of their lifetime,” Mr. Marino said in a statement.

Write to Liam Moloney at



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Enjoying Vintage Prosecco with Primo Franco

Primo Franco of the Nino Franco Winery is the first man of Prosecco and I always enjoy hearing him speak about his wines. Though Michele and I had visited him in Valdobbiadene a few months ago and tasted a number of old Proseccos from the Primo Franco line, I was delighted when Tony DiDio of Tony Di Dio Selections invited me to a tasting which included a few older vintages I had not sampled before. For my visit to the winery see

Primo Franco

Primo Franco

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the winery that was founded by Franco’s grandfather. Primo said in the past they made wine from many different grapes but starting in 1983 when he took over, all they make is sparkling wine

He said that he only uses the best grapes and does not like a wine with too much acidity. He leaves the wine on the lees for 5 to 6 months in order for the wine to develop more body. For the first fermentation, no sulfur is added. For the second fermentation in autoclave only a small amount is added to stabilize the wine. IMG_6873

Recently I read an article, which said that many places in England were serving Prosecco on tap. I asked Primo about this and he said that it is against EU rules and that it is not good for Prosecco’s image. He added in most cases it is not even Prosecco that they are pouring but any still white wine to which they add a fizz and call Prosecco because of the popularity of the wine. Last year the percentage of Prosecco imported into the US and Great Britain rose dramatically. For more on this, see IMG_6877

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Primo Franco made from 100% Glera grapes from vineyards in medium to high hills in the classic production zone with a harvest selection. Pressing, destemming and cooling of the must takes place. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The second fermentation takes place in autoclave. The wine remains in bottle for 30 days before release. It is classified as dry meaning it has 1g/l to 32g/l residual sugar and usually the range for these are 28g/l to 30g/l and the alcohol content is 10.5%. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

We tasted the 2013 and the 2003 together because Primo felt that they were very similar vintages. 2003 was very warm and half of the harvest was in August and the other half in the beginning of September. He said that 2013 had very hot days and cold nights. The 2013 has a lingering peach aspect to it and still needs more time to develop.

Franco has a new young wine maker and when the computer told him the wine had reached 28g/l he shut down the autoclave. The yeast did not know this so the 2013 came in at 32g/l.IMG_6875

The first time I tasted the 2003 was at the winery with Primo in May of last year and it was a revelation for me. I always believed that Prosecco is a wine to be drunk young. It was even better this time. It is lively and fresh, complex with a depth of flavor and hints of ripe apple, almonds and lemon peel.IMG_6879

The 2000 is drinking very well. It was smooth and creamy with hints of caramel, a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Franco said that that 2000 was a textbook vintage.IMG_6884

1997 If I had to choose a favorite of these exceptional Processo’s it would be the 1997. This was the first vintage where he used selected yeasts. Before this he used wild yeast and the wine fermented naturally but found that this caused to many problems. This is a wine with good fruit aromas and flavors with hints of brioche and a touch of creaminess.IMG_6880

1995 This was very much like the 1997 but more developed. IMG_6881

The 1992 is drinking very well with just a touch of oxidation, which did not distract from the wine. This was a very difficult vintage because there was a lot of rain even during the harvest. Yet once again Franco made an exceptional Prosecco.

1989 – as soon as the wine was poured in Franco’s glass he said it had turned.

The last three wines were from Magnums

For more on Primo Franco see A man who helped make Prosecco an international phenomenon and the challenges he facesby Do Bianchi



Filed under Nino Franco, Primo Franco, Prosecco, Sparkling wine

Celebrating “La Befana”

From beginning to end, it was a wonderful holiday season with good food, good wine and most of all good friends. January 6 marked the end of the season. Though it is not celebrated much here, in Italy it is the feast of the Epiphany, when good Italian boys and girls receive gifts delivered by the Befana, a good witch.IMG_6850

This year, we celebrated at the home of wine and food writers Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow. It was our third annual Befana celebration, a tradition begun by Lars Leicht, National Director of Cru Artisan Wines for Banfi. When Lars was young, he spent the summer and many holidays with his family in Anagni, a small town not far from Rome and became familiar with the Italian customs and traditions.

The evening began, as always, with Champagne.IMG_6844

Champagne Brut Andrè Clouet Rose No 3 Bouzy 100% Pinot Noir fermented as blanc Champagne blended with 8% still Bouzy Rouge.

The Clout family owns 8 hectares of vines in preferred mid-slope vineyards in Grand Crus Bouzy and Ambonnay where they have excelled as Pinot Noir specialists. The wines are cellared under the family’s 17th century village house – built by an ancestor who acted as printer to Louis XV’s royal court at Versailles! Respect for terroir is evident in these traditionally crafted wines. The labels are attractively old-fashioned in design appropriate for the descendants of a notable printer. This is a fragrant, round rosé with fine bubbles and ripe, full fruit flavors of Pinot Noir interwoven with drier, toasty complexity; excellent deep color; with hints of strawberry, raspberry and almonds.

With the Champagne we ate baked Italian sausages with sweet and sour figs, a delicious recipe adapted from a cookbook by Penelope Casas. It was an interesting combination and went very well with the Champagne.IMG_6845

Luna Mater Frascati Superiore DOC 2011, Fontana Candida Made from 50% Malvasia di Candia, 30% Malvasia del Lazio, 10% Greco and 10% Bombino. Harvesting began in the final 10 days of September and continued until the end of October, producing perfectly ripe, healthy grapes with a golden color and high sugar content. The grapes are grown in selected hillside vineyards ranging between 650 and 1,300 feet in the communes of Frascati and Monteporzio Catone.  The volcanic soil is loose, porous and dry but not arid. Spalliera, Guyot and Cordone Speronato training systems are used. First selected bunches of mature grapes are picked by hand. Then the best grapes from each bunch are chosen.  The grapes are transported in small baskets directly to the cellar so that they will be in perfect condition when they arrive.

The vinification of the grapes for the Luna Mater is a process that they invented and takes place in three different stages. In the cellar the grapes are separated into two batches. This is called the “modern” stage. The first batch is cooled immediately prior to a gentle pressing to ensure maximum aromatic qualities. The second batch is destemmed, cooled and fermented in contact with the skins to produce a marked varietal character. This is done without oxygen to keep the grapes fresh. After 6-7 days the skins were removed, any longer than this and there would be too much extract.

Three days later a small quantity of the best grapes are destemmed by hand and added whole to the fermenting must with their own natural yeast for bouquet and flavor. The berries remain in the must until the end of February.  The alcohol helps extract tannin from the skins and pits. The wine is aged in 10HL acacia wood barrels, which may be the best wood for the Malvasia grapes. The barrels are not toasted and were steam folded. Mauro Merz, the wine maker, feels that barriques do not give him the type of wine he wants to produce and they are not traditional.  The wine is left to age in bottles laid horizontally in the ancient tufa tunnels under the Frascati hillsides.

Luna Mater means Mother Moon; it reflects the wine’s close ties to nature and the 50 old vines that are used to make this wine. It has floral aromas with hints of white peach and honey with bitter almond in the finish and a very pleasing aftertaste.

Seafood Salade

Seafood Salad

This was served with a mixed seafood salad perfectly prepared by Tom Maresca. It was a great match.

Torre Ercolana 2000 Cantina Colacicchi – (Anagni) Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cesanese di Piglio.IMG_6846

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, a wine store (and wine bar) with an excellent selection. They have exclusive rights to the wine. It is not available in the U.S. and it difficult to find outside Rome. The wine does not always taste the same 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.”  It has hints leather, spice, red fruit, a nice long smooth finish and great aftertaste.

Lars Leicht’s family is from Anagni where this wine comes from. He told us a story about visiting the winery when he was young. Lars made his famous timballo that he remembers his family making on the holidays. It is made with fresh pasta layered with tomato sauce, ham, hard cooked eggs and cheese, similar to lasagna, though much more delicate. I brought the Torre Ercolana thinking it would go perfectly with the timballo and it did.IMG_6847

 Flaccianello Della Pieve 1999 Tuscan Colli Centrale IGT 100% Sangiovese Fontodi. In magnum The oenologist is Franco Bernabei. There are 6,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, with the addition of indigenous yeast for at least 3 weeks. The 1999 was aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. Today maceration is in new Troncais and Allier French oak barrels for at least 18 months. It has hints of blackberries, spice, tobacco and blueberries. There was not even a hint of oak or vanilla. Flaccianello is one of the few Super Tuscans that I can drink and enjoy.

The Ham

The Ham

This was served with roasted fresh ham (porchetta), potatoes, pears and peas.

 Recioto Soave Classico 2007 “Le Colombare” 100% Garganega ( Veneto) PieropanIMG_6848

Certified Organic. Volcanic soil, rich in basalt and tuffo Eocene. The vineyards are at 300m and the exposure is west. The training system is Pergola Veronese and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. There is a manual harvest with careful selection of ripe grapes. All the grapes are collected in small boxes and brought to the winery for the drying process. The grapes are manually placed in a loft on mats made of bamboo reeds. The drying is natural and the grapes remain until they wither which is around the end of February. The natural climate conditions allow for berry dehydration, loss of water and the development of noble rot (Botrytis). The yield of juice is very low and the grapes lose 1/4 of their original weight. The wine is only produced in good vintages. Destemming and pressing of the grapes takes place. There is a selection of the must and fermentation at a controlled temperature 14 to 16 degrees C in barrels of 2,500 liters. The residual sugar is 110 to 120 g/L. The wine is aged in oak barrels of 200 liters for about two years and in glass for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with ripe fruit, hints of apricot and quince with a very long finish taste and nice aftertaste.IMG_6863

Michele made an Upside Down Meyer Lemon Cake which she adapted from the clementine cake her new book The Italian Vegetable Cookbook”. The citrus flavor of the cake enhanced the flavors of the dessert wine.

For more information about the dinner, see Diane’s blog


Filed under Andre Clouet champagne, Champagne, Flaccianello, Fontana Candida, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Luna Mater, Pieropan-La Colombare, Recioto, Recioto di Soave, Torre Ercolana

Prosecco On Tap!


Saturday 10 January 2015

Italy’s prosecco makers go to war against British pubs selling it on tap

A group of prosecco makers, with the support of the Italian government, threatens legal action against British pubs for serving the fizzy wine from kegs

The consortium believe serving prosecco from a keg is unforgivably gauche

The consortium believe serving prosecco from a keg is unforgivably gauche Photo: Alamy

For a growing number of Britons it is a well-earned and seemingly harmless aperitif at the end of a long day in the office, but Italian wine makers have declared war on pubs and wine bars selling prosecco on tap.

A consortium of prosecco makers, backed by the government in Rome, is threatening British pubs with legal action and fines unless they stop serving the light, dry fizzy wine from kegs.

The group, which guards the image of prosecco as jealously as the French protect Champagne, has contacted the UK’s Food Standards Agency and Intellectual Property Office, asking them to crack down on the “illegal” trade in prosecco on tap in wine bars and pubs across the country.

Outlets which refuse to buckle under could be taken to court under European Union trading regulations, the Italians say.

Serving prosecco from a keg, as though it was mass-produced lager or cider, is not only illegal but unforgivably gauche, they insist.

“If prosecco is sold on tap then it is no longer prosecco – it needs to be served directly from the bottle,” Luca Giavi, the director of the consortium of winemakers in the Valdobbiadene-Conegliano area of the northern Veneto region, told The Telegraph.

The principle is enshrined in a European law from 2009 which states that “prosecco wine shall be marketed exclusively in traditional glass bottles”.

“We’re just trying to protect consumers – if they order a glass of prosecco, then that it what they should be getting. We’re safeguarding the reputation of prosecco – the producers of Champagne or Chianti or Barolo would do the same for their wines,” said Mr Giavi.

The row may seem like a storm in a tea cup, but the commercial stakes are high – last year Britain surpassed Germany as the top export market for prosecco, buying millions of pounds’ worth of Italian fizz, with sales spiking dramatically over Christmas and New Year.

“The UK market is growing tremendously and along with that we have seen a big increase in the number of locales selling prosecco on tap. We don’t want to sue but we need to find a solution to this,” said Mr Giavi.

Stefano Zanettin, president of the consortium, said bars found to be serving prosecco on tap could be prosecuted for “fraud” and fined up to 20,000 euros.

The Italian government also weighed into the row, promising to back the winemakers to the hilt.

“The government will act immediately, in conjunction with the EU, against the United Kingdom and the incorrect serving of prosecco in British pubs,” said Michele Anzaldi, an MP from the Democratic Party of Matteo Renzi, the prime minister.

“We will find out if sanctions have already have been applied and if not how best we can discourage further violations that are damaging a valuable sector of our economy,” said Mr Anzaldi, who sits on the government’s agricultural commission.

Passing off fizzy wine on tap as prosecco was “a very serious abuse, perpetrated not by just any country but by one of the principal states of the EU,” the MP added.

“It’s one thing to drink prosecco, a protected brand, but quite another to drink pseudo-wine pumped with carbon dioxide, as seems to be served in some British pubs.”

Marcus Hilton served prosecco on tap from his wine bar in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, until he was paid a visit by officers from the Food Standards Agency, who told him he was in breach of EU regulations. “They were quite aggressive about it. They said they were acting on complaints they had received from Italy,” he told The Telegraph.

Serving prosecco by pump had been popular with the many customers who did not want to order a whole bottle.

“We get a lot of professionals stopping by on their way home for a quick drink and they don’t want to buy a whole bottle. Selling it by the glass made it much more accessible to Joe Public,” he said.

Mr Hilton still imports prosecco from northern Italy, selling it wholesale to more than 200 bars in the UK.

But he has had to change the name from “draught prosecco” to “DP 1754”, with the “P” the only remaining allusion to prosecco. It sells for £3.95 a glass.

“We import it in casks but we can’t call it prosecco. I understand that the Italians want to protect the quality and image of prosecco, but on the other hand it seems to be going against the principle of free trade in Europe.

“There are other companies importing fizzy wine – in all I reckon they are selling it to 1,000 outlets. I don’t know exactly what they call it but people fly as close to the wire as they dare. “If you call it ‘frizzante’ (Italian for ‘fizzy’), people have no idea what it is.”

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Starbucks In Italy?

The following article was posted in PIAZZA LIFE by Gianluca Rottura. I posted this article because I agree with Gianluca and I applaud his understanding of the Italians and their culture, also the subject of Coffee in Italy is very important to me.

Starbucks Will T.K.O. Italy

Culture is everything. Destroy the culture and a people will have nothing left to stand on or fight for, and usually, it’s all part of a plan. It’s all part of a plan because we are told every second of the day that everything is relative. Of course, this relativism is defined and defended and shoved down our throats in absolute terms. Oh, the hypocrisy.

Starbucks got its start by trying to mimic the Italian coffee experience, with an added twist of Americanism. That’s all fine and dandy, but is that what happened? Starbucks prides itself on its discriminatory selection process, where they ignore almost all coffee beans in the world and seek out “only the best”. While I don’t doubt the quality of the beans, it is the roasting that makes coffee what it is supposed to be. For a life changing experience, please see my war-ending/peace loving website dedicated to coffee (and pizza) Some of what I will mention here in this article I have borrowed from myself. I think I hit the nail on the head with that site, so why not refer to it?

What is the “Italian” feel that Starbucks tried to mimic? First off, if you have to copy an essence, it’s automatically fake. You cannot replicate soul; you just are “it”. For Italians, the “bar” is their modern day forum, agora, meeting place, center of town, and city life. Everything in Italy is played out in a piazza (town square) or a bar. In Italy, a Bar is not what we think of when we hear that word. A bar in America is a place to get drunk. In Italy, a “Bar” is a coffee shop that also serves some pastries and alcohol, though besides the youth attempting to be “American”, alcohol consumption in Italy is, thankfully, quite low. Low alcohol consumption is a good thing because it keeps people awake and ready to talk and share in a peaceful way. Remember the sitcom “Cheers” “where everybody knows your name”? Well, Italian bars are like that, but instead of beer, you get the best espresso you ever had in your life.

Sure, some Italians go to a bar to read a paper by themselves, but it is inevitable that some other Italian, at some point, will strike up a conversation. Compare that to Starbucks, where most people are by themselves and usually either have their headphones on, listening to terrible music, listening to terrible music they may have purchased at Starbucks (isn’t this a coffee place, what cd’s?), on their laptops or iPads, on social media, on social media WHILE they are there with their friends, texting their friends WHILE those friends they are texting are right in front of them, or staring into their phones like they will get some long awaited answer to Life on a ball and chain, hand-held device. Add a few bums (I’m from the original New York, they are called bums, and no, I won’t stop using that term) taking dumps in the bathroom and smelling the place up.

Starbucks is the exact OPPOSITE of an Italian Bar.

But wait……Italy is changing. And not for the better. Italians, especially the youth, are too tired and downright lazy to worry about carrying forward 3,000 years of the most important and influential culture in History on their shoulders. That last statement about the culture may seem bizarre in this sick world we live in, but it is a fact that can be measured quantitavely and assessed qualitatively.

Italians of today find it much EASIER to just jump on ANYthing else that is less overwhelming. They jump on it and embrace it. With no money or jobs, they somehow manage to travel. During these travels, they encounter Starbukcs and fall in love with it, simply for being different and non-Italian. The whole world tries to eat, live, dress, and BE Italian, and here are these Italian schmucks doing the opposite thing. I have seen Italians comment publicly on the internet TRASHING Italy for not having a Starbucks!!! Italy, so far, is the ONLY, place Starbucks cannot break into. But not for long. Add in a huge invasion of other cultures flooding into Italy, and the country is getting filled with people who do not have the cultural and gastronimic depths Italy worked so hard to create. They don’t know or care about the difference between a real espresso or Starbucks’ nonsense.

Italy, as it exists now, is ripe for a Starbucks raping.

It used to be said you could not get a bad meal in Italy. And that was true. But now, with young “chefs” in Italy trying ANYthing, even if it doesn’t make sense, and so many restaurants in Italy hiring people from other countries who cannot possibly know what growing up with a specific local, Italian flavor is like, the platform has been set. I have had some bad meals in Italy. AND LIKE I PREDICTED, the weak Italian youth will one day want to learn their past and have to ask the NON-Italian chefs how it’s done, getting in return a lesser and watered down dish. If I went to China and cooked in a restaurant, the food I would make could NEVER, EVER be what a real Chinese grandmother would do, no matter how much I “trained”…PERIOD. It goes both ways.

Starbucks even tries to commericalize and market an old Neapolitan tradition of the “caffe sospeso”. As I wrote in, “Generous Neapolitans can order and pay for two coffees and only consume one, while the unmade second is left for a poor and unfortunate person in despair and with no means of buying a coffee. This is not only compassion but passion.”

But who will do that once Starbucks takes over?

I honestly believe that if Starbucks gets into Italy, it will be the final knockout punch that Italy has been asking for and deserves. Sadly, people like me, who spent their lives learning and appreciating Italy, will have to watch it all come crashing down. Thanks. Question, was it worth it?

Bye, Bye, Docle Vita.

Also from my site (from 2008)
Starbucks and their Disney-like drinks.

Starbucks’ coffee is pretty bad. They over-roast all their coffee so as to give it a uniform taste to be had at all their gazillion shops. This leaves it with an overly bitter, burnt taste. I will never get an espresso there and the few times I do order from these shops, I REFUSE to go along with their lingo. I will not call any coffee a “Venti” or call the dazed and spaced out Starbucks employee a “Barista”. I say, “Can I have a coffee in that cup”, only risking an American coffee, pointing to a size, and always saying “Please” before and after.

I remember watching “You’ve Got Mail” —I have NO idea why— and Tom Hanks’ character said something to the extent, “ People love Starbucks because it gives them all these choices to make.” In other words, it “empowers” them. But what is on offer at these coffee circuses? They serve drinks, which seem to be more concoctions than coffee. Some drinks have so many ingredients, you wonder if there is any coffee in there at all.

You can go there and design whatever you want. Does anyone get that they are essentially drinking desserts? There are so many layers of ingredients and each one is applied with it’s own design, it leaves me confused as to how to even go about consuming it. They all seem to be sprinkled with magical dusts that are supposed to conjure up fairy tale images of the weather, seasons, festivals, or whatever dumb book or CD they are promoting. As a side note, if they promote my book, I’ll change what I wrote :-). I prefer drinking coffee from diners that come in the blue and white “Ancient Greek Disk Thrower” themed cups.

Then there is the problem of the stupid, big cups. Does anyone need that much liquid? If so, why not drink water? It’s better for you.

I am happy to report that Starbucks is all over the world EXCEPT ITALY. They know they have will have a hard time breaking the back of Italy’s culture. Thank God. Though young Italians seem keen on throwing away their culture, it is heart warming to see some things are holding on.

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Discovering Tuscany’s Hidden Gem: Morellino di Scansano


Morellino di Scansano is a wine that does not get the recognition that it deserves. Often overlooked because of the popularity of other wines from Tuscany, Morellino di Scansano like those, is based on the Sangiovese grape but is a much better value for the money.IMG_6407

A tasting and lunch of Morellino di Scansano wines was held at Eataly in NYC.

Giacomo Pondini, director of the Consortium Tutela Morellino di Scansano, spoke about the wine. He said that the production zone is the predominantly hill area around the village of Scansano in the Maremma region of costal Tuscany between the Ombrone and Albegna Rivers. Altitude ranges from just a few meters above sea level near Grosetto to 550 meters in the Collecchio zone. The Morellino di Scansano zone covers approximately 65,000 hectares of land in the southwest of the province of Grosetto, the southernmost area of Tuscany. There are about 1,500 hectares of vineyards.

Giacomo Pondini

Giacomo Pondini

Morellino di Scansano DOCG, including the Riserva, must be at least 85% Sangiovese. Vineyards cannot have a density of less that 4,000 vines per hectare. Only emergency irrigation is allowed. The natural minimum alcohol must be 12% for both the regular and riserva

The riserva must be aged for at least two years, one of which must be in wooden barrels. Aging period is calculated from January 1st after the harvest.

The regular can be released for sale starting on March 1st of the year after the harvest. Vinification, aging and bottling must take place within the production zone.

He added that because of its location the wine is softer and rounder than in other parts of Tuscany. He also felt that there was a movement in the zone away from the use of international grapes and barriques.


The WinesIMG_6410

Morellino di Scansano “Torre del Moro” 2013 DOCG Santa Lucia made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are on low hills, facing southwest and the soil is of medium texture, calcareous and stony. Harvest takes place the second or third week of September by hand. Traditional vinification in temperature controlled tanks of limited volume. The grapes are left to macerate for a period of 20 days. After malolatic fermentation the wine ages for four months in barrels. The wine is bottled at the end of the summer following the harvest. The wine remains in the bottle for a minimum of 180 days before release. This is a light, fruity, easy to drink wine that goes well with food.IMG_6400

Morellino di Scansano 2013 DOCG Fattoria Barbi (Vivaio dei Barbi) made from 85% Sangiovese Grosso and 15% Merlot. This is a 28 hectare property of which 20 hectares is planted with vines, 16 hectares of Sangiovese and four hectares of Merlot. The estate is on a hill at 250 meters. The soil is stone mixed with sand. Sangiovese from the Maremma, locally known as Morellino, has softer tannins and lower acidity levels than Sangiovese from other parts of Tuscany. There is s pre-fermentation cold maceration (cold soak), which consists of cooling the grapes at a temperature of 60°F in an anaerobic environment (under CO2) to protect the must from oxidation. After 48 hours, the temperature is raised and alcoholic fermentation begins, and lasts 12 to 13 days. After racking and malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged in small and medium oak barrels 222L to 15HL for six months. The wine has hints of red berries, cherries, a touch of tobacco and good acidity.IMG_6404

Morellino di Scansano “Spiaggiole” 2012 DOCG Poggio Maestrino made from 100% Sangiovese from the Spiaggiole and Poggio Mastrino vineyards. The vines are 10 years old and the exposure is east-west. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. For pruning they use the runner system (cordone speronato) and the soil is medium type of volcanic origin. The wine is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation also takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in steel tanks and in the bottle for six months before release. It is fruity with hints of cherry, well balanced and a nice long finish.IMG_6402

Morellino di Scansano “Capatosta” 2011 DOCG Poggio Argentiera made from 85% Sangiovese, 10% Ciliegiolo and 5% Allicante. Representing the winery was Giampaolo Paglia, the owner/winemaker. He said the winery was established in 1997 and they had 6 hectares of old and high quality producing vineyards. They planted new vineyards of local varieties such as Sangiovese and Alicante. He said he makes wines that have a sense of place, where the terroir is allowed to show itself unbiased. Starting in 2009 they began organic farming and follow a very natural and non- intervention approach in the cellar.

Giampaolo Paglia

Giampaolo Paglia

Most of the wines are not filtered or fined. No additives or chemicals are added with the exception of a small amount of sulfites. For the Sangiovese based wines only medium to large oak barrels are used. The wines are made to be drunk young and are aged in stainless steel or cement vats. He also said that as of 2009 they stopped using barriques because they were too aggressive for the Morellino . He ended by saying that Maremmano wines can be Mediterranean without being jammy and impenetrable; Sangiovese speaks a different language on the coast than in inland Tuscany and does not have to affect a thick, heavy accent to enhance this difference. This was my favorite wine at the tasting IMG_6403

Morellino di Scansano “Reviresco” 2012 DOCG Val di Toro made from 100% Sangiovese the grapes are hand harvested and sorted in mid September. The training system is Guyot and there are 6,000 vines per hectare. After destemming, the must ferments in temperature controlled vats, starting at 18°C then gradually rising to 28°C toward the end of the fermentation process. During maceration, which lasts about 20 days, pump over’s are carried out daily and towards the end of the period a short delestage (rack and return). Malolactic is in cement vats, and the wine is transferred into second passage tonneaux of French oak, where it remains for about 10 months. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of wild berries and cherries.IMG_6405

Morellino di Scansano “Nero” 2012 DOCG Fattoria Villa Acquavita made from 85% Sangiovese, 15% Malvasia Nera and Alicante. The vines are 330 meters above sea level. Skin contact lasts for at least 10 days. Fermentation takes place for 10 days. The wine is aged in 5.5HL barrels. This is very traditionally made wine with hints of berries, cherries and other red fruits.IMG_6401

Morellino di Scansano “I Massi” 2012 DOCG Conte Ferdinando Guicciardini Massi di Mandorlaia made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Alicante. The wine is fermented in stainless steel with 15 to18 days maceration. The wine is aged for 8 to 10 months in vats and partly in French oak barrels. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 to 6 months before release. This is a well-balanced wine with good fruit, a hint of spice and balsamic with a long finish and pleasant after taste. This was also one of my favorites.

These wines are a real bargain at $20 or less.






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Very interesting article by Lettie Teague “Can a Great Palate be Acquired?”

Is a Great Wine Palate, God Given, Learned or Bought

Lettie Teague talks to wine collectors, olfactory researchers and reviewers to get to the bottom of the oenophile’s quest: Can a great palate be acquired?
The Wall Street Journal
Jan. 2, 2015 8:59 a.m. ET

WHEN ONE WINE lover wants to compliment another, the words “great palate” are often bestowed. An oenophile with such a palate is perceptive, discerning and often possessed of an extensive if not expensive wine cellar—or so it seems. (I’ve read one wine lover’s waggish suggestion that the greatness of someone’s palate is directly proportional to the value and size of his or her wine cellar.)

The Merriam-Webster definition of the word is pretty straightforward: “the roof of the mouth separating the mouth from the nasal cavity.” The Oxford Companion to Wine defines “palate” a bit more broadly as “the combined human tasting facilities in the mouth and sometimes nose.” I would amend the “sometimes” to “always,” since the vast majority of what we perceive about a wine is aroma and not taste.

While a palate is a physical fact, a great palate seems much more abstract. What are the criteria? Does someone with a great palate possess a superior ability to recognize aromas and flavors or simply a better-than-average capacity to describe them? How much is innate and how much can be learned? I put these questions to a few talented amateurs as well as experts in the wine and olfactory worlds.

My first call was to Dr. Gary Beauchamp, emeritus director and president of the Monell Chemical Senses Center in Philadelphia. Dr. Beauchamp has made a broad and extensive study of the olfactory and taste systems.

Although he didn’t offer specific guidance as to how a great palate can be achieved, Dr. Beauchamp does think a palate could be improved, especially by repeated and focused tasting. “If you have lots of experience with particular smells, you might be able to pick them out better,” he said.

Wine drinkers can take other specific steps as well to develop what Sue Ebeler, a professor in the Department of Viticulture and Enology at University of California at Davis, calls “more sensitive palates.” These include tasting a wide range of wines, talking with wine drinkers about their perceptions, blind tasting with others and buying a Wine Aroma Wheel, which will “provide you with terms that you can learn to apply to standards,” said Prof. Ebeler.

The Wine Aroma Wheel was created by her colleague Ann C. Noble, a sensory chemist and professor emerita at UC Davis (now retired). Prof. Noble is famously the first female professor hired in the University’s Viticulture and Enology department and an important member of their wine-sensory group. Her now much-imitated aroma wheel, developed in 1984, was the first graphic presentation of wine-tasting terms. It’s a deceptively simple device: A laminated plastic circle breaks down wines into 12 broad categories (e.g., floral, spicy, nutty) at the center, then moving outward to the edge of the disk, subdivides those categories into more specific aromas (e.g., orange blossom, anise, walnut). A wine drinker with a wheel will, theoretically, have a better vocabulary to describe various aromas and flavors.

But what of wine enthusiasts lacking large vocabularies? I asked Richard Jennings, a Silicon Valley-based wine taster who samples up to 8,000 wines a year and has over 40,000 tasting notes on the popular CellarTracker website. Does someone have to be as articulate as he is to have a great palate?

Not necessarily, said Mr. Jennings. “I know people who have really good palates who can’t pull out the words to describe [wines],” he said of these naturals. “They’re not geeky, but they know what’s good.” Dr. Beauchamp attested to the inverse: The more verbally dexterous drinkers don’t necessarily have better palates. “It just means that they’ve learned how to attach words to sensory experiences,” he said.

Mr. Jennings offered this advice to wine lovers looking to improve their ability to “know what’s good” and talk about it: They need to taste widely and patronize good wine shops. “Your best friend is your fine-wine store—ideally one that holds frequent tastings,” he said.

‘‘I know people with really good palates who can’t describe [wines],’ said one expert. ‘They’re not geeky, but they know what’s good.’’
The importance of tasting widely came up over and over again in conversations with my wine-collector friends. They all agreed that exposure to a range of wines is key and perhaps even more important than an extensive tasting vocabulary. My friend Andy, a Westchester-based wine collector, said his wife, Holly, has a great palate—perhaps better than his own—in part because they taste a lot of wine. He also attributes his wife’s palate to “her physical ability to distinguish smells and tastes well,” adding that she too lacks “a wine geek’s vocabulary.”

Andy was with his friend Evan when I called for a chat. Andy and Evan are in the same “serious” wine- tasting group, although “Evan has a more refined palate than I do,” said Andy. “He can pick up subtleties that I can’t.” Evan demurred but allowed that he has more experience. The men recalled their first shared bottle—a Ridge Zinfandel, from California—and agreed that their palates have evolved from those early days. They now prefer what they called more nuanced, European-style wines.

The evolution of one’s palate is another favorite topic among oenophiles, and it usually describes a movement away from one type of wine to another. This progression generally begins with simple, fruity young wines and moves to more complex, structured and often well-aged wines. One of the most typical evolutions I’ve come across is of a wine drinker who begins with California Cabernets and Zinfandels, then moves to the red wines of Bordeaux and ultimately Burgundy grand crus. (Needless to say, this sort of evolution requires a certain “evolution” of the pocketbook, too.)

Does a great palate need to be evolved? I asked the two men whether a person who drank only the same sort of wine repeatedly could have a great palate. They thought not. Or as Evan put it, “I think it’s hard for your palate to evolve if you only drink California Cabernet.”

And what of the quality of my own palate? It has certainly evolved. I don’t drink the same wines I did 20 years ago, but that is partly because there are so many more wines in the world. I also have more money to spend on wine than I did in those early years—not to mention a professional obligation now to drink as broadly as possible. I can describe wines fairly well, although I’ve never owned an aroma wheel and I’m no Richard Jennings when it comes to tasting notes.

I think what I have—and what most serious wine drinkers possess—isn’t a great but an educated palate. In fact, I’m not even convinced that a great palate exists. Those two words imply a kind of universal capability I’m not sure is possible in the vastness of the wine world today. I think there are oenophiles with a great affinity for and deep understanding of particular wines and particular regions who are effective at transmitting those impressions to like-minded wine drinkers: a great palate for German Rieslings, for example, or a particularly keen understanding of Bordeaux. They’ve developed a natural talent with schooling and hard work, and like pianists who cannot possibly master every piece of classical music, must focus on one area close to their heart.



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