Monthly Archives: August 2015

Campania Wine Tasting at Restaurant Gattopardo

Nine producers from Campania came to Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC to present their wines at a luncheon and seminar. Each producer brought one special wine, which was matched with a seasonal Neapolitan dish.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, who delivered an excellent presentation, presented the tasting. I wrote about the 5 white wines in a previous blog.IMG_8200

Il Gattopardo, one of my favorite restaurants in New York, is owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino. They specialize in Neapolitan cooking. It was the ideal place to enjoy a Campania Wine Tasting.

Here are the four red wine and the dishes they were matched with. All the wines are made from the Aglianico grape.IMG_8184

Taurasi Riserva 2008 “La Loggia del Cavaliere” Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. 100% Aglianco The vineyard is at 450/490 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The soil is clay-like with calcareous and sandy layers. Harvest is by hand in mid-November. In the cellar, cold maceration is followed by alcoholic fermentation with prolonged maceration. The wine is aged in barrels for a minimum of 18 months with batonnage (stirring the lees). The wine has hints of blackberries, black cherries with a touch of spice and vanilla.IMG_8185

Aglianico Irpinia DOC 2013 “Ventidue Marzo” Terre di Valter. 100% Aglianico from the Torre le Nocelle vineyard.  Grown mostly in hillside soils of volcanic origin and clay. Exposure is southeast, the vineyard is at 400 meters, and the age of the vines is 20 years. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier culture with a spurred cord pruning. Harvesting is by hand, at the end of October, first days of November.
Soaking takes place for 15 days and fermentation partially carried out with autochthonous yeast. The wine is aged in French durmast oak barrels for 6 months. It has hints of violets and red and black berries.
This is a family run winery named in honor of Valter Landi  His children, Emanuela and Roberto, an agronomist, carry on his work.
These two wines were served with Paccheri alla Genovese, large pasta tubes with a meaty onion sauce. It is a classic Neapolitan dish and I almost always order it when I go to Il Gattopardo.IMG_8186

Taurasi DOCG 2010 100% Aglianico Macchie Santa Maria. This is a new winery with a production of only 3,000 bottles. It is located in the province of Avellino at Montemiletto. This is a wine with hints of sour cherry, plum and a touch of spice.IMG_8187

Taurasi DOCG 2011 100% Aglianico. DonnaChiara.  Ilaria Petitto, owner of the winery, was in attendance. She said that all of Donnachiara’s red wines are made from grapes from the 20-hectare Torre le Nocella vineyard. The soil is volcanic and clay, the vines are over 30 years old, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is no filtration. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques, and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a big complex wine with berry aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and plum and a touch of cacao, coffee and vanilla. The wine will age.

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria said that the winery philosophy includes taking care of the environment and they now use solar panels and recycled rainwater. The wines will soon carry the “sustainable wine” certification label, by which consumers will be able to obtain all the information about DonnaChiara’s production.
These two wines were served with Capretto al Forno con Padellata di Friarielli e Patate, roasted goat with sautéed broccoli rabe and potatoes.

For dessert there was a classic Pastiera Napoletana, a tender cheesecake with wheat berries and orange flower water.

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Filed under Aglianiaco"Ventidue Marzo Terre di Valter, Aglianico, campania, Donna Chiara Winery, Italian Red Wine, La Loggia del Cavalire, Tenuta Pepe

A Delightful Lunch in Provence

Once in a while, if you are lucky, you try a restaurant for the first time and it turns out to be an unforgettable dining experience. This was the case with restaurant Les Florets (which is also a hotel) just outside of Gigondas in the Provence region of France.

It was a beautiful sunny day with a nice breeze and some diners were sitting on the charming outdoor terrace when we arrived. We decided to sit inside (it was a little to breezy) in the comfortable and well-appointed dining room. The service was attentive but not intrusive. The food and wine may have been the best I had in my 3 weeks in the area. They have an exceptional wine list with older vintages and very good prices.

After lunch, the breeze died down somewhat and we had coffee and cognac on the terrace.IMG_8439

Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau De Vaudieu Blanc 2012 made from 75% Grenache and 25% Roussanne. The winery is located in the heart of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. The name comes from Val de Dieu (Valley of God). The vineyard is 10 hectares in the southern part of the estate and the soil is red clay, gray silex limestone and pebbles. Manual harvest in boxes of 15 kg with double sorting of the grapes in the vineyard takes place. Grapes are vinified and aged separately until blending.There is soft pressing with whole bunches. Static cold settling and alcohol fermentation is between 18 and 22 degrees. The wine is aged for 6 months. Most of the wine is aged in stainless steel and a small portion in barriques.

The wine has hints of white fruit, grapefruit, refreshing citrus notes with nice minerality and good acidity.IMG_8435

A small amuse bouche of salmon mousse with avocado was a nice starter.IMG_8436

My first course was sautéed foie gras with a red grape sauce that I really enjoyed.IMG_8441

Vacqueyras Domaine La Garrigue 2001   Made from 80% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre and 5% Cinsault The domaine is in the heart of the Vacqueyras appellation area (southern Cotes du Rhone, in the Vaucluse department, located on a plateau called Les Garrigues.) The vines are planted in 3 different types of soil: stony limestone-clay 40%, slopes and terraces 40%, and sandy 20%. The Syrah and Mourvedre vines are 40 to 50 years old and some of the Grenache vines are between 80 and 100 years old. Harvest is by hand and it takes 30 pickers about one month to harvest all the grapes. Before being vatted the grape bunches are lightly crushed without being de-stalked. During fermentation the run off juice is pumped over the cap twice a day. The grapes are pressed using two vertical hydraulic presses, and for the last two years also a pneumatic press. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months. The wine is not fined or filtered. It has hints of black fruit, spice and a touch of liquorice with a long finish and pleasant aftertaste.IMG_8440

This wine is at its peak and was a great combination with my main course of roast veal covered with black summer truffles in a rich truffle sauce.IMG_8462

I really enjoyed this wine and on another day, we went to visit the winery. The Brechet family owns the restaurant and the winery.IMG_8442

Dessert was a warm apricot tart with vanilla ice cream. Michele declared it perfection and promises to try to duplicate it for me soon. I can’t wait!


Filed under Chateaneuf du Pape, Chateau de Vaudieu, Domaine La Garrigue, French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Gigondas, Vacqueyras

Visiting Martinelle

I posted a picture on Facebook of the house Michele and I are renting in Beaumes de Venise and a friend that I worked with in the wine business saw the post. He said he spends a lot of time in the area and suggested we visit a winery that was only 10 minutes away. He liked the wines and was sure that I would enjoy them. The name of the winery is Martinelle and the winemaker/owner is Corinna Faravel. She speaks English, he added. The winery is east of Gigondas and north of Beaumes de Venise.


Corinna Faravel

The winery is not easy to find and 10 minutes became 30 as we drove around and, though we were less then 2 minutes from the winery, we could not find it. When we finally arrived there, it was well worth the trip.

Corinna, who told us she began her career in Germany where she worked for two different wine estates, greeted us. After 6 years of making white wine she felt something was lacking (red wine) and made her way to the Rhone where she worked at various wineries. In 2001 she discovered Martinelle, a group of small vineyards, separated by the solid rock of the Dentelles de Montmirail from Gigondas and Vacqueyras. This was exactly what she wanted.IMG_8374

She said it was a one-woman winemaking operation. In the beginning there were only vineyards and it was an exciting challenge to build a winery from the ground up. She realized how closely winemaking is related to nature. For her first vintage in 2002 there was torrential rain and it turned the harvest into a horrendous affair. In 2003, a freak hailstorm destroyed her entire crop. But she knew the incredible potential of the area and in 2004 she was able to harvest healthy grapes. Everything since then has been very positive.

The training system in the vineyard was both cordon and bush (goblet) but all the new plantings will be the traditional bush. Corinna now makes only two wines. She did make a Vin De Table “Le lleme” which was her chance to “color outside” the French AOC laws but does not make it any more. She is also experimenting with other Rhone varities.IMG_8371

Ventoux 2012 “Martinelle” made from 72% Grenache, vines 16 to 49 years old, 18% Syrah vines 28 years old, 7% Mouvedre vines 5 years old and 3% old vine Carignan, young Counoise and Viognier. The vineyard is 8.5 hectares and faces east/southwest. It is Trias soil-decomposed limestone with iron rich ochre topsoil, other parts of the vineyard are richer in clay based soils. The vines are cared for organically. Harvest is by hand in September and the grapes are sorted in the field and in the cellar. The grapes are destemmed but not crushed and fed into unlined cement tanks by gravity. There is gentle extraction with lees stirring. Maceration lasts between 3 to 4 weeks. Malolatic fermentation takes place immediately after alcoholic fermentation. The final blend is assembled and bottled unfined and unfiltered.IMG_8370

Corinna said that she uses unlined cement tanks because they are porous and they let the wine breath.

The gapes in the blend vary little from year to year except in unusual vintages. In 2013 Grenache did not do well. She showed us pictures of the bunches of grapes and there were only a few sad looking grapes on then.

She said that when she makes her wine she must be true not only to the terrroir but also to the vintage, so the blend was very different.IMG_8373

Beaumes de Venise 2010 & 2012 Grenache 75% from 21 to 30 old vines (some as old as 57years) and Syrah 25% from 20-year-old vines from the 2.85 hectare Bramadou vineyard. Corrina said that the decomposed limestone and chalk soil of this lieu-dit-iron rich vibrantly colored soil colored in deep reds and oranges gives the wine good concentration and freshness. This soil is unique to the Rhone valley. It usually lies deep down and breaks through near the village of Suzette where the Bramadou vineyard is located. Corrina said she was very impressed by the color of the soil when she first saw it and knew it would be the perfect vineyard for her.IMG_8368

In the small cellar there is one 2,500-liter barrel that is used to age the Beaumes de Venise

Maceration for the Syrah is 36 days and for the Grenache 26 days. The juice was combined after pressing and malolactic fermentation took place in December. Corinna said that both wines are vinified in the same way.

She feels that her Beaumes de Venise can age and most people drink the wine when it is too young. The 2010 was bright and fresh and showing no signs of age. It is one of the best I have ever tasted.

Corrina said that her wines used to be imported into the US and is now looking for a new importer.

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Filed under Beaumes de Venise, French Red, Martinelle, Uncategorized

Dinner with Steven


Though I often have the opportunity to enjoy great meals, it is not often that I have the chance to sample the cooking of a talented young man like Steven De Salvo. Steven is the grandson of our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo. This dinner was at the home of their son Jason and his wife Deborah.


Steven preparing the food with his helpers

Steven has always been interested in food and is studying it in college. He works part time at one of New Jersey’s best restaurants. Steven planned and prepared the meal, paired with wines supplied by his father, Jason, and the dinner guests. The report that follows includes Jason’s wine notes because he has an excellent palate and wine memory.IMG_7203

Our meal began with three different crudos, among them lightly torched bluefin toro with dashi broth and scallions. This was a perfect starter before a meal with so many rich flavors.IMG_7206

Next there was wild mushroom lasagna with spinach, ricotta, and truffle Gouda finished with a healthy shaving of black truffles. I have never had Gouda in lasagna before, but it balanced the other flavors and added savory cheesiness without overwhelming. It was great to see Steven’s creative touch working so well.IMG_7211

For our main course, we had beef Wellington with black truffles and prosciutto. I can’t remember the last time I had beef Wellington, and this was a treat.IMG_7212

The pastry was beautiful and the beef was cooked perfectly.IMG_7190

Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 The grapes come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oire in the Cotes des Blancs. The unblended wines are aged in stainless steel to retain their pure character. This is followed by 7 years of bottle aging in the cellars before release. This is a rather full-bodied Champagne for a Blanc de Blancs. It is elegant with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of raisins and bread. It is drinking very nicely and went well with the food.


1942 Patriarche Pére & Fils – wine merchants and producers have been in business for 230 years. They are in Beaune and have the largest cellars in Burgundy (5km). This was the oldest wine and it was still drinking very well. I purchased this wine in Paris.  IMG_7201

1967 Remoissenet Chambertin Clos de Beze Recent Release from Domaine.  Light-medium ruby color.  Jason: The nose is gorgeous with red currants, black cherries, minerals, damp earth and a touch of sauvage.  On the palate this is both elegant and powerful with a velvety texture, excellence balance and long finish.IMG_7205

1971 Domaine Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin. This was from a recent release. Jason: Light-medium ruby-garnet color.  Flowers, red cherries, Gevrey Earth and baking spices on the nose.  Bears a striking resemblance to the Philippe Remy 1971 Chambertin that we had alongside it.  On the palate this is sweet with a note of iron filings to the taste.  Velvety and medium long finish.IMG_7204

1971 Domaine Philippe Remy Chambertin.  Jason: The nose here is strawberries, earth, baking spices, flowers.  We had this alongside a 1971 Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin.  On the palate this is deep, gorgeous, nuanced, velvety and long.  A great bottle of wine. Both Jason and I agree that these last two wines will age for a number of years.


Granbussia Riserva 1974 and Riserva 1989 Aldo Conterno made from Michet and Lampia varieties of Nebbiolo. Harvest is manual with grape selection in the vineyard and the harvest takes place in mid-October. Vinification is in wood with maceration of the skins in large Slavonia oak casks. The must remains in contact with the skin for 60 days, during which alcohol fermentation is fully completed. The wine is then placed in large Slavonia casks for 32 months.IMG_7214

The grapes for the Granbussia Riserva are from the oldest vineyards: Romirasco 70%, Cicala 15% and Colonello 15% depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the cellar for 8 years before release and is only produced in the best vintages.

1974 was not a great year for Barolo and it was given a lot of attention because 1972, 73, 75, 76 and 77 were off vintages. The wine was showing its age and it was well passed its peak. 1974 Jason: Some of the guests really liked this.  Everyone else hated it.  They thought that it was flawed and over the hill.

For me the best two vintages since 1982 have been the 1989 and the 1996. The 1989 is a wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors: cherries, prunes, tar and leather. It is a wine that will last.

Jason: Double Decanted for 4.5 hours.  Medium-deep ruby color.  The nose is white pepper, red cherries, licorice, black truffles, with a distinct “vinyl” omponent.  On the palate this is more closed in on itself than I remember it being.  Maybe this has entered a bit of a dumb stage or maybe it’s a less than perfect bottle?  Finished the last 40% of the bottle two nights later after it was stored in the refrigerator in a 1/2 bottle and it was even better than two days prior.  The flavors have knitted together and become deeper and more profound.  IMG_7210

Cantina Bartolo Mascarello 1982. About 13 years ago Michele and I visited the winery with Alfredo Currardo, a close friend and owner/wine maker of the Vietti winery. Bartolo and Alfredo spoke about wine and Bartolo was teasing Alfredo and told him that he made “industrial wine” because Vietti produces, as Bartolo said, “so many wines”. I only wished I had a movie camera with me at the time to record the conversation between these two legendary wine makers. Both Bartolo and Alfredo are no longer with us but Maria Teresa, Bartolo’s daughter, continues to make wine in the same uncompromising style as her father–traditional, classic Barolo at its best. This is a great wine in a great year and it will age.

Jason: Double decanted for 4 hours.  Stunning wine.  Too tired to take detailed notes at this point, but this was drinking really well right now.  IMG_7208

Hermitage La Chapelle 1980 Jaboulet 100% Syrah is planted in a diversity of terroirs. The age of the vines is 40 to 60 years. The grapes come down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges and then are sorted manually and vinified traditionally in the cellars. The final assembly is made during aging in our cellars in wood for 15 to 18 months. During this time the wines are also racked. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of black fruit, spice and leather. It has a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It is at its peak and was the wine of the evening. I also purchased this wine in Paris.

Jason: The nose here is gorgeous.  Soaring aromatics with smoked game, beef jerky, camphor, black cherries and bacon fat.  On the palate this is also stunning.  Deep, balanced and hugely nuanced.  I have never before had a Hermitage from 1980, and I must say that this was impressive!  WOW. IMG_7216

Chateau d’ Yquem 1997 (half bottle). Made from 80% Semillion and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are picked one at a time over a period of time. There is a gently pressing of the grapes and the wine is aged in oak barrels. 1997 is considered a great vintage. There was no Yquem produced in 2012. This is a complex and balanced wine with hints of dried apricot and a touch of tropical fruit. It was wonderful.

Jason: Medium golden color.  The nose is white flowers, apricots, almonds and marzipan.  On the palate this is balanced, deep and nuanced.

It was served with a peach and almond tart made by Deborah, Steven’s mother.



Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo- Bartolo Mascarello, Bartolo Mascarello, Chateau d'Yquem, Domaine Louis Remy Chambertin, Domaine Philippi Remy, French Red, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Jabpulet Hermitage La Chappelle, Patriarche Pere and Files, Remoissenet Burgundy, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Uncategorized

Campania Wine Tasting at Gattopardpo, NYC

As I have often stated, some of the best white wines in Southern Italy as from the region of Campania. There are many styles of white wine made from a number of grape varieties, Which were Introduced by the ancient Greeks who settled there. Some of These wines can be drunk young and others can age for many years.IMG_8200

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC is Il Gattopardo, owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino. The restaurant specializes in Neapolitan cooking. I can not think of a better place to enjoy a Campania Wine Tasting than there.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

The tasting was presented by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, who delivered an excellent presentation. There were nine wines – five whites and four reds. Here are the 5 white wines and the foods they were paired with. I will write about the red wines and the foods paired with them another time.

The WinesIMG_8180

Anni Vent di Tufo DOCG Spumante NV Cantina Di Marzo 100% Greek di Tufo Brut Methode Classic. The vineyards are at 350 and 500 meters and the exposure is south. The soil is clay and limestone and the training method is Guyot. There are 3,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 5 to 20 years. Harvest is by hand in October. Both alcohol and Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine remains on the lees in the bottle for 36 months. It has fine and persistent bubbles with hints of dried fruits and a touch of bitter orange and almonds in the finish and after taste.

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma representing the winery said that he is a direct descendant of March Scipio who founded the winery in 1647 making it one of Italy’s oldest wineries. He added anche That Scipio was the creator of the Greek di Tufo variety.IMG_8175

This was served well with the Nibbles: Scagliozzi of Polenta, mini mozzarelle in carrozza con’saletta d’acciughe and Assagini di torta”Pasqualina” – polenta croutons, toasted miniature mozzarella sandwiches with a light anchovy sauce and bites of vegetable and cheese tart.IMG_8181

Silva Aura Pallagrello Bianco Terre del Volturno PGI 2013 Cantine Rao. Made from 85% and 15% Pallagrello Fiano. The age of the vineyard is 30 years and the exposure is southeast and they are at 200 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot and the soil is loamy sand. Harvest takes place the first week of September. Representing the winey was Francesco Reo.

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo Said that the winery is in the heart of Campania. He Said That the Pallagrello grape became almost extinct but there was a revival in the 1990 “s. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. It is aged in steel tanks for 4 months and in bottle for two months before release. It has hints of peach, apricot, apple and pears.IMG_8177

This and the next 3 white wines were served with the Parmigiana di zucchine con scamorza e salsa al pomodoro – zucchini parmesan with smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce.IMG_8188

Or Ni Campania Fiano DOCG 2011 Tenuta Scuotto 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyards are at 480 meters and the training system is Guyot. Harvest takes place the first week of November. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and temperature controlled fermentation with indigenous yeast in oval barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months on the lees and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied and elegant white wine with hints of apricot, pineapple and a touch of hazelnuts.IMG_8182

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2013 Contea de Altavilla 100% Greek di Tufo. The soil is clayey and calcareous. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine is aged for 5 months in stainless steel tanks. This is an elegant wine with hints of apricot, peach, pear and a touch of bitter almond in the aftertaste.IMG_8183

La TreRose di Giò, Falanghina IGT 2014, Tenute Bianchino ( 100% Falanghina.The vineyard is situated between the cities of Falciano del Massico and Mondragone.The training system is espalier (vines trained along a wall fence or trellis).

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini, representing the winery, said That Falanghina has a leaf cuneiform (wedge shape with a tapered end), is a medium sized grape bunches and conical with a thick and compact skin. Harvest takes place at the end of September and first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel and before the wine is released it remains in the bottle for one month. This is a balanced wine with hints of fresh citrus fruits, green plum, a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste.

The Falanghina should have been served before the Greco  and Fiano,  which are more substantial. However, all of the wines matched well with the food.

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Filed under campania, Cantina di Marzo, Cantina Reo, Contea de Altavilla, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Tenuta Bianchino, Tenuta Scuotto