Monthly Archives: May 2016

Eating Moleche and Drinking Wine in Venice

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  Last time I was in Venice, I posted some pictures on Facebook and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and added that “the wine list will blow you away.” She told me to ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner, who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this, we just had to go.

Luca

Luca

The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is a covered patio for outdoor dining. We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith had highly recommended the restaurant. As Faith had promised, we had a great meal.

We liked the restaurant so much that we decided to return again this year. I had the mazzancolle, large grilled red shrimp. They were plump and juicy just as I remembered them from last time.IMG_0468

I followed this with the moleche, baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor. I order them whenever I can because their season is very short.IMG_0469

We drank the Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino 2014 Pieropan made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone. Volcanic soils situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in the tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release.IMG_0472

After dinner Luca suggested we visit his new wine bar called Local just around the corner, 3 minutes away. This being Venice it only took us 15 minutes to find it. But we liked its cozy appearance and contemporary style. Benedetta, Luca’s sister, welcomed us warmly.IMG_0473

They have a very extensive wine list and we ordered the Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo, which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2014 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a white wine and are pressed by foot. The must is fermented without the skins. We had the 2012 last time at Wildner and it was much lighter in color but with this very “natural” winemaker, one never knows.IMG_0476

We had this with a plate of assorted cheeses and condiments from the Veneto area.

For lunch the next day we went to the highly recommended Trattoria Antiche Carampane, not far from the outdoor fish market. This is a lovely restaurant and it is better to go for lunch because it is very crowded for dinner.IMG_0482

Michele and I had the same dishes pasta with baby sepia in an ink sauceIMG_6269 mol

and fried moleche with fried Jerusalem artichokes cooked to perfection. IMG_0484We also loved our desserts, which included a layered meringue, cream and berry parfait. I had something equally delicious, but ate it so fast that I can’t remember what it was.

We drank the Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2014 Pieropan 100% Garganega.IMG_0483

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for 15 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release. It was interesting to taste the two wines one day apart.  Both  Pieropan wines were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and needs more time.IMG_0487

We also drank the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2011 Eduardo Valentini 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

 

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Filed under Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Restaurant Wildner, Soave, Uncategorized, Valentini, Venice

Marco de Grazia and Tenuta Terre Nere at La Pizza Fresca

IMG_0315Beginning in the 1980’s, Marco de Grazia, with his company Marco de Grazia Selections: Wines from the great crus of Italy, has had a great influence on Italian wine producers. He has been a figure of some controversy but I would like to write about Marco de Grazi as the owner/winemaker of Tenuta Terre Nere in Sicily.

Brad Bonnewelll and Marco de Grazia

Brad Bonnewelll and Marco de Grazia

Brad Bonnewell, wine director of La Pizza Fresca Restaurant, invited me to a dinner featuring the wines of Terre Nere. Marco de Grazia spoke and told us that the estate is located on the northern slope of Mt. Etna with vineyards between the villages of Solicchiata and the town of Randazzo. The first vintage was in 2002. The property is over 30 hectares, divided into 10 parcels in four cru vineyards: Calderara Sottana, Santo Spirito, Guardiola and Feudo di Mezzo. Marco believes in the importance of expressing the character of each cru in all its purity.

The WinesIMG_0310

Etna Bianco 2014 DOC. Marco said he first made the wine in 2005. It is a field blend made up of 65% Carricante plus Inzolia, Catarratto, Grecanico, Inzolia and Minnella in the townships of Castiglione de Sicilia, Randazzo, Biancavilla and Milo, from many vineyards with different exposures. The soil is volcanic. The harvest is in the beginning of October followed by a soft pressing and low temperature fermentation in stainless steel.

We had this with imported bufala mozzarella and prosciutto di Parma.IMG_0323

Etna Rossa 2013, 2014 DOC Made from 95% Nerello Mascalese and 5% Nerello Cappuccio from low yielding vineyards both young and old in the townships of Castiglione di Sicilia and Randazzo. The vines are 6 to 50 years old, the soil is volcanic and the exposure is north. The grapes are macerated until the end of fermentation and the wine remains in wood for about one year before it is bottled.IMG_0415

We had the red wines with a number of different dishes including Pizza Margherita and Pizza Salame Picante.IMG_0325

Santo Spirito Etna Rosso 2012, 2013 DOC Made from 98% Nerello Mascalese and 2% Nerello Cappuccio in the township of Castiglione di Sicilia. The soil is deep black volcanic soil, the exposure is northern and the vines are 40 to 100 years old. Aged for 6 months in stainless steel, then aged in equal proportions in French barriques, tonneaux and casks.IMG_0327

 Calderara Sottana Etna Rosso 2012, 2013 made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio in the township of Randazzo. Marco said the Calderara Sottana’s soil has the most stones and black volcanic pumice of all the crus on Etna. The vineyard is at 600/700 meters, with a northern exposure and the vines are between 50 and 100 years old. The vineyards are steeply sloped and tightly terraced. Harvest by hand in the second half of October. Alcoholic fermentation and maceration lasts 10 to 15 days. Malolactic fermentation  and maturation are carried out in oak. After 18 months the wine is bottled without filtering. Marco described these two wines as: floral and spicy, leathery and aromatic, and creamy.IMG_0324

Etna Rosso “Feudo di Mezzo” 2013 DOC made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio from the township of Castiglione. The soil is black volcanic ash with basaltic pebbles. The vines are 50 to 80 years old with alberello plantings. The exposure is northern and it is terraced. Harvest is by hand. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18 months. Marco said that of the crus, it is usually the first to be ready to drink.IMG_0329

Prephylloxera Etna Rosso 2013 DOC Township of Randazzo from the Don Peppino Vineyard. Made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Marco said in front and to the right of the cellar in the Calderara Sottana vineyard are two parcels, in the midst of the larger vineyards that have survived phylloxera. They therefore are over 130 years old and stand on their own rootstock. Exposure is northern and the soil is black volcanic pumice with some ash. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18

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Filed under Etna Bianco, Etna Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, La Pizza Fresca, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Uncategorized

The Wine Media Guild Sicily Tasting: The Red Wines

At the Wine Media Guild’s recent tasting and lunch at Felidia Restaurant, we tasted 12 red wines from Sicily ranging in price from $12.99 to $159.99 for the Santa.Ne from Palari, the only wine in the group not made from native grapes.

Alessandro Dellascenza

Alessandro Dellascenza

Alessandro Dellasenza from Cru Artisan Wines/Banfi spoke the wines of Palari as well as the other wines he presented. I spoke about the remaining wines.

The Red Wines of Sicily

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Frappato 2013 DOC Paterno di Vittoria, 100% Frappato Golden Ram Imports NYC, David Rosengarten Selections, $18. Maceration is for four days with skin contact and temperature controlled fermentation. The wine spends one month in steel and one month in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced, aromatic wine with hints of cherry and pomegranate.IMG_0198

Frappato 2014 Planeta, 100% Frappato Palm Bay $21.99 De-stemming followed by 12 days maceration, after racking, malolactic in stainless steel. The wine should be drunk 3 years from the vintage. This is light bodied aromatic wine with hints of spice and red fruit.IMG_0199

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2014 DOCG Planeta, Nero d’ Avola 60% Frappato 40% Palm Bay $ 23.99. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed, extraction on the skins and 8 days of maceration. After racking, malolactic fermentation takes place in steel tanks. This is a fruity wine with hints of strawberries, cherries and figs with a long finish.IMG_0201

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2012 DOCG Paterno di Vittoria 60% Nero d’Avola and 40% Frappato, Golden Ram Imports NYC $25. Vinified in stainless steel for 15 days. The wine is aged for 6 months is stainless steel, 6 months in barriques and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with good red berry flavors and aromas with a long finish and nice aftertaste.IMG_0206

Nero D’Avola 2014 Cusumano 100% Nero d’Avola Tony di Dio Selections $12.99. Production zone San Giacomo, Butera. The vines are 14 years old and the exposure south, southeast. Training system is espalier and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. This is a fruity easy drinking wine and a great value.IMG_0207

Nero d’Avola Riserva Sicilia “Don Antonio” 2011 Morgante 100% Nero d’Avola Winebow $42. The vines grow in white calcareous soils with small amounts of clay at 500/550 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with 20 days skin contact. Malolacatic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged for 12 months in new French Allier and Troncais 225 liter barriques, followed by 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry and violets with a touch of leather and liquorice.IMG_0208

 Rosso del Conte Contea di Sclafani DOC 2010 Tasca d’ Almerita Nero d’Avola 63% and 37% other red grapes Winebow $70 Production area Palermo, Sicily. The soil is fine clay slightly calcareous and the vineyard was planted in 2002. It is at 650 meters with a south-west exposure. The training system is bush and espalier, with short spur pruning. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is in the beginning of October. Traditional red wine fermentation in stainless steel and maceration for 20 days. The wine is aged for 18 months in new French oak, Allier and Troncais 225 liter barriques and ten 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherries and herbs with a touch of vanilla and tobacco.IMG_0209

Etna Rosso “Martinella” 2010 DOP Vivera (the winery is 100% certified organic) 80% Nerello Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio Montcalm $39.99 Located in Linguaglossa, Contrada Matinell on the northern-eastern slope of Mont Etna. The vineyard was planted in 2003 at 600 meters, volcanic soil with abundant rounded stones. Vertical trellis, spur pruned cordon and there are 5,500 plants per hectare. The grapes are carefully selected and hand picked the first week of October. Cold maceration is followed by fermentation at controlled temperatures for 10 days. The wine is racked and aged in 225 French barriques for about one year. It is refined in bottle for another 12 months before release. The wine hints of sweet red fruit and a note of bitter chocolate.IMG_0210

  Etna Rosso “Rovittello” 2013 DOC 100% Nerello Mascalese Benanti Tradizione Imports $20 The countryside of Rovittello, on the north side of Mt. Etna in the commune of Castiglione di Sicilia. It is a single vineyard grown as alberello (free standing bush) at 750 meters. The soil is sandy, volcanic and very rich in minerals. The vines are 80 years old and there are 9,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place the second week of October and the grapes are late ripening. Traditional vinification takes place, with long maceration of the must with the skins. After malolatic fermentation, the wine matures in small casks of 225 liters for more than one year and 8 to 10 months in the bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0211

Rosso del Soprano (the red from the heights) 2011 Palari Cru Artisan Wines-Banfi $58.99 Made from the same grapes as the Faro below. The wine is aged in one-year barrels of Troncais and Allier oak. It is bottled unfiltered and rests for another year until release. The wine has hints of red berries and spice.IMG_0212

Faro (lighthouse) 2009 DOC Palari Cru Artisan Wines- Banfi $99.99 made from 60% Nerello Mascalese, 1% Cor’e Palumba, 2% Jacche 15% Nocera, 20% Nerello Cappuccio and 2% Acitana. The grapes are grown in vineyards located in Santo Stefano Briga (Messina), in sandy soil. After a soft pressing and fermentation with native yeasts in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, the wine is aged in new barrels of Troncais and Allier oak for at least 12 months. The wine is bottled unfiltered and remains in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a complex wine with hints of ripe red fruit, spice, jasmine and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0213

Santa.Ne 2008 Palari Cru Artisan Wines-Banfi $159.99 Made from 100% “A Francisa.” Alessandro explained that over 150 years ago the farmers found a unusually clay-rich plot of land and decided to plant grapes from France. Over the years the vines adapted to the land and the farmers no loner remembered what was planted there. So in dialect they called it “A Francisa”–the grapes from France. It is a single vineyard in the heights of Santo Stefano Briga (Messina). Following the pressing of the grapes and fermentation with native yeasts at controlled temperature the wine rests for 24 months in barrels of Troncais oak and at least 2 years more in bottle unfiltered 2 years before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, tobacco, leather and spice with a touch of vanilla.

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Filed under Banfi, Benanti Winery, Cerasuolo di Vittorio, Cusumano winery, Don Antonio, Faro, Frappato, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nero d'Avola, Palari, Planeta, Rosso Del Conte, Rosso del Soprano, Santa.Ne, Uncategorized, Vivera

The Wine Media Guild Sicily Tasting: The White Wines

The Wine Media Guild asked me to host a program about the wines of Sicily. Together with Tom Maresca, another member, we lined up 30 wines for the tasting and lunch. The speakers would be Alessandro Dellascenza of Cru Artisan Wines, a division of Banfi, who would present 7 wines. Somehow, I became the second speaker and was more than happy to do so.

I am often asked where a wine can be bought at retail so in this post I have included the name of the importer/distributer of each wine.

At the tasting and lunch, which took place in April at Felidia Restaurant, we had 9 excellent whites ranging in price from $12 to $41.

The White Wines of SicilyIMG_0218

Grillo “Zirito” 2014 Grillo Terre Siciliane IGT 100% Grillo Feudo Sartanna Cru Artisian Wines-Banfi $12 The vineyards are in Western Sicily; the soil is volcanic of medium texture, chalk and clay. Traditional fermentation, temperature control with partial skin contact. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months. This is a wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors and a long, well-balanced finish. Grillo means cricket in Italian.IMG_0216

Grillo “Cavallo Delle Fate Sicilia” 2014 DOC 100% Grillo  Tasca d’ Almerita Winebow $20 From the Sant’Anna, Piana Casa Vecchie and San Pietro vineyards at 1,980 feet with a southwest exposure. There are 26 hectares of vineyards and the soil is sand and clay-loam. Training system is guyot, with 1,840 vines per hectare. The vineyards were planted in 2007 and the first vintage was in 2012. The harvest is in September. Fermentation is in stainless steel for 15 days, aging in stainless steel for 4 months.This is a wine with hints of white peach, apricot and pineapple with good acidity.IMG_0224

Grillo Terre Siciliane IGP 2013 100% Grillo, Principi di Spadafora Montcalm $26.99 From the Contrada Virzi Monreale and Palermo areas. The vineyard has a western exposure, at 350 meters with sandy-clay soil. Training system is simple guyot espalier. There are 5,000 plants /hectare and the vineyard is 20 years old. Harvest takes place in mid-September. Fermentation is with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature in cement vats. The wine spends 12 months in the vats and 4 months in bottle before release. This is a fruity aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit with good acidity and a long finish.

Insolia Terre Siciliane IGT 2014, !00% Grillo Cusumano Tony di Dio Selections $11.99 Zone of production Ficuzza, Piana degli Albanesi (Palermo) The vines are 15 years old, the exposure is southeast and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first 10 days of September. There is a cold pressing with the skins for about 12 hours, followed by a second soft pressing. There is cold decanting and fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wines remain on the lees in stainless steel tanks for at least 4 months and for a time in the bottle before release. This is a great value!IMG_0229

Caselle Etna Bianco 2013 DOC 100% Carricante, Benanti Tradizione Imports $20 Production area on the eastern side of Mt. Etna and the southern side at 900/100 meters. The soil is sandy, volcanic and rich in minerals. Training system is alberello (free standing bush). There are 6,000/8,000 vines per hectare and the vines are 35 and 40 years old. Late ripening grapes picked during the 3rd week of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Wine ages in tanks for a period of time before being bottled.IMG_0227

Vigna Casalj Alcamo Classico DOC 2014 100% Catarratto Tenuta Rapitala Wildman $17 Vigna Casalj is a 25 acre registered cru in the Alcamo Classico, a high-elevation DOC. It is at 2,000 meters, guyot trained vines in sandy soil. Harvest is at the end of September. Soft pressing and cold settling is followed by fermentation using selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and the fermentation lasts for two weeks. The wine remains on its fine lees until March and is then aged for three months in 50hl French oak barrels. This is a crisp full bodied wine that has aromas of sage and tomato leaf.IMG_0225

Nozza d’Oro Contea di Sclafani DOC 2012 Inzolia 72% & Sauvignon Tasca 28% Tasca d’Almarita Winebow $30 The Insolia is from the 8.4 hectare Barbabietole vineyard (clay and calcareous soil) and the Sauvignon Tasca from the 2.25 hectare Santa Tea, training method is espalier. Vineyard (Sandstone and fine sand) elevation 1,650 to 2,300 with a southwest exposure. Harvest is in August/ September. There is cold soak maceration for 18 hours and alcoholic fermentation is for 15 days. The wine is aged for 5 months in stainless steel and for 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of apple, peach, melon and jasmine. Nozza d’ Ora in Italian means golden wedding anniversary. It was created by Count Giuseppe Tasca in 1984 and dedicated to his wife Franca.IMG_0226

Cometa 2014 Planeta 100% Fiano Palm Bay $40.99. Production area Menfi from the Gurra vineyard planted in 1998 and the Dispensa vineyard planted in 1996. There are 4,500 vines/hectare. The grapes are destemmed and crushed; the juice clarified by cold setting overnight and then inoculated with selected yeast. It is fermentation at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks for 20 days. The wine is bottled in the second half of February following the year of harvest. This is an elegant, full-bodied wine with a wide range of aromas and flavors. It has hints of pineapple, mandarin, thyme and chamomile with a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0219

Piano Maltese DOC 2014 made from Grillo 45%,Cataratto 45% and Chardonnay10% Tenuta Rapitala Wildman $13. Selected parcels of vines located at 1200 ft., guyot trained on clay soil. The grapes are harvested and vinified separately, the Grillo at the end of August and the Catarratto in the middle of September. The grapes are crushed, destemmed and a cooling of the must and gentle pressing takes place. This is followed by division of the different qualities of the must. Cold settling occurs before a cold fermentation. The wines rest on their lees before being blended and bottled in February following the harvest. The wine has rich fruity aromas with hints of apple, pear and a touch of roasted nuts.

 

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Filed under Carricante, Cometa, Grillo, Insolia, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Nozza d'Oro, Sicilian Wine, Uncategorized

Tasting the Wines of Abruzzo at Enoteca Di Palo

Rosanna di Michele cooking teacher, personal chef, and lover all things from Abruzzo invited me to a tasting of the wines of Collefrisio. Rosanna has long collaborated with this Abruzzese winery and is a promoter of the wines and food of the region.

The tasting was held at Enoteca Di Palo in NYC’s Little Italy. This is the wine store of the famous Di Palo food store, which is right next door.

Amadeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo de Luca one of the owners of Collefrisio was there to present the wines. He said that his family has been involved in wine for 3 generations. The winery is located in the hills of Frisa in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. The winery has 35 hectare of vineyards on 3 estates: Tenuta Valle del Moro – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; Tenuta Morrecine – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; and Tenuta Giuliano – 11 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Pecorino.

Amadeo presented 4 wines.e9a736be-df96-4f73-914c-50f3982e53d6

Pecorino IGT Terre di Chieti 100% Pecorino Harvest takes place the last 10 days of September.Maceration is at a low temperature after removal of the grapes from the stalks and the alcohol fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is a wine with citrus fruit flavors and hints of green tea and peach with nice acidity.deee3c39-1b2e-4609-ab99-56d1ad519bf7

Trebbiano  D’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra”  DOC 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo. Harvest is the first week of September. Harvest is the first ten days in October. Aromatic wine with hints of apple, chamomile and mulberry.1b350bf1-9852-4c90-b515-3f73c014532c

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 100% Montepulciano. Traditional vinification in stainless steel, the grape skins are in contact with the juice for 12 to 20 days. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice.70892e81-fac3-4048-a23d-3a89dd66c35f

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra” Vinification same as above. This is a single vineyard wine that is aged for a number of months in new barriques. The wine has hints of cherry plum, fruit jam with a hint of spice and vanilla. Amedeo said that the wine needed more time to come together and be at its best.

The wines are a very good value for the money at around $20 or less.

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Filed under Abruzzo, collefrisio winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pecorino, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized