Monthly Archives: June 2017

A True Taste of Italy at Donna Margherita NYC


Donna Margherita is a cozy new restaurant on NY’s Upper East Side. The chef is Rosanna Di Michele, who hails from Abruzzo, Italy. Michele and I have known Rosanna for a number of years and admire her passion for Italian food, especially from her region, the home, it is often said, of the best cooks in Italy.


It was a chilly and stormy afternoon on our first visit, but Rosanna greeted us with a welcoming smile and showed us to our table. As we looked at the menu, the host, Mr. Luigi, brought us a basket of freshly baked focaccia to go with our wine.

The menu choices included several simple antipasti and classic salads, followed by a variety of Italian pastas like lasagne, penne arrabbiata, and vegetarian style with whole wheat pasta and vegetables. There are 14 different pizzas plus a few main dishes, and even child friendly offerings, so don’t hesitate to bring the kids.

Then Rosanna returned to explain the many seasonal specials on offer that day, which included fresh fish and spaghetti with clams. There was something for everyone.

We had:

Salsiccia E Rapini-Spicy Italian sausages with sautéed broccoli rape, a classic Southern Italian dish.

Paccheri alla Rosanna-Paccheri pasta with fresh tomato sauce, ricotta salata cheese, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Octopus and Potato Salad — Tender warm sautéed octopus served on a bed of sliced potatoes.

Pasta alla Chitarra with Abruzzo Ragu – Home made square pasta strands served with Rosanna’s special meat ragu.

Rosanna also insisted we try her Melzanzane alla Parmigiana –Baked eggplant, mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil and we were glad we did. Rosanna’s version was light and freshly made. A perfect example of what this dish could be, but rarely is. 

There are several dessert choices, including tiramisu, gelati, and sorbet. We tried the Pastiera Napoletana –Neapolitan ricotta, wheat berry and orange flower water flavored cake that Rosanna said is imported from Italy.

There is a small well-chosen wine list and other drinks available.

For excellent homestyle Italian cooking at moderate prices, Donna Margherita is the place to go. Don’t forget to try the daily specials and tell Rosanna I sent you!

Donna Margherita NYC   1304A 2nd Ave NY, NY

212-772-1196      Closed Sunday

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Daniele Cernilli on Indigenous Yeasts

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°215

Indigenous yeasts

by Daniele Cernilli 19-06-2017

lieviti indigeni doctorwine daniele cernilli

“When I try to explain, in an understandable way, technical questions related to yeasts, an enormous factor in zymotechnology, a branch of biotechnology, I begin by using a simple example. I say that yeasts are like dogs: there is one name to define them but hundreds if not thousands of breeds. Choosing one depends on what they are needed for. Were I to go hunting I would not bring a Chihuahua or a Great Dane but rather a pointer. If I wanted a house pet, I probably would not choose a Pitbull and so on. The same goes for yeasts of which there are countless different strains. Some are excellent to complete the alcoholic fermentation of the must, while others are inappropriate because they die off with a low concentration of alcohol and inhibit further fermentation with the consequence that volatile acidity is created”. This easy to understand explanation that helps to comprehend an immense subject, which takes years of study to fully grasp, was made by an enologist researcher who is particularly well-versed on the matter. The reason I have brought it up is because I recently heard a famous ‘expert’ state that only ‘indigenous’ yeasts determine the quality of wines. The problem is that already the term ‘indigenous yeasts’, also known as ‘wild’ or ‘native’, is not very precise. These yeasts can be found on the grapes in the vineyard or, more abundantly, in the winery. What’s more, not all these yeasts are the same and it is necessary to select the more suited ones. In short, the question is anything but simple and making generalizations, like the one of the ‘expert’, ends up being more an ideological or anti-scientific statement. This because a simple climate variation, be it in temperature or humidity, is sufficient to determine a greater or lesser presence of a particular family of yeasts, even when the variations occur in the same place or within a short period of time. The bottom line is that it is impossible to state something with total certainty when no research or experiments have proven anything beyond a reasonable doubt. I have no such certainties, I am not expert enough in zymotechnology to express convictions that should not be questioned. What I can do is listen to researchers and wine producers and then try to form an opinion. A consideration that has convinced me came from Gianfranco Fino, a very attentive winemaker, who said: “When I produce my Primitivo Es it can reach an alcoholic content of between 16 and 17%. If I did not use selected yeasts that can survive these levels I would have a sweet vinegar that was absolutely undrinkable”.

I think he has a point.

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NOBILE aka Vino Nobile di Montepulciano

Many years ago, a wine writer said that the problem with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is that it is “caught in the shadow between Chianti and Brunello.”

Six of the top producers of Vino Noble decided to do something about this so they to banded together to form an Alliance to promote the wine. They presented their wines at a tasting in NYC followed by a seminar with a representative from each winery.

Albiera Antinori – La Braccesca

Lucca de Ferrari- Poderi Boscarelli

Luca de Ferrari – Poderi Boscarelli

Federico Carletti – Poliziano

Caterina Dei – Cantine Dei

Luca de Ferrari – Poderi Boscarelli

Michele Manelli – Salcheto

Virginie Saverys – Avignonesi

Virginie Saverys – Avignonesi

“Individual humility and collective pride is probably the best definition of nobility,” is their slogan. They believe that now is the time to elevate and preserve a wine of true nobility. In addition to their regular wines each winery presented a new wine called “Nobile” made from 100% Sangiovese from the 2015 vintage. I was able to taste these wines. They show promise, but they are still too young( one was a barrel sample) to be judged.

The panel discussed the following:

Vino Nobile can only be made from grapes grown around the town of Montepulciano in the province of Siena in Southeast Tuscany in the hills around the Chiana Valley. The soil here is sandy and rich in clay with many rocks and the climate is temperate.

The wine is made mostly from Sangiovese known locally as Prugnolo Gentile (at least 70%) and other approved red varieties. It was mentioned by the panel that recently many producers are making the wine from 100% Sangiovese.

Vino Noble is aged for a minimum of two years, including one in oak barrels or casks and three years total in order to be called a Riserva.

There is a wine from Abruzzo named Montepulciano d’Abruzzo made from the Montepulciano grape. It should not be confused with Vino Noble di Montipulciano, made in a different region from different grapes.

In order to highlight Vino Nobile di Montepuliciano’s significant personality, bring the wine up to date and avoid any confusion, the Alliance producers will refer to their wines simply as “Nobile” instead of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. They believe it is a renaissance of this Italian classic.

The panel also discussed the problem of how Vino Nobile often falls in the shadows of its Tuscan neighbors Chianti and Brunello. It was pointed out that Vino Nobile was the first DOCG to appear on the Italian market and is a renowned red wine that stands on its own.

There were between 25 to 30 wines at the tasting and I have to say that the Alliance members have been among my favorite producers of Nobile (Vino Nobile di Montepulciano). I have visited over the years 5 of the 6 wineries.

Just to list a few of some of the wines at the tasting: Grand Annata 2012 from Avigonesi, The 2004 and 1995 Vino Nobile Asinone from Poliziano– that proves the wine can age. The 2012 Riserva and the 2013 Il Nocio Nobile from Boscarelli whose wines may have been my introduction to Vino Nobile many years ago. La Braccesca Santa Pia Nobile Riserva 2012, Dei Vino Nobile Riserva 2007 from a Lt. 3.0 and the Vino Nobile 2011 Riserva from Salcheto.



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Jeremy Parzen on: Can a screw-caped wine be “Corked”

Can a screw-cap wine be “corked”? Corkiness isn’t just cork taint.

Below is a very informative article by Jeremy Parzen from his blog Do Bianchi

At the end of the article I have a question that I hope someone can answer and a comment.

Francesco Cirelli’s entry-tier Trebbiano d’Abruzzo is one of our all-time favorite wines. Whenever the Texas allocation lands, the rep always jokes with our wine merchant: “Please let Jeremy and Tracie know. They’re thirsty!”

We buy it by the case and we serve and drink it as both an everyday wine and our Saturday night wine. That’s how much we love it. It’s varietally expressive and classic in style. And it’s one of the most wholesome wines you can drink in the under-$20 category.

But the other night we opened a bottle that was corked. We know this wine so well and drink it so often, that it’s easy for us to discern when it’s not right.

But how can a screw-cap wine like this be corked, when there is no cork involved?

Many years ago, one of my wine mentors and friends, Nicola Marzovilla, taught me that corkiness isn’t only about cork taint, in other words, the presence of the nefarious chemical compound TCA.

As Nicola put, corkiness can be about cork taint. But the more important telltale sign of a corked wine is the absence of fruit — even when there is no cork taint.

To borrow a line from another wine mentor and friend, Darrell Corti, wine is made from fruit and it should smell and taste of fruit. When it doesn’t, it’s likely that the wine is off.

The fruit aromas and flavors of a wine can be muted or even eclipsed entirely by cork taint. But there many other factors that can kill the fruit in a wine.

When I was first working in the wine trade in the early 2000s in New York, it was rare to see a bottled sealed with screw cap. Today, it’s commonplace. In some ways, you could say that it’s anachronistic to call a wine like this “corked.” But what would the contemporary wine lexicon be if not a metachronistic compendium of bygones?

One of the early problems facing winemakers who bottled their wines with screw-caps was that the seal would often break when the cases were stacked on top of one another. The weight and pressure of the bottles on top would compromise the seals on the bottles below. A lot of progress has been made in ensuring the sturdiness and integrity of screw-cap seals. But just a slight fissure, even invisible to the eye, can allow oxygen to be introduced into the bottle.

The same thing holds with cork because the tree bark used to make corks is a porous material that can allow small amounts of oxygen to be introduced into the bottle. And different types of taint — even TCA — can come into contact with the wine without affecting the cork itself. That’s why a cork-sealed bottle can be corked even when the cork doesn’t smell tainted.

Screw-caps have undeniably helped to deliver more robust fitness in wine today. But as I see it, opening a bottle of wine is always a gamble. It’s a wager that can reward the drinker with ineffable joy or disappoint with a broken and unfulfilled promise.

You win some and you lose some: this bottle is destined to donate its sugar for the sake of a salsa al pomodoro for pasta and to deglaze more than one sauté pan for chicken breasts and pork chops al vino bianco.

The question I have is this” can the winery itself be the cause of the problem”

Here is part of an Article by James Lauber “Wine Flaws: Cork Taint and TCA in the Wine Spectator January 7th 2007

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My Favorite Brunello at La Pizza Fresca

I first discovered Il Marroneto when I was doing a portfolio tasting of the wines represented by Riccardo Gabiele and Elisa Bosco from Pr VIno. One of the wines was the Brunello di Montalcino of Il Marroneto “Madonna della Grazie”, owned by Alessandro Mori. It was the best wine of the tasting and one of the best Brunellos I have ever had.

I few months later I went to a seminar conducted by Alessandro and tasted a number of different vintages of his Brunello and liked them all.

I remember Alessandro saying that the wine really makes itself and he only does what is necessary. He has a traditional and minimalist philosophy both in the vineyard and in the cellar.

IL Marroneto is one of the 10 historical wineries of Montalcino and was purchased in 1974 by Giuseppe Mori, Alessandro’s father. The towers of the city of Siena are the backdrops of the estate’s vineyards located high on the north slope of the hill of Montalcino. The vineyards are at 400 meters and extend to the walls of the town. This is an area where grapes have been cultivated since the times of the Etruscans.

Alessandro said that they grow only Sangiovese grapes and follow a biodynamic approach to cultivation (although not certified), always abiding by the strict Montalcino regulations.  No herbicides are used on the plants.

A few weeks ago Brad Bonnewell, owner of La Pizza Fresca, invited me to join him at a tasting of the wines of Il Marroneto. I would have the opportunity not only to taste the wines but also drink them with food.

There were six of us tasting and drinking the wine and we had a number of different pizzas, a pasta, and steak to accompany it.

The Wines

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 100%. We drank the 2002, 2007,2009,2010, 2011 and 2012 Sangiovese. Fermentation lasts for 11/12 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 39 months and 10 months in the bottle before release. All of the wines will last for 20 years or more. These are complex and elegant wines and have a certain easy feel in the mouth that is very pleasing but hard to describe. They have hints of black and red fruit, spice, and licorice with a touch of tobacco and leather. They will age for a long time.

The 2007 and 2010 were that the favorites of the evening. 2002 was a poor vintage in Tuscany yet this wine was showing no sings of age and could last for a number of years. The 2011 was a bad bottle.

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie” 100% Sangiovese. We drank the 2011 and 2012 This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyards that surround the house. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century church very near the vineyard, Madonna della Grazie. Fermentation is in Allier oak vats where it remains untouched for 2 days and the fermentation lasts for 20/22 days. The wine is aged in 2,500 liter oak barrels for 41 months and 10 months in bottle before release.

These are complex wines with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice and mineral notes. They have a wonderful aftertaste and a long finish. They are excellent food wines and will age for a long time.

The vines were first planted in 1975 near the church of Madonna della Grazie, (which the estate’s top Brunello comes from). The original building dates back to 1247. The rest of the estate’s vineyards were planted in 1979 and 1984. The soil is coarse sandy soil rich in minerals. There is natural grass planted between the rows of vines with longer time for pollination. Pruning takes place in March. The vineyards are planted for low yields and low density. The training system is spurred cordon. Grapes are harvested only when the stalks start to turn to burnt colors, indicating that the seeds have reached optimum maturity.

The estate’s name derives from a central tower that was once used to dry chestnuts (castagne or marroni in Italian), long a source of flour in Italy. The wines are aged in the base of the tower in large Allier and Slovenian oak barrels.

These are very traditional made wines with plenty of pumping over. Alessandro added there are no barriques on the estate!











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Daniele Cernilli: The Best Grignolino in the World


I was at a dinner in Rome at Daniele’s apartment in March and drank the 2011 vintage of this wine. As he mentions in the article an Italian friend of his on tasting this wine”could not believe his tastes buds.” I felt the same way when I tasted this Grignolino. Daniele’s article is followed by my impression of the wine from a blog I wrote about the dinner.

A Wine a Day | Published on DoctorWine N°212

The best Grignolino in the world

by Daniele Cernilli 02-06-2017

giulio accornero famiglia vini piemonte bricco del bosco doctorwine

Bricco del Bosco Vecchie Vigne is a true gem produced by the Giulio Accornero e Figli estate and vintage 2012 is certain to amaze anyone who is quick enough to get a bottle.

So-called “minor wines” intrigue me and sometimes I run across some true gems, which if not unknown are certainly undervalued. Recently, I tasted some Grignolino that were very interesting and the one that impressed me the most was Bricco del Bosco Vecchie Vigne produced by the estate of that late, great winemaker Giulio Accornero.

I bought several bottles of vintage 2011 from my ‘pusher’ in Turin, Enoteca Parlapà, and shared some that surprised several ‘fine palates’ including my friend Silvano Prompicai, who could not believe his taste buds.

I recently tasted vintage 2012, which just came out, and will certainly buy some bottles if I can still find them. This wine is a wonder that I would like to offer all those who love Burgundy and you have to try it to understand why.

Giulio Accornero & Figli
Titolare: Giulio Accornero
Via Ca’Cima, 1
15049 Vignale Monferrato (AL)
Теl. +39 0142 933317
Fax +39 0142 933512
Facebook: Azienda-Agricola-Accornero-Giulio-figli
Anno di Fondazione: 1987
Totale Bottiglie Prodotte: 100.000
Ettari di Vigneto: 22

Casalese Bricco del Bosco Vigne Vecchie grignolino accornero vino rosso piemonte etichetta doctorwine

Grignolino of the Monferrato Casalese “ Bricco del BoscoVigne Vecchie2011 Giulio Accornero & Figli made from 100% Grignolino from the Bricco del Bosco vineyard. Maceration is on the skins for 20 days. The wine is aged for 30 months in oak barrels (tonneau) and 24 months in bottle before release.

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink.

Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 ” Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time during the evening

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Burgundy’s Domaine Antonin Guyon a Family Affair

One of my favorite producers of Burgundy is Domaine Antonin Guyon a family owned winery started by Antonin Guyon in the 1960’s. The estate in the Cöte d’Or is controlled and operated today by Antonin’s sons Dominique and Michel. I was very please when Ed Mc Carthy invited me to a tasting of these wines at the office of the imported/distributer Esprit Du Vin. It would give me the opportunity to taste a number of their wines from different vintages side by side.

Hombeline Guyon

The speaker was Hombeline Guyon, the daughter of Doninique Guyon, who alone with him manages the day-to-day operations of the estate.

Hombeline said that they have 47 hectares of vines producing wines from 25 different appellations. The domaine owns vines around the hill of Corton, the southern limits are in Gevrey, Meursault in the south and the Cötes Nuits in the west and the Chorey-lès-Beaune in the east.

She said that all the grapes are picked by hand with from the first  selection(triage) of the vine. Some of the pickers are regulars and have been coming for 25 years. They want to get the grapes to the vat-house within 30 minutes of picking.

At the curerie there is second triage on the sorting table. Then the red gapes are completely destemmed and placed into large, temperature controlled, open- top wooden fermentation tanks. There is about one week cold (10-12C) maceration, one week at a maximum of 30C and one week of post –fermentation maceration. Twice daily pigeoge takes place before gravity sends the wine to barrels in the cellar below. 50% of new oak is used for the grand crus and less for the other reds. She made the point that they were moving away from new oak for all their wines.

The wines are produced in the “vat-house” in Savigny-lès-Beaune

For the whites, the grapes are whole pressed with a relativity light touch of the pneumatic press, the juice then settles and is racked in the barrels. The wine remains on the lees for as long as possible with a weekly batonnage. The wine is bottled after 12 months, with the exception of the Grands Crus Charlemagne and Croton Clos du Roy, which stay in barrel for about 18 months.

It was a very impressive tasting with 9 red wines and 11 white wines.

I recommend all the wines that I tasted. The 2011 and 2012 were showing better because they were older. But these wines also needed more time before they will fully develop. Domaine Antonin Guyon is one of the great values in Burgundy. The wines range from around $25 a bottle to around $200 a bottle, which is a great price to quality ratio. I also have a number of bottles of older vintages in my cellar.

Hombeline said that 2015 was not only a great vintage but a remarkable one in Burgundy


Hautes Côtes De Nuits Rouge “Les Dames De Vergy” 2011 and 2012

Chambolle-Musigny Village Les Cras 2012

Gevery Chambertin La Justice 2011 

Volnay 1ER Cru Clos Des Chênes 2012 and 2013

Corton Bessanders Grand Cru 2012 

Corton Clos Du Roy Grand Cru 2011 

Charmers Chambertin Grand Cru 2011


Bourgogne Blanc 2014 

Pernand-Vergeless 1ER Cru Sous Fretille 2012, 2013 and 2014

Meursault- Charmes1ER Cru Les Charmers Dessus 2011, 2012 and 2014 

Puligny- Montrachet 1ER Cru Les Pucelles 2012 and 2013

Croton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2012 and 2011





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