Monthly Archives: December 2017

Blanc de Blancs Champagnes to Start the New Year

Blanc de Blancs vintage and non-vintage Champagne was the subject or the tasting and lunch of the NY Wine Press held at The Vanderbilt Suites, NYC last week.

Harriet Lembeck organized the luncheon with Eunice Fried and Charles Rubinstein. There were 9 Blanc de Blancs Champagnes made from 100% Chardonnay, one with 4% Pinot Bianco added and a sparkling Blanc de Blancs made from 100% Chardonnay using the traditional method from England.

Champagne Barons de Rothschild NV in magnum. The grapes come from the Còtes des Blancs.  40% of reserve wine is used. There is a low dosage and long aging after disgorgement, 6 to 9 months. Cellar aging is for at least 3 years. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with white fruit notes and hints of apple and almonds. $200

Deutz Blanc De Blancs 2007 the grapes: Avize 45%, Mesnil sur Oger 35%, Villers-Marmery 10% and 10% fron Olger, Cramant and Chouilly. The wine has hints of  white ripe fruit and kumquats with a touch of orange zest and lemon. $60

Boizel is a blend of Premier and Grand Crus from the Cote des Blancs. The wine has hints of acacia flowers, fresh brioche, honey and almonds. $60

Drappier,  4% of Pinot Blanc (Blanc Vrai) Only the juice from the first pressing. Mechanical low-pressure presses are used. The use of gravity is used to avoid pumping, thus avoiding oxidization. A mineral use of sulfur and there is a natural setting. Alcoholic fermentation for about 2 weeks at a low temperature then a total and natural malolactic fermentation. Filtering does not take place. 100% of the wines are made in vats.  After bottling the cuvee is aged for 2 to 3 years sur lattes. The Dosage is 8g/l. The wine has hints of white peaches and pears with a touch of brioche. $40

Champagne Pol Roger 2009 made from grapes from the Grand Crus of the Cõte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouillu, Cramant, Avize and Oger. There are two débourbages (settlings) one at the press house immediately after pressing, the second “a froid” in stainless steel tanks at 6C for 24 hours. A slow fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with each variety and each village kept separate. There is full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9C in cellars 33 meters below street level. It remains here until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand a rarity in Champagne today. The wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot and a touch of apple. Produced in limited quantities, this cuvee has been aged for 7 years in the cellars before release. $115

Champagne Perrier – Jouët Fleur de Champagne” Blanc de Blancs 2000. This was by far the most expensive Champagne at the tasting. The grapes come from the best vineyards.This is an elegant wine with hints of apricots, honey and hazelnuts $ 325

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 1995 Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. They age their wines for a long period before release. It is located in Reims, France. This is a complex Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, lime blossom and a touch of grapefruit. One of my favorites. $150

Champagne Collet NV most of the grapes come from the Cote des Blancs region and is made from 6 crus. It is aged for a minimum of five years in hundred-year-old chalk cellars, which is longer than the regulations require. The dosage is 7.5 grams per liter. It has floral notes, with citrus aromas and hints of grapefruit and wild flowers. $50

Champagne Henriot NV It is a blend of grapes from the Cote de Blancs and the villages of Mesnil- sur – Oger, Avize, Chouilly and others. The assembly consists of 30% reserve wine; the percentage can change depending on the vintage. This is wine with hints of orange blossom, honey, apricot and a touch of brioche. $55   One of my favorites.

Charles Heidsieck “Blanc de Millenaires”1995 the grapes from 5 major crus from the Cote des Blancs: Oger, Mesnil-sur-Olger, Avize and Cramant are used. The wine is aged for all 20 years in the chalk cellars. The wine has hints of candied fruits, dates, almonds and hazelnut. $160

Gusbourne 2011 Location Traditional Method, England, south facing ancient encampment in Appledore, Kent. The soil is clay and sandy loam and the climate is warm and dry, close to the coast. Pruning method is double guyot. Harvest is by hand in October.Whole bunches are pressed and then naturally settled fro 24 to 36 hours. Fermentation is for 10 days at 18 to 20 degrees C using specialist sparkling wine yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with a small percentage of small barrels. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine is aged on the lees for 28 months. The wine was bottled on may 9th 2012. The wine has hints of baked apple, hazelnut, and buttered toast with mineral notes. $60



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Celebrating UN Recognition of Neapolitan Pizza at Keste

Last week I received  a text from Roberto Caprouscio of Kesté Wall Street that he had invited 8 pizzaioli from all over the country to make pizza with him. The occasion was a celebration of the fact that the tradition of Neapolitan pizza making was being granted World Heritage Status by the United Nations and being added to  UNESCO’s “Intangible list. ”  I saw the text at 1:00 and the event started at 4:00. Roberto said that they had decided at the last minute.  Some of the pizzaioli did not know until the night before and had just flown in that morning.  It was a offer I could not refuse!  

There were so many pizzas being made  at once  I was not always sure which pizzaiolo made which pizza.

Giorgia and Roberto Caporuscio and the Pizzaioli


Giulio Adriani from Atlanta and his Pizza with Zucchini Flowers

This folded “pizza” was made by Geggei Cozzolino of Sorbillo on the Bowery, NYC

Ready for the oven

Ready to eat

Geggei making pizza

Marinara ready to eat

Jonathan Goldsmith from Spaccanapoli in Chicargo with a pizza of his own creation.

Marco Dym of Marco’s Coal-Fired Pizza, Denver

Edoardo Duran, Eatly NYC, and Luca Arrigoni, Sottocasa, Brooklyn NY

Pizza with Mozzarella and Baby Tomatoes

Gennaro Pecchia at Work

Giorgia Caporuscio of Kesté Making a Margarita Pizza.

Ciro Iovine of Song e Napule NYC

The perfect Margarita

Michele D’Amelio

We ended with a Focaccia made by Roberto and his special salami



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Tasting and Drinking Vintage Rosé Champagne

This is part two of the Rosé Champagne tasting and lunch for the Wine Media Guild hosted by Ed McCarthy.

Vintage Rose Champagnes

Ed said that Rosé Champagne has a long history. Clicquot was already making Rosé Champagne in 1777. Less than 6% of the Champagne made today is Rosè but 15% of the Champagne sold in the U.S. is Rosé. Most Champagne firms today produce at least one Rosé. Many produce two, a non-vintage or vintage and a prestige cuvee, usually vintage

Christina Jacobs from Moët & Chandon

Rosé is a little more-full bodied than other Champagnes because of the addition of Pinot Noir, and therefore it goes well with food. Ed added that Rose champagnes are usually the best to have with dinner, even with meat. These are dry wines and should not be drunk with dessert.

Here are the vintage Rosé Champagnes along with two non-vintage ones which Ed believed are bold enough to be tasted with the vintage Champagne.

Louis Roederer Brut Rosé 2011 NV 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. 20% of the wine is matured in oak barrels with weekly batonnage, there is no malolactic fermentation. The sangée method is used following skin contact, which lasts 5 to 8 days in the liquid phase. The wine ages for an average of 4 years and remains in the cellar and another 6 months after disgorging to complete its maturity. Dosage varies between 8 to 10 g/l depending on the vintage. There are citrus aromas and hints of strawberry and peach. There was also a toasty spice aroma, which reminded me of gingerbread, and I was told that it was typical of the Roederer Rosé.   $65

Bollinger Brut Rosè NV 62% Pinot Noir, 24% Chardonnay, 14% Pinot Meunier. There is an addition of 5% red wine and 85% of the grapes come from Grand Cru and Premiers Cru vineyards. The wine is aged for more than twice the time required by the appellation.  This wine has more body, Ed said, because of the percentage of Pinot Noir. It has aromas and flavors of strawberries, raspberries, cherries and a hint of sweet spice. Dosage 7/8 g/l $50

Moët & Chandon Extra Brut Rosé 2009 made from 59% Pinot noir of which 19% is red wine, 30% Chardonnay and 11% Meunier. The percentage of Pinot Noir has not been this high since 1996. Aged for 7 years in the cellars. The dosage is 5g/l. The wine ages for a minimum of 6 months after disgorgement. The wine has hints of strawberries, raspberries, current and a touch of rhubarb and violet. $60  This is one of the wines I had with lunch and it works very well with food.

Charles Heidsieck “Rosé Reserve” Brut NV made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  They purchase grapes from about 120 of the 323 crus, which make up the Champagne appellation each year to blend their Champagne. The wine is aged for a minimum of three years. They have only been making Rosé for a few years. Ed called this a great champagne and thinks they should get more recognition.  $65  One of Ed’s top 3

Pol Roger “Extra Cuvèe De Reserve” Brut 2008 is based on their Brut Vintage, 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Before bottling and second fermentation about 15% still red wine (Pinot Noir) from the best crus of the Montagne de Reims is added. Dosage 9g/L. The wine is aged 7 years in the cellar before release. The wine has citrus aromas and flavors with hints of blood oranges and red fruit berries. $110

Perrier Jouët Cuvee Belle Epoque Rosé 2006. After vinification the wine is preserved separately, cru by cru, until blending. Chardonnay from the Grand Crus Cramant and Avize dominate the blend. The Pinot Noir comes from the Grand Crus Marlly and Verze. Still red wine makes up 9% of the blend. The wine is aged for 6 years before release.  This is one of the most expensive Champagnes and in my opinion may be worth the money. It is an elegant full-bodied wine with great fruit and hints of strawberries and raspberries and a lot more going on. $300. One of Ed’s favorites

Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Rosé Brut 2006 The Comtes Rosé is made from 100% Pinot Noir from Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the most renowned vineyards of the prestigious Côte des Blancs, and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Rheims. Only juice from the first pressing is used in order to ensure the structure and long aging potential that is so essential to this exceptional Champagne. 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as still red wine. This is an elegant and complex Champagne with hints of strawberry, cherry, currants and a touch of roasted almonds. $200 One of Ed’s favorites and mine. Needs time- -will last for 15 years or more.

Moët & Chandon Champagne Dom Ruinart Rosé 2009 The blend was made by using 81% Grand Cru Chardonnay, 69% of which comes from the Cötes des Blancs (Avize, Cramant, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger) and 31% from the Montagne de Rheims (Puisieulx, Sillery), with the addition of 19% Pinot Noir made into red wine, coming only from the Sillery cru. Manual harvest. Alcoholic fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats (18 to 20C). Malolactic fermentation takes place. Dosage 4.5g/l
Ruinart was founded in 1729 in Rheims making it the oldest Champagne House.
This is an elegant rosé with a light pink color. It is slightly aromatic with hints of raspberry, currants, strawberry and a note of red roses. It is a rosé that goes with many different foods $240. This was one of Ed’s top 3.

Veuve Clicquot Grand Dame Rosé 2006 made from a blend of eight classic grand crus: Ay, Bouzy, Ambonnay, Verzy and Verzenay for the Pinot Noir 53% and for the Chardonnay 47% from Avize, Oger and Le Mesnil-sur-Oger. The wine has very thin bubbles with hints of red fruit and toasted notes. This is Champagne that should be drunk with food. $300. One of Ed’s favorites.






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Tasting and Drinking Rosé Champagne with Ed McCarthy

Once again this year, “Champagne” Ed McCarthty, author of Champagne for Dummies spoke about his favorite topic Champagne to the Wine Media Guild. The tasting and lunch was held at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC. The Champagne of choice was Rosé, both vintage and non-vintage, and 22 were featured in the tasting.

Ed explained there are two ways to make Rosé Champagne.  For the traditional method, a small amount, about 10 to 15%, of still or regular Pinot Noir is added to the cuvée before the second fermentation.  The other method involves skin contact (maceration). The skins of black grapes are pressed slightly and left in contact with the juice to soak or steep until the desired color is achieved.  This method is more difficult because the same color must be achieved year after year. Even though the second method seems to be the “purer” one, Ed said in blind tastings no one is ever able to tell the difference in quality between the two methods. Ed added that Rose Champagne is more expensive than traditional Champagne because of the process.

Listed below are the NV Rose Champagnes. I will write about the vintage ones next time along with two NV Champagnes Ed included with the vintage ones.

Ayala Brut Rosè “Majeur” NV. This is made from 45% Pinot Noir, 35% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier. Ed said that it had “Latin Roots” as the founder came from South America. Ed liked it and felt that it was elegant, light style champagne. He also recommended their Dosage Zero NV. I agree with Ed and the Rosè is a good buy for $50.

Henri Giraud “Fut de Chene” Brut Rosé NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with 8% red wine from Aÿ GC added. The vineyard is 10 ha and the soil is pure chalk. It is vinified like great red Burgundy from 80 year old Pinot Noir vines with tiny concentrated berries. Harvesting in the vineyard with a specialized team, then sorted in the winery. $50

Lamiable Grand Cru Brut Rosé NV Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. The soil is chalk and limestone and the exposure is south. Vineyards are an average of 30 to 35 years old. Fermentation takes place in enamel and stainless steel tanks and then undergoes malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 18 months on the lees, two to four barrels and used, there is no new oak. The wine has hints of ripe pear, peach and yellow apple with fresh acidity and good minerality. $55

Cathleen Burl Visscher with the Philippe Gonet and the Henri Giraud

Philippe Gonet Brut Rose NV made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir from the village of Vertus on the Cote des Blancs. Cellar aging lasts for 3 years. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of tangy, floral and spicy red fruits with nice minerality. $55

Boizel Brut Rosé NV made from 20% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir of which 8% is vinified red wine and 30% Pinot Noir. There is 20% of reserve wine added. Aging on the lees for 3 years and the dosage is 8g/l. This is a very delicate Rosé dominated by red grapes and with hints of red berries and touches of raspberries, strawberries and spice. $55

Duval-Leroy 1er Cru Brut Rose NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from Premier Cur vineyards. Alcoholic fermentation takes place at low, stable temperatures in single vineyard batches in order to optimize the aromatic complexity inherent in each terroir. All cuvees undergo malolactic fermentation. The “Rose de Saigne” method gives this Rose its signature character. Wines are bottled for a second fermentation called prise de mousee (capturing the sparkle), then stored in a chalk cellar for a minimum of 3 years. The wine has flavors and aromas of white flowers, brioche, pears and pastry dough. $65

Pamela Wittmann with  Collet

Collet Brut Rosé NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. This Rosé is made from 20 crus. The wine is aged for a minimum of four years in one hundred year old chalk cellars. The wines are aged longer than the required minimum of 15 months. The wine has dark red fruits and floral rose notes with a touch of honey. Some of the members of the Wine Media Guild picked this as their #1 NV. $ 50

G.H. Mumm “Le Rosé” Brut NV a selection 12% to 14% of red wines from the villages famed for their Pinot Noir such as Bouzy, Verzenay or Riceys on the Cote des Bar.  Once the balance is achieved by the addition of reserve wines, the final blend is determined by the addition of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the addition of Pinot Meunier. Ed said he was very impressed by this wine. $50 

Henriot Brut Rosé NV The majority of the wine is Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and Chardonnay from the Cotes de Blancs and some Pinot Meunier. 15 crus are blended together and 25% is reserve wine. Vinified Pinot Noir as a red wine is added to the assemblage. Every time Ed speaks about Henriot he says the same thing — that it is a Champagne house that is underrated. Ed said it is light and elegant with good red fruit aromas and flavors but needed more time. Ed likes this wine. $55

Piper-Heidsieck Sauvage Rosé NV. It is made from 45% Pinot Noir and $40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Chardonnay. Ed said the wine was very fruity (which may be accounted for by the 40% Meunier) lot of ripe berry fruit flavors. He believed the wine was aimed at the “young market” $55.

A.R. Lenoble Brut Rosé NV made from 88% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Chouilli and 12% Pinot Noir from the Premier Cru village of Bisseuil. The base wine is from the 2012 harvest and there is 35% reserve wine. The proportion de vins sous is 20% and the dosage is 3g/l. This is an elegant and intense wine with hints of cherry, spice and brioche. $50

Deutz Brut Rosé NV made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with 10 to 15% reserve wine. The wine has hints of strawberry, pomegranate and a touch of cherry. $52

Suzie Kukaj-Curovic with the Alfred Gratien

Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle. The bottle is then topped up again with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar.  It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and I enjoyed it with lunch. $70



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Gift Books for the Wine and Food Lover

In Vino Duplicitas

The Rise and Fall Of a Wine Forger Extraordinaire

Peter Hellman

Peter Hellman is a New York based journalist and author and has been a contributor to the Wine Spectator, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine and many others. He is a member of the Wine Media Guild. I have known Peter for a number of years and have the highest respect for him both as a journalist and fellow wine professional.

In Vino Duplicitas is the astonishing story of Rudy Kurniawan, perhaps the most notorious and unlikely wine forger in history. It’s a fascinating story and a great read.

Cooking with Nonna

Celebrate Food and Family with over 100 Classic Recipes from Italian Grandmothers.

Rossella Rago

Rossella Rago is the creator and host of Cooking with Nonna TV. She grew up cooking with her Nonna Romana every Sunday and on holidays, learning the traditional recipes of the Italian region of Puglia.

The book features over 100 classic Italian recipes along with advice and stories from 25 Italian grandmothers. The book covers appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, meats, breads, cookies and desserts. There are recipes for such favorites as: Sicilian rice balls, Fried Calamari, stuffed artichokes, orecchiette with broccoli rabe, struffoli, and many more.

The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2018

Daniele Cernilli

Daniele Cernilli (aka Doctor Wine) is one of the foremost experts on Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years the editor of the Gambero Rosso Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele coined the now famous Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) classification. He now has his own web magazine, “Doctor Wine”

His book is divided by region and wines are rated in a100 point system. There is a red wine of the year, white wine of the year, sparkling wine of the year etc. But it is the expertise of Daniele and his staff that sets the Guide above the others.

The Italian Slow Cooker

Michele Scicolone

Easy recipes to make in a slow cooker, written by my wife, best selling cookbook author Michele Scicolone. The book has sold over 100,000 copies. Her recipes are based on the idea that good ingredients and simple techniques can produce outstanding dishes with little effort in a slow cooker or “crockpot”. She has also written The French Slow Cooker and The Mediterranean Slow Cooker, as well as contributing to many publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Wine Spectator, etc.

Barolo and Barbaresco

The King and Queen of Italian Wine

Kerin O’Keefe

Kerin O’Keefe is the author of Brunello di Montalcino and Franco Biondi Santi: The Gentleman of Brunello. She is the Italian Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine and has written for many other publications.

This is an in depth study of two of Italy’s great wines Barolo and Barbaresco made from the Nebbiolo grape. There is a comprehensive overview of the side-by-side growing area of these two exceptional wines that are separated only by the city of Alba. There are profiles of key Barolo and Barbaresco producers by village. She discusses why Barolo is called the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings. This is one of the best books on Barolo and Barbaresco I have read in a long time.

Red Wine

The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties and Styles

Kevin Zraly, Mike De Simone & Jeff Jenssen

Award-winning author and teacher Kevin Zraly was the Wine Director or Windows on the World from 1976 -2001. I took his course over 35 years ago and he is the reason that I went into the wine business. Kevin still teaches and Michael Apstein of the Boston Globe has written: “Zraly is the most talented, effective and entertaining wine teacher I have ever met.”

De Simone and Jenssen aka (The Wine Guys) are wine, food, spirit and travel writers and educators. They are best selling authors and their articles appear in the top wine and food magazines

The book covers fifty red varieties from Agiorgitiko, Zweigelt, and red wine blends such as Amarone, Bordeaux, Chianti, Port, Rhone Valley, etc. There is also a section on Color, Aroma, Flavor and Taste, and a Price Guide. This is a complete guide to red wine.



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Dinner with Massimo Bottura on Ellis Island

Massimo Bottura is the chef owner of the Michelin 3-starred Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. The restaurant was voted the #1 spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurant list in 2016, and this year was named #2.

He was in New York recently to prepare a meal to benefit God’s Love We Deliver featuring some of his signature dishes which were matched with wines by master wine maker Roberto Cipresso.

Roberto Cipresso and Natalie Oliveros

Michele and I were fortunate enough to be invited to this event by Natalie Oliveros, owner of La Fiorita Winery in Tuscany.

The event was held at Ellis Island. About 100 guests boarded the ferry at Battery Park and cruised past the Statue of Liberty to the museum where the event was held.

Mike De Simone. Gianna and Chazz Palminteri and Charles Scicolone

Actor Chazz Palmentieri was the host and entertained us with charming stories of his life and career.

Bottura also spoke about his approach to cooking.

We can’t do any better to describe the spectacular dishes that were served that night than to quote Bottura’s own poetic descriptions which follow along with the wines that accompanied them.

Baccala Mare Nostrum

An Emilian chef dreams of the Mediterranean Sea in the form of a baccala filet floating in a verdant broth of Vesuvian tomatoes and green olives infused with Sorrento lemons, wild oregano and extra virgin olive oil. 

Falaghina Del Sannino 2016 DOC Lorenzo Nifo Sarrapochiello made from 100% Falaghina made from organic grapes. The soil is clay and calcareous marl, The vines are 10 to 15 years old, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier, guyot. Harvest is by hand the third week of September. The grapes are crushed and then fermented for 18 to 20 days, followed by 2 months in stainless steel and 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of pear and pineapple with a touch of spice

Polenta and Rice in Praise of a Pizza

This is not a pizza. When the northern Italian Vialone Nano rice and polenta tradition encounter the southern Italian flavors of tomato, anchovy and oregano even a serious risotto can become sunny. The rice is simmered in buffalo mozzarella milk, the polenta is crisped in the oven like pizza crust and the classic pizza toppings are hidden from view.

Pinot Grigio 2016 IGT 100% from vineyards in the Dolomiti  Casata Monfort made from 100% Pinot Grigio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, sandy soil and the training system is pergola trentina. Grapes are pressed in a completely sealed environment and then the wine making process takes place. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeast strains. The wine was pile yellow with copper highlights. This is a distinctive fruity wine with hints of ripe pear.

The Crunchy Part of Lasagne

Chef Bottura mischievously re-invents the classic Italian recipe while remaining faithful to his childhood memory of stealing he burned corners from his grandmother Ancella’s labor of love. A sheet of crunchy tri-color pasta balances on a hand chopped meat ragu and airy béchamel like a bird about to take flight.

Beautiful, Psychedelic, Spin-Painted Veal, Not Flame Grilled

A tribute to English artist Damien Hirst’s spin-painted canvases, this beef filet takes on the Tuscan tradition of grilled meat without lighting a flame. The meat is marinated in milk as if it were veal, brushed with vegetable charcoal for a fax-grill effect then cooked at a low temperature to preserve essential proteins. It is dressed with creamy potatoes, puree of orange and yellow peppers, a red beet reduction and extra old Villa Manodori Artigianale balsamic vinegar from Modena.

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2006 DOCG La Fiorita made from 100% Sangiovese from the 3.1 hectare Pian Bossolino vineyards at 350 meters. The exposure is south east, training system is spurred cordon and there are 7,000 plants per hectare and the soil is galestro. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Fermentation is Slavonian oak casks for 10 days with selected yeasts. During maceration pumping over and delestage takes place. Type and capacity of aging casks: 12 months in new and second passage French oak; 12 months is Slavonian oak of 80Hl. Aging time: 24 months in wood, 6 months in steel and 30 months in bottle before release. This is a complex wine with hints of red fruit, spice, balsam and a touch of tobacco and chocolate.

Since 2011 the winery has been owned by Natalie Oliveros. Natalie was sitting at the same table as Michele and I. I had met her when I was the wine director of i-Trulli and was the first one to buy her wines.

Caesar Salad in Bloom

The evergreen and stoic Caesar softens into an ornamental garden of late summer fragrances and colors. Chrysantheum petals, elderflower vinegar, dried cherries, and chamomile honey dressings reminds us of nature’s bounty as we safeguard our memories for the long winter to come.

Oops! I Dropped the Lemon Tart

This dessert calls attention the poetry of imperfection. Lemon zabaglione, verbena sorbet and fragmented pie crust meet candied bergamot, savory capers, dried oregano and hop pepper oil in praise of southern Italy, a place that is broken but never without emotion.

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural Grand Cuvée Del Fondator, Motus Vital Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore DOCG Brut Natural- Millesimato 2015 Rive San Pietro Barbozza Bortolomiol made from 100% Glera. Elvira, Maria Elena, Giuliana and Luisa Bortolomio run the winery. This wine was created to honor Giuliano Bortolomio the founder of the winery in the 1940’s and the first to produce a Prosecco brut.  Training system is capuccina modificata. Harvest is at the middle of September. There is a gentle pressing after the skins have been removed. Fermentation at a controlled temperature with selected yeasts. The sparkling wine method used is the Martinotti-Charmat. The wine is left on the lee for ten months. Residual sugar 0 g/l: dosage zero. This is complex and dry Prosecco with nice white fruit and a perfect way to end this wonderful evening.



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Trento DOC: Méthode Champenois from the Dolomites


I first discovered sparkling wine from Trento made by Methode Champenois when someone gave me a bottle of Ferrari. I tried other producers from the region and have been a fan of the sparkling wine ever since.

The story of Trento DOC sparkling wines begins with Giulio Ferrari, a young wine maker, when he was a student at the Instituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige.

During his study trips in France he noticed a similarity between the Champagne region of France and that of Trentino.

He became convinced that the local terroir of Trentino was perfect for the Chardonnay grape and that by using the metodo classico (Méthode Champenois), he could make great sparkling wine. He became the first person to plant Chardonnay in Trentino and in 1902 he began his company and it became very successful.

As the methode classico wines of the region became more important the collected trademark Trento DOC was created. It now represents 45 sparkling wine producers and Trento DOC can be found on their labels. There are strict production regulations: meticulous selection of grapes, only from Trentino, secondary fermentation in the bottle, prolonged contact with yeasts and subsequent aging. Chardonnay and Pinot Nero are the principle varieties but Pinot Bianco and Meunier are also used.

Recently Trento DOC invited me to a tasting of methode classico sparkling wines. I was very impressed by them.

Borgo dei Posseri “Tananai” made from 50% Pinot Noir and 50% Chardonnay. There are 7,000 vines per hectare and the vineyards are at 520 to 720 meters. The training system is guyot. The wine remains in stainless steel for 8 months and 38 months of aging on the lees. It has hints of white peach, white flowers and a hint of honey.

Cantina Rotaliana at Mezzolombardo (cooperative) “Redor” Riserva made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The winery is located in the small village of Mezzolombardo at the foot of the Dolomites. The training system is Trentino pergola. The soil is dry of medium consistency, limestone and chalk. Harvest is by hand the third and fourth week of August. There is a soft pressing of the grapes with fermentation of the must both in steel and in small oak vats. In spring a second fermentation takes place in the bottle with prolonged contact with the lees for at least 80 months. After aging remuage is followed by disgorgement and addition of liqueur expedition. After disgorgement the wine remains in bottle for 3 months before release. Residual sugar 6.0 g/l. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with a touch of cinnamon.

Cantine Ferrari In 1952 Bruno Lunelli took over the winery and today the third generation of the family runs the company.

Perlé Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast.

They also produce the Giulio Ferrari Riserva Del Fondatore which is one of my favorites. The grapes are picked at the end of September in the Maso Pianizza a vineyard owned by the Lunelli family. The vineyard is in the commune of Trento and is between 500 and 600 meters above sea level with a southwesterly exposure. The wine spends at least 10 years on the lees. They do not make this wine in every year.

Maso Martis The winery is located at the foot of Mount Calision (aka Mount Argentario) surrounding Trento at 450 meters. The winery was established in 1986 and they have 29.6 hectares of vineyards.

Brut NV made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30 Chardonnay. The training system is vine trellising: guyot, there are 5,000 vines per hectare, organic cultivation with ICEA certification. The grapes are picked in clusters gently crushed. After fermentation the wines are drawn off the gross lees, and the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are blended. The wine is stored partly in steel tanks and partly in barrels, and is bottled the following spring together with cultured yeast. After 52/60 months on the fine lees, the bottles are manually riddled and the wine is disgorged and bottle. Residual sugar 6.00 g/l. This is an elegant wine with nice fruit and hints of yeast and brioche and good acidity I was very impressed by all of their wines.

Rotari Winery is part of the Mezzacorona Group for the production of sparkling wine using the Method Classico. The vineyards are in the heart of the Dolomites in Trentino.

Brut Rosé NV made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The vineyards are at 400 to 500 meters. The grapes are hand selected from our wine growers and brought into the cellars. The training system is the double Trentino Pergola. The wine is vinified in stainless steel (no oak) with selected yeasts. The wines are aged in stainless steel until February, then processed according to the champagne method with maturation on the lees in the bottle for at least 24 months. Only the Chardonnay basic wines are subject to malolactic fermentation in order to smooth down the acidity of the Pinot Noir and increase the roundness. The wine has hints of blackberry, cherry and raspberry with slightly yeasty notes.

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Four Master Pizzaioli at Kesté

Last week I received a text from Roberto Caporuscio of Keste Wall Street that he was making pizza with three other famous pizzaioliz that night. I had plans for dinner but as soon as dinner was over I  jumped in a cab and arrived just time as Roberto was making a Tiella “pie” a speciality from the town of Gaeta.

The filling.  Escarole, squid and black olives.

Ready for the oven.

Roberto shaving truffles on the Tiella– this would never happen in Gaeta.

The finished Tiella.


John Arena  made a pizza from an American flour that he developed.

Roberto  made a Roman style pizza.


The finished Roman pizza. Better than in Rome

Vincent Rotolo

The other Pizzaioli were Nino Coniglio and Vincent Rotolo.

New York Style Pizza or Detroit Style. Depends on where you live

Square Pizza Sicilian style – The best of this style I ever tasted!

An evening of great pizzaioli making great pizzas at Keste!  I only wish I had gotten there earlier to taste all of them.


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