Monthly Archives: November 2018

Tasting Port and Madeira

I have always enjoyed Port wine in its different forms as well as Madeira but until recently,  I have not had the opportunity to drink them.  Michele and I decided to go to Lisbon and I was looking forward to enjoying Port and Madeira there, but by coincidence, just before we left I attended a friend’s birthday dinner were they were served Then a few days after we returned, the Wine Media Guild held a tasting of Portuguese wine.

At a special dinner at Gramercy Tavern

D’ Oliveira Reserva Verdelho 1966 Madeira The grapes are harvested, crushed, pressed and then fermented in stainless steel or oak. With the Verdelho grapes the skins are removed to produce this dryer style of Madeira. The winemaking process involves heating the wine. Fermentation is stopped with brandy and the time of adding the brandy depends on the grape variety. Verdelho gets the brandy on the fourth day of fermentation. The wine is put into large wooden casks which stand in a heated room. The cellar master tries to keep the characteristic taste of the shipper when blending different wines together. The age given on the label indicates the youngest wine in the blend. Blended wine with the name of the grape on the label must contain at least 85% of this grape. The other 15% can be other varieties, usually Tinta Negra Mole.

Vintage Port 1963 Graham Declared by all major Port houses, 1963 was a monumental vintage against which others are now judged. This is a classic vintage port, which will still last for a number of years.

In Lisbon

Niepoort Vintage 1978 Vintage Port This was not a generally declared vintage but it was a year in which many Single Quinta Vintage Ports were produced. This was a great way to end a meal as the finish and aftertaste of the Port went on and on.

Quinta do Noval unfiltered single vineyard port 2012. Made exactly like a Vintage Port with only noble grapes from the Quinta. The grapes are crushed by foot and the wine is unfiltered. It is aged in casks for 4 or 5 years instead of the 2-year aging for Classic Vintage Port. The wine has nice flavors and aromas of black fruit and a touch of prune. It can be drunk now but will improve with age.

Dalav Colheita Port 1985 Port from a single year harvest. Instead of an indicator of age like blended tawny (10,20,30, 40…) the year is always on the label. It should not be mistaken for a Vintage Port because the Colheita must age for a minimum of seven years in oak casks. This is an elegant wine with a lot of aroma and flavor of dry fruit, spice, honey, nuts, cinnamon and a very pleasing finish and aftertaste. I really liked this wine and a brought back a few bottles. The wine does not develop significantly in the bottle.

Kopke 20 years Old Tawny Port matured in wood. Grapes are hand picked, destemmed and crushed and made into wine by a careful maceration to extract the color, tannins and aromas, enhanced by constant churning during fermentation. Fermentation takes place in vats (lagares) at a controlled temperature (29 to 30 C )until the right degree of sweetness (balumè) is achieved. Grape brandy is added to create the final fortified wine made by blending different vintage to achieve the typical characteristics of aged Tawny Port. The wine is then matured in casks.

Valriz Porto 20 years old Tawny Port made from Tinta Amarela, Tinta Roriz and Tounga Franca. Aged in large chestnut casks. The wine has hints dried fruits, almonds, hazelnuts and spice. We had the 10 year old and the 20 year old side by side.  The 20 year old was well worth the extra money.

Wine Media Guild tasting of Portuguese Winw

The speaker was David Ransom WMG member and co-host with his wife Melanie Young of the “Connected Table”

Quinta do Vallado 20 year Old Tawny This is a fortified wine made mainly from Touriga National, Touriga Franca and Tinto Cä from old vines plus 5 other indigenous grapes. The grapes are handpicked from the estate vineyards. Because port wines are intended to be sweet, fermentation is arrested half way through the process, before all the residual sugar has been fermented. Fermentation is halted through the addition of grape spirits, thus producing a fortified wine. The wine is aged in 600-liter old oak casks and other oak vats for years during which time the complex aromas and flavors can develop. It is a rich, nutty wine with aromas of dried fruit and a touch of smoke. The alcohol is 20%.

C.N. Kopke Porto Colheita 2007 (White Port) Fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats where the grapes macerate and are churned with their skins on at temperature between 16 to 18 C. This produces a wine with color and structure that can sustain a prolonged aging in oak. The fermentation is halted by adding grape brand and thus creating a fortified wine. A Colheita wine matures in oak barrels for a period of time that can vary but never less than 7 years. It is bottled and sold according to the demands of the market. The wood aging is a perfect combination with the stone yellow fruit and the hints of citrus. There is mingling of the acidity and sweetness, which gives the wine an elegant and delicate finish. This was the first time I had a white Colheita Port and I will drink more.

Taylor Fladgate Quinta de Vargellas 1986 Single- quinta (single vineyard) vintage port is produced only in exceptional years in which a general vintage is not declared. Quinta de Vargellas has the highest percentage of old vines of any quinta in the Duro, with 60% over 75 years old. All of the grapes undergo the traditional foot treading method. Fermentation is halted by the addition of grape spirits before all the sugar has been fermented producing a sweet fortified wine. The wine is aged for two years in wood and then bottled unfiltered and will continue to age in the bottle for years. This is a wine with black fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of prune. 1986 was not a generally declared vintage.

Broadbent Boal Madeira 10 year old made from a white grape. The alcohol is 19%. This wine is about $30 and it was so smooth and velvet-like that it was almost too much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sicilian Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving dinner is always held at our apartment with the same group of friends. It works out well because they are all involved with food and wine and all contribute something. It was a long fun evening beginning at 4:00PM and ending at 10:00 PM.

Michele likes to change the menu every year.  This year she decided to make a turkey recipe that she had tasted in Palermo, Sicily when she was leading culinary tours there.  She and her group dined at the home of a former caterer and chef, and though retired, the woman still enjoyed preparing meals in her home for visitors to her city.   When Michele visited, she made a roast turkey stuffed with pasta and it was delicious.

Michele asked her about it and was told that she had come up with the idea while experimenting with a similar recipe from the 19th century that was made with partridge.  Since she couldn’t get a partridge, she substituted turkey.  To make the the stuffing, the woman combined a Bolognese type ragu made with a minimal amount of tomato with Bechamel.   She cooked some ziti, tossed it with the sauce and grated cheese and used this as her stuffing.  Whatever could not go into the turkey, she baked in little timbales, one for each guest.

Michele made the turkey in much the same way, though she substituted some homemade turkey gravy for the Bechamel to lighten the sauce.  She made the gravy with turkey parts that she roasted a few days before Thanksgiving. 

Also, she made the Bolognese with ground turkey and pork, rather than the usual beef or veal.  For the pasta, Michele used imported mezze maniche, which are something like small rigatoni.  Additional brown turkey gravy was served to moisten the bird and stuffing.  With it, we had roasted sweet potatoes, fennel, rutabaga and buttered broccoli, as well as Michele’s fig and cranberry mostarda.

We started as always with Champagne

Billecart-Salmon (Magnum) Blanc de Blancs 1981 (Mareuil-Sur-Ay) made from 100% Chardonnay. The Champagne was showing its age but it was drinkable and enjoyable.

Fiano Di Avellino DOC 2000 made from 100% Fiano Selezione Erminia Di Meo. The late harvest grapes were selected from a particular family parcel. There is a prolonged maceration with the skins at a low temperature followed by soft pressing and controlled temperature fermentation. A year after the harvest the wine remains in stainless steel with the “fecce fin” for 13 more years before release. This is an exceptional Fiano. Even though it was a 2000, everyone believed it needed more time to open up.

Corton-Charlemagne 1986 made from 100% Chardonnay Louis LaTour. The soil is stony limestone and the vines are 30 years old. Harvest is manual. Traditional fermentation in oak barrels with complete malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 8 to 10 months in medium toast new oak barrels.The wine had a hints of honey, dried fruits and an herbal note.

Gevrey-Chambertin “En Pallud” 1985 (Magnum) Domaine Maume. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is .63 hectares and the vines are 70 years old, the soil is clay and limestone. The clusters are 100% destemmed. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in mostly older barrels and is bottled without fining or filtration. This for me was the wine of the evening and I was very happy it was a magnum!

Barolo “La Serra” 1978   Marcarini made from 100% Nebbiolo This wine was produced when the legendary Elvio Cogno was the wine maker. This is a classic Barolo with flavors and aromas of faded roses, licorice, tar, tobacco and a hint of cherry. 1978 was an excellent vintage for Barolo.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape  1978  Chateau de Beaucastel made from 30% Mourvédre, 30% Grenache ,10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 20% other permitted varieties. The grapes are hand picked and only the best grapes are kept and vinified. After a total de-stemming, the wine is traditionally vinified in temperature controlled vats for 15 days an then aged in oak barrels. This is a full bodied mature wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries, violets and a touch of pepper.

Late Harvest Zinfandel “Paso Robles” 1978 made from 100% Zinfandel from the Dusi vineyard. Ridge. The Benito Dusi Ranch is the only Ridge vineyard source south of the San Francisco Bay area. The vineyard was first planted in 1923 and was only planted with Zinfandel. Ridge started using this vineyard to make wine in 1967. Destemmed and fully crushed grapes vinified on native yeasts are sent to tanks for submerged cap fermentation for 11 days. This is followed by full malolactic on the natural occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur. There is pad filtering at bottling. This is a wine with fruity aromas, with hints of black cherry and other black and red fruits with a touch of prune and spice.

Back in the 1980’s I brought a case of this wine in this vintage. If I knew it was going to last this long I would have brought more. It was showing almost no sign of age and it was like I remember the wine from 30 years ago.

We had it with the cheese.

Grappa con Erbe Serafino Levi – this was a special treat because grappa made by Romano Levi is my favorite and I only had the Grappa con Erbe once before. Even more so since he passed away several years ago, grappa made by him is difficult to find. He was known as “The Angelic Grappa maker” and was a legend in his own time. The perfect way to end a wonderful evening!

 

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Giusti Wines of the Veneto

In my last blog I wrote about the “KIN” the Erbaluce di Caluso of  Domenico Tappero Merlo – Vignaiolo in Canavese

The other winery at the lunch and tasting at Del Posto NYC organized by Michael Roman of Romano Brands was Societa Agricola Giusti Col, better know as Giusti Wines of the Veneto. The winery was founded in 2002. The center of the operation and the main office is located in Nervesa della Battaglia, a rural village in the province of Treviso.

Valentino

At lunch I was sitting next to Valentino Radaelli the Junior Export Manager.   He is a very knowledge and interesting young man. We not only discussed the Giusti wines but Italian wine in general and it was a pleasure speaking with him.

Prosecco DOC NV “Rosalia”  NV made from 100% Glera grapes from the “Rosalia” estate. The soil is of medium texture and the training system is sylvoz.  There are 3,550 to 4,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Primary fermentation is with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and secondary fermentation is at a low temperature in pressurized tanks. This is a fruity Prosecco with ripe fruit aromas and flavors and more than a touch of  sweetness.

Asolo Prosecco Superiore ”Extra Dry” NV DOCG 100% Glera grapes. The soil is red clayey and the training system is sylvoz and guyot. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is off the skins. The primary fermentation takes place with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and the secondary fermentation is at a low temperature in pressurized tanks. This Prosecco has hints of apple, floral notes and a touch of lemon.

I asked Valentino if the Rosalia had more residual sugar than the Asolo. He said no, they were both extra dry but the grapes for the Rosalia were grown on the plain (the lowlands of the Piave Basin) while the grapes for the Asolo were grown on the hillside.

Extra Dry Prosecco can have between 12% and 17% residual sugar and my guess is that because the Rosalia comes from grapes grown on the plain it was closer to 17%  making it taste “sweeter.” The residual sugar for both is 15 g/l plus or minus 2. So the Rosalia would be plus 2=17 g/l and the Asolo would be -2 or 13.g/l accounting for the difference in taste. The Asolo would go better with food while the Rosalia would work by itself or with dessert.

Giusti owns almost 25% of the land in the designated Prosecco DOCG zone.

Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC 2017 “Longheri” 100% Pinot Grigio from vineyards located in the Montello and Asolo hills and specifically from the vineyard Longheri which is part of the Rolando estate. Medium mixed soil. There are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the training system is sylvoz and guyot. Fermentation is off the skins with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature. After fermentation the wine is kept in contact with the yeast for a long period and periodically stirred until it is bottled. This is a fruity wine with hints of pear and a touch of apple.

The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of pear and a touch of banana.

Chardonnay Delle Venezie IGT 2017 “Dei Carni” 100% Chardonnay from the Dei Carni vineyard which is part of the Rolando estate. Vine training and fermentation like the Pinot Grigio. This is fruity and flowery with citrus notes.

Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiori 2016 DOC made from Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella. The production zone is the hilly area of Valploicella at 100 to 150 meters. The soil is calcareous and volcanic and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained by the Pergola Veronese system. The wine is aged in oak casks for about 12 months.

I asked Valentino if they dried the grapes for the Ripasso as many producers now do. He said no and then explained the process. After the wine for the Amarone is removed from the stainless steel vats, what remains in the vats is the skins. The fresh Valpolicello Classico is then poured into the vats taking on additional flavor and body from the Amarone skins. This Ripasso was one of the best I ever tasted with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries  and a touch of prune. It is a very good food wine.

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico 2016 DOCG made from Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella. The production zone is the hills of the Valoplicella Classical area at an attitude of 120 t0 200 meters. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is the Pergola Veronese. Valentino said the grapes are picked a bit late to ensure ripeness and left to dry for about 120 days. They lose 30% to 40% of their weight and become raisin-like. This produces a wine which is very concentrated with a high sugar content and 15% alcohol. The wine is aged is 500 liter French oak barrels for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of raisins, plums, cherries, figs and a touch of molasses. The wine will age for a number of years. Unlike many amarones, this is a food friendly wine.

The Amarone was a perfect combination with the steak.

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“KIN” Erbaluce di Caluso at its Best

 

Michael Romano of Romano Brands Fine Wine held a luncheon and tasting for the trade at Del Posto in NYC  to introduce two of his producers. I was the only wine writer at the lunch and Michael sat me next to the two speakers so I could ask questions.

I was so impressed with the wines of Az. Agricola Domenico Tappero Merlo-Vine Growers in Canavese-Piedmont that I devoted a blog just to this winery even though they showed only one wine in 3 different vintages.

Domenico

The speakers were Domenico Tappero Merlo owner of the winery and his daughter Sara.

Domenico began by saying he worked for the Olivetti computer company for many years. Then in 2001 he decided to return to the land from which he came and to perfect the Erbaluce grape. He said the people of Canavese have always been wine growers  and the ancient Salassi, the original settlers, had vineyards there long before they were conquered by the Romans. Canavese is located between Turin and the Valle d’Aosta with the Alps at its back.

Erbaluce Grapes

Erbaluce is a white grape and the vines are either pergola (know as topia locally) or guyot  trained. The clusters are usually wing shaped and the grapes are small to medium with thick skins. When fully ripe they  take on an auburn color as if they were sun dried. Erbaluce can be vinified as a still wine, a classic method sparkling wine, and as a passito.

Erba means grass and Luce means light. Caluso is an ancient Celtic village on the top of a hill where you can look across the plain and see Turin.

Erbaluce di Caluso “Kin” DOCG 100% Erbaluce. The vines were planted in 2004 and are at 295 meters.

The soil is morainic and very sandy. He said it was poor soil with no organic material and gave everyone a small box with samples of the soil because he wanted everyone to know how important the soil is for growing grapes.

There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the pruning system is guyot. The vineyard is entirely organic. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September.

Fermentation is with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures for at least 18 months on the lees in 20hl barrels with weekly battonage. Then it remains in the bottle for another 3 years.

Domenico said his wine is not ready to drink until it is at least 5 years old. He recommends opening the bottle at least one hour before it is to be consumed and then pouring in into a decanter.

He described his wine as elegant and balanced with notes of sage, balsamic and spicy scents , hints of citrus, flowers and herbs. He also kept referring to a “clear mineral” imprint. Then there was a short discussion on the problem of minerality–does it really exists. Domenico believes it does and one of the reasons he releases his wines after 4 years is that this “clear mineraity” does not show it self until this time and the wine would not be complete with out it.  He said  his wine could last for 10 to 20 years.

Domenico named the wine after his grandfather, a simple man whose life followed the rhythm of the vineyard and nothing was more important to him than his Erbaluce wine.

Sara said that the property once belonged to the Giacosa family.  One of the family members, Giuseppe Giacosa, wrote the words for Puccini’s opera masterpieces Madame Butterfly, Tosca and La Boheme.  They are some of my favorites.

We tasted 3 vintages of Erbaluce di Caluso Kin.

2014 was a vintage with a lot of rain but Domenico said that it was not a problem for his white wine.

2013 vintage produced a very large crop.

2011   was a perfect vintage.

There was a big difference between the 3 vintages.

The 2014 was still very ripe with a lot of fruit, while the 2013 was just starting to develop the “clear minerality.”  The 2011 had both

good minerality and acidity and it is a wine that can still age for a number of years. This is a very impressive white wine.

 

 

 

 

 

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Italian Wine and Cardoncelli Mushrooms

Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino, an Italian PR company that represents European wineries, invited me to taste some of his line of Italian wines. I know Riccardo for a number of years and he represents some of the best wineries in Italy. The tasting and lunch was at Il Cardoncello NYC, a restaurant not far from where I live. The restaurant is named for the cardoncelli mushrooms that grow in Puglia.  I ordered  the cardoncelli and I really enjoyed them.. The earthy flavor of the mushrooms were a perfect compliment for the wine.

 Cardoncelli Mushrooms

Pratum” DOC Alto Adige Terlano Pinot Bianco 2015 Castel Sallegg made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the “Pratum” selection of grapes from the Prey vineyards’ oldest vines at 550 meters. The soil is porphyry and gardeno sandstone and the training system is guyot. After pressing the wine undergoes low-temperature must clarification and subsequent controlled cool fermentation at 15-18C. 2/3 of the wine is aged in stainless steel and 1/3 in French tonneaux casks (500 liters). This was a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, tropical fruit, and a touch of vanilla. It has a nice mineral quality, well-balanced acidity and a long lingering finish and pleasant aftertaste.

Chianti Classico 2015 DOCG Quercia Al Poggio Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo and Colorino, all indigenous Tuscan grapes which are certified organic. The soil is limestone, clay, schist and calcareous clay galestro. The vines are Cordon trained and spur-pruned guyot. Harvest is manual. Traditional red winemaking in temperature controlled stainless steel and cement. The wine is aged in 500 liter old French oak barrels for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.The winery is located in Barberino Val d’Elsa which is between Florence and Siena. They use organic farming methods. This is a very drinkable Chianti with hints of blackberry and violets.

Montefalco Rosso DOC 2016 Di Filippo made from 60% Sangiovese, 20% Barbera and 10% Sagrantino. The grapes are grown on hillside vineyards and the soil is clayey-calcareous. The training system is spur cordon, there are 5,00 plants per hectare. Traditional red wine vinification in stainless steel tanks and maturation is in stainless steel tanks. This is a medium bodied easy drinking wine with good fruit and hints of red berries, with cherry notes and a touch of spice. It is an excellent food wine. The Di Filippo winery is 30-hectares and overlooks Assisi on the hills between Torgiano and Montefalco in the heart of Umbria.

Barolo “Ravera” 2013 DOCG Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The winery is located in Diano d’Alba, province of Cuneo in southern Piedmont. It is family owned and run. The vineyards are at 400 to 500 meters and the grapes are picked by hand. The training system is guyot and the average age of the vines is 30 years. The Ravera vineyard is two hectares and is one of the major crus in the Novello area. The soil is composed of Saint’Agata marls with thick calcareous strata which alternate with strips of sand. Aging takes place in Slavonian casks. Riccardo said the distinctive character of wines from the Ravera vineyard are balsamic aromas of mint and eucalyptus.

Brunello di Montalcino “Madonna della Grazie” 2013 DOCG 100% Sangiovese. Il Marroneto This wine is made from a selection of grapes from the historical vineyard. The name of the wine comes from the little 12th century Madonna della Grazie church very near the vineyard. 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. It a complex and elegant wine with aromas and flavors of citrus, cherry, licorice, mineral notes, and that certain something wonderful on the palate that just keeps on lingering. It has an extremely pleasing aftertaste and a long finish. This is an excellent food wines and will age for a long time. It may be the best Brunello!

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico 2013 DOC Tommasi made from 50% Corvina Veronese, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oselta from grapes grown on hillside vineyards in Conca d’Oro. The traditional pergola veronese and the modern guyot methods of training the vines are used and only the best and most mature clusters are selected by hand for the Amarone. The grapes are dried for 4 months before they are pressed, and then the wine is aged for 30 months in Slavonian oak casks of 35 HL It remains in the bottle for at least another year before release. This is a full bodied complex wine with hints, of cherry, plum and blackberry. It is an Amarone that is food friendly and will age.

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Eating and Drinking in Lisbon

For a number of years Michele and I have been talking about going to Lisbon and this year we finally made the decision to go

We statyed at the Hotel Portugal and it was in a great location for walking and for transportation to restaurants and all the major attractions.

We asked friends do give us recommendations for restaurants and came away with a very long list.

Here are some of the places we really enjoyed:

The first night we went to restaurant Gambrinus, about a 10 minute walk from the hotel. This is an upscale restaurant with very good attentive service and it was a true dining experience.

Michele and I shared some fried calamari to start.

Then I had grilled lagoustines.

while Michele had the roasted hake baked with coriander seeds, garlic and olive oil.

For dessert, I had a typical cake called Toucinho do Ceu.

At the end of dinner I ordered a glass of 1978 Port , fantastic!

and then finished with coffee made in the restaurant’s unique style.

The next afternoon we went to The Wine Cellar for Port. The waiter, Ricardo, was very knowledgable and we had a long discussion about the different types of Port. Ricardo suggested a few and and I tried a glass of the 1985 Colheita. I liked this so much I bought two bottles to bring home.

Ricardo suggested an unfiltered  single vineyard vintage port 2012 for Michele. This was  the first time I had a single vineyard unfiltered port, it was very good but needed much more time to develop.

We also tried the 20 year old tawny. 

We had some excellent aged sheep’s milk cheese with the Port.  It was accompanied by quince jam.

The next afternoon we went to a restaurant Bica Do Sapato about 1 mile from the center along the water with a great view. It is partially owned by the actor John Malcovich. The service was friendly and the wine person was very knowledgeable.  

I started with fried Calamari, but it was done in a completely different style from the previous day.  It was accompanied by chopped tomato and onion salsa. 

Michele loved her starter: roasted figs with toasted sheep’s milk cheese on toast, drizzled with a fruit sauce.  

She followed this with had giant red shrimp.  They were tender and very tasty.

I had roasted cod on a bed of creamy beans cooked with peppers and bits of pork.

The wine person suggest this wine and it was perfect with the food.

For dessert I had almond cake with figs and cream cheese ice cream.

Michele had quindim, a coconut pudding with passion fruit ice cream.

At Sea Me restaurant we sat at the counter and spoke with the bar tender about wine, food and Lisbon.

 

We shared one Tiger shrimp and two giant red shrimp, so that we could compare them.  The tigers were a bit chewy, but both were excellent.

Then we had roasted octopus with roasted potatoes.  The whole dish was topped with a generous amount of garlic sauce.  

The wine was an excellent combination with the food.

We each had dessert.

I had ice cream.  There were 3 flavors:  ginger, hazelnut and ginginha, made with a sour cherry liqueur that the Portuguese are very fond of.

and Michele had nut cake with ginger ice cream and almond crumble.

On the afternoon before we left we went to Cantinho do Avillez, one of several restaurants owned by the chef Jose Avillez.

We had 3 starters.

Tempura fried green beans, came with two sauces for dipping.

Little pheasant pies.

Melted sheep’s cheese with honey, and rosemary, topped with presunto ham.

We both ordered the giant red shrimp which was served in a Thai sauce with rice.  Once again, they were great.

We had the Pluma Reserva which had more body than the other whites we tasted.  It was a good match with the shrimp.

For dessert, I had the restaurant’s signature dessert,  A salty hazelnut mousse.

 

We really enjoyed exploring Lisbon and look forward to returning once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lugana — the White Wine of Lake Garda

 

I am fond of many wines that come from the area around Lake Garda and one of my favorites is Lugana.

For the last few years I have been going to the Lugana tasting presented by the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC and this is my report on this year’s tasting.

Carlo Veronese, the Director of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC was the speaker. He gave a very interesting and informative seminar but I wish we could have been sitting down so I could have taken better notes.

The Lugana denomination is on the border between the provinces of Brescia (Lombardy) and Verona (Veneto) to the south of Lake Garda. The soil is mostly white clay and limestone, which is difficult to work. However the best grapes may come from the area close to Lake Garda, which has the most clay.

The temperate breezes from Lake Garda influence the microclimate positively; it is mild and fairly constant with little difference between day and nighttime temperatures.

The Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, is the main grape in many of the wines. The Trebbiano di Lugana is not the same as Trebbiano found in other parts of Italy. It has a different profile with better structure, weight and aromatics.  Carlo said it may be related to Verdicchio.

The law allows up to 10% of non-aromatic white varieties but most producers make the wine from 100% Turbiana.

Types of Lugana

The Basic Lugana wine accounts for almost 90% of the DOC production.

Lugana Superiore was introduced in 1998 and the wine must age for at least one year after the grapes have been harvested.

Lugana Riserva, was introduced in 2011 and is the natural evolution of the Superiore. It must age for at least 24 months, of which 6 months can be in the bottle.

Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva – Carlo called it a different more experimental Lugana that lacks the sweet viscosity of a traditional passito. It is made from late harvest grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine till the end of October/early November (the grapes are not dried).

Lugana Spumante can be produced by the Charmat or Martionotti Method in an autoclave or as Methodo Classico with refermentation in the bottle.

THE WINES

Le Morette Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2017 made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the La Mandolara vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple and peach and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm.

I had visited the winery last year with Vignaioli Veneti, an organization of over fifty of the Veneto’s top producers, and really liked their wines. We also tasted the 2012 and 2009 vintages of this wine, which proved that Lugana wines can age.

CàMaiol Lugana DOC “Molin”2017 made from 100% Turbiana. Carefully selected grapes come from the oldest vines of the Molin vineyard. The process of cryomaceration (leaving the grape must in contact with the skins at a low temperature enables the wine to obtain a greater structure and a more refined aroma.

Selva Capuzza Lugana DOC Riserva “Menasasso’ 2011 made from 100% Turbiana from a selected plot within the Selva vineyard. The grapes are harvested a few days after the vintage and the harvest is manual.  Vinification takes place in stainless steel and barriques. This is a full rich wine that is showing no sign of age with a hint of apple and peach with a touch of vanilla.

Perla Del Garda Lugana DOC Riserva “Madre Perla” 2011 Made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from the San Carlo and Casalin vineyards. The soil is morainic, calcareous clay and stony and the training system is Guyot. Hand picked and selected grapes are cooled in a refrigerated room. The grapes are soft pressed in vacuum tanks. Cold static decantation and fermentation take place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. There is no malolactic fermentation. This wine had hints of lemon and pear with notes of almond and hazelnut and was showing no signs of age.

 

 

 

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