Monthly Archives: November 2018

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.


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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10 Corso Como NYC

10 Corso Como, a restaurant/café, adds a taste of Milan style to New York’s South Street Seaport district.

Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of some of New York’s top Italian eateries (Il Gattopardo, The Leopard at Des Artistes and Mozzarella and Vino) recommended we try 10 Corso Como and introduced us to Jordan Frosolone, the chef.

We scheduled a lunchtime visit and arrived early so that we could browse in the store and art gallery connected to the restaurant. A stunning exhibit of photos by the great fashion photographer Helmut Newton was on display. Next we wandered through the adjacent shop, the place to go if you are in the market for designer sneakers, clothes and home décor.

The restaurant itself brought back memories of Milan. With large bright windows facing the quaint cobblestone streets, the interior was all done in cool, calming shades of black, white and grey.

Jordan Frosolone

The friendly and outgoing Chef Frosolone, a Sicilian American and Chicago native, greeted us. We talked about the concept behind 10 Corso Como, and his approach to cooking. The menu is straightforward, with none of flights of fancy so often found on Italian menus in this country. A family of Italians visitors at the next table voiced their approval to the maitre d’ as they enthusiastically ate their way through several courses.

Meanwhile, we enjoyed perusing the mostly Italian wine list. Charles selected a bottle of   Grignolino D’Asti from Crivelli.  We asked the chef to choose the menu for us.

As a starter, he sent out a plate of very fresh tuna carpaccio with artichokes, capers and mint dressed with good olive oil.   The salty crunch of the capers were a nice counterpoint to the tender, buttery tuna.

The next course was a thinly shaved artichoke and fennel salad with Parmigiano Reggiano,

and an eggplant tortino with melted mozzarella.

Two pastas came next. The freshly made agnolotti in a butter sauce were filled with delicate La Tur, a creamy cheese from Piedmont, and the chef personally shaved some first-of-the-season white truffles over the top.

There was also spicy spaghetti with hot pepper and grated bottarga, completely different in style from the agnolotti but just as satisfying.

For our main course we shared a simple yet elegant steamed branzino fillet

accompanied by garlicky sauteed spinach served in its own plate as they do in Italy.

Our dessert was a classic tiramisu, beautifully presented in a double walled glass

and a salad of very fresh ripe fruits.

With restaurants such as 10 Corso Como, expect South Street Seaport to become the new dining destination in New York City.

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Pinot Grigio from the Triveneto Vineyard

The Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC Pinot Grigio has united for the first time two regions, Friuli –Venezia Giulia and the Veneto, along with one autonomous province Trentino, to promote Pinot Grigio from these areas in NYC and around the United States.

I attended the event at the Italian Trade Commission offices.

Albino Armani the President of the Consorzio was the speaker. He said “The United States represents our main market which reaches around 37% of the total of our export, followed by the UK (27%) and Germany (10%). “

Albino Armani

He continued, “The new Della Venezie DOC was created in 2017 as a result of the history and the culture of generations who have built day by day the great ‘Triveneto Vineyard.’  It came from the need for producers to manage, protect and promote the complex and versatile production of Pinot Grigio, one of the most representative grapes of the supra-regional area.”

The new delle Venezie appellation is the largest Pinot Grigio area in the world and 85% of the Italian Pinot Grigio comes from here.

The Region goes from the Alps, and Lake Garda right to the Venice lagoon, the Adriatic Sea and the Collio hills. This is a great diversity of extraordinary terroirs.

Beginning with the 2017 harvest the entire Pinot Grigio production from the administrative territories of Trentino, the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia has been certified as DOC.

The whole area is referred to as the Triveneto Vineyard. 

The Delle Venezie DOC wines are: Pinot Grigio also frizzante

Pnot Grigio Spumante (V.S. and V.S.O. categories)


Pinot Grigio Grapes

Pinot Grigio is a complex and versatile grape variety found in the Venetian area in the 1800’s.

Today Pinot Grigio is the main exported grape variety in Italy and fourth most cultivated.

There were 72 Pinot Grigios at the tasting and here  are four examples. The wines are very well priced — all under $20.

The Wines

Kris Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017 the grapes for this wine come from the appellation’s three permitted regions. The soil is clay, silty-loam and gravel. The exposure is southwestern, elevation of 330 to 1,320 feet and there are 2,600 to 3,600 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place in September. The wine has citrus flavors and aromas with hints of tangerine and a touch of apricots and almonds.

Ca di Altre Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017– the north-east facing vineyards are located in the Colli Berici hills. The soil is calcareous and of volcanic origin, the training system in guyot. The grapes were harvested, de-stemmed and crushed. Maceration on the skins for 4 hours before the grapes are gently pressed. Cool fermentation took place at 15 to 16 degrees C in order to retain fruit flavor. The wine does not see any wood in order to preserve the grape’s varietal character. This is a well balanced medium bodied wine with citrus aromas and flavors and floral notes.

Seiterre Pinot Grigio delle Venezie “Maso Bianco” DOC 2017 Selected grapes harvested by hand and fermented at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on its own yeast in stainless and is bottled in the spring. This is a wine with ripe fruit and hints of peach, melon and a touch of spice.

Monteci Pinot Grigio delle Venezie DOC 2017 There is a soft pressing of the grapes. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks. The wine is bottled four months after the harvest. The wine is fruity with hints of peach and citrus fruit with good acidity.

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