Monthly Archives: April 2019

Pizza, Champagne, Older Italian Red Wines at Keste

Every so often Ed McCarthy sends out an e-mail to a group of Pizza and Wine lovers known as the G6. This time we agreed to meet at Keste Wall St for the pizza and as usual we will bring Champagne and older Italian red wines.

When we arrived, Roberto Caporuscio, master pizzaiolo and owner of Keste told us about a new appetizer he wanted us to try. It was homemade burrata with small mozzarellas inside.  He served it with ripe tomatoes and herbs and a drizzle of good olive oil.

Roberto

I spoke with Roberto about the type of flour he uses to make the dough for his pizza. When I first went to Keste on Bleecker Street ten  years ago,  he was using 100% Tipo  00.  When  he opened  Keste on Wall  Street,  he started  using  Tipo 1.  He said he now uses 70% Tipo 1 and 30% Tipo 00. I really enjoyed the  pizza.

As always, we started with Champagne Perrier-Jouet “Belle Epoque” 2004 Made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier. The wine is aged for over 6 years and the dosage is 9 grams per liter.  It has both delicacy and structure with a crisp freshness, hints of peach, pear and citrus notes. I was very impressed with this Champagne.

Our first pizza is  always a  Margherita made mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

Barbaresco 1999 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. The wine is aged in large oak barrels for two years. This is a very traditional co-op, maybe the best and one of the oldest. It has all the classic Nebbiolo flavors and aromas but the wine needs more time to develop.

The next pizza was made with sausage, pistachio nuts and mozzarella.

Barbaresco 1988 “Gallina di Neive” Bruno Giacosa made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giacosa was one of the great producers of Barbaresco and the 1988 was drinking exceptional well.

Then the Sorrentino made with smoked mozzarella, basil and lemons.

Barolo 2001 “Monprivato” Giuseppe Mascarello made from100% Nebbiolo, The Monprivato vineyard is about 15 acres on a southwest- facing slope in Castiglione Falletto. The chalky and gray marl soil is perfect for growing Nebbiolo. This is classic Barolo but it needed more time.

The next pizza was topped with culatello, a type of prosciutto made from the choicest part of the pig, known for its tenderness and flavor.

Chianti Classico 1969 Riserva Ducale Ruffino showing its age but still drinking very well for a wine 50 years old.

Next we had a fried pizza, the Montagnara  topped  with  mozzarella and flavored with truffle  paste.

Roberto said he had a special pizza that he wanted us to try and it was a pizza with caviar and  avocado.  

We ended on a sweet note with fried dough sticks topped with Nutella

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Easter Lunch: Gnocchi, Lamb, Pastiera and Old Wines

A friend of ours asked Michele if she could teach her how to make potato gnocchi. Michele was happy to and since the friend and her husband were joining us for Easter dinner,

Michele told them to come early so they could make the gnocchi together.

Her husband suggested that since it was 2019 we should have wines from vintages ending in 9 and this sounded like a good idea.

As always, we started with Champagne:

Champagne “Brut Signature” 1989 Jaquesson & Fils While the source of their grapes remains the same, they have changed the names of their Champagnes and production methods to some extent. However I do not know have they could improve over this very impressive 30 year old Champagne. It was fantastic.

Puligny-Montrachet “Les Referts” 1989 100% Chardonnay. Domaine Etienne Sauzet The wine is aged on the lees for 10/12 months, indigenous yeast is used. Fining and filtration take place. They use 20 to 25% new oak. This is a full bodied wine, elegant and well balanced and one of the best examples of white Burgundy I have had the pleasure to drink.

The potato gnocchi turned out light and flavorful bathed as they were in a cream sauce with prosciutto, peas, roasted peppers and Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Chambolle-Musigny “Fermieres” 1989 Domaine Philippe Remy. 100% Pinot Noir. The year this wine was produced Lalou Bize-Leroy purchased the estate and incorporated its important vineyard holdings into her newly formed Domaine Leroy.

Pommard “Grand Epenots” 1979 Hubert de Monille.100% Pinot Noir. The soil is clay and limestone rich and heavy.

Both of the above wines are classic expressions of Burgundy.

Our next course was roast leg of lamb with garlic, anchovy and rosemary, served with flageolet beans and roasted asparagus.

Chateau Lynch Bages 1989 the current vintage 2017 is made from 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdon. Aging is for 18 months in oak 75% new. The 1989 is a well balanced structured wine with aromas of black and red fruit and hints of blackberry, cedar, leather and a touch of coffee. This is a very impressive wine that will age for many years. Two days later there was still some wine left in the bottle and I drank it with lunch!

Montepuliciano d’ Abruzzo 1979 Emidio Pepe made from 100% Montepulicano d’ Abruzzo. They have Organic and Bio-Dynamic production and as little interference as possible by the winemaker in the winemaking process. The grapes are pressed by hand. This is the only wine I know of that is made the same way today as it was in 1979. It was at its peak and a pleasure to drink.

There were 8 wines in all but two bottles were not good. One 1979 Champagne was much too old and tasted like sherry and another red wine was corked.

We finished the wines with an assortment of cheeses.

For dessert, a guest brought a Pastiera, a classic dessert from Naples.

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Oregon Originals: Second Generation Vintners (SGV)

Second Generation Vintners is collaboration between the siblings at Elk Cove, Ponzi, and Sokol Blosser. Founded in Oregon’s Willamette Valley during the early 1970’s , each winery was built on the mutual vision of making world-class Pinot Noir.

A tasting of the wines was held at the Astor Center in NYC. This was one of the most unique tastings that I have ever attended.

THE WINE MAKERS

Elk Cove Vineyards: Adam Campbell

Ponzi: Luisa Ponzi

Sokol Blosser: Alex Sokol Blosser and Co- President

There were 9 wines divided into 3 flights.  Each of the winemakers produced 1 wine from 3 different vineyards. The vineyards: La Bohéome, Madrona Vineyard and Old Vineyard Block

Elk Cove La Bohéme Vineyard  planted in 1985 from cuttings from their best vineyards on the western side of the property. Adam said the soil is marine sediment, the AVA is Yamhill-Carlton, elevation is 800 ft, spacing is 7×6 and the clone is Pommard on its own roots. The estate’s vineyards stretch from the Yamhill-Carlton hillsides to the peaks of the Chehalem Mountains.

THE WINE

Adam said 80% destemmed and William Seylem yeast was used. The wine was aged in French oak 25% new. This is an aromatic wine with hints of dark sweet fruit, plums and just a touch of vanilla.

Luisa Ponzi 100% destemmed, inoculated with commercial yeast and fermented in an upright oak tank. The wine was aged in French oak 20% new. Luisa said there was a long fermentation of 21 days. This is a wine with a lot of red fruit, with hints of cherry and almost cherry candy like in the finish.

Alex Sokel Blosser 100% destemmed, and inoculated with commercial yeast. Fermentation was in an oak upright tank with punching down. The wine was aged in French oak 20% new. Alex said his section of grapes was not ready to be picked until two weeks later than the others. This is a wine with nice fruit, a hint of spice and a hint of vanilla.

Ponzi: Madrona Vineyard Luisa said it is a 10-acre vineyard and was planted in 1985. It is one block of soil. The soil is called Laurelwood (a basalt base covered with ice age wind blown sedimentary soils) this is the youngest soil in the valley. The elevation is 300 to 450ft and the exposure is southeast. Spacing is 8×3 and the Clones: Pommard own-rooted. The winery is in the northernmost part of the valley in what is known as the Chelalem Mountains AVA.

THE WINE

Adam said he used 85% whole clusters and the wine was “dumped over” not punched down. William Seylem yeast was used and the wine was aged in French oak 25% new. The wine had hints of red berries, cherries and spice. It was the most approachable and if I had to chose a wine to drink with lunch today this would be the one.

Louisa said she used 50% whole clusters and there was a 7 day post fermentation with 35 days in the fermenter, ambient yeast fermentation. The wine was aged for 25 days in French oak, 25% new. This was the most tannic wine I tasted so far but there was enough ripe fruit to cover it. This is a wine that will age.

Alex said there was 100% destemming, ambient yeast and fermentation in an oak upright tank. The wine is aged in French oak 20% new for 10 months. The wine had hints of raspberries and cherry and a touch of spice. Good acidity in a wine is very important to him.

Sokol Blosser Old Vineyard Block The vineyard was planted in 1971 and replanted in 2007. The soil is called Jory (Volcanic) and the vines do not have to struggle too much. Elevation is 500ft. Spacing is 7×5. Clones: Pommard on 428H rootstock. AVA is Dundee Hills, 30 miles SW of Portland, in Yamhill County in the northern Willamette Valley.

THE WINE

Adam used 85% whole cluster, dump over, no punching down, William Seylem yeast and the wine was aged in French oak 25% new. The wine has hints of red fruit ,cherry and spice. I found the wines made by Adam to be the most approachable and have the softest tannins.

Louisa said there was 100% destemming, and 10% saignee added on the second day and ambient yeast fermentation. This wine had the most tannin, which I believe is part of the Ponzi style. This is the most structured of the wines with hints of blackberries, cassis, plum and a hint of hazelnut.

The wines of Louisa were the most structured and the most tannic but they were not harsh tannins and they are wines that will age.

Alex Said there was 100% destemming and a house yeast was used for fermentation and aged in new Mercury Prestige French oak barrel. This is a wine with hints of cherry and raspberries and a touch of spice.

I found Alex’s wines to be somewhere between the style of Adam and Louise.

Some of the wines have a touch of vanilla and Alex said that would go away with age.

One of the members of the audience in response to a question from Alex  said the 3 wines they liked the best were those made by the winemakers from their own vineyards and I would have to agree.

 

The last wine was the 2GV 2017 Pinot Noir Cuvee from 3 vineyards: 36% Madrona, 32% Boheme and 32% Old Vineyard Block.

Alex said this wine is a blend made by three-second generation, sibling-run wineries, incorporating three estate vineyards, three AVA’s and three different wine makers. This wine had hints of red and black fruit with hints of cherry, blueberries and a note of spice.

Also at the tasting: Anna Maria Ponzi, President of Ponzi

Alison Sokol Blosser, Co- President

Anna Campbell Elk Cove Vineyards, Creative Director.

This was a Oregon Original and true Second Generation Family wine event.

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Cotton and Rye, The Old Pink House and The Gray

There were thee restaurants in Savannah that Michele really wanted to try for dinner. They are all very popular but we managed to get reservations.

Cotton and Rye is located outside of the historical center of Savannah.

I had shrimp and grits and it was really  good.

Michele had BBQ lamb ribs

Once again I had fried soft-shell crab.

With my meal, I had a beer

As a side I had Broccolini,  vegetable  that  looks  like  skinny  broccoli,  but  is actually  related  to  asparagus.

Michele has fried chicken thighs with mac and cheese.  The  chicken was crispy and  juicy and the mac and cheese was creamy with a golden crust.

The Old Pink House Restaurant & Tavern had a fire in December and had just reopened the week we were in town. This is a Savannah institution and Michele really wanted to go here. They were only open for dinner at 5:00 and were not taking reservations. We passed by in the morning and were given a tour of the restaurant and liked the setting. We were told to come at 4:45 and we would get a table.  We  had  a drink  in  the  bar  and  were  seated  at 5:30

I had pork sliders  to  start.

Michele had a shrimp cocktail

We both had hamburgers.

Bourgogne 2014 Jean-Luc Joillot made from 100% Pinot Noir

The night before we left we went to The Grey. Michele had seen a program on Netflix about the restaurant and the chef, Mashama Bailey.  She and her partners opened the restaurant in an Art Deco Greyhound Bus terminal  across  from  the  courthouse  in  historic  downtown  Savannah.

They sent out seasoned popcorn which was very tasty

I started with a fennel, anchovy and Parmigiano Reggiano salad.

Michele had the  foie  gras  terrine  with  orange  zestwhich  came  with  delicious  toasted milk bread.

 

We both had the soft-shell crabs.  Yes, again!  We loved the food, the atmosphere — in fact everything about this place.  No wonder it is so popular.

Savannah is a wonderful food town and we had a very good time going to the museums, historical houses and the restaurants. The temperature was in the high 70’s for the time were were there.

 

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Weekend in Savannah

A few years ago Michele and I went to Charleston, South Carolina and had a wonderful time. When we told friends how much we had enjoyed it, they all said the same thing. “If you liked Charleston you will love Savannah.” So we decided to go.

The weather forecast was for occasional  showers and thunderstorms, but with the temperature in the high 70’s low 80’s, off we went.

“Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil” — The Mercer Williams House

Madison Square

It was drizzling the day we arrived but it did not stop us from walking around this city filled with beautiful old houses and wonderful squares. One of the most famous houses is the one featured in the book and movie, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”  It is now a museum that you can visit.

When we were in Charleston we went to restaurant Husk, which we enjoyed. There is another Husk in Savannah and we just had to go.

Michele had pimento cheese with housemade benne wafers and pickled vegetables.  I had chicken wings.

We ordered the corn bread, which was flavored with bacon.

Michele had shrimp and grits which came with a creamy pimento sauce and a poached egg in the center.

I had catfish  fried  in  a crispy  cornmeal  crust.

Sancerre 2017 “Les Griottes” Domaine Gueneau Made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc fermented it temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is an easy to drink wine with hints of hints of  herbs, grass and citrus fruits. It went very well with the food.

Michele made reservations at The Grey for the last night we would be in Savannah and she saw they also had another casual restaurant called Grey Market that would be good for lunch.  The  restaurant  and  its  chef  are  currently  featured  in  a Netflix  show.  

Michele had a spicy lamb wrap on roti bread. 

I had a soft shell crab sandwich and a local  beer on tap

That night we went to   Elizabeth on 37th. This as a more formal restaurant in an old mansion with a lovely garden.

Michele had a salad with  bacon  and   bleu  cheese  dressing.

I had roasted oysters

We both had softshell crabs. Yes, softshell crabs, I really like them.  These  were  very  plump  and served  on  a crispy  vegetable  slaw.

Roussanne 2016 Yves Cuilleron a Chavanay  made  from  100%  Roussanne sourced from vineyards in Chavanay and in Saint-Michel-sur-Rhône, essentially granite-infused soils. A large majority of the vineyards are set on terraces which makes most mechanization difficult, if not impossible. Thus, much of the vineyard work continues to be done by hand. To control yields, Cuilleron does extensive debudding and, when necessary, practices a green harvest.
The fermentations (alcoholic and malolactic) are done in stainless steel with native yeast. Then, the wine is racked into a mix of barrels and stainless steel tanks for a six-month élevage before bottling. This wine is in constant contact with the lees during élevage with regular bâtonnage. The wine is lightly filtered before bottling. 

The next afternoon we stopped at Leopold’s, a famous ice cream shop and cafe.  We had tried to go on Saturday but the line was very long. On Monday afternoon, we walked right in. Michele had a rum raisin and caramel swirl cone and really enjoyed it.  I opted for vanilla chocolate chip.

Next time–Cotton and Rye, Pink and Grey.

 

 

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Six Wines

Listed below are 6 wines  I had with lunch or dinner and I have not had a chance to mention in other blogs.

Champagne Grand Siecle “Alexandra” Rose 1997 Laurent-Perrier. Made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This Champagne is made in extremely limited quantities and only in the best vintage years. The 1997 was only the fourth bottling of this Champagne. It has all of the characteristics of a great Rose Champagne but it was also so subtle.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2010 “Vigneto Bucerchiale Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is 12.50 hectares, at 200 meters, the soil is of medium density clay, dry and stony, well drained. There are 5,200 vines per hectare and the exposure is south/southwest. Vines were planted in 1968 and 1992 and the training system is spur cordon. Hand harvested the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel with all natural yeasts. Fermentation and maceration is for 25 days. The wine is aged in 225 hl French casks. This is a wine with hints of cherry, violets and plums with a touch of tobacco.

Chambolle Musigny 1978 Domaine Robert Groffier made from 100% Pinot Noir. Burgundy at its best.

Aglianico del Taburno Riserva Vigna Cataratte 2009 DOCG Fontanavecchia The grapes are selected and hand harvested. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in barriques and aged for 34 more months before release. This is a bold wine with hints of cherry, spice, chocolate and a touch of licorice.

The Emidio Pepe winery is Organic and Bio Dynamic . The training system is cordon spur and tendone. Only natural yeasts are used. The grapes are crushed by  hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 hl for two years. Since this is natural wine, malolactic fermentation may take place in the tank or in the bottle. The bottles are corked by hand.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1983 Emidio Pepe This bottle was showing its age but was still very drinkable.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe this bottle was showing very well with deep red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry, spice and leather- it is a great wine. I have had the 1983 before and it too is a great wine. As someone once said “ the are no great wines, only great bottles of wine”

 

 

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A Restaurant Lunch at Home

Michele and I meet with a group of friends for lunch every few months.  At one get together, our friend Lucio Galano said that he would like to prepare for us a menu from a restaurant his father once owned in Danbury, Conn, called Bella Italia. His father, Agnello Galano, was the chef and his mother Anna often cooked with him in the restaurant.  Though Agnello is now deceased, Lucio said that Anna still loves to cook and wanted to make the dinner with him at his home.  It was an invitation Michele and I were happy to accept.

The table setting.  The table was set with plates and flatware from the restaurant.  The plates  were  handpainted  in  Vietri,  Italy.

The appetizer was  a combination  of  cheeses  and  greens  served  in sweet  onion  “spoons.”

Then baked clams,  an  old  favorite, delicately  seasoned  with  just  the  right  amount  of  breadcrumbs.

The pasta was cappellini served with ham, peas, mushrooms, and a touch of tomato in a creamy sauce.

The main course was chicken breast, pounded flat and enclosing a filling of ham, cheese and mushrooms, then coated with egg and flour and sauteed.  A light wine sauce completed the dish.

Our fabulous dessert was spectacular.  It consisted of sponge cake moistened with liqueur and layered with cannoli cream and strawberries.

The wines

Toscano Rosso IGT 2013 Ziobaffa made from 80% organic Sangiovese and 20% organic Syrah. The soil is sandy, calcareous with many river pebbles. The exposure is southwest.  There are 2,500 plants per acre and the training system is cordon spur. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel. This is an easy drink fruity wine with hints of cherry, blueberry and a touch of raspberry.

Aglianico Del Taburno 2013 DOCG Fontanavecchia (Campania) Harvest is in late October sightly on the ripe side and vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in large oak barrels for 9 months and then in bottle before release. This is a wine with aromas and flavors of black fruit, hints of blackberries, spice and a note of tobacco. The wine was showing very well.

What a treat to experience Agnello’s cooking interpreted by Lucio and Anna.  We had such a great time and can’t thank them enough for this delicious meal.

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