Monthly Archives: July 2019

A Summer Dinner with Tom and Diane

It is always a pleasure to be invited to the home of Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow for dinner. They are wine and food writers and both have excellent blogs: “Tom’s Wine Line” at and “Another Year in Recipes” at

For wine as always we started with Champagne. This time it was Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, Cuis Premier Cru, Brut NV 100% Chardonnay from vintages 2010 to 2015 and it was disgorged March 16, 2019. The dosage is 6g/l.

With it we nibbled at an assortment of appetizers which included nuts, olives and a delicious bean and tuna spread made with canned ventresca, the choicest part of the tuna, on dark bread.

At the table, Diane brought out perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket with mozzarella di bufala and

Zucchini a scapece (marinted and fried zucchini)

and olive oil from Bucci, one of my favorite producers of Verdicchio.

With this we had the Greco di Tufo 2016 “Vigna Cicogno” from Benito Ferrara made from 100% Greco di Tufo from a 1.5 hectare vineyard. The vines are between 15 and 60 years old and the soil is calcareous clay with outcroppings of yellow sulfur. There is a soft pressing of the grapes followed by fermentation and maturation in stainless steel. The wine spends 7 months on the lees and 2 months in the bottle before release. This is a very impressive wine with a great depth of aromas and flavors, hints of citrus fruit, a touch of lemon and a scent of bitter almond.

Next was the pasta, a recipe I had never eaten before, from one of Diane and Tom’s cookbooks, The Seasons of the Italian Table (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994). It was called Abruzzi-Style Fettuccine and the homemade pasta was dressed with sautéed onion, pancetta, basil, parsley and grated pecorino romano cheese. The simple, rustic sauce was very appealing.

This was paired with the 2011 Ghemme DOCG “Pellizzane” from Monsecco made from 90% Nebbiolo, 5%Vespolina and 5% Bonarda from the Novara Hills. The vines are an average of 30 years old. Harvest is in the second half of October and there is a carefully hand selection of the grapes. The wine macerates for 12 days before fermentation in stainless steel. Then it goes into a combination of old Slovenian botte (large oak barrels) and then in second year used French barriques for an additional 3 years and a year in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of red and bark fruit with a touch of blueberries and notes of tobacco and spice. The wine was drinking very well.

A lamb stew with peppers and tomatoes followed.

With it we drank Taurasi 2007 Primum Riserva DOCG from Gustaferro made from 100% Aglianico from very old vines. The vineyards are at 300 meters and on south facing slopes. The training system is pergola. The wine is aged in botti for two years. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of black cherry, red currants, spice and a touch of raspberry.

With a selection of cheese we had the

Barolo 1999 “Colonnello” DOCG from Poderi Aldo Conterno made from 100% Nebbiolo (Michet and Lampia) varieties from the Colonnello vineyard (40 to 45 years old) in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba). There is a manual harvest in mid-October with grape selection in the vineyard. Vinification with skin contact inside stainless steel vats for 30 days. The wine is decanted several times before transfer to oak casks where it is aged and refined.

Our dessert was a light one of homemade lemon granita accompanied by some plain cookies, and as always we finished with grappa.

Tom has a wonderful collection and the Grappa Di Venegazzu “Della Casa” from Loredan Gasparini was my choice. It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.


Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Ghemme, Grappa, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi

Wonderful Afternoon Eating and Drinking at Keste Wall St.

Once a month more or less, our wine and pizza group meets to have pizza, Champagne and Italian wine. Recently we have been going to Keste Wall Street. We like to go there because Roberto Caporuscio, the pizzaiolo/owner, always has something new for us to try, a new appetizer, new pizza toppings, or a new twist on a pizza we had before.

This time, Roberto said he had a new appetizer he wanted us to try the rotolo fritto with ricotta and pancetta (cicolo). WOW!  is  all I can say!

Then the foccacia alla formaggio Recco style.  Recco is a town in Liguria famed for this type of pie.

Then the margherita – a classic

Pizza with blue cheese made from sheep’s milk called basajo,  aged with passito di Pantelleria, and raisins  topped with speck.

Pizza with mozzarella, pistachio nuts and sausage.

Pizza with ricotta mixed with onions marinated with mixed berries, and  topped with caciocavallo podolico


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.


Here are the wines we drank:

Charles & Alphrede Prieu Champagne Grand Reserve Brut NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 30% Pint noir and 25% Pinot Meunier including 30% reserve wine. It is aged at least 3 years before disgorgement and at least for 3 more months before release. It has hints of apple, lemon and pear with nice minerality.

Ruinart Brut Rosé NV  made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. About 18% of the Pinot Noir added is still wine. It had red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of raspberries and strawberries.

Champagne Vilmart & Co Coeur De Cuvée 2007 made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from vines over 50 years old. The wine is aged in wood containers. It has hints of hazelnuts and brioche with a hint of lemon. I drank this a few years ago  for my birthday at a friends house in Sag Harbor, it was as good then as it is was now.

Champagne William Deutz 2007 Brut Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from grapes of Grand Cru vineyards. This was drinking very nicely as it was when I had it a few weeks ago.

Herniot Champagne Brut 1979 The current vintage is made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. This was the Champagne of the afternoon.

Cerasuolo 2007 Azienda Valentini made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This is a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

Barolo 1996 Bergogno made from 100% Nebbiolo. Classic Barolo with hints of faded roses, tar, licorice and a note of cherry.

Another delicious afternoon of food and wine at Keste!


Filed under Barolo, Champagne, Kaste

Pecorino, Cerasuolo & Montepulciano at Tenuta I Fauri

On our recent press trip to the Abruzzo Region of Italy, we visited a number of wineries that produced excellent wines.

At Tenuta I Fauri, we were greeted by Valentina Di Camillo, a member of the family that owns the winery, and the Managing Director.

Valentina at the Grand Tasting Dei Vini D’Abruzzo

The winery is located in the small town of Ari in the center of the province of Chieri, among the hills that drop down from the Maiella Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.

The vineyards are at 250 meters and the vine training system  is tendone

Valentina said she and her brother Luigi, the winemaker, inherited their passion for making wine from their father Domenico. Tenuta I Fauri is not just a brand name but represents a family dedicated to wine production for many years.

Valentina said the cellar in not very photogenic because of the old cement tanks, used by her grandfather Luigi, which have been carefully restored and preserved so they can be used once again.  There are also new stainless steel fermenters and a few wooden barrels.

Valentina had prepared a selection of foods to taste with the wine,

among them fresh fruits and vegetables.

Abruzzo Pecorino DOC 2017 made from 100% Pecorino. The soil is clay calcareous and the training and pruning methods are tendone, single curtain/rows (spur training). There are 1,600/3,000 vines per hectare. Static decanting of the must takes place, followed by a soft pressing. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature and the wine is aged in stainless steel. The wine is bottled at the end of February. The wine has hints of apple and honey and a touch of mint.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC “Baldovino (Rosato) 2018 made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. The soil is clay calcareous and the training system is tendone, single curtain. There are 1,600 vines per hectare. Maceration takes place inside the press and static decanting of the must and a soft pressing. Fermentation at a controlled temperature is in stainless steel vats. The wine is bottled at the end of February. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Ottobre Rosso” 2017 DOC. The training system is single curtain tendone and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation and maceration is in concrete vats for 10/12 days followed by 9 months aging in concrete vats. The wine is bottled in June. This is a red wine with intense red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of wild cherry and a touch of raspberry.

Spumante Brut NV made from Chardonnay and Pecorino. The soil is sandy and the training system is tendone, single curtain. There are 1,600 plants per hectare. Static decanting of the must followed by a soft pressing and fermentation at a controlled temperature. There is a second fermentation in an autoclave for 3 months and it is bottled in January. The wine has hints of peach and apricot with a touch of pineapple.

Both Michele and I were very impressed by the wines. We tasted the wines again at the Grand Tasting at the end of the trip and I enjoyed them again at an event in NYC.


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Filed under Abruzzo, Cerasuolo, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, I Fauri, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pecorino, Uncategorized

The Wines of Marques de Murrieta at Bouley Test Kitchen, NYC

In 1992 I was able to purchase 6 bottles the 1942 Marques de Murrieta Castillo Ygay Gran Riserva. I served it at very special event and everyone agreed  it was a great wine. I should have purchased more of it.

Recently I was invited to a lunch at Bouley at Home in NYC with the wines of Marques de Murrieta.  It was a combination I could not pass up.

aka Vincent D.

The speaker was the charming and informative V.Dalmau Cebráin-Sagarrigaa Presidente of Marques de Murrieta Winery and Count of Creixewll.

Marques de Murrieta goes back to 1854 when Luciano Murrieta produced the first Rioja wine and was granted the title of Marquis by King Amando of Savoy for his work in Rioja. Luciano established the concept of “cheateau” in the Ygay Estate where he built the Ygay Castle.

In 1983 Vincent Cebrián, tenth Count of Creixewll, took over the winery. After his death his eldest son Vincent D. Cebrián, current Count of Creixell, with his sister took over the management of the winery. There are 300 hectares of vineyards on the property.

Vincent D explained that they also own the Pazo de Barrantes winery, a property which his been in the family since 1511. Today the winery is designed specially for growing the Albarino grape on a 12 hectare plot. The winery is in the heart of the Saines valley in the province of Galicia.

As we entered the restaurant, we were served the La Comtesse 2015 Pazo Barrantes Rias Baixas D.O. Galicia 100% Albariño from the Cacheiro single vineyard, within the 12 hectare estate 0f Pazo de Barrantes. The old vine grapes grapes are destemmed and gently pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place in a 3,000 liter French Allier oak vat for 60 days. The wine is left on the lees for 6 months. The wine remains in the same wooden vats for 12 more months and then in concrete tanks for another 8 months. Vincent D. said this is a contemporary white wine that shows the versatility of the Albariño grape to reach new heights of freshness, complexity and aromatic richness when treated with the careful use of oak barrels.

Pazo Barrantes Rias Baixas, 2017 D. O. Galicia made from 100% Albarino grapes grown on the Pazo de Barrantes Estate surrounding the winery in the Salnes Valley. The grapes are hand harvested on September 7th to 19th 2017. The bunches are destemmed and gently pressed using a pneumatic press. Juice settling occurs before alcoholic fermentation. The juice is fermented at 10C for 30 days in stainless steel tanks without the grape skins. The wine is then left in contact with the lees for two months. The wine was bottled in March of 218. The wine has an aromatic complexity with intense floral, fruity and balsamic aromas.  I was very impressed with this wine.

Green Apple Cloud, Golden Osetra Caviar

Vincent D. said he ages the wines in concrete vats part of the time because it adds elegance and rounds out the tannins.

Capellania Reserva 2014 made from 100% Viura from a single vineyard planted in 1945 at 485 meters, the highest point on the Ygar Estate on their 300 hectare estate in Rioja Alta. Manual harvest takes place from September 30th to October 2nd. The grapes are crushed and after a short skin contact they are gently pressed in a vertical press. Vincent D said this is a slow and gentle process that favors the extraction of all the aromatic potential from our low-yielding Viula grapes. The juice is then settled and fermented in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank for 24 hours. The wine spends 15 months in French barriques for 15 months and one year in concrete tanks. It spends one year in bottle before release in June 2018. This is a well structured and complex wine with hints of white stone fruit and vanilla.  This is a white wine that can age. It was even better with  the food.

Wellfleet Sea Scallops wit Ocean Herbal Broth

Marqués de Murrieta Riserva 2015 made from 80% Tempranillo, 12% Graciano, 6% Mazuelo and 2% Garnache. Grapes come from the Ygay Estate which is 300 hectares of vineyards surrounding the winery in the south most point of Rioja Alta between 320 and 485 meters. Harvest by hand between September 14 and October 16 2015. Grapes are destemmed and then fermented in stainless steel tanks for 8 days at a controlled temperature with skin contact. Pumping over and punching down takes place. Then the solid parts of the grapes were pressed in vertical presses with double screws.

Aged for two years in new and partly 3 to 5 year old American oak barriques and 7 months in concrete and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a well structured and concentrated wine with hints of blackberry, licorice, and vanilla.

Wild Mushroom Risotto with Japanese Rice.

Castillio Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2009 made from 81% Tempranillo and 19% Mazuelo. The Tempranillo was harvested on the 30th of September and the Mazuelo on October 7th. The grapes come from La Plana single vineyard planted in 1950 and located on a plateau at 485 meters the highest point of the Finca Ygay. The bunches are destemmed and gently crushed before being racked into stainless steel vats. Fermentation is for about 11 days and pumping over and punching down takes place. The wine is aged for 26 months in French and American barrels, and for one year in concrete tanks. It remains in the bottle for 3 years before release. This is a concentrated wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries and spice with vanilla notes. It is a wine that will age for a long time.

Prime Filet Mignon Glazed Shallots and Organic Spinach

Dalmau Reserva 2014 made from 75% Tempranillo, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Graciano. This wine is a selection of the best grapes available from an old single vineyard called Canajas at 465 meters. The soil is mainly clay chalky with a stony topsoil. Production is limited to 1 kilogram per vine. Manually selected grapes that reach the winery as soon as possible. The Tempranillo was handpicked on October 8th and the Cabernet Sauvignon on October 14. The grapes are destemmed and each variety ferments separately for 11 days. The Tempranillo ferments in stainless steel and the Cabernet Sauvignon in small oak vats. Pumping over and delestage are carried out on a daily basis. The wine in aged for 21 months in French Allier barriques, and for one year in concrete. Vincent said “this is a limited production wine from an old single vineyard where there are very low yields. It reflects the most modern side of our winery.” I agree with him. This is a concentrated wine with hints of dark fruit, dark chocolate, vanilla and mineral notes. Vincent  D said  it  is  against  the  law  to  use  Cabernet  Sauvignon  in  the  wine  of the  region  but  they  make an  exception for  him with this  wine.

Selection of Mature Artisanal French Cheese.


Filed under Marques de Murrieta

Puglia comes to Kesté

A number of years ago Michele and I were on a press trip to Puglia and we visited Cantina Due Palme. Recently I received  and invitation for an event called  “Wines of Excellence Made in Puglia: Cantine Due Palma at Keste Wall Street.”

It is always a pleasure to go to Keste and I wanted to catch up on the wines of Due Palme.

Roberto Caporuscio, Pizzaiolo/Owner of Keste, was the host for the evening.

We started with  a focaccia typical of Puglia, made by Roberto. The flour is a mix of Super  Nuvola “0” flour from Caputo, semolina and potato.  The topping is tomatoes and olives.

There was Buratta, a cow’s milk cheese, which originated in Puglia that has an outer shell of mozzarella and inside a mix of shredded mozzarella and cream called stracciatella. It is made fresh everyday at Keste.

Olives from Puglia-Cerignola

Roberto with his former students

Two former students of Roberto, Penelope and Lucie, made the pizza. They have since opened a pizzeria in Quebec City called Nina Pizza Napolitaine.  Roberto said they were his best students and after I tasted the pizza I could not agree more, it was that good.

I asked Robert what flour he uses for his pizza.  He said he uses a mix of 50% Tipo 1 and 50% Super Nuvola Tipo 0 from Caputo.

The Pizza

Pizza with  a mix of homemade straciatella, and smoked and regular mozzarella infused with fresh mint and limoncello, and topped with fresh figs – fantastic.

Pizza with stracciatella cheese, broccoli rape and sausages

Pizza with ricotta and onions sauteed with mixed berries

Vegetarian pizza

Figs marinated in red wine

Cantina Due Palme is a Social Cooperative with its main headquarters located in Cellino San Marco, Puglia.  It was established in 1989 but its roots go back to 1943. In  the beginning there were only 15 members and today there are 1,000 and they have merged with 4 other large wineries with a total capacity 10,000 HL of wine.

Salice Salentino DOP Riserva “Selvarossa” made from Negroamaro and Malvasia Nero. The soil is baked red clay and the training system is alberello. The grapes are hand harvested and some of the grapes are dried in the cellars to concentrate the sugars and flavors and to enrich the structure. The wine is aged for 9 months in French oak barriques and then in bottle until it is ready to be released. The wine has hints of cherry jam, dates and vanilla with a note of toasty oak and a touch of spice.

Primitivo Di Manduria DOP “Sangatano” made from 100% Primitivo Di Manduria. The soil is red in color because of iron oxides with a rocky limestone substratum. The wine is aged for 6 months in American oak barriques followed by maturation in the bottle for a period of time. This is a wine with black fruit aromas and flavors with hints of vanilla and chocolate.

Rosso Salento IGP “1943 The Presidents Wine” made from Primitivo and Aglianico from vineyards planted in 1968. The grapes are hand harvested and some of the grapes are dried (appassimento) in the cellars which are kept humidity free to avoid spoilage. The wine is aged for 9 months in new barrels and for a period in bottle before release. This is an intense and complex wine with hints of coffee, ripe cherry, plum and spicy notes of vanilla. It is called The Presidents Wine because it produced from the old vineyards planted by Angelo Marci, founder and president of the company, in 1968 using the alberello vine training method.

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Filed under Cantine due Palme, Italian Red Wine, Kaste, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Pizza Restaurants, Primitivo, Uncategorized

Restaurant Aranci 67 a Taste of Italy

Our friend Lucio invited us to lunch at Aranci 67, a restaurant in Wilton, CT, owned by his sister and her husband, the chef Antonio Perillo.

We knew that Lucio came from a family of great cooks, since his late father had been the chef and owner of the now closed Bella Italia in Danbury, and together with his mother Anna, Lucio had once prepared a meal for us featuring some of his dad’s specialties.

Paolo Perillo, who shares front of the house duties with his mother Julia, greeted us. He showed us to our beautiful Amalfi style ceramic-topped table and we felt as if we had arrived on Capri.

Our lunch began with a Montanara pizza made by first frying the dough, then topping it with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil and then baking it until the cheese melts. Frying gives the dough added flavor and an evenly browned and puffed crust.

Next came perfectly ripe, peeled figs wrapped in Prosciutto di Parma a perfect sweet and salty combination.

Then the chef sent us deep fried zucchini flowers filled with ricotta and prosciutto,

and small arancini, crisp fried rice balls filled with cheese and ham.

Tender Potato Gnocchi in a light tomato sauce came next.

Sautéed chicken with mildly spicy vinegar peppers was the main course, accompanied by crisp sautéed potatoes and green beans.

For dessert there were Cannoli and Torta Caprese, a typical almond chocolate cake.

A homemade strawberry digestive beverage was the final touch on an outstanding meal. Lucky are the residents of Wilton and the surrounding area to have such a good Italian restaurant nearby.

The wines

Vecchie Terre di Montefili is located in Panzano in Chianti, Tuscany.

The wines were a gift from the former owner of the winery who is close friends with Lucio. I had tasted the 2015 vintages of these wines with Nicola Marzavilla, owner of I-Trulli restaurant in NYC and now the owner of the winery.

Bruno di Rocca IGT Colli Toscana Centrale 20 made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese from vineyards planted in the early 1980’s. The soil is galestro and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging for a minimum of months 28 in tonneaux for the Sangiovese and for the Cabernet Sauvignon in barriques (350 liters).  Nicola said Cabernet Sauvignon needs to be aged in barriques. The wine spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. $ ? It is difficult to make a of thi type  wine where the Cabernet Sauvignon does not dominate but this is a a soft elegant wine.

Chianti Classico DOCG 2009 made from 100% Sangiovese. The terrain is hilly and the vineyards are at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese. The vineyards were planted in the late nineties and Nicola said these were the youngest vines on the property. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is for a minimum of 15 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle . 

Chianti Classico Riserva 2007 made from 100% Sangiovese from a careful selection of grapes from vineyards with the best exposure. The vineyards were planted in the late 1980’s. The training system is spurred cordon and guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is in Slavonian oak barrels for a minimum of 22 months and 6 months in bottle.

Anfiteatro IGT Colli Toscana Centrale 2011 made from 100% Sangiovese from the Anfiteatro vineyard planted in 1985. The training system is bilateral cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. The wine is aged for 28 months in 5HL barrels and 10 Hl barrels and a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. This is a very big wine that needs more time.

Paolo, Julia and Antonio a family run restaurant. Aranci 142 Old Ridgefield Road Wilton, CT 06897 203-587-1300




Filed under Ananci67, Italian Red Wine, Montefili, Restaurant

Prosecco and Pizza Masterclass at Ribalta NYC

Last fall, Rosario Procino invited me to be a judge at a pizza and Prosecco contest at Ribalta, his restaurant. The contest consisted of pizzas made by 5 different pizzaioli and we were judging which pizza went best with Prosecco. It was great fun and all of the pizzas were winners and went great with the Prosecco as far as I was concerned.

Recently I was invited by Gruppo Italiano: Restoratori, Distributori ed Importatori  to go to Ribalta for pizza and Prosecco.  This time, it was not for a contest but for a Pizza & Prosecco Master Class. The speaker was Tess Rose, wine educator.

There were 3 flights of Prosecco each with three wines.

Pasquale Cozzolino the chef/pizzaiolo at Ribalta made 3 different pizzas to go with each of the flights.

The first flight of Prosecco was Extra Dry, the second also Extra Dry but with a little more residual sugar and the last was Brut, which is the “driest” of the 3. Prosecco DOCG has three levels of sweetness: “Dry” 17-32 g/l, “Extra Dry” 12-17 g/l, and “Brut” 0 -12 g/l.

Prosecco is the leading selling sparkling wine in Italy. In addition, it outsells Champagne in the UK and sales of Prosecco increase every year in the United States

Prosecco is produced exclusively in the area of northeast Italy between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea. The two regions in which Prosecco is produced are Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in 9 provinces.

Prosecco DOCG must be made with at least 85% Glera grapes with the addition of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigana, Petera and Gela Lunga. Prosecco Superiore Spumante may also contain up to 15% of Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero and Chardonnay.

When at least a minimum of 85% of the wine comes from a specific vintage, the year may be indicated on the bottle along with the term Millesimato.

Prosecco may be made in 3 different styles: Spumante bubbly), Frizzante, lightly effervescent), or Tranquillo (still). Only the Spumante version is allowed to have the name Superiore.

Most sparking Proseccos are made using the “Charmat Method” in an autoclave (pressurized tank). For “metodo classico,” it is also permitted to carry out the second fermentation in the bottle.

The vine training system for Prosecco can be double  arched cane, sylvoz, guyot and metodo spalliera.

The Prosecco Extra Dry: Astoria, Mionetto, La Marca, Carati 075, Perlino, Sant’Anna. Brut: Bianca Vigna, Torresella, Valdo.

Sant’Anna Extra Dry Prosecco NV made from 100 Glera. The grapes are destemmed  and gently crushed The must is then transfered into steel vats where fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature.When yeast is put  into the tanks and remains for a period of 4 months it tranforms the wine into a sparking wine. This is a Prosecco with hints of peach, pear and a touch of white flowers.

Valdo Brut Prosecco DOC NV Made from 100% Glera (Veneto). The vineyards are the traditional “Metodo Spalliera”, where the stems can be as long as one meter and are tied to a horizontal wire. Grapes are hand picked during the last week of September. Soft pressing and fermentation occurs at 64F in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. To obtain small and fine bubbles (perlage) a selection of natural yeasts is made. There is 3 months of Charmat-Martinotti aging, followed by 3 months in bottle before release. This is a sparkling wine with hints of peach, melon, pear and golden apple.

The Proseccos we tasted were all made  by the Charmat-Martinotti method. For the most part the flavor profiles are much the same, the only difference is in the amount of residual sugar.

I  liked all of the Prosecco that I tasted. However I think the Extra Dry works much better as a aperitif.

With the first flight we had the pizza topped with smoked mozzarella, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes and a touch of hot pepper.  This was the most difficult pairing, as the touch of hotness in the topping did not make for a good combination with the Extra Dry Prosecco.

With the second flight we had the pizza topped with mozzarella, speck and 30 month old Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The Extra Dry Prosecco with a little more residual sugar worked a little better with this pizza.

For the last flight we had the pizza topped with ‘nduja, a spicy sausage spread and mozzarella. This pizza was paired with the Prosecco Brut and it was the best of the 3 combinations.

Happy  4th of July!!!





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Filed under Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Prosecco, Ribalta

Portuguese White Wine, Beer and Olive Oil

Last November Michele and I spent a week in Lisbon and had a wonderful time experiencing this beautiful country, so I was happy to accept an invitation to a Portuguese wine tasting on Portugal’s National Day, June 10.  This important holiday is observed in Portugal and by Portuguese citizens and emigrants all over the world. The tasting was at Hearth Restaurant in NYC. The host for the event was Esporao and the speaker was Alex Pratt, MS.

Established in 1973, Esporao is a large company and produces wine, beer and olive oil, all of which I was able to sample. The chief winemaker is an Australian, David Braverstock.  The wines were from the Esporao estate in the Alentejo region and the Quinta dos Murcas estate in the Douro region to the north. There were 12 wines, 6 white and 6 reds.

It was a wine tasting but we started with a beer Sovina Hells (Munich).  This was the first crafted beer produced and bottled in Portugal (2008). It is inspired by the traditional recipe for Helles Munich beers. Mr. La Pratt said Sovina means “tight wad” in Portuguese slang.

Here are the 6 white wines we tasted. I will do the reds is a separate blog.

Quinto dos Murcas Estate is situated in the between Baixo and Cima-Corgo sub regions of the Douro. It is positioned on the right bank of the Douro River, between the towns of Régua and Pinhao. There are 383 acres of which 118 are planted with indigenous grape varieties. They were the first to break from the traditional terrace plantings. The high density of vertical plantings helps stabilize the soil against erosion.

Assobio Branco 2018 made Douro from Viosinho, Verdelho, Rabigato, Gouveio and Codego do Larinho grapes. At the edge of the Quinta dos Murcas there is a valley formed by steep slopes. It is the highest vineyard plot here at 2,300 ft. When the wind blows it makes a whistling sound and Assobio means whistle in Portuguese. The soil is schistous and granitic and the vines are 20 years old. Maturation takes place in stainless steel tanks on the lees.

Monte Velho Branco 2018 made from Antao Vaz, Perrum and Roupeiro (Palomio in Spanish) and Roupeiro (aka Codega in the Douro). Made from 50% estate grapes and 50% purchased grapes. The average age of the vines is 18 years.

The soil is schist/granite origin with clay loam structure. Vinification is in stainless steel. The first vintage was in 1991. This is one of the most popular wines in Portugal.

Herdade do Esporão Esate is situated in the Reguengos de Monsaraz DOC and Alentejo’s montado ecosystem (cork oak forest). There are 1710 acres of organically grown vineyards, olive groves, other crops and 4 types of olives.

Esporäo Verdelho Branco, Alentejo 2017 made from 100% Verdelho. The soil is a granite/schist base with a clay/loam structure and the vines are 15 years old. In 2004 David Baverstock, instigated the plantings of Verdelho in Alentejo believing it would do well there. The cuttings came from Madeira and today you can also find Verdelho in the Dao. Vinification is in stainless steel.

Esporäo Colherita Branco, Alentejo 2018 made from Antao Vaz, Viosinho, Alarinho and other grapes grown organically at Herdade do Esporao, an organic certified vineyard that is 8 years old. The soil is schist rock with a loamy clay structure. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine needs 3 to 4 years before it is ready to drink 

Esporäo Reserva Branco 2017, Alentejo made from Antao Vaz, Arinto and Roupeiro from 18-year-old vines. The soil is granite/schist base, with a loam/clay structure. The wine is made exclusively from estate grown grapes. Barrel fermentation is in French oak.

Esporäo Private Selection Branco 2017 made from 95% Semillon and 5% field blend. The wine was created in 2001 to challenge the classic profile of the Alentejo wines. Using Semillon was David’s idea, specifically from Barossa. The first planting was in 1993-1994. The soil is predominantly clay and the age of the vines is 22-26 years. The wine sees some time in oak. This wine qualifies as a garrafeira but is not bottled as one as  this variety is not recognized for garrafeira (wine that has been aged for at least 2 years in wood and another year in bottle).


With the wines we had shrimp


Esporao Olival dos Arrifes Organic produced from Arbequina and Cobrançosa olives using organic production methods. The groves are at Herdade do Espoão. The olive grove was certified for Organic production in 2009


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