Monthly Archives: September 2019

Osteria Laura

Osteria Laura

A new Italian restaurant is always interesting to me, especially when it involves someone like Rosanna De Michele, who is the chef of the newly opened Osteria Laura in Harlem.


Rosanna is from Abruzzo and I have enjoyed her food when she was the chef at another restaurant and at a friend’s home. A visit to the restaurant seemed like the perfect opportunity to get together with old friends Mary Ewing Mulligan and Ed Mc Carthy, co-authors of the Wine for Dummies Series, who live nearby.

We decided to share a number of appetizers including meatballs, fried calamari, grilled sausages with broccoli rabe, and fresh burrata imported from Puglia. This is real Italian food, at a very good price.

To drink, we began with:

Henriot Cuvee “Des Enchanteleurs” Brut 1989 made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from six of the most prestigious Grand Cru vineyards.  Ed was surprised that it was so ready to drink for a Champagne from the 1989 vintage. It is rich with citrus aromas and flavors and hints of peach, hazelnut, and a touch of honey. Aromatic with a great finish and aftertaste, it was wonderful.

Champagne Krug Grand Cuvée Brut NV made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35% Chardonnay–the percent depends upon the vintage. About 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages are blended and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of the Krug Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%. As Ed said obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. It is Michele’s favorite.

Schiava 2018 DOC Elena Walch made from 100% Schiava grapes from high side vineyards above Lake Caldaro at 1,312 ft. The soil is limestone and clay. There is temperature-controlled fermentation at 27°C in stainless steel tanks for 7 days of skin contact. Malolactic fermentation and maturation take place in traditional 8,000 liter Slovenian oak casks. This is a fruity red wine with hints of cherry and a nice bitter almond touch on the finish.

For the main courses we had:

Pasta with Burrata and Artichokes – The day’s special, the chef used imported Burrata and top quality Rustichella d’Abruzzo pasta.

Tagliatelle with Ragu Abruzzese – A classic ragu made as do in Abruzzo.

Chicken Rollatini with Mushrooms – Chicken breast cutlets rolled and stuffed with imported prosciutto, served with sauteed mushrooms.

With our main courses, we drank:

Dolcetto 1971 “Cru Nassone La Morra” Marcarini/Cogno made from 100% Dolcetto. I do not believe this label is used anymore. Back in 1971 the wine would have been aged in concrete or large oak barrels (botte) they did not have stainless steel tanks or barriques back then. For me this was a delightful surprise. The wine had hints of red fruit, black cherry with a touch of violets and almonds. It was showing no signs of age. Fantastic!


Recioto Valpolicella Amarone 1967 Bertani 70% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella-this is the present blend.
Carefully selected grape bunches are hand-harvested in Bertani’s best Valpolicella vineyards in Fumane, Marano and the Novare Valley. Vines are cultivated using the “spalliera” method while pruning is done using the Guyot method with 5.000 vines/ha.
Unlike most leading Amarone producers, who buy grapes from outside growers, Bertani’s harvest originates entirely in the firm’s own vineyards. With marly-calcareous soil sheltered by surrounding woodland, these vineyards offer the ideal terroir for Amarone.
Harvest begins in early October and extends over a two-week period. After harvest, ripe, unblemished grapes from the uppermost portions of each cluster — those grapes richest in sugar and extracts — are painstakingly detached and laid out to dry on cane mats. The mats are stored on raised platforms in airy lofts, sheltered by a roof but otherwise exposed to drying breezes on all sides. By the time they are ready to undergo maceration and fermentation in February, they will have lost up to 60% of their water content (appassimento). A lengthy maceration period ensues, a factor responsible for Amarone’s tremendous body and structure. After a controlled fermentation, the wine was transferred into oak casks for a period of 5-8 years (the 1961, I believe, spent a longer time in wood) during which it was racked twice annually prior to bottling.
Dry, full-bodied, and amply structured with hints of cherries, red berries and spice and a rich aftertaste and long finish, a wonderful wine.

For dessert:

Affogato al Café – vanilla ice cream topped with hot espresso express over vanilla ice cream,

Osteria Laura is located at 1890 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd, NY, NY. The phone is 917- 261-6575.

The Owner is Laura Testa.



Filed under Amarone, Bertani, Dolcetto, Elena Walch, Henriot, Krug, Osteria Laura, Uncategorized

Sud de France Portfolio Master Class & Tasting

Jamai Rayyis is a wine journalist who has been with Sud de France, an organization representing the products of that region, for more than 10 years. At a recent presentation, he gave a very informative two-hour talk on the wine areas of the Sud–Ouest (the South West) and the Roussillon-Languedoc of France.

Jamal Rayyis

However, all the wines tasted in the master class were from the Roussillon-Languedoc area. At the tasting, there were also wines from the Sud-Ouest but I was unable to stay to taste them.

Languedoc-Roussillon is a historical coastal region in southern France extending from Provence to the Pyrenees Mountains and the border with Spain. It is the southernmost region of mainland France. It is now part of the Occitaine (the southernmost administrative region of France excluding Corsica created on Jan. 1 2016 from the former region of Languedoc-Roussillon and Mid-Pyrenees). The area is a major producer of Vin de Pays d’Oc. It is the single largest wine producing region in the world. There are many different soil types raging from rocky soil to thick clay. There is a wide variety of grapes grown here.

The Wines: I was very impressed with the older wines and how well they aged.

Chateau Guilhem Prestige 2015 & 2014 AOP Malpère made from 50% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Malbec. (Organic) After the harvest there is a hand selection of grapes on a vibrating table, with manual debudding and leaf thinning. The grapes are pressed and fermentation takes place at a cold temperature to preserve the aromas of each grape. Maceration takes place in concrete tanks. These are wines with hints of red fruit, cherry and a touch of blackberry and spice and good acidity. I liked both vintages.

Jamal said the wines of the Malpère distinguish themselves from the other wines of the Languedoc with varieties such as Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are to be found traditionally near the Atlantic Ocean. Brought to the region in the 1970’s, they grow very well in this particular terroir. Chateau Guilhem thrives on this land with its sandstone hills and benefits from its south-southeast exposure.

Chateau Guilhem Prestige 2005 VDQS Jamal said he could not find any information on the wine. This wine is not showing any sign of age. It is drinking very nicely with hints of red fruit, raspberries, strawberries and a hint of blueberries, a very pleasing aftertaste and long finish. If the 2015 and 2014, develop like this they are great buys.

Domaine de la Réserve d’O Hissez O 2014 AOP Terrasses du Larzac made from 50% Syrah, 35% Grenach Noir and 5% Cinsault. The soil is clay and limestone at 400 meters. The farming is certified both Ecocert Organic and Demeter Biodynamic. The wine is vinified entirely in a mix of cement and stainless steel and is fermented spontaneously. It is unfiltered, unfined with low sulphite-35mg/L. This is a full-bodied red wine with hints of raspberry, currants, pepper and floral notes. I was really impressed by this wine.

Chateau Paul Mad Clos du Moulina AOP Peézenas 2012 made from 55% Syrah, and 45% Grenache Noir. The wine had hints of red fruit and a touch of coconut. This is a very big producer.

Domaine de L’Edre Carrement 2010 AOP Cotes du Roussillon made from 50% Syrah, 25% Grenache,15% Carignan Noir and 10% Mourvèdre. Sustainable viticulture. The grapes are traditionally hand picked into small crates. Total destemming then fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. There is a cold pre-fermentation maceration and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of black fruit, notes of licorice and showing no signs of age.

Château de Fabre Gasparets 2005 AOP Cabieres Boutenac made from 50% Carignan Noir, 30% Mourvedre and 20% Syrah. The soil is pebbles quartz and limestone and the harvest is manual. Aged in French oak barrels for 12 months. The winery is organic certified. This is a full-bodied meaty wine with hints of black fruits and sweet spices and a note of cherry on the palate. It is showing no signs of age and drinking very nicely.

Domaine Fontanel Rancio sec 2007 IGP Cotes Catalanes made from 100% Grenache Blanc. The winery extends over 30 hectares in Tautaver, the most southern eastern part of France between the Mediterranean Sea and the Pyrenees foothills. The soil is marl. Traditional vinification. The wine is aged in barrels according to the soleras system (the wine goes from cask to cask during its blending). The alcohol is 17%. The wine has hints of nuts and flintstone with a notable aftertaste and long finish.

Ey, Hors d Age NV IGP Banyuls made from 100% Grenache Noir. It is a fortified Vin Doux wine (sweet natural wine).

Domaine du Mas Blanc “Collection” 1975 AOP Banyuls is an area near the Spanish border where the Pyrenees reach the Mediterranean Sea. Made from 100% Grenache Noir from their oldest vines. The grapes are hand harvested and trodden by foot. It was fermented in cement tanks with native yeasts and aged in 650 liter oak half-muids for 10 years. The wine is aged for a minimum of five years before bottling with or without temperature control and occasionally out of doors. It can be aged in old barrels, demi-muids (600 liter oak barrles) and foudres ( large wooden vat between 20 &120 hl), as well as glass demijohns. This is an oxidized fortified wine and it as fantastic!





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Filed under Banyuls, French Red, Sud de France, Uncategorized

Travaglini Gattinara: A Great Wine in a Unique Bottle.

The first thing I noticed about Travaglini Gattinara was the unique shape of the bottle.  It was unlike any wine bottle I had ever seen before. But what  impressed  me even  more  was  the  wine  inside  the  bottle.  

At a recent tasting of the wines and lunch at the Lambs Club in NYC the the speakers representing the winery were Cinzia Travaglini and her daughter, Alessia.

Gattinara is a commune in the Province of Vercelli in the northern part of Piedmont (Alto Piemonte) close to the Alps. It is located about 80 kilometers north of Turin and 90 miles from Alba.

Travaglini owns 59 hectares, of land in Gattinara, 44 of which are planted with vines. This is more then 1/2 of the total land in the Gattinara DOCG. Cinzia said Nebbiolo here is called Spanna. The vines are between 6 and 45 years old and the training system is guyot.

Cinzia said the winery is located in the heart of Gattinara and was established in 1920 by Clemente Travaglini. Cinzia is the great granddaughter of Clemente Travaglini and she manages the day-to-day operations of the winery. Her husband, Massimo Collauto, is the chief winemaker.  Alessia said that other grapes, Bonarda and Vespolina can be used to produce Gattinara but Travaglini uses 100% Nebbiolo.

The Travaglini Wines:

Method Classico Extra Brut “Nebolè” 2013 made from 100% Nebbiolo from the top vineyards of the estate. The soil is rocky and abundant in iron minerals. Only the tips of the Nebbiolo grapes are hand harvested in early September and then vinified into a white wine before a second fermentation takes place in the bottle to produce a sparkling wine. The wine remains on the lees for a minimum of 46 months. Cinzia said the first vintage was in 2010 and they were the first ones to produce this type of sparkling wine. It was also the first time I had a sparkling wine made from the Nebbiolo grape and I really enjoyed it.

Nebbiolo “Coste Della Sesia” DOC 2017 made from 100% Nebbiolo The vineyards are at 280/350 meters and the exposure is south/west. There are 4,500/5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. The soil is rocky with abundant iron minerals, which give the soil the typical reddish color to the indigenous rock. Harvest takes place the first part of October. The grapes are crushed and macerated for about 12 to 14 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the stainless tanks for 4 months and 10 months in Slovenian oak casks. The wine has hints of pomegranate, red berries, violets and a touch of licorice. It is an easy to drink wine but still needs a little more time.

The regional designation Coste della Sesia encompasses vineyards to the west of the Sesia River within the provinces of Vercelli and Biella.


In 1958 Giancarlo Travaglini set out to create a bottle for an exceptional wine that would also be a work of art. Cinzia said the distinctive shape of the bottle featuring a unique curve that fits naturally in the palm of the hand serves to catch sediment during pouring, allowing the wine to be served directly from the bottle to the glass without decanting. The dark-colored glass prevents light from passing through and impacting the quality of the wine.

Gattinara 2015 DOCG made from 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyards are at 320-420 meters and the exposure is south-southwest. There are 3,500 -5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place the first part of October. The grapes are crushed and maceration lasts for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 3 years, 2 years in Slovenian oak of different origin and size. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 months before release. It has hints of black fruit, violets, blueberries and nice minerality.

Travaglini, “Tre Vigne” Gattinara 2013 made from 100% Nebbiolo from three historic vineyards. The soil is rocky with iron deposits, rich in minerals, which give the soil a reddish color. The vineyards are at 320 to 420 meters and there are 3,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is southwest and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in the beginning of October. The grapes are crushed and macerated for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months, 30 months in Slovenian oak casks, and in the last year 20% is aged separately for 10 months in French barriques. It then remains in bottle for 10 months before release. This wine is only produced in the best vintages. This is a very impressive wine, full bodied with hints of pomegranates, plum, jam and a touch of spice and vanilla. It will age for many years.

Gattinara “Tre Vigne” 2006 made from 100% Nebbiolo from three historic vineyards. The wine is aged for 40 months, 30 months in Slovenian oak casks and 20% of the wine is removed and aged for 10 months in French barriques. The wine remains in bottle for 8 months before release. Cinzia said the wine is only produced in the best vintages. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red and black fruit, plum, violets and vanilla.The Tre  Vigne is for those that like a wine that is a little less  traditional in  style.

Gattinara Riserva DOCG 2013 and 2009 The best grapes are harvested from the oldest vineyards that are 35 to 60 years old.The grapes are crushed and macerated for 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine ages for 3 years in Slavonian oak casks of varying sizes. Then the wine remains in the bottle for one year before release. This wine is produced only in the best vintages. The wine has hints of red fruit , cherry, with a touch of licorice.

The 2013 needs much more time but the 2009 was drinking very nicely now. Many said the 2009  was their favorite wine of the tasting,

Il Sogno 2014 (The dream) made from 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes are hand harvested in October and dried until January (about 100 days) in a natural ventilated storage area. This is known as appassimento. After 50% of the water in the grapes evaporates, they are brought to the cellar to begin fermentation for 25-30 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 40 months in used Slavonian oak casks and then in bottle for 10 months before release. The alcohol is 15.5% and the residual sugar is 4.8. This is a complex and intense wine with hints of ripe fruit and a touch of prune. Even though it is made with dried grapes, it is not really a dessert wine and would be an excellent combination with wild game and roasted meat. This was the first time I had this wine and It was wonderful.




Filed under Gattinara, Spumante, Travaglini, Uncategorized

Porchetta Party

The fist time Michele and I had porchetta was in Frascati, just outside of Rome. The porchetta was served as a sandwich sliced on crisp rolls.  With the sandwiches, we were given a glass a Frascati wine.  It was a great combination. Two weeks ago a friend invited us to his house for a porchetta party which sounded like great fun.

We started with bites of prosciutto di Parma wrapped around cantaloupe.

With it we drank Condrieu 2010 and 2017 La Ronnette  made  from 100% Viognier sourced from two vineyards; the 0.6 ha Cote Bonnette and the 0.4 ha Ste. Agathe. The exposure is south/southwest. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. The wine has hints of citrus, pear and honeysuckle with a touch of ginger. The 2010 was more full developed but the 2017 went much better with the porchetta.

The  porchetta  maker,  Vincent  Tarney,  shared  some  photos  of  the  porchetta  preparation.  He  coated  a large  piece  of  pork  belly  with  garlic, fennel powder, salt  and  pepper,  plus other spices.  

The seasoning

Then he wrapped the seasoned pork  belly  around  a pork  loin.  This  was  rolled  and  tied  before  roasting  it  for  several  hours.

At our friend’s home, the finished roast was crisped and reheated on the barbecue grill.

The  finished  porchetta  and  Vincent.

The porchetta was magnificent. 

Ready to be served with roasted potatoes, garlicky broccoli and fennel salad.

The table

We also had the 1998 Brunello di Montalcino from Lisini

The wine is made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20  to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.


Filed under La Ronnette, Lisini, Porchetta, Uncategorized