Monthly Archives: October 2019

Jeremy Parzen on the passing of the legendary Giorgio Grai

It was my pleasure to have known Giorgio Grai thanks to the late wine writer Sheldon Wasserman. In his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines published in 1985 he writes”Giorgio Gri has become, something of a legend in Italy, both for his extraordinary palate and for his ability to craft outstanding wines from the grapes of many different region” Wasserman often referred to Grai as L’Ombra (the shadow) for reasons Jeremy Parzen mentions in his article.

 

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The world of wine mourns the loss of Giorgio Grai, renowned enologist who shaped a generation of Italian winemakers

by Do Bianchi

Above: Giorgio Grai (right) with his close friend, winemaker Francesco Bonfio, in Arquà (Padua province) in 2017. Although his work was known to few American wine lovers, he shaped a generation of Italian winemakers whose labels traveled across the Atlantic.

Race car driver and “father of modern winemaking in Italy,” as many called him, Giorgio Grai has died in Bolzano, Italy this week at the age of 89.

According to the one-off personal business card he carried in his wallet, he was a “doctor of everything, knight of good taste, and engineer in the art of getting by.”

He is survived by his companion of many years, Marina Danieli, a winemaker in Friuli.

While his life and career were seemingly culled from a Hollywood movie (as a young man he spent a decade racing for Lamborghini), he will be remembered above all for his winemaking and his mentoring of a generation of Italian winemakers.

Born in Bolzano in German-speaking Italy in 1930, he liked to call himself an “Italian among Germans and a German among Italians.” His father had been forced to change their last name from Krainz following World War I. Although he spent his latter years in Friuli, he always considered Bolzano his home, he said.

He was equally renowned for his stunning Pinot Blanc and Pinot Noir — the latter, a variety he called his favorite and the most difficult to vinify. But he also left his mark on the Italian wine world through his consulting with estates that stretched from the Austrian border to Puglia.

To make a great wine, he told an interviewer in 2013, “particular attention needs to be paid to what goes into a wine — from the outset. Nature is perfect. But it has been compromised by humankind’s impudence. There are organic wines that have been made correctly according to a given protocol. But if they were born in vineyards that lie adjacent to a freeway, then they’ll be full of lead. That’s not okay.”

I had the great opportunity to meet and taste with Giorgio on a number of occasions. He was a true cosmopolitan, a ployglot and polymath.

But beyond the many extraordinary wines of his that I had the fortune to taste (including unforgettable bottlings of Pinot Blanc from the 1980s), the thing I will remember most about him is how a legion of young Italian winemakers and enologists have spoken of him as a maestro and teacher.

Francesco Bonfio, winemaker and founder of the Italian Association of Wine Retailers, shared the following remembrance of Giorgio.

    Giorgio was an extraordinarily talented enologist, an extremely gifted technical taster, and a highly cultured gastronome. His passing leaves an irreplaceable void in the world of Italian and international wine.
    Of the many memories of him, this one stands out: in 1983 he met André Tchelistcheff and had him taste his 1961 Alto Adige Pinot Bianco (Sud Tiroler Weissburgunder). After tasting the wine, the Russian winemaker, creator of fine wine in California, knelt before him.
    His technical experience allowed to combine scientific rigor with genius. His humanist culture made it possible for him to judge the quality of a wine or a dish not just in terms of its aroma and flavor but also in terms of its harmony, balance, refinement, and elegance.
    Like all persons of “character,” he was a character with a sometimes challenging personality. He never shied from sharing his opinion, even in the face of supposed authority. He never hesitated to point out someone’s flaws, whether a chef’s or a winemaker’s. Acclaimed, beloved, hated, revered, often talked about, at times hard to bear, an unending source of envy — and he enjoyed it all. Going against the tide was his whim but it also veiled his intellectual openness and his multi-faceted ability to approach any problem from all perspectives.
    He never arrived on time. And sometimes he didn’t show up at all. He had an unrelenting, insatiable curiosity. In the same breath, he could speak of biotechnology, the elements of taste, of car racing, and Bolzano. He was a Mittel-European who spoke fluent English, French, German, and Italian. Those who knew will always be proud of having enjoyed the privilege. And they will honor him by continuing to follow his teachings.
    Those who knew him have lost much with his passing. In the world of enogastronomy, if you don’t know who Giorgio Grai is, you’re clearly missing something. But not being able to know him is a shortcoming for which there is no remedy.

Sit tibi terra levis Georgi. You will be sorely missed.

Do Bianchi | October 31, 2019 at 6:14 am | Categories: de vino | URL: https://wp.me/p5ma7-8Yf

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Michel Mallard et Fils: A Burgundy Wine Family

Michele and I visited Beaune two years ago and had such a wonderful time that we decided to return. We wanted to visit some wineries but since it was harvest time it was difficult to get appointments. We were traveling with a friend who suggested we visit Domaine Michel Mallard et Fils because he really likes their wines. Somehow he was able to arrange an appointment.

The winery is a short taxi ride from the town of Beaune.

We were welcomed at the winery by Maryse and Patrick Mallard and their son Michel, now the fifth generation of this father to son winery.

The winery is located in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny a small village between the Côte de Beaune and Cote de Nuits. The domaine works 11 hectares of vineyards on and around the hill of Corton.

Charles and Michel -Photo credit E. DeSalvo

Michel Mallard took us to the cellars to taste the wines.

What followed was a master class on his wines and the wines of Burgundy in general.

As many of the new and enlightened generation of Burgundy vignerons, Michel believes that great wine begins in the vineyard where he works to conserve and improve the life of the soil by using grass coverage, organic composts and controlled treatments only when absolutely necessary. In order to get the right balance between sweetness and acidity, they limit the amount of grapes produced by each vine. Plants that start to grow wild are thinned, tidied, aligned and cropped to allow more air and light through their foliage. The grapes with the optimal balance and maturity are hand harvested and sorted.

At the winery the white grapes are treaded and gently pressed in a pneumatic press. Crushing is avoided and they prefer to obtain free run juice at low pressure which is then clarified by the force of gravity alone. Some of the juice is drawn off into stainless steel vats, and the rest is placed in French oak barrels. Fermentation begins by the activation of the indigenous yeast. Beginning in 2016 Michel began vinifying with no added sulfur.

The White Wines we tasted…

Ladoix Blanc 2017 made from 100% Chardonnay. The vines grow at the bottom of the hill on the climes (vineyards) Madones and La Vigne Adaim, with a southeastern exposure. The vines are 10 years old. The soil is very heavy with a clayey texture from the weathering of the geological formation of Bresse maristone deposits. Michel said the high clay content and its position at the foot of the slope allow the soil to receive a good supply of water.

The barrels are made using wood from the Allier and Vosges forests. The wine is aged 12 months in 30% new wood casks (228 Burgundian barrels). The wine has aromas and flavors of white fruit with hints of pear and lemon and a touch of spice.

Landoix 1er Cru Les Gréchons 2016 made from 100% Chardonnay from vines between 40 and 50 years old.

This climat is located in the commune of Ladoix-Serrigny. The term Gréchons comes from the word Grève, from the Latin grava meaning sand or gravel. The soil is composed of friable rock, fine scree, sand and gravel and is a great terroir for cultivating vines.

The wine is aged for 15 months in 50% new wood casks.

This wine has hints of peach, pear, citrus fruits and a touch of hazelnuts.

The Red Wines we tasted…

Aloxe-Corton 1er Cru La Toppe Au Vert 2017 made from 100% Pinot Noir from vines between 40 and 50 years old. Located in Ladoix-Serrigny, La Toppe au Vert extends over Corton’s northeastern slopes (with southeastern exposure) and sits just below Grand Cru vineyards on the Corton hill. The term Toppe or Teppe is a pre –Latin origin and refers to a land on a hillside that enjoys good exposure: a land left fallow waiting the planting of the vines. Vert, originally Vers, means steep terrain in the Burundian dialect.

The soil is heavy with clay and moderate stone content. The soil composition comes from the weathering of thin deposits from the formation of Combianchien limestone.

Michel said this type of soil causes the vine’s network of roots to spread out horizontally near the top of the surface.

At harvest unhealthy grapes are removed, are destemmed and whole clusters are stacked in stainless steel vats or wooden casks.

Michel said they do not like to interfere too much in the wine cellar and prefer nature to take its course and produce its own vintage. After about a week of maceration, the fermentation process begins. At the beginning they do punching down of the cap, to gently extract the liquids, and at the end of fermentation, pumping over to adjust the tannic structure of the wine. The wine is then drawn off and some of the pressed grapes are added to the juice. Once assembled, the cuvee is placed in French oak barrels. The wine is aged for 15 months in 60% new oak casks (228 Burgundian). This is a wine meant to be aged for many years with a floral bouquet, hints of red fruit, cherries,clove and spice. It represents perhaps the best value in the Mallard Cellar as it is preciously close in quality to his Grand Cru wines at a fraction of the price.

Corton Grand Cru “Les Renardes” 2013 made from 100% Pinot Noir from vines between 50 and 55 years old. At the heart of the hillside, the parcel Les Renardes flourishes on the southeastern flank of the commune of Aloxe-Corton. Renardes means vixens, indicating the presence of numerous dens of foxes living in the area, or it just may be the name of the original climat’s owner.

Shallow soil, with clay and moderate stone content, from the weathering of colitic and bioclastic limestone (skeleton remains of living organisms) from the formation of limestone deposits in Ladoix. These limestone deposits split into slabs a few centimeters thick, allowing the roots to penetrate the soil more deeply. The wine is aged for 16 to 18 months in 70% new wood casks, 228L. This is a wine with hints of blueberry, red currants, a touch of black pepper, licorice and subtle meat and game notes.

Michel asked if we would like to taste anything else. I asked him if he had the 2007 vintage of this wine. 2007 is a vintage for Red Burgundy that is drinking particularly well right now. Michel obliged and opened a bottle. It was fantastic and has all the qualities of great Burgundy. Michel was kind enough to give us the open bottle to take back to the hotel with us. We drank it a few days later and it was still fantastic.

Michel Mallard produces: Côte de Nuits-Villages, Chorey-les-Beaune, Savigny-les-Beaune, Ladoix, Aloxe-Corton, Corton and Corton-Charlemagne.

In the United States Michel’s wines can be difficult to find.  My friend who had introduced me to these wines told me that Amanti Vino in New Jersey carries much of the Mallard range https://www.amantivino.com/

Since these wines sell quickly, if you do not see them on the website, you can email info@amantivino.com and let them know that you want to be alerted the next time they do an offering of Michel Mallard’s wine.

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Tenuta di Lilliano: Chianti Classico at its Best

Many years ago Michele and I stayed in Tuscany at a resort in Castellina in Chianti, and visited Tenuta di Lilliano. A few months ago, Tony di Dio of Tony Di Dio Selections, asked me if I was familiar with the winery and the wines of Lilliano. I told him yes and I liked the wines. Tony invited me to a lunch featuring the wines of Tenuta di Lillian.

The property was acquired in 1920 by Baron Beringieri. In 1958 the first Lilliano wines were bottled for sale at the hands of Princess Eleonora Ruspoli Berlingieri. She was the first to appreciate the potential of Lilliano as a winemaking estate. She was helped by Giulio Gambelli who has been called the “Sangiovese guru.”

Alessandro

Today the property is owned by brothers Giulio and Pietro Ruspoli and has been managed by Giulio since 1989. Their nephew Alessandro represents Liliano internationally. The enologist now is the famous Lorenzo Landi.

The interesting and knowledgeably Alessandro Ruspoli represented the winery at the tasting and lunch which was held at Marea Restaurant in NYC. Alessandro said the Chianti Classico labels bear the Ruspoli and Berlingieri family coat of arms. The current owners of Lilliano reside in the historic Ruspoli Palace in the center of Rome.

There are 40 cultivated hectares dominated by Sangiovese alongside a small amount of other native and international varieties. He said they have 3 vineyards that produce the highest quality grapes: Le Piagge–Sangiovese, Casina Sopra Strada–Sangiovese and Colorino, and Vigna Catena—Merlot.

The aging cellar beneath the main villa is where the Chianti Classico Riserva ages in large oak barrels along with the Gran Selezione, a recent classification from 2010, which at Lilliano is aged in tonneaux, is a wine made exclusively from a winery’s own grapes grown in its finest vineyards according to strict regulations. It is on the top of the Chianti Classico pyramid.

In a second cellar used for storage and wine making, there are glazed concrete tanks and stainless steel containers. I asked Alessandro if they were returning to concrete as many producers are now doing and he said “no, we always had them.”

The Chianti Classico of Lilliano

Chianti Classico 2016 DOCG made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot. After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis.

With this we had fusilli pasta with red wine braised octopus and bone marrow.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2015 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot from the first selection. After a careful selection the grapes undergo soft pressing and destalking. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration lasts for 21 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages in large casks of French oak 28 to 34HL. The final blend is assembled and the wine ages in glass a minimum of 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, cassis, violets, and a touch of spice.

Poletto, pan roasted chicken breast, with fennel, artichoke, and snap peas was our next course.

Chianti Classico Grand Selezione DOCG 2015 made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot from grapes grown and selected from the Le Piagge and La Casina vineyards where the soil is calcareous clay. After a careful selection the grapes undergo a soft crushing and destemming. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration is for 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures for 15 months in French oak barrels of 28 and 34HL and in tonneaux (500 liters). The wine is blended, bottled and ages for a minimum of 6 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, floral notes, cherry, plum and a touch of violets.

Our meal ended with a tasting of 3 cheeses.

All of the wines from Tenuta di Lilliana that we tasted are good food wines and I really enjoyed them.

 

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A Chicken to Remember in Beaune

Le Bistro d’Hotel

Our first dinner in Beaune was just about perfect. As soon as we sat down at Le Bistro d’Hotel, we were served a little “amuse” of black olives, marinated

cubes of winter squash, and cheese sablees, savory wafers.

Chablis Premier Cru “Montée De Tonnerre 2007 Clotilde Davenne made from 100% Chardonnay. The wine was drinking very nicely with hints of dried fruit, almonds and a touch of honey.

A little “gift” from the kitchen was a tiny cup of porcini mushroom soup.

Premier cru Ile des Vergelesse “Pernand Vergelesse” 2014 Domaine Rollin Père et Fils. Made from 100% Pinot Noir from a vineyard situated in the middle of the Vergelesse hileside slope and composed of very pebbly, shallow clay-limestone. Beneath is very brittle bed-rock. The exposure is east and it was planted in 1946(two-thirds and 1989(one third). Harvesting is by hand, and careful sorting at the vat house. After pre fermentation maceration for 5 to 6 days at 10C the alcoholic fermentation starts naturally at regulated temperature. There are daily tasting and pumping down. After two or three weeks in vats the wines go into oak barrels (30% new) for 12 to 14 months. Malolactic fermentation occurs in the barrel naturally in the spring. After racking, the wine is assembled in vat, until bottling the following winter. This is a rather floral, elegant and intense wines

For a first course we had foie gras terrine served with salad and onion confit,

while our friend ordered the snails in a green vegetable butter. He said he liked it but would have preferred the more traditional garlic butter.

The main course was a perfectly cooked poulard de Bresse. A poulard, our waitress explained is a female chicken that is allowed to fatten a month longer than a poulet.

She carved the bird beautifully and served it with the pan juices.

We enjoyed it with a heap of frites and a bouquet of colorful seasonal vegetables.

We decided to finish with a sweet, so we shared an order of crepes Suzette, flamed with Grand Marnier and plenty of good butter.

It may be an old fashioned dessert, but it sure was delicious. 

Then of course there was the coffee and the Marc

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The Wines of Trullo di Pezza at The Leopard at des Artistes

Puglia is a region of Italy that I have visited a number of times.  I have always enjoyed these trips, and I developed a special fondness for the wines of the area that I was able to sample when I was the Wine Director of I Trulli Restaurant in NYC.

Enrico Battista, CEO of Solair Imports, invited me to a lunch featuring one of his producers from Puglia at The Leopard at des Artistes and I was eager to attend.

Enrico and Andrea

The speaker was Andrea Fattizzo, the General Manager of the Trullo di Pezza winery.

Andrea said the winery is located in Torricella just a few kilometers from Manduria in the middle of the Primitivo zone in Puglia. There are 30 hectares under vines. The vineyards benefit from the “Terra Rossa,” a distinctive red color and soil rich in mineral deposits.

Sisters Simona and Marika  Lacaita inherited the vineyards from their parents who were selling grapes, and in 2013 built their own winery.  Trullo di Pezza was born. The winery is very close to the sea and the wines are certified organic.

With the appetizers, Enrico poured a sparkling wine from another producer he represents, Spumante Franciacorta Brut NV from Antica Fratta made from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir from 30 year old vines. The vineyards are at 120 meters and the soil is calcareous clay. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 24 months. Aging is in the bottle. This is a medium bodied sparkling wine with hints of apple, pear and lemon.

We had the Spumante with the Piccole Cose:

Pomdorini Gratinati Alla Pugliese

Croccante Di Funghi Trifolati

Arancini Di Riso Cacio E Pepe

The food was prepared by the chef of  the Leopard Vito Gnazzo and it was a perfect match with the wines

The Wines of Trullo di Pezza

Primitivo Salento “Mezzapezza” 2016 made from 100% Primitivo from vines 20 to 30 years old at 5 meters. The soil is sandy clay, south exposure and the training system is Espalier. Harvest is manual. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with maceration for 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months and 1 month in bottle before release. This is a fresh intense fruity wine with hints of cherry, plum, and a touch of spice.   

Cozze Alla Tarantina  – Plump  mussels  cooked  in  a light  tomato  broth.

Rosso Salento “Nimella” IGP 2015 made from 100% Negroamaro. The soil is sand and silt and the vineyard is at 5 meters. The vines are 10 to 15 years old, south exposure and the training system is guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with 7 days maceration on the skins. With the 2014 vintage the wine is aged is stainless steel for two months and in the bottle for 6 months before release. This is a full-bodied and balanced wine with ripe red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of black cherry and a touch of spice.

Chiancaredde Al Pomodoro E Basilico–Fresh  pasta  with  tomato  and  basil

Primitivo Di Manduria “Licurti” 2014 DOP made from 100% Primitivo. The soil Is sandy clay and the vineyard is at 5 meters. The exposure is south and the training system is guyot. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with 10 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged in French oak tonneaux for 6 months and one month in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced, full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of dark fruit, a hint of prune and a touch of spice.

Bombette Al Prosciutto Crudo E Riobiola Con Cime Di Rape Al Peperoncino

Cartellate Al Miele — Fried pastry spirals soaked in honey.  Andrea said this was a very typical dessert from Puglia.

It was a wonderful lunch and I really enjoyed the wines and the food.

 

 

 

 

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Colavita Products and Panebianco Wines at The Leopard at des Artistes

Colavita and Panebianco Wines brought their products together for a luncheon at The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC.

The speakers were Giovanni Colavita, CEO and President of Colavita USA, and Nunzio Castaldo, President of Panebianco Wines.

Giovanni Colavita

Giovanni spoke about Colavita’s investment for joint ownership of Panebianco wines. Castaldo will be CEO of Panebianco, which is based in NYC, and Giovanni will coordinate the US-based partnership with him. Giovanni is also based in NYC.

Giovanni told us that the Colavita Company was founded in 1938 in a small village in the Italian region of Molise. Here Giovanni and Felice Colavita established a small olive mill, which developed into one of the top ten olive refiners in Italy. As the company expanded they began importing olive oil to the U.S. Later they looked to new products such as balsamic vinegar and vegetables preserved in olive oil. More space was needed as the company expanded they and opened a facility in Pomezia outside of Rome for packaging the oils. It is the second largest facility in Italy in terms of production and storage.

Paolo

Paolo Colavita

In 2001 they inaugurated the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine, within the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY. The increasing growth of the company enabled them to purchase a new facility in California for distribution in the U.S. Giovanni is very proud that Colavita is still a family owned and operated company.

 

Also at the tasting was Paolo Colavita, Vice President of California operations, Colavita USA. I enjoyed speaking to him before the tasting about olive oil, Italy, New York and California. He said that Colavita extra virgin olive oil, Italian pasta, and Italian vinegar is distributed in over 80 countries.

We started with a blind olive oil tasting conducted by Chef Ken Arnone, Colavita’s Certified Master Chef. The three olive oils were served in blue colored glasses so that we would not be influenced by their color.

Chef Ken Arnone

Tasting Olive Oil

We were advised to cup a glass in one hand to warm it and cover it with the other to trap the aromas inside. Hold it, swirl it and warm it up for a minute or two. The chef said that the aromas of olive oil could be both vegetative and fruity, typically artichokes, herbs, grass etc. On the palate we should taste bitterness, pepper, nutty and buttery flavors.

He said that bitterness is a characteristic of olive oil depending on the ripeness of the olives.

The Olive Oil

Giovanni said that Colavita purchases all of their olives.

Colavita Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil — the oil is cold pressed using Koro and Kalamata olives grown and harvested in Crete and Sparta.

Colavita California Extra Virgin Olive Oil — the oil is cold pressed using olives grown and harvested in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys in California.

Colavita Premium Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil the oil is cold pressed in Italy using olives grown and harvested from the best regions of Italy. Certified OU kosher, cholesterol and carbohydrate free. Cermet seal certification guarantees -100% Italian. This was the oil I liked the best.

The Wines

Nunzio Castaldo

Nunzio Castaldo spoke about the Panebianco wines. I have know Nunzio for over 30 years and have great respect for his knowledge of Italian wine and the Panebianco portfolio.

Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosato Millesimato 2013 Cantina della Volta made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna). The harvest is manual, then the grapes are soft pressed, the must is clarified, and the alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for at least six months in the tanks for the maturation process, selected yeast is added before the wine is bottled. The bottles are stored horizontally in piles for the long re-fermentation process and maturation at a controlled temperature, then remuage, disgorgement and liqueur d’expedition. The wine has hints of red fruit with a touch of hazelnuts and pomegranate.

With the Lambrusco we had Tuna Crostini with celery, lemon and basil and Trucchetti pasta with arugula pesto.

Furore Bianco 2018 Marisa Cuomo made from 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella (Campania) Coastal terraces set at 200/550 meters, the exposure is south-westerly and the soil is Dolomitic-limestone rock. Training system is pergola and/or atypical radial espalier. There are 5,000/7,000 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the first 10 days of October by hand. Whole grapes are destemmed, crushed and soft pressed. The free-run must, which undergoes cold static fining, is inoculated with select yeasts, and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine spends 4 months in stainless steel tanks. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of lemon and acidic notes. This is one of my favorite wines.

3 hour Poached Octopus with roasted baby potatoes, oven dried tomatoes, Cerignola olives, Colavita Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil and Colavita 20 Star Balsamic Vinegar.

Capo di Stato 2013 Venegazzu Loredan Gasparini made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot from a historic 100 plant vineyard (Veneto). The vineyard is at 37o meters and the winery is north of Venice. The first vintage was 1964. Many heads of state liked this wine, in particular the French President Charles de Gaul, and so it is called “Head of State” in his honor. This is a well-structured wine with hints of ripe fruit, blueberries and blackberries with a touch of spice and hazelnuts. It has a long finish with a note of licorice.

The next course was Porchetta Spiced Pork Tenderloin with stuffed escarole, gigante beans, and pork jus.

Recioto della Valpolicella 2012 Venturini made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara (Veneto). Vineyard is at 200 meters, the exposure is southwest and the soil is very light limestone rich in fossils. The age of the vines is 20 years and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is in the third week of September and there is manual picking and sorting. The grapes are put on trays and dry in a special room, well ventilated until February. The grapes lose 50% of their weight. Traditional pressing keeping the grapes in bunches and fermentation at a controlled temperature. Maceration for 30 days with daily remontage. The wine is transferred into stainless steel wine jars. There is frequent decanting to retain most of the residual sugar. The wine remains in bottle for six months before release. This is a dessert wine with hints of blueberries and blackberries, and a touch of prune and licorice.

Even our dessert was made with olive oil. Plum and Arbequina Olive Oil Semifreddo, Orange Pistachio Biscotti.

Chef Ken Arnone prepared the food.

 

 

 

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Jeremy Parzen on the Italian Reaction to the U.S. Trade War

We’re paying for damages we didn’t cause: Italians feel wrongly punished in U.S. trade war.

Late yesterday, I had the chance to speak with Pecorino Toscano Consortium president Andrea Righini about the new U.S. tariffs on Italian cheese — part of the U.S. government’s ongoing trade war with the EU.

See my interview with him (for the Italy-America Chamber of Commerce Texas) here.

Andrea was stressed, as you can imagine. He’d been on the phone all day with frantic consortium members trying to figure out how the punitive tariffs are going to affect their livelihood.

Over the course of our conversation, he pointed out that Italy has nothing to do with the illegal subsidies that prompted the U.S. “countermeasures” against EU countries. In fact, “France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom [are] the four countries responsible,” wrote the Office of the United States Trade Representative in a post on its website on Wednesday.

The whole affair was borne out of a “dispute with the European Union over illegal subsidies to Airbus.” But the only countries who profited from those subsidies were those listed above.

“We need to remember that these sanctions are the result of dealings that have nothing to do with Italy,” said Andrea. [If the tariffs were imposed] “the consortium would pay for damages it didn’t cause.”

He also talked at length about how the new import duties are going to affect the local economy in Tuscany, including Pecorino producers, their employees, and the shepherds that supply the milk. The surplus of unsold cheese and the drop in the price of sheep’s milk will be disastrous, he explained.

“All of these things are connected to one another,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of how much product you sell.”

American importers, retailers, and restaurateurs will also be affected. Last night I spoke to an Italian chef here in Houston who noted how the tariffs will impact his business: the food cost for his Cacio e Pepe — one of the most popular dishes on his menu — will also increase by 25 percent.

Ultimately, consumers will also feel the pinch. We grate a lot of cheese for pasta at our house and our daughters often eat Parmigiano Reggiano for a treat after dinner or after school.

Trade wars seem far-away… until they come to your town.

Click here for my interview with Andrea and be sure to enjoy your pasta with cheese this weekend.

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