Monthly Archives: April 2020

A Tale of Two Lunches

Can one enjoy lunch with friends on the Internet? Michele and I have a friend, Ernie De Salvo who lives in  NJ that we travel with often. In fact, we were with him in Naples and Rome for a month in February and March. He is a wine collector and an excellent cook, so we decided that even though we can’t get together in person, we could enjoy lunch and conversation via the internet.


We began our lunch with an appetizer of Tuscan style chicken liver pate which we ate with crackers.  Michele made it with garlic, capers, anchovies, and herbs.  It was very savory and rich but unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it.  Too busy eating.

Main Course

Our main course was chicken in a mustard sauce which we enjoyed with some simple roasted asparagus.  The  asparagus  in  the  photo  are  in  a special  asparagus  serving  bowl that  we bought  many  years  ago  in  Florence.

Mustard Chicken, made with shallots, herbs, white wine and a delicious  mustard  we  bought  in  Burgundy  last  year.

To drink, Michele and I had:

Chinon “Les Picasses” 1985 (Loire) Olga Raffault” Made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The soil is limestone and clay. The mid slope vines are at least 50 years old and are worked organically and harvested by hand.

The fruit is destemmed and whole uncrushed berries are fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. Fermentation and maceration lasts for 25 to 30 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged for 2 to 3 years in oak and chestnut foudres of 30 to 50 HL. There is more aging in tank and bottle before release for about four years. This is a full bodied, structured and complex wine with hints of cherry, red and dark berries, a hint of smoke and a touch of meatiness

Ernie’s Lunch

While we enjoyed the above, Ernie was having the following:

For an antipasto, Parmigiano Reggiano, Finocchiona (fennel flavored salami) fatto in casa di Rosario, Pane e Olio.

This pasta is our friend’s personal concoction of traditional orecchiette, broccoli rabe, with garlic of course, combined with plenty of fried ground pork sausage meat. When it is all combined with a touch of peperoncino and plenty of grated Pecorino Romano, this pasta is to die for. The  last  are  his  words.  He  promises  to  make  it  for  me  when  we  can  get  together  again..

Barolo “Cannubi” 1995 made from 100% Nebbiolo Prunotto  Good color, classic Barolo nose of leather, tobacco, still dark cherry fruit. Tannins resolved but enough present to allow for more age. Wine paired well with orecchiette, broccoli rabe and sausage with plenty of pecorino grattugiato.

Though we couldn’t share our meals and wine, it was fun talking, laughing, and sharing our concerns on this strange predicament that we are all in.  For now, our internet lunches will have to do.






Filed under Barolo, Chinon, Ernie De Salvo

A Three Course Lunch with Wine

Every week since we have been staying in, Michele places an order for a grocery delivery.  If we are lucky, half of it arrives.  This Friday the delivery contained some treats.  There were Italian pork sausages, both sweet and hot, firm red bell peppers and a fresh mozzarella.  We decided to have a little appetizer of crostini topped with mozzarella and a little marinara followed by sausages roasted with onions, potatoes and red peppers.

While Michele cooked, we couldn’t help nibbling on the mozzarella. 

Then we had the mozzarella on toasted Italian bread with tomato sauce

The peppers, potatoes  and onion  were  all  red.

Here they are sliced and ready for the oven.   A  generous  drizzle  of  olive  oil  and  they  were  ready  for  the  oven.  The  sausages  went  in  about  15  minutes  later.  

On the platter.  The  vegetables  were  nice  and  brown  and  crusty.

On the plate

The Wine

Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2012 I Saltari made from 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella,10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The grapes are grown in the Mezzane Valley in the region of the Veneto on terraced hillside vineyards in calcareous and alkaline soil. After a careful collection of the grapes, vivification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking, the wine is transferred to different size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine is unfiltered.  It has hints of small berries like currants and blackberry with hints of tobacco and leather and a touch of cherry. $29. This winery also produces an excellent Amarone.


Dessert was simple:  my favorite ciambelline, made by Michele, red wine and fennel cookies with a good cup of espresso.


Filed under I Saltari, Uncategorized, Valpolicella

Amalfi Style Calamari with a Local Wine

Michele and I have been staying home since our return from Rome on March 6th except for going food shopping and taking walks to the Greenmarket. There is really no place to go in NYC and it looks like it will be that way until the middle of May, at least. What can I write about? I cannot write about travel, visits to winemakers, restaurants,  wine tastings and eating and drinking with friends.

I will just have to write about what I am eating and drinking at home, one wine and one dish at a time.  Every day, Michele tells me what she is making and I match it with a wine.


  1. Calamari with Tomatoes and Potatoes Amalfi Coast Style — We first had this at La Gavitella, a restaurant on the beach in Praiano, near Amalfi.  There it is called Totani e Patate, totani being a type of squid.  It’s a very simple dish and easy to make with local products.

We were able to get in an order of fresh squid from Agata & Valentina.  Michele cut the squid into rings.  Unfortunately, they sent us only the tubular bodies and not the tentacles, so we had to do without.  The  first  step was  to  saute  several  cloves  of  chopped  garlic  in  olive  oil  with  some  peperoncino.  Then  add  the  squid and saute  for  a minute  or  two.

Two big potatoes were peeled and cut into bite size cubes.  The parsley was chopped and ready to garnish the finished dish.


A can of Italian peeled cherry tomatoes was crushed and added to the squid with a cup of white wine and some salt.  Potatoes went in a little later and the whole thing simmered until the potatoes were tender and the sauce was thick. 

Here it is before the potatoes went in.

The  finished  dish. We  ate  it  with  lots  of  good  bread.


Tenuta Augustea is owned by the Nocerino family and has been for over 100 years. They have 7 hectares of vineyards located on Monte Somma where they grow Catalanesca, Caprettone, Piedirosso and Aglianico among others all native grapes. 

Catalanesca 2018 IGP Tenuta Augustea made from 100% Catalanesca from the Somma Vesuviana zone. The soil is well-strutted deep limestone with medium fertile consistency. The exposure is south/east and the vineyards are at 400/500 meters. The average age of the vines is 9/10 years and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in October. Fermentation is in steel tanks for 30 days at 18C. There is tartaric stabilization and filtration. This is an aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit, apricot a note of white flowers an good minerality. It went very well with the calamari.


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Enjoying the Food of Naples

Michele and I have been going to Naples since 1970. It is one of the most exciting cities in Italy and we look forward to visiting again soon.  We love the museums, the opera, and the street life, but most of all we love the food.

Trattoria San Ferdinando

Alici Grigliate–Grilled fresh anchovies

Pasta with eggplant, tomatoes, peppers and provolone

La Taverna di Santa Chiara

Pasta with Zucchini

Pasta with potatoes and provolone

Hosteria Toledo

Pasta with fish, tomatoes and capers

Paccheri pasta with ragu and ricotta

Mimi alla Ferrovia

Spaghetti con Ricci — sea urchin sauce

Mixed fried fish

Da Ettore

Fried Pizza stuffed with pork ragu

Caffe Gambrinus

Sfogliatella with cappuccino


Outside Naples

Zia Pasqualina in Artipalda (AV)

Buffalo Milk Ricotta- this alone was worth the trip,  so  light  and  fresh

Pasta Fagioli — mixed pasta shapes with beans

Haccademia –Via Panoramica 8 in Terzigno less than half an hour outside Naples on the way to Pompeii

Pizza Margherita with antichi pomodori di Napoli, fiore di latte di Tramonti, basilico, olio evo del Vesuvio. My favorite pizza.  Pizza Margarita at its best.

Pizza fritta with ricotta and ciccoli di maiale. This was so light it was difficult to tell it was fried, and the filling was creamy and well seasoned.

Le Parúle near Herculaneum (Ercolano)

Frittatina, fried macaroni  with ham,  cheese  and  bechamel

Pizza Margherita-Fantastic

A dessert at the home of a wine producer. Baba au rhum with pastry cream and strawberries,  topped with mini baba






Filed under Haccademia, Naples, Uncategorized

Italian Wines $20 and Less for Drinking Any Time

Here are 12 Italian wines I have tried lately priced under $20 that I have enjoyed and you might too.


Garganega- Soave DOC 2018 made from 100% Garganega. Sandro De Bruno The production zone is Soave, Roncà-Calvarina. The vineyard is 15 acres at 262 to 452 ft., the exposure is south and the soil is volcanic. There is a manual harvest in small crates during the 3rd week of September. A manual selection takes place followed by a soft press in a nitrogen saturation with a low temperature of 10°C. Before the fermentation, the must is decanted getting rid of the first gross lees. Noble lees are preserved and worked with continuous batonnages for 3 months. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine has aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, with a hint of white flowers, nice minerality and a touch of peach $14

Gewürztraminer “Classic” Südtirol- Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Gewürztraminer, Tiefenbrunner. The vineyards are in Kurtatsch and Entiklar on south/southeast facing hills at 260 to 470 meters. The training system is pergola and guyot and there are 3,500 t0 7,000 vines per hectare. The vines are up to 35 years old. The soil is chalk moraine in the hills of Entiklar and alluvial in Kurtatsch. Fermented at a constant temperature at 20C in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is on the fine lees for 4 months in stainless steel tanks and concrete. The wine has hints of ripe grapes, candied fruits, a hint of honey and a touch of spice and sage. $18

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 Michele Alois 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18

Falanghina Beneventano 2018 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara  The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand.  I first had this wine at the winery. $17

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

Ippolito 1845, “Pecorello” Calabria Bianco IGT 2018 Ippolito made from 100% Pecorello Bianco.  Pecorello means little sheep. It is an ancient grape variety of Calabria and was almost extinct until Ippolito began producing it again. Manual harvest takes place in early September, then cold settling and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks until the end of January. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with notes of peach and pear and nice minerality $19

Umbria IGT Bianco Grechetto 2018  Argillae made from 100% Grechetto The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before the wine is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and a typical almond finish. I tasted this wine with a group of friends at the winery and they all really liked it. $18


Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglanico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

Primitivo Salento “Mezzapezza” 2016 Trullo di Pezza 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.$17

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 10% Merlot and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place by hand from the last ten days of September to early October. Vinification is exclusively with natural enzymes. The wine does not undergo any kind of stabilization or filtration. The presence of sediment should be considered a guarantee of authenticity. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for about 12 months and aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherry, violets and floral scents and a touch of spice. $19

Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG “Garabei” 2017  Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Dolcetto planted in 1968. The estate is situated on a hill in Diano d’Alba at a high altitude. They own 11 hectares of vineyards. The soil is sandy with a lot of gravel. The juice is fermented naturally on the skins for 8 days in stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel and spends 4 more months in bottle before release. The wines are not filtered or fined. Sustainable farming methods are used. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries. $16

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2015 Tenuta Del Mariggio made from 100% Aglianico from estate vineyards located in Montemiletto at 500 meters and in Taurasi at 300 meters. The vineyards were planted between 2003 and 2012. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place at the end of October and the beginning of September. This is a wine with red and blackberry flavors and a hint of spice and should be drunk within the next 5 years.$16










Filed under Alois Winery, Argillae Winery, Cavalier Pepe, De Bruno, Donna Chiara Winery, Gewurztraminer, Ippolito winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kata, Soave, Uncategorized

Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening

On Tuesday, February 4th, the BBWO Grand Tasting was held at Center 415 in NYC. The event was organized by the Consorzio di Tutela Batolo Barbatesco Alba Langhe e Dogliano representing over 450 wineries in Piedmont. I was not only invited to the walk around tasting on the first day, but also was asked to be a judge of a blind tasting of 2016 Barolo and 2017 Barbaresco the next day.

Part 1 was a walk around tasting of 200 producers from the Langhe presenting their wines. In the middle of the room surrounded by all the producers were two large round booths, one for Barbaresco and one for Barolo, divided by commune.

There was so much wine I wished the tasting part would have been two days, one for Barbaresco and the next day for Barolo.

There was also a seminar given by Alessandro Masnaghetti on Barolo and Barbaresco, which I was not able to attend.

These are some of the wines I tasted:

Barolo “Rocche Dell’Annunziata” 2015 Aurelio Settimo. The wine is aged for 42 months,18 in big French oak casks and 6 in new big oak casks of Austrian wood.This is a well-structured and balanced wine with hints of cinnamon and licorice, spicy and balsamic notes.Tiziana

I visited the winery 3 years ago and really enjoyed my visit with Tiziana Settimo, administrator of the winery.

 Barolo “Sperss” 2015 Gaja Fermentation and maceration takes place for 3 weeks. The wine is aged in oak for 24 months. The wine has aromas and flavors of dark ripe fruit, black cherries and prunes with a hint of cloves and black pepper.Angelo

Once many years ago Michele and I interviewed Angelo Gaja over breakfast for an article we were writing. It is something that never happened with anyone else and seemed so un-Italian!

 Barolo “La Rosa”2015 Fontanafredda Aging is in oak Allier barrels, 50% new for about 12 months and then racked into oak casks of 2,000 and 3,000 liters for one year. In January, I went to a Fontanafredda tasting where they had the “La Rosa” 1996- a truly great wine.

 Barolo “Bussia” 2015 Poderi Colla aged in large oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licorice, and tea. This is a classic Barolo. I visited the winery three years ago and was very impressed with all their wine.

Barolo 2015 Pio Cesare Vinification in stainless steel with skin contact for about 30 months. The wine is aged in large French oak botti for about 30 months and a small amount in barriques as well. The wine has hints of black cherry, licorice, tobacco and spice, a classic Barolo. I have visited the winery a number of times and once Michele and I were invited to the home of Pio Boffa, owner of the family winery for dinner.. We had a great time. Pio was not at the tasting.

Barolo 2015 “Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2015 Rocche Costamagna The wine is aged in botti (large barrels) of Slavonia oak for 24 months and in bottle for one year before release. The wine has hints of raspberries and licorice with floral notes and a touch of spice.

I first met Alessandro Locatelli, who now runs the family winery, when he was a teenager in the 1980’s at the winery and several times since. I enjoyed speaking with him about the people we know in common.

Barolo “Sarmassa” Vigna Merenda Scarzello 2013 The wine is aged in 600 liter Slovenian tanks for 26 to 28 months. It is then aged an additional 12 months in bottle before release. 2013 was an excellent year. This is an old style traditional Barolo and I was very impressed by it

Barolo “La Serra” 2016 Marcarini The wine is aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak casks and six months in the bottle before release. It has hints of cherry, violets, licorice with a touch of spice and a note of violets.

I had not seen Manuel Marchetti since I was the wine director of I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and that was a number of years ago. It was nice to catch up.

Barolo “Cannubi” 2015 Damilano Temperature-controlled fermentation for 20 days. The wine is aged in large oak barrels 30 to 50 HL. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of cherry, plum, tobacco, licorice, leather, a touch of white truffles, a long finish and a very pleasant aftertaste.  

Babaresco “Ovello” 2015 Produttori del Barbaresco The Orvello vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The wine is aged for 4 years in Slavonian oak barrels. This is a traditional Barbaresco and over the years Orvello has become my favorite of the single vineyards.

Barbaresco “Campo Gros Martinega” Riserva 2013 Marchesi di Gresy. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months and then in Slavonian oak casks for 16 months and in bottle until ready for release. The wine has hints of dried roses, leather, tobacco, licorice and a note of violets. I visited the winery many years ago on the suggestion of the late wine writer, Sheldon Wasserman.

Barbaresco “Rabaja” 2016 Castello di Verduno There is 30 to 40 day macerations and extended aging in large Slavonian botti. The wine has hints of red fruit, spice, roses and a hint of tobacco.

Barbaresco “Montersino” Alessandro Rivetto 2016 Manual harvest. Stem pressing and cold maceration for 2 days after which fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine remains in oak casks for 18 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherries and violets and touches of tea and rose petals.

I met Alessandro a few years ago at a wine tasting in NYC and I always enjoy speaking with him.

For more information on the tasting see.  a blog by Tom Maresca

On Feb 5th there was the World’s Best Palates tasting. Matteo Ascheri President of the Consorzio said it was the aim to assess the overall quality of the 2016 and 2017 vintage. The judges were Masters of Wine, press, wine critics and sommeliers. The panels were designed to be diverse so we could share the experience with others from different nationalities and wine trade areas. At my judging table the chairperson was from New Zealand, other members were from Italy, Spain, America and Latvia.

The chairperson tasted the wine and if it was approved it was poured for the rest of the table. There were 4 flights of about 10 wines grouped if possible by commune. There would be 6 minutes to evaluate, score and discuss each wine. Each panel member had an ipad for the scoring. The chairperson recorded all results and an average was taken for the 2007 Barbaresco and 2016 Barolo. My panel discussed every wine, sometimes we agreed and some times we were very far apart in our scores. The discussion was held before you put in your final score so that you could change it based on the discussion. I did not change any of my scores.

It was informative to taste blind and to hear the opines of the others on the wines. I really enjoyed the experience as everyone was very professional.

The final score for all the panels for the Barbaresco vintage 2017 was 98.1 and for the Barolo 2016 vintage 99.3.

Some of the wines I gave high scores to in the blind tasting were:

Barolo Momforte D’Alba Poderi Colla

Barolo La Morra Cabot Berton

Barolo La Morra Marcarini

Barolo La Morra Mauro Veglio

Barolo La Morra Corino

Barbaresco Neive Oddero

Barbaresco Nieve Massimo Rattalino

Barbaresco Nieve Adriano Marco e Vittorio

That night there was  Gala Dinner for all the produces and judges. The dinner was prepared by Massimo Bottura. Unfortunately I was leaving for 5 weeks in Italy and was unable to attend.





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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Uncategorized

Piedmont’s Parade of Fine Vintages Continues

Piedmont’s Parade of Fine Vintages Continues

February 13, 2020 by TOM MARESCA

Climate change has been very kind to the winemakers of Italy’s Piedmont, giving them a succession of beautiful growing seasons. And they have made the most of nature’s bounty, turning out a series of wines of the quality level we used to get only once or at most twice a decade. This is truly a golden age for Barolo and Barbaresco lovers.

The proof of that was everywhere at the Barolo Barbaresco World Opening, a huge showing of new releases of both wines held in New York during the first week of February.

As if in confirmation of what has been going on in Piedmont, weather in New York that week was unnaturally warm, and the crowd at the event large indeed. 148 producers showed about twice that number of wines from 2015 and 2016, and many luminaries had traveled from Italy to personally pour their wines and to greet old friends.

I did my best, but there was no way that I was going to be able to taste 148 young Nebbiolo wines in a single afternoon, much less nearly 300. In the old days, when I was a young snip, and when the father of this event was held annually in Alba, I would taste far more wines than that over its week-long duration, but non sum qualis eram sub regno Cynarae – and in just one afternoon, standing up, struggling for spitting space at the buckets (too few and far between), and trying to take legible notes: no way.

So I tasted as many as I could, chatted with some producers I haven’t seen in years, and was totally impressed by the quality of the wines on offer. I didn’t taste a single bad one, nor even a middling one, all afternoon.

That goes for both vintages, despite their differences. And the differences are many and striking. The 2015 wines benefited from a deep winter snow cover, which provided ample ground water reserves to carry the vines through the six torrid, rainless weeks that followed the mild spring.

The rest of the summer and fall were as fine as could be hoped for, carrying the vines in almost perfect condition to the harvest. One producer remarked to me that 2015 had a hot growing season, “but we’ve learned now how to deal with them.”  Here is the Consortium’s evaluation:

The Nebbiolo ripened perfectly, though slightly earlier than over the last few years. In particular, climatic conditions were seen in the second part of the summer that allowed for an impressive accumulation of polyphenols. The excellent quality of the tannins emerging on analysis will certainly ensure elegant, long-lasting wines with good structure…. The sugar content settled at average potential values of around 14–14.5% vol., while the acidity is perfect for Nebbiolo (6.5 g/l). With the ripening data at hand, the great balance that clearly emerges in the technical parameters goes well beyond the numbers, promising big wines. In general, considering the great balance shown in the ripening data we can say without any shadow of doubt that all the conditions are in place for a truly great vintage: one to remember, like few others in history.

Now, I’ve got to put some of that statement up to hope and/or hype, because I found the 2015s charming and intensely enjoyable – beautiful, with wonderful fruit and freshness – but not big. I may be wrong about that, but most of the producers I spoke to seemed to agree, indicating that for them 2016 was the great, structured vintage, not 2015. That doesn’t mean 2015 won’t age – just that it’s probably a 15- to 20-year wine rather than 50 to 100.

2016, on the other hand, just may be a 50-year vintage: Certainly, most of the producers I spoke with seemed to feel that way, referring to it almost unanimously as a “superb” vintage. The wines I tasted – mostly Barbarescos, which are bottled a year before Barolos – supported that judgement. They were big and balanced, with the kind of tannic ripeness and live acidity that in both Barolo and Barbaresco usually portends very long life and development in the bottle.

Here, for the record, is the Consortium’s evaluation of that harvest:

The late development seen in the early part of the year was made up for during the months of August and September. In particular, the second half of September was crucial for the components which will go into determining the structure of the wines, above all as regards the accumulation of phenolic substances. While waiting to be able to assess the real quality of the 2016 wines, as far as can be evaluated analytically we can look forward to wines with excellent balance, big bouquets and great structure, although in some cases lower alcohol contents will be recorded than in 2015. We can therefore expect a vintage featuring significant qualities which will be talked about for a long time to come.

That is surprisingly guarded for a Consortium statement: They usually veer toward over-optimism rather than caution. All I can tell you is that I loved the ‘16s I tasted, even though I think they really shouldn’t be drunk for a decade yet.

I’ll just list here, in alphabetical order, my best wines of the tasting. All were absolutely characteristic both of Nebbiolo and of the vintages as I’ve already described them, so I’ll keep my comments to a minimum.

Aurelio Settimo, Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata 2015 – forward, light, and well-structured: fine.

_____________, Barolo Riserva Rocche dell’Annunziata 2012 – another lovely keeping wine, classically structured.

Brezza, Barolo Cannubi 2015 – nice indeed: wild fennel in the nose, wild cherry and herbs on the palate.

Cascina delle Rose, Barbaresco Tre Stelle 2016 – a big wine, yet welcoming, with great structure and balance.

Colla, Barolo Bussia Dardi le Rose 2015 – Excellent: classic Colla style and structure (if you don’t know what that means, you owe it to yourself to find out).

Conterno, Barolo Francia 2015 – very lovely, very young: cellar for ten years before you start them.

Gaja, Barolo Sperss 2015 – gorgeous, in that deceptively light, very structured Gaja style.

Giacomo Fenocchio, Barolo Bussia 2016 – a lovely wine, all raspberry and fennel and wild cherry.

Livia Fontana, Barolo Villero 2016 – beautiful acid/tannin balance, great over-all.

Marcarini, Barolo Brunate 2015 – lovely and accessible: drink this and the other 15s until the 16s come ready.

Massolino, Barolo Vigna Rionda Riserva 2013 – a great wine for long keeping.

Oddero, Barolo Riserva Bussia Vigna Mondoca 2013 – an extraordinary wine right through to its dark-chocolate finish.

Produttori del Barbaresco, Barbaresco Riserva Ovello 2015 – light and intensely wild cherry and, as with all Produttori wines, a bargain.

_____________________, Barbaresco Riserva Muncagota 2015 – big, fine, and structured: another great Produttori cru.

_____________________, Barbaresco Riserva Paje 2015 – Slightly bigger and more elegant than the Muncagota: very deep for a 2015.

Renato Ratti, Barolo Rocche dell’Annunziata 2016 – fine, fine, fine! With the great structure characteristic of the ‘16s.

Schiavenza, Barolo Prapo 2015 – very big, old-style Barolo: needs time to soften its tannins; very good indeed.

As you can see from all the above, the teens of this still new century are creating wonders in Barolo and Barbaresco. We have to hope that the warming trend can be brought under control before all we can get in the future becomes a fine crop of Nebbiolo raisins.


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At Home with Michele and Charles

Just like everyone else, Michele and I are trying to make the best of being confined to home, which in our case is a small apartment.  For us that means we are doing a lot of reading, tv watching, household projects and of course, eating and drinking.  Luckily, we had done a big shopping trip when we returned home from Italy and stocked up on some of our favorite Italian ingredients.  I keep a supply of wines on hand, so whatever Michele decides to cook, or is able to cook with what she finds in the pantry or refrigerator, I can match a wine to it.  With a good supply of pasta on hand, there is always something good to look forward to.


One day it was one of Michele’s childhood favorites.  Broken spaghetti with peas, eggs and cheese.  She uses frozen peas for this dish, and they are perfectly delicious, sweet and fresh tasting.



Beneventano Falaghina ‘”Resilienza “2018 Donna Chiara made from 100% Falanghina  The soil is chalky and the training system is guyot. Harvest is the first two weeks of October. There is a soft  pressing of the grapes and then they are cooled  50 degrees F for 4 to 5 hours. This is followed a with static decantations.  Fermentation is at 57 to 60 degrees F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has floral notes with hints of citrus fruit, pear and apricot with good acidity and a long finish. I am always impressed by the Falaghina from Donna Chiara.



Another day, she tried a recipe from one of Marcella Hazan’s books.  It was spaghetti with bacon and zucchini.  It doesn’t look that interesting in the photos, but we liked it.



I was craving tomato sauce, so Michele made a simple one with olive oil, garlic, canned Italian tomatoes, and some basil that she had in the freezer.  It will have to do until we can get some fresh basil or plant some when the weather is better.


The only time we have pasta leftover is when Michele makes a double batch so that she can fry it the next day.  She mixes the cold pasta — any kind will do — with eggs and grated cheese and fries it in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet until crispy and browned.  This was made with the remains of the spaghetti with zucchini and bacon.




Here we have spaghetti once again, with broccoli cooked until very soft with garlic olive oil and hot pepper.  Mashed with a little of the pasta water, it  makes  a kind  of  pesto  to  toss  with  the  pasta.

Soave Superiore DOCG “Monte San Pietro”  Sandro De Bruno made from 100% Garganega from the hills around Roncà, at 330 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 vines per hectare, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation is in big oak barrels of 30hl. This is a well-structured, complex wine with hints of tropical fruit,  citrus fruit white pepper and a floral note with a very pleasing after taste and a long finish. A great Soave.


This spaghetti was tossed with fresh scallops, garlic, parsley and hot pepper.  She finished it with some toasted breadcrumbs.

Barbera d’Alba” Bricco di Merli” 2001 Cogno  made from 100% Barbara from a 1.8 hectare vineyard at 300 meters, There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is vertical trellised with guyot pruning. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pumping over. The wine is aged for six months in large Slavonian casks and  6 months in bottle before release. This is the fourth bottle of this wine I have had and it is showing very well for a wine 19 years old. Barbara can age. It has hints of dried prunes and cherries with a hint of spice.


Fresh fettuccine is the preferred pasta for a slow simmered Ragu Bolognese, made with pork, beef and a variety of vegetables.  But  we  had  it  with  dried penne rigati.

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sangiovese, 10 % Merlot and 5% Colorino.  Harvest is by hand the last days of September and the first days of October.  Vinification is with natural enzymes and there is no stabilization or filtration. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for 12 months. The  wine has hints of violets and cherry with spicy notes

One day, a homemade pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella was a nice break from pasta.  It was even good reheated the next day.


A bunch of fresh asparagus was the inspiration for this creamy risotto.


Michele fried the remainder into cakes the next day, similar to the fried spaghetti I mentioned previously.

With so much bad news, good meals are a joy and a comfort.  We hope you are eating and drinking well too.



Filed under Barbara, Barbera, Bocale, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Michele and Charles, Montefalco Rosso, Uncategorized