Monthly Archives: July 2020

Falanghina and Calamari – Burgundy and Quail

Several years ago in Napoli, Michele had a pasta with a calamari sauce served with calamari shaped pasta.  It’s not an easy pasta shape to come by, so when she saw a bag in an Italian market, she bought it.  This weekend she made her version of the dish.

Calamari  in  Cherry  Tomato  Sauce

It’s a very simple recipe.  Oil, garlic, parsley, a little peperoncino then a can of cherry tomatoes and a little water.  Simmer until thickened. 

Calamari  shaped  pasta  was  nice  and  chewy.  We  ate  the  pasta  with  a Falanghina.

 

Falanghina del Sarnnio DOP 2018 made from 1oo% Falanghina Fontana Vecchia The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third part of September. There is a direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime with a touch of green apple.

A friend came by for dinner on Sunday.  Michele made a favorite summer salad, Green Beans with Potatoes, Red Onion Oregano and Capers. 

With the salad we had Grilled Quail  Marinated  with  Lemon  and  Herbs.

Quail

Chambolle Musigny 2005 Nicolas Petel made from 100% Pinot Noir . There is a selection of grapes to eliminate unwanted grapes and to evaluate precisely the quality of the harvest. They taste the cuvees twice or three times a day to follow their aromatic evolution. The grapes are softly pressed in a vertical wine press and the liquid is allowed to settle before going in to the barrels. With a minimum of interference the must is left to settle for 12 to 16 months on the lees without racking and a minimum of SO2. There is a late malolactic fermentation. The wine is drawn off just before racking and blended in vats so it will have the same uniformity in the barrel. Old fashion racking where the wine is drawn off by the Broquereau where the opening is at the end of the barrel by a funnel. The wine “moves” without the aid of a pumps.  The wine is separated from the lees and this is important for the non filtration. They follow the biodynamic calendar. The wine has hints of cherry and raspberry with a touch of violets and a note of licorice.

Dessert was a platter of watermelon and cherries, refreshing on a hot summer day.

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My Favorite Wines from Campania $20 or Less

Some of my favorite wines that I drink on a regular basis come from Campania in Southern Italy.  Here is a collection of a few of them.  It’s important to mention that all cost $20 or less and I think they are great bargains.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. 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. I always have a bottle or two on hand. $16.

Irpinia Coda di Volpe DOC “Bianco di Bellona” 2012 Cavalier Pepe 100% Coda di Volpe (tail of the fox). Grapes are from estate vineyards in the hills around the towns of Carazita, Piesco and Pesano in Luogosano and Brussinera in Sant’Angelo all Esca. Soil is sand and clay and rich in volcanic matter and the vineyards are at 300 to 490 meters. The gapes are harvested in mid October. Selection takes place in the vineyard and in the cellar where the grapes are pressed whole. The must is cold clarified and then fermented at a low temperature. A short period of aging on the lees takes place and the wine remains in the bottle for a short time before release. The wine has hints of peach, a touch of pineapple and a touch of yellow fruit. It has developed into a very impressive wine. When I visited the winery I tasted a 2012 and it was in perfect condition.$16

Fiano di Avelllino 2017 Sarno 1860 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyard is 8 hectares, the exposure is southeast and the training system is guyot. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in October by hand. Vinification is in steel at a controlled temperature with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 8 months on the fine lees and four months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, grapefruit, peach and toasted hazelnuts. This producer only makes Fiano di Avellino. $18

Fiano di Avellino “Radici” 2017 DOCG Mastroberardino made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from the 25 acre Santo del Sole vineyard at 1,815 feet with southwest exposure. The soil is sandy-loam. There are 1,600 vines per acre and the training system is guyot. The vineyard was planted in 2001. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Classic white wine vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. The wine has hints of pear, citrus fruit, a hint of pineapple and a touch of almonds. $18

Greco di Tufo 2017 DOCG Petilia made from 100% Greco. The vineyard is at 600 meters and the exposure is south/east. The soil is clay; volcanic, rich in minerals with a sulfurous sub soil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The grapes are hand picked the second week of October. There is a soft pressing of the whole grapes and fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. This is a well-structured and complex wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon/lime, acacia and quince, a touch of minerality, good acidity and a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste. Greco di Tufo is a wine the can last for 20 years or more. Two weeks ago I had the 2009 and it was wonderful. $19

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma  made from100% 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  good acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

“Trentapioli” Spumante Brut Asprinino d’Aversa 2015 (Metodo Martinotti Brut) Salvatore Martusciello Made from 100% Asprinio d’Aversa from the tree-lined historic vineyard in the town of Casapesenna, in the Agro Aversano. The name of the wine Trentapioli comes from the thirty pegs of the ladder used to climb up to harvest the grapes. The vines are typical Alberata Aversana. In the Alberata training system, which dates back to the Etruscans, the vines grow up to 18 meters tall and are tied to tall poplar trees. The harvest is manual because ladders up to 20 meters high are used in order to reach the grapes.  The grapes are placed in 18kg boxes. The soil is alluvial, volcanic and of medium texture. After crushing, the must is immediately separated from the skins and placed in an autoclave for a second fermentation. The wine is matured on its lees in an autoclave for about 90 days and was bottled on December 3. The wine has nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of lime, herbs and good acidity. The wine can age for 5 to 6 years.$18

Costa d’Amalfi “Furore” made from 60% Falaghina and 40% Biancolella Marisa Cuomo The grapes are grown on coastal terraces at 22/550 meters and the exposure is south/south-westerly exposure. The soil is dolomitic limestone rack and the training system is pergola and/or atypical radical espalier. There are 7,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand harvested the first week of October. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and undergo a soft pressing. The free run must undergoes a cold static fining and is inoculated with selected yeasts. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in steel tanks for 20/30 days. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks for four months before it is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and yellow peaches, a touch of wild flowers and acidic notes.$20

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2017 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

Lacryma Christ del Vesuvio Bianco 2015 made from 80% Caprettone, 15% Falanghina and 5% Greco. Cantine Matrone The Caprettone is distributed over three vineyards located at 30, 120 and 200 meters. Falanghina and Greco are at 30 meters. The Falanghina and Greco are fermented together with a pressing and fermentation without the pomace. The Caprettone is vinified alone with a 24-hour maceration period with the pomace. Then a soft pressing and fermentation takes place without temperature control. Andrea said this helps to obtain a wine with slightly more intense color and a bouquet of aromas that are more related to the varietal and less to the fruity or floral notes due to fermentation. The wine has hints of citrus, almond and a touch of sage with good acidity.$20

Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio DOC Bianco “Munazei” 100% Caprettone. CasaSetaro Production zone Vesuvius National Park. The training system is Vesuvian pergola and guyot. Vinification: Maceration in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and fermentation lasts for about 20 days. The wine remains in steel tanks for about 6 months and then in bottle for two months before release.This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, a touch of peach  and  a note of wild  flowers$17

Catalanesca 2018 IGP Tenuta Augustea made from 100% Catalanesca from the Somma Vesuviana zone. The soil is well-structured 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 and good minerality.  $19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Italian Summer Sparklers

Any time is a good time for sparkling wines and to me a chilled glass or two seems just right when I am sitting in a garden, at the poolside or even on a picnic.  Here are 10 sparklers from Italy that I have enjoyed recently that cost $25 or less a bottle.  The list includes white, rose and red sparklers and some are made from unusual grape varieties.

 

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $19

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Pasqua  made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside  vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. This produces tiny, more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16

Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. DonnaChiara.  The vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, the owner of DonnaChiara, referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s).  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

 

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.$25

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees will be preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. Hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.$25

Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone CasaSetaro Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release.  The Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine.$20

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

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.$24

 

 

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti Spumante and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16

Banfi Vigna Regale “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A Sicilian Lunch by the Pool

Michele and I visit our friend in NJ every week or so where we enjoy great food and wonderful wine. Since we all miss Italy so much, we decided to plan a meal with the food and wine of some of the regions we have visited.  We started with the food and wine of Sicily.

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Michele did most of the cooking except for the arancini from a local shop.

The rice balls, arancini,  were stuffed  with  a ground  meat  ragu  and peas.  We ate them by the pool with some chilled white wine.

Vinny, a friend who is a master hand at the grill prepared the perfectly grilled shrimp dressed with olive oil, garlic and parsley.

We ate the shrimp with bruschetta topped with tomatoes and basil.

 

Michele made Pasta Ericese which we first had at a little trattoria in Erice, Sicily, a number of years ago.  The sauce is a pesto of almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic and grated pecorino, topped with cubes of fried eggplant.  When we had it in Erice, the cook had also added rounds of fried potatoes, but Michele decided to forego them this time.

 

Moscato Sicilia DOC “Mosca” Barone Sergio made from 100% Moscato Bianco. The soil is of medium texture, mineral and calcareous. The vineyard is 70/80 meters and the system of cultivation is espalier. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The grapes are hand harvested. There is criomaceration for 24 hours followed by a soft pressing. Then cold clarification of the must followed by fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature. The rest is in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 6 months. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, sage and white flowers.

 

 

Donna Angelica DOC Sicilia 2018 made from 100% Lucido (aka Cataratto Bianco Lucido) Assuli Production area Mazara del Vallo (northwest Sicily). The soil is clay with limestone, organic elements and nitrogen. The vineyard is at 200/250 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The training system is vertical trellises. Harvest is from the end of August and the end of September depending upon the weather. There is an extremely soft pressing of the grapes with a membrane press, followed by static clarification of the must and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine spends 8 to 10 months on the lees with batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 3/4 months before release. This is a wine with a fruit bouquet, a touch of white flowers and hints of apricot and white peaches.

 

Our main course was Swordfish with Caper and Fresh Herb Sauce.  The fresh swordfish was lightly poached with wine and aromatic seasonings, then topped with a cool dressing of mint, thyme, lemon and capers.  This is a recipe from “The Heart of Sicily,” by the late Anna Tasca Lanza.

Passito IGT Sicily “L’ECRÙ” 200 Firriato.  Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey from the Tenuta Borgo estate in the Trapani countryside. The soil here is of medium texture; mostly clay and the vineyards have a north-south exposure at 250/400 meters. There are 5,500 vines per hectare and the training is cordon spur pruned/guyot.  The harvest takes place the first week of September and the most mature grapes are hand harvested.  The rest remain on the vines until they reach full maturity. Soft pressing of the grapes and the fermentation takes place at controlled temperature lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a very elegant dessert wine with aromas of candied orange peels, dried figs and dates. It has a clean but long finish and wonderful aftertaste.

 

Michele made Biscotti Regina, Sicilian sesame cookies, which were a perfect match with the Passito.

 

The Pool

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A Sicilian Dinner by the Pool

A Sicilian dinner by the pool

Michele and I visit our friend in NJ every week or so where we enjoy great food and wonderful wine. Since we all miss Italy so much, we decided to plan a meal with the food and wine of some of the regions we have visited.  We started with the food and wine of Sicily.

Michele did most of the cooking except for the arancini from a local shop.

The rice balls, arancini,  were stuffed  with  a ground  meat  ragu  and peas.  We ate them by the pool with some chilled white wine.

Vinny, a friend who is a master hand at the grill prepared the perfectly grilled shrimp dressed with olive oil, garlic and parsley.

We ate the shrimp with bruschetta topped with tomatoes and basil.

 

Michele made Pasta Ericese which we first had at a little trattoria in Erice, Sicily, a number of years ago.  The sauce is a pesto of almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic and grated pecorino, topped with cubes of fried eggplant.  When we had it in Erice, the cook had also added rounds of fried potatoes, but Michele decided to forego them this time.

 

Moscato Sicilia DOC “Mosca” Barone Sergio made from 100% Moscato Bianco. The soil is of medium texture, mineral and calcareous. The vineyard is 70/80 meters and the system of cultivation is espalier. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The grapes are hand harvested. There is criomaceration for 24 hours followed by a soft pressing. Then cold clarification of the must followed by fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature. The rest is in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 6 months. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, sage and white flowers.

 

 

Donna Angelica DOC Sicilia 2018 made from Catarrato, Grillo and Zibibbo Assuli Production area Mazara del Vallo (northwest Sicily). The soil is clay with limestone, organic elements and nitrogen. The vineyard is at 200/250 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The training system is vertical trellises. Harvest is from the end of August and the end of September depending upon the weather. There is an extremely soft pressing of the grapes with a membrane press, followed by static clarification of the must and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine spends 8 to 10 months on the lees with batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 3/4 months before release. This is a wine with a fruit bouquet, a touch of white flowers and hints of apricot and white peaches.

 

Our main course was Swordfish with Caper and Fresh Herb Sauce.  The fresh swordfish was lightly poached with wine and aromatic seasonings, then topped with a cool dressing of mint, thyme, lemon and capers.  This is a recipe from “The Heart of Sicily,” by the late Anna Tasca Lanza.

Passito IGT Sicily “L’ECRÙ” 200 Firriato.  Moscato and a small amount of Malmsey from the Tenuta Borgo estate in the Trapani countryside. The soil here is of medium texture; mostly clay and the vineyards have a north-south exposure at 250/400 meters. There are 5,500 vines per hectare and the training is cordon spur pruned/guyot.  The harvest takes place the first week of September and the most mature grapes are hand harvested.  The rest remain on the vines until they reach full maturity. Soft pressing of the grapes and the fermentation takes place at controlled temperature lasts for 4 weeks. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. This is a very elegant dessert wine with aromas of candied orange peels, dried figs and dates. It has a clean but long finish and wonderful aftertaste.

 

Michele made Biscotti Regina, Sicilian sesame cookies, which were a perfect match with the Passito.

 

The Pool

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The Welcome Return of Cascina Castlet

 

Cascina Castlet, located in Costigliole d’Asti in Piemonte, has belonged to the Borio family for generations. In 1970 Mariuccia Borio inherited the estate from her father.  I have  been  drinking  wines  from  Cascina  Castlet ever since I  met  Mariuccia at  Vinitaly  about  20 years ago.  They  were  out  of  the  US  market  for  a few  years  and  I am  very  happy  to  know  that  they  are  now  available  once  again  thanks  to  Artisan Selections by  Romano.Brands.

The grapes for Cascina Castlet are grown on 31 hectares of vineyards in Costigliole. The vineyards are at 300 meters and each one has its own name.

Mocsato d’Asti DOCG sparkling (frizzante)  2019 wine made from 100% Moscato d’Asti. The vineyards are on well-exposed hillsides and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are picked by hand the first two weeks of September when they have acquired a yellow, old gold color and are ripe and juicy. Selected grapes are sent directly to the winery were they are soft pressed. The must is then cooled and filtered. The foaming is the result of a natural fermentation in an autoclave and an isobaric filler is used for bottling. This is a wine that should be drunk very young. The alcohol content is only 5.5%. The wine has a flowery and fruity bouquet with hints of apricot, peach a touch of orange blossoms and a note of honeysuckle.  This is a wine that can be served as a operative, or dessert wine. $35

Barbera d’Asti “Vespa” 2019 made from 100% Barbera d’Asti The vineyards are at 300 meters and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The soil composition is clay and limestone. Pruning and harvesting (the first two weeks of October) are done manually. The must is left in contact with the skin at controlled temperatures for 6 to 8 days. There is frequent remontages and racking is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is bottled and released after a few months. It is a fresh fruity Barbera with aromas and flavors of cherry and blueberry with good acidity. Because of the good acidity Barbera is a wine that can go with many different foods. $35.

There is a picture of 4 young girls on a Vespa taken in the 1950’s.  I was told one of them was Mariuccia but I cannot remember which one.

Litina Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 made from 100% Barbera grapes from hillside vineyards, which are more than 30 ears old. There are about 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the first weeks of October. At the winery the must is fermented in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for about 10 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in medium sized oak casks for about 8 months and then in bottle for more than one year. The wine is released the second year after the harvest. The wine has hints of woodland fruits a hint of spice and a note of vanilla. $40

This is the only wine with the trademark on the label- the 3 C’s that stand for Cascina Castlet Costigliole.

Polocalpo Monferrato Rosso 2016  Policalpo is the name of a vineyard whose 60% Barbera and 40% Cabernet Sauvignon grapes make this wine. The are about 5,400 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand the first weeks of October. The must is in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for at least 15 days. Both varieties are fermented together. The wine is racked and malolactic fermentation is in French oak barriques. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months and in bottle for at least 6 months. It is released the second year after the harvest. This is a complex wine wine with hints of tobacco, licorice, prune, a hint of vanilla, a touch of spice and a pleasant vegetal undertone typical of Cabernet. $48

Passum Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 made from 100% Barbera which comes from long established vineyards. The grapes are hand picked the middle of October and rushed to the winery for semi-drying in special are-conditioned, well-ventilated rooms. The duration of the drying depends on the vintage and therefore varies from year to year. The oenologist frequently inspects the condition of the bunches and the sugar content of the grapes. The stalkless grapes are pressed and fermented in contact with the skins in temperature contolled stainless steel tanks. The addition of selected yeasts along with frequent remontages causes regular alcoholic fermentation over the course of 15 to 18 days. The wine is then racked and kept in ideal conditions for the completion of malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in French oak barriques and medium sized conventional vats for about a year and another 6 months or more in bottle before release. This is a complex full bodied wine with hints of plum, red fruit jam, and a hint of vanilla. This is a wine that will age. $65

Uceline Monferrato Rosso 2013  Made from 100% Uvalino. Harvesting is carried out towards the end of October when the grapes reach a perfect ripeness. The bunches are hand picked and carefully selected and then go into a well ventilated, temperature room called a “fruit house.” Here they stay for over a month and become slightly over ripe and begin to wither. The must from the pressing is partially destemmed and undergoes fermentation and lasts for 20 days. Frequent stirrings causes the total dissolution of the anthocyans and the various phenolic components that for this wine play a very important role. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 5HL oak barrels.

The bottles rest for about a year before they are released. This is a full-bodied complex aromatic wine with hints of black fruit, prunes, blueberries and sweet spices.  It is tannic with good acidity and has a certain rustic quality. It is a wine that can age. $65

Wine made from the Uvalino grape is the rarest of wines, a luxurious wine to impress which was given to give to the priest or the doctor or any one of importance or to be drunk on special occasions. Having this single-grape raisin wine in the house was a sign of wealth. The birds, ucelli, depicted on the bottle give the wine its name because they liked to eat the grapes because they were so sweet.

The Uvalino grape was save from extinction by Mariuccia Borio. This is the first time I have had wine made from this grape and it was an experience.

 

 

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Best Pizza Since Naples

A friend raved about the homemade pizza made in his backyard pizza oven,  claiming  that  it  was  as  good  as  I could  find  in  many  pizzerias.  I was skeptical, but I said, bring it on.  I would love to try it.

Our friend’s daughter-in-law made the dough and wrapped it neatly in individual pizza size portions.  She told me that she made it with Italian 00 flour which gives a tender crust.  

The pizza oven is something called a Roccbox.  It uses propane gas and gets up to a temperature of 900 degrees F.

Our friend’s son Jason made the pizzas.  We started with focaccia,  topped with sliced fresh garlic and fresh thyme.

Dough ready for the topping

Homemade tomato sauce with fresh mozzarella on top ready to bake.

Pizza in the oven.  The oven is so hot that the pizzas cooked in just a minute or two.

 

The baked Margherita with a few leaves of fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Pizza this good deserves a good wine.

Barbera d’Alba 2015 Pre-Phylloxera DOC Cogno made from 100% Barbra Vitis Vinifera. The vineyard is 0,25 hectares at 520 meters. There are 4,500 plants per hectare.The sandy chalky terrain is a natural protection from philoxera. The training system is vertically trellised with guyot pruning. Harvest takes place the beginning of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pumping over. The wine is aged for 12 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry and a note of ripe cherry with a touch of prune and spice. This is a big wine for a Barbera and it will age.

The next pizza was topped with garlic sauteed escarole, Italian pork sausage and mozzarella.  

The finished pizza was a masterpiece.

Barbaresco 1979 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo from various vineyards in the DOCG zone. The soil is limestone and clay, rich in calcium with sandy veins. Vinification in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is 30 days of skin contact and pumping over 2 to 3 times a day. The wine is aged for two years i large oak barrels. The wine has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice. It was showing very well. Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy.

White pizza with anchovies satisfied my craving for anchovies.

Margherita topped with prosciutto and arugula.  The prosciutto and arugula are added after the pie is baked and removed from the oven.  The heat of the pizza wilts them.  Outstanding!

Sausage  and  mozzarella  pizza.  All of  the  pizzas  were  excellent.  Rather  than exaggerating  how  good  they  were,  our  friend  had  understated  them   It  was  like  being  in Naples

Barolo Riserva 1971 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo.

 

Dessert was a blueberry pound cake with ice cream and locally grown black raspberries.

 

 

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Celebrating on the Fourth of July

Our second 50th Anniversary celebration took place at the home of a friend in New Jersey on July 4th.  We were so happy to be with friends once again.

Dinner began with

Dom Pérignon Brut 2009 Moet & Chandon made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey

Everyone pitched in for this menu.  Michele made me one of my favorite dishes, pasta alla Caprese, with fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  The recipe is from her book, 1,000 Italian Recipes.

Vaucluse Blanc IGP 2013 Domaine Gourt de Mautens Jerome Bressay, Rhone, France. Made from Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris, Bourboulenc, Clairette, Picardan, Roussanne, Marsanne, Viognier, Picpoul Blanc and Picpoul Gris. The soil is chalk, clay gravel and marl. The vines are 30 to 50 years old and the vineyard is at 220 meters with a northwest exposure. The grapes are hand harvested. They are pressed in a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place with natural yeasts in tanks. The wine is aged for 10 to 18 months in tanks and French oak demi-muids. The vineyards are certified biodynamic. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, white flowers, a note of honey and a note of hay hops.

A friend brought two salads, one with green beans and the other a Sicilian style potato salad with red onions and capers.  They were perfect with the main dish

Rack of lamb with a mustard and crumb coating.

It was a beautiful summer meal

Chateau Margaux 1983 (Medoc) made from 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot and 2% Cabernet Franc. Vinification takes place in wood and stainless steel vats. There are almost 100 vats made from oak and steel fused or the vinification. The vats range in size from 5H for experiments to 180 HL used for blending.The wine is aged for 18/20 months in new oak depending on the vintage. This is a rich concentrated full-bodied wine with hints of cassis, tobacco, cedar, herbs and floral notes. It was the perfect combination with the lamb.

Dessert was a simple one, old fashioned lemon ice paired with lime butter cookies, both made by Michele.  The ices had us all reminiscing about the Italian ices in a paper cup that we all loved to buy when were kids.

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Anniversary Dinner #1

We just ended a long weekend of 50th Anniversary celebrations with a little help from our friends. On Thursday, we had a pre-anniversary dinner in the beautiful garden of friends in near Gramercy Park in Manhattan.

We started with Champagne.

Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut 2008 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed Mc Carthy wrote in his book Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.”

With the Champagne we had crisp deep fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies.

Rosè Massoferrato 2018 Azienda Agricola Massoferrato made from 100% Sangiovese, picked early from vineyards located in Impruneta, on a south facing slope just south of Florence. The grapes are picked and are in contact with the skins for a few hours. The wine remains in stainless steel for a few months before release.  This is a fruity wine with good acidity, hints of cherry and a touch of spice. The Marzovilla Family owns the winery. Nicola Marzovilla is the owner of i-Trulli in NYC.

With it, we had a fig tart with caramelized onions, pine nuts and gorgonzola on puff pastry.

Rosso del Conte 1980 Regaleali, made from 90% Nero d’Avola and 10% Perricone from the Vigna San Lucio planted in1965. The vineyard is at 480 meters, the exposure is south/west, the training system is bush and the pruning system is short spur. There are 4,400 plants per hectare. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place. Back 40 years ago fermentation did not take place in stainless steel and the wines would have been aged in large chestnut barrels. The wine was showing its age but there were no signs of oxidation. This is a full bodied wine with hints of black cherry, tobacco, a touch of spice and a hint of mint.

This wine was a special treat for us and for our hosts. It brought back a lot of happy memories of visiting Sicily and the Regaleali Winery in 1993. It was the first of many that we have taken together.

We had Osso Buco, tender braised veal shanks with broccolini and orzo pasta.

Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2918 La Petite Grain D’Antonin Vignoble Alain Ignace. Made from 75% Muscat à petit blanc and 25% Muscat rouge.  The grapes are destemmed and pressed followed by a cool decantation for 18 hours. Vinification is in steel vats for 15/20 days on the lees before the mutage (adding alcohol to the must). This is a dessert wine with hints of rose water, violets, lychee nuts and unstated red fruit.

We had for dessert vanilla ice cream with a strawberry rhubarb sauce.

 

 

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Sampling Italian White Wines

Wine companies and public relations companies have in the past arranged professional wine tastings to enable buyers and journalists to sample their latest products.  But since they can no longer arrange these types of gatherings, I have been receiving more samples of wine than in the past. The reason for this I believe is that there is no other way to reach  the consumer. It may be months or even a year before there are organized wine tastings again. I miss attending these tastings and learning about the wines from representatives of wineries. I was able to ask questions and discuss the wines with the representatives, often the owner, and hearing what the other wine writers that were there had to say.

Here is my report on 8 wines that I received as samples.  Each of them is made with unique varieties of Italian grapes.

Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG “L’Albereta Riserva” 2017 IL Colombaio Di Santachiara, the winery is certified organic. Made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The soil is rich in cave stone. The vineyard is at 280/230 meters. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Hand harvest begins at the end of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and fermentation with local yeasts takes place in durmast oak barrels at a controlled temperature. 70% maceration takes place in durmast barrels for 12 months and 30% is in cement. The wine ages in cement vats for 8 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of apricot, a touch of apple and a note of citrus fruit. It has a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It is a white wine that can age.

Colli Euganei Pinello DOC Vino Frizzante Antichi Reassi 2019 Azienda Agricola Reassi made from 100% Pinella. The vineyard is at 120 meters and the exposure is north. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the soil is clay and silt. The training method is guyot. Harvest is the second week of September. Hand harvest and manual selection of the grapes followed by destemming, a short cryo-maceration and a soft pressing . Fermentation is for about two weeks at a low temperature. Maceration is on the lees until the spring with periodic lees stirring. The second fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, according to the Martinotti method. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 months before release.This is a wine  with hints of grapefruit, pineapple and floral notes.

Tebbiano Spoletino DOC 2018 made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino Cantina Fratelli Pardi . The soil is of sedentary and clayey origin, the exposure is east, south east and the vineyard is at 220 meters. Harvest is in the middle of September. There is a soft pressing of the whole grapes and fermentation is at a constant temperature of 18C for 20 days in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 months before release, 6 to 8 months after the harvest.

Colli Maceratesi Ribona DOC “ Le Grande” 2018 Boccadigabbia made from 100% Ribona (aka Maceratino)Ribona is a rare grape varietal grown only in the province of Macerata. The 23 hectares of vineyards stand on hills in two separate zones in Civitanova and Macerata. The soil is sandy-clayey and the exposure is northeast and the training system is guyot. The grape clusters are soft crushed and fermentation lasts for about 12 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, whole slightly overripe berries are added to the wine. This second fermentation lasts for 10 days and allows an added extraction of compounds and aromatics from the skins. It is a well-structured wine with fragrances of ripe citrus fruit with a hint of melon.

Donna Angelica DOC Sicilia 2018 made from Catarrato, Grillo and Zibibbo Assuli Production area Mazara del Vallo (northwest Sicily). The soil is clay with limestone, organic elements and nitrogen. The vineyard is at 200/250 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The training system is vertical trellises. Harvest is from the end of August and the end of September depending upon the weather. There is an extremely soft pressing of the grapes with a membrane press, followed by static clarification of the must and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tank. The wine spends 8 to 10 months on the lees with batonnage. The wine is in bottle for 3/4 months before release. This is a wine with a fruit bouquet, a touch of white flowers and hints of apricot and white peaches.

Moscato Sicilia DOC “Mosca” Barone Sergio made from 100% Moscato Bianco. The soil is of medium texture, mineral and calcareous. The vineyard is 70/80 meters and the system of cultivation is espalier. Harvest takes place the first week of September. The grapes are hand harvested. There is criomaceration for 24 hours followed by a soft pressing. Then cold clarification of the must followed by fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature. The rest is in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 6 months. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, sage and white flowers.

Friuli Colli Orientali Bianco “At Oasi “2017 Aquila Del Torre. Made from 100% Picolit grown on hillside terraces. The soil is flysch, interbedded clayey-textured marl and sandstone. The vineyard is at 175/ 300, the training system is guyot simple and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The wines are 14 years old on average and the exposure is south/southwest. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts in French oak barrels. The wine remains on the lees for 12 months. This is a dry white wine with hints of citrus, floral notes and a touch of balsam.

Soave Classico 2017 “Vigneti di FoscarinoInama made from 100% Garganega. The vineyard is at 150/200 meters, the soil is organic and the vines are up to 53 years old. The training system is the pergola. Selected yeast is used for fermentation and when fermentation is complete the wine remains in barriques (used) for 6 months with batonnage every 6 weeks. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques and there is cartridge filtration. This is a complex white wine with hunts of citrus fruit, spice, a touch of herbs and a nutty edge. It has nice minerality and good acidity. This is a white wine that can age.

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