Monthly Archives: October 2020


Ed Mc Carthy had wanted to do a tasting of older Zinfandel back in December of last year. We could not agree on a date so we put it off until March and you know where that left us. Last week Ed was able to make agreements to have the event in the smaller back garden at i-trulli in NYC. There were 6 of us .

Ed and his wife Mary Ewing Mulligan MW also at the tasting wrote the very popular ‘Wine for Dummies” books

Ed brought 6 of the wines and another guest brought the two oldest.IMG_3609

As usual we started with Champagne: The Laherte Fieres made from 100% Chardonnay. The vines are on a Chavot mid slope with campanian chalk soil. The exposure is west. The grapes are picked by hand when fully ripened. Traditional pressing. Alcoholic fermentation is in barrels and malolactic fermentation does not take place. There is aging on the lees for 6 months. Disgorgment is by hand and the dosage is 3 to 4 gr/l

This Champagne impressed everyone and it was the perfect way to get our palates ready for the Zinfandel.

The Zinfandel

Ravenswood 1984 Old Hill Vineyards, Sonoma Valley made from 76% Zinfandel and 24% mixed black grapes. This is the oldest of the Ravenswood vineyards and dates from around 1880. The wine has a touch of blackberries, a hint of smoke and an undertone of coffee.IMG_3600

Rosenblum 1991 Mt. Veeder, Brandlin Ranch, Napa made from 100% Zinfandel. The wine has hits of coffee, licorice, with a touch of blackberries and a peanut skin undertone in the aftertaste.

IMG_3603Ridge Vineyards 1991 Geyserville Vineyard, Sonoma. made from 50% Zinfandel, 30% Carignon and 20% Petite Sirah. This is an intense wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries, plum, cedar and an undertone of raisins. Ridge has made the Geyserville as a single-site Zinfandel since 1966.

IMG_3601A. Rafanelli 1994 Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma made from 87% Zinfandel and 13% Petite Sirah. The wine had hints of plum with a touch of blackberries.

Ravenswood 1991 Old Hill Vineyards, Sonoma Valley. This had the same profile as the1984 but had a little more fruit.

IMG_3604William Selyem 2000 Bacigalupi Vd, Russian River Valley, Sonoma made from 100% Zinfandel. They buy the grapes from the Bacigalupi Vineyards. The wine has hints of blackberries, plum, boysenberry and a touch of mushrooms. It was a little jammy.IMG_3605

Dehlinger Winery 1978 Sonoma Country made from 87% Zinfandel and 13% Petite Syrah. I believe they no longer make a Zinfandel. This wine was showing some age but still very drinkable.

IMG_3611Ridge California Zinfandel 1971 Menodcino. I believe it was made from 95% Zinfandel and 5% Syrah. I do not think Ridge makes it anymore and that is really too bad because it was the wine of the tasting. It was the most balanced of the wines and the one that went the best with the food.

I drank a lot of Ridge Zinfandel from the 1970’s as well as their late harvest Zinfandel from Paso Robles and also their Essence of Zinfandel. It was my favorite wine with turkey with all the trimmings for Thanksgiving. I continue to drink  Ridge Zinfandel because it has kept the same style of the years

Sometime in the 1980’s, some of the older  producers changed style and more recently some of the newer producers have been making some high alcohol fruit bombs.


Filed under Champagne, Uncategorized, Zinfandel

Neapolitan Sunday Lunch

Jason and Deborah invited us to participate in the Selosse  Champagne Zoom at their home in rural New Jersey.  Michele offered to make dinner to follow the tasting. She discussed it with Ernie, Jason’s dad, and they decided on an Italian menu straight from Michele’s grandma’s kitchen. Pasta with Neapolitan style ragu first and after that the meats cooked in the sauce.

This was also Sunday lunch in my house when I was young but no one drank wine–we were Sicilian. Michele’s father kept a jug beside his place at the table and always enjoyed a glass or two of wine with his meal.  He poured a little in a glass for Michele, too, topped off with a little Pepsi or other soda.

It turned out to be a cool, crisp fall day.  Just the kind of weather for such a meal.

We began with paccheri, large pasta tubes, in a Neapolitan ragu.  Somebody pass me the grated cheese.

Pecorino, of course.Meatballs, pork sausages both sweet and hot, braciole and pork ribs flavored the broth.  


The wine

Pietro Beconcini “IXE IGT Toscana Tempranillo 2016  The name is the Tuscan pronunciation for the letter X. The letter X stands for unknown vines. In the early 1950’s, 213 vines of unknown species were found in the vineyard which were called X vines. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture these vines were declared to be Tempranillo a few years ago. In June of 2009, Tempranillo was enrolled in the Tuscan register. As far as I know Tempranillo was never cultivated before in Italy.

This wine is made from 99.9% Tempranillo and a touch of Sangiovese. The winery is located in the town of San Miniato. The vineyard is 3.5 hectares and the grapes are all from the new vineyards planted in 1997 using a massal selection from buds taken from the century old vines of Tempranillo from the Vigna alle Nicchie. The training is spurred cordon. Soil is sandstone with marine fossil formation, well integrated with abundant clay. 100/150 meters above sea level and there are 7,000 vines per hectare. Harvest the first 10 days of September. The grapes are dried for 4 weeks and they obtain a total yield of 70%. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled glass lined cement vats and maceration is for 3 weeks. Aging lasts for 14 months in 70% French barriques and 30% American oak barriques of second passage. 6 months in bottle before release. First passage in barriques is for the wine from the grapes of the historical vineyard Vigna alle Nicchie that goes into the wine of the same name. This origin of this grape variety is not known for certain.

Jason tasted the IXE wine blind and guessed the grape, region and the producer. It was very impressive.IMG_3589

Barolo Riserva 1947 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 with hints of coffee, licorice, tar, savory meats and a touch of smoke.

IMG_3565 2

Deb is an excellent baker and she made us this gorgeous pumpkin pie, the first of the season.  It was a real treat.IMG_3591

Jason also makes excellent espresso from his Marzocco.IMG_3590 copy

The coffee


Filed under Barolo, Borgogno

Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting

Last week our friend Ernie told me that his son Jason was hosting a Zoom tasting of Jacques Selosse Champagne given by Anselm Selosse and his son Guillaume.  Would Michele and I like to join them?  I have never participated in a Zoom wine tasting where as part of the package they send you the wines to taste so this was an offer I could not refuse.


The domain Jacques Selosse is located in the village of Avize, situated in the Cöte de Blancs. It is a family run operation with 8.3 hectares of vineyards in the crus of Avize, Cramant, Oger, Le Mesnil-sur-Oger, Ay, Mareuil-sur-Aÿ and Ambonnay. There are 7.3 hectares of Chardonnay and one hectare of Pinot Noir. The soil is classic chalky marls. Harvest is by hand.

The first vintage was 1964 and Anselme Selosse took over the running of the winery from his parents in 1974. Anselme retired in 2018 turning the domain over to his son Guillaume. They were both on the Zoom podcast and it seemed that Anselme did most of the speaking.

Our host, Jason explained that some of the Zoom participants had paid only for the telecast but did not buy the wine to taste. We all agreed (we were seven) that the organizers were taking too long to get to the wine tasting so we began before them and then went back again and tasted the wines with them. We then tasted the wine with food.

Here are some of the remarks that Anselme and Guillaume made about their wine.

Anselme said it is important to visit other wine regions to see what they are doing. To make profound Champagne you must start with a great wine for your base. The relationship between healthy soil (terroir) and the wines that spring from it is critical. The position on the slope of the hill and the exposure is very important.

They use a selection of yeasts strains culled from their own vineyards for fermentation and minimize the use of SO2. The wine is fermented and raised in wood barrels, less than 20% new, and the wine remains on the fine lees for extended periods.

Malolactic fermentations are free to occur, or not, as each individual lot evolves.

There is a low dosage because they believe their wines with their purity of flavor, need no make up. They taste the wine to see if they should add dosage and how much.

They feel the use of barriques gives them great control over the role oxygen plays in the base wines.

Jason decided on the order in which to taste the wines.  The comments that follow are by Jason. I have a tremendous respect for his palate and he knows these wines better than I do. I will add my own comments also at the end of this blog. Next to the initials are the point rating of each person. I am CS.


Selosse Versions Originale (V0) sourced from high on the Avize slope, it is 3 consecutive vintages that are aged for 42 months and bottled with little or no-dosage. It is typically released an average of 6 years after the most recent harvest in the blend. Dosage 1.5 g/l 

10/17/20 — 95 points.  (SLD, 96, DD 96, JM 96, CS 90, EJD 94, MS 95)  Now-2030+.  Served this first for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse.  Light-medium golden color.  The nose is dried pit fruits, white flowers, white peach, minerals, a subtle latex note (Debo), marzipan, honey, crushed almonds, quince and dried apricots.  A gorgeous nose.  On the palate this is dry with zippy acidity and a lovely, long and complex finish.  This wine is perfectly balanced.  Gorgeous juice. $280


Selosse Initial Blanc de Blancs–Anselme called this his classic Avize Brut.  Long aging in bottle before and after disgorgement. It is an assemblage of three successive vintages from lower slope sites. It is released an average of five years after the most recent harvest in the blend. The dosage is 5g/l.

10/17/20 — 93 points.  (DJD 95, SLD 94, JM 94, EJD 92, CS 89, MS 90)  Now-2032.  Served this second for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse.  Medium yellow-golden color.  Lovely, rich nose of melons, marzipan, dried pit fruits and white flowers on the nose.  More flamboyant than the V.O. that preceded it.  On the palate this is a touch creamier, more oxidative and yet less complex than the V.O. was on this day. $260


Selosse Millesime 2009. The Methode Selosse was originally a blanc de blancs made from two plots in Avize and it used to express the character of a single year.  Beginning with the 2000 vintage, it is assembled from all the estate’s plots, both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Dosage 0-4g/l

10/17/20 — 92 points.  (SLD 92, EJD 96, JM 90, DJD 93, CS 93, MS 94)  Now-2028.  Served this third for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse.  Deep golden color.  The nose here is tremendously rich with deep notes of fading wildflowers, melon, dried pit fruits, tropical fruits (papaya) and orange marmalade.  On the palate this is full bodied, but actually a tad ponderous, and, dare I say, “flabby?”  I felt it was quite low in acidity — at least initially, although revisiting about 30 minutes later, perhaps I am being unfairly harsh as this seemed to have tightened up and gained complexity and “zip” with some air. $430


Selosse Substance Avize is the essence in a single vintage from two parcels without regard to vintage variation. Always made from the same Chardonnay vineyards in Avize. A south facing slope and an east hill base. Made from a solera started in 1987. Each year 22% is taken from the solera. Dosage 0-4g/l

10/17/20 — 98+ points.  (SLD 99, DJD 98, JM 99, EJD 99, MS 99.9, CS 98)  Now-2035.  Served this last (fourth) for the Selosse Fête du Champagne Zoom Tasting with Anselme and Guillaume Selosse.  Medium plus golden color.  This is at a whole other level than everything that came before.  This at once both the most mineral laden and grippy AND the most oxidative of the four wines.  This has the least CO2 as well.  Appricots, pears, loads of wet stone minerality, white flowers, pumpkin pie spice, mulled cider.  This is just a stunningly gorgeous, complex wine that is a real privilege to drink. $566

My thoughts:  These were the most unusual Champagnes I have ever tasted. You can pick up the oxidation in the wines. It was not a problem because it added an extra layer of character to the wines.

The Substance was in a class by itself. I really do not know of any other Champagne to compare to it.

I gave all of the wines the lowest scores of the group and I have to say I liked them much better when I had them with food.

So what did we eat with these champagnes?


Michele made a dip with smoked salmon, cream cheese topped with salmon caviar which we ate with potato chips.


She also made anchovy twists, cream cheese pastry sticks filled with anchovies. 


Filed under Champagne, Uncategorized

Risotto and a Surprise Dessert Wine

Everyone at our friend’s house in the country was in the mood for seafood. A big discussion ensued. Whole fish, fish steaks, or shellfish? Finally we reached a decision — Risotto with Shrimp.


First the shrimp were shelled and cut into small pieces. The cooks simmered the reserved shells with aromatic vegetables, wine and water to make a flavorful broth for the rice. Then the shrimp were sauteed with garlic and parsley and set aside.

Next, the rice was simmered and stirred with the prepared broth until tender and creamy. When it was almost ready, the cooked shrimp were added with some small peas and a final swirl of butter.

A whole shrimp garnished each serving.

With the risotto, we drank Champagne Marguet “Shaman 14” Grand Cru NV made from 69% Pinot Noir and 31% Chardonnay. The wine was bottled July 2016, and the disgorgement date was March 2018. There are no added sulfites and the dosage is 0. It has flavors of honeysuckle, lemon, apple and a touch of stone fruit.


Michele made a quick dessert, the Crunchy Walnut Cake from her book 1,000 Italian Recipes. It has only 5 ingredients and we all enjoyed the nutty caramel flavor.


A spiced apple confit was a tasty complement to the cake.


The cake and apples on the plate with ice cream was a delicious fall dessert.


Our host knew we had had a big anniversary this year so to go with the dessert he opened a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem 1970. It was fantastic! Made from 80% Semillion and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are picked one at a time over a period of time. There is a gentle pressing of the grapes and the wine is aged in oak barrels. 1970 is considered a great vintage. There was no Yquem produced in 2012. This is a complex, balanced and rich wine with hints of dried apricot, almond marzipan and a touch of tropical fruit.

I finished with espresso in a cup from one of my favorite Roman caffes, and a red wine and anise ciambellina cookie.


Filed under Champagne, Chateau d'Yquem, Shaman 14 Marguet

A Day in the Country

We went to visit a friend who lives in the country.  What a pleasure to drive out of the city and see the beautiful colors of the trees.  When we arrived at our friend’s home, it was almost time for dinner.  IMG_3513 2

But first, a few snacks.  Chunks of mortadella, good Sardinian pecorino, and soppressata started us off.IMG_3496

Our friend had been cooking a pork shoulder seasoned like porchetta in his “Big Green Egg” smoker for several hours.  IMG_3491

With the pork we had broccoli rape sauteed with garlic, anchovies and hot pepper.IMG_3500

Some fresh garden potatoes steamed with herbs was the only accompaniment we needed.IMG_3499

The pork was seasoned with garlic, rosemary and sage.  It turned out nice and moist.IMG_3501

The pork ready to be served.  The choicest bits were the crusty brown edges


Barbaresco 1999 Riserva “Montestefano” in Mangum. Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil is calcareous limestone with sandy veins. The grapes are hand harvested.  Traditional fermentation takes place with 18 to 20 days skin contact and aged for 36 months in oak barrels of 25 to 50 HL and 8 months in bottle before release.   The nose is candied cherries, leaves, leather, tobacco and dried roses.  This is classic Barbaresco at its best.IMG_3503

Michele made a classic apple gallette for dessert.IMG_3505With it we had our host, Steve’s, homemade vanilla ice cream.  I don’t think I have ever tasted any better!


We finished with Faccia Brutto Amaro Alpino produced in Brooklyn NY.  Their Italian grammar might not be perfect, but I enjoyed it nonetheless.


Filed under Uncategorized

A Roman Lunch in NYC

Michele and I were talking about the kind of lunch we often enjoyed in Rome as we walked to the Union Square Greenmarket where we often go for fresh produce, fish and great bread. At the market, I spotted one of my favorites things — zucchini flowers. We bought the flowers plus the other things we needed and headed home discussing how we would prepare our lunch.

Many Manhattan streets have produce carts where you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables. We passed one and Michele spotted some ripe figs. They were the last two boxes and the salesman offered us a deal we couldn’t refuse – two 1-pound boxes for $6.   We figured it was our lucky day as the zucchini flowers and the figs were probably the last of the season.

We started our meal with the perfectly ripe figs that tasted like candy.

Most of the time Michele stuffs the zucchini flowers with mozzarella and anchovies but these were too small so she just dipped them in a light batter and deep-fried them until they were crisp. They were wonderful.

Then she made bucatini all’Amatriciana which was just like we have in my favorite restaurant in Rome Checchino del 1887.

Monte Grazia 2015 Rosso which was perfect with the pasta. The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti grows almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Tienturier family. Tienturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red.
This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine.

We finished our Roman lunch with Michele’s homemade biscotti with pine nuts and espresso.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Sunday Lunch

Lunch in East Hampton

On a perfect Fall afternoon, we sat on the back deck with a view of the garden at the home of friends in East Hampton.

For a starter to our lunch, our friend had made her mother’s classic recipe for chicken livers, cooked with onions and mashed with hard cooked eggs,  which we ate on toast.

For my birthday in August, our hosts had given me a bottle of Dom Perignon.  I brought it along so that we could enjoy it together.  It went great with the chicken liver toasts.

Champagne the DP 2008 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. This is very impressive champagne with great balance, elegance and complex aromas and flavors. 

The day was cool and we decided to move indoors for the rest of our meal.

We started with a salad  of  fresh  spinach  with  pine  nuts,  apples  and  flakes  of  Parmesan.

There were roasted potatoes  with  rosemary.

Our host, ready to carve the crisp Roast Chicken from a local Long Island farm.

The chicken was roasted with thyme and garlic, and there were green beans and crusty roast potatoes.  With it, we drank

Gigondas 2003 Domaine Les Pallieres made from 90% Grenache and 10% Syrah, Mourvédre, Cinsault and Clairette. The vineyard is 25 ha and the vines are 65 years old on average. The soil is red sandy clay, limestone and scree. Fermentation is in tank and then the wine is aged in foudres for 20 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of black fruit, licorice and a touch of raspberry and cherry. It has along finish and pleasing aftertaste.

Dessert was the always delicious and very famous Original Plum Torte from the New York Times.


We had it with vanilla ice cream.

1 Comment

Filed under Champagne, Dom Perignon, Gigondas

Weekend in the Hamptons

Weekend in the Hamptons

October is the perfect time of year for a weekend in the Hamptons. The weather is cool and the mosquitoes and crowds are gone. Most of them, anyway. We were lucky to choose a beautiful weekend weather-wise. The sky was bright blue and the sun was bright. Our hosts prepared some wonderful meals for us.

For breakfast, we began with fresh fruit.

The berries and peaches were from a local farm stand. I ate most of the figs.

We followed that with fresh bagels.

For lunch another day

We had a last of the season tomato salad.

And locally grown corn

With fresh caught bluefish roasted with crispy potatoes.

The Bread was fresh and chewy

We ended with assorted Cheeses

Followed by coffee and honey cake cake topped with almonds

Sancerre “Les Baronnes” 2017 Henri Bourgeois made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. The soil is clay and limestone. The wine is fermented in thermo-regulated stainless steel tanks at 15 to 18 degrees C and is aged on the lees at a cool temperature for 5 months before release. This is a crisp and fruity wine with citrus aromas and flavors with a touch of herbs, nice minerality, a long finish and pleasant aftertaste. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and a touch of herbs.

For a light lunch another day we had

A mixed salad with pomegranate seeds and a Zucchini Fritatta

Biscotti and honey cake ended our lunch on a sweet note

Whispering Angel Chateau d’Esclans   made from Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle (Vermentino) grown in the region of La Motte en Provence. Harvesting takes place from sunrise to noon. The grapes are sorted optically. Destemming and slight crushing at 7-8C to avoid oxidation takes place. Both the free run juice and pressed juices are vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel. Batonnage takes place two times a week. The wine has hints of red berries, a touch of grapefruit and an undertone of orange peel.

One night we went out to a restaurant 1779 in East Hampton and sat in their lovely garden. It was a very nice dinner but the food pictures did not

turn out well. To drink, we began with

Tocai Friulano 2017 Long Island NY AVA Channing Daughters 100% Tocai Friulano from two vineyards, the Sylvanus Vineyard near the winery in Bridgehampton and the other the Mudd West Vineyard in Hallockville on the North Fork. The grapes are hand harvested, whole cluster-pressed and fermented and raised in 60% stainless steel barrels and 40% older French oak barrels for 8 months. The wine was bottled on May 16, 2018 so it has a little age before it was released. This is a medium bodied wine with hints of green apple, grapefruit, pears, almonds and a touch of spice.

Walter Channing lived close to Enoteca i-Trulli when I was the Wine Director there. He always ordered Tocai from Friuli-Venezia-Giulia and I enjoyed speaking with him. After a few visits he told me that he owned a winery on LI called Channing Daughters and he wanted to make a Tocai like Livio Filugia or Mario Scopetio did in Italy. After a while he stopped coming in and I believe he moved closer to the winery. When his Tocai was released I tasted it and was very impressed. I even visited the winery on two occasions and brought the wine. Most of this had to be over 15 years ago so I am writing from memory.

 Saint- Joseph “Offenus” 2016 J.L. Chave Selection made from 100% Syrah from vines 5 to 80 years old with an eastern exposure. The soil is granite. These organic vineyards are located in the communities of Mauves, Tournon and St. Jean-Louis. About 50% of the grapes are destemmed. Fermentation takes place in tonneaux and stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in barriques and foudres for 18 months. This is a wine with hints of blackberries, cherries, spice, pepper, a touch of smoke and very long finish.

 After dinner and back at our friends’ house we drank  Bas Armagnac “Hors D’AgeTaillevent  by the fireplace.

I am now for my website   This is the first time I am using it and I hope it comes out right



Filed under Uncategorized

Lunch Italian Style

Before the virus changed the way most of us live, we would go shopping with friends to Italian specialty food stores in Brooklyn. After shopping we would go back to our friends house for lunch to enjoy the bounty.  Last week were unable to join them, however we were happy to accept their invitation for lunch.

The table


The appetizers–taralli, marinated  artichokes  and  assorted  olives.

Crozes-Hermitage 2015 “La Matiniere” Ferraton Père & Fils made from 100% Syrah. The soil is terraces of glacial deposits with a lot of round pebbles and gravel in the districts of Mercurol and Beaumont-Monteux. The grapes are destemmed and maceration lasts for about 20 days. There is temperature-controlled vinification. Extraction is done by pumping over and punching down. The wine is aged in oak barrels and vats for 12 months before bottling. The wine has hints of cherries and raspberries with a touch of blackcurrants.

Buratta with tomatoes  and  basil.

Italian  cold  cuts  —  porchetta,  prosciutto,  mortadella,  finocchiona  salame,  and  soppressata.

Assorted Cheeses

Two kinds of cookies  from  Villabate  Pastry  Shop  —  fig  cookies  and  biscotti  regina.  

Dessert  pastries — sfogliatelle, pasticiotti, casatina, and a pine nut tart.

Espresso in a beautiful cup



Filed under Nat & Judith