Monthly Archives: December 2020

A Christmas Tradition

Despite the difficulties this year, we were able to maintain a few holiday traditions. One that we always look forward to is having Christmas dinner at the home of Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow.

We began with a toast.

IMG_3792Brut Methode Traditional 2018 made from 100% Gringet, an endemic grape variety of Savoie France Domaine Belluard. The vineyard is at 450 meters and the exposure is south. The soil is chalky of the Chablais Mountains with little stones. Glacier sediments: yellow marls. Hand-operated harvest. There is a very soft pressing of the grapes. Traditional vinification with alcoholic and malolactic fermentation with native bacteria and yeast takes place. 60% of the vinification is carried out in an egg-shaped concrete vat. Rough filtration on egg whites. The wine has floral notes, pleasant fruity aromas and flavors, a hint of apple, and touch of minerality. The winery is located in the heart of the valley of the Arve between Geneva and Chamonix Mont-Blanc.

With the sparkling wine there were three appetizers

Smoked salmon on rye bread.

Stuffed Mushrooms with breadcrumbs and cheese. 

We also had foie gras toasts.

At the table, we had

Irpina Aglianico 2016 “Memini” Az. Ag. Guastaferro made from 100% Aglianico. The wine bursts with sweet ripe fruit of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate. It has a wonderful fruit filled finish and a very long aftertaste. It was a very interesting Aglianico and I have never tasted one like this before. Daniele Cernelli (aka Doctor Wine) in his book The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2020 states: … In 2002 Raffaele Guastaferro inherited 10 hectares from his grandfather with over 100 year old vines trained using the old starseto (pergola Avellinese) method…creating a very interesting style for the wines that were also based on tradition.

Our first course was Pizza Rustica, a Southern Italian savory pie filled with ricotta, prosciutto and salame.

There are many versions and every cook, has his or her own interpretation.  But Diane’s was outstanding for its balance of flavors and tender, perfectly baked crust.  We asked for a generous slice to take home with us for lunch the next day!

On the plate

BBarbaresco 2001 “Roncagile” Poderi Colla made from 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard has a south, south–west exposure and is at 240/280 meters. There are about 4,000/5,000 vines per hectare and the years of planting were 1970-1980-1995-2010. Harvest is manual and takes place the 5th to 15th of October. The grapes are destemmed and crushed and maceration with the skins takes place from 12/15 days. There is a complete malolactic fermentation before the winter. In the spring the wines goes into Slavonian oak bottles for 12/4 months. This is a complex wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries a hint of violets, rose petal and a touch of spice. I visited the winery a few years ago and liked all their wines.

To accompany the main course, we had escarole sauteed with garlic, raisins and pine nuts.

Our main course was a rolled, stuffed veal breast which made a beautiful presentation.  The filling included greens and mushrooms.  

The veal and escarole were served with roasted potatoes

Barbaresco 1999 Bruno Giacosa made from 100% Nebbiolo. The exposure is southwest; the soil is calcareous clay with a good percentage of sand. There are 4,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel vats for 21 days. Malolactic fermentation is complete developed. The wine is aged for 18 months in 110HL botti casks of French oak and eight months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of raspberry, plum, blueberries a touch of violets and a note of tobacco

There were a few cheeses to finish the wine.

Dessert was a Tarte Tatin, made by Michele.  We had creme fraiche on the side.

On the plate.  I like every type of apple tart, but this has to be my favorite.  

We finished this perfect meal with espresso and Marolo Barbera grappa.


Filed under Aglianico, Barbaresco, Bruno Giacosa, Poderi Colla

Christmas Eve 2020

We celebrated Christmas Eve this year with close friends who live a few blocks away. There were four of us.

IMG_3992 copyWe started with Champagne Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15%. The Pinot Noir is added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle.  It is topped up with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar.  It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and strawberries and touch of roses.

It went very well with the shrimp pate on toast which I forgot to get a picture of.  IMG_3989

At the table, I opened a bottle of:

Beneventano Falaghina ‘”Resilienza “2017 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 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. The Falaghina from Donna Chiara always impresses me.

IMG_3981To accompany the wine, we had Octopus and Potato Salad.  It’s a favorite of ours that we always enjoy in Rome.

IMG_3979Sourdough Bread was a good accompaniment.

IMG_3974For our main course, Michele roasted two large branzini with artichokes.

IMG_3984With the roasted fish and artichokes, we had polenta with Parmigiano Reggiano.

IMG_3989Greco di Tufo “ Nova Serra” 2013 Mastroberadino made from 100% Greco di Tufo from the 33 acre Novaserra vineyard at 1,815 feet. The soil is clay and calcareous along the profile volcanic presence. There are 1,600 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot Espalier. The vineyard was replanted in 1999 and the exposure is southwest. The harvest is in October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine remains on the lees for 5 months before it is bottled and in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a wine with rich ripe fruit and hints of pear, peach, apricot and a touch of citrus and sage.

IMG_3988Dessert was a Chocolate Ginger Cake with Confit Citrus and whipped Creme Fraiche brought by our friends.  The cake turned out kind of messy, but absolutely delicious.  I could have gotten a better picture, but was in too much of a hurry to dig in.  Not wanting the crumbles to go to waste, I nibbled away at more than my share with a small grappa after the meal.


Filed under Alfred Gratien, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino

Daniele Cernilli on Moscato

by Daniele Cernilli 12/14/20 | 
Panettone e Moscato d'Asti

One of the Sparkling wines I did not mention for the Holiday Season was Moscato D’Asti. Below is an article be Daniele Cernilli (aka Doctor Wine)”SOS Moscato”  Happy Holidays

Moscato is a sweet, aromatic and truly delicious wine that pairs perfectly with the upcoming holiday cakes and goodies. We should drink it during the holidays without hesitation and not only will this be enjoyable for us but it will help the wine’s struggling producers.

An important Moscato d’Asti producer, whose winery is in Canelli, recently phoned me and was very worried. “With the American market at a standstill I still have thousands of bottles of Moscato d’Asti 2019 on my hands. They are going to be very difficult to sell also because everyone is asking me about the 2020 and last year’s wine risks being sold for a pittance”.

If this was true for him, it is probable that many other producers find themselves in the same situation and this despite a major advertising campaign that the Consorzio dell’Asti e del Moscato d’Asti producers’ association has put together using has their pitch man Alessandro Borghese, the media chef celebrity who I personally find very charming and convincing. It is clear now that this has not been enough or not sufficient to boost the consumption of Moscato d’Asti, which is for the most part produced by medium-to-small wineries.

This is a shame and for many reasons. First among these is that, as you know, it is a light, aromatic and sweet wine that is slightly effervescent and delicious, one that also has a surprising propensity to age. Some producers, like Ca’ d’ Gal, offer wines that have aged significantly and that represent the quality apex for this wine. But even bigger wineries, like Batasiolo, Fontanafredda, Coppo and many others produce some delicious Moscato. This not to mention those from La Spinetta, Dogliotti and Saracco, which produce wines to drink by the bucket even by those who are particularly wine fans.

Moscato d’Asti is a wine with fragrant aromas that is irresistibly drinkable, one that is light and has a surprising capacity to age and, above all, is very suited to pair with the cakes and sweets of the upcoming holidays, first among them Panettone. And so I would like to make an appeal, a totally disinterested one given that, as you can easily observe, our site has no promotional initiatives on it to support my appeal. This year let’s all drink some Moscato d’Asti 2019, which at this moment is perfect and at its peak. Let’s do this, first off all, as wine lovers to do justice to a wine that is simply pleasing without any pretensions but that represents a unique tradition. And it is a lot better than you could imagine.

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Wines of Romagna. Part I

Marina Thompson of Rome-based Thompson International Marketing is a wine marketing expert and a long time friend. She invited me to a Zoom telecast to discuss the wines of Romagna. It was scheduled to be in two parts and I was supposed to receive the wines to taste while viewing the program, however DHL, the US delivery agent, refused to deliver the wines to me as an individual. Fortunately, the wines were also sent to I Trulli Restaurant and I was able to try them there.

The speaker was Marina’s husband, Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and author of The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2021.

Daniele began by describing the geography of the Emilia-Romagna region. The Romagna area is both south and west of Emilia and borders on the sea, so the climate is very different. They are like two different regions as far as the wine and food is concerned. In Emilia the typical wine is Lambrusco and in Romagna it is Sangiovese di Romagna. Daniele said that Sangiovese was in Romagna before it was in Tuscany and is always referred to as Sangiovese di Romagna.

Even the food is different. In Emilia they eat a rich menu of dishes like tortellini in brodo, tagliatelle Bolognese, mortadella and Parmigiano Reggiano. In Romagna the menu is much simpler with rice often instead of pasta, lots of vegetables, and less meat and cheese.

The wines of Romagna

All of these fine wines are looking for an importer in the U.S.

The prices are ex-cellar and in euros

bole-bottleNovebolle Romagna Doc Spumante NV Brut “Bolè Blue” made from 95% Trebbiano and 5% Famoso. Charmat method and the sugar is 8g/l. A slow fermentation for 90 days takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves. This is a fresh crisp fruity wine with hints of citrus fruit, white flowers and a note of yeast. It is an easy pleasant wine to drink. Daniele said it is inspired by the sparkling wines of Romagna that were in favor in the early Novecento. This is a delicate and fresh spumante with hints of citrus fruit and notes of white flowers. It is a very easy drinking wine and Italy’s newest Spumante DOC. This is the Consortium’s collective brand. There is also a Bole Rose. E 3IMG_3937

Bissoni Riserva 2016 Romagna DOC made from 100% Sangiovese Azienda Agricola Bissoni. Production area is Bertinoro, which is hilly. The soil is sandy clay and the vineyards are at 150 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of September and the beginning of October. The training method is spurred cordon and there are 3,300 plants per hectare. The vineyard was planted in 1991. The grapes are hand picked in clusters and then destemmed and pressed. Fermentation with the yeast takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration is for 14/21 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages in first and second-hand passage French oak barrels for 16 to 18 months and in bottle for at least 12 months before release. The wine has hints of ripe fruit, cherry, plum and red berries with a touch of tobacco and spice. The winery was certified organic in 2016. They only grow Sangiovese and Albana. E 10.50

IMG_3938Dracone Riserva 2011 Palazzona di Maggio made from 45% Merlot, 45% Cabernet Franc and 10% Petit Verdot. The vineyards are located in the hills of San Pietro Di Ozzano, in the Doc zone of Colli di Imola at 80 to 170 meters. The grapes are harvested by hand and come from the best and oldest part of the tenuta from the Poggio Alto and Quercia vineyards situated at 110 and 170 meters. Maceration takes place under controlled temperature and a post fermentation with a long Maceration with frequent pumping over. The wine is aged for 24 months on 500 liter oak barrels of first and second passage. The wine is in bottle for 18 months before release. It has hints of red berries, black currants and jam with a note of tobacco and spice. Daniele said there was a long tradition of international grapes in the area. He also said it was a big wine and reminded him of a California wine. The winery was certified organic in 2019. E 16.5

IMG_3935Sangiovese Superiore Di Romagna DOC “Beato Enrico” 2017 Tenuta Santini made from 100% Sangiovese Superiore di Romagna. The winery is in the town of Coriano very close to the Rimini Riviera. It is between Rimini and Riccione on the border with San Marino. Daniele said this was the winery’s most representative wine. The training system is cordone speronto and there are 3,300 vines per hectare and the vines are 12/15 years old. Fermentation is in steel with a controlled temperature. The wine spends 8 months in steel and glass. The wine has hints of red fruit, white flowers and a touch of blackberries. E 7.5

IMG_3939Cesco 1938 Tenuta Piccolo –Brunelli 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese from the Predappio sub zone. There are 7 hectares of vines at an altitude of 350 meters. There are 5,050 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is spontaneous fermentation with whole grapes followed by pumping over and breaking the cap by hand. The wine is aged in large Italian barrels and vitrified concrete tanks. The wine is not filtered. They also have a number of international varieties planted. In 2019 they started the transition to certified biological production. This is a wine with hints of red berries, red currants and a touch of blueberries. E 6.9

IMG_3934Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore “Morale” 2019 made from 100% Sangiovese di Romagna DOC Superiore Poderi Morini. The production zone is Oriolo Faenza. The vineyard is at 170 meters, the training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the first week of October. Vivification is in steel and the wine remains in bottle for two months before release. This is a fresh and fruity wine with hints of violets and red berries and a touch of blackberries. E 3.5

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Sparkling Wine and One Champagne

Here are some of the sparkling wines that I drank this year and hope to enjoy again in the New Year

IMG_3792Brut Methode Traditional 2018 made from 100% Gringet, an endemic grape variety of Savoie France Domaine Belluard. The vineyard is at 450 meters and the exposure is south. The soil is chalky of the Chablais mountains with little stones. Glacier sediments: yellow marls. Hand-operate harvest. There is a very soft pressing of the grapes. Traditional vinification with alcoholic and malolactic fermentation with native bacteria and yeast. 60% of the vinification is carried out in an egg-shaped concrete vat. Rough filtration on egg whites. The wine has floral notes, pleasant fruity aromas and flavors with a slight hint of minerality. The winery is located in the heart of the valley of the Arve between Geneva and Chamonix Mont-Blanc.

IMG_3674 2Domaine Rolet Pere et Fils “Cremant Du Jura” NV made from 57% Chardonnay, 16% Savagnin, 16% Poulsard and 11% Pinot Noir from 20 year old vines at 280 to 380 meters. The soil is gray marl and there are two meters of topsoil before hitting mother rock. Only indigenous yeast is used. Fermentation and aging is in tanks. The wine remains on the lees for 24 months. It is medium bodied, dry with good minerality, hints of citrus fruit, yeasty notes and a touch of white flowers.

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). $18

Monte Rossa Prima Cuvèe Brut 85% NV Pinot Chardonnay 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Blanc. Soft pressing of the best grapes with no more then 55% of the total yield. Partially fermented in steel tubs at a controlled temperature and partially fermented in oak barrels. The wine has strawberry aromas and flavors with an undertone of brioche which added depth to the wine.

Trento DOC Ferrari “Perlè” Methodo Classico 2011 made from 100% organic Chardonnay from vineyards at 300 to 700 meters with a southeast or southwesterly exposure. The soil is loose, not too deep, and made of volcanic and glacial deposits. There are 4,500 to 5,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand from the middle of September. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 6 months. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of apple, almonds, and a touch of brioche. I was very impressed by this wine. Residual sugar is 6g/l.

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 low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees are 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. The wine has hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Langa 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

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 4 degrees C 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

Bodegas Naveran Rosado Cava Brut made from Pinot Noir and Parellada grapes. The grapes are lightly pressed and very little skin contact takes place so the wine remains pale in color. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a very low temperature. Once the base wine was finished fermenting, it is stabilized and filtered in order to continue with the triage and a second fermentation takes place in the bottle with a minimum of 12 months aging. The wine has very tiny bubbles with aromas and flavors of red fruit, a touch of lemon and a hint of ginger. The winery produces organic cavas and wines. This is a vegan wine.

Domaine Bousquet Brut made from 75% Pinot Noir and  25% Chardonnay from vineyards in Tupungato, Alto Gualtallary, by the Andes at 4,000 ft. This sparkling wine is made by the Charmat Method with the secondary fermentation taking place in tanks. This is a wine with red fruit aromas and flavors, medium acidity and citric notes with a fruity finish.

And one Champagne — Bruno Paillard Brut Premiere Cuvèe  Made from 22% Pinot Meunier, 33% Chardonnay and 45% Pinot Noir. The grapes are a selection from 32 villages vinified separately in stainless steel or in barrel. There is a systematic use of reserve wines from previous vintages from 25% to 48% when needed. The wine comes from the first pressing of the grapes. The wine is aged in bottle on the lees for 3 months. This is almost double the legally required minimum. In all of Bruno Paillard’s Champagne, the dosage is kept very low, 5 to 6 grams of sugar per liter, so as to produce an authentic and pure wine, a true Brut. This is the flagship of the house and must remain true to itself in the good and bad years. One very large tank is used for the assemblage so there is consistency.  The wine has aromas of citrus fruit, especially lime and grapefruit, with a touch of brioche and almonds. This is a true bargain at $54

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Cassoulet Dinner

This weekend, we invited a close friend and her husband to come for dinner to celebrate her birthday. We have spent many enjoyable vacations with these friends in France, so we decided on a French theme for our dinner.IMG_3919

We began in style with a gift they brought — a bottle of Champagne Dom Perignon 2010 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. 

On other recent occasions, we have shared the 2008 and the 2009. The only difference was that the 2010 had not developed any of the “brioche” aromas but it was fresh and wonderful.

IMG_3904Michele had made gougeres, parmesan cheese puffs, to go with the Champagne.

Our main course was cassoulet, a French bean and meat stew. Michele used the recipe from her cookbook, The French Slow Cooker. She started earlier in the week by making slow cooked beef stock from roasted marrow bones and vegetables. Once the stock was ready, she used the slow cooker to simmer the beans and meats, which included confit duck legs, French garlic sausage and lamb shoulder. Since cassoulet is the kind of dish that gets better over time, she completed it a day ahead and then reheated it just before dinner.

The resulting stew was incredibly tender and flavorful.

IMG_3903With the main course we had Gigondas 2005 Domaine Raspail AY (Magnum) made from 80% Grenache, 15% Syrah and 6% Mourvedre. The wine is aged in old fundres and then in barrels for 18 to 24 months. This is a complex wine that has hints of black fruit, cherry, raspberry, leather and a touch of violets and spice. It has a very pleasing aftertaste and a long finish and it was a pleasure to drink as well as a perfect match with the cassoulet.

IMG_3907Our friends also brought us a loaf of artisan sourdough bread from Breads Bakery, a beautiful rustic loaf to eat with the cassoulet.

IMG_3910Cassoulet on the plate

IMG_3914After the cassoulet, we had a simple salad of arugula, radicchio, fennel and orange wedges with sherry vinegar and extra virgin olive oil dressing.

IMG_3916There were two cheeses to finish the wine, one was a bloomy rind Pave from France and the other was a semifirm Alta Badia from Italy

IMG_3917For dessert, Michele made individual apple tarts served warm and topped with vanilla ice cream.

It was a delicious evening enjoyed with good friends.


Filed under Dom Perignon, Uncategorized

Twelve Champagnes

Most years in December, I would attend the Wine Media Guild’s holiday Champagne tasting with Ed “Champagne” McCarthy, the author of Champagne for Dummies, as the speaker. The theme varied from year to year.  It could be Prestige Cuvèes, Vintage, Blanc des Blancs, Rose, or a combination, but it was always a truly great sparkling event. Since that event won’t be happening this year, I am reporting on 12 wines that I have drunk over the last few months.  Hope Ed approves of all of them.

Laherte Fieres “Les Grandes Crayères” 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. Disgorgement is by hand and the dosage is 3 to 4 gr/l. This is an elegant Champagne with hints of citrus fruit, apples and a touch of brioche. This producer is becoming one of my favorites.

IMG_3734Veuve Clicquot Brut NV made from 56% Pinot Noir, 16% Pinot Meunier and 28% Chardonnay. This is easy drinking Champagne, toasty with black fruit aromas and flavors.

IMG_3638Gosset Champagne Brut Excellence made from 24% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay and 19% Pinot Meunier from Ay-Chapmpagne, Chigny-les-Roses, Courmas, Cumieres, Avize, Cuis and Trepail. There is 100% malolactic fermentation. The wine spends 30 months in the cellar before it is disgorged. Dosage for the Brut is11g/L. It has hints of apricots, peaches, dried fruit and a touch of brioche.

IMG_3278Champagne Boizel 2007 made from 40% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier.  3% of the wines were aged in oak casks. The wines were aged for 7 years on the lees. This is elegant Champagne with hints of apricot, biscuits, flowers, almonds and a touch of licorice. 

IMG_3447 2Champagne Dom Pérignon 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 a very impressive champagne with great balance, elegance and complex aromas and flavors.

IMG_3528Champagne 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.

IMG_3575Selosse 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.  It has hints of apricots, pears, loads of wet stone minerality, white flowers, pumpkin pie spice, mulled cider and the signature oxidation. It may be the most unusual champagne I have ever tasted.

IMG_3092Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% . The Pinot Noir is added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle which is topped up with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar.  It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and strawberries and touch of roses.

IMG_2892Suenen Champagne Oiry Blancs De Blancs Grand Cru Extra Brut made from 100% Chardonnay from the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The soil is chalk. The vins clairs (clear wines) are fermented partially in barrel and spend 9 months on the lees. The dosage is 2g/L. This is a delicate dry wine with floral aromatics, hints of green apple, a note of yellow plums and a touch of lemon with high acidity.

IMG_2581Larmandier-Bernier “Latitude” Extra Brut Blanc De Blancs NV. Made from 100% Chardonnay grapes which come from the same Latitude in the southern part of Vertus. There is 40% reserve wine in the blend and the dosage is 4g/l. The wine has hints of peach, white flowers, toast and a touch of almonds.

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils “Fleuron” Brut 2009 made from 100% Chardonnay from premier cru Villages mostly in the Cöte de Blancs. Fermentation is in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine remains on the lees for 84 months. The wine has hints of apple, floral notes, a touch of lemon, with good minerality and balanced acidity.

IMG_2322Champagne Krug Grande Cuvèe 167EME EDITION This is a blend of 191 wines from 13 different years, the youngest is from 2011 and the oldest goes back to 1995. The final blend is 47% Pinot Noir 36% Chardonnay and17% Meunier. It is aged for about 7 years before it is released. The Champagne has hints of dried and citrus fruit, a touch of gingerbread, hints of hazelnuts, and brioche. It is Michele’s favorite Champagne.

Looking forward to a better 2021 and tasting again with Ed for the Wine Media Guild.

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Filed under Alfred Gratien, Boizel, Champagne, Dom Perignon, Gosset, Jacques Selosse - Susbstance, Krug, Laherte Fieres Champagne, Larmandier-Bernier Champagne, Pierre Gimonnet Champagne, Shaman 14 Marguet, Suenen Champagne, Uncategorized, Veuve Clicquot

A Dinner with Friends

Because of the pandemic, Michele and I have limited the number of people that we see and we do not go out often. Fortunately, we have some close friends who live nearby that we know are as careful as we are. They invited us for dinner on Saturday night.

IMG_3883We started with Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve made from 40% Pinot Noir, 20% and Pinot Meunier and 40% Chardonnay. 40% is reserve wine. This is a rich complex Champagne with hints of brioche, toasted almonds, apricot, plum and a touch of dried fruit.

IMG_3881With the champagne, we enjoyed a smoked trout pate on toasts.

IMG_3888Chateauneuf du Pape Chateau De Vaudieu Blanc 2012 made from 75% Grenache and 25% Roussanne. The winery is located in the heart of the Chateauneuf du Pape appellation. The name comes from Val de Dieu (Valley of God). The vineyard is 10 hectares in the southern part of the estate and the soil is red clay, gray silex limestone and pebbles. Manual harvest in boxes of 15 kg with double sorting of the grapes in the vineyard takes place. Grapes are vinified and aged separately until blending. There is soft pressing with whole bunches. Static cold settling and alcohol fermentation is between 18 and 22 degrees. The wine is aged for 6 months. Most of the wine is aged in stainless steel and a small portion in barriques. The wine has hints of white fruit, grapefruit, refreshing citrus notes with nice minerality and good acidity.

IMG_3890Warm Bean Salad with Grilled Shrimp, a recipe from Michele’s book, A Fresh Taste of Italy, was our first course.IMG_3885 2Cöte de Nuits-Villages 2010 Domaine Bachrelet made from 100% Pinot Noir from vines planted in 1952 in Queue de Hareng in Brochon-3 plots, Vignois-3 plots, and Creèole-1 plot. The soil is limestone and clay, the exposure is east and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and fermented with indigenous yeast. The wine is aged for 16 to 18 months is barrel, 25% new oak. This is a wine with hints of dark fruit, black cherry, blueberries and blackberries with a note of violets, a very pleasant finish and long aftertaste.

Our main course was a perfectly roasted chicken with roast potatoes and carrots.  I was too busy enjoying it to take a photo, so I will leave it to your imagination as to what it looked like.

IMG_3895Dessert was an apple tart in a tender, buttery crust.  We ate the tart with dollops of creme fraiche.


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A glass of Calvados complemented the tart and ended a delicious meal.

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A Truffle Weekend

Fresh white truffles from Italy’s Piedmont region are in season this time of the year.  Since we can’t go to Italy for them right now, a friend ordered some to enjoy here and Michele offered to cook a menu of Piemontese dishes to go with them.  We decided to make a weekend of it.

We arrived at our friend’s home on Saturday afternoon and we could tell immediately that something was wrong.  The truffles had not arrived!  To console ourselves, Michele made a mushroom risotto.  Meanwhile, our friend tracked down his order and made arrangements for it to arrive later that day.


While the risotto cooked, we started with a little antipasto of mortadella chunks, soppressata and pecorino Sardo.



Three kinds of mushrooms went into the pot:  cremini, shiitake and dried porcini.

IMG_3845Barbaresco 1979 Giovannini Moresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. Sheldon Wasserman in his book “Italy’s Noble Red Wines” calls this the wine of the vintage. The grapes are harvested late when they are totally ripe and the yields are low because of severe pruning. The Podere del Pajore vineyard is planted in the rose sub-variety of Nebbiolo. After the 1979 vintage, the wines were made by Angelo Gaja according to Moresco’s instructions. A few years later the vineyard was sold to Gaja. Wasserman tasted this wine 14 times in March 1985 — that is how much he liked it. Now 41 years later it is still a great wine, rich, and complex with hints of tobacco, black cherry, truffles, faded roses and so much more. It has a most pleasing aftertaste and a very long finish.

IMG_3860 2By Sunday morning, the truffles had arrived.  It was like Christmas morning but for grownups.

IMG_3867We set the table

IMG_3862For our first course, Michele made Eggs in Coccotte.  Eggs baked in a puddle of cream and Parmigiano Reggiano.

IMG_3864Then we shaved the truffles on top.  The heat of the eggs released the truffle fragrance.  With it, we had two  white wines.

IMG_3853Meursault “Les Chevalieres” 2008 Jean-Philippe Fichet made from 100% Chardonnay from a hillside vineyard with east/northeast exposure. The soil is limestone clay with a lot of limestone pebbles. The farming is organic. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation with malolactic is in barrel. Batonnage is limited depending on the health of the lees and the nature of the vintage. The wine is aged in barrel (1/6 new for 12 months and 3 to 6 months is tank. This is a fresh refined wine with hints of pear, apple and citrus notes with good minerality and a long finish.

IMG_3843Meursault-Perrieres 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay.  Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. They harvest by machine and allow other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used, for 10 months. The wine has hints of ripe citrus fruit honey and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity.  It went especially well with the eggs and truffles.

IMG_3854For our main course there was fresh fettuccine, tossed with butter and cream and topped with more truffles.

IMG_3874In the dish with the truffles.  Simple is best with white truffles and the fettuccine, purchased at Eataly, were the right complement.

IMG_3856Barolo “Brunate” 1974 Marcarini made from 100% Nebbiolo.  For many years Elvio Cogno was the winemaker for the Poderi Marcarini in La Morra. His Barolo from the La Serra and Brunate Vineyards were exceptional. In  Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Wasserman gives 2- stars to the 1974 vintage and wrote, “… the vintage has not lived up to its expectations, though without question a few splendid wines were made.”  When he tasted the Cogno – Marcarini 1974 in 1984, he wrote, “Floral bouquet recalls tobacco and cherry, soft with a tannic vein, a shade astringent but still in all very good.” This was one of the few splendid wines

I had the 1974 eight years ago and this is how I described it:  “Typical Nebbiolo aromas and flavors of faded roses, tobacco, licorice mature red fruit and a hint of white truffles and a great finish and aftertaste.” All the aromas and flavors were still there.

IMG_3875After the pasta, there was Insalata Tricolore with arugula, endive and radicchio.

IMG_3876The dessert was from a local bakery.

This was as close to Piedmont as we will get this year, thanks to our friend who supplied the truffles.  There was even enough left for a generous shaving on fried eggs the next morning.


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