Monthly Archives: July 2021

“Live Tasting” with Romano Brands at Ribalta

I have attended a number of wine tasting webinars this past year or so and I understand that under the circumstances this was the only way it could be done.  But I still prefer “live events,” so I was very happy when Michael Romano and Lars Leicht of Romano Brands invited me to taste their wine at Ribalta Restaurant. I have know both Michael and Lars for a number of years and was looking forward to seeing them and tasting the wines.

The Wines IMG_5473

Baci al Sole Rosé Veneto IGT made from 40% Corvina, 40% Merlot and 20% Corvinone. After a gentle pressing, there is brief skin contact with the juice followed by temperature controlled fermentation, then by a brief passage in stainless steel. The wine has hints of honeydew melon, red berries and cherries. It is very light pink in color and it is one of the best Rosé wines I have tasted in a long time. It reminds me of some of the rosé wines I had when I was in Provence.

IMG_5476Vermentino di Sardegna DOC 2019 “Tuvaoes” Cherchi made from 100% Vermentino di Sardegna from 117 hectares of vineyards planted with the Vermentino grapes at 200 meters. The grapes for this wine are a selection from the vineyards of Usini. The winery is in the northwest corner of Sardegna. The soil is limestone-clay. Pruning system is guyot.  Harvest takes place the second week of September. There is a careful selection of grapes in the vineyard. The grapes are destemmed and crushed followed by a soft pressing. The must ferments in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of citrus, white fruit, grass, and tomato leaf with floral and mineral  notes.

IMG_5475Michael Romano with a glass of Baci di Sole and the pala Pizza Margherita 

IMG_5483Vino Bianco “Acini Perduti” Az. Agricola Tappero Merlo
made from 70 % Malvasia Moscata and 30% Erbaluce. The soil is strongly acidic of morenic origin and composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay.  The cultivation practices are organic and natural. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system in guyot. The vineyards are at 970 ft.  Manual harvest takes place at the end of September. Fermentation takes place with indigenous yeast in a 500 liter tonneau. The aging is on the lees always in tonneau for about 12 months with weekly battonage. At the end of maturation, it passes to a non invasive clarification and filtration with the utmost respect for the integrity of the wine. The wine remains in the bottle 4/6 months before release. The wine is delicately aromatic with hints of citrus fruit, pears and apples and notes of sage, lemon grass, slightly spiced with good minerality. A very interesting and impressive wine.

They also make 100% Erbaluce which was how I first discovered this producer.

Note: Domenico Tappero, a student of history and terroir, read 17th century accounts of grapes that disappeared from his native Canavese in Piedmont. One of these “lost” grapes was the Malvasia Moscata. It is mentioned in a 1660 essay, “The Excellence and Diversity” of the wines that are made in the Mountains of Turin by G. B. Croce. The Malvasia Moscata grape in the past was blended with Erbaluce to make a popular blend. While Erbaluce remained popular Malvasia Moscata was forgotten over the years until once again blended with Erbaluce by Tappero Merlo.  “Acini Perduti” means Lost Berries

IMG_5507Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Cuvée Des Paladins” Brut Sparkling 2013. This sparkling wine is made from 100% Erbaluce with refermentation in the bottle (Classic Method). The wine is aged for 60 months on the lees. Soil is strongly acidic of morainic origin composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The vineyards are at 970/100ft. Harvest is in early September. Fermentation of the must is partly In steel and partly in very old barrels. The base wine is ready to become a sparkling wine in the spring following the harvest. The pied-de cuve (process using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wines) is prepared which starts the second fermentation in the bottle in a temperature controlled environment. After a slow passage over the pupitres (wooden frames for traditional riddling), the sparkling wine is ready for disgorgment which usually takes place in the spring. The wine rests for a few months and then is ready for release. The wine has hints of brioche, dried fruit, honey, and hazelnuts with citrus notes and complex minerality. This is the first time I tasted a sparkling wine made from Erbaluce di Caluso and I really liked it.

Note:The name of the  wines comes from the 12 loyal knights of Charles the Great, who on Christmas Day in the year 800 was crowned by Pope Leo III “Emperor of the Romans” and the Holy Roman Empire was established. There is a legend that during this time Erbaluce might have come from the Rhone Valley into Canavese or vice versa thanks to the agrarian reforms of Charles the Great.

IMG_5481Chianti Colli Senesi 2017 “San Nicola”  Az Agricola Campochiarenti, San Gimignano, Tuscany, made from 85 % Savgiovese and 15% Canaiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda and Mammolo. The exposure is south, south west along a hill at 180/230 meters. The soil is composed of silt and sand with a little clay. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins of 90hl at a controlled temperature with pumping over and delestage. Maceration lasts for 12/15 days in order to obtain the highest extraction of color from the skins. The wine is naturally clarified , without adding any chemical products. Aging is in 20hl oak barrels for at least 9 months. The wine is bottled and stored in the cellar until release. The wine has hints of red berries, spice, tobacco and a touch of jam with a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. This wine will age.

This wine reminds me of the old style Chianti, with all the local grapes and traditional fermentation and aging which I loved, but few producers make any more.


IMG_5479Pala Pizza Margherita with mozzarella, basil and whole tomatoes.

One of Ribalta’s specialties is the Pizza a Pala, pizza on a paddle, baked in an electric oven, which has aA light and extra crispy crust.  It’s large enough for a family to share.  My favorite at Ribalta is the Margherita, but there are several other varieties as well. 

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Filed under Baci di Sole, Romano Brands, Rose, Vermentino, Vermentino Tuvaoes

Pizza and More at Kesté

 It is always a pleasure to go to Kesté not only to eat pizza made by Roberto Caporuscio, the owner, but to speak to him about pizza and the way his dough has changed over the years.

Roberto said that Keste Wall Street is presently his only location.   He is the sole owner and is there all the time.  Over the years, his pizza recipe has evolved.  He now uses a biga for his dough and  Caputo Nuvola tipo “0” flour with a much longer rising time.


ED441C20-655C-4B16-AF9C-354D602A84BF_1_105_cFried Burrata-At first I thought this was an arancini or rice ball, but Roberto told us it was a large burrata cheese, rolled in a batter and deep fried.  When we cut into the crusty exterior, small balls of mozzarella in cream tumbled out.

01A25111-95B4-436B-8E45-5B686D50F96C_1_105_cArancini – Roberto’s rice balls (top left) are filled with fresh mozzarella and Italian roast pork.

The darker ball on the right was a Frittatina – a traditional Neapolitan spaghetti cake filled with roasted porchetta and imported smoked buffala mozzarella.

On the bottom, was a panzerotti, a pocket of dough filled with cheese and roast pork.


Potato Croquette – Typical Neapolitan street food.  Mashed potatoes, cheese and parsley in a crisp crust.

8B70B98C-2372-43D2-90E3-68760DACAF04_1_105_cMeatballs– Traditional Italian beef meatballs. Roberto said this is mother’s recipe and they were very good with a firm texture and very meaty.

83A92114-A3C8-429A-9229-277D11E70821_1_105_cCantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2019, made from Piedirosso 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 Margherita. Sciascinoso, also know as Olivella, is used as a blending grape. The clusters and berries are large and it is a late ripening variety.


IMG_5444 2Margherita – Tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, grana, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

7FDB91FF-E004-469F-B99C-0DFBD7C48F44_1_105_cSummer Pizza– Mozzarella prosciutto, whole tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil

B596ADB6-9CFE-433B-BB2E-D8A63ACCD6D6_1_105_cPizza zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil  


3D70552A-6465-48AB-BDC1-DD3139173A97_1_105_cTiramisu – the classic, with coffee, sponge cake and chocolate.

56B4C113-4D23-4887-A56F-4E78765623A8_1_105_cCaprese – Moist flourless chocolate cake with ice cream

IMG_5450Nutellafried dough with Nutella and ice cream.

637B67BF-6648-4EDA-A246-BFA9AFDC2342_1_105_cThe “Keste Mobile” now delivers all over

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Filed under Gragnano, Keste

Castello di Radda: Chianti Classico at its Best

I first met Annalisa Chiavazza when she was working for a wine PR firm based in Alba. She was the guide for a number of press trips I went on sponsored by the PR firm and we became friends.  Now Annalisa is the marketing and communications manager for Agricole Gussalli Beretta Group. Recently, Annalisa sent me some samples from Castello Radda, one of the members of the group whose wines I know and like.  



 In fact I have a few bottles from the 2013 vintage.

The Castello di Radda winery is located just north of the city of Siena in the town of Radda in Chianti and is part of Agricola Gussalli Beretta Group. The winery was acquired by the Beretta family in 2003 and comprises 40 hectares located in Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti. Both in Rhadda and Gaiole the soil is well drained and moderately deep with low water retention which subjects the vines to constant stress which makes for better grapes.

They separately vinify the grapes of every vineyard and when possible, every parcel. This separation is maintained until bottling for the varietal wines, or until the moment of assemblage for the blended wines. 

The wines are racked in stainless steel tanks that are specified to contain the exact amount of fermented wine they will contain; this prevents the need to top up barrels with wines from other parcels, so the wine is not mixed.

In 2020 Castello Radda became a 100% organic winery. They also changed their label starting with the  2020 vintage.

These are the wines sent to me by Annalisa:


Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. 2018 Castello Di Radda made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% other grapes. The vineyards are at 400 meters with a southeast and southwest exposure. The soil has a clay and limestone structure with a good presence of silica skeleton. Harvest is by hand and then sorted in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel thermo-conditioned 50hl and 100hl vats, followed by maceration on the skins for two to three weeks. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in both stainless steel and wood. Part of the wine is aged in tonneaux and part in 20hl Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of violet, ripe plum, cherries and blackberries.


Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. Castello di Radda Riserva 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese from the oldest estate vineyards with south, southwest exposure at 400 meters. The limestone clay soils are more or less loose depending on the vineyard. The clusters are picked by hand and there is a quality selection on the sorting tables in the cellar. Initial fermentation takes place in 50hl stainless steel tanks and the wine remains on the skins for 3 weeks to one month depending on the ripeness of the grapes. Malolactic fermentation: 20% in oak and the remainder in 30hl stainless steel tanks. Maturation: 20% in new French oak tonneaux, 80% in once used tonneaux and 20 hl Slavonian ovals for about 20 months. The wine ages for a minimum of 9 months before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, blackberries, spices, brushwood and herbs.


Chianti Classico Gran Selezione D.O.C.G.”Vigna di Corno”  Castello di Radda 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. The grapes come from the single vineyard Il Corno (the vineyard) at 400 meters. The age of the vineyard is about 20 years. The soil is a clayey-calcareous type rich in texture. Harvesting  is done by hand in 20kg boxes by selecting the grapes first in the vineyard and then on a sorting table at the winery. Harvest is in the  beginning of October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50hl.  Maceration is for 4 weeks or so depending on the ripeness of the grapes. Malolactic is in 5hl new tonneaux and the wine spends about 5 months on the lees. Aging continues in the same tonneaux for another 20 months, then in bottle for at least 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberries, spice, cassis, with a touch of cedar and a note of violets. This is a very impressive wine.

I really liked the wines and hope to visit the winery soon where I will be able to taste all of the wines of Castello di Radda.

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Filed under Castello Radda, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Chinese Dinner Under the Fig Tree

When you are invited to someone’s home for dinner and they have prepared a  meal from the different provinces of China, this is something very special. When this meal is better then any you could have in the best Chinese restaurant in NYC, you are very lucky.3FD9736A-B00B-49E0-9469-F9A2CD96C392_1_105_c

The setting for the dinner was a back yard in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with a fig tree planted in 1940.

The dinner was prepared by Roger Chen and all the descriptions of the food are his.

490C41F7-E9F0-4636-B4A2-B329E8A67418_1_105_cAppetizer — We started with some small appetizers including taramasalata with pita bread and breadsticks.

E8898921-E93B-421E-A5CA-11E3A469290B_1_105_cWith the appetizer we had Champagne Mangin Et Fils Brut Natural made from 100% Pinot Meunier from vineyards in Leuvrigny and Moussy with limestone, clay and marl soil. During the harvest the grapes are quickly brought to the press room. After the first fermentation the wines are bottled and stored in the cellars so the second fermentation occurs. The wine is aged in the cellars for several years before being riddled by hand and disgorged. There is no dosage. They remain in the cellar for a few more months before release. It has intense effervescence and hints of quince, grapefruit, dried flowers, hazelnuts and a touch of honey.

The wines for our dinner were chosen  by Tony Di Dio.

First course

E10510A3-AE80-4D0C-91B2-878445A21059_1_105_cXiao Cong Ban Doufu (scallion & tofu salad), from Shandong Province — A cool and refreshing salad with fresh tofu marinated with scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil.

3CC2028B-DC84-4514-A7E3-F515CF4F43D8_1_105_cLiang Ban Lian-ou (lotus root salad), from Northwestern China. Fried tofu with lotus root, red onions and edamame.  Roger said that this is typically made with red chili peppers but he substituted red onions.

334D53E4-390C-439F-8E95-EB1F0DD91133_1_105_cDan Dan Mian (dan-dan noodles), street food from Sichuan Province.  Fresh wheat noodles with ground pork, preserved vegetables, scallions and peanuts.  I must have eaten 3 helpings of this.

IMG_5421Brittan Vineyards Sparkling Wine 2017 Brut Method Champenoise Willamette Valley, Oregon, made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The soil is a mixture of glacial deposits and volcanic material with a predominant presence of broken basalt. This is a full-bodied sparkling wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, white flowers and baking spice.

Main Course:

8CC50950-1A15-4ED6-B081-C861FF7289B5_1_105_cYou Mian Jin Sai Rou (fried gluten puff stuffed with minced pork), from Shanghai.  This was a sort of meat filled dumpling in a brown sauce.

IMG_5426Qiezi Dun Tudou (eggplant braised with potato), from Northeastern China.  The eggplant and potatoes came together beautifully with a garnish of green peas.

91771F1A-FF4E-47AC-88CC-5BA6E3CBE518_1_105_cXihongshi Chao Jidan (tomato & scrambled eggs).  Roger said that this simple dish of scrambled eggs and tomatoes is probably made in every household in China.  The sauce was slightly sweet.  Michele promised to make this for me at home soon.


With these we had Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos“ 2008 Joseph Drouhin Made from 100%  Chardonnay from vineyards located between Valmur on the left and Blanchot on the right. The soil is Kimmeridgian limestone with millions of embedded tiny marine fossils. The average age of the vines is 37 years. There are 8,000 vines per hectare and the training is double guyot. Biological cultivation. Harvesting is by hand. Aging is for 12 months in used barrels. The wine has hints of lemon and honey with a mineral character. This is a very impressive wine.

0C078A62-548F-4596-A684-9D4ECD3C84C2_1_105_cDessert was Figs from the tree in the garden with creme fraiche.

922D7223-00F6-4C71-AC71-2710819D8B37_1_105_cThe Fig Tree

7A01F43F-7B76-4264-B568-552AAEB29C56_1_105_cIce cream with chocolate covered orange rind was the final touch.

The rain held off and the evening was so perfect, none of us wanted it to end.  A big thank you to Chef Roger for this excellent dinner and sommelier Tony for the memorable wines.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Tony di Dio

Talking about Vino Nobile–Part II


In this report, Daniele Cernilli (aka Doctor Wine) speaks about the 2017 and 2016 vintages for Vino Nobile. Click on Vino Nobile for more information.

The Vino Nobile production zone is positioned on a hilly ridge between Val di Chiana and Val d’Orcia at altitudes between 820 and 1900 feet. The climate is largely influenced by the nearby Trasimeno Lake, with soils composed of marine fossils, sandstone, salt rich clay and precious silt deposits.

Prugnolo Gentile is the local name for the Sangiovese grape and some producers use either name while others use both.

The town of Montepulciano in Tuscany is the center for Vino Nobile vinification. Both vinification and aging must by law take place in the municipal area of Montepulciano.

I was in Montepulciano a number of years ago with Marina Thompson of Thompson International Marketing (Daniele Cernilli’s wife) when the Vino Nobile Consortium was debating the idea of adding international grapes especially Merlot. All of the wine writers on the press trip were against it but the Consortium approved it anyway. Today I am happy to see that many producers are using 100% Sangiovese or combining it with native grapes. A few producers are still adding Merlot but in a very small amount.

2017 is considered a 5 star vintage


Dei 2017 DOCG made from 90% Prugnolo Gentile and 10% Canaiolo from 15-40 year old vines planted in a south/southwest exposure in the crus of Martiena, la Ciarliana and La Piaggy at 250 to 350 meters. The 15 to 49 year old vines have a south/southwest exposure. Fermentation occurs naturally and lasts for 18 to 22 days. The wine is aged is 33 to 50 HL oak casks for 18 to 24 months and in bottle for 6 more months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry with a touch of rosemary and a note of thyme.


Fanetti  DOCG Tenuta Santa’Agnese Reserve 2017 made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Canaiolo. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the soil is mainly sandy clay. The vineyards are at 340 meters. The wine is produced from carefully selected grapes, chosen bunch by bunch from the San Giuseppe vineyard. Traditional vinification and the wine is aged in oak and wild chestnut barrels.  The wine has hints of blackberry, berries, and violets  with a touch of leather. It was the most full bodied of the wines.



Carpineto 2017 DOCG made from Prugnolo Gentile, Canaiolo and other authorized grape varietals. Maceration of the skins with the must for 10 to 15 days. Frequent pumping over with special pumps designed to move solid parts (skins and seeds very gently.) The wine is aged in 5,500 liter Slavonian oval oak barrels and a small amount in French oak barrels. The wine then remains in bottle for 6 to 8 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a touch of violets.

Everyone agrees 2016 was an exceptional vintage for Vino Nobile


Vecchia Cantina di Montepulciano Soc. Coop. Soc. Agr.  Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano DOCG 2016 Poggio Stella made from 90% Sangiovese (Prugnolo Gentile) and 10% Canaiolo. The vines are grown on hillsides and the soil is mostly crumbled rock with good skeletal content. The plant density is 3,500/5,000 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot and spurred cordon. The grapes are hand harvested; fermentation takes place in temperature-controlled tanks followed by maceration in stainless steel. The wine is aged in Slovenian oak barrels for 24 months. The wine has hints red fruit berries, spice, violets and a touch of jam.


Trerose Tererose 2016 DOCG made from 100% Sangiovese on the Santa Caterina hill where the grapes are planted with different exposures. Different expressions of the Sangiovese grape from diverse vineyard parcels within the Santa Caterina Hill Vineyards are harvested and fermented separately to differentiate and amplify their particular characteristics. The wine has hints of cherries, currants, blackberries and bitter orange.

Vino Nobile is a wine that can be drunk after 5 years but can last for 15 years in good vintages. I also recently had a 1998 Vino Noble that was drinking very well.

For the latest updates on Vino Nobile see:

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Filed under Vino Nobile di Montepulicano

Celebrating the 4th of July

While hot dogs and hamburgers are traditional for some on the Fourth of July, our celebration this year had an Italian accent.  

IMG_5223We spent the day with friends in New Jersey, enjoying the great weather in the beautiful garden.


Champagne  Oiry Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra-Brut NV Suenen made from 100% Chardonnay from a 1.5 hectare plot in the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The soil is chalky. The clear wine is fermented partially in barrel with 9 months on the lees and the dosage is 2g/l. It is delicate and dry with hints of lemon, quinine, floral notes and a trace of minerals.

4CFE7DD7-F460-4B6E-9E80-387258637302_1_105_cChampagne Brut Grand Cru Millésime Brut 2005 Egly-Ouriet made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay  from the oldest Grand Cru vines in Ambonnay. Fermentation and aging is in barrels.  Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine was disgorged after 54 months in January 2014. Dosage of 3/gl. This is a complex elegant and balanced  Champagne and I was very impressed by it. 

ECAD668B-42A0-4449-BB37-E111DDCB2DA1_1_105_cThe menu was eclectic.  With the Champagne we had Michele’s smoked whitefish pate which she served with both pita chips and potato chips.


Aglianico Riserve 1998 “Cappellaccio” Rivera made from 100% Aglianico grown on the limestone hills of the DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia. Harvest takes place in Mid-October. Maceration lasts for 12 to 14 days with pumpover and delestage. The wine is aged in French oak barriques-50% and 30hl French oak barrels-50%. Then 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, leather, tobacco and spice. It was showing very well.

Next we had several pizzas, beginning with a simple Marinara with an oregano-spiked tomato sauce.


5536D28A-7AD0-4082-97AA-CEDCC84C82CF_1_105_cA Margarita topped with prosciutto, arugula, and flakes of Parmigano-Reggiano was next.

298D7356-3619-4521-B148-1EF28FDF9A8D_1_105_cA second Margarita with sausages followed.

E9078740-9687-4CA8-B8B1-D07DE575CA18_1_105_cOur final pizza was topped with mozzarella, sausages and peppers.


Barbaresco 1978 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% 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 in large oak barrels. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

 Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. The wine was still drinkable but was showing its age. It has hints of wet leaves, tobacco, balsamic notes and a touch of spice.


Barolo 1978 Grand Riserva Marchesi di Barolo made from vineyards located in the municipality of Barolo: Cannubi, Sarmassa, Coste di Rose, Castellero, Boschetti, Preda and Ravera. The soil contains substantial amounts of quartz sand and the training system is guyot. Hand harvested grapes. The wine was fermented and aged in large Slovenian oak barrels. This is traditional Barolo with hints of tar, licorice, leather balsamic notes. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5378A big bowl of sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and anchovies accompanied our main course.

5B3CB028-527D-4EE9-8336-874423D73549_1_105_cWith the Barolo we had roasted sweet and hot pork sausages and chicken sausages with peppers, onions and potatoes. 

IMG_5394For dessert, Michele made a mixed berry crisp which we ate with vanilla ice cream.

There were also homemade chocolate chip cookies but we ate them before I could take a picture!


Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Egly-Ouriet Champagne, Maechesi di Barolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, Rivera, Suenen Chanpagne

Talking about Vino Nobile

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, has hosted a number of zoom webinars from Italy on Italian wine. I attended most of them at IL Gattopardo restaurant in NYC. The latest one was on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a wine that does not get the attention it deserves. IMG_5308

Many years ago, a wine writer said that the problem with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is that it is “caught in the shadow between Chianti and Brunello.” This is a marketing problem because Vino Nobile was the first DOCG to appear on the Italian market and is a renowned red wine that stands on its own.

There is also some confusion because of the name.  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is made from the Montepulciano grape variety in Abruzzo. Vino Nobile  di Montepulciano can only be made from grapes grown around the town of Montepulciano in the province of Siena in Southeast Tuscany in the hills around the Chiana Valley. The soil here is sandy and rich in clay with many rocks and the climate is temperate.

Vino Nobile is made mostly from the Sangiovese grape variety known locally as Prugnolo Gentile (at least 70%) and other approved red varieties. Many producers are now making it from 100% Prugnolo Gentile. Vino Noble is aged for a minimum of two years, including one in oak barrels or casks and three years total in order to be called a Riserva.

At the Zoom webinar there were 9 wines in total. Listed below are 4 wines from the 2018 vintage which one of the producers said was a classic vintage, with the right amount of rain in the spring and summer. The wines are balanced and elegant.

 In another blog, I will discuss wines from the 2016 and 2017 vintage, Pugnolo Gentile, and older vintages.

62158BEB-A20F-4644-B216-AD1410C0EAF6_1_105_cSalchetto “Nobile” 2018 made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile on 15 ha. Each plant makes one bottle. Manual harvest, sulfite free vinification with native yeasts takes place.  The wine ages for 18 months, 70% in bottle and 30% in tonneau. Then 6 months in bottle before release. The winery is organic certified. The wine will age for at least 10 years. This is a full bodied  wine that has hints of cedar, tea, nuts, red forest fruit with balsamic nuances and a touch of violets. Salchetto is one of 6 producers that joined together to make a Vino Noble di Montepulcino with the word  Nobile in big letters which most be made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile. The winery is organic.


Le Bèrne 2018 made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile at 350 meters. The training system is double guyot and balanced bilateral cordon..Harvest takes place the second week of October. Alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeast, long maceration on the skins and frequent punching down and pumping over.  The wine is aged for 24 months in 25 HL oak battles (60%) and 40% in small French oak barrels. After a minimum of 6 months in bottle the wine is released. The wine has fruity notes, with hints of cherry, blackberries, spice and a touch of vanilla.


Gracciano Della Seta 2018 made from 90% Prugnolo Gentile and 10% Merlot. The vines grow in clay and silty soil on the hills of Gracciano at 300/350meters. Fermentation and maceration on the skins in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with local yeasts for about 20 to 25 days. Aging is for 24 months, the first 12 months in French oak tonneau, and the remaining months is Slavonian oak casks. Then aged for at last another 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of violets, cherry, ripe plum with a touch of spice and a note of leather. After racking, the wine is transferred into big oak barrels where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 18 months. The wine has hints of dark cherry, plums and raspberry, violet notes and a touch of spice.


Tenuta del Cerro “Silìneo” 2018 made mainly from Prugnolo GentileFermentation and maceration at a controlled temperature with daily pumping over. After racking, the wine is transferred into big oak barrels where malolactic fermentation is carried out. Then the wine is aged for 18 months. The wine has hints of little red berries, cherry, strawberries and a note of violets.


Filed under Daniele Cernilli, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulicano

Norma “Hell’s Kitchen”

A second location of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite restaurants, recently opened on Ninth Avenue in the neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen, near the Theater District.  Since Michele and I live on the east side and the original Norma restaurant is in walking distance from our apartment, we tend to go there. But Salvatore Fraterrigo, known as Toto‘, who is the chef and owner, urged us to come to the new location.  Last week we went for lunch and were very happy that we did.   

IMG_5326We were meeting a friend and arrived early so we had cocktails.  Norma in Hell’s Kitchen has a full bar and is larger than the original Norma.


Michele had an Aperol Spritz, made with prosecco, Aperol, soda, and a slice of orange while I had a Campari and soda with orange.

The three of us shared an assortment of different dishes.

3A9D917F-A4B1-416F-B386-ADF512DF5C43_1_105_cCaponata con crostini – a sweet and savory combination of eggplant, celery, green olives, capers, onions, and tomato, served with seasoned bread crostini.  With our starters, we drank:


Monleale 2001 Vigneti Massa made from Barbera (Piedmont). The vineyards are at 300 meters and the soil is rich in limestone. The grapes are harvested in the last week of September. Maceration is for 10 days followed by fermentation with indigenous yeasts.  It is bottled without filtration. The wine has hints of cherry, balsamic notes and a touch of chocolate.  It was beginning to show its age.

D80A9C44-1D6D-4E85-8390-08E55236E08D_1_105_cArancine Ragu – saffron rice ball with Bolognese meat sauce filling with green peas, served over tomato sauce.

C0C519DE-D8A7-4500-A135-1D39AE5E53BB_1_105_cFritto Misto di Mare —  made with shrimp, calamari and zucchini perfectly fried in a light coating is only available at the Hell’s Kitchen location.

E070F576-2FF3-45B5-AD82-3FC1BF8BB8B0_1_105_cSeafood Couscous — This is a specialty of Chef Toto’.  He imports a special type of semolina flour, from which he makes his own couscous by hand.  The seafood, including shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels, cooks in a rich broth flavored with a hint of sweet spices.  This is a fantastic dish perfect for anyone who enjoys seafood and we scooped up every last bit.  It is new on the menu at the Hell’s Kitchen location.


Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 DOCGRancia” Berardenga-Fèlsina made from 100% Sangiovese from Vigneto Rancia located in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga northwest of Siena and in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone. The vineyard is at 400 meters with a southern exposure and is 2.4 acres. The training system is simple guyot. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed and then fermented at 28-30 degrees C with automatic daily punch downs followed by 12-15 days maceration. At the end of fermentation the wine goes into small and medium oak barrels in March-April for 12 to 18 months. The lots are blended and bottled with 6 -10 months aging before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and spice with a note of licorice and a touch of violet. This wine was showing no signs of age.

CEFE7D77-CE3D-4B30-8E09-3903B5F71114_1_105_cWe also shared the Cabbucci Porchetta — a round of flatbread filled with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and spicy mayo.  There are cabbucci with several different kinds of filling on the menu at both Norma’s.

The desserts, which all seemed excellent, will have to wait for our next visit.

For after lunch or dinner there is Amari, Grappa and Liquori

Norma Hell’s Kitchen

801 9th ave.

NY, NY 10019




Filed under Barbara, Chianti Classico, Felsina. Berardenga, Norma

Italian ROSÈ for All Seasons

Rosé wine can be enjoyed all year long because it pairs well with many different foods, but for many of us summertime is when we think Rosé.  With that in mind, Irene Graziotto of studio cru, a marketing agency based in Vicenza, Italy, hosted a webinar on the topic of Rose’ sponsored by the The New Istituto del Vino Rosa Autoctono Italiano.  Rosautoctono means “native pink.”

The New Istituto del Vino Rosa Autoctono Italiano was founded in Rome in 2019. Luigi Cataldi Madonna and Franco Cristoforetti were the organizers. It is a partisanship of six historical pink wine producing areas using indigenous grapes: Veltenesi Chiaretto (Lombardia grape: Groppello), Chiaretto di Bardolino (Veneto grape: Corvina Veronese), Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo grape: Montepulciano), Castel del Monte Bombino Nero/Rosato (Puglia grape: Bombino Nero), Salice Salentino Rosato (Puglia grape: Negroamaro), Ciro Rosato (Calabria grape Gaglioppo).

One of the speakers was Franco Cristoforetti of the Tutela Chiaretto and he spoke about the Rosautoctono and Chiaretto.

The main speaker was wine writer Katherine Cole, author of Rose’ All Day.  Katherine gave a brief history of rose’ wine and said that it was most likely the earliest and oldest style of wine going back to the Paleolithic Era.  Many ancient Greek and Roman writers wrote about “pale wine” including Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia. unnamedpink wine

Katherine mentioned that in Northern Italy, “pink” wine is referred to as Rose’ and she attributes this to the Roman influence. In Southern Italy, the wine is darker and is referred to as Rosato because of the Greek influence. In general the Rose’ of the north tends to be lighter and the Rosato of the south darker with more body. I have seen the terms Rose’ and Rosato used in both the North and the South. Also it seems that the producers are going for a lighter style like the ones from Provence.

Another speaker was Angelo Petetti, Director of Rosautoctono  and the Consorzio di Tutela Chiaretto. He was very upset that European legislation fails to recognize pink wine, instead classifying them as “non white,” and urged that this legislation should be changed. He also said that Rose’ wine can age for a few years. Katherine mentioned that she had a 5-year-old Rose’ and it was drinking very well. I like my Rose’ at least 3 years old.

Luigi Cataldi Madonna, one of the founders of Rosautoctono, produces Rose’ wines that go from very light in color to one that could be mistaken for a red wine.



E152CEE7-DBB9-4AAC-BB4D-C3C99BC68EA1_1_105_cProsecco DOC Rose’ Brut Millesimato 2020 Consorzio Tutela Prosecco made from 85% Glera and 15% Pinot Noir from vines in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. The soil here is mainly of alluvial origin rich in subsoil. Harvest is the end of August for the Glera and the end of September for the Pinot Noir. Whole white grapes (Glera) are put into the pneumatic press for soft pressing and the resulting must is put into temperature controlled tanks where it remains until it is used for the production of the sparkling wine. The red grapes (Pinot Noir), after pressing are put into thanks where a soft maceration for extraction of and tannins takes place at a controlled temperature. For the secondary fermentation the white must and a small amount of red wine are mixed. Selected yeasts are added and put into vessels where fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. 

 When the required alcohol and sugar content is reached fermentation is stopped by refrigeration. After two months in contact with the yeast (Martinotti method), the sparkling wine is ready for bottling. Alcohol 11%. Residual sugar 10g/l. This is a wine produced by the Consorzio Tutela Prosecco from grapes from the 9 Prosecco producing areas.

Tanja Barattin, another speaker, who is in charge of promotion at Consorzio di Tutela Prosecco said that the new Prosecco Rose’ has become very popular and America has become the biggest market. 

Angelo Petetti said Chiaretto is the only Italian Rosa appellation. He also said the most of the Chiaretto is largely consumed by French and Germans.


Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2020 (Vino Rosato Secco) Corte Gordoni made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella. The production zone is Valeggio sul Mincio on the hills south of Lake Garda. There is prevalent skeleton terrain with a silty, clayey texture. The wine has hints of red berries and cherries.

Franco Cristoforetti said with the 2021 vintage up to 95% Corvina Veronese will be allowed in the blend.


Bardolino Chiaretti Classico Rosato secco 2020 Valetti made from Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Sangiovese from the hilly shores of southeast lake Garda at 100 to 250 meters. The soil is gravelly of morenic origin and the training system is guyot and pergola. There is a soft pressing of the grape and maceration with the skins for 12 to 36 hours. Fermentation at a controlled temperature and it is in steel tanks for 5 months until bottling. The wine has hints of red fruit, raspberries, strawberries and cherries.


Cerasuolo D’ Abruzzo 2020 “Valforte Rosè  Barone di Valforte made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Vineyard is at 150 to 350 meters and the soil is sandy and clay of medium mix. The training system is buttressed cordon espalier and there are 4,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is the last 10 days of September and the beginning of October. Vinification: cold steeping. Refinement: cold process techniques. The wine has hints of strawberry, cherry and a  hint of violets.

374A1AC1-B4DF-4AE5-844A-98DC572D41EC_1_105_cCerasuolo d’ Abruzzo 2020 “Torre Zambra“ Colle Maggio Federico de Cerchio Family Estates made from 100% Montepulciano di Abruzzo from vineyards at 180 meters with a southern exposure. The training system is Abruzzo pergola. Harvest is the first 10 days of October. Clusters are hand picked and packed with dry ice. The bunches are soft crushed as for white wine making and the must is separated from the skins after 8 hours for a cherry pink hue. There is 14 day fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine spends two months in stainless steel vats on the lees and two months in bottle. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, plums and a hint of red currants and a touch of white pepper. The name cerasuolo comes from the dialect word cerasa, which means cherry.


Ciro DOC Rosato 2020 Sengo Librandi  Librandi made from 100% Gaglioppo. The soil is clay and calcareous and the training system is traditional alberello and spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is the last week of September and the first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel vats with racking and brief maceration. The wine is aged in stainless steel vats. It has hints of ripe cherry, strawberry and raspberry.

Luigi Cataldi Madonna, one of the founders of Rosautoctono, produces Rose’ wines that go from very light in color to one that could be mistaken for a red wine.

Whatever your preference is in, Rose the Italians have every style from very light to darker with more body. The choice is yours to enjoy. All the wines retail for about $15 a bottle.


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Filed under Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, Chiaretto, Ciró, Prosecco, Rose