Monthly Archives: October 2021

A Wine Tasting in Florence

It is always a pleasure to see Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino  in NYC or Italy. A little over a week ago, when I was in Florence, Riccardo managed to take the time to meet me there so I could taste some of the wines he represents. The tasting was held at da Burde a very traditional Florentine restaurant about a 20 minute drive from the center. Also at the tasting was Ciro Beligni owner of Le Volpi e l’Uva, the best wine bar in Florence.

The White Wines

IMG_6020Falanghina del Sannio DOP
 2018 made from 100% Falanghina Fontana Vecchia.  The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third week of September. Vinification with direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. It has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime with a touch of green apple. I visited this winery a few years ago on a press trip with Campania Stories and I am a big fan of Falanghina.

IMG_6022Bianco Toscana IGT 2019 made from 100% Colombiana Bianca Fattoria Fibbiano. The grapes undergo cold maceration at 10 degrees celsius in steel tanks for ten days. Then the grapes are pressed to ferment the must at 12 degrees celsius. This is done with the aid of selected yeasts which preserves the character of the grapes. The wine then remains in concrete tanks for 4 months before being bottled. The wine has hints of rich fruit, pineapple, papaya and notes of pressed flowers with good acidity. Note The Cantone family of Fattoria Fibbiano found this rare white Colombiana grape among the rows in their vineyards. It is identical to the grape grown in Lombardy with the name Verdea. It is named after a wandering Irish Monk Colombiano.

IMG_6027Friuli Colli Orientali Sauvignon Blanc 2018 “Genesis” Butussi  made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc grapes from a single 40 year old vineyard with a southwest exposure. The soil is of alluvial and colluvial origin, composed of marls deep down and calcareous stones on the surface. During manual harvest  the grapes are picked at optimum ripeness  at the break of dawn. The grapes are destemmed and undergo cold maceration for 24 hours. Only the free run juice is used. Stabilization lasts for 3 days. The first two days the must is kept moving and on the third day it undergoes static clarification. The juice in then racked and fermented at a controlled temperature. !5% of the wine is fermented in traditional oak, the rest in stainless steel. The wine is usually bottled during the week after Easter according to the lunar calendar. It  has hints if citrus fruit, herbs, sage, grass and a hint of white peaches.

IMG_6024GiovinRe Toscana IGT 2018 Michele Satta made from 100% Viognier. Harvest is the first week of September. The grapes are harvested at full maturation and whole bunches are placed in the  press. The must is decanted for 3 days at 5 degrees and racked. Following the yeast inoculation during the early fermentation, the wine is poured half in old barriques, previously cleaned and polished, half in cement.  Here the alcoholic fermentation takes place and the wine is kept until January without malolactic fermentation taking place. The frequency and number of batonnage are determined by tastings. Once assembled the wine remains in stainless steel tanks for 2 months until the bottling. Then it ages one year in bottle before being released.  This is a white wine that will age.

IMG_6026Friuli Colli Orientali Bianco “At Oasi” 2017 Aquila Del Torre. Made from 100% Picolit grown on hillside terraces. The soil is flysch, interbedded clayey-textured marl and sandstone. The vineyard is at 175/ 300, the training system is guyot simple and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The wines are 14 years old on average and the exposure is south/southwest. Spontaneous fermentation with native yeasts in French oak barrels. The wine remains on the lees for 12 months. This is a dry white wine with hints of citrus, floral notes and a touch of balsam.

IMG_6050Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l  This is a crisp  fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed. 

Another time the Red wines


Filed under At, Butussi, Fabbiano Colombana, Falanghina, Fontana vecchia, Michele Satta -GiovinRE, Sparkling wine, Tenuta Montauto

Le Volpi e l’Uva Wine Bar in Florence

When I was the wine director for I-Trulli restaurant in NYC, a young man from Florence spent 3 months working with me in the restaurant and the Enoteca.  Ciro Beligni already knew about wine and was a quick learner.  We spent a lot of time speaking about wine, food, and Florence. Ciro them returned to Florence and is today one of the owners at Le Volpi e l’Uva, which I consider to be the best wine bar in Florence. Over the years, whenever I visit Florence I stop to see Ciro and we talk about what is happening in the wine industry. On this visit I asked Ciro to choose all of the wines for us.

IMG_5979Ciro Beligni

IMG_5981Ciro just received this prestigious award for the wine list Le Volpi e l’Uva from Milano Wine Week.

IMG_5965Ciro suggested we try Franciacorta DOCG Satèn Brut “1701”  2016 Società Agricola Cazzago San Martino made from 100% Chardonnay from a 10 hectare vineyard with morainic terrain with stones. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. 80% of the hand picked selected grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in steel tuns at a controlled temperature. 20% undergoes cold maceration with fermentation in new barriques. Aging is for 7 months in steel or barriques.  The second fermentation takes place the spring following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 30 months and 3 to 4 months following the disgorging. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fresh fruit, with a hint of brioche and a touch of pastry cream. 

IMG_5969Etna Bianco  2018 DOC Feudo Cavaliere made from 100% Carricante coming from a very old ingrafted vineyard and a recently planted one. The vineyard is on the south side of Etna at 950 to 990 meters. The training system is spurred cordon with high plant density. Volcanic soil and “ripiddu” sands rich in minerals. Harvest is in October. The wine in aged in stainless steel tanks on the lees for one year. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, floral notes, a touch of honey and balanced acidity

IMG_5967Anchovies, lemon and butter on a brioche roll was a fantastic little bite to enjoy with the wine.

IMG_5972Italian Cheese plate with several interesting condiments

IMG_5975Barbaresco 2018 DOCG  Vicenziana made from 100% Nebbiolo from a two hectare vineyard. The soil is clay with lime rich marl. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged in Slavonian botti (oak barrels) of 20 to 30 hectoliters for 2 to 3 years. This is a traditional Babaresco that will last for 25 years or more. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

IMG_5973Finocchiona, a typical fennel flavored salame and mascarpone on toasted Tuscan bread.

IMG_5978Barolo 2013 DOCG Scarzello made from 100% Nebbiolo from five different plots of Vigna Merenda in the Sarmassa cru at 300 meters on clayey and calcareous soil. Fermentation is in temperature controlled steel vats with long maceration on the skins. The wine ages for 30 months in oak barrels of 25 and 36 hl for 30 months. This wine will last for a number of years. 2013 was an excellent vintage. It has hints of red fruit, tar, licorice, leather and balsamic notes.

IMG_5984Dessert was a chocolate topped crostata with almonds and pastry cream.

IMG_5987Torcolato Riserva 2017 San Bortolo made from 100% Vespaiola from a 1.5 hectare vineyard planted in 2006 with a north/south exposure. The soil is medium textured alluvial and clay. The training system is single and double curtain overturned guyot with 8 to 10 buds. There are 4,400 vines per hectare. Harvest is in mid September. Carefully selected grape bunches are hand harvested and then naturally dried in an airy granary.The grape pressing is in February with a yield of 25 to 30%.  First fermentation on the lees in French oak barriques for almost one year. The wine remains for 24 months in new barriques.  It has hints of citrus, apricot jam, and hazelnuts with a note of honey and an aftertaste of dried fruit and almonds.

IMG_6095On our last night in Florence, Ciro let me taste a wine that he produces Sangiovese Toscana IGT 2019 “Altreviti” made from 100% Sangiovese.  Ciro Beligni. The grapes are from an old vineyard at 450 meters. Harvest is by hand. Spontaneous fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in cement tanks and tonneau for 15 months before it is bottled. Only 2,542 bottles and 44 magnums were produced. If you go to the wine bar ask Ciro for a glass or a bottle.  It is a very impressive wine.

Le Volpi e l’Uva is located at Piazza dei Rossi, 1, in Florence, Italy.  Open every day from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.


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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Etna Bianco Feudo Cavaliere, Franciacorta Brut, Le Volpi e l'uva, Sangiovese, Scarzella, Torcolato, San Bartolo

Sunday Lunch in Florence

While we were in Florence, our friend Carmela Batacchi, the owner of wine store Vino al Vino, suggested that for something different Michele and I try an all fish restaurant called Burro & Acciughe.  Not only did it sound delicious, but it happened to be just around the corner from where we were staying, so we went for Sunday lunch.

IMG_5990Burro & Acciughe

IMG_5994Burro e acciughe del Cantabrico con pane caldo — For our first course we chose the eponymous butter and anchovies, served with toasted dark bread.

The anchovies are caught in the Cantabrian Sea in the north of Spain and are especially prized for their flavor and meatiness.  The contrast of the salty anchovies, cool sweet butter and toasty bread was incomparable .

IMG_6002Next we had more anchovies.  Spaghetti con acciughe, pinoli, briciole di pane nero tostato.  Thick spaghetti, anchovies, pinenuts, and crunchy toasted breadcrumbs.  Another great dish for anchovy lovers.

IMG_6005Our next course was Baccalà in tre cotture (mantecato, fritto, arrosto) — Codfish three ways:  whipped with capers and olive oil, fried in batter and roasted.  It was served with vegetables fried in a tempura-like batter.  Another excellent dish.

This meal called for a crisp white wine.

IMG_5999Falanghina IGP Campania 2020 San Salvatore from 100% Falanghina planted in 2008 with a south-southwest exposure.  Grapes for this wine are carefully selected by hand in the Cannito vineyard. Soft pressing and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks on the less for 6 months before release.  The wine has hints of citrus, mint, sage, lemon and green apples.  Falanghina is often my choice to accompany full flavored fish and worked perfectly with this meal.


Filed under Falanghina, Florence

Perfect Combination: Pizza and Wine

I can’t imagine eating a pizza without accompanying it with a good bottle of Italian wine. Until the Covid virus came along, I was a member of a group that met once a month to drink Italian wine and eat pizza. Our conversations would focus on the best pizza and wine combinations, which wines were complemented by which pizzas, the latest wine vintages, and the latest doings at some of our favorite pizzerias.

I hope one day soon we will be able to resume our regular meetings, but even without my pizza and wine lovers group, I continue to indulge my passion for pizza and wine. I frequent a number of pizza restaurants, including Keste Pizza and Vino, Ribalta, and Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan, and Sottocasa in Brooklyn. Not only do they make great pizza, but each has a list of wines I enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the wine and pizza matches I have enjoyed recently.


Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2019 Pighin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the sandy subsoil, the roots of the vines go down deep resulting in richer fruit. Training system is single guyot with 4,000 vines per hectare. These hand picked selected grapes of optimum ripeness are  gently pressed in a pneumatic press immediately after the harvest. This is followed by a 14 to 18 day cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is produced without malolactic fermentation or oak aging so it is a true expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is a dry wine that has hints of citrus, sage, tomato leaf and yellow bell  pepper.

IMG_5446 Pizza Zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh citrus, sage and vegetable flavors of the wine complemented the nutty, smoky and cheesy topping.

IMG_5792Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole (Tuscany). The vineyards are at 300 meters. The yields are kept low to obtain concentration and complexity in the wine. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place on the skins  in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for 24 months in large Slavonian oak vats followed by a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries, a touch of violets and a note of what my wife calls “sunshine on the Tuscan pines.” This is a traditional, classic Chianti  from the Folonari family.

IMG_5444 3Pizza Margherita — the simplest and the best pizza in my opinion is a pizza Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.  The quality of its Margherita is the true test of any pizzeria.  The fragrance and richness of the fruit and the warmth of this traditional wine makes it a perfect combination with Pizza Margherita.  

IMG_5794Barbera Nizza “Cipressi” DOCG 2018 Made from 100% Barbera, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont). The grapes are grown in a type of soil called “astiane sand.” It consists of  calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in micro elements, in particular magnesium. The exposure is southeast to southwest at 230 to 280 meters. The training system is guyot and low spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks with 10/12 days maceration with the skins with a soft “shower” system of wetting the cap. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months of which 12 are in large oak casks. The wine has hints of mature cherry, violets, blackberries, raspberries and a touch of sweet spice with good acidity which makes it a very good wine with food.

IMG_5373 2Pizza  with Sausage, Mozzarella, Onion and Peppers — Barbera is my first choice for this pizza because the hearty combination of toppings are enhanced by the wine’s fruit flavor and good acidity.  


IMG_5789Pinot Nero Rosé Umbria IGT 2020 Made from 100% Pinot Nero Tenuta Di Salviano. Made from a single vineyard located on the right bank of Lake Corbara in Umbria at 1,640 ft. The soil is calcareous-clayey. The farming is organic. The manual harvest starts in late August and only select bunches are chosen. Destemming does not take place so the grapes are pressed quickly. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a low temperature and then the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a fresh, fragrant, delicate and fruity wine with hints of red fruit, strawberry, cherry, a touch of citrus and good acidity.  The estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta Family, producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_5569Foccacia — Topped with rosemary, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil, a focaccia, while not exactly a pizza, is a close relation. With it’s simple clear flavors, I like to serve it with this delicate, fruity rose’, and perhaps some cold cuts as a starter or a snack.  

IMG_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

IMG_5442Summer Pizza–Mozzarella, prosciutto, whole grape tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, top this light and fresh pie and make a perfect combination with the lively, cool flavors of the Lambrusco.  The slightly salty flavor of prosciutto di Parma enhances the combination.

I hope you will enjoy these pizza and wine combinations. 


Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Cipressi Nizza, Lambrusco, Nozzole CCR, Pighin, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Salviano PR Rose, Sauvignon Blanc

Autumn Menu at The Leopard at des Artistes


IMG_5810The Leopard at des Artistes, formerly known as the Cafe des Artistes, has a new menu and on a recent beautiful October day, Michele and I went to try it.  The chef is Jonathan Frosolone and he has added some exciting new Italian dishes that we had never tried before.  We started with glasses of sparkling wine from Benevento.


IMG_5804Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and then pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink. 

Antipasti–We tried several

IMG_5817Pesce in Carpione- Marinated luccio (pike), white wine vinaigrette, fennel, crispy capers–A light and refreshing starter.

IMG_5812Quaglia Ripiena- Quail, pork sausage, and red wine poached figs.  The quail was stuffed with sausage and figs and glazed in slightly sweet sauce.  I could eat a plte of these.

Pallott Cacio e Uova- Pecorino and egg croquettes, garlic, basil.  Cheesey balls of bread in a delicious tomato sauce.  Our helpful waiter told us they are a specialty of his region of Abruzzo.

IMG_5814Sformato di Tartufo Nero — Black truffle custard with arugula and parmigiano reggiano cheese.  These is a seasonal interpretation of a springtime favorite.  

IMG_5826Terre Del Volturo IGT 2018 Nanni-Cope Made from 85% Fiano, 12% Asprinio and 3% Pallagrello Bianco. The wine is aged in 500 liter barrels for about 8 months. The wine has hints of eucalyptus, hazelnut, apricot and lemongrass with good acidity.


IMG_5822Agnolotti-Robiola, Parmigiano Reggiano and rosemary butter sauce.  A lucious blend of cheeses, butter and tender pasta.

IMG_5820Struncatura–Multigrain spaghettoni, shrimp, neonata, lemon — A unique pasta from Southern Italy, made from several different types of grain including wheat and rye.  It is thick and chewy, and it was complemented by the neonata and shrimp.  

IMG_5824Raviolo Alla Piastra- Beets, poppy seeds, brown buttered sage sauce fill this unusual type of raviolo.  After stuffing the pasta is grilled which gives it a toasty flavor that went well with the sweet flavor of the beets.

Secondi-main course

IMG_9599 tausari

Taurasi “Radici” 1998 Mastroberardino made from 100% Aglianico.  The vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. The barriques were second and third passage. This is a wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather. It was fantastic.

IMG_5829Salmerino-Roasted sea trout, topped with charred scallions, trout roe, aged balsamic vinegar.  The skin was crispy and the flesh moist and perfectly cooked.  A great combination of flavors.

IMG_5828Anatra- Roasted duck breast, chestnuts, pears and spinach. The duck was perfectly cooked and crowned an assortment of seasonal ingredients.  


IMG_5831Zabaione- Zabaione al Ramandolo with seasonal fruits made tableside.  A classic dessert that is always a treat.

IMG_5832Mousse di Ciocolato–Dark Chocolate mousse, white chocolate garnish and orange.  The mousse was coated in dark chocolate.  A little touch of chocolatey goodness to finish our meal.

IMG_5835Owner Gianfranco Sorrentino and Chef Jonathan Frosolone.

.We finished this wonderful meal with Digestivi. Congratulations to the chef, the staff and Gianfranco for another great meal. What a way to welcome the fall!







Filed under Mastroberardino, Nani Cope, Sparkling Benepop, Sparkling wine, Taurasi, The Leopard at des Artistis