Monthly Archives: November 2021

Not a Turkey Dinner

For a number of years, wine and food writers Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow have been our guests for Thanksgiving dinner. This year we did not return from Rome until a few days before Thanksgiving so Tom and Diane suggested we come to their home instead. It could not have turned out better.IMG_6384

To accompany the Champagne, there were buttery cheese wafers and taralli topped with a soft cheese and American caviar.

IMG_6385 2Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er and 10 % Vertus1er Cru. The soil is mostly chalk. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine remains on the lees for 65 months. The wine was disgorged in September 2020. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, with hints of mint and orange peel.

IMG_6388Our first course was Foie Gras with fig jam and toasted slices of Diane’s homemade bread.

IMG_6390Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese 2005 Joh. Jos. Prūm made from 100% Riesling from the Mosel. The soil is Devonian shale with different layers and degree of erosion. The vines are 60 to 70 years old.  Grapes picked by hand and spontaneous fermentation takes place in stainless steel.   This is a delicious rich, smooth and elegant  wine with hints of white peach, pears, honey, dried apricot and good acidity that makes it go very well with food. It was perfect with the foie gras.

IMG_6392Brunello di Montalcino 1996 Casanova di Nevi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located south of Montalcino at 275/320 meters and the soil is galestro with tuff and clay. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the plants are 25/30 years old. The raining system is spur-pruned cordon and the winery is organic but not certified. The wine is unfiltered and it is aged in 500-liter oak tonneau for 36 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of blackberry, black cherry, plum and a touch of violets and a note spice.  The wine was showing very well with no sign of age and it was a pleasure to drink. This is a classic combination Brunello with wild boar and polenta.

IMG_6396Wild boar with polenta — The meat was long simmered with spices and red wine until it was fork-tender.  Polenta was the perfect complement.

IMG_6399Chateau les Ormes de Pez 2001 St.Estèphe made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine has hints of blueberry, blackberry, and cassis with a note of spice and a touch of cedar. This is an elegant and wonderful wine.


Cheese — There were several interesting goat and sheep’s milk cheeses to finish off the wines.

IMG_6404Our Dessert was a Tarte Tatin made by Michele,


We ended this wonderful meal with grappa. Tom loves his grappa and there is always a large selection to chose from. This time I had the Pojer e Sandri Pinot Nero. Crystal clear traditional grappa, just what I wanted.


Filed under Bordeaux, Brunello, Casanova di Nevi, Champagne, Chateau les Ormes de Pez 2001, Joh. Jod. Prum Auslese, om and Diane, Pierre Gimonnet Champagne, Uncategorized

Red Wine and Bistecca in Florence

Last month when I was in Florence, Riccardo Gabriele of Pr-vino, a wine public relations firm, invited me to a tasting of the White and Red wines of the producers he represents. The tasting was held at da Burde, a traditional Tuscan trattoria, about a 20 minute drive from the center.

IMG_6057 2After the wine tasting, we enjoyed a lunch of many of the classic dishes of the region.  One of the courses was Bistecca alla Fiorentina from Chianina cattle, and the following red wines were a perfect combination with the steak.

IMG_6040Chianti Classico 2019 Castello La Leccia made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at 350 to 500 meters, soil is clay, silt sand, schistous  clay and alberese. There are 4,500/ 5,200 vines per hectare and the vines are 9 to 15 years old. There is a south/southwest exposure and the training system is guyot. Harvest is manual in September/October and there is a selection in the vineyard. Destemmed grapes are gently crushed and transferred to steel thanks which are temperature controlled. There is a pre-fermentation cryomaceration for 24 hours followed by the alcoholic fermentation with short and frequent pumping over. Maceration lasts for 10 to 12 days. After racking, malolactic fermentation and maturation is in concrete tanks. The wine remains for 12 months in French and Austrian oak barrels of 2,000 to 2,500 liters. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, and violets. 

IMG_6041Chianti Classico 2015 DOCG Quercia Al Poggio Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Ciliegiolo, Canaiolo and Colorino, all indigenous Tuscan grapes which are certified organic. The soil is limestone, clay, schist and calcareous clay galestro. The vines are Cordon trained and spur-pruned guyot. Harvest is manual. Traditional red winemaking in temperature controlled stainless steel and cement. The wine is aged in 500 liter old French oak barrels for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.  The winery is located in Barberino Val d’Elsa which is between Florence and Siena. They use organic farming methods. This is a very traditional, easy drinking Chianti with hints of blackberry, blueberries and violets.

IMG_6038Chianti Classico 2019 DOCG “L’Aura” Querceto di Castellina made from 100% Sangiovese. Harvest is by hand and the winery is certified organic. The wine spends 12 months in 500 liter French oak barrels and three months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, cherries, rasperries, herbal notes and a touch of bayleaf.

IMG_6035Carmignano 2017 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the wines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd and 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red berries with a note of blueberries and a touch of violets. I have a long history with this estate going back 40 years. This is a wine that can age. In 1985 I had the 1925 which at the time was labeled Chianti Montalbano.

IMG_6044Taurasi 2016 DOCG Villa Matilde made from 100% Aglianico. The vineyard is at 350 meters and the training system is simple guyot with about 6 buds per plant. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the soil is tufaceous with a good percentage of clay. Harvest is the third week of October. The grape bunches are destemmed  and pressed and the must is given a cold maceration on the skins. (Selected yeast is used). The must ferments slowly at 70F. The wine macerates on the skins for over 20 days, with daily pumpovers and délestages followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged tonneau and large oak barrels for 18 months and 12 months in bottle before release. This is a fully bodied wine with hints of cherries, blackberries, spice and a hit of tobacco. I have been lucky to have visited the estate a few times.

IMG_6031Neroossidiana Terre Siciliane Rosso 2017 IGT Tenuta di Castelaro Production area the Lipari Islands (Aeolian Islands) made from 90% Corinto Nero  and 10% Nero d’Avola. The soil is sandy, volcanic, deep and rich in micro-elements and the vineyard is at 350 meters. The training system is alberello (free standing little plants).  There are 7,000 plants per hectare. Selected bunches are hand picked. The destemmed grapes are fermented by the natural yeast on the grape skins. There is a long maturation with the skins.  The wine is decanted to barrels where malolactic fermentation takes place. After about one year the wine goes into steel tanks. Only static decanting takes place before bottling. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. This wine will age for at least 10 years. This is a wine with hints of  red fruit, cherry, spice, a touch of musk and an undertone of salty minerality which makes it unique.


Costa Tuscana Riserva IGT La Regola made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Red Mediterranean soil with an abundance of stones. The vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters. Hand harvesting of grapes with a careful selection. There is a medium maceration and alcoholic fermentation is in natural concrete vats at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation the wine spends 18 months in new French barriques made in Burgundy and at least 12 months in bottle before release. This is a fruit forward wine characteristic of Cabernet Franc with a hint of spice and vanilla.

IMG_6042Beconcini “IXE  The name is the Tuscan pronunciation for the letter X. The letter X stands for unknown vines. In the early 1950’s, 213 vines of unknown species were found in the vineyard which were called X vines. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture these vines were declared to be Tempranillo a few years ago. In June of 2009, Tempranillo was enrolled in the Tuscan register. As far as I know Tempranillo was never cultivated before in Italy.

The IGT is Tuscany Tempranillo. This wine is made from 99.9% of Tempranillo and a touch of Sangiovese. The winery is located in the town of San Miniato. The vineyard is 3.5 hectares and the grapes are all from the new vineyards planted in 1997 using a massal selection from buds taken from the century old vines of Tempranillo from the Vigna alle Nicchie. The training is spurred cordon. Soil is sandstone with marine fossil formation, well integrated with abundant clay. 100/150 meters above sea level and there are 7,000 vines per hectare. Harvest the first 10 days of September. The grapes are dried for 4 weeks and they obtain a total yield of 70%. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled glass lined cement vats, maceration is for 3 weeks. Aging lasts for 14 months in 70% French barriques and 30% American oak barriques of second passage. 6 months in bottle before release. First passage in barriques is for the wine from the grapes of the historical vineyard Vigna alle Nicchie that goes into the wine of the same name. This is a medium bodied wine with fresh red fruit aromas and hints of plum, spice and licorice. I served the wine blind to a wine knowledgable friend and  after a few sips he said Tempranillo!!


Filed under Capezzana, Chianti Classico, Riccardo Gabriele, Sicily, Taurasi, Tuscany, Uncategorized, Villa Matilde

Visiting Alessia Antinori at Fattoria di Orto di Alberico

As readers of my blog know, the Fiorano Rosso Vino da Tavola from Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe of Venosa may be my favorite wine. I first had the 1961 at restaurant Checchino dal 1887 in Rome in 1983 and I have enjoyed it ever since.

Whenever I am in Rome I try to visit Alessia Antinori at  Fattoria di Fiorano (Fattoria di Orto di Alberico).  IMG_7102rip

Walking along the the to the Fattoria lined with olive trees.

Recently, I visited with two friends and Alessia explained to them the complicated history of the estate.  The Prince, her late grandfather, began making wine in 1946 and stopped making it around 2,000.

IMG_6301 It was said that he had destroyed all of the vines, but this was not true.  When the Principe died in 2005, he left half of the estate to his daughter, Alessia’s mother, Francesca, who is the wife of the renowned winemaker Piero Antinori.  Mrs. Antinori gave her share of the estate to her three daughters.

IMG_6306Alessia lives in Rome and since the winery is only twenty minutes away, just across from the Ciampino Airport, she took over the management of the estate.

The other half of the Boncompagni Ludovisi estate was left to a distant cousin of the Principe. His first release was the 2006 Fiorano Rosso with the original Fiorano label under his own name, Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. He also makes a white Fiorano, but is using different grapes than the original.

Alessia said that she has turned part of the property into a country retreat for Romans who want to leave Rome during the warmer months. They can come for lunch or dinner on Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday. The guests can go to the vegetable garden and pick the vegetables that they want to eat. They can picnic or eat at the restaurant “L’Orto di Alberico” Alberico’s Vegetable Garden, as we did.

We started with her newest wine.

IMG_6303Lazio Bianco Appia Antica 400 2019 Alberico made from 80% Sémillon and 20% Malvasia. The wine is fermented  and aged in stainless steel. This is an easy drinking wine with hints of citrus fruit, floral notes, touch of orange blossoms and good acidity. 400 Appia Antica is the address of her grandfather’s villa on the estate and the place where her mother was born.

IMG_6308Fried cauliflower with mint mayonnaise


Tortino of cauliflower with farro and spinach


Gnochetti with cauliflower

IMG_6318Boneless pork with dried chard

An agreement had to be reached between the cousins about the rights to the Fiorano name. The result is that Alessia change the name on her labels. She chose Alberico, which is her grandfather’s first name.

IMG_6312Lazio DOC Vino Bianco Alberico 2016 100% Sémillon After a careful manual selection, the best grapes were destemmed and soft pressed. Fermentation in casks and the wine completed its six months of aging in puncheons. The wine was aged in bottle for a minimum of 24 months. This is an exceptional balanced wine with complex aromas of subtle tropical fruit, hints of citrus fruit and a slight touch of vanilla with a very pleasing finish and a long aftertaste. It is a very special wine. Alessia said it is a white wine that will age and I agreed. In fact I told her it was a white wine as good as the Sémillon or the Malvasia di Candia that her grandfather made!


Lazio DOC Vino Rosso Alberico 2015   Alessia said she found on the estate eight vine rows of two red grape varieties, four of Merlot and four of Cabernet, that were planted over half a century ago by her grandfather and farmed organically. These are the vines which produced the legendary Fiorano Rosso.  By propagating these vines, Alessia is able to make wines as her grandfather once did.

After harvesting, the two varieties are separated, the grapes destemmed and the juice fermented in temperature-controlled cement tanks. Alessia said this was to fully bring out their aromas and flavors. After being run off the skins, the wine goes into large oak casks for a minimum of 12 months. She said this is done to assist the full expression of the exceptional character conferred by the old vines of her grandfather, and by the singular volcanic soils created by an ancient lava flow. The wine completed its 24 months of oak aging in puncheon barrels and was then bottled before completing the process with a period of bottle aging, which lasts over two years.

There are about 14 hectares of vines planted on the estate now.  Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Sémillon are the vines which come from a “massal” selection (propagated from old vines).

IMG_6325 2Fiorano Vino Da Tavola 1986 Alberico Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Venosa made from 50 Cabernet and 50% Merlot. The wine has hints of leather, smoke and cherry with a hint of balsamic. This is a very special wine and I am very happy Alessia opened it for us.


Selection of cookies


Biscotto with ricotta on top

The soil at the estate is very special, Alessia said, volcanic with mineral salts and excellent for growing anything and grazing sheep.  She said that the shepherds liked to bring their sheep there to graze and the sheep would become fatter and darker in color because of what they ate, and the dust from the soil would stick and make them almost black in color.  Her grandfather grew wheat and was very fanatical about it.  He cultivated a “mother” from the natural yeasts in the area in order to make his own bread.

 Alessia’s grandfather had taken very good care of the land and believed in organic farming. Alessia said she was following in her grandfathers’ footsteps.

Fattoria di Fiorano (Fattoria di Orto di Alberico)

Via di Fioranello 34 – Rome (GRA Ciampino airport exit)

Hours: from Thursday to Saturday, 12.30 – 14.30 | 19.30 – 21 on Sunday, 12.30 – 14.30

Restaurant and picnic reservations: 3408088211 

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Filed under Alberico, Fiorano Rosso, Uncategorized

Lunch in Rome with Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine)

It is always a pleasure to see Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine) and his wife Marina Thompson in Rome. We have been friends for a long time.

IMG_6288 I always look forward to discussing wine with Daniele while enjoying a delicious meal.

IMG_6256This time, Daniele brought me  a copy of his book The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2022.  It will be my go-to reference book for Italian wines since, as Daniele said, “All the wines worth drinking are in the pages of this guide.”

IMG_6260Daniele also brought me a copy of his new travel guide book, Mangiare e Dormire tra i Vigneti, Eating and Sleeping in the Vineyards, which should be essential for anyone traveling Italy’s wine roads.  This is one in a series of books on travel and wine. IMG_6258

Daniele suggested we have lunch at La Ciambella Wine Bar with Kitchen.  This stunning restaurant is built on the ruins of Agrippa’s baths.  It is painted white with very high ceilings and our table was under a very large skylight so you could see the sky.   The restaurant served some traditional Italian dishes but for the most part they went off in many different direction adding little twists of their own. All the wines were selected by Daniele

The food and Wine

IMG_6262Little choux pastry puffs filled with ricotta, tomatoes and basil

IMG_6266 2Animelle–sweetbreads with wild chicory and brie cheese sauce

IMG_6264Sauteed Lamb Offal (Coratella) & Roman artichoke

IMG_6268“Coda in Carrozza”– fried sandwiches with braised oxtail

IMG_6265 3“Porchetta” pork roast wraps with marinated cherry tomatoes and yogurt sauce

IMG_6271Spaghettone carbonara — the classic Roman pasta

IMG_6269 2Falanghina 2018 Campi Flegrei  DOC “Cruna de Lago  La Sibilla made from 100% Falanghina. The soil is sandy and volcanic and the training system is guyot. The exposure is south-west and the vineyards are over 60 years old. Fermentation is in steel vats. For six months the wine remains on the lees and remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. Daniele said the wine has hints of yellow citrus,  chamomile, saffron, pepper a touch of smoke, good acidity and a long finish. I found the color of the wine to be almost grey but it went very well with the Offal.

IMG_6277Cheese – We finished the wines with a variety of cheese, chestnut honey and fig jam.

IMG_6273 2Fiorano Vino Rosso 2013 Alessandrojacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. Made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. The vineyard is at 130 meters and the soil is of volcanic origin. Exposure is north west-south west. There are 3,700 vines per hectare. The training system is espalier, spurred cordon pruning and the vines are 19 years old. Harvest is the third week of September.  Whole grapes are destemmed and are gently pressed, maceration takes place for at least fifteen days in oak vats with manual punching down. The wine is then drawn off and immediately put into 1,000-liter Slavonian oak barrels, in which the wine rests for maturation for at least 30 months. This is followed by two years of refinement in glass before being marketed. The wine has hints of red berries, sweet spice, a touch of balsamic herbs and a note of coffee.

IMG_6275 2Barolo 2010 “Sarmassa” Marchesi di Barolo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard exposure is south-east and the soil is clay and limestone with many stones. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and they are trained on a vertical trellised guyot system. Harvest is manual.  The grapes are destemmed and softly pressed. Fermentation at a controlled temperature in thermo condition tanks. Maceration lasts for 10 days. The wine is regularly recycled during this time. Racking takes place when the natural sugars are totally converted to alcohol. The wine is then racked into cement tanks, lined with fiber glass and insulated with cork. Malolactic fermentation is spontaneous and lasts for two months. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30 0r 36 HL and in medium toasted French barriques of 225 liters. The wine is the blended into traditional big oak barrels and remains in bottle before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of licorice, spice, tobacco, pine resin and a touch of vanilla. It is a wine that will age.

IMG_6279 2Dessert — Dark and white chocolate mousse

IMG_6280Crostata of Ricotta and Visciole Cherry Jam

IMG_6284 2

Colli Piacentini Vin Santo di Vigleno 2010 Colli Piacentini DOC  Az. Agr. Lusignani made from Beverdino, Santa Maria, Melara, Trebbiano and Ortrugo grapes. The vineyard is at 300 meters. Only the very best bunches of grapes are picked and are laid on a trellis in “fruttai” a specially built aerated drying room to assist in the maturation of the grapes for 3 months. After the pressing of the grapes (which takes place from December to February), the wine must matures for 6 years in small oak caratelli and barriques each time in smaller barrels (like the traditional balsamic method).  Daniele described the wine as having extraordinary complexity with aromas of dried dates, coffee liquor, antique wood, and eucalyptus and he compared it to a Madeira. This is truly a remarkable dessert wine. Daniele said only 1,000 375 ml size bottles were made.


Filed under Barolo, Daniele Cernilli, Falanghina, Fiorano Rosso 2013, La Ciambella, La Sibilla, Lusignani Vin Santo, Marchese di Barolo. Sarmassa, Vin Santo

L’Angolo Divino – A Perfect Wine Bar

Every time Michele and I are in Rome we go to L’Angolo Divino, a wine bar just off Campo dei Fiori. This time it was a mild sunny day and we were able to sit at tables outside in a charming piazza a few steps from the restaurant.

IMG_6199 We have known the owner Massimo Crippa for many years.  I enjoy speaking to Massimo about wine. Sometimes I will choose the wines and sometimes I will ask Massimo to choose the wine for me. This time I asked Massimo to select 3 local wines from  around Rome.

IMG_6182Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019  Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged  by hand.  Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.

IMG_6189 2Assortment of Italian Cheese – We asked Massimo to choose a variety of local cheeses which were served with chestnut honey.


Assortment of meat – including mortadella, coppa and prosciutto



Olive paste and zucchini Bruschetta

IMG_6191 2

Fresh Bufala Mozzarella with olive oil and herbs

I asked Massimo for two wines made from the Cesanese grape that comes from the hilly region south of Rome.  This grape variety comes in two distinct types, the large-berried Cesanese Comun, and the less widespread Cesanese di Affile. The two are united in both Cesanese del Piglio DOCG wines and Cesanese di Olevano Romano DOC wines.  Cesanese di Affile, which is considered the superior of the two, has its own Cesanese di Affile DOC.  Massimo chose two wines which were different in style.


Cesanese Olevano Romano Càlitro 2016. Piero Riccardo Lorrella Reale made from 100% Cesanese di Affile. The soil is sandstone from the cretaceous period. The wine is aged for 34 months in wood and another 24 months in bottle before release. This is a medium bodied wine with hints of cherry,  pomegranate, red plum and cranberry. Very enjoyable.

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Casale Della Ioria Torre Del Piano 2018 made from 100% Cesanese Piglio Superiore Riserva. This dry red wine comes from a vineyard with volcanic soil at the beginning of the Ernici mountains. The training system is guyot, there are 3,500 vines per hectare and the vineyard was planted in 1986.  Maceration on the skins takes place, then fermentation in  stainless steel for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine then ages in barriques for 8 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of sweet red plum, sweet pomegranate and vanilla.



Zucchini Torta

L’Angolo Divino Via dei Balestrari n.12/14 angolo con Vicolo del Giglio n.6 Roma 39 06 6864413


Filed under Calitro Cesanese, Casale Certosa Cosmico, Casale Della Ioria, Cesanese, Italian Red Wine, L'Angolo Divino, Lazio, Sparkling wine