Monthly Archives: January 2022

Lunch on a Snowy Weekend

This passed weekend has been very snowy and cold in NYC so Michele and I decided to stay home. I was looking for a wine to drink and came across a1970 Brunello I was saving for our anniversary which is in July.  But why wait?IMG_6654

Brunello di Montalcino 1970 Lisini. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, also known as Brunello. Vineyards are at 300 to 350 meters. Some of the vines were planted between 1930 and 1940, others in 1967. In the oldest part of the vineyard are 200 vines planted in 1880.  They are still their own roots (have not been grafted). At the time stainless steel tanks did not exist in Brunello. The wine was aged for 4 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. 1970 was a 5-Star vintage in Brunello. In 1970 there were only 25 producers of Brunello, making the Lisini Estate one of the oldest in Montalcino (Source “Italy’s Noble Red Wines” Wasserman). The wine had hints of cherry, rasperries, tar and balsamic notes. It went very well with the food.  

IMG_6650We started with crostini topped with La Tur cheese, piquant tangerine mostarda and a few pine nuts

IMG_6647Michele made Pork Tenderloin Wild Boar Style with mushrooms, a recipe from Marcella Hazan.

IMG_6648Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Butter, Nutmeg and Parmigiano Reggiano.



Pork and sweet potatoes with roasted endive.

IMG_6661 2Caffe and ciambelline, my favorite cookies.

Another day, Michele was in the mood for Burgundy.

IMG_5551Savigny-les-Beaune “Lavieres” 1999. Robert Ampeau et Fils made from 100%  made from 100% Pinot Noir. This is a complex and elegant wine, fruity but firm with hints of raspberry, blackberry, violets and a note of leather.  It is drinking very nicely

IMG_6662Costini with Gruyere Cheese and Dried Tomatoes on homemade olive and rosemary focaccia.

IMG_6664Our main course was sauteed Duck Breast with Shallots and Red Wine.  With it we had broccoli rabe with garlic and roasted butternut squash.IMG_6667Orange Cake with Walnuts and Golden Raisins for dessert

IMG_6668And of course we finished with a good cup of Caffe…

IMG_5515And a sip of grappa.  What better way to take the chill from a cold day by ending the meal with Grappa. Traditional grappa Capo di Stato from Loredan Gasparini made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Somehow, we managed to pass a pleasant weekend, despite the snow and frigid temperatures.


Filed under Brunello, Lisini, Robert Amprau Burgundy

In Praise of Chianti

No other region or wine in Italy have the magic of Tuscany and Chianti. Michele and I visited Tuscany in October for a little over two weeks and as always were captivated by the scenery, the food and the wine.

IMG_6643As a longtime Chianti lover, I was more than happy to attend the recent Chianti lovers U.S. Tour 2022. It included a seminar on Chianti followed by a walk around tasting with 24 Chianti producers presenting their wines.

vino2101-2-009BusiGiovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli made I few introductory remarks about Chianti and the importance of the American market for Chianti. He also said on more than one occasion: “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” Everyone knows the name but just what is Chianti?


Robin Kelly O’Connor one of the presenters

Mr. Busi introduced the three presenters.  They were: Luca A. Alves, Chianti Wine Ambassador; Robin Kelly O’Connor, RKO Vine; and Adam Teeter, Vine Pair Founder.

Mr. Alves spoke about the history of Chianti, the Chianti Consorzio and the seven Chianti sub-zones. In answer to a question he explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. He said that they were promoted together until 1996 when they separated. Chianti Classico is the center area  between Florence and Siena surrounded by the Chianti  sub zones. There are differences in the percentage of Sangiovese required, aging and grapes allowed.


The Consorzio Vino Chianti was established in 1927 by a group of wine producers in the provinces of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo and Florence. Later the Consorzio expanded to cover the whole production area covered by the DOCG. Now the Chianti production area is located in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Chianti wines are designated as: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, MontalbanoRufina, and the last, added in 1997, Montespertoli.  In addition is the return of the Chianti “Superiore” which can come from anywhere in the Chianti wine area with the exception of the Chianti Classico zone between Florence and Siena. Superiore cannot have a name of an area on the label. There is also the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale. The DOC permits in the Chianti DOCG area the production of wines of a different quality from Chianti, which include reds, whites, roses, novello and Vin Santo.Chianti regions

The seven Chianti sub zones

Chianti can be made from 100% Sangiovese and it also have must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Cabernet to 10%. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30%, as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes, up to 10%. Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Aretini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-region of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-regions of Fiorentini and Rufina may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest. Chianti Superiore may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest.

For the Riserva the wine must be aged a minimum of two years from January 1st following the harvest. For Chianti Fiorentini and Rufina, the Riserva has to spend at least 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.

IMG_6641The Wines

The tasting was blind and we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.

All the wines were Reserve from the 2017 Vintage


Chianti Colli Pisane Pietro Beconcini made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cannaiolo and the vines are 65 years old. The soil is a base of sandstone  with considerable intrusion of marine fossil formations by the Pliocene period, well integrated with abundant white clay high in PH. Elevation is 100/150 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest takes place the first 10 days of October. Maturation is in Slavonian oak for 18 months and then the wine ages for eight months in bottle. The wine has hints of violet, leather and cherry. This is old style Chianti Reserve at its best and a great wine to go with food.

IMG_6617Chianti Montalbano “IL Fondatore”  Castagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clayey, marly matrix. This single vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines are 30 years old. The training system is spurred cordon and the exposure is south. There are 5,200 plants per hectare. They practice organic farming. Fermentation takes place in steel vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in 10HL French oak casks and in bottle for 6 months before release.

IMG_6618Chianti Colli Senesi  Poggio Del Moro made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah from 10 to 20 year old vines. The exposure is southeast/west. The soil is 79% sand, 15% clay and 6% light loam. The vineyards are at 335-365 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Holistic agricultural practices are used with manure and green manure techniques. The grapes are hand picked and there is another selection on the sorting table.  Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature with frequent pumping over of the must. There is gentle pressing of the grapes. The wine ages is 5HL oak barrels for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle and is bottled during the waning moons of June and July.

IMG_6622Chianti Montespertoli “Ingannamatti” Podere Dell’Anselmo made from 100% Sangiovese from the Ingannamati vineyard planted in 1993 and from other older vineyards. The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is spur cordon. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare.  Traditional maceration for 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 16 months is stainless steel vats and then two months in glass. The wine has hints of plum and cherry with floral notes 

IMG_6619Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Torre a Cona” Badia Corte made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested from the Badia a Corte vineyard that has typical Alberese limestone soil. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with a selection of native yeasts with 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged  in 25 HL Slavonian oak casks for 24 months and for 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6620Chianti Colli Aretini “Bucca Nera” Tenuta Di Cambriano   Made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet and Merlot. The soil is clay and gravel. The vineyards are at 500 meters with a south/west exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is aged in botti grandi for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6624Chianti Rufina Vigneto Bucerchiale  Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese.  This single vineyard is at 250 meters and the vines are 43 years old. The exposure is south and the training system is spurred cordon. There are about 3,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine ages in French barriques (only (10% new) for 15 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. This is a wine that can age and I have enjoyed older vintages of Selvapiana over the years.

All the wines were showing very well. I was happy to see the use of international grapes was limited and I enjoyed all the wines.

The presenters did an excellent job putting the wines in the correct order, of discussing each wine and describing the flavors and aromas, and if they could age. It was the most informative and professional tasting I have attended in a long time.

At the end we were given some tasty snacks to sample with the wines


 including truffle flavored potato chips,

IMG_6638and pop corn.  It was an interesting combination.



Filed under Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Rufina, Uncategorized

Champagne, Barolo and a 1927 Madeira

Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing Mulligan, MW, are old friends and we are always happy to see them and share a good meal.  Mary, the first American woman to achieve the prestigious title of Master of Wine, is the owner of The International Wine Center  She and Ed are the authors of the best-selling “Wine for Dummies” series of books. As always we started with Champagne.

IMG_6585Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut 2006 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed wrote in his book, Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” 

IMG_6567Michele preparing the appetizers


With the Champagne, we enjoyed appetizers of smoked salmon in endive leaves, crackers topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, and marinated shrimp. 

IMG_6581Barolo “Rocche” 1989 Vietti Made from Nebbiolo – 75% Michet, 20% Lampia and 10% Rose. There are 4,600 plants per hectare. The wine is fermented for 22 days in stainless steel tanks with daily pumping air through the application of an old system called “cap submerged”. It is aged for over two years in Slavonian oak barrels, is unfiltered and is aged one year in bottle before release. My favorite Barolo has always been the Rocche.  This is traditional classic Barolo with hints of blueberry, violets, faded roses and leather. It was drinking very well.

IMG_6574To go with the wine, Michele made beef braised with porcini, whipped sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe with garlic.

IMG_6584Leacock’s Madeira Bastardo 1927  D’Oliveiras made from 100% Bastardo grape (a red grape) that has almost disappeared from the vineyards in Madeira. The wine has been in wood for over 80 years. The wine has hints of citrus peel, caramel, orange marmalade, with a touch of bees’ wax and a note of sea salt. This is the second great bottle of Madeira we had with Ed and Mary. The first a few months ago was a 1832 Madeira. Both were fantastic.

We had three different cheeses, dates, and nuts with the Madeira.

IMG_6591Dessert was a moist almond cake with raspberry sauce and creme fraiche.

Leave a comment

Filed under Barolo, Champagne, Dom Perignon, Madeira, Uncategorized, Vietti

New Year’s Day: Cotechino and Lentils

Michele and I look forward to having cotechino and lentils on New Year’s Day.  Imported Italian cotechino sausage is easily available at Italian food stores and on line.  It comes pre-cooked and just needs a quick reheating before serving.


For an appetizer, we had a few slices of smoked duck breast on crostini with French mustard and cornichons.  There was also a bit of excellent Pave’ cheese, a rich and buttery cow’s milk cheese.

IMG_6553Dolcetto D’Alba 1978 Fratelli Oddero made from 100% Dolcetto. I like older Dolcetto and have had more than a few  which were over 40 years old. The Oddero Dolcetto was in excellent condition with a touch of cherry, a hint of leather, and a note of smoke. It was the perfect wine to drink with the smoked duck and the cotechino.


mustardaTo go with the cotechino, we opened a jar of the Mostarda di Cremona, fruits candied in a mustard flavored syrup that we had bought in Rome.  These were made by the A. Fieschi Company and were nicely piccante.  The sweet and hot flavors were just right with the cotechino and lentils.

cotoCotechino with mostarda, lentils and mashed potatoes.  In Italy, lentils are eaten to bring good luck in the New Year.  We made sure to eat plenty!

Our dessert was simple, ripe pears with Pistachio Brutti ma Buoni cookies.

IMG_6560and a good cup of espresso.  

Happy New Year and Good Health from Michele and I!


Filed under Dolcetto