Monthly Archives: September 2022

Daniele Cernilli (aka) Doctor Wine) on Super whites

Daniele Cernilli Villa Bucci e Trebbiano Valentini

With the presentations of the 2023 Essential Guide to Italian Wine behind us (the past weekend in Milan), I turn my attention back to the great Italian white wines. In particular, I want to draw your attention to two undisputed very Italian greats, a Trebbiano and a Verdicchio.

I return here to a subject I am very passionate about: the great Italian white wines that, in my view, are generally undervalued, especially if they are made from native grapes rather than the “French” varietals. During the tastings for our Essential Guide to Italian Wine we tasted many this year that were of formidable quality while two were truly exceptional. In sports terminology you could say they were in “top form” because they were from years that were particularly favorable.

The first is an authentic icon among Italian white wines: a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2018 from Francesco Paolo Valentini. The harvest was difficult that year due to some excessive rain and a fairly widespread presence of powdery mildew and peronospora, which forced growers to make some harsh selections during picking. Francesco Paolo, however, is a great, serious and consistent winegrower and he was able to produce a true masterpiece, in my humble opinion.

The second is a Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva Villa Bucci 2019. The harvest in this case took place in almost opposite conditions with a hot and rather dry growing season that allowed for a very select production, with a lower number of bottles produced. Nevertheless, this is perhaps the best version I can remember.

We gave both wines a rating of 99/100 and three DoctorWine “seals” and chose Villa Bucci for our Best White Wine of the Year award because its price was slightly lower. It will save time if I just give you our tasting reviews and once you have tasted them for yourselves tell us which one you liked better.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2018

99/100 – € 105

100% Trebbiano. Matures 4 years in big barrels. Bright straw yellow color. Bright straw yellow color. Complex and very clear aromas of renette apple, yellow citrus, wildflowers and hints of olive paste and flint. Tense and agile taste, savory and very elegant, dynamic body perfectly sustained by its acidity that makes it irresistibly easy to drink. Persistent finish. A great wine.

Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Riserva Villa Bucci 2019

99/100 – € 45

100% Verdicchio. Matures 18 months in big barrels. Intense straw yellow color with greenish hues. Wide, enveloping and very typical aromas of anise, yellow plums, alfalfa, wildflowers and flint. Enveloping and neat taste, savory, warm but agile and very elegant. Very balanced. Exceptionally long finish. Great version.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Krug, Keste and Pizza

“Olivier Krug, Krug Grande Cuvée and the 1996 Vintage Krug at Keste NYC,”  read the email invitation from Ed “Champagne” Mc Carthy.  Ed has a long history with Krug going back 50 years. It was Ed that introduced Krug to Michele and I over 40 years ago and it quickly became Michele’s favorite Champagne. We met Ed along with Olivier Krug, and Nicole Burke, Brand Manager for Moet Hennessy, at Keste’ for lunch.  

IMG_0821 Keste

Charles, Ed Mc Carthy, Olivier Krug and Roberto Caporuscio

IMG_8147Krug Grande Cuvée 170 EME Edition Champagne  made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. The blend is made from 195 wines from 12  different vintages, the youngest from 2014 and the oldest from 1998. It is aged for seven years in the cellars. All Krug Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It has a long finish and a wonderful aftertaste. Fantastic!  Ed looked up and said obviously this is not just another NV Champagne. $135

IMG_8132Roberto Caporuscio, the owner of Keste, brought us some appetizers.  First was this large burrata cheese, rolled in a batter and deep fried.  To make the crust extra crispy, Roberto told us he uses gluten free flour.  When we cut it open, small balls of mozzarella in cream tumbled out.

IMG_8135Calzone — Instead of the typical ricotta filling, this calzone was filled with an assortment of meats and cheeses.

IMG_8137Roberto knows we always like to start with a Pizza Margherita to share, and then we let him choose the remaining pizzas.

IMG_8149Krug 1996 made from 48% Pinot Noir, 31% Chardonnay and 21% Meunier. 1996 was one of the best vintages of the century. It was the last vintage blended by three generations of the Krug family working together. It is made from 17 different growths. This is a  champagne with rich mature aromas, full ripe flavors, hints of pear, ripe fruit, citrus, honey, gingerbread, butterscotch and brioche. It has a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste. This may very well be the wine of the century.  Disgorged in 2007. 

IMG_8140Olivier Krug told us that Krug vintage celebrates the distinct character of a particular year. A Krug vintage is a blend of the most expressive wines from a single year enhanced by a stay in the cellar of over 10 years. Every Krug is different.  Olivier added that “it is the music of the year catered by Krug.” 

The Krug philosophy is unique.  Olivier explained that, “We take a musical approach to to Champagne creation: each plot of vines is a musician and the Cellar Master a conductor selecting those who will together preform the most generous expression of Champagne every year, Krug Grand Cuvée. Sometimes the musicians of a certain year have a unique song to play and sometimes a virtuoso soloist emerges during the auditions.  Thus other Krug Champagne may also be born, making Music a natural way to reflect our craftsmanship.”

Oliver Krug told us that the 1996 vintage was a special year in Champagne.  It is said to be one of the best vintages of the century and is often compared to the legendary 1928. The 1996 has special meaning for him because it was his first vintage.  Also, it was the last vintage created by three generations of the Krug family working together:  Paul II, Henri, Rémi, and Olivier.

IMG_8141Pizza with golfetta salame and black summer truffles.  Golfetta is a type of salame imported from Italy made from lean cuts of pork leg.


Pizza del Papa — Perfect for Fall, we ended with this pizza that Roberto named in honor of the Pope.  It was topped with butternut squash puree, cheese, peppers, and zucchini.

It was a great pleasure listening to Olivier Krug speak about his Champagne and tasting these great Champagnes with him and Ed Mc Carthy


Filed under Keste, Krug

Le Gratin: A Taste of Lyon in NYC

Autumn in New York is shaping up to be an exciting one.  After the past two years of Covid shutdowns and uncertainties, the city is buzzing again and many new restaurants are opening.  Le Gratin Bouchon Lyonnais by Chef Daniel Boulud, inspired by the bistros of Lyon, the chef’s hometown, is one that I visited the other day.

Le Gratin is located in the Beekman Hotel across from City Hall.  The space was formerly occupied by  Keith Mc Nally’s Augustine and the beautiful Parisian decor remains the same.  A group of French speakers were seated nearby and Edith Piaf was singing La Vie en Rose.  It was a little taste of France in New York.


The crisp bread was a French pain epi, named for its resemblance to a wheat stalk.  It was served with good butter swirled with crystals of sea salt.:

IMG_8111Assiette De Charcuterie – We started with a shared plate of Terrines, Saucisson and Parisian Ham served with coarse mustard, pickled vegetables and a salad of celery root.

IMG_8114Quenelle De Brochet Au Gratin — A mousse-like pike dumpling baked in a rich sauce of Gruyère cheese with Mushroom Bèchamel. 

The wine list has more than 100 wines with a special focus on the wines around Lyon, including Beaujolais, Maconnais, Cöte de Vienne and Collines Rhödaniennes. There is a $50 BYOB charge.

IMG_8115I couldn’t resist trying an order of pommes frites — French fries.

IMG_8117Mashed Potatoes, creamy and full of potato flavor accompanied my main dish.

IMG_8113Foie de Veau a la Moutarde — Calf’s Liver with Mustard Sauce was cooked perfectly.

IMG_8109Beaujolais “Saint-Amour” 2015 Domaine De Fa 100% Gamay from the single Vineyard Cötes de Besset at 400 meters one of the highest altitude sited in Saine-Amour. The vines are 40 years old and the soil is crushed granite, sand and big chunks of granite. Whole cluster fermentation takes place with a semi-carbonic maceration. The wine is ages in 1 -3 year old foudre. This is a  wine with hints of raspberries, cherries, a note of blueberries and a touch of rose petals. It was a delight to drink and a perfect combination with the food.

IMG_8118Blueberry Tart with Blueberry Ice Cream was a sweet finish.

Le Gratin 

5 Beekman Street NYC in The Beekman Hotel


Open for Lunch and Dinner


Filed under Beaujolais, La Gratin

Lunch for Four at IL Gattopardo NYC

One recent fine summer day, we made arrangements with friends to meet for lunch at Il Gattopardo Restaurant.  Vito Gnazzo, Chef Partner at Il Gattopardo Group, stopped by to greet us and we asked him for some suggestions for our lunch.  



We started with Crostini topped with burrata and black truffles.

IMG_8002My first course was grilled octopus with roasted fingering potatoes, celery hearts and Castelvetrano olives

IMG_8005Michele had bufala mozzarella, with prosciutto and heirloom tomatoes


Monferrato Freisa 2018 Oreste Buzio made from 100% Freisa. The training system is espalier with guyot pruning. There are 5,000 plants per hectare. The soil is limestone/clay and the exposure is south-southeast. Tillage and only organic fertilizer in alternate years. The weeds are mowed.  There is a copper based fungicide treatment, sulfur and micro-organisms.  Harvest is manual. Alcoholic fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine is aged for 8 months in steel. The winery is organic. This is a medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, raspberries and spicy notes.


IMG_8008Homemade “tre dita” pasta made with toasted durum flour and topped with vegetable caponata and light tomato sauce.

IMG_8009Paccheri with “Genovese” sauce of slow-cooked pork and onions, one of the restaurant’s signature dishes.

IMG_8010Porcini Mushroom and Provola Ravioli in a tomato and marjoram sauce


Sardinian fregola risotto-style with asparagus tips and scallops


Barolo 2005 “Conca” Fratelli Revello 100% Nebbiolo from vineyards in the Annunziata subzone Conca dell’Annunziata planted in 1954. It is a 0.7 ha plot facing south at 250 meters. The soil is calcareous-clay and the harvest is in early mid October. Vinification is in horizontal roto-fermenters for about 6/8 days with the skins followed by completion of alcoholic fermentation in stainless steel tanks for about 10/15 days. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. The wine is aged in French barriques, 40% new and 60% used for 24 months. Bottling takes place in July the year before release for sale. The wine is released in March of the fourth year following harvest. It has hints of cherry and spice with a touch of leather and a note of vanilla.

IMG_8013Baba au Rhum with whipped cream and fresh berries

IMG_8015Pastiera, the traditional Neapolitan Wheatberry Cheesecake

We finished with 3 amari.


From Piedmont, Borgogno Chinato made from Nebbiolo


Vicario ” Monk’s Secret” made in the USA


Reset Amaro made in Sicily


Filed under Gattopardo