Category Archives: Aldo Conterno

A Summer Dinner with Tom and Diane

It is always a pleasure to be invited to the home of Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow for dinner. They are wine and food writers and both have excellent blogs: “Tom’s Wine Line” at and “Another Year in Recipes” at

For wine as always we started with Champagne. This time it was Pierre Gimonnet & Fils, Cuis Premier Cru, Brut NV 100% Chardonnay from vintages 2010 to 2015 and it was disgorged March 16, 2019. The dosage is 6g/l.

With it we nibbled at an assortment of appetizers which included nuts, olives and a delicious bean and tuna spread made with canned ventresca, the choicest part of the tuna, on dark bread.

At the table, Diane brought out perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes from the Union Square Greenmarket with mozzarella di bufala and

Zucchini a scapece (marinted and fried zucchini)

and olive oil from Bucci, one of my favorite producers of Verdicchio.

With this we had the Greco di Tufo 2016 “Vigna Cicogno” from Benito Ferrara made from 100% Greco di Tufo from a 1.5 hectare vineyard. The vines are between 15 and 60 years old and the soil is calcareous clay with outcroppings of yellow sulfur. There is a soft pressing of the grapes followed by fermentation and maturation in stainless steel. The wine spends 7 months on the lees and 2 months in the bottle before release. This is a very impressive wine with a great depth of aromas and flavors, hints of citrus fruit, a touch of lemon and a scent of bitter almond.

Next was the pasta, a recipe I had never eaten before, from one of Diane and Tom’s cookbooks, The Seasons of the Italian Table (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1994). It was called Abruzzi-Style Fettuccine and the homemade pasta was dressed with sautéed onion, pancetta, basil, parsley and grated pecorino romano cheese. The simple, rustic sauce was very appealing.

This was paired with the 2011 Ghemme DOCG “Pellizzane” from Monsecco made from 90% Nebbiolo, 5%Vespolina and 5% Bonarda from the Novara Hills. The vines are an average of 30 years old. Harvest is in the second half of October and there is a carefully hand selection of the grapes. The wine macerates for 12 days before fermentation in stainless steel. Then it goes into a combination of old Slovenian botte (large oak barrels) and then in second year used French barriques for an additional 3 years and a year in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of red and bark fruit with a touch of blueberries and notes of tobacco and spice. The wine was drinking very well.

A lamb stew with peppers and tomatoes followed.

With it we drank Taurasi 2007 Primum Riserva DOCG from Gustaferro made from 100% Aglianico from very old vines. The vineyards are at 300 meters and on south facing slopes. The training system is pergola. The wine is aged in botti for two years. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of black cherry, red currants, spice and a touch of raspberry.

With a selection of cheese we had the

Barolo 1999 “Colonnello” DOCG from Poderi Aldo Conterno made from 100% Nebbiolo (Michet and Lampia) varieties from the Colonnello vineyard (40 to 45 years old) in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba). There is a manual harvest in mid-October with grape selection in the vineyard. Vinification with skin contact inside stainless steel vats for 30 days. The wine is decanted several times before transfer to oak casks where it is aged and refined.

Our dessert was a light one of homemade lemon granita accompanied by some plain cookies, and as always we finished with grappa.

Tom has a wonderful collection and the Grappa Di Venegazzu “Della Casa” from Loredan Gasparini was my choice. It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc.


Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Ghemme, Grappa, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi

Dinner with Steven


Though I often have the opportunity to enjoy great meals, it is not often that I have the chance to sample the cooking of a talented young man like Steven De Salvo. Steven is the grandson of our friends Ernie and Louise De Salvo. This dinner was at the home of their son Jason and his wife Deborah.


Steven preparing the food with his helpers

Steven has always been interested in food and is studying it in college. He works part time at one of New Jersey’s best restaurants. Steven planned and prepared the meal, paired with wines supplied by his father, Jason, and the dinner guests. The report that follows includes Jason’s wine notes because he has an excellent palate and wine memory.IMG_7203

Our meal began with three different crudos, among them lightly torched bluefin toro with dashi broth and scallions. This was a perfect starter before a meal with so many rich flavors.IMG_7206

Next there was wild mushroom lasagna with spinach, ricotta, and truffle Gouda finished with a healthy shaving of black truffles. I have never had Gouda in lasagna before, but it balanced the other flavors and added savory cheesiness without overwhelming. It was great to see Steven’s creative touch working so well.IMG_7211

For our main course, we had beef Wellington with black truffles and prosciutto. I can’t remember the last time I had beef Wellington, and this was a treat.IMG_7212

The pastry was beautiful and the beef was cooked perfectly.IMG_7190

Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2000 The grapes come from the Grand Cru vineyards of Cramant, Les Mesnil, Oger, Avize and Oire in the Cotes des Blancs. The unblended wines are aged in stainless steel to retain their pure character. This is followed by 7 years of bottle aging in the cellars before release. This is a rather full-bodied Champagne for a Blanc de Blancs. It is elegant with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of raisins and bread. It is drinking very nicely and went well with the food.


1942 Patriarche Pére & Fils – wine merchants and producers have been in business for 230 years. They are in Beaune and have the largest cellars in Burgundy (5km). This was the oldest wine and it was still drinking very well. I purchased this wine in Paris.  IMG_7201

1967 Remoissenet Chambertin Clos de Beze Recent Release from Domaine.  Light-medium ruby color.  Jason: The nose is gorgeous with red currants, black cherries, minerals, damp earth and a touch of sauvage.  On the palate this is both elegant and powerful with a velvety texture, excellence balance and long finish.IMG_7205

1971 Domaine Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin. This was from a recent release. Jason: Light-medium ruby-garnet color.  Flowers, red cherries, Gevrey Earth and baking spices on the nose.  Bears a striking resemblance to the Philippe Remy 1971 Chambertin that we had alongside it.  On the palate this is sweet with a note of iron filings to the taste.  Velvety and medium long finish.IMG_7204

1971 Domaine Philippe Remy Chambertin.  Jason: The nose here is strawberries, earth, baking spices, flowers.  We had this alongside a 1971 Louis Remy Latricieres-Chambertin.  On the palate this is deep, gorgeous, nuanced, velvety and long.  A great bottle of wine. Both Jason and I agree that these last two wines will age for a number of years.


Granbussia Riserva 1974 and Riserva 1989 Aldo Conterno made from Michet and Lampia varieties of Nebbiolo. Harvest is manual with grape selection in the vineyard and the harvest takes place in mid-October. Vinification is in wood with maceration of the skins in large Slavonia oak casks. The must remains in contact with the skin for 60 days, during which alcohol fermentation is fully completed. The wine is then placed in large Slavonia casks for 32 months.IMG_7214

The grapes for the Granbussia Riserva are from the oldest vineyards: Romirasco 70%, Cicala 15% and Colonello 15% depending on the vintage. The wine remains in the cellar for 8 years before release and is only produced in the best vintages.

1974 was not a great year for Barolo and it was given a lot of attention because 1972, 73, 75, 76 and 77 were off vintages. The wine was showing its age and it was well passed its peak. 1974 Jason: Some of the guests really liked this.  Everyone else hated it.  They thought that it was flawed and over the hill.

For me the best two vintages since 1982 have been the 1989 and the 1996. The 1989 is a wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors: cherries, prunes, tar and leather. It is a wine that will last.

Jason: Double Decanted for 4.5 hours.  Medium-deep ruby color.  The nose is white pepper, red cherries, licorice, black truffles, with a distinct “vinyl” omponent.  On the palate this is more closed in on itself than I remember it being.  Maybe this has entered a bit of a dumb stage or maybe it’s a less than perfect bottle?  Finished the last 40% of the bottle two nights later after it was stored in the refrigerator in a 1/2 bottle and it was even better than two days prior.  The flavors have knitted together and become deeper and more profound.  IMG_7210

Cantina Bartolo Mascarello 1982. About 13 years ago Michele and I visited the winery with Alfredo Currardo, a close friend and owner/wine maker of the Vietti winery. Bartolo and Alfredo spoke about wine and Bartolo was teasing Alfredo and told him that he made “industrial wine” because Vietti produces, as Bartolo said, “so many wines”. I only wished I had a movie camera with me at the time to record the conversation between these two legendary wine makers. Both Bartolo and Alfredo are no longer with us but Maria Teresa, Bartolo’s daughter, continues to make wine in the same uncompromising style as her father–traditional, classic Barolo at its best. This is a great wine in a great year and it will age.

Jason: Double decanted for 4 hours.  Stunning wine.  Too tired to take detailed notes at this point, but this was drinking really well right now.  IMG_7208

Hermitage La Chapelle 1980 Jaboulet 100% Syrah is planted in a diversity of terroirs. The age of the vines is 40 to 60 years. The grapes come down from the slopes of l’Hermitage on small sledges and then are sorted manually and vinified traditionally in the cellars. The final assembly is made during aging in our cellars in wood for 15 to 18 months. During this time the wines are also racked. This is a complex and elegant wine with hints of black fruit, spice and leather. It has a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste. It is at its peak and was the wine of the evening. I also purchased this wine in Paris.

Jason: The nose here is gorgeous.  Soaring aromatics with smoked game, beef jerky, camphor, black cherries and bacon fat.  On the palate this is also stunning.  Deep, balanced and hugely nuanced.  I have never before had a Hermitage from 1980, and I must say that this was impressive!  WOW. IMG_7216

Chateau d’ Yquem 1997 (half bottle). Made from 80% Semillion and 20% Sauvignon Blanc. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes are picked one at a time over a period of time. There is a gently pressing of the grapes and the wine is aged in oak barrels. 1997 is considered a great vintage. There was no Yquem produced in 2012. This is a complex and balanced wine with hints of dried apricot and a touch of tropical fruit. It was wonderful.

Jason: Medium golden color.  The nose is white flowers, apricots, almonds and marzipan.  On the palate this is balanced, deep and nuanced.

It was served with a peach and almond tart made by Deborah, Steven’s mother.



Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo- Bartolo Mascarello, Bartolo Mascarello, Chateau d'Yquem, Domaine Louis Remy Chambertin, Domaine Philippi Remy, French Red, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Jabpulet Hermitage La Chappelle, Patriarche Pere and Files, Remoissenet Burgundy, Tattinger Comtes de Champane, Uncategorized

Barolo and Pizza at La Pizza Fresca

One of my favorite Barolo and pizza memories is from 1985.  Michele and I visited Alfredo and Luciana Currado, owners of the Vietti winery with Mary Ewing Mulligan MW and Ed McCarthy. A Neapolitan man had opened a pizzeria a few doors away from their winery and they wanted us to try it.  Their whole family joined us.  The pizza was very good especially the one made with Fontina Val D’Aosta cheese and porcini mushrooms.  Alfredo brought a magnum of 1961 Barolo and he very proudly told us that this was the first wine that he had made.  The wine was great with the pizza.  From then on, I was hooked on pizza and Barolo.IMG_4540

Just before Christmas, Brad Bonnewell, owner of La Pizza Fresca in NYC, inviting me to a Barolo and pizza dinner a few days after Christmas and I had to accept. IMG_4543

With the pizza there were two flights of Barolo, five from the 1997 vintage and five from the 1998 vintage.  It was a blind tasting.

The Vintage

Some wine writers called the 1997 vintage Barolo “The Vintage of the Century”.  It was given ratings in the high 90’s by the better- know wine writers. It was also rated a five star vintage.

1998 did not get the same recognition or hype, though some rated it 4 stars. The 1997’s that we tasted were more fruit forward, riper, and richer with less acidity.  It seemed that they should be drunk before the 1998.

The 1998’s were subtler and with more of the tar, leather, tea and faded rose aromas that I like, so we drank the 1997’s first.

On another vintage note I would drink the 1997’s and 1998’s before the 1996’s, which I believe, is a great vintage like 1989.

1997 Vintage


Barolo – Bartolo Mascarello 100% Nebbiolo from 3 hectares of vineyards: Cannubi 1.5, Lorenzo 0.3, Rue 0.5 in the commune of Barolo and Rocche 1.2 in the commune of La Morra. The vineyards are between 3 and 50 years old. This is the most traditional producer of Barolo and it is a classic old style wine. The Barolo is a blend of all the vineyards, the way it was done in the past before the other producers took up the “French Cru” designation. I have had these wines a number of times and they are usually among my favorites, however this night they were not showing well. The two bottles we opened might have been slightly corked, hiding the aroma and flavors of the wine. Brad said he had a case of the wine and the others he had opened had the same problem.


Langhe Nebbiolo ConteisaAngelo Gaja.   Mostly Nebbiolo with a little Barbera. Fermentation is on the skins in stainless steel tanks for 3 weeks. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months followed by 12 months in large oak barrels. This is a well-made wine with less vanilla, oak aromas and flavors then I remember. Still, it is a little too modern for me.


Barolo Grand Bussia Riserva – Aldo Conterno Nebbiolo: Michel and Lampia varieties. Grapes come from 3 different vineyards (Bussia, Monforte d’Alba). The grapes are hand harvested. The must remains in contact with the skins for 60 days, during which the alcoholic fermentation is fully completed. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak casks for 32 months. The wine remains in the cellar for at least 8 years before release. Only in the best vintages is this wine made. I have not tasted this wine in a long time and it was showing very well with all the true Nebbiolo characteristics.

Barolo Cascina Francia – Giacomo Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. This is classic, traditional Barolo at its best.

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Barolo – Parussi 100% Nebbiolo.  The grapes come from Monforte d’Alba and Castiglione Falletto. There are 5,000 plants/hectare, with south/southeast and southwest exposure and the grapes are hand harvested. Destemming of the grapes and then maceration on the skins. Alcoholic fermentation occurs spontaneously with indigenous yeasts without the use of sulfites. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 24 months in contact with its native yeast and 6 months in bottle before release.

1998 Vintage


Barolo Azienda Agricola Falletto of Bruno Giacosa, 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes for the Falletto wines are all estate grown. He uses traditional wine making methods. This is a wine with hints of liquorice, spice and tea. I like Giacosa’s Barolo but  would rather drink his Barbaresco.


Barolo Ciabot Mentin Ginestra – Domenico Clerico 100% Nebbiolo The vineyard is at 400 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. Maceration on the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12/14 days. Aged in French oak barriques, 90% new for 22/24 months and 6/8 months in bottle before release. This was the most modern style wine in the tasting with a lot of vanilla and oak.


 Barolo Cereqiuo- Roberto Voerzio 100% Nebbiolo There are 4,000 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the vineyard faces south/southeast. Fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged for 24 months in used barriques and 20hl casks. Then 8 months in stainless steel and 8 months in bottle before release.This is another wine that I have not tasted in a long time but it was less modern then I expected.


 Barolo Bric del Fiasc cru: Castiglione Falletto (Fiasco) – Paolo Scavino 100% Nebbiolo. Destemming and light crushing takes place and maceration and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Indigenous yeast is used and malolactic fermentation takes place in oak for 10 months. The wine is aged in oak barrels for 10 to14 months in large casks, 1 year in stainless steel and 10 months in bottle before release. This was the second most modern wine.


 Barolo Cascina Francia – Giacomo  Conterno 100% Nebbiolo from Serralunga’s Cascina Francia vineyard. The exposure is south/southwest and the soil is calcareous limestone. They use wooden vats with regular breaking-up of the cap. The wine is aged for 4 years in large oak barrels. This is classic, traditional Barolo at its best. The 1998 was my number one wine and the 1997 was my number two wine. They also went the best with the pizza.

 Brunello di Montalcino 1997Mastrojanni. This has always been one of my favorite producers and when Brad asked what else he could open, this was my suggestion. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. It is aged 3 years in Allier oak barrels of various sizes – 15, 33 and 54 hectoliters and then aged for 6/8 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black and red berries with a hint of spice and tobacco. There was even more hype for the 1997 vintage for Brunello than for the Barolo.

Maculan 1990 Dindarello La Pizza Fresca Ristorante NYC 12-27-13

 We ended with the dessert wine, Dindarello 1990 from Maculan. 100% Moscato from the 6 acre Dindarello vineyard on the estate.The grapes are dried for about a month, then fermented in stainless steel and aged another three months in bottle before release. This is an excellent dessert wine with hints of honey, tropical fruit and good acidity.Barolo 1997 & 1998 Dinner La Pizza Fresca Ristorante NYC 12-27-13

In all, there were 16 wines at the tasting, but the 12  listed were the ones I remember drinking.  I enjoyed Brad’s hospitality and the wine and pizza.  I also enjoyed remembering my friend and a great winemaker, Alfredo Currado.


Filed under Aldo Conterno, Barolo, Bartolo Mascarello, Brunello, Bruno Giacosa, Dindarello, Domenico Clerico, Gaja, Giacomo Conterno, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Maculan, Mastrojanni Brunello, Paolo Scavino, Parusso, Roberto Voerzio