Category Archives: Alfred Gratien

A Dinner Party in Rome

Daniele Cernilli, aka “Doctor Wine,” and his wife,  Marina Thompson invited us to dinner at their lovely apartment in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Rome.

There were 3 other guests, including a professor from John Cabot University in Rome.

Daniele greeted us with glasses of Champagne Clos des Goisses Brut 2002 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The grapes are grown on a pure chalk hillside with a 45 degree slope facing due south in Mareuil- sur-Ay. Goisse, in the old Champagne dialect, means steep slope. It has a very low dosage. Vinification is mainly in wooden casks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of pears and apricots, floral notes, a touch of toast and an exceptional long finish. Daniele said 2002 was a great vintage in Champagne.

With the Champagne we had caviar. You can’t go wrong with Champagne and caviar, and Marina enhanced the combination by serving it with burrata, a tender, fresh cheese from Puglia. Slightly firm like mozzarella on the outside, it is sweet and creamy within. Though it might seem like a strange combination, not only did it work, it was wonderful.

Daniele also served another wine with the caviar and burrata that he believed was a better combination than with the champagne. Pinot Bianco Colli Orientali del Friuli “Zuc di Volpe 2008 Volpe Pasini made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the Togliano “Zuc” Vineyard. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of white peaches, citrus and almonds. It was showing very little sign of age.

Though I liked the Pinot Bianco, I preferred the combination of the Champagne with the caviar and burrata.

Grignolino of the Monferrato Casalese “ Bricco del BoscoVigne Vecchie2011 Giulio Accornero & Figli made from 100% Grignolino from the Bricco del Bosco vineyard. Maceration is on the skins for 20 days. The wine is aged for 30 months in oak barrels (tonneau) and 24 months in bottle before release.

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink. Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017  Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time.

With this wine we had pasta prepared by Daniele. He told Michele that the recipe had been given to him by the late Paola di Mauro, a great winemaker and legendary cook. Daniele roasted sweet cherry tomatoes with olive oil, capers and breadcrumbs then tossed them mezze maniche, a short wide tubular pasta, before serving. It’s a great way to make the most of out of season fresh tomatoes.

Brunello di Montalcino 1995 100% Sangiovese Donatella Cinelli Colombini. I looked at the label and told Daniele that I have the 1995 at home but the label is different. He said this was a special bottling made in honor of a wedding that took place in 1995. I am not sure how this wine was made or aged and I know they have changed their production methods over the years. This wine is a classic Brunello.

We had the Brunello with braised veal.

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2005 Rocco di Montegrossi made from 95% Malvasia Bianco di Toscana and 5% Canaiolo Nero. The soil is calcareous loamy. The harvest is the first week of October. During the drying phase the bunches of grapes are hung one by one on nets in a well– ventilated area under the rafters. All of the nets are hung from rails and are affected by noble rot–botrytis. The rails allow the nets to be shifted so that deteriorated grapes can be removed. Pressing takes place in January. The must goes into small casks of 50 and 100 liters of cherry, oak and mulberry wood. The wine ferments and ages for 6 to 7 years, only indigenous yeast is used. This is a complex intense velvety dessert wine with hints of apricot, dried fig, toasted almond and caramel.The grapes are pressed between the 13 and 20th of December. Only organic farming methods are used and there is no filtering or fining. The wine spends 6 years and 4 months in small barrels called caratelli made of cherry, mulberry and oak wood, then one year in bottle before release.

With the Vin Santo we had cheese then finished with coffee and artisan chocolates.

 

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Filed under Accornero Winery, Brunello, Champagne, Clos des Goisses, Clos des Goisses Brut, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Donatella Cinelli Colombibi, Grignolino, Pinot Bianco, Rocca di Montegrossi, Vin Santo, Volpe Pasini winery

Vintage Champagne for the New Year

The NY Wine Press Champagne Holiday Luncheon reminds me every year that the New Year is coming. Harriet Lembeck organizes the event and once again Ed Mc Carthy spoke about Champagne, Vintage Champagne. For the first time, the event was held at the Vanderbilt Suites. There were 13 Champagnes in all: img_2174

Domaine Dehours Brut Rose Oeil De Perdrix 2009 Made from 55% Pinot Meunier, 45% Old-Vine Chardonnay, fermented in Duchêne barriques.  A small touch of red wine is added for color and aroma depending on the vintage. There is very light skin contact on the press.  The nuances are totally different than a full maceration and are elegant and floral. The wines are full aged on the lees and clarified by natural decanting without filtration or fining. The dosage is 2%

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Cathleen Burke Visscher with Domaine Dehours

The estate was founded by Ludovic Dehour in 1930, one of the first independent growers. Today Jéröme, Ludovic’s grandson, is the proprietor and winemaker. The estate is comprised of 42 parcels in the villages of Cerseuil, Mareuil-le-Port, Troissy and Oeuilly and Port-à-Binson at the intersection of two valleys, the Marne and the Flagot. The sites are predominantly north facing. The extensive vineyard holdings allow a large array from which to choose and they vinifiy only a strict selection of the highest quality under his own name and sell 30-50% each year.  The three traditional Coquard vertical presses allow them to press each of the individual parcels separately.

The wines are full aged on the lees and clarified by natural decanting without filtration or fining.

While the estate is registered as a négociant-manipulant, no grapes are purchased, and all of the wines are entirely estate-grown. This was served as an aperitif. At $72 Ed said this was a real bargain.

Ed divided the Champagne into three flights to accompany the food.

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Christina Jacobs with Moet- Hennessy

Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage 2008 made from 40% Chardonnay, 37% Pinot Noir and 23% Meunier. The dosage is 5g/liter. Ed said that every Grand Vintage is unique because it is the Cellar Master’s personal interpretation of revealing the exceptional personality of single vintage years. 2008 was an excellent vintage. They are the biggest producer in Champagne but the wines are of the highest quality. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and mandarin orange with a touch of honeysuckle and brioche. $75img_2180

Piper-Heidsieck Vintage Brut 2006 made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The 17 crus: 9 Grand Crus, 7 Premiers Crus, 8 Pinot Noir, 9 Chardonnays. In 2006 because of the weather the winemaker reduced the proportion of Pinot Noir compared to past years thus reaching parity between Pinot and Chardonnay to moderate the Pinot’s intensity. The wine was aged for 6 years in the cellars. The wine has hints of apricots and black berries with a touch of spice. $75img_2181

Henriot Millesime 2006 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish. Ed said this house is finally getting the praise it deserves. $85.img_2182

Louis Roederer Et Philippe Starck Brut Natural en 2009 Made from Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay. The grapes are grown in the Côteaux de Cumères. All the grapes from the various parcels were harvested on the same day. They were pressed together all at once, a technique used in the past. The wine was aged for 5 years in the cellars and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging to mature. The wine has hints of peach and hazelnuts with citrus notes.

Emma Criswell with Louis Roederer

Emma Criswell with Louis Roederer

Ed said this represents modern, ripe and ready-to-drink Champagne. The first vintage was in 2006  $85img_2175

Served with Seared Scallop, Roasted Caulflower Crema, and Caviar Vinaigrette.

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Second Flightimg_2183

Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque Brut 2008 Made from 50% Chardonnay from the grands crus of Cramant and Avize, 45% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 5% Pinot Meuniers from Dizy. The dosage is 9 g/l and the wine is aged for over 6 years in the cellars.The wine has citrus aromas with hints of orange and lemon peel. On the palate there were white fruit flavors and a touch of almonds. $150img_2184

 Veuve-Clicquot 2008 La Grand Dame Brut 2006 made from 62% Pinot Noir and 38% Chardonnay. Verzenay/Avize are the two dominant crus in the blend of eight grand crus from Ciicquot’s own 100% rated Grand Cru Vineyards on the Còte des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims. It has hints of white peaches, apricots and brioche. It needs two or three years from release in order be at its best. $155img_2185

 Taittinger Comtes De Champagne Blanc de Blancs 2006 100% Chardonnay.  Ed said this is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. The grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as the cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles”. Only the juice from the cuvee goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. This is their flagship Champagne. Ed described it as being full and rich.  It was toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish.Ed is a big fan of this Champagne house and of this wine. It was one on my favorites. $150

Bethany Burk with

Bethany Burke with Andre Jacquart

Andre Jacquart “Les Mesnil” Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs 2006 Millesime 100% Chardonnay. 60% from Vertus 1er cru, vinified in stainless steel, 40% Grand Cru Le Mesnil-sur-Olger vinified in older Burgundy oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine is on the lees for 5 years before disgorgement. The dosage is 4g/l.. Tom Maresca liked the wine so much at the tasting that he served it to Michele and I for our Christmas dinner and his apartment. https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/  It was an excellent choice.

img_2186 It has flavors and aromas of  citrus fruit with a touch of brioche and almonds.   $75img_2176

Served with House Cured Skuna Bay Salmon, Green Chickpeas, Avocado Puree, Mache.

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Third Flightimg_2187

Pol Roger Brut 2006 Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, the traditional house vintage blend. The grapes come from 20 Grands and Premiers cru vineyards in the Montagne de Reims and the Côte des Blancs. The must undergoes two débourbages (settlings, one at the press house immediately after the pressing and the second, a débourbage a froid, in stainless steel tanks at 6°C for 24 hours. A slow cool fermentation takes place under 18°C in stainless steel with each variety and each village kept separate. The wine undergoes full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The wine remains in the cellar until remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne today.

It is aged for 8 years in the cellars before being disgorged and released into the market. This is a full-bodied complex wine with hints of quince and apple with touches of dried fruits, brioche and almonds.$100img_2188

Moet & 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.” He was also right on the mark when he said, “With age, Cuvee Dom Perignon develops aromas and flavors of toast, coffee and honey.” $150img_2189

Alfred Gratien Brut Millesime 2000 made from 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Meunier and 10% Pinot Noir. They have 1.56 hectares of Grands Crus and Premiers Crus classified vines in the heart of the Côte des Blancs region. They also purchase grapes. Ed said that all operations such as riddling and disgorgment are done by hand. Champagne Krug and Alfred Gratien are the only two Champagne houses that ferment all of their wines in small oak casks, 228-liter barrels. He emphasized the words “old casks” that impart no oak flavors to the wine.

This is an elegant, complex and well-structured wine with hints of gingerbread and hazelnuts and a touch of raisins.  $80  Ed said 2000 is the current vintageimg_2190

Bollinger La Grand Annėe Brut 2005  made from 63% Pinot Noir and 37% Chardonnay. This was one of my top wines. Both Ed and I felt that it would age very well. It is intense, concentrated, rich Champagne with aromas and flavors of toasted brioche.img_2177

Served with Roasted Lamb Chop, Butternut Squash, Maitake Mushrooms, Peruvian Black Mint

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and dessert

Special thanks to Vanderbilt Suites represented by Sharon Colabello, Director of Catering, Eric Basulto, Chef, and Matthew Padvarietis, Restaurant Manager for helping to make it a wonderful event.

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Filed under Alfred Gratien, Andre Jacuqart Champagne, Bollinger Champagne, Dehours Champagne, Dom Perignon, Henriot, Louis Roederer Brut, Moet and Chandon, Perrier-Jouet, Piper-Heidsieck, Pol Roger, Tattinger Champagne, Uncategorized, Veuve Clicquot