Category Archives: Barbera d’Asti

Perfect Combination: Pizza and Wine

I can’t imagine eating a pizza without accompanying it with a good bottle of Italian wine. Until the Covid virus came along, I was a member of a group that met once a month to drink Italian wine and eat pizza. Our conversations would focus on the best pizza and wine combinations, which wines were complemented by which pizzas, the latest wine vintages, and the latest doings at some of our favorite pizzerias.

I hope one day soon we will be able to resume our regular meetings, but even without my pizza and wine lovers group, I continue to indulge my passion for pizza and wine. I frequent a number of pizza restaurants, including Keste Pizza and Vino, Ribalta, and Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan, and Sottocasa in Brooklyn. Not only do they make great pizza, but each has a list of wines I enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the wine and pizza matches I have enjoyed recently.

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Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2019 Pighin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the sandy subsoil, the roots of the vines go down deep resulting in richer fruit. Training system is single guyot with 4,000 vines per hectare. These hand picked selected grapes of optimum ripeness are  gently pressed in a pneumatic press immediately after the harvest. This is followed by a 14 to 18 day cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is produced without malolactic fermentation or oak aging so it is a true expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is a dry wine that has hints of citrus, sage, tomato leaf and yellow bell  pepper.

IMG_5446 Pizza Zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh citrus, sage and vegetable flavors of the wine complemented the nutty, smoky and cheesy topping.

IMG_5792Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole (Tuscany). The vineyards are at 300 meters. The yields are kept low to obtain concentration and complexity in the wine. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place on the skins  in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for 24 months in large Slavonian oak vats followed by a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries, a touch of violets and a note of what my wife calls “sunshine on the Tuscan pines.” This is a traditional, classic Chianti  from the Folonari family.

IMG_5444 3Pizza Margherita — the simplest and the best pizza in my opinion is a pizza Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.  The quality of its Margherita is the true test of any pizzeria.  The fragrance and richness of the fruit and the warmth of this traditional wine makes it a perfect combination with Pizza Margherita.  

IMG_5794Barbera Nizza “Cipressi” DOCG 2018 Made from 100% Barbera, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont). The grapes are grown in a type of soil called “astiane sand.” It consists of  calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in micro elements, in particular magnesium. The exposure is southeast to southwest at 230 to 280 meters. The training system is guyot and low spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks with 10/12 days maceration with the skins with a soft “shower” system of wetting the cap. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months of which 12 are in large oak casks. The wine has hints of mature cherry, violets, blackberries, raspberries and a touch of sweet spice with good acidity which makes it a very good wine with food.

IMG_5373 2Pizza  with Sausage, Mozzarella, Onion and Peppers — Barbera is my first choice for this pizza because the hearty combination of toppings are enhanced by the wine’s fruit flavor and good acidity.  

 

IMG_5789Pinot Nero Rosé Umbria IGT 2020 Made from 100% Pinot Nero Tenuta Di Salviano. Made from a single vineyard located on the right bank of Lake Corbara in Umbria at 1,640 ft. The soil is calcareous-clayey. The farming is organic. The manual harvest starts in late August and only select bunches are chosen. Destemming does not take place so the grapes are pressed quickly. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a low temperature and then the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a fresh, fragrant, delicate and fruity wine with hints of red fruit, strawberry, cherry, a touch of citrus and good acidity.  The estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta Family, producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_5569Foccacia — Topped with rosemary, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil, a focaccia, while not exactly a pizza, is a close relation. With it’s simple clear flavors, I like to serve it with this delicate, fruity rose’, and perhaps some cold cuts as a starter or a snack.  

IMG_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

IMG_5442Summer Pizza–Mozzarella, prosciutto, whole grape tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, top this light and fresh pie and make a perfect combination with the lively, cool flavors of the Lambrusco.  The slightly salty flavor of prosciutto di Parma enhances the combination.

I hope you will enjoy these pizza and wine combinations. 

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Cipressi Nizza, Lambrusco, Nozzole CCR, Pighin, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Salviano PR Rose, Sauvignon Blanc

A Long Weekend with Ernie

Our apartment is being painted and our friend Ernie said we could spend the week at his home. It is always a pleasure to visit Ernie because the conversation, food and wine are always the best.

Below is just some of the wines and food that we enjoyed.

Antipasto

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Tomatos, Mozzarella and Basil — a classic Caprese Salad

IMG_5629 3Mortadella,  Mozzarella and Tomatoes — The cherry tomatoes were imported from our garden in Manhattan.

IMG_5633Arancini — Sicilian style rice balls from Palazzone 1960 in Wayne, New Jersey.  This pastry shop makes some of the best pastries I have had outside of Sicily. 

IMG_5656 3Prosciutto and melon

Side dishes

IMG_5659 2Asparagus with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

IMG_5619 2Roasted Sweet Peppers

 The wine 

IMG_5661 2Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori Riserva 1980 L&P Antinori the wine is mostly Sangiovese with some Cannaiolo and a very small amount of Trebbiano. Some of the wine was aged in 225 liter barrels. The wine has hints of sour cherries, leather, herbs and a note of violets. It had a low shoulder but was still drinking very well.

IMG_5625 2Barbera D’Asti “Scarpa” 2010 Antica Vinicola Casa Scarpa made from 100% Barbera from Monferrato. The vineyard is at 400 meters and the soil is clay. The vines were planted in 2000 and the training system is guyot. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation and aging for 12 to 18 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 6 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Barbera with hints of red fruit, cranberry, cherry and good acidity which makes it an excellent wine with food.

Pasta

IMG_5620Ravioli stuffed with Four Cheeses from Eataly.

IMG_5622 2With Buffalo ricotta on top

IMG_5630Fettuccine with Fresh Tomatoes and RicottaIMG_5631On the plate

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Barbera D’Asti “Ca’ Di Pian” 2004 Spinetta made from 100% Barbera from Castagnole delle Lanze, Costigliole d’Asti and Montegrosso d’Asti. The exposure is southern and the vines are 24 years old at 300 meters. The soil is calcareous marl. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled vats for an average of 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is done in used French oak barrels, followed by 12 months of aging and then about 3 months in bottle before release. This a balanced wine wine with hints of blueberries and peach.

IMG_5665 2Pasta Amatriciana  — my favorite, with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino

Dessert

IMG_5617 2 Figs — New Jersey grown by a friend.

IMG_5623 copyDeb’s Homemade Chocolate Cake and Ice cream — One of the best chocolate cakes I have had in years.

 

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Filed under Antinori, Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Scarpa, Spinetta

Celebrating La Befana in August

January 6th in Italy is the Feast of the Epiphany.  It is the day that La Befana, a kindly old woman, brings gifts to the good boys and girls or a lump of coal if they are bad. We have been celebrating the arrival of La Befana at the home of our friend Lars Leicht for a number of years. However we missed it in 2019 and again in 2020, so Lars decided to celebrate in August to make up for the ones we missed.  In all there were 12 of us and lots of very good food and wine.

IMG_5507Erbaluce di Caluso DOCG “Cuvée Des Paladins” Brut Sparkling 2013. Tappero Merlo This sparkling wine is made from 100% Erbaluce with refermentation in the bottle (Classic Method). The wine is aged for 60 months on the lees. Soil is strongly acidic of morainic origin composed of 80% sand, 15% silt and 5% clay. The vineyards are at 970/100ft. Harvest is in early September. Fermentation of the must is partly in steel and partly in very old barrels. The base wine is ready to become a sparkling wine in the spring following the harvest. The pied-de-cuvee (process using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wines) is prepared which starts the second fermentation in the bottle in a temperature controlled environment. After a slow passage over the pupitres (wooden frames for traditional riddling), the sparkling wine is ready for disgorgment which usually takes place in the spring. The wine rests for a few months and then is ready for release. The wine has hints of brioche, dried fruit, honey, and hazelnuts with citrus notes and complex minerality. This is the first time I tasted a sparkling wine made from Erbaluce di Caluso and I really liked it.

Note:The name of the  wines comes from the 12 loyal knights of Charles the Great, who on Christmas Day in the year 800 was crowned by Pope Leo III “Emperor of the Romans” and the Holy Roman Empire was established. There is a legend that during this time Erbaluce might have come from the Rhone Valley into Canavese in Piedmont, or vice versa, thanks to the agrarian reforms of Charles the Great.

0-3Vernaccia Di San Gimignano 2018 “Kalós kai Agathós Campochiarenti” made from 100% Vernaccia di San Gimignano. The vines are 25 to 30 years old. The grapes are hand picked the second week of September. The  vineyard is at 180 to 240 meters. Soil is yellow sand and sandy clay with layers of tuff, a light porous rock made from volcanic ash, over the “mattaione”(contains rock salt and gypsum) with variable percentage of clay. The destalked grapes are softly pressed and after 18-24 hours the must is clarified and stored in steel vats for fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine is cold stabilized, filtered, and stored until the spring. The wine remains in bottle for at least 3 months before it is released. This is fresh wine with hints of citrus fruit, good acidity and nice minerality.

0-4Fiano di Avellino DOCG Reserve “Brancato” 2017 Cavalier Pepe  made from 100% Fiano from south facing vineyards in the municipality of Lapio. The grapes are hand harvested at full ripeness, undergo a strict selection, and are pressed whole. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation in barriques and later in stainless steel at a low temperature. The wine is aged in wood and steel followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of mature tropical fruit, apple, and hazelnuts with a hint of spice and a touch of toast.

IMG_5582Fresh Tomatoes from the Garden

We started with fresh Mozzarella, roasted peppers dressed with olive oil and herbs and bread baked by Lars

IMG_5588Seafood Salad prepared by two of the guests

IMG_5589Tomatoes and rice

IMG_2693 2Litina Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2016 CascinaCastlet made from 100% Barbera grapes from hillside vineyards, which are more than 30 years old. There are about 5,000 vines per hectare. Grapes are hand picked the first weeks of October. At the winery the must is fermented in contact with the skins at a controlled temperature for about 10 days. This is followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in medium sized oak casks for about 8 months and then in bottle for more than one year. The wine is released the second year after the harvest. The wine has hints of woodland fruits a hint of spice and a note of vanilla.

IMG_5593Lars’ “Timballi di Bonifacio VIII”.  — A unique and historic family recipe from Lars’ relatives in Anagni, a town outside of Rome.0Valpolicella Superiore 2015 l Saltari made from 60% Corvina, 20% Rondinella, 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The grapes are grown in the Mezzane Valley in the region of the Veneto on terraced hillside vineyards in calcareous and alkaline soil. After a careful collection of the grapes, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking, the wine is transferred to different size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine is unfiltered.  It has hints of small berries like currants and blackberry with tobacco, leather, and a touch of cherry.

IMG_5481 copyChianti Colli Senesi 2017 “San Nicola”  Az Agricola Campochiarenti, San Gimignano, Tuscany, made from 85% Savgiovese and 15% Canaiolo, Colorino, Foglia Tonda and Mammolo. The exposure is south, southwest along a hill at 180/230 meters. The soil is composed of silt and sand with a little clay. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins of 90hl at a controlled temperature with pumping over and delestage. Maceration lasts for 12/15 days in order to obtain the highest extraction of color from the skins. The wine is naturally clarified, without adding any chemical products. Aging is in 20hl oak barrels for at least 9 months. The wine is bottled and stored in the cellar until release. The wine has hints of red berries, spice, tobacco and a touch of jam with a long finish and a very pleasing aftertaste. This wine will age.

It reminds me of the old style Chianti, with all the local grapes and traditional fermentation and aging which I loved, but few producers make any more.

IMG_5597Pork Loin on the Grill — The pork was flavored with garlic, rosemary, fennel and other herbs

IMG_5596Roasted Broccoli Rabe with garlic.  Roasting brings out all of the bittersweet flavors of the broccoli rabe.

IMG_5599Ready to be served

IMG_5600The plate

IMG_5595Chianti Colli Senesi Riserva 2011 Az. Agricola Campochiarenti made from 85% Sangiovese, and 15% Canaiolo, Ciliegio, Mammolo and Foglia Tonda. The exposure is south, south-west at 180-230 meters. Soil is composed of silt and sand with a small percentage of clay. The grapes are manually chosen and selected at harvest. Fermentation is in glazed cement basins with a capacity of 90HL and are temperature controlled. There is pumping over and delestage. Maceration is for 20-30 days with frequent delestage and pumping over. The wine is naturally clarified without adding any chemical products. The wine is aged in oak barrels (20HL capacity) for 30 months, then at least 4 months in bottle before release. The wine is drinking now but can last for another 10 years.

Michael Apstein, a wine writer from Boston said it was the best Colli Senesi he had ever tasted and I have to agree with him.

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Uceline Monferrato Rosso 2013 CascinaCastlet  Made from 100% Uvalino. Harvesting is carried out towards the end of October when the grapes reach a perfect ripeness. The bunches are hand picked and carefully selected and then go into a well ventilated, temperature controlled room called a “fruit house.”  Here they stay for over a month and become slightly overripe and begin to wither. The must from the pressing is partially destemmed and undergoes fermentation and lasts for 20 days. Frequent stirrings causes the total dissolution of the anthocyans and the various phenolic components that for this wine play a very important role. Malolactic fermentation and aging take place in 5HL oak barrels.

The bottles rest for about a year before they are released. This is a full-bodied complex aromatic wine with hints of black fruit, prunes, blueberries and sweet spices.  It is tannic with good acidity and has a certain rustic quality. It is a wine that can age.

IMG_5594Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vigneto Edoardo” 2012 100% Montepulciano d” Abruzzo. Zaccagnini. Bottled in honor of Ed Lauber, of Lauber Imports, a dear friend, who participated every year in the harvest at the Zaccagnini Winery.  His image appears on the label. This is a big wine with hints of cherries, leather, prune, and a touch of almond in the aftertaste.

IMG_5604Cheese

IMG_5609Desserts included a fresh raspberry pie and a peach cream pie both made with locally grown fruits.

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Some tempting chocolates followed.

IMG_5586Grappa Marolo “Dedicata Al Padre” made from a blend of several pomaces in the Roero area, This is a full-bodied, clear, pure grappa.  At 60% alc/vol (120 proof) it is the in alcohol clear grappa. It is non-vintage and un-aged. The grappa was brought by wine writer Tom Maresca, the only person I know that drinks grappa between courses to help his digestion.

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Grappa Marolo “Barolo” an aged Grappa

IMG_5612Our host for the evening with his friend . Carmyn 

 

 

 

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, CAMPOCHIARENTE, Cascina Castlet, Cavalier Pepe, Chianti Colli Senesi, Fiano di Avellino, Grappa, I Saltari

Welcoming Spring

Spring has arrived in New York so we decided to have a few friends over for dinner to celebrate.

 

IMG_4664Champagne Andre Clouet “Cuvèe “1911” Grand Cru Brut NV made from100% Pinot Noir – 50% from 2002, 25% from 1995 and 25% from 1997. The estate vineyards surround the village of Bouzy where the soil is chalk and clay. The farming method is conventional. Fermentation is in stainless steel and natural barrels. Malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 6 years on the lees. This is a complex Champagne with citrus aromas and flavors, a touch of peach and a note of brioche.

 

With the Champagne, we had smoked trout mousse on toasts.  

 

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Barbera d’Asti 2007 Tenuta Cisa Asinari Del Marchese Di Gresy made from 100% Barbera. The vineyard is located in Cassine at 230 to 240 meters and the soil is clay. The farm is practicing organic and the vines are 17 years old. The training system is guyot. Alcoholic fermentation takes place followed by malolactic fermentation. The skins macerate for 8 to 10 days with regular pumping over. Farina fissile and micro filtration takes place during bottling. The wine is aged in second and third passage barriques and in Slavonian oak casks for 5 to 6 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 6 months before release. It has hints of cherry, blackberries, a touch of licorice and a note of spice with good acidity.

 

IMG_4633Homemade Ricotta and Basil Gnocchi in tomato sauce from Michele’s book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.

 

IMG_4669Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2004 “Beradenga”Felsina made from 100% Sangiovese located in Castelnuovo Berardenga with mostly southern exposure between 320 and 420 meters (the soil here is rock quartz and calcareous alberese mixed with alluvial pebbles. The vineyards are on different slopes. There are about 5,400 vines per hectare. The training system is bilateral cordon and simple guyot with a maximum of 5 to 8 buds per vine. Harvest is staged due to different altitudes of the vineyards, the first three weeks of October. The clusters are de-stemmed and pressed and the must is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Programmed punch downs and daily pumpovers take place. In March/April the wine goes into medium sized Slavonian oak barrels and French barriques of second and third passage. After 12/16 months of aging the final blend is assembled. The wine remains is glass for 2 to 6 months. The wine has notes of red and black berries with a touch of spice and mineral tones. It was drinking very nicely.

 

IMG_4635Potato Gatto’, a recipe from Michele’s book, 1,000 Italian Recipes

It had been some time since Michele had made this and we all couldn’t stop eating it.  It’s a classic Neapolitan recipe from her family and it’s made with potatoes mashed with Parmigiano Reggiano, mozzarella, and salami.  

IMG_4637Leg of Lamb  roasted with garlic, rosemary and anchovy was our main course.  

 

IMG_4639In the dish

 

IMG_4670Barolo Riserva 1967 Giacomo Borgogno and Figli 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes come from three different cru vineyards: Cannubi, Liste and Fossati. The winery is located in the center of the town of Barolo. The wine is aged at least five years in large oak barrels. This is a wine produced with traditional and natural wine making methods. Long fermentation and pumping over by hand takes place. Today the Farinetti family that also owns Eataly owns the winery. I have always had very good luck with older vintages of Borgogno. This is a classic traditional Barolo with hints of red fruit, tar, tobacco, violets, cedar and a touch of balsam.

 

IMG_4641A few Italian cheeses to finish the wine.  

IMG_4643For dessert, a friend brought a very good version of Pastiera, aka Pizza Gran, a Neapolitan style cheesecake cooked with grain and flavored with orange and cinnamon from his local pastry shop.

IMG_4645On the plate

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Filed under Barbara, Barbera d'Asti, Barolo, Borgogno, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Di Gresy, Barnera d'Asti, Felsina. Berardenga

Norma — Return to Sicily in New York

All we can do right now is dream about going to Italy, however, we can still go to restaurants in NYC where the food makes you feel as if you are there.IMG_4705 2

One of these restaurants is Norma Gastronomia Siciliana for real Sicilian food. It was a nice day so we sat in the backyard garden. With the overhead heater on  to chase away any lingering chill, it was very comfortable.IMG_4685

Panelle – Fried chickpea fritters with aglio olio sauce

IMG_4684Caponata – Sweet and sour eggplant, celery, green olives, capers, onions and tomatoes served with crostini

IMG_4683Foccacia — The warm focaccia is irresistible with Caponata.

IMG_4686Timballo di melanzane alla parmigiana – Eggplant parmigiana timbale with mozzarella ane Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, basil and tomato sauce

IMG_4687Arancine “Ragu” — Fried saffron rice balls stuffed with Bolognese meat sauce, green peas served over tomato sauce.

IMG_4693Pasta alla Norma- Paccheri from Gragnano with fresh tomato and garlic sauce, basil, eggplant, pecorino and ricotta salata cheese.

IMG_4691Pasta con Sarde in Timballo – Spaghetti alla chitarra “Setaro”, fresh Portuguese sardines, wild fennel, pine nuts, and saffron baked in mold.  There is an unbaked version of pasta con sarde on the menu as well.  Both are excellent.

IMG_4689 2Porchetta Sandwich — Roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, spicy mayo

IMG_4690Pizza alla Norma — Pizza topped with eggplant, tomato sauce, mozzarella and ricotta salata

IMG_4688Barbera d’ Asti “Vigna Noce” 1999 Antica Azienda Agricola Trinchero.  Made from 100% Barbera.  The winery belongs to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists, an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in Organic and Bio-Dynamic production, terroir and as little interference as possible by the wine maker. Only natural yeast is used, there is no acidification of the wine, clarification and filtration does not take place. Chemical treatments are not used in the vineyards; copper and sulfur are used but only when it is really necessary. The wine is aged for 7 years in large chestnut barrels. This is a traditional, classic Barbera that will last for at least another 10 years. I was very impressed with this wine.

We shared two desserts.

IMG_4694Pistachio Tartufo  — Pistachio gelato filled with caramel and rolled in Sicilian pistachios.

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Cannoli — These miniature cannoli are filled to order so the crust remains crisp.  The filling is ricotta and chocolate chips and the ends are sprinkled with more Sicilian pistachios.

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Filed under Barbara, Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Trinchero

In the Garden

On a recent fall weekend, we visited a friend in New Jersey.  Saturday’s weather was sunny and warm and we were able to have part of our lunch outside.  Sunday was even warmer and we had the whole meal sitting in the garden.

IMG_3721Lunch in the garden

IMG_3700An entire wheel of Tuscan Pecorino cheese inspired the first course.

IMG_3704Pecorino Cheese  cut

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We ate the cheese with crostini topped with an assortment of garlicky greens, eggplant caponata and anchovies.

IMG_3716Barbera d’ Asti “Vigna Noce” 2010 Antica Azienda Agricola Trinchero  The winery belongs to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists, an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in Organic and Bio-Dynamic production, terroir and as little interference as possible by the winemaker. Only natural yeast is used, there is no acidification of the wine, and clarification and filtration does not take place. Chemical treatments are not used in the vineyards; copper and sulfur are used but only when it is really necessary. The wine is aged for 7 years in large chestnut barrels. This is a traditional, classic Barbera.  The winery is strictly organic.  This is a full-bodied robust wine with hints of cherries, plum, and leather, balsamic touches and a note of smoke. This is a very impressive Barbera that will last for at least another 15 years. I had the 1999 recently and it was in perfect condition.

IMG_3724Michele made sausage ragu which she tossed with mezzi rigatoni, grated pecorino and arugula.

IMG_3725Pasta in the dish

IMG_3706Barolo 1998 “Bricco Francesco” Rocche Dell’Annunziata Rocche Costamagna made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Rocche dell’Annunziata vineyard one of the historic crus of La Mora. The soil is calcareous-clayey and there are 4,800 vines per hectare Traditional vivification wit a maceration that lasts for about two weeks. The wine is aged for 24 months in 30 hl Slavonian oak barrels and the at least one year in bottle before release. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of raspberry, violets and a touch of spice.

IMG_3726The last of Michele’s precious stash of Piemontese hazelnuts went into making these brutti ma buoni, ugly but good cookies.  Not very ugly, but very very good.

IMG_3727A guest brought ice cream from a local shop which went great with the cookies.  The flavors were rum raisin and dark chocolate.

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Filed under Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Barolo, Trinchero

Grilling Outside-Eating Inside

Fall was approaching but there was still time for one more barbecue.  But the day turned chilly and we wound up eating indoors.

While the grill was heating, we ate crostini, one topped with mozzarella and anchovies and the other with Michele’s eggplant, pepper and tomato spread.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fonte Canale” 2011 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from old vines from Tiberio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, there are 2,500 vines/hectare and the training system is the tendone (vines form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun). Harvest takes place the last week of September. Cold maceration on the skins lasts for 6 hours. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains in the bottle for a short period before release. This is a full bodied white wine with citrus aromas and flavors and a hint of herbs.

Barbera D’Asti “Vigna del Noce” 1997 Az. Agr. Trinchero made from 100% Barbera and the vines were planted in 1929. The soil is a mixture of clay and the exposure is southwest and the vineyard is at 250 meters. The training system is guyot. Traditional fermentation with natural yeasts lasted for 40 days. I believe the 1997 was aged for 5 years in 90 year old chestnut casks. The winery is strictly organic.  This is a full-bodied robust wine with hints of cherries, plum, and leather, balsamic touches and a note of smoke. This is a very impressive Barbera.

 

Hamburgers and three different types of sausages, sweet, spicy and chicken on the grill

Sausages ready to eat

Hamburgers in the bun

Spanna 1964 Castello di Montalbano Vallana  made from Nebbiolo 85% (local name Spanna). According to Wasserman  in his book Italy’s Noble Red Wines, producers blended in a number different grapes, Vespolina and Bonarda for example, as well as Aglianico from Campania. The wine was drinking very well with red fruit aromas and flavors, a hint of rasperries and a touch of leather. For a wine from Novara-Vercelli area of northern Piedmont that is  56 years old to have the dark color that it did there had to be Aglianico in the blend. The wine was a pleasure to drink

Sliced tomatoes  and  red  onions  accompanied  the  meat.

And Sicilian style potato and green bean salad  with  capers,  olives,  red  onion, oregano  and  olive  oil.

We ended with an assortment of ice creams and biscotti.

The table

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Spanna, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo

Michele Chiarlo: Sixty Years of Winemaking in Piedmont

 

Michele Chiarlo’s first vintage was in 1958 and he has been with Kobrand, his importer and distributor for 40 years. In honor of their association Michele brought a 1978 Barolo to a special truffle  dinner and tasting event at New York’s Restaurant Casa L’Apicii.

The speakers were Michele and his son Stefano, the wine maker.

Michele spoke about his years as a producer and the changes that took place in Italian wine.  At first it was difficult it was to sell his wine, especially Barbera, in foreign markets. Buyers all wanted to know tif he made Lambrusco!

Michele Chiarlo

He said he went to Burgundy to learn because they  were more advanced  in their wine making techniques.  He met with other Barolo producers to discuss how they could improve their wines. But it was not until the 1980’s with temperature controlled fermentation and the hype that was generated about Italian wines during that time that Italian wine started to receive the recognition it deserved.

He said his is a family owned and run winery and there are no blends or international varietals produced. Their smallest oak cask in 700 liters.  They now have 110 hectares of vineyards between the Langhe, Monferrato and Gavi.

Michele said Tenuta La Court was acquired in 1995. It is a single parcel of over 20 hectares located on two hills, a size which makes La Court one of the most important in Monferrato. The vineyards which can have the ‘Nizza’ designation are limited to 18 municipalities in Monferrato. The vineyards, which have positions with great exposure (from southeast to southwest), have low yields of 70 quintals per hectare and lie on soils designated astiane sands, consisting of calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in microelements, in particular magnesium.

Stefano Chiarlo

Stefano,  spoke about the wines.

Barbera “Cipressi” Nizza DOCG 2015 100% Barbara from the Tenuta La Court vineyard. The vineyard is 6 ha at 230 to 280 meters and the vines are of different ages. The training method is guyot and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare and harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks, 10/12 days of maceration with the skins and a soft shower system of wetting the cap with initial temperature of 30 degrees C then to 27 degrees C. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine ages for a minimum of 18 months: 12 months in large oak casks and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of red fruit, with hints of cherry and raspberry and a note of tobacco.

Stefano said 2015 was a dry warm vintage with a lot of sun, perfect conditions for growing Barbera.

Barbera d’Asti Superiore “La Court” Nizza DOCG 2013 100% Barbera from a 3-hectare vineyard. The exposure is south/south east at 240 meters. Very low yield.  Thinning of excess bunches at the end of the summer, leaving an average of 5/6 bunches per vine. Fermentation is for 15 days in 55 hl oak vats with the skins. Malolactic vat fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for a minimum of 30 months depending on the vintage. 50% in casks and 50% in large barrels for one year, the wine remains in bottle until release.

This is an intense and elegant wine with hints of black cherry with a touch of coffee and cocoa and a pleasing finish and long aftertaste.

He also said the La Court Cru is part of the V.I.V.A. Sustainable Wine project.

Barbera Nizza must be aged at least 18 months and at least 30 months for the Nizza DOCG Riserva

Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG” La Court” Nizza 2011 The wine has hints of black cherry and spice. Stefano said like 2015 the weather was hot, dry and sunny making it a great Barbera vintage.

Stefano said the Cerequio vineyard is between La Mora and Barolo. It is one of the most prestige vineyards in the zone for Nebbiolo. They have nine hectares of vineyards , about 6 of which ere acquired in 1988 from an estate which had been cultivating Nebbiolo grapes for over two centuries without interruption. The oldest parcel is from 1972 and the smallest 0.9 ha, they make Barolo Cerequio Riserva. Stefano said the soils here are among the most ancient in the Langhe, formed during the Tortanian period (9 million years ago). It is composed calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin characterized by a basic pH, poor in organic matter, but rich in microelements such as magnesium and manganese.

Barolo “Cerequio” 2013.  Stefano called this the “use to be” vintage because they picked late like they did in the past. It is a wine that will last for many years. The vineyard is 3 ha and the exposure is south/southwest at 329 meters. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in 55hl oak vats for 20 days. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 2 years in average-sized oak casks and one year in bottle before release. This is a young complex wine with hints of mature fruit, mint and spice with a touch of tea.

2001 One could see the relationship between the 2013 and the 2001. It has developed very nicely but it still needs at least another 5 years.

 1997 The wine is still showing a lot fruit but now has hits of violets, tobacco, balsamic and a touch of tar. This is the wine to drink now and I enjoyed ever drop of it!!

 The dinner: Chef Vincenzo La Corte, Palàs Cerequio, Piedmont and Chef Andrew Bosi Casa Apicii, NYC.

Barbera d’ Asti “Le Orme” 16 Months DOCG 2015 a selection from several vineyards in the South Aegean, with especially from the vineyards of Montemareto in Castelnuovo Calcea, La Serra in Montaldo Scarampi and Cosra della Momache ad Agliano. The soil is light colored, rich in lime and microelements. Training system is guyot, low set cordon spur. Harvest is manual. Minimum of 16 months refinement before it is released. This is an elegant wine with fresh mature fruit with hints of cherry, currants and a touch of violet and good acidity. I tasted the wine and was very impressed. it reminded of Barbera that I had when I first came to Piedmont in 1982. It is a wine to drink now and very food friendly.

Traditional steak tartare-Alba White Truffle (Tuber Magnatum Pico).

Barolo Tortoniano DOCG 2013 The exposure is south-east/south-west and the training system is guyot. The manual harvest is preceded by summer thinning of excess bunches of grapes. Fermentation is in steel tanks with the skins, and a soft shower system of wetting the cap at a temperature between 32C/27. Malolactic fermentation is in steel tanks. The wine is aged for a minimum of 3 years, 24 months in average sized oak barrels and then in bottle. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of roses, juniper berries, spice and a hint of tobacco.

Risotto with roasted quail & sweet potato with shaved Alba White Truffle

Barolo DOCG 1978 This is a great old Barolo made from grapes from different vineyards and a tribute to Michele Chiarlo.

Braised veal cheek with Barolo sauce and apple puree.

Moscato d’ Asti “Nivole” DOCG 2017 100% White Moscato vineyards are in the historical area most suited for Moscato Bianco. The soil is of sedimentary marine orogon, white and sandy. Training system is guyot and the exposure is south-east/southwest. Manual harvest. There is a soft pressing of the entire grape and the must is stored in a tank at 2C followed by a slow fermentation in an autoclave at a controlled temperature until a 5% alcohol level is achieved. During this process, a part of the carbon dioxide developed during fermentation remains entrapped, giving the wine its mild, natural effervescence. Before bottling, the wine undergoes a process of microfiltration to give the wine its clarity, purity and to stop and further fermentation of the yeasts. This is a wine with hints of subtle tropical fruit and apricot with a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste.

Hazelnut parfait with an almond cream and cocoa

 

 

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