Category Archives: Barolo

A Tale of Two Lunches

Can one enjoy lunch with friends on the Internet? Michele and I have a friend, Ernie De Salvo who lives in  NJ that we travel with often. In fact, we were with him in Naples and Rome for a month in February and March. He is a wine collector and an excellent cook, so we decided that even though we can’t get together in person, we could enjoy lunch and conversation via the internet.


We began our lunch with an appetizer of Tuscan style chicken liver pate which we ate with crackers.  Michele made it with garlic, capers, anchovies, and herbs.  It was very savory and rich but unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of it.  Too busy eating.

Main Course

Our main course was chicken in a mustard sauce which we enjoyed with some simple roasted asparagus.  The  asparagus  in  the  photo  are  in  a special  asparagus  serving  bowl that  we bought  many  years  ago  in  Florence.

Mustard Chicken, made with shallots, herbs, white wine and a delicious  mustard  we  bought  in  Burgundy  last  year.

To drink, Michele and I had:

Chinon “Les Picasses” 1985 (Loire) Olga Raffault” Made from 100% Cabernet Franc. The soil is limestone and clay. The mid slope vines are at least 50 years old and are worked organically and harvested by hand.

The fruit is destemmed and whole uncrushed berries are fermented with indigenous yeast in stainless steel tanks. Fermentation and maceration lasts for 25 to 30 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged for 2 to 3 years in oak and chestnut foudres of 30 to 50 HL. There is more aging in tank and bottle before release for about four years. This is a full bodied, structured and complex wine with hints of cherry, red and dark berries, a hint of smoke and a touch of meatiness

Ernie’s Lunch

While we enjoyed the above, Ernie was having the following:

For an antipasto, Parmigiano Reggiano, Finocchiona (fennel flavored salami) fatto in casa di Rosario, Pane e Olio.

This pasta is our friend’s personal concoction of traditional orecchiette, broccoli rabe, with garlic of course, combined with plenty of fried ground pork sausage meat. When it is all combined with a touch of peperoncino and plenty of grated Pecorino Romano, this pasta is to die for. The  last  are  his  words.  He  promises  to  make  it  for  me  when  we  can  get  together  again..

Barolo “Cannubi” 1995 made from 100% Nebbiolo Prunotto  Good color, classic Barolo nose of leather, tobacco, still dark cherry fruit. Tannins resolved but enough present to allow for more age. Wine paired well with orecchiette, broccoli rabe and sausage with plenty of pecorino grattugiato.

Though we couldn’t share our meals and wine, it was fun talking, laughing, and sharing our concerns on this strange predicament that we are all in.  For now, our internet lunches will have to do.






Filed under Barolo, Chinon, Ernie De Salvo

Barolo & Barbaresco World Opening

On Tuesday, February 4th, the BBWO Grand Tasting was held at Center 415 in NYC. The event was organized by the Consorzio di Tutela Batolo Barbatesco Alba Langhe e Dogliano representing over 450 wineries in Piedmont. I was not only invited to the walk around tasting on the first day, but also was asked to be a judge of a blind tasting of 2016 Barolo and 2017 Barbaresco the next day.

Part 1 was a walk around tasting of 200 producers from the Langhe presenting their wines. In the middle of the room surrounded by all the producers were two large round booths, one for Barbaresco and one for Barolo, divided by commune.

There was so much wine I wished the tasting part would have been two days, one for Barbaresco and the next day for Barolo.

There was also a seminar given by Alessandro Masnaghetti on Barolo and Barbaresco, which I was not able to attend.

These are some of the wines I tasted:

Barolo “Rocche Dell’Annunziata” 2015 Aurelio Settimo. The wine is aged for 42 months,18 in big French oak casks and 6 in new big oak casks of Austrian wood.This is a well-structured and balanced wine with hints of cinnamon and licorice, spicy and balsamic notes.Tiziana

I visited the winery 3 years ago and really enjoyed my visit with Tiziana Settimo, administrator of the winery.

 Barolo “Sperss” 2015 Gaja Fermentation and maceration takes place for 3 weeks. The wine is aged in oak for 24 months. The wine has aromas and flavors of dark ripe fruit, black cherries and prunes with a hint of cloves and black pepper.Angelo

Once many years ago Michele and I interviewed Angelo Gaja over breakfast for an article we were writing. It is something that never happened with anyone else and seemed so un-Italian!

 Barolo “La Rosa”2015 Fontanafredda Aging is in oak Allier barrels, 50% new for about 12 months and then racked into oak casks of 2,000 and 3,000 liters for one year. In January, I went to a Fontanafredda tasting where they had the “La Rosa” 1996- a truly great wine.

 Barolo “Bussia” 2015 Poderi Colla aged in large oak casks for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, tar, licorice, and tea. This is a classic Barolo. I visited the winery three years ago and was very impressed with all their wine.

Barolo 2015 Pio Cesare Vinification in stainless steel with skin contact for about 30 months. The wine is aged in large French oak botti for about 30 months and a small amount in barriques as well. The wine has hints of black cherry, licorice, tobacco and spice, a classic Barolo. I have visited the winery a number of times and once Michele and I were invited to the home of Pio Boffa, owner of the family winery for dinner.. We had a great time. Pio was not at the tasting.

Barolo 2015 “Rocche Dell’Annunziata 2015 Rocche Costamagna The wine is aged in botti (large barrels) of Slavonia oak for 24 months and in bottle for one year before release. The wine has hints of raspberries and licorice with floral notes and a touch of spice.

I first met Alessandro Locatelli, who now runs the family winery, when he was a teenager in the 1980’s at the winery and several times since. I enjoyed speaking with him about the people we know in common.

Barolo “Sarmassa” Vigna Merenda Scarzello 2013 The wine is aged in 600 liter Slovenian tanks for 26 to 28 months. It is then aged an additional 12 months in bottle before release. 2013 was an excellent year. This is an old style traditional Barolo and I was very impressed by it

Barolo “La Serra” 2016 Marcarini The wine is aged for 24 months in Slavonian oak casks and six months in the bottle before release. It has hints of cherry, violets, licorice with a touch of spice and a note of violets.

I had not seen Manuel Marchetti since I was the wine director of I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and that was a number of years ago. It was nice to catch up.

Barolo “Cannubi” 2015 Damilano Temperature-controlled fermentation for 20 days. The wine is aged in large oak barrels 30 to 50 HL. This is an elegant Barolo with hints of cherry, plum, tobacco, licorice, leather, a touch of white truffles, a long finish and a very pleasant aftertaste.  

Babaresco “Ovello” 2015 Produttori del Barbaresco The Orvello vineyard covers an area of 16.25 acres at 290 meters with a south/southeastern exposure. The wine is aged for 4 years in Slavonian oak barrels. This is a traditional Barbaresco and over the years Orvello has become my favorite of the single vineyards.

Barbaresco “Campo Gros Martinega” Riserva 2013 Marchesi di Gresy. The wine is aged in barriques for 12 months and then in Slavonian oak casks for 16 months and in bottle until ready for release. The wine has hints of dried roses, leather, tobacco, licorice and a note of violets. I visited the winery many years ago on the suggestion of the late wine writer, Sheldon Wasserman.

Barbaresco “Rabaja” 2016 Castello di Verduno There is 30 to 40 day macerations and extended aging in large Slavonian botti. The wine has hints of red fruit, spice, roses and a hint of tobacco.

Barbaresco “Montersino” Alessandro Rivetto 2016 Manual harvest. Stem pressing and cold maceration for 2 days after which fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 20 days. The wine remains in oak casks for 18 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherries and violets and touches of tea and rose petals.

I met Alessandro a few years ago at a wine tasting in NYC and I always enjoy speaking with him.

For more information on the tasting see.  a blog by Tom Maresca

On Feb 5th there was the World’s Best Palates tasting. Matteo Ascheri President of the Consorzio said it was the aim to assess the overall quality of the 2016 and 2017 vintage. The judges were Masters of Wine, press, wine critics and sommeliers. The panels were designed to be diverse so we could share the experience with others from different nationalities and wine trade areas. At my judging table the chairperson was from New Zealand, other members were from Italy, Spain, America and Latvia.

The chairperson tasted the wine and if it was approved it was poured for the rest of the table. There were 4 flights of about 10 wines grouped if possible by commune. There would be 6 minutes to evaluate, score and discuss each wine. Each panel member had an ipad for the scoring. The chairperson recorded all results and an average was taken for the 2007 Barbaresco and 2016 Barolo. My panel discussed every wine, sometimes we agreed and some times we were very far apart in our scores. The discussion was held before you put in your final score so that you could change it based on the discussion. I did not change any of my scores.

It was informative to taste blind and to hear the opines of the others on the wines. I really enjoyed the experience as everyone was very professional.

The final score for all the panels for the Barbaresco vintage 2017 was 98.1 and for the Barolo 2016 vintage 99.3.

Some of the wines I gave high scores to in the blind tasting were:

Barolo Momforte D’Alba Poderi Colla

Barolo La Morra Cabot Berton

Barolo La Morra Marcarini

Barolo La Morra Mauro Veglio

Barolo La Morra Corino

Barbaresco Neive Oddero

Barbaresco Nieve Massimo Rattalino

Barbaresco Nieve Adriano Marco e Vittorio

That night there was  Gala Dinner for all the produces and judges. The dinner was prepared by Massimo Bottura. Unfortunately I was leaving for 5 weeks in Italy and was unable to attend.





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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Uncategorized

Fontanafredda: The Tradition Continues

Fontanafredda is one of the oldest wineries in  Piedmont, dating back about 160 years.  I visited the winery some years ago and wrote my first blog ever about a tasting of Fontanafredda Barolo in NYC.

About a week ago, Fontanafredda held their “2020 Press Tour”at Manzo Restaurant in Eataly Flatiron in New York.   In 2008 Oscar Farinetti, owner of the Eataly chain and other wineries, purchased the Fontanafredda winery.

Chiara and Giorgio

The speaker was Giorgio Lavagna, and the translator was Chiara Destefanis from the winery. Giorgio began working at Fontanafredda in 2014 and in 2018 he became Technical Director and Chief Winemaker.

The 250 acre Fontanafredda property is located in Serralunga (a cru site for Barolo). It is the single largest contiguous wine estate in the Langhe. In 2018 they became the largest certified organic company in Piedmont.

The wines

Alta Langa DOCG Contessa Rosa Rosé Spumante Metodo Classico 2012 made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay with the addition of Barolo 1967. The soil is white clay alternated with layers of sand and calcareous marl.

Giorgio said a new method has been undertaken for this cuvee using a liqueur d’expedition with 1967 Barolo. Part of the Pinot Noir is left on the skins in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for 12 to 24 hours. After maceration there is a soft pressing. The must ferments in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature and when the fermentation is complete, the wine is kept on the lees until spring. The cuvee is created, uniting the wines from the two fermentation processes. In May the wine undergoes a second fermentation process in the bottle, followed by a period of 48 months of maturing in contact with the yeast, in the cellars. The wine has hints of orange, ginger and pomegranate with very nice bubbles

The 5,000 acres cultivated with Nebbiolo for Barolo are divided into Menzione Geografica Aggiuntival (MGA), the equivalent of “cru.” Fontanafredda is the only 100% MGA winery owned by a single producer.

Barolo DOCG del Comune di Serralunga D’Alba 2015 made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. Fermentation is for 15 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must stays in contact with the skins for another 15 days. Aging is in barriques mostly used and 2000 liter barrels from Allier. After a soft clarification, the wine is bottled for a further period of maturation in the bottle for not less then 12 months. Giorgio said 2015 was a truly great vintage. He described the wine as being dry and tannic with a velvety texture and great balance. Serralunga has the typical notes of vanilla, spices, roses and underbrush, trademark of the soil of Serralunga. This was the first single village Barolo produced (1988).    Chiara added that the stripes on the label mimic the striped design- of the buildings within the Fontanafredda Village.

Barolo DOCG Fontanafredda “Proprietà Fontanafredda” 2013 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this plot of land is the border between soils of Helvetian and Tortonian origin. It is a soil with transitional characteristics, clayey marls alternated with layers of sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The new wine stays in contact with the grape marc for about a month. Aging is in medium and large oak barrels for two years and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, violets, and a note of licorice.

Giorgio said this was an “old style” vintage because the harvest took place 15 days later than any vintage in the last 10 years because of a cool and rainy spring. The wine is suited for aging.

Pasta: Agnolotti del Plin- Housemade Pasta Filled with Pork and Veal, Sugo d’Arrosto. This is a typical pasta from the Langhe

Barolo DOCG “Vigna La Rosa” 2011 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giorgio said this 20 acre vineyard is one of the most prestigious on the estate. The rows face south, southwest to form an amphitheater, where the heat makes the berries mature perfectly. The soil is rich in sand mixed with limestone and the typical blue marl of Serralunga. The grapes are destemmed, crushed and ferment in heated condition stainless steel tanks at 28-30C. The wine is in contact with the skins and maceration lasts for about one month. Aging is oak Allier barrels, 50% new for about 12 months and then racked into oak casks of 2,000 and 3,000 liters for one year. The wine is bottled and released after one year. The wine hints of red fruit, violets and a touch of spice and tar.

Giorgio said 2011 was an unconventional vintage and the right moment for picking the grapes was most important.

Barolo DOCG Vigna La Rosa 1996 100% Nebbiolo.  I said 1996 was one of the last great vintages. Chiara added that in the beginning it was not looked upon as a great vintage. Giorgio answered it was a vintage for those that like old style Barolo.

He also mentioned 1978 and 1971 as great vintages but there were fewer great vintages back then. So in general the wines are better now because of global warming and improved wine making techniques (fermentation in stainless steel etc).

This was the wine of the tasting — classic Barolo with hints of red fruit, mushrooms, tobacco, licorice, tea and a note of violets. This wine will last. Looking back on my blog from 2012 the Vigna La Rosa 1989 and 1982 were my favorites.

With it we had Bistecca del Macellaio-Grilled Hanger Steak with Arugula, Parmigiano Reggiano DOP, Villa Manodori Aceto Balsamico, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt

Barolo DOCG Riserva 2010 made from 100% Nebbiolo The soil has a high concentration of limestone and gray marl alternating with sand. The vineyard is at 300 to 400 meters and the exposure is south/south-west. The training method is guyot. There are 4,400 plants per hectare and harvest is in the beginning of October. Traditional fermentation: 12 days in stainless steel vats with a floating cap at a controlled temperature. The must is in contact with the skins for 25 to 30 days. The wine is aged for 3 years in oak from Allier and Slavonia. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 24 month before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas.

Barolo 2000 DOCG Riserva 2000 made from 100% Nebbiolo. Fermentation is for 15 days. The wine is aged for one year in barriques from Allier and 2 two years in 2,000 liter Allier oak casks. After a soft clarification the wine is bottled for at least 24 months before release.The wine has hints of black cherry, mushrooms, nutmeg and balsamic aromas. Chiara said this was the first single vineyard (cru) Barolo ever produced (1964).  There was some controversy over the 2000 vintage, some producers said it was too warm a vintage and others said it was a very good vintage.

Giorgio said that the winery is using fewer barriques than in the past and I am glad to see that they are returning to a more traditional style of winemaking.



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Filed under Barolo, Fantanafredda, Method Classico, Spumante

Another Wonderful Christmas Dinner with Tom & Diane

It has become a tradition  now  for a number of years that Michele and I trade holiday meals with Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow.  Tom is a wine and food writer and Diane is a food writer and they both have excellent blogs.  We do Thanksgiving and they do Christmas.

As always we started with Champagne. Champagne Aubry Brut Premier Cru NV Aubry Fils made from 55% Pinot Meunier, 25% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Noir, 5% Arbanne and Petit Meslier ad Fromenteau. The assemblage is 50% base with 50% perpetual reserve dating back to 1998. The vineyard/ village: Jouy-les-Reims and Villadommange 1er Cru. It has hints of white flowers, green apple, lemon and a hint of toast.

With the Champagne we had  two little pastries, gougeres  flavored  with  prosciutto  and  cheese  and  pastry  pinwheels  filled  with  liver  pate.

Coullee de Serrant 2003 Nicolas Joly made from 100% Chenin Blanc from a seven hectare vineyard from old vines located on very steep slopes dominating the Loire Valley. Cultivation is by horse or hand. The grape harvest is done 5 times over a 3 to 4 week period to obtain the most colored, mature and the most grapes marked by botrytis. The wine is aged in 500 liter barrels, with never more than 5% new wood. The winery is biodynamic. The wine is bottled with a light filtration, no fining and a low amount of sulfur. The wine was showing its age but very drinkable with hints of passion fruit and honey.

With the white wine we had  baked crepes  filled  with bechamel,  gruyere  and  ham.  

Domaine Henri Georges Nuits St Georges 2003 made from 100% Pinot Noir. This is a complex wine with hints of dark red fruit, plum and blueberries, it was drinking very well and showing no signs of decline.

With this wine we had  a prime  rib roast which  was  perfectly  cooked.

The  beef  was  accompanied  by  green  beans  with  onions  and  a shiitake  and  potato  gratin.

Barolo 1989 “ Cannubi” Prunotto made from 100% Nebbiolo. !989 was a exceptional vintage for Barolo. The legendary Beppe Cola made this wine before he sold the winery to Antinori. This is classic Barolo at its best with hints of cherry, blueberry, licorice, and a touch of spice. A great wine in a great year!

A variety of cheeses to finish the wine.


The Chocolate Grappa Cake Michele brought for our dessert was a recipe that she had developed for an article in Gourmet Magazine some years ago.  Diane supplied the delicious cookies, peanut butter, chocolate chip and nut snowballs.

It was another wonderful holiday meal.  I hope you all ate and drank as well as we did.  Happy New Year!


Filed under Barolo, Burgundy, Champagne Aubry, Coullee de Serrant - Nicolas Joly, Lorie, Nuits st Georges Henri Georges, Prunotto Barolo Cannubi 1989, Tom & Diane, Tom and Diane, Uncategorized

Red Wine and Steak at Restaurant Il Gattopardo NYC

Last week I posted an article on the white wines of Italy represented by Riccardo Gabriele of PR Comunicare Il Vino and Luca Tommasini of WinesCom Global Consulting. This article is about the red wines we tasted at Il Gattopardo.

We had a perfectly prepared steak with the red wines and it was a perfect combination with the red wines.

Castello di Mugazzena “Gargatura” IGT Tuscana 2017 made from 100% Syrah. The soil is clayey sandy terraced alluvial deposits. Training system is unilateral spurred cordon. Manual harvest. Grapes are destemmed and sorted. The grapes are pressed and then pumped into conditioned steel tanks where it ferments at a controlled temperature. There is pumping over, punching down and delestages. At the end of the alcoholic fermentation the wine is left to mature in contact with the skins between 10 and 30 days. The wine is separated from the marc and it is pressed. Malolactic fermentation is complete two weeks after. The course lees are removed and the wine is pumped into into French oak barrels, where it ages on the lees fro 12 to 18 months. The wine has hints of blueberries, black cherry and a note of black pepper.


Barone Sergio Sicilia Nero d’Avola Rosato “Luigia” 2018 made from100% Nero d’ Avola the vines are 10 years old and are at 70 meters. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures in steel for 6 to 7 months and in bottle for 2 months before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with a touch of raspberry. Next time the red wines


I Balzini Black Label Dal Colli Della Tuscana Centrale PGI 2013 (WinesCom) made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The soil is of Pilocene orgin, sedimentary formations characterized by the presence of alternating strata of yellow sands and clay with a notable presence of marine fossils. Exposure is southwest with a north to south orientation of the rows. Working of the soil with a cordon de Royat training system. Manual harvest and grape selection. There is two weeks of skin contact and there is a complete malolactic fermentation. Aging is in French oak barrels for 12 to 14 months and 18 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of red and black berries, a hint a spice and a touch of vanilla

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 “Canalicchio,” Franco Pacenti WinesCom made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is north-east. The soil is medium clay with a low density of vines per hectare, divided into six plots with an average age of 25 years and the training system is spurred cordon. . There is a strictly traditional vinification with prolonged maceration on the skins and long refinement in medium to large oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherries and mushrooms with a touch of spice and a hint of herbs.

La Regola Costa Tuscana Riserva IGT La Regola made from 100% Cabernet Franc. Red Mediterranean soil with an abundance of stones. The vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters. Hand havesting of grapes with a careful selection. Manual selection of the grapes and of the berries, medium maceration and alcoholic fermentation is in natural concrete vats at a controlled temperature. After malolactic fermentation the wine spends 18 months in new French barriques made in Burgundy and at least 12 months in bottle before release.This is a fruit forward wine characteristic of Cabernet Franc with a hint of spice and vanilla.

Barolo DOCG “Ravera” 2013 Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The soil is Tortonian in origin, made up of laminated Saint’Agata fossil marl, with clay at 400 meters. The exposure is southeast and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. The training system is espalier in the vineyards with guyot pruning. The age of the vines is between 20 and 30 years. Harvest is by hand in mid October. Separate processing of grapes picked in different parts of the vineyard. Destemming and temperature controlled alcoholic fermentation in steel tanks, pumping over and toward the end of the fermentation-delestage. The duration of the submerged cap depends of on the quality of the vintage. Drawing off and spontaneous malolactic fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 38 months of which at least 18 months is in French oak barrels of varying capacity. Blending is in stainless steel tanks and the wine is bottled in the summer and released for sale in January four years from the harvest. This is a classic Barolo with hints of cherry, tar and licorice.

Beconcini “IXE  The name is the Tuscan pronunciation for the letter X. The letter X stands for unknown vines. In the early 1950’s, 213 vines of unknown species were found in the vineyard which were called X vines. With help from the Ministry of Agriculture these vines were declared to be Tempranillo a few years ago. In June of 2009, Tempranillo was enrolled in the Tuscan register. As far as I know Tempranillo was never cultivated before in Italy.

The IGT is Tuscany Tempranillo. This wine is made from 99.9% of Tempranillo and a touch of Sangiovese. The winery is located in the town of San Miniato. The vineyard is 3.5 hectares and the grapes are all from the new vineyards planted in 1997 using a massal selection from buds taken from the century old vines of Tempranillo from the Vigna alle Nicchie. The training is spurred cordon. Soil is sandstone with marine fossil formation, well integrated with abundant clay. 100/150 meters above sea level and there are 7,000 vines per hectare. Harvest the first 10 days of September. The grapes are dried for 4 weeks and they obtain a total yield of 70%. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled glass lined cement vats, maceration is for 3 weeks. Aging lasts for 14 months in 70% French barriques and 30% American oak barriques of second passage. 6 months in bottle before release. First passage in barriques is for the wine from the grapes of the historical vineyard Vigna alle Nicchie that goes into the wine of the same name.

This origin of this grape variety is not known for certain. Via Franchigena was an old Roman road, which was used by pilgrims in the 17th century to make the pilgrimage to and from Santiago de Compostela (Rioja) in Spain to Rome. This road passed close to the town of San Miniato near where the winery is now located. Spanish pilgrims may have carried the Tempranillo seeds and actually sowed them in the vicinity of San Miniato as was the custom of the time. Scientists have determined that the vines were from seeds, not cuttings. Legend has it that a local priest tended the vines not knowing their origin. Not imported.

Montefalco Sagrantino 2015 Bocale made from 100% Sagrantino. The vineyard is treated with natural grass regeneration techniques (land planting), using only organic and mineral fertilizers without the use of chemical products or herbicides. Fermentation is with natural yeasts and the wine is produced without microfiltration and thermal stabilization. Manual harvest takes place the second half of October. Vinification: maceration for at least 40 days with natural enzymes. Stabilization and filtration do not take place. The wine is aged in 1,000 liter French oak barrels for 24 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and currants with a touch of spice. I was very impressed with this wine.

Tommasi Amarone Classico 2009 made from 50% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The vines are on hillside terraces; the training system is high-density guyot. The Groletta and Conca d’Oro vineyards are located in the area of classic historical Valpolicella. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in plastic boxes which hold 5/6 kg. Then they are put on wooden racks to dry where cooling breezes in the autumn and winter until January dry them. This drying period is known as the appassimento. Annalisa said that this is an active period where the grapes lose about 50% of their weight and there is a concentration of the natural sugar. The wine is aged for 3 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. Residual sugar is 8g/l and the alcohol is 15.50%. This is a elegant, complex and full-bodied wine that has aromas of ripe fruit with hints of cherries, dries figs, prunes and a touch of hazelnut.




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Filed under Barolo, Brunello, Italian Red Wine, IXE, Nero d'Avola, Riccardo Gabriele, sagrantino, Tommasi, Uncategorized

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

Wonderful Afternoon Eating and Drinking at Keste Wall St.

Once a month more or less, our wine and pizza group meets to have pizza, Champagne and Italian wine. Recently we have been going to Keste Wall Street. We like to go there because Roberto Caporuscio, the pizzaiolo/owner, always has something new for us to try, a new appetizer, new pizza toppings, or a new twist on a pizza we had before.

This time, Roberto said he had a new appetizer he wanted us to try the rotolo fritto with ricotta and pancetta (cicolo). WOW!  is  all I can say!

Then the foccacia alla formaggio Recco style.  Recco is a town in Liguria famed for this type of pie.

Then the margherita – a classic

Pizza with blue cheese made from sheep’s milk called basajo,  aged with passito di Pantelleria, and raisins  topped with speck.

Pizza with mozzarella, pistachio nuts and sausage.

Pizza with ricotta mixed with onions marinated with mixed berries, and  topped with caciocavallo podolico


The next pizza was topped with culatello, a type of prosciutto made from the choicest part of the pig known for its tenderness and flavor.


Here are the wines we drank:

Charles & Alphrede Prieu Champagne Grand Reserve Brut NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 30% Pint noir and 25% Pinot Meunier including 30% reserve wine. It is aged at least 3 years before disgorgement and at least for 3 more months before release. It has hints of apple, lemon and pear with nice minerality.

Ruinart Brut Rosé NV  made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay from Grand Cru and Premier Cru vineyards. About 18% of the Pinot Noir added is still wine. It had red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of raspberries and strawberries.

Champagne Vilmart & Co Coeur De Cuvée 2007 made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir from vines over 50 years old. The wine is aged in wood containers. It has hints of hazelnuts and brioche with a hint of lemon. I drank this a few years ago  for my birthday at a friends house in Sag Harbor, it was as good then as it is was now.

Champagne William Deutz 2007 Brut Made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from grapes of Grand Cru vineyards. This was drinking very nicely as it was when I had it a few weeks ago.

Herniot Champagne Brut 1979 The current vintage is made 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. This was the Champagne of the afternoon.

Cerasuolo 2007 Azienda Valentini made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This is a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

Barolo 1996 Bergogno made from 100% Nebbiolo. Classic Barolo with hints of faded roses, tar, licorice and a note of cherry.

Another delicious afternoon of food and wine at Keste!


Filed under Barolo, Champagne, Kaste

Pizza, Champagne, Older Italian Red Wines at Keste

Every so often Ed McCarthy sends out an e-mail to a group of Pizza and Wine lovers known as the G6. This time we agreed to meet at Keste Wall St for the pizza and as usual we will bring Champagne and older Italian red wines.

When we arrived, Roberto Caporuscio, master pizzaiolo and owner of Keste told us about a new appetizer he wanted us to try. It was homemade burrata with small mozzarellas inside.  He served it with ripe tomatoes and herbs and a drizzle of good olive oil.


I spoke with Roberto about the type of flour he uses to make the dough for his pizza. When I first went to Keste on Bleecker Street ten  years ago,  he was using 100% Tipo  00.  When  he opened  Keste on Wall  Street,  he started  using  Tipo 1.  He said he now uses 70% Tipo 1 and 30% Tipo 00. I really enjoyed the  pizza.

As always, we started with Champagne Perrier-Jouet “Belle Epoque” 2004 Made from 50% Chardonnay, 45% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Meunier. The wine is aged for over 6 years and the dosage is 9 grams per liter.  It has both delicacy and structure with a crisp freshness, hints of peach, pear and citrus notes. I was very impressed with this Champagne.

Our first pizza is  always a  Margherita made mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.

Barbaresco 1999 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. The wine is aged in large oak barrels for two years. This is a very traditional co-op, maybe the best and one of the oldest. It has all the classic Nebbiolo flavors and aromas but the wine needs more time to develop.

The next pizza was made with sausage, pistachio nuts and mozzarella.

Barbaresco 1988 “Gallina di Neive” Bruno Giacosa made from 100% Nebbiolo. Giacosa was one of the great producers of Barbaresco and the 1988 was drinking exceptional well.

Then the Sorrentino made with smoked mozzarella, basil and lemons.

Barolo 2001 “Monprivato” Giuseppe Mascarello made from100% Nebbiolo, The Monprivato vineyard is about 15 acres on a southwest- facing slope in Castiglione Falletto. The chalky and gray marl soil is perfect for growing Nebbiolo. This is classic Barolo but it needed more time.

The next pizza was topped with culatello, a type of prosciutto made from the choicest part of the pig, known for its tenderness and flavor.

Chianti Classico 1969 Riserva Ducale Ruffino showing its age but still drinking very well for a wine 50 years old.

Next we had a fried pizza, the Montagnara  topped  with  mozzarella and flavored with truffle  paste.

Roberto said he had a special pizza that he wanted us to try and it was a pizza with caviar and  avocado.  

We ended on a sweet note with fried dough sticks topped with Nutella


Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Chianti Ruffino Gold Label, Kaste, Nebbiolo, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Uncategorized

Sicilian Thanksgiving Turkey

Thanksgiving 2018

Thanksgiving dinner is always held at our apartment with the same group of friends. It works out well because they are all involved with food and wine and all contribute something. It was a long fun evening beginning at 4:00PM and ending at 10:00 PM.

Michele likes to change the menu every year.  This year she decided to make a turkey recipe that she had tasted in Palermo, Sicily when she was leading culinary tours there.  She and her group dined at the home of a former caterer and chef, and though retired, the woman still enjoyed preparing meals in her home for visitors to her city.   When Michele visited, she made a roast turkey stuffed with pasta and it was delicious.

Michele asked her about it and was told that she had come up with the idea while experimenting with a similar recipe from the 19th century that was made with partridge.  Since she couldn’t get a partridge, she substituted turkey.  To make the the stuffing, the woman combined a Bolognese type ragu made with a minimal amount of tomato with Bechamel.   She cooked some ziti, tossed it with the sauce and grated cheese and used this as her stuffing.  Whatever could not go into the turkey, she baked in little timbales, one for each guest.

Michele made the turkey in much the same way, though she substituted some homemade turkey gravy for the Bechamel to lighten the sauce.  She made the gravy with turkey parts that she roasted a few days before Thanksgiving. 

Also, she made the Bolognese with ground turkey and pork, rather than the usual beef or veal.  For the pasta, Michele used imported mezze maniche, which are something like small rigatoni.  Additional brown turkey gravy was served to moisten the bird and stuffing.  With it, we had roasted sweet potatoes, fennel, rutabaga and buttered broccoli, as well as Michele’s fig and cranberry mostarda.

We started as always with Champagne

Billecart-Salmon (Magnum) Blanc de Blancs 1981 (Mareuil-Sur-Ay) made from 100% Chardonnay. The Champagne was showing its age but it was drinkable and enjoyable.

Fiano Di Avellino DOC 2000 made from 100% Fiano Selezione Erminia Di Meo. The late harvest grapes were selected from a particular family parcel. There is a prolonged maceration with the skins at a low temperature followed by soft pressing and controlled temperature fermentation. A year after the harvest the wine remains in stainless steel with the “fecce fin” for 13 more years before release. This is an exceptional Fiano. Even though it was a 2000, everyone believed it needed more time to open up.

Corton-Charlemagne 1986 made from 100% Chardonnay Louis LaTour. The soil is stony limestone and the vines are 30 years old. Harvest is manual. Traditional fermentation in oak barrels with complete malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 8 to 10 months in medium toast new oak barrels.The wine had a hints of honey, dried fruits and an herbal note.

Gevrey-Chambertin “En Pallud” 1985 (Magnum) Domaine Maume. Made from 100% Pinot Noir. The vineyard is .63 hectares and the vines are 70 years old, the soil is clay and limestone. The clusters are 100% destemmed. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in mostly older barrels and is bottled without fining or filtration. This for me was the wine of the evening and I was very happy it was a magnum!

Barolo “La Serra” 1978   Marcarini made from 100% Nebbiolo This wine was produced when the legendary Elvio Cogno was the wine maker. This is a classic Barolo with flavors and aromas of faded roses, licorice, tar, tobacco and a hint of cherry. 1978 was an excellent vintage for Barolo.

Chateauneuf-du-Pape  1978  Chateau de Beaucastel made from 30% Mourvédre, 30% Grenache ,10% Syrah, 10% Counoise and 20% other permitted varieties. The grapes are hand picked and only the best grapes are kept and vinified. After a total de-stemming, the wine is traditionally vinified in temperature controlled vats for 15 days an then aged in oak barrels. This is a full bodied mature wine with hints of blackberries, blueberries, violets and a touch of pepper.

Late Harvest Zinfandel “Paso Robles” 1978 made from 100% Zinfandel from the Dusi vineyard. Ridge. The Benito Dusi Ranch is the only Ridge vineyard source south of the San Francisco Bay area. The vineyard was first planted in 1923 and was only planted with Zinfandel. Ridge started using this vineyard to make wine in 1967. Destemmed and fully crushed grapes vinified on native yeasts are sent to tanks for submerged cap fermentation for 11 days. This is followed by full malolactic on the natural occurring bacteria; oak from barrel aging; minimum effective sulfur. There is pad filtering at bottling. This is a wine with fruity aromas, with hints of black cherry and other black and red fruits with a touch of prune and spice.

Back in the 1980’s I brought a case of this wine in this vintage. If I knew it was going to last this long I would have brought more. It was showing almost no sign of age and it was like I remember the wine from 30 years ago.

We had it with the cheese.

Grappa con Erbe Serafino Levi – this was a special treat because grappa made by Romano Levi is my favorite and I only had the Grappa con Erbe once before. Even more so since he passed away several years ago, grappa made by him is difficult to find. He was known as “The Angelic Grappa maker” and was a legend in his own time. The perfect way to end a wonderful evening!



Filed under Barolo, Billecart- Salmon, Chateaneuf du Pape, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Cogno- Marcarini, Corton Charlemagne, Di Meo winery, Gevery-Chambertin-Eu Pallud-Maume, Grappa, Ridge, Romano Levi, Thanksgiving 2018, Zinfandel

Drinking and Eating with Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine)

Michele and I spent a few days in Rome before going on a grappa press tour with “Hello Grappa” along with our friend, wine writer and grappa lover, Tom Maresca.

I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant in Rome — Checchino dal 1887 — and Tom agreed. We invited Daniele Cernilli (Checchino is his favorite restaurant) and his wife Marina Thompson.

Daniele Cernilli

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and Marina have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both here and in Rome. Daniele is true Roman, a Romano de Roma as the expression goes. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous “Three Glasses” classification for Italian wines. Currently, he has is own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” There are two versions, one English and the other Italian, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly.

Checchino is a family run restaurant with Francesco Mariani on the floor and his brother Elio in the kitchen.  When we arrived at the restaurant, Francesco welcomed us as always.

Checchino has one of the best wine lists in Rome and Francesco is always ready to talk about his wines.  After we selected the wines Daniele presented Tom and I with copies of his Essential Guide to Italian Wines 2019.


Le Vignole–Bianco del Lazio 2012 IGT Colle Picchioni made from Malvasia, Sauvignon and Trebbiano. Maceration is on the skins and the wine is aged in French barriques. The winery is located in Marino a short distance from Rome.  The wine remains  on the lees for some time and has  a slightly golden color. Tom said it reminded him of a Rhone white wine and I agreed.

Stilema 2015 Mastroberadino made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. 10% of the wine is fermented in barriques. This is Daniele’s description of the wine in his book: “Typical notes of flint, then fresh almonds, wild herbs, elegant and extremely clear aromas. Agile and savory taste dominated by a magical freshness that gives elegance and drinkability to the wine. Smooth and long persistence. Great Wine.”

Colle Piccioni Rosso 1982Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wine wAS aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1982 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste. It was as good as the 1983 I had the last time we were here.

Barolo 2010 DOCG Pio Cesare made from 100% Nebbiolo.  The grapes are from family owned vineyards in Serralunga, Grinzane Cavour, La Mora and Barolo. Vinification is in stainless steel and skin contact and maceration is between 25 to 30 days. The wine spends 3 years in large oak barrels. Daniele said I would like the wine because it was very traditional in style and he was right.

After lunch, Daniele invited Tom and I to meet him at his favorite wine bar Il Goccetto that night to taste some wine.  Here is what we drank:

Franciacorta Brut NV Mosnel Metodo Classico made from 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco and 10% Pinot Noir.  From the following vintages:  70% 2012, 20% 2011 and 10% 2010.   30% was fermented in wood and the wine was on the lees for 40 months. Dosage, Brut 3.5 g/l and disgorged in Jul 2016. The wine had nice fruit with hints of white flower and peach.

Vorberg Pinot Bianco Riserva Alto Adige DOC Terlan made from 100% Pinot Bianco from vineyards at 500 to 900 meters, with a south, southwest exposure. The soil is sandy porphyric gravel. The grapes are hand harvested and a gentle pressing of the whole cluster and clarification of the must by natural sedimentation takes place. Slow fermentation at a controlled temperature is in big oak barrels of 30HL. Malolactic fermentation follows and the wine ages on the lees in traditional wooden barrels for 12 months. The wine has hints of wild flowers, pear and honey with a touch of almonds and hazelnuts.

It is always interesting to taste and drink wine with Daniele because he comes up with wines and producers which I have not had before. The 3 whites and the Brut were all new for me.


Filed under Barolo, Checchino dal 1887, Colle Picchioni, Daniele Cernilli, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Franciacorta Brut, Mastroberardino, Mosnel Franciacorta, Pinot Bianco, Pio Cesare, Tetlan Vorberg Pinot Bianco Riserva, Uncategorized