Category Archives: Barolo

Krug Clos des Mesnil 1988. Barolo and Pizza

Ed “Champagne” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, was planning a Champagne and pizza meeting at Keste Wall St.  He said that he would bring an old and very expensive bottle of Krug Champagne and he asked me to bring an Italian red wine. I brought my most expensive and oldest



Champagne Krug du Mesnil 1988 Brut Blanc de Blancs is a very rare Champagne because it is made from a single plot of Chardonnay harvested in a single year. This 1.84-hectare (4.5 acre) vineyard overlooked by the village church has been protected by a wall since 1698. The vineyard is located in the heart of Mesnil-sur-Oger, one of the most iconic villages for Chardonnay in the Champagne region.

This champagne is generous and round with hints of citrus, dried fruit, brioche, tart tatin and a note of honey. It lingers on the palate with a long finish and notes of honey ginger. The first vintage was 1979. 

This is the e-mail Ed sent to me about the Champagne he was bringing.

In 1698, residents of the small village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (in the section of Champagne known as the Cote des Blancs, where most of the great Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made, from 100 percent Chardonnay) decided to build a wall around a certain section of Chardonnay vines in their village, because the Chardonnay grapes grown there were so special. Called Clos du Mesnil, It became one of the only Walled Vineyards in the Champagne region; only about 3 or 4 Walled vineyards exist today in Champagne.

In 1971, Champagne Krug, which was using Clos des Mesnil for some of its Chardonnay grapes in its NV Grand Cuvée (then called Private Cuvée), decided to buy the Clos du Mesnil Vineyard, and in 1979, produced its first Krug Clos du Mesnil. it proved to be sensational, and Krug has been making a Krug Clos du Mesnil in every good vintage since.

I have purchased Krug Clos du Mesnil in only a few vintages, because it has always been about three times the price of Vintage Krug. I have been saving my 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil (which I purchased with a Vintage 1988 Krug about 20 years ago; Krug ages its Clos du Mesnil usually for about 11 years (!) before they release it).  The 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil is now priced at $3175—if you can find it. I am not getting any younger, and so I decided it’s time to drink it with a few friends.

My only answer was WOW!!!!

IMG_7229Pizza Margherita with Prosciutto and Arugula

IMG_7233Pizza with Fresh Black Truffles


Conterno Francia Barolo 1996 made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Cascina Francia Vineyard which was purchased in 1974. The vineyards are at 500 meters and the training system is guyot. The exposure is to the west and the soil is calcareous. There is long submerged cap maceration and fermentation in large Austrian oak vats, followed by long refinement in large barrels (botti) for about 4 years and in bottle. This is a very traditional Barolo. It is a rich, powerful and seductive wine with hints of cherry, dried fruits, dark chocolate and leather. It was very impressive.


IMG_7238Dessert Pizza stuffed with Nutella and topped with Berries


Roberto’s special Tiramisu

Michele and I felt privileged to enjoy these great wines. Thank you, Ed McCarthy, for sharing the Champagnes with us and to Ernie De Salvo, who gave me the Barolo.

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Filed under Barolo, Kaste, Krug Champagne, Uncategorized

Champagne, Barolo and a 1927 Madeira

Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing Mulligan, MW, are old friends and we are always happy to see them and share a good meal.  Mary, the first American woman to achieve the prestigious title of Master of Wine, is the owner of The International Wine Center  She and Ed are the authors of the best-selling “Wine for Dummies” series of books. As always we started with Champagne.

IMG_6585Moet & 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.” 

IMG_6567Michele preparing the appetizers


With the Champagne, we enjoyed appetizers of smoked salmon in endive leaves, crackers topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, and marinated shrimp. 

IMG_6581Barolo “Rocche” 1989 Vietti Made from Nebbiolo – 75% Michet, 20% Lampia and 10% Rose. There are 4,600 plants per hectare. The wine is fermented for 22 days in stainless steel tanks with daily pumping air through the application of an old system called “cap submerged”. It is aged for over two years in Slavonian oak barrels, is unfiltered and is aged one year in bottle before release. My favorite Barolo has always been the Rocche.  This is traditional classic Barolo with hints of blueberry, violets, faded roses and leather. It was drinking very well.

IMG_6574To go with the wine, Michele made beef braised with porcini, whipped sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe with garlic.

IMG_6584Leacock’s Madeira Bastardo 1927  D’Oliveiras made from 100% Bastardo grape (a red grape) that has almost disappeared from the vineyards in Madeira. The wine has been in wood for over 80 years. The wine has hints of citrus peel, caramel, orange marmalade, with a touch of bees’ wax and a note of sea salt. This is the second great bottle of Madeira we had with Ed and Mary. The first a few months ago was a 1832 Madeira. Both were fantastic.

We had three different cheeses, dates, and nuts with the Madeira.

IMG_6591Dessert was a moist almond cake with raspberry sauce and creme fraiche.

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Filed under Barolo, Champagne, Dom Perignon, Madeira, Uncategorized, Vietti

Lunch in Rome with Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine)

It is always a pleasure to see Daniele Cernilli (Doctor Wine) and his wife Marina Thompson in Rome. We have been friends for a long time.

IMG_6288 I always look forward to discussing wine with Daniele while enjoying a delicious meal.

IMG_6256This time, Daniele brought me  a copy of his book The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2022.  It will be my go-to reference book for Italian wines since, as Daniele said, “All the wines worth drinking are in the pages of this guide.”

IMG_6260Daniele also brought me a copy of his new travel guide book, Mangiare e Dormire tra i Vigneti, Eating and Sleeping in the Vineyards, which should be essential for anyone traveling Italy’s wine roads.  This is one in a series of books on travel and wine. IMG_6258

Daniele suggested we have lunch at La Ciambella Wine Bar with Kitchen.  This stunning restaurant is built on the ruins of Agrippa’s baths.  It is painted white with very high ceilings and our table was under a very large skylight so you could see the sky.   The restaurant served some traditional Italian dishes but for the most part they went off in many different direction adding little twists of their own. All the wines were selected by Daniele

The food and Wine

IMG_6262Little choux pastry puffs filled with ricotta, tomatoes and basil

IMG_6266 2Animelle–sweetbreads with wild chicory and brie cheese sauce

IMG_6264Sauteed Lamb Offal (Coratella) & Roman artichoke

IMG_6268“Coda in Carrozza”– fried sandwiches with braised oxtail

IMG_6265 3“Porchetta” pork roast wraps with marinated cherry tomatoes and yogurt sauce

IMG_6271Spaghettone carbonara — the classic Roman pasta

IMG_6269 2Falanghina 2018 Campi Flegrei  DOC “Cruna de Lago  La Sibilla made from 100% Falanghina. The soil is sandy and volcanic and the training system is guyot. The exposure is south-west and the vineyards are over 60 years old. Fermentation is in steel vats. For six months the wine remains on the lees and remains in the bottle for 6 months before release. Daniele said the wine has hints of yellow citrus,  chamomile, saffron, pepper a touch of smoke, good acidity and a long finish. I found the color of the wine to be almost grey but it went very well with the Offal.

IMG_6277Cheese – We finished the wines with a variety of cheese, chestnut honey and fig jam.

IMG_6273 2Fiorano Vino Rosso 2013 Alessandrojacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. Made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon and 35% Merlot. The vineyard is at 130 meters and the soil is of volcanic origin. Exposure is north west-south west. There are 3,700 vines per hectare. The training system is espalier, spurred cordon pruning and the vines are 19 years old. Harvest is the third week of September.  Whole grapes are destemmed and are gently pressed, maceration takes place for at least fifteen days in oak vats with manual punching down. The wine is then drawn off and immediately put into 1,000-liter Slavonian oak barrels, in which the wine rests for maturation for at least 30 months. This is followed by two years of refinement in glass before being marketed. The wine has hints of red berries, sweet spice, a touch of balsamic herbs and a note of coffee.

IMG_6275 2Barolo 2010 “Sarmassa” Marchesi di Barolo made from 100% Nebbiolo. The vineyard exposure is south-east and the soil is clay and limestone with many stones. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and they are trained on a vertical trellised guyot system. Harvest is manual.  The grapes are destemmed and softly pressed. Fermentation at a controlled temperature in thermo condition tanks. Maceration lasts for 10 days. The wine is regularly recycled during this time. Racking takes place when the natural sugars are totally converted to alcohol. The wine is then racked into cement tanks, lined with fiber glass and insulated with cork. Malolactic fermentation is spontaneous and lasts for two months. The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels of 30 0r 36 HL and in medium toasted French barriques of 225 liters. The wine is the blended into traditional big oak barrels and remains in bottle before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of licorice, spice, tobacco, pine resin and a touch of vanilla. It is a wine that will age.

IMG_6279 2Dessert — Dark and white chocolate mousse

IMG_6280Crostata of Ricotta and Visciole Cherry Jam

IMG_6284 2

Colli Piacentini Vin Santo di Vigleno 2010 Colli Piacentini DOC  Az. Agr. Lusignani made from Beverdino, Santa Maria, Melara, Trebbiano and Ortrugo grapes. The vineyard is at 300 meters. Only the very best bunches of grapes are picked and are laid on a trellis in “fruttai” a specially built aerated drying room to assist in the maturation of the grapes for 3 months. After the pressing of the grapes (which takes place from December to February), the wine must matures for 6 years in small oak caratelli and barriques each time in smaller barrels (like the traditional balsamic method).  Daniele described the wine as having extraordinary complexity with aromas of dried dates, coffee liquor, antique wood, and eucalyptus and he compared it to a Madeira. This is truly a remarkable dessert wine. Daniele said only 1,000 375 ml size bottles were made.


Filed under Barolo, Daniele Cernilli, Falanghina, Fiorano Rosso 2013, La Ciambella, La Sibilla, Lusignani Vin Santo, Marchese di Barolo. Sarmassa, Vin Santo

Le Volpi e l’Uva Wine Bar in Florence

When I was the wine director for I-Trulli restaurant in NYC, a young man from Florence spent 3 months working with me in the restaurant and the Enoteca.  Ciro Beligni already knew about wine and was a quick learner.  We spent a lot of time speaking about wine, food, and Florence. Ciro them returned to Florence and is today one of the owners at Le Volpi e l’Uva, which I consider to be the best wine bar in Florence. Over the years, whenever I visit Florence I stop to see Ciro and we talk about what is happening in the wine industry. On this visit I asked Ciro to choose all of the wines for us.

IMG_5979Ciro Beligni

IMG_5981Ciro just received this prestigious award for the wine list Le Volpi e l’Uva from Milano Wine Week.

IMG_5965Ciro suggested we try Franciacorta DOCG Satèn Brut “1701”  2016 Società Agricola Cazzago San Martino made from 100% Chardonnay from a 10 hectare vineyard with morainic terrain with stones. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. 80% of the hand picked selected grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in steel tuns at a controlled temperature. 20% undergoes cold maceration with fermentation in new barriques. Aging is for 7 months in steel or barriques.  The second fermentation takes place the spring following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 30 months and 3 to 4 months following the disgorging. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fresh fruit, with a hint of brioche and a touch of pastry cream. 

IMG_5969Etna Bianco  2018 DOC Feudo Cavaliere made from 100% Carricante coming from a very old ingrafted vineyard and a recently planted one. The vineyard is on the south side of Etna at 950 to 990 meters. The training system is spurred cordon with high plant density. Volcanic soil and “ripiddu” sands rich in minerals. Harvest is in October. The wine in aged in stainless steel tanks on the lees for one year. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, floral notes, a touch of honey and balanced acidity

IMG_5967Anchovies, lemon and butter on a brioche roll was a fantastic little bite to enjoy with the wine.

IMG_5972Italian Cheese plate with several interesting condiments

IMG_5975Barbaresco 2018 DOCG  Vicenziana made from 100% Nebbiolo from a two hectare vineyard. The soil is clay with lime rich marl. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged in Slavonian botti (oak barrels) of 20 to 30 hectoliters for 2 to 3 years. This is a traditional Babaresco that will last for 25 years or more. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

IMG_5973Finocchiona, a typical fennel flavored salame and mascarpone on toasted Tuscan bread.

IMG_5978Barolo 2013 DOCG Scarzello made from 100% Nebbiolo from five different plots of Vigna Merenda in the Sarmassa cru at 300 meters on clayey and calcareous soil. Fermentation is in temperature controlled steel vats with long maceration on the skins. The wine ages for 30 months in oak barrels of 25 and 36 hl for 30 months. This wine will last for a number of years. 2013 was an excellent vintage. It has hints of red fruit, tar, licorice, leather and balsamic notes.

IMG_5984Dessert was a chocolate topped crostata with almonds and pastry cream.

IMG_5987Torcolato Riserva 2017 San Bortolo made from 100% Vespaiola from a 1.5 hectare vineyard planted in 2006 with a north/south exposure. The soil is medium textured alluvial and clay. The training system is single and double curtain overturned guyot with 8 to 10 buds. There are 4,400 vines per hectare. Harvest is in mid September. Carefully selected grape bunches are hand harvested and then naturally dried in an airy granary.The grape pressing is in February with a yield of 25 to 30%.  First fermentation on the lees in French oak barriques for almost one year. The wine remains for 24 months in new barriques.  It has hints of citrus, apricot jam, and hazelnuts with a note of honey and an aftertaste of dried fruit and almonds.

IMG_6095On our last night in Florence, Ciro let me taste a wine that he produces Sangiovese Toscana IGT 2019 “Altreviti” made from 100% Sangiovese.  Ciro Beligni. The grapes are from an old vineyard at 450 meters. Harvest is by hand. Spontaneous fermentation takes place. The wine is aged in cement tanks and tonneau for 15 months before it is bottled. Only 2,542 bottles and 44 magnums were produced. If you go to the wine bar ask Ciro for a glass or a bottle.  It is a very impressive wine.

Le Volpi e l’Uva is located at Piazza dei Rossi, 1, in Florence, Italy.  Open every day from 11:00 AM to 9:00 PM.


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Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Etna Bianco Feudo Cavaliere, Franciacorta Brut, Le Volpi e l'uva, Sangiovese, Scarzella, Torcolato, San Bartolo

ForteMasso Barolo

Annalisa  Chiavazza is the marketing and communications manager for Agricole Gussalli Beretta Group and sent me samples of Barolo to taste from Fortemasso, a winery based in Montforte d’Alba, Piedmont, which is a part of the Beretta Group. Annalisa had also sent me samples from Castello di Radda which wrote about in a blog. Castellodi Radda:Chianti Classico at its Best 

I do not know the Barolo of Fortemasso but I really like the wines of Castello di Radda and since they both belong to the Beretta Group I was happy to try them and was very glad that I did.

The Fortemasso winery was founded in 2012, They have 5 hectares (single plot) in Monforte D’Alba (MGA-Menzione Geografica Aggiuntiva) Castelletto) for the production of Barolo Castelletto Barolo and Barolo Castelletto Reserve. The most central area of the MGA is called Pressenda (currently undergoing replanting) and is traditionally considered the location of the best quality, of a cru within a cru. It is one hectare and the other 4 hectare surround it. 

IMG_5561Barolo DOCG Fortemasso made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Castelletto vineyard at 360 to 450 meters. The exposure is south-east and the soil is Diano sandstone, made up of sand, silt and clay. The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is manual. The freshly picked grapes are crushed and destemmed before fermenting in temperature-controlled stainless steel wine vats. Once alcoholic fermentation has begun, daily pumping over is carried out to facilitate the extraction of the color and primary aromas of the grapes from the skins. Fermentation lasts between eight and ten days and is followed by submerged cap maceration. This step, in addition to prolonging the period of extraction from the skins which began immediately after crushing the grapes, facilitates the stabilization of the color of the future wine. During maceration, which lasts an average of twenty-five to thirty days, malolactic fermentation also takes place. Aging in wood begins in December and lasts an average of thirty months. The wine spends eight – ten months of further aging in the bottle before being released. The wine has hints of violets, cherry licorice, tea spice and a touch of tar.

IMG_5557Barolo DOCG “Castelletto” Riserva Fortemasso made from 100% Nebbiolo. Thanks to their perfect position, the grapes are left to ripen until the sugar concentration and phenolic maturity are just right. This makes it possible to bring out all the organoleptic characteristics of the grape during vinification and lays the foundation for the prolonged longevity of the future Barolo Reserve. After crushing and destemming, the must ferments in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, where daily pumping over is carried out to gently extract the aromas and color from the skins. Using the submerged cap technique, the maceration phase begins.  The aim is to optimize extraction and stabilize the color of the wine. This phase lasts an average of 30 – 45 days, during which malolactic fermentation also takes place. Upon completion, aging in wood begins, lasting an average of forty months. This is followed by bottling and subsequent bottle aging for twenty-two months. The wine has hints of violets, tobacco, cedar, licorice and a touch of cinnamon. This is a very impressive Barolo.

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Filed under Barolo, Barolo Forte Masso

Celebrating the 4th of July

While hot dogs and hamburgers are traditional for some on the Fourth of July, our celebration this year had an Italian accent.  

IMG_5223We spent the day with friends in New Jersey, enjoying the great weather in the beautiful garden.


Champagne  Oiry Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra-Brut NV Suenen made from 100% Chardonnay from a 1.5 hectare plot in the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The soil is chalky. The clear wine is fermented partially in barrel with 9 months on the lees and the dosage is 2g/l. It is delicate and dry with hints of lemon, quinine, floral notes and a trace of minerals.

4CFE7DD7-F460-4B6E-9E80-387258637302_1_105_cChampagne Brut Grand Cru Millésime Brut 2005 Egly-Ouriet made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay  from the oldest Grand Cru vines in Ambonnay. Fermentation and aging is in barrels.  Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine was disgorged after 54 months in January 2014. Dosage of 3/gl. This is a complex elegant and balanced  Champagne and I was very impressed by it. 

ECAD668B-42A0-4449-BB37-E111DDCB2DA1_1_105_cThe menu was eclectic.  With the Champagne we had Michele’s smoked whitefish pate which she served with both pita chips and potato chips.


Aglianico Riserve 1998 “Cappellaccio” Rivera made from 100% Aglianico grown on the limestone hills of the DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia. Harvest takes place in Mid-October. Maceration lasts for 12 to 14 days with pumpover and delestage. The wine is aged in French oak barriques-50% and 30hl French oak barrels-50%. Then 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, leather, tobacco and spice. It was showing very well.

Next we had several pizzas, beginning with a simple Marinara with an oregano-spiked tomato sauce.


5536D28A-7AD0-4082-97AA-CEDCC84C82CF_1_105_cA Margarita topped with prosciutto, arugula, and flakes of Parmigano-Reggiano was next.

298D7356-3619-4521-B148-1EF28FDF9A8D_1_105_cA second Margarita with sausages followed.

E9078740-9687-4CA8-B8B1-D07DE575CA18_1_105_cOur final pizza was topped with mozzarella, sausages and peppers.


Barbaresco 1978 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% from various vineyards in the DOCG zone. The soil is limestone and clay, rich in calcium with sandy veins. Vinification in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is 30 days of skin contact and pumping over 2 to 3 times a day. The wine is aged for two years in large oak barrels. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

 Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. The wine was still drinkable but was showing its age. It has hints of wet leaves, tobacco, balsamic notes and a touch of spice.


Barolo 1978 Grand Riserva Marchesi di Barolo made from vineyards located in the municipality of Barolo: Cannubi, Sarmassa, Coste di Rose, Castellero, Boschetti, Preda and Ravera. The soil contains substantial amounts of quartz sand and the training system is guyot. Hand harvested grapes. The wine was fermented and aged in large Slovenian oak barrels. This is traditional Barolo with hints of tar, licorice, leather balsamic notes. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5378A big bowl of sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and anchovies accompanied our main course.

5B3CB028-527D-4EE9-8336-874423D73549_1_105_cWith the Barolo we had roasted sweet and hot pork sausages and chicken sausages with peppers, onions and potatoes. 

IMG_5394For dessert, Michele made a mixed berry crisp which we ate with vanilla ice cream.

There were also homemade chocolate chip cookies but we ate them before I could take a picture!


Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Egly-Ouriet Champagne, Maechesi di Barolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, Rivera, Suenen Chanpagne

Tasting Wine with Giuseppe Luisi

Last month I went to a Brunello event called “Finally Brunello” which featured 60 Brunellos from the 2016 vintage and a few reserves from the 2015 vintage.

One Brunello that I really liked at the tasting was the 2016 La Mannella from Cortonesi.  Giuseppe Luisi, the sales representative for the wine was there and we had a conversation. It turns out that I know his father very well because he represented many wines from Italy which I liked.  Giuseppe invited me and Michele to lunch to taste some of the wines he represents.  Giuseppe works for Quintessential: Importers/ Distributors.  Unfortunately, his father Franco could not make it as he left for Italy a few days before.

IMG_5103 2Langhe Arneis “UCAOS” 2019 Luca Bosio made from 100% Arneis The vineyards are located in the village of Canale at 200 to 400 meters. The average age of the vines is 20 years and their exposure is southwest. The soil is sandy and there are about 5,000 vines per hectare. After the harvest the must spends 24 hours at a low temperature with skin contact. The grapes are then pressed and fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel tanks. The wine then remains on the lees for 5 months and 3 months in bottle before release. This is an aromatic wine with hints of peach, apricot and green apple with floral notes and a refreshing finish.

IMG_5102Barolo 2015 DOCG Luca Bosio made from 100% Nebbiolo. The cultivation area is Verduno and the vineyards are at 300/400 ft. The soil is clayey-calcareous and the training system is guyot. The average age of the vines is 50 years and the exposure is south and southwest. Skin maceration takes place over 15 days. The wine spends 36 months in Slavonian oak casks and then 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, licorice, and spice with notes of violets and roses. This was a very approachable Barolo and would be a good restaurant Barolo and would be a good restaurant wine.

IMG_5247Rosso di Montalcino 2018 Contonesi “ La Mannella” made from 100% Sangiovese. The La Mannella vineyards are located on the North and Southern sides of the town of Monalcino. This wine is produced from younger, grapes planted in a single vineyard, so it can be enjoyed be enjoyed after a few years. The soil is rocky clay and the trellis system is spurred cordon. There is a hand selection of the grapes and traditional vinification takes place. Fermentation occurs with maceration for 20 days is stainless steel vats. The wine is age for 10 months in 30HL large Slovenian casks. This wine could be drunk now but will last for at least another 8/9 years. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with a note of violets and a touch of spice.

IMG_5248Brunello di Montalcino “La Mannella” 2015 Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from the La Manella vineyards. The soil on the south side is sandy and rocky and the soil on the north side is clay with sand with good drainage. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the grapes and fermentation with maceration for 25 days in stainless steel tanks and Slavonian oak vats. The wine spends 36 months is large Slavonian oak casks. There are hints of red berries. blackberries spice, leather and a touch of cedar.

IMG_5249Brunello di Montalcino 2015 Riserva “La Manella” Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese. Only made in the best vintages and the best selection of grapes from the La Mannella vineyards. The soil is sandy and rocky with excellent exposure to the sun. The training system is spurred cordon. There is a careful selection of the hand picked grapes. Fermentation occurs with 25 days maceration in Slovenian oak vats. The wine is aged from 48 months in large Slovenian oak casks before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, blackberries, spice, leather, a touch of cedar and a note of almonds.

IMG_3338BrunelloBrunello di Montalcino 2016 La Mannella Cortonesi made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards north and southeast of Montalcino. The soil is clay and sandstone. The training system is spurred cordon. The wine is aged for about 36 months in 30 HL Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has intense aromas of red fruit with hints of blackberry, leather, cedar and a touch of bitter almond. It has a long lingering finish. I was very impressed by this Brunello.

Cortonesi is a very traditional winery and their wines will age well for many years. It was interesting to taste the 2015, 2015 Reserva and the 2016 Brunello from the same winery. The profile for the wines are basically the same. For me all three wines needed many more years and I would  be happy to drink all 3 at a later date and in the meantime drink their excellent Rosso.

2015 was a exceptional vintage in Brunello and was awarded 5 stars, the highest rating from the Consorzio. But many wine writers, like Kerin O’Keefe, believe 2016 was a better vintage. For me they are both great vintages.

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Filed under Arneis, Barolo, Brunello, Cortonesi

Pizza: Tradition and Innovation

All through last winter and spring we rarely ventured out of the house.  The one food we missed the most was Neapolitan-style pizza fresh from a smoking hot oven with a crisp and blistered crust while the center remains soft.  So when our friend Ernie suggested we come to his home for pizza made in a Roccbox pizza oven, we were happy to oblige.


The Roccbox oven is very small and portable and bakes one pizza at a time. It uses propane gas and reaches a temperature of 900 degrees, so hot that the pizzas can cook in just a minute or two.  Ernie’s son Jason and his wife Deborah were the pizzaioli that day and their pies were excellent.

Last Sunday, Jason invited us to his house for an afternoon of pizza and wine.  With fond memories of the summer’s pizza party in mind, we accepted.  He uses the same type of pizza oven.

IMG_4860We started with Roses de Jeanne Champagne–100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited. Cedric Bouchard. This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single-vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity a touch of pear, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

IMG_4833Deborah made the pizza dough according to her special recipe

IMG_4845Bramaterra 1979 made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. Tenuta Agricola Sella. The production area is in Northern Piedmont. The vines are 48 years old, the exposure is Southwest, the vineyard is at 300 to 350 meters the training system is guyot and the soil is volcanic in origin and reddish brown in color. Harvest takes place between September 22 and October 12. After the grapes are crushed, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and delestage. There is 30 days maceration for the Nebbiolo and 16 for the Croatina. The wine is aged in 10 hl Slavonian oak casks for 28 months. There were hints of faded roses, leather, blackberries and a hint of spice.

IMG_4834Foccacia — We started with a white pizza sprinkled with sliced garlic and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  It was delicious plain, and possibly even better with thin slices of mortadella or prosciutto on top.

IMG_4835Pizza Margarita — The classic pie and just perfect

IMG_4837Pizza with Pistacchios — After a couple of traditional pizzas, we moved on to some innovative ones, including this one topped with chopped pistachios, shallots and herbs.

IMG_4841Pizza with pastrami, sauteed shallots and cheese.  It reminded me of an Alsatian Tarte Flambe’.  Some guests added a dab of mustard, but I liked it without.

IMG_4840Chateaneuf-du-Pape 1995 Domaine Du Pegau made from 80% Grenache, 6% Syrah, 4% Mourvèdre and 10% other varieties. The soil is mostly covered with pebbles, clay and limestone mixture tends to iron and sand. There is a manual harvest with no destemming. Natural yeast causes spontaneous fermentation which takes place in concrete tanks. maceration is for 12 days in 50hl old oak casks for 2 years. This is a big complex wine with black ripe fruit,  hints of cherries and plums, black pepper, leather and a touch of meat. It was the wine of the afternoon and will last for many more years.

IMG_4850 2Pizza with salmon.  Lightly smoked salmon topped this pie, one of our favorites of the day.

IMG_4846Pizza with sausage and mozzarella — always a crowd pleaser.

IMG_4853Pizza Margarita with bufala mozzarella.  Instead of cow’s milk mozzarella, this Margarita was made with bufala cheese.

IMG_4843Barolo Riserva 1964 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_4856Banana Cream Pie by Deborah.  For dessert, we moved on to another type of pie altogether, an all-American Banana Cream Pie with a graham cracker crust and fresh whipped cream topping.

IMG_4859The pie did not cooperate when cut, so we ate it from bowls with a spoon.  Is deconstructed Banana Cream Pie going to be the next big thing?  I highly recommend it!

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Filed under Barolo, Borgogno, Bramaterra,, Chateaneuf du Pape, Domaine Du Pegau, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Roses de Jeanne, Sella, Uncategorized

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.  



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


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

The Night of the Comic Opera

Many years ago I saw the film, “A Room with a View.”  It was set in Florence and it is like a love song to that magical city.  Not only was the movie filmed beautifully, but it also featured beautiful music.  I believe it was the first time that I heard the incomparable aria, “O Mio Babbino Caro” from the opera Gianni Schicchi, written by Giacomo Puccini. I was completely captivated by it.

With that in mind, we invited friends to our apartment to view a video of Gianni Schicchi followed by a late lunch.

We started with some nibbles as the opera began.  The opera tells the story of Gianni Schicchi, the craftiest man in Florence.

Olives, sausages and tarulli

We had pepper wedges filled with anchovies, breadcrumbs and olives, a recipe from Michele’s book The Antipasto Table.

Peppers on the plate

Also crostini mushrooms and melted Fontina cheese.

The bread was from Mark’s Off Madison.

Barbera D’Asti 2000 Vigna del Noce Az. Agricola Trincero 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 winery is strictly organic. The wine is aged for 7 years in large chestnut barrels. This is a traditional, classic Barbera. it 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 10 years or more.

Michele made Pasta ‘Ncasciata, a Sicilian recipe made with a meat sauce, caciocavallo cheese, ham, and peas baked together.  Here it is ready for the oven.  It baked while Gianni Schicchi schemed and connived to make his fortune.

After the opera, the pasta was ready to be served

Barolo Riserva 1997 Monprivato –Cà d’Morissio Giuseppe Mascarello E Figlio made from 100% Nebbiolo. The Monprivato vineyard is about 15 acres on a southwest-facing slope in Castiglione Falletto. Cà d’Morissio is made from grapes from a special two-acre plot of the Michet subvariety of Nebbiolo. The chalky and gray marl soil is perfect for growing Nebbiolo. Harvest takes place towards the middle of October. Traditional style fermentation takes place with floating cap for 25 days. The wine ages in medium sized Slavonian oak barrels for around 40 months. The wine is bottled after 6 years following the vintage. This is classic Barolo just beginning to drink with hints of cherry, tar, tobacco, licorice and a note of smoke.

A friend had sent us a special pannetone in a magnificent metal box.

The Panettone was flavored with grappa and chocolate chips.  We served it with ice cream for dessert.


Filed under Barbera, Barolo, G. Mascarello, Trinchero