Category Archives: Brunello

Sunday Lunch at Ribalta NYC

Where to go for a NYC Sunday lunch that everyone will enjoy?  I suggest Ribalta. Not only did we enjoy the food there recently, but the service was terrific.  Our young waiter, who told us he was from Padua in Italy, was not only knowledgeable but also helpful.

IMG_7902We started with zucchini scapece–thin sliced fried zucchini marinated with homemade vinegar, mint and garlic.

IMG_7903We also shared an order of Fried Calamari and Shrimp served Neapolitan style in a brown paper cone with lemon and aioli sauce on the side.

IMG_7905Spaghetti al Pomodoro.  A light and fresh tasting tomato and basil sauce dressed the pasta.  Its a Ribalta specialty, and was recommended by our waiter.  We were not disappointed.

IMG_7900Chinon “Les Picasses” 2005 (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 for about four years in tank and bottle before release. 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.

IMG_7907Pizza marinara with porcini.  The restaurant serves both Neapolitan and Roman style pizzas. 


Pizza alla Pala — Roman-style pizza served on a board with tomato, mozzarella and basil

IMG_7901Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2016 made from100% Sangiovese Mastrojanni. It is aged 3 years in Allier oak barrels of various sizes – 15, 33 and 54 hectoliters and then for 6/8 months in bottle. The wine has aromas and flavors of ripe black and red berries with a hint of spice and tobacco. The Illy Group now owns the winery.

IMG_7912Dessert was fresh Frutti di Bosco served in a delicate cookie shell with vanilla gelato.

Ribalta is located at 48 East 12th Street, NYC

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello, Mastrojanni Brunello, Olga Chinon, Ribalta, Uncategorized

Benvenuto Brunello 2022

Benvenuto Brunello 2022 returned to NYC presented by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino. This was Benvenuto Brunello’s 30th anniversary.  It was a two day event and because of Covid the format was different from past iterations when it was a walk around tasting.

IMG_7028This version was a seated tasting and waiters brought the wines to taste four at a time. I was at table 4 seat C. The bottles were numbered according to the winery and the letter that followed indicated the type of wine.  The D above was for the 2016 Brunello Riserva.  Il Gattopardo Restaurant, which hosted the event, was responsible for the service and it ran very smoothly.

The speaker was Lars Leicht, VP of Education for the Somm Journal, and Wine-Sherpa-in-Chief of Vino Viaggio. I have known Lars for a number of years and was very pleased to hear that he would speak about Brunello.IMG_6878 2

The production area for Brunello is the commune territory of Montalcino. The grape variety is Sangiovese in the town and territory of Montalcino in Tuscany.

Brunello must be aged 2 years in oak casks and 4 months in bottle or 6 for the Riserva. Bottling must take place in the production zone. The wine is available for sale from the 1st of January of the 5th year following the harvest (6th year for the Riserva). Brunello di Montalcino can only be sold in Bordeaux-type bottles. All Brunello is DOCG.

In my experience Brunello needs to age at least 10 years before (even in a not so great a year) I would even think of drinking it. Brunello improves greatly with age. If you want to drink something “approachable” and ready to drink young, then drink a Rosso di Montalcino which is produced for that purpose.

There were 53 producers presenting: Rosso di Montalcino 2020, Brunello 2017 and Brunello Riserva 2016. The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is an epic vintage. A balanced summer and autumn gave the grapes perfect ripeness. The right rains and temperatures never too high made this year one of the most important ever. The Consorzio rated the vintage 5 stars.

Lars said the 2015 and the 2016 are wines that will age and should be cellared to get the most out of them. The 2017 will be ready to drink soon. The 2017’s are mostly intensely fruity with crunchy wild berries. I would still wait another few years before I drank the 2017.  The 2015 and 2016 vintages are  classic vintages with a savory and subdued character.

I was able to taste the reserve from the 2015 vintage at a Wine Media Guild event at IL Gattopardo a number of months ago. I was very impressed with the wine. At this tasting I decided to taste only the 2016 Riserva and see how it compare to the 2015 Riserva. I tried to taste the wines from the same producers.

These are  some of the  20016  Brunello Riserva I tasted.






IMG_7015Donatella Cinelli Colombini

IMG_7007Fattoria Dei Barbi

IMG_7022 2IL Poggione

IMG_7023La Fiorita

IMG_7024 11.14.37 AMLa Gerla

IMG_7025 2Ridolfi

IMG_7026Tenute Silvio Nardi


After tasting the wines, I have to give the nod to the 2016 riserva.  One would have to go back to the 2001 and 2004 vintages to almost find it’s equal. I was very happy to welcome back Brunello to NYC.


Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello

Lunch on a Snowy Weekend

This passed weekend has been very snowy and cold in NYC so Michele and I decided to stay home. I was looking for a wine to drink and came across a1970 Brunello I was saving for our anniversary which is in July.  But why wait?IMG_6654

Brunello di Montalcino 1970 Lisini. Made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso, also known as Brunello. Vineyards are at 300 to 350 meters. Some of the vines were planted between 1930 and 1940, others in 1967. In the oldest part of the vineyard are 200 vines planted in 1880.  They are still their own roots (have not been grafted). At the time stainless steel tanks did not exist in Brunello. The wine was aged for 4 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. 1970 was a 5-Star vintage in Brunello. In 1970 there were only 25 producers of Brunello, making the Lisini Estate one of the oldest in Montalcino (Source “Italy’s Noble Red Wines” Wasserman). The wine had hints of cherry, rasperries, tar and balsamic notes. It went very well with the food.  

IMG_6650We started with crostini topped with La Tur cheese, piquant tangerine mostarda and a few pine nuts

IMG_6647Michele made Pork Tenderloin Wild Boar Style with mushrooms, a recipe from Marcella Hazan.

IMG_6648Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Butter, Nutmeg and Parmigiano Reggiano.



Pork and sweet potatoes with roasted endive.

IMG_6661 2Caffe and ciambelline, my favorite cookies.

Another day, Michele was in the mood for Burgundy.

IMG_5551Savigny-les-Beaune “Lavieres” 1999. Robert Ampeau et Fils made from 100%  made from 100% Pinot Noir. This is a complex and elegant wine, fruity but firm with hints of raspberry, blackberry, violets and a note of leather.  It is drinking very nicely

IMG_6662Costini with Gruyere Cheese and Dried Tomatoes on homemade olive and rosemary focaccia.

IMG_6664Our main course was sauteed Duck Breast with Shallots and Red Wine.  With it we had broccoli rabe with garlic and roasted butternut squash.IMG_6667Orange Cake with Walnuts and Golden Raisins for dessert

IMG_6668And of course we finished with a good cup of Caffe…

IMG_5515And a sip of grappa.  What better way to take the chill from a cold day by ending the meal with Grappa. Traditional grappa Capo di Stato from Loredan Gasparini made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.

Somehow, we managed to pass a pleasant weekend, despite the snow and frigid temperatures.


Filed under Brunello, Lisini, Robert Amprau Burgundy

The Red Wines of Tuscany

My recent trip to Tuscany reminded me of how many fine red wines are produced in that region.  Here are just a few that I have enjoyed both in Tuscany and at home.

IMG_6543Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 Riserva made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole. The estate is located in the village of Greve in the heart of the Chianti Classico region. The vineyard is at  300 meters. Harvest begins on the 10th of September. The grapes are hand-harvested, destemmed and crushed.  Fermentation takes place with the skins in temperature controlled steel tanks and the maceration lasts for 15/20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. Aging is for 16 months in large Slavonian oak vats with a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. This is a classic, traditional wine with hints of red berries, cherry, raspberry, violets and a touch of cedar. I have been enjoying the wines of the Folonari family for many years.

IMG_6542Insoglio del Cinghiale Toscana IGT 2019 made from 33% Syrah, 14% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon and  6% Petit Verdot. The wine is made by Tenuta Biserno but the majority of the vineyards are in a different location called Campo Sasso (Upper Maremma) just further down the hill from Tenuta di Biserno. The soil is mostly sand with a small amount of clay. 40% of the wine is aged in second passage French oak barrels. The oenologist are Michel Rolland and Helena Lindberg. The wine has hints of blackberries, strawberries, with peppery notes and a touch of vanilla.

IMG_6544Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. Silvio Nardi. This Brunello is a blend of the finest grapes from the Manachiara and Castel del Bosco estates with a northwest and southeast exposure at 350 meters. The soil is a composition of jasper and shale. The grapes are hand picked and sorted and only 70% of the grapes are used to make the wine.  Fermentation and maceration takes at least 24 hours, depending on the parcel, at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 12 months in new and used Allier French oak barriques and then for 18 months in large Slavonian oak barrels. Then it remains in the bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red berries, leather, tobacco and a touch of spice.

IMG_5067Chianti Classico 2019 Lilliano made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon.  After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch-downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis.

A0A7F85F-6BC8-496B-9537-050A996113D5_1_105_cChianti Classico Gran Selezione D.O.C.G.”Vigna di Corno”  Castello di Radda 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. The grapes come from the single vineyard Il Corno (the vineyard) at 400 meters. The age of the vineyard is about 20 years. The soil is a clayey-calcareous type rich in texture. Harvesting  is done by hand in 20kg boxes by selecting the grapes first in the vineyard and then on a sorting table at the winery. Harvest is in the  beginning of October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed before fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50hl.  Maceration is for 4 weeks or so depending on the ripeness of the grapes. Malolactic is in 5hl new tonneaux and the wine spends about 5 months on the lees. Aging continues in the same tonneaux for another 20 months, then in bottle for at least 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberries, spice, cassis, with a touch of cedar and a note of violets.

IMG_5898Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2015 Cecchi made mostly from  Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is of medium consistency, calcareous Pliocene. Guyot training system. Traditional temperature controlled red wine vinification with the skins and fermentation and maceration lasts for 15 days. The wine is aged in small oak barrels for 24 months and remains for 3 months in bottle before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of cherry, blackberry, violets and a note of leather and a touch of prune.

IMG_6035Carmignano 2017 Capezzana by Contini Bonaccossi Villa di Capezzana. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. The elevation is 180/220 meters and the soil is clay, limestone, schist and marl. The age of the vines is 20/40 years and the training system is guyot cordon spur. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and they use organic farming practices. Fermentation is with native indigenous yeast. There is a 13 day extended maceration period. Malolactic fermentation takes place in French tonneaux. Aging: 60% in 2nd and 3rd or 4th passage French oak tonneaux, 10% in new French oak tonneaux and 30% in 5/30 year old untoasted Allier or Slavonian 24 HL barrels for 12 months. The wine is aged for another 12 months in bottle before release. This is an elegant wine with hints of red berries with a note of blueberries and a touch of violets. I have a long history with this estate going back 40 years. This is a wine that can age. In 1985 I had the 1925 which at the time was labeled Chianti Montalbano.

IMG_1428Bruno di Rocca IGT Colli Toscana Centrale 2015 Montefili made from 80% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Sangiovese from vineyards planted in the early 1980’s. The soil is galestro and the training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging for a minimum of 28 months in tonneaux for the Sangiovese and for the Cabernet Sauvignon in barriques (350 liters). The wine spends a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. It is difficult to make this type of wine where the Cabernet Sauvignon does not dominate but this is a soft elegant wine.

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.

IMG_5873Chianti Montalbano 2019 Artimino 1596 made from Sangiovese, Canaiolo and Colorino. The vineyards are at 110 meters and the soil is silt and sand with a good percentage of clay. Guyot is the training system for the older vineyards and the rest cordon spur. The gapes are fermented in stainless steel tanks at a temperature of 22°C for 16 /18 days with a daily skin maceration process and frequent pumping of the must over the skins. After the first fermentation, the wine matures in stainless steel tanks for at least 6 months, 2 of which are on the lees. The wine is then refined in bottles for 3 months. The wine has hints of red berries and violets. 

IMG_5872Chianti Colli Fiorentino Darno Tenuta San Vito made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Canaiolo. Harvest takes place in October. Traditional red wine vinification with 10 to 15 day maceration on the skins with daily pumperovers for several days followed by malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in glass lined tanks and stainless steel followed by some bottle aging. The wine has hints of red berries, cherries and violets.

IMG_1378 2Castello di Mugazzena “Gargatura” IGT Toscana 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 the juice 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 vinaccia and it is pressed. Malolactic fermentation is complete two weeks after. The coarse lees are removed and the wine is pumped into French oak barrels, where it ages from 12 to 18 months. The wine has hints of blueberries, black cherry and a note of black pepper.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione, Nozzole CCR, Tenuta di Lilliano, Tenute Silvio Nardi, Tuscany

Not a Turkey Dinner

For a number of years, wine and food writers Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow have been our guests for Thanksgiving dinner. This year we did not return from Rome until a few days before Thanksgiving so Tom and Diane suggested we come to their home instead. It could not have turned out better.IMG_6384

To accompany the Champagne, there were buttery cheese wafers and taralli topped with a soft cheese and American caviar.

IMG_6385 2Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er and 10 % Vertus1er Cru. The soil is mostly chalk. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine remains on the lees for 65 months. The wine was disgorged in September 2020. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, with hints of mint and orange peel.

IMG_6388Our first course was Foie Gras with fig jam and toasted slices of Diane’s homemade bread.

IMG_6390Zeltinger Sonnenuhr Auslese 2005 Joh. Jos. Prūm made from 100% Riesling from the Mosel. The soil is Devonian shale with different layers and degree of erosion. The vines are 60 to 70 years old.  Grapes picked by hand and spontaneous fermentation takes place in stainless steel.   This is a delicious rich, smooth and elegant  wine with hints of white peach, pears, honey, dried apricot and good acidity that makes it go very well with food. It was perfect with the foie gras.

IMG_6392Brunello di Montalcino 1996 Casanova di Nevi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is located south of Montalcino at 275/320 meters and the soil is galestro with tuff and clay. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the plants are 25/30 years old. The raining system is spur-pruned cordon and the winery is organic but not certified. The wine is unfiltered and it is aged in 500-liter oak tonneau for 36 months and in bottle for 12 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of blackberry, black cherry, plum and a touch of violets and a note spice.  The wine was showing very well with no sign of age and it was a pleasure to drink. This is a classic combination Brunello with wild boar and polenta.

IMG_6396Wild boar with polenta — The meat was long simmered with spices and red wine until it was fork-tender.  Polenta was the perfect complement.

IMG_6399Chateau les Ormes de Pez 2001 St.Estèphe made from Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and a small amount of Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. The wine has hints of blueberry, blackberry, and cassis with a note of spice and a touch of cedar. This is an elegant and wonderful wine.


Cheese — There were several interesting goat and sheep’s milk cheeses to finish off the wines.

IMG_6404Our Dessert was a Tarte Tatin made by Michele,


We ended this wonderful meal with grappa. Tom loves his grappa and there is always a large selection to chose from. This time I had the Pojer e Sandri Pinot Nero. Crystal clear traditional grappa, just what I wanted.


Filed under Bordeaux, Brunello, Casanova di Nevi, Champagne, Chateau les Ormes de Pez 2001, Joh. Jod. Prum Auslese, om and Diane, Pierre Gimonnet Champagne, Uncategorized

A Late Summer Lunch with Friends

When Michele and I were in Rome in 2020, we had dinner at the apartment of an American friend who lives there. Among the guests were Maureen and Franco.  We became friends and when the virus stopped us from travelling abroad, we became part of a group of friends both here and in Italy who met for regular Zoom visits.

Maureen informed us that she and Franco would be in US toward the end of August. Since Michele and I were in NJ with our friend Ernie, he invited Maureen and Franco to come for the day.

We started with Champagne

IMG_5692Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond. 

IMG_5693Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir.  Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of  brioche and a hint of hazelnut.


IMG_3156 2

Mozzarella and anchovies crostini.

We also had salmon rillettes, but I forgot to take a picture of them.


Tommaso’s Penne with Zucchini, Tomatoes and Prosciutto — A recipe from our late friend Tommaso Verdillo, chef-owner of Tommaso’s restaurant in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

IMG_5675Butterflied leg of lamb on the grill

IMG_5682Grilled leg of lamb ready to be served

Side dishes

IMG_5681Potato and Scallion Salad

IMG_5684Green beans with Salsa Verde

IMG_5672Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

IMG_5673Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1999 Poggio Antico made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at about 480 meters with a south/southwest exposure and are among the highest in the zone. The soil is rocky and calcerous with good drainage.  A cold soak was done at 12°C for 2 days. The fermentation lasted 9 days with a peak temperature of 30°C, after which a long maceration was carried out. Aging: 1 year in 500L French oak tonneaux, followed by 2½ years in large traditional Slavonian oak barrels. The wine was refined in bottle 1½ years prior to release. This is a complex Brunello with hints of cherries, cassis, leather a touch of violet and a balsamic note. It is a wine the will last for another 20 years.

Our friend Susan Westmoreland brought the dessert.

IMG_5691Both black and green figs poached in a spiced compote

IMG_5697Spiced Fig Compote served with Almond Pound Cake was an excellent finale. 


Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello, Champagne Wilmart & Co, Lisini, Poggio Antico

Summer Dinner with Friends

Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow are two of our favorite dinner guests.  The conversation always revolves around food, wine  travel and the many wonderful experiences we have had together. Hopefully we will all be together in Rome in October.

We started our dinner last wee as usual with Champagne:

IMG_5501Champagne  Krug NV Grand Cuvée 168EEM Edition made from 45/55% Pinot Noir, 15/20 Pinot Meunier and 25/35 Chardonnay–the percentage depends upon the vintage. They blend about 120 wines from 10 or more different vintages and it is aged for at least 6 years in the cellars. All of their Champagnes are aged in used small oak barrels. They are all prestige cuvees made from Grand Cru and Premier Cru villages and are aged longer before release. The overall rating for the vineyards is 98% with Krug’s own vineyards rating 100%.  This is a Champagne with hints of dried citrus fruit, gingerbread, hazelnuts and almonds, a note of honey and a touch of brioche. It has a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste. Fantastic. Michele’s favorite Champagne.

With the Champagne we had roasted cremini mushrooms stuffed with goat cheese and rosemary, a new appetizer in Michele’s repertoire, that I unfortunately forgot to photograph.  But I am sure she will make it again soon.


Erbaluce di Caluso “Kin” 2015  Tappero Merlo made from 100% Erbaluce.  Erbaluce is a white grape and the vines are either pergola (know as topia locally) or guyot-trained. The clusters are usually wing shaped and the grapes are small to medium with thick skins. When fully ripe they take on an auburn color as if they were sun dried. Erbaluce can be vinified as a still wine, a classic method sparkling wine, or as a passito. Erba means grass and Luce means light.

 Caluso is an ancient Celtic village on the top of a hill where you can look across the plain and see Turin. The vines were planted in 2004 and the vineyard is at 295 meters. There are 4,500 to 5,000 plants per hectare and the pruning system is guyot. The vineyard is entirely organic. Manual harvest takes place at the end of September.

Fermentation is with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures for at least 18 months on the lees in 20hl barrels with weekly battonage. Then it remains in the bottle for another 3 years. The wine has hints of sage, citrus, white flowers and herbs with balsamic and spicy scents. This is a wine that can age and I waited five years before I opened as it is not a complete wine until after 5 years/ according to the producer Domenico Tappero Merol  but it could last for 10 to 20 years. The wine was showing very well

IMG_5487Linguine with Crab and Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce ready to serve

IMG_5488On the plate

IMG_5504 copyVino Nobile di Montepulciano Riserva 1999
  made from large Sangiovese grapes (aka Prugnolo Gentile.) The age of the vines ranges from 15 to 25 years. The running system is guyot. Only natural fertilizer is used and treatments performed on the vines are only copper and sulphur based. The grapes are hand harvested and carefully selected and placed in dry ice. Carbonic maceration is performed with dry ice for two or three days. The pied de cuve (process of using wild yeast from the vineyard to ferment the wine) is prepared 3 to 4 days before using the best grapes at 4 degrees alcohol for preventing aciculate yeasts from hindering proper fermentation. Fermentation is from 15 to 30- 35 days depending on the quality of the pomace. During maceration the cap is broken by mechanical means. The wine is aged in barriques and 15hl barrels with weekly lees stirring. The wine ages for 18 to 20 months. Then it is transferred to large barrels. Wood aging is for about 40 months and the wine is bottled after it is filtered with propylene cartridges using a mobile system. The wine has hints of ripe berries, cranberries, cherry, clove and a touch of iris. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5492Our main course was Pork, Rosa di Parma style.  This was a roast loin of pork rolled around a filling of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Prosciutto.

IMG_5493To go with the pork, Michele made a Tian of Summer Vegetables.

IMG_5494On the plate

IMG_5503Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 2004 “Vigna Pianrosso” Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona made from 100% Sangiovese from  11.69 hectares named Pianrosso at 240 and 360 meters with a soil of medium grain with good levels of marl dating to the Eocene period. Fermentation is in stainless steel and glass concrete vats with temperature controlled via cooling plates and jackets. Aging is in 7.5 -30 Slavonian oak barrels, for 3 years followed by over 12 months of bottle aging before release. This is an intense, complex and full bodied wine wine with hints of red berries and spice.


Because I love blueberry desserts, Michele made one of my favorites, a Blueberry Pudding Cake.


1 Comment

Filed under Brunello, Erbaluca di Caluso, Krug Champagne, Uncategorized, Vino Nobile di Montepulicano

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Arneis, Barolo, Brunello, Cortonesi

Pass the 1832 Madeira, My Dear

In December of 2019 our pizza group, know as the G6, was enjoying pizza and wine at Keste Vino and Pizza.  Ed Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, said he had an old Madeira from 1832 and that he would bring it to our next meeting. Little did we know that it would be 18 months before we could meet again.  Ed wanted to keep the number of guests to 6, and Michele offered to prepare a simple meal.

As always with Ed, we started with Champagne.

IMG_5172Amour de Deutz 2006 Brut Deutz Blanc de Blancs in magnum. Made from 100% Chardonnay from Les Menil-sur-Oger, Avize and Villers-Marmery. The wine has hints of strawberry, citrus and spice a touch of ginger and an undertone of brioche.

IMG_5170To accompany the Champagne, we had a Shrimp Pate with Chives

IMG_5188Champagne Comtes de Champagne Rose 1996 Taittinger made from 100% Grand Cru grapes and produced only in exceptional years. The Chardonnay grapes come from the Cotes des Blancs and the Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Riems. Only juice from the first pressing is used and 12% of the Pinot Noir is blended in as a still wine. The wine has hints of strawberries, cherry, black currants, almonds and licorice with a undertone of brioche

IMG_5177For a first course, we had Smoked Salmon Wrapped Asparagus with Lemon Dressing and chopped egg, from Michele’s book, The Antipasto Table.

IMG_5187Brunello di Montalcino 1997 Conti Costanti made from 100% Sangiovese. The Consorzio gave 1997 a five star rating. The harvest was in mid September. The vineyards are at 310 to 4,400 meters and the age of the vines is from 6 to 25 years old. The soil is geologically galestro and there are 3,333 to 5,100 plants per hectare. Exposure is southwest. Fermentation takes place on the skins from 14 to 21 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in 30HL barrels for 3 to 5 years and in tonneaux. The wine has hints of berries, plums, violets and spice. This is a very impressive Brunello and will last for many more years.

IMG_5179 2Baked Polenta with Parmigiano-Reggiano

IMG_5178Chicken with Herbs and White Wine

IMG_5181 2The plate

IMG_5186Terrantez Madeira Special Reserve 1832 Oscar Acciaioly Medium Sweet made from the Terrantez grape. I do not have the words to describe this wine and all I can say is it is in a league all its own.  I have never tasted anything quite like it before and I will remember it always.

IMG_5182 2With it we had some hard cheese, nuts and dried fruit

IMG_5184Cookies made by Michele finished the meal.

Leave a comment

Filed under Amour de Deutz, Brunello, Champagne, Conti Costanti Brunello, Madeira, Taittinger Comtes Rose, Terrantez Madeira 1832

“Finally Brunello” and the Wine Media Guild

The “Finally Brunello” Tour, conducted by the Consorzio del Vino Brunello Di Montalcino, included 3 events this year at Il Gattopardo Restaurant and I was able to attend all three.  Members of the Wine Media Guild were invited to the latest one, which included a tasting followed by lunch.IMG_4748

At the tasting luncheon, there were over 60 wines. Most were from the 2016 vintage, though a few were from the 2015 (also an excellent vintage) and there was a Rosso di Montalcino or two from the 2018 vintage.

The 2016 Brunello di Montalcino is an epic vintage. A balanced summer and autumn gave the grapes perfect ripeness. The right rains and temperatures never too high made this year one of the most important ever. I am paraphrasing one of the producers and it seems like both producers and wine writers were saying the same thing.

For more information on Brunello see: Finally Brunello

IMG_5035Banfi 2015 Poggio all’Oro Riserva made from 100% Sangiovese and only produced in great vintages. The soil is brown clay silt sediments with stones and pebbles of Calcareous origin, well structured and well drained. There is a trellising system, spurred cordon, and there are 2,100 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in temperature controlled hybrid French oak and stainless steel tanks. 70% of the wine is aged in French oak casks 60 to 90 HL and 30% in French barriques 350L for two years and 6 months. This is an elegant and complex Brunello with hints of licorice, plum, tobacco and a note of violets.

IMG_5037Capanna Riserva 2015 made from 100% Sanviovese. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the exposure is south/east. The vines are 25- 32 years old and there are 3,300 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand from the last week of September to the first week o October. Alcoholic and malolactic fermentation take place in oak vats at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months is Slavonia oak barrels of 10/25 HL. The wine remains in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with a balsamic note. I drank this wine with lunch.

IMG_5032Argiano 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clay with a high level of limestone and the vines are 12 to 55 years old. The training system is spurred cordon, organic, small quantity of grapes per vine. Harvest took place during the month of September. The grapes are cold soaked prior to fermentation. Spontaneous fermentation takes place over two weeks in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation occurs naturally in cement tanks. The wine is aged for about 30 months in Slavonian oak barrels of 10/15/30/50HL. The wine is bottled in April/May during the most favorable moon phases. There is a long bottle aging before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, notes of aromatic herbs and a touch of spice.


Carpineto 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso and the vineyard is at 500 meters. The sedimentary soil has a galestro frame with clay accumulations dating back to the Eocene era–15 million years ago. There is a medium length steeping on the skins with temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is aged in big barrels for 3 years and in bottle for at least 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.


Castello Romitorio 2016 Made from 100% Sangiovese. Vine Training is spurred cordon. The grapes are carefully selected by hand on the sorting table both before and after destemming. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with an initial time of short maceration on the skins of 15 to 20 hours. This is followed by up to 24 days of maceration at a higher controlled temperature. Separation of the skins from the must starts around day 22 once the fermentation has finished. Once the must is obtained natural malolactic fermentation is allowed to occur. The wine ages in oak for about 24 months and then in bottle for about 12 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, pomegranate with a touch of leather and a note of herbs.


Col D’ Orcia 2016 on the Sant’Angelo hill over looking the Orcia river facing south-south west at 300 meters. Particular clones of Sangiovese are used. Manual harvest with grape selection both in the vineyard and in the cellar. Fermentation is on the skins for about 18 to 20 days at a controlled temperature in 150 HL wide and shallow stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 3 years in 25-50 and 75 HL oak casks from Slavonia and Allier and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of small ripe fruit, and plum jam with toasted and vanilla notes.

IMG_5033Castel Giocondo 2016 (Frescobaldi). Made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is galestro, clay and Pleocene sands. Manual harvest takes place with a careful selection of the grapes in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with frequent pump-overs, during the early stages. The wine was aged in wood containers. The wine is released after five years, which includes some time in the bottle. The wine has hints of ripe red berries and floral notes with spice and balsamic undertones.


La Gerla 2016 made from Sangiovese-Brunello biotype. The vines are 25 years old and the training system is spurred cordon. There is a manual sorting of the bunches and berries in the cellar. The bunches are destemmed and the is a soft pressing of the grapes. There is prefermentative cryomaceration. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins for about 15 days. Aging is for 24 to 36 months in oak barrels- 50 to 100HL with 2 decanting per year. The wine is in bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, tobacco, leather, and cinnamon and notes of violets and iris.

IMG_5040Le Chiuse 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese Grosso The grapes were hand harvested the last week of September. By gravity, the grapes, which had been destalked and softly crushed, went into thermo controlled steel tanks. Fermentation using natural yeasts and maceration lasted for 22 days. The wine went into steel tanks and then in the spring into 20HL Slavonian oak barrels for 26 months. Then the wine was reassembled into large steel tanks and bottled in March 2020. The wine has hints of small fruits, blueberry, black currant and cherry with notes of spice and violet.

IMG_5050Palazzo 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese grosso. The estate is in the southeast area of Montalcino at 320 meters. The soil is mostly galestro (marl), some small areas are sandstone rocks and clay with skeletal layers. The vines are 36 years old. The grapes are hand harvested the first two weeks of October and sorted in the winery. Vinification is in concrete tanks. Spontaneous fermentation takes place without adding yeast. Maceration lasts for 24 days with delicate pumping over, all taking place under temperature control. Aging is for 40 months in Slavonian oak of 5 to 10HL and another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berry fruits, walnuts and spice with balsamic and floral notes.

IMG_5030Poggio Antico 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese. The average elevation is 480 meters and the exposure is south/southwest. The soil is rocky and calcareous. Harvest was from September 27 to October 12. Fermentation is for 8 to 10 days followed by 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged for 30 months in 40 HL Slavonian oak casks followed by 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has red fruit aromas and flavors with hints geranium.

IMG_5043These are big wines, and I was very happy to have the opportunity to taste some of them with our meal.  For starters, we had Crostini of sauteed Chicken Livers with Vin Santo, Rice Balls filled with Ragu and Peas and Escarole Pie.

IMG_5047The first course was homemade ravioli with ricotta and eggplant filling and tomato and tomato sauce.

IMG_5048Grilled Rack of Lamb with roasted fingerling potatoes and sauteed spinach was the main course.IMG_5045

One of the wines I drank with lunch was the Rosso di Montalcino Collemattoni 2018. I recommend you drink the Rosso while waiting for the Brunello to be ready. Both the 2016 and the 2015 will need at least 10 before they are ready to drink.

IMG_5051The dessert was a Fruit and Cream-filled Tart with Almond Gelato.

Leave a comment

Filed under Brunello, IL Gattopardo-Brunello, Uncategorized