Category Archives: Champagne

Making Friends with Pizza and Champagne

Many years ago a wine writer friend, Sheldon Wasserman,  introduced me to the delights of Champagne with Pizza. The combination is one I really enjoy and enjoy sharing with others.  One of the people I introduced the combination of Pizza and Champagne to was Daniel Young.

I first met Daniel Young a number of years ago at Nizza restaurant in Manhattan. I knew of him by reputation and we discussed food, wine and pizza. Daniel now lives in London but is from NYC which he visits often. He is a food consultant, has a blog Young and Foodish,  and is the author of Where to Eat Pizza among other books, and has written for many magazines and newspapers here and in London.

IMG_8497 2Over the years I have spoken to him at pizza events and we are friends on FB but we never sat down and had Pizza together.  I believe Daniel saw one of my blogs on Pizza and Champagne of which there are many. Daniel mentioned that he had never had Champagne with Pizza so I told him next time he was  in NYC we would remedy that. After a few false starts we were able to get together. We went to Keste Wall Street because Daniel knows the owner Roberto Caporuscio and it is one of my favorite places to have Neapolitan-style pizza. I contacted Roberto and he said he would be there and make the pizza. We had a lively discussion on pizza in general, pizza places in NYC and which places were the most popular now in Naples.

IMG_8479Daniel brought his son and I invited Frank, a friend who brought his son.  The two boys enjoyed each other’s company and the pizza (even without Champagne).

IMG_8483We started with the Margherita — my favorite pizza

IMG_8484Champagne Ruinart Blanc De Blancs 100% Chardonnay from  a blending of 20 to 25 selected crus. Alcoholic fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats and malolactic fermentation is completed. The wine is aged for 2 to 3 years years and the dosage is 7g/l. The wine has hints of pears and peaches, ripe lemon, and a note of ginger. It was perfect with the Margherita.

IMG_8486Pizza with sausage

IMG_8491Pizza Montanara with truffles

IMG_8499Champagne Baron-Fuente Brut Vintage made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15% Pinot Noir. The wine is aged in the cellar for 8 years and the Dosage is 8g/l. It has hints of citrus fruit, white peaches, a touch of red  fruit and a note of green apple. This worked well with the last two pizzas because it contained red grapes.

32552106650264439864844136_nDaniel, Frank and I really enjoyed Roberto’s terrific pizzas with these champagnes.  The two young boys ate heartily and played chess together.  By the time our meal was over, they had become pals.  When Frank visited London recently with his son, Daniel and he arranged a reunion for the boys over — what else? — pizza, this time at Kalo’ 50, one of the city’s top Neapolitan pizzerias.

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Filed under Champagne, Kaste, Pizza

Christmas Dinner with Tom and Diane

Michele and I always look forward to Christmas dinner with Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow. For a number of years it has been our tradition to invite Tom and Diane to our house for Thanksgiving dinner, and they have us to their home for Christmas. They are excellent and adventurous cooks and Diane often chooses recipes from books she has written about in her blog

Tom has a great wine collection and will try to find the perfect wine match for each course.  Though all of our previous holiday celebrations have been wonderful, it seemed to be extra-special this year.

The meal began with a series of appetizers, several of them made with truffle products from Tartuflanghe.  This company specializes in white truffles and related products from Piedmont.

IMG_8841Prosciutto wrapped truffled grissini


Toast topped with beef tartare seasoned with truffled salt


Savory salame and cheese puffs

IMG_8835Cashews coated with salted truffle juice

These treats were served with two Champagnes:

IMG_8844Gosset Champagne Brut made from 45% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. Malolactic fermentation is avoided. It has hints of apple, citrus fruit, lime, almonds and a touch of lemon.  8g/l dosage. Gosset is the oldest Champagne House in Aÿ.

IMG_8845Guy Larmandier Champagne Cramant Grand Cru Blanc des Blancs Brut Zero  The wine has hints of citrus fruit, white peach, apple, and a touch of almonds. This is a full bodied champagne.

IMG_8847Cotechino sausages wrapped in pastry.  These large pork sausages are a specialty of the Emilia-Romagna region and are typically served as part of a bollito misto with fruit mostarda.  We always have cotechino on New Year’s Day with lentils, a tradition in many parts of Italy.


The sliced Cotechino with Mostarda di  Cermona- -it was so delicious I had two slices.

IMG_8849Elvio Cogno  PREPhylloxera Barbera d’Alba 2010 made from barbera vitis vinifera from a 0.25 hectare plot at 520 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare vertically  trellised  with guyot pruning. Harvest is at the beginning of October. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with controlled automatic pumping over. The wine is aged in large Slavonia oak barrels for 12 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a well-structured wine with hints of raspberry, strawberry, ripe cherry, a note of blackberries and a touch of prune and spice. The aroma is aromatic and deep with a perfectly balanced acidity. Only 2,000 bottles are produced. The wine was showing no signs of age and will last for many more years.

This was for me the wine of the evening and the best Barbera I have had in a long time — and I have had many great ones.

This is the story behind the wine according to the producer:  “Produced from one of the last archaic vineyard of Langhe region, an open air museum from a time gone by, with vines older than a hundred years. The vines are on 100% Vitis Vinifera roots and replicate by layering. They have therefore maintained, over the decades, the original Barbera characteristics. The small plot, situated in Berri near La Morra, has an excellent exposure and sandy-chalky terrain which guarantees a natural protection from Philloxera. This mixes with the intriguing vine resiliency and its most typical charms imparted from the microclimate and a particularly favorable altitude. The low production per hectare guarantees an intensely rare and rich organoleptic concentration. The wine is refined in oak casks which slowly develop all primary aromas. Pleasant and refined, complex even as a young wine, it is not afraid to be aged in bottle, expressing its solid uniqueness even over the years.”


Perfectly roasted 8 pound Capon with  stuffing of apples, pears, prunes, chestnuts, walnuts, ground veal, pancetta and cognac.  What a beauty!

IMG_8855Perfectly carved by Tom and on the plate with butter browned boiled potatoes and sautéed green beens.

Tenute Cisa Asinari die Marchesi di Grésy Barbaresco Martinenga 2004 made from 100% Nebbiolo from a 11.93 single vineyard with a south/south east exposure at 220/290 meters. Soil is limestone and blue marl and the training system is guyot. The vines are 30 to 40 years old or more. Fermentation is with selected yeasts with a submerged cap for 10 to 14 days. Malolactic fermentation is completed. Farina fossile and micro filtration during bottling. The wine is aged in French oak allier barriques, 30 percent new and 70 used and then 12 to 18 months in Slavonian oak casks. The wine then remains in the bottle for 12 to 18 months before release. The wine has hints dried cherries, tea, licorice a touch of tobacco. It is starting to drink now but will last for a few more years at least. This is a practicing organic winery.

IMG_8856The cheese

IMG_8857Bodegas y Viñedos Vega Sicilia 2001 made from younger vines of Tinto Fino (Tempranillo). Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon is added to a greater or lesser extent depending on the vintage. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature with native yeasts in stainless steel tanks as does the malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for five years in wood and in the bottle which is why it is called Valbuena 5. The oak is French and American, new and used 225 liter barrels and 20,000 liter vats. The wine has hints of red fruit, black cherries, raspberries, mocha and vanilla. It will last for at least 10 more years.  The winery is located in the Ribera del Duero region, an appellation under the Spanish DOP.  Lars Leicht, another guest, brought this wine.

IMG_8859 Michele made this delicious lemon tart in an almond crust.

Tom has a large grappa collection and all meals end with a selection of grappa and other after-dinner spirits.


I had one of my favorites. A traditional grappa Capo di Stato from Loredan Gasparini in the Veneto, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec.


Filed under Barbera, Champagne, Cogno, Tom & Diane, Tom and Diane, Vega Sicilia

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

Champagne and Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

Every year at this time, the Wine Media Guild would hold a Champagne tasting hosted by Ed Mc Carthy,  author of Champagne for Dummies.  I looked forward to attending, tasting the wines and hearing “Champagne Ed’s” commentary, which I would write about for this blog.  Because of Covid, the event was cancelled both last year and again this year.  Instead, I will write about the Champagne and sparkling wines that I have tasted over the last few months.


Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019  Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged  by hand.  Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.


Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink.

IMG_5730 2

Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are used but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months.  It has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.


DOC Trento Spumante Rosè +4 Reserve 2011 Brute Classico Method Letrari   made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in calcareous soils. The vineyards are at 400 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained with the traditional pergola trentina system or the modern guyot based on the age of the vines. The wine is aged for 28 months on the lees, four more than required by the official production code.  It is a brut (5,7 g/l – so on the lower side of the brut scale which goes from 12 g/l to 0 g/l). This is a consequence of the aromatic and phenolic ripeness which grants volume and taste on the palate and doesn’t require the “support” of sugar. It is a full bodied Sparkling wine with black fruit aromas and flavors a note of blackberries and a touch of brioche. I have always liked Spumante from the Trentino area and I believe it is the best zone in Italy to grow Pinot Noir. This is a very impressive wine. 

IMG_6050Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l.  This is a crisp, fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed.  

IMG_5965Franciacorta 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_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.


Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV  Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche. It has become one of my favorite champagnes.


Champagne 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_5692Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”. Cedric Bouchard. 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited.  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 and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

IMG_6385 2Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er Cru and 10% Vertus 1er 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.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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Filed under Champagne, Champagne Wilmart & Co, Lambrusco, Prosecco, Sparkling Benepop, Sparkling wine

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

Celebrating My Birthday

Michele and I had plans for my birthday but things do not always work out as planned. We have been trying to have our apartment painted for months and a few days before my birthday the painter said he was ready to begin. We needed to find some place to stay.

So off we went to spend a week in NJ with our friend Ernie. We had invited Ernie to go out with us for my birthday but he said no. Instead, his son Jason and his wife Deb invited us to their home for my birthday dinner and I was very happy that they did.


We started with Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”–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 and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

All the food was prepared by Jason and Debbie

IMG_5637Roasted Peppers Salad

IMG_5638Eggplant Mousse

IMG_5640Two different breads.  The seeded bread is made by Jason

IMG_5641Fiorano Bianco 1996 Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa made from 100% Malvasia Candia.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and very close to Roman’s second airport, Ciampino. This is the first time I had the 1996 and it was the last vintage the Prince produced before he died a few years later. There is a slight touch of oxidation with aromas of melon, honey and  wax.  It has  slight mineral notes with lots of flesh, good acidity and a medium long finish.

IMG_5644 2Pasta with locally grown cherry tomatoes, garlic scapes and Parmigiano Reggiano.

IMG_5646Grilled marinated organic chicken breasts

IMG_5649Mixed Salad with fennel, oranges, pine nuts and radishes

IMG_5650The plate

IMG_5645Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 1997 “Berardenga”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. I had this wine two weeks ago and it was just a wonderful then as it was now.

TIMG_5653Chocolate Layer Cake — Deb is a fantastic baker.

IMG_5655Cake with ice cream.  Moist and chocolatey, the cake brought back many fond memories of the cakes I enjoyed from the great Ebinger’s Bakery when I was growing up in Brooklyn.

This was a birthday to remember, thanks to good friends.


Filed under Champagne, Chianti Classico, Felsina. Berardenga, Fiorano Bianco, Roses de Jeanne

Chinese Dinner Under the Fig Tree

When you are invited to someone’s home for dinner and they have prepared a  meal from the different provinces of China, this is something very special. When this meal is better then any you could have in the best Chinese restaurant in NYC, you are very lucky.3FD9736A-B00B-49E0-9469-F9A2CD96C392_1_105_c

The setting for the dinner was a back yard in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn with a fig tree planted in 1940.

The dinner was prepared by Roger Chen and all the descriptions of the food are his.

490C41F7-E9F0-4636-B4A2-B329E8A67418_1_105_cAppetizer — We started with some small appetizers including taramasalata with pita bread and breadsticks.

E8898921-E93B-421E-A5CA-11E3A469290B_1_105_cWith the appetizer we had Champagne Mangin Et Fils Brut Natural made from 100% Pinot Meunier from vineyards in Leuvrigny and Moussy with limestone, clay and marl soil. During the harvest the grapes are quickly brought to the press room. After the first fermentation the wines are bottled and stored in the cellars so the second fermentation occurs. The wine is aged in the cellars for several years before being riddled by hand and disgorged. There is no dosage. They remain in the cellar for a few more months before release. It has intense effervescence and hints of quince, grapefruit, dried flowers, hazelnuts and a touch of honey.

The wines for our dinner were chosen  by Tony Di Dio.

First course

E10510A3-AE80-4D0C-91B2-878445A21059_1_105_cXiao Cong Ban Doufu (scallion & tofu salad), from Shandong Province — A cool and refreshing salad with fresh tofu marinated with scallions, soy sauce and sesame oil.

3CC2028B-DC84-4514-A7E3-F515CF4F43D8_1_105_cLiang Ban Lian-ou (lotus root salad), from Northwestern China. Fried tofu with lotus root, red onions and edamame.  Roger said that this is typically made with red chili peppers but he substituted red onions.

334D53E4-390C-439F-8E95-EB1F0DD91133_1_105_cDan Dan Mian (dan-dan noodles), street food from Sichuan Province.  Fresh wheat noodles with ground pork, preserved vegetables, scallions and peanuts.  I must have eaten 3 helpings of this.

IMG_5421Brittan Vineyards Sparkling Wine 2017 Brut Method Champenoise Willamette Valley, Oregon, made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay. The soil is a mixture of glacial deposits and volcanic material with a predominant presence of broken basalt. This is a full-bodied sparkling wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, white flowers and baking spice.

Main Course:

8CC50950-1A15-4ED6-B081-C861FF7289B5_1_105_cYou Mian Jin Sai Rou (fried gluten puff stuffed with minced pork), from Shanghai.  This was a sort of meat filled dumpling in a brown sauce.

IMG_5426Qiezi Dun Tudou (eggplant braised with potato), from Northeastern China.  The eggplant and potatoes came together beautifully with a garnish of green peas.

91771F1A-FF4E-47AC-88CC-5BA6E3CBE518_1_105_cXihongshi Chao Jidan (tomato & scrambled eggs).  Roger said that this simple dish of scrambled eggs and tomatoes is probably made in every household in China.  The sauce was slightly sweet.  Michele promised to make this for me at home soon.


With these we had Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos“ 2008 Joseph Drouhin Made from 100%  Chardonnay from vineyards located between Valmur on the left and Blanchot on the right. The soil is Kimmeridgian limestone with millions of embedded tiny marine fossils. The average age of the vines is 37 years. There are 8,000 vines per hectare and the training is double guyot. Biological cultivation. Harvesting is by hand. Aging is for 12 months in used barrels. The wine has hints of lemon and honey with a mineral character. This is a very impressive wine.

0C078A62-548F-4596-A684-9D4ECD3C84C2_1_105_cDessert was Figs from the tree in the garden with creme fraiche.

922D7223-00F6-4C71-AC71-2710819D8B37_1_105_cThe Fig Tree

7A01F43F-7B76-4264-B568-552AAEB29C56_1_105_cIce cream with chocolate covered orange rind was the final touch.

The rain held off and the evening was so perfect, none of us wanted it to end.  A big thank you to Chef Roger for this excellent dinner and sommelier Tony for the memorable wines.


Filed under Chablis, Champagne, Tony di Dio

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.

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

Celebrating with Champagne

Sometimes only Champagne will do. It was Michele’s birthday and friends invited us to their house to celebrate.

IMG_4943The Champagne was Dom Perignon 2010 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. This is an elegant and complex Champagne with hints of melon, tropical fruit, and mandarin orange with a hint of jasmine and a touch of spice.

On other recent occasions with these same friends they also shared the 2008 and the 2009 Dom Perignon. The only difference was that the 2010 has not developed any of the “brioche” aromas but it was fresh and wonderful.

IMG_4940With the Champagne we had crostini with piquillo peppers and marinated white anchovies.

A few days later, Michele and I celebrated with:

IMG_4975Krug 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 had a very long finish and a memorable aftertaste.

IMG_4968With it we had smoked salmon with creme fraiche.

IMG_4971Sauteed soft shell crab on the pan

IMG_4972on the plate

Michele was very happy as these were two of her favorite Champagnes.


Filed under Champagne, Dom Perignon, Krug, Krug Champagne, Uncategorized

Dreaming Of Napoli

Over the last few years every time we were in Naples Michele wanted to have lunch at Mimi alla Ferrovia, a well known restaurant. On our last day in Naples in February of 2020, we finally got there.

The waiter recited the specials and I heard pasta with ricci di mare (sea urchins), I knew what I wanted.  It was excellent.

Recently we visited the friend that was with us on that trip and he suggested that we make pasta with ricci di mare.  We decided to make a lunch that was a tribute to Procida, the tiny island off Naples that Michele’s family comes from, which recently named Italy’s Capitol of Culture for the next year.

IMG_4578We started with crostini covered with homemade roasted red peppers and anchovies.

IMG_4576Champagne Empreintes 2012 Extra Brut Laherte Frere made from 50% Chardonnay from vines in Les Chemins d’Epernay which were planted in 1957 and 50% Pinot Noir from vines in Les Rouges  Maisons planted in 1983. Multiple parcels with varied exposure. Les Chemins d’Epernay has clay soil with a silt stratum in surface and a chalky subsoil. Rouges Maisons has a deep clay topsoil with flint, schist and a chalk subsoil. The vineyards are farmed organically, sometime by horse. Hand harvesting takes place when grapes are fully ripe. Traditional pressing. Natural alcoholic fermentation in barrels from Burgundy aged for a minimum of 10 years. There is no malolactic fermentation. Six months of barrel aging with regular stirring of the lees. Disgorged by hand 01/2018 with a 3 gr/l dosage. It has hints of yellow plums, citrus fruit, peaches, good minerality, a touch of pepper and a note of spice.

IMG_4581Here are the sea urchins, which we were able to purchase removed from their shells.

IMG_4585Spaghetti with sea urchin, garlic, tomatoes and parsley Procida-style. Ready to be served

IMG_4591The spaghetti on the plate, topped with more sea urchin.

IMG_4605Beneventano Falanghina 2018 Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. It is one of my favorite white wines and my friend, who enjoys it too, always has some chilled and ready to drink. It was a perfect combination with the ricci di mare.

IMG_4562Broccoli rape on the stove

IMG_4598For our main course, we had Rabbit alla Cacciatore, Procida-style.  The tomato sauce was flavored with rosemary and garlic.

IMG_4600We ate the broccoli rabe with the rabbit.

IMG_4573Bramaterra Riserva 1996 Tenuta Monolo. Bramaterra is in the Alto Piemonte well north of Barolo. Made from 60% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, 20% Vesoplin10% and 10% Uva Rara. The vines were planted in 1970. There are 0.75 hectares of vineyards and the farming was organic. Exposure is northeast/southeast; there are 3,200 vines/hectare at 290 meters. The training system is guyot. The soil is deep and light, copper sands, with a high level of acidity with potassium, iron and manganese. Harvest is manual. Fermentation was in large wooden barrels (botti) with native yeast The wine is aged in botti for two years. The wine is classic Bramaterra. The wine has hints of cherry, spice, cinnamon, a touch of dried fruit and a note of nutmeg. The last vintage was in 2004. The wines can still be found on line going back to 1982

IMG_4601For dessert, we ventured to Sicily for some Cannoli from a nearby bakery.

IMG_4604Dessert wine Zibibbo Sicilia IGT Vino Liquoroso made from the Zibibbo grape Carlo Pellegrino. This bottle was given to my friend a number of years ago. I believe they still make the wine but the label is different and I am not sure it is now vinified in the same way.  The  wine was golden in color with subtle hints of citrus fruits, orange blossoms, peaches, a touch of honey and brioche. It was a pleasure to drink and a great way to end a wonderful lunch.

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Filed under Bramaterra, Champagne, Falanghina, Laherte Freres Champagne 2012