Category Archives: Champagne

Another Celebration

My birthday this year fell on a Saturday and to celebrate I spent a long weekend in Montclair, NJ at the home of a good friend. It was a wonderful time of eating and drinking including a 1942 “Chianti.”

For my birthday dinner, Michele made Anchovy Twists for an appetizer, sticks of tender cream cheese pastry filled with anchovies.

With this we had

Champagne “Chardonnay” Brut 1982 Pol Roger & Co. made from grapes from the Grand Crus of the Cõte des Blancs: Oiry, Chouillu, Cramant, Avize and Oger. There are two débourbages (settlings), one at the press house immediately after pressing, the second “a froid” in stainless steel tanks at 6°C for 24 hours. A slow fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with each variety and each village kept separate. There is full malolactic fermentation prior to the final blending. The secondary fermentation takes place in bottle at 9°C in cellars 33 meters below street level. It remains here until it undergoes remuage (riddling) by hand, a rarity in Champagne today. The wine has hints of grapefruit, apricot a touch of apple and a note of hazelnut. Produced in limited quantities, this cuvee has been aged for 7 years in the cellars before release. It was showing very well.

Melon Soup – A refreshing chilled soup made with cantaloupe, orange juice, honey and yogurt.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2002 Eduardo Valentini made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and biodynamic. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months. This is a very complex, full-bodied wine with hints of citrus fruit, apple, mineral undertones, good acidity, a great finish and aftertaste, and that extra something that is difficult to describe. One of the guests called it the wine of the afternoon.

Puligny-Montrachet “Les Folatieres” 1982 Joseph Drouhin made from 100% Chardonnay in the central part of the Cotes de Beaune. There are 10,000 vines per hectare and the pruning system is guyot. There is a very slow pressing and the juice from the last pressing is not retained. No yeasts or enzymes are added. The wine goes directly into the barrel after decanting. It is aged in French oak barrels, 25% new. This is a complex, rich, velvety wine with hints of honey, honeysuckle, almond with dried fruit notes, with a very long aftertaste. It was wonderful.

Grilled Skewers  on the BBQ of Lamb, Bacon and Bread

served with Green Beans in Salsa Verde and a Tomato Salad was our main course.

Gevrey-Chambertin Premier Cru “Lavaux Saint-Jacques” 1982 Domaine Maume made from 100% Pinot Noir grown in a 28 hectare vineyard of clay and limestone soil. The vineyard is worked by horse and plow and is certified organic. The grapes are hand harvested and destemmed prior to fermentation on indigenous yeast. The wine is aged in 70% new French oak for a period of 18 months and then the wine is bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine has hints of black and red cherries with notes of violets and rose petals.

Barbaresco “Camp Gros Martinenga” 1982 Tenuta Cisa Asinari Dei Marchese Di Gresy made from 100% Nebbiolo (Magnum). This is a wine of elegance and structure with hints of tobacco and cherries, a touch of balsamic, well balanced and a long finish. There was almost half a bottle left and we drank it two days later and it was even better.

Cote-Rotie 1999 (Magnum) Jean Francois et Carmen Garon made from 100% Syrah. The Domaine is located in the municipality of Ampuis and it extends over 7 hectares in the extreme north of the Rhone Valley. This is a terroir- driven wine. It is a big, structured wine with flavors of red and black fruit and hints of cherry and blueberry. The wine needs more time and was drinking marketdly better two days later.

Brolio Rosso “Chianti Superiore” Castello di Brolio in Chianti, Siena, Casa Vinicola Barone Ricascoli Firenze 1942. The wine was made mostly of Sangiovese with the addition of Canaiolo, Malvasia and Colorino. I do not know if there was any Trebbiano in the blend or if the governo method was used. The wine was showing its age but still drinkable.

The dessert was a perfectly seasonal fresh peach cake which we ate with ice cream.

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Filed under Barbaresco, Birthday 2019, Brolio Chianti Classico, Burgundy, Champagne, Cote Rote, Joseph Drouhin, Uncategorized

Chateau Latour 1942 with Lunch

Michele and are going to Italy in November with friends and we invited them for lunch so we could make our plans. They knew my birthday was later in the week so they surprised me by bringing a Grand Vin Chateau La Tour 1942.

Michele made one of my favorite appetizers, which I always order when I am in Rome: deep fried zucchini flowers filled with mozzarella and anchovies.

I went to the Union Square Greenmarket early in the morning to make sure that they would have them and I bought an extra boxful just in case.

With the zucchini flowers we had Champagne:

J.L. Vergnon Grand Cru Blanc De Blancs Brute NV made from 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay from plots in le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize. There is 20% reserve wine aged for 3 months in oak barrels and 80% of the single year in steel tanks. The Champagne ages for 3 years in the cellars before disgorging. Dosage Brut 5g/L. The bubbles filed the glass of the fresh, complex and classic Champagne with hints of pear grapefruit and a touch of biscuit.

Louis Roederer Blanc De Blancs Brut 1997 made from 100% Chardonnay grown in calcareous soil in the heart of the Cote des Blancs in the Grand Crus of Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize. The wine is matured on the lees for five years and left for a minimum of 6 months after disgorging to obtain perfect maturity. The Champagne has notes of white fruit and dried fruit with a creamy undertone and a touch of honeysuckle. For a wine over 20 years old it had a continuous train of bubbles and was very complex and elegant.

The main course was steak,

with green beans flavored with anchovies and pecorino,

a fresh, creamy corn pudding

and an heirloom tomato salad which we had with the red wine.

Grand Vin Chateau Latour 1942. Made from mostly Cabernet Sauvignon and a touch of Merlot. Its color and flavors made it seem like a much younger wine. It was perfect with the steak.

Barbera d’Alba 1978 Poderi Aldo Conterno “Conca Tre Pile” DOC Made from 100% Barbera from the Conca Tre Pile Vineyard in Bussia (Monforte d’Alba). Hand harvest the first week of October. There is skin contact inside stainless steel vats. The must stays in contact with the skins for about 8 to 10 days. The wine remains in stainless steel vats for a few months and then is put into oak casks where it remains for another few months. The wine was showing a little age but it still had hints of red fruit and a touch of hazelnuts.

With the cheese we had:

Recioto Valpolicella Valpantena Vino Spumante Naturale 1978 Bertaini made from Corvina and Rondinella and the grapes selected are those which have the most exposure to the sun. The grapes are dried for 3 months on bamboo racks. The wine is aged in cherry wood. This is a dense and velvety sparkling but not cloying wine which leaves the palate clean. It has concentrated cherry aromas and flavors. On the palate it has an aftertaste of walnuts. I do not believe Bertani makes this Spumante version any more.

 

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Filed under Barbera, Birthday 20019, Champagne, Gran Vin Chateau Latour 1942, Louis Roederer Brut, Recioto

Norma: Sicilian Food at its Best

Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan is a restaurant that I frequent because of the great food and warm atmosphere.

I have probably tried everything on the menu and friends often ask me to recommend my favorite dishes.  These are some, though not all, of the foods that I often enjoy.

Caponata con crostini e mandorle–Eggplant, celery, green olives, onions, tomato, sweet and savory seasoning, toasted almonds served with crostini.

I like to have the Caponata with the focaccia, hot from the pizza oven.

Panelle– Fried chickpea fritters with garlic and parsley aglio olio sauce.Arancini al Ragu –Saffron rice ball stuffed with Bolognese meat sauce, green peas and served over tomato sauce.

Rianata pizza — Sicilian style with garlic, tomatoes, herbs and anchovies.

Cabucci Porchetta — hot flatbread sandwich with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and herbs.

Timballo di melanzane alla parmigiana- Eggplant parmigiana timbale with mozzarella & parmigiana cheese, basil and tomato sauce.

Pasta Alla Norma — Imported durum paccheri from Gragnano, large tubular pasta with a sauce of fresh tomatoes, eggplant, basil and ricotta salata cheese.

Anelletti Alla Palermitana in Casseruola – Tiny ring shaped baked pasta baked in a casserole with beef & pork ragu, green peas, Italian ham, eggplant, primo sale and ricotta salata cheeses, and basil

 

Cannoli – House made cannoli filled with sheep milk ricotta and pistachios.

Almond Semifreddo with Chocolate  Sauce

Cassata — Sicilian cheesecake

The Wine

Champagne Egly Ouriet   1990 made from 75% Pinot Noir and 25% Chardonnay from 100% Grand Cru Ambonnay from 50 plus year old vines. Vinification in barrels 25% new. Aged for 8 years on the lees.

Champagne Henriot “Millésime 1988 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2003 DOC made from 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini  very complex and full with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, melon, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe. The wine was not showing any sings of age.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo 2014 DOC made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo Edoardo Valentini aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 12 months. With very nice fruit aromas and flavors, a note of strawberry and for a rose’, a great finish and aftertaste. There was some wine left in the bottle and I had it 3 days later.  The wine was still in perfect condition.

Prephylloxera Etna Rosso 2006 DOC Township of Randazzo from the Don Peppino Vineyard. Made from Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Right in front and to the right of the cellar in the Calderara Sottana vineyard are two parcels in the midst of the larger vineyards that have survived phylloxera. They are over 130 years old and stand on their own rootstock. Exposure is northern and the soil is black volcanic pumice with some ash. There is spontaneous malolactic fermentation and aging in French oak barriques and tonneaux for 18 months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Cerasuolo, Champagne, Henriot, Norma, Tenuta delle Terre Nere Rosso, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized, Valentini

Wonderful Afternoon Eating and Drinking at Keste Wall St.

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

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

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

Then the margherita – a classic

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

Pizza with mozzarella, pistachio nuts and sausage.

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

 

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

 

Here are the wines we drank:

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

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

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

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

Herniot Champagne Brut 1979 The current vintage is made Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. This was the Champagne of the afternoon.

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

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

Another delicious afternoon of food and wine at Keste!

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The Wine Media Guild at I-Trulli Restaurant

The Wine Media Guild, an association of wine communicators, held its annual end of the year dinner at i-Trulli restaurant in NYC. I was formerly the wine director/sommelier at i Trulli and returning there always brings back a lot of memories.  In addition, Pat Savoie and I were stepping down as co-chairs and David Ransom and Nick Antonaccio. were taking over as the new co-chairs.

There were many great bottles of wine drunk that evening, too many to list here thou I did get a chance to taste some of them

The list below were just the wines that we drank at my table. As always we started with Champagne.

Champagne Henriot “Millésime 2008 made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from 6 Grand Crus: Maily Champagne, Verzy, Verzenay on Montagne de Reims, Mesnil-su-Oger, Avize, Chouilly on Côte des Blancs. The wine has hints of raspberries and strawberries with a touch of hazelnuts and brioche and a long finish. Ed (Champagne for Dummies) McCarthy, was sitting at my table, and said this house is finally getting the praise it deserves. Great way to start the evening.

Champagne Deutz Blancs De Blancs 1989 in magnum made from 100% Chardonnay. It has lemon and lime aromas, a note of cream and a touch of hazelnut. It was in perfect condition.

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2005 Eduardo Valentini made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is one of my favorite white wines. We should have decanted the wine because it took some time to open up in the glass but when it did it was wonderful.

Among the appetizers there were panzarotti, crisp  fried  turnovers  filled  with  tomatoes  and  mozzarella.

Meatballs

For the pasta cause there was  orecchiette with broccoli rabe.  The pasta is handmade by Dora Mazovilla,  the  mother  of  the  owner.

The main course was sliced steak with an arugula salad.

 

Chateau Haut Brion 1983 made from 45% merlot, 44% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc and a note of Petit Verdot. It was a pleasure to drink.

Château Corton Grancey Grand Cru 1999 Louis Latour in magnum. It is a blend of four areas of Domaine Latour Corton Grand Cru: Bressandes, Perrieres, Gréves and Clos du Roi, proportions depending on the vintage. Traditional fermentation takes place in open vats. 10 to 12 months aging in oak barrels, 35% new. Louis Latour cooperage, French oak, medium toasted. This is a wine with supple tannins, wonderful aromas with great length and finish. It also took some time to open up in the glass.

Pormmard Grands Epenots 1979 Hurbet de Montille made from 100% Pinot Noir using a significant proportion of whole clusters, varying by vintage. They are known for wines that can age. It was drinking very well.

Carema 1989 Produttori di Carema (a co-op in the Northern part of Piedmont) made from 100% Nebbiolo. Small plots are hand harvested from various members of the co-op. All the vineyards are southeast facing and range in altitude from 300 to 600 meters. Traditional vinification, the wine is fermented and aged for at least 48 months in large Slavonian oak casks. It has hints of red cherries, red roses; leather and tar. The wine was in perfect condition.

Chateau Coutet a Barsac “Cuvee Madame 1989 made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Gris and Muscadelle. Barsac is technically part of the Sauternes region but its sandy and limestone soil produce a lighter sweet wine with balanced acidity. The wine has hints of tropical fruit, ginger, candied apricot and a touch of honey. It was a perfect way to end a wonderful evening.

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Filed under Bordeaux, Burgundy, Carema, Champagne, Chateau Coutet Cuvee Madame, Deutz Blanc de Blances, Henriot, Uncategorized

Pizza, Champagne, Older Italian Red Wines at Keste

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

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

Roberto

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Six Wines

Listed below are 6 wines  I had with lunch or dinner and I have not had a chance to mention in other blogs.

Champagne Grand Siecle “Alexandra” Rose 1997 Laurent-Perrier. Made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This Champagne is made in extremely limited quantities and only in the best vintage years. The 1997 was only the fourth bottling of this Champagne. It has all of the characteristics of a great Rose Champagne but it was also so subtle.

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2010 “Vigneto Bucerchiale Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is 12.50 hectares, at 200 meters, the soil is of medium density clay, dry and stony, well drained. There are 5,200 vines per hectare and the exposure is south/southwest. Vines were planted in 1968 and 1992 and the training system is spur cordon. Hand harvested the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel with all natural yeasts. Fermentation and maceration is for 25 days. The wine is aged in 225 hl French casks. This is a wine with hints of cherry, violets and plums with a touch of tobacco.

Chambolle Musigny 1978 Domaine Robert Groffier made from 100% Pinot Noir. Burgundy at its best.

Aglianico del Taburno Riserva Vigna Cataratte 2009 DOCG Fontanavecchia The grapes are selected and hand harvested. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged for 14 months in barriques and aged for 34 more months before release. This is a bold wine with hints of cherry, spice, chocolate and a touch of licorice.

The Emidio Pepe winery is Organic and Bio Dynamic . The training system is cordon spur and tendone. Only natural yeasts are used. The grapes are crushed by  hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 hl for two years. Since this is natural wine, malolactic fermentation may take place in the tank or in the bottle. The bottles are corked by hand.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1983 Emidio Pepe This bottle was showing its age but was still very drinkable.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe this bottle was showing very well with deep red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of cherry, spice and leather- it is a great wine. I have had the 1983 before and it too is a great wine. As someone once said “ the are no great wines, only great bottles of wine”

 

 

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Filed under Aglianico, Burgundy, Champagne, Chianti Classico, Chianti Rufina, Emidio Pepe, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Selvapiana