Category Archives: Chianti Classico

Perfect Combination: Pizza and Wine

I can’t imagine eating a pizza without accompanying it with a good bottle of Italian wine. Until the Covid virus came along, I was a member of a group that met once a month to drink Italian wine and eat pizza. Our conversations would focus on the best pizza and wine combinations, which wines were complemented by which pizzas, the latest wine vintages, and the latest doings at some of our favorite pizzerias.

I hope one day soon we will be able to resume our regular meetings, but even without my pizza and wine lovers group, I continue to indulge my passion for pizza and wine. I frequent a number of pizza restaurants, including Keste Pizza and Vino, Ribalta, and Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan, and Sottocasa in Brooklyn. Not only do they make great pizza, but each has a list of wines I enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the wine and pizza matches I have enjoyed recently.


Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2019 Pighin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the sandy subsoil, the roots of the vines go down deep resulting in richer fruit. Training system is single guyot with 4,000 vines per hectare. These hand picked selected grapes of optimum ripeness are  gently pressed in a pneumatic press immediately after the harvest. This is followed by a 14 to 18 day cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is produced without malolactic fermentation or oak aging so it is a true expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is a dry wine that has hints of citrus, sage, tomato leaf and yellow bell  pepper.

IMG_5446 Pizza Zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh citrus, sage and vegetable flavors of the wine complemented the nutty, smoky and cheesy topping.

IMG_5792Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole (Tuscany). The vineyards are at 300 meters. The yields are kept low to obtain concentration and complexity in the wine. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place on the skins  in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for 24 months in large Slavonian oak vats followed by a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries, a touch of violets and a note of what my wife calls “sunshine on the Tuscan pines.” This is a traditional, classic Chianti  from the Folonari family.

IMG_5444 3Pizza Margherita — the simplest and the best pizza in my opinion is a pizza Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.  The quality of its Margherita is the true test of any pizzeria.  The fragrance and richness of the fruit and the warmth of this traditional wine makes it a perfect combination with Pizza Margherita.  

IMG_5794Barbera Nizza “Cipressi” DOCG 2018 Made from 100% Barbera, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont). The grapes are grown in a type of soil called “astiane sand.” It consists of  calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in micro elements, in particular magnesium. The exposure is southeast to southwest at 230 to 280 meters. The training system is guyot and low spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks with 10/12 days maceration with the skins with a soft “shower” system of wetting the cap. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months of which 12 are in large oak casks. The wine has hints of mature cherry, violets, blackberries, raspberries and a touch of sweet spice with good acidity which makes it a very good wine with food.

IMG_5373 2Pizza  with Sausage, Mozzarella, Onion and Peppers — Barbera is my first choice for this pizza because the hearty combination of toppings are enhanced by the wine’s fruit flavor and good acidity.  


IMG_5789Pinot Nero Rosé Umbria IGT 2020 Made from 100% Pinot Nero Tenuta Di Salviano. Made from a single vineyard located on the right bank of Lake Corbara in Umbria at 1,640 ft. The soil is calcareous-clayey. The farming is organic. The manual harvest starts in late August and only select bunches are chosen. Destemming does not take place so the grapes are pressed quickly. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a low temperature and then the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a fresh, fragrant, delicate and fruity wine with hints of red fruit, strawberry, cherry, a touch of citrus and good acidity.  The estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta Family, producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_5569Foccacia — Topped with rosemary, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil, a focaccia, while not exactly a pizza, is a close relation. With it’s simple clear flavors, I like to serve it with this delicate, fruity rose’, and perhaps some cold cuts as a starter or a snack.  

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.

IMG_5442Summer Pizza–Mozzarella, prosciutto, whole grape tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, top this light and fresh pie and make a perfect combination with the lively, cool flavors of the Lambrusco.  The slightly salty flavor of prosciutto di Parma enhances the combination.

I hope you will enjoy these pizza and wine combinations. 


Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Cipressi Nizza, Lambrusco, Nozzole CCR, Pighin, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Salviano PR Rose, Sauvignon Blanc

A Long Weekend with Ernie

Our apartment is being painted and our friend Ernie said we could spend the week at his home. It is always a pleasure to visit Ernie because the conversation, food and wine are always the best.

Below is just some of the wines and food that we enjoyed.


IMG_5615 2

Tomatos, Mozzarella and Basil — a classic Caprese Salad

IMG_5629 3Mortadella,  Mozzarella and Tomatoes — The cherry tomatoes were imported from our garden in Manhattan.

IMG_5633Arancini — Sicilian style rice balls from Palazzone 1960 in Wayne, New Jersey.  This pastry shop makes some of the best pastries I have had outside of Sicily. 

IMG_5656 3Prosciutto and melon

Side dishes

IMG_5659 2Asparagus with balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil

IMG_5619 2Roasted Sweet Peppers

 The wine 

IMG_5661 2Chianti Classico Riserva Villa Antinori Riserva 1980 L&P Antinori the wine is mostly Sangiovese with some Cannaiolo and a very small amount of Trebbiano. Some of the wine was aged in 225 liter barrels. The wine has hints of sour cherries, leather, herbs and a note of violets. It had a low shoulder but was still drinking very well.

IMG_5625 2Barbera D’Asti “Scarpa” 2010 Antica Vinicola Casa Scarpa made from 100% Barbera from Monferrato. The vineyard is at 400 meters and the soil is clay. The vines were planted in 2000 and the training system is guyot. Harvest is by hand. Fermentation and aging for 12 to 18 months in stainless steel tanks and at least 6 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Barbera with hints of red fruit, cranberry, cherry and good acidity which makes it an excellent wine with food.


IMG_5620Ravioli stuffed with Four Cheeses from Eataly.

IMG_5622 2With Buffalo ricotta on top

IMG_5630Fettuccine with Fresh Tomatoes and RicottaIMG_5631On the plate

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Barbera D’Asti “Ca’ Di Pian” 2004 Spinetta made from 100% Barbera from Castagnole delle Lanze, Costigliole d’Asti and Montegrosso d’Asti. The exposure is southern and the vines are 24 years old at 300 meters. The soil is calcareous marl. Maceration and alcoholic fermentation in temperature controlled vats for an average of 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is done in used French oak barrels, followed by 12 months of aging and then about 3 months in bottle before release. This a balanced wine wine with hints of blueberries and peach.

IMG_5665 2Pasta Amatriciana  — my favorite, with guanciale, tomatoes and pecorino


IMG_5617 2 Figs — New Jersey grown by a friend.

IMG_5623 copyDeb’s Homemade Chocolate Cake and Ice cream — One of the best chocolate cakes I have had in years.


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Filed under Antinori, Barbera, Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Scarpa, Spinetta

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

Castello di Radda: Chianti Classico at its Best

I first met Annalisa Chiavazza when she was working for a wine PR firm based in Alba. She was the guide for a number of press trips I went on sponsored by the PR firm and we became friends.  Now Annalisa is the marketing and communications manager for Agricole Gussalli Beretta Group. Recently, Annalisa sent me some samples from Castello Radda, one of the members of the group whose wines I know and like.  



 In fact I have a few bottles from the 2013 vintage.

The Castello di Radda winery is located just north of the city of Siena in the town of Radda in Chianti and is part of Agricola Gussalli Beretta Group. The winery was acquired by the Beretta family in 2003 and comprises 40 hectares located in Radda in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti. Both in Rhadda and Gaiole the soil is well drained and moderately deep with low water retention which subjects the vines to constant stress which makes for better grapes.

They separately vinify the grapes of every vineyard and when possible, every parcel. This separation is maintained until bottling for the varietal wines, or until the moment of assemblage for the blended wines. 

The wines are racked in stainless steel tanks that are specified to contain the exact amount of fermented wine they will contain; this prevents the need to top up barrels with wines from other parcels, so the wine is not mixed.

In 2020 Castello Radda became a 100% organic winery. They also changed their label starting with the  2020 vintage.

These are the wines sent to me by Annalisa:


Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. 2018 Castello Di Radda made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% other grapes. The vineyards are at 400 meters with a southeast and southwest exposure. The soil has a clay and limestone structure with a good presence of silica skeleton. Harvest is by hand and then sorted in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel thermo-conditioned 50hl and 100hl vats, followed by maceration on the skins for two to three weeks. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in both stainless steel and wood. Part of the wine is aged in tonneaux and part in 20hl Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of violet, ripe plum, cherries and blackberries.


Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. Castello di Radda Riserva 2016 made from 100% Sangiovese from the oldest estate vineyards with south, southwest exposure at 400 meters. The limestone clay soils are more or less loose depending on the vineyard. The clusters are picked by hand and there is a quality selection on the sorting tables in the cellar. Initial fermentation takes place in 50hl stainless steel tanks and the wine remains on the skins for 3 weeks to one month depending on the ripeness of the grapes. Malolactic fermentation: 20% in oak and the remainder in 30hl stainless steel tanks. Maturation: 20% in new French oak tonneaux, 80% in once used tonneaux and 20 hl Slavonian ovals for about 20 months. The wine ages for a minimum of 9 months before release. The wine has hints of wild berries, blackberries, spices, brushwood and herbs.


Chianti 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. This is a very impressive wine.

I really liked the wines and hope to visit the winery soon where I will be able to taste all of the wines of Castello di Radda.

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Filed under Castello Radda, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Chianti Classico Gran Selezione

Norma “Hell’s Kitchen”

A second location of Norma Gastronomia Siciliana, one of my favorite restaurants, recently opened on Ninth Avenue in the neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen, near the Theater District.  Since Michele and I live on the east side and the original Norma restaurant is in walking distance from our apartment, we tend to go there. But Salvatore Fraterrigo, known as Toto‘, who is the chef and owner, urged us to come to the new location.  Last week we went for lunch and were very happy that we did.   

IMG_5326We were meeting a friend and arrived early so we had cocktails.  Norma in Hell’s Kitchen has a full bar and is larger than the original Norma.


Michele had an Aperol Spritz, made with prosecco, Aperol, soda, and a slice of orange while I had a Campari and soda with orange.

The three of us shared an assortment of different dishes.

3A9D917F-A4B1-416F-B386-ADF512DF5C43_1_105_cCaponata con crostini – a sweet and savory combination of eggplant, celery, green olives, capers, onions, and tomato, served with seasoned bread crostini.  With our starters, we drank:


Monleale 2001 Vigneti Massa made from Barbera (Piedmont). The vineyards are at 300 meters and the soil is rich in limestone. The grapes are harvested in the last week of September. Maceration is for 10 days followed by fermentation with indigenous yeasts.  It is bottled without filtration. The wine has hints of cherry, balsamic notes and a touch of chocolate.  It was beginning to show its age.

D80A9C44-1D6D-4E85-8390-08E55236E08D_1_105_cArancine Ragu – saffron rice ball with Bolognese meat sauce filling with green peas, served over tomato sauce.

C0C519DE-D8A7-4500-A135-1D39AE5E53BB_1_105_cFritto Misto di Mare —  made with shrimp, calamari and zucchini perfectly fried in a light coating is only available at the Hell’s Kitchen location.

E070F576-2FF3-45B5-AD82-3FC1BF8BB8B0_1_105_cSeafood Couscous — This is a specialty of Chef Toto’.  He imports a special type of semolina flour, from which he makes his own couscous by hand.  The seafood, including shrimp, calamari, fish and mussels, cooks in a rich broth flavored with a hint of sweet spices.  This is a fantastic dish perfect for anyone who enjoys seafood and we scooped up every last bit.  It is new on the menu at the Hell’s Kitchen location.


Chianti Classico Riserva 2004 DOCGRancia” Berardenga-Fèlsina made from 100% Sangiovese from Vigneto Rancia located in the commune of Castelnuovo Berardenga northwest of Siena and in the southern part of the Chianti Classico zone. The vineyard is at 400 meters with a southern exposure and is 2.4 acres. The training system is simple guyot. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed and then fermented at 28-30 degrees C with automatic daily punch downs followed by 12-15 days maceration. At the end of fermentation the wine goes into small and medium oak barrels in March-April for 12 to 18 months. The lots are blended and bottled with 6 -10 months aging before release. The wine has hints of black cherry, blackberry, plum, and spice with a note of licorice and a touch of violet. This wine was showing no signs of age.

CEFE7D77-CE3D-4B30-8E09-3903B5F71114_1_105_cWe also shared the Cabbucci Porchetta — a round of flatbread filled with roasted porchetta, arugula, provolone cheese, and spicy mayo.  There are cabbucci with several different kinds of filling on the menu at both Norma’s.

The desserts, which all seemed excellent, will have to wait for our next visit.

For after lunch or dinner there is Amari, Grappa and Liquori

Norma Hell’s Kitchen

801 9th ave.

NY, NY 10019




Filed under Barbara, Chianti Classico, Felsina. Berardenga, Norma

Daniele Cernilli on the Perfect Wine

Perfect wine

by Daniele Cernilli 06/07/21 | AKA DOCTOR WINE

Knowing how to evaluate a wine in perspective, imagining what will foreseeably happen to that wine with the passing of time are indispensable skills to define its greatness, even by means of a score.

The famous American wine critic James Suckling has awarded a 100/100 rating to Barone Ricasoli Chianti Classico Gran Selezione CeniPrimo 2018.This was the first time a Chianti Classico has received the highest rating and is a further confirmation that Francesco Ricasoli, the estate’s current owner, is back on top in the area in terms of quality and this is totally in line with his family’s tradition.

It should be noted that by awarding this rating, James Suckling has defined this as a perfect wine, despite its youth. For sure he assumed a great responsibility by doing this but one of the tasks of a wine critic is to draw the attention of their followers to such wines en primeur. Among other things, Suckling is also a great expert in Bordeaux wine and for years has frequented the en primeur tastings that are organized every year there and that determine the value of certain vintages and wines which gives a heads up to sector operators so they can acquire the more prestigious wines before they come out on the market. Thus he has a vast experience in tasting very young wine and is able to properly evaluate them, almost wagering on the future.

But exactly what is a “perfect wine” and how does one define “perfection”? And how can you explain this to those who object that it is inappropriate to give such a high rating to a wine that could evolve and improve with aging? Tasting experience, the ability to imagine what will likely happen to a certain wine with age and skill in recognizing the organoleptic properties of the wine all contribute to being able to reasonably pick a winner. In the case of wine, and here I perfectly agree with Suckling, one can recognize a superstar early on.

The wine in question here is the result of a project involving the planting of the right Sangiovese clones and rootstocks for the composition of the soil of a specific vineyard. This is the third vintage of the wine to be produced, after 2016 and 2017 which were very good in their own right, and the harvest in 2018 was very favorable in the area of Brolio. From an organoleptic standpoint, the rapport between the particularly velvety and composed tannins, the typical acidity of the varietal and the excellent amount extracts in the body was truly outstanding from the start and was a clear indication of how this wine will very favorably mature over many years to come. Being able to understand and recognize this is the result of having a specific expertise in this type of wine and great tasting talent, both of which Suckling undoubtedly has.

I am, personally, very pleased with his verdict. Castello Brolio and its wines have played a fundamental role in the history of Chianti Classico and Italy as a whole. They can be considered the Chianti equivalent of the great Bordeaux Chateaux and in different eras have served as authentic reference points. Francesco Ricasoli has personally run the estate since 1993, with the technical collaboration of Carlo Ferrini, and he has restored the quality of the wines back to their previous, top level after the complicated years of the 1970s and ‘80s. The “cru” wines, CeniPrimo, Colledià and Roncicone, are all formidable and territorial wines that, in their own way, are “perfect”. And so, hats off to Francesco Ricasoli and also to James Suckling, who has recognized this and stuck his neck out, taking a risk but doing so with foresight and competence.

* * *

MY THOUGHTS: After reading this article I went back to look at my notes from a Chianti Classico tasting I went to last month with almost 300 wines. There were a few  Ricasoli wines, but not the the one mentioned in the article. I have not tasted that wine. It sells for around $80, and 6,000 bottles were produced.

Also, Eric Asimov’s article in the New York Times entitled “This Summer,Make It Chianti Classico”   is excellent and I am in complete agreement with what he has to say.

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Filed under Chianti Classico, Daniele Cernilli, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine

Chianti Classico Connection

Last week, I attended a tasting called The Chianti Connection sponsored by the Chianti Classico Consortium where I was able to taste dozens (out of hundreds) of Chianti wines.  After the event I felt more connected to Chianti Classico than ever before, which was perfect, since if all goes as planned I will be in Tuscany in October and look forward to drinking many bottles of Chianti Classico.


The Symbol of the Chianti Classico Consortium

There were 235 Chianti Classico–Annata, Riserva and Gran Selezione from 2019 back to 2012, 7 Vin Santo Chianti Classico and even Olio DOP Chianti Classico. It was a two-day event but I could only attend on one. I had my place for two hours and I would pick four wines at a time from the list and they would be poured into my glass.  It was all done via smartphone, except the pouring.  Here are my thoughts on a few of those I tasted.

IMG_5160Chianti Classico: The Territory

IMG_5164The Quality Pyramid-producers must declare in advance if it is Chianti Classico Annata, Riserva or Gran Selezione

IMG_5168Chianti Classico must be made from 80% and 100% Sangiovese and up to 20% other permitted red grapes both indigenous and international.

The Wines


Chianti 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. I recently rediscovered Lilliano when I was in Rome last time and was reminded how good it can be.

IMG_5063Chianti Classico 2019 Bibbiano made from 100% Sangiovese The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets. 

IMG_5064Chianti Classico 2019 Volpaia Made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2.564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in Slavonian casks for 12 months. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint and a touch of licorice and a note of violets. Chianti Classico can age I had the 2004 Volpaia at a friend’s house just after the tasting and it was in perfect condition and not yet at its peak.

IMG_5065Chianti Classico 2019 “Brolio” Ricasoli made from Sangiovese. The vineyards are in Gaiole in Chianti, which are at 280 t0 480 meters. Vinified in stainless steel with 16 days of skin contact and 9 months in large barrels and barriques. The wine has fruity black cherry aromas and flavors with hints of spice and violets.

IMG_5078Chianti Classico 2019 Banfi made from mostly Sangiovese and small amounts of Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. Fermentation takes place with traditional skin contact of 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged for a short time in large casks of French oak. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherries, plums and violets with a note of leather.

IMG_5089Chianti Classico 2019 “Storia di Famiglia” Cecchi Made from 90 % Sangiovese, 5 % Colorino and 5% Canaiolo The vineyards are at 259 meters and the soil is middle dough ,alkaline and stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. There is traditional red wine fermentation at a controlled temperature. Fermentation and maceration for 18 days. The wine is aged in bottle for s minimum of 2 months This is a wine with hints of raspberries, strawberries, blueberries a touch of spice and a hint of pine.  Always one of my favorites.

IMG_5100Chianti Classico 2019 Riecine made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone and clay and the vineyard is at 450/500 meters and is certified organic by ICEA. The vines are 25 years old. Harvest is by hand in September and October with a selection of graprs and in the cellar. The grapes are separated by plot, crushed and fermented in open concrete Nomboly tanks. Maceration is for 10 days and pressed off. Aging is in old tonneaux and big Grenier casks. The wine was bottled in January 2021.  This is a fruit-driven, elegant, medium bodied wine with hints of red fruit, roses, eucalyptus and a touch of violet.

IMG_5072 2Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The wine is vinified in temperature controlled conical steel vats. Delestage and pumping over for about 20 to 22 days. The wine is aged in 500 liter oak barrels, partly new and partly second hand for 18 to 20 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and blueberries with a hint of violets. Monsanto is located in the western-central area of the Chianti Classico region in the municipality of Barberino Tavarnelle. I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.

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Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2018 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico for many years.

IMG_5079Chianti Classico DOCG 2018 Castello di Meleto made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 360 to 450 meters with a south, southeast and southwest exposure and the soil is gravelly, rich in galestro and alberese. There are 3,500/ 5,000 vines per hectare and the vines were planted in 1970-2000. The training system is spurred cordon, guyot and alberello (bush). The grapes are harvested by hand and by machine and then destemmed and lightly pressed. Maceration is on the skins for 15 to 20 days. Spontaneous alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks, without adding exogenous yeast, for 7-10 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in cement vats. The wine is aged in 54HL Slavonian oak barrels (botti) for 12 months. The wine is aged in the bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of cherry, blueberry and a hint of pine. It is a very pleasant wine that is very food friendly.

IMG_5090Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2001 Castello di Meleto 90% Trebbiano, 5% Sangiovese and 5% Malvasia. The vineyard has western exposure and is at 400 meters. The soil is limestone mixed with sandstone. Training system is guyot, there are 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines were planted in 1972 -1974. Manual harvest and the grapes are naturally dried in well-ventilated rooms followed by fermentation and aging is barrels of different woods and sizes, which are sealed and kept in rooms with shifting temperatures. Aging is for 4 to 5 years in mixed wooden casks called caratelli of 60, 100 and 120 liters. The caratelli are filled up to 70%. This is a full dessert wine has hints of dried fruit, honey and apricot with a touch of vanilla.

There was an incredible amount of Chianti Classico to taste but I could only sample a fraction of them.  Chianti Classico has always been one of my favorite wines and I am happy to report that I liked all the wines I tasted.


Filed under Badia a Coltibuono, Banfi, Bibbiano, Brolio Chianti Classico, Castello di Meleto, Cecchi, Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione, Monsanto, Riecine, Vin Santo, Volpaia

Thanksgiving 2020

Like most of us this year, our Thanksgiving plans were curtailed by Covid concerns.  Michele had been planning a non-traditional yet all-American menu, but when friends decided not to join us for health reasons, the elaborate menu no longer made sense.  She simplified the menu to suit just four diners.

It was just last week that I wrote that we rarely eat steak at home.  But having enjoyed that one, we decided it would be a good choice for our main course for four.

IMG_3837The Wines

IMG_3816 2We started with Selosse Initial Blanc de Blancs, a classic Avize Brut. The soil is chalky marls. There is a long aging in bottle before and after disgorgement. It is an assemblage of three successive vintages from lower slope sites. It is released an average of five years after the most recent harvest in the blend. The dosage is 5g/l. Disgorged Oct. 2008. This is a complex Champagne with hints of melons, dried citrus fruits and a touch of white flowers and brioche. The role oxygen plays is very important and all of the Selosse wines have the trademark oxidation which adds more complexity to the wine. A few weeks ago at a friend’s home I attended a Zoom tasting of the wines of Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. I enjoyed the wines and was happy to taste one of them again.

IMG_3795After a stormy start, Thanksgiving afternoon was sunny and bright and we were able to begin our celebration with a festive toast outdoors on our terrace.  To go with the Champagne we had warm gougeres, parmesan cheese puffs.

IMG_3820Fiorano Bianco Vino da Tavola 1980 Azienda Agricola Boncompagni   made from 100% Semillon. My favorite red wine may just be the Fiorano Rosso (those produced before 1996).  The Bianco I always had trouble with and this bottle, while drinkable, was not showing very well.

IMG_3810Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 1990 Edoardo Valentini made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is a great white wine but this bottle was showing its age and  seemed to have off aromas and flavors.

IMG_3813Meursalt-1990 “Perrieres”   Pierre Matrot made from 100% Chardonnay. I do not know how this wine was produced since the winery changed its way of making wine in 2000. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, apricot and a touch of honey. It has a wonderful finish and a long aftertaste.

The Table

IMG_3797Our first course was a chestnut soup with whipped cream and grappa, a recipe from Chef Fabio Trabocchi.  Because it was so rich and flavorful, Michele served it in small cups.  We would definitely enjoy having this soup again.

IMG_3817Mazia-Chambertin 1990 Domaine Maume made from 100% Pinot Noir from 75-year-old vines. The vineyard is .64 ha and the soil is clay limestone. There is a separate vinification of individual parcels. The clusters are 100% de-stemmed. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in mostly older barrels and bottled without fining or filtration. This wine was not ready to drink. It was too young and more thean half the bottle was left. Michele and I drank it for lunch the next day and it was wonderful.

IMG_3799 2Michele’s original menu included a prime rib roast, but with just two guests, she downsized the menu to two thick Angus beef strip loin steaks.  With them we had roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, as well as extra-buttery mashed potatoes.

Chianti Classico 1970 Fattoria Santa Cristina- L& P Antinori. I believe the grapes were Sangiovese, with some Cannaiolo, and a small amount of white grapes, most likely Trebbiano. The wine had great color and was drinking like traditional Chianti, with hints of red fruit, cherries, blueberries, leather and a touch of violets. We all agreed it was a wonderful wine and was the wine of the evening.

Cheese course consisted of La Tur, Alta Badia and Sardinian pecorino.

IMG_3793Rather than pie, Michele made 3 Fruit Crisp, with apples, pears and cranberries, baked under a crunchy oatmeal and brown sugar topping.  The tangy fruit was complemented by the pumpkin pie and 4 flavors of ice cream supplied by our guests.


Dessert ready to be served

Chianti Classico 1960
Villa Antinori made from Sangiovese with Cannaiolo and Colorino and the white grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia. They may have also used the governo method (drying 10% of the grapes). The wine was showing its age and was not drinking well.

We finished, as always, with espresso and grappa.


Filed under Antinori, Champagne Substance Jacques Selosse, Chianti Classico, Fiorano Bianco, Meursalt Pierre Matrot, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Valentini

A 1978 Chianti Classico with Lunch

During a visit to the Fattoria di Monsanto in 1983, I tasted the Santa Caterina Chianti Classico for the first time.  That day, I spend several hours speaking with the owner, Fabrizio Bianchi.  He introduced to Laura Bianchi, his daughter, who now runs the winery, as well as her sister and their mother. It was a wonderful visit and one I still remember after all these years. Recently when I saw the wine for sale I just had to purchase it.

Santa Caterina Chianti Classico 1978 DOC Fattoria di Monsanto –the wine was likely made mostly from Sangiovese with a little Canaiolo. They stopped using white grapes in 1968. This was their wine to be drunk young  and for everyday drinking. They stopped making it in the 1990’s replacing it with a wine called Monrosso, which is not a Chianti Classico.

For a  wine that was made to be drunk young this wine has lasted for 42 years, once again proving that Sangiovese can age.  The wine had hints of red berries, leather, cooked  fruit. and a hint of violets with no signs of oxidation.

With the wine we ate  grilled  lamb kabobs  with  peppers,  onions  and tomatoes.

We finished the wine with two cheeses,  Parmigiano Reggiano and  a young Piave. 

Michele’s anise and wine cookies are a staple in our house and I finished the meal with them and a good cup of espresso.

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Filed under Chianti Classico, Monsanto Santa Caterina, Uncategorized

A Lunch in Rome to Remember


Reservations at Roscioli Salumeria con Cucina in Rome are hard to get even when there are few tourists in town. Livia Alyson Careaga, an old friend who is in the wine business, suggested we meet there for lunch and said she would make the reservation.  That was fine by us since the place is always crowded and service can at times be rushed.

Michele and I arrived first and all I said to the receptionist was “Livia.” She broke out in a smile and replied, “of course,” and showed us to a table.  While we waited, a waiter appeared and poured us complementary glasses of champagne.  He could not have been nicer and we realized we had never received such a warm welcome at Roscioli before and it was because of Livia.  When she arrived, Livia introduced him as Maurizio, and he poured her some champagne and told us the day’s specials.

Maurizio took our order and brought out a few dishes for us to try as we waited. In fact he brought out so much we had to cancel one of the courses.   

First out was a basket of pizza rosa, slices of crisp, thin focaccia slathered with tomato sauce.  Romans eat this for a snack throughout the day and stop in at the nearby Roscioli Bakery to buy it by the slice to eat out of its brown paper wrapper.

Fresh Cantabrea anchovies with olives on focaccia came next, a favorite of mine.

We also had burrata cheese stuffed with gorgonzola, something we had never had before.  It was served with cubes of ripe pear.

After the champagne, we ordered the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2014 made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo by Edoardo Valentini

The winery is organic and biodynamic. They only keep 10% of the production, the rest is sold to a local co-op. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 24 months, I believe. I visited the winery a number of years ago. Edoardo (d.2006) spent all the time talking to us about the terroir, the grapes and the vineyards.  He did not speak about how the wine was produced.This is a very complex and full bodied wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and peach, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste and an extra something that is difficult to describe. It is a great white wine. When I am in Italy I drink this wine whenever I see it on the wine list because it is less costly than you can buy it retail in the USA.

Roscioli is famous for their pasta alla Carbonara.  It was fantastic.


Michele had rigatoni alla Matriciana, which was excellent.

Livia had fettuccine with ragu, the pasta special.

Our second wine was the Chianti Classic Reserve 2006 from Castell’INVilla made from 100% Sangiovese sourced from the best vineyards on the property at the southeast corner of Castelnuovo Berardengo. The vineyards are at 300 meters and the soil is alluvial with pebbles and a mixture of lime, clay and sand. Harvest is by hand the second half of September and early October.  There is natural fermentation with native yeasts is stainless steel tanks for 12 to 14 days. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak for 24 to 36 months. The wine is released a year or two after other producers’ wines. This is a Chianti Classico that can age and I have had a number of older bottles. The wine was hints of plum, black cherry, violets and a touch of licorice. I picked the white wine and Livia picked this one. I was happy she did.

Last was the lamb chops, the famous baby lamb of Rome, cooked perfectly.  Just then, the chef stopped by to say hello and we complimented him on the delicious meal.  He was very gracious and explained how he prepares some of the dishes.


Crunchy cannoli filled with sheeps’ milk ricotta topped with candied fruits and pistachios came out next.

Some beautiful little pastries appeared next, though we were too full to appreciate them.

In fact, we were having such a good time talking and drinking that we lost track of time. We were in the restaurant for over 4 hours, missing a 4:30 appointment.

This was our last meal in Rome for this trip and it was one that we will always remember.  Thanks to Livia Alyson for inviting us there and to the staff at Roscioli for their hospitality and good food and and wine.    We left the next day a few days ahead of schedule because of concerns about travel during the coronavirus crisis.  We hope to return soon!







Filed under Castellin Villa, Chianti Classico, Riscioli, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Uncategorized, Valentini