Category Archives: Chianti Classico

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

Advertisements

3 Comments

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”

 

 

2 Comments

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

My Favorite Restaurant In Rome

Every time Michele and I are in Rome we go to Checchino dal 1887 and have been doing this since 1983. This time we went with three friends on a Sunday afternoon.  The restaurant is owned by the Mariani family.

Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen and their sister Marina handles the accounting. Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world.

When we arrived and Francesco showed us to our table, he pointed to the table next to us and there was Daniele Cernilli (aka Doctor Wine and author of the Essential Guide to Italian Wines 2019), his wife Marina Thompson, and Daniele’s mother and father–his father is 96 years old.

Francesco brought up me two magnums from the cellar.  I knew immediately which one I wanted, the 1975 Chianti Classico Villa Antinori Cantine del Marchese Ludovico e Piero Antinori because I know it is a wine that can age. In 2016 I had the 1964 and it was fantastic. I asked Francesco to pour some wine for Daniele and was interested to see what he would say. I asked him about the wine. He said it was mostly Sangiovese, with some Cannaiolo and a very small amount of white grapes, most likely Trebbiano. Antinori was just beginning to experiment with barriques and Daniele said a little of the wine was most likely aged in barriques.

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!

I started with the Assaggio di Fagioli e Cotiche, pig skin and borlotti beans cooked with tomato. This dish is so good, so intense, that I cannot resist it.

Bucatini all’Amatriciana is my favorite pasta dish and, as they say, “nobody does it better.” I always order it here.

Michele had the  rigatoni  with  oxtail  ragu.

Three of the best red wines in Italy are made around Rome.  They are Torre Ercolano, Fiorano and Colle Piccioni. The only one still on the list is the

Colle Piccioni Rosso 1983Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine was aged in large oak barrels. The wine has hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste.

For my main course, I had Fegato di vitello ai ferri, thin slices of grilled veal liver with onions.  It was very flavorful and tender, and as a side dish.

I had an Artichoke alla Romana. 

Michele had,  at  Daniele’s  recommendation,  the  padelloto, a plate of assorted innards including kidneys, liver, sweetbreads, and so on, cooked with garlic, rosemary and a dash of vinegar.  It is the classic quinto quarto, fifth quarter of the calf that was eaten only by the poor people of Rome, though it is now considered a great delicacy.               

There was a cheese course  with  some  aged Fontina,  pecorino  Romano,  and goat  cheese.

Daniele sent over a bottle of port to go with the cheese

.Vintage Port 1970 Quinta da Roeda Corft.  The Quinta da Roêda is one of the great Porto vineyards. It is produced only in years of exceptional quality when a general Porto vintage is not declared. The grapes are trod by foot in granite lagares to minimize the release of harsh bitter compounds from skins and seeds. The wine spends two years aging in vats before bottling. It had hints of red berries, dark cherry, plum and spice and was a perfect combination with the cheese.

Checchino dal 1887 is the best restaurant in Rome for real Roman food. If you are in Rome this is the one restaurant you must go to. It is also Daniele’s favorite restaurant in Rome, and he is a native Roman.

2 Comments

Filed under Antinori, Checchino dal 1887, Chianti Classico, Colle Picchioni, Port

The Wines of Vecchie Terre Di Montefili with Nicola Marzovilla

For a number of years I was the sommelier/ wine director for I Trulli Restaurant in NYC and collaborated with Nicola Marzovilla, the owner of the restaurant on various wine projects.  In 2015, Nicola got involved with an historic vineyard, Vecchie Terre di Montefili, outside Greve in Chianti, which just released their first vintage under his leadership.  I was very interested in seeing what style of wine they produced and I attended a tasting of the wines at I Trulli. 

Nicola said the wine maker is the talented Serena Gusmeri, and he hired her because they both have the same approach to wine making — as little interference in the wine making process as possible. He wanted the grapes to speak for themselves. The vines are very old and they produced a wine that is very concentrated and that he believes can last for 20 years or more. This concentration and longevity comes from the grapes themselves and not from anything that is done during the winemaking process.

There are 12.5 hectares of vineyards planted mostly with Sangiovese in the heart of Chianti Classico on the highest hill outside of Panzano.  With the 2015 vintage they use spontaneous fermentation for the alcoholic fermentation, malolactic fermentation and the final refinement.

The Wines of Montefili

Chianti Classico DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese. The terrain is hilly and the vineyards are at 500 meters. The soil is galestro and alberese. The vineyards were planted in the late nineties and Nicola said these were the youngest vines on the property. The training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is for a minimum of 15 months in large Slavonian oak barrels and 6 months in bottle before release. $30

Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a careful selection of grapes from vineyards with the best exposure. The vineyards were planted in the late 1980’s. The training system is spurred cordon and guyot. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeast. Aging is in Slavonian oak barrels for a minimum of 22 months and 6 months in bottle before release. $50

Vigna Vecchia “Gran Selezione” DOCG 2015 made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard called Vigna Vecchia planted in 1981. The training system is spurred  cordon and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is rotated between 30HL and 10HL oak barrels for 26 months and 8 months in bottle before release. $75

The three previous wines were very similar.  They were very closed and will age for a very long time and are showing great potential.  Nicola felt that the Gran Selezione was drinking the best right now.  I thought the regular Chianti Classico was drinking the best.

Nicola said that none of  the wines undergo filtration or fining.

Anfiteatro IGT Colli Toscana Centrale made from 100% Sangiovese from the Anfiteatro vineyard planted in 1985. The training system is bilateral cordon. Fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. The wine is aged for 28 months in 5HL barrels and 10 Hl barrels and a minimum of 12 months in bottle before release. This is a very big wine that needs more time.

Nicola said because of the position of vineyards and because they are at 500 meters the microclimate is not like any other in Tuscany. $120

Rosso IGT Toscana 2015 made from Sangiovese and Cabernet Franc. The Cabernet Franc is sourced from outside their estate. The vineyards are at 500 meters and were planted in the mid 1990’s and the soil is galestro and alberese. The training system is spurred cordon. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for a minimum of 20 months, the Cabernet Franc is aged in tonneaux and the Sangiovese in 20 hl oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. $30  This was one of the best blends of this type I ever tasted and was drinking very nicely now

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

 

1 Comment

Filed under Chianti Classico, Montefili

Celebrating La Befana with Friends

Italians end the holiday season by celebrating the Epiphany, also known as 3 Kings Day.  The story goes that the 3 Kings, on their way to visit the Baby Jesus, stopped at the home of an old woman and invited her to join them on their journey.  She said no, because she had too much housework to do.  She soon regretted her decision and took off on her broom to search for the Christ Child.

La Befana

The old woman is called La Befana, and according to tradition, she arrives on the Epiphany on her broomstick to bring gifts to the good Italian boys and girls and coal to the bad ones. It is a national holiday in Italy also the opportunity for one last holiday feast.  This year, our friends Lars and Karen invited us to their home to share a meal that would have made the Befana very proud.  

We started with grilled purple asparagus seasoned with sea salt from Marsala,

followed by thin, crispy fried root vegetables with more of that sea salt,

and fried calamari.

We had two wines with the appetizers 

Vermentino “La Pettegola” Toscana 2017 IGT made from 100% Vermentino. Following a very soft pressing, fermentation takes place for about 13 to 16 days in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine has hints of citrus fruit and peach and a touch of sage with good acidity. It is a very easy drinking wine and it worked very well with the appetizers. 

Cuvee Aurora Rose Metodo Classico Alta Lange 2014 DOCG 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage)  and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.

Then we tasted the

2002 Merlot Santa Maria Valley, Bien Nacido Vineyard from Caparone. The wine is unfined and unfiltered and the style of wine is more European that California. The wine was showing no signs of age.

This was followed by

Chianti Classico “Fonte Alla Selva” 2015 DOCG made from mostly Sangiovese with Canaiolo and Cabernet Sauvignon from over 40 hectares of estate vineyards in Castellina the heart of the Chianti Classical zone with alluvial soils, limestone and clay. Fermentation with traditional maceration on the skins for 8 to 10 days, followed by short aging in French oak barrels. Bottling takes place the summer after the harvest. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and blackberry with a touch of spice.

Lars preparing  main course  Osso Buco with polenta, which he served in the traditional wooden trenchers used in the Lazio region for serving polenta 

The main course

Brunello Di Montalcino 1998 DOCG 100% Sangiovese grown on hillside vineyards at 220 meters in stony, calcareous and well structured soli. There is a meticulous grape selection (yield not exceeding 6 metric tons/ha) is followed by vinification in temperature–controlled Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks, with skin contact for 10 to 20 days. The wine ages for two years in various sizes oak barrels, 305-liter barriques, 60 and 120 hl barrels; the wine is then aged in bottle for an additional 8 to 12 months.The wine is released 5 years after the harvest. This is the information for the current release. I believe that the 1998 was not aged in this way.

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva “Poggio All’Oro 1988 Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250 mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of 6 years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. This is the information from the current vintage.

Brunello Di Montalcino Riserva 1979 Villa Banfi 100% Sangiovese, select clones from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino. This is an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruit, violets, and a touch of licorice and spice. This delightful and wonderful Brunello one of the best I have ever tasted and still has a lot of life left. Lars said this was the first Brunello produced by Banfi and I am sure it was made in a very traditional style. Banfi did not begin their clonal research project on Sangiovese until 1982.

We finished the wine with cheese

There were 3 desserts, including Panettone and two traditional homemade cakes made with dried fruits.

The final wine of the feast was

Recioto della Valpolicella Classico IGT “Regolo” 2015 Sartori made from 100% Corvina. The vineyards are in the hilly area of Valpolicella with clay and calcareous soil. Only the best grapes are selected. A gentle pressing is followed by skin maceration at low temperature for 8 to 10 days. In February the wine rests on Amarone pomace, which enhances the wine’s aromatic and aging potential. After malolactic fermentation, the wine is aged for about 18 to 24 months in medium to large-sized oak casks followed by a minimum of 4 months bottle refinement before release. This is a complex dessert wine with hints of red and black berries and cherry with nice ripe fruit on the finish.

To finish a great meal, we had grappa and cafè

Grappa di Brunello “Torre” made from the pomace of Brunello di Montalcino (Sangiovese). This is an intense grappa with a hint of wild berries and sour cherries on the finish.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Banfi, Banfi Brunello, Chianti Classico, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Recioto, Spumante

Old Vintages of Italian Wine and Pizza

Roberto Caporuscio, one of the best pizzaioli in New York and owner of Keste and several other restaurants, is now creating his pizzas with a new type of flour that he says yields better results.  He invited me and a group of friends who enjoy older Italian wines to come to his Keste Wall Street location for a tasting. A full report on the pizza will appear in another blog.
The notes on the wines were written by Jason De Salvo and I added a few notes of my own. I have a great respect for Jason’s palate and his attention to detail.
The wines
1971 Verrazzano Chianti Classico
4/11/18 — 90 points.  Now-2022.   Slightly cloudy brick-ruby color.  The nose is mocha-infused red cherry fruit, black raspberries, dried meat, potpourri, earth and underbrush.  On the palate this has vibrant acidity, a bit of a hole in the mid-palate and a relatively short finish.  That said, it’s a lovely drink!  Charles: Sangiovese can age as well as Nebbiolo as this wine proves.
1974 Produttori del Barbaresco
4/11/18 — 92 points.  Now-2027.   Medium ruby-garnet color, slightly cloudy.  The nose is candied black cherries, fennel blossoms, honey, smoked game and subtle notes of tar.  On the palate this is lovely.  Elegant, refined dusty tannins and a medium-long finish. Charles: This was my second favorite wine. Produttori del Barbaresco can age. Barbaresco can age as well as or even better than Barolo.
1974 Borgogno Barolo Riserva
4/11/18 — NR.  Drink Now.  Cloudy brick-ruby color.  The nose is stewed cherries, celery, wet leaves and tobacco.  On the palate this has sweet, stewed fruit notes and is clearly either past its
prime or a slightly off bottle.  Medium body.  The wine did work well with the pizza nonetheless.
Charles: We tasted the 1974  Barolo and 1974  Barbaresco side by side- it was no contest.
1947 Franco Fiorina Barbaresco
4/11/18 — NR.  Drink Now.    Slightly cloudy amber-golden color with just a faint hint of ruby.  The nose is like a hypothetical blend of a 30-40 year old Tawny Port and a Fino Sherry with oxidative notes of caramel, stewed cherries and licorice.  On the palate there remains a sweetness from what was obviously a hot, tremendously concentrated vintage, but alas, this wine bottle is solidly into its twilight. 
1998 Borgogno Barolo Riserva
4/11/18 — 92+ points.  Now-2040.   Medium ruby color.  The nose here is soaring with black cherries, minerals, licorice, rose blossom and cured meat.  On the palate this is vibrant, medium-full bodied with a complex, tactile finish. 
1979 Giovannin Moresco Barbaresco Poderi de Pajoré 
4/11/18 — 93 points.  Now-2030.    Medium ruby color.  The nose here is stunning with soaring notes of black cherries, black raspberries, crushed dried roses, freshly chopped garden herbs and baking spices.  On the palate this is supremely elegant and well integrated.  Gorgeous balance and a medium-long finished buttressed by refined, dusty tannins.
Charles:  for me this was the wine of the afternoon and it may be my favorite Barbaresco. It is made from the “Rose” subvariety of Nebbiolo. Unfortunately this was the last vintage and the vineyard was sold to Angelo Gaja.
1979 Cavallotto Riserva Vigna Colle Sud-Ovest
4/11/18 — 94+ points. Now-2028.    Medium brick-ruby color with a slightly watery rim.  The nose here is black cherries, black licorice, tobacco, a lovely stemmy note, coffee grinds, underbrush and smoked game.  On the palate this is velvety, nuanced and deep.  This is the best example of this wine I have had thus far. Charles: Jason liked this wine more than I  did.   I like their wines a lot but to me this bottle was not showing that well.

3 Comments

Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Borgogno, Chianti, Chianti Classico, Italian Red Wine, Produttori del Barbaresco

Three Pre- Birthday Celebrations with Wine and Food

The first celebration took place at the Oriental Gardens restaurant in New York Cities China Town

Soft Shell Crabs and they were fantastic!

We started with the Champagne Krug 1990  from the Krug Collection.

Then a fried sole with scallions.

Chablis Grand Cru just great

Puligny- Montrachet needs more time

1979 Chinon excellent

There was more food and wine but I got caught up in the eating and drinking.

 

Next on to La Pizza Fresca

We started with Krug NV

Then Chianti Classico 1971 Riserva Ducale from Ruffino

Pizza Margarita

Chateaueuf-du-Papes 1990 right on the money

Amarone 1967 Bertani

Pizza with Prosciutto

A young man waiting for his pizza

 

Next was Gastronomia Siciliana Norma

Buratta with arugula

Spaghetti with sea urchin (ricci di Mare) was fantastic

Chianti Classico 1996

Pizza with porchetta

Barolo 1989 – barolo at its best 1989 was a great vintage!

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Amarone, Barolo, Benanti, Chablis, Champagne, Chateaneuf du Pape, Chianti Classico, Krug, Krug Champagne, La Pizza Fresca, Olga Chinon, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Principe Corsini, Uncategorized