Category Archives: Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli on Genetic Editing

| Published on DoctorWine N°224
Trend Topic: Genetic editing
by Daniele Cernilli 28-08-2017
Parola d’ordine: cisgenetica editoriale doctowine daniele cernilli
Studies on genetic editing made by professor Attilio Scienza and by the Edmund Mach institute in San MIchele all’Adige oper the path to the creation of vines resistent to diseases. Will this be the future?

Recently, I have been often citing Attilio Scienza and his observations but I do so because I believe they are illuminating for the future of winemaking. For those who do not know who he is, he held the chair for viticulture at the University of Milan for years, was the head of the Istituto Mach di San Michele all’Adige and is the author of many books on both scientific and other subjects. His latest research, carried out at San Michele, dealt with gene or genetic editing, scientifically known also known as cisgenesis, and removing certain genes from a vine DNA in order to create grapes that are resistant to botrytis, above all. If we consider that anti-botrytis treatments represent the majority of those carried out in the vineyard, using these grapes would eliminate a significant percentage of polluting substances. But would this make organic and biodynamic methods useless?

Scienza doesn’t think to. “The birth of agriculture was an act of genetics. Already in the Neolithic Age, man was selecting plants and animals to raise to serve as food. The common trait in innovation is fear. Biodynamic and organic farming seek to preserve natural resources and thus are a response to a fear of losing them but we need to go beyond this. Organic farming is not convincing because it is a dead-end street. We cannot return to the past because this would mean denying the future. It would be like trying to preserve the Ship of Theseus”. Is genetic editing a back door to creating genetically modified organisms (GMO)? Not at all because GMOs are created by inserting foreign genes into the DNA to be modified whereas as genetic editing removes genes from the host. If it were possible to eliminate the gene that causes cancer from a person’s DNA, wouldn’t everyone be in favor of this?

While this may be an extreme and, at present, a hypothetical example it serves to prove a point. In regard to wine, if genetic editing can be used in a way that does affect quality, then it would be possible to eliminate enormous amounts of harmful substances in the vineyard. I am convinced that genetic editing in winegrowing will be the topic of the day in the very near future and it will be interesting to see what positions will be taken by groups like Slow Food or the farmers’ unions Coldiretti and Confagricoltura, not to mention the ministry of agriculture and the European Union. In the wine sector, there will be a confrontation between science and ideology, between believers and deniers, between the future and a nostalgia for a past that, between climate change and limitations on the use of polluting substances, can only remain a distant memory.

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Daniele Cernilli on “The Price of Wine”

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°216

The price of wine

by Daniele Cernilli 26-06-2017

Il prezzo del vino

There has recently been quite a stir in the wine-web community over the news that the Swedish state alcohol monopoly had launched a tender for Barbera d’Asti wine age in small barrels at a maximum price of 2.30 euros per bottle. When you consider that the average price per bottle for exported Italian wine is three euros and that exported bulk wine sells for 0.68 euros, the offer does not seem to be too bad. However, what is disturbing is that the wine in question has a top DOCG classification, which stands for controlled origin and guaranteed quality, which makes the offer is very degrading. Undoubtedly, there will producer cooperatives and industrial bottlers who will jump at the offer given that they, as opposed to small producers, have the quantity to sell at a lower per-bottle profit margin. The fact that this is a problem is not easy to understand for those not sufficiently acquainted with the wine business. It is not easy because while the DOC (controlled origin) and DOCG classifications undoubtedly have their merits, they are not enough to distinguish the diverse origins of wines and different production costs. Thus there is a real risk that Gresham’s Law, “bad money drive out good”, may come into play and mediocre wine at a low price will win over better wine, the craft wines and those made with particular care. The reality is that if the consumer has three euros to spend on wine they will buy a wine at that price. There are some fairly discreet Italian wines that cost relatively little, including the much vilified Tavernello and Ronco which are not flawed and cost around a euro. But these wines are neither DOC nor DOCG classified and in the end you get what you pay for. The basic problem lies with the system of classification itself, the way they are determined and the way the public perceives them. The DOC classification, for example, is important in the collective imagination of those with a superficial knowledge of the wine but it only guarantees origin and not quality, something which the DOCG classification does. By law, in order to receive a DOCG classification a wine must have a “particular merit”. And common sense tells us that this “particular merit” must have to do with high organoleptic qualities which cannot be consistent with low prices. Although there are surly those who cheat this system, as evidenced by the investigations by health inspectors, they are the exception and not the rule and they are not the real problem. What needs to be clarified is exactly what the classifications are supposed to represent. Whether they are there just for show or as a guarantee of quality for the consumer and for the livelihood of many winemakers. This is the crux of the problem but, unfortunately, Italian politicians and many speculators avoid tackling it and prefer to create a smoke screen and spew terms like “excellence”. This means that consumers are left to fend for themselves either by word of mouth or consulting the few sector publications left in Italy.

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From Your Agent at Vinitaly- Daniele Cernilli

I did not attend Vinitaly this year so here is the next best thing a report by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°206

From your agent at Vinitaly

by Daniele Cernilli 17-04-2017

Daniele Cernilli seminari DoctorWine a Vinitaly 2017

Vinitaly has come and gone and it was the best is years. Despite all the problems afflicting the Italian wine sector, the atmosphere at the trade fair was really good, public attendance was hight and all the producers I spoke to were satisfied. Good thing. At our Doctor Wine stand we organized 11 seminars all which were packed full of interested and competent people. We received a lot of compliments and the only criticisms came from those who were on the waiting list and failed to get a place. I apologize for this but the space available was limited, only 28 seats while the demand was at times for as many as 50. We’ll see what we can do to improve this next year, I promise. As for the wines we tasted I must say there were some really good ones. I can start by saying that vintage 2013 for Barolo is not that far behind the legendary 2010. The more simple 2015 and 2015 reds were also formidable as were most of the whites. From Tuscany there were a lot of 2014 vintages and some of them, especially the Sassicaia, went far beyond expectations. Aside from these let me make a few suggestions. I’ll start with the Aglianico del Vulture Titolo 2015 from Elena Fucci which is delicious, perhaps the best ever. Then there is the remarkable Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera 2016 of Lunae Bosoni which is fragrant and distinct more than ever. The fruit in Elio Altare’s Dolcetto d’Alba 2016 is as a defined and clear as only a great winemaker like himself can achieve. Surprising. The Barbera d’Asti Superiore L’Alfiera 2015, from Marchesi Alfieri, is very young yet more promising than usual. Tasting the Taurasi 2012 from the Fiorentino family, on the other hand, was a true eureka moment and a high-class debut. Alberto Longo’s Falanghina Le Fossette 2016 is from northern Puglia and unites fragrance and a precise bouquet with a saline and most pleasing flavor. Vermentino di Sardegna Camminera 2016 Audarya is a wine for those seeking a delicious white without maxing out their credit card. In the same category is the Soave Superiore Monte di Fice 2016 from the I Stefanini winery and I intend to acquire some for my own cellar and can already image drinking it this summer with a nice fish fry. These wines are neither rare nor too expensive and they impressed me for being well-made, representative of where they are from and, again, not excessively expensive. Last but not least I add a great red that is often overlooked because it is the estate’s second wine after its showcase Sassicaia. Guidalberto 2015 is a great vintage and perhaps the best since the legendary 2004 which was fantastic. While this may cost more than the others, it is truly well worth it.

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A Dinner Party in Rome

Daniele Cernilli, aka “Doctor Wine,” and his wife,  Marina Thompson invited us to dinner at their lovely apartment in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Rome.

There were 3 other guests, including a professor from John Cabot University in Rome.

Daniele greeted us with glasses of Champagne Clos des Goisses Brut 2002 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The grapes are grown on a pure chalk hillside with a 45 degree slope facing due south in Mareuil- sur-Ay. Goisse, in the old Champagne dialect, means steep slope. It has a very low dosage. Vinification is mainly in wooden casks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of pears and apricots, floral notes, a touch of toast and an exceptional long finish. Daniele said 2002 was a great vintage in Champagne.

With the Champagne we had caviar. You can’t go wrong with Champagne and caviar, and Marina enhanced the combination by serving it with burrata, a tender, fresh cheese from Puglia. Slightly firm like mozzarella on the outside, it is sweet and creamy within. Though it might seem like a strange combination, not only did it work, it was wonderful.

Daniele also served another wine with the caviar and burrata that he believed was a better combination than with the champagne. Pinot Bianco Colli Orientali del Friuli “Zuc di Volpe 2008 Volpe Pasini made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the Togliano “Zuc” Vineyard. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of white peaches, citrus and almonds. It was showing very little sign of age.

Though I liked the Pinot Bianco, I preferred the combination of the Champagne with the caviar and burrata.

Grignolino of the Monferrato Casalese “ Bricco del BoscoVigne Vecchie2011 Giulio Accornero & Figli made from 100% Grignolino from the Bricco del Bosco vineyard. Maceration is on the skins for 20 days. The wine is aged for 30 months in oak barrels (tonneau) and 24 months in bottle before release.

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink. Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017  Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time.

With this wine we had pasta prepared by Daniele. He told Michele that the recipe had been given to him by the late Paola di Mauro, a great winemaker and legendary cook. Daniele roasted sweet cherry tomatoes with olive oil, capers and breadcrumbs then tossed them mezze maniche, a short wide tubular pasta, before serving. It’s a great way to make the most of out of season fresh tomatoes.

Brunello di Montalcino 1995 100% Sangiovese Donatella Cinelli Colombini. I looked at the label and told Daniele that I have the 1995 at home but the label is different. He said this was a special bottling made in honor of a wedding that took place in 1995. I am not sure how this wine was made or aged and I know they have changed their production methods over the years. This wine is a classic Brunello.

We had the Brunello with braised veal.

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2005 Rocco di Montegrossi made from 95% Malvasia Bianco di Toscana and 5% Canaiolo Nero. The soil is calcareous loamy. The harvest is the first week of October. During the drying phase the bunches of grapes are hung one by one on nets in a well– ventilated area under the rafters. All of the nets are hung from rails and are affected by noble rot–botrytis. The rails allow the nets to be shifted so that deteriorated grapes can be removed. Pressing takes place in January. The must goes into small casks of 50 and 100 liters of cherry, oak and mulberry wood. The wine ferments and ages for 6 to 7 years, only indigenous yeast is used. This is a complex intense velvety dessert wine with hints of apricot, dried fig, toasted almond and caramel.The grapes are pressed between the 13 and 20th of December. Only organic farming methods are used and there is no filtering or fining. The wine spends 6 years and 4 months in small barrels called caratelli made of cherry, mulberry and oak wood, then one year in bottle before release.

With the Vin Santo we had cheese then finished with coffee and artisan chocolates.

 

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Dining in Rome with Daniele Cernilli- Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and his wife, Marina Thompson, have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both here and in Rome. Daniele is a true Roman, a Romano de Roma as the expression goes. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous “Three Glasses” classification. Currently, he has is own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it. There are two versions, one English and the other Italian, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly.

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli(Doctor Wine)

When we were in Rome recently, Daniele suggested that Michele and I meet him and Marina for lunch at the restaurant Baccano. He said it was a true copy of Balthazar in NYC. Copies of Daniele’s book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 were displayed on a table near the entrance so that customers waiting for a table could look at the Guide before they chose a wine to drink.img_1561

They were right. The place looked just like Balthazar.

I am always impressed with Daniele’s knowledge and enthusiasm. I was happy to let him pick the 3 wines to go with lunch. img_1569

Castelli di Jesi Verdicchio Classico Villa Bucci Riserva 2013. Made from 100% Verdicchio. The wine is aged for 2 years in large casks. It is the white wine of the year in Daniele’s guide. He also gives the winery 3 stars, the highest rating. This is one of my favorite white wines and I order it every time I see it on a wine list in Italy. Ampellio Bucci has been producing wine with the assistance of the legendary enologist Giorgio Grai for over 30 years. It has been my honor to meet both of them on more then one occasion. Daniele described the wine as very complex, mouth filling, well balanced with hints of flint, anise, fine herbs and a very long finish.img_1562

With it, we had smoked salmon.img_1565

Fiano di Avellino 2013 “Cupa” 100% Fiano di Avellino Pietracupa of Sabino Loffredo. Daniele said that Sabino does all the work himself, cultivates his vineyards which are at 350 and 550 meters and makes and ages his wines with the skill of a craftsman. He called his wines “exceptional,” gave the winery 3 stars and the wine 97/100 points. The Cupa is outside the DOCG and great in the 2013 vintage. The wine matures on the lees in stainless steel tanks. Daniele described the wine as elegant and intense, with notes of oregano, sage, cedar and lemongrass, great acidity and a slightly smoky finish. This wine will age for many years.img_1564

With the Fiano, we had a personal favorite, fried fresh anchovies.img_1566

After that we took Daniele’s advice and had Spaghetti “Mancini” with a sauce made from tomatoes from Mount Vesuvius, basil, extra virgin olive oil and garlic.img_1570

CA’ D’GalLumine” Moscato D’Asti 2015 100% Moscato Bianco di Canelli. Daniele said this might be one of the best Moscato d’Asti I ever tasted. He gave it an 88/100 rating. Alessandro Boido makes the wine and in his hands Moscato d’Asti becomes a great wine, Italian to the bone.

Daniel described the wine as having fragrant aromas of sage, exotic fruit and cedar with refreshing acidity.

Daniele said they also make a Moscato d’Asti Vigna Vecchia which can age like a great red. That one gets a 93/100.img_1571

We shared a portion of tiramisu with the wine.

Looking at The ULTIMATE GUIDE to ITLALIAN WINE 2017(third addition) I believe the title says it all. It is the Ultimate Guide to Italian Wines.

 

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