Category Archives: Daniele Cernilli

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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Excellent Article in the Washington Post on Wine Critic Daniele Cernilli

Italy’s go-to critic confirms why America’s embracing his country’s vino

Columnist, Food March 11  The Washington Post

Searching for value, variety and excitement in wine? Look to Italy — or so says Daniele Cernilli.

Cernilli is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017,” and a longtime champion of the wines of his native country. The Roman was one of the founding editors of Gambero Rosso, the leading Italian food and wine magazine that grew out of the Slow Food movement in the 1980s. Wine lovers around the world know Gambero Rosso’s “tre bicchieri,” or three glasses, as the highest rating an Italian wine can receive (at least in Italy).

“Italian wines are the new wave for high-quality wines for Americans,” because there are many with high quality for the price, Cernilli told me during a recent industry and consumer tasting at the Mayflower Hotel sponsored by the Wine Scholars Guild. The tasting included about 50 wines that were top scorers in his new guide.

“Quality is higher than Spain, but in price we are lower than France,” Cernilli said, explaining Italy’s appeal to value-conscious consumers.

Those consumers should look for wines from Campania, he said. “The wines there are improving in a tremendous way. It’s the Tuscany of the south.” He praised Campania for its local grape varieties such as fiano and greco di tufo, as well as wines made with international varieties.

At 62, Cernilli looks every bit the rumpled oenophile, with a wine-softened smile lifting his double chin, and a paunch coaxing out his shirttail. (Believe me, I know the look.) He is congenial, but he bristles at the mention of Gambero Rosso, which he left in 2011 to create his own website, DoctorWine.it.

When a winery representative offered a taste of a Chianti Classico during the event, saying, “It got tre bicchieri,” Cernilli waved it off and pointed to another wine.

“I created tre bicchieri,” he said. “I know what it has become. It’s all politics.

“I am too romantic to be in Gambero Rosso today,” he continued. “It is more modern and commercial. They gave 450 tre bicchieri last year. That’s too many high awards. They also do more than 50 events worldwide each year. In my day, we did three.

“I want to be a publisher, not a promoter,” he said.

So in addition to his website, Cernilli has self-published his third annual guide in Italian (and second translated in English) as a counterpart to Gambero Rosso’s annual Guide to Italian Wines, which he edited for more than two decades. In that respect, he is not unlike other prominent writers, such as Wine Spectator’s James Suckling or Wine Advocate’s Antonio Galloni, who have tried to leverage their own reputations independent of the publications that made them famous. It is available for $20 at Eataly in New York and will soon be on Amazon. (Amazon chief executive Jeffery P. Bezos is the owner of The Washington Post.)

This might be a good time for this book. Americans are buying more Italian wine than ever, according to the business news website Il Sole 24 Ore. Italian wine exports to the U.S. market last year topped 1.8 billion euros (about $1.9 billion), up 6 percent over 2015. That was a volume increase of 4 percent.

Prosecco, the inexpensive and charming — if rarely compelling — sparkling wine, led the charge, with 2016 sales up 28.5 percent over the previous year.

With more than 500 grape varieties, Italy offers a lifetime of wine adventure and exploration. Cernilli’s book guides us, region by region, through the top producers as rated by him and his contributors. Wineries are evaluated from 0 to 3 stars, with their top wines scored on a 100-point scale. Wines that score 95 or higher receive an additional stamp of approval: Cernilli’s visage, dubbed a “DoctorWine Face” — his personal guarantee of the wine’s quality. Inexpensive wines that show extraordinary value are denoted by a thumbs-up symbol, the universal social media positive review. Cernilli and his team also named their best red and white wines of the year, as well as winery and winemaker of the year.

Cernilli may have written the “ultimate” guide to Italian wine, but it isn’t an exhaustive one. The book includes nearly 1,000 wineries and about 2,500 wines. Some wineries familiar to U.S. wine lovers are conspicuous by their absence, such as Alois Lageder in Alto Adige, the cult winery Radikon in Friuli and Tenuta delle Terre Nere on Sicily’s Mount Etna.

“We choose wineries by the quality of their wines year by year,” Cernilli told me. When wineries don’t perform as expected, he leaves them out rather than writing a bad review, “out of respect to their history and international image.”

“The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017” is a valuable reference, engagingly written in an Italian accent. Let Italy’s foremost wine critic introduce you to the exciting variety Italy has to offer.

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Notes on Vinitaly 2015

IMG_7546Vinitaly, the annual wine fair in Verona, Italy, is much bigger now than the last time I was there eight years ago. There are 12 very large pavilions and a number of smaller ones. The fair used to last 5 days, but now it is 4.IMG_7547

At least one wine writer, Alfonso Cevola, was disappointed at the state of affairs at Vinitaly and wrote what he called a “Dear John Letter.” He made some very good points on why he may not return to the fair–here is the link to the blog.https://charlesscicolone.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/alfonso-cevola-a-dear-john-letter-to-veronafiere/ While I agree with Alfonso on many points, there is another side of the fair, that of visiting and tasting wine with old friends and making new ones, that I think is the best part.IMG_7540

Sunday was the first day and the most crowded. Our first visit was with Barbara De Rahm, a negotiant I have known for many years. There was a time when I was the Wine Director at I Trulli that I would sit all day at Barbara’s stand tasting wine.IMG_7542

The next stop was a visit and tasting with Valter Fissore and his wife Nadia Cogno of the Elvio Cogno winery. I have known Valter and Nadia for a number of years and like his style of wine. Travis and Nicole, the owners of Turtledove Wines and my travelling companions, like these wines and have a large selection in their store.IMG_7159

Next we stopped by to see Luca Currado of the Vietti winery who I have know for over 30 years. His 2007 Barolo Villero was the 2015 Gambero Rosso red wine of the year.IMG_7568

Next was a visit to my favorite maker of Chianti Rufina Grato Grati. We tasted the Chianti and then tasted a wine I have never had before, a Canaiolo Bianco di Toscana. It was very good.IMG_7566

Riccardo Gabriele does PR for Italian wines and one of his clients is Il Marroneto, producers of a traditional Brunello di Montalcino, Madonna della Grazie, which I believe is one of the best Brunellos made.IMG_7558

A Facebook friend, Steven Giles, suggested I visit Donatella Giannotti of the Cascina Montagnola winery. We tasted the Colli Tortonese Cortese and two wines made from the Timorasso grape, Dethma and the Morasso. They are looking for an importer in NYC and I highly recommend the wines.IMG_7641

Then we visited Dr. Alfonso and Anna Arpino of the Ag Az Monte Grazia Biological winery in Tremonti high above the Amalfi Coast. They make three wines–a white, a rose and a red, and are among my favorite wines.

Next we visited the Machesi Bartolini Baldelli of Fattoria di Bangolo in Tuscany. I have know the Marchese for a number of years and when Michele and I were at the fair or in Florence we would go out to dinner with him and his wife. His wife is from Scarsdale, NY.IMG_7541

We also stopped by to visit marketing specialist Marina Thompson and her husband, wine authority Daniele Cernilli, known as Doctor Wine.IMG_7572

Our last visit was to Clavesana, makers of Dolcetto in Dogliani. We talked with Anna Bracco and Mario Felice Schwenn from the winery. Siamo Dolcetto meaning “We are Dolcetto” is the slogan of this large co-op. They said that Dolcetto is no loner required on the label, all it has to say is Dogliani, where the wine comes from, to know it is Dolcetto.

We only spent two days at the fair, because as with so much in Italy, lunch comes before anything else!

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Filed under Barbara De Rham, Canaiolo Bianco, Cascina Montagnola, Clavesana, Daniele Cernilli, Elvio Cogno, Fattoria di Bangolo, Grato Grati, IL Marroneto, Monte de Grazia Winery, Vietti, Vinitaly 2015

2014 International Pinot Grigio Challenge

The 2014 International Pinot Grigio Challenge was held in Corno Di Rosazzo, near Udine in the Northeastern Italian region of Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy. I like the food and the wines of the region and have always enjoyed its Pinot Grigio, so I was delighted to be invited to be one of the judges.IMG_5741

The event took place over three days. The first day there was a round table discussion on Pinot Grigio: “Commercial Challenge on the World Market.” There were a number of speakers, including myself, and I found the conversation to be most interesting

Some of the topics discussed included the reasons for the popularity of Pinot Grigio, how to improve its image, Pinot Grigo in different countries and the other names for Pinot Grigio

Pinot Grigio came to Italy after the phylloxera plague in Europe in the late 19th Century. It most likely originated in Burgundy and is a genetic mutation of Pinot Noir. It is grown mostly in northeastern Italy. The best examples in my opinion come from Friuli Venezia Giulia and Trentino Alto Adige

Pinot Grigio is not a white grape as can be seen by looking at the bunches. The must of the grape is basically copper in color, of anthocyanin origin, that does not always persist through bottling. This has to do with the presence or lack of oxygen during fermentation.

In the 1960’s Santa Margherita, thanks to the latest vinification techniques, was able to produce a white wine changing the history of the grape forever. By the 1980’s Pinot Grigio from Italy became so popular that it is looked upon as an Italian grape in the eyes of the world. Today Pinot grigio enjoys world wine popularity and is the number one grape varietal imported into the USA with over a 40% market share.

Some of the bottles

Some of the bottles

Some producers have gone back to the old style and produce a wine, which is copper/ orange in color. An example of this was the #2 wine in the Challenge, “Gossip” by Di Lenardo

The judging took place on the second day. The idea for the International Pinot Grigo Challenge came from Daniele Cernilli, known as “Doctor Wine.”

With Cernilli as the head, 24 judges from many different countries were to taste the wines blind and select the winners. There were 128 wines from all over the world. The judges were divided into groups of three. In the first round a score was given to each wine tasted. Next the 3 judges were presented with 2 wines, each judge stated their preference and one wine was eliminated. With 3 judges there could not be a tie. When this was completed there was a break for lunch. After lunch it was the same except there were 5 judges, again two wines were presented and one was eliminated.

Daniele Cernilli "Doctor Wine"  announcing the winners

Daniele Cernilli “Doctor Wine” announcing the winners

Cernilli called the judging a “winebledon” with direct challenges in couples, like a tennis match, evaluated by mixed and uneven juries.

After this segment was over the votes were tallied and there were 8 finalists.

The third day was the official announcement of the winners and the award ceremony. Listed below are the eight finalists in order. The first three wines were awarded medals.IMG_5744

Pinot Grigio Alto Adige “Punggl” DOC 2013 Nals Margreid Trentino Alto Adige #1IMG_5745

Pinot Grigio Ramato (copper) “Gossip” IGT 2013 Venezia Gulia Di Lenardo Friuli Venezia Giulia Harvest is by hand. The grapes are placed in a tank for 18 hours of skin maceration. Then the skins are separated and the must is transferred to temperature-controlled fermentation steel vats. The wine is on the lees before bottling. For the whole process oxygen does not come in contact with the wine in order to preserve the color. The wine has a light copper color with luminescent clarity. The aromas include wild strawberry, elderberry, hay and dried roses with hints of dried fruits and almond. There is a balance of robust fruit and crisp acidity. It is closed with a composite cork DIAM. 20,000 bottles were produced.  I described  how this wine  because has the ‘copper” color. #2IMG_5746

Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2013 I Magredi Friuli Venezia Giulia. This wine of the final eight was given the award for best value for the money. #3

Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali DOC 2013 Torre Rosazza Friuli Venezia Giulia

Pinot Grigio Collio “Jesera” DOC 2013 Venica & Venica Friuli Venezia Giulia

Pinot Grigio Alto Adige Castel Ringberg” DOC 2013 Trentinio Alto Adige Elena Walch

Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali DOC 2013 Friuli Venezia Giulia La Sclusa

Pinot Grigio Friuli Colli Orientali DOC Azienda Perusini di Perusini Teresa Friuli Venezia Giulia

Three of my favorite producers were in this group: Di Leonardo, Venica & Venica and Elena WalchIMG_5734

There was a special category for wines with residual sugar exceeding 9g/l. The winner was Pinot Gris AAC 2013 Cuvee Saine Chatherine Weinbach Faller France.

Looking back over the wines that I chose all of them were from Friuli Venezia Giulia and the Alto Adige. Daniele Cernilli confirmed that I voted for the number one rated wine.

 

 

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