Category Archives: Daniele Cernilli

Talking about Vino Nobile

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, has hosted a number of zoom webinars from Italy on Italian wine. I attended most of them at IL Gattopardo restaurant in NYC. The latest one was on Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a wine that does not get the attention it deserves. IMG_5308

Many years ago, a wine writer said that the problem with Vino Nobile di Montepulciano is that it is “caught in the shadow between Chianti and Brunello.” This is a marketing problem because Vino Nobile was the first DOCG to appear on the Italian market and is a renowned red wine that stands on its own.

There is also some confusion because of the name.  Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine is made from the Montepulciano grape variety in Abruzzo. Vino Nobile  di Montepulciano can only be made from grapes grown around the town of Montepulciano in the province of Siena in Southeast Tuscany in the hills around the Chiana Valley. The soil here is sandy and rich in clay with many rocks and the climate is temperate.

Vino Nobile is made mostly from the Sangiovese grape variety known locally as Prugnolo Gentile (at least 70%) and other approved red varieties. Many producers are now making it from 100% Prugnolo Gentile. Vino Noble is aged for a minimum of two years, including one in oak barrels or casks and three years total in order to be called a Riserva.

At the Zoom webinar there were 9 wines in total. Listed below are 4 wines from the 2018 vintage which one of the producers said was a classic vintage, with the right amount of rain in the spring and summer. The wines are balanced and elegant.

 In another blog, I will discuss wines from the 2016 and 2017 vintage, Pugnolo Gentile, and older vintages.

62158BEB-A20F-4644-B216-AD1410C0EAF6_1_105_cSalchetto “Nobile” 2018 made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile on 15 ha. Each plant makes one bottle. Manual harvest, sulfite free vinification with native yeasts takes place.  The wine ages for 18 months, 70% in bottle and 30% in tonneau. Then 6 months in bottle before release. The winery is organic certified. The wine will age for at least 10 years. This is a full bodied  wine that has hints of cedar, tea, nuts, red forest fruit with balsamic nuances and a touch of violets. Salchetto is one of 6 producers that joined together to make a Vino Noble di Montepulcino with the word  Nobile in big letters which most be made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile. The winery is organic.


Le Bèrne 2018 made from 100% Prugnolo Gentile at 350 meters. The training system is double guyot and balanced bilateral cordon..Harvest takes place the second week of October. Alcoholic fermentation with indigenous yeast, long maceration on the skins and frequent punching down and pumping over.  The wine is aged for 24 months in 25 HL oak battles (60%) and 40% in small French oak barrels. After a minimum of 6 months in bottle the wine is released. The wine has fruity notes, with hints of cherry, blackberries, spice and a touch of vanilla.


Gracciano Della Seta 2018 made from 90% Prugnolo Gentile and 10% Merlot. The vines grow in clay and silty soil on the hills of Gracciano at 300/350meters. Fermentation and maceration on the skins in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with local yeasts for about 20 to 25 days. Aging is for 24 months, the first 12 months in French oak tonneau, and the remaining months is Slavonian oak casks. Then aged for at last another 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of violets, cherry, ripe plum with a touch of spice and a note of leather. After racking, the wine is transferred into big oak barrels where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 18 months. The wine has hints of dark cherry, plums and raspberry, violet notes and a touch of spice.


Tenuta del Cerro “Silìneo” 2018 made mainly from Prugnolo GentileFermentation and maceration at a controlled temperature with daily pumping over. After racking, the wine is transferred into big oak barrels where malolactic fermentation is carried out. Then the wine is aged for 18 months. The wine has hints of little red berries, cherry, strawberries and a note of violets.


Filed under Daniele Cernilli, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Vino Nobile di Montepulicano

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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Enological License by Daniele Cernilli

When I drink the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo of Edoardo Valentini, I can never find the words to fully describe it.  I can say it has hints of this, notes of that, and undertones of something else, but I never feel as if I am doing the wine justice.  The article below, written by Daniele Cernilli, expresses my opinion of the wine perfectly.  Thank you Daniele, for giving me the words that I could not find.
by Daniele Cernilli  aka Doctor Wine  05/17/21
Montepulciano Valentini

Just as there exists poetic license, there exists “enological license” which can transform what may be technically considered an error into a trait of quality in a wine.

Everyone knows what poetic license is. William Shakespeare was a master of it, disregarding historical facts in the name of plot, inventing words or contractions to obtain an iambic pentameter rhythm to his verse and even ignoring the laws of nature to create the desired effect. In Sonnet 29, for example, he wrote:       “…and then my state, like a Lark at break of day arising from sullen Earth, sings hymns at Heaven’s gate“. The license he took here was that the lark is a bird that only flies short distances and flying to Heaven would be quite a hike for it.


I began thinking about enological license a few days ago when, with a group of friends, we opened some excellent bottles at the Goccetto wine bar in Rome. We had a Pinto Noir 2019 La Pinta, a Morey Saint Denis Premier Cru 2016 Domaine Dujac, a Barolo Riserva Vigna Rionda 2012 Massolino and a Brunello di Montalcino 2011 Capanna. These were all splendid wines, technically well-made, very precise and representative of their respective origins. We then opened the last bottle the shop had of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2016 Valentini and there was a sea change. Croce Taravella, the famous Sicilian artist, wine lover and historic Goccetto customer, declared that “this wine does not have the delicate perfection of a Raffaello and reminds me more of Tintoretto’s impetuous style”.

On a previous occasion, my dear friend and great connoisseur Silvano Prompicai defined this wine as “the greatest peasant wine in the world”. Let me explain why.

The wine we had the other day had a very intense, almost impenetrable, garnet color and showed all its 14 years. The aromas were the typical ones of black cherry with some hints of combustion, like those that develop when you make homemade jam and some of it sticks to the bottom of the pot, creating a subtle burnt note.

But it was through tasting the wine that we understood how it was on a different level than the other excellent wines we had sampled. The tannins were lively, distinct yet not aggressive. The right definition would be that they were “authentic”, grapey and with very little wood. Then there was that tad of carbonation, perhaps the product of the “remnants” of the initial malolactic fermentation in the bottle, which was so fine and composed it was hardly noticeable. This aspect may cause some rather orthodox tasters to turn up their noses but it had the same justification as Shakespearean poetic license had in obtaining the desired effect.

When I pointed this out to Edoardo Valentini, he replied: “Of course there’s a bit of carbonation. My wines are alive and so they have to breathe”.

In the end, we were all very impressed by this wine, which once again demonstrated how it was in a league of its own. This was underscored by Luciano Lombardi, AKA Vignadelmar, when he wrote about our tasting on his Facebook page. And what he said was that this wonderful wine demonstrated all the “enological license” needed, without taking anything away from science and technique, to become the stuff of poetry.

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A Taste of Italy with Doctor Wine, Part II

This is Part II of the Zoom tasting A Taste of Italy with Doctor Wine that  took place last week hosted by  Daniele Cernilli (aka)Doctor Wine  There were 9 wines and in the first blog I wrote about 4 wines.  Here are the other 5 wines.IMG_4619

The samples were in very small 5 cl bottles with twist off caps. Each bottle had a label and a number so there would be no confusion. The whole program was well organized and very informative.

The Wines

Doc APE 2018 Cantine Romagnoli (EMILIA ROMAGNA) made from 55% Barbera, 45% Croatina (Bonarda). The soil is calcareous, medium texture tending to sandy. There are 3,600 plants/hectare and the pruning system is simple guyot. The exposure is south. The grapes macerate for 9 days with a daily pumping over. Fermentation with selected yeasts. The wine ages in first and second passage barriques for 12 months. Then there is the assemblage, a light clarification and a final filtration. The wine has hints of ripe fruit, licorice, leather and a note of wood and tobacco.

A.A. Pinot Nero Riserva “ Zeno” 2018 Cantina Merano made from 100% Pinot Nero (Trentino-Alto Adige, South Tyrol). The vineyards are at 500-700 meters and the vines are 15 to 20 years old. The soil is morainic, light, permeable, decomposed slate, granite and gneiss, barren and sandy. There is a cold fermentation for 5 days, then controlled fermentation with stirring for about 12 days. Aging is in new and used tonneaux. This is an elegant wine with hints of wild berries like strawberries and cherries and a long finish. Daniele liked the wine and included it in the current edition of his The Essential Guide to Italian Wine.


Barberasso 2018 Castello Cigognola (LombardyOltrepo Pavese-Pavia, across the Po) made from 100% Barbera. This is a new wine made from experimenting in the vineyard with cuttings of the branch of the vine. This is an ancient technique, which allows for a light drying of the grapes while keeping the bunch on the plant and in the sunlight. The grapes increase their concentration and continue to develop substances in the peel, which intensify the aromas. They combine the raisin grape and the natural acidity of Barbera with partial whole bunch fermentation to create a new wine. This results in a wine where fruit and acidity are counterbalanced by a soft light note of ripe fruit. Half of the wine is aged for 10 months in 600-liter tonneaux. Because of the raisin fruit, the wine has about 7.5% grams of natural sugar making it softer. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, strawberries, raspberries and a touch of raisins. This is the first time I have tasted a wine made in this way.

Lazio IGP 2017 Montiano Cotarella (Lazio) made from 100% estate grown Merlot from Montefiascone and Castiglione in Teverina. The vineyard is 86.4 acres at 300 meters. The soil is volcanic and rich in fine gravel (Scheletro). There are 1,700 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. The average age of the vines is 16 years. Only the best clusters are harvested by hand during the first week of September. A second selection takes place at the winery. Maceration on the skins takes place for 10 days with numerous punch-downs. Temperature controlled fermentation is in truncoconic stainless steel tanks and malolactic takes place in barrel. The wine ages for 12 months in new French oak. It has hints of red and black berries, spice and vanilla with a touch of cedar. Daniele was impressed with this wine.


Daniele Cernilli -Doctor Wine

Primitivo IGP Puglia 2018 “Ipnotico” Terre Dei Vaaz (Puglia) made from 100% monovarietal Primitivo. Production area is the Murgia plateaux. The soil is medium textured and the elevation is 340 to 380 meters. There are 2800 plants per hectare, the planting system is sapling vineyards and the average age of the wines is 60 years. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks. The wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel, 4 months in French barriques and a minimum of 8 months in bottle. The wine has hints of sour cherries, prunes, a touch of pomegranate and a note of chocolate with a long finish.

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Filed under A Taste of Italy, Daniele Cernilli, Dr. Wine

A Taste of Italy with Doctor Wine

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, hosted “A Taste of Italy” session on Zoom.

IMG_4616 2Nine wines from different regions of Italy arrived so that participants could taste and discuss. The samples were sent in very small bottles with twist off caps.

IMG_4619I guess this method was chosen since it was easier and less expensive to ship. The name of the wine and a number was on each bottle so there would not be any confusion.

There will be two blogs focussed on these 9 wines. The first blog will concern the 4 wines from wineries I have visited or have hosted tastings for. The next 5 will follow in another blog.

The Wines

Caprettone “Ayete” 2019 Vesuvio Caprettone DOC Casa Setaro (Campania) made from 100% Caprettone. The production zone is at 250/300 meters in the Trione della Guardio in Vesuvius National Park.

Massimo Setaro, owner of the winery, was one of the speakers. I met Massimo in Rome where I tasted his wines and also visited the winery. He spoke about the soil and said it is volcanic and sandy with a layer of lava on the surface and volcanic stone. Because of this there is a mineral character present in the wines. This composition of the soil makes the vines immune to phylloxera so the vines are not grafted onto American rootstock. If phylloxera  attacked a plant it would destroy it but would die in the soil before it reached another plant. The training system is guyot. Vinification: Maceration in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and fermentation lasts for about 20 days in amphora and tonneaux. The wine remains in steel tanks for about 6 months and then in bottle for two months before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, herbs, and cedar with balsamic notes, nice minerality, soft acidity and a long finish.

Le Sabble dell’Etna Rosè DOC 2019 Firriato (Sicilia) made from Nerello Mascalese from territory of Castiglione (Catania, Sicily). Cavanera Etnea Estates. Grapes are from different vineyards on the North side of Mt. Etna. The soil is loamy-sandy of volcanic origin with good drainage. Exposure is northeast and the vineyard is at 720 meters. The training system is Cordon Royat. There are 4,000 to 4,500 plants per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested the first week of October. Fermentation is for 15 days. Soft pressing for about 2 hours, slight skin maceration and static sedimentation. The wine spends 3 months on the fine lees in stainless steel tanks with daily shaking. After 3 months in bottle the wine is released. This is a fruity wine with hints of strawberry, raspberry, and a hint of citrus fruit. I visited the winery a number of years ago and more recently hosted a lunch and tasting of the wine at Norma Restaurant in NYC.


Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione “Don Tommaso” 2016 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot Principe Corsini, Villa Le Corte (Toscana). The winery is located in San Casciano Val di Pesa. The vineyards are at 270-350 meters and have a southern exposure. The Pilocenic hills are rich in river stones. There are 5,800 plants per hectare. The training system is low-spurred cordon and the average age of vines is 25 years. This is a selection of the best grapes. They are hand harvested, destemmed and put in pen frustum, cone–shaped stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. After 24 hours at 20°C the grapes are inoculated with selected indigenous yeasts. Fermentation for the Sangiovese is 18 days and for the Merlot is 16 days at a max temp of 28°C. The wine is aged in 70% in new barriques and 30% in used barriques for 18 months and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blueberries, cherries and lavender with a touch pepper and a note of wild fennel. Daniele said 2016 was the best vintage in Chianti in over 10 years. I did not visit this winery but hosted a dinner for them a few years ago in New York City and really liked their Chianti Classico.


Montepulciano d’’Abruzzo “Toni” 2017 Cataldi Madonna (Abruzzo) Made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo from the Cona vineyard near Ofena. The soil is clay loam rich in calcareous skeleton. Elevation is 1,250 feet with a Northwest exposure. Vines were planted in 1990 and the training system is spalliera. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel and the juice remains in contact with the skins for 20 to 25 days with regular delestage and pumping over. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12 months and in bottle for 18 months before release. This is wine with body and hints of dark fruit, black cherries, prune and a touch of smoke. It has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Daniele really liked this wine and said it was real Italian wine.

I visited the winery twice the last time in 2019 and always enjoyed their wines. Giulia Cataldi Madonna now runs the winery. She is the fourth generation of here family. She was present on Zoom.


Filed under CasaSetaro winery, Cataldi Mandanna winery, Daniele Cernilli, Dom Tommaso Chianti Classico, Firriato

Wines of Romagna Part II

Marina Thompson, of Rome-based Thompson International Marketing, is a wine marketing expert and a long time friend. She invited me to attend two Zoom telecasts to discuss the wines of Romagna. The telecasts took place a few days apart in the middle of December

The speaker for both was her husband Daniele Cernilli.  Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, is the author of The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2021 and one of the foremost authorities on Italian wine.  Daniele pointed out that Emilia-Romagna is considered one region, but as far as wine and food are concerned they are very different. See Wines of Romagna Part 1

Daniele said the three most important grapes in Romagna are Albana (the first Italy white to be awarded the DOCG), Sangiovese, and Trebbiano.

He also spoke of one of my favorite Italian restaurants San Domenico in Imola where I had a wonderful lunch in November 2019. He also mentioned one of my favorite cites to visit, Ravenna because of its long history and wonderful mosaics

All these Romagna wines are available in the US.

IMG_3931Albano Secco “ I Croppi” 2019 Celli made from 100% Albana. Production area Bertinoro. The soil is a clayey mixture with limestone and the exposure is east-south east. There are 3,000 to 500 plants per hectare and the training system is double guyot. Harvest was the first week of September. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks as is the aging. The wine has hints of yellow peaches, apricots, a touch of citrus with salty and mineral  notes.  Imported by SolStars Inc.IMG_3930

Albano Secco “Bianco Di Ceparano” 2019 Fattoria Zerbina made from 100% Albano. The vineyard is high-density bush vines trained to a single stake which is a return to the tradition of the Romagna hills. There is the advantage of a 360 degree exposure of the canopy to direct sunlight and harvesting can be in any direction. Six months in cement tanks and then in stainless steel. The wine has hints of ripe citrus fruit, apples, pears and a touch of honeydew. Daniele said all of their wines are top quality and some are among the best in the country.  Imported by Sussey Wine Merchants.

IMG_3924Romagna Sangiovese Predappio 2018 Notturno Drei Dona – La Palazza made from 100% Sangiovese from the best grapes in their vineyards. There are 3,300 and 5,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation is in steel and concrete at a controlled temperature. The grapes are harvested, vinified and aged separately then assembled to complete the wine. The wine is aged for about one year is 15 and 25HL traditional casks and 500 liter tonneaux. The wine is bottled unfiltered. The wine has hints of dark red fruit, blackberries and blueberries, a touch of sweet spice and a note of caramel. Daniele said this estate is a point of reference not only for wine lovers but also for other producers. Imported by LNJ Brands, Inc

IMG_3928Sangiovese Superiore I Diavoli Le Rocche Malatestiane made from 100% sangiovese from vineyards between San Clemente and Gemmano in Rimini. The soil is tinted clay and chalk adjacent to the town of Gemmano at 250 meters. The wine is aged for six months in concrete tanks and one month is steel tanks. The production area for I Diavoli is close to the Natural Reserve of Onferno, called inferno (hell), because of the vapor rising from the crevasses and the bats, “the devils,” who lived in the underlining karst caves. The wine has hints of black cherry, blueberries, wildflowers and a touch of spice. It is part of the Cevico Group with 5,000 suppliers-partners that offers well-made wines at affordable prices.  Imported by Terre Cevico

IMG_3929Sangiovese Riserva Bertinoro 2014 Fattoria Paradiso made from 100% from the Vigna Delle Lepri Sangiovese Grosso. The wine is aged in cask for 18 months and 6 months in barriques followed by 12 months in bottle before release. I visited the winery a number of years ago and was impressed by this particular wine. The wine will be available in the US early this year.   The wine has hints of blackberry, black cherry, licorice, dried roses and a touch of chocolate. Imported by Panebianco LLC

IMG_3927Romagna Sangiovese Predappio 2018 Noelia Ricci La Pandolfa 100% Sangiovese large berried type (Romagna biotype) from the Godenza vineyard in San Cristoforo in Foli. The vineyard is at 300 to 340 meters and the soil is ochre-colored clay and calcareous marl, with traces of sand. Vines were planted in 1999. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and they are spurred-cordon trained. Manual harvest the second week of September. Grapes from different clones are harvested together for fermentation. Fermentation and maceration take place on the skins in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Skin contact for about 28 days followed by 8 months in steel tanks and 12 months in bottle before release. The winery is converting to organic farming. The wine has hints of red fruit, raspberries and with a hint of spice.


They owners have a fascination with the animal world and went through illustrations from late 19th century archives to illustrate their labels.  These figures lend themselves to a certain freedom of imagination. The most advanced of animals, the monkey, is represented on the oldest wine, Godenza. Imported by Artisanal Cellars

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Filed under Albana, Daniele Cernilli, Sangiovese, Uncategorized

Lunch at Il Gattopardo NYC

Il Gattopardo was the last restaurant in New York City I visited before leaving for Italy on February 4.  At that time, our plan was to stay in Italy for 5 weeks, but we left a week early when everything began to close down.  Finally,  as  we  learn  to  cope  with our  new pandemic  lifestyle,  we  were  able  to return  to  Il  Gattopardo, which reopened  last  week.  

On a perfect late summer afternoon, the owner Gianfranco Sorrentino, properly masked of course, greeted us with not one, but two welcoming elbow bumps, mimicking the Italian tradition of due baci, two kisses, one for each cheek.
Gianfranco had designed a lovely Italian-style sidewalk cafe outside the restaurant.

We began with an Aperol Spritz for Michele while we nibbled on crisp crusted rice balls. 

Chef Vito Gnazzo came over to say hello and make some suggestions. We decided to follow his advice.

For the first course I had octopus  salad  with  potatoes,  olives  and some  crispy  greens.

Michele had  a summer  favorite,  fresh  mozzarella  with  tomatoes, basil  and  extra  virgin  olive  oil.  It  was  just  right,  she  said,  simple and well  seasoned  and  with  no  extra  embellishment  of  balsamic  vinegar,  a pet  peeve  of  hers.

Chef Vito sent us out a taste of a very delicious pasta, linguine with zucchini, cuttlefish and shaved bottarga. It  is  an  unusual  combination and  we  enjoyed  every  bite.

For a main course, we had more pasta.  This was fregola, small bits of lightly toasted pasta from Sardinia, here cooked like risotto until creamy with tiny asparagus and chopped scallops.  Readers of this blog know that Michele and I frequently eat a variety of different pastas, but we were delighted to try these two, which were new for both of us.

With lunch we drank Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2019 DonnaChiara 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay and there are 4,400 plants per hectare.  The vines are guyot trained and the harvest is the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes that are quickly cooled to 50F for 4 to 6 hours. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a delicate and elegant wine with hints of almonds, floral notes and citrus fruit. It is a real pleasure to drink and it was a perfect combination with the food. I also saw this week that Daniele Cernilli aka Dr. Wine in his  Essential Guide to the Wines of  Italy rates this wine  95/100 and I agree.


For dessert, we had tiny cannoli lined with chocolate with a ricotta and chocolate filling.

As if that were not enough, I couldn’t leave without ordering the Pastiera, the restaurant’s signature dessert, and a Neapolitan icon.  It is a cheesecake made with wheat, orange zest and cinnamon.  Once it was enjoyed in Naples only at Easter time, but now it is eaten all year round. It  is  a favorite  of  mine.

Biscotti and espresso ended our meal.

What a pleasure to be able to dine at Il Gattopardo once again.  Perhaps next time we will combine our visit with a stop at the Museum of Modern Art which is just across the street.

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Filed under Daniele Cernilli, Donna Chiara Winery, Fiano di Avellino, Gattopardo, Gattoprdo, Uncategorized

Message in a Bottle by Daniele Cernilli

Message in a Bottle.  by Daniele Cernilli 03/23/20
Vigneti Pio Cesare Langhe

During these days of forced seclusion, I’m sure many of us we have all opened a bottle from our personal cellar. Each bottle for me has brought back special memories.

I have now been at home for a dozen or so days now and like all of you have gone out the minimum as possible. I have also, like all of you, been looking at the collection of wines in my cellar. They are not as many as you may think, however, because I tend to drink my wine rather than save it for long.

Many bottles are from producers I have known well for years, who make their wine in places I have often visited, many of which are very beautiful. Each bottle, each wine brings back a memory of a vineyard, of the face of an old friend, as if these were messages in a bottle that in a way comfort me and in a way make we want to revisit these people and places more than ever before.

The bottles make me remember discussions and tastings, many of which took place a long time ago. I remember the dreams of the then-young Silvio Jermann and Josko Gravner, in 1981, and my first visit to Brolio, in 1993, with Carlo Ferrini and Francesco Ricasoli, who had just taken charge of his family’s estate. Then there were the incredible landscapes, like the vineyards in the Langhe, those of the Sorrento Peninsula and Etna. And I remember the flavors of wines and the sound of voices as well as the stories told by a young Riccardo Cotarella, who with his salesman in Rome would try to “hawk” his Est to wine shops in the capital. He was totally unknown back then and at times would receive gruff responses.

In the end I open a bottle, which yesterday was a Barolo Ornato 2007 Pio Cesare, a magnificent wine that is perfect to drink right now. I had misplaced it behind some other bottles and this was actually a good thing because otherwise I would have opened it earlier and that would have been a shame.

I hope these memories will once again and as soon as possible be just those of concrete life experiences and encounters. And it would be nice if this took place in a somewhat different yet always wonderful world, like the one of wine and those who make it.

A media hug to all of you.  Daniele Cernilli. aka Doctor Wine, Rome, Italy

— The above was written by Daniele Cernilli from Rome.  From time to time, I will share with you messages I receive from other wine journalists about how are coping with the recent events.  — Charles



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Wine in Times of Coronavirus by Daniele Cernilli

The wine world is beginning to feel the effects of the coronavirus scare, especially in regard to markets in East Asia. Even the ProWein fair has been postponed.

by Daniele Cernilli 03/02/2020

The news that ProWein was postponed came out this Saturday, and left us all stunned. True, we were wondering if it would make sense for us Italians to take part in a fair that would most likely see our pavilions go deserted, but we did not expect that the Düsseldorf Trade Fair Authority would have taken such a strong decision. Yet it is only confirmation that no one is taking the coronavirus lightly. There is no denying that everyone is worried about this virus, for the health of others as well as our own. There are also concerns over the economy, which is beginning to feel the effects in a serious way, and for the precautions Italy has been forced to take and that have placed limits on everyone’s lives. The situation is serious and should not be underestimated but nor should it be the cause of panic. I can say all this because I have been travelling a lot and have personally intensified my own precautions, which is the logical thing to do in such cases.

It is understandable that even our world of wine will in some way feel further consequences. After breathing a sigh of relief over being “spared” additional tariffs in the United States, now we are faced with this new problem almost that is equally as threatening. However, there are certain aspects that are worth looking at.

From Hong Kong, which was already seeing a bad year due to the prolonged pro-democracy demonstrations, there is some news that is both quite curious and interesting. Wine consumption is shifting from bars and restaurants to private homes. In other words, there has been a change in habits, imposed by the situation, which is changing the lifestyle of wine drinkers, those in the so-called upper class. This is, of course, a problem for restaurants but less so for wine sales and consumption. The risks will certainly be long term but there is hope that within the year there will be a vaccine for the Covid 19 virus which will bring the situation back to normal, or at least we hope so.

Even our small world of wine, which nevertheless and historically represents a kind of marker for the international economy, is beginning to feel the effects of the virus scare. In Italy, we have just finished a series of preview tastings in Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto and Umbria which took place without the presence of Chinese journalists and buyers. We are still processing the news of the postponement (to when?) of Prowein in Düsseldorf while the confirmation for Vinitaly in Verona has arrived (the dates, we remind you, are April 19-22), and the presence of Chinese experts and buyers remains an unknown. In East Asia, the trade fairs that have taken place did not do well, as was to be expected, and we sincerely hope that those in Europe will not only take place but also be a success, within the limits possible. Meanwhile, those at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, where I am set to take part in the jury in May, have informed me that there will be no fellow jurors from China and we will receive further instructions and information on how things will proceed. That’s what we know so far and, frankly, it seems enough for me.

Daniele Carnilli

Since this was written Vinitaly has been postponed and will now take place from  June 14 to June 17

We are leaving for NYC tomorrow and not on March 12 because we are concerned about entering the U.S

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Lunch with Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Last month, Marina Thompson and Daniele Cernilli invited us for lunch at their apartment in Rome. Both Marina and Daniele are very good cooks and of course there is the wine.Daniere

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 in the US and in Rome. Daniele is a true Roman. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. Daniele was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of the Gambero Rosso Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the creator of the now famous Tre Bicchieri, Three Glasses wine classification. Currently, he has his own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” There are both English and Italian versions, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly and recommend it to anyone interested in wine. He also has the best printed guide to Italian wines which is updated every year called The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2020.

The Wines

Franciacorta Extra Brut Quinque Uberti in magnum made from 100% Chardonnay. This is a five vintage reserve wine produced with the Classic Method with a minimum of 80 months on the lees. This is an elegant Spumante with hints of chamomile, honey and ginger and a note of almonds.

Greco di Tufo “Vittorio” 2007 Di Meo made from 100% Greco di Tufo from vineyards in Montefusco at 750 meters and the vineyard was planted in 1998. The soil is clay, and limestone. The exposure is northeast and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. The training system is espalier with monolateral guyot pruning. The slightly overripe manual harvest takes place the second half of October. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature in stainless steel and 18 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of apple and hazelnut, a note of citrus fruit, a touch of flint and good acidity and minerality. I visited the winery a few years ago as part of Campania Stories and liked the wine. The winery is located 15km east of Avellino between the villages of Salza Irpina and Parolise. Daniele knows I especially like the Di Meo Greco and I was very pleased he served it to us.

Daniele knows I especially like the Di Meo Greco and I was very pleased he served it to us.

With the wine we had three chesses burrata, mozzarella and straciatella. Daniele said that he had gone to thee different stores to get the best ones in Rome.

Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2014 in magnum 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 over 35 years and the 1977 vintage of Il Poggio.

To go with the wine, Daniele had prepared a delicious stew of chickpeas and Tuscan kale,

which Marina served with a delicate polpettone or meatloaf.

Vinsanto del Chianti Classico 2008 in half bottle made from Malvasia and Sagiovese from various vineyards within the property. Fontodi

There are 3,500 to 6,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. The grapes after the harvest are naturally dried for 5 months. After the pressing the must is racked into chestnut and oak barrels of 50 and 110 liters where aging takes place for at least 6 years. There are only 3,000 bottles produced. Fontodi is located in Panzano in Chianti. This is an excellent dessert wine with hints of hazelnut, dried apricot, honey and a touch of caramel.

To go with the wine, there was a magnificent panettone, one of the best I have ever had.

Finally there were glasses of Grappa UE “Uvarossa” Nonino made from Schioppettino, Refosco and Fragolino. It was a great way to end a wonderful afternoon.



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