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 Bosco “Vigne Vecchie “ 2011 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.
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.