Category Archives: Emidio Pepe

Celebrating Easter

We invited two friends over for Easter lunch. All of us had received both vaccines weeks ago, so we felt we were within the guidelines.

IMG_4726Meursault-Perrieres 2010 Premier Cru Jean Latour Labille &Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from a .175-hectare parcel planted in 1964. Fermentation and aging are in barrels, 50% new for 12 months then 4 months of additional aging in tank. This is a complex wine with hints of citrus fruit, melon, pear, a touch of honey and a note of brioche. I visited the winery in 2019 and  really enjoyed all their wines.

IMG_4714We had a few little Appetizers to go with the wine.  Some Castelvetrano olives, a mushroom pate from Michele’s book, 1,000 Italian Recipes, and a salame.

IMG_4007Irpinia Aglianico 2016 “Memini” Az. Ag. Guastaferro made from 100% Aglianico. This wine bursts with sweet ripe fruit flavors of cherry, raspberry, strawberry and pomegranate. It has a wonderful fruit filled finish and a very long aftertaste. It was a very interesting Aglianico and I have never tasted one like this before. Daniele Cernilli (aka Doctor Wine) in his book The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2020 states:  “In 2002 Raffaele Guastaferro inherited 10 hectares from his grandfather with over 100 year old vines trained using the old starseto (pergola Avellinese) method…creating a very interesting style for the wines that were also based on tradition.”

IMG_4722Pasta Amatrciana, my favorite with bucatini.

IMG_4476On the plate, messy but so good.

IMG_4728Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists. Both the tendone method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendone method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. One hectare of tendone has 900 vines and produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass-lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand. This is a very impressive wine with deep red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, spice and leather.

mbFried lamb chops, also from Michele’s book.  The chops are coated with eggs, Parmigiano Reggiano and plain dry breadcrumbs.  Here she used panko, which fries up nice and crunchy.  Sorry for the photo, but we all grabbed some chops and started to eat before I could get a better shot!

IMG-1850DessertDante’s Cheesecake is Michele’s version of a ricotta cheesecake that we used to enjoy at a favorite Greenwich Village Cafe.

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Filed under Aglianico, Emidio Pepe, Guastaffero, Meursault, Meursault-Perriers, Latour-Labille, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo

A Neapolitan Classic

Michele and I went to IL Gattopardo for lunch recently.  One of my favorites there, the meatloaf, was not on the menu. I asked the waiter and he said he believed it would be back on soon. This is something that is not served in most restaurants in Naples but in people’s homes. So I asked Michele to make it for me.

IMG_4305First, we had a little antipasto of marinated roasted red peppers.  Here are the peppers ready to be cut

IMG_4316After roasting and peeling, Michele marinated them with thick slices of garlic, olive oil and oregano.  She leaves the garlic in large pieces so that it is easy to remove them.  We ate the peppers with anchovies.

IMG_4311To go with the meatloaf, Michele made sauteed zucchini and onions with cherry tomatoes.  She used canned cherry tomatoes.  The secret of this recipe is to cook it just to the point where the zucchini are still firm and not mushy.

IMG_4319The saucy vegetables were a nice complement to the meatloaf.

IMG_4308The meatloaf, called polpettone, is made mostly with beef, and some veal and pork ready mixed with chopped prosciutto, salami and cheese.  Here it is ready for the oven

IMG_4324The meatloaf out of the oven

IMG_4326On the plate, the meatloaf was moist and full of flavor, complemented by the sauteed zucchini.

The Wine

IMG_4315Montepulciano D’ Abruzzo 2003 Emidio Pepe100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists. Both the tendone method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendone method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. One hectare of tendone has 900 vines and produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass-lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand. This is a very impressive wine  with deep red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, spice and leather.  It is still young and will last for many years.

unnamed PIE and fruitFor Dessert, we had a Roman style cheesecake.  The recipe is from Michele’s dessert book, La Dolce Vita.  

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Sunday Lunch with Friends

Sharing a meal and good wine with friends is always a pleasure.  A recent Sunday lunch went like this.  To begin, we had bites of mortadella, crunchy taralli with cheese and black pepper, and good olives to accompany a glass or two of white wine.

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Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2010 Emidio Pepe made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. In the vineyard only sulfur and copper water are used along with biodynamic preparations. Only natural yeast is used. Feet crush the grapes and no sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed into glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. The wine remains there for one year and then is transferred to bottle by hand. The wine was showing some signs of oxidation with hints of citrus fruit and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

IMG_3657Michele made Ricotta Gnocchi with a simple tomato sauce from her book, The Italian Vegetable Cookbook.

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This was just my first portion. 

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Baked Polenta with Parmigiano Reggiano accompanied the main course chicken.

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Sauteed Broccoli with Garlic

IMG_3659Chicken with Red Wine, Olives and Herbs ready to be served

IMG_3660On the plate

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Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2001  Emidio Pepe 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists. Both the tendone method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendone method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. One hectare of tendone has 900 vines and produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass-lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand. The wine has deep red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, spice and leather.  I had the 1982 a few weeks ago and the 2001 has the same profile but needs more time.

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Dessert was the Buttery Apple Cake from Michele’s book, Savoring Italy.

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Lunch Should Have Been on Lake Maggiore

We were supposed to be in Italy on Lake Maggiore right now.  But since that was not possible, we decided to invite a friend who we would have been traveling with over for Sunday lunch.

Michele has been experimenting with cheese biscuits, so we had some of them to start.  She made them with a mix of  cheeses  and  lots  of  black  pepper.

Cheese  and  Black  Pepper  Biscotti

Anchovies

A jar of Anchovies  purchased  in   Rome  was  the  inspiration  for  the  next  starter.   

Toasted ciabatta topped with stracciatella, a creamy blend of shredded mozzarella, and those anchovies.

With these we had Champagne

Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils “Fleuron” Brut 2009 made from 100% Chardonnay from premier cru Villages mostly in the Cöte de Blancs. Fermention is in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation takes place, The wine remains on the lees for 84 months. The wine has hints of apple, floral notes a touch of lemon, with good minerality and balanced acidity.

Then Bucatini Amatriciana  made  with  guanciale,  cured  pork  cheek, tomatoes  and  pecorino  cheese.

Then we had Pork in the Cradle with roasted potatoes.  When we first moved to Park Slope in Brooklyn many years ago, Michele found a wonderful Sicilian butcher who would prepare pork loin this way by tying the roast onto a rack of ribs.  When you serve it, you have a great combination of  sliced pork and tasty ribs.  The butcher returned to Sicily many years ago, but Michele still likes to do pork this way tucking seasonings — fennel, garlic, rosemary — over and under the meat.  When the roast is done, she lets it rest while the ribs go back to the oven for additional crisping.   

Pork, ribs, pan roasted potatoes and broccoli rabe.

We had one of my favorite red wines  to  go with  this  feast.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2001  Emidio Pepe 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists. Both the tendonne method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendone method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. 1 hectare of tendone has 900 vines produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass-lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand. The wine has deep red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, spice and leather.  I had the 1982 a few weeks ago and the 2001 has the same profile but needs more time.

Michele had planned a simple dessert of homemade lemon ice and cookies, but our guest brought us a fruit and  custard tart from a favorite bakery.  It was very beautiful.

But we also had lemon ices, topped with grappa, as a digestivo but the picture did not come out.  Can’t imagine why.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Champagne Pierre Gimonnet & Fils “Fleuron” Brut 2009, Emidio Pepe, Uncategorized

Celebrating a Special Friends Birthday

To celebrate a friend’s birthday, and aware that he had been as diligent in social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing as we have been, Michele and I decided to prepare a special lunch for him.  The wine was provided by our friend

We started  with  a glass  of  Champagne  on  our  terrace,  which  is  currently under  construction  but  accessible.  

Champagne 2013 Pinot Meunier Grand Cru La Grande Vigne Vielles Vignes Extra Brut Suenen made from 100% Pinot Meunier from 50 year old ungrafted vines in Montigny-sur-Vesle The exposure is north west and the soil is sand and limestone. Oak barrels and turns are used for the wine making process. Also the use of an ovoid (egg shaped) concrete tun. There is spontaneous fermentation and natural malolactic fermentation and no filtration. The wine remains on the lees from 6 to 8 months. This is a very impressive bold Champagne, with hints of red fruit, brioche and honey.

Then we had pasta with lamb ragu. Michele  made  the  ragu  with  trimmings  from  a leg  of  lamb,  red  wine,  rosemary  and  the  usual  seasoning  vegetables.  The  pasta  was  mezze  maniche  by  Campofilone.

To follow we had butterflied leg of lamb seasoned with garlic and rosemary.  It was perfectly cooked, rare and juicy.

Leg of lamb with fresh  spinach  from  the  Greenmarket  and  alubia  blanca  beans from  Rancho  Gordo.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1982 Emidio Pepe 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists. Both the tendonne method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendone method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. 1 hectare of tendone has 900 vines and produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters. Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand. The wine has deep red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of cherry, spice and leather. It is one of my favorite red wines and was just wonderful. It was the perfect wine  to go with the pasta and the lamb.

Dessert was a Ricotta Raspberry Cake with fresh berries and creme fraiche whipped cream.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Abruzzo, Champagne, Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Suenen Champagne

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”

 

 

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

Eating Moleche and Drinking Wine in Venice

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  Last time I was in Venice, I posted some pictures on Facebook and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and added that “the wine list will blow you away.” She told me to ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner, who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this, we just had to go.

Luca

Luca

The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is a covered patio for outdoor dining. We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith had highly recommended the restaurant. As Faith had promised, we had a great meal.

We liked the restaurant so much that we decided to return again this year. I had the mazzancolle, large grilled red shrimp. They were plump and juicy just as I remembered them from last time.IMG_0468

I followed this with the moleche, baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor. I order them whenever I can because their season is very short.IMG_0469

We drank the Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino 2014 Pieropan made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone. Volcanic soils situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in the tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release.IMG_0472

After dinner Luca suggested we visit his new wine bar called Local just around the corner, 3 minutes away. This being Venice it only took us 15 minutes to find it. But we liked its cozy appearance and contemporary style. Benedetta, Luca’s sister, welcomed us warmly.IMG_0473

They have a very extensive wine list and we ordered the Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo, which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2014 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a white wine and are pressed by foot. The must is fermented without the skins. We had the 2012 last time at Wildner and it was much lighter in color but with this very “natural” winemaker, one never knows.IMG_0476

We had this with a plate of assorted cheeses and condiments from the Veneto area.

For lunch the next day we went to the highly recommended Trattoria Antiche Carampane, not far from the outdoor fish market. This is a lovely restaurant and it is better to go for lunch because it is very crowded for dinner.IMG_0482

Michele and I had the same dishes pasta with baby sepia in an ink sauceIMG_6269 mol

and fried moleche with fried Jerusalem artichokes cooked to perfection. IMG_0484We also loved our desserts, which included a layered meringue, cream and berry parfait. I had something equally delicious, but ate it so fast that I can’t remember what it was.

We drank the Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2014 Pieropan 100% Garganega.IMG_0483

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for 15 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release. It was interesting to taste the two wines one day apart.  Both  Pieropan wines were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and needs more time.IMG_0487

We also drank the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2011 Eduardo Valentini 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

 

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Filed under Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Restaurant Wildner, Soave, Uncategorized, Valentini, Venice

Weekend in Sag Harbor

Every summer, when we visit our friends Ernie and Louise in the Hamptons, we look forward to the same menu. I would not have it any other way because to me it is just perfect! What’s more, Ernie has a very interesting wine cellar and we consult on what wines we should drink with the food. Here are some of the things we drank and ate over the weekend.IMG_8030

Champagne Brut Reserve Billecart-Salmon NV. Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles and a fruity delicate freshness.

IMG_5987 It was a perfect combination with the cold melon soup with candied ginger.IMG_8024

Barbera d’ Asti “Vigna Noce” 1999 Antica Azienda Agricola Trinchero. The winery belongs to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists, an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in Organic and Bio-Dynamic production, terroir and as little interference as possible by the wine maker. Only natural yeast is used, there is no acidification of the wine, clarification and filtration does not take place. Chemical treatments are not used in the vineyards; copper and sulfur are used but only when it is really necessary. The wine is aged for 7 years in large chestnut barrels. This is a traditional, classic Barbera that will last for at least another 10 years.IMG_8025

We had this with the pasta amatriciana but we could not get bucatini so we made it with penne.IMG_8022

Grato Grati Vino Rosso da Tavola 1988 Vecchia Annata Made mostly from Sangiovese with a small amount of Canaiolo. This is declassified Chianti Rufina and it is one of my favorites. It can age: I have had the 1978, 1982, 1988, 1990, 1995 and 1997 often. I still have a 3-liter bottle of the 1990 that I was given when I visited the winery.

IMG_8020 We had this with the Italian salumi, cheese, and grilled zucchini and peppers.IMG_8027

Aglianico 1999 made from 100% Aglianico del Vulture Azienda Agricola Basilisco. There are 8 hectares of vineyards. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel tanks for 15/30 days depending on the vintage. The wine is aged in French oak barrels for 12/18 months.IMG_8029

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 1985 Emidio Pepe 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. The winery is organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong to the Triple “A” Agriculture Artisans Artists.Both the tendonne method and the cordon spur method are used for training the vines. In vintages when the weather is very hot the tendonne method is better because the leaves form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun.  When the weather is not too hot, the cordon spur is better because it allows more sun and air to reach the grapes. 1 hectare of tendonne has 900 vines and produces 90 quintals of grapes.  That means that each vine produces from 6 to 9 kilos of grapes. In one hectare of cordon spur trained grapes, there are 3,300 vines and each vine produces 5 to 6 kilos of grapes. The grapes are crushed by hand and the juice placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25 liters.Only natural yeasts are used, there is no filtration or fining. The wine is transferred to the bottle by hand and the corks are placed in the bottles by hand.IMG_8032

We drank the Pepe and the Basilisco with grilled skewers of lamb, French bread, and bacon.IMG_6002

For dessert we had homemade fig ice cream, and for breakfast the next morning heated brioche and fig ice

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Filed under Basilisco Aglianico1999, Billecart- Salmon, Champagne, Emidio Pepe, Grato Grati, Italian Red Wine, Tinchero Barbera d'Asti

Milan to Venice: Eating and Drinking

For many years on and off, I had gone to Vinitaly, the wine fair in Verona, though eight years had passed since the last time. This year, Nicole and Travis, owners of Turtledove wine store in Manhattan were going and wanted to know if Michele and I would like to go with them. Michele said no, but I said yes. The trip turned out to be more about eating and drinking than about the wine fair.IMG_7527

I arrived in Milan to very nice weather and joined Travis and Nicole for lunch at Bacaro del Sambuco, Via Montenapoleone 13. This is the most fashionable street in Milan and the restaurant is open only for lunch Monday to Friday. The afternoon was warm and we sat outside in the lovely garden. Most of the customers were stylishly dressed women that had stopped in after a morning of shopping.IMG_7531

I had an excellent lemon pappardelle with anchovies followed by one of my favorites, langoustine. We drank a Franciacorta metodo classico spumante.

That night we went to Trattoria Milanese, Via Santa Marta 11. Michele and I had eaten here a number of years ago when she was doing an article for the Wine Spectator. She still talks about the risotto.IMG_7533

This time we started with an assortment of salumi with bresaola and lardo. I had cotechino with mashed potatoes and lentils.IMG_7534

I tried to order the risotto but the waiter said it was too much food! For dessert I had the fragolini del bosco with gelato.

Milan to Bardolino

Traverna Kus di Zanolli Giancarlo in San Zeno di Montagna, Contrada Castello 14. Michele and I had been here for lunch in May and the restaurant was crowded. We liked it so much that I decided to come back.IMG_7583

The restaurant is in on the ground floor of a restored 17th century farmhouse. There are three interior rooms, a glass enclosed veranda and outside tables for summer dining. We sat in the veranda.IMG_7584

This time we were the only customers. I started with culatello with mostarda,IMG_7587

then ravioli stuffed with asparagus and then a selection of cheese with more mostarda.IMG_7589

For dessert I had a Millefoglie Vite.

With the meal we drank Terre Alte Collio Orientali del Friuli  2012 Livio Felluga a blend of estate grown grapes: Friulano, Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon Blanc from the vineyards in the Rosazzo zone. The soil is marl and sandstone and the training system is guyot. The bunches of grapes are carefully destemmed and left to macerate for a short period of time before crushing. The must is then allowed to settle.IMG_7585

Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon are fermented at controlled temperatures in stainless steel tanks. The Friulano is fermented and aged in small casks of French (no new oak is used) oak. The Pinot Bianco and Sauvignon mature in stainless steel tanks. After aging for ten months the wines are blended. The bottled wine is aged in temperature controlled binning cellars for 9 months before release. The wine has a touch of sage, hints of pear, peach and fresh almonds.IMG_7586

Schioppettino di Cialla 2007 Ronchi di Cialla (Friuli) 100% Schioppettino. The 1-hectare vineyard is at 165-180 meters with a south/southeast exposure. The wine ages for four years, 14 to 18 months in barrel and 30 to 36 months in bottle before it is released. This was one of my favorite wines but I have not had it in a long time so I had to order it. It was as I remembered it, hints of dark black fruit, spice, white pepper and a touch of leather. It can age for 20 years or more 

Antica Locanda Mincio, Via Buonarroti 12- 37067 Valeggio sul Mincio. This is one of Michele’s favorite outdoor places for lunch, sitting at a table overlooking the Mincio River and the medieval village. This time I sat inside because we had dinner and it was March. The dining room has a large fireplace and colorful mural on the walls, which creates a medieval atmosphere.IMG_7551

We started with Bresaola and I had Polenta with Salame, which I have every time I come here, followed by a specialty of the region tortelli di zucca and another favorite stinco di maiale, roasted pork shank.IMG_7549

We drank a Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2005 from E. Valentino 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

Ristorante Piccolo Doge, Via Santa Cristina 46, Bardolino.

When Michele and I were on Lake Garda last year, we passed this restaurant several times on the way into Bardolino. From the outside it looked a little overdone with lights and Venetian trappings, so we never stopped there. This time the restaurant I had planned to go to was booked, so the receptionist at our hotel suggested it. It was a good choice since the food was excellent as was the service. There is an outdoor patio for summer dining overlooking the lake, which I imagine would be very pleasant.

I started with a warm octopus salad with potatoes and olives. The octopus was cooked just right.IMG_7578

Bigoli, a kind of thick spaghetti with sardines Venetian-style followed and I could not resist the grilled white fish from Lake Garda. For dessert, there was a delicious cake with pine nuts.

Since we were having fish we ordered sparkling wine.IMG_7577

Ferrari Perlé 2007 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage Blanc de Blancs 100% Chardonnay. The grapes are harvested by hand in the middle of September from a hillside owned by the Lunelli family around the Trento vineyards. The vineyards are 300 to 700 meters above sea level with a southeasterly or southwesterly exposure. The wine remains for about 5 years on the lees. It is a crisp dry wine with hints of apple, almonds and a touch of toast.IMG_7576

To our surprise there was a Moèt and Chandon Cuvèe Dom Pèrignon 2003 on the wine list for less money than it would sell for retail in NYC. It is made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir. We ordered it and it was wonderful and could last for another 15 years.

On our way from Bardolino to Venice we stopped for lunch at Le Calandre in Rubino. They have a choice of three tasting menus, we ordered the Tinto, the spring tasting menu, which was very elaborate.

With all this food we had to have wine:IMG_7603

Champagne “Substance” Brut Jacques Selosse

We started with Champagne “Substance” 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Blanc de Blancs Jacques Selosse. Low yields; organic viniculture and terroir are a hallmark of Mr. Selosse’s wines. He has all Grand Cru holdings in Avize, Cramant and Oger. He uses indigenous yeasts for fermentation and ages the wine in barrels, 20% new oak. The wine is left on the fine lees for an extended period. Dosage is kept to an absolute minimum. “Substance” is a solar Champagne created by Mr. Selosse in 1986, by marrying some 20 vintages in order to avoid vintage variation and allowing the terroir to speak on its own. This is full-bodied Champagne with good fruit, hints of orange peel and spice with good minerality.IMG_7604

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo DOC 2003 100% E Valentini The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonia oak for 12 months. There was nice fruit, good minerality and just a touch of strawberry in the wine but that may be the only thing it has in common with other rose wines. It has a great finish and lingering aftertaste.IMG_7607

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2002 Emidio Pepe

The Emidio Pepe winery is both organic and biodynamic. The winery belongs to the Triple “A”– Agriculturists Artisans Artists–an association of wine producers from around the world that believes in organic and bio-dynamic production, terroir, and as little interference as possible by the winemaker in the winemaking process. In their vineyard only sulphur and copper water are used along with biodynamic preparations. Only natural yeast is used which gives the wine more complexity because there are so many different strains of yeast on the grapes and in the air. The grapes are crushed by hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25hl where the wine remains for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.IMG_7605

Brunello di Montalcino Riserva 1994 Soldera 100% Sangiovese Grosso. Only grapes from the Casa Base Estate are used. The vineyard is at 320 meters and the exposure is southwest. Natural fermentation is carried out in Slovenian oak casks. There is no temperature control and no artificial yeast is added. Pumping over takes place and frequent tastings take place. The wine can remain up to five years in Slovenian oak casks. 1994 was not a great year for Brunello but this wine was showing very well with

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Filed under Dom Perignon, Emidio Pepe, Ferrari, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Jacques Selosse - Susbstance, Le Calandre restaurant, Livio Felluga, Restaurant Bacaro del Sambuco, Ristorante Piccolo Doge, Ronchi di Cialla- Schioppettino, Soldera, Taverna Kus, Terre Alte, Trattoria Milanese, Uncategorized, Valentini

Venice, La Serenissima

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As we approached Venice by water taxi I was struck once again by how magical and dream-like this ancient city is with its picturesque canals, graceful bridges and beautiful architecture.IMG_5581

The taxi docked right beside a café and restaurant that looked as if it would be an ideal spot to have breakfast called the l’Ombra del Leone. When we returned the next morning, the place was empty although the outdoor seating was the perfect place to watch the gondolas participating in the celebration of the Festa e Regata della Sensa, an annual event. Among the boats was an ornate one called the Bucintoro used by the Doge, the leader of Venice. The mayor, replacing the Doge of old, throws a gold ring overboard to symbolize Venice’s marriage to the sea. Yes, Michele and I agreed as we sipped cappuccino and ate our cornetti, Venice is a magical city and full of surprises around every corner.

The Restaurants We Enjoyed

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

Ai Gondolieri is a meat lover’s restaurant in a city surrounded by water and known for its seafood. The restaurant began as an old inn where locals could go to eat simple meats, drink a glass of wine and play cards. Today it has become a refined, quiet restaurant with excellent service and food. I had perfectly fried zucchini flowers to begin and then slices of calf’s liver on Venetian polenta, which was wonderful.

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

With dinner we had a wine that I have been drinking for many years, the Villa Capezzana Carmignano 2008 DOCG made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo.

IMG_5575 The hillside vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters and the exposure is south, southeast and southwest. The soil composition is shale and the harvest is in mid September. Vinification is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in 25HL Allier barrels for 10 months. It remains in bottle another 3 months before release.

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  I posted pictures of Venice on Facebook while we were there and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and that “the wine list will blow you away.” She added that we should ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this we just had to go. The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is out door dining.

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flwers

We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith highly recommended the restaurant to us.

Seppei

Seppei

We discussed the extensive wine list and I found a wine I had never had before from one of my favorite producers, the Cerasuolo di Abruzzo Rosato which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2012 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a “white wine” and are pressed by “foot” and the must is fermented without the skins. It was one of the best Rose wines that it has ever been my pleasure to drink.IMG_5597

The wine was an excellent combination with pasta with zucchini and zucchini flowers to start followed by seppie (cuttlefish) in a black ink sauce and peas with grilled polenta.

Fiaschetteria Toscana This restaurant began as a Tuscan wine shop where products from Tuscany were sold. It later became a trattoria and in 1983 a restaurant. Michele and I have been coming here for a number of years.

Moleche

Moleche

It has a very nice dining room and two upstairs rooms for larger parties and outdoor dining in a small piazza just across the street. I ordered the moleche, which are baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor and I order them whenever I can. We ended with Michele’s favorite, wild strawberries with crema gelato.

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Filed under Ai Gondolieri, Capezzana, Cerasuolo, Emidio Pepe, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Restaurant Wildner, Rose, Uncategorized, Venice