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.
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.
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.
This time we started with an assortment of salumi with bresaola and lardo. I had cotechino with mashed potatoes and lentils.
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.
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.
This time we were the only customers. I started with culatello with mostarda,
then ravioli stuffed with asparagus and then a selection of cheese with more mostarda.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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