Category Archives: Emidio Pepe

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

IMG_5573

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

Eating and Drinking around Lake Garda

Lake Garda in Northern Italy is a favorite place to visit. Usually we stay on the western side but on a recent trip, Michele and I decided to stay in Bardolino, which is on the eastern side.

Sunset on Lake Garda

Sunset on Lake Garda

Bardolino is a very picturesque town right on the lake. We stayed in a hotel about a kilometer from the center and it was a lovely walk along the lake into town. There are many excellent restaurants in the area.IMG_5453

Enoteca con Cucina Il Giardino delle Esperidi This restaurant in the heart of Bardolino is a true gem. A friend and fellow wine writer, Tom Hyland, recommended it. There are about 700 labels on the wine list, both Italian and foreign, and a large selection of Champagne. The prices are very good.IMG_5446

When we arrived, Susanna Tezzon, who runs the front of the house and is in charge of the wines, greeted us. After speaking with Susanna, I ordered a bottle of Emidio Pepe 2003 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. 100% Montepulciano d’Abuzzo. 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. The wine remains here for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.IMG_5449

Susanna brought out a decanter and said it was a one made especially for organic wines. I had never heard of this before but the restaurant was busy and we were enjoying the food and wine so much that I did not ask any more about it.

Salami and Cultello

Salami and Culatello

The food could not have been better and we had a number of courses including Guinea Hen, Salami and Culatello

Locanda Sul Minico

Locanda Sul Minico

Antica Locanda sul Mincio in Borghetto Valeggio sul Mincio. This restaurant may be Michele’s favorite as far as location is concerned. The outdoor dining area is on the riverbank of the Mincio River and it overlooks the medieval village. The view is incomparable. The restaurant has more than just a picturesque setting, however, the food is also excellent.

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Grilled Polenta with Fresh Salame

Among the dishes we had were grilled polenta with fresh salame, ravioli filled with pear and ricotta and for a main course, roasted goat. IMG_5516

With our meal we drank a bottle of Valpolicella Superiore from Azienda Agricola Marion DOC. 10% Corvina Gentile, 60% Corvina Grossa, 20% Rondinella, 10% Teroldego and other varieties.The winery is in the foothills of the Marcellise Valley some 100 meters above sea level. The vineyards lie on gently sloping hills facing from north to south. The soil is chalk with a little clay and stones. The grapes are harvested between the first and second weeks of September and the first week of October. Part of the grapes are collected in boxes and then placed on wooden racks in well-ventilated rooms, where they are partially dried for approximately 40 days. A second part is left hanging on the vines until it reaches super-ripeness, to be harvested during the first ten days of October, and then pressed. After fermentation the wines obtained are aged separately in small oak barrels for about 30 months and lastly blended and bottled.   This is a wine with a lot of body and aromas and flavors of prunes and blackberries.

Taverna Kus di Zanolli Giancarlo This restaurant is in San Zeno di Montagna and there is a great view of Lake Garda below and Monte Baldo above. There is a garden dining area, a covered outdoor area, and an inside area.IMG_5475

We drank a 2006 Amarone della Valpolicella from one of the best producers of Soave Pieprone. In 1999 the Pieropan family purchased property in the Cellore d’Illasi zone in the Valpolicella and Amarone production zones. The wine is made from 60% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, Rondinella and Croatina, and 10% of old traditional Valpolicella varieties. The vineyard is 14 years old and is South facing at an altitude of 500 meters. There are 5,800 vines per hectare, the training system is guyot, pruned to 8 buds per vine. The grapes are hand picked in September and naturally dried. They are pressed and destemmed and the must is fermented for about 30 days during which time pumping over and punching down the cap takes place every day. Aging is in 500 liter barrels for 24/30 months and one year in bottle before release. This is an Amarone to drink with food. It has hints of blackberries, black cherries and plums. This is the first tine I have had this wine and I was very impressed by it.IMG_5479

We began our meal with plates of culatello accompanied by carrot mostarda, followed by a dish of artichokes baked with cheese, an unusual dish that we really enjoyed.

Ristorante Alla Borsa- this is a restaurant in center of the town of Valleggio sul Mincio. It used to be a trattoria where the merchants of the village met to conduct business. Because of this it was called Borsa, which means purse or stock exchange in Italian. The restaurant has a very nice outdoor garden where one can dine and view the old Scaligero castle.IMG_5459

We drank a Valpolicella Classico Superiore IGT 2010 “La Fabriseria” from Tedeschi. 35% Corvina, 30% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Oseleta. The wine is made from grapes that are used for their amarone but are fermented without drying. The grapes are harvested in October and are slightly overripe. The pressing is very soft so that some of the grapes remain whole with the stem. The must ferments in small fermenting vats. Alcoholic fermentation lasts for about ten days. Skin contact is for about 20 days and malolactic fermentation is quickly terminated in Slovenian oak barrels. The wine is aged one year in wood and six months in bottle before release. The wine had hints of prunes and cherries and a hint of vanilla.

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

Tortellini with Butternut Squash

The town of Valeggio sul Mincio and the Restaurant Alla Borsa are renowned for their excellent tortellini, so we had three varieties: cheese, butternut squash and meat filled.

 

 

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Filed under Antico Locanda sul Minico, Emidio Pepe, IL Giardino delle Esperidi, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Lake Garda, Marion Valpolicella, Pieropan Amarone, Ristorante alla Borsa, Taverna Kus, Tedeschi

Roma SPQR

Rome in the spring is magical.  It is my favorite time to be there. Michele and I were spending a week in Sorrento and what better way to begin and end our travels than in Rome.

ROMA

ROMA

The days were becoming warmer and longer and just walking around the city and taking in the sites was a pleasure. Looking at the official seal of Rome, SPQR meaning ‘The Senate and the People of Rome,’  always reminds me that Rome was once the most important city in the world.  We sat in the outdoor cafes on sunny mornings enjoying cappuccino and cornetti and watching the world go by. At night we would stop for a Campari and soda or a Negroni at one of the roof garden bars watching the setting sun.  But as I have said before, I love the food in Rome and the highlights of the day for me are lunch and dinner.

Here are some favorite restaurants we went to on this trip. Some we have only been to a few times, others we have been going to for over 30 years.

all'Amatriciana

all’Amatriciana

The first time I went to Il Matriciano ( 39-06-32500364) Via dei Gracchi, 55, was in 1981 and have been going back whenever I was in Rome, until two years ago.  On that trip, we sat outside and were disappointed in the service and the food.  The waiter wanted to serve us the antipasto, which included a slice of pizza, but I just wanted zucchini flowers.  He seemed to think he knew more than I about what I wanted and kept on suggesting dishes that were of no interest to me.  The menu has barely changed over the years and I always order the same things when I eat there.  It annoyed me and the experience was just not the same

We decided this year to give the restaurant another chance. On our way there, Michele said, “Let’s ask to sit inside because that is where all the Romans are.” When we arrived the owner offered us a table outside but we insisted on inside.  After moving a few tables around, we were seated. The restaurant filled up very quickly and Romans sat at every table inside.

Fragoline and Gelato

Fragoline and Gelato

Our waiter was very good considering it was a busy Sunday afternoon.  He only spoke to us in Italian which we preferred.  As usual, I ordered zucchini flowers (I cannot get enough of them) to start. These were perfectly deep fried with a small amount of mozzarella filling and more than a hint of anchovies.  I ordered the bucatini all’Amatriciana.  Along with one or two others, this is one of the classic Roman pastas. Some places serve it with rigatoni but it is not the same. Then I had abbacchio (baby lamb) roasted with potatoes. It was cooked to perfection, moist with crisp skin. For dessert I had tiny fragoline, wild strawberries, and gelato. Michele loves fragoline and orders them every chance she gets.IMG_3159

The Barbera “Latina” 2007 from Cascina Castlet went very well with the pasta and the baby lamb. The restaurant had returned to form and produced the perfect traditional Roman meal. I was very happy.

Crostini

Crostini

Last year we went to restaurant Armando al Pantheon, Salita de Crescenzi, 3906 68880 3034, for the first time and liked it so much that we decided to go again this year.  Michele made a reservation on line and when we arrived in Rome we confirmed the reservation just to make sure. This is also a traditional Roman restaurant. We ordered crostini with truffles and quail egg, bucatini all’Amatriciana and grilled lamb. Once again we had the fragoline with gelato for dessert.  Michele really likes the food here.IMG_3084

 The wine was the 2009 Montepulciano D’Abruzza, from Emidio Pepe.  At less than 40 euro, it was a real bargain in a restaurant. The wine was big but with a lot of fruit and not as tannic as I expected. I should have asked them to decant the wine. Most of my experience with this wine has been with vintages that are 25 years and older.

Carbonara

Carbonara

Roscioli Salumeria Vineria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21-22. This is not only a restaurant but also a salumeria, a shop specializing in salumi and cheese. Michele likes the restaurant because it has the best spaghetti carbonara in Rome. It can also be very creative with items like the hamburger di bufala with grilled ham and a balsamic drizzle, and the burrata e alici. This time we both ordered the carbonara. Michele is right, it was terrific.IMG_3076

 The wine was the 2008 Cerasuolo (Rosè) 100% Montepulciano d’Abuzzo from Eduardo Valentini. I believe it is Italy’s best Rosè and it was less than 40 Euro.

Spaghetti con Vongole Veraci

Spaghetti con Vongole Veraci

Da Giggetto (39- 066861 105) at Portico D’Ottavia 12 A, in the Jewish ghetto. It was a chilly and cloudy afternoon in Rome as we made our way to the restaurant. We sat   inside in one of the small rooms that look onto the street.  I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici (small and crunchy but very good), carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichokes) and spaghetti con vongole veraci. The clams were small and tender with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper. Michele had fava beans with guanciale. We have been going here for many years and have never been disappointed.

Cacio e Pepe

Cacio e Pepe

Palatium- Enoteca Regionale Via Fattina 94   39-06-6920 2132. This is a restaurant run by the region of Lazio. All of the food is typical of the region. The wine is only from the region and a real bargain as most of them are between 10 and 14 euros. There is a very large selection. The restaurant was a few doors down from our hotel on the Via Frattina and as luck would have it we went there on the night that it rained. I had cacio e pepe which is a typical Roman dish and Michele had mozzarella in carrozza, a very large toasted sandwich.IMG_3197

We drank a bottle of Lazio I.G.P “Colle DE” Poggeri”  2011 from Cantina Stefanoni 100% Roscetto (Trebbiano Giallo). The harvest took place from 10 to 15 of October. Fermentation is on the skins for about 12 hours. The must fermentation is in wooden barrels for about two months. The color was yellow with golden reflections and the wine looked like it might have oxidized. This was not the case; it was fresh, soft and well balanced with good fruit aromas and flavors.  It is a bargain at 10 euros.

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Filed under Da Giggetto, Emidio Pepe, Il Matriciano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Palatium-Entoca Regionale, Restaurant Armando al Pantheon, Restaurants Rome, Roman Restaurants, Roscetto, Roscioli, Valentini

By Hand and By Feet

When I was in Rome in May I saw the Emidio Pepe 2005 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo on a restaurant wine list for 38 Euros. This was a real bargain as this wine would be twice the price if I could find it at a retail store in NYC.  I knew that the wine could use another 10 to 15 years before it would be ready to drink, but since it is one of my favorite wines and I never had the opportunity to drink one so young, I ordered a bottle. It had full aromas and flavors of red and black fruit and the roast lamb that I ordered for my main course softened the tannins. It was a great combination.

I always look forward to tasting Emidio Pepe wines but drinking them is always better!  Over the years I have been fortunate to drink the 1975, 1977,1979,1983,1985 and 1993 vintages of the Montepulciano and have tasted other vintages both in NYC and in Italy.  I have only had the 1995 Trebbiano.

Chiara and Grandfather Emidio Pepe

I met Emidio Pepe a number of times both in NYC and at Vinitaly, the wine fair in Verona, but could never get the answers to all of my questions about his wines until recently when Chiara De Julis invited me to taste the 1983 and 1984 vintages of the Montepulciano.  I know Chiara as   the public relations person for the winery, but I had not realized that she was Emidio Pepe’s granddaughter.  

Chiara began by telling me that her grandfather’s first bottled vintage was in 1964 and at that time he had only one hectare of vines. Today there are 12 hectares of vines near the Adriatic Sea that stretch out over the Teramo hills at the foot of the Gran Sasso Mountain.  The winery produces only two wines — the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo and the Montpulciano d’Abruzzo.  Chiara said that they have just one clone for the white and one for the red.

In the early days, friends told Emidio that he was building castles in the sand but he replied that he was building wine castles. He had faith in the Montepulciano grape and as it turned out, he was right.

Chiara said they use both the tendonne method and the cordon spur method 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.

According to Chiara, 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 Emidio Pepe winery is Organic and Bio-Dynamic. They belong 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 and Chiara said that this gives the wine more complexity because there are so many different strains of yeast on the grapes and in the air. The white grapes for the Trebbiano are crushed by feet and the red grapes for the Montepulciano by hand. No sulfites are added to the wine. The juice is placed in glass lined cement tanks of 20/25hl. The white remains here for one year and the red for two years. The wine is then transferred to bottles by hand.

In Italy the current vintage is 2009 but in the USA it is 2003.  Chiara told me that only older vintages are sent to the USA because the younger wines are not ready for the long trip. The wine has to be well balanced and decanted to manage the trip and only their best wines are sent to the USA and put on the market.

Chiara’s grandmother Rosa Pepe is in charge of the decanting process. Since this is a natural wine malolatic fermentation may take place in the tank or the bottle.  There is no filtration or fining. The corks are placed in the bottles by hand and only the best cork is used. She said that they guarantee all of the bottles that have been decanted at the cellar for 20 years, no matter if the vintage is 2003 or 1983.

About 60,000 bottles a year are produced.  In an exceptional vintage they will hold back 70%.

Chiara told me that at first her grandfather did not like the 1983 vintage so he kept it in his cellar and did not sell it.  A journalist came for a visit and asked why there was no 1983 on the market.  When Emidio explained, the journalist asked if he could try it.  Emidio agreed and they tasted it together.  The wine had developed in the bottle and the two decided that it was a great wine in a great vintage.  Emidio put 30% of the 1983 on the market. I  am glad it is for sale, it is a great wine make.

Chiara said that they have 600,000 bottles of wine from 1964 to the present vintage.

This is a family winery where everything is done by hand (and in one case feet) from the time the grapes are picked until the labels are placed on the bottles.  Now I understand why these wines age so well and why I enjoy them so much.

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Filed under Bio-Dynamic, Emidio Pepe, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Triple "A"