Category Archives: Fiorano Bianco

An Almost Roman Lunch

Last year at this time Michele and I were in Rome with a friend. We had to leave earlier than planned because of the pandemic. Now we are all missing Rome, so our friend suggested we come to his home and have a lunch like we would have if we were in Rome. Almost.

The tasting notes that follow are by Jason De Salvo and edited by me. I have great respect for Jason’s palate.

IMG_4349Blanc of Cabernet Franc 2019 Halcyon. Made from 100% Cabernet Franc from Contra Costa County on a breezy night in August (according to the label). The grapes arrived at the winery cool to the touch and barely reaching 20 Brix sugar. The clusters were whole pressed and watched to see that the “color” remained clear. This was a surprise wine and it was tasted blind. Because the color was so clear everyone believed it was made from white grapes. The wine is lively with hints of bell pepper, grass, herbs, quince, pears, white flowers and citrus (lime) rind. It is a bit flabby. It is a good summer quaffer. Jason said it would last until 2025 and gave it a 90.

IMG_4335We started with two kinds of crostini, one topped with homemade roasted peppers and mozzarella and the other with mozzarella and anchovies.

IMG_4350Fiorano Bianco 1995 Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Verosa made from 100% Malvasia Candia. I have had this wine a number of times and this was one of the best bottles I have tasted. There is a slight touch of oxidation with aromas of melon, honey wax and Queen Ann cherries. On the palate there are slight mineral notes with lots of flesh, good acidity and a medium long finish. Jason gave it a 92. I gave it 88 but after having it with food I gave it a 90. Jason said it would last until 2030.

For more information on Fiorano Bianco and Rosso see Fiorano Visit

IMG_4329 Sauce for pasta cooking

IMG_4348Montesecondo IGT Toscana 2019 Silvio Messana made from 100% Sangiovese from two different biodynamical properties in the San Casciano zone of Chianti Classico. The original (Montesecondo) is lower, warmer with heavy clay soil in the town of Cerbaia. Vignano (village) vineyard is at 500 meters and much cooler and rich in limestone. The grapes come from younger vines and are picked early. Harvest is by hand most but not all of the bunches are destemmed. Varying proportions of whole bunches layered with whole berries go into concrete fermentation tanks. Fermentation takes place with natural yeasts and no sulfur is added. Maceration is short and there are no punch downs or other extractive measures. Aging is in concrete tanks for about a year. The wine has aromas of light red cherries, dried cranberries and herbs. This is a medium bodied wine with nice acidity. Jason gave it a 92.

IMG_4340For our first course, we had Bucatini alla Matriciana, one of Rome’s classic pastas and my favorite. It is made with guanciale (cured pork cheek), onion, tomatoes and a little hot pepper.

IMG_4331Our main course was rack of lamb with a Parmigiano-Reggiano crust. Here it is ready for the oven

IMG_4342The lamb ready to serve

On the plate

IMG_4338Homemade seeded sourdough bread made by Jason De Salvo

Fiorano Rosso 1985 Vino da Tavola Boncompagni Ludovisi  Alberigo Boncompagni LudovisiPrincipe di Venosa made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.  Burton Anderson, in his landmark book Vino, called Fiorano Rosso the noblest Roman of them all”.  The Prince’s few acres of vines are planted along the Appian Way about 20 kilometers southwest of the center of Rome and almost right next to Roman’s second airport, Ciampino. It is the best cabernet/merlot blend made in Italy and one of the best in the world!  In my opinion–and I am in the minority here–one of the best places in the world to grow Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot is in Lazio close to Rome. The wine has aromas of black cherry, blackberries, and saddle leather, with subtle hints of VA. On the palate it is smooth, with pure fruit, lovely balance and a long pure finish. What a pleasure. Jason gave the wine a 95 and believed it would last until 2050. I gave it a 98 it was more than wonderful.

Chateauneuf du Pape 2004 Domaine du Pegau made from 85% Grenache, 9% Syrah and 4% Mourvedre, Counoise and others. They have 21 hectares of vines in Chateauneuf du Pape. 19.5 hectares are red grapes. The vineyards are located In many different areas. The oldest and best in the plateau of La Crau. The grapes are not destemmed, only natural yeasts are used. The grapes are whole cluster fermented in traditional cement vats. The wine is aged for about 24 months in a wide range of different old wood foudres. The oldest is about 90 years of age and was made from wood imported from Russia. Others come from many different places ranging from Eastern Europe to France. They range in size from 27 to 60 hectoliters. On the palate, the wine is spicy, meaty, and tastes of dark berries, and black pepper. This wine was also tasted blind. The type of wine was guessed but not the producer. The wine has aromas of dried cherries, blackberries, cranberries, pipe tobacco, and cloves. This is a full bodied wine with extracted fruit and a very long finish. Jason gave the wine 94 points.

It was Valentine’s Day and so Deb De Salvo made us a glorious dessert—a chocolate soufflé pie in a chocolate crust. I ate two slices and it was hard to stop there.

With ice cream

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Filed under Chateaneuf du Pape, Domaine Du Pegau, Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Halcyon Blanc cabernet franc, Montesecondo 2019

Thanksgiving 2020

Like most of us this year, our Thanksgiving plans were curtailed by Covid concerns.  Michele had been planning a non-traditional yet all-American menu, but when friends decided not to join us for health reasons, the elaborate menu no longer made sense.  She simplified the menu to suit just four diners.

It was just last week that I wrote that we rarely eat steak at home.  But having enjoyed that one, we decided it would be a good choice for our main course for four.

IMG_3837The Wines

IMG_3816 2We started with Selosse Initial Blanc de Blancs, a classic Avize Brut. The soil is chalky marls. There is a long aging in bottle before and after disgorgement. It is an assemblage of three successive vintages from lower slope sites. It is released an average of five years after the most recent harvest in the blend. The dosage is 5g/l. Disgorged Oct. 2008. This is a complex Champagne with hints of melons, dried citrus fruits and a touch of white flowers and brioche. The role oxygen plays is very important and all of the Selosse wines have the trademark oxidation which adds more complexity to the wine. A few weeks ago at a friend’s home I attended a Zoom tasting of the wines of Anselme and Guillaume Selosse. I enjoyed the wines and was happy to taste one of them again.

IMG_3795After a stormy start, Thanksgiving afternoon was sunny and bright and we were able to begin our celebration with a festive toast outdoors on our terrace.  To go with the Champagne we had warm gougeres, parmesan cheese puffs.

IMG_3820Fiorano Bianco Vino da Tavola 1980 Azienda Agricola Boncompagni   made from 100% Semillon. My favorite red wine may just be the Fiorano Rosso (those produced before 1996).  The Bianco I always had trouble with and this bottle, while drinkable, was not showing very well.

IMG_3810Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 1990 Edoardo Valentini made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo. This is a great white wine but this bottle was showing its age and  seemed to have off aromas and flavors.

IMG_3813Meursalt-1990 “Perrieres”   Pierre Matrot made from 100% Chardonnay. I do not know how this wine was produced since the winery changed its way of making wine in 2000. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of peach, apricot and a touch of honey. It has a wonderful finish and a long aftertaste.

The Table

IMG_3797Our first course was a chestnut soup with whipped cream and grappa, a recipe from Chef Fabio Trabocchi.  Because it was so rich and flavorful, Michele served it in small cups.  We would definitely enjoy having this soup again.

IMG_3817Mazia-Chambertin 1990 Domaine Maume made from 100% Pinot Noir from 75-year-old vines. The vineyard is .64 ha and the soil is clay limestone. There is a separate vinification of individual parcels. The clusters are 100% de-stemmed. The wine is aged for 18 to 20 months in mostly older barrels and bottled without fining or filtration. This wine was not ready to drink. It was too young and more thean half the bottle was left. Michele and I drank it for lunch the next day and it was wonderful.

IMG_3799 2Michele’s original menu included a prime rib roast, but with just two guests, she downsized the menu to two thick Angus beef strip loin steaks.  With them we had roasted carrots and brussels sprouts, as well as extra-buttery mashed potatoes.

Chianti Classico 1970 Fattoria Santa Cristina- L& P Antinori. I believe the grapes were Sangiovese, with some Cannaiolo, and a small amount of white grapes, most likely Trebbiano. The wine had great color and was drinking like traditional Chianti, with hints of red fruit, cherries, blueberries, leather and a touch of violets. We all agreed it was a wonderful wine and was the wine of the evening.

Cheese course consisted of La Tur, Alta Badia and Sardinian pecorino.

IMG_3793Rather than pie, Michele made 3 Fruit Crisp, with apples, pears and cranberries, baked under a crunchy oatmeal and brown sugar topping.  The tangy fruit was complemented by the pumpkin pie and 4 flavors of ice cream supplied by our guests.

IMG_3803

Dessert ready to be served


Chianti Classico 1960
Villa Antinori made from Sangiovese with Cannaiolo and Colorino and the white grapes Trebbiano and Malvasia. They may have also used the governo method (drying 10% of the grapes). The wine was showing its age and was not drinking well.

We finished, as always, with espresso and grappa.

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Filed under Antinori, Champagne Substance Jacques Selosse, Chianti Classico, Fiorano Bianco, Meursalt Pierre Matrot, Trebbiano d' Abruzzo, Valentini

Fiorano: A visit to Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi

Alessia Fiorano Rosso Azienda Agricola Boncompagni Ludovisi.

On a June day in Rome last year, the temperature was over 100 degrees as we waited outside the city records hall for Alessia Antinori to pick us up and take us to her winery. Not one of her father, Piero Antinori’s wineries, but to the winery of the late Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Venosa, her grandfather.  I was finally going to see where Fiorano, my favorite red wine, was made.

When the Principe died a few years ago, he left half of the estate to his daughter, who is Piero Antinori’s wife and mother of Alessia.  She then gave her share of the estate to her three daughters.  Alessia lives in Rome and since the winery is only twenty minutes away, just across from the Ciampino Airport, Alessia took over the management of the estate.

The other half of the Boncompagni Ludovisi estate was left to a distant cousin of the Principe who has released a 2006 Fiorano Rosso with the original Fiorano label under his own name, Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi. He also made a white Fiorano, but is using different grapes than the original.  Alessia said that she hoped they could come to some agreement about the label without going to court.

Restored Tank

Restored Tank

As we were driving to the winery Alessia told us that she was making a number of improvements since her part of the winery was in disrepair. It fact there was not much left and Alessia has undertaken a major restoration.IMG_1915

I asked her about the vines and she said that the people who had worked for her grandfather told her that he ordered them covered with dirt but then a few years later ordered them to be uncovered. In an interview with the late Italian wine writer Luigi Veronelli, Alessias Grandfather said that he would destroy all the vines so that his son-in-law would not get them because Piero did not make wine the way he did. I guess he changed his mind.IMG_1914

Alessia said that her first vintage was going to come from the vines that were uncovered.  Later, when new vineyards are planted, there will be a massal selection of old vines.  She said that the winery was almost ready for its first harvest.  Alessia said that she and her sisters hope to continue the legacy of their grandfather and of the Estate.  This is very good news.

The 1985

The 1985

Despite the very hot day, when Alessia offered to open a bottle of the 1988 Fiorano Rosso, I could not refuse the offer. As I sipped the wine I did not think about the heat only of the well-structured, elegant and smooth wine with aromas of cherry and leather, the long finish and the wonderful lingering aftertaste. This is a great wine!

The 1995

The 1995

A few months later Alessia was in New York and came to dinner at my apartment along with her husband. She brought with her a bottle of the 1995 Fiorano Bianco and a bottle of a 2010 red, which she had made. She said that this wine will be the second wine of the Tenuta di Fiorano and a label and name had not yet been chosen.IMG_2255

 In Rome I had bought a bottle of the 2006 Firoano Rosso made by the new Principe to compare.  It was an easy-drinking wine in a modern style and did not bear any resemblance to the original Fiorano Rosso.  Alessia’s wine was a much bigger, more complex wine with good fruit, but since it was a 2010 it was difficult to judge and needs time to develop.IMG_2254

I also opened a 1994 Fiorano Rosso (made by the grandfather) and it needed at least 10 more years to be ready to drink.   I believe Alessia said that the last vintage made by her grandfather was 1995.

Next time:  the story continues with a visit to the winery in May of 2013 and the improvements Alessia has made.

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Filed under Alessia Antinori, Boncompagni Ludovisi Principe di Vernosa, Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Uncategorized

The Fiorano Rosso Dinners

The idea for the Fiorano dinners started when I saw an article with the title by Eric Asimov entitled An Italian Prince and His Magic Cellar in the New York Times. In his magic cellar, Boncompagni Ludovisi, Principe di Venosa, had two white wines one made from Malvasia di Candia and the other from Semillon.  Both were called Fiorano.  What the magic cellar used to contain, but no longer did, was the Fiorano Rosso made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

 Mr. Asimov praised the Fiorano Bianco, and rightly so. They are unique wines that can last 30 years or more. When I visited Rome I would drink Fiorano Bianco and even today it can still be found in Roman restaurants as well as in restaurants and wine stores in NYC.  There were 14,000 bottles of Fiorano Bianco in the cellar but all of the Fiorano Rosso was gone.  I like the Fiorano Bianco, but I love the Fiorano Rosso and would drink it and buy it whenever I could! 

 After reading the article I realized that Mr. Asimov had never tasted the Rosso. Once when I was invited to the Times to take part in the tasting panel, I told him that I had a few bottles of Rosso and would like him to come for dinner so that he could taste them.  It took two years before we could arrange our first dinner.  Eric wrote about the first dinner in an article entitled Mysteries With a Menu in the Times’ Diners Journal and another dinner in the same column in an article entitled Bygone Bottles.

 Altogether there have been four dinners, the last taking place in April.  As far as I know the last vintage of white or red Fiorano was 1995. The elderly prince has since passed away.  There was much speculation about what would happen to the property.  Luigi Veronelli, a well-known wine and food writer, who had interviewed the prince before his death quoted him as saying that he rather would pull up all the vines than see his son-in-law Piero Antinori get them. When he asked the prince about Piero’s daughters, his granddaughters, inheriting the property, he replied, “they follow their father and not me.” There was talk of building apartment buildings on the property because it was so close to Rome.

 All hope was lost – there was no more rosso to be found.  In December of last year, Mr.  Asimov wrote A Family Gets Back to Their Roots.  In the article he wrote,

“Now, though, the deed is done. The estate has been divided among various members of the Antinori family, and the 25 acres or so where the vineyard was planted is now in the hands of the three daughters of Piero and Francesca Antinori. They plan to replant the vineyard. Turns out that when the prince pulled up the vineyard he didn’t destroy it entirely. Some of the vines, which are by nature tenacious and tough, managed to survive. Using cuttings from the surviving vines, the three Antinoris, along with Renzo Cotarella, the Antinori wine director, hope to replant the original vineyard little by little beginning in 2011.” 

Two months ago I was invited to a tasting of Antinori wines given by Renzo Cotarella at Eataly. When Renzo walked in the room and saw me, he walked over and said “We have to talk about Fiorano”. I had to wait until the class was over before we could talk. Renzo said that they were able to find a few vines for the red grapes on the property and had produced a 2010. He said that I had more experience with Fiorano Rosso than anyone else. We agreed that we liked the red better than the white. I believe the only bottles of the red that he had in his possession were from 1988. I had a number of questions about how the made wine was made and would it be the same. Renzo said that he would be back in October and I immediately began planning our next Fiorano dinner so we could continue our discussion.

 In my opinion, Fiorano Rosso is a unique wine. At the dinner last year we had a 1967 that was given to me by a man from Holland. The wine was 43 years old, the fill was almost to the top, and the wine was fantastic showing no signs of age.  The big question for me is, will the Antinori daughters and Renzo Cotarella make a wine that is like other wines, or will they make Fiorano Rosso.

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Filed under Fiorano Bianco, Fiorano Rosso, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine