Category Archives: Italian White Wine

A Sicilian Family Winery

Benedetto Alessandro, the oenologist of the Alessandro di Camporeale winery in Sicily, was the speaker at a tasting I attended recently of his company’s wines.

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Benedetto Alessandro

This is a fourth generation family-owned and operated winery located in the small farming town of Camporeale, close to Palermo. The estate is at the foot of a hill overlooking the Mandranove Plain. There are 35 hectares of vineyards at about 400 meters. The climate is mild and the fertile clay and limestone-based soil are ideal for producing a wide variety of different grapes. He made a point of saying that the approach in the vineyard follows the overall values of tradition, experience and knowledge of the land. All vine related activities are carried out by hand, following organic farming principles such as biodiversity to combat parasites and using green manure to promote soil fertility.

The wines of Alessandro di Camporeale IMG_8816

Catarratto “Benedè” DOC Sicily 2014 100% Cataratto. The vines were planted in 1990 and are at 420 to 470 meters. The soil is clay and sand, the training system is guyot and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvesting is by hand starting the 10th day of September. The grapes are destemmed and cooled, then a soft pressing takes place. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a low temperature for 15 days. The wine undergoes malolactic fermentation. It is aged for 6 months in stainless steel and another 2 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of apricot and white peach with a hint of almonds in the aftertaste. $19IMG_8817

Grillo “Vigna di Mandranov” DOC Sicily 2013. 100% Grillo. The vineyard was planted in 2009. It is at 450 meters, the soil is clay, the training system is guyot espalier and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand starting in the beginning of September. After destemming, the grapes are cooled and gently pressed in an oxygen free environment. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a low temperature for 15 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 6 months and in bottle for 1 to 2 months before release. The wine has hints of citrus fruit with touches of flint and herbs. A very nice example of this type of wine. $29IMG_8818

Nero d’Avola “Donnatá” Sicily DOC 2013 100% Nero di Avola. The soil is rich in clay, limestone and potassium. The vines were planted in 2000. The vineyard is at 380 meters. The soil is clay and sand, training system is spurred cordon espalier and there are 4,400 vines per hectare. Harvest starts by hand, the first week of September. Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel and a small part in big oak casks. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 months before release. This is an aromatic wine with hints of blackberries and cherries with a very pleasing finish and aftertaste.

Benedetto said that Nero d’Avola was the most important red grape variety in Sicily. $19IMG_8821

Syrah Kaid l IGT Sicily 2011 100% Syrah The soil is clay and chalk with an alkaline reaction. The vines were planted in 1989, the training is spurred cordon espalier and there are 4,400 plants per hectare. The grapes are picked by hand in the morning the first 20 days of September. Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 12 months in barriques and tonneaux and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a big wine, alcoholic with hints of cherry and black currants with a lot of vanilla, toasty oak and coconut. One of the wine writers present said that he likes the first 3 wines but this wine was out of balance and much too international in style. Benedetto agreed and said that starting with the next vintage 2012 they are using less barriques and more tonneaux and big oak casks .$25

He also said that Syrah is considered the “most Sicilian of the international grape varieties”.IMG_8822

Kaid “ Vendemmia Tardive” Late Harvest 2014 IGT Sicily 100% Syrah from a 1.5 hectare plot. The vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines were planted in 1989. Fermentation is for about 12 days at a low temperature. The wine is aged in Allier oak barriques for 15 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. This is a dessert wine with nice rich forward fruit with hints of cherries, black currants and a touch of chocolate. It has a very pleasing aftertaste and a very long and complex finish. $35

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Filed under Alessandro di Camporale, Catarrato, Grillo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kaid-Syrah & Late Harvest, Nero d'Avola, Sicilian Wine, Sicily, Syrah, Uncategorized

Dinner with Lars and Karen

Dinner at Lars and Karen’s house always begins the same way.IMG_8533

Lars takes a large silver sword from its box, holds a bottle of Cuvee Aurora Rose sparkling wine in his other hand, and with one fell swoop slices the cork and the top off the bottle.IMG_8534

We watch in amazement while they fly across the yard.

Lars Leicht is the head of the Cru Artisan division of Banfi. Here are the wines he served that night. He also did most of the cooking!IMG_8540

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.IMG_8543

Lars served this wine with an assortment of appetizers including sauteed eggplant with cherry tomatoes, a Neapolitan dish.IMG_8541

Pecorino “Cortalato” Colli Aprutini IGT 2014 100% Pecorino Cerulli Spinozzi. The vineyards are in the Colli Aprutini in Abruzzo. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation is in stainless steel, prior to malolactic fermentation and it is aged on its lees fro 5 months prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and peach with notes of apricot and orange and a touch of bitter almond on the lingering finish. I recommend this wine often and it is a true bargain at less than $18 a bottle. Enrico Cerulli has taken over the management Cerulli Spinozzi his ancestral property. I have met Enrico a number of times and am always impressed by his knowledge and passion for his wine. The consulting winemaker is Franco Bernabei, who I consider to be one of the best.IMG_8548

With it, we ate hand rolled pici pasta (like thick spaghetti) with clams and herbs.IMG_8546

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo “Torre Migliore” 2009 Cerulli Spinozzi made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo in the Colli Teramane DOCG area. The soil consists of compact layers of shale and is rich in nutrients. Selected grapes are hand harvested in small boxes. The juice is fermented on the skins for 15/18 days in oak for at least 16 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in the bottle before release. This is a complex intense wine with hints of ripe cherries, blackberries and a touch of clove. This wine will age and is a bargain at about $18IMG_8556

With the red wines, we ate an assortment of grilled sausages and lamb chops.

The next three red wines are from Palari owned by Salvatore Geraci.IMG_8564

Santa.Ne 2008 100% A Francisa. I asked Lars about this unusual grape and he said “As Salvatore Geraci explains it to me, a century ago they planted a French varietal in that vineyard but no longer recall what it is. The farmers simply refer to it as “the French one,” or ‘a Francisa‘ in local dialect. Some hypothesize that it could be Malbec or Petite Verdot, but in any case over the decades it has morphed into something unique to its conditions.”

The grapes are grown in soil that consists of clay (argilla) in vineyards located in Santo Briga in Messina, Sicily. The wine is aged for 14 months in new barrels of Troncais oak. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest, unfiltered for at least two more years before release. It has hints of tobacco, leather, red berries and a touch of spice.IMG_8557

Rosso Del Soprano 2011 made from 60% Nerello, 15% Nocera, 20% Nerello Capuccio, 2% Acitana, 2% Jacche and 1% Coe’e Palumba. After a soft pressing and fermentation with native yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel, the wine ages in one-year-old barrels of Troncais and Allier oak. It is then bottled and rests, unfiltered, for about another year before release. It has hints of ripe red berries and undertones of spice with a persistent finish.IMG_8566

Faro 2009 Like the Rosso Del Soprano above, this wine is made from the same indigenous grapes but with a different selection. Salvatore Geraci the owner of Palari saved the Faro DOC from extinction by taking over the 6 hectare vineyard and producing the wine. The wine is aged in new barrels of Troncais and Allier oak for at least 12 months. The wine is then bottled and allowed to rest unfilited for an additional year before release. This is an elegant and complex wine with notes of ripe red fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla. It has a very long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Faro means lighthouse in Italian.IMG_8568

Brunello di Montalcino 1982  Villa Banfi 100% Sangiovese, select clones from estate vineyards on the southern hills of Montalcino. The grapes are grown in stony, calcareous and well-structured soil at an altitude of 720 ft. A careful grape selection is followed by vinification with skin contact for 10-12 days. The wines are released the 5th year after the harvest. Current vintages of this wine are aged a minimum of 4 years, 2 years in oak barrels of various sizes, mainly French oak barriques and partly in Slavonian oak casks.

I do not believe the 1982 was aged in barriques and I do not believe the “clone selection” was the same back then. This is an elegant and complex wine with hints of red fruit, violets, and a touch of licorice and spice. It is showing no sign of age. A delightful Brunello.IMG_8574

Malvasia Delle Lipari 2011 100% Malvasia, Florio. The wine is produced in Malfa, on the island of Salina, archipelago of the Aeolian Islands. The soil is of volcanic origin and sandy. The vineyards are planted on the coast less the 50 meters above sea level. The grapes are hand harvested then laid on reed mats to dry in the sun for about 20 days.

The raisined grapes are gently pressed and left briefly with skin contact. The must is then drained and fermented slowly at controlled temperatures and fermentation stops naturally. The wine is aged a minimum of 5 months in 25 liter fine oak barrels. The wine has hints of raisins, dried apricots and a touch of honey

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Filed under Abruzzo, Banfi Brunello, Brunello, Cerulli Spinozzi, Cuvee Aurora Rose, Faro, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Malvasia delle Lipari-Florio, Rosso del Soprano, Santa.Ne, Sparkling wine, Uncategorized

Campania Wine Tasting at Gattopardpo, NYC

As I have often stated, some of the best white wines in Southern Italy as from the region of Campania. There are many styles of white wine made from a number of grape varieties, Which were Introduced by the ancient Greeks who settled there. Some of These wines can be drunk young and others can age for many years.IMG_8200

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC is Il Gattopardo, owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino. The restaurant specializes in Neapolitan cooking. I can not think of a better place to enjoy a Campania Wine Tasting than there.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

The tasting was presented by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, who delivered an excellent presentation. There were nine wines – five whites and four reds. Here are the 5 white wines and the foods they were paired with. I will write about the red wines and the foods paired with them another time.

The WinesIMG_8180

Anni Vent di Tufo DOCG Spumante NV Cantina Di Marzo 100% Greek di Tufo Brut Methode Classic. The vineyards are at 350 and 500 meters and the exposure is south. The soil is clay and limestone and the training method is Guyot. There are 3,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 5 to 20 years. Harvest is by hand in October. Both alcohol and Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine remains on the lees in the bottle for 36 months. It has fine and persistent bubbles with hints of dried fruits and a touch of bitter orange and almonds in the finish and after taste.

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma representing the winery said that he is a direct descendant of March Scipio who founded the winery in 1647 making it one of Italy’s oldest wineries. He added anche That Scipio was the creator of the Greek di Tufo variety.IMG_8175

This was served well with the Nibbles: Scagliozzi of Polenta, mini mozzarelle in carrozza con’saletta d’acciughe and Assagini di torta”Pasqualina” – polenta croutons, toasted miniature mozzarella sandwiches with a light anchovy sauce and bites of vegetable and cheese tart.IMG_8181

Silva Aura Pallagrello Bianco Terre del Volturno PGI 2013 Cantine Rao. Made from 85% and 15% Pallagrello Fiano. The age of the vineyard is 30 years and the exposure is southeast and they are at 200 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot and the soil is loamy sand. Harvest takes place the first week of September. Representing the winey was Francesco Reo.

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo Said that the winery is in the heart of Campania. He Said That the Pallagrello grape became almost extinct but there was a revival in the 1990 “s. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. It is aged in steel tanks for 4 months and in bottle for two months before release. It has hints of peach, apricot, apple and pears.IMG_8177

This and the next 3 white wines were served with the Parmigiana di zucchine con scamorza e salsa al pomodoro – zucchini parmesan with smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce.IMG_8188

Or Ni Campania Fiano DOCG 2011 Tenuta Scuotto 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyards are at 480 meters and the training system is Guyot. Harvest takes place the first week of November. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and temperature controlled fermentation with indigenous yeast in oval barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months on the lees and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied and elegant white wine with hints of apricot, pineapple and a touch of hazelnuts.IMG_8182

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2013 Contea de Altavilla 100% Greek di Tufo. The soil is clayey and calcareous. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine is aged for 5 months in stainless steel tanks. This is an elegant wine with hints of apricot, peach, pear and a touch of bitter almond in the aftertaste.IMG_8183

La TreRose di Giò, Falanghina IGT 2014, Tenute Bianchino ( 100% Falanghina.The vineyard is situated between the cities of Falciano del Massico and Mondragone.The training system is espalier (vines trained along a wall fence or trellis).

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini, representing the winery, said That Falanghina has a leaf cuneiform (wedge shape with a tapered end), is a medium sized grape bunches and conical with a thick and compact skin. Harvest takes place at the end of September and first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel and before the wine is released it remains in the bottle for one month. This is a balanced wine with hints of fresh citrus fruits, green plum, a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste.

The Falanghina should have been served before the Greco  and Fiano,  which are more substantial. However, all of the wines matched well with the food.

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Filed under campania, Cantina di Marzo, Cantina Reo, Contea de Altavilla, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Tenuta Bianchino, Tenuta Scuotto

$20 and Under for Summer Drinking

Here is a roundup of some of my favorite wines for summer drinking.

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Les Vignes de Bila-Haut White Côtes Du Roussillon  2014 made from Grenache Gris, Grenache Blanc, Macabeo and Vermentino (Rolle in France). The 40-year-old plus vines are on the hills of the Agly Valley. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in the same tanks. After a long maceration of two to three weeks, the wine is aged on the fine lees and then racked from vat to vat which naturally clarifies the wines. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. It has hints of citrus aromas and flavors with tropical fruit and good minerality. $14

Bila–Haut was purchased by Michael Chapoutier in 1999 and is located in the best part of the Languedoc, the Cotes du Roussillon in France, an area which I have visited a number of times. Bila-Haut translates to Bila Heights and it was once a refuge for the Knights Templar. The cross-featured on the bottle label is in their honor.IMG_8070

Pinot Grigio 2014 Alto Adige DOC Peter Zimmer. Made from a selection of grapes from the best vineyards of the valley floor and the steep slopes nearby. The soil here is stony, sandy and extremely chalky. The low yields per hectare and this particular terroir combines for a very particular Pinot Grigio.  The grapes are gently pressed, then clarified through the natural settling of sediment. Alcoholic fermentation is carried out with pure strains of yeast in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains on the lees for several months before it is bottled. It has more depth than most Pinot Grigio, with ripe fresh fruit, a touch of pear, and a hint of spice, good mineral character and fresh acidity. $17IMG_8062

Urban Riesling 2014 Nik Weis Selection non-estate Mosel. 100% Mosel Riesling from vineyards around the town of Mehring. The Riesling is grown here on steep slopes with a perfect angle for the sun’s rays. The soil is blue, highly decomposed slate rocks that give the wine its minerality.

The owner/winemaker Nik Weis is a minimalist and traditionalist. The grapes are not destemmed, there is a slight maceration of the grapes, a gentle pressing and gravity-fed sedimentation. There is indigenous yeast fermentation. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. There is a very gentle filtration. It is a complex wine with a smoky and floral bouquet, with juicy fruit and a minerality that finishes off dry. The wine in named for St. Urban, the patron saint of German winemakers. Alcohol is 9.5% and the residual sugar is 33g/l. $14IMG_8063

Frascati DOC “Terre Dei Grifi 2013 Made from 50% Malvasia Bianco di Candia, 30% Trebbiano Toscano, 10% Greco and 10% Malvasia del Lazio. Hillside vineyards with volcanic, potassium rich soil. The grapes are gently pressed and vinified in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation, the wine rests on its lees for 4 months to impart greater complexity, structure and bouquet. The wine ages in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has fragrances of exotic fruits and citrus with a touch of ripe pear and almond in the finish. $12

Pecorino “Cortalto” 2013 Colli Aprutini IGT Cerulli Spinozzi (Abruzzo) 100% Pecorino. The soil is clay and sand. Fermentation in stainless steel, then malolactic. It is aged on its lees for 5 months before the wine is bottled. Hints of white flowers, peach, citrus fruits and apricot. There is a touch of bitter almond in the finish. I was very impressed by this wine, one of the best I have tasted. $16IMG_8098

Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio Bianco 2013 DOC Struzziero made from 85% Caprettone 15% and Falanghina or Greco. The vineyards are located on the slopes of Vesuvius. Crushing and destemming followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation. The wine is bottled in March following the harvest. Aromas and flavors of citrus fruit with good minerality and a touch of smoke. $12

Sparkling

Organic Prosecco DOC grapes for this small production Prosecco are harvested from certified organic wine estate in the town of Vazzola in Treviso. The grapes are grown without chemicals or fertilizers, the grapes are 100% organically grown. It is produced in the extra dry style with just a little more residual sugar than a Brut. It has hints of green apple and a touch of tropical fruit. $16

RoseIMG_8034

Les Vignes Rosé Bila Haut 2013 Pays D’Oc  This is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $14IMG_7661

Château La Tour de l’Evêque Rosé 20014 Cuvée Pétale de Rose AOC Côtes de Provence. Made from 42% Cinsault, 38% Grenache, 9% Syrah, 4% Ugni-blanc 3% Mourvèdre, 2% Sèmillon, 1% Cabernet Sauvignon and 1% Rolle. The hand harvest took place between August 16 and September 16. This is a wine with nice red berry aromas and flavors. Very easy to drink with a nice finish and aftertaste. $18

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Cantina Terlano St. Maddalena 2014 Alto Adige DOC made from 80% Schiava and 15% Lagrein. The vineyards are between 230 and 500 meters and the exposure is south/ southwest. Harvest is by hand and there is a grape selection and they are destemmed. This is followed by a slow must fermentation at a controlled temperatures and gentle agitation of the must in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation and aging is in big wooden barrels for 7/10 months. The wines are blended one month before bottling. The wine has hints of black elderberry and cherry with a touch of bitter almond and violet. It has balanced acidity and low tannins which is a unique feature of the Schiava grape. $20IMG_8069

Scherecbichl Colterenzio Kalterersee Auslese Classico Superiore 2014 Alto Adige DOC 100% Schiava. (Vernatsch) produced by old traditional pergola trained vines. The hillside vineyards are at 410/440 meters and the soils are morainal mixed with sand and eroded porphyry deposits. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with the skins, followed by malolactic fermentation, then four months of aging in tanks. It had red summer fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of cherry, light tannin and acidity. This is a wine to be drunk young served slightly chilled for summer drinking.IMG_8068

Kaltern Caldaro Kalterersee Auslese 2013 Alto DOC Adige 100% Schiava (Vernatsch). The vineyards are on south and east facing slopes surrounding Lake Kaltern at 230/450 meters. The soil is loamy, limestone gravel, with a small proportion of sand. The average age of the vines is 20/50 years and the training system is the pergola. Harvest is from the end of September to the middle of October. Fermentation is for one week on the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged four months on the fine lees in stainless steel and large casks. It has hints of cherry and raspberry with a touch of bitter almond. Wine should be drunk young.IMG_8066

Chianti Classico “Aziano” 2013 DOCG Ruffino Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Colorino and Canaiolo. The soil is moderate clay content rich in Galestro rocks. The vineyards are at 200/400 meters. The vines are guyot trained and cordon spur pruned. Fermentation, aided by racking and punching down, takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel vats. Once malolatic fermentation is complete the wine is aged for 11 months in stainless steel and concrete vats and four months in bottle before release. It has hints of red berries, cherries, violets, plums and a touch of spice. $14IMG_8064

Valpolicella Classico Superiore 2012 Sartori di Verona made from 45% Corvina, 30% Covinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Croatioa. The Valpolicella Classico area is north of Verona and the soil is calcareous with fine layers of limestone. There is soft pressing with skin maceration for 8 to 10 days. After pressing 10% of the must is extracted to obtain better color and tannin. After racking and malolactic fermentation the wine is aged partially in stainless steel and partially in oak for 15 months. The wine is aged in bottle for 4 months before release. It has aromas and flavors of rich red fruit with hints of black cherry, nice minerality and soft tannins. $20

I was very impressed with this wine. It was one of the best Valpolicellas I have tasted in a long time.

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Filed under Banfi, Bila- Haut, Bio-Dynamic, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kalterer See, Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio Struzziero, Petale de Rose, Peter Zemmer, Pfarrhof Kaltern, Prosecco, Ruffino, Sartori di Verona, St. Magdalener- Hausler, Terre dei Grifi Frascati, Urban Riesling-Nik Weis

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

One Wine Bar, One Restaurant and Tartufo in Rome

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Rome and Michele and I try to eat in as many as possible. We rented and apartment for two weeks in the Monti which is close to the colosseum and the forum and were able to walk to many of them.  IMG_7430

Enoteca Cavour 313, located at 313 Via Cavour, is a wine bar in Rome that I always wanted to try but never got to. Last month we rented an apartment in the Monti section of Rome and I realized that it was right around the corner so we went. It is a cross between a pub and a bistro with dark wooden beams running across the ceiling.

There are two wine lists. One is for the restaurant and it contains close to 1,000 labels in all price ranges. The other is a list of wines for sale that you can take home with you.IMG_7422

The menu is limited but appealing. I had an insalata mista and roast pork with house made pear mostarda. The pork was perfectly cooked and delicious.IMG_7420

We drank a Bramaterra 2005 from Tenuta Sella made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. The production area is in Northern Piedmont. The vines are 48 years old, the exposure is Southwest, the vineyard is at 300 to 350 meters the training system is guyot and the soil is volcanic in origin and reddish brown in color. Harvest takes place between September 22 and October 12. After the grapes are crushed, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and delestage. There is 30 days maceration for the Nebbiolo and 16 for the Croatina. The wine is aged in 10 hl Slavonian oak casks for 28 months. The wine was showing no signs of age. There were hints of faded roses, leather, blackberries and a hint of spice. The wine could age for another 10 years. It is an excellent buy.

Roscioli Salumeria Vineria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21-22. Roscioli is very difficult to describe because it is not only a restaurant but also a salumeria, a shop specializing in salumi and cheese, and a wine bar all at the same time,IMG_3237

It was opened in 2002 when Alessandro and Pierluigi Roscioli decided to make the change from the family grocery. They also have a bakery named Roscioli around the corner, with the best fig bread I have ever eaten. They also sell Roman style pizza by the slice. Michele likes the restaurant because it has one of the best spaghetti carbonaras in Rome.IMG_3270

We started with hand made Mortadella from Bologna garnished with crisp bread and 36 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano from red cows.IMG_7342

Then I had the water buffalo DOP mozzarella from Paestum served with Cantabrian anchovies and Taggiasche olives.IMG_7343

We both ordered La Carbonara: Spaghettone Pasta tossed with bits of crispy guanciale (pork cheeks), black pepper, Paolo Parisi eggs and Roman Pecorino DOP.IMG_7396

The wine was the 2012 Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo (Rosè) made from100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini. Aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 12 months. There was just a touch of strawberry in the wine but that may be the only thing it has in common with other rose wines. I believe it is Italy’s best Rosè and it was less than 40 Euro in the restaurant. Eduardo passed away a few years ago but his son Francesco continues the tradition. IMG_7400

Taurasi Radici 1998 Riserva 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. This is the way I believe the 1998 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather.

Roscioli has a very good wine list and the wines are displayed on the walls of the restaurant.

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We were walking in the Piazza Navona and passed Tre Scalini, a café and restaurant famous for its Tartufo, chocolate covered chocolate gelato. The tartufo was created in 1946 by the head of the Ciampini family.IMG_7467

It has 13 varieties of Swiss chocolate and the exact recipe is still a secret. It has been a number of years since we had one so we decided to try it once again. The shape is different than I remember it, but it was just as good.

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Filed under Bramaterra, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, Enoteca Cavour 313, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mastroberardino, Roman Restaurants, Rome, Roscioli, Taurasi, Tenuta Sella, Tre Scalini Tartufo, Valentini

Classic Roman Restaurants

Michele and I rented a apartment in Rome for two weeks. It is in the Monti area which is very close to the Colosseum and the  Forum.

IMG_7354 The apartment we rented was  very comfortable, functional and a  good value for the money. Here is the link https://montihome.wordpress.com

As I have said many times before I love the food in Rome. This time we went back to some of our old favorite restaurants all of which are family run.

 Checchino dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com, Via di Monte 31 Testaccio).

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Francesco and Elio

The Mariani Family has owned the restaurant since it opened in 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.IMG_7460

Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world. The wine cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae which date back to Ancient Rome. The slaughter houses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.

I always have long conversations with Francesco about Italian wine and which one I should order with what I am eating. Francesco recommended a bottle of white to start.IMG_7450

Est, Est, Est di Montefiascone, Poggio Dei Gelsi 2013 Falesco Made from 50% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia and 20% Roscetto. Riccardo Cotarella and his brother Renzo, the winemaker for Antinori, own the winery.

There is soft pressing of the grape-clusters. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with selected indigenous yeasts. There is no skin contact and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Ciromaceration is used for the Roscello grapes. The wine is bottled early to keep its characteristic freshness and taste and it is aged in the bottle. This is an easy to drink wine with floral hints, fruity notes and good acidity.

Three great Bordeaux blends are produced within a short distance from Rome: Torre Ercolano, Colle Picchione and Fiorano. Older vintages of Torre Ercolano and Fiorano Rosso (made by the old Principe who stopped making wine in 1995) are no longer available. Two versions of Fiorano are now made by the old prince’s descendants, his cousin Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi, and another by his granddaughter, Alessia Antinori.IMG_7452

I asked Francesco if they had any older vintages of Colle Picchione. He said he would look and came back with a 1983. This was the last vintage before they singled out “Vigna dal Vassallo” as a cru.

Colle Picchione 1983, Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wines were aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1983 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste.IMG_7453

With the wines, we ate artichokes alla Romana, Coda alla Vaccinara, oxtail in tomato celery sauce with pine nuts, raisins and bitter chocolate, Bucatini all’Amatriciana and grilled baby lamb chops.IMG_7457

Torta stracciatella, a chocolate chip cake, was served with a glass of di Roscetto Passiro Felesco 2012 IGP Lazio Made from 100% Roscetto. This is a native variety from Lazio. The grapes are air dried in a special room to facilitate the development of Botrytis (noble rot).IMG_7456

The wine has nice fruit sensations on the nose, its taste is creamy, full bodied and harmonious with a long lingering finish with honey notes. It was a perfect combination with the torta.

Checchino is still a member of L’ Unione di Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo, a group of restaurants that give you a hand painted plate if you order their signature dish or tasting menu.

The first time I went to Il Matriciano (39-06-32500364) Via dei Gracchi, 55. The Calasanti family has owned and operated the restaurant since 1912. The present owners, a brother and sister, are always there. Alberto Calasanti is on the floor. He greets the guests and plates the food while his sister sits behind a counter and takes care of the checks. There is a nice outdoor space but of late we like to sit inside, which seems to be favored by the Romans. On Sunday afternoon and at night it is best to make a reservation.IMG_7469

As usual, I ordered zucchini flowers (I cannot get enough of them) and artichokes alla giudia to start. The flowers were perfectly deep fried with a small amount of mozzarella and more than a hint of anchovy stuffing.

IMG_7471 I ordered the bucatini alla matriciana.IMG_7475

Then I had abbacchio al forno, baby lamb roasted with potatoes and rosemary. It was cooked to perfection, moist with crisp skin.IMG_7477

For desert I had tiny fragoline, wild strawberries, and gelato.IMG_7473

We had a Pecorino 2014 IGP Terre di Chieti Cantina Tollo Abruzzo 100% Pecorino Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine has hints of white peach, a touch of spice, with good minerality and acidity.

Armando al Pantheon can be difficult to get into, so always book ahead. The restaurant was established in 1961 by Armando Gargioli. This time we went there twice, once on our own and another time with friends Ernie and Louise.IMG_7315

On the first visit I ordered the bruschetta, one with truffle and quail egg and the other with lardo and walnuts. Then I had bucatini alla matriciana and grilled lamb. The dessert was a strawberry crostata with a lattice top.IMG_7359

The next time we went, both Michele and I ordered the pasta with black truffles because we remembered how the aroma of the truffles filled the whole room on our previous visit. It was wonderful.

The Torta

The Torta

Michele also had Roman style chicken with peppers and we ended with their famous dessert, Torta Antica, made with ricotta.IMG_7316

By the way, she says that the artichoke alla Romana here is the best in Rome.IMG_7314

Both times we ordered 2011 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, from Emidio Pepe.   It was less than 40 Euro–a real bargain in a restaurant. The wine was big but with a lot of fruit and not as tannic as I would have expected. Most of my experiences with Pepe’s wines are ones that are 25 years and older.

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Da Giggetto (39- 066861 105) at Portico D’Ottavia 12 A, in the Jewish ghetto. The Ceccarelli family has owned the restaurant since 1923. We went here twice, once by ourselves and the second time with friends. IMG_7335

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.IMG_7437

The clams were small and tender with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper. But since we went twice I also had the aliciotti fritti, fried anchovies, and the fava beans stewed with guanciale.

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Michele also had fava beans with guanciale. We have been going here for many years and have never been disappointed.IMG_7434

We had the Bellone 2013 IGT Lazio “Castore,” I00% Bellone, Cincinnato. The Bellone grape may go back to ancient Roman times and is now grown mostly in vineyards around Rome. This is a fresh, fruity, easy to drink white wine that worked very well with the starters.IMG_7438

We also drank a Passerina Del Frusinate 2013 from Feudi Del Sole 100% Passerina. The winery is located a few kilometers from Rome in the Castelli Romani. It is a wine with hints of apples and white preachers, good acidity and a long finish and nice aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Armando al Pantheon, Checchino dal 1887, Cincinnato winery, Colle Picchioni, Da Giggetto, Falesco Winery, Feudi Del Sole winery, Il Matriciano, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Pecorino, Roman Restaurants, Rome