Category Archives: Mastroberardino

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

Excellent Article on the Origins of Taurasi by Daniele Cernilli-Doctor Wine

The article traces the history of Taurasi and the key role played by the Mastroberardino Family

Roots and traditions  
by Daniele Cernilli 26-11-2014 

The first, labeled bottle of Taurasi to be exported to France was in 1878. Irpinia, the interior area of the Campania region which today corresponds to the province of Avellino, had become part of the Kingdom of Italy less than 20 years earlier as did the rest of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies thanks to the efforts of Garibaldi and his ‘Mille’. Back then, it took a whole day by horse and carriage to reach Atripalda, the most important winemaking center, from the small villages of Montemarano and Castelfranci. It took even longer if you were transporting a load of harvested grapes. The roads were no more than mule trails and the motor vehicle had not yet been invented.

The pioneer in producing Taurasi was Angelo Mastroberardino (1848-1914) who for years had been making it for local consumption with only a little ever making it as far as Naples. What this means is that Taurasi, a great red wine made from Aglianico grapes, existed long before Brunello di Montalcino and was a contemporary of Barolo. Some 30 years earlier, in 1855, Napoleon III, for the Paris World’s Fair, had drawn up the famous ‘Classification des Grand Crus’ for the great Bordeaux wines and, in particular, those of Haut-Médoc. Those wines were produced in areas that were level or hilly and not far from the sea or other sufficiently efficient transportation venues. Producing wine in the mountains of Irpinia was much different with the last grapes picked just before Christmas and the brought down to the wineries together with those picked a month earlier, in order to make just one trip. ‘’What arrived was a mix of fresh grapes and those that had raisinated on the vine which had partially become must during transport,’’ recalled Piero Mastroberardino, the fourth generation of family winemakers. ‘’The wines of the time and those up until the 1950s, when transportation problems were finally resolved, were more alcoholic and volatile and were thus more similar to Amarone,’’ he added.
Angelo was succeeded by his son Michele Mastroberardino (1886-1945) who at the start of the 20th century began to export his wines to Latin America, in particular Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina where there were large communities of Italian immigrants who were beginning to enjoy economic success. ‘’My grandfather used to tell me stories, sometimes amazing ones, about his long trips to South America by ship which took more than a month. He thought that some of rich passengers and the games they organized on deck were quite eccentric,’’ Piero said. ‘’He was a very upright person, of both peasant and middle-class stock, so you can just imagine how he felt hobnobbing with the rich nobility of the Belle Époque’’. Michele lived through some truly difficult times: the First Word War and then the phylloxera plague in Irpinia between 1920 and 1930 which destroyed all the vineyards. Then came the 1929 Great Depression which hit Italy in the early 1930s. Antonio Mastroberardino, Piero’s father, was born in 1928 and he was the true founder of the winery in a modern sense. He was only 17 when he took over the family business after his father died in 1945. And he remained at helm until 2005, revamping the whole line of production starting in 1952, replanting the vines destroyed by the phylloxera plague and promoting his family’s wines worldwide, wines that today represent the roots and tradition of Campania winemaking and perhaps even that of South America. Antonio passed away a few months ago, leaving behind him an immense void. He was not just a good Irpinia winemaker but also one of the fathers of modern winemaking in Italy. A scholar and university professor, Piero is now alone at the head of the estate but he knows what he is doing and has a clear idea of where he wants to go. He is well-aware of the meanings of tradition and roots and for this reason his best wines are called Radici (Roots), a name that is almost a commentary that goes beyond its official classification.

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CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY

We spent my birthday weekend in the Hamptons at the home of our friends, Ernie and Louise De Salvo. Louise is an excellent cook and Ernie and I have the same taste in wine. IMG_5970

We started with lunch on Saturday with zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies in a batter and deep-fried. This is one of my favorite foods and I have it whenever I am in Rome. With this we had a wine from a producer I did not know but it was a perfect combination with the flowers because it is a wine with a depth of flavor,hints of citrus fruit and good acidity.IMG_5956

Trebbiano d’Abruzzo “Fonte Canale” 2011 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from old vines from Tiberio. The vineyard is at 300 meters, there are 2,500 vines /hectare and the training system is the tendone (vines form a canopy to protect the grapes from the sun). Harvest takes place the last week of September. Cold maceration on the skins lasts for 6 hours. Vinification takes place in stainless steel and malolactic fermentation does not occur. The wine remains in the bottle for a short period before release.IMG_5985

Champagne Premier Brut NV Louis Roederer is made from 40% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier from 50 different crus. It is aged for 3 years in the cellar and 6 more months after dègorgement.IMG_5988

One of the dishes that Louise makes, which I love, is a cold melon soup with ginger. This was an interesting combination that worked well because the wine had nice fruity aromas and flavors and a hint of creaminess.IMG_5964

Barbera d’Alba 2001 Giacomo Conterno made from 100% Barbera d’Alba. The vineyard is in Serralunga d’Alba, the soil is calcareous limestone and the exposure is west/southwest. Vinification lasts for 2/3 weeks in wooden vats with regular breaking of the cap. The wine is then aged in large oak barrels for two years. Note–With the 2012 vintage, the Barbera with have Francia on the label as opposed to Cascina Francia, but the wine will remain the same.IMG_5963

When there are many different flavors in the foods Barbera is always a good choice because it is a red wine with good acidity. This one worked very well with the 3 cheeses, salumi, prosciutto, mortadella and best of all the flavorful roasted peppers made by Louise. The better Barberas can age for 20 years and this one was showing no signs of age.IMG_5969

Taurasi Riserva 1995 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 1995 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. IMG_5974

I was in the mood for Taurasi for my birthday. My favorite pasta is Pasta Matriciana and I had to have for my birthday along with the Taurasi.IMG_5978

Hermitage 1999 Domaine Jean-Louis Chave. It is made from 100% Syrah from 50 year old vines from some of the best plots in Hermitage with different soils. The wine is aged in 228 oak barrels for 18 months, 10 to 20% new and the rest 1 to 5 years old.IMG_5989

Ernie makes the best lamb on the grill. He takes pieces of lamb and thick slices of bacon and skewers them. A big wine like the Hermitage was perfect with its depth of flavor and hints of black and red fruit.IMG_5995

For dessert Louise made fig ice cream. I like it so much that the next morning for breakfast before we went home I had the fig ice cream Sicilian style — sandwiched on a warm brioche.

 

 

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Filed under Barbera, Champagne, Chave, Hermitage, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Louis Roederer Brut, Mastroberardino, Taurasi, Tiberio Winery

A Lunch in Honor of Antonio Mastroberardino

The passing of Antonio Mastoberardino, the legendary wine producer from Campania, saddened me.  I immediately called my friend, Philip di Belardino, who was largely responsible for bringing the Mastroberardino wines into this county and promoting them.  I suggested to Philip that we have a lunch in honor of the memory of Antonio.  I suggested SD26 in NYC and Philip agreed because the owner Tony May was a friend of Antonio and a lover of his wines.  We decided to invite a few of the people who had promoted the wines in this country and representatives of Winebow, the present importer.

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During his lifetime, Antonio had been presented with many honors for his work in preserving the indigenous grapes of his region including, Fiano del Avellino and Greco di Tufo.  With the permission of the local government, he planted a vineyard inside the walls of Pompeii from which he made a wine called Villa dei Misteri.  I always remember Antonio saying that you cannot understand the wine and food of a region unless you understand its culture.  He received the title of Cavaliere del Lavoro.  See Tom Maresca’s excellent article:  http://ubriaco.wordpress.com/2014/02/08/ave-atque-vale-antonio-mastroberardino/

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Piero Mastroberardino

For our lunch, each guest was asked to bring one bottle of Mastroberardino wine.  What better way to honor Antonio then to drink his wine?  Piero Mastroberadino, Antonio’s son heard of the lunch and with his daughter Camilla came to NYC to attend.  We were greatly honored by their presence.

Mastroberardino Wines at the lunch

Lacryma Christi Bianco 2012 made from 100% Coda del Volpe

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Fiano di Avellino 1982

Ten years ago when I was the wine director for I Trulli Restaurant, a wine salesmen asked me if I wanted two cases of white wine.  The youngest, he said, was 20 years old and he did not know if they were any good.  He said that the producer was Mastroberardino and I agreed to take them. Among the wines were a few Greco di Tufo’s from the 1983 vintage and a few Fiano di Avellino’s from the 1982 vintage. Both the Greco and Fiano were drinking like young wines. Now ten years later I was able to drink the 1982 Fiano again and it was still in great shape with very little sign of aging. I believe that both the Greco and Fiano were fermented in cement tanks and aged in large chestnut oak casks, one reason why they may have lasted so long. Of the 24 bottles I received, only two were not drinkable.

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1997 More Maiorum 100% single vineyard Fiano di Avellino. The name means “observance of the customs of our ancestors.” This wine was showing some signs of age but was still very nice. It did not hold up as well as the 1982 Fiano I mentioned above.

Lacrimarosa   2012 Campania IGT Rose made from 100 Aglianico

Lacryma Christi Rosso 2012 Made from 100% Piedirosso

Aglianico Irpinia IGT Vintage 1998 made from 100% Aglianico and drinking very well.

Taurasi Riserva 1958, 1968  and 1977

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Looking over notes from almost 25 years ago I came across this from Palace Brands Company the importer for Mastroberardino at the time:

“The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and mico-elements. Taurasi 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. The aging depends on the vintage, the 1977 Riserva was aged 3years in oak, and one batch spent 7 years in oak”.

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They were right about the aging.  The wine was in excellent condition.

Sheldon Wasserman in his book the Italy’s Noble Red Wines (1985) says that Mastorberardino is the zone’s best producer. He says about their Taurasi, “At Mastroberardino they pick their grapes late to produce wines with more richness and character. Taurasi is aged in either oak or chestnut casks. Mastroberardino uses both. They age their riserva for four years, for the first year in the traditional large chestnut casks and then in casks of Slovenian oak ranging in capacity from 30 tom 50 hectoliters”.

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Piero brought these three wines from the winery and they were all in very good condition especially the legendary 68 and the 77.

1997 Radici Taurasi Riserva

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Centrotrento Taurasi Riserva D.O.C.G. 1999 This wine was made in honor of the 150th anniversary of the founding of the company.  On the label appear the figures of 3 men that played leading roles:  Angelo Masteroberardino (1850-1914), Michele Mastroberardino (1866-1945) and Antonio Mastroberardino (1928 -2014).

1999 Radici Taurasi Riserva 

 2000 Radici Taurasi Riserva

 Magnum of 2005 Radici Taurasi Riserva  

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Taurasi “Radici” DOCG  100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania)  Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located 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 was 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 is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. These are full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

Will the wines from the late 1990’s age as well as the older wines? I believe so because none of them were showing any signs of age.

 

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Filed under Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mastroberardino, Taurasi

Beef and Taurasi

I always look forward to the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri (Three Glasses) tasting which is held every year in NYC.  Tre Bicchieri is the highest rating that Gambero Rosso gives to a wine in its Italian Wine Guide. This year there were a number of wines that I tasted and enjoyed. It seems to me that the Italian producers are using less and less new barriques so that the wines I tasted were less oaky than they have been in the past.

I will be highlighting the wines from the tasting from time to time.IMG_4832

Taurasi “Radici” DOCG 2008 100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania) Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards were 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 was 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 is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather. I was in the mood for Taurasi.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef in Red Wine

Michele was making beef in red wine for dinner, The 2008 Taurasi from Masterberardino would be too young to drink so I opened a 1995 and it was a perfect combination.

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Filed under Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Mastroberardino, Taurasi

Dinner with Inspector Montalbano

I am a big fan of Andrea Camileri’s books featuring Inspector Montalbano. The stories are set in southeastern Sicily in a town with a made-up name, but it sounds a lot like Agrigento. This is of interest to me because my father’s family comes from this area.  ???????????????????????????????

Montalbano, like most Sicilians, spends a lot of time thinking, talking about and eating food.  Especially seafood.  Wine and food writers Diane Darrow and Tom Maresca are also loyal fans of the Inspector Montalbano books as well as the made-in-Italy television series on the same subject which is available here on dvd.   Diane and Tom invited Michele and I to a dinner at their home featuring recipes from a cookbook, The Secrets of Montalbano’s Table (I Segreti della Tavola di Montalbano), written by Andrea Camilieri.  Tom paired the dishes with wines from Mt. Etna in Sicily–mostly.IMG_3778

Etna Bianco Biancodicaselle 2010 DOC Benanti made from 100% Carricante, vines grown as freestanding bushes-alberello. This indigenous vine is cultivated only on Mt. Etna. The vines are 35 to 50 years old and at 800 to 1,000 meters. The area of production is the countryside of Caselle on the eastern slope of Etna in the commune of Milo and the countryside of Cavaliere on the southern side of the mountain, in the commune of Santa Maria di Licodia. The soil is sandy, volcanic, and rich in minerals, with subacid reaction. The consulting enologist is Michele Bean.

The grapes are late ripening and are picked in the third week of October; they are intact and softly pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel vats. The wine matures for a certain period of time in tanks before being bottled. After two months in bottle the wine is released. The color is pale yellow with greenish hints; it is aromatic, fruity with hints of apple, and nice acidity.

ALICI

ALICI

This was paired with Alici con Cipolle e Aceto, fresh anchovies marinated in white wine and vinegar with sweet cipollini onions.  I love alici and it was a great.

Etna Bianco Outis (Nessuno) 20o9 DOC  Vini Bondi the wine maker is Salvo Foti, who is very respected in the Etna area and has worked for Benanti and Gulfi.

The wine is 90% Carricante, 2.5% Cataratto, 2.5% Minnella,2.5% Malvasia and 2.5% Muscatella dell’Etna. The grapes come from four different vineyards. The vines are 60 to 70 years old and are bush trained (alberello). Salvo Foti has said that the alberello method is the best for growing grapes under the climatic conditions on Etna which are more like Northern Italy and very windy.  There are 6,000 to 8,000 plants per hectare. Organic farming methods are used and the grapes are hand picked. Fermentation and aging takes place in stainless steel tanks. This is a wine with cirtus fruit flavors, good minerality and acidity with a nice finish and pleasing after taste.IMG_3781

The name of the wine comes from the story of the Cyclops in The Odyssey by Homer.  Odysseus and his men are captives in the cave of the man eating Cyclops.  Odysseus offers the Cyclops, Polyphemus, some strong and undiluted wine in order to get him drunk. Polyphemus then asks Odysseus his name. Odysseus tells him “Οὖτις“, which means “no one” and the Cyclops promises to eat this “Nobody” last of all. With that, he falls into a drunken sleep. Odysseus had meanwhile hardened a wooden stake in the fire and drives it into Polyphemus’ single eye. When Polyphemus shouts for help from his fellow giants, saying that “Nobody” has hurt him, they think Polyphemus, it is very funny and go away laughing.

VONGOLE

VONGOLE

This was paired with another one of my favorites –  Sautè di Vongole al Pangrattato — tiny clams steamed in wine then baked with breadcrumbs.

PASTA CON SARDE

PASTA CON SARDE

We finished the white wine with Pasta con Sarde,IMG_3787

Etna Rosso Rossodiverzella DOC 2009 Bernati.  Made from 80% Mascalese and 20% Nerello Cappuccio.   The area of production is on the northern side of Etna in the commune of Castiglione di Sicilia. There is a lot of rain and high humidity with great temperature changes throughout the day. The soil is sandy, volcanic, rich in minerals with subacid reaction. There are 8,000 vines per hectare and the vine training used is the alberello. The harvest takes place the second week of October. There is traditional vinification and after malolactic fermentation the wine is aged is small casks- 225 liters-for 8 to 10 months. The wine remains in bottle for several months before release. This wine had red fruit flavors and aromas and a hint of vanilla that was not necessary.IMG_3792

Taurasi Riservia 1985  Mastroberardino 100% Aglianico(Campania) Harvest takes place 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 is aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release.  This is full, complex wine with hints of plum, spice, coffee and a touch of leather. This is a great wine and I am very happy that when Tom did a non-Sicilian wine it was this one. Montalbano would have approved.

BRUSCIULUNI

BRUSCIULUNI

The two red wines were paired with Brusciuluni, a flattened piece of beef stuffed with cheese and salame, then rolled and tied like a roast.  It was topped with a flavorful tomato sauce.

For more on the food see Diane Darrow
http://dianescookbooks.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/a-montalbano-menu-mostly-fish/

For a slightly different view on the wine see Tom Maresca
http://ubriaco.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/etna-erupts-wine/

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Filed under Andrea Camilleri, Benanti, Biancodicaselle, Inspector Montalbano, Mastroberardino, Outis-Etna Bianco, Rossodiverzella, Taurasi

The Legends of Italian Wine

Istituto del Vino di Qualitá /grandi marchi (The Institute of Fine Italian Wines/Premium Brands) is a group of 19 of Italy’s top wine producers that have joined together on marketing activities to improve both the image of Italian wine and to promote the member wineries. The members include Alois Lageder, Ambrogio e Giovanni Folonari, Tenute Antinori, Argiolas, Biondi Santi Tenuta Greppo, Ca’ del Bosco, Carpenè Malvolti, Donnafugata, Gaja, Jermann, Lungarotti, Masi, Mastroberardino, Michele Chiarlo, Pio Cesare, Rivera, Tasca d’Almerita, Tenuta San Guido and Umani Ronchi. The President is the Marchese Piero Antinori.
All of the producers are older well-established wineries that are family owned. It is very unusual to get Italians to agree on anything so to have so many producers from different regions cooperate like this is even more unusual.

Their first event in NYC, “The Legends of Italian Wine,” was held at the New York Public Library on Fifth Ave.  17 of the 19 producers were  at the event (only Gaja and Tenuta San Guido were missing) and there were wines from ten of the Italian regions.

As I tasted the wines, I felt that there was a movement away from the over extracted oaky wines of the past few years. Even those producers that make wines of this type spoke about terroir and using less new oak. There were only two wines that were a little too international in style for me, but they were not over the top.

Listed below are six wines, which I felt were particularly interesting:

Pinot Grigio “Porer” Alto Adige DOC 2011 Alois Lageder 100% Pinot Grigio. (Alto Adige) Fermentation and aging on the lees in stainless steel tanks and the wine is matured in stainless steel tanks and large oak casks. Clemens Lageder, representing the winery, said that the vineyard faces east and gets the morning sun. He feels that because of this the resulting wine has a touch of smoke and good acidity. This is an elegant Pinot Grigio with a lot of body.  It is soft and creamy with a long finish and nice aftertaste. $25

IL Falcone Castello Del Monte Riserva DOC 2006 Rivera Made from 70% Nero di Troia and 30% Montepulciano. (Puglia).   The harvest is in the middle of October, with the older vineyard of Nero di Troia sometimes picked the first week of November. Maceration and color extraction are carried out in stainless steel tanks for 12/14 days with frequent pump-overs and delestage.  Sebastiano Decorato, the sales director and a member of the family that owns the winery said that this is done to obtain better extraction and soften the tannins. The wine is aged for 12/14 months in 225-liter French oak barriques of various ages. The wine is filtered but not cold stabilized and released after one year of bottle aging. This is a wine that should get more attention. I have been drinking it for a number of years and it never disappoints. $30

Taurasi “Radici” DOCG 2006 100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania) Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards were 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 was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest in 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 is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. This is full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

There was a dinner the night of the tasting and I was sat with Piero. He said that a few people said that his wine should be more concentrated. I could not believe this!.  This is a great wine, a unique wine the can last for 40 years or more. I have the 1989 1995,1997 and 1999 vintages of this wine. Piero said, to my relief, that he would not change anything. $65  

RubescoVigna Monticchio” Torgiano Rosso Riserva DOCG 2006 Cantina Giorgio Lungarotti SRL (Umbria) 70% Sangiovese and 30% Canaiolo. The Monticchio vineyard is the Brufa hill is near the town of Torgiano. Giorgio Lungarotti said that this vineyard is at 300 meters and the soil is mostly clay. He feels that this is a unique vineyard, which gives the wine its unique character. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with 15/20 days of maceration on the skins. Aging is in oak barriques and barrels for about 12 months and following a light filtering it remains in the bottle for four years before it is released. This is an elegant wine with red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherry, tobacco and spice. The 2006 is the current vintage.  I have been drinking this wine since 1981 when I first visited the winery in Torgiano and drank the 1973 vintage. The wine was granted its own DOCG in 1990. The Rubesco Riserva is a wine that can age for 30 years. $55

Brunello di Montalcino Tenuta Greppo DOCG 2007 Franco Biondi Santi. (Tuscany) 100% Sangiovese Grosso-BBS11 clone. The BBS11 is a very special clone that goes back to the beginning of Brunello.  Bondi Santi is the only producer that has it.  Alcoholic fermentation takes place in concrete vats. The wine is aged for 3 years in Slovenian oak barrels and released into the market after five years from the harvest. This is a legendary wine that can last for over 100 years. They still have the 1888 and 1891 at the winery and they are still in good condition. $150

Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico Riserva  “Di Costasera” DOCC 2007 Masi Agricola SPA (Veneto) made from 70% Corvina, 15% Rondinella, 10% Oseleta and 5% Molinara. The hillside vineyards face southwest. At the end of September/beginning of October the best bunches are picked and laid out in on traditional bamboo racks (arele) in special lifts where the natural drying process (appassimento) is controlled by the NASA system. By the middle of September the grapes have lost about 40% of their weight and have a great concentration of sugar. Only the Corvina grape is subject to slight touch of botrytis (noble rot). The Oseleta grape gives greater tannic structure and deeper color to the wine after drying. The grapes are gently pressed after partial destalking and are fermented for 45 days in large Slovenian oak barrels or in stainless steel vats at cellar temperature. The malolactic fermentation takes place in 38/40-hectoliter barrels for 35 days induced by the inoculation of selected yeasts highly resistant to alcohol. The wine is aged in 600 liter Slovenian and Allier oak casks-1/3 new, 1/3-second passage and 1/3 third passage. The wine is aged in bottle for six months before release. This is a big full wine, with aromas of ripe fruit, jam and a hint of balsamic. On the palate it is smooth and rich with a long finish and great aftertaste. $85

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