Michele and I spent a few days in Rome before going on a grappa press tour with “Hello Grappa” along with our friend, wine writer and grappa lover, Tom Maresca.
I wanted to go to my favorite restaurant in Rome — Checchino dal 1887 — and Tom agreed. We invited Daniele Cernilli (Checchino is his favorite restaurant) and his wife Marina Thompson.
Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and Marina have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both here and in Rome. Daniele is true Roman, a Romano de Roma as the expression goes. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. He was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of Gambero Rosso-Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the inventor of the now famous “Three Glasses” classification for Italian wines. Currently, he has is own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it. There are two versions, one English and the other Italian, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly.
Checchino is a family run restaurant with Francesco Mariani on the floor and his brother Elio in the kitchen. When we arrived at the restaurant, Francesco welcomed us as always.
Checchino has one of the best wine lists in Rome and Francesco is always ready to talk about his wines. After we selected the wines Daniele presented Tom and I with copies of his Essential Guide to Italian Wines 2019.
Le Vignole–Bianco del Lazio 2012 IGT Colle Picchioni made from Malvasia, Sauvignon and Trebbiano. Maceration is on the skins and the wine is aged in French barriques. The winery is located in Marino a short distance from Rome. The wine remains on the lees for some time and has a slightly golden color. Tom said it reminded him of a Rhone white wine and I agreed.
Stilema 2015 Mastroberadino made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. 10% of the wine is fermented in barriques. This is Daniele’s description of the wine in his book: “Typical notes of flint, then fresh almonds, wild herbs, elegant and extremely clear aromas. Agile and savory taste dominated by a magical freshness that gives elegance and drinkability to the wine. Smooth and long persistence. Great Wine.”
Colle Piccioni Rosso 1982, 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 wine wAS aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1982 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste. It was as good as the 1983 I had the last time we were here.
Barolo 2010 DOCG Pio Cesare made from 100% Nebbiolo. The grapes are from family owned vineyards in Serralunga, Grinzane Cavour, La Mora and Barolo. Vinification is in stainless steel and skin contact and maceration is between 25 to 30 days. The wine spends 3 years in large oak barrels. Daniele said I would like the wine because it was very traditional in style and he was right.
After lunch, Daniele invited Tom and I to meet him at his favorite wine bar Il Goccetto that night to taste some wine. Here is what we drank:
Franciacorta Brut NV Mosnel Metodo Classico made from 60% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Bianco and 10% Pinot Noir. From the following vintages: 70% 2012, 20% 2011 and 10% 2010. 30% was fermented in wood and the wine was on the lees for 40 months. Dosage, Brut 3.5 g/l and disgorged in Jul 2016. The wine had nice fruit with hints of white flower and peach.
Vorberg Pinot Bianco Riserva Alto Adige DOC Terlan made from 100% Pinot Bianco from vineyards at 500 to 900 meters, with a south, southwest exposure. The soil is sandy porphyric gravel. The grapes are hand harvested and a gentle pressing of the whole cluster and clarification of the must by natural sedimentation takes place. Slow fermentation at a controlled temperature is in big oak barrels of 30HL. Malolactic fermentation follows and the wine ages on the lees in traditional wooden barrels for 12 months. The wine has hints of wild flowers, pear and honey with a touch of almonds and hazelnuts.
It is always interesting to taste and drink wine with Daniele because he comes up with wines and producers which I have not had before. The 3 whites and the Brut were all new for me.