Category Archives: Prosecco

Marina Colonna Olive Oli

I was at a Chianti Classico tasting in NYC when I ran into Michael Schaefer, a fellow wine writer. I have known Michael for some time and first met him in Udine where we spent time  together as judges at a Pinot Grigio event. I told him I was going to Rome in a few days and he suggested I meet a friend of his in Rome, Marina Colonna.  Marina is an olive oil producer in Molise and I told him that Michele and I would be interested to meet her.

IMG_6953We contacted Marina when we arrived in Rome and she invited us over an aperitif.  Her apartment was only a few minutes from where we were staying.

IMG_6949Marina was very charming and offered us a tasting of several of the olives that she produces.

IMG_6948Next we had assorted crostini topped with the olive pastes and preserved tomatoes that she also produces.  They were all good, the kind of thing that are a pleasure to have on hand for a quick meal or snacks.

IMG_6950Prosecco Numero Primo Brut made from 100% Glera  Francesca Dorigo.  It has hints of citrus fruit, pear and green apples with a note of wisteria.  This was a light and fresh accompaniment to the appetizers.

Marina told us that the Colonna family is a very old noble family that traces its roots back to 1195. They continued to play a large part in the ecclesiastical, cultural, political, military and civic life of Rome over the centuries.  Her Estate,  Masseria Bosco Pontoni, is near San Martino in  Pensilis, Molise and  the roots of the property go back to the 1800’s. 

IMG_7204The estate is 160 hectares of which 55 are covered with olive groves. 16 different olive varieties are grown, including the typical regional ones that produce the DPO Molise olive oil.

Marina inherited the farm in 1996 from her father, Francesco Colonna, and Marina’s Colonna’s extra virgin olive oil was born.

IMG_7201Molensis XXV – Limited Edition Extra Vigin Olive Oil

Marina explained that this extra virgin olive oil was a limited addition to  celebrate her 25 years of commitment to her estate in Molise and Molensis is the Latin word to define the region. It is a blend of  the 3 best varieties from the Colonna groves. Marina said the bouquet is herbaceous with a  note of vegetables, green tomatoes and artichoke. On the palate it is pleasant, medium fruity with hints of unripe almonds and a grassy aftertaste with balanced bitter and pungent notes which make it an ideal and versatile olive oil. It is bottled in the patented Amphora bottle.  At $39 it is her most expensive olive oil but worth the money.  It is one of the best and most complex olive oils I have ever tasted. We are enjoying it as a finishing oil on pasta and vegetable dishes, or simply drizzled on toasted bread.

All of the Marina Colonna products are available at William Sonoma and are worth seeking out.

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The Wines of Albino Armani

I was first introduced to the wines of Albino Armani at a dinner several years.  The dinner was hosted by the very interesting and knowledge Egle Capilupi, wife of Albino Armani.  For the first time, I tasted wines from the Casetta grape, known in the local dialect as Foja Tonda (round leaf grape), an ancient variety cultivated in Valdadige, between the Veneto and Trentino.  Until the 1980’s, the variety was on its way to extinction until it was rediscovered by Albino Armani. I have enjoyed all of their wines ever since.

Recently, Susannah Gold, a well respected wine professional, organized a Webinar event with the wines of Albino Armani. It was called Albino Armani Valentine’s Day Webinar. The speaker was Albano Armani himself and I was happy to take part. 

The family has been farming in this area since 1607.  They have 5 wine cellars in 3 different regions in Northeastern Italy in what is known as the “Trivento”:  Friuli, Veneto and Trentino, all overseen by Albino, his wife Egle and their son Federico.

While they produce many excellent wines, Pinot Grigio has always been a grape of great interest to Albino who is a Pinot Grigio specialist. He feels that the “Trivento” is the best place to grow Pinot Grigio because of the climate and the soil. They do not use artificial pesticides or chemicals. Their Pinot Grigio is now part of a project on indigenous yeast undertaken with a local research institute where only the best strains are selected, tested and used. The indigenous yeasts which have long thrived in the vineyard’s climate conditions, continue to produce wines that embody the flavor profile of the territory.  Albino feels that because this area is so close to the Alps, climate change has not been a problem. In his Pinot Grigio Albino likes to keep the acidity higher than the PH. Since 2016 Albino has been Chairman of the Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC so his name is linked with Pinot Grigio in more ways than one.

IMG_6741Prosecco Rosé DOC Extra Dry Millesimo NV made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The production area is Alta Grave Friulana and the training system is Guyot. When the cuveé is ready a long second fermentation takes place in pressure tanks ( Charmat method) for at least 60 days in order to obtain a more refined perlage and complex aromas from the Pinot Noir. This is a fruit forward wine with hints of lilacs, strawberry and raspberry. $16

IMG_6742Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2020 The soil composition is loose and well aired and composed of typical calcareous white river stones dragged down by the flooding of the alpine brooks. The training system is Guyot. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel tanks in contact with the grapes’ own yeasts until the wine is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus, pears, apples and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste with good minerality. $13

IMG_6743Pinot Grigio “Colle Ara” Valdadige Terradeiforti DOC 2020 made from 100% Pinot Grigio from selected grapes cultivated on ancient  terraces that are perfectly exposed to the late afternoon sun in the southern part of Valdadige in the Veneto. The vineyards are at 230 meters and are in the National Park of Messina. The soil is rich in glacier debris and is mainly calcareous. The training system is guyot. The grapes are soft pressed and cold maceration takes place with the skins for one night.  Maturation in contact with the grapes’ yeasts in stainless steel tanks and partially in wood until the wine is bottled. Albino Armani said, “On the nose the wine offers fruity notes with scents of pomegranate and peach. On the palate it is smooth and persistent, with a pleasant sapidity which is typical of the wines springing from the valley.” The pink Pinot Grigio grapes are cold macerated with the skins, giving the wine a good structure and a sophisticated ‘gold rose color’ known as Ramato. He also explained that the juice of the Pinot Nero grape is white but the skins are pink and his grandfather sold the wine as a Rosé. The wine has hints of yellow fruit, peach and pomegranate with nice minerality and good acidity.  $22

IMG_6744Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2018 made from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella from high hills in the Valpolicella Classico production area at 300/500 meters.  The soil is calcareous deposits on volcanic rock. The training system is traditional pergola Veronese on stone wall terraces, called marogne in local dialect. The fresh Valpolicella wine is poured over the Amazon pomace that is still full of un-fermented sugars and aromatic compounds that start a second fermentation. Then punching down the cap takes place and also some delestage until the complete depletion of the sugar content making the new wine rich and sweet in structure with sweet tannins. The wine is aged in oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherry and other red fruits with a touch of chocolate and a note of coffee. $20

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Champagne and Sparkling Wine for the Holidays

Every year at this time, the Wine Media Guild would hold a Champagne tasting hosted by Ed Mc Carthy,  author of Champagne for Dummies.  I looked forward to attending, tasting the wines and hearing “Champagne Ed’s” commentary, which I would write about for this blog.  Because of Covid, the event was cancelled both last year and again this year.  Instead, I will write about the Champagne and sparkling wines that I have tasted over the last few months.

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Cosmico Vino Frizzante IGT Lazio 2019  Casale Certosa made from 100% Trebbiano from the Castelli Romani. The soil is of volcanic origin. The wine ferments in the bottle for about 12 months. Then there is the refermentation in bottle and the wine is disgorged  by hand.  Aging takes place in the bottle. The winery is certified organic. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon, a note of pear and a touch of apple with good acidity.

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Benepop Vol.1”Benepop Ancestrale”  Sparkling wine made from 50% Falanghina and 50% Fiano Terre di Briganti The two varietals are separately processed from the beginning. The hand harvested grapes are carried to the cellar in 18kg bins and then double sorted, destemmed and pressed. The must clarifies itself with static gravity in stainless steel vats where it ferments with only the help of the indigenous yeast at controlled temperatures. The partially sweet wine is left to refine on its lees for about 6 months. At the beginning of the Spring the wine is bottled. The natural increase of the temperature favors the resumption of the fermentation inside the bottle and the yeast eats all the sugar in excess. It is recommended to suspend the natural sediment in the bottle before consuming it in order to fully enjoy this fun wine. Just gently turn the bottle upside down. The winery is certified organic and is biodynamic. This a a dry sparkling wine hints of citrus fruit, green tropical fruit, grapefruit and it is a very pleasant wine to drink.

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Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods are used but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months.  It has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.

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DOC Trento Spumante Rosè +4 Reserve 2011 Brute Classico Method Letrari   made from 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir grown in calcareous soils. The vineyards are at 400 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained with the traditional pergola trentina system or the modern guyot based on the age of the vines. The wine is aged for 28 months on the lees, four more than required by the official production code.  It is a brut (5,7 g/l – so on the lower side of the brut scale which goes from 12 g/l to 0 g/l). This is a consequence of the aromatic and phenolic ripeness which grants volume and taste on the palate and doesn’t require the “support” of sugar. It is a full bodied Sparkling wine with black fruit aromas and flavors a note of blackberries and a touch of brioche. I have always liked Spumante from the Trentino area and I believe it is the best zone in Italy to grow Pinot Noir. This is a very impressive wine. 

IMG_6050Cuveé Brut Metodo Classico (Champenoise) Tenuta Montauto made from 100% Sangiovese from a 15 year old vineyard at 200 meters on the coast south of Grosseto in the Maremma. The soil is clay and skeleton rich. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The grapes are picked at full maturity by hand and harvest takes place after first week of September. The grapes are gently pressed to obtain a yield of 50%. Fermentation takes place using the cold techniques to enhance the aromas. Sugar 4.5 g/l.  This is a crisp, fresh fruity wine with hints of citrus, flint, a touch of passion fruit and a note of brioche. This was the first time I tasted a sparkling wine from Sangiovese made by the Champenoise method and I was impressed.  

IMG_5965Franciacorta DOCG Satèn Brut “1701”  2016 Società Agricola Cazzago San Martino made from 100% Chardonnay from a 10 hectare vineyard with morainic terrain with stones. The training system is guyot and there are 4,500 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. 80% of the hand picked selected grapes are crushed in a pneumatic press and fermented in steel tuns at a controlled temperature. 20% undergoes cold maceration with fermentation in new barriques. Aging is for 7 months in steel or barriques.  The second fermentation takes place the spring following the harvest. The wine remains on the lees for at least 30 months and 3 to 4 months following the disgorging. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fresh fruit, with a hint of brioche and a touch of pastry cream.

IMG_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

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Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV  Made from 40% Pinot Meunier, 30% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. It has tiny bubbles, a fruity delicate freshness with hints of citrus fruit, ginger and a touch of brioche. It has become one of my favorite champagnes.

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Champagne Nathalie Falmet Brut NV “Le Val Cornet” made from a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier from a single vineyard in the Côte Des Bar. The soil is Kimmeridian marl covered with Portland limestone. The champagne has hints of apricot, pear, apple and a note of almond. 

IMG_5693Champagne Vilmart & C. “Grand Cellier” made from 70% Chardonnay and 30%Pinot Noir.  Aging for ten months in used oak casks prior to blending for the second fermentation. The wine spends two years on the lees before disgorgment. It has hints of pear, apple, a touch of brioche and a hint of hazelnut.

IMG_5692Roses de Jeanne Champagne “Côte de Béchalin”. Cedric Bouchard. 100% Pinot Noir from the 1.5-hectare lieu-dit of Val Vilaine. The production is very limited.  This is a single-vineyard, single varietal, and single vintage, zero dosage Champagne, organic farming, low yields and harvesting at the right moment. Only free run juice is used and fermentation is in stainless steel with indigenous yeast. There is no filtering, fining or cold stabilization. The wines are bottled with no dosage under less pressure. This is full-bodied Champagne with hints of fruit, spice, lively acidity, a touch of pear and ginger, a note of dried flowers and a long and lingering finish.

IMG_6385 2Champagne 2014 Pierre Gimonnet & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay from 20% Cramant Grand Cru, 38% Chouilly Grand Cru, 32% Cuis 1er Cru and 10% Vertus 1er Cru. The soil is mostly chalk. Fermentation is in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine remains on the lees for 65 months. The wine was disgorged in September 2020. The wine has notes of tropical fruit, with hints of mint and orange peel.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

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A Late Birthday Celebration

During the worst of the pandemic, we regularly shared meals with a handful of friends.  Judith and Nat have a town house close nearby and as soon as the weather warmed up, they  invited us to have lunch in their backyard. We sat at separate tables in the garden and were very careful not to touch anything that was touched by someone else. We ate in the backyard a number of times and it was a perfect respite.  Last week as part of a late birthday celebration for me, they invited us again. This time we all sat at the same table and Judith made some of my favorite foods

IMG_5730 2We started with Prosecco Superiore DOCG 2018 Valdobbiadine Brut Natural Silvano Follador Made from 100% Glera. The soil is marl and clay. Organic and biodynamic farming methods but do not have certification. Dosage 0. Residual sugar 0.0% The wine is refined in cement vats for 6 months The wine has hints of apple, pear, white peach and apricot. I was very impressed by this Prosecco.

We started with homemade tapenade, both green and black from Provence.  Then we had:

IMG_5727Crunchy fried zucchini flowers stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies–one of my favorites

IMG_5734A salad made with corn and shards of fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano.

IMG_5736Vacqueyras Blanc Le Jardin de Noemie Vallis Petra Made from Viognier 40% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne, 15% Bouboulenc 30% The vineyard consists of two hectares and the vines are 30 years old. Organically farmed. The grapes are destemmed and pressed and fermentation takes place at a low temperature. The wine is vinified in 225 liter barrels for 9 months. The wine has hints of almonds, white flowers, pear, apricot, spice and a note of vanilla. This wine was brought back from Provence and it was a first for me.

IMG_5738Fresh grilled tuna ready to be served

IMG_5733The bread- Nat always surprises us with wonderful bread

IMG_5741On the plate

IMG_5744Marie’s Blueberry Tart–another one of my favorites.

IMG_5748Blueberry Tart with vanilla ice cream

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Italian ROSÈ for All Seasons

Rosé wine can be enjoyed all year long because it pairs well with many different foods, but for many of us summertime is when we think Rosé.  With that in mind, Irene Graziotto of studio cru, a marketing agency based in Vicenza, Italy, hosted a webinar on the topic of Rose’ sponsored by the The New Istituto del Vino Rosa Autoctono Italiano.  Rosautoctono means “native pink.”

The New Istituto del Vino Rosa Autoctono Italiano was founded in Rome in 2019. Luigi Cataldi Madonna and Franco Cristoforetti were the organizers. It is a partisanship of six historical pink wine producing areas using indigenous grapes: Veltenesi Chiaretto (Lombardia grape: Groppello), Chiaretto di Bardolino (Veneto grape: Corvina Veronese), Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo grape: Montepulciano), Castel del Monte Bombino Nero/Rosato (Puglia grape: Bombino Nero), Salice Salentino Rosato (Puglia grape: Negroamaro), Ciro Rosato (Calabria grape Gaglioppo).

One of the speakers was Franco Cristoforetti of the Tutela Chiaretto and he spoke about the Rosautoctono and Chiaretto.

The main speaker was wine writer Katherine Cole, author of Rose’ All Day.  Katherine gave a brief history of rose’ wine and said that it was most likely the earliest and oldest style of wine going back to the Paleolithic Era.  Many ancient Greek and Roman writers wrote about “pale wine” including Pliny the Elder in his Naturalis Historia. unnamedpink wine

Katherine mentioned that in Northern Italy, “pink” wine is referred to as Rose’ and she attributes this to the Roman influence. In Southern Italy, the wine is darker and is referred to as Rosato because of the Greek influence. In general the Rose’ of the north tends to be lighter and the Rosato of the south darker with more body. I have seen the terms Rose’ and Rosato used in both the North and the South. Also it seems that the producers are going for a lighter style like the ones from Provence.

Another speaker was Angelo Petetti, Director of Rosautoctono  and the Consorzio di Tutela Chiaretto. He was very upset that European legislation fails to recognize pink wine, instead classifying them as “non white,” and urged that this legislation should be changed. He also said that Rose’ wine can age for a few years. Katherine mentioned that she had a 5-year-old Rose’ and it was drinking very well. I like my Rose’ at least 3 years old.

Luigi Cataldi Madonna, one of the founders of Rosautoctono, produces Rose’ wines that go from very light in color to one that could be mistaken for a red wine.

 

 

E152CEE7-DBB9-4AAC-BB4D-C3C99BC68EA1_1_105_cProsecco DOC Rose’ Brut Millesimato 2020 Consorzio Tutela Prosecco made from 85% Glera and 15% Pinot Noir from vines in the Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia regions. The soil here is mainly of alluvial origin rich in subsoil. Harvest is the end of August for the Glera and the end of September for the Pinot Noir. Whole white grapes (Glera) are put into the pneumatic press for soft pressing and the resulting must is put into temperature controlled tanks where it remains until it is used for the production of the sparkling wine. The red grapes (Pinot Noir), after pressing are put into thanks where a soft maceration for extraction of and tannins takes place at a controlled temperature. For the secondary fermentation the white must and a small amount of red wine are mixed. Selected yeasts are added and put into vessels where fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. 

 When the required alcohol and sugar content is reached fermentation is stopped by refrigeration. After two months in contact with the yeast (Martinotti method), the sparkling wine is ready for bottling. Alcohol 11%. Residual sugar 10g/l. This is a wine produced by the Consorzio Tutela Prosecco from grapes from the 9 Prosecco producing areas.

Tanja Barattin, another speaker, who is in charge of promotion at Consorzio di Tutela Prosecco said that the new Prosecco Rose’ has become very popular and America has become the biggest market. 

Angelo Petetti said Chiaretto is the only Italian Rosa appellation. He also said the most of the Chiaretto is largely consumed by French and Germans.

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Bardolino Chiaretto Classico 2020 (Vino Rosato Secco) Corte Gordoni made from 80% Corvina and 20% Rondinella. The production zone is Valeggio sul Mincio on the hills south of Lake Garda. There is prevalent skeleton terrain with a silty, clayey texture. The wine has hints of red berries and cherries.

Franco Cristoforetti said with the 2021 vintage up to 95% Corvina Veronese will be allowed in the blend.

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Bardolino Chiaretti Classico Rosato secco 2020 Valetti made from Corvina, Rondinella, Molinara and Sangiovese from the hilly shores of southeast lake Garda at 100 to 250 meters. The soil is gravelly of morenic origin and the training system is guyot and pergola. There is a soft pressing of the grape and maceration with the skins for 12 to 36 hours. Fermentation at a controlled temperature and it is in steel tanks for 5 months until bottling. The wine has hints of red fruit, raspberries, strawberries and cherries.

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Cerasuolo D’ Abruzzo 2020 “Valforte Rosè  Barone di Valforte made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Vineyard is at 150 to 350 meters and the soil is sandy and clay of medium mix. The training system is buttressed cordon espalier and there are 4,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is the last 10 days of September and the beginning of October. Vinification: cold steeping. Refinement: cold process techniques. The wine has hints of strawberry, cherry and a  hint of violets.

374A1AC1-B4DF-4AE5-844A-98DC572D41EC_1_105_cCerasuolo d’ Abruzzo 2020 “Torre Zambra“ Colle Maggio Federico de Cerchio Family Estates made from 100% Montepulciano di Abruzzo from vineyards at 180 meters with a southern exposure. The training system is Abruzzo pergola. Harvest is the first 10 days of October. Clusters are hand picked and packed with dry ice. The bunches are soft crushed as for white wine making and the must is separated from the skins after 8 hours for a cherry pink hue. There is 14 day fermentation at a controlled temperature. The wine spends two months in stainless steel vats on the lees and two months in bottle. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, plums and a hint of red currants and a touch of white pepper. The name cerasuolo comes from the dialect word cerasa, which means cherry.

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Ciro DOC Rosato 2020 Sengo Librandi  Librandi made from 100% Gaglioppo. The soil is clay and calcareous and the training system is traditional alberello and spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is the last week of September and the first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel vats with racking and brief maceration. The wine is aged in stainless steel vats. It has hints of ripe cherry, strawberry and raspberry.

Luigi Cataldi Madonna, one of the founders of Rosautoctono, produces Rose’ wines that go from very light in color to one that could be mistaken for a red wine.

Whatever your preference is in, Rose the Italians have every style from very light to darker with more body. The choice is yours to enjoy. All the wines retail for about $15 a bottle.

 

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An Afternoon at the Opera by the Fireside

Once again we were invited to watch an opera and have lunch with friends. This time, another friend joined us and he brought the Burgundy. We watched Le Nozze di Figaro by Mozart starring Cecilia Bartoli and Bryn TerfelIMG_4258

sitting by the fireplace as we enjoyed our Prosecco.

IMG_4246With the wine, we had a assortment of charcuterie, including duck rillettes, a pate campagne with black peppercorns, a rabbit pate, prosciutto, bresaola, fontina cheese, and rustic sourdough bread.IMG_4243

Valdobbiadene Prosecco Superiore 2018 Brut Natural Silvano Follador made mostly from Glera with a small amount of Perera, Bianchetta and Verdiso. There is a careful selection of the grapes. The grapes are fermented slowly and then aged on the lees for 6 months. In the spring the second fermentation takes place in a pressurized tank (Martinotti method) and at the end the yeasts are eliminated by slow filtration. It always ends with less than 3g/l of residual sugar so that it is a Brut Natural. The wine is aged 6 months in steel before release. It has hints of fresh fruit, green apple, a touch of citrus fruit and a floral note.IMG_4249

Meursault 2002 1er cru “La piece sous le bois” Robert Ampeau & Fils 100% Chardonnay. Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. The harvest is by machine and this allows other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used for 10 months. The wine has hints of honey, butterscotch, pear, citrus fruit and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity.

IMG_4252After a couple of acts, we put the opera on pause and headed to the dining room for our main course which was a classic coq au vin served with steamed little potatoes.

IMG_4253Savigny-les-Beaune 1er Cru “Lavieres” 1999 Robert Ampeau et Fils made from 100% Pinot Noir. This premier cru is actually located in Meursault, though it is sold as Volnay.  This is a complex wine with dark ripe fruit aromas and flavors, hints of strawberries, cherries, currants, plum and a touch of spice. It is a very impressive Burgundy.

IMG_4256Michele provided the dessert, sliced navel and blood oranges marinated in orange syrup with the orange zest and Gran Marnier. It was light and refreshing.

Back by the fire, we finished watching the opera with glasses of Armagnac.

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Prosecco and Pizza Masterclass at Ribalta NYC

Last fall, Rosario Procino invited me to be a judge at a pizza and Prosecco contest at Ribalta, his restaurant. The contest consisted of pizzas made by 5 different pizzaioli and we were judging which pizza went best with Prosecco. It was great fun and all of the pizzas were winners and went great with the Prosecco as far as I was concerned.

Recently I was invited by Gruppo Italiano: Restoratori, Distributori ed Importatori  to go to Ribalta for pizza and Prosecco.  This time, it was not for a contest but for a Pizza & Prosecco Master Class. The speaker was Tess Rose, wine educator.

There were 3 flights of Prosecco each with three wines.

Pasquale Cozzolino the chef/pizzaiolo at Ribalta made 3 different pizzas to go with each of the flights.

The first flight of Prosecco was Extra Dry, the second also Extra Dry but with a little more residual sugar and the last was Brut, which is the “driest” of the 3. Prosecco DOCG has three levels of sweetness: “Dry” 17-32 g/l, “Extra Dry” 12-17 g/l, and “Brut” 0 -12 g/l.

Prosecco is the leading selling sparkling wine in Italy. In addition, it outsells Champagne in the UK and sales of Prosecco increase every year in the United States

Prosecco is produced exclusively in the area of northeast Italy between the Dolomites and the Adriatic Sea. The two regions in which Prosecco is produced are Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia in 9 provinces.

Prosecco DOCG must be made with at least 85% Glera grapes with the addition of Verdiso, Bianchetta, Trevigana, Petera and Gela Lunga. Prosecco Superiore Spumante may also contain up to 15% of Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, Pinot Nero and Chardonnay.

When at least a minimum of 85% of the wine comes from a specific vintage, the year may be indicated on the bottle along with the term Millesimato.

Prosecco may be made in 3 different styles: Spumante bubbly), Frizzante, lightly effervescent), or Tranquillo (still). Only the Spumante version is allowed to have the name Superiore.

Most sparking Proseccos are made using the “Charmat Method” in an autoclave (pressurized tank). For “metodo classico,” it is also permitted to carry out the second fermentation in the bottle.

The vine training system for Prosecco can be double  arched cane, sylvoz, guyot and metodo spalliera.

The Prosecco Extra Dry: Astoria, Mionetto, La Marca, Carati 075, Perlino, Sant’Anna. Brut: Bianca Vigna, Torresella, Valdo.

Sant’Anna Extra Dry Prosecco NV made from 100 Glera. The grapes are destemmed  and gently crushed The must is then transfered into steel vats where fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature.When yeast is put  into the tanks and remains for a period of 4 months it tranforms the wine into a sparking wine. This is a Prosecco with hints of peach, pear and a touch of white flowers.

Valdo Brut Prosecco DOC NV Made from 100% Glera (Veneto). The vineyards are the traditional “Metodo Spalliera”, where the stems can be as long as one meter and are tied to a horizontal wire. Grapes are hand picked during the last week of September. Soft pressing and fermentation occurs at 64F in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. To obtain small and fine bubbles (perlage) a selection of natural yeasts is made. There is 3 months of Charmat-Martinotti aging, followed by 3 months in bottle before release. This is a sparkling wine with hints of peach, melon, pear and golden apple.

The Proseccos we tasted were all made  by the Charmat-Martinotti method. For the most part the flavor profiles are much the same, the only difference is in the amount of residual sugar.

I  liked all of the Prosecco that I tasted. However I think the Extra Dry works much better as a aperitif.

With the first flight we had the pizza topped with smoked mozzarella, zucchini, sun dried tomatoes and a touch of hot pepper.  This was the most difficult pairing, as the touch of hotness in the topping did not make for a good combination with the Extra Dry Prosecco.

With the second flight we had the pizza topped with mozzarella, speck and 30 month old Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The Extra Dry Prosecco with a little more residual sugar worked a little better with this pizza.

For the last flight we had the pizza topped with ‘nduja, a spicy sausage spread and mozzarella. This pizza was paired with the Prosecco Brut and it was the best of the 3 combinations.

Happy  4th of July!!!

 

 

 

 

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Gala Italia Showcases Italian Wine

The Italian Wine and Food institute held its 34 annual Gala Italian Wine and Food Tasting at Il Gattopardo restaurant in NYC. Lucio Caputo, head of the Institute and former head of Italian Trade Commission in NYC said that the event was a great success attended by many members of the trade and the media. The event was divided into to parts, the afternoon secession was for the trade and the evening session was for the media.

I went to the afternoon secession early because I knew it would be less crowded and would be able to taste the wines at my own pace.

Lucio Caputo and Augusto Marchini the former Assistant Trade Commissioner

There were a number of excellent wines and here are a few I really liked.

The Wine

Valdo Brut Prosecco DOC NV Made from 100% Glera.(Veneto) The vineyards are the traditional “Metodo Spalliera”, where the stems can be as long as one meter and are tied to a horizontal wire. Grapes are hand picked during the last week of September. Soft pressing and fermentation occurs at 64F in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. To obtain small and fine bubbles (perlage) a selection of natural yeasts is made. There is 3 months of Charmat aging, followed by 3 mo nths in bottle before release. This is a sparkling wine with hints of peach, melon, pear and golden apple.

Ferrari Brut Trento DOC NV Methodo Classico 100% Chardonnay. (Trentino) The grapes are picked by hand at the beginning of September. They come from various communes in the Val d’Adige, .Val di Cembra and Valle dei Laghi. The vineyards are between 300 and 700 meters above sea level, with southeast or southwest exposure. The wine is aged for at least 24 months on the lees. It is selected yeast from Ferrari’s own cultures

Muzic, Collio Ribolla Gialla DOC 2017 100% Ribolla Gialla(F V J) grown on hilly terrain of stratified Eocene marl and sandstone. The training system is Guyot. Grapes are hand harvested the third week of September. The grapes are destemmed and crushed, followed by maceration on the skins for12 hours at 15C. There is a soft pressing of the grapes. Alcoholic fermentation is for 8 to 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged on the lees in steel vats with periodical batonnage for at least four months. This is a light bodied, balanced white wine with hints of citrus fruit, white flowers and good acidity.

Planeta Etna Rosso DOC 2016 made from 100% Nerello Mascalese (Sicily) The soil is black lave sand, rich in minerals. The vineyards are at 510 meters, there are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Harvest takes place from October 15th to 20th. The grapes are picked and placed into crates and, if necessary, are at once refrigerated at 10C. A selection takes place by hand. After destemming, fermentation is at 23C in wooden vats and in stainless steel vats and the skins mains in contact with the must for 14 days. There is a mixing and manual stirring every day. Decanting takes place with the help of the vertical press. The wine is aged in wooden 50hl and stainless steel vats for 6 to 8 months. The wine is bottled in July. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherry, strawberry and a touch of spice and black pepper.

Villa Antinori, Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2013 (Tuscany) Made mostly from Sangiovese with some Cabernet Sauvignon. Harvest began on September 25th with the Sangiovese and ended in mid-October with the Cabernet. The grapes were given a soft destemming and pressing, and the must went into stainless steel tanks, where it fermented for a week at a controlled temperature. Skin contact lasted for 8 or 9 days. Malolactic fermentation took place in stainless steel for the Sangiovese and in oak barrels for the Cabernet. A master blend was made and went into big barrels and partially in small barrels of Hungarian oak until the spring. The wine was bottled in June 2015. The wine has hints of red fruit, spice and balsamic notes.

Bertani, Secco Original Vintage Edition Verona IGT 2015(Veneto) in) Made from 80% different varieties of Corvina, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in the hills around the historic winery outside Verona. After a long cold maceration on the skins, a slow fermentation is started using native yeasts. The wine is still slightly sweet and goes into the final slow fermentation in wood. Aging is is traditional medium-sizes wooden barrels 750 to 5,000 liters made from chestnut and cherry wood. The wine has hints of cherries and blackberries with notes of spice and black pepper. This wine goes back to an old recipe from 1889.

Faraone, Le Vigne del Faraone” Montepulciano D’Abruzzo DOC 2014 (Abruzzo) made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After fermentation the wine is aged in wooden casks for 24 months and then bottled. This is a rustic wine with flavors and aromas of red and black fruit, and a touch of spice. This wine will age and is a very good food wine.

Travaglini, “Tre Vigne” Gattinara 2012 made from 100% Nebbiolo (Northern Piedmont) The soil is rocky, iron deposits, rich in minerals which give the soil a reddish color. The vineyards are at 320 to 420 meters and there are 3,500 to 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is southwest and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in the beginning of October. The grapes are crushed and macerated for about 15 days in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged for 40 months, 30 months in Slovenian oak casks, and 20% aged separately for 10 moths in French barriques and the rest in bottle for 8 months. This wine is only produced in the best vintage. This is a very impressive wine, full bodied with hints of pomegranates, plum, jam and a touch of spice. It will age for many years.

I attended the first Gala 34 years ago and have found memories of the ones I have attended over the years

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Filed under Bertani, Faraone winery, Ferrari, Gala, Gattinara, Planeta, Prosecco, Travaglini, Villa Antinori

Giusti Wines of the Veneto

In my last blog I wrote about the “KIN” the Erbaluce di Caluso of  Domenico Tappero Merlo – Vignaiolo in Canavese

The other winery at the lunch and tasting at Del Posto NYC organized by Michael Roman of Romano Brands was Societa Agricola Giusti Col, better know as Giusti Wines of the Veneto. The winery was founded in 2002. The center of the operation and the main office is located in Nervesa della Battaglia, a rural village in the province of Treviso.

Valentino

At lunch I was sitting next to Valentino Radaelli the Junior Export Manager.   He is a very knowledge and interesting young man. We not only discussed the Giusti wines but Italian wine in general and it was a pleasure speaking with him.

Prosecco DOC NV “Rosalia”  NV made from 100% Glera grapes from the “Rosalia” estate. The soil is of medium texture and the training system is sylvoz.  There are 3,550 to 4,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Primary fermentation is with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and secondary fermentation is at a low temperature in pressurized tanks. This is a fruity Prosecco with ripe fruit aromas and flavors and more than a touch of  sweetness.

Asolo Prosecco Superiore ”Extra Dry” NV DOCG 100% Glera grapes. The soil is red clayey and the training system is sylvoz and guyot. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is off the skins. The primary fermentation takes place with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature and the secondary fermentation is at a low temperature in pressurized tanks. This Prosecco has hints of apple, floral notes and a touch of lemon.

I asked Valentino if the Rosalia had more residual sugar than the Asolo. He said no, they were both extra dry but the grapes for the Rosalia were grown on the plain (the lowlands of the Piave Basin) while the grapes for the Asolo were grown on the hillside.

Extra Dry Prosecco can have between 12% and 17% residual sugar and my guess is that because the Rosalia comes from grapes grown on the plain it was closer to 17%  making it taste “sweeter.” The residual sugar for both is 15 g/l plus or minus 2. So the Rosalia would be plus 2=17 g/l and the Asolo would be -2 or 13.g/l accounting for the difference in taste. The Asolo would go better with food while the Rosalia would work by itself or with dessert.

Giusti owns almost 25% of the land in the designated Prosecco DOCG zone.

Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie DOC 2017 “Longheri” 100% Pinot Grigio from vineyards located in the Montello and Asolo hills and specifically from the vineyard Longheri which is part of the Rolando estate. Medium mixed soil. There are 4,000 to 4,500 vines per hectare and the training system is sylvoz and guyot. Fermentation is off the skins with selected yeasts at a controlled temperature. After fermentation the wine is kept in contact with the yeast for a long period and periodically stirred until it is bottled. This is a fruity wine with hints of pear and a touch of apple.

The wine has nice citrus aromas and flavors with hints of pear and a touch of banana.

Chardonnay Delle Venezie IGT 2017 “Dei Carni” 100% Chardonnay from the Dei Carni vineyard which is part of the Rolando estate. Vine training and fermentation like the Pinot Grigio. This is fruity and flowery with citrus notes.

Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiori 2016 DOC made from Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella. The production zone is the hilly area of Valploicella at 100 to 150 meters. The soil is calcareous and volcanic and there are about 4,000 vines per hectare. The vines are trained by the Pergola Veronese system. The wine is aged in oak casks for about 12 months.

I asked Valentino if they dried the grapes for the Ripasso as many producers now do. He said no and then explained the process. After the wine for the Amarone is removed from the stainless steel vats, what remains in the vats is the skins. The fresh Valpolicello Classico is then poured into the vats taking on additional flavor and body from the Amarone skins. This Ripasso was one of the best I ever tasted with aromas and flavors of blackberries, blueberries  and a touch of prune. It is a very good food wine.

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico 2016 DOCG made from Corvina Veronese, Corvinone and Rondinella. The production zone is the hills of the Valoplicella Classical area at an attitude of 120 t0 200 meters. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is the Pergola Veronese. Valentino said the grapes are picked a bit late to ensure ripeness and left to dry for about 120 days. They lose 30% to 40% of their weight and become raisin-like. This produces a wine which is very concentrated with a high sugar content and 15% alcohol. The wine is aged is 500 liter French oak barrels for 24 to 28 months. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of raisins, plums, cherries, figs and a touch of molasses. The wine will age for a number of years. Unlike many amarones, this is a food friendly wine.

The Amarone was a perfect combination with the steak.

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Filed under Amarone, Giusti, Prosecco, Valpolicella Ripasso

Judging the Pizza and Prosecco Competition

I was speaking to Rosario Procino, owner of Ribalta Pizzeria, at a wine tasting and the conversation turned to pizza in Naples and NYC. As we were talking, Megan De Angelo of Colangelo, a PR firm, came by to see Rosario and joined the conversation. She said that she was organizing a Prosecco & Pizza Competition at Ribalta and invited me to be one of the judges. 

The event took place during Prosecco Week.  Prosecco is the largest selling sparkling (spumante) wine in Italy.  Italians drink it as an aperitif (no self- respecting Roman or Venetian goes out to dinner without having a glass of Prosecco first), with food, and to celebrate. When I am in Rome the first meal I have is at Da Giggetto in the Jewish Quarter. I always order the same dish, fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella with a bottle of Prosecco. I think it goes great with any type of fried food, shellfish and Pizza. I am a big fan of sparkling wine with pizza.

Prosecco production takes place in the area of north east Italy lying between the Dolomites and the Adriatic sea. Since July of 2009 Prosecco can be produced in two regions; the Veneto(most of the production) and Friulli-Venezia Giulia.

Sparkling (Spumante) Prosecco) can be Brut, Extra Dry Dry or Demi Sec. Brut is dryer than Extra Dry. It is made from the Glera (formerly known as Prosecco) grape (85- 100%) with the possible addition of Verdiso, Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay up to 15%. Most Prosecco is non-vintage.

Sparkling Prosecco is made by the Martinotti-Charmat method, meaning that the wine is given a second fermentation in a temperature controlled stainless steel tank (autoclave) rather than in the bottle.

The were four Pizzerias  that competed in the challenge:

Josh Johnson and Jordan FloydBarboncino – 781 Franklin Ave. Brooklyn, NY. 7188-483-8834

Steve Spinelli- Porta.- Jersey City, N.J. 201-544 -5199 and Asbury Park N.J. 732-726-7661

Pasquale Cozzolino – Ribalta – 48 East 12th St. NY, NY    212-777-7781

Flavio Garelli- Cacio and Vino – 80 2nd Ave. NY, NY 212-228-3269

Each pizzaiolo was given two Proseccos DOC, one Brut (to be Brut it can have up to 12g/l of residual sugar) and one Extra Dry (12 to 17% of residual sugar). They had to choose either the Brut or Extra Dry to pair with their pizza.

Both Josh Johnson and Steven Spinelli went with the La Marca Extra Dry Prosecco NV (Veneto) to pair with their pizza.

La Marca is made from the Glera grape 100%. The wine is named for the La Marca Trevigina zone in the heart of the Prosecco region. It has hints of fresh citrus, honey and grapefruit with mineral undertones.

After we tasted the Prosecco with the pizza,  orange juice  was poured into our glasses to create a mimosa cocktail.  We tasted his pizza again with the mimosa.

The next two Pizzaioli chose Prosecco Castello di Roncade Brut Traviso DOC NV (Veneto) to go with their pizza made from 100% Glera (residual sugar 9g/l).  It has hints of citrus fruit with herbal and grassy notes and a dry finish.

Each pizzaiolo made 6 pizzas- one for the judges and 5 for the guests.  The pizzaioli brought all of their own ingredients- anything necessary to make the pizza. They shared a wood-burning oven. There were no restrictions on ingredients and creativity was encouraged.

THE PIZZA

Josh Johnson and Jordan FloydBarboncino

Herb goat cheese base-fontina cheese -jambon de bayonne from les trois petits cochons-grilled red onion -homemade peach and apricot jam -arugula and micro green blend

 

Steve Spinelli- Porta.

The Spring Betty – goat cheese, house-made mozzarella, asparagus, garlic, watercress pesto, & thyme

Pasquale Cazzolino -Ribalta

Calzone with basil ricotta, smoked fior di latte, Neopolitan salame and piennolo tomatoes

 

Flavio Garelli- Cacio and Vino

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with ricotta and anchovies, topped with pomodorini, bufala and capers

 Scoring sheet

Scoring sheet

The judges were:

Hindy Chang- Restaurant Groupie

Sarah Tracey-Wine Lifestyle Services

Morgan Raum- Instagram

Charles Scicolone – Wine and food writer. wwwcharlesscicolone.wordpress.com   www.i-italy.org

Rosario Procino, Partner/owner Ribalta

Flavio, Giusto Priola and Paolino from  Cacio e Vino

After we tasted all of the pizza and tallied the votes, it was a tie between Pasquale  Cozzolino from Ribalta and Flavio Garelli from Cacio and Vino.  All the pizza we tasted went very well with the Prosecco but we broke the tie by giving the grand prize The pizza from Flavio because it  paired better with the Prosecco.  The prize was $2,500.

I felt like a winner too.  It was a great afternoon and I enjoyed tasting pizza and prosecco.

 

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Filed under Pizza, Pizza Restaurants, Prosecco, Ribalta, Uncategorized