Category Archives: Rivera

Celebrating the 4th of July

While hot dogs and hamburgers are traditional for some on the Fourth of July, our celebration this year had an Italian accent.  

IMG_5223We spent the day with friends in New Jersey, enjoying the great weather in the beautiful garden.


Champagne  Oiry Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru Extra-Brut NV Suenen made from 100% Chardonnay from a 1.5 hectare plot in the Grand Cru village of Cramant. The soil is chalky. The clear wine is fermented partially in barrel with 9 months on the lees and the dosage is 2g/l. It is delicate and dry with hints of lemon, quinine, floral notes and a trace of minerals.

4CFE7DD7-F460-4B6E-9E80-387258637302_1_105_cChampagne Brut Grand Cru Millésime Brut 2005 Egly-Ouriet made from 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay  from the oldest Grand Cru vines in Ambonnay. Fermentation and aging is in barrels.  Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine was disgorged after 54 months in January 2014. Dosage of 3/gl. This is a complex elegant and balanced  Champagne and I was very impressed by it. 

ECAD668B-42A0-4449-BB37-E111DDCB2DA1_1_105_cThe menu was eclectic.  With the Champagne we had Michele’s smoked whitefish pate which she served with both pita chips and potato chips.


Aglianico Riserve 1998 “Cappellaccio” Rivera made from 100% Aglianico grown on the limestone hills of the DOC Castel del Monte, Puglia. Harvest takes place in Mid-October. Maceration lasts for 12 to 14 days with pumpover and delestage. The wine is aged in French oak barriques-50% and 30hl French oak barrels-50%. Then 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red berries, leather, tobacco and spice. It was showing very well.

Next we had several pizzas, beginning with a simple Marinara with an oregano-spiked tomato sauce.


5536D28A-7AD0-4082-97AA-CEDCC84C82CF_1_105_cA Margarita topped with prosciutto, arugula, and flakes of Parmigano-Reggiano was next.

298D7356-3619-4521-B148-1EF28FDF9A8D_1_105_cA second Margarita with sausages followed.

E9078740-9687-4CA8-B8B1-D07DE575CA18_1_105_cOur final pizza was topped with mozzarella, sausages and peppers.


Barbaresco 1978 Produttori del Barbaresco made from 100% from various vineyards in the DOCG zone. The soil is limestone and clay, rich in calcium with sandy veins. Vinification in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. There is 30 days of skin contact and pumping over 2 to 3 times a day. The wine is aged for two years in large oak barrels. It has hints of black raspberries, cherries, leather, tea and a hint of spice.

 Produttori del Barbaresco is a wine cooperative, arguably the best in Italy. The wine was still drinkable but was showing its age. It has hints of wet leaves, tobacco, balsamic notes and a touch of spice.


Barolo 1978 Grand Riserva Marchesi di Barolo made from vineyards located in the municipality of Barolo: Cannubi, Sarmassa, Coste di Rose, Castellero, Boschetti, Preda and Ravera. The soil contains substantial amounts of quartz sand and the training system is guyot. Hand harvested grapes. The wine was fermented and aged in large Slovenian oak barrels. This is traditional Barolo with hints of tar, licorice, leather balsamic notes. It was drinking very well.

IMG_5378A big bowl of sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and anchovies accompanied our main course.

5B3CB028-527D-4EE9-8336-874423D73549_1_105_cWith the Barolo we had roasted sweet and hot pork sausages and chicken sausages with peppers, onions and potatoes. 

IMG_5394For dessert, Michele made a mixed berry crisp which we ate with vanilla ice cream.

There were also homemade chocolate chip cookies but we ate them before I could take a picture!


Filed under Barbaresco, Barolo, Egly-Ouriet Champagne, Maechesi di Barolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, Rivera, Suenen Chanpagne

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


Filed under Alto Adige, Amarone, Biondi Santi, Brunello, IL Falcone, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Lageder, Legends of Italian Wine, Lungarotti, Masi, Mastroberardino, Pinot Grigio, Rivera, Taurasi