Category Archives: Rose

A Light Summer Dinner

Summer dinner

It was a very hot evening in August and friends invited Michele and I for a light summer dinner.

We sat in the garden and had the appetizers, fresh ripe figs topped with gorgonzola and wrapped in prosciutto.  With it we drank:

Trento DOC Ferrari “Perlè” Methodo Classico 2011 made from 100% organic Chardonnay from vineyards at 300 to 700 meters with a southeast or southwesterly exposure. The soil is loose, not too deep, and made of volcanic and glacial deposits. There are 4,500 to 5,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand from in the middle of September. Fermentation and aging is in stainless steel and the wine remains on the lees for 6 months. This is an elegant well-balanced wine with hints of apple, almonds, and a touch of brioche. I was very impressed by this wine. Residual sugar is 6g/l.

We decided to move inside for the rest of the meal.  Our first course was a tomato and cheese tart made with heirloom tomatoes and Parmigiano Reggiano.

Then  we  had beautifully  grilled  swordfish  with  a light  olive  oil  and herb  dressing  with  steamed  potatoes  and  broccoli.  Our  host  served  a refreshing  rose  wine.

 

Montefili Rosato Toscana 2019 made from 100% Sangiovese which has its roots in vines planted in 1995. The terrain is hilly, the soil is galestro and alberese and the altitude is at 500 meters. The training system is spurred cordon. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged in stainless steel and then aged in bottle for 3 months before release. The winery is organic. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of strawberries, raspberries, a touch of red currants and good acidity.

For dessert we had roasted apricots with faisselle, a French style fresh soft cheese made from goat’s milk.  The tangy sweet apricots were a nice contrast to the mild cheese.

 

 

 

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Rosè for Summer Under $20

Summer and Rose’ are a perfect match.  Here are twelve good value wines to try.

Maison Belle Claire Rosé 2016 Cotes de Provence made from 35% Syrah, 35% Grenache and 30% Cinsault. The soil is clay and limestone. The grapes are destemmed and there is temperature controlled pneumatic pressing without maceration. The wine has a light salmon color very typical of the Rose’ from the Cotes de Provence. It has intense red fruit with hints of strawberries and raspberries, good acidity and a very pleasing finish and aftertaste $18

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

Domaine de Bila-Haut ”Les Vignes” Pays d”Oc Rose’ 2018 made from 55% Grenache and 35% Syrah. Michel Chapoutier. Located in Cõtes du Roussillon, Languedoc, France.  In the hills of the Agly Valley the 40-year-old vines are carefully attended. The juice is fermented and aged in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, a delicate pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then carefully blended for bottling. It has hints of citrus and a touch of raspberry. $15

Cötes-du –Rhone Rosè “Samorens” 2017 Ferraton Pere & Fils made from 75% Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. The vineyards are situated on the right bank of the Rhöne. Alluvial soils: limestone, sand, pebbles and clay. Fermentation takes place for 15 days at a controlled temperature of 15C and 19C. The wine matures in vats. The wine is fresh and lively with hints of strawberries and raspberries with good minerality. $15

Les Vignes Rosé Bila- Haut 2017 Pays D’Oc Michel Chapoutier  this is a blend of Cinsault and Grenache. Mr. Chapoutier went outside the Roussillon area to find a Cinsault from the Gard district that, when blended with Grenache, would produce a delicate and elegant rosé. The grapes are vinified at low even temperatures. The juice is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and aged in those tanks. After a short maceration on the skins, the pink hue is attained and the wine is racked and vinified. The wine is then blended prior to bottling. The wine has hints of citrus and red fruit with a floral aroma. $15

Rodon Bardolino Chiaretto La Fraghe made from Corvina and Rondinella from the Comuni di Affi and Cavaion Veronese. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The exposure is south and the vineyard is at 190 meters. Corvina and Rondinella are vinified separately. They are given a cool temperature 6 to 8 hour maceration on the skins, which extracts just enough color to give a lovely, medium bodied hue to the juice. The must then ferments at a cool 17 degrees C. The finished wine matures on the lees in 50HL stainless steel tanks until the following spring when it is bottled. The wine has a elegant bouquet of strawberries and red currents while on the palate the wine is full bodied and balanced with a long finish the evokes the bouquet. $17

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglianico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked and destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

11 Minutes Rosé Trevenezie IGT Pasqua. Italy. Made mostly from Corvina with Trebbiano Lugana, Syrah and Camenere. The wine is in contact with the skin for 11 minutes which gives the wine its name. Once the must is obtained, it is cooled and transferred to a steel tank where it remains for about 11 hours, the necessary time for the more solid parts to decant. The must is inculcated with select yeasts. During fermentation there is daily monitoring of the wine. Then the wine remains in contact with the lees for about 3 or 4 months. The wine is filtered and bottled in January. The wine has hints of raspberry and strawberry, with floral notes and a touch of spice. $16

Rosè Massoferrato 2018 Azienda Agricola Massoferrato made from 100% Sangiovese, picked early from vineyards located in Impruneta, on a south facing slope just south of Florence. The grapes are picked and are in contact with the skins for a few hours. The wine remains in stainless steel for a few months before release.  This is a fruity wine with good acidity, hints of cherry and a touch of spice.The Marzovilla Family owns the winery. Nicola Marzovilla is the owner of i-Trulli restaurant in NYC.$19

Barone Sergio Sicilia Nero d’Avola Rosato “Luigia” 2018 made from100% Nero d’ Avola the vines are 10 years old and are at 70 meters. Fermentation takes place without the skins. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine matures in steel for 6 to 7 months and in bottle for 2 months before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with a touch of raspberry.

Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, “Pescanera” Calabria Rosé IGT 2018 made from 100% Greco Nero which is a local grape from Calabria. The grapes come from the best vineyards on the coast and after a manual harvest are soft pressed without any maceration. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of strawberries and raspberries with citrus notes and a touch of wild flowers.  Rosé wines have a long history in Calabria and Ippolito was one of the first to produce them.

Sokel Blosser Dundee Hills Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir 2018 (777,115 & Pommard clones) Alex said the 2018 vintage was their coolest growing season since 2012 and he believes it will be their best vintage since then as well. The grapes were carefully hand harvested (brix at harvest 19.5), de-stemmed and loaded into the press where the juice soaked on the skins for four to six hours. It was then gently pressed to minimize extraction of tannins from the skins. The juice was divided into multiple stainless steel tanks, one portion was inoculated with natural yeast, and the other with a yeast focused on lifting the fruit aromas within the grape. An extended, slow, cool fermentation took place. There is just a hint of residual sugar (1.5g/l) to balance the firm acidity. This is a crisp refreshing rose’ with hints of melon, white peach and a touch of raspberry

 

 

 

 

 

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In Puglia with Radici del Sud 2016

The first time I went to Puglia was in 1983. I have gone back a number of times because of the wine, food and the unique culture. For ten years I was the sommelier/wine director of I Trulli restaurant in NYC. Trulli are the traditional cone shaped houses in Puglia, so I really got to know the wine and the food and have always enjoyed it.IMG_0708

A few months ago, Nicola Campanile, organizer of Radici del Sud 2016 in Puglia, invited me to attend the weeklong wine tasting and judging of the wines of Southern Italy.

When we arrived at the hotel, the other attendees and I, from 13 different countries, were divided into two groups: buyers and press. The buyers stayed in the hotel and tasted wine while the press spent two days and nights on the road.

Our guide and translator was Ole Udsen. The way he was greeted by the producers and others that we met showed the high regard in which he was held, so I gave him the name “Mr. Puglia.” His knowledge of the wines and the region in general, was of the highest level.IMG_0616

One of our first stops was tasting wine with the Association Nationale Le Donna Del Vino Delegazione Puglia.IMG_0617

The president of the organization is Marianna Cardone. The Women in Wine organized a tasting of 17 producers.

Marianna Cardone

Marianna Cardone

Each producer showed one wine. The format reminded me of musical chairs: I sat with a producer, tasted the wine and we talked. Then came an announcement to change places. This was done 17 times. It was very informative and enabled me to learn a lot in a short time.

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

Flora Saponari with the Sumaniello Rosato

There was even a type of wine I had never tasted before, the Tre Tomoli Rosa 2015 from Vignaflora, a Rosato made from the Susmaniello grape.

We also visited several wineries.IMG_0639

At the Paololeo Winery another organization DeGusto Salento: Association Del Negoamaro presented a tasting of 6 wines:

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2014 “Lago della Pergola” Vetrere

Negroamaro IGP Puglia 2013 “Taccorosso” Paolo Leo

Salice Salentino DOC Riserva 2013”Aiace” Castello Monaci

Negroamaro Salento IGP 2012 CalitroIMG_0637

Brindisi Rosso Riserva DOC 2012 “Jaddico” Tenute RubinoIMG_0638

Brindisi DOP Riserva 2011 “Vigna Flaminio” Vallone

 At the Apollonio winery we tasted 6 wines:

Negroamaro Rosato 2015 Salento IGP Santi DimitriIMG_0645

IGT Salento Rosato 2015 “Rohesia” CanteleIMG_0646

Negroamaro IGT Salento 2013 Conti ZeccaIMG_0647

Salento IGT 2013 “Mjere” Michele Caló

Salento IGT 2011 “Cento su Cento Castel di Salve

Copertino Riserva DOP 2011 “Divoto” Apollonio

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At the Garofano winery, the tasting was held outside.IMG_0652

It was so windy that they could not open the umbrellas, so we tasted in the sun as you can see from the pictures. There were 6 wines:

Copertino DOP Rosato 2015 Marulli

Salento IGT 2015 “DuodecimRomando GrecoIMG_0656

Salento Rosato IGT 2013 Vigna Mazzi Rosa Del Golfo

Nardò DOC 2014 “Danza della Contessa” Bonsegna Salento IGP 2007 “Le Braci” Garofano

Salento IGT 2006 Piromafo” Valle dell’Asso

 Wine made from the Negroamaro grape can be 100% Negroamaro or blended with other grapes as in the case of Copertino, Salice Salentino and Brindisi Rosso, or made into a rose or a white wine. I became very fond of the Negroamaro in all its forms on this trip.

We visited the town of Gallipoli on the southern tip of Puglia by the sea.IMG_0663

At Cantina Coppola 1489 we tasted white wines made from the Negroamaro grape from 2015 back to 2009.IMG_0667

Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT “Rocci” 100% Negroamaro. The production area is the Santo Stefano Vineyard Alezio. The soil is clayish and the training system is espalier. The harvest takes place by hand the last week of August. The wine is vinified and aged in stainless steel. I have very little experience with Negroamaro vinified as a white wine but I was very pleased with the wines I tasted,

The 2012 was the only vintage that had been aged in barriques for about six months. The wines have a simple elegance, fruitiness with good minerality and a touch of the sea. The only wine that did not have these aromas and flavors, reflecting the land and the sea was the 2012.

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Paolo Benegiamo with the Alberelli 1947

At a tasting in the Castle in Gallipoli, we played musical chairs again but here there was enough time to speak to the producer and they had more than one wine. One of the best wines I tasted made from 100% Negroamaro was the Vecchie Vigna Alberelli 1947 from L’Astore Masseria presented by the owner Paolo Benegiamo. It is a wine which makes one stop and take notice.

Giuseppe Fiorita

Giuseppe Fiorita with the Copertino Rosso

Copertino Rosso DOC Riserva 2008, Cupertinum-Antica Cantina Del Salento 1935. I sold this wine at I Trulli and always liked it. It is a great value for the price and was later picked as one of the top wines by the press.

Next time a Ciro tasting, a Fiano Minutolo tasting, the blind tasting completion and the winners.

 

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Filed under Cantina Coppola 1489, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Le Donne del Vino Delegazione Puglia, Negoramaro, Negroamaro Bianco Puglia IGT Rocci, Radici del Sud 2016, Rose

Visiting Tiziana Settimo

Tony Di Dio of Tony Dio Selections first introduced me to Tiziana Settimo of the Aurelio Settimo winery when he invited me to a tasting and dinner a few years ago. Tony told me that it is a very traditional winery and he thought I would like their wines. He was right.

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Tiziana Settimo

Tiziana invited me to visit her winery in Piedmont. This November I took her up on her offer. As we walked through the vineyards, Tiziana told us something about her family history.IMG_9179

The Settimo family first settled in Annunziata in Piedmont in 1943. In the beginning they practiced mixed farming (as did most of Italy), having vineyards, fruit and hazelnut trees, and breeding hens, rabbits and cows.  They sold off almost all their grapes.  When Tiziana’s father Aurelio took over the winery, he decided to grow only grapes and expanded the vineyards.  At first they continued to sell 50% of their grapes but in 1974 Aurelio decided to keep all of the grapes and vinify the wine on site.

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Concrete Tanks

Tiziana said she had worked at her father’s side for twenty years until his death in 2007. The winery is now a family affair run mostly by women.  The only man involved is Tiziana’s brother-in-law.IMG_9166

Every time I see Tiziana she makes it clear that this is a very traditional winery and that she uses the same methods as her late father Aurelio. They only use natural cork for the wines. She did say that one thing is different: her father used Slovenian oak for his barrels and she is using French oak from Allier. She feels that the French oak gives the wine a more elegant character.

We tasted some of the wines at the winery and some we had with lunch.IMG_9171

We started with a Rosè Sett made from 50% Nebbiolo and 50% Dolcetto. Short fermentation on the skins and the wine is aged for 6 months in concrete tanks. The wine is not available in the USA.IMG_9172

Dolcetto D’Alba 2014 DOC 100% Dolcetto Exposure is east, the soil is calcareous. Harvest is by hand. There is a short fermentation on the skins, with submerged cap for 7 days and frequent pumping over of the must. Malolactic is in concrete and it is aged in concrete for 6 months and 3 months in bottle before release. It has hints of cherry, blackberry, and plum with notes of violet and almonds.IMG_9174

Langhe Nebbiolo 2011 DOC 100% Nebbiolo  Tiziana explained that this wine is produced from grapes grown from younger vineyards facing south-east, the same area as the Nebbiolo used to make Barolo. The maximum yield of 8,00kg is also the same. Compared to the Barolo it under goes on shorter maceration ( 7days) on the skins and is aged I concrete tanks for 46 months. It is normally ready to drink without needing to age. It has hints of blackberries, raspberries, liquorice and a touch of violets.IMG_9176

Barolo “Rocche dell’Annunziata” 2010 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo (Lampia) The exposure is south, southwest, the soil is calcareous and the harvest is by hand. Fermentation takes place on the skins for 15 to 20 days with submerged cap, with frequent breaking up of the cap and pumping over the must, followed by maturing in oak casks of 2,500 and 3,500 liters. Malolactic is in concrete. Aging is for 24 months in big oak casks. The age of barrels is 10 to 15 years and they are French oak, Allier and Nevers, and the barrels are not toasted. The wine in aged in bottle (natural cork) for at least 6 months before release. This is an elegant and full-bodied wine with all the classic Nebbiolo aromas and flavors.IMG_9177

Barolo 2010 Aged for 12 months in concrete tanks and 24 months in big French oak barrels. It has hints of tar, faded roses, tea and red fruit.IMG_9193

Barolo “Riserva Rocche” 2004 100% Nebbiolo (Lambia) Aged for 36 months in big oak casks and 12 months in bottle before release. It can age for 20 to 25 years. The wine has hints of spice, liquorice, red fruit and a touch of truffle and is drinking very well.IMG_9187

Tiziana invited us to lunch at Osteria Veglio.

We had been there before and enjoyed the experience. Tiziana said that it was under new management and that the food was even better. She was right.IMG_9191

I had ravioli del plin, small meat filled ravioli, with white truffles followed by cotechino sausage with mashed potatoes.IMG_9189

Tiziana’s wine was an excellent accompaniment with the food.

 

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Filed under Aurelio Settimo Winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Nebbiolo, Rose

“Fines Bulles” from the Loire Valley at Restaurant Bouley

Fines Bulles of the Loire Valley

An invitation for lunch and a tasting of 12 sparkling wines from the Loire Valley at Bouley in New York City seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience these very interesting wines. Bouley Restaurant is one of my favorites and though I had visited the Loire Valley only once, I enjoyed my stay there and liked the sparkling wines.IMG_6669

The speaker was Christy Canterbury M.W. She began by speaking about the Loire Valley and gave some background on the wines.

In 2002 the Fines Bulles (fine bubbles) was established for sparkling wine from Anjour-Samur-Touraine. The sparking wines here are made according to the Methode Traditionnelle. Like Champagne, the second fermentation takes place in the bottle. Christy said that this gives the finished wine a fine creamy mousse (foam) and texture that other sparkling wines cannot match

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Christy Canterbury, M.W.

The Loire Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the third largest AOC vineyard in France. It is also the leading region for “fine bubbles.” The area extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the borders of Touraine along the Loire River, the longest river in France. It is one of the most northern wine regions in Europe. The terroir is the “tuffeau,” a soft porous, chalky (limestone) sub-soil. Christy pointed out that the limestone was used to build the region’s castles.

The main grape used in these sparkling wines is Chenin, but 11 others can be used, among them: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pineau d’ Aunis and Gamay.

The Loire Valley appellations that produce Fines Bulles include:

Vouvray: The appellation starts on the eastern edge of the city of Tours and includes 8 communes on the right bank of the Loire River and its tributary, La Brenne, covering 2,100 hectares. The vineyards cover stony slopes over a sub soil of tuffeau, punctuated by converging valleys made up of perruche (flinty clay) and aubius (clayey-limestone). Only Chenin Blanc can be used in the production of Vouvray Fines Bulles. Here Chenin Blanc is known as Pineau de Loire.

Christy said that the unique character of the wines comes from the limestone caves in which they are aged. They date from 60 to 90 million years ago. IMG_6674

Cuvée Excellence, Vouvray Brut NV Caves des Producteurs de Vouvray C. Greffe. 100% Chenin Blanc. Method Traditionnelle. This is the largest co-op in the region. The wine has hints of white flowers, citrus and a touch of baked apple. $20IMG_6684

Vouvray Méthode Traditionnelle Brut 2011 Domaine Sylvain Gaudron 100% Chenin Blanc. This is a third generation family run winery. Citrus aromas and flavors with hints of honey and a touch of candied fruits. $18IMG_6690

La Dilettante, Vouvray Pètillant, NV Catherine and Pierre Breton. 100% Chenin Blanc Méthod Traditionelle. This is an organic and bio-dynamic winery. The wine is fermented with indigenous yeasts present on the grape skins. Additional sulfur is kept to a bare minimum. They believe that the wine should be a true expression of the terroir. It has hints of citrus and pears with a touch of brioche. $20

Saumur Brut: Christy said that there is a gentle climate here, and the appellation covers 1,400 hectares, which lie south of the Loire on verdant slopes reaching right up to the town of Saumur. The characteristic element of the sub-soil is the tuffeau, the porous limestone that leaves its mark on the wines. Christy added that here the wine is bottled with the addition of a mix of sugar, wine and select yeasts. After the wine is disgorged a little sugar solution is added and the bottle is recorked and labeled. Christy said that the sugar is added to balance the natural acidity in the wines.IMG_6671

Saumur Brut, NV Domaine du Vieux Pressoir made from 70% Chenin Blanc and 30% Chardonnay. Method Traditionelle and each varietal is vinified separately at very cool temperatures. The wine is left in bottles for 15 months on the lees before disgorging. This is a complex wine with good acidity and hints of white fruit and mint. $2o IMG_6688

Bulles de Roches, Saumur, Mousseux, NV Thierry Germain & Michele Chèvre Made from 90% Chenin Blanc, 5% Chardonnay and 5% Cabernet Franc and they are hand harvested. Methode Traditionelle with dosage zero. This is a dry sparkling wine, with good citrus aromas and flavors, nice minerality and a touch of baked bread. It goes very well with food. $19IMG_6695

Chevalier de Grenele, Saumur Mousseux, NV in magnum. Caves Louis de Grenelle. Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc with 9 months aging on the lees.

Christy said that under the streets of the Loire Valley town of Saumur, miles and miles of chalk caves meander. Carved centuries ago, many were dug with prison labor under the direction of the king of France. There are so many streets underground that they actually outnumber the streets above ground. Two and a half kilometers of underground caves belong to the Cave of Louis de Grenelle, the last remaining family-owned property of the major Saumur sparkling producers. All of the bottles produced by the cave are stocked here, under the city, and left to age for several years.

Louis de Grenelle has been producing wines in this location since 1859. It has hints of hazelnuts, mint and a touch of licorice. At $38 for the magnum, it is a great buy and one of my favorites at the tasting.

Touraine: This is a large appellation with almost 4,500 hectares from the gates of the Sologne region to the edges of Anjou. It is spread over two administration regions along the Cher and Loire Rivers. 85% of the appellation’s surface area is southeast of the city of Tours on the slopes high above the Cher.

The sub-soil is tuffeau from the Paris Basin with clay limestone soils. The terraces along the banks of the Loire are composed of sand and gravel. The banks of the Cher are made up of flinty clay and flinty sand.IMG_6670

Intense Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Chäteau de L’Aulée 80% Chenin Blanc and 20% Chardonnay. The Chenin vines are 10 to 40 years old. Guyot pruning is used in the vineyards, with natural or controlled grass growing in the dividing rows according to the need. Some of the grapes come from the so-called Joan of Arc vineyard, where she is said to have rested on her was to meet the future king Charles VII. This is a wine with hints of lime, pear and baked apple. $17IMG_6702

Touraine Rosé, Brut, NV Jean-Michele Gautier made from the Grolleau grape. Methode Traditionnelle. Family owned and managed since 1669. The farming is traditional organic without the use of chemicals or pesticides. Traditional wine making with very little interference in the winery. The owner/winemaker, Jean Michael, prefers the wines to display the terroir. Fermentation is at low temperature in stainless steel tanks for 6 months before bottling. This was another one of my favorites and a great food wine.$20IMG_6691

Cuveé JM Brut, Touraine Brut, NV Monmousseau Made from 100% Chenin Blanc, Method Traditionnelle. The wine spends 24 to 36 months on the lees. The same family has owned the property since 1886. It has hints of apple, honey, and hazelnut and good acidity. $18

Crémant De Loire: The vineyards stretch out for over 250 kilometers from east to west. In the east there is the terres blanches (white soil) and in the west the terres noires (black soil).IMG_6672

Crémant de Loire NV Chäteau de Brézé made from 60% Chenin and 40% Chardonnay. The vineyards are being converted to organic and then to biodynamic farming. Traditionelle brut method is used. It has citrus aromas and flavors with a hint of molasses. $20IMG_6694

Cuvée Flamme, Crémant de Loire Brut NV Gratien & Meyer, 60% Chardonnay, 25% Cabenet Franc and 15% Chenin Blanc. Wine is aged in their cellars for more than 2 years. It has nice fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of almonds and a touch of licorice. $18IMG_6701

Crémant de Loire Brut Rosé, NV Deligeroy made mostly from Cabernet Franc. The vines are 20 to 30 years old. It has nice strawberry and cherry aromas and flavors and a hint of peach. $16

I found the wines went very well with the food and most are priced at $20 or less which makes them a very good buy.

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Fines Bulles -fine bubbles, French Sparkling Wine, French Wine, Rose, Sparkling wine, Sparkling Wines of the Loire Valley

Venice, La Serenissima

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As we approached Venice by water taxi I was struck once again by how magical and dream-like this ancient city is with its picturesque canals, graceful bridges and beautiful architecture.IMG_5581

The taxi docked right beside a café and restaurant that looked as if it would be an ideal spot to have breakfast called the l’Ombra del Leone. When we returned the next morning, the place was empty although the outdoor seating was the perfect place to watch the gondolas participating in the celebration of the Festa e Regata della Sensa, an annual event. Among the boats was an ornate one called the Bucintoro used by the Doge, the leader of Venice. The mayor, replacing the Doge of old, throws a gold ring overboard to symbolize Venice’s marriage to the sea. Yes, Michele and I agreed as we sipped cappuccino and ate our cornetti, Venice is a magical city and full of surprises around every corner.

The Restaurants We Enjoyed

Zucchini Flowers

Zucchini Flowers

Ai Gondolieri is a meat lover’s restaurant in a city surrounded by water and known for its seafood. The restaurant began as an old inn where locals could go to eat simple meats, drink a glass of wine and play cards. Today it has become a refined, quiet restaurant with excellent service and food. I had perfectly fried zucchini flowers to begin and then slices of calf’s liver on Venetian polenta, which was wonderful.

Calf's Liver

Calf’s Liver

With dinner we had a wine that I have been drinking for many years, the Villa Capezzana Carmignano 2008 DOCG made from 70% Sangiovese, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 10% Canaiolo.

IMG_5575 The hillside vineyards are at 150 to 200 meters and the exposure is south, southeast and southwest. The soil composition is shale and the harvest is in mid September. Vinification is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in 25HL Allier barrels for 10 months. It remains in bottle another 3 months before release.

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  I posted pictures of Venice on Facebook while we were there and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and that “the wine list will blow you away.” She added that we should ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this we just had to go. The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is out door dining.

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flowers

Pasta with Zucchini and Zucchini Flwers

We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith highly recommended the restaurant to us.

Seppei

Seppei

We discussed the extensive wine list and I found a wine I had never had before from one of my favorite producers, the Cerasuolo di Abruzzo Rosato which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2012 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a “white wine” and are pressed by “foot” and the must is fermented without the skins. It was one of the best Rose wines that it has ever been my pleasure to drink.IMG_5597

The wine was an excellent combination with pasta with zucchini and zucchini flowers to start followed by seppie (cuttlefish) in a black ink sauce and peas with grilled polenta.

Fiaschetteria Toscana This restaurant began as a Tuscan wine shop where products from Tuscany were sold. It later became a trattoria and in 1983 a restaurant. Michele and I have been coming here for a number of years.

Moleche

Moleche

It has a very nice dining room and two upstairs rooms for larger parties and outdoor dining in a small piazza just across the street. I ordered the moleche, which are baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor and I order them whenever I can. We ended with Michele’s favorite, wild strawberries with crema gelato.

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Filed under Ai Gondolieri, Capezzana, Cerasuolo, Emidio Pepe, Fiaschetteria Toscana, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Restaurant Wildner, Rose, Uncategorized, Venice

In Provence

When we arrived in Provence the weather was very hot, just perfect for enjoying the Rosé wines from this enchanting part of France.  Of course we would drink some white wine and if the weather cooled off, a red wine or two. We had rented a house in Abignon near Carpentras. It is very near to great wine areas such as Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Cotes du Rhone, and Vaqueyras, so wine would not be a problem.

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

Buying Shrimp at the Market in Isle Sur La Sorgue

We decided to go out for one meal a day, usually lunch, and have one meal at the house. There is a large organic garden where we can pick our vegetables and there are a number of towns nearby with great farmers markets.

Veal and Langoustine

Veal and Langoustine

 For lunch one afternoon we went to Restaurant L’ Oustalet in Gigondas. This restaurant has a very interesting menu different from the typical ones in the area.  One of the courses I ordered was a carpaccio of veal and langoustine mixed together covered with foam. It was not what I expected but it was very good. They also have a very good wine list from which I ordered a bottle of white wine:IMG_3512

Coudoulet de Beaucastle 2011 Cotes- Du-Rhone made from 30% Bourboulemc, 10% Clairette, 30% Marsanna and 30% Viognier. The vines grow in a 3 acre vineyard between Orange and Avignon. There is manual harvesting, sorting of the grapes, pneumatic pressing, racking and fermentation partly in oak barrels and stainless steel tanks for 8 months. The wines are assembled and bottled without passage at low temperatures. This white wine with a mineral  and savory character, subtle citrus fruit, good acidity, a very pleasing dry finish and long aftertaste.

The Pizza

The Pizza

The house has a pizza oven on the property and one afternoon we decided to make pizza. Michele made the dough and I tended the fire and baked the pizzas.  With the pizza we drank:IMG_3526

Bandol Rosé 2012 AOC Bondol Domaine Tempier made from 50% Mourvédre, 28% Grenache, 20% Cinsault and 2% Carignan. The soil is a mix of clay and limestone; it is tilled mechanically and by hand. The grapes are harvested by hand and carried in small bins of 30 kg and hand selected in the vineyard and cellar. Vinification is by direct pressing or after cold maceration or by saignées between 5 and 10 percent. This is a Rosé with a lot of body and flavor, floral overtones, peaches, a hint of spice and good acidity. The wine worked very well with the pizza with its different toppings.IMG_3491

Les Palliēres “ au petit Bonheur” 2012 Rosé Vin de Table- the winery is located outside the village of Gigondas.  Made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Clairette, the blend depending on the vintage. The soil is clay and limestone and the vines are at 250 to 400. The grapes are sourced from younger vines and the juice is obtained from directed pressing.  Fermentation takes place in 650-liter demi-muids. This is a very pleasant wine with nice fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of melon. We enjoyed this wine with the shrimp that we purchased at the market.

Sparibs

Sparibs

We passed a farm stand one day advertising fresh cepes, porcini mushrooms.  They were big and beautiful and Michele bought a few to serve as our appetizer that night for dinner.  She larded the caps with slices of fresh garlic, drizzled  them with olive oil and sprinkled them with fresh thyme from the garden.  After roasting in a hot oven, they were tender and meaty, just the way we have eaten them in Italy.  For a second course, we had rotisserie spareribs that we had gotten at the market in Carpentras.  The wine for the night was a perfect choice: IMG_3529

Gigondas 2005 Clos du Joncuas made from 80% Grenache, and 20% Mourvedre, Cinsault and Syrah. They use organic methods in the vineyards and traditional vinification. The wine has red and black fruit aromas and flavors, hints of blackberry, blueberry and a touch of spice. It was an excellent combination with the roasted porcini mushrooms we had at the house. I do not believe this wine is imported into the US but I really liked it. The wine cost 14 Euros in the coop store in Gigondas.

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Filed under Bondol, Clos du Joncuas Gigondas, Coudoulet de Beaucastel, Domaine Tempier Rose, French Red, French White Wine, Gigondas, Les Pallieres Rose, Pizza and Wine, Provence, Rose, Uncategorized

“La Vie en Rose”

What better way to spend an afternoon in the summer than in a French restaurant drinking rosè wine? Especially when the restaurant is Le Perigord, a French classic with the kind of elegant dining that is difficult to find in NYC any more. It is a very comfortable place with old world charm and excellent unobtrusive service.

Our host for the lunch was Alain Bonnefoy, wine consultant for the House of Burgundy.  Alain was very knowledgeable and informative.

Alain Bannefoy

Alain Bannefoy

George Briquet, the founder and owner of the restaurant came by and told us the restaurant was opened in 1964. He added that after tasting these wines, for the first time he would put rosè wines on his list.  Each of the courses was paired with a different rosè.

 The WinesIMG_3314

Palais Prive Rosé 2012 Cotes-du-Luberon AOC  made from Grenache and Syrah. Michael Doyle, an American, owns the winery. This was the first wine served and it was very light in color with delicate red fruit aromas and flavors and a very nice finish and aftertaste.IMG_3319

Domaine Sorin “Terra Amata” Rose Côtes de Provence AOC. Made from 40% Grenache, 15% Cinsault, 10% Syrah.15% Mouvèdre 15% Carignan, 15% Rolle and 5% Orgi. The wine is vinified and aged in vats. They do not use chemical fertilizers or weed killers. The winery is located in Bandol. This was paired with Jonah crab cake with roasted red pepper sauce and it worked very well.IMG_3323

Arbaude, Mas De Cadenet 2011 Côtes De Provence 40% Grenache and 40% Cinsault and 20% Syrah. The grape bunches are destemmed. There is cold maceration and bleeding, the must is racked and fermentation tales place at low temperatures. The wine is a traditional salmon pink  color.

The Lamb

The Lamb

This was a rose with a lot of structure and flavor, a perfect combination with the seared lamb eye loin Barigoule.

Champagne Jeeper Rosè  N/V AOC de Champagne 70% Chardonnay, 20 Pinot Noir 10% AOC approved red champagne..

Alain told an interesting story about how the wine got its unusual name.   In 1944 the Second World War was coming to an end, Armand Goutorbe returned to his vineyard in Champagne badly handicapped. In order to be able to carry on the work, he was allowed to purchase an American Army Jeep.IMG_3325

.From then on there was no stopping him.  His vineyard flourished with his new mobility; the Jeep proved perfect for the awkward terrain. He was always with his trusty Jeep, his friends and neighbors nicknamed him Jeeper. So Mr. Goutorbe honored his much-loved Jeep by renaming his champagne vineyard JEEPER.  We drank this with a strawberry tart.

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Filed under Arbaude Rose, Champagne Jeeper, Domaine Sorin Terra Amata Rose, French Wine, Palais Prive Rose, Rose, Uncategorized

Southwest France for Under $20

 When I attend a wine tasting where I am not familiar with the wines, my method is to taste them without looking at the prices. At a tasting of the wines of Southwest France I could not believe the number of wines that I liked. Even more amazing was that most of them were under $20. North of the Pyrenees Mountains, south of Bordeaux, east of the Atlantic Ocean and west of the Languedoc, Southwest France has almost 30 appellations and over 100 native grape varieties.  Many, such as Arrufiac, Fer Servadou and Loin de l’Oeil are unique to the region. There are 850 independent producers and 23 cooperative cellars.

Southwest France follows the European Union’s new wine regulations. Each appellation is either AOP — Appellation d’Origine Protègèe — the European equivalent of the French AOC, which applies to wines produced following very strict specifications and tied to a defined origin and terroir, or  IGP  — Indication Geographique for wine produced according to strict specifications and certified as having been produced in a defined geographical area.

Here are a few of my favorites all under $20.  I was told that all the producers have US importers.

Sparkling White
Cuvèe Methode Gaillacoise Brut 2011 Gaillas AOP Domaine du Moulin made from Mauzac White.
Method Gaillacois, I was told, is the traditional and oldest method for making sparkling wine.  The wine has aromas of green apple and other citrus fruits but also has a creamy texture that make it easy to drink.  It can be served as an aperitif or with dessert and should be served well chilled. $18

The White WinesCvèe Colombard- Ugni Blanc 2011 Cotès de Gascogne IGP Domaine UBY 80% Colombard and 20% Ugni Blanc. The soil is composed of sandy loam and clay. There is whole fruit maceration, low temperature fermentation and maturation on the fine lees.  This is a wine with crisp acidity and hints of grapefruit and lemon. It has a surprising long finish and should be drunk young. $9

Cuvèe Classic 2011 Cotès de Gascogne IGP Domaine Du Tariquet. Made from 45% Ugni Blanc, 35%  Colombard 10% Sauvignon Blanc 10% Gros Manseng. Tariquet is the largest family owned white wine estate in one appellation in France. They also produce a Bas-Armagnac. I was told that this is the favorite white wine in the bistros of Bordeaux. This is an intense dry but fruity wine with nice citrus fruit and good acidity   $9Cuvèe Harmonie de Gascogne 2011 Côtes de Gascogne IGP Domaine de Pellehaute. Made from Ugni Blanc, Colombard, Folle Blanche, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gros Manseng and Petit Manseng. This is a traditional farming estate with the vines situated on the slopes and the low lands reserved for cattle and cereal crops. The wine has nice fruit aromas, fresh acidity, herbal overtones, and the finish is off dry. $12Cuvèe Les Vignes Retrouvèes (rediscovered vines) 2010 Saint Mont AOP Plaimont Producteurs. Made from Gros Manseng, Petite Courbu and Arrufiac The leading producer of wine in the south of France, they produce 40 million bottles. This is an aromatic wine with nice citrus aromas and flavors and a touch of stone fruit. $11Cuvèe La Coste Blanche 2011 Gaillac AOP  Domaine de la Chanade 80% Loin de l’Oeil and 20% Mauzac. Christian Hollevort purchased the vineyard because he wanted to use old methods to make a wine as natural as possible. It is a wine with herbal overtones, nice fruit and good acidity. $8

Rosè
Cuvèe Premier Grain “Rosè “ 2011 Côtes du Lot IGP Château De Gaudou 100% Malbec. The vineyards spread over 35 hectares of gravel soil and face south-southwest. These 35 year old vineyards hug the gentle slopes of the third terraces of the Lot Valley and are regarded among the finest of the Cahors appellation. Fruity aromas with hints of citrus and a pleasing aftertaste. $15

Red WinesCuvèe Lo Sang del Pais 2011 Marcillac AOP Domaine du Cros 100% Fer Servadou.  The grape bunches are handed harvested, destemmed and fed into fermentation tanks by gravity. The “cuvasion” lasts for 15/20 days with the juice being pumped over the cap during the first six days. The wine is aged for six months in oak and chestnut barrels some of which are 200 years old.  $17Cuvèe Folle Noire d’Ambat 2009 Fronton AOP Domaine Le Roc 100%  Negrette.  The winery is located in the smallest viticulture zone of Fronton on gravely and Boulbenes (ground quartz, sand and stone) soil.  There are 5,000 vines per hectare. There is a light pressing of the grapes and vinification is in the traditional manner for about 2 weeks. The wine is made in small open tanks, which allow for better temperature control. Aging in 20hl oak barrels for 8/10 month.  The winery is situated just outside of Toulouse. This is an aromatic wine with aromas and flavors of red fruit, hints of cherry and spice. It was one of my favorite wines.  $18

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Filed under French Red, French White Wine, French Wine, Rose, Southwest France, Sparkling wine

Sparkling Summer Wines

Over the summer I enjoyed a number of different sparkling wines and Champagnes. Most of us think of sparkling wine as something that should only be drunk on special occasions or at Christmas and New Years, but I don’t agree.  Sparkling wine can be enjoyed all year round and I especially like it in the summer and always with food. Here are some of my favorites.

Brut Rose “Faive” NV  Nino Franco (Veneto) made from 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are vinified separately with some skin contact for color and cold fermentation in stainless steel autoclaves. The wine is light salmon in color, with good bubbles, nice red fruit and a hint of pear. $17

The name Faive is Venetian dialect for the small “guided” tongues of flame and sparks rising toward the sky from a great fire, lightly and freely carried by the wind.  This producer is known for it’s high quality Prosecco and the Rustico is a great value for the money.  We drank a bottle of it with the plump ripe figs from the tree in the Brooklyn backyard our friend Tony Di Dio.  Both Tony and his fig tree were featured in an excellent article — with recipes — in the NY Times last Wednesday.  Here is a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/29/dining/in-brooklyn-an-abundance-of-fig-trees.html?_r=1&hpw

Spumante Santé Brut IGT 100% Falanghina (Campania)  Donna Chiara. The soil is chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October. Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, owner of the winery, always refers to the vinification system used as the Martinotti method. (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s.) Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it is fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It is great as an aperitif and with fried foods. $20
Champagne Delamotte NV made from 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.   Delamotte is the sister house of Salon and both are part of the Laurent- Perrier group. We had it with a lobster salad with basil dressing, an excellent combination. $38

Ferrari Perlé Rosé 2004 Trento DOC Method Classico Vintage made from80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay. This is a vintage Rosé from the Lunelli family estate vineyards.  The grapes are harvested by hand at the end of September on the hills surrounding Trento, with either southeastern or southwestern exposure between 1000 and 2000 feet above sea level.  In 2004 there was mild weather and perfect ripening conditions.  The wine is aged 5 years on selected yeasts. It is an elegant and complex Rosé with ripe red berry aromas and flavors with hints of raspberry and a touch of almond.  I has a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. I had it with beet and ricotta gnocchi in sage butter sauce. $75
I believe that Ferrari makes some of the best Method Classico wine in Italy.

Champagne “Grand Siècle” Crand Cuvèe NV Laurent-Perrier (Trous-sur Marne) made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir.  12 of the most prestigious villages supply the grapes and only the best plots are selected, as are the finest musts from the pressings. I believe this is a blend of three different vintages. The blended wine is aged during the second fermentation on the yeast for about five years. It has great tiny bubbles and complex aromas and flavors that make it go very well with food.

The 17th century in France, the era of Louis XIV, became know as the Grand Siècle, the Great Century and Louis XIV was the first king of France to drink Champagne.

Zucchini Flowers

I was very impressed with this wine when I had it at a Wine Media Guild tasting last December and I wanted it for my Birthday.  Michele made zucchini flowers fried in a light tempura batter stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella, which I love. We usually have them with Prosecco but it was a celebration so only Champagne would do.  It turned out to be a perfect combination.
Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2000 Blanc de Blancs (Rheims) the grapes are pressed immediately in presses located in the vineyards. The first pressing, known as cuvee, is followed by two more pressings known as the first and second “tailles.” Only the juice from the “cuvee” goes into this wine. Temperature controlled fermentation takes place and about 5% of the wine is matured for a few months in 225 liter new oak casks. Prior to disgorgement, the wine is aged for 9 or 10 years. 2000 was a good but not a great year for champagne but the wine was showing very well and it is their flagship Champagne. The wine is full, rich and toasty with hints of white fruit, good acidity and a long lingering finish. I had it with smoked salmon canapés.  

Dom Ruinart 1996 Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne (Rheims), made from 100% grand cru Chardonnay grapes, 65% from Cotes de Blancs and 35% from the mountain of Rheims.  It spends 9/10 years in the chalk cellars before release.  1996 was a very good year in Champagne.  It was just beginning to show some age with citrus fruit, a touch of toast, a hint of brioche, and a very nice mineral character.  I had it with Pizza Bianca at La Pizza Fresca in NYC. It was another great combination.

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Filed under Champagne, Delamotte NV, Dom Ruinart 1966, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Ferrari, Laurent- Perrier- Grand Siècle, Method Classico, Nino Franco, Rose, Sparkling wine, Spumante, Tattinger Comtes de Champane