Category Archives: Taurasi

One Wine Bar, One Restaurant and Tartufo in Rome

There are so many wonderful restaurants in Rome and Michele and I try to eat in as many as possible. We rented and apartment for two weeks in the Monti which is close to the colosseum and the forum and were able to walk to many of them.  IMG_7430

Enoteca Cavour 313, located at 313 Via Cavour, is a wine bar in Rome that I always wanted to try but never got to. Last month we rented an apartment in the Monti section of Rome and I realized that it was right around the corner so we went. It is a cross between a pub and a bistro with dark wooden beams running across the ceiling.

There are two wine lists. One is for the restaurant and it contains close to 1,000 labels in all price ranges. The other is a list of wines for sale that you can take home with you.IMG_7422

The menu is limited but appealing. I had an insalata mista and roast pork with house made pear mostarda. The pork was perfectly cooked and delicious.IMG_7420

We drank a Bramaterra 2005 from Tenuta Sella made from 70% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina and 10% Vespolina. The production area is in Northern Piedmont. The vines are 48 years old, the exposure is Southwest, the vineyard is at 300 to 350 meters the training system is guyot and the soil is volcanic in origin and reddish brown in color. Harvest takes place between September 22 and October 12. After the grapes are crushed, fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks with pumping over and delestage. There is 30 days maceration for the Nebbiolo and 16 for the Croatina. The wine is aged in 10 hl Slavonian oak casks for 28 months. The wine was showing no signs of age. There were hints of faded roses, leather, blackberries and a hint of spice. The wine could age for another 10 years. It is an excellent buy.

Roscioli Salumeria Vineria con Cucina – Via dei Giubbonari 21-22. Roscioli is very difficult to describe because it is not only a restaurant but also a salumeria, a shop specializing in salumi and cheese, and a wine bar all at the same time,IMG_3237

It was opened in 2002 when Alessandro and Pierluigi Roscioli decided to make the change from the family grocery. They also have a bakery named Roscioli around the corner, with the best fig bread I have ever eaten. They also sell Roman style pizza by the slice. Michele likes the restaurant because it has one of the best spaghetti carbonaras in Rome.IMG_3270

We started with hand made Mortadella from Bologna garnished with crisp bread and 36 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano from red cows.IMG_7342

Then I had the water buffalo DOP mozzarella from Paestum served with Cantabrian anchovies and Taggiasche olives.IMG_7343

We both ordered La Carbonara: Spaghettone Pasta tossed with bits of crispy guanciale (pork cheeks), black pepper, Paolo Parisi eggs and Roman Pecorino DOP.IMG_7396

The wine was the 2012 Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo (Rosè) made from100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo from Eduardo Valentini. Aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 12 months. There was just a touch of strawberry in the wine but that may be the only thing it has in common with other rose wines. I believe it is Italy’s best Rosè and it was less than 40 Euro in the restaurant. Eduardo passed away a few years ago but his son Francesco continues the tradition. IMG_7400

Taurasi Radici 1998 Riserva 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. This is the way I believe the 1998 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather.

Roscioli has a very good wine list and the wines are displayed on the walls of the restaurant.

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We were walking in the Piazza Navona and passed Tre Scalini, a café and restaurant famous for its Tartufo, chocolate covered chocolate gelato. The tartufo was created in 1946 by the head of the Ciampini family.IMG_7467

It has 13 varieties of Swiss chocolate and the exact recipe is still a secret. It has been a number of years since we had one so we decided to try it once again. The shape is different than I remember it, but it was just as good.

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Filed under Bramaterra, Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, Enoteca Cavour 313, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Mastroberardino, Roman Restaurants, Rome, Roscioli, Taurasi, Tenuta Sella, Tre Scalini Tartufo, Valentini

Vino 2015 in NYC: Some New Discoveries and Some Old Friends

Last week the Italian Trade Commission welcomed wine journalists and members of the trade to VINO 2015, Italian Wine Week. It was billed as the Greatest Italian Wine Event Held Outside Italy: Celebrating the Wines of Southern Italy. There were a number of seminars on Italian wine and other events and a Grand Tasting.

Slow Food/Wine which has a Slow Wine Guide of the 400 best wineries in Italy was also holding a Grand Tasting billed as Slow Wine/Vino 2015. Both Grand Tastings took place over a two-day period at the Waldorf Astoria.

At the Grand Tastings there was an ocean of wine but I did my best to taste as many as I could. There were a number of new discoveries and many old friends.

The Wines.

Filippo Antonelli (Umbria) one of my favorite producers of Sagrantino di Montefalco. I always enjoy speaking to him and tasting his wines. His also produces a white wine that I had not tasted before:IMG_7149

Trebbiano Spoletino, made from 100% Trebbiano Spoletino (a white grape variety native to the area around Spoleto). A hand selection of the best grapes in the vineyard which is at 300 meters with a western exposure. Filippo cultivates the vines as they did in ancient times next to maple trees in order to make the grapes grow higher. The vines are attached to the trees keeping them well off the ground so that the late frost in the region does not affect them. The harvest takes place in October.

Soft pressing is followed by skin contact and cold static clarification. Fermentation is in 25 HL oak barrels. Aging in 25 HL oak barrels and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has floral aromas with hints of tropical fruit, almonds and spice. It is well balanced with good acidity.

Colutta from Friuli is a producer I do not know so I decided to taste his wines. Giorgio Colutta was there and he told me about his wines and winery. He makes a number of wines including a Sparkling Brut from the Ribolla Gialla grape. I liked the whole line. The Refosco was one of the best I ever tasted.IMG_7107

Refosco made from 100% Refosco del Peduncolo (Red Stalk). There are 3,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed, crushed and fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with additional selected yeasts. Déslestage (rack and return) takes place. After 10 to 15 days the grapes are soft pressed. Part of the wine is aged in barrels and part in stainless steel. This is a wine that needs time. It has hints of wild blackberry, plum and other black fruits.

I have always been a big fan of Badia a Coltibuono Chianti Classico. Emanuela Stucchi Prinetti was there and she told me I have to taste this wine made from very traditional Tuscan varieties.IMG_7140

Chianti Classico “Cultus Boni” 2010 made from 80% Sangiovese, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Fogliatonda, Malvasia, Sanforte, Mommolo and Pugnitello. The geographical area is Monti in Chianti and the vineyards of Montebello and Argenina. The vineyards are at 260 to 370 mt. and the exposure is south, southwest. Soil is clay and limestone, vines are 10 to 35 years old, and training system is guyot. Manual harvest. Natural fermentation takes place with native yeasts, maceration for about 40 days on the skins. Aging is in French Oak barrels of various sizes. This is a full-bodied wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and hints of cherry and violets.IMG_7108

A friend asked me to taste the wines of a Sicilian producer and then give my opinion of the wines. The producer is Alliata and I told him that I liked the wines after tasting them. They make wines from the Insolia, Grillo and Nero d’Avola among others. The Insolia is made from 100% Insolia in northwest Sicily. The soil is clay and pebbles and the vineyard is at 200 to 250 meters. There are 5,000 vines/ha and they use a vertical trellised training system. Harvest takes place the first two weeks of September depending on the maturity of the grapes. Extremely soft pressing takes place with a membrane press at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages for 4 to 5 months in stainless steel tanks on the lees. It is released after 2 to 3 months in bottle.IMG_7101

Brunello di Montalcino DOCG Riserva “Poggio all’Ora” 2009. Castello Banfi. Made from 100% Sangiovese, estate selection. The Poggio all’Ora vineyard is on the southern slopes of the Montalcino hillside at 250mt. The wine is produced only in excellent vintages based on a meticulous selection of the harvested grapes. Temperature controlled vinification is in Horizon hybrid stainless steel and wood tanks with skin contact for 12 to 14 days. Aged in barriques for 30 months, and at least 12 to 18 months in bottle. The wine is kept for a total of five years before release. This is a wine with notes of violet and hints of plum, jam and a touch of coffee. I was very impressed by this wine and even though it spends a long time in barriques, the usual tastes associated with these barrels was not present. IMG_7117

Taurasi “Campoceraso” 2007 DOCG Azienda Vinicola Struzziero Avellino, Campania. 100% Aglianico. I had not tasted wine from this producer in some time so I stopped to see if they were as good as I remember them. The vineyards are on the Colline Venticano hills and Torre Le Nocelle. There is controlled fermentation with 25 days of maceration. The wine is aged in oak barrels for at least 36 months. The wine remains in bottle for about six months. This is a wine that can age. It has hints of red fruit, spice, coffee and tobacco. It is a balanced wine with a full aftertaste and long finish. I was happy to see that the wines were as good as I remember them.

Planeta – The winery has different locations around Sicily and I have visited most of them. This wine comes from the Feudo di Mezzo location close to Mt Etna.IMG_7152

Eruzione 1614 Bianco DOC  vintage 2013 made from 95% Carricante and 5% Riesling grapes from the Sciara Nova vineyard in Castiglione, Sicily. The soil is black lava (Mt. Etna) and the training system is vertical trellis, spurred pruned cordon and guyot. There are 5,000 wines per hectare and the harvest takes place on October 6th. Grapes are picked and refrigerated at once at 8 degrees and a hand selection takes place. After a light crushing and destemming the grapes are soft pressed. The decanted must is racked and inoculated with yeast, then fermented at 15 degrees for 20 days. The wine remains on the lees until February with continuous mixing and is bottled in March. This is a white wine that will age and should not be drunk until at least 3 years after the vintage.

 

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Filed under Alliata Winery, Antonelli, Banfi Brunello, Colutta Winery, Cultus Boni Chianti Classico, Eruzione 1614 Bianco, Insolia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Planeta, Poggio Alle Mura- Castello Banfi, Refosco, Struzziero winery, Taurasi, Trebbiano Spoletino

CELEBRATING MY BIRTHDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Taurasi Riserva 1995 100% Aglianico Mastroberadino The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and microelements. The vineyards are on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard is much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. This is the way I believe the 1995 was produced. The wine was showing no signs of age. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice, smoke and a touch of leather. IMG_5974

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

A Lunch in Honor of Antonio Mastroberardino

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

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

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Piero Mastroberardino

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

Mastroberardino Wines at the lunch

Lacryma Christi Bianco 2012 made from 100% Coda del Volpe

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Fiano di Avellino 1982

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

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

Lacrimarosa   2012 Campania IGT Rose made from 100 Aglianico

Lacryma Christi Rosso 2012 Made from 100% Piedirosso

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

Taurasi Riserva 1958, 1968  and 1977

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

“The soil is poor in organic substances but with a high content of clay, limestone, minerals and mico-elements. Taurasi spends one year in Slovenian oak barrels and two years in bottle, the wine can be laid down for 10 to 15 years. The riserva stays in medium sized 40 to 50HL oak casks for 2 years and 2 years in bottle. It can live in the bottle for 25-40 years. The aging depends on the vintage, the 1977 Riserva was aged 3years in oak, and one batch spent 7 years in oak”.

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

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

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

1997 Radici Taurasi Riserva

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

1999 Radici Taurasi Riserva 

 2000 Radici Taurasi Riserva

 Magnum of 2005 Radici Taurasi Riserva  

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Taurasi “Radici” DOCG  100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania)  Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. These are full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

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

 

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

Donnachiara at The Leopard at des Artistes

Along with 6 other journalists I was invited by Ilaria Petitto to the Leopard at  des Artistes for a Donnachiara Campania Wine Workshop.  Ilaria is the 5th generation female to run the estate and is in charge of all operations.

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria Petitto

The workshop was held in the restaurant’s cozy private dining room.  We tasted and drank the wines of Donnachiara and discussed the region of Campania and its wine.  We spoke about what people think when the hear Campania:  the Amalfi Coast, Naples, Pizza, Wine, etc., were cited.  It was the consensus that Campania produces the best white wine in Southern Italy and certainly has the most interesting white grape varieties. The importance of the Aglianico grape and Taurasi was also discussed.

Iliara then told us about the wines that she had chosen to match with the menu.

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Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina.  Ilaria said that the vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic 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 referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (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 was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

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Falanghina Beneventano 2012 DOC 100% Falanghina the vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is Volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old , the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed befor pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrius fruit amomas and flavors nice acidity and good minerality.

With the first two wines we had: crisp fried zeppole, potato croquettes known as panzerotti, miniature mozzarelle in carrozze and bite size pieces of torta Pasqualina, a spinach and ricotta pie.

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Greco di Tufo 2010 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Illaria said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. Cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age  before it is ready to drink, she remarked. This was served with the Parmigiana di zucchine con scamorza e salsa al pomodoro and it was a perfect combination. The wine was just starting to come around, it has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of smoke and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste.

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Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2007. 100% Fiano.   The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,400 vines per hectare and the 4 hectare vineyard is located at 600 meters.  Harvesting takes place during the second week of October. llaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine with scents ranging from candied fruits to flora. She believes the aging potential of the wine is 15/20 years and I agree. This is a wine with good structure and body. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, good acidity and a hint of smoke. This was an excellent compliment to the Scialatielli ai frutti di mare, short strips of homemade pasta typical of Amalfi in a seafood and tomato sauce.

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Greco di Tufo IGT Ostinato Campania  2011 100% Greco. This single vineyard is 4 hectares and it is outside the DOCG zone in Venticano, Torre Le Nocella.  The soil is clay and limestone.  The age of the vines is 20 years, the training system is Guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. A late harvest takes place the first half of November. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing.  Fermentation is for 12 months 20% of which is in French barriques. The wine is naturally clarified and there is no refrigeration or filtration at bottling. The first time I drank this wine I had it with pasta and clams and it was a terrible combination. The label said Greco di Tufo, but it tasted like a dessert wine. At the workshop dinner, it was served with crostino di pane ciabatta con fegato grasso, toasted ciabatta bread with foie gras.  The combination was sensational, since like certain dessert wines, it goes well with foods like foie gras or cheese.

I told Ilaria that I found this wine to be very confusing since there is no indication on the bottle that it is a dessert wine.  She said that it is in a smaller bottle (500ml), the bottle is clear so you can see the darker color. I said that this should be clarified on the label for the sake of the consumer.

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It becomes even more confusing because of the next wine, the Esoterico Campania Fiano 2011 IGT 100% Fiano.  The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the age of the vines is 6 years, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,400 vines per hectare. Everything else is done just like the Greco except the final result is different. The wine is light in color and while it has more body  than the regular Fiano, it does not really taste like a dessert wine.   I would not drink it with fegato grasso.

Ilaria said that the Greco was darker in color and more like a dessert wine because of the nature of the Greco grape. In both cases it is not the wine I have a problem with, but the labeling, which needs to be clearer

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Taurasi DOCG 2007, 2008 and 2009. 100% Aglianico coming from the 20 hectare estate vineyard Torre le Nocelle. Ilaria said that all of Donnachiara’s red wines are made from grapes from this vineyard. The soil is volcanic, the vines are 30 years old, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is no filtration. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques. I find these red wines to be more modern in style but not over the top and they all needed more time.IMG_4900

It was served with costata di manzo alla griglia con sale rosa cristalino dell’Himalaya e pandellate di Friarielli e patate, grilled rib eye steak with Himalayan pink salt, broccoli rabe and potatoes. The wine worked much better with the steak, which was so good that I ate the

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Filed under campania, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Restaurants, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, The Leopard at Cafe des Artists

Beef and Taurasi

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

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

Taurasi “Radici” DOCG 2008 100% Aglianico Mastroberardino SPA. (Campania) Piero Mastroberardino said that the vineyards were on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. Piero made a point of telling me that the barriques were second and third passage. This is a full, complex wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather. I was in the mood for Taurasi.

Beef in Red Wine

Beef in Red Wine

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

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

Dinner with Inspector Montalbano

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

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

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

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

ALICI

ALICI

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

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

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

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

VONGOLE

VONGOLE

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

PASTA CON SARDE

PASTA CON SARDE

We finished the white wine with Pasta con Sarde,IMG_3787

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

Taurasi Riservia 1985  Mastroberardino 100% Aglianico(Campania) Harvest takes place from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release.  This is full, complex wine with hints of plum, spice, coffee and a touch of leather. This is a great wine and I am very happy that when Tom did a non-Sicilian wine it was this one. Montalbano would have approved.

BRUSCIULUNI

BRUSCIULUNI

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

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

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

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