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A True Taste of Italy at Donna Margherita NYC


Donna Margherita is a cozy new restaurant on NY’s Upper East Side. The chef is Rosanna Di Michele, who hails from Abruzzo, Italy. Michele and I have known Rosanna for a number of years and admire her passion for Italian food, especially from her region, the home, it is often said, of the best cooks in Italy.


It was a chilly and stormy afternoon on our first visit, but Rosanna greeted us with a welcoming smile and showed us to our table. As we looked at the menu, the host, Mr. Luigi, brought us a basket of freshly baked focaccia to go with our wine.

The menu choices included several simple antipasti and classic salads, followed by a variety of Italian pastas like lasagne, penne arrabbiata, and vegetarian style with whole wheat pasta and vegetables. There are 14 different pizzas plus a few main dishes, and even child friendly offerings, so don’t hesitate to bring the kids.

Then Rosanna returned to explain the many seasonal specials on offer that day, which included fresh fish and spaghetti with clams. There was something for everyone.

We had:

Salsiccia E Rapini-Spicy Italian sausages with sautéed broccoli rape, a classic Southern Italian dish.

Paccheri alla Rosanna-Paccheri pasta with fresh tomato sauce, ricotta salata cheese, fresh basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Octopus and Potato Salad — Tender warm sautéed octopus served on a bed of sliced potatoes.

Pasta alla Chitarra with Abruzzo Ragu – Home made square pasta strands served with Rosanna’s special meat ragu.

Rosanna also insisted we try her Melzanzane alla Parmigiana –Baked eggplant, mozzarella, tomato sauce and basil and we were glad we did. Rosanna’s version was light and freshly made. A perfect example of what this dish could be, but rarely is. 

There are several dessert choices, including tiramisu, gelati, and sorbet. We tried the Pastiera Napoletana –Neapolitan ricotta, wheat berry and orange flower water flavored cake that Rosanna said is imported from Italy.

There is a small well-chosen wine list and other drinks available.

For excellent homestyle Italian cooking at moderate prices, Donna Margherita is the place to go. Don’t forget to try the daily specials and tell Rosanna I sent you!

Donna Margherita NYC   1304A 2nd Ave NY, NY

212-772-1196      Closed Sunday

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Daniele Cernilli on Indigenous Yeasts

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°215

Indigenous yeasts

by Daniele Cernilli 19-06-2017

lieviti indigeni doctorwine daniele cernilli

“When I try to explain, in an understandable way, technical questions related to yeasts, an enormous factor in zymotechnology, a branch of biotechnology, I begin by using a simple example. I say that yeasts are like dogs: there is one name to define them but hundreds if not thousands of breeds. Choosing one depends on what they are needed for. Were I to go hunting I would not bring a Chihuahua or a Great Dane but rather a pointer. If I wanted a house pet, I probably would not choose a Pitbull and so on. The same goes for yeasts of which there are countless different strains. Some are excellent to complete the alcoholic fermentation of the must, while others are inappropriate because they die off with a low concentration of alcohol and inhibit further fermentation with the consequence that volatile acidity is created”. This easy to understand explanation that helps to comprehend an immense subject, which takes years of study to fully grasp, was made by an enologist researcher who is particularly well-versed on the matter. The reason I have brought it up is because I recently heard a famous ‘expert’ state that only ‘indigenous’ yeasts determine the quality of wines. The problem is that already the term ‘indigenous yeasts’, also known as ‘wild’ or ‘native’, is not very precise. These yeasts can be found on the grapes in the vineyard or, more abundantly, in the winery. What’s more, not all these yeasts are the same and it is necessary to select the more suited ones. In short, the question is anything but simple and making generalizations, like the one of the ‘expert’, ends up being more an ideological or anti-scientific statement. This because a simple climate variation, be it in temperature or humidity, is sufficient to determine a greater or lesser presence of a particular family of yeasts, even when the variations occur in the same place or within a short period of time. The bottom line is that it is impossible to state something with total certainty when no research or experiments have proven anything beyond a reasonable doubt. I have no such certainties, I am not expert enough in zymotechnology to express convictions that should not be questioned. What I can do is listen to researchers and wine producers and then try to form an opinion. A consideration that has convinced me came from Gianfranco Fino, a very attentive winemaker, who said: “When I produce my Primitivo Es it can reach an alcoholic content of between 16 and 17%. If I did not use selected yeasts that can survive these levels I would have a sweet vinegar that was absolutely undrinkable”.

I think he has a point.

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Daniele Cernilli: The Best Grignolino in the World


I was at a dinner in Rome at Daniele’s apartment in March and drank the 2011 vintage of this wine. As he mentions in the article an Italian friend of his on tasting this wine”could not believe his tastes buds.” I felt the same way when I tasted this Grignolino. Daniele’s article is followed by my impression of the wine from a blog I wrote about the dinner.

A Wine a Day | Published on DoctorWine N°212

The best Grignolino in the world

by Daniele Cernilli 02-06-2017

giulio accornero famiglia vini piemonte bricco del bosco doctorwine

Bricco del Bosco Vecchie Vigne is a true gem produced by the Giulio Accornero e Figli estate and vintage 2012 is certain to amaze anyone who is quick enough to get a bottle.

So-called “minor wines” intrigue me and sometimes I run across some true gems, which if not unknown are certainly undervalued. Recently, I tasted some Grignolino that were very interesting and the one that impressed me the most was Bricco del Bosco Vecchie Vigne produced by the estate of that late, great winemaker Giulio Accornero.

I bought several bottles of vintage 2011 from my ‘pusher’ in Turin, Enoteca Parlapà, and shared some that surprised several ‘fine palates’ including my friend Silvano Prompicai, who could not believe his taste buds.

I recently tasted vintage 2012, which just came out, and will certainly buy some bottles if I can still find them. This wine is a wonder that I would like to offer all those who love Burgundy and you have to try it to understand why.

Giulio Accornero & Figli
Titolare: Giulio Accornero
Via Ca’Cima, 1
15049 Vignale Monferrato (AL)
Теl. +39 0142 933317
Fax +39 0142 933512
Facebook: Azienda-Agricola-Accornero-Giulio-figli
Anno di Fondazione: 1987
Totale Bottiglie Prodotte: 100.000
Ettari di Vigneto: 22

Casalese Bricco del Bosco Vigne Vecchie grignolino accornero vino rosso piemonte etichetta doctorwine

Grignolino of the Monferrato Casalese “ Bricco del BoscoVigne Vecchie2011 Giulio Accornero & Figli made from 100% Grignolino from the Bricco del Bosco vineyard. Maceration is on the skins for 20 days. The wine is aged for 30 months in oak barrels (tonneau) and 24 months in bottle before release.

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink.

Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017 ” Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time during the evening

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Burgundy’s Domaine Antonin Guyon a Family Affair

One of my favorite producers of Burgundy is Domaine Antonin Guyon a family owned winery started by Antonin Guyon in the 1960’s. The estate in the Cöte d’Or is controlled and operated today by Antonin’s sons Dominique and Michel. I was very please when Ed Mc Carthy invited me to a tasting of these wines at the office of the imported/distributer Esprit Du Vin. It would give me the opportunity to taste a number of their wines from different vintages side by side.

Hombeline Guyon

The speaker was Hombeline Guyon, the daughter of Doninique Guyon, who alone with him manages the day-to-day operations of the estate.

Hombeline said that they have 47 hectares of vines producing wines from 25 different appellations. The domaine owns vines around the hill of Corton, the southern limits are in Gevrey, Meursault in the south and the Cötes Nuits in the west and the Chorey-lès-Beaune in the east.

She said that all the grapes are picked by hand with from the first  selection(triage) of the vine. Some of the pickers are regulars and have been coming for 25 years. They want to get the grapes to the vat-house within 30 minutes of picking.

At the curerie there is second triage on the sorting table. Then the red gapes are completely destemmed and placed into large, temperature controlled, open- top wooden fermentation tanks. There is about one week cold (10-12C) maceration, one week at a maximum of 30C and one week of post –fermentation maceration. Twice daily pigeoge takes place before gravity sends the wine to barrels in the cellar below. 50% of new oak is used for the grand crus and less for the other reds. She made the point that they were moving away from new oak for all their wines.

The wines are produced in the “vat-house” in Savigny-lès-Beaune

For the whites, the grapes are whole pressed with a relativity light touch of the pneumatic press, the juice then settles and is racked in the barrels. The wine remains on the lees for as long as possible with a weekly batonnage. The wine is bottled after 12 months, with the exception of the Grands Crus Charlemagne and Croton Clos du Roy, which stay in barrel for about 18 months.

It was a very impressive tasting with 9 red wines and 11 white wines.

I recommend all the wines that I tasted. The 2011 and 2012 were showing better because they were older. But these wines also needed more time before they will fully develop. Domaine Antonin Guyon is one of the great values in Burgundy. The wines range from around $25 a bottle to around $200 a bottle, which is a great price to quality ratio. I also have a number of bottles of older vintages in my cellar.

Hombeline said that 2015 was not only a great vintage but a remarkable one in Burgundy


Hautes Côtes De Nuits Rouge “Les Dames De Vergy” 2011 and 2012

Chambolle-Musigny Village Les Cras 2012

Gevery Chambertin La Justice 2011 

Volnay 1ER Cru Clos Des Chênes 2012 and 2013

Corton Bessanders Grand Cru 2012 

Corton Clos Du Roy Grand Cru 2011 

Charmers Chambertin Grand Cru 2011


Bourgogne Blanc 2014 

Pernand-Vergeless 1ER Cru Sous Fretille 2012, 2013 and 2014

Meursault- Charmes1ER Cru Les Charmers Dessus 2011, 2012 and 2014 

Puligny- Montrachet 1ER Cru Les Pucelles 2012 and 2013

Croton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2012 and 2011





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Pizza at Kesté Wall Street

I have been a fan of Roberto Caporuscio’s pizza since I first met him at Kesté, his original pizzeria on Bleecker Street. This week, with a group of pizza loving friends, I visited his latest venture Kesté Wall Street in the Financial District, which he opened with his daughter Giorgia who is also an accomplished pizzaiola.

Georgia Caporuscio

The Wall Street Kesté is much bigger than the original. There are 150 seats and they can accommodate parties of up to 40 people in a separate room. The room is also used for pizza making classes taught by Roberto or Giorgia.

We began our pizza tasting with homemade Burrata serve with prosciutto di Parma. Burrata is a mozzarella type cheese with a soft creamy filling.

Our first pizza was a Montanara Truffle, a deep fried disk of dough topped with fresh mozzarella and truffle cream, then finished in the wood-fired oven. The dough was crisp and crunchy on the outside yet soft and tender within and not at all oily.

Then we had a Pizza Fritta Via Tribunali, another fried pizza but this time folded like a calzone and filled with ricotta and Italian salami. It’s named for the famous street in Naples where some of the world’s best pizza can be found.

We followed this with a classic Pizza Margherita, with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil.

The next pizza was a Pizza Sorrentino, topped with imported smoked buffalo mozzarella, sliced lemon and basil. This is an old favorite that we first had at Kesté Bleecker.

Michele asked for the Salsiccia E Friarielli pizza, topped with smoked buffalo mozzarella, Italian rapini, crumbled sausage and extra virgin olive oil, another Neapolitan classic.

Perhaps to counteract the fried pizzas, our friends were craving salad, and the Insalata Pizza filled the bill. It was a disk of baked pizza dough filled with a spring mix and artichokes, prosciutto di Parma, and Gaeta olives.

We all had a great time at Kesté Wall Street and are looking forward to going back again. Maybe I will take a refresher pizza course!




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Introducing Champagne Tribaut Schloesser

I had first heard of Tribaut Champange from Riccardo Gabriele of PR Vino when I was in Rome. I was unable to attend the tasting he was organizing then, but I told him that if they did a tasting in NYC to let me know. Two weeks ago I received an invitation from Riccardo and Elisa Bosco of PR Vino to a lunch and tasting of the Champagne.

Valentin Tribaut

Valentin Tribaut represented the winery. He said that the winery is located in Romery in France. Each year they vinify about 40 hectares from the family-owned vineyards and from outside sources. The family-owned vineyards are mainly in the communes of Romery, Cormoyeux and Fleury la Riviere. The slopes are south and southeast facing and the soil is limestone clay, located in a remote valley of the Marne backing onto the Montagne de Reims. They also have vines in the commune of Aÿ, a Grand Cru village in the Vallee de la Marne celebrated for its Pinot Noir.

He said they tie together tradition with technological advances in order to produce the best Champagne.

They have seven foudres large wooden vats) and about 20 barrels, for the aging of reserve wines. This he said ensures the wines mature in the Tribaut style in accordance with family traditions that have been perpetuated over four generations.

Valentin said the name Tribaut–Schloesser is the complete name of the winery because Schloesser was his great grandfather’s name and he founded the winery. His daughter, Valentin’s grandmother, inherited the winery and married a Tribaut.

The Champagne

Brut Origine made from 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Meunier. Produced from 8 different terroirs. 10% of reserve wines aged in large oak barrels (foudres) goes into the blend. It is matured for 3 years sur lie before disgorgement and the dosage is 8g/l. This is a fresh, lively and fruity champagne with hints of plum, lemon and a touch of toast. It is perfect as an aperitif. $40

Valentin said this is their entry level champagne and it is half of their total production of 350,000 bottles.

Blanc de Chardonnay made from 100% Chardonnay produced from four terroirs: Romery, Fleury la Rivière, Aÿ and Bassuet. 20% of the grapes come from old vine Chardonnay in Aÿ. The wine is matured in large oak casks and spends four years sur lie before disgorgement. The dosage is 6g/l. This is champagne with fine elegant bubbles with hints of citrus especially lemon with a touch of brioche and honey.

Brut Millésime 2009 Made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Produced from 3 terroirs: Ecueil, Romert and Fleury-la-Riviere The wine remains sur lie for 5 years before disgorgement. Dosage: 7g/l. This is a very complex Champagne with delicate bubbles. It has pastry aromas with hints of hazelnuts and almonds.

Brut Rosè made from 40% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 30% Meunier. Produced from 4 different terroirs: Romery, Damery, Fleury la Riviére and Ay. About 10% of red wine from the Damery terroir is incorporated into the cuvee. It remains sur lie for 3 years before it is disgorgement. Dosage 8g/l. It has hints of red fruit, raspberry, red currant with a hint of grapefruit.

Cuvée René made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Pinot Noir. Produced from two terroirs and parcelles, Romery (Crayere) and Ecueil (Crossats). Valentin said it is named in honor of René Schloesser, the founder of the Champagne house. It is blended with 50% reserve wines aged in large oak casks. The wine remains sur lie for 6 years before disgorgement. Dosage 6g/l. This is a very complex wine with very fine elegant bubbles with hints of brioche, candied fruits, hazelnuts and a touch of vanilla.

L’Authentique 2008 made from 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Produced from 2 terroirs Aÿ and Romery. The wine is aged for one year in large oak casks. Aged sur lie for 5 years before disgorgement. Dosage 5g/l

This is a powerful and very complex Champagne with fine delicate bubbles. It is full flavored with great richness, hints of brioche and breadcrumbs and a touch of butter.

Valentin said only 4,837 bottles are produced each year.

This is an outstanding Champagne which ranks with some of the best Champagnes I have ever tasted. At $95 it is a real bargain.

Thibaut Schloesser is Champagne at its best. I was very impressed by the whole line, which runs in price from $40 to $95. Tribaut Champagne will be introduced into the US in about 2 months.

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Amarone Masterclass Hosted by Pierangelo Tommasi

I met Pierangelo Tommasi a few years ago and he told me about how his family’s winery, the Tommasi Family Estates, is a true family affair. They have wineries in several regions of Italy, as well as in other countries. I wrote about our meeting previously:

Recently, I met Pierangelo again. The occasion was a Master Class on his family’s Amarone.


The winery is situated in Pedemonte in the heart of the Valpolicella Classical Zone about a half hour from Lake Garda in the Veneto Region of Italy. There are 195 hectares of vines on the estate.

I have always enjoyed the Tommasi wines and was looking forward to the tasting.

We tasted the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico DOCG 2012, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2000 and 1995.

All of the grapes for these wines come from the La Groletta and Conca d’Oro Vineyards made from 50% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 13% Rondinella and 3% Oseleta.

Pierangelo discussed each of the vintages. The harvest for the 2012 began on September 10. The residual sugar is 4.87g/l and the alcohol is 15.48.

He said that this will become a great wine with aging potential and will become more powerful over time.

Molinara is no longer mandated for Amarone but it can be used in the blend if the producer chooses to do so. Tommasi now uses Oseleta (it has intense fruit and spice aromas with good structure) instead of Molinara

2009 Made from 50% Corvina, 20% Corvinone, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The wine is aged for 3 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. Residual sugar is 8g/l and the alcohol is 15.50

Pierangelo said he liked the 2009 better than the 2008. He feels the 2009 is more complex and more approachable.

2008 made from 50% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. The wine is aged for 3 years in large Slavonian oak barrels. Residual sugar 7g/l and alcohol 15.5%. Pierangelo has tasted this wine over the years and said it is a very consistent wine but at this point he is not sure that it will get better with age. He said the in some ways 2008 and 2009 were similar vintages but 2008 had a shorter summer in terms of sunlight not temperature.

2007 made from 50% Corvina 10% Corivnone 30% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. Harvest began on September 10. Residual sugar 7.2g/l and alcohol is 15.5

The wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 4 years. Pierangelo said that 2007 has not peaked yet and will get better with age.

His suggestion was to buy the 2009 to drink now and also to hold because it will age.

2000 made from 50% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and 5%Molinara. Harvest begins on September 10th. The wine is aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 3 years. Residual Sugar 7g/l, alcohol 15%

For me this is the wine to buy because it is drinking now but will last for a number of years.

1995 made from 50% Corvina 10% Corvinone 10%, Rondinella 30% and Molinara 10% Harvest began on the 18th of September. The wine was aged is large Slavonian oak barrels for 4 years. Pierangelo said this was a great vintage and the harvest took place under perfect conditions. For me this wine was at it peak but will last for a few more years. I drank it all.

Then we tasted the Amarone della Valpolicella Classico Riserva “Ca’ Florian” Riserva DOCG 2009, 2008, 2007and 2003.

All of the grapes come from the Ca’ Florian vineyard and are all aged for one year in used tonneau (500 liters), 3 years in large Slavonian oak casks and one year in bottle before release.

All of the grapes for the Amarone dry for over 100 days from the harvest. Because the grapes have very thick skins, especially the Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella, they can undergo the long drying process (appassimento).

The Ca’Florian vineyard has always been owned by the Tommasi family and is one of the most historic vineyards. The training system here is the traditional Pergola Veronese.

Pierangelo said that Tommasi makes classic, traditional Amarone. The wines are distinguished by the flavor of cherries. They use traditional large Slavonian oak because they do not release any “flavors” into the wine. Amarone does not need aggressive oak from barriques.

The grapes are picked when they are ripe. He said they do not want late harvest grapes or noble rot and are trying to keep the alcohol under 16%.

There is a larger percentage of Corvina 75% in the Ca’Florin and the Corvinone and Rondinella vary depending on the vintage. All have residual sugar of 4g/l and alcohol of 15.5 for the first 3 wines.

2009 The harvest began on September 12th. Residual sugar 4g/l and alcohol 12.50%.

2008  Harvest began on September 25.

2007 harvest began on September 10.

2003 had 70% Corvina, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara The wine is aged in Slavonian oak barrels 35 HL for 30 months and in 6 months on used tonneau

These were more structured wines than the regular Amarone and will need more time. My favorite was the 2007.

Pierangelo pointed out that 2003 was not a good vintage, it was cold with a lot of rain. It will not last much longer but I found it was drinking very nicely now.

For more detailed information on Tommasi Amarone, please go to


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