Category Archives: Uncategorized

Rosé Wine and a Tomato Tasting on the Terrace

We live on the 20th floor of a Manhattan apartment building. The terrace is very sunny and Michele grows blueberries, tomatoes, mint, basil, etc. A few years after we moved in, we noticed a couple in the apartment building right across the street from us who also were growing tomatoes and other vegetables.

One night, we noticed the couple was out on their terrace having dinner with some guests. Next day on Facebook, a friend posted pictures of her and her husband having dinner on that very terrace. We contacted our friend and asked if she was visiting the people across the street the night before and she said, yes she was. She offered to introduce us to them and we became friends.

Valerie and Mitch are passionate about vegetable gardening tomatoes and grow many different varieties of tomatoes, plus eggplants, peppers, carrots and so on. Every year they invite us to a tomato tasting dinner.

We started with baba ganoush with peppers from the garden for dipping.

Then we had Caprese salad with two kinds of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella and basil.

A delicious gazpacho followed.

Last but not least was fresh fettuccine with carrot top pesto and cherry tomatoes. If you have never tried it, carrot top pesto, with a delicate parsley flavor, is a nice alternative to the usual basil variety.

It was a lovely evening as we sat on the terrace finishing the last of our rose wine.

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.

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Tom Maresca and Diane Darrow on Champagne, Prosecco and Food

A Sparkling Wine Tasting Dinner

 A few coincidences set the stage for a very interesting dinner at home this week.

  • Beloved Spouse, having decided to write a post for his wine blog on a comparison between prosecco and champagne, brought home a representative bottle of each, first for a formal tasting, then to test with dinner foods.
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  • I had just read Fatal Pursuit, a detective novel by Martin Walker that has Perigord police chief/gastronome Bruno Courrèges making blinis of an unusual kind to serve with local caviar – a kind I wanted to try to make.
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  • We had a little jar of American transmontanus caviar in the refrigerator.

Everyone who reads the Bruno books knows that their lavish descriptions of the hero’s cooking are virtually narrative recipes. I’ve written about re-creating some of his dishes here. The blinis in this story are not the traditional Russian ones in several ways. Bruno doesn’t use any buckwheat flour; he adds chopped chives to his batter of flour, milk, egg yolk, and melted butter; and – because he doesn’t have time to raise the blinis with yeast – he beats the egg white into peaks and folds it in. I did the same.
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I dropped the batter by tablespoonsful into very hot butter in a frying pan. (Bruno remarks that this is one of the few places he doesn’t use duck fat!) They cooked quickly and neatly, making 20 fluffy 2-inch pancakes.
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After we’d had the formal tasting of the sparkling wines alone, we opened our caviar and sat down to find out how the champagne and prosecco would go with our dinner dishes. The blinis themselves were fine – light and delicate, an excellent vehicle for the caviar. I think the leftovers, which I froze, may be just as good with smoked salmon or sturgeon.
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We did the same tasting of the two wines along with the dinner’s main course, which was sauteed soft-shell crabs on toast and a summer vegetable mélange of okra, corn, and tomatoes (which I’ve also written about here).
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I’ll leave the detailed results of the wine-wine and wine-food comparisons forTom’s blog post to report. What I’ll say is simply that Bruno’s blinis were a success, all the food was delicious, both the wines were delightful, and the entire evening sparkled like the wine.   dianecookbooks.wordpress.com

Prosecco and Champagne: Tasting Beyond the Bubbles

August 7, 2017

I have been enjoying both Champagne and Prosecco for many years now without ever thinking of making a direct comparison between them. I had, without a lot of thought about it, consigned them each to its own niche: Prosecco light and pleasing and sort of frivolous, Champagne a more serious wine for more important occasions. But I was brought up short recently by an innocent question from a wine civilian about what really was the difference between the two.

I had started giving the stock answer about the different grapes that each is made from, when I realized that in fact I had never drunk them side by side so as to be able to give the answer that my civilian friend was really seeking – the differences in how they taste and how that affects what one ought to drink them with. Not a glaring omission, you might think, except that that kind of side-by-side comparison is exactly what my first book, Mastering Wine, is based on and is what I have always believed is the best basic method of learning about wines. Color me embarrassed.
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To make up for that slip, and with Long-Suffering Spouse as a willing collaborator, I put together a tasting of a representative Prosecco and a representative Champagne designed to explore the two thoroughly: first, tasting alone in the classic clinical way; then with two stages of a dinner – first as apéritif alongside caviar, then alongside a main course of sautéed soft-shell crabs. (No one says a wine tasting can’t be a little self-indulgent.) It would be understatement to say the experiment was very interesting. You can read Diane’s account of the foods here.
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To keep the playing field as level as possible, I wanted to use readily available wines. Ideally, I would have liked them to be similar in price, but that proved impossible. No Prosecco in my local markets came anywhere near the price of most Champagnes, so I availed myself of an Astor Wines sale on sparklers to buy Nino Franco’s Rustico at about $15 and Pol Roger’s Brut NV at about $38. That’s close to standard price for the Prosecco and a very reasonable price for the Champagne. Rustico is a DOCG Prosecco Valdobbiadene, which is one the best zones for Prosecco, but it’s Nino Franco’s basic bottling. (The firm makes others, including a brilliant vintage bottling that is capable of great aging, but none was available locally.)  The Brut NV is Pol Roger’s most basic Champagne, so in that respect there was no tilt in the playing field, but I’m afraid the difference in price between the two wines definitely provided one.

So what did the tasting show me? Visually, there’s not much difference between them, both a pale gold, the Champagne a shade darker. Both had lovely fine and persistent perlage, despite the fact that the Rustico was made by the Charmat method and the Pol Roger had the benefit of the full méthode champenoise (not topics that I can go into here).
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The aromas showed more differences. The Rustico was yeasty smelling, hinting of fresh bread, while the Pol Roger was a tad more intensely bready, hinting of toast. Both were pleasing and inviting.

In the mouth, the Rustico tasted light and fresh, with floral and fruity notes, and specific suggestions of apple, while the Pol Roger showed more wheat and less fruit (though hints of pear popped up), by comparison seeming even a little austere on the palate and in the finish. The Rustico finished long, with a touch of elegance polishing its freshness.

This direct comparison was very instructive. Of the two wines, the Prosecco seemed the more direct and – I considered two words here – simple or honest. It was more obviously fruity, though we’re talking about nuanced fruit here, not in-your-face jam. It struck me as more immediately enjoyable, less demanding of attention or analysis. The Champagne seemed less direct or accessible – more intellectual, so to speak. It seemed weightier, more imposing. (The Prosecco had 11 degrees of alcohol, the Champagne 12.5.)

I deliberately used white wine glasses, not flutes, because I wanted to taste the wines and not just the effervescence. As the two wines sat for a while in the glasses and their sparkle faded, the fruit of the Prosecco showed better, while in the Champagne the winemaking came to the fore.

I would say that with neither of these wines is fruit the point. It’s an attraction, of course, but sparkling wines are a contrivance, and the point of the contrivance – at least in my opinion – is lightness and pleasure first and everything else after. Obviously there are outer limits of how much lightness and how much or little of anything else is desirable, and every winemaker and every drinker has to decide what those are for themselves.

Nothing I tasted in this match-up pushed me to prefer one wine over the other. Both offered high levels of pleasure of slightly different kinds, but in fact the two wines surprised me by how similar they were. And those similarities persisted with different foods, both wines tasting equally satisfactory in their own ways with caviar and blini and soft-shell crabs on toast.
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Each dish called up the Prosecco’s light, fresh fruit and the Champagne’s relatively greater weight and depth (the latter, I am certain, the result of being vinified from a blend of grape varieties rather than a single one). So there were no knock-outs or TKOs, just two excellent contenders of very slightly different weight classes, each performing in character in a variety of circumstances. As old carnival barkers used to say, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer choice.

I could certainly have gotten more dramatically different results by choosing different wines – Nino Franco’s impressive vintage Primo, for instance, or Pol Roger’s always wonderful Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill – but I wanted to get as near parity in my selections as I could. Likewise, other palates making the same comparisons might come to different conclusions or perceive greater differences than I did. All I can tell you is what I tasted, and urge you, if you’re curious, to make the comparison for yourself.

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Taittinger Champagne, Oysters, Caviar, Chocolate

Champagne Taittinger hosts an annual event called “The Art of Celebrating the Holidays — Christmas in July.”

This year the event also included Thanksgiving and New Years ideas for celebrating Taittinger Champagne style with Oysters, Calvisius Caviar, Black Truffles from Urbani and Jacques Torres Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier.

The room was covered with Taittinger Champagne bottles and the whole line of Taittinger Champagne was available to taste. At the entrance was a Taittinger Champagne Christmas tree.

As I entered, I was handed a glass of Champagne Taittinger Nocturne NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meunier ($84). I headed for the caviar.

John Knierim from Calvisius Caviar said Calvisius is an Italian company located in Calvisano, between Milan and Venice. It is the world’s largest farmed caviar producer accounting for 20% of global caviar production from its 150 acres of sustainable aquaculture. Taittinger Champagne and Caviar a perfect combination.

Then with a glass of Champagne Taittinger Prélude Grands Crus NV made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir ($97), I headed for the oyster bar, just warming up for the Champagne and Oyster seminar that I would be attending later in the evening.

With a glass of Champagne Taittinger Brut Millesime 2012, made from 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir ($ 97), I headed to the Urbani Truffle Lab where they were serving risotto with black truffles.

These were perfect black truffles and one could smell their wonderful aromas from across the room.

I had one more glass: Champagne Taittinger Prestige Champagne Rose NV made from 50% Pinot Noir 30% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Meunier $86, before the oyster seminar. I should point out that they were all 1/2 glasses.

I would have dessert after the seminar.

Champagne and Oyster Seminar   — There were eight different types of oysters to taste and this was one of the few times I have had Champagne with oysters.

On the panel were:

Catherine Cutrei, Sr. PR director for Kobrand,

Vatalie Taittinger, Artistic Director Champagne Taittinger

Chantelle Pabros, Sommelier and Taittinger Ambassador

Julie Qui, Oyster Sommelier @inahalfshell.com

Vatalie said Taittinger is one of the few remaining family owned and operated Champagne houses. It is located in Reims, France. Its distinctive style is influenced by a greater proportion of Chardonnay in the blends and a longer aging period before release.

Julie said oysters are not that different from fine wine insofar as they are site–expressive, meaning their taste is shaped by the characteristics of their growing environment. Where wines have terroirs, oysters are defined by “meroirs.” Water salinity, temperature, the type of algae present in the water, and the seabed characteristics all factor into an oyster’s flavor.

Champagne and Oysters

Champagne Taittinger Brut La Française NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir and 25% Pinot Meurnier. Ms Tattinger said the Champagne is aged for 3 to 4 years, which is twice the legal requirement, and it is the staple of the Taittinger House. $62.

It has a very expressive bouquet fruity with hints of brioche, peaches and white flowers. On the palate it is fresh and lively with honey notes.

 

Oyster: Kumiai

Species: Crassostrea gigas and harvested Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur Mexico

Grow out method: Intertidal long lines

It had a meaty texture with poignant salinity with flavors of seaweed, savory and umami packed like anchovy.

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blanc 2006 100% Chardonnay

This is the ultimate expression of the Taittinger House Champagne style and is produced in only in exceptional years.

The grapes come from the top vineyards in the Côtes des Blancs and only the best-pressed juice is used. A small amount (5%) of the blend spends 3 to 4 months in new oak barrels. Ms. T said this is to enhance the intrinsic qualities of the final blend. Prior to disgorgement, the Champagne is aged for 10 years on the lees in 13-century chalk cellars. This is one of my favorite Champagnes and worth the price $205.

Oyster: Nootka

Species: Crassostrea harvested at Nootka Sound, Northwest Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Grow Out Method: Floating tray/ intertidal beach

Nootka are among the most remotely cultured oysters in North

America. They have very thin white meat and very black mantles. Medium salinity and very creamy. Slightly lactic, butter cream and vegetal. Nutty sweet and a clean finish.

Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosè 2006 made from 70% Pinot Noir (12% blended in as still red wine), and 30% Chardonnay. It is produced from 100% Cru grapes from the Cötes des Blanc and the Montagne de Reims. Only juice from the first pressing is used. This is a well structured and complex Champagne with hints of strawberries, cherry black currants and a touch of fresh almonds. This is a great Rosè ($262)

Oyster: Glidden Point

Species: Crassostrea virginica harvested at Damariscotta River Maine

Grow Out: Method Bottom–cultured in deep water

Many Glidden Points are hand-harvested by divers. It takes about 4 years for market size. Medium to high salinity, and silky texture (in winter they take on a much meatier, crunchier texture).

Layed minerality, kelp, and in winter cured ham and prosciutto notes.

Super sweet adductor muscle, crisp mineral finish.

Champagne Taittanger Nocturne Rosè NV made from 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier.

This is a Sec Champagne blended from about 30 vineyards and from multiple vintages. The wine is laid down for 3 years to age before disgorgement. A 17.5 g/l dosage of sugar cane combined with slow cellar aging that Ms. T said creates a round and smooth Rose Champagne. This is the first time I tasted this Champagne. It had hints of brioche, red berries and a touch of almonds.

Oyster: Mystic

Species: Crassostrea Virgibica harvested at Mystic River Estuary, Norwich, Connecticut

Growing out Method: Bottom cultured on beach

Mystics are often abnormally round and have scalloping, which some theorize comes from the strong tides ripping over the shallow-planted oysters. High salinity with springy texture, may be a little creamy in July (much firmer in winter). Flavor fluctuates throughout the year, but generally a good balance between sweet, nutty and mineral. A crisp and clean finish.

Note: Oysters enter the grow-out phase after they leave the nursery.

When we finished the oysters Julie said to flip them over and admire the “artistry” on the back of the shells.

After the seminar I headed to Jacques Torres Master Pastry Chef and Chocolatier with another glass of Champagne Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosè 2006 to try with the chocolates and pastries.

I have always been a fan of Rose Champagne and chocolate and it also worked very well with the pastries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Daniele Cernilli on Checchino dal 1887 and Monfortino-a Heated Argument

I reprint a number of articles by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine because I am in agreement with his point of view on the state of Italian wine and restaurants in Italy.

Checchino dal 1887 is for me the best restaurant in Rome for food and wine.

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°219

Checchino and Monfortino

by Daniele Cernilli 17-07-2017

Checchino e il Monfortino

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

Speaking recently with a journalist who I will not name, a veteran wine and food critic, I heard some statements that were contradictory to say the least. Our conversation began with a discussion on the attitude food critics had towards certain restaurants specialized in traditional cuisine.

On my part, I complained that a guide I collaborated with had dropped the Roman restaurant Checchino dal 1887, a temple of Roman cuisine in the Testaccio neighborhood where coda all vaccinara (ox-tail strew) was invented. At the same time, the guide gave high ratings to trendy restaurants in that same neighborhood that not only lacked any history but also, in my opinion, any real gastronomic merit. The great traditional dishes were overlooked in favor of a stateless and ignorant cuisine, the product of improvised fusions. Needless to say, our discussion became quite heated and I heard myself being defined as defender of “stuffy” traditional cuisine and basically a dinosaur among food critics.

I struggled to bite my tongue. Immediately after, however, I heard the same person give a sermon in favor of the most classic Barolo wines, Monfortino first among them, bitterly criticizing all those who dared veer away from the most authentic traditions by using new-wood barrels and experimenting with methods that, in his view, prejudiced the true typicity of those wines. This was crazy, I said to myself, why are the recipes from Checchino “stuffy” while by the same measure Monfortino is the best there is? Make no mistake, Monfortino is truly an immense wine and while I agreed with him on this, some consistency or coherence was warranted when defining what is authentically traditional. This because it also has to do with cultural importance, as well as organoleptic considerations, and I would put into the same boat the vaccinara from Checchino, the shanks of Josko Sirk and the Subida from Cormons as well as the “schlutzkrapfen” of Patesheider hof on the Ritten of Bolzano, just to name a few examples.

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

If you have has similar experiences, let me know.

Th

Signed DW

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°219

Checchino and Monfortino

by Daniele Cernilli 17-07-2017

Checchino e il Monfortino

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

Speaking recently with a journalist who I will not name, a veteran wine and food critic, I heard some statements that were contradictory to say the least. Our conversation began with a discussion on the attitude food critics had towards certain restaurants specialized in traditional cuisine.

On my part, I complained that a guide I collaborated with had dropped the Roman restaurant Checchino dal 1887, a temple of Roman cuisine in the Testaccio neighborhood where coda all vaccinara (ox-tail strew) was invented. At the same time, the guide gave high ratings to trendy restaurants in that same neighborhood that not only lacked any history but also, in my opinion, any real gastronomic merit. The great traditional dishes were overlooked in favor of a stateless and ignorant cuisine, the product of improvised fusions. Needless to say, our discussion became quite heated and I heard myself being defined as defender of “stuffy” traditional cuisine and basically a dinosaur among food critics.

I struggled to bite my tongue. Immediately after, however, I heard the same person give a sermon in favor of the most classic Barolo wines, Monfortino first among them, bitterly criticizing all those who dared veer away from the most authentic traditions by using new-wood barrels and experimenting with methods that, in his view, prejudiced the true typicity of those wines. This was crazy, I said to myself, why are the recipes from Checchino “stuffy” while by the same measure Monfortino is the best there is? Make no mistake, Monfortino is truly an immense wine and while I agreed with him on this, some consistency or coherence was warranted when defining what is authentically traditional. This because it also has to do with cultural importance, as well as organoleptic considerations, and I would put into the same boat the vaccinara from Checchino, the shanks of Josko Sirk and the Subida from Cormons as well as the “schlutzkrapfen” of Patesheider hof on the Ritten of Bolzano, just to name a few examples.

A certain schizophrenia seems to be pervading current wine and food criticism which, on the one hand, praises narcissistic and out of touch chefs and, on the other, sings the praises of “authentic” wine tradition.

If you have has similar experiences, let me know.

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Master Pizza Makers at Work

Le Strade della Mozzarella is an event that has taken place for the last nine years in the region of Campania in Southern Italy and for the last two years in New York City as well. The idea for the event is to present and share the high quality Italian food products.

The organizers of the New York event were Antico Molino Caputo, producers of specialty Italian flours, and Orlando Food Sales, which represents many of the products used. The conference lasted for two days and Michele and I were able to attend the second day. It was entirely dedicated to pizza and a series of presentations by master pizzaioli centered around the classic Margherita pizza.

Roberto

The demonstration and tasting took place at Keste Wall Street and was hosted by the chef/owner and master pizzaiolo Roberto Caporuscio.

“The Hands” of the Pizzaioli

The other master pizzaioli there were Giorgia Caporuscio of Keste, Giulio Adriani from Atlanta, Jonathan Goldsmith from Spaccanapoli in Chicago, Gino Sorbillo from Sorbillo in Naples and NYC, and Rosario Ferraro from Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples and Rome.

Each pizza maker demonstrated his or her own style of pizza making and it was a unique opportunity to see these great pizzaioli together, listen to what they had to say, and then enjoy their pizza all at the same event.

Luciano Pignataro

Roberto Caporuscio, and Federick Mortati from Orlando Food Sales, welcomed us. Also present was Mr. Caputo from the Caputo Flour Company, and Luciano Pignataro, a food and wine journalist and blogger who helped with the translations from Neapolitan dialect to English.

Giorgia

Giorgia Caporuscio, Roberto’s daughter and a master pizza maker in her own right, was the first to demonstrate the classic Margherita pizza, made with a well fermented dough that was crisp yet airy.

The toppings included tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil, which Giorgia said she tucks under the cheese so that it does not burn. This was a perfect Margherita.

Giulio

Giulio Adriani, formerly of Il Fornaio in New York, is currently based in Atlanta.

His pizza was topped with a combination of ricotta, spicy gianduja sausage and a drizzle of honey. Michele gave it her prize for the most creative pizza of the day.

Jonathan Goldsmith is the owner of Spaccanapoli in Chicago and a former student of Roberto, which we visited a few years ago with our good friend, wine writer Tom Hayden.

His pizza was topped with shrimp, arugula and cream.

Gino, Frederick Martati and Luciano Pignataro

Gino Sorbillo is the owner of Sorbillo in Naples, currently ranked as one of that city’s top pizzerias, as well as several others.

His new New York spot Zia Esterina opened recently featuring fried pizza, and his next NYC location coming soon is Sorbillo on the Bowery. He spoke about the Neapolitan tradition of eating a folded small pizza on the go, “a portafoglio.” His pie was another favorite, topped with crushed red and yellow cherry tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and plump anchovies from Cetara.

Rosario Ferraro from Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples and Rome made us his style of Margherita,

which is always rather free form in shape and bigger than the plate.

There was also a tasting of a delicious fried Montanara pizza.

You would think that Michele and I had had enough pizza after sampling all of this, but we stayed late at Kesté and ordered a few more of Roberto’s delicious pies and drank wine with our friend Louis Coluccio.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gewürztraminer from the Alto Adige Under $20

The Alto Adige region of Italy is located at the foot of the Alps and the Dolomites. It borders on Austria and Switzerland. The Alps protect it from inclement weather from the North and Atlantic, while the Dolomites protect the vineyards from the cold, damaging winds from the east. Along with its proximity to the Mediterranean and Lake Garda, this makes it an excellent region to grow grapes.

This is a region famous for Gewürztraminers wines. Gewurz means spice in German and Tramin is a village in the South of Alto Adige where the grape originated, though some experts say that it is Germanic in origin.

Listed below are three that I have enjoyed this summer and all are under $20 dollars.

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2015 100% Gewürztraminer Tiefenbrunner. The grapes are grown on hillside vineyards surrounding the towns of Entiklar and Kurtatsch. The vineyard is 16 acres and the soil is calcareous silky sandy-loam and gravel Training system is a combination of pergola and single-guyot and the vineyard is at 858/1,551 feet. The vines were planted 1978/2008 and the exposure is southeastern. Harvest takes place in September/October.

The wine is vinified in a combination of stainless steel and cement. Alcoholic fermentation is 6 to 10 days and the wine remains on the fine lees. It is aged for 4 months is stainless steel tanks and one month in bottle before release. The wine has hints of peaches and apricots with a touch of honey and spice. It is full bodied with a long finish. $19

Gewurztraminer Alto Adige DOC 2015 “Vom Lehm” 100% Gewurztraminer from selected vineyards in Tramin, Egna and Margre. Castelfeder The training system is a combination of the traditional pergola (50 year old vines) and guyot (3 to 8 year old vines.) The soil is sandy, medium-deep clay and there are 3,500/7,000 vines per hectare.

Vinification: The grapes are softly pressed and clarified through natural gravity settling the sediment. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks at a low temperature (12 to 18C). Before bottling, the wine is aged for a minimum of 4 months on the fine lees. Residual sugar is 2.5g/l

It is a fruity wine with intense spice, floral notes and exotic fruits. Rich and full bodied with a very pleasing aftertaste. $19

Gewürztraminer Alto Adige South-Tyro 2016 DOC made from 100% Gewürztraminer from vineyards in the hills of Kurtatsch with a southern exposure. Kellerei Cantina. The soil is clay and chalk. The wine is a highly aromatic and spic, full bodied, with good minerality and hints of roses and lichees. Residual sugar 5.6g/l $12

All of these wines work very well with Asian food, lobster, shellfish, grilled fish and foie gras.

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Discovering Rovagnati Salumi

Rovagnati is one of Italy’s top producers of salumi, including cooked ham, prosciutto, mortadella and porchetta. Michele and I were introduced to their products at a dinner hosted by Lidia Bastianich at Felidia, one of New York’s best Italian restaurants.

The company began 70 years ago as a producer of butter and cheese in Brianza in Lombardy.  When Paolo Rovagnati, the son of the founder became involved, he convinced his father to begin making salumi. The company was  expanded and they began selling their products all over Italy and eventually Europe and the USA. They even took over Berkel, the company that produces those snazzy red meat slicers you see in many stores and restaurants.  Today Rovagnati is still 100% family owned and uses state of the art technologies in order to produce their high quality products.  Their Gran Biscotto cooked ham is the best-selling and most famous products of its type in Italy.

The Rovagnati meats were the stars of the evening and the kitchen produced a meal that demonstrated their versatility whether eaten alone or used in cooked dishes.  It began with platters of the perfectly sliced  Gran Biscotto, followed by mortadella, porchetta and prosciutto.  A beautiful and inventive salad of cooked and raw asparagus with burrata, topped with tender pink prosciutto slices was next. The flavors and textures were sweet and salty, crunchy and tender. A great combination.

This was followed by Cappellacci Rovagnati, handmade fresh tortelli filled with porchetta, mortadella, and Gran Biscotto in a light sauce of butter and sage that had the guests at our table swooning.  

Lidia Bastianich spoke about how fond she is of Rovagnati products and how proud she is that they are featured at Eataly.

Another pasta followed, Paccheri “Quasi Amatriciana”, large tubes of dried pasta in a tomato and onion sauce with cubes of Gran Biscotto and pecorino cheese.

The next course, “Panino di Vitello”, was not a veal sandwich, but slices of tender veal layered with rosemary Gran Biscotto (cooked ham), melted Fontina cheese accompanied with an artichoke heart and vignarola, a spring vegetable stew.

We drank the Bastianich Friulano from the Orsone line made from 100% Friulano (aka Tocai) with the meal, produced in the Colli Orientali area of Friuli. The wine is fresh tasting, with good minerality, hints of almonds and pear and a very long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

The meal ended with a light dessert,  vanilla ice cream topped with strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar.

We were delighted to discover the Rovagnati products and look forward to enjoying them at home.

 

 

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