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Naples is not just Pizza

When people think of Naples the first food they think of is pizza. While it is true that the best pizza is in Naples, there are many other culinary  delights in the city. Here are some of the dishes Michele and I ate in Naples recently.

 

bufala mozarella

Bufala mozzarella

Fish

Fish in acqua pazza

calamari

Grilled calamari

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Fried fish and shell fish

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Pasta with baby octopus

fried anchovies and seeweed

Fried anchovies and seaweed

octapus

Grilled octopus

Pasta

Spaghetti pomodoro and basil

Grilled pork

Grilled pork sausages

scamorza

Grilled scamorza

Pasta and patatos

Pasta and potatoes

pasta

Pasta with eggplant

pasta

Fusilli with tomato and ricotta

pasta

Paccheri pasta with piennolo tomatoes

pasta

Linguine with colatura and tomatoes

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Sausages topped with friarielli and scamorza

The cart

Sfogliatelle and taralli with almonds

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Penne with swordfish and eggplant

dessert

Fiocco di Neve.  On the weekends there are very long lines for this dessert, a cream filled bun

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Baba 

Ricotta with berries-fantastic

Ricotta with berries and honey-fantastic

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Sfogliatella and Cappuccino at Gambrinus

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Gambrinus, we stopped here often

Leaving Naples

The last Sfogliatella before leaving Naples.

Food from restaurants Da Donato, Ciro a Santa Brigida, da Nennella, La Taverna Santa Chiara, Osteria La Chitarra and Haccademia

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Bella Napoli

 

Naples is the most exciting city in Italy. Everywhere you look there is something to see!

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Mt. Vesuvius

 

by Lello Esposito

Pulcinella by Lello Esposito

Group of students asked us to take their picture

Group of students asked us to take their picture.  They shouted “We love America”.

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Castel dell’Ovo

The Carlo Opera House

The San Carlo Opera House.  We went for a tour and saw a mini concert.

 

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Castello di San Martino from the hotel rooftop.

The Pia

The Royal Palace

Naples underground

Naples underground.  A fascinating tour.

at da Donato restaurant

Neapolitan songs at da Donato restaurant

The seal of approval

The seal of approval

 

 

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Pizza anyone?

On the Via Caracciolo.  A little girl dressed as a nurse with a patient for Carnevale.

head-naples

At the Archeological Museum

store-naples

The store for soccer fans

 

naples-bikes

On the street

The wash

Laundry day

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Anteprima Amarone Tour: Visiting Villa Crine

Another stop on the Anteprima Amarone tour was the Crine winery, which is located in Pedemonte di San Pietro in Cariano, Verona.img_2415

Villa Crine is an entirely family run winery and visiting the winery is like visiting their home. Giovanni Battista Venturini the owner/wine maker, his wife Maria, their children Giuseppe, who recently graduated with a degree in enology and Diletta, a university student, all take part in the running of the winery.

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Giuseppe

Giuseppe, a very personable young man, speaks English well and gave a tour of the winery. He said that he is the fifth generation and they want to preserve the values and techniques from the past but also keep up with any new innovations that would improve the quality of their wines.

He said that all their vineyards were in the Classico zone and showed us the grapes drying on wood mats in a barn that was open on both sides.

Giuseppe then took us through a tasting of the wines.img_2416

Valpolicella Classico “Il Pigaro” made from 60% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. The Pigaro vineyard has alluvial gravel soil. There is a hand selection of grapes at the end of September/beginning of October. The wine is aged for one year in very old barriques and in bottle before release. This is an intense wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of black cherries.img_2417

Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore grapes same as above. The grapes are picked at the best stage of ripeness and then they are left to dry for 20 to 30 days in late September and October. Destemming and soft pressing in stainless steel tanks occurs during November. In February re-fermentation occurs on the Amarone pomace and the wine gains fragrances and intensity. The wine is aged in oak barrels for two years. Their wine is bottled and remains in the cellars for one year until release. The wine has hints of cherry, spice with a touch of hazelnuts and cacao.img_2413

Giuseppe said even though the Molinara grape does not have to be included in Amarone any more they use it because it adds acidity to the wine. He said they always used this grape, and as the 5th generation involved in the winery he will keep the traditions.

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Drying the grapes

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011 Made from 60% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Giuseppe said his grandparents and great-grand parents use to place the grapes for drying in the barns at Villa Crine using the “large table mats” which were traditionally used for the cultivation of silk worms. Today the grapes are placed on the mats or in wooden cases in the special drying room, which is controlled on a daily basis in order to check the temperature, humidity and the well being of the grapes.

Destemming and soft pressing takes place during the months of January and February, depending on the vintage, using rubber rollers. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks using techniques which go back to 1893.

The wine is aged in large oak barrels of 10 to 30 HL depending upon the vintage for about one year. It then is bottled and remains in the ancient tuffa cellars, which were excavated at the foot of the mountain, until it is released.

Giuseppe said Amarone can be sold 3 years after the harvest.img_2419

Recioto della Valpolicella same as above for grapes. Giuseppe said the grapes used for Recioto are dried longer because they want sweeter grapes. They press the grapes in February when the sugar lever is high. The juice is removed and the fermentation is controlled by keeping a cold temperature. They need a cold temperature so the yeast remains dormant. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks for one year and 6 months in bottle before release.

This is a one of the best examples of Recioto I have ever tasted. It is very intense and complex with hints of violets, prunes, figs, black cherries and notes of hazelnut. The finish goes on and on and the aftertaste is fantastic.img_2418

They also make a wine from 100% Molinara called “Il Pellerossa.” It looks like a rose wine because the grape has low color extracts. It is produced in a very limited quanity.

In the past there were horses on the property.

We also tasted their olive oil which was very good

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Dinner with Andrea Sartori in Verona

One night, Tom Maresca, who was on the Anteprima Amarone tour in Verona with me, arranged for us to have dinner with Andrea Sartori, President of Sartori di Verona. We met Andrea on the way to Trattoria I Masenini, a restaurant I have never been to before. There were a number of other producers in the restaurant and I believe it is one of the city’s best. Tom and I know Andrea for a long time and I enjoyed our dinner conversation. We spoke about wine, people that we knew in the wine business, and had a very nice time.

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Andrea Sartori

Here is some background on the Sartori di Verona winery

The history of Andrea’s family’s involvement in wine goes back to 1898. As recently as 2002, they owned only 37 acres of vineyards and they purchased additional grapes from individual growers with long-term contracts.  This was not enough, however, since the average vineyard property in the Veneto is just 4.2 acres. Andrea was able to solve this problem by establishing a joint venture with the 800 member Cantina Colognola di Colli.  The Cantina received a small percentage of shares in Sartori, and in exchange Sartori acquired exclusive access to 5,681 acres of vineyards in the Soave and Valpolicella zone. With more mergers and acquisitions, the newly named Collis Veneto Wine Group now has over 3,000 members making it the third largest in Italy.

Andrea brought two wines to have with dinner.img_2517

I Saltari Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2011 made from 60% Corvina, 10% Rondinella 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The vineyards are in the Mezzane Valley on terraces and it is calcareous alkaline soil. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is transferred to various size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine has hints of violets and blackberries with a touch of cherry and leather. Both Andrea and I had the img_2519Faraona alla Mantovana, tortellini filled with guinea fowl, pine nuts and raisins. The wine matched it perfectly.img_2523

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico “Corte Brà” 2006 DOC. 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oselta. The grapes come from the Corte Brà vineyard in the hills north of Verona. The grapes for this wine are carefully selected, placed in small crates and dried in well-ventilated rooms with fans for 3 to 4 months. When optimal dryness is reached, a hand selection of the best grapes takes place and the grapes are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 30 days. The wine is transferred to traditional tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged in Slavonian oak casks and French tonneaux for about 4 years. It remains in the bottle for another 2 years before release. Franco wants to release the wine when he feels it is ready. This is a classic Amarone that will age.img_2521

Roast pork cook with crisp skin around every slice was a great complement to the wine.

Andrea said that he did not want to make jammy Amarone that tasted like dessert wine and did not go with food. Both of the wines we tasted had a good balance between fruit and acidity. He feels that all of his wines are food wines.

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Doctor Wine: The Cart before the Horse

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°194

The cart before the horse

by Daniele Cernilli 23-01-2017

When asked how he made his wine, a famous French producer replied: “Taste it first and then, if you like it, I’ll tell you”. His was a very reasonable position which gave preference to the organoleptic qualities of a wine before any ‘ideological’ one and is totally in line with credo of “Good, Clean and Correct” championed years ago by Slow Food’s ‘lider maximo’ Carlo Petrini. “Good” comes first and only after that the rest. However, too often there are some who forget this and say things that, quite frankly, are make little sense. For example, before even pouring a wine into a glass, a producer or salesman may say: “You know, it’s organic and we’re converting to bio-dynamic,” as if this is something that will help make an easier sale. What they seem to imply is that since it is organic, it has to be good and better than other wines that are not. Petrini would probably defined this as “putting the cart before the horse”. And this because while it is a good thing, in fact even important and full of merit, that a wine is the product of sustainable wine growing, what is more important is that the wine has those organoleptic qualities which make it enjoyable and pleasing. In other words, without the brettanomyces being mistaken for the characteristics of the terroir or the volatile acidity overshadowing the aromas that distinguish the varietal or blend. It is a question of enological consistency, one involving those pleasing organoleptic notes which make a wine recognizable and easy to place in its respective category. More precisely, it is an indispensable factor which takes preference over any other consideration. Everything else comes after and is part of the explanation a producer gives on how he was able to make such an interesting wine that so pleasingly represents where it was made. The bottom line is that factors like sustainable wine growing should not be reduced to being a simple sales ploy because this benefits no one and only creates confusion.

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Tom Maresca on the 2012 Brunello

Benvenuto, 2012 Brunello

https://ubriaco.wordpress.com/  Tom Maresca

I was unable to go to Montalcino this year for Benvenuto Brunello, the annual event showcasing Brunello’s new releases – this time around, the 2012 vintage. But I was lucky enough to have at least a truncated version of the event come to me: Approximately 50 producers (out of about 225) brought their wines to New York last week for a very illuminating presentation.
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signage

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The major part of the event consisted of stand-up tastings at tables set up on the broad ground floor of Gotham Hall, plus two upstairs seminar-style presentations – the earlier one of older Brunello vintages and the later a presentation of the 2012 vintage as exemplified by wineries from differing parts of the zone. I was very curious about that aspect of the vintage, because the Brunello zone, though relatively compact (a rough square bounded by three rivers) possesses highly diverse soils and at least two distinct climate zones, sharply separated by the ridge that divides the square into northwestern and southeastern triangles.

So I booked myself into the second seminar and arrived well in advance of it so I could do some serious tasting at the tables before the event got crowded and turned into a rugby scrum, which it almost always does.
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the-scrum

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I’m getting a little old for those sorts of contact sports, and I find it difficult enough to hold a wine in one hand and take notes with the other while standing up and trying to get access to the spit bucket (why does someone always plant him/herself right in front of the spit bucket?) and ask the attending producer some intelligent (I hope) questions about the vintage.

I tasted what I could – about 10 wines – before heading upstairs to the seminar. Preliminary conclusion: a good vintage, but probably not a great one, though with a long-aging wine like Brunello, that has got to be a very provisional judgment. The Brunello consorzio has awarded 2012 five stars (out of five), but the consorzio is always – let us say, optimistic – about the caliber of its vintages.

Certainly, one characteristic that leaped out at me from all the wines I had thus far tasted: 2012 was a very high-acid vintage. That has two consequences: These Brunellos would really need food to show their best, and they might live forever, since acidity is what keeps a wine – especially a Sangiovese wine – alive. Acidity is the element that makes a wine food-friendly and structures it for long life.

Thus provisionally enlightened, I made my way to the seminar, which featured examples of 2012 Brunello from Castelgiocondo, Collosorbo, La Magia, Le Macioche, Loacker Corte Pavone, Pian delle Querci, and Talenti, plus one 2011 Brunello Riserva Poggio alle Mura from Banfi. The areas represented included the center-west of the Brunello zone (Castelgiocondo), the extreme north of the zone (Pian delle Querci), the center-east (Le Macioche), and several spots in the south, ranging from near Castelnuovo dell’Abate (Collosorbo) westward past Sant’Angelo in Colle (Talenti) and southward toward Sant’Angelo Scalo (Banfi). Just for a reference point for Brunello buffs, the fabled Biondi Santi is located fairly centrally, just a short distance southeast of Montalcino.
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brunello-map

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2012 seems to have been an agronomist’s and winemaker’s nightmare for most of the growing season. The Brunello zone, south of Siena, is normally drier and hotter than the Chianti Classico zone north of Siena. I can vouch from personal experience that hot in Montalcino can be really torrid. The zone depends on water reserves built up in the soil by winter snows, and the winter of 2011-12 didn’t provide many of those. There was some rain while the vines were flowering, which wound up reducing the crop by about a third of average size. Then it got dry again, with a very hot July and August. In late August, very good weather arrived and saved the season, so after a great deal of anxiety, the growers wound up pretty happy with the grapes they picked.

Though the selection of wines at this seminar was intended to show some of the differences of Brunello’s several soils and microclimates, that wasn’t the thing that struck me most forcefully about the tasting. There was a pretty good level of quality in all the wines, with a lot of fruit, all marked by very high acidity – but after that, what stood out for me was the extraordinary diversity of styles. A few wines were very traditional and tasted like classic Brunello, but most were all over the place, with differing degrees of international inflection, mostly shown by the use of new barriques, or with a market-appeal emphasis on big, up-front fruit and heavy extraction.
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seminar-1a

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Each of these styles will have its fans, of course, but my regular readers can guess where my heart is: I loved the classic Brunellos. Talenti for me was the stand-out wine of the seminar, followed by Pian delle Querci. In the broader tasting, I was struck by Col d’Orcia – always elegant – and by Banfi’s basic 2012 and especially its Poggio alle Mure 2012. It’s pleasantly ironic that Banfi, once seen as the disruptive modernist in the zone, now seems a pillar of traditional Brunello.

Probably in more climatically ideal vintages, like 2010, soils and microclimates loom larger in Brunello, but in vintages like 2012, where active field and cellar work seemed absolutely necessary, the agronomists’ and winemakers’ choices seem to create the greatest distinctions among the wines. What that means is that buyers have to taste at least a few Brunellos to find the style they like: Critics’ judgments and generalizations – and I include mine – will be no help.

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Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese

The Simply Italian Wine Tour that is held in NYC is an opportunity for me to taste and learn about wines from all over Italy.img_1647

The seminar that I attended was “Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese, Journey into Native Italian Varietals.”

These two grape varieties do not get the attention they deserve. The seminar was hosted by Filiberto Mazzanti, Director at Consorzio Vini di Romagna and Giammario Villa, Giammario Villa Wine Selections.img_1656

Filiberto said that the Consorzio has 104 winemaking producers, 7 cooperative wineries and 5 bottling companies. It provides producers with legal assistance, protection of the denomination and protection of DOCG, DOC and IGt Romagna wines.

Romagna is the eastern half of Emilia Romagna in the center of Italy between Tuscany and the Adriatic Sea.

Albana, this white grape may have been introduced into Romagna by the ancient Romans. Albana refers to the color of the grapes, Albus, white in Latin. The grape produces sparkling wine (spumante,) dry wines (secco), medium–sweet (amabile) and a dessert wine passito.

Albana was the first white wine to receive the DOCG in 1987.img_1657

Romagna Albana DOCG “Frangipane” 2015 100% Albana Tenuta La Viola The vineyard is at 200 meters and the exposure is west. There is an early harvesting of the grapes. Alcoholic fermentation takes place without the skins at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the fine lees for 5 months. The wine is crisp with good acidity.img_1660

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Sette Note” 2015 Poderi Morini 100% Albana. Fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine is aged in steel tanks and in bottle for 5 months before release. The wine has hints of hawthorn, yellow flowers and white peach.img_1659

Romagna Albana DOCG “Secco Progetto 1” 2015 Leone Conti 100% Albana from the Faenza Hills, Santa Lucia. The grapes are harvested slightly overripe. Cold fermentation takes place in steel tanks and the wine is aged for 7 months in steel tanks. The wine has hints of peaches, apricot, citrus and honey. $12img_1658

Romagna Albana DOCG “Albano Secco” 2015 Cantina Sociale Di Cesena-Tenuta Amalia100% Albana from the hills of Cesena and Bertinoro. Soft pressing is followed by low temperature fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 15 days. Fining in stainless steel tanks for 4 months. The wine has hints of ripe peach, butterscotch and almonds.

Sangiovese has been produced in Romagna since the 17th century. Recent discoveries suggest that Sangiovese is of pre-Greek origin and may be a native vine of Romagna.

Sangiovese in Latin means “the blood of Jove” (Jupiter) and the reason for the name is open to interpretation. It may have gotten it name from a commune of monks from Rimini, in Romagna. Sangiovese is the most planted grape variety in Italy.

There is genetic evidence that more than 2,000 years ago grapes of “Sangiovese” were already used by the Etruscans for wine production.

They produce Novello, a basic Sangiovese, Sangiovese Superiore and a Sangiovese Riserva. The wines differ by alcohol content and aging. img_1653

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOP “Caciara” 2015 Enio Ottaviani 100% Sangiovese from San Clemente. Fermentation takes place in concrete vats and the wine is aged in big barrels for 6 months. This was pure Sangiovese with hints of cherry and violets.img_1651

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore DOC 2015 Azienda Agricola San Valentino 100% Sangiovese from vineyards southwest of Rimini. Fermentation is in both stainless and concrete tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged for 8 months is 500 liter French oak casks, mostly second passage. The wine has hints of raspberries and plum with notes of leather and licorice.img_1652

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOCAmarcord d’un Ross” 2013 Trere 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Faenza. Harvest takes place at the end of September. Vinification: in stainless steel vats for 2 months. The wine is aged in French oak barrels of 225 liters for 12 months and 6 months in bottle before release. It has hints of wild berries, cherries, a hint of spice and a touch of toast. $20img_1654

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva DOC “Olmatello’ 2013 Podere La Berta made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Brisighella. Selected grapes are pressed and crushed. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration on the skins is for 12 to 18 days with daily pumping over. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. In March/April the wine is transferred to 225 liter new and used oak barrels where it remains for about 24 months. The wine is aged for 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red and black berries, spice and a light toastiness. $35img_1650

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Bertinoro DOC Baron & Ruseval 2013 Celli made from 100% Sangiovese from vineyards in Bertinoro. Fermentation is in steel where the wine remains for 6 months on the lees. The wine is aged for 1 year in French barriques, with a middle toasting and 2 years in bottle before release. The wine has hints of strawberry and cherry with floral notes and touch of balsamic. $35 img_1649

Romagna Sangiovese Superiore Riserva Marzeno DOC Pietramora 2013 Fattoria Zerbina 98% Sangovese and 2% Ancellotta from vineyards in the Marzeno Valley. Fermentation is for two weeks, 50% in barrels and 50% in stainless steel. Punching down takes place twice a day then reduced to once a day and pumping over for one week. The wine has hints of cherry and strawberry with touches of tobacco and oak spice. $44.99

 

 

 

 

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