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Krug Clos des Mesnil 1988. Barolo and Pizza

Ed “Champagne” Mc Carthy, author of Champagne for Dummies, was planning a Champagne and pizza meeting at Keste Wall St.  He said that he would bring an old and very expensive bottle of Krug Champagne and he asked me to bring an Italian red wine. I brought my most expensive and oldest



Champagne Krug du Mesnil 1988 Brut Blanc de Blancs is a very rare Champagne because it is made from a single plot of Chardonnay harvested in a single year. This 1.84-hectare (4.5 acre) vineyard overlooked by the village church has been protected by a wall since 1698. The vineyard is located in the heart of Mesnil-sur-Oger, one of the most iconic villages for Chardonnay in the Champagne region.

This champagne is generous and round with hints of citrus, dried fruit, brioche, tart tatin and a note of honey. It lingers on the palate with a long finish and notes of honey ginger. The first vintage was 1979. 

This is the e-mail Ed sent to me about the Champagne he was bringing.

In 1698, residents of the small village of Le Mesnil-sur-Oger (in the section of Champagne known as the Cote des Blancs, where most of the great Blanc de Blancs Champagnes are made, from 100 percent Chardonnay) decided to build a wall around a certain section of Chardonnay vines in their village, because the Chardonnay grapes grown there were so special. Called Clos du Mesnil, It became one of the only Walled Vineyards in the Champagne region; only about 3 or 4 Walled vineyards exist today in Champagne.

In 1971, Champagne Krug, which was using Clos des Mesnil for some of its Chardonnay grapes in its NV Grand Cuvée (then called Private Cuvée), decided to buy the Clos du Mesnil Vineyard, and in 1979, produced its first Krug Clos du Mesnil. it proved to be sensational, and Krug has been making a Krug Clos du Mesnil in every good vintage since.

I have purchased Krug Clos du Mesnil in only a few vintages, because it has always been about three times the price of Vintage Krug. I have been saving my 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil (which I purchased with a Vintage 1988 Krug about 20 years ago; Krug ages its Clos du Mesnil usually for about 11 years (!) before they release it).  The 1988 Krug Clos du Mesnil is now priced at $3175—if you can find it. I am not getting any younger, and so I decided it’s time to drink it with a few friends.

My only answer was WOW!!!!

IMG_7229Pizza Margherita with Prosciutto and Arugula

IMG_7233Pizza with Fresh Black Truffles


Conterno Francia Barolo 1996 made from 100% Nebbiolo from the Cascina Francia Vineyard which was purchased in 1974. The vineyards are at 500 meters and the training system is guyot. The exposure is to the west and the soil is calcareous. There is long submerged cap maceration and fermentation in large Austrian oak vats, followed by long refinement in large barrels (botti) for about 4 years and in bottle. This is a very traditional Barolo. It is a rich, powerful and seductive wine with hints of cherry, dried fruits, dark chocolate and leather. It was very impressive.


IMG_7238Dessert Pizza stuffed with Nutella and topped with Berries


Roberto’s special Tiramisu

Michele and I felt privileged to enjoy these great wines. Thank you, Ed McCarthy, for sharing the Champagnes with us and to Ernie De Salvo, who gave me the Barolo.

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Marina Colonna Olive Oli

I was at a Chianti Classico tasting in NYC when I ran into Michael Schaefer, a fellow wine writer. I have known Michael for some time and first met him in Udine where we spent time  together as judges at a Pinot Grigio event. I told him I was going to Rome in a few days and he suggested I meet a friend of his in Rome, Marina Colonna.  Marina is an olive oil producer in Molise and I told him that Michele and I would be interested to meet her.

IMG_6953We contacted Marina when we arrived in Rome and she invited us over an aperitif.  Her apartment was only a few minutes from where we were staying.

IMG_6949Marina was very charming and offered us a tasting of several of the olives that she produces.

IMG_6948Next we had assorted crostini topped with the olive pastes and preserved tomatoes that she also produces.  They were all good, the kind of thing that are a pleasure to have on hand for a quick meal or snacks.

IMG_6950Prosecco Numero Primo Brut made from 100% Glera  Francesca Dorigo.  It has hints of citrus fruit, pear and green apples with a note of wisteria.  This was a light and fresh accompaniment to the appetizers.

Marina told us that the Colonna family is a very old noble family that traces its roots back to 1195. They continued to play a large part in the ecclesiastical, cultural, political, military and civic life of Rome over the centuries.  Her Estate,  Masseria Bosco Pontoni, is near San Martino in  Pensilis, Molise and  the roots of the property go back to the 1800’s. 

IMG_7204The estate is 160 hectares of which 55 are covered with olive groves. 16 different olive varieties are grown, including the typical regional ones that produce the DPO Molise olive oil.

Marina inherited the farm in 1996 from her father, Francesco Colonna, and Marina’s Colonna’s extra virgin olive oil was born.

IMG_7201Molensis XXV – Limited Edition Extra Vigin Olive Oil

Marina explained that this extra virgin olive oil was a limited addition to  celebrate her 25 years of commitment to her estate in Molise and Molensis is the Latin word to define the region. It is a blend of  the 3 best varieties from the Colonna groves. Marina said the bouquet is herbaceous with a  note of vegetables, green tomatoes and artichoke. On the palate it is pleasant, medium fruity with hints of unripe almonds and a grassy aftertaste with balanced bitter and pungent notes which make it an ideal and versatile olive oil. It is bottled in the patented Amphora bottle.  At $39 it is her most expensive olive oil but worth the money.  It is one of the best and most complex olive oils I have ever tasted. We are enjoying it as a finishing oil on pasta and vegetable dishes, or simply drizzled on toasted bread.

All of the Marina Colonna products are available at William Sonoma and are worth seeking out.

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Tasting Chianti Classico

Before I left for Rome in March, I went to a Chianti Classico Consortium walk around tasting. There  were more than 60 producers presenting their wines. I attended a seminar entitled Chianti Classico UGA “No wine is an Island.” It featured 11 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione wines representing the nine UGA villages (see link above). After this interesting and informative seminar I was able to taste some of the wines.



Giulia Cecchi

Chianti Classico Villa Rosa Gran Selezione 2016 Cecchi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 340 meters in Castellina in Chianti. The soil is calcareous clay characterized by heterogeneous profiles that combine “alberese” limestone with marl slate. There are 4,800 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Traditional temperature controlled vinification on the skins and fermentation and maceration lasts for 22 days. The wine ages for 15 months in tonneaux and 3 months in concrete and then a minimum of one year in bottle before release. The wine has floral hints, a touch of spice, anddelicate note of red fruit. I have been enjoying the wines from Cecchi for many years.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 Villa Cerna Cecchi made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino. The vineyards are at 280 meters, the soil is alkaline with stones. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Traditional temperature fermentation on the skins. Fermentation and maceration lasts for 15 days. The wine ages for 14 months in barriques and barrels of medium capacity and spends a minimum of 9 months in barrel before release. It is produced only in the best vintages. The wine has floral aromas with hints of red cherry, forest berries and a note of toasted almond.

IMG_6908Margherita Manetti

Chianti Classico Filetta di Lamole 2018 Fontodi made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyard is at 620 meters and the soil is sandy. The wine has hints of cherry, plum, spice and a note of cranberries.


Alex Pagano – Enoclassica Selections

Chianti Classico Tagliafune Riserva Villa Montepaldi made from 80% Sangiovese, 5% Cabernet, 5% Alicante and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place from mid September to early October. Maturation takes place in wooden vats for at least 21 months. The wine has hints of dark berries, dried black cherries and a hint of spice. This renaissance property, once owned by Leonardo Medici, with its 300 hectares of vineyards and olive groves is also owned by the University of Florence and doubles as a field station for the Oenology department. It is run as a non-profit organization and therefore the wines are a good value. This was the first time I tasted this wine and I was very impressed with it.

IMG_6900Chianti Classico 2019 Castello La Leccia made from 100% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at 350 to 500 meters, soil is clay, silt sand, schistous clay and alberese. There are 4,500/ 5,200 vines per hectare and the vines are 9 to 15 years old. There is a south/southwest exposure and the training system is guyot. Harvest is manual in September/October and there is a selection in the vineyard. Destemmed grapes are gently crushed and transferred to steel thanks which are temperature controlled. There is a pre-fermentation cryomaceration for 24 hours followed by the alcoholic fermentation with short and frequent pumping over. Maceration lasts for 10 to 12 days. After racking, malolactic fermentation and maturation takes place in concrete tanks. The wine remains for 12 months in French and Austrian oak barrels of 2,000 to 2,500 liters. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherry, and violets.


Elena Ercole – Export Manager

Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. 2019 Castello Di Radda made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% other grapes. The vineyards are at 400 meters with a southeast and southwest exposure. The soil has a clay and limestone structure with a good presence of silica skeleton. Harvest is by hand and then sorted in the cellar. Fermentation is in stainless steel thermo-conditioned 50hl and 100hl vats, followed by maceration on the skins for two to three weeks. Malolactic fermentation is carried out in both stainless steel and wood. Part of the wine is aged in tonneaux and part in 20hl Slavonian oak barrels. The wine then remains in the bottle for at least 6 months before release. The wine has hints of violet, ripe plum, cherries and blackberries.

IMG_6901Bibbiano Chianti Classico Riserva 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese. The production area is Bibbiano and Castellina in Chianti from all the vineyards of the estate (25 hectares) from both the southwest and northeast slopes. The soil is calcareous-clay mixed with (limestone based) alberese rock. This wine represents the territorial characteristics of the estate since it is produced from Sangiovese grapes grown on both sides of the estate with the addition of a small amount of Colorino. Havesting of the Sangiovese began on September 20th and Colorino a few days later. The vinification takes place in cement vats and fermentation on the skins lasts for 18 days. There is a further stage of maturation while the wine is still in the cement vats, followed by a 3 months refining period in the bottle. This is a very well balanced wine with fruity hints of cherry and prune and a touch of violets. 

IMG_6886 2Chianti Classico 2016 Grand Seclezione Volpaia Made from 95% Sangiovese and 5%  Mammal vines planted 1972-2004. Light soil consisting of sandstone except for the Castellino and Santa Maria vineyards, which have clay and Montanino which is sandstone and clay. Vineyards are on slopes 397 /570 meters and the exposure is southern. There are 2,564 to 5,683 wines/hectares and the training system is guyot. The wine is aged in barriques of French oak of first and second passage  for 18 months  and in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of red berries, cherry, mint, a touch of licorice and a note of vanilla.

IMG_6891 2Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 3% Colorino and 2% Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The soil is sandstone content with limestone. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. Fermentation lasts for 15 days with prefermentation maceration lasting 3 days in temperature controlled truncated-cone vats with indigenous yeasts.  Delestage and pumping over lasts for 22 days. The wine is aged in 38 HL French oak barrels for 18 months. The wine has hints of black cherry, cassis, coffee, tobacco and a note of violets. 

 I have a long history with Monsanto going back almost 40 years and the wonderful 1977 vintage.

IMG_6896Chianti Classico Badia a Colibuono 2011 90% Sangiovese 10% Colorino and 5% Ciliegiolo. The vineyards are at 250/330 meters and the soil in clay loam and limestone rock. The training system is guyot and the wines are 6 to 30 years old. There are 5,000 to 7,300 vines per hectare. Indigenous yeast from grapes with a starter. Spontaneous malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. There is a light gelatin fining and a membrane filtration. The wine is aged in 2,000 to 2,500 liter French and Austrian oak casks for about 12 months. Then aged in bottle for about 3 months before release. The winery has been organic since 1995. The wine has hints strawberry and raspberry with good acidity, a note of violet and a touch of sunshine on the Tuscan pines. I have been drinking this Chianti Classico since the 1978 vintage.

IMG_6892 2Principe Corsini Villa Le Corti Don Tommaso  2016 Gran Selezione. Made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. The vineyard is at 270 to 350 meters and the soil is loamy stone content with limestone. Fermentation is in open, frustum cone-shaped stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature for 14 days and after 24 hours at 20C the grapes are inoculated with selected indigenous yeast. Skin contact is for 10 days and punch down and delestage is in stainless steel. The wine ages for 16 months mainly in tonneaux of 500 to 700 liters. The wine has hints of black cherry, cassis, coffee, tobacco and a note of vanilla.

IMG_6902Banfi Tuscany Chianti Classico Riserva 2017 made from Sangiovese Canaiolo Nero and Cabernet Sauvignon. The soil is calcareous and well structured. The alcoholic fermentation takes place with a medium period of maceration. Aging for two years of which a minimum of 12 months is in Slavonian oak barrels. The wine is then aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This wine has hints of cherries, plums and iris with a note of leather.

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Doctor Wine on Wine

It is always a pleasure to hear Daniele Cernilli, aka DoctorWine speak about wine.

IMG_6917This Z00M webinar included 5 white wines, four red wines and one dessert wine. Representatives  from the wineries were present and added comments.  

The White Wine

IMG_6914Zorutti (Friuli) Venezia Giulia DOP Collio 2020 made from 100% Pinot Grigio. The training system is traditional Friuli single inverted. There are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is the first week of September when the grapes are perfectly ripe. Part of the destemmmed crushed grapes are gently pressed, the rest undergo cryomaceration at 4C for 36 hours. A fermentation started 3 to 4 days earlier from the best grapes of the same variety, is added. The must ferments slowly in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature (16C) for 30 to 40 days. Aging in stainless steel vats where a lengthy series of batonage is carried out, gradually reducing the intervals to produce a complex, structured wine with a delicate bouquet. The wine is bottled in February. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, green apple and good acidity.

Coldigrotta (Friuli Venezia Giulia) Collio Pinot Grigio 2018 made from 100% Pinot Grigio. The production zone is Ferra d’Isonzo (Gorizia). The vineyard is at 80 meters and the soil is marl and sandstone of oceanic origin. The training system is guyot and the plants are 30 years old. Harvest is the first and third weeks of September by hand. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature with selected yeasts for 7 to 12 days. There is one night of maceration. The wine remains for 3 months on the lees and there is a partial malolactic fermentation. The wine is in bottle for 2 months before release. This is an elegant fruity wine with a note of white flowers.

Isola Augusta (FVG) Friuli Friulano 2018  made from 100% Friulano. Vineyard location Palazzolo dello Stella, Udine. The soil is clay silt and sand and the training system is guyot. There are 4,900 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place at the end of August. The wine is fruity and floral with a note of almonds in the aftertaste.

Cincinnato (Lazio) IGT Bellono “Quinto” 2020 made from 100% Bellone. Located on the lavic hills in the territory of Cori at 200/250 meters. The soil is volcanic clayey. There is a row training system with about 3,000 to 4,000 vines per hectare. Harvest takes place from the 10 to 15 of September. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and destemming followed by static decantation for 24 hours and then fermentation at a cold temperature for 10 days. The wine is in contact with the lees for ten months and malolactic fermentation does not occur. Aging is in stainless steel tanks for 6 months and in bottle for another 6 months before release. The wine has hints of yellow peach, citrus fruit and  mineral notes. It is a wine that should be drunk young. 

A few years ago I was invited on a press trip to visit the Cincinnato winery in Cori and was very impressed with the wines. Giovanna Trisorio the sales and marketing director took me on a tour of the winery and I tasted wines made from the Bellone and Nero Buno grapes. Giovanna was part of the Zoom event and it was great to speak to her again about the wines of Cincinnato.

Marsia Cuomo (Campana) Furore Bianco “Fiorduva” 2018 made from 30% Fenile, 30% Ginestra and 40% Ripoli. Vineyards are on costal terraces at 22/550 meters with a southern exposure. The soil is Dolomitic limestone rock. Training system is pergola and/or espalier. There are 5,000/7,000 vines per hectare. Hand harvest takes place the last 10 days of October.  The hand picked overripe grapes are brought into the cellar whole. After a soft pressing the grape must, which undergoes cold static fining and is inoculated with selected yeasts, the wine ferments at a controlled temperature for about 3 months in barriques.  The wine spends 4 months in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled. It has hints of apricots, tropical fruit, candied fruit and flowers. I have enjoyed the wines of Marisa Cuomo for many years. 

I have tried to visit the winery a few times but somehow it never worked out. The last time I tried was on a press trip for “Campania Stories” and there was a landslide blocking the road.

Tenuta IL Palazzo Piemonte Chardonnay DOC “Sharelè”  2016 made from 100% Chardonnay from an old vineyard in the heart  of Acqui Terme. The vineyard is at 350 meters with a south and south/southeast exposure and in a small part also southwest. The training system is guyot. Harvest takes place when the grapes reach full and complete maturation. The date varies between the last 10 days in August and the first 10 days of September. Harvest is manual. The wine has notes of white flowers, acacia and orange with hints of citrus fruit, peach and a touch of vanilla.

IMG_6921The Red Wine and Dessert Wine

La Casaccia (Piedmont) Barbera del Monferrato DOC “Gianni.”  Made from 100% Barbera from Cella Monte, Monferrato. The vineyard is at 300 meters and the exposure is southwest. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot.  The winery is organic certified since 2000. Harvest is manual when the grapes reach perfect maturity and there is a careful selection of grapes. Fermentation with the skins for 10/15 days. Only the free run juice is used. The wine is aged in steel tanks and bottled after malolactic fermentation. This wine has hints of ripe red fruit, cherry and nice acidity.

Azienda Agricola Ricchi Garda Cabernet DOC Lake Garda “Ribo” 2019.  Made from 75% Cabernet Franc and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon. The vineyard is at 30 to 229 meters and there are 4,000 /4,500 plants per hectare and the exposure is northwest. Soil composition is Morenic: stony permeable, well ventilated substratum. The training system is guyot cordon speronato. Harvest is by hand from the last week of September to the first week of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Maceration is for a long period with frequent pumping over. Aging is in tonneaux for 12 months and in bottle for at least 10 months before release. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, spice, tobacco and leather.

Pitticco (FVG) Colli Orientali Rosso “Migale” 2019 made from Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso, Schioppettino, and Tazzelenghe (cut your tongue). The Vineyard is on terraced hills facing southeast. The soil is white clay marlstone called “Ponca” and there are 6,700 plants per hectare. Harvest is manual. Aging is in French wooden barrels for 18 /20 months followed by a period of aging in bottle. The wine has hints of red currents and spice. The wine’s name comes from the first two letters of Sergio Pitticco’s children: Michele, Gaia and Leonardo. This is a big and elegant wine with a good balance between acidity and tannins. The wine has hints of licorice, red currants and spice. 

Dessert Wine

Tenuta Prosit (Sicily) Pantelleria Passito  DOC “Sciaghibìr” 2017 made from 100% Zibibbo. The wine has hints of honey, dry figs, apricot jam and spices.

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Lugana — the Wine of Lake Garda

It is aways a pleasure to attend a tasting and lunch at Il Gattopardo organized by Susannah Gold. This time is was Lugana wines and Susannah was the speaker. IMG_6805

Lugana comes from an area that is on the border between the two provinces of Brescia and Verona and the DOC region stretches along an area south of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. The word Lugana may come from the early medieval word “lucus” meaning wood. In the past the area was covered by the Selva Lucana, a dense, marshy forest. Today the area is characterized by a very particular soil. The soil is white clay and limestone and difficult to till. This, however, gives the grapes here an extraordinary elegance and tanginess. 

Lugana wine can be described as being fresh with body and a good balance between sweetness and acidity. Lugana is made from the Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, and may be related to Verdicchio.  There are 5 different styles of Lugana from sparkling to late harvest.  The wine sells at a good price around $20 a bottle. Lugana goes best with white meats or fish. Try it with sushi.

Lake Garda is one of my favorite Italian lakes and in summer 90% of the tourists are German.  The biggest market for Lugana is Germany.

Lugana Wines

IMG_6814We started with Sguardi di Terra Spumante Brut Lugana Metedo Classico “Inlàri” DOC NV made from 100% Turbiana. Grapes are grown organically. Hand harvested. Traditional winemaking method 15 months in the bottle on the lees. Hand harvested. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fruit and brioche.

IMG_6809First CourseCasoncelli Tradizionali di Burro e Salvia

IMG_6807Citari Lugana Sorgente 2020 made from 100% Turbiana. The soil is moraine with calcareous clay combinations and rich in mineral salts. There are 5,800 wines per hectare. Harvest from young vines takes place the last week of September. The grapes are picked manually into boxes, two rounds. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine ages for 7 months of which 6 is on the lees.

IMG_6808La Meridiana Lugana 2020 DOC (BIO) 100% Turbiana from a 4 hectare property located in Desenzano at 80 meters. The exposure is southeast, the training system is guyot and the soil is clay. Grapes are hand- picked then a soft pressing and fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 4 months. This is a well balanced wine with hints of white flower, citrus fruit, and a touch of almond with nice minerality.

Second Course

IMG_6812Capù ripieni di Carne in salsa al pomodoro

IMG_6820Tenuta Roveglia “Limne” 2020 100% Turbiana grapes from vines 25/35 years old grown spots of Lake Garda at 100 meters. The land is flat and the soil is a mix of mainly clay with some limestone and rich in mineral salts. Harvest is at the end of September by hand in small crates. Vinification without the skins, a soft pressing of the grapes with extraction of a maximum of 60% free run juice. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks for 4 to 5 months. The wine is sold after 2 to 3 months in bottle.

IMG_6818Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2019 made from 100% Turbiana. The training system is single bow. The must is obtained with a slow grade pressing of the whole grapes fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts. The wine is kept on the lees for about 4 months until it is ready to be blended and put on the market after it has been in bottle for one month. The wine has pear, peach and a touch of spice and floral notes good acidity.

IMG_6817Zeni Lugana DOC Vigne Alte 2019 made from 100% Trebbiano from the southern shore of Lake Garda. Hand selection of grape bunches that have reached optimum ripeness at harvest. Maceration is on the skins followed by a gentle pressing and must fermentation at a controlled temperature. Aging is in stainless steel vats. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach and pear.

Third Course

IMG_6822Trota del Garda in Carpione

IMG_6821Seiterre Lugana Superior 2018 Lugana Superiore DOC made from 100% Turbiana di Lugana. The soil is clay and limestone. Grapes are harvested by hand 10 to 15 days after the usual harvesting period. Gentle pressing follows and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is then aged in barrel or barriques.  It has hints of citrus fruit, ripe apple and a touch of spice and a note of minerality.

IMG_6819Zenato Riserva 2016 made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from the oldest vineyards, the 13 hectare Podere Masson vineyard at 165 ft with a southeastern/southern exposure. The soil is clay-loam, and the training system is guyot. There are 1,440 plants per hectare planted in 1994. Fermentation takes place in barrels for 21 days. Malolactic fermentation does take place. The wine is aged in 54 HL barrels of French oak one year old for 8 months. The wine is in bottle for 12 months before release. Residual sugar 6.4 g/l. The wine has floral notes, with hints of stone fruit, a touch of vanilla and a drop of honey.

IMG_6825Tenuta Roveglia Lugana late harvest  DOC Filo di Arianna (Ariadne’s thread) 2017 made from 100% Turbiana from vineyard south of Lake Garda at 100 Meters. The terrain is flat with clayey calcareous soil rich in mineral salts. The age of the vines is over 55 years. Harvest is the second week of November,  a late harvest by hand in small crates. The wine is soft pressed with a maximum extraction of 50% of free run must. The wine is aged in 30 hl barrels. In January/February of the third year following the harvest the wine is marketed after about 6 months in bottle. Dry extract is 39g/l. The wine has hints of exotic fruit, pineapple, toasted almonds and minerality.

IMG_6824Cobue 31 October 2019 made from 100% Turbiana coming from vineyard Campo Lugana, the vines are 8 years old. The soil is calcareous and clayey and the training system is guyot. There are 4,500 grapes per hectare. Fermentation is in steel tanks. 70% of the wine is in steel for 12 months and 30% in barriques for 9 months and one year in bottle before release. This is a pure late harvest dessert wine, made from grapes picked when overripe on October 31st.  It is produced only in years when it is possible. Residual sugar is 68 g/l.


IMG_6823La Torta del Paradiso

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The Wines of Albino Armani

I was first introduced to the wines of Albino Armani at a dinner several years.  The dinner was hosted by the very interesting and knowledge Egle Capilupi, wife of Albino Armani.  For the first time, I tasted wines from the Casetta grape, known in the local dialect as Foja Tonda (round leaf grape), an ancient variety cultivated in Valdadige, between the Veneto and Trentino.  Until the 1980’s, the variety was on its way to extinction until it was rediscovered by Albino Armani. I have enjoyed all of their wines ever since.

Recently, Susannah Gold, a well respected wine professional, organized a Webinar event with the wines of Albino Armani. It was called Albino Armani Valentine’s Day Webinar. The speaker was Albano Armani himself and I was happy to take part. 

The family has been farming in this area since 1607.  They have 5 wine cellars in 3 different regions in Northeastern Italy in what is known as the “Trivento”:  Friuli, Veneto and Trentino, all overseen by Albino, his wife Egle and their son Federico.

While they produce many excellent wines, Pinot Grigio has always been a grape of great interest to Albino who is a Pinot Grigio specialist. He feels that the “Trivento” is the best place to grow Pinot Grigio because of the climate and the soil. They do not use artificial pesticides or chemicals. Their Pinot Grigio is now part of a project on indigenous yeast undertaken with a local research institute where only the best strains are selected, tested and used. The indigenous yeasts which have long thrived in the vineyard’s climate conditions, continue to produce wines that embody the flavor profile of the territory.  Albino feels that because this area is so close to the Alps, climate change has not been a problem. In his Pinot Grigio Albino likes to keep the acidity higher than the PH. Since 2016 Albino has been Chairman of the Consorzio Delle Venezie DOC so his name is linked with Pinot Grigio in more ways than one.

IMG_6741Prosecco Rosé DOC Extra Dry Millesimo NV made from 90% Glera and 10% Pinot Noir. The production area is Alta Grave Friulana and the training system is Guyot. When the cuveé is ready a long second fermentation takes place in pressure tanks ( Charmat method) for at least 60 days in order to obtain a more refined perlage and complex aromas from the Pinot Noir. This is a fruit forward wine with hints of lilacs, strawberry and raspberry. $16

IMG_6742Pinot Grigio Friuli Grave DOC 2020 The soil composition is loose and well aired and composed of typical calcareous white river stones dragged down by the flooding of the alpine brooks. The training system is Guyot. Fermentation and maturation is in stainless steel tanks in contact with the grapes’ own yeasts until the wine is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus, pears, apples and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste with good minerality. $13

IMG_6743Pinot Grigio “Colle Ara” Valdadige Terradeiforti DOC 2020 made from 100% Pinot Grigio from selected grapes cultivated on ancient  terraces that are perfectly exposed to the late afternoon sun in the southern part of Valdadige in the Veneto. The vineyards are at 230 meters and are in the National Park of Messina. The soil is rich in glacier debris and is mainly calcareous. The training system is guyot. The grapes are soft pressed and cold maceration takes place with the skins for one night.  Maturation in contact with the grapes’ yeasts in stainless steel tanks and partially in wood until the wine is bottled. Albino Armani said, “On the nose the wine offers fruity notes with scents of pomegranate and peach. On the palate it is smooth and persistent, with a pleasant sapidity which is typical of the wines springing from the valley.” The pink Pinot Grigio grapes are cold macerated with the skins, giving the wine a good structure and a sophisticated ‘gold rose color’ known as Ramato. He also explained that the juice of the Pinot Nero grape is white but the skins are pink and his grandfather sold the wine as a Rosé. The wine has hints of yellow fruit, peach and pomegranate with nice minerality and good acidity.  $22

IMG_6744Valpolicella Ripasso DOC Classico Superiore 2018 made from Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella from high hills in the Valpolicella Classico production area at 300/500 meters.  The soil is calcareous deposits on volcanic rock. The training system is traditional pergola Veronese on stone wall terraces, called marogne in local dialect. The fresh Valpolicella wine is poured over the Amazon pomace that is still full of un-fermented sugars and aromatic compounds that start a second fermentation. Then punching down the cap takes place and also some delestage until the complete depletion of the sugar content making the new wine rich and sweet in structure with sweet tannins. The wine is aged in oak barrels. The wine has hints of cherry and other red fruits with a touch of chocolate and a note of coffee. $20

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Filed under Albino Armani wine, Pinot Grigio, Prosecco, Uncategorized

Puglia in Rosé and Primitivo

I first met Caterina Baldini, Co-founder and project manager of Associazione Puglia in Rosé and Lucia Lettis, Co-founder of Associazione Puglia in Rose’ and Technical Director, at a Puglia in Rosé Master Class at the Leopard at Des Artistes in Manhattan a few months ago. Lucia spoke about the association and Caterina spoke about the region of Puglia. This Monday they invited me to a Zoom tasting of 6 wines, four were rosato and two were primitivo.  Caterina was the very well-informed host and, since I was the only guest, we were able to have a one-on-one conversation about Puglia.

IMG_6719Caterina said the producers’ association purpose is to promote the Apulian Rose’ Wine Brand in the USA and the world. Apulia is the largest producer of rosé wine in Italy with a 44% share. She said that they would like the producers to put Rosato on the label so the wine will be recognized as Italian, but some producer still use Rosé. Apulia Rosato comes in made shades from light pink to light red.

The Rosato

IMG_6715Puglia Rosato IGP “Maglida” 2020 Cantine Barsento made from Malvasia and Negroamaro. The soil is clay and limestone.There is are selection of the grapes at harvest. Fermentation takes place at a low temperature in stainless steel tanks.  Maceration on the skins for 10 hours and then the skins are soft pressed. The wine is aged in steel for 3 months and in bottle for 1 month before release. The wine has hints of strawberries, raspberries and a hint of cherry.

IMG_6716Puglia Rosato IGP Selva della  Rocca 2020 Cantine Le Grotte made from 100% Nero di Troia from Apricena and Gargano. The vineyards are at 70/90 meters. Harvest takes place the last week of September. The wine is in contact with the skins for 5/6 hours at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in stainless steel for 5 months and is bottled in March following the harvest. The wine is coral in color.  It has hints of red and black fruit with a touch of blackberry and a hint of spice.

IMG_6714Puglia Rosé IGP “Forme” 2021 Cantine Massimo Leone. Made from 100% Nero di Troia. The soil is Karstic and clayey. Fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature and skin contact is for 8 hours. Pink in color with coral reflections with hints of black fruit, red roses and a touch of spice. Caterina  said the “scratches” on the label are that of a lion (Leone) because of the name of the winery.

IMG_6713Rosato IGP “Cattedrale”  2020  Società Agricola D’ Alessandro  made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is limestone. The wine is in contact with the skins for 6/8 hours followed by a soft pressing of the skins. Temperature controlled fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Aging is in stainless steel for 4 months and then in bottle before release.  Caterina said the producer had in mind young people when he made this wine because it is an easy drinking wine with a deep pink color, fruity aromatic aromas with hints of strawberries and raspberries.  She also said the picture on the label represents the window of the  cathedrals of Puglia. They use a darker bottle to protect the color of the wine.

All of the Rosato wines are well under $20 a bottle

The Primitivo

IMG_6718Puglia Primitivo IGP “Soffio”  2019 Cantine D’Alessandro made from 100% Primitivo. The soil is clayey limestone. There is a preselection of grapes. Temperature controlled fermentation is in steel with the must and 20 days of skin contact. The wine remains in steel for 6 months and in bottle for 6 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, blueberry and prune. $20

IMG_6717Puglia Primitivo IGP  Selva della Rocca  2019 Cantine Le Grotte made from 100% Primitivo. The vineyards are located at the foot of the Gargano and the soil is calcareous rich in minerals. The exposure is southwest. Manual harvest. Vinification is in temperature controlled steel tanks. Maceration lasts for 15 days. Aging is in new French barriques for 12 months and then 3 months in bottle before release. Ruby red in color with violet reflections. It has hints of small red berry fruit, prune and a note of spice. $15

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In Praise of Chianti

No other region or wine in Italy have the magic of Tuscany and Chianti. Michele and I visited Tuscany in October for a little over two weeks and as always were captivated by the scenery, the food and the wine.

IMG_6643As a longtime Chianti lover, I was more than happy to attend the recent Chianti lovers U.S. Tour 2022. It included a seminar on Chianti followed by a walk around tasting with 24 Chianti producers presenting their wines.

vino2101-2-009BusiGiovanni Busi, president of the Consorzio Vino Chianti and owner of Villa Travignoli made I few introductory remarks about Chianti and the importance of the American market for Chianti. He also said on more than one occasion: “Chianti is one of the best know wines and one of the least known wines.” Everyone knows the name but just what is Chianti?


Robin Kelly O’Connor one of the presenters

Mr. Busi introduced the three presenters.  They were: Luca A. Alves, Chianti Wine Ambassador; Robin Kelly O’Connor, RKO Vine; and Adam Teeter, Vine Pair Founder.

Mr. Alves spoke about the history of Chianti, the Chianti Consorzio and the seven Chianti sub-zones. In answer to a question he explained the difference between Chianti and Chianti Classico. He said that they were promoted together until 1996 when they separated. Chianti Classico is the center area  between Florence and Siena surrounded by the Chianti  sub zones. There are differences in the percentage of Sangiovese required, aging and grapes allowed.


The Consorzio Vino Chianti was established in 1927 by a group of wine producers in the provinces of Pistoia, Siena, Arezzo and Florence. Later the Consorzio expanded to cover the whole production area covered by the DOCG. Now the Chianti production area is located in the provinces of Arezzo, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, Prato and Siena. Chianti wines are designated as: Colli Aretini, Colli Fiorentini, Colli Senesi, Colline Pisane, MontalbanoRufina, and the last, added in 1997, Montespertoli.  In addition is the return of the Chianti “Superiore” which can come from anywhere in the Chianti wine area with the exception of the Chianti Classico zone between Florence and Siena. Superiore cannot have a name of an area on the label. There is also the Colli dell’Etruria Centrale. The DOC permits in the Chianti DOCG area the production of wines of a different quality from Chianti, which include reds, whites, roses, novello and Vin Santo.Chianti regions

The seven Chianti sub zones

Chianti can be made from 100% Sangiovese and it also have must be at least 70% Sangiovese but the law has limited the amount of international grapes such as Cabernet to 10%. Traditional Tuscan grapes like Canaiolo can also be used up to 30%, as well as Trebbiano and Malvasia, which are white grapes, up to 10%. Chianti may be released on March 1st of the year following the harvest. The sub-regions of Montalbano, Aretini, Pisane and Senesi may also be released on March 1st after the harvest. The sub-region of Montespertoli may be released on June 1st. The sub-regions of Fiorentini and Rufina may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest. Chianti Superiore may be released on September 1st of the year following the harvest.

For the Riserva the wine must be aged a minimum of two years from January 1st following the harvest. For Chianti Fiorentini and Rufina, the Riserva has to spend at least 6 months in wood. For the Chianti Senesi Riserva the wine must spend at least 8 months in wood and 4 months in bottle.

IMG_6641The Wines

The tasting was blind and we were not given the names of the producers. All other information about the wine was given to us.

All the wines were Reserve from the 2017 Vintage


Chianti Colli Pisane Pietro Beconcini made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cannaiolo and the vines are 65 years old. The soil is a base of sandstone  with considerable intrusion of marine fossil formations by the Pliocene period, well integrated with abundant white clay high in PH. Elevation is 100/150 meters. The training system is spurred cordon and the harvest takes place the first 10 days of October. Maturation is in Slavonian oak for 18 months and then the wine ages for eight months in bottle. The wine has hints of violet, leather and cherry. This is old style Chianti Reserve at its best and a great wine to go with food.

IMG_6617Chianti Montalbano “IL Fondatore”  Castagallo made from 100% Sangiovese. The soil is clayey, marly matrix. This single vineyard is at 400 meters and the vines are 30 years old. The training system is spurred cordon and the exposure is south. There are 5,200 plants per hectare. They practice organic farming. Fermentation takes place in steel vats and the wine is aged for 12 months in 10HL French oak casks and in bottle for 6 months before release.

IMG_6618Chianti Colli Senesi  Poggio Del Moro made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Syrah from 10 to 20 year old vines. The exposure is southeast/west. The soil is 79% sand, 15% clay and 6% light loam. The vineyards are at 335-365 meters and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Holistic agricultural practices are used with manure and green manure techniques. The grapes are hand picked and there is another selection on the sorting table.  Maceration is for 12 days at a controlled temperature with frequent pumping over of the must. There is gentle pressing of the grapes. The wine ages is 5HL oak barrels for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle and is bottled during the waning moons of June and July.

IMG_6622Chianti Montespertoli “Ingannamatti” Podere Dell’Anselmo made from 100% Sangiovese from the Ingannamati vineyard planted in 1993 and from other older vineyards. The soil is clay and limestone and the training system is spur cordon. There are 3,500 to 4,500 vines per hectare.  Traditional maceration for 10 days at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for 16 months is stainless steel vats and then two months in glass. The wine has hints of plum and cherry with floral notes 

IMG_6619Chianti Colli Fiorentini “Torre a Cona” Badia Corte made from 100% Sangiovese from a single vineyard. The grapes are hand harvested from the Badia a Corte vineyard that has typical Alberese limestone soil. The grapes are fermented in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature with a selection of native yeasts with 15 days maceration on the skins. The wine is aged  in 25 HL Slavonian oak casks for 24 months and for 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6620Chianti Colli Aretini “Bucca Nera” Tenuta Di Cambriano   Made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Cabernet and Merlot. The soil is clay and gravel. The vineyards are at 500 meters with a south/west exposure and the training system is spurred cordon. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 35 years. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine is aged in botti grandi for 24 months and 6 months in bottle before release.

IMG_6624Chianti Rufina Vigneto Bucerchiale  Fattoria Selvapiana made from 100% Sangiovese.  This single vineyard is at 250 meters and the vines are 43 years old. The exposure is south and the training system is spurred cordon. There are about 3,500 vines per hectare. Fermentation is in stainless steel vats. The wine ages in French barriques (only (10% new) for 15 months and in bottle for 9 months before release. This is a wine that can age and I have enjoyed older vintages of Selvapiana over the years.

All the wines were showing very well. I was happy to see the use of international grapes was limited and I enjoyed all the wines.

The presenters did an excellent job putting the wines in the correct order, of discussing each wine and describing the flavors and aromas, and if they could age. It was the most informative and professional tasting I have attended in a long time.

At the end we were given some tasty snacks to sample with the wines


 including truffle flavored potato chips,

IMG_6638and pop corn.  It was an interesting combination.



Filed under Chianti, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Rufina, Uncategorized

Champagne, Barolo and a 1927 Madeira

Ed McCarthy and Mary Ewing Mulligan, MW, are old friends and we are always happy to see them and share a good meal.  Mary, the first American woman to achieve the prestigious title of Master of Wine, is the owner of The International Wine Center  She and Ed are the authors of the best-selling “Wine for Dummies” series of books. As always we started with Champagne.

IMG_6585Moet & Chandon Dom Perignon Brut 2006 made from equal amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. The grapes come from five Grand Cru villages and one Premier Cru village. Ed wrote in his book, Champagne for Dummies, the wine’s “…trademarks are its exquisite balance, its creaminess, its elegance, its very fine tiny bubbles and its complex flavors.” 

IMG_6567Michele preparing the appetizers


With the Champagne, we enjoyed appetizers of smoked salmon in endive leaves, crackers topped with smoked salmon and creme fraiche, and marinated shrimp. 

IMG_6581Barolo “Rocche” 1989 Vietti Made from Nebbiolo – 75% Michet, 20% Lampia and 10% Rose. There are 4,600 plants per hectare. The wine is fermented for 22 days in stainless steel tanks with daily pumping air through the application of an old system called “cap submerged”. It is aged for over two years in Slavonian oak barrels, is unfiltered and is aged one year in bottle before release. My favorite Barolo has always been the Rocche.  This is traditional classic Barolo with hints of blueberry, violets, faded roses and leather. It was drinking very well.

IMG_6574To go with the wine, Michele made beef braised with porcini, whipped sweet potatoes and broccoli rabe with garlic.

IMG_6584Leacock’s Madeira Bastardo 1927  D’Oliveiras made from 100% Bastardo grape (a red grape) that has almost disappeared from the vineyards in Madeira. The wine has been in wood for over 80 years. The wine has hints of citrus peel, caramel, orange marmalade, with a touch of bees’ wax and a note of sea salt. This is the second great bottle of Madeira we had with Ed and Mary. The first a few months ago was a 1832 Madeira. Both were fantastic.

We had three different cheeses, dates, and nuts with the Madeira.

IMG_6591Dessert was a moist almond cake with raspberry sauce and creme fraiche.

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Filed under Barolo, Champagne, Dom Perignon, Madeira, Uncategorized, Vietti

Mà, What Are You Cooking?


My friend, Gianluca Rottura, has written a new book that contains a wealth of knowledge and is a joy to read.  It is entitled Mà, What Are You Cooking? The In Vino Veritas Cookbook And Food GuideThe cover of the book is a photo of Gianluca enjoying his mother’s pasta when he as very young.

Gianluca asked my to write one of the two forewords for his book.  Here is what I wrote: 

When I was the Wine Director and Sommelier for I Trulli Restaurant and Wine Bar, and Vino, an all-Italian wine store, I met a lot of people who were interested in wine and food.  Most of them claimed to be experts, and in fact, a handful of them were.   But no one impressed me as much as Gianluca Rottura, the author of this book, who is the operator of his family’s wine store, In Vino Veritas.  

Gianluca’s passion and knowledge for Italian wine and food were apparent every time we met.  I loved our conversations, hearing his stories about his family in Italy and their history as farmers, olive oil producers, restaurateurs and winemakers.  Gianluca has his own olive grove and produces olive oil.  His immediate and extended family not only owns properties in Italy, they also have owned and operated Italian restaurants both there and in New York. 

Gianluca returns to Italy often and I always looked forward to hearing about his new discoveries and experiences.  His knowledge of Italian wine and food is unparalleled.  At home in New York, Gianluca teaches wine courses and a few years ago wrote a book entitled Wine Made Easy, which would be valuable for a wine connoisseur in the making.   Anyone with an interest in Italy should follow his blog, “Piazza Life” or read his website “Pizza and Coffee”.

I have often said that Gianluca has a great palate.  I joke that the reason that it is great is that it is the same as mine!   We  agree on and discuss often the importance of enjoying wine and food together.  By making the right combination, each one brings out the best in the other.  

This is something I learned in the past 50 or so years that I have been traveling to Italy, both for pleasure and for business.  From my first visit in 1970, I was struck by how much Italians cared about food and wine.  I loved watching whole families gather and seeing that everyone from the youngest to the oldest was relishing what was placed on the table.  They lingered there savoring each sip and bite and enjoying the pleasure of being together.

The Italian way of enjoying wine and food is something that I have tried to bring to my own life and I sought to instill in my clients and students.  Before my years at I Trulli, I also owned a wine store and taught wine classes.  One of my favorite subjects was a class on pairing wine and food that I taught with my wife, cookbook author Michele Scicolone, at the New School Culinary Center in New York City.  Other schools where I have taught include Macy’s DeGustibus, Cooking By The Book and The Silo.  I was very honored to have been nominated six times for a wine list and wine service award while I was at I Trulli.  Over the course of many trips to the Campania region of Italy where Gianluca’s mother’s family is from, Michele and I were inspired to write a seminal book about pizza entitled, Pizza Any Way You Slice It!, which preceded the current pizza craze we are experiencing today.  

Readers of this book are almost as fortunate as I am to know  Gianluca.  He loves sharing his knowledge with others and in the pages of Mà, What Are You Cooking? The Vino Veritas Cookbook And Food Guide you will be transported to Italy.  Gianluca will be your expert guide to such quintessential Italian arts such as making wine, cheeses, salumi and traditional methods of butchering.  He tells the reader about his life in Italy and the lives of the wine and food producers he has known.


On the back cover is a picture of Gianluca eating pasta now that he is much older.

So my suggestion is that you open a bottle of your favorite Italian wine, pour yourself a glass and start reading!

The book makes a great holiday gift.  It is available at Amazon 

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