Rome in the Time of the Coronavirus

Michele and I returned from Rome a few days ago just before things began to shut down. Our plan had been to stay for another week but we reluctantly decided to go home as the coronavirus crisis began to grow.

This was far from our first trip to Italy. That took place in 1970 when we honeymooned there, going to Rome, Naples, Florence, Sicily and Venice. Since then, we return at least once a year, often as many as 3 or 4 times. Not only do we love Italy, it’s culture and cuisine but also the people. We have made many friends there.

We had been in Naples and Rome one winter some years ago and we realized that the warm weather places most New Yorkers head to in winter didn’t appeal to us at all. We preferred to be in Naples and Rome where we would find great food and wine, as well as relatively mild temperatures (compared to NYC). There was plenty to do – art shows, concerts, opera, museums, as well as great restaurants to try. So now we winter in Naples and Rome.

Just before we left for Italy, I read a book called “Rome: A History in Seven Sackings” by Matthew Kneale. It details the attacks that Rome has suffered at the hands of invaders from the Gauls to the Nazis. Each invasion took a terrible toll yet Rome survived and sometimes emerged all the better.

The current invader is the Novel Coronavirus and it is causing havoc in Rome, throughout Italy. We saw it and were saddened by it. But we firmly believe that this too shall pass. Rome will survive this, its eighth sacking. It is the Eternal City and we can’t wait to return.

Now the virus is in the US.  Let’s all follow the example of the Italians and do everything we can to stop it.  Michele and I plan to stay at home as much as we can and do what we usually do, enjoy Italian wine and food.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Tasting the Wines of Lilliano at Palazzo Ruspoli

Many years ago when Michele and I were in Tuscany we visited the Lilliano winery.  I  liked the wines. Then last fall, my friend Tony Di Dio of Tony Di Dio Selections introduced me to Alessandro Ruspoli, whose family owns the winery, at a lunch  and tasting of the wines of Lilliano in NYC. The winery is owned by brothers Giulio and Pietro Ruspoli and has been managed by Giulio since 1989. Alessandro, their nephew, represents Lilliano internationally. A short time after I met Alessandro in New York, Michele and I were having breakfast in a hotel in Parma when to my surprise Alessandro stopped by to say hello.  It  was  quite  a coincidence.  

Alessandro said that since we could not get together at the winery in Castellina in Chianti we could visit him in Rome at the Palazzo Ruspoli, which was a five-minute walk from where we were staying in Rome.

Alessandro

The Wines

Colli della Toscana Central IGT Anagallis 2016 made from 50% Cabernet, 40% Merlot and 10% Petit Verdot. After a careful selection in the vineyard the grapes undergo a soft crushing and destalking before fermentation in 50 HL temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Maceration is for 25 days and on completion of malolactic fermentation, which takes place in steel, the wine goes into barriques of Allier and Nevers oak. The wine ages in wood for 14 months and blending takes place in a single container for even quality and characteristics. The wine is aged in the bottle for a minimum of 6 months before release. The wine has hints of red berry fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla.

Chianti Classico 2016 DOCG made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot. After the quality-selected clusters are destemmed and pressed, the must is fermented and macerated in stainless steel for 18-20 days at a controlled temperature with programmed punch downs and daily pumpovers. Maceration fermentation takes place in concrete and small stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature for 18-20 days depending on the vintage. The wine ages for about 12 to 14 months in large casks of French oak and partly in concrete. After maturation, the final blend is assembled, bottled and aged in glass for a minimum of 3 months. This is a wine with hints of red fruit, cherry, violets and a touch of cassis.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2016 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot from the first selection. After a careful selection the grapes undergo soft pressing and destalking. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration lasts for 21 to 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine ages in large casks of French oak 28 to 34HL. The final blend is assembled and the wine ages in glass a minimum of 6 months. The wine has hints of cherry, cassis, violets, and a touch of spice.

Chianti Classico Grand Selezione DOCG 2016 made from 90% Sangiovese, 5% Colorino and 5% Merlot from grapes grown and selected from the Le Piagge and La Casina vineyards where the soil is calcareous clay. After a careful selection the grapes undergo a soft crushing and destemming. During fermentation the must is pumped over with plunging of the cap on a daily basis. Maceration is for 25 days depending on the vintage. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures for 15 months in French oak barrels of 28 and 34HL and in tonneaux (500 liters). The wine is blended, bottled and ages for a minimum of 6 months. This is a full bodied wine with hints of red fruit, floral notes, cherry, plum and a touch of violets.

 

 

 

 

Comments Off on Tasting the Wines of Lilliano at Palazzo Ruspoli

Filed under Chianti Classico, Chianti Classico Gran Selectione

Wine in Times of Coronavirus by Daniele Cernilli

The wine world is beginning to feel the effects of the coronavirus scare, especially in regard to markets in East Asia. Even the ProWein fair has been postponed.

by Daniele Cernilli 03/02/2020

The news that ProWein was postponed came out this Saturday, and left us all stunned. True, we were wondering if it would make sense for us Italians to take part in a fair that would most likely see our pavilions go deserted, but we did not expect that the Düsseldorf Trade Fair Authority would have taken such a strong decision. Yet it is only confirmation that no one is taking the coronavirus lightly. There is no denying that everyone is worried about this virus, for the health of others as well as our own. There are also concerns over the economy, which is beginning to feel the effects in a serious way, and for the precautions Italy has been forced to take and that have placed limits on everyone’s lives. The situation is serious and should not be underestimated but nor should it be the cause of panic. I can say all this because I have been travelling a lot and have personally intensified my own precautions, which is the logical thing to do in such cases.

It is understandable that even our world of wine will in some way feel further consequences. After breathing a sigh of relief over being “spared” additional tariffs in the United States, now we are faced with this new problem almost that is equally as threatening. However, there are certain aspects that are worth looking at.

From Hong Kong, which was already seeing a bad year due to the prolonged pro-democracy demonstrations, there is some news that is both quite curious and interesting. Wine consumption is shifting from bars and restaurants to private homes. In other words, there has been a change in habits, imposed by the situation, which is changing the lifestyle of wine drinkers, those in the so-called upper class. This is, of course, a problem for restaurants but less so for wine sales and consumption. The risks will certainly be long term but there is hope that within the year there will be a vaccine for the Covid 19 virus which will bring the situation back to normal, or at least we hope so.

Even our small world of wine, which nevertheless and historically represents a kind of marker for the international economy, is beginning to feel the effects of the virus scare. In Italy, we have just finished a series of preview tastings in Piedmont, Tuscany, Veneto and Umbria which took place without the presence of Chinese journalists and buyers. We are still processing the news of the postponement (to when?) of Prowein in Düsseldorf while the confirmation for Vinitaly in Verona has arrived (the dates, we remind you, are April 19-22), and the presence of Chinese experts and buyers remains an unknown. In East Asia, the trade fairs that have taken place did not do well, as was to be expected, and we sincerely hope that those in Europe will not only take place but also be a success, within the limits possible. Meanwhile, those at the Decanter World Wine Awards in London, where I am set to take part in the jury in May, have informed me that there will be no fellow jurors from China and we will receive further instructions and information on how things will proceed. That’s what we know so far and, frankly, it seems enough for me.

Daniele Carnilli   www.doctorwine.it

Since this was written Vinitaly has been postponed and will now take place from  June 14 to June 17

We are leaving for NYC tomorrow and not on March 12 because we are concerned about entering the U.S

Leave a comment

Filed under Daniele Cernilli, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Uncategorized

Lunch with Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Last month, Marina Thompson and Daniele Cernilli invited us for lunch at their apartment in Rome. Both Marina and Daniele are very good cooks and of course there is the wine.Daniere

Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine, and his wife, Marina Thompson, have been friends for many years. We have tasted a lot of wine together both in the US and in Rome. Daniele is a true Roman. He is one of the most important men in Italian wine and has been a wine critic for many years. Daniele was one of the founders of Gambero Rosso and for 24 years was the editor of the Gambero Rosso Slow Food Wine Guide. Daniele was the creator of the now famous Tre Bicchieri, Three Glasses wine classification. Currently, he has his own web-magazine called “Doctor Wine” www.doctorwine.it. There are both English and Italian versions, and it covers both Italian and European wines. I read it regularly and recommend it to anyone interested in wine. He also has the best printed guide to Italian wines which is updated every year called The Essential Guide to Italian Wine 2020.

The Wines

Franciacorta Extra Brut Quinque Uberti in magnum made from 100% Chardonnay. This is a five vintage reserve wine produced with the Classic Method with a minimum of 80 months on the lees. This is an elegant Spumante with hints of chamomile, honey and ginger and a note of almonds.

Greco di Tufo “Vittorio” 2007 Di Meo made from 100% Greco di Tufo from vineyards in Montefusco at 750 meters and the vineyard was planted in 1998. The soil is clay, and limestone. The exposure is northeast and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. The training system is espalier with monolateral guyot pruning. The slightly overripe manual harvest takes place the second half of October. Fermentation is at a controlled temperature in stainless steel and 18 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of apple and hazelnut, a note of citrus fruit, a touch of flint and good acidity and minerality. I visited the winery a few years ago as part of Campania Stories and liked the wine. The winery is located 15km east of Avellino between the villages of Salza Irpina and Parolise. Daniele knows I especially like the Di Meo Greco and I was very pleased he served it to us.

Daniele knows I especially like the Di Meo Greco and I was very pleased he served it to us.

With the wine we had three chesses burrata, mozzarella and straciatella. Daniele said that he had gone to thee different stores to get the best ones in Rome.

Monsanto Chianti Classico “Il Poggio” 2014 in magnum made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino and Canaiolo. The training system is guyot and spurred cordon. The wine is vinified in temperature controlled conical steel vats. Delestage and pumping over for about 20 to 22 days. The wine is aged in 500 liter oak barrels, partly new and partly second hand for 18 to 20 months. The wine remains in the bottle for 2 years before release. The wine has hints of blackberries and blueberries with a hint of violets. Monsanto is located in the western-central area of the Chianti Classico region in the municipality of Barberino Tavarnelle. I have a long history with Monsanto going back over 35 years and the 1977 vintage of Il Poggio.

To go with the wine, Daniele had prepared a delicious stew of chickpeas and Tuscan kale,

which Marina served with a delicate polpettone or meatloaf.

Vinsanto del Chianti Classico 2008 in half bottle made from Malvasia and Sagiovese from various vineyards within the property. Fontodi

There are 3,500 to 6,000 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot. The grapes after the harvest are naturally dried for 5 months. After the pressing the must is racked into chestnut and oak barrels of 50 and 110 liters where aging takes place for at least 6 years. There are only 3,000 bottles produced. Fontodi is located in Panzano in Chianti. This is an excellent dessert wine with hints of hazelnut, dried apricot, honey and a touch of caramel.

To go with the wine, there was a magnificent panettone, one of the best I have ever had.

Finally there were glasses of Grappa UE “Uvarossa” Nonino made from Schioppettino, Refosco and Fragolino. It was a great way to end a wonderful afternoon.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Chianti Classico, Daniele Cernilli, Di Meo winery, Grappa, Greco di Tufo, Uberti Quinque, Vin Santo

At Cavalier Pepe Winery with Milena Pepe

A few years ago I was invited to Benevento to attend “Campania Stories,” an organized event to introduce and educate journalists about the wines of Campania. There I met Melina Pepe from Tenuta Cavalier Pepe and she invited me to visit the winery the next time I was in Campania. Since Michele and I were going to Naples in early February, I contacted Milena and asked her if we could visit the winery.

Melina

Milena said she was born in Belgium where she studied marketing and then viticulture and oenology in Bordeaux before returning home to Campania.

Milena’s father, Angelo Pepe, started the winery and in 1998 the President of Italy recognized his efforts and granted him the title “Cavaliere della Repubblica per meriti sul lavoro” (Knight of the Republic).

The winery is located on the slopes of three villages: Sant’Angel all’Esca, Taurasi and Luogosano. There are 60 hectares of vineyards and 7 hectares of olive trees producing the Ravece variety. Hazelnut trees are also cultivated on the property.

The Wines

Irpinia Falanghina DOC “Lila” 2018. 100% Falanghina from estate vineyards in the hills of the municipality of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca located within the Irpinia Falanghina DOC production zone. The soil is clay and sand with organic and volcanic elements. The grapes are hand picked and immediately taken to the cellar where a selection takes place and the grapes are pressed whole. There is a cold settling followed by alcoholic fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel. The wine is aged on the lees then in bottle before release. The wine has hints of apple and pear, a note of white flowers and good acidity. Their Falanghina is estate grown whereas many producers’ grapes for Falanghina come from Benevento and are labeled Benevento Falanghina.

Irpinia Coda di Volpe DOC “Bianco di Bellona” 2012 100% Code di Volpe (tail of the fox). Grapes are from estate vineyards in the hills around the towns of Carazita, Piesco and Pesano in Luogosano and Brussinera in Sant’Angelo all Esca. Soil is sand and clay and rich in volcanic matter and the vineyards are at 300 to 490 meters. The gapes are harvested in mid October. Selection takes place in the vineyard and in the cellar where the grapes are pressed whole. The must is cold clarified and then fermented at a low temperature. A short period of aging on the lees takes place and the wine remains in the bottle for a short time before release. Melina said that they opened this bottle by mistake, intending to open the 2018. I said this was a fortunate mistake, as I would really like to taste a Code di Volpe that was 8 years old. The wine has hints of peach, a touch of pineapple and a touch of yellow fruit. It has developed into a very impressive wine.

After the tasting, Milena took us to restaurant Le Contrade where we had a very nice lunch and I drank the 2012 Code di Volpe which was very easy to drink and a perfect combination with the food.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG “Refiano” 2018 made from 100% Fiano from vineyards located in Lapio, Montefredane and Candida at 400 to 500 meters. The soil is marl and limestone rich in volcanic material. The grapes are hand picked and hand selected in the cellar and whole bunches are pressed. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation at a low temperature. After fermentation the wine is aged on its lees and remains in the bottle until release. The wine has hints of apple, pear and almonds and a touch of chamomile and mineral notes.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG Reserve “Brancato” 2017 made from 100% Fiano from south facing vineyards in the municipality of Lapio. The grapes are hand harvested at full ripeness, undergo a strict selection and are pressed whole. Cold settling is followed by alcoholic fermentation in barriques and later in stainless steel at a low temperature. The wine is aged in wood and steel followed by a minimum of 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of mature tropical fruit, apple, hazelnuts with a hint of spice and a touch of toast.

Greco di Tufo DOCG Reserve “Nestor” 2018 made from 100% Greco from vineyards on the hills of S. Paolina, Montefusco and Prata in the heart of the Greco di Tufo zone at 400 to 700 meters. The soil is primarily tufaceous with clay, limestone and volcanic elements. Grapes are hand picked, there is a selection in the cellar and the grapes are pressed whole.

Greco di Tufo DOCG “Grancare” 2017 made from 100% Greco from vineyards located at the highest areas of Torrioni and Montefusco at 600 to 700 meters. The soil is primarily clay and silt with limestone and volcanic material. The grapes are harvested in October. Vinification is like the 2017 Fiano. This is an intense full-bodied wine with hints of peach, tropical and candied fruit and a touch of toast.

It was very informative to compare the Fiano and Greco  in stainless steel and then to taste those in wood. The ones in steel were more aromatic  and fresher while the ones in wood have  deeper flavors and aromas.

Irpinia Aglianico IGT Terra Del Varo 2015, made from 85% Aglianico and 15% Merlot. The Aglianico ripens late and the harvest lasts from the middle of October to the middle of November. The estate vineyards are in Luogosano, Sant’Angelo all’Esca and Taurasi and are at 350 meters. The soil is clay and volcanic elements. Harvest is by hand and there is a selection in the vineyard and in the cellar. Destemming is followed by a cold pre-fermentation, maceration for about 10 days and alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature. Aging is for 24 months in cement tanks and 6 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black cherry and blackberries with spice notes and a touch of black pepper.

Taurasi 2013 “Opera Mia” (my work) 2013 100% Aglianico from vineyards on the hills of Carazita and Pesano located in the munciipalites of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 405 meters. The soil is clay and limestone with volcanic outcrops. The grapes are harvested when fully ripe. There is a careful selection before the grapes are destemmed and fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature. Maceration is on the skins for about 20 days. The wine is aged in French oak barriques for 12 months, in cement tanks for 24 months and finally in bottle for 12 months before release. The wine has hints of blueberries and blackberries with a touch of spice and coffee and a note of vanilla.

Milena said they were experimenting with aging some of the wine in amphora. I have seen the use of amphora in other wineries in Campania.

The  Cavalier Pepe wines are represented in the U.S. by Romano Brands.

Leave a comment

Filed under Aglianico, Cavalier Pepe, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Woman in Wine Part III: Maura Sarno of Sarno 1860

Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara organized a luncheon in Atripalda (AV), near Naples, where I was able to taste some of the wines of Irpinia. In addition to Donnachiara wines, I tasted those of Petilia winery, owned by Teresa Di Bruno, which I visited and wrote about last time, and from Tenuta Sarno 1860, owned by Maura Sarno.

Maura at restaurant Zia Pasqualina in Atripalda (AV).

Maura explained that Tenuta Sarno 1860 is located in Irpinia in the village of Candida at 600 meters. She said they have been making wine since 2004 and specialize in Fiano di Avellino. The grapes are soft pressed using a pneumatic press with a closed cage.

Spumante “Vino Spumante di Qualita” 2016 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino Sarno 1860. The vineyard is 2 hectares at 659 meters with a northwest exposure. The soil is calcareous clay with volcanic rock residues and white rock. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place, by hand, the first week of September. The production method is charmat. The first fermentation takes place at a controlled temperature in steel and the second in autoclave. None of the wines undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged for 12 months on the lees and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine is produced “pas dose” without residual sugar. It has hints of citrus fruit and yellow peaches with floral notes and a touch of toasted hazelnut.

Fiano di Avelllino 2017 Sarno 1860 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyard is 8 hectares, the exposure is southeast and the training system is guyot. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in October by hand. Vinification is in steel at a controlled temperature with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 8 months on the fine lees and four months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, grapefruit, peach and toasted hazelnuts.

Fiano di Avellino “Riserva erre” Sarno 1860 2017, 100% Fiano di Avellino Maura Sarno. The vineyard is 3 hectares. The wine is aged in steel for 18 months on the lees and 3 months in bottle before release. This is a more complex wine with floral notes, hints of citrus fruit and peach, a touch of mint and toasted hazelnut. Only 3,000 bottles are produced.

Fiano di Avellino 2016 Sarno 1860 100% Fiano di Avellino.  I was familiar with this wine with it’s old label.  It is produced the same as the first wine and has the same characteristics but since it is older it is more developed and more approachable.  It does not undergo malolactic fermentation.

I would like to thank Ilaria for her generosity in organizing my visit and this tasting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Fiano di Avellino, Sarno 1860, Uncategorized

Woman in Wine: Part II: Teresa Bruno of Petilia

 

When I told her I would be in Naples, Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara suggested that instead of visiting her winery where I have been several times, I should visit the Petilia winery owned by brother and sister Roberto and Teresa Bruno.  Ilaria is a big supporter of her region and the other wineries there and I looked forward to having this opportunity to experience more of the local wines.  Teresa Bruno would give us a tour of Petilia and after we would all meet for lunch at a traditional restaurant, Zia Pasqualina in Atripalda (AV).

Teresa picked us up in Avellino and drove us to her winery. At Petilia, Teresa’s job is dealing with clients, distributors and guests; she also works in the vineyard and drives a tractor. She is very enthusiastic and knowledgeable and we had a very interesting conversation on the drive to the winery about the state of wine in Irpinia and Campania in general. She said they have 12  hectares of vineyards located in Campofiorito in Altavilla Irpinia.

Teresa showing us a door made by her brother from old burned wood

Teresa gave us a tour of the winery and said that it was constructed with stones found on the property.  All the roof supports and doors are made from old wood recycled by her brother.  We  were  fascinated  by  the  enormous  doors  and  smooth  stone  walls  that  looked  as  if  they  were  hundreds  of  years  old.  

Teresa then drove us to the restaurant where we  were joined by Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara and Maura Sarno of Sarno 1860, another local winery.  I  wrote  about  the  Donnachiara  wines  last  week  and  will  report  on  the  Sarno  wines  next  week.  Here  are  my  notes  on  the  wines  of Petilia.  

Fiano di Avellino 2018 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino Petilia. The vineyards are in Chianche, locality of Montefalcone. The soil is clayey, volcanic and rich in minerals. The vineyards are at 450 meters and there are 4,000 vines per hectare with an average age of 15 years. The grapes are vinified separately and there is organic cultivation. The grapes are destemmed and cryomaceration takes place, and then fermentation on the skins at a very low temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends 6 months on the lees and four months in bottle before release. It has hints of apple and pear with an unmistakable touch of toasted hazelnut.

Teresa said that she and her brother Roberto prefer to refine their white wine exclusively in steel and in the bottle. The goal is to develop fully the potential of the original grape variety and the wine obtained after the fermentation of the grapes.

4 20 Quattro Venti 100% Greco di Tufo. The Petilia vineyards are in Chianche, locality of Sant’Andrea. The vineyards are at 600 meters, the exposure is south/east and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The soil is clayey, volcanic, and rich in minerals with a sumptuous subsoil and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The vines are 20 years old. Harvest takes place the second week of October. There is ultra soft pressing with whole grapes and fermentation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has citrus notes, with hints of almonds, lemon blossoms and quince.

With the wine we had pasta fagioli, a very classic pasta dish at the restaurant

Teresa gave me a bottle of 2009 Greco di Tufo which I am looking forward to drinking.  Both Greco di Tufo and Fiano di Avellino are age worthy wines. I like to drink them when they are 10 years old or older. She also gave me a bottle of Taurasi 450V 2007 which I might hold on to for a few more years before I drink it.

4 Comments

Filed under Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Uncategorized