From Your Agent at Vinitaly- Daniele Cernilli

I did not attend Vinitaly this year so here is the next best thing a report by Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°206

From your agent at Vinitaly

by Daniele Cernilli 17-04-2017

Daniele Cernilli seminari DoctorWine a Vinitaly 2017

Vinitaly has come and gone and it was the best is years. Despite all the problems afflicting the Italian wine sector, the atmosphere at the trade fair was really good, public attendance was hight and all the producers I spoke to were satisfied. Good thing. At our Doctor Wine stand we organized 11 seminars all which were packed full of interested and competent people. We received a lot of compliments and the only criticisms came from those who were on the waiting list and failed to get a place. I apologize for this but the space available was limited, only 28 seats while the demand was at times for as many as 50. We’ll see what we can do to improve this next year, I promise. As for the wines we tasted I must say there were some really good ones. I can start by saying that vintage 2013 for Barolo is not that far behind the legendary 2010. The more simple 2015 and 2015 reds were also formidable as were most of the whites. From Tuscany there were a lot of 2014 vintages and some of them, especially the Sassicaia, went far beyond expectations. Aside from these let me make a few suggestions. I’ll start with the Aglianico del Vulture Titolo 2015 from Elena Fucci which is delicious, perhaps the best ever. Then there is the remarkable Colli di Luni Vermentino Etichetta Nera 2016 of Lunae Bosoni which is fragrant and distinct more than ever. The fruit in Elio Altare’s Dolcetto d’Alba 2016 is as a defined and clear as only a great winemaker like himself can achieve. Surprising. The Barbera d’Asti Superiore L’Alfiera 2015, from Marchesi Alfieri, is very young yet more promising than usual. Tasting the Taurasi 2012 from the Fiorentino family, on the other hand, was a true eureka moment and a high-class debut. Alberto Longo’s Falanghina Le Fossette 2016 is from northern Puglia and unites fragrance and a precise bouquet with a saline and most pleasing flavor. Vermentino di Sardegna Camminera 2016 Audarya is a wine for those seeking a delicious white without maxing out their credit card. In the same category is the Soave Superiore Monte di Fice 2016 from the I Stefanini winery and I intend to acquire some for my own cellar and can already image drinking it this summer with a nice fish fry. These wines are neither rare nor too expensive and they impressed me for being well-made, representative of where they are from and, again, not excessively expensive. Last but not least I add a great red that is often overlooked because it is the estate’s second wine after its showcase Sassicaia. Guidalberto 2015 is a great vintage and perhaps the best since the legendary 2004 which was fantastic. While this may cost more than the others, it is truly well worth it.

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A Dinner Party in Rome

Daniele Cernilli, aka “Doctor Wine,” and his wife,  Marina Thompson invited us to dinner at their lovely apartment in one of the most fashionable neighborhoods in Rome.

There were 3 other guests, including a professor from John Cabot University in Rome.

Daniele greeted us with glasses of Champagne Clos des Goisses Brut 2002 made from 70% Pinot Noir and 30% Chardonnay. The grapes are grown on a pure chalk hillside with a 45 degree slope facing due south in Mareuil- sur-Ay. Goisse, in the old Champagne dialect, means steep slope. It has a very low dosage. Vinification is mainly in wooden casks and malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of pears and apricots, floral notes, a touch of toast and an exceptional long finish. Daniele said 2002 was a great vintage in Champagne.

With the Champagne we had caviar. You can’t go wrong with Champagne and caviar, and Marina enhanced the combination by serving it with burrata, a tender, fresh cheese from Puglia. Slightly firm like mozzarella on the outside, it is sweet and creamy within. Though it might seem like a strange combination, not only did it work, it was wonderful.

Daniele also served another wine with the caviar and burrata that he believed was a better combination than with the champagne. Pinot Bianco Colli Orientali del Friuli “Zuc di Volpe 2008 Volpe Pasini made from 100% Pinot Bianco from the Togliano “Zuc” Vineyard. Fermentation is in stainless steel and the wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied white wine with hints of white peaches, citrus and almonds. It was showing very little sign of age.

Though I liked the Pinot Bianco, I preferred the combination of the Champagne with the caviar and burrata.

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

Daniele Cernilli

Every other Grignolino I have tasted was meant to be drunk young. By the time this one is released all the others would be too old to drink. Here is how Daniele describes this wine in his book The Ultimate Guide to Italian Wine 2017  Intense and lively red. One of the best versions of the last years. Complex smokey and spicy notes, raspberries, pomegranate and rhubarb. Strong, intense, warm, enveloping flavor with tannic hints and extraordinary persistence.” We discussed this wine for some time.

With this wine we had pasta prepared by Daniele. He told Michele that the recipe had been given to him by the late Paola di Mauro, a great winemaker and legendary cook. Daniele roasted sweet cherry tomatoes with olive oil, capers and breadcrumbs then tossed them mezze maniche, a short wide tubular pasta, before serving. It’s a great way to make the most of out of season fresh tomatoes.

Brunello di Montalcino 1995 100% Sangiovese Donatella Cinelli Colombini. I looked at the label and told Daniele that I have the 1995 at home but the label is different. He said this was a special bottling made in honor of a wedding that took place in 1995. I am not sure how this wine was made or aged and I know they have changed their production methods over the years. This wine is a classic Brunello.

We had the Brunello with braised veal.

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico 2005 Rocco di Montegrossi made from 95% Malvasia Bianco di Toscana and 5% Canaiolo Nero. The soil is calcareous loamy. The harvest is the first week of October. During the drying phase the bunches of grapes are hung one by one on nets in a well– ventilated area under the rafters. All of the nets are hung from rails and are affected by noble rot–botrytis. The rails allow the nets to be shifted so that deteriorated grapes can be removed. Pressing takes place in January. The must goes into small casks of 50 and 100 liters of cherry, oak and mulberry wood. The wine ferments and ages for 6 to 7 years, only indigenous yeast is used. This is a complex intense velvety dessert wine with hints of apricot, dried fig, toasted almond and caramel.The grapes are pressed between the 13 and 20th of December. Only organic farming methods are used and there is no filtering or fining. The wine spends 6 years and 4 months in small barrels called caratelli made of cherry, mulberry and oak wood, then one year in bottle before release.

With the Vin Santo we had cheese then finished with coffee and artisan chocolates.



Filed under Accornero Winery, Brunello, Champagne, Clos des Goisses, Clos des Goisses Brut, Daniele Cernilli Doctor Wine, Donatella Cinelli Colombibi, Grignolino, Pinot Bianco, Rocca di Montegrossi, Vin Santo, Volpe Pasini winery

Sandro De Bruno Winery: A Long Over Due Visit

I first met Sandro Tasoniero, owner of the Sandro De Bruni winery, at a tasting in NYC a few years ago. I was impressed with his wines, especially the Soave. I told him I would write about his wines and visit him the next time I was in the Veneto. However for some reason it just did not happen.

This winter I had only one free day in Verona, the day I arrived. By coincidence, Elisa Bosco from PR Comunicare  IL Vino asked me if I would like to visit the Sandro de Bruno winery. I knew I would be tired from the flight but I still wanted to go. Elisa picked me up at the hotel and in a short time we arrived at the winery.

Sandro Tasoniero

The winery is located in Pergola di Montecchia di Crosara just outside of Verona and the vineyards are in Montecchia di Crosara and Terrossa, where there are 12 hectares of vines at 600 meters on Mount Calvarina, a dormant volcano. The soil is lava, enriched with minerals.

Sandro spoke about the terroir of Mount Calvarina an area with a unique and ideal microclimate with a range of temperatures between night and day. Good rainfall, daily sun exposure, constant ventilation and perfect drainage.

Sandro said they always apply the principles of sustainable and integrated agriculture in the winery and try to create a natural balance without interfering with nature. No chemical products are used and this also goes for the weeding. It is the perfect combination between organic and conventional farming.

The Wines

Lessini Durello DOC Metodo Classico Riserva “Durello” made from 85% Durello and 15 Pinot Bianco. From Monte Calvarina at 600 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 plants per hectare, the average age of the vines is 30 years, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation takes place in 30hl oak barrels for the Pinot Bianco and stainless steel for the Durello. This is a wine with nice bubbles and hints of white flowers and citrus fruit and a mineral undertone.

Soave Doc “Scaligeri” made from 100% Garganega from small plots of land located on the slopes of Mont Calvarina. The vineyard is at 4,000 meters and the average age of the vineyards is 20 years. The training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic. There is manual harvesting using crates, grape sorting, de-stemming, grape selection, then a slow crushing of the grapes and pressing with nitrogen saturation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel. This is a wine with hints of pear, figs, and almonds with good minerality.

Soave Superiore DOCG “Monte San Pietro” made from 100% Garganega from the hills around Roncà, at 330 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 vines per hectare, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation is in big oak barrels of 30hl. This is a well-structured, complex wine with hints of tropical fruit, white pepper and vanilla. This soave can age, I tasted a few bottles from older vintages and I was impressed with all of them. Sandro said all of the wines remain in the cellar for at least one year before release. This is why the wines age so well, even the whites. Sandro makes some of the best Soave I have ever tasted.

Pinot Nero “Nero Fumo” IGt Veneto made from 100% Pinot Noir from Monte Calvarina at 580 meters. There are 7,000 vines per hectare, the training system is guyot and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The name Nero Fumo, black smoke, is the typical color of the basaltic rock in the vineyards. There is a manual harvest using crates the third week September. There is a grape selection, de –stemming and a selection of berries. Fermentation is in conic vats and the must is punched down for 30 days. This is a fruity and full bodied wine with hints of red berries and spic

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Duccio Corsini and the Wines of Principe Corsini

Two weeks ago I hosted a tasting for wine journalists at Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC. One of the featured wines was the Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2013 of Duccio Corsini. The wine had hints of dark cherries, plums, violets, dried roses, licorice and spice and I was very impressed by it.

A few days later, I had the opportunity to host another dinner and tasting, featuring again the wines of Duccio Corsini, this time including vintages of Don Tommaso going back to 1998.

Duccio Corsini is the owner of Principe Corsini wines and the Villa Le Corte estate. He is a counselor for the Chianti Classico Consortium. The Corsini Family is one of the oldest in Italy, going back to the 13th century. One of Duccio’s ancestors, the Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini, became Pope Clemente XII. If you visit the Villa Corsini in Rome you can see a painting of the Pope. In fact it contains one of the most important collections of paintings done after the year 1000 A.D including a painting of Saint John the Baptist by Caravaggio.

Duccio Corsini

At the tasting, Duccio told us about the estate and the wines and how the most recent release of Don Tommaso was produced.

Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione “Don Tommaso” 2013 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot Principe Corsini, Villa Le Corte. The winery is located in San Casciano Val di Pesa. The vineyards are at 270-350 meters and have a southern exposure. Pilocenic hills rich in river stones. There are 5,800 plants per hectare. The training system is low-spurred cordon and the average age of vines is 25 years. This is a selection of the best grapes. They are hand harvested, destemmed and put in open frustum, cone–shaped stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. After 24 hours at 20°C the grapes are inoculated with selected indigenous yeasts. Fermentation for the Sangiovese is 18 days and for the Merlot is 16 days at a max temp of 28°C. The wine is aged in 70% new barriques and 30% in used barriques for 18 months and 12 months in bottle before release.

Don Tommaso Chianti Classico DOCG Villa Le Corte

1998 made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Merlot. The wine was aged for 15 months in new French barriques.

1999 made from 90% Sangiovese and 10% Merlot. Aged for 15 months in new barriques for the most part and 6 months in bottle.

2000 made from 85% Sangiovese and 15% Merlot, aged for 15 months in Allier barriques for the most part and 6 months in bottle.

2007 made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. 70% of the wine was aged in new barriques and 30% in used barriques for 15 months and 8 months in the bottle.

2010 Gran Selezione made from made from 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot. 70% of the wine is aged in new barriques and 30 in used barriques for 18 months and 12 months in bottle. I believe 2010 was the first year for the Gran Selezione category.

2013 Gran Selezione is the present release  – after tasting all of the different vintages of Don Tommaso it was easy to see that the different vintages had much in common and just got better as they aged. These wines are true Chianti Classico, with all the flavors and aromas one would expect from a great Chianti Classico. They are excellent food wines.

The wine I drank the most of was the 1998. It was starting to become mellow but still could age for a number of years.

When asked why he uses Merlot in the Don Tommaso, Duccio explained that Sangiovese has “rough edges and the Merlot smoothes them out.” He then pointed out that the Don Tommaso is the only wine he produces that has any non-Italian grapes.

Duccio said in recent vintages they are using less new barriques and are introducing some large barrels.

Fico 2015 IGT Toscana 100% Sangiovese From the Gugliaie vineyard, the name of the wine comes from the fig tree on the boundary of the vineyard, one of the finest on the property. Only organic farming methods are used. The wine is unfiltered and there are NO sulfites added.

The vineyard is at 270 meters with a southern exposure. There are 5,000 plants per hectare and the training system is spurred cordon. The vineyard is 2.6 hectares and the average age of the vines is 19 years. The harvest is manual. Destemming takes place and fermentation, in open vertical French oak barrels for 16 days. There is daily pumping down of the cap during fermentation. Bottled June 2016. There were only 280 bottles produced.

This wine was created by Filippo Corsini, the young son of Duccio who died tragically in a road accident in London on October 31. Duccio said that the wine is Filippo’s interpretation and own personal vision of winemaking.

This was the most unusual 100% Sangiovese I have ver tasted. One of the other journalists present said it tasted like a Pinot Noir, and we all agreed. It is a very elegant wine with subtle red fruit flavors and aromas.

Vino Spumante Rosato 100% Sangiovese San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence, the exposure is south and the average age of the of vines is 18 years. Charmat method is used through a soft pressing of whole grapes. Fermentation is on the must for 24 days at a low temperature (14°C). Secondary fermentation for 12 weeks and elevage on the yeasts for 1 month. The wine was bottled September 2015. It has nice bubbles with hints of pomegranate, strawberries and cranberries.

Villa Le Corti Chianti Classico DOCG 2014 San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Florence. Made from 95% Sangiovese and 5% Colorino. The vineyards are at 270 to 350 meters and the exposure is south. Soil: pliocenic hills rich in river stones and there are 5,800 plants per hectare. The training system is low spurred cordon and the average age of the vines is 25 years old. Harvest was from September 18 to September 29th. Fermentation is for 20 days at 28°C in open-air tanks with temperature control. The grapes are inoculated with select indigenous yeasts. Wine ages partially in vitrified cement vats for 12 months and part in large wood barrels.

Cortevecchia 2014 Chianti Classico Riserva 2014 harvest is by hand and grapes are destemmed and put in open air tahks with a temperature controlled system. After 24 hours at 20C. The grapes ate inoculated with select indigenous yeasts. Fermentation is for 14 days at 28C. The wine is aged for 20 months in big oak casks and part in tonneaux. The wine remains in the bottle for 6 months before release.

Vin Santo del Chianti Classico DOC 2004 60% Malvasia and 40% Trebbiano. Harvest by hand, grapes dried for 3 months “appassamento.” The dry grapes are pressed at the end of January and the juice is fermented in small barrels for 5 years. The wine “rests” for 10 years in the dark cellar before release. There were only 460 bottles produced.

Duccio said that this wine is very expensive to produce. First because it takes so long to reach the market and because after the wine ages for 5 years, he tastes it and if it does not measure up to his standards he will discard the wine. The wine has hints of honey and dried fruit, especially apricot. Very pleasant way to end a wonderful tasting.




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Daniele Cernilli on Wine Writers and a Code Ethics

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°202

Code of ethyl

by Daniele Cernilli 20-03-2017

il parassita quadro bompiani saturione doctorwine codice comportamento

What would you think of a famous Italian wine critic who allowed a surprise ‘secret’ birthday party to be organized for him by an equally famous wine producer who invited other producers who opened some very expensive bottles to pair them with some fine food? And what if everything was paid for by the organizer?

What objectivity could there be, what critical impartiality could one expect towards these wines, consumed while celebrating this critic with an over-sized ego, from this journalist when he is called upon to taste and evaluate them? This ‘secret’ party did in fact take place last January but I will not name names because I am not interested in gossip or ‘roasting’ anyone, only in a question of principle.

I will name names, however, about another event because their actions deserves praise. Monica Larner, a collaborator for Robert Parker, was invited by Francesco Ricasoli to Castello di Brolio for a special tasting of Vin Santo. She arrived in her own car, did not ask to be reimbursed for her expenses and even paid for her own room at the guest house. And she did this in accordance with her code of ethics and that of her publisher. The cost was not that much, a little more than 50 euros, but she wanted to do the right thing. Hers was a lesson for us all and a fine example of independence and even if, at least for me, she may have been a little too strict with herself, her actions exemplified what a code of ethics means for an influential American journalist.

We Italian journalists also have a code of ethics, drawn up by our colleagues at the economic daily Il Sole 24 Ore, which sets a ceiling of 150 euros for how much one can accept for an invitation or gift. And at DoctorWine I ask that all our collaborators respect this code. This means they must not accept invitations to restaurants that are excessively expensive nor gifts, including bottles of wine, the value of which exceed that limit. Producers who want to send us their wine for evaluation need only submit one bottle or a maximum of three if the wines are different. We rarely ask for wine directly and only if it was not possible to sample them at organized pubic tastings or at producer association meetings. We also taste them at events organized by others than producers and where the wine that was consumed remains with them for future tastings. The advertising we accept at DoctorWine is always out in the open and we organize three events a year, two in Italy and one abroad (this year in Washington D.C. which was a huge success) to present ourUltimate Guide to Italian Wine and nothing more. And so you can see that with us everything is above board and while we may not be perfect, we try to avoid any slippery slopes in regard to our objectivity and in respect of our readers.

I point this out not to tout myself as an example of correctness, Larner did so much better, but only to underscore that in a country like Italy, where it is still not clear that some things need not be free, it is important to find other and diversified systems of financing. What is important is that everything is transparent and everyone knows how it works. ‘Secret’ events, even birthday parties, have no place in our book. Unicuique suum (to each his own).


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Chianti Classico Gran Selezione and Barolo Tasting at Gattopardo NYC


I was very happy to have the opportunity to host a wine tasting dinner featuring 3 top Gran Selezione Chianti Classico wines and 3 top Barolo’s at Il Gattopardo, one of New York City’s greatest Italian restaurants.

Duccio Corsini

The speaker for Chianti Classico Gran Selezione was Duccio Corsini, owner of Principe Corsini and counselor for the Chianti Classico Consortium. The Corsini Family is one of the oldest in Italy, going back to the 13th century.

One of Duccio’s ancestors, the Cardinal Lorenzo Corsini, became Pope Clemente XII.

Corsini began by speaking about the Chianti Classico Gran Selection classification of 2010. He said that the wine must be produced from a single vineyard or from a selection of the estate’s best grapes. The minimum aging is 30 months including 3 months of bottle age. The wine must have excellent chemical and organoleptic characteristics. The producer must declare in advance that the wine is going to be Gran Selezione and the wine is tested. Minimum alcohol is 13%. He pointed out that this was the first time a new classification became the top of a wine classification pyramid.

Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 Gran Selezione 100% Sangiovese Castello di Radda Winery located in Radda in Chianti.The harvest takes place the second half of September. The grapes come from a single vineyard Il Corno (The Horn) which is at 400 meters with a southern exposure. The soil is clayey-calcareous with a rich texture. The vineyard is 20 years old. The grapes are picked at perfect ripeness and are sorted in the vineyard and at the winery.

Fermentation is in 50 hl stainless steel vats with maceration on skins for about 4 weeks. The wine is on the lees for 5 months in 5hl barrels. Then it is put in the same barrels for 20 months and 12 months in bottle before release.

This is a wine with nice red berry fruit with hints of spice and vanilla. It is complex and well balanced and can age for 20 years. $46

Chianti Classico DOCG Gran Selezione “Dom Tommaso” 2013 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot Principe Corsini. The winery is located in San Casciano Val di Pesa. The vineyards are at 270-350 meters and have a southern exposure. Pilocenic hills rich in river stones. There are 5,800 plants per hectare. The training system is low-spurred cordon and the average age of vines is 25 years. This is a selection of the best grapes; hand harvested, destemmed and put in open frustum, cone–shaped stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. After 24 hours at 20C the grapes are inoculated with selected indigenous yeasts. Fermentation for the Sangiovese is 18 days and for the Merlot is 16 days at a max temp of 28C. The wine is aged in 70% new barriques and 30% in used barriques for 18 months and 12 months in bottle before release.

This is a very impressive wine with hints of dark cherries, plums, violets dried roses licqorice and spice. $44

Chianti Classico DOCG 2013 Gran Selezione “Prunaio” 100% Sangiovese Grosso Viticcio $? The winery is in Greve in Chianti. When the wine was first produced in 1985 it was an IGT Toscana because it was against the rules to make a wine from 100% Sangivese and call it Chianti Classico. The grapes are from two single vineyards at 300 and 430 meters, and the exposure is south-southeast, east and west. Biodynamic agriculture is practiced and the Sangiovese Gross came from a massal selection in Montalcino. Soil is alberese stone and schist-based galestro. The training system is guyot. The vines are 13 and 10 years old and there are 6,000 plants per hectare. Manual harvest takes place the first week of October.

Fermentation is at 28/30C in stainless steel and maceration is for 25 days. Malolactic fermentation is in wood. The wine is aged in 225 liter and 500 liter barrels for 18 months and then in large Slavonian oak barrels for 6 months. The wine has ripe fruit aromas and flavors with hints of plum and violets. The wine can age for ten years or more. they are looking for an importer.

Corsini said that 2013 was an excellent vintage for Chianti Classico. In fact, he added, there has not been a bad vintage for Chianti Classico since 2002!

Speaking about Barolo was Giovanni Minetti the former President of the Barolo and Barbaresco Consortium. He has also served as the CEO for some of Piedmont’s most important estates including Tenuta Carretta. Giovanni Is one of the most respected and knowledgeable people working in Italian wine.

Giovanni Minetti

Minetti spoke about the 2012 vintage for Barolo. He said that this was a good but not a great vintage but the wines have balance and elegance. They are more approachable and would be ready to drink sooner than the 2011 and 2013 vintage. After tasting the wines, the other journalists agreed with him. I was in agreement on the first two wines but not the Tenuta Carretta. The grapes for this come from the Canubbi vineyard, which may be the best vineyard in Barolo, and the wine has great structure and body.

Barolo DOCG 2012 cru Rocche di Castelletto 100% Nebbiolo Cascina Chicco in Monforte d’Alba. In 2007, the Faccenda Family purchased a 5 hectare plot of land. This 5 hectare vineyard was purchased in 2007 in the Ginestre zone where the Barolo Rocche di Castelletto DOCG comes from. The vineyard has a southwest and west exposure and the soil is clay and limestone. Manual harvest takes place the second half of October and each plant in harvest twice.

Fermentation lasts for 15 days in small stainless steel tanks with pumping over for color extraction. Maceration is for 40 to 45 days. Malolactic fermentation is in wood. The wine is put into barrels of 2,000, 2,500 and 5,000 liters for 30 months followed by 8 months in stainless steel. It is released 4 years after the harvest. This is an elegant, complex, full bodied wine with hints of raspberry, liquorice and spice. $75

 Barolo DOCG 2012 cru Ravera 100% Nebbiolo Réva Monforte d’Alba Ravera sub-zone. 100% Michet, one of the 3 principal sub varieties of Nebbiolo. The exposure is east and southeast and the vineyard is 1.1 ha at 380 meters and 4,500 plants per hectare. The soil is clay and limestone, alternating with marl and fossilferous sandstone, tending to “elveziano”.

This is an organic wine growing estate which uses only certified bio-products, organic fertilizers and natural yeast. The harvest is manual.

Spontaneous fermentation is on the skins in stainless steel tanks for 30 to 35 days. 80% of the malolactic fermentation takes place in large Austrian oak barrels and 20% in used barriques. Aging is for 24 months in oak barrels and wine was bottled in August. This is a complex, full bodied and balanced wine with hints of violets, blackberries and tobacco. They make 6 wines. Every that works in the winery is under 35!  $79

Minetti made it clear that Michet is not a clone of Nebbiolo but a sub variety. 

Barolo DOCG cru Cannubi 2012 100% Nebbiolo Tenuta Carretta in Piobesi d’Alba in the heart of the Roero zone. The vineyards are at 2.5 hectares. Cannubi may be the best vineyard for Barolo-best exposure and microclimate. The vineyards are at 250 and 350 meters and the training system is guyot. The soil is clay marl with layers of yellow stone and pebble, rich in mineral salts. The exposure is southern/ southwest.

Aging for a minimum of 36 months-at least 24 in casks a and 9 months in bottle. Wine does not go on sale before the 4th year after the harvest. This is a very impressive Barolo complex with hints of wild red berries, tobacco, spice and chocolate. $130

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Another Year in Recipes: “The Italian Vegetable Cookbook”

«Two End-of-Winter Soups

The last week of winter sent us some nasty weather as a parting gift. It has been a peculiar winter hereabouts: many days’ temperature getting up into the 60s, followed by colder spells with lots of wind, then unseasonal warmth again. It had hardly snowed at all until a late nor’easter barreled toward us, threatening Manhattan with 15” or more of snow and wild blustery winds. It was definitely a day to stay home and make soup.

I remembered there were some soup recipes in Michele Scicolone’s Italian Vegetable Cookbook that I’d been meaning to try for a long time, so I pulled my copy off the shelf and started looking through it. Aha: Celery Rice Soup – the very thing! Beloved Spouse is always eager for dishes involving cooked celery, and I had just bought a large fresh head of it.

With that incentive, he was more than happy to chop all the vegetables for the soup. He began working on the four biggest stalks of celery, then moved on to a big onion and two potatoes, while I measured out ½ cup of white rice, grated ½ cup of parmigiano, and defrosted 6 cups of homemade broth and 2 tablespoons of minced parsley.

The cooking process was simple. In a soup pot I briefly softened the onion in olive oil, stirred in the celery and potatoes to coat them with the oil, poured in the broth, and simmered everything for 20 minutes. Then I added the rice and some salt and pepper, simmered it for another 20 minutes, and stirred in the parsley. The rice had absorbed a lot of the liquid, making the soup look almost like a vegetable stew.

For lunch that day we ate big bowls of it, topped with grated parmigiano. It was a perfect consolation for a mean, snowy, sleety day: hearty, homey, and comforting, with a mild and delicate flavor of celery.

A few cold, windy days later I turned to another recipe from the same book:Pugliese-style Zucchini-Potato Soup. Its ingredients are similar in type but even fewer in number than the previous one’s: potatoes, zucchini, and spaghetti, with condiments of garlic, olive oil, and grated parmigiano.

The cooking too is even simpler: Bring salted water to a boil, add cut-up potatoes and a minced clove of garlic, cook 10 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. Add cut-up zucchini and broken-up spaghetti; cook 10 more minutes, until the spaghetti is al dente. Stir in olive oil, black pepper, and grated cheese. Serve, passing more olive oil at the table.

This minimal peasant soup was, once again, just what the weather needed. The final dressing of cheese and olive oil completed and enhanced its simple basic flavors. Beloved Spouse said it struck him as a grandmother’s soup. My only complaint was for the blandness of the out-of-season zucchini: They didn’t contribute all they should have to the mixture.

But the vernal equinox is past, Earth’s northern hemisphere is tilting toward the sun, the days are getting longer, and soon the growing season will be upon us. And if winter delivers any Parthian shots to us, I can retaliate with the rest of my two soups.

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