Save 20% on certified organic Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo

December 7, 2009

In an age when people are taking greater interest in where their food comes from and how it is made, it’s increasingly common for wine consumers at Vino to ask questions about about organic and biodynamic winemaking.

At Vino we embrace the movement towards more natural production methods and seek producers who do their best to make as pure a wine as possible. Though there exists myriad bureaucratic regulations and certifications relating to the wine we drink, there are really only three terms you need to identify:

ORGANIC For a wine to be labeled organic, its fruit has to be classified such by the department of agriculture and regulated by the EU. The term organic refers solely to the fruit in the vineyard — whereby a winemaker must abstain from using chemical fertilizers and pesticides — but does not apply to methods carried out in the cellar.

NATURAL Though there is no established certification body for “natural” winemaking, nor does the term have any legal status, in most cases “natural” vines could be certified organic were the winemaker to submit them for certification. These principles of minimizing chemical or technical intervention are also carried through to the entire vinification process.

BIODYNAMIC Rather than a set of legal guidelines, the principles of biodynamic viticulture have root in the ideas of Austrian twentieth-century philosopher Rudolf Steiner, whose theories suggested a method of farming steeped in the understanding of nature and ecology, with a greater reliance on the use of plant and animal products.

This week we’re featuring some of our favorite winemakers which fall under these categories, starting today with the certified organic Cascina Corte! After falling in love with the 18th century cascina (or “farmhouse”), husband-and-wife team Amalia Battaglia, a doctor, and Sandro Barosi, a devoted advocate and veteran of the Slow Food movement, began making wine just eight years ago intending to follow biodynamic principles.

Yet rather than devote all his energies to biodynamic winemaking, Barosi has instead settled on organic viticulture and natural vinification methods to produce the highest quality product. After planting their own organic Barbera and Nebbiolo, Cascina Corte’s older Dolcetto vines were certified ICEA beginning with the 2006 vintage.

Take 20% off all four wines TODAY ONLY!

Dolcetto di Dogliani 2007
was $21, now $16.80

Dolcetto di Dogliani Vigna Pirochetta 2006
was $25, now $20

Piemonte Barbera 2007
was $28, now $22.40
Gold Medal-Winner, Biodivino 2009

Langhe Nebbiolo 2006
was $32, now $25.60

Remember, this offer is valid TODAY ONLY, while stocks last!

Check out our website for a full list of December’s featured producers and tastings*. Look for your favorite producers and be sure to plan ahead: 20% sales are for one day only! As usual, we’ll be hosting our free tastings every Friday from 5:30pm, continuing this week with some of our favorite “natural” wines!


Vino reveals its six picks for Thanksgiving

November 18, 2009

It’s that time of year again! Seems like summer’s barely over but here we are just a week away from Thanksgiving, and chances are you’re faced with the familiar problem of what wine to pair with your turkey and pumpkin pie. If this is you look no further than Vino: introducing our Thanksgiving Six-Pack 2009!

As is tradition at Vino, each November we compile a selection of six of our favorite Italian wines designed to only enhance your yams and cranberry sauce. From the crisp bubbles of Prosecco to the lush nectar of Malvasia passito, these six great bottles are guaranteed to guide you and your loved ones through another epic and cheerful holiday feast.

Vino will be pouring all six wines this Friday afternoon from 5:30pm.

The Thanksgiving Six-Pack is available for just $150: that’s an incredible saving of 20%!

Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Brut NV Col de’ Salici
The crisp, classic spumante wine of Veneto is the perfect sparkling holiday aperitivo. Salute!

Moscato Giallo 2008 Castel Sallegg
Golden and aromatic, the unctuous and food-friendly Moscato Giallo will stand up well to your pre-dinner cheese plate.

Lambrusco Rosé In Correggio NV Lini
Designed to combat Emilia’s richer flavors, let these pink Lambrusco bubbles cleanse your palate.

Pelaverga Basadone 2007 Castello di Verduno
A holiday favorite of former Times critic Frank Bruni, Pelaverga’s spicy aromas make it a firm fixture on our Thanksgiving table too. Try it with fresh filled pasta!

Serra delle Querce 2005 D’Angelo
Roasted turkey and Aglianico? Yes we can! Southern Italy’s most noble grape is softened by the addition of Merlot, making this wine the perfect turkey pairing.

Vigna del Volta 2004 La Stoppa
A blend of Malvasia di Candia and Moscato, this Tre Bicchieri-winning passito is a natural choice for sweet pastry dishes… if you still have room!

Thanksgiving Six-Pack
$150

For more information call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


Lambrusco & pork dumplings and more Italian-Chinese pairings in today’s New York Times

October 28, 2009

Alex Witchel combines four favorites from Vino with the flavors of the Far East

beijing

Italy and China have long since shared a common passion for eating well; today many young Chinese are excited about aspects of modern Italian culture, including fashion, football, and of course food and wine.

New Yorkers don’t have to travel half-way around the world to taste great Chinese food, yet are easily flummoxed when it comes to choosing a wine to pair with their pork dumplings or Peking duck. Though I drank only Tsingtao or Yanjing beer (or failing that, Coca-Cola) with food on a trip to Beijing earlier this year, I’ve often considered the sharp bubbles of Lini’s Lambrusco a perfect partner for all manner of classic dishes from the Far-East. Indeed, the cuisine of China and Emilia-Romagna are not so far apart: both are reliant on fresh vegetables, rich, meaty flavors, and of course, noodles.

beijing pork

Delicious meat, fish and vegetable dishes are more often paired with beer in Beijing, like at this restaurant in Bei Hai park. But what about Lambrusco?

In “What Marco Polo Knew” (published in today’s New York Times), acclaimed writer and critic Alex Witchel takes the idea one step further, and discovers — at the suggestion of Beijing Times reader and Gary Price — that the pairing of Italian wine and Chinese cuisine is not so unlikely. In her Feed Me column, Witchel admits to having “neither the patience nor the back for schlepping” to Flushing, but she did make it down to East 27th Street where she picked up four of our favorite wines from Vino, which were then taken home and paired with dishes from Shun Lee West, Wu Liang Ye and Szechuan Gourmet, three of Manhattan’s top Chinese restaurants. So how did these Italian bottles rate with Chinese take-out?

baotze and jaotze

Typical Beijing dumplings known as “jaozi” and “baozi” served at a popular student eatery near the university.

Here are some of Alex’s tasting comments:

Lambrusco Scuro NV Lini and fried pork dumplings: “A fizzy purple… a light, bright match but not quite special enough to repeat.”

Rosso di Montalcino 2005 Cerbaia and filet mignon with black peppercorn sauce: “Lovely… [but] looking for love in all the wrong places.”

Valpolicella Superiore Ripasso 2005 Le Ragose and Peking duck: “Transcendent… we all swore never to have one without the other again.”

Inzolia 2008 ERA and tofu with chili-minced pork: “Stood up to it like David to Goliath, unexpectedly heroic.”

Read the full article here.

scorpion on sticks

Italian ragazzi have their cornetto and macchiato, but for young people in Beijing, a scorpion on a stick makes for a tasty mid-morning snack.

All photography by James Taylor, Beijing, April 2009.


Alicia Lini (and Lambrusco) sparkles at I Trulli

October 20, 2009

LINI 910 producer presents an evening devoted to the classic flavors of Emilia-Romagna — and to her wines!

Lambrusco lovers converged on I Trulli on Monday night to spend an evening in the presence of Lambrusco producer Alicia Lini (above, with I Trulli owner Nicola Marzovilla). The international face of the popular brand Lini 910, Alicia was in town to further promote her wines to the local market. I Trulli could not resist hosting a dinner in her honor, for which Chef Patti Jackson created some of Emilia-Romagna‘s classic dishes. Naturally, each dish was paired with one of Lini’s delicious and elegant sparkling wines.

blog dining room

Lambrusco has enjoyed an rapid reversal of its image in the United States in recent years, in large part thanks to Lini. Alicia spoke eloquently of Lambrusco’s importance in Emilia-Romagna and its relationship to the region’s foods, as well as the wine’s impact in the United States. As a fourth-generation producer of the 100-year old Lini winery, who better to champion this often misunderstood wine than Alicia? Even I Trulli owner Nicola Marzovilla recalled the moment he realised the diversity of the wine, and its important relation to the local cuisine. At a dinner in Emilia his dining companion had insisted on opening a bottle of Amarone; a great wine perhaps, but wholly inappropriate for the region’s rich flavors. As Alicia put it: “The food in Emilia is very… not fatty, but rich,” she explained. “So that’s why we need a wine like this.”

blog menu

The evening began with a selection of spuntini emiliani, including erbazzone, grilled mortadella and chestnuts, plus a glass of Labrusca Bianco — the ideal aperitivo.

blog anguilla

The fine bubbles of Lini’s Emilian version of Champagne, a white Pinot Nero made in the metodo classico, were the perfect accompaniment for Patti’s saba-glazed eel and risotto.

blog cappellacci

Appropriately for the season, these cappellacci — called such because of their resemblance to papal hats — were filled with pumpkin, and washed down with Lini’s Lambrusco Rosé In Correggio.

blog condiments

This dazzling array of condiments were brought to the table next with the purpose of enlivening the classic bollito misto. Our table made several failed attempts to correctly identify each dish before our server Sheena helpfully revealed all.

blog bollito

Bollito Misto is a classic meat dish in Emilia, and usually comprises of several boiled meats, in this case (clockwise from top-left): veal tongue, capon, cotechino, pork and beef. For this hearty dish we required Lini’s most austere Lambrusco, Scuro In Correggio.

blog gelato

To finish, we indulged in a unique gelato mousse made from the region’s best-known cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano, which was served with roasted figs and Lini’s very own aceto balsamico. The night ended with arguably Lini’s most gorgeous wine (and this Lambrusco fan’s personal favorite), the devastatingly opulent Metodo Classico Rosso.

It was a particularly special evening for two Lambrusco lovers: Barbara and Steve were married at I Trulli exactly twelve months ago, and chose to return on the occasion of their one-year anniversary. Here’s to many more years of sparkling marriage and a lifetime filled with Lambrusco!

All of Lini’s wines are available for purchase at Vino. For more information on the foods and wines of Emilia-Romagna, click here.


Vinitaly: The World We Love

March 24, 2009

The 43rd edition of the international wine event returns to Verona, April 2-9

Vinitaly: The World We Love

Vinitaly is back! After a successful tour of Asia and the US in 2008, the wine fair returns to Verona this spring. From April 2-9, 2009, the Italian and international wine world will descend upon Veronafiere, the 89,630 square meter exhibition space which for last year’s event squeezed in 4,215 exhibitors, 157,177 visitors and 2,054 journalists. This year’s event is Vinitaly’s 43rd edition, unapologetically subtitled “Il Mondo che Amiamo” or “The World We Love” (whether the world in question is Vinitaly or wine itself is open to interpretation).

Just one of the countless tasting events which took place at Vinitaly in 2008.

The Vinitaly experience can be in equal parts rewarding and exhausting. Just one of the countless tasting sessions which took place at last year's event.

Naturally, Vino will be sending its team of experts into the depths of Vinitaly, on a mission to seek out the latest and greatest wine developments from Italy. Check back here for a post-Vinitaly report!


Drink well, every night of the week!

February 18, 2009

Vino puts its favorite value wines on the table

There's no reason not to enjoy a great wine every night of the week, however big your family.

There's no reason not to enjoy a quality wine every night of the week, no matter how big your family.

We all enjoy a really special wine from time to time, and the most serious wine lovers are often prone to developing almost impossibly high standards. But even Vino knows that the residents of Verona are unlikely to drink Amarone with every meal, and the folks in Piedmont probably don’t open ’62 Barolo at lunch. Quality Italian wine doesn’t have to be revered to be appreciated, and it’s not necessary to spend big to enjoy a top bottle, as our selection proves. After all, Italy, perhaps more than any other major wine producing country, boasts a vast range of affordable, high-quality wines designed to be opened now and enjoyed immediately.

Here, we present some of our everyday favorites, all priced between $10 and $20. Whether it’s a Sunday feast with all the family or a Tuesday with leftovers and Law & Order, these great value wines are the perfect choice any night of the week.

value-wines-blog

Check out these great wines and more at vinositeshop.com!

For more information please call 212-725-6516 or email contact@vinosite.com.


You only live once

February 16, 2009

In which I celebrate the big 3-0 with food, friends, music and a once-in-a-lifetime wine

the Empire State Building as glimpsed from the roof of my new building in the East Village.

The Empire State Building as glimpsed from the roof of my new building in the East Village.

A couple of Fridays ago I celebrated my 30th birthday, an event which probably varies in significance depending how old you are! Over the last year, several of my friends had reached this undeniable milestone, and had described to me their sense of panic at having to kiss goodbye their roaring twenties. I personally felt happy to embrace a new decade: I’ve had thirty years to prepare for it, and after all, doesn’t life begin at 30? I certainly feel more content these days than in 1999, the year I first visited these shores as a wide-eyed 20 year-old. Exactly ten years later I find myself living in New York City, signing the lease to a new apartment on my 30th birthday. Blame it on a simple twist of fate…

Look at those bubbles! Giacosa's Brut is double-fermented in bottle to achieve that extra sparkle.

Look at those bubbles! Giacosa's Brut is double-fermented in bottle to achieve that extra sparkle.

After getting the keys to our new place we went home to crack open a bottle of Extra Brut 2001 by Bruno Giacosa which Jim Hutchinson had gifted me on New Year’s Eve. It had been sitting in my fridge ever since, just waiting for an appropriate moment — I suppose this was it. Renowned in Italy for his Barolos and Barbarescos, Giacosa’s “spumante brut” is made from Pinot Nero grapes grown in what is known as the Oltrepò Pavese, an area south of the river Pò which covers the province of Pavia. My first year living in Italy was spent in this foggy university town, so I couldn’t think of a better wine to pop open on this special night. It certainly got the evening off to a bubbly start as I opened my cards and unwrapped my presents. Thanks everyone!

Bruno Giacosa's Extra Brut Spumante is a study in stylish Italian opulence both inside and out.

Bruno Giacosa's Extra Brut Spumante is a study in stylish Italian opulence both inside and out.

I’d made no plans for the evening but it turned out Hillary had, and I was soon being bundled onto the uptown-bound 6 train, final destination unknown. Exiting the subway at 86th and Lexington, we walked up to the corner of 92nd Street, where the warmth and coziness of Sfoglia awaited us. Owned by Ron Suhanosky and Colleen Marnell-Suhanosky, the restaurant is the Manhattan outpost of their original in Nantucket, and the ambiance is definitely more New England kitchen than Upper East Side hotspot.

we

A generous helping of pappardelle alla bolognese (left) at Sfoglia. We were seated beneath a poster for the Spoleto Festival, an arts event held every summer in Spoleto, Umbria, and Charleston, NC.

The portions are equally homely: I ordered the exquisitely-textured pappardelle alla bolognese (my personal idea of comfort food), a sizeable bowl of which took me roughly an hour to finish along with a decidedly rustic Chianti Riserva by Poggio della Torre. Perhaps foolishly, I had pre-ordered the bread pudding which could have easily fed four. As luck would have it, it was all delicious, and we lingered over cookies and Moscato until the wee hours.

after the pappardelle it was a lot of dessert but hey, it's my birthday! Complimentary Moscato and biscotti!

My bread pudding had to be pre-ordered: after the pappardelle it was a lot of dessert but hey, it was my birthday! Grazie Sfoglia for the complimentary Moscato and biscotti!

The birthday weekend was put on hold as I spent the next two days carrying boxes and lugging furniture (thankfully only a few blocks) between homes. The prospect of moving house had forced me to postpone my party until the following Saturday, by which time the new pad was at least taking on the semblance of a home. Hillary had surprised me with a new stereo and turntable, and so we spent most of Saturday scouring the West Village in search of used vinyl. After stopping for an old school pizza experience at John’s of Bleecker, we picked up a bunch of classic LPs (many for as little as a dollar), which we spun that night at the party. (As a result my meticulously compiled ’79-’09 iTunes playlist was thrown out the window at the last minute.)

Just some of the classic albums I picked up for less last Saturday. (Special thanks to Bleecker Street Records and Academy Records.)

Just some of the bargain-priced classic albums I picked up last Saturday, including "JT" naturally! (Special thanks to Bleecker Street Records and Academy Records.)

The tunes taken care of, party guests made some important contributions to an excellent spread: Jess (who also made a mean Joe Greene spinach dip the night of the Super Bowl) brought a homemade cheesecake which went well with Hillary’s mysterious sangria-punch (the effects of which I certainly felt the next morning!). My roommate from Pavia and another recent addition to the thirtysomething club, Federico (co-founder of Roomorama), brought a cream and chocolate cake from The Black Hound, which we washed down with Metodo Classico 2003 by Lini which Michele, my colleague from Domenico Valentino, had kindly brought with her. Grazie mille ragazzi!

My birthday party wouldn't have felt complete without a bottle of Lini. I guess we couldn't quite muster up thirty candles...

My birthday party wouldn't have felt complete without a bottle of Lini. I guess we couldn't quite muster up thirty candles...

My birthday present to myself was an original 1974 New York City subway map, designed by Massimo Vignelli. Famed for its clean, simplistic beauty but infamous for its odd irregularities, the popular design ran from 1972 to 1979 before being replaced with something akin to today’s map, although Vignelli’s visual identity for the subway is still in use. It is now considered something of a modern design classic: the map is on the walls of MoMA and was updated in 2008 for Men’s Vogue.

The '74 Vignelli map is as beautiful as it is baffling. Why is Central Park square? Why is the Second Avenue stop east of First Avenue?

Massimo Vignelli's '74 subway map is as beautiful as it is baffling. Why is the Second Avenue stop east of First Avenue? Why is Central Park square?

Hardly in-keeping with these recession-filled times, I also splashed out on a bottle of Barbaresco Asili 1979 Riserva Produttori del Barbaresco from Vino. Our man in Austin, Jeremy Parzen aka Do Bianchi, had recently written about enjoying a bottle of Borgogno Barolo from his birth year, which more or less convinced me to do the same. It was an extravagant purchase but hey, you only live once. And what fun to drink a great wine that’s the same age as you!

French toast with pear and raspberry for Valentine's Day brunch at the Little Owl (TV sitcom fans may recognize this West Village building).

I had French toast with pear and raspberry for Valentine's Day brunch at the Little Owl (left). TV sitcom fans may recognize this West Village building (right).

Hillary and I finally got the chance to savor it on Saturday night, which also happened to be Valentine’s Day. After what had been a busy two weeks it was the first occasion we’d had to cook a serious meal in our new place. A pizza-and-Menabrea combo on Friday night at Luzzo’s (the best pizza in the city, secondo me) followed by a tasty brunch at The Little Owl the next morning held us over until Saturday evening.

This Cava by Dominio de la Vega made a great aperitivo. Thanks Hillary!

This Cava by Dominio de la Vega made an ideal aperitivo. Thanks Hillary!

I prepared a simple-but-already-legendary spaghetti all’amatriciana (bucatini sometimes splatters too much) with pancetta, and let the sauce sit simmering for a couple of hours while we drank a tasty Cava by Dominio de la Vega, probably the only non-Italian wine mentioned on this blog!

"The best pasta I've ever tasted" was how Hillary described my spaghetti all'amatriciana, which was followed by grilled filet mignon. Thank you Fresh Direct!

"The best pasta I've ever tasted" was Hillary's impressive description of my spaghetti all'amatriciana (left), which was followed by grilled filet mignon (right). Thank you Fresh Direct!

Then, with a sense of enormous anticipation, we tried the Barbaresco. The first sip (without food) tasted as expected, and left an “apple juice effect” which lingered on the gums but all but disappeared once we began the first course. Hillary certainly enjoyed my amatriciana, describing it as the best pasta she had ever tasted. High praise perhaps, but I have to admit it was pretty darn good. For secondo we cooked up some patate alla besciamella (potatoes sliced and baked with béchamel, also known as aux dauphinoises), sides of spinach and two huge hunks of filet mignon which we grilled on a very hot stove.

The cork was a little stubborn but I did it in the end! We'd been dying for several weeks to open "the Barb" as it became known... it was worth the wait.

The cork was a little stubborn but I did it in the end! We'd been dying for several weeks to open "the Barb" as it became known... it was worth the wait.

A great meal calls for a great wine, and the Barbaresco drank beautifully, only improving as the evening progressed. Produttori has been making wine from the south-western facing Asili vineyard since 1970, and it’s considered by some to be the quintessential Barbaresco. It was actually kind of awe-inspiring: I’d tasted some very old wines in Italy but couldn’t believe that something that had been sitting around for most of my life could taste so good and still be so drinkable after all these years.

Only 6790 bottles of Asili single-vineyard 1979 Riserva were bottled. Number 4153 was certainly a good one.

Only 6,790 bottles of Asili single-vineyard 1979 Riserva were bottled. Number 4153 was certainly a good one.

Having both come close to passing out at the table we wisely agreed to skip dessert, but our epic feast was still the perfect end to a fun, hectic couple of weeks, and a crazy, life-altering couple of years. And when I think about how I found myself in another part of the world, in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife, I do sometimes indeed ask myself: Well, how did I get here?

All photographs and photomontages by James Taylor, 2009.


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