Fall Wine Dinners, Clearance Sale

August 29, 2006

The Vino staff is very pleased to announce our new “Meet the Winemaker” Dinner and Tasting Series.

The current schedule includes:

A tasting and dinner with one of Italy’s leading women winemakers
Filena Ruppi, Tenuta del Portale (Basilicata)
Monday, September 25
(details to be announced)

Produttori del Barbaresco: Old Vintages
A Vertical Tasting and Dinner moderated by Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino
Tuesday, October 24
(details to be announced)

A Night in Sant’Angelo in Colle: Old Vintages of Brunello di Montalcino
Fabrizio Bindocci, Winemaker, Il Poggione (Toscana)
Tuesday, November 7
(details to be announced)

Damaged Label Clearance Sale
25% off select bottles

This Thursday and Friday from 5:30-7:30 Vino will be holding a clearance sale of label-damaged bottles, 25% off every bottle.

The lot consists of over 100 wines, including gems like:
Duca Enrico
Vintage Tunina
Radikon
Bovio
Abbona
and many others.

N.B.: There is one bottle of each wine. First come first serve, no returns or exchanges.

New Wines Added to Vinositeshop.com

Our new e-commerce site www.vinositeshop.com is now live and we’ve already added a number of new wines, including the wines featured in this week’s tasting (see below).

For Manhattan customers, delivery is free for orders over $100 ($5 for orders under $100) and expedited shipping is available for outer-borough and out-of-state orders.

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Labor Day Barbecue Wines

This Thursday and Friday, August 31-September 1, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Bianco di Jacopo 2004 Ronco del Gnemiz
(click here to order)

Bianco di Jacopo (“Jacopo’s White Wine”) by Ronco del Gnemiz is named after owner Serena Palazzolo’s eleven-year-old son (pictured right). “The vines we use for this wine are roughly as old as my son, so we decided to name it after him,” she told us. Bianco di Jacopo is made primarily from Chardonnay grapes, with the addition of smaller amounts of Pinot Grigio. Well received by the American wine press, this “Super White” from Friuli is rich and well-structured. Limited availability.

Rosato 2005 Conti Zecca
(click here to order)

The Cantalupi Rosato from Conti Zecca is made from a blend of Negroamaro, Puglia’s top red grape, and Malvasia Nera, the “red” expression of the Malvasia grape variety, which is cultivated throughout Italy as a red and white grape. The rosé color is obtained by limiting the wine’s contact with the grape skins during maceration.

Grignolino 2005 Cascina del Frate
(click here to order)

Cascina del Frate’s Grignolino d’Asti is a true wineamker’s wine. Enologist Antonio Gozzelino is one of Asti’s most sought-after consultants and his Cascina del Frate is where he makes his own wines. Virtually unknown outside of Piemonte, Grignolino is a red grape that makes for a rich, moderately tannic wine. It is often blended with Barbera and Freisa (varities that have relatively little tannin). Antonio’s 100% Grignolino is a full-bodied wine, perfect for serving with grilled meats.

Le More 2004 Castelluccio
(click here to order)

The fruit for this classic expression of Sangiovese di Romagna is sourced from two estate-owned vineyard sites. Named “Le More” or “the blackberries,” the wine shows the characteristic fruitiness of Sangiovese grown in Romagna, a land known for its rich foods and intense flavors.

Goj 2004 Cascina Castle’t
(click here to order)

Cascina Castle’t is an organic-farming winery whose painted bottles are as vibrant and intriguing as the wines it produces. The word goj means “the joy of the moment” in Piedmontese dialect (from the Latin gaudium or “enjoyment”). The winemaker intends this fresh, slightly sparkling Barbera d’Asti to be opened in joyful moments of celebration (hence the name).

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Wine Opinion: Can One Wear Rosato After Labor Day?

As the end of summer approaches and the sun starts to set earlier in the sky and Labor Day is upon us, real men (and women) turn their attention to barbecues. I, for one, love the outdoor grill and everything that can be made on it. However, when it comes to cooking, the only thing I do is pizza. The only thing I cook on the grill is pizza. I leave it for the rest of the world to make those delicious dishes with their extraordinary sauces, for which they all have a secret ingredient.

I love almost everything on the grill. Many years ago, I was at a barbecue party in the country outside of Roma where they had grilled quail, lamb, sausages, and a Roman specialty, pajata, which is the small intestines of milk-fed veal. Usually, you eat pajata in a tomato sauce served over rigatoni. But it also served grilled, although it is very hard to find in restaurants. The hosts of the party served it with bread that has been toasted over the grill and lightly drizzled with olive oil: the grilled pajata was so delicate that it melted on the hot bread and in your mouth.

More recently, Michele and I were guests at the home of a good friend in Sag Harbor. He served us skewers of lamb alternated with thick pieces of crusty bread and cubed pancetta. This was wonderful and the bread and the lamb picked up the flavor from the pancetta.

Another time, we rented a house in a small hamlet called Bottai outside of Florence. The owner’s house was also on the property and one Sunday he invited us over for a barbeque. It was on that occasion that I had the best bruschetta I’d ever eaten. While there are many imitations, the true bruschetta, or fett’unta, “the anointed slice [of bread]” as it is called in Toscana, consists of simplicity itself: a grilled piece of stale salt-less Tuscan bread, rubbed with fresh garlic, and then anointed with bitter, green Tuscan olive oil. And what goes best with a dish like this? Sangiovese, you say? You are right. That’s why I chose the 100% Sangiovese di Romagna for this week’s tasting.

In Sicilia they don’t celebrate Labor Day but they do grill calamari and octopus, which is one of my favorite forms of seafood. As you know, I will drink red wine with almost anything but in this case, these two foods cry out for white wine. There no red wine that would work here. In my opinion, if you match these two foods with red wine, you will get an undesirable metallic taste. The way to eat seafood is right off the grill, all by itself, nothing on it but a little salt, lemon, and olive oil, served with a structured white wine like the Bianco di Jacopo.

This Labor Day, I plan on opening some bottles of Grignolino. The weather will hopefully be hot and sunny and I don’t want to drink wines that are too heavy or too high in alcohol. In my opinion, Grignolino is one of those perfect barbecue wines because it goes with many different grilled foods. It’s not too dense, the alcohol is not too high, and it’s easy to drink.

When choosing wines for a barbeque, you need great food wines, with not too much tannin and good acidity, especially because summer grills tend to be spicy and intensely flavored.

And of course, what summer barbecue would be complete without a glass or two of rosato. The Conti Zecca rosato is perfect: made from Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, it’s got a lot of character but is always light and refreshing, not too high in alcohol.

The fashionable among us, of course, would not be caught dead drinking rosato after Labor Day, but I, for one, like to drink it all year round if it goes with the food that I am eating.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

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Charles Scicolone Featured in NYTimes

August 23, 2006

Charles Scicolone was recently asked to participate in a New York Times tasting panel where he and other participants rated twenty-five bottlings of Pinot Grigio.

“Pinot Grigio is often misunderstood,” said Charles, “and so I was glad that the Times is taking it seriously and honored to be part of the tasting panel.”

Times food columnist Florence Fabricant and wine writer Eric Asimov also participated in the tasting.

As Eric points out in his piece, Pinot Grigio can be a wonderfully approachable and affordable wine, great for summer months when we all crave refreshing, bright white wines that pair well with spicier foods.

Charles and the Vino staff have hand-selected the following three bottlings of Friulian Pinot Grigio (each of which is available on our new e-commerce site):

Pinot Grigio 2004 Ascevi

Pinot Grigio 2005 La Di Motte

and

Pinot Grigio 2004 Orgnani

Charles’ Birthday Wines

In other news, Charles is celebrating his birthday this week by pouring five of his favorite wines at this week’s wine tastings (Thursday and Friday, 5:30-7:30).

Don’t miss this opportunity to sample his selections and discuss them with him.

For descriptions of the wines and Charles’ weekly Wine Opinion, please see below.

Remember: the tastings are free.

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Tasting: Celebrate Charles’s Birthday

This Thursday and Friday, August 24-25, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Pelaverga Basadone 2004 Castello di Verduno
(click here to order)

The tiny Verduno or Verduno Pelaverga appellation is perhaps Italy’s smallest: the wine is made from the rare Pelaverga grape exclusively in the hamlet of Verduno. Spicy and aromatic, locals believe that this excellent food-pairing possesses aphrodisiacal properties, hence the name Basadone or baciadonne in Italian, the “lady kisser.”

Le Muraglie 2001 Ezio Voyat
(click here to order)

The Ezio Voyat winery is one of Italy’s most respected winemakers and its wines reflect the elegant winemaking tradition of the township Chambave in the Valle d’Aosta (where French and Italian are spoken). His Le Muraglie, named after the muraglie or medieval walls of Chambave, is a blend of Petit Rouge, Dolcetto, and Gros Wein, grape varieties central to the valdostana blending style. This wine pairs well with the classic wintery dishes of the region (fondues and venison, for example) but has a lightness and bright acidity that marry with a variety of cuisines.

Ghemme Collis Carellae 1996 Cantalupo
(click here to order)

The Ghemme appellation is found in the province of Novara just east to its more celebrated cousins Barolo and Barbaresco. Although lesser known than those famously long-lived wines, Ghemme (also made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes) shows remarkable aging potential. As in the Langhe (where Barolo and Barbaresco are made), cooler temperatures combined with mild weather made 1996 one of the greatest vintages of the last century.Carella is one of Ghemme’s historic crus. The name comes from the ancient Latin carellaedunum, literally “wagon heights” (hence the name Collis Carellae in late Latin or “wagon hill”). Excavations near the vineyards have revealed artifacts dating to the Neolithic era, a testament to pre-Roman civilization there.

Taurasi Radici 1995 Mastroberardino
(click here to order)

Charles often cites Mastroberardino as one of his favorite wineries. As he has noted in previous installments of his wine opinion, Mastroberardino’s Taurasi has remarkable aging potential and while this 1995 is drinking very well right now, it still has many years ahead of it. The Taurasi appellation was practically invented by Mastroberardino, who has been making wine in Campania since the sixteenth-century. Taurasi is made from 100% Aglianico grapes sourced from the estate’s top vineyards. In the 1990s, the winery began producing the wine with the Radici or “roots” label, a homage to this winemaker’s belief that a traditional approach (long maceration and no barrique) makes for wines that will age gracefully. The 1995 harvest was a fantastic vintage for the appellation.

Vecchia Annata 1982 Villa di Vetrice
(click here to order)

This Vecchia Annata or “old vintage” bottling by Villa di Vetrice is barrel-aged in large oak botti before its release. The Grati family used to sell the wine only locally until Vino’s wine director Charles Scicolone and Nicola Marzovilla tasted it at the winery during a now legendary luncheon of bistecca fiorentina (Tuscan porterhouse steak) served with green sauce (a heated debate ensued as to whether green sauce is the appropriate accompaniment). Wine ages best in large vessels: the secret behind this wine’s longevity is the large-barrel aging. This 100% Sangiovese (essentially a declassified Chianti Rufina) is rich on the nose and remarkably fresh in the mouth. If you like old wine, this juice will not disappoint you.

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Wine Opinion: De Gustibus Disputandam… Est!

There’s an old saying in the wine trade: “if a wine scores 89, it will not sell. If it scores 90, you can’t keep it in stock.” This system, known as the “100 Point System,” may or may not have been invented by Robert Parker. Today, in almost every American publication, the 100 Point system seems to be the only the way to rate wines. In my opinion, this is a system that is easy to understand. If you give a wine an A, B, or a C, or if you give it 3, 2, or 1 glasses or grape bunches, there is plenty of leeway. For example, an A could be anywhere from 90 to 100. And just what is a glass anyway? But who can argue with a wine that gets 100 points?

At Vino, we do not have a point system. Even some publications that use the 100 Point system admit that it has many faults. But it is so popular that they consider it a necessary element for the success of their magazines. There is one publication that uses the system but also puts out one issue each year where no wines are judged using numerical ratings. It’s not surprising that issue sells the fewest copies each year.

I feel that to rate a wine in this way does not really express anything about the wine, how the wine tastes, or whether or not you will like the wine. Is the 100 points given because this is a wine that deserves 100 points above all other wines? Or because it is the best wine of its type? Descriptions about a wine are much better because they at least give you some idea of what the wine may taste like. But remember: all of this is very, very subjective.

Thursday, August 24, is my birthday and I am picking five wines that we will taste that evening and if there is any left, I will take it home and drink it for dinner. These wines are all made in a traditional style, which expresses the terroir and the grape and they are all very good food wines.

When you taste these wines, and I tell you about them, I will not say that this wine got an A or a B or that this wine is a 90 point wine or a 100 point wine. I selected these wines because I appreciate them and there is no way that I could possibly give these wines a numerical rating. Drinking wine should be pleasurable. You should drink what you like. Unfortunately, the only way to is to taste the wine and to make up your own mind. That does not mean that you should not read these publications. Pay attention to the their descriptions of the wine. Find a publication where the people who are evaluating the wines seem to have the same palate as you. Get to understand what kind of wines these evaluators like or choose.

The Latins used to say de gustibus non est disputandum. In other words, one should not discuss or dispute others’ tastes. In Sicily, they have a similar expression, a ciascuno il suo, or “to each his own.” I feel that in polite company, this is a good rule of thumb to go by. But when it comes to tasting wine, I believe the exact opposite is true: we should discuss our taste and our palate. The greatest part of drinking wine is sharing that subjective experience. In other words, the greatest pleasure comes from eating, drinking, and discussing together. Therefore, I say, de gustibus disputeanum est!

On August 24, Mt. Vesuvius erupted and destroyed the bustling city of Pompeii. This happened in 79 A.D. I was born on August 24 but I’m not quite that old. Please join me this Thursday and Friday to taste some of my favorite wines.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino