New Flights at I Trulli

September 27, 2006

This week’s tastings feature new Fall flights at Enoteca I Trulli (flights consist of three tasting pours, organized by region, wine type, and/or theme).

This Thursday and Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.
FREE
800-965-VINO
contact@vinosite.com

Flight #1 Native South
The Native South flight features indigenous grape varieties of Southern Italy.

Inzolia 2005 ERA
(click here to order)

The ERA winery is 100% bio-dynamic. Its Inzolia is made exclusively from the eponymous grape, vinified in stainless steel.

Koine Verdeca 2005 Botter
(click here to order)

“Koine” was the Greek dialect spoken throughout the Mediterranean at the height of the ancient Hellenic empire, the lingua franca of Mediterranean trade and civilization. Here the name refers to the fact that in antiquity, Verdeca, known for its intense aromas and flavor, was grown throughout the Mediterranean basin.

Fiano d’Avellino 2005 Terredora
(click here to order)

Fiano is one of Italy’s oldest grape varities and was highly praised by Latin writers. The Roman soliders often remarked that the fruit was so rich that it was difficult to keep the bees away. Thus, the grape became known as apiano meaning “loved by bees,” from the Latin apis or “bee.” Over the centuries, the name was transformed from apiano to affiano and finally fiano (Avellino is the name of township outside Napoli where the grapes are grown for this appellation). Pliny marveled at the wine’s great aging ability.

Flight #1 Non-Native
The Non-Native flight features red international grapes grown in Italy.

Praepositus 2003 Abbazia di Novacella
(click here to order)

The famed Abbey of Novacella (Abbazia di Novacella) has been a European center of learning, sprituality, and culture since the twelfth century when it was founded as part of the Order of St. Augustine.

Where there are monks, there are books and there is wine. The high-altitudes and pebbly soil of Alto Adige are ideal for the production of richly flavored and intensely colored wines. The friars of Novacella have made wine for more than eight centuries and the presence of Pinot Nero (locally called Blauburgunder by these speakers of German and Italian) dates back to the mid-eigteenth century.

Merlot 2003 Planeta
(click here to order)

A ground-breaking wine from Planeta, this Merlot is blended with small amounts of Petit Verdot and spends twelve months in barrique before being released.

Pietraforte 1999 Carobbio
(click here to order)

Although the Carobbio estate is more famous for its modern-style Chianti, it also produces some of the region’s most coveted wines like this Pietraforte (named after the vineyard where the grapes are sourced). This wine is everything a classic Super Tuscan should be: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, bold and big in the mouth, with the classic vanilla and toasty flavors and aromas of barrique.


Filena Ruppi Tasting Today

September 25, 2006

Special Monday Tasting
5:30-7:30
FREE!!!

Today, Monday, Sept. 25
5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.
FREE
800-965-VINO
contact@vinosite.com

Winemaker Filena Ruppi (pictured right) will be pouring her wines at the store today, Monday, September 25, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. The free tasting will also include a few labels by her husband, Donato d’Angelo.

for information on the wines, see below

Weekly Wine Tasting
Thursday and Friday
September 28-29
5:30-7:30
FREE!!!

This week’s Thurs. and Fri. tastings will feature the new wine flights at Enoteca I Trulli.

Meet Filena Ruppi and experience
the wines of Tenuta del Portale

Today, Monday, Sept. 25
5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.
FREE
800-965-VINO
contact@vinosite.com

Starsa Bianco 2004 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)

Starsa Rosso 2003 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)

Aglianico 2001 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)

Aglianico Riserva 2000 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)

Vigne a Capanno 2001 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)

Pian del Carro 2001 Tenuta del Portale
(click here to order)


Tasting: Vignaioli Selections

September 20, 2006

This Thursday and Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.
FREE
800-965-VINO
contact@vinosite.com

Ribolla Gialla 2004 Antico Broilo

Ribolla Gialla is an indigenous grape of Friuli, often compared to Chardonnay. It makes for a wine rich in color with unusual aging ability for a white wine.

Vareij 2004 Hilberg

Vareij is an unusual blend of Brachetto and Barbera. The term vareij means “varied” or “variation” in Piemontese dialect. It refers to the fact that Brachetto is rarely vinified as a still wine.

Uvarara 2004 Frecciarossa

Uvarara is a grape grown in the Oltrepo’ Pavese appellation. Often called Bonarda, it is slightly different than the Bonarda grown in Piemonte and in Emilia.

Amarone 2000 Begali

This Amarone from an artisanal producer is a classic example of the appellation’s unique character in the panorama of Italian winemaking.

Recioto 2003 Begali

Recioto is the sweeter, more concentrated original version of Amarone. While it is often served with chocoloate outside Italy, in the Valpolicella (province of Verona) where it is made, the traditional pairing is pastissada, a horse-meat stew.

* * *

Wine Opinion: How I Became a Pizzaiolo

editor’s note: there are still some spaces available for Charles and Michele’s Pizza class on Sat. November 14. To register, please email register@vinosite.com.

In 1970, I went on my honeymoon to Italy for three weeks. Among the places we visited was Napoli. A famous man once said, vedi Napoli e poi mori, “see Napoli and then die.” When our visit in Napoli was over, I turned to Michele and said, “we saw Napoli, it was terrible, and I feel like I died.” Even though we visit Italy three or four times a year, because of our experience, we never went back to Napoli. It seemed, when we were there, that everybody wanted to take you for a “ride.” Not only the cab drivers, but even the police seemed to have their hand out looking for a “tip.”

Twenty-five years went by and Michele went on a press trip to Napoli. When she was there, she telephoned and said that Napoli was wonderful and that we did not understand it the first time that we were there. Maybe we were too young and too naive. Michele kept on saying how wonderful the people were, that they did not speak but actually sang. The city was wonderful. The Bay of Napoli was incredible and the food was some of the best that she had ever eaten.

But the best thing that she had was the pizza. My response was, “How good could the pizza be?” I’ve eaten pizza all over Italy and I’ve eaten pizza in New York. How could it possibly be any better? We were scheduled to go on a trip to Roma a few months later and after much badgering, Michele convinced me that we would spend eight days in Roma and one day in Napoli. We went to Napoli first, and instead of spending one day there, we spent eight days. Michele was right: I fell in love with the city and all things Neapolitan. The caffe’ and the sfogliatella at the Caffe’ Gambrinus, the wonderful seafood, and, of course, pizza. I ate pizza three times a day. You can buy pizza and eat it as you walk because some of the restaurants have a stand outside and they ring a bell when the pizza is ready, and you come and buy the pizza and you fold it (because you can fold Neapolitan pizza without it falling apart), and you go on your way. I ate pizza for lunch and I ate pizza for dinner.

In his famous Allegory of the Cave (from the Republic), Plato writes that all we see are shadows and reality is hidden from us. The things that we see are not the things themselves but shadows of those things. Therefore, we never know the thing itself. I felt that I had tasted what pizza really should be. I was no longer in the shadows and I had come out into the sunlight and I could see. I could eat, I could taste. I was in heaven.

On the way home, I turned to Michele and said to her, “where am I going to find pizza like this in New York?” Michele turned to me and said, very sarcastically, “Make it yourself!”

Stay tuned for the next installment of “How I Became a Pizzaiolo,” where I will reveal the secrets behind my career as a pizza-maker and author of Pizza, Any Way You Slice It.

–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino


Martha’s End-of-Summer Wines

September 12, 2006

Later this week, the staff at Centovini will be pouring wines at the Martha Stewart Living End-of-Summer party. The magazine’s events coordinator asked owner Nicola Marzovilla to put together a tasting of “summer” wines to accompany antipasti prepared by Chef Patti Jackson. Although the party is for Martha Stewart Living staff only, you can taste the wines this week at Vino:

This Thurs. and Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.
800-965-VINO
contact@vinosite.com

Prosecco (tranquillo) 2005 Collalto
(click here to order)

While most Prosecco is vinified as a sparkling wine, locals often drink it as a still (tranquillo in Italian) but equally refreshing white. Its bright acidity and fresh fruit flavors make it a perfect food wine that will pair with a wide range of dishes. Prosecco – still or sparkling – is the wine of Venice par excellence.

Orvieto Amabile 2004 Le Velette
(click here to order)

Orvieto is generally made as a dry wine but in this case the winemaker has stopped fermentation early, thus allowing the wine to retain some of its sugar and make it sweeter (amabile or “lovable” denotes sweet in wine parlance). This now unusual winemaking style was popular until the early twentieth century. Its subtle sweetness makes it an excellent pairing for salads (or other dishes with vinegar).

Gragnano 2005 I Normanni
(click here to order)

Named after the famous pasta-producing township on the Amalfitan coast, Gragnano is made from Aglianico grapes (southern Italy’s most noble variety) blended with smaller amounts of Piedirosso and Sciascinoso: each of these has been used to make wine in Campania since antiquity. This slightly sparkling version of the appellation is considered one of the best wines to pair with pizza – a dish they know something about in Campania, the region where it was invented.

Mantovano 2005 Ca’ de’ Medici
(click here to order)

While most Lambrusco is made from Lambrusco grapes grown in the province of Reggio Emilia (in the region of Emilia), the fruit for this sparkling red is sourced from vineyards in the province of Mantova (region of Lombardia). Lambrusco is the quintessential food wine and pairs well with the rich foods of the Po River Valley. This particular expression of Lambrusco is richer in flavor and darker in color than most. During summer months, it is matched by the famous cured meats of Parma (Prosciutto, Culatello, Mortadella etc.).

Grignolino 2005 Cascina del Frate
(click here to order)

When in Piemonte, drink as the Piemontesi do… The Piemontesi produce some of Italy’s most coveted and collectible wines (Barbaresco and Barolo) but for their table wines, they prefer lighter wines with good acidity like this 100% Grignolino from the township of Asti (in the heart of Piedmontese wine country). In summer months, we tend to eat spicier dishes: this bright wine can hold its own with intensely flavored foods, like sausage with onions and peppers.

Lacrima di Morro d’Alba 2004 Mancinelli
(click here to order)

The Lacrima grape is one of central Italy’s emerging stars: very round, soft, and fruity in the mouth, it was virtually unknown outside of the country until about five years ago. The berries are so rich in sugar that as they begin to ripen, some of them inevitably split and begin to “cry,” hence the name lacrima or “tear drop” in Italian. This wine is a classic example of Italy’s wondrous mosaic of indigenous grape varieties.

* * *

Vino and the Scicolones Partner with St. Vincent’s
for a good cause…

On Tuesday, September 26, Michele and Charles Scicolone will be pouring, talking, tasting, and mingling at “A Taste of the Village and Beyond,” where Vino will be among the sponsors providing donations.

The charity event will raise funds to help renovate St. Vincent Hospital’s Manhattan Children’s Inpatient Psychiatric Unit and will include food and wine tastings, auctions, and, of course, the chance to meet and chat with Michele and Charles.

For details, click here.

* * *

Wine Opinion: A Wine the World Didn’t Forget

In my opinion, there are many great grape varieties in Italy. Four, however, stand out because of the uniqueness and the nobility of the wines that they produce and their ability to age. These grape varieties are: Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Sagrantino, and Aglianico. While the first three have become well known in North America, the last is only now beginning to become a household word. Like most wines from the South of Italy, it’s taken longer for it to catch on here. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t make for great wine. In fact, it’s one of my favorite grapes.

The Aglianico grape was brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks. Today, its Latin name Vitis hellenica or “Hellenic grape variety” is a reference to the grape’s origins. In the fifteenth century, it became known as Aglianico.

Many people are familiar with the Aglianico that is grown in Campania, which, in the form of Taurasi, makes great wine that can last for thirty or more years. Most do not know, however, that Aglianico was first cultivated not in Campania but rather in Basilicata, the region that forms the insole of Italy’s boot. It was planted in the volcanic soil of the sunny slopes of Mt. Vulture, a luckily extinct volcano that last erupted roughly three hundred years ago.

Aglianico from Basilicata would be called the wine that time forgot if it were not for a few great producers. I have been drinking these wines for the last twenty-five years, both here and in Italy. Some of these wines have been twenty-years old or older and the longevity of these wines is truly amazing. There are two winemakers, in particular, who stand out. The first is Donato d’Angelo, who was one of the first to introduce Aglianico del Vulture to the United States as a fine, collectible wine. The other, by coincidence, is his wife, Filena Ruppi of Tenuta del Portale, whose wines I have had fortune to drink and to taste over the years.

The Aglianico they grow in Basilicata is slightly different than the clone grown in Campania. The berries are bigger and as a result, you get a wine lighter in color because of the skin-to-pulp ratio. These wines have a rich, cherry-like aroma, with hints of tar, good acidity, and long finish. They are very well balanced wines and most importantly, they are great food wines that will stick around for a very, very long time. I recently tasted Filena’s Riserva 2000: this is a wine that, in my opinion, will reach its peak in fifteen to twenty years. It’s one of my favorites.

I met Filena for the first time over fifteen years ago at Vinitaly and she was already making excellent wine back then. I am very glad that she is coming to Vino and I Trulli on September 25, and I am looking forward to tasting her wines with her. I know there are a few spots left at her winemaker dinner: I can’t think of a better way to pass an evening than eating and drinking her wines with her, trading notes and impressions.

As you all know, my wine opinion is accompanied each week by my picture. However, I am going to have a new picture taken next week. The only thing that could replace my face would be a bunch of Aglianico grapes. Notice how large the berries are in the picture here to the right and enjoy.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

* * *

Web Exclusive! Sogno Uno: Just a few cases left!

The long-awaited Sogno Uno has finally arrived. The wine, the product of a collaboration between actress Savanna Samson (pictured right) and maverick winemaker Roberto Cipresso, has been the talk of the Italian wine world since it was first introduced a few months ago. Sogno Uno or “Dream One” is Ms. Samson’s first foray into the wine world. It is a blend of Cesanese with smaller amounts of Sangiovese and Montepulciano, made from grapes grown in Lazio. The front label reveals an image of Ms. Samson while the back label quotes from the second book of Virgil’s Georgics. The passage, one of the work’s most famous, describes an offering to Bacchus, god of wine. For those of you who don’t read Latin, a translation follows:

Grim masks of hollowed bark assume, invoke/Thee with glad hymns, O Bacchus, and to thee/Hang puppet-faces on tall pines to swing./Hence every vineyard teems with mellowing fruit,/Till hollow vale o’erflows, and gorge profound,/Where’er the god hath turned his comely head./Therefore to Bacchus duly will we sing/Meet honour with ancestral hymns, and cates/And dishes bear him; and the doomed goat/Led by the horn shall at the altar stand,/Whose entrails rich on hazel-spits we’ll roast.

To purchase click here.


The Modern South

September 6, 2006

This Thursday and Friday, September 7-8, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Chardonnay 2004 Planeta

Planeta’s 100% Chardonnay put the winery on the map when it was first released in 1994. Fermented in small French-oak barrels, this wine showed that Sicilia offered an ideal environment for the production of modern-style Chardonnay: great weather and lots of sun. Today, Planeta and its Chardonnay continue to lead the Southern Italian wine revolution, producing approachable, fruit-driven wines that the winery offers to modern-style lovers at a reasonable price point.

Merlot 2003 Planeta

Another ground-breaking wine from Planeta, this Merlot is blended with small amounts of Petit Verdot and spends twelve months in barrique before being released.

Ceuso 2001 Ceuso

If there ever were a “Super Sicilian” wine, this is it: 50% Nero d’Avola (Sicilia’s most noble grape) blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. A Bordeaux-style wine vinified and blended in the same tradition as the Super Tuscans that preceded it.

Nero 2002 Conti Zecca

Sourced from top growing areas in Leverano and Salice Salentino, Conti Zecca’s Rosso del Salento is a blend of Negroamaro with smaller quantities of Cabernet Sauvignon. Negroamaro is one of the region’s most ancient red grapes. Some believe its name to mean “black bitter” (from the Italian negro and amaro) but others believe that it means “black black” from the Italian negro and the Greek maurus for black, perhaps a reference to its dark color. Although Cabernet Sauvignon has been cultivated in Puglia for more than two centuries, innovative producers like Conti Zecca have just begun to experiment with modern-style blends like this one. Their Nero has been one of the first Super Pugliese wine to emerge on the scene, receiving great praise on both sides of the Atlantic.

Naima 2003 De Conciliis

De Conciliis’ Naima is a 100% Aglianico made grapes grown in Cilento (in Campania). The wine under goes temperature-controlled fermentation in small French-oak barrels. The result is a gorgeously modern expression of Aglianico. The wine takes its name from the famous composition by jazz musician John Coltrane, a reflection of the family’s interest in jazz and their desire to push the envelope of winemaking tradition.

* * *

Wine Opinion: I’d Rather Eat This Old Hat

A few days ago, someone told me that I was “old hat.” This said person said this to me because he didn’t agree with my position on wine and only drinking wine with food. I thought about it for a while and decided that they were right. I am old hat. By this, I mean that I like my wine in the traditional style, that is to say, made in the winery, not in the laboratory with machines that torture the poor grapes, and that wine should never be served without food.

Wine is made to go with food. I never drink wine anywhere unless it’s accompanied by food. Recently, someone wrote, in one of the more trendy wine magazines, that we must break the tyranny of food and wine. It makes you wonder: is this a joke or a trick question? Wine belongs with food and food belongs with wine and it has been this way for the last 3,000 years. In my opinion, give me wine made in the traditional style, not those that are meant to be drunk on their own. Those wines are meant to be drunk on their own because they are too big, juicy, and concentrated to be drunk with food. Wines that are too alcoholic, too jammy, and taste more like Ben and Jerry’s Cherry Garcia than wine, are not for me.

I’ve also been told that I am old hat because I insist that my stemware have a stem. My wine glass must be made of glass (or crystal) and it must have a stem. There are wine glasses that look more like they would be fit for Bourbon or Scotch than for wine. These glasses are a problem because you get your fingerprints all over them and the heat from your hand warms up the wine. In Britain they call wines that are drunk from these glasses, “stand-up wines,” in other words, wines you drink standing up without food.

I’ve also been told that I am old hat because I drink my wine sitting down and my caffe’ standing up. One of the great things about the Italian bar is that when you go there in the morning, you stand at the counter, you chat with the barista, and you drink your morning caffe’ or cappuccino standing up as you enjoy a brioche. Italians never drink cappuccino after 11 a.m. They do not refer to their coffee as espresso… they call it caffe’ (kahf-FEH). Call me old hat but never ask an Italian for lemon peel to put in your coffee. The concept does not exist in Italy. And they do not serve coffee in styrofoam cups.

I, for one, refuse to drink my caffe’ from plastic or styrofoam. If it’s not in a ceramic cup, I will not drink it. In Italy, a few months ago, we were with a woman who came out of an Italian bar and was almost hysterical. She could not believe that they would not give her coffee in a large styrofoam cup filled with ice, with a straw, that she could drink as she walked down the street. “What is wrong with this people?,” she said. “They are so backward!”

On our recent trip to Italy, I was reminded of why serving food with wine is so dear to my heart. Michele and I were in Sicilia and we ordered a bottle of spumante. The waiter brought the bottle and along with it fresh Sicilian olives and tramezzini, small crustless sandwiches made with hard-boiled eggs and Sicilian tuna and caper, fresh marinated anchovies and mozzarella, and the standard potato chips, pretzels, and peanuts. Italians do not drink wine without food. This is something that they don’t even think about. In the long run, and in the short one, too, I am just someone who, when they see a bottle of wine, wants someone to say, this is your grandfather’s wine and thank goodness for that.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino