Martha’s End-of-Summer Wines

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.

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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.

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