Holidays with the Scicolones

Upcoming Events

Thurs., November 16
Brunello di Montalcino: Fornace and Collemattoni
Meet winemakers Marcello Bucci (Collemattoni) and Fabio Giannetti (Fornace), taste and discuss their wines.
FREE Thurs., 5:30-7:30 @ Vino

Fri. & Sat., November 17-18
Holiday Wines Tasting
FREE Fri., 5:30-7:30 – Sat. 4:30-6:30 @ Vino

See the Tasting Notes below for more information on the sale.

To register, please email

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This Week’s Tasting: Vino Holiday Six Pack

This week’s tastings feature our Holiday Wine selection: receive 10% off this week at when you buy all six in the Vino Holiday Six Pack.

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30)
121 East 27th St.
between Park and Lex.

Regularly $193
$173.70 sale price (limited availability)

The Vino Holiday Gift pack includes a wine for every course in the holiday meal:

Traditional Method Sparkling Erbaluce ’01 Orsolani (sparkling white, Piemonte) to greet your guests as they arrive…

Tocai Friulano ’04 Ronco dei Tassi (white, Friuli) and Primitivo ’04 Conti Zecca (red, Puglia) for antipasti…

Litina Single-Vineyard Barbera ’03 Cascina Castle’t (red, Piemonte) for first courses…

Amarone della Valpolicella 01 Capitel Sant’Eugenio (Veneto) for the main dish and trimmings…

and Vin Santo 1994 Travignoli (Toscana) for dessert.

Ideally serves 5-6 persons (one glass of each wine per person).


The Caluso Spumante Cuvée Tradizione is one of the most interesting Italian wines to reach North America in recent memory. Current owner Gian Luigi Orsolani’s father was the first winemaker to vinify Erbaluce as a sparkling, traditional-method wine in the late 1960s. Today, Gian Luigi is the president and founder of the assocation of Italian Producers of Sparkling Wines Made from Indigenous Grape Varieties. This traditional- or classic-method wine is double fermented in bottle like the wines of Champagne.


Owner and winemaker of Ronco dei Tassi, Fabio Coser, was so pleased with the 2004 vintage that he decided not only to make his award-winning Collio “Fosarin” (the 2006 Tre Bicchieri “White Wine of the Year”) but he also made a series of mono-varietal or single-grape wines. This Tocai Friulano, an indigenous grape of Friuli, is a classic expression of both the variety and the Collio appellation.


There’s no doubt: the Primitivo grape is closely related to the famed Zinfandel grape of California. But which came first? We’ll probably never know (most agree that Primitivo probably originated in the Mediterranean and that a “related” grape was later introduced in America where it was popularized as Zinfandel). The name primitivo means literally “primitive” or “precocious” and refers to the grape’s early ripening. However long the conundrum of Zinfandel and Primitivo may endure, one thing is clear: the Conti Zecca winery, unlike many of its Californian counterparts, does not oak their Primitivo and as a result you taste the grape and not the wood.


Litina was the name of winemaker Maria Borio’s great aunt, whose dowry included the vineyards in Asti where the grapes are still grown for this wine, the winery’s flagship Barbera (a small plot only 1.5 hectares in size that still bears Litina’s name). The name is also reference to the fact that women have worked and played key roles in the winery since Maria took over its operation in the 1970s. Extended aging in cask and in bottle gives this wine the qualification superiore or “superior,” denoting the increased alcohol achieved by the winemaker.


Arnaldo and Marta Galli of Capitel Sant’Eugenio are firm believers in terroir and tradition. For them, a wine is much more than fermented grape juice: it is a result of the land where those grapes are grown and the people who grow them. The estate-owned vineyards for their Amarone were planted in 1969 when they launched their now historic winery. They use only indigenous, naturally occurring yeasts for fermentation and they age the wine in traditional large oak barrels. Wine Director Charles Scicolone credits his discovery of Amarone “as the perfect Thanksgiving wine” to famed wine writer Sheldon Wasserman (see Charles’ Wine Opinion below).


There are numerous explanations for the origin of the name vin santo or “holy wine”: some believe that a 16th-century Greek humanist who compared it to the wines of Xantos (translated erroneously into Italian as santo) when he tasted it on a visit to Florence; others believe that the name derives from the fact that the wine undergoes a “miraculous” second fermentation in the spring just as Christ rose from the tomb. One thing is certain: Vin Santo represents an entirely distinct tradition of winemaking that is unique to Toscana: while Vin Santo can now be called a passito, dried-grape wines made outside of Toscana (passiti) cannot be labeled “vin santo,” regardless of how they are made.

Limited supply!!!

Please note that this offer cannot be combined with any other offer or discount.

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Wine Opinion: Holidays at the Scicolone Residence

When I was younger, we would have Thanksgiving dinner at my grandmother’s house. My grandmother was from Palermo and would make the same meal every Thanksgiving. We would start with antipasti and then go to her baked maccheroni. This was baked in a pan like lasagne with the addition of peas. Afterward, we would have Turkey with all the trimmings and finish the meal with dessert, usually cannoli. After that, we would all sit around the table and eat nuts and raw fennel and play Italian card games. The wine at the time was simple jug wine and no one really paid much attention to it. The wine was on the table the same way that the bread was on the table: you took the wine when you wanted to and you took the bread when you wanted to.

Looking back, I miss those days with my grandmother and my thirty-or-so relatives. I miss the food but do not miss the wine.

Now, for Thanksgiving, it becomes a multi-wine affair, pairing wine with every course. The wine now has a prominent place on the table. To begin, Michele makes an appetizer consisting of crostini, olives, nuts, and fennel. This we serve with a sparkling white wine like the Orsolani Spumante that we’ll be tasting this week at Vino. The second course would, of course, be pasta: either spaghetti or ravioli. This we usually serve with a Barbera, like the Litina by Cascina Castle’t, another wine featured in this week’s tasting. If Michele does the turkey with all the trimmings (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc. etc.), we do an Amarone. This big wine, in my opinion, stands up to all the different flavors on the table. This week at the tasting, we’ll be opening the Capitel Sant’Eugenio Amarone, a wine made in the traditional style, with no barrique whatsoever. Unfortunately or fortunately, we do not play cards anymore after dinner but we sit around eating cannoli, cantucci, and nuts, and we drink Vin Santo, which to me is the perfect end to a meal (unless one wants grappa). The 1994 Vin Santo from Travignoli that we’re pouring this Friday and Saturday is one of my favorites.

A few years ago, Michele came back from a trip to Sicilia. She had been invited to a woman’s home and the woman served turkey. What made this unusual was that the turkey was stuffed with pasta. Michele asked the woman if this was a traditional Sicilian recipe and she said, “You’re in Palermo, aren’t you?” With this, the Conti Zecca Primitivo is a very good choice, not with the turkey but with the pasta, which is eaten separately. The Amarone still goes with the turkey.

One year, many years ago, we had Thanksgiving with the late Sheldon Wasserman, an expert on Italian wine and author of the important book Italy’s Noble Red Wines (see the frontespiece pictured above right). Sheldon was the one who introduced me to the idea of Amarone with turkey. He said that it was the only wine that could really stand up to turkey with all the trimmings. Also, he said something very interesting: “If you serve the turkey alone, without all the trimmings, the Amarone is much too powerful.” Valpolicella would probably then work much better.

This year, however, I will be in Puglia during Thanksgiving with a number of journalists and wine writers. Some of them are good friends and we often spend Thanksgiving together here in New York. Maybe we will get the Italians to serve us turkey.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

Look for Charles’ dispatches from Italy in upcoming issues of the Vino newsletter.

Charles would love to hear from you: please email him at


One Response to Holidays with the Scicolones

  1. retro says:

    This year my wife decided to have a dry run thanksgiving day to test out her recipes. We soaked the bird in a brine solution she got at William Sonoma it really kept it moist. OMG, the turkey was so good and I get to do it again in a few days!

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