Italian Bubbly, New Class Schedule

December 27, 2006

Taste 6 Sparkling Wines at Vino this Fri. & Sat.

Fri. & Sat., December 29-30
Ring in the New Year Italian Style
FREE
Fri., 5:30-7:30 – Sat. 4:30-6:30 @ Vino

For information on these or any other events at Vino and/or I Trulli, please email events@vinosite.com.

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Winter/Spring 2007 Class Schedule

We are please to announce that the Winter/Spring 2007 class schedule is now online. We’ve added a number of classes, including “Brunello, Chianti, and Super Tuscans” and “Handmade Pasta with Dora Marzovilla.”

Click here to view the 2007 schedule.

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Wine Opinion: New Year’s all’italiana

This time of year, everyone’s thoughts turn to sparkling wine. For some reason, most people think that the only sparkling wine comes from France. This, of course, is not true. The Italians make wonderful sparkling wine, not only from traditional grapes, but also, from some very unusual grapes. One very good choice is Prosecco, which has great bubbles, is relatively inexpensive, and is the most popular sparkling wine in Italy today.

The sparkling wine, however, that intrigues me the most is the Caluso Spumante, by Orsolani, a wine made from 100% Erbaluce grapes (a variety nearly identical to the Greco of the South). This particular wine is not only great for toasting in the new year but is also a great food wine. What makes a great food wine, you ask? The ability of the wine to go with different types of food. The Caluso Spumante has good acidity (which cuts through the fat of what you’re eating). It has nice fruit flavors (which give body to the wine and make it stand up to flavored foods). And it has a really nice, clean after taste (which refreshes your palate as you change courses in a meal).

It just so happens that on Christmas morning, I had scrambled eggs and white truffles along with the Caluso Spumante by Orsolani. It was a perfect combination: the eggs, of course, were local but the truffles, like the wine, came from Piemonte.

This wine also goes very well with lobster, especially lobster boiled and dressed with lemon and butter. It seems that the fruity flavors of the wine and its good acidity make it a great combination for the fatty meat of the lobster and the butter but it also stands up to the tartness of the lemon.

In Italy, it is considered good luck to eat lentils on New Year’s day. Usually, this is combined with bollito misto, arrosto misto, or zampone. Panettone is also traditionally served on New Year’s, the famous cake of Milano, and it is paired with sweet sparkling wine, such as the Moscato d’Asti from Cascina Castle’t in Piemonte or the Malvasia Frizzante by La Stoppa in Emilia-Romagna. The latter is a very unusual wine that you don’t see very often. It’s the kind of wine that the farmers in the Italian countryside make. The first time I tasted this wine, I thought to myself this would be a great combination with any type of biscotti, panettone, or pan d’oro. It’s a perfect end-of-the-meal wine: it’s low in alcohol and fresh and bubbly and tasty.

This is Charles Scicolone, like 007, raising a glass of bubbly to all of you and wishing one and all a happy and healthy new year.

Buon 2007 a tutti!!!

–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

Charles would love to hear from you: please email him at charles@vinosite.com.

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Happy Holidays from the Marzovilla Family!

December 18, 2006


Half Bottles: The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

December 13, 2006

Taste 7 Half Bottles at Vino this Fri. and Sat.

Fri. & Sat., December 15-16
Half Bottles: the perfect stocking stuffer
FREE
Fri., 5:30-7:30 – Sat. 4:30-6:30 @ Vino

This Friday and Saturday we will be pouring 7 wines in half bottle, including the inimitable Barolo La Rocca e La Pira 1996 from Roagna (see below).

Three other wines, besides those below, will also be poured.

Erbaluce La Rustia 2004 (375 ml) Orsolani
100% Erbaluce from one of the appellation’s masters, Gian Luigi Orsolani.
$9.00

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2001 (375 ml) Travignoli
100% Sangiovese aged in traditional large oak casks.
$10.00

San Clemente 2001 (375 ml) Travignoli
A Super Tuscan blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese aged in traditional large oak casks.
$16.00

Barolo La Rocca e La Pira 1997 (375 ml) Roagna
A single-vineyard Barolo from one of our favorite traditional-style producers.
$25.00

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Half Bottle, Will Travel

Question: When you drink half of a half bottle, is the half bottle half full or half empty?

Often, many customers ask me, “how do I preserve my wine once I’ve opened a bottle and drank half of it?” They all say they tried the pump, the spray, the gas, and many other different contraptions. All I tell them to do is to buy a half bottle, drink it, clean it, and next time they drink half of a full bottle, they can pour the remaining wine into the half bottle and re-cork it. If the half bottle is full, all the air is taken up with wine and the wine should last a few days longer and still be in good condition. I hope this sheds light on the age-old conundrum, is the bottle half full or half empty?

There seems to be some controversy on whether or not wine in half-bottle ages more quickly than wines in regular 750 ml bottles and large-format bottles (i.e., magnums, 3- and 6-liters). It would seem to me that wine in a half-bottle would age more quickly because there is less wine and less space taken up by the wine. In my opinion, the more wine you have, the longer it will age. Whether or not this has ever been proven, I do not know, but if anybody out there has scientific proof of this or has done studies, please let me know.

There are a number of reasons why winemakers bottle some of their wine in what are often “pony” bottles or 375 ml bottles (some people call erroneously call them “splits,” but splits are actually half of a half bottle or 187 ml). The historic reason behind smaller bottle sizes is that dried-grape wines and botrytized wines, by their nature, were always low in volume, although high in alcohol. In other words, when you sell Vin Santo, for example, it is usually in a half bottle because that amount is sufficient to serve six persons one glass of wine each. The wine is so concentrated in flavor that a full 5-ounce glass would be overpowering.

Half-bottles are also appealing to restaurateurs and restaurant-goers because it allows the customer to try more types of wine during a seating. If two persons are dining together and one is having fish, the other meat, they can order two half bottles, one of white, the other red. Or if you want to try two different wines, the half bottle also solves that problem. Half bottles are also great for travelers and in Italy, you’ll often see them in train dining cars, where it is much more convenient and tidy to use smaller bottle sizes. And, of course, half bottles also solve the age-old problem of not having a dining companion: if you are dining alone, a half bottle is the perfect size, three glasses, one for each course of proper meal.

This time of year, half bottles make for perfect holiday gifts: they can be put under the tree, they can be stuffed into stockings, and best of all, they are affordable and fun. When you give someone a half bottle, it’s more of an individual gift: the recipient doesn’t have to wait for company to open the gift. It’s a gift just for them.

We just received some new half bottles: these include the single-vineyard Barolo La Rocca e La Pira 1996 from one of our favorite producers Roagna. I can’t think of a better gift than some 1996 Barolo (in case you’ve got me on your holiday gift shopping list). But we also have many other half bottles, including the traditional-style Chianti and Super Tuscan San Clemente from Travignoli; Erbaluce from Orsolani; Chianti and Super Tuscans from Carobbio. So please come down to Vino on Friday and Saturday and taste some of these wines with me. After all, who should feel guilty about opening a half bottle?
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

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Featured Gift Pack: Claret Sampler $135

This super-charged Claret sampler includes three Bordeaux-style wines from three different regions of Italy, each a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot.

The San Leonardo 2000 San Leonardo is from the Alpine region of Trentino, where high altitudes and cool summer nights make for long-lived wines with rich color and intense flavors.

The Cjarandon 2002 by Ronco dei Tassi is a single-vineyard wine made from grapes grown in the hills of Friuli where the clay-rich subsoil gives the wine great structure and depth.

La Stoppa’s Stoppa 2001 is sourced from vines in the hills outside Piacenza (Emilia), where Cabernet has been grown for centuries and the hearty local cuisine pairs well with this powerfully elegant wine.

inlcudes gift boxand a note on each of the wines

ships already packed in gift box

Click here to purchase.

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Charles on TV! Well, kinda…

Vino’s Wine Director Charles Scicolone was recently featured in Men’s Vogue in an article on grappa by writer Lawrence Osborne, author of The Accidental Connoisseur.

Click here to watch a Men’s Vogue video of Charles and Lawrence as they “share a table at i Trulli… and sample a few of the better grappas available in the U.S.”

For the grappas currently available at Vino, please click here.


Vino Card Online

December 6, 2006

To purchase, please click here. If you don’t see the value that you want, please send an email to giftcard@vinosite.com or call 800-965-VINO (8466).The Vino Gift Card is a pre-loaded Vino charge card and can be used for any of our more-than 500 wines, books, accessories, and stemware.

Please note that the purchaser pays no tax on the gift card.

Includes personalized greeting card.

Charles is back!!!

Vino Wine Director Charles Scicolone has returned from Puglia and Roma where he found some new wines and dined at some fantastic restaurants (some old, some new). This week, he discusses Nebbiolo from the 1996 vintage in his wine opinion (see below).

Fri. & Sat., December 8-9
Natural Whites/Negroni Gift Pack Tasting
FREE
Fri., 5:30-7:30 – Sat. 4:30-6:30 @ Vino

Back by popular demand, we will be pouring the Negroni at this week’s tastings. For more on the Negroni and our Negroni gift pack, please see the Wine Opinion below.

Charles and the staff will also be pouring wines from our Natural Whites Gift Pack.

The Natural Whites gift pack includes three wines from three of our favorite producers: Paolo Bea, the father of the “natural wine” movement; Radikon, who creates natural wines “without compromise”; and La Stoppa, who makes elegant white wine “the way wines were made long ago.”

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Wine Opinion: Negroni Memories and 10-Year-Old Nebbiolo

Last week, upon my return from Puglia, I walked into the store — unexpectedly, because they thought I was not coming in until Monday. I was greeted with a Negroni, which is made with 1 part Campari, 1 part gin, and 1 part sweet red vermouth. This is a classic Italian cocktail, which has a long history in Italy (for more on the history of the Negroni, see the Featured Gift pack below). It was interesting to have something other than wine to begin the tasting and I enjoyed sipping the cocktail. With the younger set, cocktails have become the latest thing in Italy. Some restaurants in cities like Roma and Firenze actually serve cocktails and have a “cocktail hour.” This is usually after the restaurant closes.

Many years ago, I remember drinking a Negroni in Roma with my good family friend Dr. Frank Maniscalco. He and I traveled with our families together to visit our relatives in Siacca and Nora (small towns in Sicilia). Dr. Maniscalco liked wine but he loved his Negroni. Every time we went out, most of us would order a Campari and soda or a Prosecco, but the good doctor would always order a Negroni. Dr. Maniscalco was a good twenty years older than me and he remembered drinking it from his days when he studied in Italy. Dr. Maniscalco was a good friend and quite a character. He had one glass eye and if people stared at him, he would say: “What’s the matter? You went to high school with me?” When we went to Sicilia together, no one understood Maniscalco’s Italian until we got to Sciacca, where his family came from. It was the same thing with my father. Nobody understood him until we got to Naro, where our family came from.

The Negroni was a fashionable drink in Italy during the 1910s and 20s. And of course, it was popular during the years that followed the war (when Dr. Maniscalco was a student there). When you drink a Negroni, you feel as glamorous as Marcello Mastroianni on the Via Veneto in a scene from La Dolce Vita. At least, that’s how I felt when we drank Negronis on that trip.

I picked a great day to come back to the store because not only were they pouring the Negroni, but the Vino staff was also pouring the wines from the 1996 Nebbiolo gift pack at the tasting. As you know by now, the 1996 harvest was to me a classic vintage in Barolo and Barbaresco. This was due to the fact that the weather was perfect throughout the growing and harvest season. By this, I mean, it was not too hot, nor too sunny, and there was just enough rain, which came at the right time, without any hail storms or other weather problems. This allowed the grapes to ripen very slowly and therefore perfectly. These wines have all of the Nebbiolo characteristics: leather, tar, faded roses, coffee, and, in a few cases, hints of white truffles.

The Ghemme by Antichi Vigneti di Cantalupo was showing very well, very characteristic of the appellation. It was a wine that will last for many years. However, it seemed quite approachable now. Of the three wines, it was the wine most reading for drinking today.

The Barbaresco Ovello from Produttori del Barbaresco has always been one of my favorite wines. This wine needs time to develop. Another five years before I look at the wine and we’ll decide what to do. If you want to drink this wine now, open it early in the day and decant. By dinnertime, it will start to show wonderfully.

The last wine was a Barolo Massara by Castello di Verduno. This wine was showing very well, also. This is another one that should be decanted early in the day before serving. It is one of the best wines made by Castello di Verduno.

For someone who is interested Nebbiolo, this is a great three pack. It is a great introduction to Piemonte and classic Nebbiolo from a truly classic vintage.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino

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Featured Gift: The Negroni

Legend holds that the Negroni was invented by Florentine Count Camillo Negroni, who was so tired of having his Americano (Campari and Vermouth) lost in the crowd of similar cocktails that he asked a bartender to add some gin, thus making it lighter in color and easy to distinguish.

The Negroni would become the cocktail-of-choice for the Italian Futurists, the avant-garde literary and artistic movement led by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti that reshaped modernism in Europe during the 1910s and 20s.

The Negroni is made by mixing 1 part Campari, 1 part gin, and 1 part sweet vermouth. Our Negroni Gift Pack includes 1 bottle Campari, 1 bottle Plymouth Gin, and 1 bottle Punt e Mes, red vermouth.

As with all Campari drinks, tradition dictates that you garnish with a slice of orange (not lemon, which only makes the Campari more bitter).

inlcudes gift box, cocktail recipe, and a note on the drink’s origins

Click here to purchase.