We are pleased to announce that Travel & Leisure magazine has awarded Centovini its “Best New Restaurant Design” award for 2006. The following is an excerpt from the “Design Awards” issue of the magazine:
Clean-lined and unpretentious, Centovini is a modern take on the Italian wine bar — it combines a casual restaurant and bar with a smartly integrated adjacent wine shop, on view behind expansive plate glass. The interiors all make dazzling use of bottles and glasses as visual elements. Designed by Moss (center, with his business partners, Nicola Marzovilla and Franklin Getchell), whose namesake accessories shop is around the corner, the intimate restaurant features playful light fixtures and chandeliers, and every detail, from the bar stools to the silverware, is subtle and thoughtfully conceived.
In other news…
The staff at Vino will be pouring two Rosso di Montalcinos and three Brunellos at the Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) tastings. See Charles’ article on Brunello di Montalcino below.
In last week’s e-letter, we erroneously reported that Le Macchiole’s Paleo is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc. Sharp-eyed reader Paul Rose wrote us from L.A. to point out that the wine is now actually 100% Cabernet Franc, and we’d just like to thank him for the correction. We look forward to hearing more from our readers (even — and especially — if it’s to tell us we’re wrong), so please write us at email@example.com.
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Vertical Produttori del Barbaresco Dinner
with Wine Director Charles Scicolone
Monday, March 5, 7:30 p.m.
Ristorante I Trulli
122 East 27th St.
To reserve, please send an email
Like the appellation itself, the Produttori del Barbaresco winery is one of the world’s greatest, yet also one of the most misunderstood. When vinified in the traditional manner (long maceration followed by aging in large, old oak barrels), Barbaresco can take 20 and even 30 years (for exceptional vintages) to reach its peak potential. While many Barbaresco producers have turned to new oak and concentration to create wines drinkable at an earlier age, Produttori has refused to change its approach to and philosophy of winemaking.
Thanks to our relationship with the winery and its importer, we have obtained a lot of old Produttori del Barbaresco going back to 1978.
Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo 2004
Produttori del Barbaresco 2002
Produttori del Barbaresco Pora 1999
Produttori del Barbaresco 1995
Produttori del Barbaresco Asili 1999
Produttori del Barbaresco Asili 1989
Produttori del Barbaresco Rio Sordo 1978
Manzo all’Albese, porcini, e tartufo bianco
Piemontese Carpaccio with Porcini and White Truffles
Tajarin al fagiano di Castelmagno
Taglierini with Castelmagno Pheasant Ragu
Stracotto al Barolo
Piemontese Veal Braised in Barolo
Assorted Cow’s Milk Cheeses
Baci di dama
Traditional Piemontese cookies
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Southern Italy: Ancient Grapes, Hidden Gems
Wednesday, February 28, 6:30 p.m.
To register, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
“Nunc est bibendum.” (“Now is the time for drinking.”). This famous line by Latin poet Horace (Quintus Horatius Flaccus, 65-68 BCE) was probably inspired by the Aglianico del Vulture that he drank in his youth in Basilicata (the region that forms the insole of Italy’s boot). Indeed, he grew up in the shadow of Mt. Vulture where the volcanic subsoil of the highlands is ideal for creating mineral-driven, complex, structured red wine. From Pliny and Columella’s writings we discover that southern Italy abounded in grape varieties and sophisticated vine-growing techniques. Indeed, when the Greeks began to colonize Italy in the fourth and third centuries BCE, they were so impressed with the Etruscan viticulture they found there that they called the Italic peninsula Oenotria, the “land of wine.” Today, winemakers in the south have “re-discovered” many of the ancient varieties through careful grafting of DNA culled from Roman ruins with modern-day rootstock. Vino and I Trulli’s Operations Manager Jim Hutchinson leads participants through a guided tasting of southern Italy’s ancient grape varietals.
Jim will pour 10 wines for the February 28 southern Italian wine class (to register for the class, please email email@example.com), including the following:*
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Brunello: Just the Facts
Please join us this Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) for our FREE weekly tastings. This week the Vino staff will be pouring two bottlings of Rosso di Montalcino and three Brunellos.
For more information on this and other events at Vino, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two weeks ago, I was privileged to speak for the Consorzio del Vino Brunello di Montalcino vintage tasting at I Trulli. There were members of the press and also representatives from a number of Brunello houses. We tasted a wide variety of wines (all Brunello, of course), from 1997 back to 1979. They were all four- and five-star-rated vintages. The wines were all showing very well and it goes to prove my point that Sangiovese can last a very long time.
The town of Montalcino sits on a hilltop overlooking the vineyards. It is 1,850 feet above sea level. It gets its name from the holm oak or holly, known as ilice or leccio in Italian and ilex in Latin, a tree commonly found in the hills around the township. (Montalcino = “monte” + “ilice”, or “mountain of holly”.) The holm oak is the symbol of Consorzio. It is also the symbol found on the city’s crest. Montalcino and the surrounding area is a rural area, with woody hills, very quiet, and is found about 40 minutes south of Siena.
The production zone lies within the hilly region of the Chianti Senese district south of Siena. The climate is Mediterranean and it is hotter and drier than the Chianti Classico area. The lower slopes where the grapes grow are made of clayey soil and marl. The higher slopes where the better grapes are grown are made up of a combination of limestone, marl, and galestro, the classic yellowish stone of Toscana. The grapes ripen ten days later in the area around the town of Montalcino than they do in the area around Sant’Angelo in Colle and Sant’Angelo Scalo.
Brunello is synonymous with the name Biondi Santi, who first produced the wine in 1888. In Montalcino, 150 years ago, the typical wine was white and the most revered wine was Moscadello dessert wine made from Moscato grapes. Most white wine then was a mixture of different grapes and they used the governo method the same way they did in Chianti (in other words, they added roughly 10% dried-grape wine must back into the wine during vinification). Brunello is thus called because of the color of the grape, which is brownish (brunello is a diminutive of bruno in Italian, meaning “brown”). The wine has become known as Brunello and the grape has become known as Sangiovese Grosso. While the Biondi family and then the Biondi Santi family (after inter-marriage) were making wine from Brunello during the nineteenth century, it was not until Ferruccio Biondi Santi started not only to bottle the wine on a regular basis but to make it just from Sangiovese Grosso that Brunello was truly born. There are still bottles of his 1888 and 1891 Brunellos in the cellar at the Biondi Santi estate. Up until the 1960s, there was almost nobody who was bottling Brunello and certainly no one who was keeping the older vintages. In the 1970s, there were roughly 25 producers in Brunello. In 1978, an American company, Banfi, which is the largest continuous land-holder in Italy, bought property in Montalcino. Today, there are more than 200 producers of Brunello.
In the beginning, following Ferruccio’s lead, when the DOC law was passed in the 1960s, Brunello had to be aged for four years in cask before being bottled. That went down to three and a half years, then three years, and now two years. In other words, a regular Brunello has to be aged for two years in cask and four months minimum in bottle by law. According to regulations, the wine must not be released before January 1 after the harvest: so, for example, the 2002 was released in January of 2007. The Riserva must also be aged at least two years in cask and six months in bottle but cannot be released for five years. The 2001 Riserva, for example, was released in January of 2007. Brunello can only be released in a Bordeaux-type bottle.
There are many producers in Brunello now and a lot of them are not in the best places. Some of them are on lower slopes where the soil is very clayey and does not really produce good wine. Franco Biondi Santi was the last member to join the Consorzio. The Brunello Consorzio is the only consorzio in Italy with 100% membership. Franco, who makes wine exactly the same way his grandfather Ferruccio and his father Tancredi did, is, of course, a traditionalist. He went along with them having only two years in cask but now thinks it may have been a mistake since some of the members want to limit it to one year in cask and introduce other varietals. We, like Franco, hope this does not happen.
Brunello, in my opinion, is, of course, one of the great wines of the world. It can last for 30 years or longer. Franco Biondi Santi recommends that when you drink his 1997 that you open it at least four days before you drink the wine. It is a wine that needs to be aged. In fact, it is the only wine that seems to get more depth of flavor and body as it gets older. Personally, I would not look at a bottle of Brunello unless it was at least ten years old. I would look at it but that doesn’t mean I would drink it! It is a wine that is ruby-red in color when young. It has good acidity, good fruit, and tannins, which will make it last a long time.
–Charles Scicolone, Wine Director, I Trulli and Vino
Charles would love to hear from you. Please email him at email@example.com