Chianti’s Best-Kept Secret: Rufina

March 29, 2007

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Rufina (ROO-fee-nah): Chianti’s best kept secret

The Travignoli estate has been producing wine in Chianti Rufina (one of Chianti’s northernmost subzones) since the twelfth century, when the Busi family began to cultivate the land there. Today, Count Giovanni Busi and his family continue to live “among the vines”: the estate’s name, Travignoli, come from the Italian tra (“among”) and vigne (“vines”).

When you think “Count,” you imagine a stuffy old gent who wears a frock coat and speaks in a stern voice that reflects his station in life. The 40-something Giovanni is the exact opposite: with his leading-man looks and soft-spoken Tuscan accent, Giovanni is perhaps the most personable winemaker in Rufina and his wines bespeak his gentle and noble approach to an ancient tradition of winemaking handed down in his family since the middle ages.

“One of the things that sets our wines apart from other subzones of Chianti,” says Giovanni, “is the fact that Chianti Rufina lies at a higher altitude than the rest of the appellation.” The resulting temperature variation (i.e., cooler nights than in the rest of the appellation) helps to cool the vines and allows them ripen more slowly. “That’s why we are able to produce wines that age so well and that only get finer over time.” The other difference is that while Chianti Classico is known for its rocky subsoil, the subsoil of Chianti Rufina is primarily clay: the excellent drainage in Rufina “stresses” the vines. In other words, it forces the vines to work hard to produce fruit. The resulting grapes are richer than those grown in other parts of Toscana and make for wines with greater depth, structure, and aging potential.

The Travignoli wines are among the most popular at Vino and you’ll often find the Chianti Rufina Riserva by the glass at I Trulli. The San Clemente is one of our favorites: it was created by Giovanni for Vino’s owner Nicola Marzovilla when Nicola asked him to make a Super Tuscan blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon aged in traditional, large old-oak barrels (botti). For more information and to purchase, click on the individual wines below.

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Spring Clearance Continues! Bordeaux Blends Up to 20% Off

March 27, 2007

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) the Vino staff will be pouring 6 Bordeaux-style blends featured in our Spring sale.

We’ve overstocked and need to make room for May arrivals! These bottles will be available at 15% off in store and 20% off on our website.

Don’t wait too long — these bottles are going fast!

Friday and Saturday tastings at Vino are FREE.
To register for the free tastings, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

The Vino staff will be pouring the following wines.*

Click on the links below to learn more and/or to order.


*Wines subject to change depending on availability.


Barolo and Barbaresco Spring Clearance

March 21, 2007

James Beard, Spring Clearance, and Gambero Rosso

There’s a lot happening at Vino and I Trulli these days.

First off, we are very proud to announce that, for the sixth time in as many years, Wine Director Charles Scicolone has been nominated by the James Beard Foundation for outstanding wine service. You can meet Charles in person this Friday at the store, where he’ll be pouring Barolo and Barbaresco at our Spring Clearance Sale tasting (for details, see below and to register, please send an email to events@vinosite.com).

In other news, we are in process of preparing for spring arrivals at Vino and need to make some space in our temperature-controlled cellar. This week marks the launch of our Spring Clearance Sale. In the weeks that follow, you’ll find that prices have been slashed by 20% on the web and 15% in the store (see current offers below). Over the next month, a number of wines will be made available at extraordinarily low prices. So stay tuned: we simply don’t have enough room for the wines and are expecting many new arrivals in late April/early May.

On Monday, the Vino staff attended the Gambero Rosso Tre Bicchieri tasting at the Puck building. For more on the tasting and Charles’ insights into new trends, see his wine opinion below. This year’s Tre Bicchieri marked the first time that a wine made from Erbaluce was awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri (Three Glass) prize. Winemaker Gian Luigi Orsolani was on hand to pour his 1998 Sule, a dried-grape wine made from 100% Erbaluce (we currently carry the 2000; for more on some of our favorite wines at the tasting, see Charles’ Wine Opinion below).

Lastly, the 2007 Spring Class Schedule at Vinoteca is now online. You’ll see that we’ve added a number of new courses: Charles will be teaching his Greatest Hits seminar, as well as a Chianti seminar; Operations Manager Jim Hutchinson will be leading a Barolo seminar; Robert Scibelli DWS will offer two Intro to Italian Wine classes, one with an emphasis on Northern Italy, the other on Central and Southern Italy; and Marketing Director Jeremy Parzen PhD will be teaching a class on Italian Wine and Civilization in which he discusses the history of Italian wine, from antiquity through the modern era, including short readings from Pliny, Petrarch, Boccaccio, Machiavelli, and more.

Class participants taste up to 10 wines.
Space is limited: for more information please click here.

And to register, please send an email to register@vinosite.com.

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This Week’s Tasting: Barolo and Barbaresco Spring Clearance

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) the Vino staff will be pouring 6 Barolos and Barbarescos that are now being featured in our Spring sale.

We’ve overstocked and now you can benefit! These bottles will be available at 15% off in store and 20% off on our website.

Don’t wait too long — these bottles are going fast!

Friday and Saturday tastings at Vino are FREE.
To register for the free tastings, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

Charles and the Vino staff will be pouring these wines:*

*Wines subject to change depending on availability.


New Vino and I Trulli Class Schedule

March 14, 2007

Spring Class Schedule is here!

The days are getting warmer and longer, and that means a whole new series of wine classes here at Vino. Space is limited, so be sure to register soon by sending an email to register@vinosite.com.

  • April 25 – Charles Scicolone’s Greatest Hits, $95.00
    Wine Director Charles Scicolone pours and discusses his top 10 favorites from Vino, including older vintages of Sangiovese.
  • May 2 – Italian Wine and Civilization, $65.00
    Marketing Director Jeremy Parzen Ph.D. pours 10 wines and discusses their historic and cultural context and impact in Italy, from the middle ages to the modern era.
  • May 9 – Chianti in All Its Glory, $75.00
    Wine Director Charles Scicolone pours 10 Chianti and discusses the differences between the appellation’s sub-zones and the wines’ aging potential.
  • May 16 – Italian Wine 101a Northern Italy, $65.00
    Robert Scibelli D.W.S. (National Development Coordinator and Instructor, International Wine Center, New York) leads his popular “Intro to Italian Wine” course, this time with a focus on Northern Italy.
  • May 23 – Barolo, the Wine of Kings, the King of Wines, $105.00
    Operations Manager and Piemonte expert Jim Hutchinson pours 10 wines highlighting the varied terroirs and aging potential of Barolo.
  • May 30 – Italian Wine 101b Central and Southern Italy, $65.00
    Robert Scibelli D.W.S. (National Development Coordinator and Instructor, International Wine Center, New York) leads his popular “Intro to Italian Wine” course, this time with a focus on Central and Southern Italy.
  • June 6 – Super Tuscans, $125.00
    Robert Scibelli D.W.S. (National Development Coordinator and Instructor, International Wine Center, New York) pours and discusses 10 Super Tuscans (limited seating).
  • June 13 – Brunello di Montalcino, $105.00
    Operations Manager and Piemonte expert Jim Hutchinson pours 10 wines and discusses his recent trip to Montalcino.
  • June 20 – Sparkling Summer Blast Off, $35.00
    The Vino staff pours sparkling wines in the I Trulli Garden (antipasti included).

Wednesday classes start at 6:30 p.m.
and last approximately 2 hours.

Saturday classes start at 1:30 p.m.

To register, send an email to register@vinosite.com.

Please be sure to include the following information:

  • Class and Date
  • Names and Number of Persons Attending
  • Billing information (necessary to hold the reservation), including 1) name as it appears on the card; 2) card number; 3) expiration date; and 4) billing address and phone number associated with the card
  • Day and nighttime phone number (cell, if possible).

All reservations will be confirmed via email.

* * *

This Week’s Tasting: A Celebration of Tre Bicchieri

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) the Vino staff will be pouring 5 wines made by producers that have been awarded the highly coveted “three glasses” (tre bicchieri) by Gambero Rosso and Slow Food in the 2007 edition of their bestselling “Italian Wines” guide.

Gambero Rosso will be presenting their Tre Bicchieri winners in New York City on March 19 and in San Francisco on March 21. (Find out more here.)

Many of the Tre Bicchieri wines are not yet even available stateside, but you can get a taste of what’s to come with a sampling of these producers’ older vintages.

Friday and Saturday tastings at Vino are FREE.
To register for the free tastings, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

Charles and the Vino staff will be pouring these wines:*

*Wines subject to change depending on availability.


Amarone Tasting

March 6, 2007

Taste of Puglia Dinner April 18

I Trulli and Tour de Forks present:

Taste of Puglia Dinner
with Charles and Michele Scicolone
Wednesday, April 18, 7:30 p.m.
Ristorante I Trulli
122 East 27th St.
five wines, five courses
$125.00 (inclusive)
Limited seating
To reserve, please send an email
to events@vinosite.com.

Or call events coordinator Jeremy Parzen at 212-679-0822.

In recent years, Puglia (the region that forms the heel of the Italian boot) has become of one Italy’s top travel destinations and the inspiration for some of the best Italian regional cuisine found today in North America.

When the Marzovilla family opened I Trulli in 1994, no one could imagine the Southern Italian craze that was about to explode. In 1998, Amanda Hesser wrote in the New York Times (“A Southern Italian Renaissance; After red sauce, America is discovering the real thing.”):

“It is no secret that Italian cuisine has experienced a renaissance in American kitchens over the last decade. But it is just recently that chefs have turned their attention to the far regions of the south — like Puglia, Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Sardinia — where the foods are earthy, the flavors are lusty and the fresh, candid style is a world apart from the heavy monotonous red sauces familiar in the United States.

Americans, raised on the idea that Southern Italian food is all about dishes like eggplant Parmesan and spaghetti with meatballs, are about to be enlightened: genuine Southern Italian food has finally arrived.

Dora Marzovilla at I Trulli on East 27th Street has been making traditional Pugliese pasta shapes like ear-shaped orecchiette and shell-shaped cavatelli by hand for years — at first at home, and now at the restaurant…

Nicola Marzovilla, Mrs. Marzovilla’s son and the owner of I Trulli, said, ‘The cooking in Southern Italy, if there’s one simple way to describe it — the ingredients are the focal point of everything.'”

I Trulli would receive two stars in a New York Times review by then food editor Ruth Reichl in 1999.

Join Vino’s Wine Director Charles Scicolone and renowned cookbook author and Italian food expert Michele Scicolone at I Trulli for a taste of some of Puglia’s best-known dishes, including Dora’s handmade cavatelli with broccoli rabe and orecchiette. The dinner will also feature native Pugliese grape varieties like Primitivo, Negro Amaro, and Uva di Troia.

Seats are filling up fast, so make sure you reserve your place now by writing to events@vinosite.com.

The dinner is co-presented by Tour de Forks, who will be leading a tour to Puglia this fall together with Charles and Michele. Please visit their website for more details.

Amarone Tasting and Class (March 14)

This Friday (5:30-7:30) and Saturday (4:30-6:30) the Vino staff will be pouring 5 wines from Verona, including the Amarone Marano 1990 Boscaini.

Friday and Saturday tastings at Vino are FREE.
To register for the free tastings, please send an email to events@vinosite.com.

If you want to read more about Amarone, take a look at Eric Asimov’s recent column in the New York Times on the wines (among the top-rated selections was Le Ragose 2001 Sant’Eugenio).

There are still a few places left in the March 14 “Amarone and the Wines of the Veneto” class. For registration info, see below:

Amarone and the Wines of the Veneto
Wednesday, March 14, 6:30pm, $95.00

To register, please send an email to register@vinosite.com.

Verona and Valpolicella, the Colli Euganei, Lago di Garda (Lake Garda), Valpolicella and Conegliano, Breganze… Even though they are counted among Italy’s most collectible appellations, the wines of the Veneto are perhaps the least well known in the United States. From Amarone della Valpolicella, Recioto della Valpolicella, and the many wines of Lago di Garda in the province of Verona, to Conegliano and Valdobbiadene where Prosecco grapes have been grown since ancient times, from the Colli Euganei outside Padova where medieval poet Petrarch spent his last years and where rich Cabernet and Merlot are grown, to Breganze where some of Italy’s most famous dessert wines and grappas are produced, the Veneto is one of the last “undiscovered countries” of Italian wine. Wine Director Charles Scicolone leads participants through a guided tasting of wines that range from bubbly Prosecco to vintage Amarone and Recioto.