Il Falcone

November 30, 2007

For those of you who have shopped at Vino over the years, you know that we have always been fans of southern Italian wines and the wines of Puglia in particular (after all, owner Nicola Marzovilla and his family come from the town of Rutigliano in the province of Bari). We have always found that southern Italy offers some of Italy’s best values in terms of price and quality. The food-friendly style and the earthy flavors and aromas of these wines make them ideal for holiday feasting with family and friends.

The Rivera winery calls this extraordinary blend of Negroamaro and Uva di Troia “Il Falcone” or “the falcon” as a nod to the thirteenth-century enlightened Sicilian King Frederick II, who enjoyed hunting with his falcon in Puglia where the grapes for this wine are sourced today. This bold red wine pairs beautifully with grills and roast meats.

Il Falcone has been one of Vino’s top-selling wines and is one of Nicola’s top picks for the holiday season.

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Guido Gualandi and his wines

November 27, 2007

Vino and I Trulli

If ever there were someone worthy of being called a “Renaissance man,” it’s the thirty-something Guido Gualandi: archeologist, painter, musician, and winemaker (just to mention some of his myriad talents), Guido is one of the most interesting producers to emerge from the Montespertoli subzone of Chianti in recent memory.

Mention of Guido’s family and the Gualandi knights, originally of Pisa, dates back to the thirteenth century and beyond. The Gualandi tower in Pisa was the setting for one of the most famous episodes in Dante’s Divine Comedy (the story of Ugolino della Gherardesca).

The cellar where Guido makes his wine once belonged to another Renaissance man, Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540), one of Italy’s greatest statesmen and historians, and close friend of Niccolò Machiavelli.

Gualandus 2005 Gualandi

Like all of Guido’s wines, the Gualandus is made using 100% natural vinification: no herbicides or pesticides are used in the vineyard, only organic fertilizers are used, the grapes are picked and pressed — literally — by hand and foot respectively, and fermentation is carried out without temperature control in a cellar where wine has been made for more than 500 years. Gualandus is made from 100% Sangiovese grapes. Its natural fruit flavors and aromas and its bright acidity make a great “food” wine to pair with pasta and classic meat sauces and grilled meats.

Cavalleresco 2005 Gualandi

Cavalleresco is a blend of Sangiovese (which gives the wine its gentle fruit aromas and flavors), Colorino (which imparts its rich color), and a small amount of Merlot (which give the wine its rich body and opulent mouthfeel).


Barbaresco 2003 Castello di Verduno

November 20, 2007

Castello di Verduno is one of Piemonte’s up-and-coming naturalist wineries and is always a favorite at the Vini Veri (Real Wine) alternative fair which is held outside Verona as a counterpoint to the Italian wine industry’s yearly trade show, Vinitaly. Their "classic" Barbaresco is blended from two of Barbaresco’s most famous and coveted vineyards, Rabajà and Faset, both known for their longevity and their distinct earthiness. Low-yields and minimalist intervention in the cellar create a gorgeous traditional-style Barbaresco with impressive aging potential.

This gentle nose of this wine reveals rich fruit aromas that give way to clove, tar, and rose petal flavors in the mouth. The 2003 vintage is proving to be a powerful one and this wine will only get better with age. If opening now, decant and allow for a few hours of aeration before serving.


Thanksgiving Picks

November 19, 2007

Frank Bruni’s New York Times Thanksgiving Pick 2006

“Among the reds,” wrote Eric Asimov in last year’s New York Times Thanksgiving wine recommendations, “Frank, naturally, brought the most arcane wine of the meal, a 2004 Verduno Basadone from Castello di Verduno, made from the pelaverga piccolo grape, which is obscure even in its home territory in the Piedmont region of Italy. Nonetheless, this lithe, peppery wine hit the spot…”

The tiny Verduno or Verduno Pelaverga appellation is perhaps Italy’s smallest: the wine is made from the rare Pelaverga grape exclusively in the hamlet of Verduno. Spicy and aromatic, locals believe that this excellent food-pairing wine possesses aphrodisiacal properties, hence the name Basadone or baciadonne in Italian, the “lady kisser.”

Valpolicella 2003 Capitel Sant’Eugenio

For the Valpolicella, the Galli family employs the “ripasso” method for a limited number of barrels. This method (ripasso means a “re-passing” or “second passage” in Italian) consists of fermenting some of the grapes in barrels containing the lees (dead yeast cells) and skins left over from the fermentation of Amarone (a dried-grape wine). This practice gives their Valpolicella added depth and structure — something you won’t find in commercially produced Valpolicella.

This light-bodied wine shows nice berry fruit on the nose and in the mouth and will pair well with all the Thanksgiving trimmings.

Amarone 2001 Capitel Sant’Eugenio

Wine Director Emeritus Charles Scicolone’s Thanksgiving Pick

The Galli’s Amarone is made from a “field blend”: while Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara are the three primary grapes used for this wine, the family allows other varieties — Sangiovese and Pinot Nero among them, depending on the vintage — to grow in their vineyards. They believe that this represents the true tradition of Amarone, where the vintage and Mother Nature herself determine which grapes will be used for the wines.

This rich, traditional-style Amarone is deep and complex. With earthy notes on the nose and red fruit on the palate, the opulent mouthfeel of this wine is classic Amarone. A great pairing for roast turkey and a perfect “meditative” wine to match with ripened cheeses after the holiday meal.


Mary Taylor Simeti at Vino

November 12, 2007

Vino and Tour de Forks are proud to present Mary Taylor Simeti. She’ll speak about Sicilia, wine, terroir, and culture next Tuesday, November 13, 5:30-7:30 p.m.

Celebrated author Mary Taylor Simeti first moved to Sicilia in 1962 to perform volunteer work after graduating from Radcliffe College. Her critically acclaimed On Persephone’s Island: A Sicilian Journal (Knopf, 1986) chronicled her life there with her Sicilian husband (a professor of agronomy) and their children. Living in 1960s Sicilia often proved harsh and difficult and the young woman from New York faced many cultural challenges in the place where she had chosen to make her home. But her informed, elegantly sparse writing revealed a wondrous world, rich with culinary and life experiences. She is also the author of Pomp and Sustenance: Twenty-Five Centuries of Sicilian Food and — one of our personal favorites — Bitter Almonds: Recollections and Recipes from a Sicilian Girlhood, the memoirs of famed pastry maker Maria Grammatico (and co-author of the book).

Wine Director Emeritus Charles Scicolone will pour five Sicilian wines at the event.

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Vino and I Trulli at the NYC Marathon

Vino and I Trulli were proud to sponsor Vito Sardella, a 33-year-old native of Puglia, in this year’s NYC marathon. We’d like to congratulate him for placing 56th overall in last Sunday’s race across the five boroughs and look forward to cheering him on in next year’s race. Complimenti, Vito!

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This Week’s Free Tasting: Casa Emma

This week’s tasting (Friday, 5:30-7:30 p.m., and Saturday, 4:00-6:00 p.m.) features a Tuscan winery that is new to our shelves and shop, Casa Emma.


Casa Emma Merlot and Chianti

November 9, 2007

The Casa Emma estate is a small, family-owned and operated artisanal winery located in the heart of the Chianti Classico appellation (in the township of Castellina in Chianti). Of its 34 hectares, 21 hectares are used for the cultivation of Sangiovese (with a few rows of native Tuscan grape varieties Malvasia Nera and Canaiolo). A 3-hectare prized growing site is devoted exclusively to the Merlot used in the winery’s Super Tuscan Soloìo.

As early as the fourteenth century, the “Classico” subzone of Chianti was renowned for its superior wines. The original townships of Chianti all lie at higher altitudes with respect to the outer subzones of the appellation. Cooler evening temperatures help the grapes to ripen more slowly by cooling the fruit at the end of the day. This allows the winemaker to pick later in the growing season when the grapes have achieved ideal ripeness. All of Casa Emma’s vineyards lie above 400 meters a.s.l.

Casa Emma’s Soloìo (literally solo io or “only me” in Italian) is made from 100% Merlot grapes grown in one of the winery’s most prized vineyard sites. One and a half years of gentle oxygenation in French oak bring out the lush, opulent fruit and chocolate flavors of this truly decadent wine. A great pairing for winter roasts and stews and a fantastic gift idea for “trophy wine” lovers. 2004 was an excellent vintage in Chianti Classico and this wine will drink well for the next 5-10 years.

Casa Emma’s Chianti Classico DOCG is made from the following blend: Sangiovese 90%, Canaiolo 5% e Malvasia Nera 5%. This classic expression of the appellation is intended for drinking right away: judicious aging in new wood allows for gentle oxygenation of the wine, thus helping the tannins to mellow and the fruit to show beautifully. A great wine for the Thanksgiving table, this Chianti Classico — with bright acidity and red fruit in the mouth — will pair well with a wide variety of dishes.

Casa Emma’s Chianti Classico Riserva is made using Sangiovese grapes, with smaller amounts of Malvasia Nera added. This long-lived wine spends 2 years in traditional large oak barrels before being bottled and will only get better with aging (drink now or over the next 5-10 years). The most “classic” of Casa Emma’s wines, this Chianti benefits greatly from the high altitude. The cooler evening temperatures are a key element in the winery’s ability to achieve Sangiovese with immense aging potential. This Chianti Riserva is one of our all-time favorites at Vino. A very collectible Chianti and a perfect pairing for steak and other grilled meats.


Zagat ratings are in!

November 5, 2007

The Zagat Marketplace 2008 is out and we are very pleased to announce that our ratings just keep getting better at Vino. Here’s what you had to say (thank you!):

Quality: 28 (unchanged)
Display: 25 (up from 22 last year)
Service: 25 (up from 24)

Take “a tour of the wine regions in Italy” at this Gramercy store devoted to producers from The Boot where the “lovely” stock (70 percent of it poured at the companion eatery, I Trulli) is “well-grouped” geographically and tended by staffers who “know their stuff”; it features “little known” finds plus numerous “aperitivos and digestivos”, and is a “must-stop” even if pricing skews “a touch high”; P.S. “don’t miss its wine classes” and weekend tastings.