Still a favorite after all these years: Chianti Rufina

May 28, 2009

Unearthing some classic vintages from one of Tuscany’s finest winemaking zones

travignoli staff blog

The vineyard workers at Travignoli take a break.

Though geographically separated from the main Chianti-producing region, and often overshadowed by Chianti Classico, the Rufina DOCG subzone produces some of Tuscany’s most celebrated wines, and some of the best values at Vino.  Chianti Rufina is sometimes referred to as “Chianti in montagna” (mountain Chianti) and is the highest point in the entire Chianti appellation. Such altitudes enable winemakers to create wines with remarkable aging potential — thanks to cooler summer evenings the wines are able to retain their freshness for decades.

This superb winemaking zone is located just a few kilometres east of Florence, towards Pontassieve and the Mugello. Having vacationed — and later lived and worked — in this area, I’ve spent most of my Italian life drinking Chianti Rufina of varying distinction. As a young English teacher in Florence, I was routinely dispatched out to places like Rignano sull’Arno, Rufina itself and Dicomano (a town I jokingly used to call “I say hand”) for private lessons. I remember one such student particularly well: Paolo was a 40-year-old chain-smoker who still lived with his parents in the decidedly sleepy town of Pontassieve. The less said about his English the better, but in the same room where we’d grind through the present continuous week after week were dozens of vintage bottles of Chianti — some dating back to the 1940s — stacked up on a rack under several years worth of dust. At the dinner table the family drank cheap white wine out of a fiasco. They were obviously saving the good stuff for a special occasion, although something told me I was the first non-Tuscan to ever set foot in that house: I recall my astonishment as Paolo’s aging mother proudly showed me spaghetti, presumably imagining I’d never laid eyes on a Barilla box before.

rufina map blog

I’m happy to report that I did drink a lot of excellent local wine with friends in Borgo San Lorenzo, Scarperia, Ronta, Vicchio and other villages too small to mention, much of which came directly from the nearby Rufina subzone. Among these producers was the Villa Travignoli, owned by Giovanni Busi, who also formerly presided over the Chianti Rufina Consortium of winemakers. Busi’s ancestors purchased the vineyard in the 1700s; today Giovanni finds himself with an ideal growing site, whose high-altitudes and southern exposure are ideal characteristics for grape-growing.

Though blessed with optimum conditions, Busi chooses to limit Travignoli’s output to ensure only the finest quality product leaves the winery. Most of the 300,000 bottles which bear the Travignoli name are labelled Chianti Rufina, for which the company’s Chianti Rufina Riserva is fermented for four months in steel, nine in barrel and a further four in bottle. The result is a smooth, fragrant wine, bursting with all the power of Tuscan Sangiovese.

It was a delight to finally meet Giovanni Busi when he visited New York this month. Here’s Giovanni discussing “lo stile Rufina” during the recent GustaRufina 2009 event:

Another of our favorite producers in Chianti Rufina is Villa di Vetrice, owned by legendary Tuscan winemaker Grato Grati. Indeed, this traditional 100% Sangiovese is named “Il Chianti del Signor Grati“. Fermented and aged in large oak barrels, the wine is an classic example of Sangiovese’s longevity. 1990 was good year for Tuscan producers it shows: this is a great value wine from an excellent vintage.

The 1982 Vecchia Annata (or “old vintage”) bottling is aged in large oak botti before its release. Though not technically classified as Chianti Rufina, this 100% Sangiovese is still fresh after all these years, demonstrating the incredible aging power of the variety.

3 rufinas

Taste all three of these astonishing wines tomorrow, Friday, May 29th from 5:30pm!

Chianti Rufina Riserva 2005 Travignoli

Chianti Rufina Riserva del Signor Grati 1990 Villa di Vetrice

Grato Grati Vecchia Annata 1982 Villa di Vetrice

For more information call 212-725-6516 or email


Pasta Masters

May 26, 2009

Learn from the experts this Saturday as I Trulli’s classes continue

dora then and now

Ieri, oggi e domani: Dora Marzovilla then (in her native Puglia)
and now (at I Trulli).

Like espresso, vino rosso and La Gazzetta, pasta is one of those things that no Italian can imagine life without. It is even said that 95% of Italians eat pasta in some form or another every single day. While an impressive statistic, it’s also evidence of pasta’s huge variety and incredible versatility. With this in mind, any Italian restaurant worth its salt knows just how important the quality of its pasta must be, from orecchiette to ravioli.

dora orecchiette blog

Mrs. Marzovilla prepares orecchiette (or “little ears”) daily at I Trulli.

Dora Marzovilla has been making fresh pasta at I Trulli since her son, Nicola, launched the restaurant in 1994. Whether rolling cavatelli on 27th Street or cutting fresh tagliatelle for lunch at home, Dora knows how to feed both her families. Now you can benefit from her wealth of experience as she and Chef Patti Jackson reveal some of the secrets to preparing this classic staple of Italian daily life.

with Dora Marzovilla and Chef Patti Jackson

Saturday, May 30 1:30-3:30pm

For further information and reservations please call 212-725-6516 or email

Joe Campanale pours Lini on NBC’s Today show

May 22, 2009

Hot New York restaurateur pours Lambrusco on national television!

Campanale lini nbcFor Memorial Day weekend, there’s no better choice of than Lambrusco Labrusca by Lini. These refreshing sparkling wines really hit the spot, whether grilling in the garden or chilling at the beach. But don’t take our word for it — just ask New York restaurateur Joe Campanale (right). The co-owner of Dell’Anima and L’Artusi appeared on NBC’s Today show this morning, where he chose Labrusca Bianco and Rosso among his picks for the perfect summer wine. If you missed the show, click here to watch the full clip!

One of New York’s youngest restaurateurs, the 25-year old Campanale’s star has risen spectacularly since he opened Dell’Anima in 2007 with Chef Gabe Thompson (below with Campanale outside Dell’Anima). The rapid success of the small West Village hotspot spurred the duo to expand to L’Artusi just one year later. Now, both restaurants are favorite neighborhood destinations for anyone seeking delicious and inventive Italian fare and a top class wine selection.

joe campanale and gabe thompson

The growing popularity of Lini in New York in many ways mirrors Campanale’s recent success. Since the arrival of the Labrusca line in 2007, Lini’s range of sparkling, classic Lambrusco has proven a universal hit throughout the city’s restaurant and wine industry, giving rebirth to a unique variety. Now, with an exciting line of refreshing and affordable wines, the Lini brand continues to gather momentum across the United States.

Campanale, a former sommelier at Babbo and wine editor at Debonair magazine who also works as a freelance wine writer, personally oversees the wine programs at Dell’Anima and L’Artusi. A huge fan of Lini and Lambrusco, he didn’t hesitate in adding Labrusca Bianco to both restaurants’ wine lists. Now Joe has helped introduce Lini’s Lambrusco to over two million Today viewers nationwide.

adrian-murcia blog3But Campanale is not the only Lambrusco fan to mention declare his love for Lini on air this week: on Wednesday Adrian Murcia (left), sommelier and fromager at Tribeca’s Chanterelle, selected Labrusca Rosé (a brand new addition to the Labrusca line) among his top wine and cheese pairings for Memorial Day weekend in an appearance on Martha Stewart Radio.

Grazie Joey e Adrian!

Spring success!

May 20, 2009

Garden parties are back in style at I Trulli

A good time was had by all last night at I Trulli's first garden party of 2009.

Last night's was the first of many garden events planned for I Trulli in 2009.

I Trulli’s first garden party of the new season took place last night in the restaurant’s lush back garden. Lucky guests sipped five refreshing wines by Trentino-Alto Adige producer Castel Sallegg and dug into Chef Patti Jackson‘s delicious spread of seasonal antipasti.

Guests feasted on Chef Patti Jackson's delicious springtime spread.

Guests feasted on Chef Patti Jackson's irresistible springtime spread.

If you weren’t able to attend last night’s party don’t fret: our garden events continue through the spring! Next week we’ll be pouring five of our favorite wines from Piedmont. Though this Northern Italian region is most famous for Barolo and Barbaresco, it is also home to a range of lighter, lesser-known wines which are ideally enjoyed on a warm Spring evening! Try them for yourself this Tuesday, May 26!

The appropriately-named Ben Spring of Enoteca I Trulli pours Castel Sallegg's Pinot Bianco for a party guest.

The appropriately-named Ben Spring of Enoteca I Trulli pours Castel Sallegg's Pinot Bianco for a party guest.

Tuesday, May 26
(plus tax and 18% gratuity)

Featuring the following piemontesi party wines:

piemont party winesErbaluce La Rustia 2008 Orsolani
Canavese Rosato Rubiconda 2007 Orsolani
Canavese Acini Sparsi 2007 Orsolani
Barbera d’Asti 2007 Luca Ferraris
Pelaverga Basadone 2006 Castello di Verduno

For further information and reservations please call 212-481-7372 or email

Party photography by James Taylor.

Noble Nebbiolo

May 18, 2009

Vino’s wine classes continue on Wednesday with a celebration of a legendary Northern grape

Nebbiolo-based wines are renowned for their ability to age for years... or even decades.

Nebbiolo-based wines are renowned for their ability to age for years... or even decades.

When talk turns to great black grape varieties, in Italy three species invariably crop up. Southern wine drinkers may vote for Aglianico, while Sangiovese rules in Central Italy. But in the Northern regions one variety is king: Nebbiolo.

Nebbiolo on the vine

Nebbiolo is one of the first Piedmontese varieties to bud and last variety to ripen with harvest taking place in mid- to late-October.

Famed the world over for its use in two of Italy’s most celebrated wines, Barolo and Barbaresco, young Nebbiolo is naturally high in tannins thus at its best offers a remarkable potential for aging. Yet many forget that the variety actually goes far beyond these highly revered DOCGs, featuring in wines from some of Piedmont’s lesser-known winemaking zones, including Ghemme and Gattinara in the northern hills of the region.

Though most closely associated with Piedmont, Nebbiolo is also cultivated in Lombardy. Here it is known as Chiavennasca, and is the predominant variety in Valtellina.

piedmont-lombardy map

This map shows the Northern Italian winemaking zones in Piedmont and Lombardy where Nebbiolo prevails.

On Wednesday, May 20, join Nebbiolo authority Robert Scibelli, DWS, as he guides you through this impressive exclusive tasting of some of his (and Vino’s) favorite expressions of this much-admired and unexpectedly diverse variety:

nebbiolo wines

Extra Brut Metodo Classico Rosé NV Deltetto

Chiavennasca 2007 Conti Sertoli Salis

Canavese Rosato Rubiconda 2007 Orsolani

Baccalitt 2006 Conti Sertoli Salis

Carema Le Tabbie 2003 Orsolani

Lessona 1999 Sella

Canua Sforzato di Valtellina 2003 Conti Sertoli Salis

Barbaresco 2004 Castello di Verduno

Barolo Villero 2001 Giacomo Fenocchio

Barbaresco Montefico 1982 Produttori del Barbaresco

Barolo Chinato Cappellano

with Robert Scibelli, DWS
Wednesday, May 20

For more information call 212-725-6516 or email

Centovini in INTERNI Magazine’s “Design Guide New York”

May 14, 2009

INTERNINew York Design Week, May 14-19

Italian design magazine INTERNI has included Centovini in its annual Design Guide New York issue, released to coincide with New York Design Week, which begins today. In its 9th edition this year, the guide is composed of two parts, namely Inside and Outside. Inside lists exhibitors, exhibits, programs, awards and conferences at the ICFF International Contemporary Furniture Fair taking place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (May 16-19). Outside focuses on New York City’s most design-conscious neighborhoods, cataloguing over 400 design stores, hotels, restaurants and cafes, bars, clubs and music venues. No such list would be complete without SoHo’s Centovini, a truly successful interpretation of a unique Marzovilla-Moss collaborative vision.

Check out INTERNI‘s online New York Design Guide here.

Spring Garden Parties return

May 13, 2009

Eat, drink and be merry at I Trulli: all for $35*

Spring Garden Party - Every Tuesday, 6-8pm

At I Trulli we’re giving a special welcome to warmer weather this year. After a long winter we couldn’t wait to reopen our back garden and announce the long-awaited return of our Spring Garden Parties!

Since 1994, I Trulli has been a favorite among New York diners not just for its delicious regional specialties and celebrated wine-list, but also for its unique garden, one of Manhattan’s lushest, most secluded outdoor restaurant spaces. For this, our fifteenth anniversary year, we are hosting a series of special garden events taking us from spring right through the summer.

Our Spring Garden Parties get underway next Tuesday, May 19. Refresh with five of our favorite spring wines and replenish with Chef Patti Jackson‘s delicious seasonal antipasti! We look forward to seeing you in the garden for what we promise will be a true celebration of spring!

at I Trulli
Tuesday, May 19

$35* (plus tax and 18% gratuity)

For further information and reservations please call 212-481-7372 or email