Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Italy’ Category

On Sunday morning I woke up early and went to the market. Overnight, we had what I hope will be the last snow of the winter and it seemed like perfect weather for meatballs. I got home from the market and went to work. I like to make my meatballs and sauce in the morning so it has the day for the flavors to marry. After I had completed my work in the kitchen, I headed downstairs to continue work on my cellartracker project and kept an eye out for a good pairing.

The Meatballs
I have always loved a good meatball, probably because my mom’s are so good. I remember her meatballs from when I was a little and she still often makes them when we go home. Her spaghetti and meatballs are one of my favorites meals as they deliver a lot of comfort, love and flavor.  In developing my take on meatballs, I have tried to measure up to my mom’s while also doing a few things to make them my own.

One of my takes on meatballs has to do with how I handle the breadcrumbs. I incorporate breadcrumbs three ways — sautéed with the garlic, shallot and onion; soaked in milk; and added to the ground meat. I use ground beef, veal and pork (about 2 parts beef to 1 part veal and 1 part pork). I sauté some garlic, shallot and onion with garlic salt, celery salt, salt and pepper, poultry seasoning and the breadcrumbs. While that is on the stove, I soak some breadcrumbs in milk and when done I combine everything in a bowl and combine the sautéed ingredients with the meat, add the breadcrumbs soaked in milk  and then add more bread crumbs, dried parsley, parmesan and pecorino cheese, a couple of eggs and some chopped pine nuts. I cook the meatballs in a pan at a gentle heat and pull them when I think they are about 75 percent cooked. By this time, I have made a basic tomato sauce and add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

For a wine pairing, I actually considered pouring a red wine from Jura. I really like the wines from Jacques Puffeney and Jean-François Ganevat — they are bright and acidic and seem like they would pair well with Italian fare. I also considered something from Arianna Occhipinti, but inventory is starting to dwindle and all of her wines had been entered in cellartracker and I wasn’t inclined to undo any of my work quite yet. In the end, I found the perfect candidate — a Dolcetto d’Alba from Cappellano.

The Wine
Teobaldo Cappellano is considered a legend and one of the last great traditionalist winemakers in Barolo. In 1983, he banished all journalists from his cellar unless they agreed to review his wines without scores.  As a result, he is not very well-known in the United States — but is held in very high esteem in the wine world. He was once quoted as saying, “If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it’s spitters of wine…the ones who taste a wine by rolling it around in their mouths and then they spit it out. I worked my butt off to make wine to drink, not to spit!”

He has been described as a “wine artist,” and a “poet, philosopher and winemaker in his spare time.” He was also president of the influential Vini Veri group and a longtime leader of Italy’s sustainable agriculture movement. He was best known in Italy for his Barolo Chinato, a tonic of wine, spirit and herbs, chiefly quinine, invented by his uncle Giuseppe at the end of the nineteenth century. Endorsed by the House of Savoy, the former Kings of Italy, Cappellano’s Barolo Chinato became the standard by which all others were measured.

The estate produces 2 Barolos, 2 Barberas and a Dolcetto. Annual production is around 15,000 to 20,000 bottles. The wines are fermented along traditional lines for 2-3 weeks, without added yeasts, in stainless steel (designed by Cappellano himself) and glass-lines cement vats. Then they go into barrels for a minimum of 3 years, sometimes longer. They are bottled without filtration. His wines are imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Teobaldo Cappellano died February 20th, 2009 after a serous illness. He slipped into a coma while undergoing surgical treatment and never recovered. He was 65 years old. His son Augusto carries on his legacy.

His Barolos will put you back at least $90 a bottle, but his Barbera and Dolcetto are good values, the Dolcetto is available for about $25 a bottle. Aromatics of red fruit and some Old World funk on the nose. Red fruit with sour cherry and cranberry, some vegetal notes — good acidity and soft, dusty tannins. This bring a bit more structure than some of the more fruit driven Dolcettos, certainly a more soulful and thought-provoking example of the varietal. The wine is very food friendly and comforting — a very good wine and a solid pairing with the spaghetti and meatballs.

Read Full Post »

Gulfi is a relatively new producer of organic wines — their wines aren’t widely available but worth seeking out. Astor Wines in NY and the Wine Exchange usually have some of their wines in stock.

Gulfi was established in 1996 and current production is about 20,000 cases. It is made from the Sicilian red grape Nero d’Avola. It comes from a limestone-based vineyard around Pachino in the Val di Noto region of Sicily. 8,000 bottles were produced.

This wine still had lots of life and was really showing beautifully. It had softened since I last had it some 4 or 5 years ago. Very approachable and comforting. I thought this was like Barry White in a bottle. It was smooth, soulful and didn’t need anything else to set the mood. I have some 2005s, but think this is the last bottle of the 2000 vintage.

14% alcohol. Imported by Selected Estates of Europe. I also really liked their Carjcanti, a white wine made from Carricante.

Read Full Post »

Arianna Occhipinti is from the Vittoria region of Southern Sicily. She has been making wine for ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS. She produces first rate wines from biodynamically grown local varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Frappato. In her mid-20s, Arianna already seems to know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She is the sort of driven young winemaker who is bound to be become an important figure in Sicilian wine.

Nero d’Avola is the primary red grape of Sicily, and while capable of making very fine wine, most examples tend to be a bit ordinary. Many expressions of the varietal tend to be over extracted and muscular. Occhipinti’s is soft at its core, refined and almost feminine — while still retaining some of the heartier elements expected from the grape. Dark ruby garnet in color. Nose of dark cherry, earth with some brett (eau de merde) and clove. On the palate, bright, tart and acidic with dark cherry, currant, rhubarb and a little twizzler. Pure fruit, chalky minerality with earth and vegetal notes.

This might not reach the same heights as her Frappato, but I thought it really was a lovely bottle of wine — and it shows a unique expression of the Nero D’Avola varietal articulated by a very gifted winemaker. 13% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Recommended.

Related posts:
Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT 2006
Occhipinti SP68 Rosso Vittoria 2008

Read Full Post »

IMG_1353Teobaldo Cappellano is considered a legend and one of the last great traditionalist winemakers in Barolo. In 1983, he banished all journalists from his cellar unless they agreed to review his wines without scores.  As a result, he is not very well known in the United States — but is held in very high esteem in the wine world.

He was once quoted as saying, “If there is one thing that makes me crazy, it’s spitters of wine…the ones who taste a wine by rolling it around in their mouths and then they spit it out. I worked my butt off to make wine to drink, not to spit!”

He has been described as a “wine artist,” and a “poet, philosopher and winemaker in his spare time.” He was also president of the influential Vini Veri group and a longtime leader of Italy’s sustainable agriculture movement. He was best known in Italy for his Barolo Chinato, a tonic of wine, spirit and herbs, chiefly quinine, invented by his uncle Giuseppe at the end of the nineteenth century. Endorsed by the House of Savoy, the former Kings of Italy, Cappellano’s Barolo Chinato became the standard by which all others were measured.

The estate produces 2 Barolos, 2 Barberas and a Dolcetto. Annual production is around 15,000 to 20,000 bottles. The wines are fermented along traditional lines for 2-3 weeks, without added yeasts, in stainless steel (designed by Cappellano himself) and glass-lines cement vats. Then they go into barrels for a minimum of 3 years, sometimes longer. They are bottled without filtration.

Teobaldo Cappellano died February 20th, 2009 after a serous illness. He slipped into a coma while undergoing surgical treatment and never recovered. He was 65 years old. His son Augusto will carry on his legacy.

I opened a 2004 Babera D’Alba last week and it was the highlight of the evening. Beautiful ruby color. Lots of red fruit on the nose with some floral notes and spice. Sour and dried cherry on the palate with cranberry and a little pomegranate. Good tannins and acidity, but also quite mellow — a true comfort wine. Recommended.

14% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Read Full Post »

IMG_1341Arianna Occhipinti is from the Vittoria region of Southern Sicily. She has been making wine for ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS. She produces first rate wines from biodynamically grown local varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Frappato. In her mid-20s, Arianna already seems to know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She is the sort of driven young winemaker who is bound to be become an important figure in Sicilian wine.

Frappato is a local Sicilian red grape variety that always seems to yield wines loaded with fresh raspberry aromatics. Arianna’s Frappato is already legendary — and that status is very well deserved. The SP68 is a blend of Frappato and Nero di Avola. The SP68 name comes from a highway near Arianna’s home town of Vittoria.

Bright ruby in color. Focused aromatics  of raspberry, cherry and garrigue. On the palate, sour black cherry and rasberry with stony earth and a little twizzler. Great depth, purity and balance. Reminded me of a Gamay with a little extra meatiness. Very approachable — certainly a serious wine, but a lot of fun to drink. A perfect summer wine to serve with a slight chill with BBQ or probably a great pairing with lamb.

12.5% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections. Strongly recommended.

Related post:
Arianna Occhipinti Il Frappato Sicilia IGT 2006

Read Full Post »

IMG_1297Arianna Occhipinti is from the Vittoria region of Southern Sicily. She has been making wine for ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS. She produces first rate wines from biodynamically grown local varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Frappato. In her mid-20s, Arianna already seems to know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She is the sort of driven young winemaker who is bound to be become an important figure in Sicilian wine.

Frappato is a local Sicilian red grape variety that always seems to yield wines are loaded with fresh raspberry aromatics. Arianna’s Frappato is already legendary — and that status is very well deserved.

Bright ruby, light-bodied — but darkly translucent. Lush floral aromatics with raspberry and a little basement and earthy funk on the nose. On the palate, loaded with raspberry, sour cherry and cranberry. Bright, fresh, pure and acidic. Stunning, lovable and delicious. Strongly recommended.

12.5% alcohol. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections.

Related post:
Occhipinti SP68 Rosso Vittoria 2008

Read Full Post »

img_1167The original Super-Tuscan, Tignanello is produced exclusively from the Tignanello vineyard, a 47 hectares (116 acres) southwest-facing, calcareous rocky-marl and limestone soil plot, planted between 1,150 and 1,312 feet above sea level at Antinori’s Santa Cristina Estate. It was the first Sangiovese to be aged in small oak barrels, the first red wine in modern times to use a non-traditional grape variety, Cabernet, in the blend, and among the first red wines made in Chianti with no white grapes.

Tignanello, originally a Chianti Classico Riserva labeled Vigneto Tignanello, was first vinified as a single vineyard wine in the 1970 vintage, when it contained 20% Canaiolo and 5% Trebbiano and Malvasia, and was aged in small oak cooperage. With the 1971 vintage the wine became a Vino da Tavola della Toscana and was named Tignanello after the vineyard from which it originates. Beginning with this vintage, Tignanello stopped adhering to the rules laid down by Chianti Classico Disciplinare, and with the 1975 vintage, white grapes were totally eliminated. Since the 1982 vintage, the blend has been 80% Sangiovese, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Cabernet Franc.

I had been sitting on this waiting for a special occasion. Fortunately, a nice dinner with friends from California provided more than such an occasion. Open and decanted the wine for 3 hours. Deep garnet color. Aromatics of cherry, tobacco, cedar and floral notes. Cherry, strawberry, spice, leather and forest floor on the palate. Full bodied, but more elegant than a heavyweight –structured, fairly complex with good acidity and focus. This was the second favorite wine of the week, after the Giuseppe Quintarelli Valpolicella Classico Superiore 1999. 13.5% alcohol. Imported by Remy Amerique.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: