Monthly Archives: December 2008

Holiday Season, An Occasion For Song, Dance, Wine and Friends

I have been absent very often from this blog and fear that the next few weeks will be much of the same as I travel around Chile, reading books by Bruce Chatwin and Isabel Allende, drinking Cabernet and other great Chilean wines. I’m super excited for the trip.

I have tried numerous wines over the past few weeks but only a few really stood out. One was La Segreta 2006 from Planeta. This Sicilian IGT is an easy drinking wine which works well with food without overpowering it.


I had brought a bottle of Cavas de Weinert Malbec 2000 home for the holiday meal but it was corked, alas alak. I had tasted it in Argentina last year and it was fabulous. Needless to say, I was disappointed.


That said, in addition to great wine and food, the holiday season means many things to me including the Holiday Train Show at the Bronx Botanical Gardens and Alvin Ailey, gospel music at Mount Moriah on 126th streeet in Manhattan and carols at St. John the Divine. A true New York holiday season. This one was particularly special.



Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, wines

Local Wine Bar Buceo 95 Ups Its Spanish Offering

I am always looking for a new wine bar, a new wine, a new experience but sometimes, I like to go back to places as well. This was my fifth time at Buceo 95, a wine and tapas bar located on 95th street between Amsterdam and Broadway in New York City. I have been to Buceo in all seasons and must say on a cold winter’s night, it was a warm refuge. The new sommelier is very nice and knowledgeable. He let us do a blind tasting of three wines and then had us choose which one we wanted. I, like most wine geeks, was too focused on whether I could pick the grape variety (I couldn’t) rather than just thinking about the pleasureable tasting experience. I wanted to use my new skills as a Certified Spanish Wine Educator. I definitely need to go on an extended trip to Spain and do more research.


I tried a number of wines which I enjoyed but the one that stood out was a 2007 Can Blau from Montsant made with carinena, syrah, and garnacha. Can Blau is the joint effort of Jorge Ordóñez and Ángel Gil of Bodegas Juan Gil. Montsant became a Denominacion de Origen (DO) in autumn 2001. It looks very beautiful with hills and olive groves. The area forms a horseshoe shape around the better known area of Priorato.
The area is garnering considerable attention. This Montsant wine was deep in color, full bodied with spicy notes from the syrah and black fruit. It also had a velvety mouthfeel and a long, persistent finish. A delicious find. It went perfectly with my skirt steak, also another good choice. Buceo 95 is definitely moving in a good direction with Pedro Ximenez and many sherries on the menu as well. I am excited for my next visit.

On another note, 95th Street made the news today as part of a story about the magic of the holiday season. Check out this New York Times piece.

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A Glass of Gragnano Brings Joy and Good Tidings from Campania, Italy

I discovered a wine that I am wild about earlier this fall thanks to a colleague, Cantine Federciane’s Gragnano DOC. At first I was sure that I was drinking a Lambrusco from Emilia Romagna but this wine has much more body to my palate and different earthier aromas than I get from most Lambrusco. Gragnano is made from a blend of indigenous grapes from the Campania region of Italy. Piedirosso, Sciascinoso and Aglianico are blended to produce this delicious red wine from the Sorrento Penisola. The soils are volcanic and the winery’s website says that they see the perlage or bubbles in this wine as reflecting the eruptions of Vesuvius. The wine is made in stainless steel and ferments at a controlled temperature on selected yeasts. It undergoes a secondary fermentation in autoclave in order to create its characteristic foam.


I love the color of this wine, a deep ruby almost purple red. It is best when served cool and is refreshing with berry notes, a lovely body and rich texture. I like to have this wine at a local restaurant and wine bar Tarallucci e Vino but it is on the menu at numerous restaurants in New York City. I also discovered a widespread consensus on the web that this is the ideal wine for pizza. I like to have a glass all on its own as well. The wine is imported by Wine Emporium.


Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Restaurants, Wine Bars, wines

South America on my mind…Chile awaits

I am going on a long trip to Chile later this month. I am looking for any ideas about wineries to check out, people to contact or great Chilean wines that you have tasted. I am super excited for the trip and would love any good advice about wines to try. The first week is a boat trip in Patagonia and thereafter will be anyone’s guess. Any and all ideas are welcome. Thanks.

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Italian-Swedish Salmon Recipe & Lis Neris

Recently I started posting a few recipes that my friends had given to me before I left Italy. This one is from Paola Cornelli, a dear friend and a fabulous skipper. I decided to pair it with a wine that I love, Confini 2005 IGT, from Friuli Producer Lis Neris. The wine is made from a blend of grapes with slight changes in the percentages on a yearly basis. The 2005 is a blend of 30% Pinot Grigio, 60% Gewurztraminer and 10% Riesling.


I brought the wine to my tasting group and they had a hard time placing it. The Gewurztraminer’s floral and lychee notes shine through and are well integrated with the minerality and wet stone tones from the Riesling. The wine is truly a celebration on your palate and is rich and full bodied without being overdone. The late harvest aromas and flavors are what makes the wine confusing in a blind tasting I think. Alvaro manually late harvests the wines from 10-25 year old vines. The wine ferments and matures on its fine lees (dead yeast cells) for 10 months in 500 liter French oak barrels. It is in the end, elegant and slightly restrained, much like Alvaro Pecorari, the winemaker.


This is a photo of Alvaro and his daughter Federica at Vinitaly this past year. I sometimes do work with Alvaro’s importer in the United States and have been to his winery in San Lorenzo, a town right on the border (confine) with Slovenia and very close to the Isonzo river. Alvaro has 50 hecatares of vineyards which are planted on gravelly soil that was dragged down from the Alps. I can’t say enough good things about Alvaro and his wines. They are hands down my favorite white wines coming out of Italy. He is a very meticulous wine maker and his wines speak for themselves.

Salmone al Cartoccio (Parchment or Aluminum foil) (for 6 people)

1 large Salmon fillet

Light the over to 356 F, place the fillet in a plate covered with oven paper and sprinkle it with pepper and salt and lemon slices (rub the lemon on the skin so that it doesn’t get too dry while cooking).
Close the oven paper around the salmon on both sides, leaving a slight space for air to circulate inside. Cook for about 30 minutes. Open the parchment paper (let it cool a bit) and remove the skin and fish bones.
Serve it hot and accompanied by these two sauces

Swedish Sauce

1 cup of yogurt
2 cups of mayonnaise
2 spoonfuls of Italian mustard
Ground white pepper
Freshly chopped dill

Mediterranean Sauce

Cherry tomatoes cut into very small pieces
Chopped Basil
Olive Oil
Dried red pepper

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Filed under Friend Recipes, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries, wines

Changes to blog and Vigneto Communications

I have been absent from my blog for about a week and have made a number of changes to both my blog and to my website Vigneto Communications. I’ve added a little winter touch for the holiday season. I hope it isn’t annoying…I am pleased with the changes, a tad easier on the eyes. Tomorrow I will be back to posting about wine. I have tasted many interesting wines during the past week. I look forward to sharing my thoughts.

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Pearl Harbor, Snug Harbor, Three Park Dems

Today as we all know is the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. Ever mindful of historical significance, our President-elect nominated his choice for Secretary of Veterans Affairs today. Watching the press conference, I was moved thinking how far we had all come from that fateful day. My great uncle Murray was one of the few survivors of Pearl Harbor and his military service was one of the most important aspects of his life. His license plate underscored this and read Pearl Harbor Survivor. Murray is no longer with us but I wanted to raise a glass to him today with a wine from the United States. I was looking for a wine from Hawaii but instead was fortunate to try a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon made on Staten Island by Robert Rispoli. This Russian River Cabernet was pretty good for a homemade wine. Much better than my latest vintages of I Due Gatti. Rispoli has a wine school, Vino Divino, where you can take classes and make your own wine.


I met Rispoli at a beautiful event, Winter in Tuscany, at the Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden on Staten Island. Staten Island has the largest percentage of residents of Italian ancestry of any county in the United States, according to the 2006 US Census. The center is very active in promoting Italian initiatives together with its cultural sponsor the Fitzgerald Foundation of Florence. Earlier this year they held a film series and are now opening a Tuscan garden and villa modeled after a famous Florentine garden – the Villa Gamberaia. The garden will also house a one-acre vineyard and will host numerous cultural events and festivals.


Tonight’s party was a fun event with a Pinocchio theme. I went to Collodi to see the Pinocchio park early in my Italian life. It was beautiful and magical even as an adult.


On my way back home, I stopped by the holiday party for the Three Parks Dems, a group on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for whom I volunteered earlier this fall. The event ended with a rousing gospel version of America the Beautiful and me feeling warm, fuzzy and patriotic.


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Filed under Adventures in Winemaking: Super Teaneck 1st Vintage, Italian regions, italy, wines