Monthly Archives: December 2012

Wine of the Week: Les Cepages Baron Philippe de Rothschild At Metropolitan Museum of Art

Met Christmas Tree

One of the truly great places to be at Christmas, if not skiing somewhere exciting, sunning somewhere warm or sailing in the Caribbean, is New York City. The city is festooned with beautiful Christmas lights and alive with wonderful Christmas shows. I love Christmas and all that it brings, including for me, a trip to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Christmas tree and its’ Neapolitan Presepio.

The Bernini show I saw was truly fabulous and gave me a real feeling of being in Rome among his gorgeous fountains which adorn every major square and his incredible sculptures which grace the interior of almost every major church.

There is actually a street in Naples where the “Maestri” of the presepio have their shops, the Via San Gregorio Armeno, otherwise known as the Via dei Presepi. When I lived in Milan I had a good friend from Naples who made his own presepio every year complete with water and electricity. It was very impressive.


One of my favorite places to have a drink in New York City is the bar in the hallways above the great hall at the Met. Years ago I wrote an article on the restaurants in American Museums but the bar at the Met is still my favorite. The wines are passable, the nibbles are too but the location truly can’t be beat. This year I tried a new wine on their list, Les Cepages from Baron Philippe de Rothschild.

It was cheery and nicely paired with the food on the list which this month is American fare to coincide with a show on Andy Warhol. At a retail outlet, I believe it sells for between $8-$15, a nice price for a wine to bring to a party.

Leave a comment

Filed under Campania, France, Holidays, Italian Art, Italian regions, New York

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Carignano Nero – Sardinia

Carignano Nero is a grape variety that was brought to Sardinia from Spain by way of Corsica and the South of France. A hearty grape variety it produces red wines of considerable weight and alcohol with a relatively dry mouthfeel.

It is the principal grape variety in the wines from the Carignano del Sulcis DOC. Sardinia was ruled by Spain from the 1300s under the Kingdom of Aragon until the War of Spanish Succession which took place in the period from 1701-1714. Many Spanish grape varieties are grown in Sardinia as a result of this long occupation.

The wines made from Carignano can be made into a variety of styles including a red, a riserva, a rose’, a novello and a passito. There are a number of Sardinia wineries that just about everyone knows, among them are Sella & Mosca and Santadi, the cooperative cellar which makes fabulous wines including one from Carignano called Terre Brune.

Other smaller wineries also make wines from this interesting grape variety that does well in Sardinia’s hot climate. Sardinia is at the same altitude as Calabria on the mainland, the Alentejo in Portugal and Murcia in Spain so you can see why this grape variety does well there.

Carignano is also grown in some of the central regions of Italy including Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche.

Leave a comment

Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian DOC Wines, Italian regions, Italian wineries, Sardinia, Travel, wines

Women in Wine: Lucia Barzano’ from Il Mosnel

Avvinare started as a blog about Italian women in wine, a subject that has fascinated me for many years. As always happens, you start in one area and end up writing about many other areas as well but my 2013 resolution is to make posts about women in wine one of the main series on this blog. I had decided that Friday’s would be the perfect day but the recent tragedy in Connecticut left me unable to write a post. It’s unimaginable what the families of all of the 27 victims are going through. I only hope that this will start a dialog that leads to some new legislation.

Today’s post is about a winery from Franciacorta, an area that I am very drawn to. The winery is Il Mosnel, that has been in the Barboglio family since 1836. Emanuela Barboglio, Lucia’s mother was the one to really focus on the vineyards and the new denomination of Franciacorta back in 1968. Today Lucia and her brother Giulio run the winery.

Last week, December 13, was Santa Lucia when many Italian celebrate Christmas, especially in the North. It’s also my niece and Lucia Barzano’s namesake so it seems a perfect time to write about her winery.

I met Lucia and tasted her wines at a tasting event in New York some years ago thanks to my friend Susanna Crociani . I remember them as being highly refined, elegant sparklers with minerality and white fruit and floral notes. The winery makes a long lineup of wines including a Brut, Brut Rose, Pas Dose, Brut Saten Millesimato, Rose’ Pas Dose Millesimato “Parose'” and a Brut Millesimato “Emanuela Barboglio.” They also make some still wines under the Curtefranca DOC denomination. Doctor Wine or Daniele Cernilli has written a long and interesting piece on his views of Franciacorta.

Il Mosnel’s wines are made with a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. Some see partial oak fermentation while other parcels are done purely in stainless steel. The winery has 38 hectares of DOCG vineyards and 2 hectares of DOC vineyards. Starting in 2011, the winery has also begun the process of getting certified their vineyards certified as organic. The soil have more chalk than clay and are moderately deep. They tend to face East- Souteast and are densely planted. All of the vineyards have been replanted since 1985 moving from using a Sylvoz training system to Guyot or spurred-Cordon (Cordone Speronato)

I always think of Franciacorta in December as a celebratory wine for the holidays. While the area has made some headway in the US, I think it could do much more and producers such as Il Mosnel are certainly doing their part. I follow much of what goes on in Franciacorta through Lucia’s Twitter Feed. Unlike me, she is very active on Twitter and I believe that is where she and Susanna “met.” Susanna Crociani is another active Twitterer.

According to their brochure, Il Mosnel is a word with Celtic origins and means a rock pile. It is also the name of the lands and the house where the winery is located.

I haven’t been to Franciacorta in a number of years but have fond memories of the area and all of producers. I also really like the city of Brescia which surprises some people.

Today is a pretty grey day in NYC despite holiday decorations, a glass of Il Mosnel seems like a good anecdote.

1 Comment

Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, Lombardy, Women in Wine

Italian Regions: Collina Torinese DOC In Piedmont

One is so used to thinking of important DOCGs from Piedmont that we often neglect to look at the other viticultural denominations from that splended region in Italy. While Nebbiolo may be King of the hill, other red grape varieties are fundamental blocks of Piemontese viticultural history.

Collina Torinese DOC is a wine made in different iterations:
Collina Torinese Rosso which must be 60% Barbera and 25% minimum of Freisa. The remaining 15% can be of other non-aromatic red grape varieties.

Wines are also made using the Collina Torinese DOC label with the name of a grape variety on it. In those wines, at least 85% of the grapes mentioned on the label must make up 85% of the wine. For example, a Collina Torinese Barbera DOC must contain 85% Barbera.

The most widely grown varieties include: Barbara, Bonarda, Malvasia di Schierano, and Pelaverga or Cari.

Torino is on my mind this week because of a lovely lunch on Monday at Eataly hosted by the Torino Promotion board. Torino is the original home of Eataly and according to the hosts, the place where everything began – Slow Food, Eataly, Fiat and many other things.


The lunch was delicious with cheeses that made my heart sing including one wrapped in grape skins and another – Robiola which some mistook for brie. I have always given Torino less of a chance to reveal itself than other cities. I am now beginning to see the error of my ways.

Cheese & Salumi

1 Comment

Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian DOC Wines, Italian regions, italy, Pelaverga, Piedmont, Travel, wines

Wine of the Week: Monte Rossa Prima Cuvee

Monte Rossa

This week’s pick is Monte Rossa Prima Cuvee from Franciacorta. I’ve always been a big fan of Franciacorta since I first discovered it in a wine class in Milan in 1997. I had never had this particular one until Sunday evening at an event at Eataly to celebrate Giovanni Soldini, Italy’s most famous sailor.


Soldini and his Maserati team are going to be competing for a world record for New York-San Francisco route around Cape Horn. At the event it seemed that they mentioned 57 days as the existing record to beat although research shows that there are other records as well.

In any event, a thrilling voyage. I was so happy to get to the event at Eataly because the wine was better and the event at the Manhattan Sailing Club was totally booked.

I have seen Maserati docked at North Cove where the sailing club is located but I never met Soldini. The boat itself is gorgeous and so exciting to think of sailing on it. For anyone who sails, Soldini is such a legend, especially in Italy.

Cape Horn fascinates me and the Drake Passage and a desire to go to Antarctica have been on my mind since a trip to Chile in 2008, around this time.

I was thinking of all of this while tasting that delicious Franciacorta with all the minerality, acidity and white fruit flavors I associate with a good Franciacorta. The wine is made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Nero. The wine is widely available in the US for about $30.00 a bottle.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Lombardy, Memorable Events, South America, sparkling wine, Wine of the Week, wines

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Caricagiola Nero & Carica L’Asino Bianco

While I have been trying to write this column on Mondays, events overtook me yesterday and I wasn’t able to do it so rather than wait another week, I am writing on a Tuesday, a day I usually reserve for the Wine of the Week.

The first two varieties, one red and one white, are almost unknown even in Italy, both may have gotten their start in Liguria and then migrated to other regions.Caricagiola to Sardinia and Carica l’asino to Piedmont. Both are used exclusively as blending grapes in local table wines. Carica l’Asino has a funny name and it may be related to the Vermentino-Pigato family of grapes. Apparently also considered a workhorse grape, Asino which means donkey was considered an appropriate moniker. Carica l’asino is usually blended with Cortese, Timorasso, Barbera Bianca e sometimes with Moscato.

While you may never find wines made from this grapes, it’s interesting to note just how many varieties Italy has in its inventory.

Leave a comment

Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, italy

Italian Regions: Lombardy – San Colombano DOC – St. Ambrogio

Yesterday was a holiday in Milano celebrating their patron Saint, Sant’Ambrogio. I write about this ever year and always remember that today is also the anniversary of Pearl Harbor or the “day that will live in infamy.”

La Scala opens its’ season as well but for that and for opera in general, Fred Plotkin is the reigning guru as well as a friend. Fred is an expert in many areas of Italy and an impressive polymath.

Here are some older posts on the topic. Once again, when mentioning Milan, I like to talk about it’s one DOC region, San Colombano al Lambro.


San Colombano al Lambro” or “San Colombano” Rosso must be made with croatina: 30-50%; barbera: 25-50%; and up to 15% of uva rara. Other red grapes grown in Lombardy can be used up to 15% of the total for the red version.

White San Colombano al Lambro is made with a minimum of 50% chardonnay; 10% minimum of pinot nero. Other white grapes, except for aromatic ones can be added to the blend for a total of 15%.

Once again, I couldn’t find the wines on wine-searcher and you might be hard pressed to find them outside of their local region but if you are in Milan and I hope to be very soon for work and pleasure, try one of these wines. Good valued and easy drinking wines. If I could get some in New York, I would raise a glass tonight to celebrate St. Ambrogio and the heroes and survivors of Pearl Harbor, one of whom was a relative of mine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Lombardy, Travel, wines