Monthly Archives: June 2013

Upcoming Italian Events In NYC: “BARRIQUE…The Third Life of Wood” at the 2013 Summer Fancy Food Show in New York -BOOTH 2809-Level 3 & Italian Dine Out Week

For those who are attending the Fancy Food show in NYC this coming week, you have a great opportunity to try wines from some of Italy’s best producers who together with San Patrignano have been showing their wines throughout the country during this past month. I worked at their opening event in New York last month and will be at the Fancy Food show this month as well. The producers are from all over Italy including wines from Falesco, Di Majo Norante, Gianfranco Fino, Argiolas, Serradenari, Castello di Cigognola, Masciarelli, Botolo, Castiglion del Bosco, La Vis, Scubla, Feudi di San Gregorio, Anselmi, Velenosi, Les Cretes, Cantine del Notaio, Lunae Bosoni and San Patrignano.

The wines were part of a larger exhibition that involved furniture made in the workshops of the Communita di San Partrignano by those that live in the community and designed by world famous architects, all using wood from former wine barrels. The furniture won’t be shown at the Fancy Food show for obvious reasons. San Patrignano does wonderful work helping former drug addicts to get their lives back on track. They grow food and make wine, all activities that some of the former community members continue when they leave the group. If you plan on coming to the show, stop by the booth. Or come to the show for these wines, very worthwhile…

Also, don’t forget New York City’s first ever Italian Restaurant Week to celebrate Italian gastronomy and the culinary arts in the United States through an exciting 11-day dining event, from June 26 through July 6. Twenty three of New York City’s most authentic Italian restaurants will offer diners exceptional 3-course prix fixe menus at special discounted prices: $26 for lunch and $40 for dinner. To appeal to New Yorkers’ preference for convenience, the Italian Dine-Out has partnered with to afford diners a one-stop venue to peruse participating restaurants’ menus, make reservations, and find all program information in one place. Some of my favorite NYC Italian restaurants are taking part, including Aroma, I Trulli, SD26, Tarallucci e Vino and The Leopard at Des Artistes, among others. I am going to try a few that I have never been to including Gradisca and maybe Roc Restaurant.

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Filed under events, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian Restaurants, Italian wineries, Memorable Events, New York, wines

South Africa & Madiba On My Mind

Like so much of the world, I am anxiously reading news of Nelson Mandela. We all know he is frail and certainly not young. That said, his presence makes the world a better place. He had been one of my heroes for many years and as I write this I am looking at a quote of his that I keep on my desk.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it… The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

So much has been and is being said about Mandela but in my small way, I keep him in my prayers by my thoughts and South Africa in my mind by drinking their wines and toasting to him. My most recent article on South African wines was part of a round-up by bloggers who participated in the Snooth PVA bloggers weekend in March.

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Wine of the Week: Veleta Vijiriega From Spain’s Bodega Dominio Buenavista in Ugijar, Granada

Yesterday I went to the Guia Penin tasting to work at the table of a winery I represent, Eccoci Wines. I didn’t taste too many wines but I did get to try one made from an indigenous variety from Spain called Vijiriega that sparked my interest. It also had 10% Chardonnay I read in their brochure but the overwhelming taste profile was not of Chardonnay. Apparently Vijiriega is only grown in Andalucia, specifically around the city of Granada. The wine actually had pretty high alcohol which I didn’t get on the palate, 13.8%.

The winery, Dominio Buenavista is located in Ugijar at some 2000 meters above sea level. They told me that in October they can go to the beach and drive back from the sea to their winery and go skiing. Sound pretty good to me. The town is on the south side of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Thanks to their location, the winery has good diurnal temperature excursions.

This particular wine was both fruity and floral with the toasty, nutty notes that you get from batonnage. It also had a slightly almond note on the finish.

I don’t have any digital photos of Andalucia but I spent some time there a number of years ago. Granada with the Alhambra was an amazing, exciting place that I will never forgot. I suggest everyone see it once in their lifetime.

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Filed under Art, Indigenous Varieties, spain, Wine of the Week

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Cesanese Comune & Cesanese Affile from Lazio

Cesanese Comune and Cesanese Affile are red grape varieties that are grown in Lazio. The wines they produce are usually full bodied and somewhat spicy with nice tannins. The first time I had ever heard of Cesanese was in 2005 when I had the occasion to interview the Princess Maria Camilla Pallavicini from the Principe Pallavicini winery. She very kindly spoke with me on the phone about some of her impressions of the business and invited me to her property some 30 minutes on the train outside of Rome. I jumped at the chance to go and soon found myself in a jeep with her agronomist Mauro De Angelis on a very large property with what seemed to me to be acres and acres of vines.

The Pallavicini have a number of different properties, two of which they use to make wine. I went to visit the Tenuta di Colonna, the property is located in an area formerly known as Labicum that lies between the towns of Colonna and Frascati in Lazio. The family bought 1600 hectares of land in 1670. The Princess and her two sons, Sigieri and Moroello, are on the board of directors. The winery also counts among its considerable resources, the enologist Carlo Roveda, a well-known figure on the Italian winemaking scene and Mauro De Angelis, the agronomist responsible for implementing all of the changes in the vineyards. Carlo Ferrini is also a consulting enologist for the wines.

The Pallavicini family grows the grapes that are indigenous to Lazio, including Cesanese. I really enjoyed their Amarasco, a blend of grapes from different Cesanese clones. The grapes are left to slightly raisin on the vine giving extra strength and flavor. Red fruits and the spicy nature of the Cesanese grape burst through and lead to an enveloping round, velvety mouthfeel and a long finish.
This wine calls for a delicious meal and although it was the beginning of Summer, my thoughts went to Christmases I had spent in Rome and a truly delicious dish that always reminds me of Italy, Baby Lamb Chops Roman Style (Abbacchio alla Romana).

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Filed under Indigeous varieties, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian recipes, Italian regions, Italian wineries

Firenze, San Giovanni, e I Vini del Marchesi Ginori Lisci

Making Pasta In Florence

For about 23 years I have considered Florence my second home. I feel 100% at home in that city where I had a home for six years in my 20s, a magical time to roam and live in Florence. I confess that I was not the cook in my home, my ex was a fabulous cook.

Strips of Pasta

His mother was and is the best cook I have ever met. She would be happy to see me making pasta with friends in her city. Today is the Festa di San Giovanni, the patron saint of Florence. The whole city celebrates and my friends and I always used to as well. These photos are not from a San Giovanni party but from last November when I was in Florence.


Elisabetta, the wife of a dear friend, was in charge of the pasta operation. Great fun was had by all as my friends seem to make pasta regularly and are totally at ease with the project.


We made two kinds, with out and without spinach. It was exquisite as you can imagine.

Ricotta e Spinaci

While making the ravioli we were drinking one of their favorite wines, Macchion del Lupo from the Marchesi Ginori Lisci family.
I know the wines very well because I used to work for an importer who brought them into the US many moons ago. The family are all very lovely and have a beautiful borgo called Querceto where an old friend lives. Small world.


I’ve written about San Giovanni and the Marchesi Ginori Lisci family many times on this blog if you want to read more, click here.


Filed under Friend Recipes, Friends/Family, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Tuscany, wines

Rediscovering Chardonnay: Antica from Antinori Family

A few weeks ago I wrote on my blog that I was on my way to my college reunion. I mentioned that I was curious what my friends and roommates would be drinking after all of these years. I discovered that their tastes were quite eclectic but Chardonnay was also a theme that ran through the weekend, as one might expect.


A number of my friends also preferred beer to wine and we discovered that our small college town now has a brewery right on main street.

Good Nature Brewery

I was pretty partial to the Hypocrite White and the Belgian IPA but the other ones in the sampler they smartly offer did the trick as well. Our college town was pretty small and the area can best be called bucolic. It was a beautiful weekend with lots of fun memories and such dear friends.


What I most certainly did not expect was to have such a great bottle of wine at the Colgate Inn in Hamilton, NY as the Antica Napa Valley Chardonnay from the Antinori property in California.

Antica Chardonnay 2010

The wine was exquisite with great acidity, mineral notes, white fruits and flowers and the nutty, yeasty notes that come from batonnage that I really enjoy. I had never tasted one of their wines from the California property and really was very pleased with the choice and dinner with a dear friend at the venerable Colgate Inn.

Colgate Inn


Filed under California, Friends/Family, Italian wineries, Memorable Events, New York

Wine of the Week: Millbrook Tocai Friulano 2012

Hudson Valley

My wine of the week is from Millbrook Winery in the Hudson Valley. Their Tocai Friulano appealed to me when I tried it for the first time five years ago and still holds my interest as a summer sipper. Fruity but dry with nice mineral notes and crisp acidity, I thoroughly enjoy this wine.

I noticed on their site that they are actually screening one of my all-time favorite movies under the stars – Big Night. The scene where one brother makes an omelet for the other, in silence, as a way of overcoming their argument is so realistic and so much part of my life experience both in New York and in Italy.

I love the Hudson Valley and always have. As camp season rolls around and my niece counts down to her summer at camp, I am thinking of the Hudson Valley where I spent many a summer as a little kid and adolescent. It was such an important part of my life that my camp friends and I still get together, all these years later.

Camp Reunion

For a great post on the Hudson Valley and its wineries, check out my friend Sunny Gandara’s post on the beautiful part of New York State that she calls home.

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