Vic shows Rachel Ray how to make Potato Gnocchi

Ingredients

4 large russet potatoes, 2 1/2 pounds
4 large egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a couple of handfuls
2 to 2 1/2 cups “00” flour or all-purpose flour (all-purpose has more of a bite)
1 fat tablespoon butter
Nutmeg, a few grates, to taste

Roast potatoes 45 minutes at 425°F or boil them in their jackets/skins until very tender, 25-30 minutes. Cool potatoes completely.    Remove potatoes from their skins and pass them through a ricer. Arrange the riced potatoes on a large work surface with a well at the center. Place egg yolks in well with the cheese.  Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Work eggs and cheese into potatoes then sprinkle 2 cups flour over the potatoes and work it into the potatoes. If dough is sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour until the dough is firm enough to roll into ropes on a floured surface. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces or pillows for basic dumplings or use a gnocchi tool to roll and mark the dumplings. Transfer gnocchi to a parchment-lined baking sheet.    Boil in small batches of 2-3 portions in salted water until gnocchi floats and is cooked through. Carefully remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a warm serving bowl and repeat if necessary. Dress the gnocchi with butter and a little nutmeg and serve with sauce of choice.

Gnocchi is “gno” big deal to make. I’ve read countless recipes that warn cooks and make the process sound daunting, difficult and only for skilled cooks—it’s all hype. You’ll make it once or twice and get the feel for the right amount of flour for you but even first time out it will work, it will take less time than you imagined and the time will pass fast as the repetitive nature of rolling and pinching or cutting the gnocchi is so relaxing it becomes Italian Zen. These little pillows are a hug from inside out. -

See more at: Rachel Ray 

Time In a Bottle: 2010 Brunello di Montalcino

Montalcino is a beautiful medieval hilltop village just 40 miles south of Siena, on the ancient roadway to Rome. It is dominated by a castle, called La Fortezza, which doubles as an enoteca and wine shop. La Fortezza offers most of the wines of the zone, plus older vintages, as well as honey, olive oil, jams and the like. It also offers a breathtaking panorama, with views of Siena and local vineyards, dotted with the gray-green glow of olive trees and forests. Viticulture in this area dates back to the Etruscan and Roman eras. Montalcino takes its name from “Mons-Ilex” – that is, the “mountain with holm oak trees. Wine lovers, if you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list!

Brunello di Montalcino Is Born
It is commonly held that Montalcino offers the loftiest, finest expression of the Sangiovese vine. This was not always the case. For ages, the town was known for a sweet white wine called Moscadello. In 1685 poet Francesco Redi praised it, referring to it as “Moscadaletto.” It is still made today.

The first reference to the “Brunello” grape was in 1842 in a letter written by Canon Vincenzo Chiarini of Montalcino. By the 1860’s, at his family’s Il Greppo estate, Clemente Santi was producing a wine which he called Brunello, due to the brownish hue of its berries and wine. In 1869 he received a medal for his Vino Rosso Scelto (Select Red Wine).

In the 1870’s Clemente’s grandson, Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, added to its history. A veteran of Italy’s war for independence, Ferruccio isolated the clone of Sangiovese Grosso which his grandfather had used. He introduced a long vinification technique which stabilized his wine. His idea was to perfect Brunello di Montalcino as a red wine of power and structure, fit for long aging. In 1888 he bottled the first Brunello di Montalcino. There are still a few bottles of 1888 and 1891 at the cantina of Il Greppo. Please note that these and other older bottles of Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino are re-corked every 25 years or so at the winery in a process called the ricolmatura. Yes, great Brunello outlives its cork!

The Modern Era
In the 1960’s there were only 11 producers of Brunello di Montalcino. The wine was granted its Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) in 1968. By the 1980’s there were around 50 producers. Many investors were lured into the zone by the prestige, quality, excellence and high prices fetched by Brunello. After all, in 1969 Italy’s president, Giuseppe Saragat, had selected Biondi-Santi Brunello Riserva 1955 to be poured at a state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth of England. Internationally, Brunello di Montalcino had arrived.

Many people and factors have contributed to the chic, strong image of modern Barolo. We must point out that the investment by the American Mariani family in Montalcino in the 1970’s and 1980’s was very significant, since it introduced and popularized Brunello di Montalcino in the USA. Today there are approximately 280 producers and another 70 farmers who grow Sangiovese grapes that they then sell to bottlers.

Characteristics of Brunello di Montalcino
The DOCG zone is large and is usually spoken of as being divided into 3 zones. Position and location are important for top quality, but the general level of production is high, among the top two or three in Italy. There are no bad Brunellos.

DOCG Brunello di Montalcino is aged for 4 years, two of which must be in wood, usually large Slavonian oak. A Riserva must be aged at the winery for an additional year or more. Brunello di Montalcino must be 100% Sangiovese.

Brunello has a deep ruby – not purple – color that tends to turn garnet as it ages and becomes more velvety. There is an aroma of cherries with touches of wildflowers, spices, underbrush (sottobosco) and nut-like notes. It is well structured, tannic, rich and warm, dry, concentrated and extracted. The finish is lingering. We recommend waiting 7 to 10 years from the vintage before drinking Brunello, unless you decant it. Expect it to develop in the bottle for 10 to 20 years.

Setting Up the 2010 Vintage
We are always suspicious of “the vintage of the century,” which generally occurs two or three times each decade. Plus it also usually the vintage that the wineries have to sell and offer to the public. Brunello producers rate each vintage from 0 to 5 stars. 2010 was a 5-star year. Even for us skeptics, the 2010 is the real deal. It has yielded wines of extraordinary power and structure. They are the finest expression of Brunello in recent memory. Buy them and cellar them.

The spring of 2010 was wet. There were fears of fungal problems at first, but as the hot summer began, agronomists were pleased to have a buildup of groundwater reserves. The long, sunny growing season allowed the Sangiovese grapes to reach full maturation. From June through July there were only a few passing storms. August had cool nights and September was gorgeous. It was unprecedented.

The harvest of fresh, ripe and clean grapes took place from mid-September through the end of October. Those who waited were rewarded. Some of the wines reached 15% of alcohol. Giovanni Neri, the son of Giacomo Neri, told us, “It’s the best vintage that I have experienced, the best vintage that my father has experienced and, perhaps, the best vintage that my grandfather experienced.” Hayo and Franz Loacker, who produce organic and biodynamic Brunello, told us, “Nature was kind and generous. We waited to harvest and we’re happy that we did so.”

Vintages like this come along only once or twice in a lifetime. The 2010’s have become and will continue to be viewed as the new benchmark for Tuscany’s iconic red. The wines boast wonderful intensity, structure, layers of flavor and minerality. At this stage, all of the wines we tasted were underdeveloped but showing a glorious future. Collectors, get ready.

Rating the 2010’s
Some samples were flown in from Italy for our special tasting. They suffered a bit in passage, but not terribly. We tasted several times from March 6th through March 11th at Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey. We sampled 12 wines in total, and liked everything we tasted. Our assessments are offered to you in the order of our tasting.

Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Typical color, berries and cherries in the nose with nuances of coffee and chocolate. Aromatic with a long finish. Try again many times in the next 5 to 7 years. Large Slavonian oak used. Excellent value.
93 points

Tiezzi “Poggio Cerrino” Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Ruby color is bright. Concentrated, balanced, elegant. Sweet berries in the nose. Complex, relatively soft, powerful with a lingering finish. Large Slavonian oak used. Will develop for 10 years or more. Extracted. Superb value.
94 points

La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Owned by the Caselli family, neighbor to Ciacci and Uccelliera. Concentrated color, authentic, ripe, “barnyard” like, intense, a bit short on the finish. We saved the bottle and tasted two days later. The wine had opened beautifully. Enjoy for 15 years or more.
92 points

Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Leonardo Bellacini has produced a fruity, relatively soft and open, harmonious Brunello in 2010. Tannins in harmony with wood, fruit, and overall acidity. Large Slavonian oak for 36 months. Wonderful mouthfeel. Will develop for 15 to 20 years or more. A gem!
95 points

Casanova di Neri Etichetta Bianca “White Label” Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Brilliant ruby, chewy, complex, 42 months in oak, viscous, excellent body and ageability. Good value. Ageworthy for a decade or more.
95 points

Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Andreas Cortonesi is a master blender, using both large and small oak barrels to bring out the best that his estate can offer. Worth the search. Big, powerful, flawless with peppery and spicy nuances. Rich and enjoyable. Complex. Will develop for 15 to 20 years or more.
97 points

Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuovo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Depth and brilliance of color, concentrated, rich, balanced, soft tannins, delicious and developed. No one gets more out of Sangiovese than Giacomo Neri! Persistent finish. Hints of cherries, violets in the nose. Finesse and elegance. A winner!
98 points

Fanti Brunello di Montalcino 2010: A family estate for over a century, Fanti utilizes French barriques and tonneaux as well as traditional Slavonian oak. Ripe, rich, good value, will benefit from aging. Will develop for 10 to 15 years or more. Lots of power and structure.
92 points

Molino di Sant’Antimo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Ruby red, fruity, spicy nose, cherries. Large Slavonian oak, elegant with a persistent finish. Good structure. Will develop for a decade or more.
92 points

Pertimali di Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino 2010: From a time-honored, family estate. Livio Sassetti was one of the pioneers of Brunello. 36 months in large Slavonian oak casks. Balanced, harmonious, complex with hints of berries and cherries. A bit tight, as to be expected; it opened up after 2 hours. A 20-year wine.
92 points

Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Riccardo Cotarella consults for the Centolani family, who also own the superb Tenuta Friggiali estate. Intense ruby color, fruity, complex, spicy nose, hints of chocolate, cacao and coffee. Rich, full, warming. Large Slavonian oak. Elegant.
93 points

Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: One of Frescobaldi’s estates. A winner. Nut-like overtones, soft, surprisingly enjoyable at this early stage. A 20-year wine. Use of both French barrels and Slavonian casks of oak. Dense, tight, but rich with good minerality. Tannins are soft and in harmony.
97 points

Conclusion
Buy the 2010’s. Cellar them. Decant them. We’ve always said of Brunello, “You can’t afford them and your grandchildren will drink them.” However, we Americans are getting help from an unlikely source – the currency! The recent surge of the US dollar versus the Euro has brought prices down from the stratosphere, accounting for 20% to 30% subsidy. Finally, we can afford Brunello di Montalcino! But we make no assurances that we’ll save the 2010’s for our grandchildren.

Our favorites: Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuovo followed ever so closely by Castelgiocondo, Uccelliera and Campogiovanni.

Best value: Tiezzi “Poggio Cerrino,” followed by Mocali.
Victor Rallo, Jr. is a successful, seasoned restaurateur, chef, wine critic and television personality. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall University, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He’s published two wine books, Napoleon Wasn’t Exiled and 21 Wines. Victor hosts his own television series called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo which completed its first season on public television in 2013, and recently aired its second season on Create TV in July of 2014. He has also aired on Rachael Ray, The Couch CBS, FOX News, and many other television and live events. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, to taste and write about the wines and food from every region of Italy and to film the TV show. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife Kari, three kids, three dogs, and a fully stocked wine cellar.

Anthony Verdoni’s career has combined scholarly interests and a passion for wine and food.  He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964.  When a Jesuit Classics professor suddenly became ill in 1967, Mr. Verdoni returned to St. Peter’s College to become his substitute.  He stayed for 20 years, teaching Classical Languages and Literature.  His knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy helped establish him as an acknowledged expert in Italian wines.  His background as an instructor and coach in college aided him as a wine lecturer and author.  Friends in the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.” His wine business debut was in 1971, as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant.  Subsequently, he purchased a wine shop, and went on to become a wine buyer for two department store chains, a sales representative, and a sales manager.  Highlights include: General Wine Manager for the Jaydor Corporation, one of the nation’s largest wine distributors; National Sales Manager of Southern Italian Wines for Heublein, under Philip DiBelardino; Vice President, National Sales Director for American BD Company; Vice President, Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow. He has also worked closely and directly with many prominent Italian wineries.  Brands which he has helped to develop in America include San Felice, Ceretto, Mastroberardino, Casal Thaulero, Librandi, Carpineto, D’Angelo, Regaleali, Umberto Cesari, Due Torri, Franco Cesari, Biondi-Santi, Vietti, Monteschiavo, and Villa Girardi. Mr. Verdoni has enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of launching new fine Italian wines in America.  He has lectured and conducted tastings and seminars throughout the United States and Europe.  He has written many articles and training manuals, and has co-authored The Sommelier Executive Council’s Vintage Wine Book, now in its third printing.  He has been a member of the Sommelier Society of America, the Caterina de Medici Society, and the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a board member of the Sommelier Institute of New Jersey.  Mr. Verdoni has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales.  The Italian Trade Commission has awarded Mr. Verdoni a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States. Mr. Verdoni consults for restaurants, importers, distributors, and wine shops throughout America and Europe.  When not on the road, he conducts wine dinners, seminars, and restaurant training programs – and, as always, helps people discover the fine wines of Italy.  He has co-authored a new book, 21, and appears in the TV series Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.

THE RISING TIDE OF BARBERA

It always seemed odd to us that in Piemonte, the land of Barolo, the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings, we would always find a bottle of Barbera in front of us on the table. The answer was and is simple: Barbera is bountiful, versatile, delicious and moderate in price. The Piemontesi drink more reds than whites and almost 50% of the reds that they enjoy are Barbera. It is part of their culture and lifestyle. Barbera is Piemonte’s “go to” wine.

History
The hills of Monferrato lay claim to being Barbera’s birthplace. References date back at least to 1514 and 1609. The name seems to be a cross between barba (“beard”), which describes the vine’s complex root structure, and albéra, which refers to the wild, woodland sites where the varietal was first planted. There are many clones, even a Barbera Sarda which still thrives today in Sardinia. There is even a rare white Barbera Bianca, but the red is prolific. It is widely planted throughout Italy, in Campania (Castel San Lorenzo DOC) as well as in Lombardia, where it dominates in Oltrepo Pavese DOC and produces fancifully named wines, such as Buttafuoco (“Flamethrower”) and Sangue di Giuda (“Judas’ Blood”). In Emilia-Romagna, Barbera is blended with Bonarda (aka Croatina) to make the legendary DOC Gutturnio, a resurrection of the ancient Roman Gutturnium.

In 1985 the world of Barbera changed forever with the release of Giacomo Bologna’s mythical 1982 Bricco dell’ Ucellone. This was the first, single vineyard selection of Barbera and instantaneously it took Italy by storm and by surprise. We will address these Super Barberas in a separate article. It is sufficient for now to point out that thereafter serious producers felt compelled to make finer Barberas, paying more tribute and giving more respect to the lowly “foot soldier,” “workhorse” varietal. Barbera had moved from being a quaffing wine to a wine that you should savor and taste.

New DOC’s in Piemonte have popped up, such as Gabiano and Rubino di Cantavenna, but the attention and emphasis continues to go to Barbera d’Alba DOC, Barbera del Monferrato DOC and Barbera d’Asti DOCG. Colli Tortonesi Barbera DOC from the province of Alessandria, on the border with Lombardy, is on the rise. All Barberas are worth a search. Barbera together with Montepulciano ranks behind only Sangiovese in red grapes planted throughout Italy.

Style
Barbera grows in a variety of soils and climates throughout Italy. It is durable and disease resistant. Italy’s DOC and DOCG laws usually permit up to 15% Freisa and/or Grignolino to be blended with Barbera, but for the most part Barbera is a standalone varietal. With a year of aging, including passage in wood, the word superiore may be added on the label. The fizzy frizzante style, still popular in Italy, has never caught on in the U.S.

Tannins are low and acidity is high, but harvesting later with smaller yields enables Barbera to lose its natural sharpness. In Alba, Barbera plays second fiddle to Nebbiolo as to selective vineyard sites, but Barbera d’Alba tends to age best when compared to those of Asti and Monferrato. You can generally expect a positive development for a period of 5 to 7 years after the harvest. Plus, you have the skill of enologists who produce Barolos.

Barbera screams, shouts and sings for food. We like traditional Barberas young, and appreciate the outstanding value to quality ratio. Try Barbera with almost anything: hearty pastas and risottos, salumi, bagna cauda, red meats, stews, braised beef and cheeses. Expect your Barbera to have a ruby color with violet reflections, with nuances of ground herbs, jam, dried plums, cherries, straw and hay, berries, black pepper and cloves. These subtleties will vary from zone to zone and vintage to vintage. Above all, expect your Barbera to be generous. You will not be disappointed in this now noble varietal. Always have an extra bottle or two. It’s hard to limit your group to just one bottle! Barbera wines today often reach 13 to 14.5% alcohol, ripe and rich.

REVIEWS
(Please note the many producers are now making more than one Barbera)

Oddero Barbera d’Alba, DOC, 2011: This is a wine that you can drink every day. Maria Cristina Oddero creates the perfect balance of fruit and oak. Ruby with purple glints, fresh, ripe, bright with balanced acidity and soft tannins. Excellent structure. From 40-50 year old vines. Harvested at the end of September. Only 12,000 bottles produced. Classic, traditional Barbera at its best. Superb value. Ripe fruitiness in the nose and mouth. 100% Barbera.
(92 points)

Damilano Barbera d’Asti, DOCG, 2012: Ample, generous, from a great Barolo producer. Enologist Giuseppe Caviola has fashioned a wine of intense ruby, purple hue, with spicy notes and nuances of currants, violets, cherries and oaky vanilla. The balance of oak and stainless steel works well to bring out the fruit. The finish is persistent. Drink it now. 100% Barbera.
(90 points)

Marchesi di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato, DOC, 2012: A brilliant, deep ruby red, clean and fresh. Scents of forest berries, currants, sour black cherries and vanilla. Warm, hearty, robust, harmonious. Aged in large and small oak. Try it with boiled or roasted red meats. Will age well for at least 2 years or so. Limited production. 100% Barbera.
(90 points)

Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore, DOCG, 2012: This is the Barbera which Americans have been enjoying for over 20 years. It is a barometer, a benchmark! Deep ruby red with violet glints, medium-bodied, ripe cherries, elegant, aged in large oak for 8 months, plus refined for 4 months in the bottle. Seamless, generous, it will continue to develop for another 4 to 6 years. Perfect with chicken, grilled meats, pork dishes, mushrooms. This is a Barbera for the Barolo drinker. 100% Barbera.
(90 points)

Renato Ratti “Battaglione” Barbera d’Alba, DOC, 2013: This historic winery produces both Barbera d’Alba, DOC and Barbera d’Asti, DOCG under the “Battaglione” banner. It replaces “Torriglione,” which is now being used for Barolo. Cardinal to ruby red, spicy, plums, rich and full in flavor with a lingering, persistent finish. You can age this one for 10 years, but who can wait? The French oak is balanced by the dark fruit. A winner. 100% Barbera.
(91 points)

Vietti Barbera d’Asti “Tre Vigne,” DOCG, 2012: You can feel the masterful touch of winemaker Luca Currado. The grapes are sourced from vineyards in Agliano d’Asti, including the old vines Cru La Crena. Rich and noble, this wine is patiently aged in both large Slavonian oak and small French barrique for 14 months followed by two months in stainless steel tanks. It is unfiltered. Ruby to purple in color, it is dry, medium-bodied, with a complexity of minerality, ripe red cherries and vanilla. Refreshing, bright acidity. Soft tannins. Harmonious with good integration of oak and fruit. Versatile – try it with appetizers, grilled vegetables, hearty pasta dishes, veal, pork, chicken, cheeses, steaks and chops. Will age for 10 years. 100% Barbera.
(92 points)

VICTOR RALLO JR. is a successful, seasoned restaurateur, chef, wine critic and television personality. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall University, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He’s published two wine books, Napoleon Wasn’t Exiled and 21 Wines. 

Victor hosts his own television series called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo which completed its first season on public television in 2013, and recently aired its second season on Create TV in July of 2014. He has also aired on Rachael Ray, The Couch CBS, FOX News, and many other television and live events. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, to taste and write about the wines and food from every region of Italy and to film the TV show. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife Kari, three kids, three dogs, and a fully stocked wine cellar.

Anthony Verdoni’s career has combined scholarly interests and a passion for wine and food.  He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964.  When a Jesuit Classics professor suddenly became ill in 1967, Mr. Verdoni returned to St. Peter’s College to become his substitute.  He stayed for 20 years, teaching Classical Languages and Literature.  His knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy helped establish him as an acknowledged expert in Italian wines.  His background as an instructor and coach in college aided him as a wine lecturer and author.  Friends in the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.”

His wine business debut was in 1971, as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant.  Subsequently, he purchased a wine shop, and went on to become a wine buyer for two department store chains, a sales representative, and a sales manager.  Highlights include: General Wine Manager for the Jaydor Corporation, one of the nation’s largest wine distributors; National Sales Manager of Southern Italian Wines for Heublein, under Philip DiBelardino; Vice President, National Sales Director for American BD Company; Vice President, Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow.
He has also worked closely and directly with many prominent Italian wineries.  Brands which he has helped to develop in America include San Felice, Ceretto, Mastroberardino, Casal Thaulero, Librandi, Carpineto, D’Angelo, Regaleali, Umberto Cesari, Due Torri, Franco Cesari, Biondi-Santi, Vietti, Monteschiavo, and Villa Girardi.

Mr. Verdoni has enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of launching new fine Italian wines in America.  He has lectured and conducted tastings and seminars throughout the United States and Europe.  He has written many articles and training manuals, and has co-authored The Sommelier Executive Council’s Vintage Wine Book, now in its third printing.  He has been a member of the Sommelier Society of America, the Caterina de Medici Society, and the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a board member of the Sommelier Institute of New Jersey.  Mr. Verdoni has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales.  The Italian Trade Commission has awarded Mr. Verdoni a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States.

Mr. Verdoni consults for restaurants, importers, distributors, and wine shops throughout America and Europe.  When not on the road, he conducts wine dinners, seminars, and restaurant training programs – and, as always, helps people discover the fine wines of Italy.  He has co-authored a new book, 21, and appears in the TV series “Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.”

FRANCIACORTA IS THE NEXT CHAMPAGNE

Italians love Champagne. They enjoy an age-old custom of beginning a meal with a conversation and an apertivo. Very often this apertivo takes the shape of an effervescent wine. It has come about that the sparkling wines from Italy’s premier bubbly zone, Franciacorta, emerged from a passion for true French Champagne. We are speaking of the “Champagne Method,” the metodo classico, the labor-intensive, costly way to put bubbles in the bottle, not through tank fermentation but by secondary fermentation within the bottle itself. Franciacorta DOCG fits in well with Italy’s habit of starting things with a sparkle.

We know precisely when Franciacorta sparkling wines came into existence. Recently Franco Ziliani told us in a dreamy, poetic fashion about his historic, prophetic meeting in 1957 with Count Guido Berlucchi.

The butler ushered me into the drawing room of Palazzo Lana Berlucchi. Everything testified to an understated refinement. The notes of “Georgia on My Mind” wafted in the air, played by Guido Berlucchi on the piano. I was entranced by the elegance of his appearance, by the effortless sureness of his touch on the keys. My gaze wandered around the venerable walls, over the family portraits, the valuable furnishings. After closing the piano, the Count greeted me warmly and began to ask me, the freshly minted oenologist that I was at that time, about techniques for solving instability problems with his wine. I answered his questions forthrightly and then, as I was taking my leave, I dared the question: “And what if we were to also produce a sparkling wine in the French method?”  

The Tradition of Tank Fermentation In Italy
Northwestern Italy is the world leader in the production of sparkling wines of low pressure; fizzy, crackling, frizzante wines. Such wines undergo their secondary fermentation in pressurized tanks called autoclaves. Examples include Moscato d’Asti and Lambrusco. This technique was developed by Professor Martinotti in Torino and patented by the Frenchman Eugene Charmat. Tank fermentation makes it possible to produce sparkling wines at a moderate cost for the consumer. The foremost Charmat Method sparkler is Prosecco, made from Glera grapes grown on the hillsides of a delimited area of Veneto and Friuli in Northeastern Italy.

The tradition for Italian sparkling wines made in what Franco Ziliano called the “French method” dates back to the 1850’s. None can match what was to come in Franciacorta.

Franciacorta, A New Tradition
References to Franciacorta or “Franzacurta” date back to 1277. Virgil and Pliny the Elder praised the still wines of the area in the era of the Ancient Romans. A manual about sparkling wine dating from 1570 was written by Girolamo Conforto, a doctor from Brescia, close to Franciacorta, but it would take another 400 years for the wines of Franciacorta to reach their lofty heights. Franciacorta now signifies only sparklers, made in the metodo classico. Non-sparkling wines, made from such grapes as Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Merlot, Nebbiolo and others, are designated as DOC Terre di Franciacorta or Curtefranca.

Franciacorta’s soil is glacial moraine with limestone and a chalky subsoil, ideal for Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Pinot Noir. Lake Iseo provides reflected sunlight and moderates the temperature. DOC for Franciacorta was granted in 1967 and modified in 1984. DOCG status was earned in 1995. This bountiful zone in Lombardia, between Bergamo and Brescia, is a center for finance and entrepreneurial spirit. Making Franciacorta wines is expensive and requires research. The DOCG has established a minimum refinement of 18 months in the bottle and a total of 25 months of aging before release. Vintage dated wines (millesimato) spend 30 months in the bottle and cannot be sold until 37 months from the vintage. Wineries need a lot of space to store bottles of the wine still in production.

We think of Franciacorta as an area not shackled by tradition, possessing a revolutionary spirit and high standards. You will not find “spumante,” the term for “sparkling,” on a bottle of Franciacorta. Look for words like Brut, Extra Dry. The language is French. Satèn designates a creamy Crémant style with finer bubbles and lower atmospheric pressure. Pas Dosé or Pas Operé indicates a bone-dry version, even drier and more pure than a Brut.

There are over 50 growers and producers in Franciacorta today. In 1961 Franco Ziliani of Berlucchi released the first Franciacorta, 3,000 bottles. Today Franciacorta DOCG has reached over 12,000,000 bottles – and each year the quality improves. This is not a vast amount of sparkling wine. Prosecco and true French Champagne produce many times more.

Total vineyard area extends only 2,200 hectares (5,400 acres). Permitted varietals include 85% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir and 5% Pinot Bianco.

Key Players
The top 3 producers of Franciacorta DOCG account for about half of the zone’s total volume. They are available throughout the U.S.A.

Berlucchi
Berlucchi is the #1 metodo classico winery in Italy. It is a family affair for the Ziliani’s: Franco Ziliani is the founder. Son Arturo is the wine maker. Son Paolo runs sales. Daughter Christina heads public relations. Trendsetters and benchmarks, Berlucchi also makes a still white called Bianco Imperiale. Today Berlucchi sells 4.5 million bottles of Franciacorta DOCG, much of it within Italy.

Cá del Bosco
When Maurizio Zanella founded Cá del Bosco in 1968 he hired Andre du Bois, winemaker at Dom Perignon, to assist him. Ever flamboyant and innovative, Zanella has received over 20 Tre Bicchieri awards, an achievement equaled only by Angelo Gaja. Maurizio has studied at the University of Enology of Bordeaux. Cá del Bosco is equally well known for its top-quality still wines, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and, more recently, Carmenère. Today Santa Margherita owns 60% of Cá del Bosco, in partnership with Maurizio Zanella.

Bellavista
Kudos go to two men at Bellavista, proprietor and industrialist Vittorio Moretti, who produced his first sparkling wine in 1984, and Mattia Vezzola, his talented enologist, considered the master of sparkling wines in Italy. Since Vezzola joined Bellavista in 1981 the two have worked vigorously to keep standards high, utilizing the benefits of technology and adding biodynamic elements to the vineyards.

Reviews
We tasted these wines recently. We feel that Franciacorta DOCG sparklers share a lot of the characteristics of Champagne, but that they are clearly different. They reflect their terroir. They are riper, less yeasty, fruitier, food-friendly and aromatic. Like Champagne, they are ideal for toasting and for imparting happiness.

I. Cá del Bosco Cuvee Prestige Brut NV: A classic, harmonious Franciacorta, reflecting the fresh, crisp house style of Cá del Bosco. Mostly Chardonnay. Lemon peel, dried apricot, pineapples, toasted nuts, orange peel, the crust of a fresh baguette. Dry but with notes of sweet fruit. Bubbles are fine and plentiful.
92 points

II. Bellavista Brut NV: Elegant Chardonnay with a lush mouthfeel, a trademark of Bellavista. Refined, you feel the yeast, but it is integrated with nuances of pears and apples. Toasted bread and cashews. Persistent perlage. Rich, creamy, mouth filling yet not heavy. A lingering but cleansing finish.
91 points

III. Berlucchi Cuvee 61 Brut NV: 75% Chardonnay, 25% Pinot Noir. Straw yellow with greenish glints, a persistent floral, fruity bouquet with subtle fragrances of yeast and fresh-baked bread. Rich with good body, crisp acidity. Tiny bubbles make it very easy to drink.
91 points

IV. Berlucchi Cuvee 61 Rose NV: 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir. Pale, lively, young pink. Complex, fragrant, with emphatic notes of wild, forest, red berries and ripe apricots and peaches, warm, full bodied, velvety, harmonious, smooth with a long finish. A perfect summer party starter.
92 points

The level of all Franciacorta DOCG wines is very high. They are worth the search. Almost all of Italy’s wineries make sparkling wines. Much of it is not available commercially. Another zone to search out is Trentino. Did I hear you say “Ferrari”? All in all, the preeminent zone for sparkling wines in Italy is Franciacorta DOCG.

THE MAGIC OF MT. ETNA

Mt. Etna is located in northeastern Sicily in the province of Catania. Viticulture on the lower slopes of Mt. Etna dates back millennia. We live, however, in an age where we want to know what you have done for me lately. That’s good news for Etna’s DOC wines. Winemaking on Europe’s most active volcano is hot, both literally and figuratively.

Etna’s golden age was the late 19th century. France was plagued by the phylloxera, a wine louse that devastated their wine industry. They needed to buy wine and they liked the reds from Mt. Etna, which they likened to their Pinot Noir based Burgundies. Railroad lines had to be created to speed the shipping of grapes and wines. A port, now abandoned, north of Catania, was utilized almost solely for shipping wine.

Times change, even if the volcano remains the same. France recovered and in the 20th century Etna’s production fell from about the equivalent of 9,000,000 cases to almost nothing. Etna wines became very local and did not start to recover internationally until they were granted a DOC in August 1968, thus becoming Sicily’s first DOC. At that time, there were 5 producers. Today there are about 85 growers; about 20 also make wine.

The Terroir
Vines grow along the northern, eastern and southern foothills of Mt. Etna. It is a large area dotted with vineyards up to an altitude of 3,000 ft. Today some of the best vineyard sites remain abandoned. Etna is picturesque, breathtaking. It provides a microclimate vastly different from the rest of torrid Sicily. Cool at night, Etna stands alone. It does not sleep. It is aware and lets you know it, as it blows off steam and lava, bringing a new spirit to its vineyards each day.

The soil is black, typically volcanic, but there are complexities of minerality which vary from vineyard to vineyard, giving them distinct personalities, such as you find in the Grand Crus and Premier Crus of the Cote d’Or in Burgundy.

Etna is a significant area for mushrooms and olive oil, as well as the prickly pears (fichi d’india) which sprout on cactus plants. Daytime heat, cool nights, rain and eruptions create a chaotic growing environment. Paradoxically things can be very right as well. Giuseppe Tasca, of Regaleali and Tascante, likes to say, “Where fickle, difficult conditions exist, lie the best opportunities to make great wine.”

The Vines
Etna Bianco DOC is composed of at least 60% of the local Carricante, with the balance consisting of Catarratto, Sicily’s most widely planted white. Other grapes are permitted, such as Trebbiano and Minella. One commune, Milo, produces a Bianco Superiore. It has to have at least 80% Carricante.

Etna Rosato DOC and Rosso DOC are based on 80% Nerello Mascalese and up to 20% Nerello Cappuccio (aka Nerello Mantellato). Non-aromatic whites up to 10% are also permitted. Nerello Mascalese has become the rock star. It is widely planted in western Sicily and is second only to Nero d’Avola in acreage on the island among reds.

The white and rose match up well with seafood and white meats, chicken, even veal or pork. The red, which can develop for 10 to 15 years, works well with spicy dishes and roasted meats.

Recommended Producers
In 2002 Marc de Grazia called Etna wines “the Burgundy of the Mediterranean.” Since then, at his Tenuta delle Terre Nere, he has done his best to prove his words true. Another important producer is Salvatore Benanti, known for his Etna Rosso Rovitello and Etna Bianco Superiore.

The wineries of Barone de Villagrande , Barone Scammacca del Murgo have been making excellent Etna DOC wines since the beginning. Some of the other investors include Mick Hucknall (of the band Simply Red) – Il Cantante, Andrea Franchetti – Passopisciaro, Cusumano, Firriato, Regaleali on Etna the winery is Tascante, Frank Cornelisson. Etna DOC is a small zone dominated by family wineries not large coops making up only 3% of Sicily’s total wine production.

Travel Notes
You can reach Etna easily from Taormina, Catania, Messina or Giardini Naxos. For a good hotel within the DOC zone, try Vagliasindi in Randazzo, www.feudovagliasindi.it. For great local cuisine, enjoy Veneziano www.ristoranteveneziano.com, also in Randazzo.

Wine Reviews

Girolamo Russo Etna Rosso “A Rina” DOC 2012

Giuseppe “Beppe” Russo is a classically trained pianist. Continuing the work of his father, Girolamo, he creates harmonious reds handcrafted like a perfectly composed symphony. The ruby, rosy hue is reminiscent of Burgundy’s Pinot Noirs. The brilliant yet pale color may deceive the taster into believing that the wine will be light bodied. But they have power and complexity, stemming from the black soil made of lava stones, thrust from the depths of Etna’s crater. The fragrance is fresh with notes of strawberries and tea. The minerality’s counterpoint is more than balanced by an explosion of ripe, red, crushed cherries, covering the tongue and mouth on the first sip. Oak melodies from second and third passage barrique complete the music. The finish is lingering and memorable, recalling the balance, the cherries and the minerality. Is this a hillside wine, or is it subterranean? Enjoy it now or cellar it for 3 to 5 years. Bravo, Beppe!
91 points

Tenuta delle Terre Nere Etna Rosso DOC 2013

Marc (Marco) de Grazia’s wines are the benchmarks of Etna’s DOC reds. Marc came to Sicily via Tuscany and the University of California, Berkeley over a decade ago and transformed Etna into the “Burgundy of the Mediterranean.” This is Terre Nere’s base wine, its “normale,” sourced only from Marc’s estate grown vines. His single vineyards – “Caldera” are Feudo di Mezzo, Santo Spirito, and  Sottana they are the Grand Crus of the zone and rank among the top collectibles of Italy.

Terre Nere’s basic red reflects the lofty standards and house style of Marc de Grazia. Making wine on Mt. Etna is tricky business. The climate is fickle and chaotic. Tenuta Terre Nere takes risks, since Marc likes to harvest late to achieve optimum ripeness. With risk comes reward! The nose is loaded with fresh cherries and the wildflowers that grow around the vineyards. There is a smoky minerality from the black lava soil. The extraction of Terre Nere is unmatched, giving this wine a density and weight rarely found elsewhere in the Etna DOC zone. This vintage is seamless. It is well balanced, but finishes with chewy tannins on the back of the palate. The wine says decant me or cellar me; drink me from 2015-2020. Great value – but can they keep the price down? Buy now.

92 points

Victor Rallo, Jr. is a successful, seasoned restaurateur, chef, wine critic and television personality. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall University, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He’s published two wine books, Napoleon Wasn’t Exiled and 21 Wines. 

Victor hosts his own television series called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo which completed its first season on public television in 2013, and recently aired its second season on Create TV in July of 2014. He has also aired on Rachael Ray, The Couch CBS, FOX News, and many other television and live events. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, to taste and write about the wines and food from every region of Italy and to film the TV show. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife Kari, three kids, three dogs, and a fully stocked wine cellar.

Anthony Verdoni’s career has combined scholarly interests and a passion for wine and food.  He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964.  When a Jesuit Classics professor suddenly became ill in 1967, Mr. Verdoni returned to St. Peter’s College to become his substitute.  He stayed for 20 years, teaching Classical Languages and Literature.  His knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy helped establish him as an acknowledged expert in Italian wines.  His background as an instructor and coach in college aided him as a wine lecturer and author.  Friends in the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.”

His wine business debut was in 1971, as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant.  Subsequently, he purchased a wine shop, and went on to become a wine buyer for two department store chains, a sales representative, and a sales manager.  Highlights include: General Wine Manager for the Jaydor Corporation, one of the nation’s largest wine distributors; National Sales Manager of Southern Italian Wines for Heublein, under Philip DiBelardino; Vice President, National Sales Director for American BD Company; Vice President, Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow.

He has also worked closely and directly with many prominent Italian wineries.  Brands which he has helped to develop in America include San Felice, Ceretto, Mastroberardino, Casal Thaulero, Librandi, Carpineto, D’Angelo, Regaleali, Umberto Cesari, Due Torri, Franco Cesari, Biondi-Santi, Vietti, Monteschiavo, and Villa Girardi.

Mr. Verdoni has enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of launching new fine Italian wines in America.  He has lectured and conducted tastings and seminars throughout the United States and Europe.  He has written many articles and training manuals, and has co-authored The Sommelier Executive Council’s Vintage Wine Book, now in its third printing.  He has been a member of the Sommelier Society of America, the Caterina de Medici Society, and the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a board member of the Sommelier Institute of New Jersey.  Mr. Verdoni has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales.  The Italian Trade Commission has awarded Mr. Verdoni a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States.

Mr. Verdoni consults for restaurants, importers, distributors, and wine shops throughout America and Europe.  When not on the road, he conducts wine dinners, seminars, and restaurant training programs – and, as always, helps people discover the fine wines of Italy.  He has co-authored a new book, 21, and appears in the TV series “Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.”

BAROLO: THEN AND NOW

By: Victor Rallo and Anthony Verdoni

Barolo is the “King” of Italian wines. Its crown, however, has changed during the past 50 years or so. Italy’s wine laws went into effect in the mid-1960’s. At that time Barolo was a DOC wine. There were 3 categories: DOC Regular (Normale), DOC Riserva, and DOC Riserva Speciale. Two years of aging in cask and 13% alcohol was required by all three categories. The Riserva required two additional years of aging; the Riserva Speciale required three additional years. Barolo makers would blend must from all of their vineyards to create one Barolo in their own house style. In outstanding vintages the best juice would be used to make a Riserva or Riserva Speciale. But what’s happening to Barolo now?

Barolo was and is produced primarily in 5 villages south of Alba: La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Barolo, Monforte and Castiglione Falletto, as well as in parts of 6 other villages. The zone was and is about 3,085 acres (1,248 hectares). There were 1,242 growers. That’s an average of less than 3 acres per grower. No one makes a lot of Barolo. The Barolisti, then and now, count their wines by the bottle, not by the case. Most of the owners are enologists and agronomists. It is a farmer’s culture, but wealthy farmers. A hectare of land in the Cannubi vineyard, for example, may be valued at 2,000,000 Euro. Most parcels of land are not for sale. They are passed down from generation to generation.

Important in the past were considerations of the specific clone of Nebbiolo used in making Barolo. The approved clones are Michet, Lampone and Rose but Rose has all but disappeared. Barolo is always 100% Nebbiolo. Soil composition was discussed: Tortonian or Helvetian. Then there was the debate over the sizes and types of oak containers: traditional large oak Botti or smaller French Barriques. The arguments continue today. After all, each producer has his or her own ideas about maceration time, when the malolactic fermentation should take place and how long Barolo should be aged in the cellar before release. 1,242 growers, 1,242 ideas – very personal.

Barolo is noted for its perfume and delicate charm, which take years to develop. It is the end of the rainbow, a Cuban cigar, the King of Italian Wines. Long live the King! Science and the DOCG have uplifted the consistency of Barolo. There is no longer the specter of volatile acidity or rough odors of seaweed. And there is a renewed spirit of cooperation among producers, assuring us that the King will stay on top. Here are the DOCG requirements that went into effect in the 1980’s:

Minimum Aging in YearsCask        Total        Alcohol
DOC Regular (Normale)              2              3              13%
DOC Riserva                                      2              5              13%

Although no government regulation can legislate out mediocrity, it is safe to say Barolo wine today is better than ever with the highest image of any wine zone in Italy.

The Crus of Barolo
Recognizing the importance of individual vineyard sites throughout the Barolo DOCG zone was a movement spearheaded by Renato Ratti. It culminated in his Carta del Barolo (1984). He also did a Carta del Barbaresco. A Cru Barolo must be distinctive and yield a wine that is unique to itself, better then a normal Barolo and different from other Cru’s.It is interesting that the first reference to Barolo wine is not to Barolo, but to one of its crus: Cannubi, 1752. Cannubi predates Barolo. We recommend that you try some of the different, recognized vineyards. Generally a cru is a step up from regular Barolo – and that’s saying a lot.Cannubi
Cannubi is a long hillside that rises above the town on Barolo, close to its neighboring village of La Morra. It is at the intersection of the blue-gray Tortonian marl soils and the buff, iron-rich Helvetian sandstone soil. It is Barolo personified and magnified. Cannubi gets sunlight all day. It nurtures Barolo wines of rare intensity, elegance and longevity. “Cannubi, 1752.” Nearly 275 years ago farmers knew the importance of this vineyard.

Sheldon Wasserman rated all of the crus in 1987. Only one received his top 3-star rating: Cannubi, also called Cannubbio and Collina Cannubi. But where does Cannubi begin and end?

Can 15 Equal 34?
There are sub-parcels of Cannubi which have spawned another debate. The original Cannubi – the single finest vineyard (Wasserman); the best of both worlds (Ratti) – is 15 hectares (about 37 acres). Adjacent vineyards – Cannubi-Boschis, Cannubi-Muscatel, Cannubi-San Lorenzo, Cannubi-Valletta and Cannubi-Monghisolfo – bring the total to 34 hectares (about 88 acres). Wasserman rated all of these 2 stars, not 3. As in Burgundy, there are many owners of Cannubi and the sub-parcels. The stakes are high. This is the most prestigious and expensive real estate in Barolo. Should the sub-parcel owners be permitted to call their wine Cannubi? Where does Cannubi begin and end?

This has evolved into a court battle. In 2012 eleven producers of Cannubi won a court decision enforcing Ratti’s classification, forbidding the “secondary” sites from putting Cannubi on the label, stressing the importance of the original 15 hectares, the heart of Cannubi. Owners of the sub-parcels would have to list the full name of their property and not use the word Cannubi on its own. Upon appeal the ruling was reversed in favor of the owners of the broader 34 hectares. Now there is an appeal of the reversal filed in Italy’s highest court. This is a precedent-setting case. We have seen a Barbaresco producer attempting to cash in on Cannubi by calling his wine Barbaresco Cannubi. Where do vineyards begin and end? It may be best settled within the wine consortiums and among the wine press. Credibility is at stake. The proof of the Cannubi, however, is and will continue to be in the bottle.

Some of our favorite Cannubi producers include:

Damilano (La Morra)
Paolo Scavino (Castiglione Falletto)
Michele Chiarlo (Calamandrana)
G.B. Burlotto (Verduno)
E. Pira e Figli “Chiara Boschis” (Barolo)
Giacomo Brezza e Figli (Barolo)
FratelliSerio e Battista Borgogno (Barolo)
Giacomo Fenocchio (MonforteD’Alba)
Cascina Bruciata (Barbaresco)

Reviews:

Giacomo Fenocchio Barolo Cannubi 2011
Color pale ruby, slightly hot (alcohol), aromatic violets and tar, tannic but elegant maybe a little bit green, long finish. Tasted again 1 hour after opening fruit emerged, tannins dissipated and alcohol blew off. Barolo’s need time.
90 points

E.Pira e Figli Chiara Boschis Barolo Cannubi 2011
Brilliant concentrated ruby garnet color, violets and roses on the nose, robust with soft tannins, unfiltered, amarena cherries, hazelnuts, lingering finish, will age well.
93 points

Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2010
Nose of mushrooms and truffles, bright ruby color, tannic with good acidity. Very good to drink now but this wine is young with aging potential, give it a few years in the cellar, it will not disappoint you.
91 points

Serio & Battista Borgogno Barolo Cannubi 2010
Brilliant ruby color with aromatic sweet amarena cherries in syrup, velvety for a young wine, great personality, elegant, chocolate, long finish.
91 points

Cascina Bruciata Barolo Cannubi Muscatel 2010
Deep and rich, lustrous ruby color, explosive aromatics of dried roses, ripe caramelized dark fruit and raspberries, full mouth feel with a persistent finish. A winner! It is ironic that our top pick is from Cannubi Muscatel.
95 points

Damilano Barolo Cannubi 2009
Truffles and mushrooms on the nose. Ruby to garnet color. Earthy, musky, tar. Marcona almonds with a bright finish. The power and elegance of Cannubi. This wine will age well. It was our second favorite wine of the tasting. Enjoy the 2009 Barolos now and for the next decade.
93 points

Michele Chiarlo Barolo Cannubi 2009
Color is right on with the luster of rubies, minerality and salinity are evident. Finesse and harmonious, charming and elegant. Cherries, strawberries, licorice and vanilla. More ready to drink then the others. Really good wine just a notch below the Damilano 2009 but to close to call.
93 points

Francesco Rinaldi Barolo Cannubbio 2009
Excellent perfume, soft yet complex, ruby color will age well but terrific to drink now, multi-layered with similar characteristics to theChiarlo Cannubi.
93 points

Borgogno Barolo Cannubi 2008
Rich color, with cherries, well balanced, herbal and complex. Hazelnuts with an ethereal long finish.
90 points

Serio & Battista Borgogno Barolo Cannubi 2008
Bright ruby color with nice aromatics, strawberries, burnt tobacco, super silky with a long finish.
Age this wine it will surprise you in 5 years.
91 points

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ZAGAT LISTS BIRRAVINO AS ONE OF THE 10 HOTTEST RESTAURANTS ON THE JERSEY SHORE

We are excited that Birravino has been chosen by Zagat as one of the Jersey shore’s hottest restaurants. Jump into the spring season and celebrate with this Italian tradition.

May 14 we will be promoting a Italian spring tradition.  We will have a wine manager walking around the dining room and bar pouring glasses of Frascati.  A crisp white wine from the small town of Frascati in Lazio right outside of Rome.

In the spring they drink the frascati with fresh pecorino cheese and fava beans.  For $8 you will get a glass of Frascati and our Prosciutto and Fava plate from our menu.  A $24 value for $8 to celebrate spring!