image_4380738_articleAmerica’s first vertical tasting of the fine wines of Podere Sapaio from Bolgheri in Coastal Tuscany took place at my restaurant, Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, NJ, this past year. Owner, enologist Massimo Piccin was present and told us, “We are wine. We are men and women winemakers who transform grapes into wine by means of our know-how, our errors and our technology. Wines are like babies: we give them birth, see them grow and take care of them year after year. Man and his knowledge belong to the terroir, just like the sun and the rain, the soil and the vine. Great wines cannot come into being without man’s great passion.” Read on to learn more about Bolgheri, and discover what can be unpacked during a vertical tasting.
Verdoni: My first visit to Bolgheri was in the mid-1960’s, as a part of an Etruscan archaeological dig. The wines of the area were not so important to me or to the world at the time. They were mostly rosés which went well with the local fish. This is the Maremma, the Marittima, the Tuscan Coast. Bolgheri’s wines are not wines of altitude. They are wines of the sea; they are wines of light. The brightness of the zone rivals that of Provence. Bolgheri’s wines reflect that.

Magic has been taking place here ever since the late 1960’s. Today there are DOC’s for excellent white Vermentino, as well as a Bolgheri Rosso. The superstar is Bolgheri Rosso Superiore DOC. Classic Bordeaux varietals benefit from the temperature variation from day to night. What does a Bolgheri Rossi Superiore taste like? It is not as fruity, oaky as a big California Cab. It has structure, class and style like a great Haut-Medoc. However, where you feel earthiness in the French wine, in the Bolgheri wine you feel sunlight and brightness.
Vic: I first met Massimo Piccin in 2007. My family and I were the guests of Sebastiano Rosa and his wife Elena at the Tenuta San Guido estate (Sassicaia). Being a wine and food junkie, I like to branch out to taste the best local ingredients and the finest wines. Bolgheri is a small, walled village between Grosseto and Livorno, north of Rome and south of Pisa. The castle at the top of the hill in Bolgheri is a mere 8 kilometers from the sea. In this village everyone knows everyone, and word was out that I should meet the new kid on the block, Massimo Piccin of Podere Sapaio.
My GPS instructed me to turn onto a dusty road. After a few curves, we arrived at the estate. Massimo seduced us with a bottle of vintage Champagne and lunch. I was amazed at his humility, charm and dedication. We tasted 2004, 2005 and 2006 Volpolo, and 2004 and 2005 Podere Sapaio Superiore. The wines had depth, character and class. I realized that I had stumbled upon a gem. It was a great tribute that these fine wines were fashioned from vines that were very young.
The Podere Sapaio Estate
Massimo Piccin, an engineer from Veneto, purchased Podere Sapaio in 1999 and planted his first grapes in February of 2000. Podere means “farm” and Sapaio takes its name from the Sapaia grape which used to grow in this area. The farm consists of 25 hectares (about 37 acres) dedicated to the vine. The soil of the vineyards are clay and sand with some limestone. Until the 17th Century this area was a swamp. Podere Sapaio’s illustrious neighbors include Sassicaia, Ornellaia, Grattamacco, Le Macchiole, Guado al Tasso, Michele Satta and Angelo Gaja. Bolgheri is a tiny zone, consisting of about 1,200 hectares (about 1,800 acres). The total production of all 50 or so grower/producers is less than 4,000,000 bottles per year. Massimo Piccin rarely produces more than 100,000 bottles per year, all of which are red.
The Vines
The Sangiovese does not grow well within Bolgheri. It does better farther south in the Scansano area, where it is known as Morellino.
At Podere Sapaio, Massimo Piccin works only with the classic red Bordeaux vines, Cabernet Sauvignon (Uva Francesca), Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot and Merlot. These and other French varietals have been in Tuscany since the 1700’s. An increase in French plantings took place along the Maremma coast in the early 19th Century, when Napoleon was exiled to the nearby island of Elba.
The Wines
Podere Sapaio produces two wines, both red. Volpolo is a Bolgheri DOC, aged 14 months in barrique and tonneaux and 6 months in the bottle. It is a brilliant wine of great value. The 2012 Volpolo consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 15% Petit Verdot. 90,000 bottles were produced.
Sapaio’s Bolgheri Superiore DOC is more important, richer and more age worthy. This noble red is barrel fermented, aged 18 months in barriques and further refined in the bottle for 8 to 10 months before it is released. It usually consists of 70% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Cabernet Franc and 20% Petite Verdot. In some vintages Merlot is added. Emphasis and focus is placed on creating the best blend. At every step Massimo is assisted by world renowned consulting enologist Carlo Ferrini.
The Vertical
Some of the older vintages came directly from the winery or from the personal collection of Victor Rallo. All of the bottles were in pristine condition and showed very well. We feel that you can age Podere Sapaio Bolgheri Superiore DOC red wines comfortably for a decade or more.
Volpolo 2012: This is the current release. Dry, harmonious, still young with lustrous, ruby to purple color. Blueberries, subtle, concentrated. Drink now through 2018.
Podere Sapaio Superiore 2011: Only 10,000 bottles produced. Bottled June 2013. The oak is in balance with the fruit. Drink now, but decant. Hold until 2018-2020. A warm, difficult vintage. The excellence comes from a careful selection.
2010: Balanced and elegant. Will develop for the next 15 years. Good minerality, salinity and fruitiness. A cooler vintage. Deep, blue color. Fragrance of herbs and pencil shavings. Try with steaks and lamb chops.
2009: Unique, most Tuscan. Starting now to evolve. Leathery aspect, like smelling new car leather seats. Fruit and spice and minerality. Drink from now through 2020.
2008: Big, deep, rich, complex. Concentrated with great body. A banner year, 30,000 bottles produced. Some Merlot added. Plummy, ripe. Drink from now through 2020.
2007: Elegant, tannic, sweet in the nose and mouth. Rich, big, bold. Drink from now through 2022. Merlot added.
2006: Powerful, tannic but graceful. Superb structure, opulent. Age this one. Drink from now through 2025. Use of Merlot is judicious. Ripe.
2005: Merlot added. Good acidity and tannins to balance the concentrated dark fruitiness. Drink from now through 2020.
2012: Will be very good, as we can see from tasting the 2012 Volpolo.
2013: This will be an outstanding wine, superior to the 2006.
2014: There may be no Sapaio Superiore, due to a lack of balance in fruit maturation. Superiore juice will probably create a great Volpolo.
Final Note
Massimo Piccin, not realizing that his wines would develop a cult following, gave all of his first vintage – 2004 – away as gifts. Fortunately, one large format – 3 liter bottle – made its way into the hands of a friend, who was kind enough to share it with us. It was excellent, a prelude to things to come. And to think, this classy 2004 was crafted from vines that were less than 5 years old! Grazie, Massimo.

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Eat! Drink! Italy! With Vic Rallo Debuts Season Three Nationally on Create® TV This November

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Eat! Drink! Italy! With Vic Rallo Debuts Season Three Nationally on Create® TV This November

(New York, NY, September 10, 2015)  Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo will premiere nationally on Tuesday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. (check local listings). Season Three features 13, new half-hour episodes showcasing Vic Rallo’s unique knowledge of Italian regional cuisine and wine. In the third season, Emmy nominated Vic Rallo takes viewers on a culinary adventure throughout Italy to explore the concepts of “la materia prima” – the finest quality of ingredients – and the phenomenon known as “kilometer zero” – the concept of harmonizing ingredients-using locally connected ingredients and wines in one’s cuisine. In Season Three, he, along with Italian wine expert Anthony Verdoni, also introduces many undiscovered Italian wine varieties while educating viewers on more popular Italian wines.

Vic serves as tour guide as he energetically and enthusiastically moves from ground to table, whether working in the kitchen alongside local chefs-some Michelin starred-or wandering among the grapes with vintners whose families have dedicated their lives to the art of winemaking. From cheese to fish, from homemade pastas and soups to vegetables and meats, each episode will satisfy foodies with unique takes on traditional recipes, and the bonus of some of the best scenery Italy has to offer. Each episode will tell the story of the men and women who are creating some of Italy’s best cuisine and wines and the relationships Vic has formed through his extensive travels from North to south of Italy. The third season of Eat! Drink! Italy! takes viewers across Italy, typically presenting three segments per program.

Season Three offers our viewers more of the types of recipes and food stories they’ve asked for over the last two years. We’ve also added informative and useful segments on outstanding but unknown Italian wines that are now ready for their time in your glass.” explained executive producer and director Mark Ganguzza. “For centuries our ancestors used the food outside their doors,” added Rallo. “For centuries the plot line hasn’t changed a bit: passionate Italians using ingredients found literally outside their doors to create food and wine that is second to none. And, it just keeps getting better and more approachable.”

Vic Rallo is the owner of Birravino, a trattoria in Red Bank, New Jersey, and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey which offers a traditional rustic menu. A noted expert on Italian wine and cuisine, his reviews and recommendations are much sought after by the public and his colleagues in the culinary business. He has appeared regularly on national television on The Rachael Ray Show, Good Day Live, and CBS The Couch speaking about the culture, cuisine and wine of the country he is so passionate about. will feature several of the recipes presented in the series. Food and wine pairings, wine reviews, archives of recipes from season one and more are available at

Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo Season Three episodes air as follows (check local listings):

301- “Simple Is Key”: Vic is in San Danielle to visit a prosciutto maker. Vic and Tony Verdoni interview five young women who are helping to redefine the Piemonte area’s Barolo wines. Then, Vic makes Mozzarella En Carrozza, the classic mozzarella sandwich.

302- “You Get Out What You Put In”: Paestum’s Chef Matteo Sangiovanni teaches Vic his “reversed” ravioli. Vic visits Chef Massimo Camia in Piemonte as he prepares a locally inspired rabbit dish.

303- “You Are What You Eat”: Vic is in Tuscany with Chef Lia Schiera to make her spinach filled crepes. Vic and Tony Verdoni talk about one of the best Chiantis. Chef Roberto Rossi teaches Vic his unique dessert Calzone.

304- “The Best Ingredients”: Chef Lia Schiera returns to prepare her wonderfully simple vegetable and pasta recipe. Vic and Tony Verdoni talk about the relatively unknown Cannubi wine. Vic travels to Turin with Chef Nicola DiTarsia as they make a basic tagliorini and sausage pasta.

305 -“Elegant But Approachable”: Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Lombardy to talk about Franciacorta wines and how best to pair them. Chef Patrizio Cirri makes a basic Tuscan tomato meat sauce.

306-“Measure Twice, Cut Once”: Campania’s Chef Matteo Sangiovanni creates a dish using mozzarella in three ways. Vic and Tony talk about the Montefalco area’s up and coming Sagrantino wine. A visit to a buffalo mozzarella factory.

307-“The Locals Know”: Tuscany’s Chef Patrizio Cirri returns to teach Vic his classic, hyperlocal braised beef recipe. Vic is in Verona with Chef Luisa Zecchinato as she bakes her Grana Padano cheese biscuits. Vic and Tony Verdoni are near Florence to talk about the area’s seminal Vin Santo dessert wine and pairing it with two great local cookies.

308- “Trust The Land”: Vic and Tony Verdoni talk to Lamberto Frescobaldi about his unique attempt to help prisoners make wine and enter society with winemaking skills. Vic visits Campania and Chef Lina Fischetti as she makes her local lamb and smoked potato recipe.

309- “The Spice Of Life”: Chef Filippo Oscar Artioli prepares his signature pasta dish and pairs it with Montefalco, the area’s little known but outstanding wine. Vic is near Naples to learn Chef Elio Bonafiglia’s pizza dough recipe with a unique ingredient.

310- “Be Picky”: Vic and Tony Verdoni talk with one of Italy’s best know wine families. Chef Nicola DiTarsia makes a basic torteloni pasta from the Torino area. Vic and Tony taste a 1931 vintage wine.

311- “Use The Best”: Vic visits Parma and Chef Rosaria Tunnera to learn how to make a unique but simple savarin (dome) of rice. Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Tuscany to talk about Chianti’s new and much improved identity. Back to Campania and the kitchen of Chef Matteo Sangiovanni as he puts his new twist on the venerable Spaghetti and Clam Sauce recipe.

312- “A Little Knowledge” Vic visits with Sorrento’s Chef Antonino Esposito to learn his masterful pizza recipe. Then, back to Tuscany with Chef Patrizio Cirri to prepare a sausage crostini. Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Campania to talk to some of the area’s dynamic and successful winemakers.

313- “Easy Is Best” Vic travels to Piemonte to learn Chef Massimo Camia’s hazelnut dessert. Tony Verdoni talks to an Amarone winemaker. Vic and Tony talk about the delicious and versatile Piave cheese.

About Eat!Drink!Italy! with Vic Rallo

Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo, ( takes television viewers on a fast-paced informative tour of Italy’s virtually world of limitless food and wine, from the Alps to the southern shores of Sicily, each week on public television’s Create network. Whether touring a cheese cave that was once one of Mussolini’s bunkers, hunting for the elusive white truffle, exploring Napoleon’s wine tunnels, visiting a Slow Food superstar in her humble kitchen or going 20 meters underground to the very roots of one of Italy’s most celebrated wine varietals, Vic Rallo brings a unique perspective to the traditional format of television cooking series. Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo is a production of Sunburst Creative Group produced by Mark Ganguzza.

About CreateTV

Drawing from more than 60 public television series from the cooking, travel, home improvement, gardening and arts & crafts genres, Create is now in its ninth year and reaches more than 76% of USTVHHs. The channel has become the destination for fans of the DIY/how-to genre, airing longtime favorites and marathons of themed episodes. Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo is a production of Sunburst Creative Group. The series is a presentation of WLIW21 in association with WNET and is distributed by American Public Television. Diane Masciale is executive in charge of production for WLIW21.

Vic to Interview Lidia Bastianich at Count Basie Theatre

Lidia Bastianich will be interviewed by Vic Rallo, host of public television’s “Eat Drink Italy” and the owner of Birravino in Red Bank and Undici in Rumson, in advance of the October release of Bastianich’s book, “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to be a Great Italian Cook.”

An Intimate Conversation with Lidia Bastianich is part of the theater’s Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience series, and her appearance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4. Tickets are on sale now.

The event will be “an evening of conversation and storytelling celebrating our love of Italian food,” according to a news release. Ticket prices range from $20 to $85, and the latter includes a premium seat and signed copy of the cookbook.

To purchase tickets or for more information, visit

via Daily Record

Vic shows Rachel Ray how to make Potato Gnocchi


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