All posts by Victor Rallo

Victor Rallo Jr. is a successful, seasoned restauranteur and wine critic in New Jersey. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Basil T's Brewery and Italian Grill in Red Bank, and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and for their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, and to taste and write about the wines from every region of Italy. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife, three kids, and a fully stocked wine cellar.

Terlan Pinot Bianco Riserva Vorberg 2006 Now on Sale at RalloWines.com

Arguably one of the best white wines to recently have come out of Italy, the Terlan Pinot Bianco Riserva Vorberg 2006 makes it’s appearance on RalloWines.com. Take a look at the video review, and full written review below with Victor and The Professor Anthony Verdoni.

Verdoni –

Terlan Pinot Bianco Riserva “Vorberg” 2006 Alto Adige D.O.C.

You may recall Robert De Niro in The Deerhunter, holding a gun and saying, “This is this.” Well, Vorberg is Vorberg. It is like no other Pinot Bianco in the world. Pundits compare Vorberg to the wines of Alsace, even to White Burgundies, but Vorberg has a character and personality of its own.

It reflects altitude and the sandy, gravelly minerality of the vineyard’s soil. You feel the fruit of sunlit days in the Dolomites and the crisp acidity of its cool nights. I have never tasted a more complex Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc). Vorberg brandishes floral notes, pear flavors, and nuances of honeyed almonds. The vinification – including fermentation in large casks, with aging on the lees for a full 12 months – adds to the silky creaminess of the wine.

In the great 2006 vintage, fewer than 3,000 cases were produced. Only about 300 cases come to the U.S. Subtract the 1 case that I intend to buy and there are only 299 left.

This is a great wine. It is a Riserva – an official designation applicable to Italy’s finest reds and just a handful of white. Vorberg is outstanding with cheeses and spicy seafood. I would serve it chilled, in place of a red, with poultry, pork, or veal. You can enjoy it now or throughout the next decade. Vorberg is not inexpensive – it cannot be – but it is worth every penny.

Overall quality: 95
Value:
95

Victor Rallo Jr. –

Terlan Pinot Bianco Riserva “Vorberg” 2006 Alto Adige D.O.C.

Today Tony and I tasted a white wine that we both consider the best wine white or red that we ever reviewed. And we are not alone, the 2006 Terlan “Vorberg” Pinot Bianco was given 3 glasses by Gambero Rosso, and received 90+ points from The Wine Advocate and The Wine Spectator.

The Wine Spectator’s James Suckling writes, “To say that an Italian cooperative winery produces some of the best white wines in its region, if not the whole of the country, may raise an eyebrow or two. But having recently blind-tasted the white wines of Cantina Terlano, from the Alto Adige region in Italy’s northeast, I have no doubt that this is the case.”

This is a wine for serious wine drinkers and wine lovers; it is complex, creamy and viscous with great fruit and acidity. I would serve this wine to lovers of white Burgundy, California Chardonnay or Alsatian whites, not because it is similar to these wines but because the wine has complexity, character and it’s own DNA like these other great white wines.

On the palate the flavor profile changes the longer it sits in your mouth. At first I taste ripe pear and apple and then as I begin to swallow the wine I get butterscotch and honey on the back of my tongue; this wine is a treat. Unlike many white wines that are aged in oak, in which the oak totally overpowers the delicate white varietals, Terlan’s oak treatment totally and unselfishly compliments the beauty of this bright, golden hued pinot bianco.

Tony and I ate a mildly spicy chicken and Italian sausage dish with this wine and it held up to the food in all regards. Buy it now because only 300 cases are imported to the US market, or you will say, Vic told you so.

Overall quality: 94
Value:
95

Galloni and I

Thursday June 24, 2010
Wine Tasting New York City

Vertical Tasting:

Montevetrano 1991 – 2007 (all Vintages total 18 vintages)
Terra Di Lavoro 1999 -2008 (all Vintages except 2002 total 10 vintages)

During your life there are those moments in time when you say to yourself, “I MADE IT.” It may be the result of getting a new job, a bonus, making the Varsity baseball team; I don’t know, it is different for everyone. But the one thing that is always the same is that it takes hard work, dedication and maybe a little luck.

Antonio Galloni, Wine Spectator, and Victor Rallo
Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate, and Victor Rallo

THURSDAY NIGHT, JUNE 24th was one of those days for me, and I had to ask myself did I make it, or was this all a huge mistake? Well, I arrived promptly at 5:30pm, to the address printed on the email: 110 Central Park South, NYC were the wine tasting was to be held. It was a residential building overlooking Central Park South, the doorman told me to go to the second floor which I did. When the elevator opened I was a little confused I was on a residential floor. I listened to the doors and knocked on the door that was the loudest. “Boun Giorno,” an Italian woman announced. I replied, “mi chiamo Victor Rallo, Molto Piacere.” I guess she realized from my Italian that I couldn’t really speak Italian so she responded in English, come in and welcome. Again I thought, “Was this one big mistake or have I arrived as an Italian wine aficionado.”

This was a wine tasting prepared by Leonardo LoCascio of Winebow to showcase two iconic Campanian wines, Montevetrano and Terra di Lavoro. Robert Parker’s Italian wine specialist Antonio Galloni would be present and hopefully, he would write a piece on this rare vertical tasting for the Wine Advocate. The tasting involved a first time ever vertical tasting of all of Montervetrano’s vintages from inception 1991 to present 2007 and as if that was not enough, add the equally fascinating Galardi wine, Terra di Lavoro from 1999 to present 2008, except 2002 which was a year the wine was not made. By the way there were only 10 people present: Antonio Galloni (The Wine Advocate), Leonardo LoCascio (Winebow), Salvatore Galati (Winebow), Beatrice DeMarco (Winebow) , Dora & Arturo Celantano (Galardi), Silvia & Gaia Imperato (Montevetrano), Robin O’Connor (Sherry Lehman) and Victor Rallo (Wine Tasting Crasher).

The Tasting Table

In Joe Bastianich’s book, Vino Italiano, he tries to describe the Italian word ambiente as it refers to Italian wine. Literally, as you know it means “environment” or “habitat,” but it also refers to ambience, the feel of a place. Applied to wine ambiente is not just the geology, topology, and climate of the vineyard but the culture that surrounds it. The experience of drinking an Italian wine isn’t complete without the food products that grow in the same soil, nor without some sense of the culture that created it. Italians truly thrive on personal contact, and they think very carefully about how everything at their table – the food, the wine, the people, the place – fits together.

Leonardo clearly thought about this event and yes it was truly exceptional, the wine of course, the people, the place, the food, and the moment which was all his doing. Every person in the room was there for one reason to support the two producers as they unveiled their souls to the Guru Antonio Galloni. He could single handedly make or break a wine or a winery and everybody in the room knew that.

THEN Silvia Imperato asked Leonardo LoCascio who I was, everyone knew Galloni but was I another critic? “No, he is a great friend with and exceptional palate,” and the conversation proceeded. I was in fact invited; it was not a mistake. So like a pro with my technical notes and pen in hand I began to taste and write starting from youngest to oldest. Besides the 18 glasses in front of each person the only other things on the table were spit buckets and mineral water. So I began sometimes my cadence was fast and at other times slow and methodical, I took me about and hour to make it thru all 18 vintages. When I was finished, I watched and listened, Galloni was retasting the 91and 93 vintages side by side, Arturo Celantano had the 93 and 01 in his glasses, my taste buds and thoughts were right on.

When writing about wines most critics use lengthy adjectives, and profound comparisons to every imaginable fruit, berry, leather, tar, smoke etc. I try and write for the moment what I taste and what foods the wine tastes evoke as I drink it. I write for the moment unlike most critics that write for the future, how a certain vintage will age. Who cares? Most of us need something to drink right now.

Silvia Imperato and Victor Rallo
Dora & Arturo Celantano of Terra di Lavoro and Victor Rallo

Below are the notes of my favorite Montevetrano vintages:

This was the first vertical tasting of Montevetrano from 1991 to present 2007!

Montevetrano

1993 Montervetrano:

I wish I had 10 bottles of this wine. Why you might ask? Well I would have a nice dinner party and serve 2 bottles at the party with the main course. Maybe a slow roasted beef short rib with root vegetables and creamy Friulian polenta with a touch of Gorgonzola.

In 1993, Montevetrano was aged solely in Nevers Oak Casks for 12 months, after the 1993 vintage they began using a mix of Nevers. Allier and Troncais oak casks for fermentation. In the 1991, 1992, and 1993 they reveal a lovely smoked leather nose that is not as prevalent in future vintages. I believe it is because of this difference in wood treatment, although the vintages after 1993 may be slightly more elegent and international I love the rustic quality of the 1993.

This wine has a great balance of fruit, oak and tannins this is what age does to great wines, it smooths the rough edges. You can surely drink it now but is still lively and will age for 5-10 more years. Folks at Montevetrano say this was an optimum growing season and after tasting I agree.

La Forza del Vino,

2001 Montevetrano:

I could drink the 2001 today and forever into memory lane. The wine displays a softer tannic punch then other vintages; it has great balance with persistence thru the finish which is quite long lasting. Here the oak treatment takes a back seat, not in a bad way we are in a Rolls Royce, to the fruit, tannins and complex flavor profile of this wine.

Those of you who read my reviews know that I am not a new oak guy, but with this vintage the oak ,12 months in new Nevers, Allier and Troncais casks does not over power the fruit. Drink now but this baby could age for 10-15 more years. Bravo!

Light the BBQ grill up a couple porterhouse steaks with coastal sea salt and Novello olive oil, a Jersey tomato salad and some grilled corn dusted with Parmigiano Reggiano. Please do not to forget to call me, this will be a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN!!!

None of the Montevetrano wines were disappointing even the 2002 vintage which was a terribly hard throughout Italy. Others I liked were 1991,1999, 2003, 2007.

After we finished tasting the Montevetrano wins some small hors duerves were served which included foie gras on a crisp toast with sweet fruit marmalata, fresh fluke crudo with fish eggs and scallion and local sweet tomato with pesto and goat cheese they were delicious and needed. The table was now set for one of my personal favorite wines Terra di Lavoro, vintages 1999-2008, minus 2002.

The most unusual part of the evening for me came when we sat down to begin tasting the Terra di Lavoro wines, I noticed the wines in the tasting pamphlet went from oldest to youngest. So I asked Arturo Celantano of Galardi if this was correct and he repilied, “Yes! That is how we should taste them,” so I began the 10 vintage journey.

Unlike the Montevetrano wines that are 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 10% aglianico the Terra di Lavoro wines are made of all indigenous varieties, 80% aglianico and 20% piedirosso, this makes these wines from Campania stylistically very different. I hate to speak in general terms when speaking about wine but after tasting 18 vintages of Montevetrano and 10 vintages of Terra di Lavoro, I can say the Montevetrano wines are more international and elegant in style and the Terra di Lavoro wines are more rustic they taste, smell and feel more authentically Italian.

It was intresting to taste these wines backwards a first for me, but Arturo Celantano wanted us to drink the 2008 last as he thought it was the best wine Galardi has ever made.

With this flight of wine I navigated like a pro my cadence, my breathing and my palate were in sync, it was amazing.

Here is a list of my favorites from Terra Di Lavoro:

1999 Terra di Lavoro

This wine was smokey and round tannins age does that to wine especially wines made from Aglianico. Dark ruby in color, smooth and silky with notes of pepper from the Piedirosso. The tannins just starting to round a bit, chocolate and cocoa come thru the red fruit and cherries. I said it was leathery, Salvatore replied, “Prada” I responded everyone should drink Prada.

Galloni drank the 1999 with dinner, I would agree it was my favorite too. I believe it could age for 5-10 more years, they say aglianico is the Barolo of the south and can age 30 years after drinking the Terra Di Lavoro 1999 I agree.

2001 Terra di Lavoro

2001 was a sunny, warm and dry vintage with much less ranges in temperature. The vines were in perfect shape for harvest in late September. The nose of this wine was like a berry fruity cocktail, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and black cherry all at once. What I really liked about this wine was its balance, tannins, fruit and oak all in harmony. You could drink it now but wait 5-10 years and this will be a gem.

2007 Terra di Lavoro

This vintage was harvested in a very typical climate year. The wine tasted very clean and well balanced even though the tannins and acidity are very pronounced. Both are vital for longevity in a wine. This wine was slightly different in the nose; it had a particular musty, leathery nose. However this did not cover the fruit it was special and delicious.
Obviously this wine is very young I would put it all away until 2015, and not until then would I slowly start to drink them.

2008 Terra di Lavoro

We tasted it but it is not in the market for another couple months. This wine had great berry fruit on the nose and what seems to be a perfect extraction as the color is deep, dark, and ink like. Typically Terra di Lavoro is 13% alcohol but this vintage the alcohol reaches 14%, big, bold and beautiful. I can see why Arturo Celantano choose to go in reverse order 2007 and now 2008 are exceptional wines, I mean exceptional worthy of 95+ points.

After the tasting I asked the Celantano’s about the 2008 vintage, Arturo told me that he told Riccardo Cotarella the wine maker at Galardi from the early stages that this vintage was magical, Riccardo told him to wait it was to early to tell. The day before Arturo left for NYC Riccardo pulled him aside and said to him, “your right, the 2008 is magical.”

The only thing that was left was dinner and which ever wines you wanted to drink.

Enclosed is a copy of the menu why don’t you decide which of these 28 wines you would have drank.

By the way in the Wine Advocate, June 30, 2010 Antonio Galloni wrote an article on Southern Italy the 2007 Terra di Lavoro was the highest rated wine 97 points and the 2007 Montevetrano was the third highest rated wine at 94 points. I guess he liked the wines!!

A Note on Aglianico:

The aglianico grapes are very small so the ratio of skin to juice is very high this equals good acidity and tannins. The clusters are also very tight thus the center grapes often do not ripen fully adding to the natural tannins and acidity of this varietal, Tannins and acidity are the back bone to the evolution of all wines, and aglianico naturally has both.

Thus the saying, “Barolo of the south.”

New York City Wine Delivery!

Jump in the car with Victor Rallo and Preston Porter, the Social Media Chef, as they travel to New York City to deliver a wine order from http://www.RalloWines.com!

With the heat tipping the thermometers at 107 degrees in Midtown, RalloWines.com refuses to let the heat spoil fine wine. Although Victor can’t personally deliver every order during inclimate weather, RalloWines.com is willing to go above and beyond to make the customers happy.

Fresh Summer Whites Hit RalloWines.com

Summertime is here, and RalloWines.com has two refreshing Summer white wines to kick off the season: Pieropan Soave 2008, and Jermann Chardonnay 2007. These are two delicious white wines with great value; we personally taste and evaluate every single wine before it goes on RalloWines.com. Among dozens of wines we review that never make it to our site, we bring you two more amazing wine that you can buy at a great price just in time for Summer.

Take a look at the video reviews, or jump to RalloWines.com to read the full review and buy these wines.

Pieropan Soave 2008

Buy this wine and read the full review on RalloWines.com

Jermann Chardonnay 2007

Buy this wine and read the full review on RalloWines.com

What are some of your favorite Summer white wines?

Welcome to VictorRallo.com

Hello and welcome to VictorRallo.com! This is the home of the new online wine community and sister site to RalloWines.com. Watch all our wine reviews, travel videos, video recipes, and read articles from Anthony “The Professor” Verdoni.

You can also connect with RalloWines.com on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Here’s the full release on our launch:

Victor Rallo Launches New Online Wine Community

New wine community will educate consumers with reviews, videos and food pairings while offering hand selected Italian wines for purchase at great prices.

(Red Bank, NJ) Victor Rallo, restaurateur, wine aficionado and entrepreneur, launches www.RalloWines.com to create a destination where passion for food, wine and travel is celebrated. Consumers seeking an education on creating the perfect marriage of food and wine will find solace at RalloWines.com which features unique video presentations of wine reviews and complementary foods.

Breaking the mold of creating another online “wine store”, Victor Rallo raises the bar by teaming up with wine expert Anthony Verdoni, aka “The Professor”, to feature world class wines and meals that create a harmonious presentation that consumers can replicate at home.

Speaking about the new project, Victor Rallo commented, “Consumers are flooded with choices at their local bottle shop. Often the best buying advice that is provided is a score from a third party website that consumers have to trust. Consumers are looking to raise their education on wine but not as a score. Consumers want to learn how to match a good wine with meals that they can cook in their home. ”

RalloWines.com will provide the “know how” to prepare great dishes that complement a wine that is featured each week on the website. Weekly videos will feature Rallo and Verdoni as they review the featured wine from different viewpoints; Rallo representing the consumer and likeminded “foodies” and Verdoni representing the structure and flavor profile of the wine. The balance of their perspectives is what makes visiting RalloWines.com a worthwhile investment of time.

Each week a wine will be featured on RalloWines.com and consumers can purchase the wine at significant savings. The goal of the website is to build an educational foundation for consumers looking to increase their knowledge of wine and food pairing.

To that end, the website will only sell wines that have been personally reviewed by Rallo and received his seal of approval. According to Rallo “Consumers don’t need another online wine store, they need an online wine experience that is practical, helpful and without pretense.”

The first wines to be featured on RalloWines.com are the Tenuta San Guido Le Difese 2007, and the Agricola Punica Montessu 2007.


For additional information, visit www.RalloWines.com.

About Victor Rallo
Growing up in the restaurant business, Victor Rallo is a lifelong expert on food and wine. Both of his restaurants, Basil T’s and Undici Taverna Rustica, have received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence multiple times and Undici boasts the largest all-Italian wine selection in the state of New Jersey.

Victor has mastered the art of pairing food and wine, having visited Italy’s top vineyards and tasted the best in Italian cuisine. During his travels, Victor has befriended many of Italy’s most prominent winemakers including Antonio Caggiano, brothers Andrea and Dario of Pieropan winery, and the maker of the world renowned Sassicaia wine, Sebastiano Rosa. Victor’s travel videos, photos and articles highlight many personal tours, tastings, and even a special visit from Sebastiano Rosa at one of Victor’s restaurants.

Victor also hosts the Accademia del Vino wine lecture series, giving attendees a taste of the wine, cuisine, and culture from a specific region of Italy in each session. Victor brings a unique and practical perspective to the table with his hands-on and forward thinking approach to food and wine.

About Tony Verdoni

Anthony Verdoni’s career is a combination of academic pursuits and business interests. He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in 1964. He eventually returned to St. Peter’s to teach Classical Languages and Literature for 20 years. His knowledge of antiquity and Italian culture helped establish him as an expert in Italian wines. Members of the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.”

He started in the wine business in 1971 as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant. He has since held many positions within the wine industry including a wine buyer for two department store chains, VP and National Sales Director for American BD Company, VP of Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow, and has worked with many Italian wineries in developing their brands in America.

Mr. Verdoni feels his greatest challenge and satisfaction have come from launching new Italian wines in America. He has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and was recently awarded a lifetime achievement by The Italian Trade Commission recognizing his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States.

Mr. Verdoni is currently consulting for restaurants and distributors throughout the United States, conducting wine dinners, seminars, restaurant training programs – and, as always, helping people discover the wines of Italy.