Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Paolo Scavino Vino Rosso (Piemonte) 2013

A quaffer from Paolo Scavino, a superior winery from the Barolo region. Founded in 1921 in Castiglione Falletto by Lorenzo Scavino and his son Paolo. Today, the winery is run by grandson Enrico Scavino together with his daughters Enrica and Elisa. The winery comprises 23 hectares, and is located entirely in the Barolo area and features19 Barolo historical crus located in Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, La Morra, Serralunga d’Alba, Verduno and Roddi.

Scavino describes the Vino Rosso as a blend which represents their "autochthon" or mish-mash of young vine varietals. The wine is ruby-red with purple hints. Nose of red cherries and spices. An inexpensive wine that receives a masters touch.  Pairs well with lighter dishes. 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Aldo Conterno Conca Tre Pile Barbera D' Alba (Piemonte) 2012

We all know the story….boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love….wait; that’s the wrong story. The story I’m talking about is that of the Conterno boys, little Aldo and Giovanni; whose differences on how the family's Barolo should be made; in the traditional style with long macerations, or in the modern style with a shorter maceration time, drove them mad…well apart at least. The Conterno brothers split-up back in the late sixties to create their own styles of Barolo, Giovanni (who continued to run the Giacomo Conterno Estate) produced the more traditional style of the two. Aldo Conterno, who continues to produce prized wines in a more modern vein, is known as the "King of Barolo" in Italy. Poderi Aldo Conterno is situated in Monforte d'Alba on the prized Bussia Soprano vineyard, in the heart of the Barolo region. His “Conca Tre Pile” is from a hilly area in Bussia Soprana whose main vines are Barbera with vineyards having a maximum age of 45 years. The barrels (“barriques”) in which the wine is aged are 100% made of new wood. Completely super-fantastic, delicious and smooth.  Fine drinking.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Vietti Barbera d'Asti Tre Vigne 2014

A great everyday Barbera from a brilliant multi-generational family winery. The grapes for this wine are grown in Agliano d’Asti in the La Crena site, with the oldest of those vines used for Vietti's Cru La Crena. The wine is vinified in stainless steel tanks, and at the end of the malolactic fermentation, the wine is moved into French oak barrels and Slovanian casks for 16 months, then into steel tanks 2 months before bottling. Unfiltered. A striking red/purple color, strong fruit nose, fresh acidity to perfectly compliment food, and a long, smooth finish. Albeisa bottle. Ooga-booga label.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Do You 'Ndjua?

'Ndjua is a cured, spicy, spreadable salumi from Calabria, the toe of Italy's boot.  'Ndjua (pronounced en-DOO-ya) is believed to have originated as a "poor-man's" version of Andouille sausage which arrived in Calabria when Napoleon conquered Naples in 1806.  The locals, most famously from the town of Spilinga, made their version from various pig parts (parts is parts) and fiery Calabrian chilies.  Today, 'Nduja is made with higher quality ingredients,  One such maker, Chicago-based 'Nduja Artisans make theirs with pork shoulder from Berkshire hogs along with plenty of fatback and chilies.  'Ndjua is best enjoyed atop grilled bread or as a base for spicy pasta sauce.  'Nduja is also delicious as a chorizo substitute in Huevos con 'Nduja.

Keeping with the adage, "What grows together, goes together", a Gaglioppo makes a terrific 'Ndjua pairing.  Calabria is one of the 20 regions of Italy, who in total, produce hundreds of different varietals, most of them limited to a very small geographical area of production. The Gaglioppo is just such a grape. Suspected of being related to an ancient Greek varietal or the Sicilian Frappato, the Gaglioppo is well adapted to the exceedingly hot and dry conditions in Calabria. Of particular note are the wines of Statti.  The Statti estate, owned by Alberto and Antonio Statti, is over 500 hectares in size, making it one of the largest in the region. Besides growing indigenous varietals (Gaglioppo and Mantonico, a white grape used in sweet nectars) they produce olive oil, grow vegetables and raise livestock.

Statti's Gaglioppo is fermented and aged in stainless, with an intense ruby red color and a strong nose of cherries and spice. Fruit-bombish in taste, but at the same time, softly tannic. Beautifully textured mouth feel; nice smooth finish. Well worth the trouble to find.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Conspiracy Theorists Clear Italian Wine and Spirits in Death of Justice Scalia

Pouring over the details contained in a recently released Texas Sheriff's Department incident report, conspiracy theorists around the globe concluded that Italian wine and spirits were not a factor in the February 13th death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at John Poindexter's Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas.

Ammon Bundy, recent co-leader of the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and general nut-case, came to this conclusion after his review of the incident report and consultation with Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, attending physician for members of Congress and the Supreme Court.

"While not entirely ruling out any other funny-business related to the International Order of St. Hubertus, it seems that coronary artery disease, obesity, diabetes, a heart like the Grinch's that was two sizes too small, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, smoking, toenail fungus and other ailments, may possibly have led to Justice Scalia's untimely death." Bundy said in a statement to The Italian Cellar.

"We can conclusively state that the Justice's pre-dinner Boulevardier (a Texas-style Negroni variant where gin is swapped out for Bourbon), the Bucci "Villa Bucci" Riserva Verdicchio that was served with the grilled scallop first course and the Alois Lageder "Krafuss" Pinot Nero that was served with the roast pheasant main course, cannot be attributed to his death." said Bundy.

"I honestly feel that Scalia's after-dinner digestif of an Amaro Nonino "Quintessentia" (on the rocks with an orange twist) may have actually prolonged the Justice's life long enough for him to get into bed where he died peacefully."


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Campagnolo - The "Big" Corkscrew - Veneto

Sometimes, BIGGER is better.  Over 2 pounds of pure Italian style from Campagnola, a high-end bicycle manufacturer (later automobile compents - Ferrari, Maserati, etc. and later still - satellite components) founded in 1933 by Tullio Campagnola.  A life-long inventor, Tullio holds over 135 patents and created such bicycle components as the quick release mechanism for wheels and derailleurs which allowed multi-speed bicycles.

Legend has it that many years ago, Tullio hurt his hand opening a wine bottle in celebration of a team victory.  His pain turned to inspiration, and thus the "Big" Corkscrew was born.

The "Big" Corkscrew's telescopic, self-centering bell positions the screw exactly in the middle of the cork and once screwed down, the two perfectly machined levers pull the cork out easily and delicately. The corkscrew has been designed to never twist completely through the cork, thus preventing pieces of cork dropping into the wine.  Quality materials and careful finishes accompany the sinuous shapes of its various parts. Each component is a characteristic feature of the Campagnolo brand.  Truly a work of art.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Cusumano Nero d' Avola (2014) Sicilia

A solid, value-priced southern Italian red wine from Cusumano, a Sicilian winery created by third generation winemakers and brothers Diego and Alberto Cusumano who assembled a network of growers that previously contracted with cooperatives. The 2014 Nero d' Avola is 100% Nero d’Avola grapes that are hand harvested from vineyards around San Giacomo. Deep ruby red color with an aroma of fresh red and blackberries. Spicy, yet smooth. Has the finish of a well-made wine. Way-cool "Vino-Lok" glass stopper. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Luxardo Original Maraschino Cherries - Veneto

A knock-out garnish for your craft cocktail from Luxardo, a fifth generation family-owned company founded in Zara, a port city on the Dalmatian coast of what is now Croatia in 1817. During World War II, the family fled to Italy, escaping with only a single cherry sapling and the Luxardo recipe book. 

Luxardo's Maraschino (mar-a-SKI-no) Cherries are proprietary sour marasca cherries that are candied and steeped in a syrup made of cherry juice and sugar.  The Luxardo family exclusively cultivates over 30,000 Marasca Cherry trees in the Veneto region of Italy to produce these jewels.

The cherries are all natural, with no artificial colors, and are certified Kosher to boot!  When only the best will do. L'chayim!

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cocchi Vermouth di Torino - Piemonte

A delicious sweet vermouth made in the Turin style (one of only two protected geographical indication of origins for vermouth – the other being ChambĂ©ry where Dolin is produced) from a base of Moscato d'Asti with rich flavors of cocoa, rhubarb, and citrus.

Cocchi (pronounced co-KEY, you rubes) was founded in 1891 by Guillo Cocchi, a bartender in Florence before following his dream and moving to Asti to become a sparkling winemaker  (a maker of sparkling wine, not a winemaker that sparkles) and distiller.  The company was Cocchi-owned until 1971 when it was purchased by the Bava family who still run it today.
Terrific on its own or as an ingredient in a classic cocktail recipe.  Its flavor profile occupies a middle ground between Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes. 


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Ted Cruz - 2016 Republican Presidential Candidate and Generally Scary Dude

Thanks to our extensive "Tea Party" connections, The Italian Cellar, was afforded an opportunity to briefly speak with Texas Senator Ted Cruz following his big announcement Monday at Liberty University in Lynchburg Tennessee that he was running for President in the 2016 election: 

Senator Cruz, best of luck in your campaign. What was the first wine that made you realize you loved wine?

"Damijan Ribolla Gialla 2002 made me change the way I look at white wine, and the first time I had Quintarelli Amarone I knew I’d never tasted anything even close to that before. However I have to say that the wine that did it for me, that truly made me realize that I love wine was Bartolo Mascarello’s 1989 Barolo (out of a magnum). Like the Quintarelli it possessed layers and depth that I could draw few comparisons to, and definitely had the "what was that?" impact on me. However the one thing that made this one truly stand out was it’s elegance. To this day if you asked me to describe my idea of “elegance” I would have to say that that wine is an example that I would use."

Describe your perfect meal and the wine you'd pair with it.

"Well I was recently on an anti-Obamacare junket in Piemonte, so how could I not mention white truffles on Tajarin with aged Barolo. But there is also something to be said about the simplicity of a white like Verdicchio from Le Marche (look for Sartarelli) that work their magic with the seafood of the Adriatic on a summer day. The zing and citrus nuances bring just about any fish back to life - no sauces needed here - just some grilled fish and lemon. A Rosso di Montalcino with some pici topped with wild boar ragu is also a nice, simple classic pair."

Were the students at Liberty University really forced at gunpoint to attend your announcement speech?

“No, it just seemed that way. I’ll tell you, the energy and the exhilaration there yesterday and we’re seeing on the trail takes your breath away.”

Well, congratulations again, and thank you for your time.

"It was my pleasure."