Tag Archives: Cepparello 2006

Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Nerello Mascalese. And Pinot Noir?


Tempranillo, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Nerello Mascalese. And Pinot Noir?

by Filippo Bartolotta

After my first trip to Rioja I would have loved to metabolize all those amazing wines a little more slowly, maybe taking a break with my kids or with Vanessa. Instead I had to fly to Langhe for some Nebbiolo tasting. I then have been blessed with Vanessa’s kindness to bring herself and the children up to Langhe to Ivana.

So before going to Barolo I have time for some family sessions:) in my home town and… a bit of Sangiovese.

Milo has started his first week of school and Daphne is still eating like a ten years old!

Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Nebbiolo, Aglianico and Nerello Mascalese have something in common:


Pinot Noir could go with them, but I didn’t have time to go to Burgundy. Not this time. So I did it with Sangiovese. A quick stop at Isole e Olena with Paolo de Marchi and USA Ice-Skating Champions Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre. Cepparello is a 100% Sangiovese from the Chianti Classico area. Paolo selects only the best grapes which every year come from different vines as Sangiovese never gives the best crop from the same vines, says Paolo.  Just to make the wine maker’s life easier. Cepparello 2006 is a pulpy, velvety, luscious and dense cherry driven wine. Cepparello 2007 is a more vertical wine with a little more structure and intensity though easier to please palates now.  Paolo’s wines are fermented in big oak conic cask and he makes a point about personally supervising every fermentation. Then they go into french oak barrels in a fantastically humid and naturally cold cellar, allowing a very slow fining process.

Then it’s time to try another amazing Sangiovese. This time from a different valley, near Radda in Chianti. It’s Montevertine. Here lies another amazing site for Sangiovese. Here Martino Manetti makes a very mineral, red berry crush Montevertine. This year his 2007 is phenomenal. The more structure, austere and long lasting Pergole Torte 2007 instead is a 100% Sangiovese: classic wine as well. Both wines go for a long maturation process in small and big barrels.

Time to eat some fish at my home most favorite fish Trattoria: la Trattoria del Pesce in Bargino. Here GIanni has got a really large selection of great Champagne and Italian Fine Whites. People that would look after you any time. Great the Raw Fish plateaux, the house fish soup and the Spaghetti with clams and Bottarga served in a steaming frying pan!

After all this I get to Langhe where my dear friends Walter Fissore and Nadia Cogno are waiting for me to taste the great 2004 Barolo Elvio Cogno Riserva Vigna Elena a wine not to be missed, together with the Barolo Ravera 2006. Smashing wines with a lot of polish licorice and sour cherry leathery crispiness and a structure lengthy finish.

I have time to stop for lunch at l’Antico Borgo where my two guests open a Voerzio Cerequio 2006 and Giuseppe Rinaldi Cannubi San Lorenzo e Ravera 2006.

I know that with this one I would have a lot of people arguing how the heck can one like The “citric Beppe” and the “smoothy Voerzio”! Well you’ll be surprised to hear that I actually I can like them both. It only depends by the vintages and the care they had in the making. Most people think Rinaldi is the super traditionalist and Voerzio the super modernist. But the truth is a little more complicated. What I can tell you is that Rinaldi’s wines tend to be fresher, with a great energy and minerality and Voerzio instead goes for more density, fruit and pulp. If you were lucky enough to go for Roberto Voerzio 1990 La Serra or Barolo Riserva, Vecchie Viti dei Capalot e delle Brunate 1998 then you will see how some of his wines retain that wonderful Nebbiolo lush, crunchy elegance that would make them go on forever.

I will try to go back on the discussion above. I had a very lovley chat about this and more philosophical wine issues with Nino Felicin in Monforte. He is one of the greatest and simplest wine Langhe man one can come across. The cuisine is just what anyone can dream of. I look forward to go back there again! Thank you Nino, Lana and Jim for the great wines.

This was a 1989 Barolo little context that I have set up for Lana and Jim.

Poderi Aldo Contenro Bricco Bussia Vigna Colonello 1989. This was in extraordinary conditions with a super classic red berry fruit and velvet earthy touch. Just delicious.

Elio Altare Vigna Arborina 1989. The oak was a little bit covering the underneath elegance of the wine stopping the tasting pleasure a bit.

Roberto Voerzio La Serra 1989. I preferred the 1990 as it was fresher and more solid. Mind you though that the ’90 was coming straight from Roberto’s cellar.

Still in Nebbiolo I am going to say hello to Marina Marcarini owner of Punset. Her Barbaresco Punset Campo Quadro 2007 came out as one of the best of the year and it is an organic (a seriously organic one) wine. I like Marina a lot, she is a very straight forward wine maker and her wines are getting better and better by the year.

And now ready? Steady? Gooooooooo! Train to the Amalfi Coast where I have spent threen days and three nights tasting Aglianico Taurasi away. My home base has been Hotel La Marmorata where not only you can enjoy this kind of view, but people here would solve any problem possible: they are just extremely friendly and professional.

Lemon Gardens on the Amalfi Coast.

Here one of my first and most important reasons of the trip was to go and taste some Mastroberardino’s Taurasi. Their 1968 has been one of the best wines I have ever had. I firstly drank that wine together with Aj and Gianfranco Soldera for lunch together with Soldera Case Basse 1981: what a sweet day that one was.

This time instead I was going to try some serious mozzarella at Vannulo near Paestum when I got a call from Chiara, Mastroberardino’s PR. She says that the Cavalier Mastroberardino would be delighted to taste some of the old wines with me. And…what do I reply?

In less then two hours I was sent a car an in one hour I am in Atriplada right in front of Mastroberardino Taurasi 1968, 1980, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005 and…the man himself. Cavaliere Antonio Mastroberardino is a small man with lovely smiley face. His hand is shaking a little bit but nonetheless is moves and speaks very rapidly  and he is moving swiftly throughout the tasting. Also he doesn’t make it to pompous, but rather goes straight to the point. I love when people are together with you instead of talking about themselves.  We taste the six wines and the ’68 shows the usual youthful character, just silky deliciousness. The ’80 is completely silent but the palate is even rounder then the ’68! I look forward to this wine in twenty more years, what a great surprise. This was the wine of the Earthquake and here the Cavaliere shows a touchy side. The ’97 is the earthier, meatier and more animal. I loved the ’99 better with more polished elements, bright fruit and velvet black peppers tannins. Great crisp 2005 and a super structured earthy grip. These wines are just like the man who made them: light, sweet, elegant with a romantic side immediately contrasted by a very pragmatic whiff! I take the ’68, ’80 and ’99 with me to see what happens in the evening. The wines got better and I was right: the 1980 opened up so much. It might get better then the mythical 1968! I mention the Cavaliere, that I had his wine with Soldera and he seems sincerely touched by this and so we call Gianfranco. The two of them talk flat for 15 min. They haven’t spoken in quite a while. I feel proud about this reunion:)

I gotta go and he says Ciao. I say Arrivederci. He says you must say Ciao to me please let’s drop the formality. He hugs me and I say Ciao Antonio. I can’t believe that I clicked so much with one of the greatest Italian wine makers!

Feudi di SanGregorio.

I got to Feudi after lunch. Emanuela smiles as we get in. She takes me and my wine club for a walk around the garden. It’s a glorious day I woke up and I went for a swim in the sea. The sky is blue and crisp. We started chatting and I told her I was on a old fine wine tasting quest started in Rioja with its Tempranillo, gone by the Sangiovese in Chianti Classico, the Nebbiolo in Barolo and Barbaresco and finishing with Nerello Mascalesse in Etna. Half an hour later I am kidnapped my the President of Feudi Antonio Capaldo.

Very much to the point also in this case. Most people think about souther Italy as a land of “dolce far niente” -sweet doing nothing-, but you gotta change your mind when you meet these kind of men. So let’s get to business.

Taurasi Feudi di SanGregorio 1993, 1997, 1999, 2005.

We star with the first vintage of Feudi. I must confess that I didn’t have many high expectations. Antonio opens the magnum and pours a glass. I am a happy man. The wine show a great Aglianico character, a sweet red fruit, licorice, rhubarb and balsamic touch. Tannins like velvet. The 1997 is a bit more austere, musk and mushroon type with some oak. The 1999 shows some more extractives and power frame, but I like the balance and the clean fruit. The 2005 a little more on the modern confection side. Feudi is changing path. The Fiano 2009 is a clear sigh of this with a more natural energetic zest. For the Taurasi one has to wait for the 2007! Thank you Antonio.

Quick now is time to catch a boat in Amalfi to go to Positano and then sinner at Capo d’Orso, one of the best Retaurant in Costiera with the ever caring Ferrara brothers.

How to spend a holiday in Costiera Amalfitana? This is a bit of the Costiera Amalfitana by car. It is great to see the little towns and the narrow street and the great light on the sea, but if you ever are going to make it here you must get on a boat along the coast or it is like you have never been here!

Capo d’Orso.

A taste of Aglianico del Vulture La Firma of Cantine del Notaio 2007.

Although the Aglianico form Taurasi is cultivated on a soil reach in volcanic ashes, the Vulture ones are actually on a Vulcano and they tend to emerge as bigger, denser, sweeter and more muscular types. This great 200 vintage is an example of that.

My window view from La Marmorata Hotel in Amalfi.


Approaching Positano


This is a remaining column of a little chapel near Tenuta di SanFrancesco. Not too far away from here the pre-philloxera over two hundred years vineyard of Tintore grape are still yielding some great fruit. As a result one of the label of Tenuta di SanFrancesco is for me the most striking result of this small estate: “è iss” Tintore Pre-phillossera Vigna Paradiso 2007. Very earthy, savory wine with well extracted tannins, great drinkability and very classic mediterranean herbs elegance. The other Red -a classic Tramonti Doc with Aglianico, Tintore and Piedirosso- is a riper, fruitier and easier to drink wine with a lovely red fruit finish.

Gaetano Bove with the pre-phillossera vines.

The Whites -made of Falanghina, Biancolella and Pepella grapes- are very light, zesty with a crispy citrus fruit character.

Eva, Raffaella and Angela the three wonderful cooks. 

After a great lunch in the cellar we move to Pompei.

Zebra Crossing in Pompei

The Vesuvio seen from Pompei. Should you ever visit Pompei -I think anyone should- you’d better do it with a fun and knowledgeable guide. I am afraid to say that the maintenance of one of the world greatest archeological site isn’t the best one. Quite the opposite. Most remaining frescos are barely covered with bit of metal, straigh dogs browse around -I haven’t seen a straigh dog in Italy in twenty years!!!- and there is practically no guards around.  Still though if you go with someone who can tell you what happen here, it can become a reason to travel here.

And before catching the boat to Catania I must have a slice of Pizza “Da Michele”. Here is where Julia Roberts had her slice during “Eat, pray, love?”. I have had Pizza here throughout the years. It is very good, but be prepared for a not very welcoming service. People do not seem very happy to have you there. Every once in a while there are some funny jokes going among them, but in general terms there’s a little bit of that cuttle treatment feeling where guests are pushed and not listened to. I am sure if you go there with Julia Roberts they’ll be pretty good to anyone though. I must confess that the Pizza as well isn’t really the best in town s most say. Il Pizzaiuolo del Presidente for instance makes Pizza with a little more tender care and irresistible moisture.  Anyway it’s a pity about the bad attitude da Michele as Napolitan Pizza is one of mankind greatest and happiest inventions. Off we go on a boat to Catania with our tummies filled.

Overnight we cross the channel of Messina and we are in Catania. Our main destination would have being Nerello Mascalese in the Mount Etna, but I had to stop at my uncle’s favorite Pasticceria for a -Coffee Ice Crush- Granita al caffè and brioche breakfast. It is like something in between a smoothy and an ice coffee. The soft/bouncy/warm brioche collapses with the ice cold mouse, the coffee gives you a kick and the cream rounds the edges off: pure pleasure.

Ciro Biondi cellar is in a great location near Sant’Alfio on the Mount Etna. One could see the Volcano and the see at the same time. That is if the weather is good; not today it is more like being in Langhe tasting Nebbiolos:)

We start with the grape must of two different vineyards of Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Cappuccio. Already a great deal of difference with the M.I. vineyard showing way more earthy power then the Outis.

We then move to Ciro’s Palmento – the ancient Sicilian wine cellar. The ancient Palmenti were cellar working by gravity. Fruit arrived, people stomped them dancing, the free run juice was going down and the skins then removed. Here we have a very frugal lunch to match Biond’s wines while Ciro’s wife, Staphanie is helping with the presentation. The White -a blend of bush trained Carricante, Minnella, Malvasia, Catarrati, Moscatello- is a rustic leafy and almost tannic wine with a lot of character. Then we go for a Etna Rosso Outis 2007 with a lot of tannic structure a mushrooms and carrub fruit.  I loved the Etna Rosso M.I. 2008 better. The fruit is more focused, the nose is more Burgundian with a peppery/barnyard hint and the palate packed with energy and sapid twist to allow the wine baskets full of drinkability.

I was about to rap this long post up till I tasted the Cos Pythos Frappato 2009. It’s barnyard, savory, forrest fruit minerality outs the wine close to our Temprannillo, Nebbiolo, Sangiovese, Aglianico, Nerello Mascalese similarities. When these varieties are made without fiddling  too heavy an oenological hand they release some outstanding common factors: great acidity, minerality, savoriness, red berry crush fruit, some earthiness and licorice and a floral&black pepper touch. The palate is crunchy with structured but also not obstructive tannins and aging potential. Of course this result can be achieved with completely different wine making techniques, but always with very impressive result. Cos in Acata South East Sicily has being using Spanish Amphorae -rich in silex- to ferment and macerate their wines for over 6 months. The Amphorae well used are a very interesting method which allow natural stabilization of the wine and great enzymatic complexity.

The Cathedral in Ragusa





By Filippo Bartolotta

This morning we woke up early despite the heavy Beverly Hills night to go to the farmers market near Main Street in Santa Monica with Private Chef Kelly Thompson and Barbara.

The objective was the get the freshest food for a surprise LeBaccanti Saint Valentine’s day at Bryan Adams Studios.

We were after strawberries, chocolate and Parmigiano to use our 25 year old Malpighi Balsamic Vinegar and then fresh vegetables and salads for our Pasolini dall’Onda Extravirgin Olive Oil.

Before getting there I have some time for a little vegan snack while we head to Kelly’s place to prepare everything.

KELLY THOMPSON works as a private chef around the L.A. Area. This is her phone number  229-347-3107

Kelly tossed some fresh asparagus on the grill for a minute, we washed the salads and roots and off we go to the Studios.

We get there right before lunch break. Unload the car and set silently everything up.

Bryan was working at his computer, while splendid Nia Vardalos was having some coffee.

We laid everything out in a split second while the wines were getting served: Grattamacco 2001, Bindella 2006, Proprietà Sperino 2006, Terra al Sole 2004, Montevetrano 2005, Cecchi Chianti Classico Riserva di Famiglia 2005, Tenuta Friggiali 2004, Castell’in Villa Poggio delle Rose 1998.

Meanwhile Barbara and Kelly were finishing off the last touches with the Aceto Balsamico and the Extravirgin Olive Oil.

Vally comes to great us with her calm smile and Mr Adams turns up nice and easy and goes directly for the Extravirgin Olive oil, I was about to talk to him about Laudemio and with a perfect italian accent he goes: hoo yeah…I know Laudemio very well, and the Balsamic Vinegar!

He prove to be incredibly tuned in with high quality Italian gourmet food. Then he sips a drop of Brunello Terra al Sole and a drop of Uvaggio and goes back to work.

Now it was for us time to leave not before having Bryan taking a picture with us though!

What a great start of the day! Usually good starts always bring good rest of the day.

We managed a half an hour beach time, lobster roll -at Lobster in Ocean Ave with some Vernaccia di Sangimigano and catching up with computer work before the big event with Kelly and Van and their great friends.

Their house in Santa Monica has a pretty big garden with all sorts of herbs and vegetables, an outdoor kitchen and a brick oven where Van was making sure that Kelly’s Pizzas were nicely done. I was putting the wines in the wright order.

Here is where Italy at Your Table Santa Monica took place. Three round tables with white linen, six glasses per person, twelve great Italian wines, Kelly great cuisine and a lot of fun.

We started with Il Palagione Vernaccia di Sangimignano Hydra 2008 which everyone loved  and carried on with our Grattamacco 2001, Montevetrano 2006, Caprai Selezione 25 anni 2003, Proprietà Sperino Uvaggio 2006, Cepparello 2006, Barbaresco Punset 2001, Tenute Friggiali 2004, Bindella 2006, Castell’in Villa Poggio alle Rose1998, Amarone Latium Campo Leon 2005, Collemassari 2004, Meletti Cavallari Aleatico Tenuta delle Ripalte to finish everything off.

It was a great night where we travelled from Florence to Montalcinio; from Siena to Montepulciano; from Bolgheri, land of the Super Tuscans to Langhe -land of Barolo and Barbaresco- from Amalfi Coast, Capri, Revello and Positano di the land of Romeo and Juliet: Verona; and from Montefalco land of Sagrantino to the Island of Elba for the sweet/non sweet Aleatico.

A trip that is difficult to forget, a trip into Italy true wine Dolce Vita for a very romantic pre-trip to Italy starting right here in Santa Monica.

Van got us a cab while sipping a drop of one of his favorite Armagnac Francisc Darroze Les Piéces Oubliées 15 ans. He told me a great story of the same producer but 45 years old Armagnac as the best spirit of his life. I wondered what that could have been in considering the 15 ans was sooo the smooth and gentle.

I love Italy at Your Table, my wines and my very sophisticated and yet laid back hosts!





While waiting to talk more about the experience in San Francisco at Chez Panisse, Slanted Doors, the wine dinner with Miriam and the Tacos with Athena, these are a few pictures about our crazy night in Beverly Hills and the chilled morning in Santa Monica.

Last night Barbara and I made our way to Beverly Hills. We strolled around Rodeo Dr. for a bit. walked into Galerie Michael: http://www.galeriemichael.com, where one can purchase only authentic PIcassos, Mirò, Rembrandt, Chagall, Dali and the lot.

It was a very refreshing stop after all the fashion indigestion and big cars.

We then hoped on a cab to go to Lana and Jim and their super-wine-friends. Here we started our evening sorting some of Italy at your Table Wines and some of the guests choice.
We got to dinner time “like white on rice” and the night flew by with a six courses Italian dinner planned, designed and wanted by Lana. She was a great host giving everyone a chocolate heart with their name engrave on it. Tonight was a very sumptuous pre-Saint Valentine night, wow!

My Saint Valentine partner was the wonderful Robin Stark: www.starklandcellars.com. I selected the wines for the evening with Michael who has a rare experience in ’60 Barolos! Our Italy at Your Table selection featured Cepparello 2006, Brunello di Montalcino Friggiali 2004, Arnaldo Caprai Sagrantino 2003 – 25 Anni. Other guests brought over Masseto 2005, Dal Forno 1996 and 1995, Vietti nebbiolo, Testamatta 2006, Oreno 2006 and Quintarelli 1990 from Lana’s cellar to finish off the evening.

Needless to say this was a very serious wine night which ended even later once Lana handed us over some foulards to enter her cellar with the brand new Robin Stark inventory system. Why are West Coasters so excited about Italian wines? Because with Italian wines nobody ever gets bored; because they are products with character and style and because most people tend to fall in love with Italy and hence its products. Lana and Jim are trading a lot of their wines for Italian Fine Wines. After the Amarone trip they now have some great old vintages and in a few weeks we will do together Langhe and I bet that a lot of room for Barolo would have to be made! Meanwhile thank you Lana for all those bottles you’ve opened with us. It was a great treat.


Kansas City


By Filippo Bartolotta

while in Washington for the mega-charity week, we had set the first Italy at Your Table event in Kansas City.

Gina and Kevin were among the very first to book Italy at Your Table on January the 23rd, right before the 15 Villas event.
I felt bad leaving Robert and Anders and the rest of the volunteers sorting all the wines out, but it had to be done. Early in the morning Barbara and I head from Baltimore to Kansas City. Four hours and we are in the middle of America. I met Gina and Kevin during a wine tour and cooking class in Tuscany and we talked about me going to the US, but now that we made it it all has a different taste.

On one hand it is all brighter and more fun then expected, on the other, it is also very tiring. But I am not complaining.
Above all when I get to places and the hosts are so welcoming and so nice.

Gina also has the smile and the energy which will set you in the right mood regardless.

I loved the event in Kansas city. People listened for over two hours to or Italian Fine Wine Journey while the Culinary Center was dishing out some risotto with wild mushrooms and other exquisite recipes.

We travelled for a wine journey starting with the creamy Panizzi Vernaccia di Sangimignano Riserva 2006 to open up in the right mood.
When ever I open a Vernaccia here in the US, I always have people reacting with a lot of surprise when they taste how good it is. A lot of consumers have got the wrong perception about this wine which is due to the many cheap ones sold in the 70’s. My selection though is only about the very good one: with Cesani, Guicciardini Strozzi, Il Palagione, Panizzi.

I am very proud of these Whites which are available in the market under the $25!

From here we did a compare and contrast of two 2001: Grattamacco and Campo Quadro Barbaresco Punset.

These are two my two oldest bottles of the tour together with a very structured 1999 Riserva Poggio al Vento Col d’Orcia.

I have to say that these great wines made my life easier as it is difficult not to like them all.
The ’01 are always nice to open up the evening for the are a combination of austerity and smoothness: wines with awesome aging potential.
So our Piedmont/Tuscan match set everyone off with the right mood to take us for another trip this time a Barolo/Brunello 2004 pairing: the dense and silky Elvio Cogno Vigna Elena 2004 vs the black cherry, leathery Friggiali Pietra Nera 2004.
Sangiovese and Nebbiolo can have a lot in common and it is always enlightening to pair different regions and varieties together to understand them better.

While some roasted lamb chops were served for main I opened Tenute San Leonardo 2004 and Montevetrano 2005. Trentino vs Campania. Two super dense and silky Cab based wines with a lot of terroir character. Very seldom these slick wines don’t appeal to the public, more often people just can’t get enough and with the lab they were a blast.

I almost forgot to mention another two groups of wines which were served during our Kansas Expedition:
Chianti Classico Riserva Monsanto 2006 which always shows tons of crisp red fruit and such a Tuscan style!
From here we travelled to Biella to the forgotten Lessona area were Luca de Marchi is carrying out an amazing project Proprietà Sperino to revive this very northern Nebbiolo.
He makes an austere Lessona which opens up a little slower then the super naturally sweet fruity Uvaggio 2006 made of Nebbiolo, Vespolina and Croatina.
Right after Uvaggio we went for a trip to Montecucco, between Montalcino and the Costal area. Claudio Tipa has been giving a boost up to this Denominazione.
His Riserva Lombrone 2004 right now show so well and so rich that people wonder where it is from. Montecucco sounds a little obscure I have to say, but once tasted it becomes a very popular bottle.
Finishing off the night with Cepparello 2006 is never a bad choice. This wine never fails to make everyone happy, whether is the beginning of the evening or the end or the middle; whether a modern or an old-school wine lover this is home.

Kansas City has been a GOOD pit-stop and I look forward to make it a longer one next year.
Thank you Kevin and Gina!