The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Easy July Recipe, Fava Bean and Prosciutto Salad

Posted on | July 24, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

1280px-Broad-beans-after-cookingHaving an office in the Union Square area of Manhattan most certainly has its perks.  Among these perks are a myriad of shopping, bars, restaurants, and activities, but by far my favorite feature is the Union Square Green Market.  It is incredibly inspiring to find crates overflowing with beautiful, seasonal produce and coolers full of incredibly flavorful meats from over 200 local farmers.  It is a privilege to know the farmer who grew/raised the food that you eat, and this market is ever deserving of cult status with foodies. This recipe is inspired by the Green Market and this season’s fava beans, a staple on Italian tables.

The dish below is perfectly paired with Sandro Fay Sassella 2007.  The bright, clean wine is comparable (and better in my opinion) to an entry-level, high-quality Bourgogne, but with more structure and a bit more acid that perfectly cuts through this simple, delicious dish.  At just under $30 a bottle for Nebbiolo from Lombardia, it is an excellent value. The wine is ideal with the dish’s fresh fava bean flavor, the depth of the herbs, the nuttiness of the walnuts, and mouth feel of the oil, and the saltiness of the San Daniele Prosciutto. Even in the middle of the summer, this wine served in the mid to low 60 degree range is very refreshing with its light, elegant body.

Ingredients:
1 pound fava beans
1/4 pound San Daniele Prosciutto
5-6 radishes
5 tablespoons walnuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh sage (or whatever fresh herbs you have on hand)
2 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon
24 month aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, shaved

Directions:
Shell, blanch, and take off the waxy exterior of the fava beans. Fava bean shells are big, dense, fibrous and yielding of few beans, so find a friend and have a good talk—and maybe a glass of wine—as you do this.

Combine the walnuts and oil in a food processor.

Thinly slice the radishes using a very sharp knife.

Chop sage (or any favorite herbs on hand), and combine with the fava beans, walnut and oil mixture, and the radishes. Put the slices of prosciutto on a serving dish, top with the fava bean mixture, and drizzle with a squeeze of lemon juice, some high quality extra-virgin olive oil, and a few shaved pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Serve with kaliedoscopic, acidic Quattro 2010 Mani Toh-Kai, the clean and crisp Sartarelli Verdicchio Castelli di Jesi Classico, or the easy-drinking, aromatic Adam 2013 Pinot Grigio. Buono apetito!

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Expert Picks: Chionetti and Aldo Conterno

Posted on | July 24, 2014 | Written by Garrett Kowalsky | No Comments

unnamed-3The wines of Tuscany offer immediate enjoyment on nearly every occasion. They are often forward wines whose consistent approachability has attracted wine lovers the world over. Piemonte, on the other hand, makes wines that are a bit more complex and difficult to grasp. Piemonte wines often need time to age before their true beauty shows, and average wine lovers might not be willing to give these wines the time they need if they have never had Piemonte wines at their peak. But some wines are very worth waiting for, and a little bit of patience will go a very long way. Today, I bring you two stunning selections from Piemonte that might not be ready right now, but with time they will blow your mind.

Chionetti San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010 $27.95

When most people think of Dolcetto, they think of bright, fruity and simple wines. In many cases that is true, and it is also delicious. However, the wines of Chionetti are quite different. If you were to tour the region of Piemonte and ask everyone what their favorite Barolo is, people would all have varying answers. If you were to ask what their favorite Dolcetto is there would only be one, and Quinto Chionetti makes it. Chock full of black cherry and earth, this wine exhibits plump fruit balanced with chewy tannins. It just might be the only Dolcetto you buy that has no expiration date. Drink now and for the next decade. Yes, the next decade.

Poderi Aldo Conterno Barolo Riserva Granbussia 2006 $399

If you were to consider Piemonte as a game of blackjack, you might follow my train of thought. Dolcetto would be the wily and useful deuce, Barbera would be the flexible Ace (either an eleven or a one, as you needed), Barbaresco the Queen, and, of course, Barolo would be the King. Therefore, I would be remiss if I didn’t include one of the most iconic wines from the region in this offer. Granbussia has time and time again showed that it is a cut above the rest and in a monumental vintage like ’06 we see it shine brightly. Drink 2018 to 2043.​

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Drones for Wine Growers? Why Not?

Posted on | July 23, 2014 | Written by Jessica Catelli | No Comments

photo-mainI came across a very interesting article called “Kickstarter Project StitchCAM Uses Drone Technology to Help Farmers Produce More Crops with Less Resources” in Wine Business and thought I should share it for two reasons. For one, I’m always interested in reading about new technology, let alone technology that will help us become more eco-friendly, and two, I think Kickstarter is an awesome worldwide crowd-funding platform. Kickstarter links creators of a project or product with backers who want to see that product or project happen. Creators set a funding goal and deadline, and if people like a project, they can pledge money to bring these creative projects to life, receiving various rewards for different levels of funding. Funding on Kickstarter is an all or nothing system—the projects must reach their funding goals to receive any money.

This recent article discussed how a small device known as a StitchCAM would aid farmers to gather information in a more efficient way to help better their crops. Creator Bill Robertson claims that this system is easy to use, and durable enough to work in any field. “I believe feeding the world in 2050 is attainable if technology is approachable and affordable enough for all farmers. It’s time to put drones to work in applications that will make a difference to industry and to society,” the article quotes Robertson.

To briefly explain this device, the StitchCAM collects visual data; the farmer r enters the dimensions of the field, and after the flight the device provides results of the surveyed area for analysis. Along with digital results on the screen. images and a video of the flight is also available online! It costs $2,800 each; however, Robertson claims these devices will essentially pay for themselves after about 350 acres of flight.

It’s hard to read this piece and not think about its use for wine growers. I’ve read many other recent articles and talked to wine producers who using different devices to do this job, but no technology thus far has been this precise for the price. The question is will traditional farmers leave their traditional ways of analyzing their fields and put their trust into this small device? It seems very beneficial. What farmers wouldn’t want to maximize their resources and increase their profit?

I’m hoping Bill Robertson and his SNAP Vision Technologies team can reach their finical goal on Kickstarter because they have some great ideas to helping solve larger global issues, like maximizing crop output in order to help abate world food shortages. Bill Robertson has 15 days to go, but with only $7,925 yet raised on his Kickstarter project, I’m not sure he will be meeting his $100k goal. Stay tuned!

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Expert Picks: La Rioja Alta and…La Rioja Alta!

Posted on | July 23, 2014 | Written by David Gwo | No Comments

DAvid gwo blog bio photoWhen people ask me where they should be looking for age-worthy and collectible wines that haven’t entered Bordeaux and Burgundy pricing territory, my immediate answer is always Spain. I’m a huge fan of Spanish wines, especially those coming from the world-renowned Rioja region. The quality of Rioja from top estates is comparable to any of the wines produced in Bordeaux, Tuscany, or any other major wine producing region crafting bottles for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Rioja’s star grape is Tempranillo, and the region utilizes a classification system for its wines based on specific aging requirements. Wines designated Crianza must be aged a minimum six months in barrel and eighteen months in bottle from the vintage date, Reservas must be aged a minimum year in barrel and two in bottle from the vintage date, while Gran Reservas must see a minimum two years in barrel and three in bottle from the vintage date and are made only in exceptional vintages. Think of it this way: Spain has done a favor for those of us who don’t have the patience to wait a half decade or more to drink their wines by giving us a head start on the aging process.

La Rioja Alta is one of the top producers in Rioja and their two flagship Gran Reserva bottlings commemorate milestones in the estate’s history. The estate was formed in 1890 leading to the Gran Reserva ’890,’ and in 1904, it acquired Bodegas Ardanza, which dramatically increased the vineyard holdings, so La Rioja Alta created the Gran Reserva ‘904’ to commemorate this expansion.

Drink now:

La Rioja Alta 1995 Rioja Gran Reserva ’890′ $165.00

Every bottle of ‘890’ that has been, is being, and ever will be made is something special. This is a wine that La Rioja Alta makes just a handful of times a decade, and the 1995 is absolutely incredible. The wine comes across as incredibly youthful, with a vibrant dark ruby core and just the slightest bit of lightening around the rim. On the nose, you get dark floral aromatics, black cherry fruits, herbs, vanilla, toasty oak and the list goes on. The palate reveals a medium-to-full-bodied wine with well-integrated tannins, juicy acidity, and a stunning mélange of flavors. This is a blockbuster wine.

Cellar:

La Rioja Alta 2001 Rioja Gran Reserva ’904′ $59.99

The 2001 ‘904’ has plenty of life ahead, but it’s already delicious now. One of the things you notice right after the first sip is the wine’s acidity, which is relatively high, indicating that the wine will benefit from some additional bottle age. Classic Rioja aromas and flavors leap out of the glass, indicating that this wine is going to get better and better. There are very few wines that I can think of that deliver this kind of bang for your buck. Stunning quality and longevity.

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Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 2012

Posted on | July 22, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments

283363Monastero Suore Cistercensi Coenobium 2012 is an excellent selection for any summer meal. This unusual and compelling wine made by the nuns of the Cistercian order in Vitorchiano, about 90 miles north of Rome in Lazio, is a bottle that totally over-delivers. Eighty Cistercian sisters work the vineyards and orchards organically in this beautiful, pristine, and quiet religious outpost. Overseen by Giampiero Bea, the son of Umbria’s eminent artisanal producer Paolo Bea, Monastero Suore crafts two wines, both whites made with extended contact with the skins of the grapes. Both Giampiero and Paolo are well known proponents of the Italian school of non-interventionalist winemaking, and this wine is evidence of that influence.

Slightly cloudy and golden straw in color with a tiny little light-orange tint in the glass, the wine gracefully demonstrates a vivacious acidity, with subtle notes of clean peach and fresh apricot on the mid-palate.  Best of all, the wine has a gorgeous mineral streak on the finish, which works really well with summer antipasti served as a first course. However, the Coenobium also pairs really well with lighter pastas containing seafood—it would be divine with ravioli such as lobster or butternut squash.

The ’12 Coenubium has a strong yet subtle backbone, a quality that is a component of a meticulously made organic white wine; this precision comes from the fact the skins have longer than usual contact with the fermenting juice. The first time I had this wine it left me perplexed as I tasted it blind—I had no idea what I was drinking, but I knew I liked it. A blend of 45% Trebbiano, 35% Malvasia, and 20% Verdicchio, this wine is balanced, precise, and surprising. Only 1,000 cases of this wine were made in 2012, and it delivers a massive value at under $27.

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