Saturday, March 27, 2010

Pairing Thai Cuisine with Wine

One of my favorite Thai Restaurants, Pongsri on 18th street and 2nd avenue in NYC, is now Lantern.

A really warm and inviting interior, swift but friendly service and fair prices make for a good combination in any restaurant. I knew I was in the mood for a red curry chicken dish, so that's what I ordered, it's made here with red peppers, zucchini, bamboo shoots and basil... and I needed to choose a wine from their list to match the dish. The wine I picked was the Beringer Pinot Noir Founder's Estate 2007, which worked almost perfectly with the spicy but sweet intensity of flavors in the curry dish. Hints of chocolate, vanilla and ripe, bright cherries, with lively but smooth tannins helping to balance against the deep exotic richness of the curry sauce.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Discussion on Italian Terroir with Adolfo Folonari and Cesare Casella

This week at the Italian Culinary Center in New York City I had the pleasure of meeting Adolfo Folonari, co-CEO of Ruffino, who put together a tasting of his wines, and Cesare Casella, currently of Salumeria Rosi, who created the pairing menu.

The Folonari family has been in the wine business since the late 1700's, and bought the Ruffino Vineyards almost 100 years ago, so you can say Adolfo has wine running through his veins. Over the past 50 years they acquired seven small estates, Gretole, Santedame, Montemasso (all 3 in Chianti Classico), Lodola Nuova Estates (in Vino Nobile di Montepulciano), Greppone Mazzi Estate (Brunello di Montalcino), Poggio Casciano Estate (Chianti Colli Fiorentini), and La Solatia Estate (Chianti Colli Senesi).

The first 4 pairings with various Salumi:

Ruffino Chianti Superiore DOCG 2008

From the Poggio Casciano Estate vineyards in Chianti, using choice grapes during the harvest, as per the Superiore and Chianti Classico production standards, and aged for seven months in stainless steel tanks and two additional months in bottle. 75% Sangiovese (Minimum required by DOCG), plus 25% other varieties like Canaiolo Nero, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Superiore rules require yields 10% lower than Chianti Classico. $12.99

Deep ruby colors, aromas of cherries, blue fruits, hints of tree bark and chalk, flavors of red fruits and especially spice on the back end.

Paired nicely with Prosciutto Toscana Grigliato from San Gimignano, a Tuscan ham rubbed with rosemary, black pepper and garlic, then grilled.

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2006

With grapes coming from the Santedame, Montemasso and Gretole Estates in the Chianti Classico area, and a blend of 80% Sangiovese with a 20% combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. After fermentation in stainless steel tanks, it is then aged in a combination of oak casks, stainless steel tanks, and concrete vats for two years, with a minimum of three months in bottle. $24.99

Ruby colors with aromas of blue fruits and bacon, ripe cherries on the palate followed by white pepper, spice and tobacco.

Coupled with Prosciutto di Parma, the hind thigh of a hog, rimmed with pure white fat.

Ruffino Santedame Riserva Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2006

From the Santedame Estate Vineyards near Castellina in the heart of Chianti Classico, this is a beautiful blend of 80% Sangiovese, 10% Merlot, 5% Colorino and a 5% combination of Cabernet Sauvignon and Canaiolo. Only the best hand selected grapes are used for this single vineyard riserva, fermented in stainless steel, aged in French oak for twelve months with another six months in bottle. $33

Sexy bouquet of violets with intense floral aromas, complex flavors of blackberries, cherry candy, red licorice, smooth tannins with black cherries and cocoa powder on the finish.

Paired with Parmacotta, the floral aromas present in the Riserva make a fine balance to the sweet, cooked ham's brininess.

Ruffino Greppone Mazzi Brunello di Montalcino DOCG 2004

Only the best hand picked grapes are selected during several passes to pick bunches at the perfect state of maturation. Fermented in stainless steel tanks for two weeks, further macerated on the skins for 15 days, then aged in oak casks for 24 months. After resting in stainless steel tanks for another six months, the wine was bottled and aged for eight months before release. $79

100% Sangiovese Grosso with flowing aromas of plums, cherries, and barnyard, weaving into animal flavors, expressed by a full body and rich texture, with spice notes, fine tannins, and long chocolate finish.

Paired with Cacciatorino, the snack originally used by Piemontese hunters, but now popular throughout Italy. It's dense texture marbled with pockets of fat nicely work with the bold Brunello's husky demeanor.

After the initial tasting, we moved on to the luncheon where there were four more wines to sample.

Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio Venezia Giulia IGT 2009

Straw yellow colors, floral notes, kiwi, pear, hints of pineapple

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2005

80% Sangiovese, with 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot combination, aged for 36 months, 3 months stainless steel, 24 months in oak casks, 3 months in vats, and at least 6 months in bottle. Violets, plums, spices with herbal notes.

Ruffino Romitorio di Santedame Toscana IGT 2004

60% Colorino, 40% Merlot, this one being my favorite of the day. Aged at least 18 months in oak casks, floral notes, black currants, dried cherry, dates, very complex with sultry earthtones and spices. Finishes beautifully with strawberries and chocolate.

Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2001

A fine vintage for this with 85% Sangiovese, 10% Colorino, 3% Cabernet Sauvignon, 2% Merlot, aged for 37 months is a well balanced, nicely structured classic Sangiovese Tuscan with ripe tannins and long finish.

Luncheon Menu:

Salumi assortment
Beans and Tuna
Short Ribs with Mushroom Risotto
Vanilla Panna Cotta with Chocolate Hazelnut Tuile

Friday, March 19, 2010

Celebrating Long Island’s East End: A Vacation in a Glass at the Astor Wine Center

When Steve Bate drove to the North Fork of Long Island for the first time, he was surprised at the working farms and vineyards in operation there. Since then its rise in popularity is obvious as visitors now call before-hand to ask what other events are happening. Since 2004 Steve has been Long Island Wine Council’s Executive Director, playing a large part in bringing the number of visitors to 1.3 million per year.

Winterfest in March, April’s Barrel-tastings, May’s Run For The Rosé’s ($1 from each bottle sold goes to Cancer research), and September Barrel Auction are just a handful of the events happening there. The East End has 49 wine producers and many were on hand at The Astor Wine Center to pour some of their samples. Here are a few of my favorites:

Channing Daughters 2007 Sculpture Garden
88% Merlot from the Sculpture Garden vineyard (the oldest on the South Fork, planted in 1982) and 12% Blaufrankisch from Sylvanus vineyard, aged in French and Slovenian oak barrels for twenty-two months.
Aromas of blue fruit, rosewater, dried flowers, and hints of smoke, with flavors of violets, cherries, currants and blueberries.

Jamesport Vineyards 2005 Melange de Trois
Bordeaux blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot and 26% Cabernet Franc. Ocean breeze aromas open to mild, mineral earthtones, and smoked meats and tobacco with a delicious chewy palate, white pepper, sour cherry and a spicy cinnamon finish… soft, silky, smooth.

Wölffer Estates 2006 Fatalis Fatum
42% Merlot, 29% Cabernet Franc, 27.5% Cabernet Sauvignon, 1.5% Barbera, and aged 22 months in oak. Fragrant aromas of smoky bacon, red licorice, and a palate of blueberry, powdered violet candies, and sour cherries. Nicely integrated and finishes with very mild spice sprinkled over ripe cherries.

Castello di Borghese 2005 Merlot
Aged in French oak barrels for 13 months. Nose of black pepper spices, chalk, blue fruits, violets, and a lively, earthy palate.

Clovis Point 2007 Archaeology
56% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Cabernet Franc, 6% Petit Verdot, 6% Syrah, whew! Aromas of roses, glycerine, steel, blueberry, nicely balanced for its youth, but will be a keeper. Flavors of blue fruits, cola, crushed stones and plums.

(I know I’m partial to reds, so to be fair I also tried a Rosé)
Wölffer Estates 2008 Grandioso Rosé
Bouquet of peaches, honeysuckle, flavors of pears, kiwi, mineral, grapefruit rind, reminding me that Spring is Here!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

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In 2006 I took a cycling tour thru Tuscany where I discovered a passion for wines. From that experience I began writing in a journal about the wines I liked. In January 2008 I started this wineblog: vigna uva vino.

All writing, reviews, photography and artwork by Dave Trieger unless otherwise indicated. Vigna Uva Vino is a blog about reviewing wines, interviewing wine personalities, finding winebars, shops and restaurants, great buys and wine tips. It is usually updated at least four days per week and is filled with the opinions of Dave Trieger.

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Revisit of Castiglion Del Bosco Rosso Di Montalcino 2004 DOC

100% Sangiovese grapes exhibit initial aromas of smoked meats, red berries, black plum and vanilla tied together with a palate of black currant, black cherry, black olive, and a twist of caramel and bell pepper. Cinnamon spice and crushed stone on the finish.

It's strange but I remember tasting this wine before, and posting it on this site... so I did a search and found that it was exactly a year ago today.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wines from Spain: a really, really, really short history

In the mid 19th century, Spain's wine grapes were picked unripe, and sometimes red and white grapes were mixed to ferment together. The resulting wines were tart, or "green." To soften them, the prevailing technological innovation, aging in oak barrels, was used. Since that time, the evolution of Spanish wines has grown even more focused upon the aging process.

While the French philosophy for winemaking may be reduced to "terroir" (the special characteristics that geography bestows upon particular varieties), the opposing attitude embraced by Spain has been that of aging as long as it takes to create a smooth wine that is ready to drink.

Crianza - applies to red wines aged for a minimum of 24 months, of which 6 months are spent in oak.

Reserva - red wines that are aged for a minimum of 36 months, to include at least 12 months in oak and the rest in the bottle.

Gran Reserva - red wines aged for a minimum of 60 months, to include at least 18 months in oak.

Since the European Union wines from Spain are classified into two major groups: Quality Wines Produced in Specified Regions (QWPSR) and Table Wine (TW).

Top level wines are QWPSR:

Estate Wines (Vinos de Pago) DO Pago designates the estate is a producer of fine wines

Qualified Denomination of Origin Wines - QDO (Vinos de Denominación de Origen Calificada - DOCa)

Denomination of Origin Wines - DO (Vinos de Denominación de Origen - DO)

Quality Wines with a Geographical Indication - VCIG (Vinos de Calidad con Indicación Geográfica) After 5 years on VCIG one may apply for DO status.

The next lowest level of wines are classified as Table Wines:

Country Wines - CW (Vinos de la Tierra - VT)

Table Wines - VDM (Vino de Mesa)

Spains wine regions:
Green Spain
Duero River Valley
Ebro River Valley
The Meseta
The Mediterranean Coast
The Islands

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Romanis Gres-Saint-Paul Coteaux du Languedoc 2004 France

I dropped by to see Keith Beavers at Alphabet City Wines last night, only to find him sitting around a table with friends sampling probably over 20 wines. I ended up hanging out for a couple of hours, and had a great time talking about nothing but wines.

One of his friends, Andrew, had spent some time in France and brought with him a bottle from Languedoc, that was given to him by the winemaker at the vineyard he visited. It was a standout for me, a blend of Syrah with Grenache and Mourvedre.

I was too busy listening to Keith's stand up act to take any tasting notes, but here's what I can remember. First, all of the aromas and flavors were fruity but muted, in a subtle way, finely tuned and balanced to make this gem sing. There were hints of violet, white pepper, and cinnamon spices along with a ripe cherry bouquet, ending with a beautifully soft finish.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Macari Vineyards Merlot Reserve 2005

soaked in a perfume of damp earth, green peppers
currant, blackberry, vanilla and ripe plum
enmeshed with an herbaceous and lush mouth-feel
surrounded by caramel candy and lively tannins
redolent of leather and a long toasty finish.

About Macari Vineyards

Macari Vineyards, located on the North Fork of Eastern Long Island in Mattituck, is owned and operated by the Macari Family. The business is led by owners Joseph Macari Sr. and his wife, Katherine, and Joseph Macari Jr., who is at the helm of the winery with his wife, Alexandra. Though Macari Vineyards was established in 1995, the Macari Family has owned the 500 acre waterfront estate for nearly 50 years. In this time, they have been careful environmental stewards of the land. What were once potato fields and farmland has become a vineyard of 180 acres of vines with additional fields of compost, farmland, and a home to cows, goats, Sicilian donkeys and ducks.

Macari is on the cutting edge of viticulture and is dedicated to a more natural approach to winemaking. Joseph Macari, Jr. is recognized as a pioneer in the movement towards organic and sustainable farming on Long Island, employing principles of biodynamic farming since the vineyard’s first plantings. Extensive soil preparation, rich composts, careful cover cropping and a consideration to wildlife and terrain makes Macari's 180 planted acres stand out from the rest. Taking into account the health of the environment as a whole, and moving away from the harmful effects of pesticides to a more natural and meticulous caretaking of the soil and plants, ultimately yields premium wines.

Retails for $36, 13.7% alcohol by volume.

Full Disclosure: This sample bottle was given to vignauvavino compliments of Macari Vineyards.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Palivou Vineyards Nemea Agiorgitiko 2006

From the Northeastern region of Greece, this red wine shows very deep colors, thick and opaque as if unfiltered, the nose is concentrated and resinous with dark brooding cherries. Flavors are very bitter, reminding me a bit of Averna, an Italian liqueur (made with herbs, roots and citrus rinds that are soaked in the base liquor before caramel is added). Also present is a mix of spices, dried herbs, glycerine, slate powder, blackberries, and unsweetened dark chocolate. Interesting, but a bit too dry for my palate, I haven't tried many Greek wines, but I will keep an open mind.

Li Veli Passamante Salento Negroamaro 2008 IGT

From Salento in Puglia this 100% Negroamaro is aged for six months in French oak and six months in bottle.

On the noses, red roses... with fresh herbs and juicy red flavors that are fruit forward but show a slight undertone of citrus and even slighter of cherry powdered candy (kind of like "Pixie Stix" candy from childhood years) in the back end. Finishes like butter and with good balance.

"The Wine Hut" New Wine Shop (or Wine Bar) on 6th avenue near Houston

If anybody has any info about storefront at 213B Avenue of the Americas, please fill us in, looks like it could be a little wine shop... ongoing construction and paper on windows.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Union Square Farmers Market, NYC

This weekend I bought all my produce at The Union Square Farmers Market in NYC, then made a simple but delicious dinner that was both healthy and locally grown.

4 greens (Rocket, Mache, Watercress and soybean sprouts) with Gorgonzola Cheese, EVOO, Aged Balsamic Vinegar.

Organic Whole Wheat Fettucini Pasta with Lamb Sausages, Garlic, Shallots, Crimini Mushrooms, White Wine and Parmesan Cheese.
(Organic Pasture Raised Lamb from the Catskill Merino Sheep Farm in Goshen, NY... Sausages stuffed with Rosemary & Garlic)

Anthony Road 45% Cabernet Franc, 55% Lemberger from The Finger Lakes Region, Placed Silver at The Indy International Awards. John Martini, one of the founders of Anthony Road Wine Company was the friendly face at the booth sharing a variety of his samples, like the fresh Gewertztraminer, and the Cab Frank/Lemberger.
Aromas of glycerine, cherries and lilac with flavors of sour cherries, black fruit, and violet candies. A two hour decanting allowed for wine to open nicely to blackberry jam ... especially works to complement the Lamb Sausages.

Apple Pie (what else?)

Anthony Road Wine Company is working on development of a sustainable farming certification called VineBalance.

I didn't get their names but the two young ladies at the Catskill Merino Sheep Farm were really helpful with the lamb sausage preparation.

All ingredients used were from New York State except for the EVOO and Gorgonzola.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Montes Vineyards and Chilean Earthquake

Montes reports minimal damages as a result of the recent earthquake:

Santiago, Chile; March 4, 2010
Along with most Chilean wineries, Montes S.A. suffered a test to its facilities in the recent earthquake. However, after a thorough evaluation of damages, Montes is pleased to report minimal losses. While the main winery in Apalta suffered more than Curicó and Chimbarongo, its foundation is structurally sound and the team is planning to clean up and proceed with harvest as originally scheduled.

Despite a loss of some wine intended for future bottlings, Montes remaining supply is in high quality condition. They consider these controllable losses that have no negative effect on sales dispatches now or in the future. With harvest around the corner, at least 40% of the tanks were empty and ready so the inventory was low for seasonal reasons. With equipment and bottling lines 100% operative, Montes has resumed operations and expects to handle normal demands with ease now that the energy supply has returned.

Last but certainly not least, all Montes staff and families are safe and sound. Kaiken, in Mendoza (Argentina) only had a smaller quake and sustained no damage.

The Montes team is in high spirits, eager and ready to return to their normal routine at the winery.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Bogle Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 California

This Cabernet Sauvignon is aged fourteen months in American oak barrels, showing deep thick ruby colors and hefty texture with buttery aromas of rhubarb/cherry pie, cassis, plums and a christmas spice.

On the palate a potpourri of raspberry, vanilla, tea, leather, white pepper, anise and tobacco. Fairly strong earthy tannins with good integration and a round finish. In the $9 range 13.5% alcohol

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Macari Vineyards Early Wine Chardonnay 2009

This 100% Chardonnay from Macari Vineyards in Mattituck, NY, on the North Fork of Long Island, is an attractive combination of apple and citrus.

Pale straw colors reflect fresh warm-weather aromas of Granny Smith apples, lemon rinds, and lime, accompanied by flavors of kiwi, pineapple and green plum. The finish is nicely balanced and shines with a lively acidity that creates a great pairing with sushi. $16.99 and 12% alcohol.

Full Disclosure: This sample bottle was given to vignauvavino compliments of Macari Vineyards.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cirotto Merlot Montello e Colli Asolani 2006

From the family-managed Cirotto Vini in Asolo in the Veneto region of Italy (the foothills of the Dolomites).

Deep purple with ruby around the edge of the glass, on the nose cassis, alcohol, iodine and barnyard while a palate of black olive, pomegranate, blackberries, prunes, black tea and licorice, round it out with a solid tannic backbone. Here is a complex wine that is very drinkable now but can probably be cellared for many years to come.