World Leader Cesari Vineyards is celebrating 80 years ~ #IAMarone

Interview about Cesari’s Amarone, as a world leader, by Mario Menozzi

Cesari Vineyards ~ 80 years (1936 to 2016)

Cesari Vineyard of Verona, one of the finest Vineyards of the Valpolicella region, is celebrating 80 years of producing some of Italy’s greatest wines this year. To mark this occasion, Cesari invited me to be part of a group of 80 influencers selected to represent Cesari Amarone. Cesari has been taking over Manhattan with events and giveaways all summer; although I had access to it all, it just wasn’t possible for me to attend. (I’ve been moving home and business into the Mayacamas Mountain range. By October 1, the move out of Windsor will be complete.)

Still, even with all of the moving hubbub, I really wanted to be part of this group, so I took on the assignment. Because I wasn’t able to be in New York, I was given the opportunity to interview Marion Menozzi, who’s worked with the family for 20 years. Presently, Mario works international with the family. I was delighted to have that opportunity.

One of my favorite parts of the interview was asking Mario what foods he would recommend to pair with Cesari’s Amarone. I got an earful. He had so many delicious answers, I tackled that one first. Food and Wine Pairings with Cesari Amarone by Mario Menozzi

Now, let’s explore more questions and answers. There’s a lot to learn about this style of wine.

Cesari’s Amarone is a world leader

1.      What can you tell me about the family? In any story, it’s all about the heart and soul, with the family first, then the wine. So, let’s start with the family.

Gerardo Cesari [pictured] the father, entered the wine business in 1936. He wanted to establish a wine company that started as a very traditional winery, using grapes from the Lago Garda [Lake Garda]. At that time, they were not too complex. They were wines that were typically Italian; not wines of great structure, not too complex, and they were fruity wines; Vela Suave, Valpolicella and the classical as well. They were from the Verona side of Lago Garda and from the Peschiera side as well; which means the east and west.

This went on until 1960 (more or less), when Cesari’s son Franco finished oenological school in Italy and then spent a couple of years in France to get deeper into wine and vinification. At that time, these were the main teachers of winemaking. So, from his experiences in France, he fell in love with the grapes that are important in France. When he came back to Italy, he tried to produce the red wines to have the same quality. Not to have the same quality to copy the French, but to be able to produce wines with Italian grapes that were able to express the same level of quality that the French have.

At that time, Amarone was not yet established, but Valpolicella had a history of having a red wine with potential for great quality, and a huge possibility to be aged. Which means that around 1966 or 1968, when the Amarone was fixed by the rules, Franco totally involved himself in this wine. So, he was then totally able in 1971 to present to the market the first vintage of Amarone. This was a wine that totally represented, for Franco, the maximum qualtiy of the use of an indigenous grape of Valpolicella. And, was able to e in competition for the great red wines in France. Which is more or less the capital letter of the company, which started in 1968. From that time up to now, the story continues the evolution of Amarone, with the information that markets have had from 1970’s until now.

The family was still producing other typical wines from Lago Garda. But, the main focus was to remain on Amarone, and later on with producing the second great wine of Valpolicella, which is the Ripasso.

2. Can you give us a rundown of the major grape varieties that are unique to Amarone and the area in general?

Okay, so one great points of the Amarone is that this wine is produced with only indigenous grapes that have adapted to the territory of about 1,000 years. In the past, we had almost 100 indigenous varieties in Valpolicella. Then, when production became more important, and was researched for quality and became more prosperous, this number of indigenous grapes has reduced. Today we don’t have the number of grapes; we have less. However, a good number of grapes remain.

Of main importance is the Corvina deoneza. Corvina deoneza is giving the most typical and classical identification, in terms of bouquet, in terms of aroma, and in terms of possibility to be dried in the right way. 

After the Corvina, we have the Corvinone, which is a different variety than the Corvina, but very close in characteristic to be part of the wine. The main difference to the Corvina deoneza and the Corvinone is that bunches are a little bit bigger; but, the last few years, the Corvinone is less present.

Other important grapes are the Rondinella, which is very important to the production of the Amarone, because it’s very resistant to fungal disease and is well suited to the drying process. And, it’s a full bodied, mild tannic wine, with aromatic quality, which are important characteristics in terms of sugar content and giving the sweetness to the blend.

The Corvina deoneza is used in a higher percent; normally from 70 to 90 percent. The Rondinella is from 10 to 25 percent. These two business grapes are of the main importance to produce the Amarone. Until 2010, another grape was used to make Amarone and it was Molinara.  But, since Amarone became a DOCG in 2010, Molinara is not allowed to be used for producing the Amarone. Molinara was mainly used to guarantee quantity of Amarone, but was not so important in producing quality.

So, the four that I’ve mentioned are the most important.

Then, we have many others that are not so important, in terms of percent, but are still present in the vineyard. They are indigenous and they have a long story. For example, we have the Forsellina, the Croatina, and the Oseleta that is used in the quality. Then we have the Vendelena. Then we have many, many others that are not so important in terms of quantity use, but are important in terms of history and tradition. And, maybe in the future will be used for improving the quality of the grapes and making selection for higher quantity for producing Amarone.


Books,Cabernet Sauvignon,California,Chardonnay,Napa,Pinot Noir,VIT 101,Viticulture,Wine,Wine Making,Winemaker,Winemaking,Winery

How Can We Require Mandatory Reading ~ A Perfect Score

A Perfect Score

The Art, Soul, and Business of a 21st-Century Winery

Craig and Katheryn Hall ~Hall Wines

The world of wine is a fabulous world. It’s down home, gutsy, and warm. As I pack up my wine library, getting ready to ship it to another world with us, I pick up magazines that I’ve saved. Kept for either my stories or the stories of others, which I’ve been able to inspire… There it all is.

And, I’m reminded of the book that I just finished absorbing last evening; required reading for anyone even contemplating starting a winery. If it could be mandatory reading for all of our clients, I would want that to happen, but I know the realities. Some of us must learn on our own; but, to comprehend what’s coming would certainly give anyone a shot in the arm instead of in the dark.

The minute that I began reading, I so understood everything Katheryn and Craig were saying about launching a winery, what their standards are, their joie de vivre… all of it. We’ve had to help so many through this process.A Perfect Score was the handbook I was looking for, to back up all of the things I’ve tried to explain to people and had them just believe…

If I hadn’t been in the middle of move, I would have found a corner and just curled up with A Perfect Score. The only things that would have made it more perfect would be a rainy Sunday afternoon, a cozy corner lit by fireplace, and Buddy the Cat keeping my feet warm.

I recently had a discussion about this book to an accomplished man, whose dream is also a perfect score; and I know he’s well on his way. This book might even save him some steps. I’m thinking it will. Thanks, Craig and Katheryn for telling your stories. For me, there is only one secret that you didn’t reveal. Perhaps one day we can chat about my question related to your grape growing. I promise I won’t publish the answer(s), unless of course, you don’t mind that being public, too.

Most highly recommended reading, for all of you dreamers.


Books,Bordeaux,France,Wine,Wine Business,Wine Culture,Wine Education

Bordeaux ~ Top 10 Things I Learned From Peter M. F. Sichel ~ partie seize

While reading Peter M. F. Sichel‘s book, The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy, I learned a lot about a lot… His Chapter 29, Becoming a Bordeaux Vintner was very important to me. I’ve been inspired by Millesima, a négociant company based in Bordeaux since 1983, to learn more about Bordeaux wines. Author Peter Sichel rejoined his family’s company in the 1960s, and returned to Bordeaux. It’s from his observations that I’ve been enriched with more knowledge about Bordeaux… little nuggets that I’ve yet to learn, now through Peter’s memoirs.

[IMAGE borrowed from the Website of Château Fourcas Hosten, which was once in Peter and his partners’ possession. Today, it’s owned by brothers Peter and Laurent Mommeja, partners in Hermès, who fell in love with the property.]

From Chapter 26, I want to quote Peter: “I started to spend more time in Bordeaux, to get a feel for the wines and the culture of Bordeaux. Knowing the wines was not the same thing as getting to know a complex society.” The wine industry is a very complex society… That is for certain. learning about wine is not enough to fit in comfortably.

Here Are the Top 10 Things I Learned from Peter Sichel Regarding Bordeaux

  1. Some new French terms
    • The trading of négociant companies for wines is simply called a négoce.
    • A trading house that ages and finished wine is called a négociant élevéur.
    • Grand Crus translated = Great growths (If you don’t pay attention to Bordeaux wines, as simple as this sounds, it’s just never having translated beyond the self explanatory “Grand.”
  2. In 1855 the classification of Grand Crus was established.
  3. Chateaux of Grand Crus offer limited quantities of their wine to a limited number of négociant companies.
  4. Négociant companies either manage the wine of resell “futures.”
  5. The region of Bordeaux has about the same acreage as Germany.
  6. Not only does Bordeaux have sweet wines called Sauternes, but it also has Barsac and Bommes sweet wines.
    • Barsac is one of the communes of the Sauternes appellation, along with Bommes.
  7. French Wine Society Commanderie de Bordeaux: From their Website:
    • The Commanderie de Bordeaux aux États-Unis d’Amérique was organized in 1957 by a small group of lovers of Bordeaux wines and became a New York corporation in 1959.
    • Since, it has grown to include 30 chapters and some 1100 members located in different cities around the United States.
    • It is also affiliated with a worldwide network of 75 Commanderies in 26 countries under the overall patronage of the Bordeaux-based Grand Conseil du Vin de Bordeaux (GCVB).
  8. France has had its wine rogues, just as the US has.
    • US: Tangled Vines, Greed, Murder, Obsession, Arson, by Frances Dinkelspiel. Brilliantly written, Frances stuck with the story for two years and chronicled not only Mark Anderson’s dealings in wine, but also his dark side.
    • BORDEAUX: Chapter 29, Becoming a Bordeaux Vintner, Peter elaborates on another con man named Arnuad de Trabuc. Trabuc established a small importing company in New York, and was handing his uncle’s wines. He, too, was a popular figure and had a very charming wife. They lived as fixtures in the New York City social scene. “Things went smoothly for a number of years,” but in due time, things really fell apart, much like what happened with Mark Anderson’s story. Although this one didn’t end in fire, people still got very burned. (Good story; read Peter’s book The Secrets of My Life: Vintner, Prisoner, Soldier, Spy for full details.)
  9. Important Bordeaux enologiest
    • Emile Peynaud was his group’s enologist, before he retired. When he retired, he gave his job to Jacques Boissenot.
    • Jacques Boissenot ~ according to Jancis Robinson’s story of his talent:
    • Jacques Boissenot’s son Eric Boissenot is also very credible in Bordeaux.
  10. The year 1959 is a great vintage year for Bordeaux, as well as most of Europe’s other wine districts, due to great, warm weather.


#IAMarone,Food & Wine,Imports,Italy,Verona,Wine

Food and Wine Pairings with Cesari Amarone by Mario Menozzi ~ #IAMarone

I was offered an interview with Mario Menozzi, of Cesari Verona in Veronese, Italy, because I can’t attend any of their 80th Year Anniversary of celebrating. All of the events are happening in New York City, and it’s impossible for me to be there for any of them right now.

  • HAPPENED: Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse Midtown ~ Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 p.m. Hosted by one of the best steakhouses in Manhattan, experience amarone paired in its purest form, with a juicy steak.
  • HAPPENING THIS WEEK: Plaza Food Hall ~ Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. – Celebrity Chef Todd English’s Food Hall offers a true dine-around the world experience, but the focus of this particular meal, designed by Todd himself, is Valpolicella’s rich culinary history.
  • La Maison du Chocolat ~ Wednesday, September 28, 5:30 p.m.  – The world’s most renowned chocolatier will be hosting a wine and chocolate party at their Madison Avenue Boutique. Enjoy delicious passed chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone.
  • Petrossian ~ Wednesday, October 5, 5:30 p.m.- Executive Chef Richard Farnabe was more than happy to create a unique pairing menu for his favorite variety. Savor caviar and wine in new and interesting ways as only the world’s Purveyor of Caviar can show you.

Each event above sounds delicious. Uncle Jack’s has happened. And this week’s celebration is going to be at the Plaza Food Hall. My first installment of this interview is going to focus on Food and Wine Pairings, since this September is about food and wine events in New York City.

Food and Wine Pairing with the above restaurants

Learning from the invite ~ Foods to pair with Amarone

  • Amarone pairs well in its purest form, with a juicy steak.
  • Amarone paired with Valpolicella’s rich culinary history must be experienced at some point in time
  • Amarone pairs well with delicious chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone
  • Amarone paired well with caviar.

Learning from Mario Menozzi of Gerardo Cesari in Veronese, Italy

HIs favorite Foods to pair with Amarone

Simple, ripe natural cheese like a Pecorino ~ Pecorino Romano is a hard, salty Italian cheese, often used for grating, made out of sheep’s milk.

Wild boar ~ Europe has an appetite for wild boar, also called the black pig. I experienced wild boar dishes in Portugal. And I’ve had many dishes served in California, especially in California as part of our post harvest celebrations.

Pasta, pasta, pasta ~ With a rich pasta sauce, you need a rich wine. Amarone is perfectly delicious.

Risotto of the area of Valpolicella ~ From Amarone ToursAmarone risotto (Risotto all’Amarone in Italian) is one of the most delicious dishes of Verona culinary tradition. In this recipe you find two of the top products of Verona territory: the Amarone and the Vialone Nano. Vialone Nano is a rice variety typical of Verona, appreciated by national and international chefs all love for the creamy texture it gives to the risotto.

With braised Beef ~ From Saveur ~ At the Valpolicella region’s Trattoria Dalla Rosa Alda, where this dish is a specialty, a platter of polenta rests by the wood fire in the kitchen. As orders come in for dishes like this one, a piece of polenta is sliced off and grilled over the fire to be served on the side.

Duck is also delicious with Amarone. Duck breast with a sauce to sustain the quality of an Amarone is wonderful.  Also, Amarone pairs really well wit Foie gras.

Meat Stew at is typical of the Valpolicella region. And also works really well.

[Photo credits: Picorino cheese Copyright : Sabino Parente. Cesari Vineyard image inserted, Jose Diaz]

[Risotto Copyright: sarsmis / 123RF Stock Photo]

[Wild Boar background image: Copyright: budabar / 123RF Stock Photo. Foreground Image: Jo Diaz ]


Wine,Wine Ed,Wine Education,Wine tasting,Winemaking

Excuse me, just wondering, how long has this bottle been open?

I’ve found myself asking that question many times, and I’m not afraid to do it when I’ve ordered a wine and it’s just lost that loving’ feelin.’

Larry Schaffer of Tercero Wines had this info on Facebook a few years ago. I asked permission to reprint here, because he’s raised such great points.

On Facebook, Larry wrote:

tercero wines tenet for the day

When in a tasting room or restaurant, ALWAYS ask how long the bottle that you’re trying has been open.

I’ve visited many a tasting room and had many a ‘by the glass’ wine at a restaurant that just did not ‘taste right’. In most cases at the restaurant, they were pouring a wine that had been open for awhile and had not been protected from oxidation. And oftentimes the same thing happens in tasting rooms.

You do have rights as a taster, you know. You can always ask about opening a new bottle and comparing/contrasting the two glasses to see for yourself the differences that may exist. Some places will not do this for you – in that case, my advice is to return the glass you do not like and order something different.

Likewise in a tasting room. A good place will explain the situation to you. For instance, in my tercero tasting room, I oftentimes pour the same wine on the second day after opening, especially my reds (if I have any left over from the previous day, of course). In this case, the wine, to me, is actually better – the aeration has ‘opened the wine up’ and allowed the aromatics to be more expressive. My wines are usually opened, decanted, and then put back to bottle to pour. At the end of the day, they are capped back up and put in the fridge to rest overnight before being brought back out the next day. In some cases, I have poured wines that have been ‘opened’ for up to 4 or 5 days that are still drinking beautifully . . . . seriously.

It’s just as important to know how long a wine has been open if you like it as if you don’t. If you try a wine that was just opened and you really dig it, you now know that you can usually ‘pop and pour’ at home and you’ll have a similar experience. Or, if the wine has been open for awhile, you may need to decant at home to have the same experience, or lay it down for awhile.

So how many of you have turned back ‘by the glass’ purchases at restaurants because the wine was ‘old’ or oxidized and what did the server do? And how many of you have questioned tasting room staff as to how long a wine has been opened – and if the wine was ‘not right’, asked them to open another?

Curious to hear your responses . . .

To answer Larry’s question of what I do, I wrote the following back to him.

By the way, whenever I’ve asked the question, I have always just had the glass taken away and a new one brought to me that was drastically different, with a new bottle having been opened.

On the other hand, when the wine is corked, I take that as a teaching tool. I know that my server is not a sommelier, so I politely (in a friendly way) say, “This wine is corked.” I always have seen their eyes glaze over, because now I’m a wine snob, but I continue. “I’m a wine educator and I’d like to have you learn about this one. Just sniff this wine, and then you’ll know what I’m talking about… and think a damp, New England basement.”

I always see their light bulbs go on. They learn and I get a wine I can enjoy.

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Italy,Pinot Grigio,Pinot Gris,Veneto,Wine,Winery

Wine of the Week ~ Astoria 2014 Alìsia Pinot Grigio

Want to stand out above the madding crowd? Well, Astoria‘s 2014 Alìsia Pinot Grigio surely does. So much so that I see it as a great picnic decoration, after you’ve enjoyed the wine. Gather some asters, daisies, Queen Ann’s Lace, whatever; put them into the bottle, after everyone’s enjoyed the wine, and place it on table with a linen and lace table cloth. Ecco qua! (Italian for French violà). An instant added touch of a Monet garden, romance illusory aura for your date.

The Alìsia bottle is the one in the middle. These bottles are only 10 inches tall and more round than their typical 750 ml counter part neighbors. I love their marketing, as evidenced by this striped image below.

And the wine? Simply delicious. Once I finished loving the short, round bottle and tried the wine, I saw what a crowd pleaser this one is. Easy to enjoy, a bit more complex that you’d suspect with a 12.5 percent alcohol… Not usually complex at this alcohol level; however, some really delicious flavors burst through.

  • Day one ~ Delicious grapefruit harvested in March to April, versus when it’s ready to enjoy in January and February… a bit more sugar in the grapefruit in its presentation of tart citrus.
  • Day two ~ Apricot dominated.
  • Day three ~ Gone, simply gone.
  • This is one really delicious Pinot Grigio


Point of interest: Astoria is the largest private producer of Prosecco DOCG in Italy. Their wines are made in the heart of one of Italy’s most beautiful wine-growing regions, the Veneto. Takes my breath away just thinking about this region.

Digress: I once was having a dream. Three people, sitting in a t-shape. The the left was an old man, a translator was in the middle, and a child was to the right. The child was telling his story to the old man, the translator was doing his job. I woke right out of that dream and was freaked out. I understood every part of the dream, including the Italian. I DON’T speak Italian, or understand it. I’ve had deep feelings about having a past life in Venice. I can see myself calling across the water to a neighbor, with whom I shared a clothes line. Then the dream… When I asked Jose, “What do you think this means?” he said, “In a past life, you were Italian. Go back to sleep.”

So, knowing that Astoria Wines is only 50 miles north of Venice, I get a pit in my stomach… A really good pit in my stomach. I can feel it.

All Astoria Wines are produced and bottled at the Polegato family’s 250-acre, Val De Brun estate in Refrontolo. This is pivotal center of the DOCG zone of Conegliano – Valdobbiadene.

[All images (except the agritourism one) have been borrowed from the Astoria Website. This one, in particular, tells me that this is one place to visit that says, “You have arrived..”]

History of the first Polegato family winery to now

~ from their materials ~ 

Vinicola Polegato was established in the 1950s, followed by the founding of their current location, a few decades later. An eighteenth century family house is now Astoria’s headquarters and welcomes visitors from around the world. The fourth generation of Polegatos, led by Filippo, Carlotta, and Giorgia, add their own unique stamp to the luxurious style of Astoria.

Filippo Polegato, who began working with Astoria four years ago, is the brand’s current Sales Director. As a youth, he spent summers working the grounds of Astoria Vini, observing the vinification and production processes. This, in turn, inspired his post-high school travels to Australia and the United States, where he learned more about the wine business in foreign markets.

Astoria Wines prides itself on producing high-quality wines that bridge time-tested winemaking traditions with contemporary style and sophistication. Derived from the Greek word for “best,” Astoria Wines brings wine lovers in 95 countries, the best of the Veneto.

Suggested retail: A range of $10 to $12; and for the Prosecco, its $13 to $15. (Remember, with imported wines, you get a lot of wine for your money. Think Super Values.)


Cabernet Sauvignon,Chardonnay,Merlot,Wine,Wine & Food

Joe Woerly with Vineyard Chocolatiers ~ Chocolate Kickstarter program

Vineyard Chocolatiers ~ A tasting ~ My Notes

  • Chardonnay Flavored White Chocolate ~ Creamy smooth with Chardonnay taking white chocolate to a new place, slightly floral and sweet, lingering cream.
  • Merlot Flavored Dark Chocolate ~ Ripe plums with a very smooth finish… delicate, yet full bodied.
  • Cabernet Flavored Dark Chocolate ~ Creamy ripe cherries and blackberries, dripping with that Bing flavor that lingers long after the slide to a satisfying swallow.

I was approached by Joe Woerly

Hi, I’m Joe, and I’m the owner and creator of a new gourmet chocolate bar product line. My chocolate bar product line features wine flavored chocolates, and my brand is called “Vineyard Chocolates.” I started this project a year and a half ago and I am selling them in a couple store in my area. I would like to have my wine flavored chocolates professionally produced so I can sell them to retail stores.

I have started a Kickstarter campaign so I can pre-sell my chocolates, and if I can pre-sell enough wine chocolates I can then have my chocolates made professionally by a manufacturer. I would be absolutely  thrilled if I could have an article written about my wine flavored chocolates on you blog to help promote my Kickstarter! If you would like samples of my wine flavored chocolate bars I would be delighted to send you some!

Please visit my website at www.vineyardchocolatiers.com to learn more about me and my wine flavored chocolates!

Yeah, like this chocoholic could ever refuse that query! Bring it on!

About Joe’s Project ~ Vineyard Chocolatiers

This is a product that I have been working on for a year and a half. I spent 6 months seeking out chocolates from all over the world to be the base of my recipe. I have sampled chocolates from many countries such as Italy, Belgium, and as far as Madagascar. The chocolate that I use is an organic chocolate from Venezuela. During my 6 months of searching for the right chocolate I had over 40 pounds of chocolate samples in my house from many chocolate suppliers.

There are 3 flavors to my chocolate bar product line: Cabernet Dark Chocolate, Merlot Dark Chocolate, Chardonnay White Chocolate. Much like how wine is paired with entrees, the wine flavors are paired according the to the cocoa intensity. For example the Cabernet flavor is paired with the darkest chocolate which is 73.5% cocoa, the Merlot flavor is paired with the mildest dark chocolate being 61% cocoa, and the Chardonnay flavor is paired with the lightest chocolate, a white chocolate with 14% cocoa.

I need to raise $5,200 so that I can have my wine chocolates professionally made by a manufacturer. I plan to sell my chocolates on Amazon, to Vineyards, and to retail stores such as Neiman Marcus.

Kickstarter Link (click here), if you’d “like in”

I loved the tasting. I’m so impressed by the smoothness and the flavors of these chocolates that I’m willing to support his Kickstarter program. They’ll be a great gift through the upcoming holidays, impressing your wine friends. I also love – as someone who began her own business – to help others begin and succeed. Artisan chocolates for the holidays? I’m in!

Joe’s YouTube says it all…



Cesari Vineyards is celebrating 80 years of crafting Valpolicella’s finest vintages ~ #IAMarone

80 Years of Glorious Wines ~ Cesari Vineyards

In 1936, the Cesari family created a winery naming it Cesari Vineyards. Located in Veneto, Italy, the family went on to become very famous Amarone pioneers. That was 80 years ago, and they’re now celebrating their worldwide success.

They also created a great publicity program, inviting 80 wine bloggers to participate. This gave each of us a chance to take on the assignment of learning about Amarone wine, and use the hashtag #IAMarone. I’m giggling to myself, because I immediately started using the hashtag. I love adventures and this was one I couldn’t resist. One lucky person will be brought to Cesari Vineyards to celebrate. I would love to be that person. My feet have wings. I was born for travel, because I was born to learn as much as I can in this lifetime, and I’ve wasted no time. I dream in the Italian language, understanding it. Although, I’ve not had the opportunity to study it in this lifetime, I have a friend of Mexican descent who had told me that I speak Spanish with an Italian accent. (It’s in there somewhere.)

I was alerted that I’d be receiving an invitation to their festivities. Sigh… All in New York. It’s impossible for me to jettison work right now and jet to the East Coast. I’d really love to, but it’s just not possible. So, I have to celebrate from afar and live vicariously through people’s hashtag of #IAMarone. I’ve been writing about his one since hearing of it. So, I’ve taken this time as a teachable moment. Knowing absolutely nothing about Amarone wines, I had some catching up to do. I’ve already done some of it. I still have a long way to go, but I’ve taken the first few steps. Here’s my journey to date, turning it into education for us all, since I have a background in education from years ago.

The Invitation Arrived

Cesari Vineyards is celebrating 80 years of crafting Valpolicella’s finest vintages and we’d like you to be our guest for an exceptional dining series, where we’ll be showcasing the unexpected versatility of the wine. Please RSVP as soon as possible, with your ranked preferences and we’ll try to accommodate everyone’s first choice.

Uncle Jack’s Steakhouse Midtown ~ Wednesday, September 14, 6:00 p.m. Hosted by one of the best steakhouses in Manhattan, experience amarone paired in its purest form, with a juicy steak.

Plaza Food Hall ~ Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m. – Celebrity Chef Todd English’s Food Hall offers a true dine-around the world experience, but the focus of this particular meal, designed by Todd himself, is Valpolicella’s rich culinary history.

La Maison du Chocolat ~ Wednesday, September 28, 5:30 p.m.  – The world’s most renowned chocolatier will be hosting a wine and chocolate party at their Madison Avenue Boutique. Enjoy delicious passed chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone.

Petrossian ~ Wednesday, October 5, 5:30 p.m.- Executive Chef Richard Farnabe was more than happy to create a unique pairing menu for his favorite variety. Savor caviar and wine in new and interesting ways as only the world’s Purveyor of Caviar can show you.

Learning from the invite ~ Foods to pair with Amarone

  • Amarone pairs well in its purest form, with a juicy steak.
  • Amarone paired with Valpolicella’s rich culinary history must be experienced at some point in time
  • Amarone pairs well with delicious chocolates with the rich flavors of Cesari Amarone
  • Amarone paired well with caviar.



Italy,Sicily,Wine,Wine of the Week

Wine of the Week ~ 2015 Cusumano Shamaris Grillo, Sicilia DOC

Cusumano Cantina

I recently received a sample of the 2015 Cusumano Shamaris Grillo, Sicilia DOC. There are a lot of things about this wine that are unique to me. I’ve only had two other Sicilian wines, and that was on March 27 of this year (2016). They, too, were a Wine of the Week. Both were red wines.

  • Stemmari Nero D’Avola
  • Tenuta Rapitala

This Cusumano Shamaris Grillo is a white wine, so this is a first for me, to have any white wine from Sicily. (Wine Century Club #165)

“Grillo” is Italian for “cricket,” just for a simple point of interest that it’s translatable to an insect. The association? Who knows. There are crickets on the island (I checked), and perhaps it was someone’s pet name for the variety? We can’t translate Merlot, Zinfandel, etc., for instance. Somewhere in history there’s a connection.

The images in this post have been borrowed from the Cusumano Website. I recommend that when you have the time, explorer this section of their site. Notice the small circles on the page and enter those circles. They take you everywhere. It’s really nicely done.

All of this led me to yearning to learn more about Grillo. Let’s explore together. Odds are that very few of us know very much, if anything, about this variety. Thanks, Cusumano for sharing!

Grillo from Sicily

Grillo, a white Italian grape variety, has synonyms: Riddu and Rossese bianco. It withstands high temperatures, being on the 37° parallel. This parallel is also located in Santa Cruz, California, just for viticultural potential and perspective. The palm trees in these pictures are also a give-away about its warm climate.

The Grillo is a popular variety in Sicilian wine-making. Although it’s most famous for its role in making fortified Marsala wines; it’s a beautiful stand-alone white wine variety, I just learned.

It’s grown on head-trained vines, and it produces a full-bodied wine. It’s also used as a blending component. According to Kobrand, “Grillo grapes are only planted by three percent in Sicily, as compared to other varieties.” Now we’re honing in on its rarity.

I explored Cusumano’s Website and found their videos fun to watch, besides being very educational:

Its Lineage According to Wine Searcher

Grillo is a Sicilian white grape variety most famous for its role in the island’s fortified Marsala wines. It is still widely planted on Sicily despite Marsala’s fall from fashion, and is now used most commonly in a variety of still white wines, both varietal and blended. Grillo, when vinified to a high standard, makes a fresh, light white wine with nutty, fruit-driven flavors that include lemon and apple.

There is some debate as to the origins of Grillo, as its earliest mention comes as recently as the mid-19th Century. Some believe that the variety is native to Sicily, suggesting it is the progeny of Catarratto and Muscat of Alexandria. Others have hypothesized that it was brought to the island from the southern Italian region of Puglia. There is even some evidence to suggest that this was the variety in the Roman wine Mamertino, a particular favorite of Julius Caesar.

How the 2015 Cusumano Shamaris Grillo tasted

One sip and that equaled an “Oh, wow,” from me. It’s definitely a beautiful wine, very Old World in style, and very much worthy of your attention. Light alcohol of 13 percent, this is definitely a walk on the wild side wine, one that’s deliciously memorable… A taste of Sicily’s Mediterranean bounty. And it’s rare folks, very rare. Only three percent growth on the island. I feel very privileged that Cusumano winery shared with me.

The flavors were so new and intriguing that I had to really think about this Grillo. A bit complex; knowing its 37th parallel location and the island is located in the Mediterranean, I wasn’t completely surprised. But, still this was the first time ever enjoyed this wine’s flavors. With very thoughtful moments of sniffing and swirling, I got star fruit, pineapple, and a viscosity that reminded me of a very light olive oil. Then I got delicate lychee nut and Meyer lemon flavors…

This is a very delightful wine. I went back for more, while writing the notes I wanted to share.




Godello,Spain,Wine,Wine Century Club

From the Chill to the Thrill ~ 2015 Senda\Verde Godello Bierzo

This is how it works for me, today… Wine Century Club #167 Senda\Verde 2015 Godello, Bierzo, (082016).

La Senda Bodegas y Viñedos

Samples arrive from all over the world, and I’m thrilled. My scope of wine is expanding exponentially steeper daily about the world of wine, every time my door bell rings and a delivery truck person wants my signature.

If I weren’t in the business of wine, my process would be much slower. I’m on an assignment given to me by the gods, and the task is unique nectar. How did I get so lucky? I really don’t know. I just keep at it. I’ve now tasted 165 different wine grape varieties and I’m about to open #167.

Join Me

#167, Godello, Bierzo: Old world aromas. When I opened the bottle, I thought, from the Chill to the Thrill… Godello Bierzo ~ So poetical.

Strolling through a citrus and floral garden… Then the Meyer lemon hits hard. (I scratch lemons, just for that refreshing moment.) These are just the aromas. On the palate, it’s similar to a Sauvignon Blanc and then sneaks around the corner to become butter flavors with lingering violets and grapefruit. It has a long, long finish and is much more complex on the back end than I would have guessed from its light straw color. I associate this color with a wine that’s not going to be complex. Wrong! It’s got a lot going on. This is a very refreshing wine that you can enjoy with your cream dishes… Jamie Oliver’s creamy pumpkin and ginger soup, let’s say.

Let’s talk about Godello from La Senda Bodegas y Viñedos, Spain

A Delicious Story

Godello is a white wine grape that’s grown in northwestern Spain, mostly in the Galicia region. In Portugal, the Gouveio grape found in northern region of Portugal is thought to be the same grape variety. Quoting Jancis Robinson:

“I think it was Rafael Palacios, As Sortes Godello Valdeorras that first drew to my attention the obvious nobility of this grape variety that combines the structure of white burgundy with the finesse of a juicily mineral grape. I made sure to include this pioneering wine when, a few years ago, I had to present an array of wines to demonstrate modern Spanish wine prowess.”

Godello is a dry, white wine, that produces lovely flavors, as I noted above. It seems to have the best results in the Valdeorras, because this is a cooler climate, which has plenty of rain… Like all cool climate regions, like Green Valley of Russian River Valley and Germany, for instance, cooler climates are best suited to white wine varieties. Wines from these cool climates produce wines that are crisp, fresh, and have a long life span for being fresh and complex.

If you find this wine on a wine list or on a store shelf, give it a try. If you’re beyond a Chardonnay and wanting something exciting in a white, go Godello. The double “ll” has a “y” sound. Dello, de-e-e-o, Daylight come and me want to go home… Go Godello.