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“LA MATERIA PRIMA” STAR OF THE SHOW AS VIC RALLO EATS AND DRINKS HIS WAY THROUGH ITALY FOR SECOND SEASON
Eat! Drink! Italy! With Vic Rallo Debuts Season Three Nationally on Create® TV This November
(New York, NY, September 10, 2015) Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo will premiere nationally on Tuesday, November 3 at 6:30 p.m. (check local listings). Season Three features 13, new half-hour episodes showcasing Vic Rallo’s unique knowledge of Italian regional cuisine and wine. In the third season, Emmy nominated Vic Rallo takes viewers on a culinary adventure throughout Italy to explore the concepts of “la materia prima” – the finest quality of ingredients – and the phenomenon known as “kilometer zero” – the concept of harmonizing ingredients-using locally connected ingredients and wines in one’s cuisine. In Season Three, he, along with Italian wine expert Anthony Verdoni, also introduces many undiscovered Italian wine varieties while educating viewers on more popular Italian wines.
Vic serves as tour guide as he energetically and enthusiastically moves from ground to table, whether working in the kitchen alongside local chefs-some Michelin starred-or wandering among the grapes with vintners whose families have dedicated their lives to the art of winemaking. From cheese to fish, from homemade pastas and soups to vegetables and meats, each episode will satisfy foodies with unique takes on traditional recipes, and the bonus of some of the best scenery Italy has to offer. Each episode will tell the story of the men and women who are creating some of Italy’s best cuisine and wines and the relationships Vic has formed through his extensive travels from North to south of Italy. The third season of Eat! Drink! Italy! takes viewers across Italy, typically presenting three segments per program.
“Season Three offers our viewers more of the types of recipes and food stories they’ve asked for over the last two years. We’ve also added informative and useful segments on outstanding but unknown Italian wines that are now ready for their time in your glass.” explained executive producer and director Mark Ganguzza. “For centuries our ancestors used the food outside their doors,” added Rallo. “For centuries the plot line hasn’t changed a bit: passionate Italians using ingredients found literally outside their doors to create food and wine that is second to none. And, it just keeps getting better and more approachable.”
Vic Rallo is the owner of Birravino, a trattoria in Red Bank, New Jersey, and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey which offers a traditional rustic menu. A noted expert on Italian wine and cuisine, his reviews and recommendations are much sought after by the public and his colleagues in the culinary business. He has appeared regularly on national television on The Rachael Ray Show, Good Day Live, and CBS The Couch speaking about the culture, cuisine and wine of the country he is so passionate about.
CreateTV.com will feature several of the recipes presented in the series. Food and wine pairings, wine reviews, archives of recipes from season one and more are available at eatdrinkitaly.org.
Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo Season Three episodes air as follows (check local listings):
301- “Simple Is Key”: Vic is in San Danielle to visit a prosciutto maker. Vic and Tony Verdoni interview five young women who are helping to redefine the Piemonte area’s Barolo wines. Then, Vic makes Mozzarella En Carrozza, the classic mozzarella sandwich.
302- “You Get Out What You Put In”: Paestum’s Chef Matteo Sangiovanni teaches Vic his “reversed” ravioli. Vic visits Chef Massimo Camia in Piemonte as he prepares a locally inspired rabbit dish.
303- “You Are What You Eat”: Vic is in Tuscany with Chef Lia Schiera to make her spinach filled crepes. Vic and Tony Verdoni talk about one of the best Chiantis. Chef Roberto Rossi teaches Vic his unique dessert Calzone.
304- “The Best Ingredients”: Chef Lia Schiera returns to prepare her wonderfully simple vegetable and pasta recipe. Vic and Tony Verdoni talk about the relatively unknown Cannubi wine. Vic travels to Turin with Chef Nicola DiTarsia as they make a basic tagliorini and sausage pasta.
305 –“Elegant But Approachable”: Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Lombardy to talk about Franciacorta wines and how best to pair them. Chef Patrizio Cirri makes a basic Tuscan tomato meat sauce.
306-“Measure Twice, Cut Once”: Campania’s Chef Matteo Sangiovanni creates a dish using mozzarella in three ways. Vic and Tony talk about the Montefalco area’s up and coming Sagrantino wine. A visit to a buffalo mozzarella factory.
307-“The Locals Know”: Tuscany’s Chef Patrizio Cirri returns to teach Vic his classic, hyperlocal braised beef recipe. Vic is in Verona with Chef Luisa Zecchinato as she bakes her Grana Padano cheese biscuits. Vic and Tony Verdoni are near Florence to talk about the area’s seminal Vin Santo dessert wine and pairing it with two great local cookies.
308- “Trust The Land”: Vic and Tony Verdoni talk to Lamberto Frescobaldi about his unique attempt to help prisoners make wine and enter society with winemaking skills. Vic visits Campania and Chef Lina Fischetti as she makes her local lamb and smoked potato recipe.
309- “The Spice Of Life”: Chef Filippo Oscar Artioli prepares his signature pasta dish and pairs it with Montefalco, the area’s little known but outstanding wine. Vic is near Naples to learn Chef Elio Bonafiglia’s pizza dough recipe with a unique ingredient.
310- “Be Picky”: Vic and Tony Verdoni talk with one of Italy’s best know wine families. Chef Nicola DiTarsia makes a basic torteloni pasta from the Torino area. Vic and Tony taste a 1931 vintage wine.
311- “Use The Best”: Vic visits Parma and Chef Rosaria Tunnera to learn how to make a unique but simple savarin (dome) of rice. Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Tuscany to talk about Chianti’s new and much improved identity. Back to Campania and the kitchen of Chef Matteo Sangiovanni as he puts his new twist on the venerable Spaghetti and Clam Sauce recipe.
312- “A Little Knowledge” Vic visits with Sorrento’s Chef Antonino Esposito to learn his masterful pizza recipe. Then, back to Tuscany with Chef Patrizio Cirri to prepare a sausage crostini. Vic and Tony Verdoni are in Campania to talk to some of the area’s dynamic and successful winemakers.
313- “Easy Is Best” Vic travels to Piemonte to learn Chef Massimo Camia’s hazelnut dessert. Tony Verdoni talks to an Amarone winemaker. Vic and Tony talk about the delicious and versatile Piave cheese.
About Eat!Drink!Italy! with Vic Rallo
Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo, (www.eatdrinkitaly.org) takes television viewers on a fast-paced informative tour of Italy’s virtually world of limitless food and wine, from the Alps to the southern shores of Sicily, each week on public television’s Create network. Whether touring a cheese cave that was once one of Mussolini’s bunkers, hunting for the elusive white truffle, exploring Napoleon’s wine tunnels, visiting a Slow Food superstar in her humble kitchen or going 20 meters underground to the very roots of one of Italy’s most celebrated wine varietals, Vic Rallo brings a unique perspective to the traditional format of television cooking series. Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo is a production of Sunburst Creative Group produced by Mark Ganguzza.
Drawing from more than 60 public television series from the cooking, travel, home improvement, gardening and arts & crafts genres, Create is now in its ninth year and reaches more than 76% of USTVHHs. The channel has become the destination for fans of the DIY/how-to genre, airing longtime favorites and marathons of themed episodes. Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo is a production of Sunburst Creative Group. The series is a presentation of WLIW21 in association with WNET and is distributed by American Public Television. Diane Masciale is executive in charge of production for WLIW21.
Lidia Bastianich will be interviewed by Vic Rallo, host of public television’s “Eat Drink Italy” and the owner of Birravino in Red Bank and Undici in Rumson, in advance of the October release of Bastianich’s book, “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine: Everything You Need to Know to be a Great Italian Cook.”
An Intimate Conversation with Lidia Bastianich is part of the theater’s Appetite: A Gastronomic Experience series, and her appearance is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 4. Tickets are on sale now.
The event will be “an evening of conversation and storytelling celebrating our love of Italian food,” according to a news release. Ticket prices range from $20 to $85, and the latter includes a premium seat and signed copy of the cookbook.
To purchase tickets or for more information, visit http://countbasietheatre.org.
4 large russet potatoes, 2 1/2 pounds
4 large egg yolks
Salt and pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, a couple of handfuls
2 to 2 1/2 cups “00” flour or all-purpose flour (all-purpose has more of a bite)
1 fat tablespoon butter
Nutmeg, a few grates, to taste
Roast potatoes 45 minutes at 425°F or boil them in their jackets/skins until very tender, 25-30 minutes. Cool potatoes completely. Remove potatoes from their skins and pass them through a ricer. Arrange the riced potatoes on a large work surface with a well at the center. Place egg yolks in well with the cheese. Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and a little nutmeg. Work eggs and cheese into potatoes then sprinkle 2 cups flour over the potatoes and work it into the potatoes. If dough is sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour until the dough is firm enough to roll into ropes on a floured surface. Cut ropes into 1-inch pieces or pillows for basic dumplings or use a gnocchi tool to roll and mark the dumplings. Transfer gnocchi to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Boil in small batches of 2-3 portions in salted water until gnocchi floats and is cooked through. Carefully remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a warm serving bowl and repeat if necessary. Dress the gnocchi with butter and a little nutmeg and serve with sauce of choice.
Gnocchi is “gno” big deal to make. I’ve read countless recipes that warn cooks and make the process sound daunting, difficult and only for skilled cooks—it’s all hype. You’ll make it once or twice and get the feel for the right amount of flour for you but even first time out it will work, it will take less time than you imagined and the time will pass fast as the repetitive nature of rolling and pinching or cutting the gnocchi is so relaxing it becomes Italian Zen. These little pillows are a hug from inside out. –
See more at: Rachael Ray
Montalcino is a beautiful medieval hilltop village just 40 miles south of Siena, on the ancient roadway to Rome. It is dominated by a castle, called La Fortezza, which doubles as an enoteca and wine shop. La Fortezza offers most of the wines of the zone, plus older vintages, as well as honey, olive oil, jams and the like. It also offers a breathtaking panorama, with views of Siena and local vineyards, dotted with the gray-green glow of olive trees and forests. Viticulture in this area dates back to the Etruscan and Roman eras. Montalcino takes its name from “Mons-Ilex” – that is, the “mountain with holm oak trees. Wine lovers, if you haven’t been, put it on your bucket list!
Brunello di Montalcino Is Born
It is commonly held that Montalcino offers the loftiest, finest expression of the Sangiovese vine. This was not always the case. For ages, the town was known for a sweet white wine called Moscadello. In 1685 poet Francesco Redi praised it, referring to it as “Moscadaletto.” It is still made today.
The first reference to the “Brunello” grape was in 1842 in a letter written by Canon Vincenzo Chiarini of Montalcino. By the 1860’s, at his family’s Il Greppo estate, Clemente Santi was producing a wine which he called Brunello, due to the brownish hue of its berries and wine. In 1869 he received a medal for his Vino Rosso Scelto (Select Red Wine).
In the 1870’s Clemente’s grandson, Ferruccio Biondi-Santi, added to its history. A veteran of Italy’s war for independence, Ferruccio isolated the clone of Sangiovese Grosso which his grandfather had used. He introduced a long vinification technique which stabilized his wine. His idea was to perfect Brunello di Montalcino as a red wine of power and structure, fit for long aging. In 1888 he bottled the first Brunello di Montalcino. There are still a few bottles of 1888 and 1891 at the cantina of Il Greppo. Please note that these and other older bottles of Biondi-Santi Brunello di Montalcino are re-corked every 25 years or so at the winery in a process called the ricolmatura. Yes, great Brunello outlives its cork!
The Modern Era
In the 1960’s there were only 11 producers of Brunello di Montalcino. The wine was granted its Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) in 1968. By the 1980’s there were around 50 producers. Many investors were lured into the zone by the prestige, quality, excellence and high prices fetched by Brunello. After all, in 1969 Italy’s president, Giuseppe Saragat, had selected Biondi-Santi Brunello Riserva 1955 to be poured at a state dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth of England. Internationally, Brunello di Montalcino had arrived.
Many people and factors have contributed to the chic, strong image of modern Barolo. We must point out that the investment by the American Mariani family in Montalcino in the 1970’s and 1980’s was very significant, since it introduced and popularized Brunello di Montalcino in the USA. Today there are approximately 280 producers and another 70 farmers who grow Sangiovese grapes that they then sell to bottlers.
Characteristics of Brunello di Montalcino
The DOCG zone is large and is usually spoken of as being divided into 3 zones. Position and location are important for top quality, but the general level of production is high, among the top two or three in Italy. There are no bad Brunellos.
DOCG Brunello di Montalcino is aged for 4 years, two of which must be in wood, usually large Slavonian oak. A Riserva must be aged at the winery for an additional year or more. Brunello di Montalcino must be 100% Sangiovese.
Brunello has a deep ruby – not purple – color that tends to turn garnet as it ages and becomes more velvety. There is an aroma of cherries with touches of wildflowers, spices, underbrush (sottobosco) and nut-like notes. It is well structured, tannic, rich and warm, dry, concentrated and extracted. The finish is lingering. We recommend waiting 7 to 10 years from the vintage before drinking Brunello, unless you decant it. Expect it to develop in the bottle for 10 to 20 years.
Setting Up the 2010 Vintage
We are always suspicious of “the vintage of the century,” which generally occurs two or three times each decade. Plus it also usually the vintage that the wineries have to sell and offer to the public. Brunello producers rate each vintage from 0 to 5 stars. 2010 was a 5-star year. Even for us skeptics, the 2010 is the real deal. It has yielded wines of extraordinary power and structure. They are the finest expression of Brunello in recent memory. Buy them and cellar them.
The spring of 2010 was wet. There were fears of fungal problems at first, but as the hot summer began, agronomists were pleased to have a buildup of groundwater reserves. The long, sunny growing season allowed the Sangiovese grapes to reach full maturation. From June through July there were only a few passing storms. August had cool nights and September was gorgeous. It was unprecedented.
The harvest of fresh, ripe and clean grapes took place from mid-September through the end of October. Those who waited were rewarded. Some of the wines reached 15% of alcohol. Giovanni Neri, the son of Giacomo Neri, told us, “It’s the best vintage that I have experienced, the best vintage that my father has experienced and, perhaps, the best vintage that my grandfather experienced.” Hayo and Franz Loacker, who produce organic and biodynamic Brunello, told us, “Nature was kind and generous. We waited to harvest and we’re happy that we did so.”
Vintages like this come along only once or twice in a lifetime. The 2010’s have become and will continue to be viewed as the new benchmark for Tuscany’s iconic red. The wines boast wonderful intensity, structure, layers of flavor and minerality. At this stage, all of the wines we tasted were underdeveloped but showing a glorious future. Collectors, get ready.
Rating the 2010’s
Some samples were flown in from Italy for our special tasting. They suffered a bit in passage, but not terribly. We tasted several times from March 6th through March 11th at Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey. We sampled 12 wines in total, and liked everything we tasted. Our assessments are offered to you in the order of our tasting.
Mocali Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Typical color, berries and cherries in the nose with nuances of coffee and chocolate. Aromatic with a long finish. Try again many times in the next 5 to 7 years. Large Slavonian oak used. Excellent value.
Tiezzi “Poggio Cerrino” Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Ruby color is bright. Concentrated, balanced, elegant. Sweet berries in the nose. Complex, relatively soft, powerful with a lingering finish. Large Slavonian oak used. Will develop for 10 years or more. Extracted. Superb value.
La Colombina Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Owned by the Caselli family, neighbor to Ciacci and Uccelliera. Concentrated color, authentic, ripe, “barnyard” like, intense, a bit short on the finish. We saved the bottle and tasted two days later. The wine had opened beautifully. Enjoy for 15 years or more.
Campogiovanni Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Leonardo Bellacini has produced a fruity, relatively soft and open, harmonious Brunello in 2010. Tannins in harmony with wood, fruit, and overall acidity. Large Slavonian oak for 36 months. Wonderful mouthfeel. Will develop for 15 to 20 years or more. A gem!
Casanova di Neri Etichetta Bianca “White Label” Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Brilliant ruby, chewy, complex, 42 months in oak, viscous, excellent body and ageability. Good value. Ageworthy for a decade or more.
Uccelliera Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Andreas Cortonesi is a master blender, using both large and small oak barrels to bring out the best that his estate can offer. Worth the search. Big, powerful, flawless with peppery and spicy nuances. Rich and enjoyable. Complex. Will develop for 15 to 20 years or more.
Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuovo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Depth and brilliance of color, concentrated, rich, balanced, soft tannins, delicious and developed. No one gets more out of Sangiovese than Giacomo Neri! Persistent finish. Hints of cherries, violets in the nose. Finesse and elegance. A winner!
Fanti Brunello di Montalcino 2010: A family estate for over a century, Fanti utilizes French barriques and tonneaux as well as traditional Slavonian oak. Ripe, rich, good value, will benefit from aging. Will develop for 10 to 15 years or more. Lots of power and structure.
Molino di Sant’Antimo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Ruby red, fruity, spicy nose, cherries. Large Slavonian oak, elegant with a persistent finish. Good structure. Will develop for a decade or more.
Pertimali di Sassetti Livio Brunello di Montalcino 2010: From a time-honored, family estate. Livio Sassetti was one of the pioneers of Brunello. 36 months in large Slavonian oak casks. Balanced, harmonious, complex with hints of berries and cherries. A bit tight, as to be expected; it opened up after 2 hours. A 20-year wine.
Pietranera Brunello di Montalcino 2010: Riccardo Cotarella consults for the Centolani family, who also own the superb Tenuta Friggiali estate. Intense ruby color, fruity, complex, spicy nose, hints of chocolate, cacao and coffee. Rich, full, warming. Large Slavonian oak. Elegant.
Castelgiocondo Brunello di Montalcino 2010: One of Frescobaldi’s estates. A winner. Nut-like overtones, soft, surprisingly enjoyable at this early stage. A 20-year wine. Use of both French barrels and Slavonian casks of oak. Dense, tight, but rich with good minerality. Tannins are soft and in harmony.
Buy the 2010’s. Cellar them. Decant them. We’ve always said of Brunello, “You can’t afford them and your grandchildren will drink them.” However, we Americans are getting help from an unlikely source – the currency! The recent surge of the US dollar versus the Euro has brought prices down from the stratosphere, accounting for 20% to 30% subsidy. Finally, we can afford Brunello di Montalcino! But we make no assurances that we’ll save the 2010’s for our grandchildren.
Our favorites: Casanova di Neri Tenuta Nuovo followed ever so closely by Castelgiocondo, Uccelliera and Campogiovanni.
Best value: Tiezzi “Poggio Cerrino,” followed by Mocali.
Victor Rallo, Jr. is a successful, seasoned restaurateur, chef, wine critic and television personality. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall University, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He’s published two wine books, Napoleon Wasn’t Exiled and 21 Wines. Victor hosts his own television series called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo which completed its first season on public television in 2013, and recently aired its second season on Create TV in July of 2014. He has also aired on Rachael Ray, The Couch CBS, FOX News, and many other television and live events. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, to taste and write about the wines and food from every region of Italy and to film the TV show. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife Kari, three kids, three dogs, and a fully stocked wine cellar.
Anthony Verdoni’s career has combined scholarly interests and a passion for wine and food. He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964. When a Jesuit Classics professor suddenly became ill in 1967, Mr. Verdoni returned to St. Peter’s College to become his substitute. He stayed for 20 years, teaching Classical Languages and Literature. His knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy helped establish him as an acknowledged expert in Italian wines. His background as an instructor and coach in college aided him as a wine lecturer and author. Friends in the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.” His wine business debut was in 1971, as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant. Subsequently, he purchased a wine shop, and went on to become a wine buyer for two department store chains, a sales representative, and a sales manager. Highlights include: General Wine Manager for the Jaydor Corporation, one of the nation’s largest wine distributors; National Sales Manager of Southern Italian Wines for Heublein, under Philip DiBelardino; Vice President, National Sales Director for American BD Company; Vice President, Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow. He has also worked closely and directly with many prominent Italian wineries. Brands which he has helped to develop in America include San Felice, Ceretto, Mastroberardino, Casal Thaulero, Librandi, Carpineto, D’Angelo, Regaleali, Umberto Cesari, Due Torri, Franco Cesari, Biondi-Santi, Vietti, Monteschiavo, and Villa Girardi. Mr. Verdoni has enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of launching new fine Italian wines in America. He has lectured and conducted tastings and seminars throughout the United States and Europe. He has written many articles and training manuals, and has co-authored The Sommelier Executive Council’s Vintage Wine Book, now in its third printing. He has been a member of the Sommelier Society of America, the Caterina de Medici Society, and the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a board member of the Sommelier Institute of New Jersey. Mr. Verdoni has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales. The Italian Trade Commission has awarded Mr. Verdoni a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States. Mr. Verdoni consults for restaurants, importers, distributors, and wine shops throughout America and Europe. When not on the road, he conducts wine dinners, seminars, and restaurant training programs – and, as always, helps people discover the fine wines of Italy. He has co-authored a new book, 21, and appears in the TV series Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.
It always seemed odd to us that in Piemonte, the land of Barolo, the King of Wines and the Wine of Kings, we would always find a bottle of Barbera in front of us on the table. The answer was and is simple: Barbera is bountiful, versatile, delicious and moderate in price. The Piemontesi drink more reds than whites and almost 50% of the reds that they enjoy are Barbera. It is part of their culture and lifestyle. Barbera is Piemonte’s “go to” wine.
The hills of Monferrato lay claim to being Barbera’s birthplace. References date back at least to 1514 and 1609. The name seems to be a cross between barba (“beard”), which describes the vine’s complex root structure, and albéra, which refers to the wild, woodland sites where the varietal was first planted. There are many clones, even a Barbera Sarda which still thrives today in Sardinia. There is even a rare white Barbera Bianca, but the red is prolific. It is widely planted throughout Italy, in Campania (Castel San Lorenzo DOC) as well as in Lombardia, where it dominates in Oltrepo Pavese DOC and produces fancifully named wines, such as Buttafuoco (“Flamethrower”) and Sangue di Giuda (“Judas’ Blood”). In Emilia-Romagna, Barbera is blended with Bonarda (aka Croatina) to make the legendary DOC Gutturnio, a resurrection of the ancient Roman Gutturnium.
In 1985 the world of Barbera changed forever with the release of Giacomo Bologna’s mythical 1982 Bricco dell’ Ucellone. This was the first, single vineyard selection of Barbera and instantaneously it took Italy by storm and by surprise. We will address these Super Barberas in a separate article. It is sufficient for now to point out that thereafter serious producers felt compelled to make finer Barberas, paying more tribute and giving more respect to the lowly “foot soldier,” “workhorse” varietal. Barbera had moved from being a quaffing wine to a wine that you should savor and taste.
New DOC’s in Piemonte have popped up, such as Gabiano and Rubino di Cantavenna, but the attention and emphasis continues to go to Barbera d’Alba DOC, Barbera del Monferrato DOC and Barbera d’Asti DOCG. Colli Tortonesi Barbera DOC from the province of Alessandria, on the border with Lombardy, is on the rise. All Barberas are worth a search. Barbera together with Montepulciano ranks behind only Sangiovese in red grapes planted throughout Italy.
Barbera grows in a variety of soils and climates throughout Italy. It is durable and disease resistant. Italy’s DOC and DOCG laws usually permit up to 15% Freisa and/or Grignolino to be blended with Barbera, but for the most part Barbera is a standalone varietal. With a year of aging, including passage in wood, the word superiore may be added on the label. The fizzy frizzante style, still popular in Italy, has never caught on in the U.S.
Tannins are low and acidity is high, but harvesting later with smaller yields enables Barbera to lose its natural sharpness. In Alba, Barbera plays second fiddle to Nebbiolo as to selective vineyard sites, but Barbera d’Alba tends to age best when compared to those of Asti and Monferrato. You can generally expect a positive development for a period of 5 to 7 years after the harvest. Plus, you have the skill of enologists who produce Barolos.
Barbera screams, shouts and sings for food. We like traditional Barberas young, and appreciate the outstanding value to quality ratio. Try Barbera with almost anything: hearty pastas and risottos, salumi, bagna cauda, red meats, stews, braised beef and cheeses. Expect your Barbera to have a ruby color with violet reflections, with nuances of ground herbs, jam, dried plums, cherries, straw and hay, berries, black pepper and cloves. These subtleties will vary from zone to zone and vintage to vintage. Above all, expect your Barbera to be generous. You will not be disappointed in this now noble varietal. Always have an extra bottle or two. It’s hard to limit your group to just one bottle! Barbera wines today often reach 13 to 14.5% alcohol, ripe and rich.
(Please note the many producers are now making more than one Barbera)
Oddero Barbera d’Alba, DOC, 2011: This is a wine that you can drink every day. Maria Cristina Oddero creates the perfect balance of fruit and oak. Ruby with purple glints, fresh, ripe, bright with balanced acidity and soft tannins. Excellent structure. From 40-50 year old vines. Harvested at the end of September. Only 12,000 bottles produced. Classic, traditional Barbera at its best. Superb value. Ripe fruitiness in the nose and mouth. 100% Barbera.
Damilano Barbera d’Asti, DOCG, 2012: Ample, generous, from a great Barolo producer. Enologist Giuseppe Caviola has fashioned a wine of intense ruby, purple hue, with spicy notes and nuances of currants, violets, cherries and oaky vanilla. The balance of oak and stainless steel works well to bring out the fruit. The finish is persistent. Drink it now. 100% Barbera.
Marchesi di Barolo “Maraia” Barbera del Monferrato, DOC, 2012: A brilliant, deep ruby red, clean and fresh. Scents of forest berries, currants, sour black cherries and vanilla. Warm, hearty, robust, harmonious. Aged in large and small oak. Try it with boiled or roasted red meats. Will age well for at least 2 years or so. Limited production. 100% Barbera.
Michele Chiarlo “Le Orme” Barbera d’Asti Superiore, DOCG, 2012: This is the Barbera which Americans have been enjoying for over 20 years. It is a barometer, a benchmark! Deep ruby red with violet glints, medium-bodied, ripe cherries, elegant, aged in large oak for 8 months, plus refined for 4 months in the bottle. Seamless, generous, it will continue to develop for another 4 to 6 years. Perfect with chicken, grilled meats, pork dishes, mushrooms. This is a Barbera for the Barolo drinker. 100% Barbera.
Renato Ratti “Battaglione” Barbera d’Alba, DOC, 2013: This historic winery produces both Barbera d’Alba, DOC and Barbera d’Asti, DOCG under the “Battaglione” banner. It replaces “Torriglione,” which is now being used for Barolo. Cardinal to ruby red, spicy, plums, rich and full in flavor with a lingering, persistent finish. You can age this one for 10 years, but who can wait? The French oak is balanced by the dark fruit. A winner. 100% Barbera.
Vietti Barbera d’Asti “Tre Vigne,” DOCG, 2012: You can feel the masterful touch of winemaker Luca Currado. The grapes are sourced from vineyards in Agliano d’Asti, including the old vines Cru La Crena. Rich and noble, this wine is patiently aged in both large Slavonian oak and small French barrique for 14 months followed by two months in stainless steel tanks. It is unfiltered. Ruby to purple in color, it is dry, medium-bodied, with a complexity of minerality, ripe red cherries and vanilla. Refreshing, bright acidity. Soft tannins. Harmonious with good integration of oak and fruit. Versatile – try it with appetizers, grilled vegetables, hearty pasta dishes, veal, pork, chicken, cheeses, steaks and chops. Will age for 10 years. 100% Barbera.
VICTOR RALLO JR. is a successful, seasoned restaurateur, chef, wine critic and television personality. After graduating from Villanova University and earning his JD from Seton Hall University, Victor jumped directly from the world of law into the restaurant business. He now owns and operates Birravino in Red Bank, New Jersey and Undici Taverna Rustica in Rumson, New Jersey both of which have received numerous awards for excellence in cuisine, service, and their extensive Italian wine lists. Victor is also an Italian wine expert and critic recognized for his exceptional palate and distinct personality. He’s published two wine books, Napoleon Wasn’t Exiled and 21 Wines.
Victor hosts his own television series called Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo which completed its first season on public television in 2013, and recently aired its second season on Create TV in July of 2014. He has also aired on Rachael Ray, The Couch CBS, FOX News, and many other television and live events. He visits Italy six to eight times per year to find inspiration for his restaurants, to taste and write about the wines and food from every region of Italy and to film the TV show. Victor lives in Fair Haven, New Jersey with his wife Kari, three kids, three dogs, and a fully stocked wine cellar.
Anthony Verdoni’s career has combined scholarly interests and a passion for wine and food. He enrolled in a Doctorate program at Tulane University, having received an A.B. in Curso Classico from Saint Peter’s College in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1964. When a Jesuit Classics professor suddenly became ill in 1967, Mr. Verdoni returned to St. Peter’s College to become his substitute. He stayed for 20 years, teaching Classical Languages and Literature. His knowledge of antiquity and familiarity with Italy helped establish him as an acknowledged expert in Italian wines. His background as an instructor and coach in college aided him as a wine lecturer and author. Friends in the wine trade call him “The Wine Professor.”
His wine business debut was in 1971, as a part-time sommelier in a restaurant. Subsequently, he purchased a wine shop, and went on to become a wine buyer for two department store chains, a sales representative, and a sales manager. Highlights include: General Wine Manager for the Jaydor Corporation, one of the nation’s largest wine distributors; National Sales Manager of Southern Italian Wines for Heublein, under Philip DiBelardino; Vice President, National Sales Director for American BD Company; Vice President, Marketing Italian Wines for Winebow.
He has also worked closely and directly with many prominent Italian wineries. Brands which he has helped to develop in America include San Felice, Ceretto, Mastroberardino, Casal Thaulero, Librandi, Carpineto, D’Angelo, Regaleali, Umberto Cesari, Due Torri, Franco Cesari, Biondi-Santi, Vietti, Monteschiavo, and Villa Girardi.
Mr. Verdoni has enjoyed the challenge and satisfaction of launching new fine Italian wines in America. He has lectured and conducted tastings and seminars throughout the United States and Europe. He has written many articles and training manuals, and has co-authored The Sommelier Executive Council’s Vintage Wine Book, now in its third printing. He has been a member of the Sommelier Society of America, the Caterina de Medici Society, and the Society of Wine Educators, as well as a board member of the Sommelier Institute of New Jersey. Mr. Verdoni has received awards and commendations from the American Wine Society, the Culinary Institute of America, and Johnson and Wales. The Italian Trade Commission has awarded Mr. Verdoni a lifetime achievement award in recognition of his work in popularizing Italian wines in the United States.
Mr. Verdoni consults for restaurants, importers, distributors, and wine shops throughout America and Europe. When not on the road, he conducts wine dinners, seminars, and restaurant training programs – and, as always, helps people discover the fine wines of Italy. He has co-authored a new book, 21, and appears in the TV series “Eat! Drink! Italy! with Vic Rallo.”