3 April 2012, 100 Jane Street, Manhattan

Most of my friends know I’ve been on a Sicilian wine kick for a few months now. After reading Palmento, by Robert Camuto, and trying several wines from Palari Faro, Frank Cornelissen, COS, Arianna Occhipinti, et al, I’ve been looking for new Sicilian wines to taste.

I tasted the 2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco first at Babbo and then brought some to dinner at L’Artusi. I decided it was time to try this same producer’s red wine – the 2007 Terre di Trente Nerello Mascalese:

2007 Terre di Trente Nerello Mascalese

The wine is made from 70 year old vines on the steep terraces of Mount Etna. A completely organic and natural wine, it’s aged for 10 months in French oak barrels with a total production of ~3,000-4,000 bottles / year. The wine has a medium aroma of earthiness and tobacco which reminded me of a nicely aged Barolo. The palate was blackberry and vanilla with very strong tannins. Huge in the mouth and a very long finish. Given the structure of the wine, I’m very interested to see how this ages over the next few years. Great wine and even better value.

*** 2007 Terre di Trente Nerello Mascalese, $35

3 Italians, 1 American … 3 Asians, 1 Cuban

29 March 2012, L’artusi, West Village

In a last minute decision to go out for dinner on a Thursday night, I was in the mood for Italian – food and wine both. Nard, Pedro, Manoj and I got a table at L’artusi and I decided to bring two bottles and potentially supplement with anything that looked interesting on the wine menu.

As soon as we sat down, Joe Campanale (the beverage director and co-owner) walked over and we started chatting about the wines we brought and a few that he’d been drinking recently. The first wine went with our appetizer course of crudo scallops – a 2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco from Sicily:

2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco

Fermentation occurs in stainless steel and ages for about half a year in the bottle. With only  1,000 bottles produced annually, this is not an easy wine to find – I had to email the producer who put me in touch with the importer who eventually put me in touch with a retailer in New York. A completely organic wine that is hand harvested in the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, the fruity nose leads to an ashy attack, citrus and strong acid on the palate with a spicy finish. Delicious.

With our next course of roasted mushrooms and pancetta, we tried a new wine to all of us, an organic wine from Sardegna, a 2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu:

2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu

Extremely aromatic and slightly sweet with red cherries on the palate backed up by good acidity and medium tannins. Made from the Cannonau varietal, it reminded me of the Cornelissen Contadino I’ve tried from Sicily but with more structure.

For our pasta course, which included an orecchiette, bucatini, ravioli and black fettucini, we went with an old favorite, a 2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection:

2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection

A stereotypical old-school Cali Cab, the first thing that strikes you is the deep, inky, purple  color in the glass. A fruit bomb with an intense aroma of ripe black cherries and finish of licorice. The wine is incredibly smooth with mild tannins but paired decently with the food. Although the wine will probably be good to drink for at least the next 5-10 years, I don’t expect it to develop any more complexity or nuance.

Finally, for dessert, we had an incredible Picolit from Friuli, the 1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit:

1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit (500ml)

Picolit is produced in tiny amounts via the passito style where they dry the grapes to develop higher concentration in sugar to develop a sweet wine. Less thick and sugary than Sauternes, I love Picolit for the freshness, fruit and light-body sweetness that leads to a balance you typically don’t find in dessert wines.

** 2010 Terre di Trente Carricante Bianco, $35

** 2006 Dettori Tuderi Badde Nigolosu, $35

** 2004 Caymus Cabernet Special Selection, $150

*** 1998 Ronchi di Cialla Picolit (500ml), $112