About this Blog

The blog focuses on the essence of wine and food, not how many points or stars it receives. The opinions are mine and should be taken only as that, an opinion not gospel.

Like many collectors, initially I was very much influenced by wine ratings. I purchased wines based on points, even if I had never tasted the wine. And it was much worse than that. I would drink a wine with a high rating, not like it, yet since it was highly rated I’d rationalize that I did not yet appreciate the wine, or that my palate was not sophisticated enough to understand the wine. How’s that for lunacy? As a result my cellar grew in all directions while my palate narrowed. By the time I realized the style of wine that I enjoyed, my cellar abounded with wines whose styles I did not enjoy. All of these wines were very highly rated, just not my cup of tea, or glass of wine to be more accurate. Fortunately I was able to sell many of these wines to those who either enjoyed them or wanted highly rated wines. Don’t misunderstand, I am not against wines with high ratings, in fact I own many. It is just that I now purchase wines based on the producer, the style and my palate, not the rating. Nor do I shun reading reviews. I very much respect Antonio Galloni, Alan Meadows, Eric Asimov and John Gilman and read their reviews routinely. I pay attention to what they write, not the points they award.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Nick's Amazing Pizza Oven

Nick Cusano is a very good friend, a world-class architect and a fantastic cook.  His architectural projects combine the elements of location, terroir, and living style to produce magnificent residences.  Check them out at the Cusano Associates website. It is with the same passion, attention and respect for the ingredients he uses that he approaches his cooking. 

Nick's Pizza Oven

When it comes to pizza in addition to the best and freshest ingredients (yes he makes his own pizza dough and pizza sauce) he wanted to emulate the heat and flavor of a brick oven without having to wait 6 hours for the oven to come up to heat.  He wanted an oven that from the time he lit it to the time he was eating his pizza would be less than one hour.  So he built his own with a dual heat source, wood below and hot coal on top.  The result is amazing.  The oven heats up to 900º in no time and cooks a perfect pizza in about 2 minutes.  In fact, he lit the oven at 12:45 and by 1:15 he had cooked 3 pizzas that we devoured with gusto.  He tops his pizza with an uncooked pizza sauce made with San Marzano Tomatoes, Mpzzarella di Bufala, Sea Salt, fresh Basil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Click here for a video of Nick and the oven in action.
Nick's Pizza
2011 Clos Ste Magdeleine
With the pizza I brought along a bottle of 2011 Clos Ste Magdeleine Rosé from from Cassis, a commune located in Provence, France just east of Marseille.  I learned of the wine from Lettie Teague, wine columnist for the Wall Street Journal.  As I had never heard of it, let alone experienced it, I searched and found 11 bottles at Chambers Street Wines, NYC.  I am glad I did, as the wine was fantastic.  
Traditionally made, the wine is aged for 7 – 12 months in stainless steel tanks, it was clean, crisp, and pure on the palate with great complexity and balance and finished with a delicate elegance.  This is a stunning rosé, and while a bit pricey at $30, it is the perfect summer wine.  I also found some magnums of the 2010 vintage for $59 at 56º Wine, Bearnardsville, NJ.  Check out my blog on Rosé from last year as well as Lettie’s latest WSJ article, Pluck a Summer Rosé for some other worthy rosés to add to your cellar for the summer.

Carol's Pasta e Fagioli
Simple and delicious food and terrific wine continued at dinnertime.  I love Pasta e Fagioli and my wife Carol makes a great one.  We enjoyed it, along with some pork tenderloin sandwiches, with another bottle of 2011 Clos Ste Magdeleine Rosé and a bottle of 2001 Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montifalco.  Located in Umbria, Italy, Paolo Bea crafts wines that are the essence of old world magnificence.  Made from 100% Sagrantino grapes, the wine sees 12 months in steel, followed by 24 months in large Slovanian oak barrels and 9 months of bottle age before being released for sale. This bottle was magnificent. Decanted it for 2 hours, the wine was earthy on the nose and palate with incredible purity and balance.  It soared from the glass and danced on the tongue, with each sip seemingly better than the previous one.  The finish was lengthy with a magnificent roundness and elegance.  Talk about a wine with soul, it was here in spades.  A couple of days later I had a bottle of the 2004 vintage and it too was magnificent.  The 2001 may be difficult to find, but the 2004 is available at DeVino Wine Boutique, NYC and Pluckemin Inn Wine Shop, Bedminster, NJ at abour $100.  

I had a few other wines last week that are also worth mentioning. 2008 Passopisciaro Guardiola made by Andrea Franchetti is a delicious Chardonnay from Sicily that sees no oak in the vinification process. The wine has a dazzling purity on the palate, with subtle hints of bubble gum and a clean & lengthy finish.  This is a Chardonnay where you taste the grape instead of the barrel.  The 2010 is currently available at $40 from DeVino.

2006 Bornard Arbois Pupillin Melon le Rouge Queue.  I have mentioned this wine crafted by Philippe Bornard in a previous post. From the Jura region of France this beauty is a blend of Melon and Malbec grapes that together produce a stunning wine that has wonderful complexity and balance and continues to evolve in the glass during the course of sipping it.  The wine is drinking beautifully at the moment and is a bargain at $30.  Chambers Street Wines, NYC.

2004 La Stoppa Ageno is not a wine for everyone.  From the Emilia Romangna region of Italy, it falls into the orange wine category due to its yellow/orange hue.  This wine, a blend of Malvasia, Ortrugo and Trebbiano grapes.  Winemaker Elena Pantaleoni lets the juice macerate with the grape skins for an extended period (about one year). The resulting wine is intensely flavored and fragrant, rich in color and taste.  To be appreciated this is a white wine that should be drunk at red wine temperature.   This bottle, which is still drinking very well, had nice acidity with a wonderful metallically finish. A wine with lots of soul.  $35 at Vino Italian Wine, NYC.


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