. Vite Vinifera De Vino's Blog: March 2007

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


What a civilized place, I think they have the only airport in the world that has smoking areas.
The food is horrible (except few restaurants) the wine is imported only (the country weather is not grapes friendly yet) but everything works like a clock over here, the buses are always on time, the people are so available and nice, everybody speaks a fairly good English and the city is much cleaner than I remembered in the past.
I haven't been in Amsterdam in long time, when I lived in Italy we used to come up here for long weekends couple time per year, the economy must be good because there are as many construction sites as there are in NYC, building almost as high as well. The city for those that never been there is build on water canals, the center is Dam Square and from there half circles expand from the Amstel canal to the outskirt of the city the names of the canals symbolize the status quo of the neighborhood, closer to what is now the center the Lords (Herengracht) than the Kaiser's hood (Kaisergracht) and then the Princes (Prinsengracht).
Amsterdam is now a neat, very clean and very liberal city, soft drugs are legal as well as prostitution, famous is the red light district were the "merchandise" is displayed in street windows.
Most of the center buildings are leaning forward like the Pisa Tower because of the soft underground soil composition and most of the streets are so narrow that some cases permit the passage to just on person at the time, the public transportation drivers were all instructed by Michael Schumacher (7 time F1 World Champions) in fact they are able to speed through the people in those narrow street without killing anybody I must say that is pretty amazing.
Over then sweet ladies and coffee shop I also satisfied my cultural side with the visit to the Van Gogh museum and the Rijksmuseum were I was able to admire Rembrandt Masterpieces along with the best Dutch artists.
I was really impressed by the improvement the city had since the last time I was there, the condition of it were excellent, streets were hole free and very clean, crime is going down averaging 17 violent crime per 1000 people per year (significantly lower than the us rates), no signs of weapons, gangs and the homicide rates are 20% below the US average, it looked like that so much liberty brought much more awareness to the people and the tourist that are visiting, the rules are respected and enforced without arrogance and unnecessary violence and the jail population is in a decrement trend.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OK The Price Is Right...Or Not

In today's news, we read of the city's most expensive pizza, worth $ 1000, which is now served for the most sensitive palates in Manhattan.
Wow. 1G for a pizza. I understand that it is topped with caviar and lobster tail but geez... isn't that just a little too much to charge for a pizza?
Now if I have to go deeper into the matter - I wonder; would it be better to buy $ 800 worth of caviar and lobsters, invest the rest in wine (possibly Champagne, a bottle of Salon 1985 would be just perfect), and have it with blinies at your house instead over a warm pizza?
Now I'm sure there is a market for that kind of pizza in NYC, just like there is a waiting list for Boulud's wine storage facility in the Upper West Side ($ 15000 per year for 36 bottles), or for the $ 100 burger, or the $ 8000 for an average German wine with Hitler's picture on it, but are we ever going to have a limit or a line of discretion in the field of expensive novelties?
I believe that if you can afford it, you can spend your money on whatever you like - even if it's a $250m soccer player with waning skills. but what ever happened to taste and conscious buying?
I remember back in Italy that the richest people were the most conscious buyers, checking every little aspect of the product, especially if they were about to drop a significant amount of money on it. I really can't see caviar tasting better on a pizza, I doubt that the Fuhrerwein 1943 is actually drinkable, and David Beckham... well, let's just say that that kind of salary would be exorbetant, even for a great soccer player. So why spend a ridiculous amount of money on these things with questionable value?
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Wine Connection

A bottle of wine can have a magnetic power to pull together people from different backgrounds and walks of life.
Last night I met with Tyler AKA Dr Vino, Terence of Mondosapore, Keith of EVWG, Anthony, a general contractor with a thousand other interests, and Bobby, a screenplay writer.
We all met because of a bottle of wine, Castello di Lispida Terralba 2002, that we wanted to taste.
I never met Tyler before and I must say he is a very witty and funny guy. Dr. Vino teaches at NYU and the University of Chicago where I believe he is from.
I met Terence at the shop a little while ago after I saw his blog and exchanged few emails. He is a writer and an English literature teacher, Terry is in love with Italy; his obsession started at a young age; he was 14 when he started teaching himself Italian.
Keith is the manager of In Vino. He deals just with Italian wines but he writes on his blog of all kinds of wines except Italian.
Anthony is a customer of mine, he loves wines and has a healthy obsession with it, we hang out at the store at times and talk about wine and beyond, that's how I learned that we have a friend in common and that he is a Yoga practitioner, a discipline that I myself love, even though I don't exercise enough.
With Bobby I hit it off immediately shortly after I opened the shop two years ago. He has an incredible passion for wine and cooking, art in which he can excel, once again it happened that one of my customers turned into a friend I see regularly.
Oh yeah I forgot about the wine, an impressive blend of Tocai and Ribolla Gialla dark yellow color, peach and honey flavors with good acidity and not overly intense. We also tried the Amphora, from the same producer, 100% Tocai fermented and aged in Terracotta, but unfortunately the wine was corked and sent to the kitchen.
The afternoon led the way to the evening and we all left Il Posto Accanto to go to Dr Vino's meetup held at Jadis, very nice and relaxing atmosphere, as soon we walk in my nose was invaded by a very good kitchen scent, which is always a good sign, I had couple of glasses of reds and met two of Dr. Vino's followers.
After that I met with one the members of BNI group, Terry McAvery is a CPA and a new wine lover. We met at the shop and then we went at Il Posto Accanto, again, for a nice bottle of wine and good food.
The wine of choice was the Castello di Cacchiano Chianti Classico 2004 which was elegant and clean with a long life in front. The nose was filled with leather scents the tannins were firm but sweet and lingering notes of fresh cherries on the palate, delizioso...
After talking for a little while about each other's business we found that we have a lot in common in how we carry our businesses. This was surprising, since being the nature of these businesses is very different.
Can wine put together cats and mice as well???
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

And the winner is....

Sometimes life reward you when least expected, last night Charlotte send me an email congratulating me for the award that De Vino had won on the New York Magazine.
Not knowing what she was talking about I went on their web site did a search on De Vino and there it was Best Lower East Side wine shop!!!!
WOW the best!!!!
I took 5 minutes to digest the news, than I sent an email to Charlotte to thank her for the good news and called couple of friends to let them check that was for real and I wasn't just dreaming.
Terence confirmed it right away with a nice post on Mondosapore, Piers ask me with who I had to sleep with in order to win, so it was for real my little shop actually did win!!!
What to say over than thank you to whoever voted me, thanks to the Neighborhood that had accepted me so well, obviously thanks to the many that had taught and inspired me through life and to my friends and family that made De Vino a reality.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti

Saturday, March 03, 2007

For how long this wine will last?

My last post was on the different components of wine aging. Today, I would like to focus on how to detect those components on the palate, and how to predict the wine's peak time.
From my experience, I 've learned to foresee the evolution of a wine by drinking it.
To uncover that evolution, I use the components that I described in the previous post - things that can be detected in the palate through taste and texture.
The famous tannins, aside from capturing oxygen, also disable the protein that controls salivation, making your mouth dry. They can produce a bitter flavor that comes from the sides of the mouth, or they can be "sweet" and just be astringent (puckery). A lower PH level (higher acidity) will do the opposite, increasing the salivation, giving a fresh and clean feeling and leaving a slightly bitter taste coming from the throat.
The sulfites can be detected as soon the bottle is open, with smells similar to that of rotten eggs. You can feel those aromas in different degrees from none to firm, and they will actually disappear within minutes after opening a bottle.
The wine evolves in contact with oxygen even before it's open, but the process will obviously speed up once the cork is pulled. Knowing how the wine tastes at the beginning, all the way through until it dies out will give you an idea of what happens inside the bottle.
A few posts ago, I wrote about Bernard Faurie Saint Joseph and the fact that the wine had developed for more than 48 hours before reaching the peak of its curve. That is a wine that will live in the bottle for a very long time. The 3 B's (Barolo, Barbaresco, Brunello) are often wines that need time to evolve, as well. Biondi Santi started with the goal to make a wine that can live for 100 years. I had Barolo from the early 70s that was still vibrant and young with enough acidity to hold for another 20 years - easily.
Different vintages will also have different ageing potentials. Let's take for example the vintages 1996 and 1997 in Barolo.
1997 had a very hot August in Italy that accelerated the ripening of the grapes, preventing a proper maturation of the tannins and lowering the acidity. 1996, on the other hand, was a colder year with just the right amount of water at the right time.
At the time of its release, the 1996 Barolos were tight, almost undrinkable, but with the potential to age longer than I will live, under the protection of a thick layer of antioxidants. The wine had wonderful flavors of licorice and flowers.
This is what Barolo is all about, and 1996 is one of the greatest vintages ever recorded. Conversly, 1997 Barolo on release was ripe, fruit forward, lower in acidity and had softer tannins (and thus, less protection from oxidation). The wine was definitely more pleasant at a younger age (that's probably why the influential wine critics praised more wines from the 1997 vintage versus the more classic 1996).
It is not easy to train your palate to predict aging potential. A good start is to understand how a wine develops while you drink it; that will give you an idea about what will happen to it in the future.
Buona Bevuta a Tutti