Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali 2007, IGT

Tasca d’Almerita Regaleali 2007, IGT

tasca-dalmerita-regaleali-2-thumb1It’s said that the inspiration to complete the opera Parsifal came to composer Wagner under a giant banyan tree at the grand residential estate of the Tasca d’Almerita family.  Who said there is no connection between wine and music! 🙂

Founded in 1830, the 1200 acre Tasca d’Almerita estate is owned by the aristocratic Tasca d’Alermita family and is located just more than an hour south of Palermo in Sicily.  The family has been making wine for 7 generations and produces 15 or so different wines based on both native and international grape varietals. Approximately 40% of production is exported.

The family history extends back to the 19th century, but it was Count Giuseppe who overcame the trend of bulk production which dominated Sicilian wine making.  Instead, the Count innovatively pushed ahead with a vision that encouraged experimentation and quality over quantity, beginning a new chapter in the family wine business.

Although technologically advanced, the company “mind” is still focused upon history, culture, and especially quality: meticulous care is administered year round in the fields and cellar.  And the family has engaged wine consultant Carlo Ferrini to provide the impeccable guidance for which he is famous.

In the estate vineyards, as vines are replanted every year, vine ages span from 1 to 40 years.  Vines are predominately grown on espalier and pruned by single or double guyot.  The area microclimate is ideal, with days and nights ushering in and out significant transfer of heat and the higher elevation of Tasca d’Almerita vineyards allowing slower, gradual ripening and maturity of the grapes.

The Regaleali Sicilia is made from Inzolia, Grecanico, and Catarratto grapes.  A 15-day fermentation is carried out in stainless steel tanks. Malolactic fermentation is left undeveloped.  The wine is kept for an additional 3 months in stainless steel before bottling.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Regaleali has a bright, straw yellow luminesence, as if a bit of Sicilian moon and sun had combined with the wine.  Generously fruity notes of citrus, peach, and melon flow over delicious, racy acidity and good minerality.  Great balance and a persistent, clean, fresh finish. Elegance and drinkability at unusually good value for money.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Seafood and Seafood Pasta of all types, especially:  Tuna or Swordfish steaks with capers, olives, tomatoes, parsley or basil; Linguine with Mussels (see recipe on Vintrospective.com); Grilled shrimp; Grilled vegetables – try grilled peppers and onions on a roll, or peppers and eggs on a roll, with a salad that includes feta or fresh pecorino cheese; Regaleali will be great with many antipasti and salads; Also consider this wine w. sushi / maki / sashimi !

Recipe: Linguine with Mussels

linguine-w-mussels-thumbMy great grandmother came from Naples, Italy.  Her cooking tradition included pasta dishes combined with incredibly fresh seafood. In fact, I can remember her sitting on the sand bars at low tide, eating razor fish right from the shell. She had 13 children, knew how to raise a family, and if you misbehaved, she’d be happy to “let you have it” when you passed her in the hallway, where you couldn’t run away.  We didn’t misbehave much 😉

Here is a recipe for linguine with mussels that is delicious simplicity:


3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 onion, finely minced
Fresh, ripe tomatoes, chopped
Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped fine
The freshest mussels you can find, preferably wild caught
A bit of cream or whole milk
1/2 cup white wine


Put on a large pot of water for the linguine.

IMPORTANT:  Wash the mussels and remove any beard.  Then, soak them in salty water for 10 minutes – they will get rid of any grit or sand.  Remove and hold aside.

Put the pasta into the boiling water to cook.

Meanwhile, in a heavy pot, saute the onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent, about 3 or 4 minutes.  Use a low heat, don’t let the garlic brown.  Add the chopped tomatoes to the onion and garlic. Let is all simmer for about 3 minutes.  Add about 1/2 cup white wine, turn up the heat momentarily to cook off the alchohol, then set heat back to medium low.  Add the mussels into the pot the with onion, garlic, tomatoes, white wine, and cover.  Let it all cook for about 6 minutes.

Before you drain the linguine, reserve 1 cup of pasta water.  Now, drain the linguine.

Remove the cooked mussels from the pot and put them aside.  Add 1/2 of the pasta water to the “broth” of garlic, onion, white wine, mussel juices.  Add 3 tablespoons or so of cream or whole fat milk. Taste for salt, pepper.  Raise the heat to medium, add the pasta, add the chopped parsley, toss well, let it all thicken slightly.  If it seems a bit dry, add the rest of the pasta water.  Plate on a large serving plate, place the mussels on top of the finished pasta and serve immediately.

Wine pairing suggestions:  Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Fiano Sicilia, Grillo, Inzolia / Catarrato blend

Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis 2005

Gaja Ca’Marcanda Promis 2005

The end of all good music is to affect the soul.
—- Claudio Monteverdi, from his 8th Book of Madrigals

gaja-promisLike good music, good wine should stir the soul.  As if inspired by that “Giver of delight”, Euterpe, Muse of Music, Angelo Gaja’s Ca’ Marcanda Promis 2005 reminds me of what Monteverdi was meaning in the quote above.

The legendary Angelo Gaja began thinking of branching out beyond his native Piemonte during the 1990’s.  Two areas of Tuscany – Montalcino and Bolgheri – areas especially well known for their high quality reds, eventually became home to Gaja winemaking ventures that play an important role in the production of his wine Promis.  In a way characteristic of other Gaja wines, Promis is deliberately made as an IGT wine, thus allowing the maestro to work outside of DOC disciplinare regulations in determining varietals and blend from both of these Tuscan production areas.

Although Gaja represents 4 generations of Piemontese winemaking, he came to Tuscany as a “learner”, not a “teacher”, translating generations of Piedmont winemaking experience to realize unique and optimal results with the Tuscan terroirs.

Produced at Ca’Marcanda, Super Tuscan Promis is a blend of 55% Merlot, 35% Syrah, from the Ca’Marcanda estate in Bolghieri, and 10% Sangiovese from Gaja’s Montalcino property Pieve Santa Restituta, production areas that map incredibly well to producing phenomenal results with those specific vines.  Fermentation is carried out separately by varietal.  Maturation takes place in a combination of new and used barriques for 18 months, followed by several months of bottle ageing.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

The whole orchestra plays at once with Gaja’s Promis.  A profound harmony seems to come from somewhere deep within the wines core, all the wine’s components reverberating in sympathetic reaction.  The wine sent a garnet wave of crushed velvet swirling lush, warm, dark cherry fruit all over my tongue, embellished with notes of spice, herb, and leather.  The finish is sensational, long and delicious fading to pianissimo and disappearing into silence.  Where some wines lead with an incredible sense of place, that is not quite the case here:  though still decidely “Italian”, the astonishing thing about this wine is the integration of its parts –  you look for a seam, but there is none to be found – magnificent balance, incredible craftsmanship.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Egg pasta, especially with morel or mushroom sauce; Ravioli, especially stuffed with ricotta or pumpkin; Ossobucco (braised veal shanks); Sushi; Beef Bourguignon; stuffed mushrooms; steak

Recipe: Mushroom Risotto

Recipe:  Mushroom Risotto

porcini-risotto-thumb3Risotto!  Is there anything in all of Italian cooking with a more meditative cooking process?

The making of risotto has a way of bringing one’s attention to the here and now in a condition of effortless concentration.

Ingrediants are few, but technique and timing are important.

About 20 minutes.

Have at hand:

Plenty of hot chicken broth, preferably home made.  If you use store bought, it’s OK, but shoot for organic, low salt chicken broth.
Dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in warm water, finely minced
Fresh mushrooms, finely minced
Onion, finely minced
Arborio, Carnaroli, or Vialone rice – I generally plan for 1/3 cup of uncooked rice per person
Olive oil
White wine
Butter, room temp
Grated Parmiggiano or Pecorino cheese


Over medium low heat, warm the pan for a couple of minutes.  Put in a some olive oil,  enough to saute the onion.  Add the onion and saute for about 3 minutes or till translucent. Now add the uncooked rice, stirring a bit with a wooden spoon. Look closely at the grains of rice: when they are translucent around the ends and still opaque at the very center – takes only 1 to 2 minutes – pour in some white wine. Stir.  Let the wine nearly evaporate.

Meditation begins:

Using a ladel, move some hot chicken broth into the rice, just enough to keep the rice moist and creamy, but NOT so much that the rice is loose and soupy.  Add the mushrooms.  The broth will soon be absorbed by the rice. Meanwhile, stir and Don’t let the rice consistency dry out.

Put more chicken broth in just ahead of where the rice begins to tighten up, again adding just enough to keep the rice moist and creamy. Keep stirring.  Repeat this process until the rice is cooked slightly al dente, about 20 minutes.

NOTE:  I find it really improves the final consistency of the risotto to energetically shake the pan now and again during cooking, moving the mixture around as you continue to stir.

When the rice is cooked, finish by stirring in a generous amount of butter and the grated cheese.  Test for salt / pepper.

Serve with extra grated Parmiggiano or Pecorino at the table.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

The earthy-ness of mushroom risotto pairs wonderfully with Chianti or Chianti Classico, Rosso di Montalcino, Rosso di Montepulciano, Carmignano, Valpolicella, Barbera, or Nebbiolo Langhe.