Maculan Brentino 2005

Who inhabits the spaces we’ve lived in when we move on? Do they too scent the winter kitchen by tossing orange peels into the old iron stove? Have they looked with curiosity upon the egg shaped depression left in the window sill where we hammered open so many walnuts?

I am always nostalgic about such things.

maculan-brentinoSo, when I read that Fausto Maculan, owner of Maculan winery, when born, was delivered in the same room that is now his office – well, a sentimental detail, isn’t it?

Located in the village of Breganze in Italy’s Veneto, the quality-minded Maculan estate presides over approximately 15 hectares of estate owned vineyards, leases an additional 24 hectares, and works closely with other growers as well, managing production of another 50 or so hectares within the Breganze DOC.

“Vintage note”: the year 2007 saw Fausto’s daughters, Angela and Maria Vittoria, officially join the winery. Congratulazioni !

Maculan Brentino is made from Merlot 55% and Cabernet Sauvignon 45% and is aged, half for 12 months in barrique, half in stainless steel.

squash-risotto-orange-roasted-chicken1We enjoyed Maculan’s Brentino 2005 with butternut squash risotto, orange roasted chicken and vegetables.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

A gorgeous ruby color and an arousing perfume of red and black berries, cedar, and spice. It has a soft, voluptuous body – think of the figures painted by Flemish artist Peter Paul Reubens – on the palate, and warm feeling, round fruit, hints of cassis and cocoa, and good acidity balanced with incredible precision. The finish is long and persistent with seductively restrained notes of spice and vanilla.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: Roasted meats, especially lamb; PASTA: hearty pasta dishes, for example, lasagne or pasta dressed with a tomato-based cream sauce; POLENTA: try soft polenta with gorgonzola, pancetta and porcini mushrooms!; RISOTTO: recommend you try risotto with butternut squash; CHEESES: Ripe cheeses


A Moon and a Sun: Pairing Italian Wine with Chinese Food

A moon and a sun inhabit our home. One is called Italy, the other called China. Which is which, you may ask? They take turns playing moon and sun, balancing momentum and gravity, constantly in need of the other’s orbit.

chinese-mealWhen I first mentioned to my Italian mother that I was thinking of marrying a woman from mainland China, her first question was this: “Oh my God, what will you eat ? “

15 years later, my wife and I still enjoy exploring each other’s food traditions, figuring out what we’ll eat. There is more in common between the great culinary traditions of Italy and China than you might think.

Working in the Italian wine business has had its advantages: it’s not uncommon to have 10 wines open at once with the opportunity to taste all of them against the many dishes from Italy, China, and elsewhere that we cook at home.

Italian wines are exceptionally adept at table – and not just the Italian table. There are many, many gorgeous pairings of Chinese / Asian dishes and Italian wines which we’ve discovered.

Here is a multi-dish, home cooked Chinese meal we enjoyed along with recommended pairings of Italian wines. You may not cook or order these EXACT dishes, but you’ll get the idea. Click the suggested wine name for more information about the wines / producers:

chinese-chickenChicken with leeks, bell pepper, spicy pepper from the garden, and onion.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:

    Roero Arneis


Buns stuffed with pork, chives, fresh bamboo and five spice powder.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:

    Bolgheri Rosso


Bitter vegetable stuffed with tofu, pork, water chestnut.

Wine Pairing Suggestion:

    Pinot Grigio Dolomiti

Buon Appetito ! OR…. Hao Chi !!!! 🙂

P.S. My mother now loves Chinese food !

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2006

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2006, DOCG

Rewind: 13th century. The popular legend goes like this:

Florence and Siena resolved to reconcile years of disagreement about the border(s) of Chianti Classico with a rather novel idea: the border would be determined by a horse race: two riders – one from Florence, one from Siena – were to begin riding at cock’s crow toward the opposite destination. Both sides agreed that where the two riders met would define the border. Thinking a hungry rooster would be inclined to crow earlier, the Florentines decided upon a “known to be hungry” black rooster to sound the call; though in Siena you may hear the phrase “known to be starved” used. In any case, hungry or starved, the Florentine rooster indeed crowed early, allowing the Florentine rider a favorable start toward Siena – still in keeping with the rules, of course. The Florentine meet the Sienese rider quite nearly at Siena’s doorstep, at Fonterutoli, in fact. New Border 🙂

The Black Rooster, of course, went on to become an important symbol of Chianti Classico.

fonterutoli-chianti-classico-2006The Fonterutoli estate, owned by the Mazzei family since 1435, is located in the commune of Castellina in Chianti. Approximately 120 hectares of vineyard are given to four areas: Fonterutoli, Siepi, Badiola, Belvedere and Caggio. Work in the vineyard is carried out by hand – pruning, thinning, etc. – as is the harvest, which is staged to correspond with fruit maturity in each area.

Fonterutoli Chianti Classico 2006 is produced from Sangiovese (90%), Merlot (5%), Colorino (3%), and Malvasia Nera (2%) from Fonterutoli – its higher altitude imparting elegant aromatics – and the lower altitude Belvedere contributing structure and strength. Altitude ranges between 300-450 meters. Soil is a rocky limestone composed of disintegrating limestone and sandstone boulders. After fermentation in steel, the wine is aged in 40% new, small French oak barrels for one year.

Tasting Notes:

I love the counterpoint of this wine’s bright cherry and herb aromatics against the smoky, dark berry fruit on the palate. Notes of earth, dusty chocolate and herb. Good acidity, silky-smooth tannins, and a persistent finish. Great overall balance.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Meat: grilled / roasted beef, beef steak or pork, especially seasoned with garlic, olive oil, rosemary; veal; Poultry: game birds or chicken roasted with sage ; Pasta: tagliatelle or pappardelle with meat or mushroom sauces; baked pasta with red sauce; Polenta with meat or mushroom sauces; Portobello Mushroom: grilled, or stuffed and baked; Cheeses: pecorino, parmigiano reggiano; Cured meats