The Grandi Marchi Experience: Symphonic

The Grandi Marchi – visionary winemakers from across Italy – are here today at Del Posto Restaurant in New York City to lead attendees through a seminar and guided wine tasting of some of Italy’s best terroirs.

Like the Philharmonic minutes before a concert, the “orchestra” Grandi Marchi, is tuning up.

As Grandi Marchi members take their seats, tasting glasses clink and jangle, papers rustle, polite chatter and excuse me’s whispered one after another.

Audience iPhone camera shutters clllick away.


What follows is to be an immensely informative seminar, with each producer/representative speaking with subject matter expert authority about their respective regions, production methods, and unique terroirs.

I won’t kid you – the tasting segment is ridiculously pleasant. And massively instructive. The elegance, vigor, joy and pleasure of Grandi Marchi wines is remarkable.

But, for anyone who is familiar with the Grandi Marchi – member names that include the likes of Gaja, Masi, and Antinori – icons of fine Italian wine – that much is not unexpected.

What has so impressed me at this Grandi Marchi tasting – more so than any single wine or producer – is that, as a group, the wines braid together 13 different appellations and 15 wineries in a way that speaks so vividly, so sonorously, of Italy’s rich and diverse wine tradition.

To put it another way, perhaps in musical terms, the Italian wine tradition is composed not of a single tone, but from many different tones which, as in good music, allow us to experience the symphony.

There are no short cuts to understanding Italian wine. There are, however, some very good places to begin the Sassicaiajourney. Grandi Marchi wines represent a point of departure that grant you exposure to a highly relevant cross-section of Italy’s most important grape varietals and regions, act as model reference points for what wines ought to be like within their respective categories, and help to communicate the cultural values and traditions that unite them.

For more information about the Grandi Marchi, I recommend you to follow the link to Grandi Marchi Institute of Fine Italian Wines.

Gradis’Ciutta Pinot Grigio 2011

Gradis’Ciutta Pinot Grigio 2011

I am a man not easily held hostage by life’s material things.

That said, there are a couple of personal items which I value, among them a Le Creuset French oven: it confers an indescribably good taste upon whatever we happen to cook in it.

So,as my wife lifts the Le Creuset lid on galompki to be served alongside of chicken cutlet pounded tender, breaded and pan-fried, I feel the need to survey the bottle rack for something that can keep up: I entrust the job to a bottle of Gradis’Ciutta Pinot Grigio 2011.

No regrets. In fact, the wine is sensational and brings to the table indescribably good taste all its own.

From the estate of Robert Princic , tucked away in Collio (Friuli) in Italy’s northeastern corner, Gradis’Ciutta Pinot Grigio is made from 100% Pinot Grigio grapes grown in the region’s “ponca” soil, a mix of clay marl and breakable sandstone.

Fermented in stainless steel and left “sur lie” until bottling.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

This is a finely-etched Pinot Grigio yet one with good structure. Focused peach fruit, stones, minerals, and bracing acidity. Long finish and loads of personality.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

A super versatile wine at table, it can hang with boiled meats, white meats, vegetable courses, soups and soft cheeses. It was spectacular with the galompki and cutlet. Wouldn’t want to miss it served with kielbasa, a mix of sauerkraut and thinly sliced fresh cabbage fried in oil and butter, and home-fried potatos. Lighter perhaps? Small pasta shapes in good chicken broth with diced carrots and celery, bread and butter on the side, greens salad and a plate of soft cheeses.

NOTE: I first tasted this wine at the Simply Italian Wines Tour NYC 2012, adored it then, and had a real tough time locating a retail source. You can contact the importer Wine Emporium, Inc., out of Brooklyn, NY for assistance in tracking it down.

Scarbolo: Pinot Grigio, Pinot Grigio Ramato, Merlot

Scarbolo Pinot Grigio 2008
Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato 2007
Scarbolo Merlot 2007

I consult my wrist watch: just enough time. Car keys in hand, I head out the door and exercise the Audi along a stretch of highway connecting me to the location where Valter Scarbolo is visiting in town.

During the time I could chat and taste with Valter, I discovered that, in addition to being a successful producer of Friulian wines and proprietor of a well known restaurant, Valter is a very neighborly sort of personality, a really nice guy, whose wines reflect equal home-spun charm.

Scarbolo harvests grapes by hand from vines grown in the terrain’s dark-red clay soil containing alluvial deposits and minerals. A breezy microclimate alternating cool (east) and warm (south) helps grapes to ripen slowly, balancing aroma and flavor. Thoughtful techniques in the vineyard and cellar – dense planting, low yields, careful vinification and ageing – are applied to preserve varietal character.

scarbolo-pinot-grigio-2008Scarbolo Pinot Grigio 2008

100% Pinot Grigio. 60% of the whole clusters are soft pressed immediately after harvesting. The remaining fruit is de-stemmed and left on the skins for a 24 hour cold maceration before pressing. Fermentation is carried out in controlled temperature stainless steel. The wine is aged on the lees in stainless steel for 6 months with frequent stirrings.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Straw yellow color with cinnamon highlights. On the nose, scents of apples, ginger, flowers, and minerals. Flavors of apricot, honey and bread crust on the palate. Finishes with a trace of mint. A well structured, table friendly wine.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: pan-fried chicken, veal or pork cutlets with mushroom cream sauce; chicken sausages served with risotto or polenta; FISH: try cold salmon lox, capers, and slivered parsly served with buttered toast points; a great wine for sushi / maki, especially try with tuna; warm salmon with leek sauce; broiled scallops with crème fraiche and Belgian endive; classic mussels and frites; PASTA: tagliatelle or gnocchi with speck in saffron cream sauce; SOUPS: hearty soups like escarole and bean; VEGETARIAN: farfalle with walnut pesto and lemon zest; spinach and mushroom quiche; potato pancakes ! CHEESES: young cheeses

scarbolo-ramato-2007Scarbolo Pinot Grigio Ramato 2007

This single vineyard Pinto Grigio is produced from 100% varietal of Scarbolo’s Mattia site, hand selected during three separate harvests. 50% of the fruit is de-stemmed and left with the skins for 4 days at controlled temperature and then separated from skins, half completing fermentation in oak tonneaux, half in stainless steel tanks. The other 50% of fruit sees a brief cold maceration and is then transferred to stainless steel tanks for fermentation. Aged on the lees in stainless steel and oak tonneaux for 14 months with frequent stirrings, and an additional 6 months of bottle ageing.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

An absolutely gorgeous color of pale chestnut that seems illuminated by moonlight from within. On the nose, scents of stone fruits, mountain herb and cut grass. Purity of fruit, good weight and a creamy mouthfeel. Hints of ginger, almond, and spice on the finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: roasted turkey or chicken; veal cutlet with tuna sauce; breaded pork cutlets with butter and sage; pan-fried Polish kielbasa; FISH: grilled tuna with carmelized onions; scallops with orange fig sauce; loved this wine with roasted eel maki cut rolls; cod fish steaks; EGGS: scrambled eggs with diced speck; PASTA: whole wheat rigatoni with walnut pesto; spaghetti with pesto and bread crumbs; Polish-style Pierogi dumplings filled with meat, cheese or potato; VEGETARIAN: Penne with asparagus tips, pine nuts and mascarpone cream sauce; pumpkin risotto; Cheeses: young cheeses; runny, less pungent French cheeses

scarbolo-merlot-2007Scarbolo Merlot 2008

100% Merlot grown in vineyards just 2km from the winery. Fermentation is carried out in small French barriques with 3-4 manual punchdowns of the cap/s per day to extract color and sweet tannins. The wine is aged in small French barriques for 10 months followed by an additional 8 months of bottle ageing.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Deep ruby color with streaks of blueberry. Berry pie, herb, baker’s chocolate on the nose, transferring well to the palate, finishing with enjoyably balanced sweet tannins and spice.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

MEATS: a winner with roasted meats, consider roasted beef or veal; veal fricassee with mushrooms and vegetables; do try this wine with Beijing duck if you have the chance; rabbit simmered in mustard sauce; classic steak and frites; hearty meat stews; braised short ribs, and if you’re up for a unique pairing, try this wine with the Korean short ribs called “kalbi”; PASTA: rich oven- baked pasta like lasagne, try alternating layers of red and béchamel sauces; penne with mushrooms and sausages; rigatoni with shredded duck meat; stuffed pasta such as manicotti or ravioli; VEGETARIAN: seitan “bourguignon”; baked tempeh with mushrooms and garlic; CHEESES: medium aged cheeses

Featured Producer: Azienda Agricola Edi Kante

Azienda Agricola Edi Kante Vitovska 2006
Azienda Agricola Edi Kante Malvasia 2006
Azienda Agricola Edi Kante KK Spumante Brut NV

Close your eyes and imagine a windswept, limestone plateau, a place of natural caves and grottos where the stone can feel alive. At this great table of rock, Veneto, Slavic, and German-Austrian traditions come together to form a wonderfully compatible wine and food culture where wines of a deeply local character stand up to some very hearty fare.

Welcome to the Carso area of Friuli.

What kind of guy is Edi Kante? Well…the kind that chiseled subterranean wine cellars from a natural cavity in the limestone near Prepotto. Unconventional and motivated seem appropriate adjectives here. And I don’t know how true it is – I haven’t met him – I’m passing it as anecdote suggests: he is an incredibly nice guy, too.

The six hectare Kante estate faces the Gulf of Trieste on the Adriatic Sea from steep hills where limestone rich soil and cooling winds create an oscillating heat / cooling microclimate that gives Kante’s wines especially unique personality and aromatics.

kante-vitovska-1Edi Kante Vitovska 2006

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Think: the sound of a cello served with a light sprinkling of sea salt and a squeeze of lemon. Get the picture? Citrus and floral on the nose, this wine has an absolutely mouthwatering mineral acidity that plays brilliantly against a palate background reverberating with sonorous, deep-toned richness. Made from the Slavic origin Vitovska varietal. Encore length finish.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Fresh seafood is primary here, especially shell fish: consider crab stuffed mushrooms, sushi / sashimi, or grilled calamari; Pasta with lobster in a light cream sauce; Seafood risotto


Edi Kante Malvasia 2006kante-malvasia-1

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Scents of mandarin oranges infuse an intriguing palate of apricot, honey, hints of toasted almond and saline. A polished, buttery mouthfeel dissolves into a focused finish of remarkable depth. Made from the local Malvasia clone (Istriana).

Food Pairing Suggestions:

Fresh seafood, consider fatty tuna sushi or sashimi; Quiche, cheese tarts; Pork Schnitzel with mushroom sauce; Ham; Smoked cheeses


kante-kkEdi Kante KK Spumante Brut NV

The base for this classicly produced sparkling wine is comprised of Chardonnay (80%) and Malvasia (20%). The wine does refinement duty via 12 months barrique and 6 months steel.

Tasting Notes:

I found the Edi Kante “KK” Spumante Brut NV a tailored, beautifully etched wine. Very dry, with a great minerality and acid backbone. Notes of bread crust, apricots, honey, and toasted almonds, a remarkable balance of acid, alcohol, and fruit.

Food pairing suggestions: Seafood (I enjoyed it with seafood risotto, braised belgian endive, and grilled haddock), prosciutto di San Daniele, hearty soups, pasta / gnocchi with butter & cheese, spaezle, potatoe & veal dishes

Importer: Villiage Wine Imports LTD New York, New York


*originally posted Feb.23rd 2009 featuring only Edi Kante Brut KK, the post was updated to inlcude tasting notes / impressions and food pairings for Edi Kante’s Vitovska 2006 and Malvasia 2006.