Wineries of the Month
Cantine Gran Furor Divina Costiera di Marisa Cuomo is located in Furore on the famed Amalfi Coast in Campagna. These coastal vineyards are perfectly arranged on stone-walled terraces along cliffs at altitudes between 980 to 1300 feet above sea level. The grapes benefit from a sunny southern exposure and a unique microclimate created by a combination of ocean currents, mountains, and highpressure systems. The volcanic and alluvial soils of the vineyards produce relatively low yields, so the grapes produce extraordinary flavor. Maria Cuomo is one of the most acclaimed winemakers in Italy, whose wines are highly sought after. She produces just a little over 4000 cases per year, 60 percent of which are white wines, the classics of the Furore zone, Falanghina, Biancolella, Fenile, Ginestra, and Ripoli. Piedirosso and Aglianico dominate her red wines. As Antonio Galloni put it, “Marisa Cuomo is another Campanian producer making drop-dead gorgeous wines.”
The winery, built in 1998, is located in the town of Cesinali, the heart of the Irpinia appellation in Campagna. I Favati produces the ancient wines of the area, Fiano d’Avellino, Greco di Tufo, and Aglianico d’Irpinia. Giancarlo Favati is Managing Director, his brother Piersabino Favati is the vineyard manager, and Rosanna Petrozziello, wife of Giancarlo is a sommelier and the marketing manager for the company. Carmine Valentino is the winemaker. Gambero Rosso has honored several of the wines with its highest Tre Bicchieri award.
Since Tommaso Rubino purchased his first wine estate in Puglia in the 1980s, he has added three more estates. In 1999, son Luigi started the Tenute Rubino brand with the launch of a new winery at Brindisi, dedicated especially to the local native varieties, Negro Amaro, Primitivo, Malvasia Nera, and Susumaniello, but also including Montepulciano, and Sauvignon Blanc. The estates include the 50-hectare Jaddico vineyard along the Adriatic shore, the 38-hecare Marmorelle location northwest of Brindisi, the 100-hectare Uggio estate in southwestern Puglia, and another 15-hectare property also in southwestern Puglia. The wines have enjoyed favorable ratings from various sources, including several Tre Bicchieri awards from wine guide Gambero Rosso.
Winery of the Month
Mosby Winery & Vineyard
Eighty-five years old and in the wine business for 45 of them, Bill Mosby has been the right man for the times. During his career, the business has undergone relentless change, which was the very reason that Bill embraced it. He could have continued to be a dentist but found the profession much less dynamic than enology and viticulture. After all, there are only so many ways to repair a tooth. Forty-five years ago, California wines were likely to be mass produced blends, made by a few giant wineries. Today in California, almost 4000 wineries operate in 250 appellations. Most of these wineries are small. Driven by both domestic and global competition, they employ every means possible to produce progressively better wines or die. The Mosby estate includes 45 acres and makes about 10,000 cases a year in Buelton, California near Santa Barbara. “We’ve never wanted to be big,” Bill says. “We wouldn’t have time to innovate.” Learning and innovating is what he loves best, and the quality of his wines continues to escalate.
Years ago, Bill visited Italy and discovered Italian wines. What had been just a vacation became a pivotal experience in his life. “At the time, I was growing regular stuff, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, some Riesling, some Traminer. And on the airplane coming back, I began to reminisce about what I’d seen and decided right there that I would start making Italian wines. I’m sure glad I did.” Today he makes the whites Cortese, Moscato, Pinot Grigio, Traminer, and Garganega. He makes a Rosato from Grenache, and makes the reds Dolcetto, Sangiovese, Primitivo, Teroldigo, Sagrantino, and Lagrein, each one more delicious than the next.
ITALIAN Wines of the Month
Tenuta Rubino 2014 Negroamaro
One hundred per cent Negroamaro, this wine is everything a Rose’ should be, with beautiful color, charming aromas, and crisp acidity. And of course dry. You can happily celebrate spring with this delicious wine, which will pair with appetizers, pizza Margherita, pasta primavera with spring vegetables, and fried or stuffed calamari (13% alcohol). Serve chilled.
Tenuta Rubino 2013 Salento Rosso,
Made with grapes from the Marmorelle vineyard, this delicious wine is a traditional blend of 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera. The wine has bright color and ethereal aromas of cherry and blueberry. Because it has a medium body, the Marmorella will pair wonderfully with most dishes (13% alcohol). Serve at cool room temperature.
I Favati 2010 Campi Taurasini Cretarossa
Harvested from the leased five-acre Cretarossa vineyard, the fruit is 100% Aglianico d’Irpinia, a truly fine wine, with translucent garnet color, aromas of black cherry and pepper that transfer to the palate in a gorgeously balanced and integrated wine. The Cretarossa was aged for 15 months in French oak barrels (14% alcohol).
Marisa Cuomo 2014 Furore Rosso
This elegant wine is 50% Aglianico and 50% Piedirosso and offers an intense nose of black fruits, leather, and game. Aged for six months in French oak barrels, the wine shows translucent color and supreme balance with very fine tannin texture, clean acid, and beautiful fruit (13.5% alcohol).
Marisa Cuomo 2014 Furore Bianco
This compelling blend of 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella offers citrus and jasmine flavors wrapped with clean acidity. Aged for four months in stainless steel tanks, the wine features very fresh aromas and flavors (13.5% alcohol). Serve chilled.
I Favati 2008 Taurasi Terzotratto
The fruit for this rich but elegant Taurasi is 100% Aglianico d’Irpinia and was harvested from the Cretarossa vineyard at Venticano- San Mango in the province of Avellino. Anise and raspberry dominate the nose and transfer to the palate with added mineral notes, typical of Taurasi, which grows from volcanic terrain. The wine was aged for 15 months in small oak barrels, for 15 months in large barrels, and for eight months in stainless steel tanks and in bottle before release from the winery. The wine requires aging to soften its notable tannin, but the winemaker has exercised careful judgment to avoid oak flavor from the wine’s time in barrel. This beautiful wine succeeds in every way (15% alcohol).
Marisa Cuomo 2011 Furore Rosso
A blend of 50% Aglianico and 50% Piedirosso, this beautiful wine offers an intense nose of black fruits and leather. In the mouth, the wine is full-bodied with jammy fruit and a texture of compelling elegance that is well balanced with spices and black currant overtones, an awesome wine of great depth with an extensively long finish (13.5% alcohol). Serve at cool room temperature, about 65 degrees.
ITALIAN Region of the Month
The capital of Campania, Naples was founded by the Greeks, enlarged by the Romans, and subsequently invaded by the Normans, Hohenstaufen, French, and Spanish among others. Established by the Greeks in the 11th Century BCE, Naples was the earliest of a cluster of far flung settlements throughout southern Italy. Many important figures of the age, including Pythagoras, Archimedes, and Aeschylus lived in these settlements, and today some of the best ruins of the ancient Greek world can be found there. Along with mathematics, architecture, and drama, the ancient art of winemaking also flourished. Aglianico and Greco, vines that the Greeks introduced, are still highly prized. The Greek historian Herodotus called this part of Italy Oenotria, the land of wine. Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo are among Italy’s most distinguished white wines, while Taurasi from Aglianico has been called the “Barolo of the South” because of its aging ability. Taurasi, Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, and Aglianico del Taburno are the four DOCG wines to date in the government system of laws that regulate wine production. There are 17 DOC areas and nine IGTs.
CALIFORNIAN Wines of the Month
Mosby Winery, Lucca,
Santa Barbara County
Named after a picturesque village in Tuscany, the Lucca is a non-vintage wine. If you’ve never thought about what that means, it informs the buyer that the bottle includes a blend of wine from more than one vintage. Is this important? It can be if the region has dramatic shifts in weather from year to year. But California does not, unlike Europe where the weather can ruin a particular vintage. Regardless, this is a completely balanced and delicious wine, full of fruit flavors, enough acidity, and beautiful tannin texture. The wine was aged in older French oak barrels, preserving its bright fruit flavor and smooth finish. It will pair with most dishes and is totally delicious (13% alcohol).
Mosby 2014 Pinot Grigio,
Santa Barbara County If you think of Pinot Grigio as light and refreshing, you will be surprised by this one, which shows intense flavor (13% alcohol). Serve chilled.
Mosby 2009 Sagrantino,
Santa Barbara County
Sagrantino was newly discovered in the Montefalco area of Unbria about twenty years ago and has enjoyed a soaring reputation during these two decades. It is now considered one of the noble wines of Italy. Bill imported the cuttings and tended them in his estate vineyard for four years before his first Sagrantino harvest in 2006. Bill’s wine is worthy of its birthplace, an entirely beautiful wine with exotic aromas and brooding fruit although not “heavy” in any way. The colors of his reds tend to be translucent and flavors clean with terrific balance (13.5% alcohol). Enjoy!
Mosby 2009 Sangiovese,
Santa Barbara County
Sangiovese, the noble wine of Tuscany, has had a tortured history in California, some of it good, much of it not, and most of it over-priced. Once again, Bill Mosby’s version is superb, with delicious fruit, brisk acidity, and smooth tannins (14.4% alcohol). No one could ask for more!
Mosby Traminer, Santa Barbara County
If you think California whites are uninteresting wines, think again. This one amazes with unusual aromas and flavors, mostly flowers and fruits. Bill Mosby is a master of Californian Italian grape varieties, maybe because he’s devoted a lifetime to them. Please take a moment to sample the aromas. They surprise and please beyond expectation.
CALIFORNIAN Region of the Month
Built in 1786 and called the “Queen of Missions,” Mission Santa Barbara in the heart of the city is the most beautiful and best preserved of the 21 California missions that Father Junipero Serra establish in the 18th Century. Grape culture and winemaking are as old as the first missions, whose vineyards included cuttings brought from Mexico. Today, Santa Barbara County has about 100 wineries. Ocean breezes blow eastward, channeled by the hills and mountains. The eastern foothills are warm during the day and cool at night, whereas the western vineyards toward the coast have a mild climate. Generally, most of Santa Barbara County is cooler than northern California and favors Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Riesling along with Pinot Noir. In the warmer areas, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah make world class wines. Within Santa Barbara County, there are currently four federally designated American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), Santa Maria Valley, Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Rita Hills, and Happy Canyon within the Santa Ynez Valley appellation.
MENU OF THE MONTH
Mother’s Day Brunch with Seasonal Fruits & Veggies
Wild salmon & organic asparagus bruschetta
Fruit platter centerpiece
Horizontal rows of whole strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries,
and sliced circles of green kiwi and pineapple,
sprinkled with triple sec and slivers of mint,
served with wedges of white cake
and a bowl of freshly whipped cream
Wild Salmon & Organic Asparagus Bruschetta
Yotam Ottolenghi proved without doubt that the Internet might bury other
paper publications but certainly not cookbooks. Jerusalem, NOPI, Plenty, Ottolenghi,
and Plenty More are international best sellers, cherished for their
delicious, rustic, fresh, and healthful appeal. We adapted one of Ottolenghi’s
recipes for our Mother’s Day brunch, giving it a bit more Italian flare. Enjoy
with copious amounts of sparkling Prosecco and/or a still white of your choice!
Olive oil for drizzling &
brushing the bread
Wild salmon fillet
4 bay leaves
4 juniper berries
1/2 cup white wine
4 thick slices of a crusty Italian bread
2 garlic cloves, peeled
5.3 oz asparagus spears
4.2 oz ricotta cheese, blended for
Coarse sea salt and black pepper
Capers, coarsely chopped
flat-leaf parsley. and lemon
wedges, to garnish
Preheat the oven to 390°F. Drizzle an ovenproof dish with some olive oil and place the salmon fillet in it, skin-side down. Add the bay leaves, juniper and wine, then sprinkle the fillet with a little salt. Squeeze over the lemon half and throw it in with the fish. Cover the dish and bake for 15–20 minutes. The fish should be just cooked, and still lightly pink inside. Remove from the oven, take off the cover, and allow cooling.
To prepare the bread, lay out the slices on a baking tray, brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10–12 minutes, until golden brown. While they are still hot, rub the slices with the peeled garlic cloves, and then leave on a wire rack to cool.
Trim off the woody ends of the asparagus. Add the asparagus to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold water until completely cool. Drain again and leave to dry in a colander.
When the salmon has cooled sufficiently, flake it with your hands into big chunks, reserving the cooking liquor in a separate bowl.
Spread the toasts liberally with the ricotta cheese. Arrange the salmon and asparagus on top creatively. Spoon over some of the reserved cooking juices and finish with a good grind of black pepper and some salt. Garnish with capers, parsley, and a wedge of lemon. Serves four.