Friday, October 30, 2015


by Dwight Casimere

Dwight Casimere with winery owner Maria del Yerro of Madrid

NEW YORK--Maria del Yerro, owner of Alonso del Yerro wine in Spain, is extremely modest. She describes she her winery, recognized as one of the finest in the Ribero del Duero region as simply "a family-run winery. We have a very simple philosophy,' she told me over an exquisitely prepared lunch by Executive Chef Michael Anthony (Gramercy Tavern) and Chef de Cuisine Suzanne Cupps in Untitled restaurant, famed restaurateur Danny Meyer's latest creation on the ground floor of the dramatic, new Whitney Museum of American Art near the Hi-Line on New York's Hudson River. The restaurant has quickly become a 'must go' in its showcase location in the colossal Renzo-Piano-designed showplace in the trendy Meatpacking District. 
Maria del Yerro flew over from Madrid just for the day, the host the luncheon. Her responsibilities at the winery and to her husband and five children required her immediate return home, so her visit was a cherished experience. "Family comes first, " she said firmly. "And that's a big part of our philosophy. My husband (Alonso) and I believe strongly in our founding principles, which are; respect towards the environment, the value of friendship, love for our family, and a passion for excellence."
The afternoon's menu would revolve around the winery's three flagship wines, which are currently available in the United States.;  Alonso del Yerro 2011 which is100% Tempranillo ($25-$26),   Maria 2010, also 100% Tempranillo ($60-$65), Paydos 2011, 100% Tinta Del Toro ($33-$34) .

The wines are all rich and powerful. They reflect the rich, complex soils in which the grapes are grown. Slow and gentle vinification at very low temperatures, with careful aging in both mature and new French oak barrels ensure the wines' deep red color, powerful floral nose and mouthwatering flavors of ripe fruit, baking spices and licorice. These are wines with a silky finish and a flavor that lasts long in the mouth. Accompanied by the delicious cuisine at Unitled, Danny Meyer's expert creation on the ground level of the stunning Whitney Museum, it was a meal to remember.

Untitled Executive Chef Michael Anthony and Chef de Cuisine Suzanne Cupps prepared a stunning menu of items, presented family-style, to be sampled with the assorted wines. The flavor combinations were revelatory, with the wines changing in flavor and complexity with bites of the various dishes; Cabot cheddar fondue with shiitake and pickled pear, Cauliflower, cardamom, custard, lemon,  Beef tartare with chestnut and delicate, Cured fluke with carrot and preserved lime and Ruby red shrimp with peppers emmer and okra for starters, followed by Sweet peppers, duck chorizo and shelling was with entrees of Monlfish with charred leek broth and bacon, an outstanding 'Chinese-styled' chicken salad of Roasted and Fried chicken with cashews and Ratatouille and bacon salad with harissa and frisee.

 Below: Cabot cheddar fondue with shiitake and pickled pear

 Assorted appetizers from Unitled

 The wines of Alonso del Yerro

 Roasted and fried chicken salad with cashews from Untitled

Below: Dwight Casimere with Maria del Your

Each of the dishes was carefully selected to enhance the unique profiles of these rich, flavorful wines. Each of the courses was served somewhat family style or 'dim sum' style so that the wines could be tasted and contrasted with a variety of dishes. There was not a bad note in this carefully orchestrated dining experience!

Roasted and fried chicken salad and (below) Monkfish with charred leek broth, bacon and radish

Alonso del Yerro employs superstar winemaking consultant Stephane Derenoncourt. He owns wineries in both Bordeaux, where he cut his teeth as a winemaker, and in Napa Valley,. where he produces wines under his own name and is the driving force behind Francisco Ford Coppola's Rubin Estate wines. "We produce all of our wines with an eye toward picking the grapes at their optimum point of ripeness. This often involves very late harvests, sometimes in late October, to achieve the flavor and complexity that we desire," Maria emphasized. "Also, we age the wines in small French oak barrels for as much as 13 months, to achieve greater complexity and flavor."
The results were evident on the palate.The wines, carefully decanted by the staff at Unittled, were literally brimming over with flavor, each distinctive and more flavorful with the last one. They especially paired well with the food and revealed a kaleidoscope of flavors when paired with different dishes. 
"These wines are very versatile. You would be surprised at how well they go with fish and chicken, dishes that you would not normally think of as going with red wine. With the right spices and flavorings, these wines go very well with a variety of lighter dishes.

Photo gallery by Dwight Casimere

Tuesday, October 27, 2015



by Dwight Casimere

San Francisco--More than 50 winemakers from Italy's various wine regions from such diverse areas as Alto Adige, Tuscany, Peimonte the Veneto and Lombardy to Sardinia in the far south,  poured more than 300 wines to an enthusiastic, overflow gathering of wine professionals in the Simply Italian U.S. Tour 2015. 

Rita Babini Ancarani with Signore 2014 Ravenna IGT Famoso-$18.99

Seminars ran the gamut including "Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany: The Iconic Image of Italy," "Romangna: Albana to Sangiovese. Queen of Grapes, King of Wines,""Sardinia an Island to Discover: From its Vineyards to its Surrounding Treasures," and a special presentation from the Consorzio Tutela Denominazioni Vini Frascati, with wine educator Geralyn Brostrum, presenting Consortium General Manager Mauro De Angelis to the United States for the very first time. 

Also among the presenters was Master Teacher and Advanced Sommelier Giammario Villa, Professor and Wine Educator at UCLA who led the tasting of Romagna: Albana to Sangiovese and Tom Hyland, author, who led the Sardinia Tasting.

Among the outstanding wines presented, many in their inaugural presentation was Mauro Sirri's  I Croppi 2014, Romagna Albana Secco DOCG ($15) from Celli. Made from 100% Albana grapes, indigenous to the region, the wine has a distinctive golden color with flecks of bright copper hue. The taste is like a bouquet of fresh orange blossoms leading to a mouthful of Meyer lemon and a touch of Clementine orange. It has a rich, round flavor and an elegance of character that is unusual for a white wine. This wine could even stand up to some aging, but it tastes far too good to stay in anyone's cellar. Try it with a dish of Clams linguine or a seared Bronzini or Sea Bass white fish. It's also great with Chicken Florentine, Veal Scaloppini, or, my personal favorite, Veal Saltimbocca. 

Lugana DOC 2014 ($22)  is an Organic white wine from the winery La Collina del Ciliegi of Milan. The Lugana DOC is getting a lot of attention from the wine press lately because of their outstanding fine, complex white wines. Winemaker Luca Degani put his magic touch on this golden hued beauty that is a bundle of fresh-cut white jasmine flowers and orange blossoms and a rich, full-bodied taste that reminds you of a mouthful of orange and lemon flavored candy. Its great with fresh shucked oysters, sushi or a lobster roll on a brioche roll with homemade mayonnaise and a splash of lemon juice. Don't have any of those? Just grab a hunk of Humboldt Fog Sonoma Goat Cheese and I guarantee you and yours will get rid of the entire bottle in record time!

Another standout wine from the Veneto, Piedmont and Tuscany seminar was Ca' Di Alte Prosecco Extra-Dry DOC($16.99), from Colli Vicentini. The wine is one of the most authentic expressions of Prosecco you will taste from master winemaker Alberto Marchisio. A celebrated winemaker from Piemonte, Marchisio came  to Cantina Colli Vicentini as Director of Oenology with the 2012 vintage. His impact was immediate and extraordinary. Made from 100% Glera grapes, the ancient name for prosecco, it is a racy, lively bubbly with a long finish. It's the ultimate Italian aperitif that is the life of the party. Lemon zest, a mouthful of Pear William and the lingering aroma of Narcissus flowers makes this the first guest you should invite to your next party. It goes with just about anything you'd serve at a festive brunch. Shellfish and sushi (Italians call it 'Crudo'), Cheese Tortellini or try out your favorite 'white' pasta sauce, with mushrooms, Angel Hair Pasta and Ricotta, Bufala(domestic Italian Water Buffalo) Mozzarella or Burrata (cream-filled mozzarella) cheese.  Abbondanza!

 Edwin Olivieri of Maritime Wine in San Francisco's famous Flatiron Building with his
Il Nespoli 2012 Romagna DOC Sangiovese Superiore Riserva-$12

 Nicole Poggi of Poderi dal Nespoli with her Pagadebit (pay the taxes) 2014 Romagna DOC Pagadebit-$10. The name refers to the ancient times when Roman citizens paid their tax debt to Caesar with vats of their homemade wine

 Mauro Sirri with his Celli I Croppi 2014 100% Albano wine-$15, a favorite
 The wines of Amarone Valpolicella-"The Valley of Many Cellars"
 Consorzio Frascati Managing Director Mauro De Angelis speak through an interpreter and (below) panel moderator Geralyn Brostrom discussing Frascati Superiore DOCG

 Master Teacher and Advanced Sommelier Giammario Villa from UCLA
 Two guys from Verona with their Amarone wines

 Annalisa Bocchino with her Sori del Fiori 2014 Moscato d'Asti DOCG-$14
 Paola Isoardi of Cantina Del Dolcetto Di Dogliani with her Dogliani San Mate' 2013 DOCG-$14
Below:Chip Lindsay (r) with Wine Consultant Mona Schur

 Christine Skandis with Royal Manors and Skandis Fine Wines
 Michael Jensen of D and D Finer Foods
 Gianluca Roero of Azienda Agricola Franco Roero winery with his Barbera d'Asti Superiore 2013-$12

 The lovely Jan Tynan