Wednesday, October 31, 2018


story and photos by Dwight Casimere

 Dwight Casimere with Roberto Bruno, GM and VP Sales of Fontanafredda

Fontanafredda awarded “European Winery of the Year” by Wine Enthusiast

Top to bottom: Fontanafredda Barolo La Rosa 1982, La Rosa 1999, Serralunga d'Alba Barolo DOCG

NEW YORK--Eataly Flatiron was  the setting for an historic Master Class tasting and seminar of Italy's premium Barolos, among the most prized wines among aficionados.  Fontanafredda, the largest certified organic producer in Piedmont, presented its Barolo DOCG wines to a distinguished gathering of wine professionals and journalists in Italy's La Scuola (the school), the restaurant and Italian food emporium's demonstration kitchen and event space. 

The Masterclass was led by Wine Enthusiast lead Italian wine critic Kerin O'Keefe. It featured Fontanafredda's GM and VP of Sales, Roberto Bruno.

The session included a tasting of its most outstanding vintages, 2014, and 2010 dating back to old vintages from  1999 and 1982. It was a  rare opportunity to taste the very best of Italy's noblest wine.

Fontanafredda was awarded the title of European Winery of the Year 2017 during the Wine Star Awards of the distinguished magazine Wine Enthusiast. The award is considered the "Oscars of the wine industry." It recognizes innovators in the wine industry, who, through their vision, have a major impact through their significant achievements. From the tasting experience in the Masterclass at Eataly,  Fontanafredda has exceeded those qualifications and more.

The history of Fontanafredda began with a love story

The story of Fontanafredda began in 1858 when the estate was bought by Vittorio Emanuele II as a gift for his mistress Rosa Vercellan, affectionately known as "La bela Rosin." It was then handed down to her children, Maria Vittoria and Emanuele Alberto, the Count of Mirafiori and Fontanafredda.
Winemaking in the cellars began in 1870, although history records the first mention of Barolo Fontanafredda in 1867, a year after the King purchased the first vineyards of Barolo. 

Today. Fontanafredda has charted a bold new course with a change in the approach to environmental sustainability with a focus on research and the environment. Initiatives include the implementation of Vino Libero certification which was the first step toward reducing chemical fertilizers, herbicides and sulfites. Beginning in 2016, the winery made a significant investment in its infrastructure and processes which led to its conversion to organic agriculture.   Fontanafredda became the largest certified organic company in Piedmont.  Fontanafredda is the vanguard in preserving the Langhe region.

As with all things wine, the proof is in the tasting. After a thorough examination of the history, terroir and winemaking techniques of Fontanafredda, which was recorded for posterity by a television crew, O'Keefe and Bruno proceeded to lead a guided tasting of the exquisite
wines at hand.

Here are some impressions shared from my personal tasting notes:

Fontanafredda Vigne La Rosa, Barolo DOCG 2010

This is a classic vintage from the Serralunga (the lower Langhe ) made of 100% Nebbiolo. It is a single-vineyard wine from the historic La Rosa  vineyard.  The wine has a distinctive fragrant quality. It almost like smelling violets or rose petals that have been crushed in the palms of your hands. There are abundant flavors of bright red fruit; ripe, almost macerated raspberries, red plums and a hint of Maraschino cherry. This is a vibrant, elegant wine with refined tannins that is ready to drink immediately. Have it with that rare, aged steak you've been eyeing at  the Whole Foods meat counter. Tell the butcher slice is extra thick. Be sure to buy an excellent selection of Italian cheeses, olives and salumi to enjoy with a glass before dinner.

Fontanafredda Barolo del Communne di Serralunga d'Alba DOCG 2014

Also from the Serralunga. Thistoo is a single vineyard Barolo. The wine is well-structured with firm tannins. Its designed to be cellared for a long time, but is drinkable now. Its best to let this wine breath a bit before drinking. The soil is rich in limestone, forcing the vines to dig deep for nourishment, giving the grapes an intense, lean flavor. The wine is still quite vibrant, with intense fruit flavors. This isn't your stereotypical Barolo.  Although it can age for a decade or more, it tastes just great right now. This is a true dinner wine that would enliven any Holiday table. 

Fontanafredda Pinot Brut Rose

The best is saved for last. A real treat in a glass, bringing with bright fruit flavors of ripe strawberries, a touch of lemon and some lovely notes of honey and ginger. Great as an aperitif, but flavorful and with enough body to last right through  the Holiday meal and through dessert. This is an absolutely delicious sparkling wine. Well made in the traditional method and moderately priced. I won't bore you with the technicals. You deserve to treat yourself as the Holidays approach. Purchase, drink, enjoy, repeat!

Fontanafredda Pinot Brut Rose

Fontanafredda Pinot Brut Rose with Eataly's housemade Pasta Carbonara

Wine Entusiast's lead Italian wine critic Kerin O'Keefe leads the Barolo Master Class with Fontanafredda GM and VP of Sales Roberto Bruno

Tuesday, October 30, 2018



This year's Chicago Gourmet was the rockin'est ever! With Chicago's HomeTown Favorite Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless leading off the cooking demonstrations with such TV luminaries as Iron Chef's Mario Rizzotti and The Chew's Carla Hall, this was an event that literally knocked it out of the park! In  addition to Rick Bayless of TV and Fontera Grill fame, there was Graham Elliot, Edward Kim of Mott St. and Andrew Zimmerman of the ever-popular Sepia, among many other great local chefs, on hand to show us home cooks what it takes to make a great meal in a super short amount of time using fresh ingredients and ingenious techniques. I guess I'll throw out my grandmother's old recipe for marshmallow-coated candied yams this Thanksgiving!

Story and photos by Dwight Casimere

The spectacular view of the Chicago skyline enveloping Millennium Park

Barilla Pasta wa one of the most popular stops at the fest
Refreshing new innovative cocktails and terrific wines added to the excitement

Lots rest areas to cool your heels and sip and enjoy made Chicago Gourmet a delight


Annalisa Bocchino with her father Giuseppe Bocchino of Azienda Agricola Bocchino Giuseppe
Barbara d'Asti Superiore from Agricola Bocchino Giuseppe
Chef Tyler Hollinger-Owner of High Life Productions Catering slicing fresh Parma Ham

Below: Dwight Casimere/Dwight The Wine Doctor (r) with Chianti Consortium representative Luca Alves introducing  the new Chianti logo which was unveiled at the Simply Italian US Tour

NEW YORK--The Majestic High Line Hotel was the setting for the largest trade tasting of the vast variety of italian wines in North America. More than 80 wines were presented by the leaders of the countries most renowned consortiums, who were personally on hand to lead guided tastings and seminars of their exquisite wines. 

The Simply Italian Great Wines U.S. Tour featured a series of Guided Tastings and Wine Pairings from some of the great wine regions of Italy. Consortiums that were represented included Chianti, Federdoc, Friuli Grave, Prosecco, Venezie, Romagna, Lambrusco, and Montepulciano, among many others. 

The signature Walk-Around Wine Tasting, held in the High Line Hotels famed Library allowed participants to sample the wines along with their producers, who were there to personally pour the wines and offer insights into their production methods. A sumptuous buffet of Italian specialties was offered to further enhance the tasting, allowing participants to create their own wine and food pairings from a dizzying array of antipasti, pastas, salumi and cheeses. 

The always illuminating seminars and guided tastings were the highlight of the day's activities. This reviewer personally attended  the seminars conducted by Consortia Vino Chianti guided by Consortium representative Luca Alves. The seminar featured a Vertical Tasting Portrait of the Vintages and Territories moderated by Master Sommelier Laura DePasquale of New York. Participants had an opportunity to sample vintages dating back to 1999.
Famed President of Federdoc, New York, Riccardo Ricci Curbastro led the Seminar, Federdoc: Traceability and Regulation of Italian DOC Wines with a focus on Franciacorta: One Territory, Three Denominations. Curbastro gave a scintillating and knowledgable presentation, detailing the distinctions between the denominations and their specific terroir. He concluded his remarks with a marvelous anecdote regarding his encounter with legendary California winemaker Robert Mondavi. When he asked the great winemaker if he would share his production notes on one of his vintages, Mondavi replied; "Of course. When we share information we all get stronger!" That is the type of attitude Curbastro says he is hoping to instill in all of the members of his Consortium. 

The Simply Italian Great Wines US Tour continued with a presentation in the dynamic Luxor Hotel and Casino. The tour concluded poolside at the Luxor in Las Vegas with THE "APERITIVO". Italian Wines. More than just a drink, the classic Italian happy hour organized by Federdoc, showcased the esteemed Franciacorta and Prosecco wines.

 SIMPLY ITALIAN GREAT WINES US TOUR  is the creation of  I.E.E.M.: (International Event & Exhibition Management), the Miami-based branch of I.E.M. (International Exhibition Management), a comprehensive agency specializing in marketing, events production and public relations for the wine industry. For more information visit