Category Archives: Frisky Business

BYOB Brunello

Dave and Alice Roggi were in on Friday, 7:45 p.m., table 30, and they brought a 1997 Tenute Silvio Nardi Brunello di Montallcino. I liked the way it was drinking. It had great secondary aromas and flavors — almost syrah-like on the nose — and the body and tannins had developed into that delicious old wine softness. Dennis and the Roggis thought it had lost some of its fruit, but after 11 years, what do you expect?

I visited Tuscany in the spring of 2008, when all anyone was talking about was the vintage of the century. I am unfamiliar with this producer and whether he was one of those who was discovered blending in unauthorized grapes, which caused the Brunello scandal earlier in the summer. Continue reading

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The Roggis were in on Friday night and brought with them some of the most delicious California chardonnay. The couple has an extensive collection of California wines and relationships with a lot of the winemakers. I’m now kicking myself because I didn’t write down the vintage of the DuMOL. If I remember correctly it was a 2004. Continue reading

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Guerrilla dining

Last night Matthew Boudreau, the executive chef at the Ram’s Head Inn on Ram’s Head Island on Shelter Island, was taking a busman’s holiday. He was in the restaurant with three friends at the end of a two-day experiment in guerrilla dining. As far as I understand it, the group hit up as many as three restaurants each night ordering bottles of Champagne and appetizers.

At the Frisky, they got my second-to-last bottle of Agrapart & Fils “Les 7 Crus.” That link is in French. More info on the wine from the importer’s website. Continue reading


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Fine old wine

Wine collector and sharer Michael Malter was back in the restaurant Saturday night and brought a magnum of 1995 Lewis Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon. It was great, aged but not old. I decanted it for him and it had a small bit of very fine sediment. It was really soft with warm secondary flavors of leather and the medium body of Bordeaux with a long finish. Great food wine. Thanks again Michael.

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Just bought

I feel like I was taken in, but I was. I just bought a case of Insoglio del Chingale by Tenuta di Biserno.

Biserno is the result of a collaboration — ready — among Piero and Ludovico Antinori, Umberto Mannoni, Helena Lingberg, Ranieri Orsini, Michel Rolland and architect Gae Aulenti.

The wine follows the path of the Super-Tuscans, which started in the ’70s with famous Sassicaia by Tenuta San Guido.

The wines were called Super Tuscans because they did not follow the dictates of the DOC and used Bordeaux varietals instead of sangiovese. The result was the expansion in 1992 of the Italian wine laws to include IGT, or Indicazione Geografica Tipica, which is supposed to ensure quality while allowing grapes, blends and methods not included in the traditional designations.

The collaborators include the Mondovino-made infamous Michel Rolland, whom many credit with the increased parkerization of wine, and the Antinoris who were ahead of the game with their Tiganello, a super Tuscan from Bolgheri. Biserno also makes wine from vineyards in Bolgheri. Continue reading


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Off the beaten path

Christian Troy, by far the most voluble and prepared of wine salesmen, was in the restaurant last week showing me some wines that he had picked out keeping in mind my affinity for Barolo and Champagne. Christian works for Polaner Selections. He brought me a vermentino, a frappato, a barbera, a Pugliny-Montrachet and two Spanish wines from Lopez de Heredia, a red and a white, both crianzas.

From the OCW:

A crianza red wine may not be sold until its third (second for whites) year, and must have spent a minimum of six months in oak barricas (barriques). In Rioja and other regions such as Ribera del Duero, where the term is most commonly used, the wine must have spent at least 12 months in oak casks.

What was interesting about the white, the Gravonia Rioja Blanco Crianza, was that it is a 1998. Christian says they wait to release their wines. The red is a 2002 vintage. Continue reading

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Michael Malter and his friend Billy and his family were in for dinner last night. Last time the two men, with another friend, brought two bottles of wine and let me taste them. This time, Mike brought a 1997 Stonegate Cabernet Sauvignon. Interesting was the price sticker on it from the original purchase at Beekman Liquors in Manhattan: $29.99. Stonegate’s current releases are going for around $60.

Again, I was given a taste of the wine. It was still remarkably fresh on the nose with strong current aromas and absolutely no oxidization. The fruit was bright up front, going to moist medium tannins and then a tarry finish. The longer the wine stayed in my glass, the more it started smelling like syrah — all chocolate and tar, which falls under the mineral section of the WSET’s tasting programme, the Systematic Approach.

Thanks again guys!

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A French sampler

Christophe Lhopitault of Wine and Beyond stopped by the restaurant yesterday with some of his wines. He recently started his own importing business of French wines, and the ones he brought were all pretty good and affordable and some were unusual.

The Fleur de Mer 2007 Rose from the Cotes de Provence was light, fresh and super dry, which is how, Christophe said in his nearly indecipherable French accent, rose should be.

Also cool was the Chateau la Rouviere 2004 Bandol, which was white and made from the rolle grape.

On rolle from the OCW

the white grape variety traditionally most closely associated with bellet, is now increasingly grown in the Languedoc and, especially, Roussillon, where it is frequently blended with southern French varieties such as Viognier, Roussanne, Marsanne, and Grenache Blanc. It is aromatic and usefully crisp for warm wine regions and is accepted by French authorities as identical to the vermentino of Corsica, Sardegna, and the Tuscan coast although some Italian authorities dispute this. Its relationship to the variety called Rollo in Liguria is still unclear.

On Bandol

the most serious wine of Provence, typically a deep-flavoured, lush red blend dominated by the mourvèdre grape. Like Châteauneuf-du-pape, Bandol produces quintessentially Mediterranean red wines which are easy to appreciate in youth despite their longevity.

The appellation is named after the port from which they were once shipped all over the world. Bandol is now a Mediterranean resort town with little to offer the wine tourist, and the vineyards are on south-facing terraces well inland called locally restanques. As in the smaller appellation of Cassis just along the coast, the vines are protected from the cold north winds, but have to fight property developers for their right to continued existence. A total of about 1,400 ha were cultivated in the early 2000s.

This particularly well-favoured southern corner is one of the few parts of France in which mourvèdre, the characteristic grape of Bandol, can be relied upon to ripen. Other dark-berried varieties grown include grenache and cinsaut, much used for the local herby rosés which account for about one bottle of Bandol in three, together with strictly limited additions of Syrah and Carignan. A small quantity of white Bandol is made from Bourboulenc, Clairette, and Ugni Blanc with a maximum of 40 percent Sauvignon Blanc, but little of it escapes the region’s fish restaurants.

Wine-making techniques are traditional but evolving. All reds must have at least 18 months in cask. Mechanical harvesting is banned. Domaine Tempier is one of the few domaines to have a well-established market outside France but the likes of Domaines de la Bégude and de la Tour du Bon, and Chx La Rouvière, Pibarnon, Pradeaux, and Vannières have all made fine wines.

I didn’t find this one especially aromatic, it seemed like a mix of chardonnay and chenin blanc, with caramel apple, green pear and an almost rubbery smell. It has a rich mouthfeel, but stopped a little short. It’s interesting that the wine is already four years old and on the market. Christophe said Bandol is usually held back and right now the current vintage for the reds is 2001.

Later in the evening Larry Perrine of Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton stopped by for a drink and I gave him a taste. He said he’d never had a white Bandol before. Larry teaches the vinification class at the International Wine Center and has been in the wine business for decades, so I was pleased to give him something new.

The winner of the group was a Vouvray.

D’Orfeuilles “Silex” Vouvray 2005

Made from 100 percent chenin blanc in the Vouvray region of the Loire Valley, Larry and I both found citrus in the wine; he tangerine, me Meyer Lemon. So it’s almost sweet and full, but it’s got the signature high acid of chenin and the oily aroma of what wine tasters say is typical of chenin blanc: lanolin or wet wool. This wine will last a long time.

The question of “Silex.” Silex is French for flint, and is a highly valued soil component in the Loire. One famous renegade wine maker, Didier Dagueneau of Pouilly Fume, named one of his sauvignon blancs Silex. Christian went so far as to refer to it as an appellation, but then called it a lieu-dit, named place in French. Wines from silex areas, he said, command higher prices. This would retail for about $27.

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Tasted on

Yesterday Ann Fortuno of Lauber Imports came by the restaurant to show me some of her wares. Lauber has an extensive portfolio. Today she brought four. I usually take notes on the back of a menu and then three-hole punch it and put it in my binder.

The wines were Cantina Zaccagnini 2006 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Cerasuolo” rose. It’s too old.

Grgich Hills 2004 Cab. Napa Valley. Good wine, but short on the palate and not worth the money.

IQUE Malbec 2007 by Enrique Foster, Mendoza. Inexpensive, simple rough tannins, I wasn’t wowed, but Dennis liked it.

Stonecap 2005 Monson Family Estates Syrah. Columbia Valley. Smelled like brett; I couldn’t get past it.

Next time, she said she’d bring me something from Tasmania. In the restaurant’s quest to present people with something they’ve never heard of, let along had, Dennis said I get bonus budget for Tasmanian wine. It’s a cool growing area and they’ve had some success with pinot noir.

In the wine business, tasted is actually a verb.

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Last night three guys, Michael, Billy and Scott, brought these two wines into the restaurant. Dennis has a good corkage policy. The first bottle’s free and the next are $5 per person per bottle. And, of course, the wine cannot be on our wine list. Take a look below and you’ll see there’s no way these were on our list. The restaurant has no storage and we buy a case at a time of a wine and then move on to something new. The guys let me taste the wines. Scott said he had to travel to Australia to get the d’Arenberg, and this bottle was among the few he had left.


d’Arenberg 2001 The Bonsai Vine (70 percent grenache, 25 shiraz and 5 mourvedre) McClaren Vale, Australia

Martinelli 2000 Zinfandel “Giuseppe & Luisa” Russian River Valley, California

Let me tell you about the Martinelli in one word: Yuck. Take a look below.


And this is high up on the front label in a font most can read without glasses. True, it’s cool these days to dismiss high alcohol wine, but this was so hot and so ripe. It tasted like an Amarone. You could taste the raisins. There’s a Madeira on the bar that’s 18.3 percent alcohol, and that’s fortified with pure alcohol. There is a wine merchant in California, Darell Corti, who, last year, refused to sell wines above 14.5 percent alcohol. Parker gave this wine 92 points.

So it’s not my style. But the d’Arenberg is. Made in the style and with the grapes of Chateauneuf-du-pape, the wine is powerful yet still elegant. It was pretty delicious with great silky mouthfeel, as Michael described it. I detected a little bit of brett on the nose, but it added a little barnyard to the wine, which was good. The wine, as goes the extensive story on the back label, is called The Bonsai Vine because the vines are bush vines in a dry-farmed vineyard, pruned so they look like little bonsai trees.

Thanks guys! I wonder what they’ll bring next time.


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