Ala Nera Nero D’Avola

The Ala Nera has a beautiful nose full of wild berries and baking spice. The aromas of clove and pepper carry over to the palate, which is bursting with fresh cherries and raspberries. Food Pairing Pizza with sausage and caramelized onions, Bologonese, lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs.  

Stuffed Sicilian Eggplant

This is a recipe I created after eating something similar in Sicily, while drinking an inexpensive Nero D’avola.

The wine was from a small vineyard only 10 km away from the town and was fresh and delicious.  It paired perfectly with this dish.

Cut egglants horizontally down the middle and scoop out the soft seedy inside with a spoon into a bowl and save.  Cut up peppers, onions, carrots, garlic and celery into small chunks and saute’ for a few minutes in olive oil.  Add the insides of the eggplant to this and continue to saute’.  Next add salt and a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  When the ingredients are starting to soften, remove from heat.   Scoop the vegetables into the precut eggplants until a nice mound has been formed over the top.  Place on baking pan, drizzle with olive oil and put in preheated oven at 400 degrees.

Check the egglants after 20 minutes and again every 5 – 10 minutes until done.  The skin on the outside will soften and the top of the vegetables will start to crisp.  Remove from over, sprinkle with grated cheese if desired and more olive oil.  Serve with a simple glass of Nero D’avola!  Buon Appetito

June Featured Wine: Fontaleoni Vernaccia Di San Gimingano

Vernaccia di San Gimignano is from just outside the village of San Gimignano in Tuscany.  It is considered one of the finest white wines of Italy and was the first white wine to be granted DOC status.  The wine is a pale yellow green color with medium intensity. Floral, lemon and melon notes hit you on the nose, with citrus notes and minerality on the palate.  The wine finishes with refreshing acidity and minerality. Fontaleoni is one of the best producers of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, normally $13.99, this month on sale for $10.99.  

What to Eat it With

Vernaccia is a crisp white wine from Tuscany.  It pairs well with vegetables, fish and light chicken dishes.  I had this with a light dinner of mostly vegetables and some cheese.  We usually eat our large meal mid-day so dinner is light.

Cucumbers and Peppers:

No cooking here, simply wash and slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl.  Also, wash and cut 2 red peppers, remove seeds and slice.  Also place these in a bowl.  This evening I used avocado oil, lemon and cilantro.  Whisk the lemon and oil until thick, add cilantro and salt and whisk some more.  Pour half of mixture over the cucumbers and peppers.  Using a spoon, lightly toss the vegetables in the dressing.  Place the cucumbers on a circle in a round plate with peppers in the center.

Avocado and Tomatoes with tune and chick peas:

Remove the skins and pit from an avocado and slice into 5 or 6 slices lengthwise, put aside.  Next slice a large plum or roma tomatoes in the same fashion.  Place the tomatoe and avocado on a plate forming a circle, first an avocado slice then tomatoe, continue until you form a circle around the plate.  Leave the center open.  Using a can of tuna, preferably packed in olive oil from Italy, remove most of the oil and put tuna in a bowl.  Next open a can of chick peas, from Italy, Spain or the middle east, drain and pour into the same bowl.  Add a little finely chopped raw onion, cilantro, one table spoon of real mayonnaise, salt, lemon and olive oil.  Mix well with a spoon and taste, add additional salt as needed.  Plate the tuna and chick peas into the center of the dish with avocado and tomatoe.  Pour the remaining dressing from the cucumbers over the avocados and tomatoes.


You can of course use any cheese of your liking, but this evening I used a pecorino and a provolone, both from Italy and a simple brie from France.

That’s it!  No cooking, 15 minutes to prepare and you have a simple light meal for two.  Just add a bottle of Vernaccia and if desired some nice crusty French or Italian bread.  
Buon Appetito!

Lamb and Meatball Roasted Vegetable Stew

For Amazing images of our meal, check out our Instagram account- vinovinonline

Winter is a time for comfort food.  With the cold weather we’re more prone to go in for something that will fill us up and put us to sleep.  I’m not sure what it is about this time of year that drives us to consume this way (feel free to comment on this post if you have insights) but either way, the recipe this week is about as perfect as it gets for the winter time.  A meat and vegetable stew with two beautiful Italian wines.  Enjoy!

This week I decided on a one pot meal: lamb and veal meatball and roasted vegetable stew.

Start with the vegetables so they can roast while preparing the meatballs.  Use any vegetables you prefer, I used peppers, Brussel sprouts,  cabbage and broccoli.  Chop everything into bite sized pieces, place on baking sheets, in oven at 400 degrees or higher.  Cook until they start to turn dark, remove from oven.  

While veggies are cooking prepare the meatballs.  I used 6 lbs total, 3 each of lamb and veal chopped-meat for 12 people.  In a large bowl, mix 2 eggs, all chopped-meat, salt and herbs.  Chop up fresh sage and thyme in advance.  Use about one third in meatballs.  Using you hands rolls all the meat into balls about 1 ¼ “ in diameter.  Heat ½” of olive oil in a large steel or cast pan.  Place the meatballs in the oil, leave space between each meatball.  Turn the meatballs every few minutes until all sides are lightly browned.  Remove from oil as they are done, they should cool and firm up.

“Grab your largest stock pot or braising pot. This is where it starts to come together”

Heat it up, add a little olive oil and 2 very large sliced onions. Saute onions until they start to caramelize then add 1 pound of sliced mushrooms.  Mix well and cook for 10 mins.  Add a bottle of red wine, I used Vignetti Montepulciano D’abruzzo.  Cook until it starts to thicken, then add a liter of beef broth.  Bring to a boil, add another third of the herbs, all veggies and meatballs.  Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover for at least an hour.  Serve stand alone in bowls or with rice.  A nice hot crusty italian bread adds perfection.  

We drank 2 red wines with this meal.  2013 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino and a 2007 Dolce D’alba. Both were decanted for 2 hours before serving.  

Lamb Sausage and Braised Artichokes

For Amazing images of our meal, check out our Instagram account- vinovinonline

I think we all have people, places, things, and even meals that provide a special comfort  This meal, lamb sausages, some vegetables, and a little grain… is just that.  A perfect, simple meal with a great group.  Hopefully, you’ll find this one useful to you as well.  If you don’t live near Arthur Avenue, any farmers market may have seasoned lamb sausage, which will still be great.  

I decided to try something new.  I have eaten braised artichokes often in Italy but have never made myself.  They were good for my first try, but they need to be better.  Here is what I did…

I purchased 8 whole artichokes and peeled the exterior tough leaves.  Once peeled down to the soft leaves, I trimmed the artichokes with a paring knife down to the base, see the pictures.  Once trimmed they went into a bowl of water with lemon, this keeps them from turning brown.  

Separately I diced some peppers, a plum tomato, olives, parsley, capers, and mushrooms.  Then I cut each of the artichokes lengthwise, in half and spooned the mixture into the artichokes and placed in the pan.  The add a little water, olive oil, fresh lemon juice and some white wine until the liquid almost covers the artichokes.  Add salt as well.  Cover the top and turn down heat to simmer, check every 15 mins until soft.  Should take 30 – 60 minutes.  Remove carefully and plate, adding fresh olive oil and parsley.  This was served as a side dish.

The protein was a lamb and parsley sausage.  I love this sausage!!!  I buy it in the Italian market on Arthur Ave. in the Bronx.  I made six pounds for 9 people and it ALL WENT!  This is super easy to make, you can simply grill on a BBQ or on a frying pan on the stove.  Either way only takes 15 – 20 minutes.  No seasoning or oil is needed, just cook.

Earlier in the day, I blanched 3 heads of broccoli rabe, only for 3 minutes in boiling water.  Remove the broccoli rabe and place in the colander to drain and dry for a few hours.  The about 15 minutes before you want to eat, saute garlic and olive oil in a pan with some sun dried tomatoes for just a few minutes, then add the broccoli rabe and saute for 15 mins, turning regularly.  Serve this on a platter and place the sausage on top.  This is a very typical southern Italian meal, sausage and broccoli rabe.  It is very simple and very good.

I also made a pasta with caramelized onions, herbs de province and butter.  Slice the onions, add to a saute pan with some olive oil and salt and saute until they start to caramelize.  Add a stick of butter and herbs, when butter is melted and coats the onions, it is ready.  Take the pasta out of the water, add to the onions in the large saute pan and toss.  If not enough liquid, you can ladle some pasta water from the pot and add to the sauce.  Once tossed, plate and eat.

The wine chosen for this meal is a very simple Montepulciano D’Abruzzo.  We drank Vignetti, which is the ultimate value, it was $7.99 per bottle.  This wine comes from south central Italy exactly where the broccoli rabe and sausage dish eliminates.

Buon appetite!

Summer Wine Special: Part 2

Rickshaw Pinot Noir

Parcels sourced from Sonoma Coast AVA with a bit of Mendocino as well. Open top fermentation. Some whole cluster. Aged in barrique, a small percentage of which is new. This is cool-climate Pinot with aromatics and structure.

This wine sings with unmistakable and pure Pinotosity! It has a compelling mix of raspberry, pomegranate and cherry notes combined with a stylishly integrated structure. All in all, pretty amazing Pinot Noir for its modest price.


San Giorgio Pinot Grigio

A straw-yellow wine with a characteristic nose reminiscent of acacia blossom. The flavor is dry and well-balanced. An excellent aperitif that can also be served with light hors d’oeuvres, consomm̩es and pasta, egg-based dishes, white meats and fish entr̩ee’s



Summer Wine Special

Three Amazing Wines, all with prices slashed.

Have you ever had a wine that you knew was “the one?” Something so good that you had to keep drinking it.  We have a lot of Sauvignon Blanc drinkers like that, and personally, I feel that way about Rickshaw Chardonnay.  Vernaccia is another phenomenal white from Italy that will definitely please anyone that loves a crisp refreshing white in the summertime. Reminiscent of Sauv Blanc, with fresh citrus notes, and refreshing acidity on the finish.


Italian Wine Travel: Nemi and Prosecco

One summer my wife and I were visiting Rome, spending the day with a close friend. After an hour or so of catching up he suggested we take a drive outside of Rome. As we approached this quaint village built around a beautiful lake, we took in the beautiful views which included bright red wild strawberries everywhere!nemi

The town is called Nemi, a picturesque Village, chock full of wild strawberries growing wild. Apparently Nemi has a micro climate and is built on the side of an ancient volcano which provides the perfect conditions for these delicious strawberries. Our friend said it was the season for wild berries in Nemi, the month of June, and we had to experience it since we were here. Fragola di bosco, wild strawberries, are allowed to be picked and eaten and every restaurant and cafe served everything strawberry during this period. We sat at an open air cafe overlooking the lake. My wife and I had a local favorite which was similar to strawberry shortcake, topped with strawberry ice cream and pana, or fresh unsweetened cream. All strawberries were freshly picked and had an amazing sweetness I have never tasted in any commercially farmed berry, before or since. Our friend suggested we try a Prosecco, which is a mild white wine, this one not too sweet so it complimented the sweet desert, with a slight effervescence. I had never had a Prosecco and have also never tasted one so delicious since, probably because of the atmosphere.
TrevisoThere are different types of Prosecco, some sweeter than others, so choose accordingly.


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2014 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino

We’re really excited about the 2014 Mocali Rosso di Montalcino this week for flash wine.  This beautiful wine drinks great now after decanting but has a phenomenal aging potential for the next five to ten years down the line.  Mocali Rosso

Colored and intense, ruby red with garnet reflections, the Rosso di Montalcino has a finely intense nose with fragrant aromas of small, fresh fruits.  On the palate it is delicately dry with aromatic, long-lasting flavors.

Sustainably farmed, the Mocali estate, acquired by the Ciacci family (distant relations to Ciacci Piccolomini) in the 1950s, is a setting of natural Tuscan beauty where vineyards and olive groves alternate with oak and pine forests,  This harmony of man and nature comes through in the delicious, ripe and balanced wines produced here, available at prices that are incredibly low when compared to those of the more established producers of Montalcino.

As over half of the estate is covered by a vegetation characteristic to the hill on which Montalcino stands, the vineyards and olive groves alternate with a landscape of woodland of ilex, oak and arbutus. The soil is rendered highly mineral; salt owing to the presence of marl and limestone. Not being overly large, the Mocali estate lies under family management.

2006 Altare Barolo, Flash Wine Exclusive

2006 Altare Barolo

For some 10-years is a long time, but arguably not for a Barolo.  Our Flash Wine special this week is the 2006 Elio Altare Barolo.

This wine is ruby-red with garnet reflections. Intense aromas of cherry, plum, clove, and cinnamon emanate from the glass. Fresh and intense, the berry/cherry fruit is slightly offset be a slight hint of roasted citrus. Smooth tannic structure and great balance make this wine an early pleasure.


barolo 2 Elio Altare

Elio Altare is universally acknowledged to be one of the world’s greatest winemakers. Altare was a leader of the revolution in cellar and vineyard technique in the Barolo zone; among his many now-commonplace innovations were the use of rotary fermenters, a short maceration period, and the use of small barriques for aging. The resulting wines, from Dolcetto to Barbera to Barolo, are often considered to be the ultimate expressions of the soft, fragrant and lush qualities characteristic of the commune of La Morra, and today Altare is mentor to many of the younger generation of La Morra barolisti including Mauro Veglio, Mauro Molino, and the Revello brothers – his influence even extends to northern Ghemme where he lends advice to the Ioppa family.

The best of the local vineyards each comprise their own amphitheatre, south or south-east facing slopes at 280 metres above sea level on a sandy, tufaceous, marly soil. Elio Altare has vines in two of those,  50-plus-year-old vines in Arborina and a small parcel in Brunate which he started renting in 1995. The focus from Elio has always been to produce concentrated yields; he maintains, “You can’t make great wine without concentrated fruit.”


Organic Farming

Elio Altare defines himself as “much more organic than most certified producers”.

No chemical fertilizer or herbicide has been utilised for 30 years. He also bought two cows in order to have production of manure. Elio consults with Claude Bourguignon, a renowned French specialist in soil microbiology.  Above all, Mr. Bourguignon and Elio’s concern have been maintaining the health and vitality of the living environment.  barolo



Sangiovese, The Soul of Tuscany


Below is an excerpt from the upcoming article we submitted to Social Vignerons as a guest post.  This is just a piece of the article, and some parts have been changed to maintain the uniqueness of the article on their website.  Enjoy!

Sangiovese is the soul of Tuscany and is the bedrock of the region, used in producing wines like Chianti Colli Fiorenti, Rippanuda Chianti Classico, Super Tuscan wines like Campomaggio, plus Rosso di Montalcino and the venerable Tiezzi Brunello di Montalcino. Sangiovese’s smell is often characterized by aromas of fresh tea, prunes, and sometimes fresh plum or cherries. The grape also has thicker skin, which lends itself to, for lack of a better term, easier wine making. With that said, it requires the deftest wine producers in order to create high caliber Sangiovese wines. The grape has a balanced acidity with the tannins, meaning that it maintains aging potential while being ready to drink younger. There is some consideration that the thicker skins also provide greater antioxidant potential, by allowing wine to be produced with a greater volume of resveratrol, the antioxidant often cited as the mechanism for wines “health benefits.”