Archive for October, 2008

Inferno: The Hottest Side of Valtellina

October 31, 2008

We’ve chosen this Halloween weekend to introduce Conti Sertoli Salis’ 100% Nebbiolo from Valtellina Superiore’s smallest (and warmest) subzone

A spectacular panorama of the Valtellina Superiore subzone.

If you wish to arrange a tasting please call 719-902-1140 or email

Valtellina Superiore Inferno 2004
Conti Sertoli Salis’ 100% Nebbiolo Inferno comes from the renowned subzone of the same name. The smallest subzone within the Valtellina Superiore DOCG is so-called for its warm micro-climate. From the steep sub-alpine slopes, the juice is aged for 12 to 18 months in barrels of Slavonian oak. Conti Sertoli Salis has some choice blocks in the Inferno zone and, using their natural advantage, produce one of the richest and most aromatic Valtalinnas we have had the pleasure to try.

Conti Sertoli Salis
The sub-alpine valley known as Valtellina has long drawn interest from wine drinkers. Leonardo da Vinci even spoke of its winemaking potential in his Codice Atlantico. Today, the Valtellina Superiore DOCG produces some of Lombardia’s most prestigious wines. It is here, in the town of Tirano in the province of Sondrio, not many miles from the Swiss border, that we find Conti Sertoli Salis, a noble family which has been bottling wine since 1869. The company’s cellars are still located beneath the Palazzo Salis, the family’s 17th century palace which is one of Tirano’s most popular tourist attractions.

Built between 1630 and 1690, the Palazzo Salis still houses the winery's cellars.

Certified Organic

October 24, 2008

Introducing wines by our most natural producers

Tuscan producer Guido Gualandi personally oversees every aspect of the winemaking process.

Although Domenico Valentino prides itself on a portfolio full of artisinal wines from producers dedicated to a natural wine-making process and full enological expression, it is hard to argue with an official stamp of certification.

In our portfolio we have three wonderful producers, who, by various motivations and methods, achieve ICEA organic certification. The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of the 1990 Farm Bill established a method of ensuring uniform standards for the production and handling of foods labeled as “organic.” The National Organic Program (NOP) certifies that products labeled Organic meet USDA standards, and also accredits the 40 foreign Accredited Certifying Agents, including ICEA (Instituto per la Certificazione Etica ed Ambientale), that uphold these standards abroad.

If you wish to arrange a tasting please call 719-902-1140 or email Our full portfolio is available at

Cascina Corte (Piemonte)
Sandro Barossi and Amalia Battaglia have spent the last six years rehabilitating the centuries-old Casa Corte and its adjoining vineyards atop Dogliani’s famed San Luigi Hill. They have coaxed their 60-year-old Dolcetto vines into successfully accepting sustainable viticultural methods.

Dolcetto di Dogliani 2006
Dolcetto 750ml

Vigna Pirochetta 2005
Dolcetto 750ml

Guido Gualandi (Toscana)
Dedicated to hand-making natural wines in the methods of ages past, Guido Gualandi meets ICEA viticultural standards and carries this philosophy into vinification. The winery and residence use 90% renewable energy sources, with a goal of reaching 100% in the next 2 years. Gualandi also cultivates antique varieties such as Fogliatonda and Pugnitello, as well as older varieties of Sangiovese, such as Abrusco. The materials used in the winemaking are the same as those used one hundred years ago, if not five hundred. The fermentation takes place in semi-conical vats or in Italian-style Slavonian oak and chestnut barrels. The pressing takes place with the use of a single hand press.

Chianti Colli Fiorentini 2007
Sangiovese, Foglia Tonda, Colorino / 750ml

Cavalleresco 2005
Sangiovese, Merlot / 750ml

Gualandus 2005
Sangiovese / 750ml

ERA (Sicilia)
ERA brings together talented Italian enologist Carlo Volpi, Bottle Green (an importer and agent for organic wines in the UK), and Sicilian organic viticulture specialists certified under EEC law. The first vintage was produced in 2001, after much research, careful selection and tending of vineyards in Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily. ERA, meaning “as it was”, is a return to the past when the use of chemicals and fertilizers did not exist and producers had more respect for nature and biodynamic processes. The juice is brought to the Volpi Cantina in Piedmont where Carlo Volpi oversees vinification and bottling in his state of the art cellars.

Inzolia 2007
Inzolia / 750ml

Nero d’Avola 2007
Nero d’Avola / 750ml

Casa Emma

October 17, 2008

Domenico Valentino presents three wines from Chianti Classico

As we settle into October, the staff at Domenico Valentino have been enjoying some heartier meals, the kind of dishes which require a strong wine to match. We certainly loves a robust red in the cooler moths, and in times like these, one at an affordable price. If you feel the same way look no further than Casa Emma. The Tuscan winery produce these three modern classics which are available for tasting by appointment next week.

If you are interested in these wines and wish to arrange a tasting, please call 718-902-1140 or email info@domenicovalentino. Our full portfolio is available at, and more details are to be found on our blog.

Casa Emma
Located in Barberino Val d’Elsa on the western edge of the Chianti Classico zone, the Buccalossi family acquired the Casa Emma estate in 1972 from Florentine noblewoman Emma Bizzarri, to whose name the company obviously remains connected. Today, around the hills of San Donato in Poggio, the company cultivates Sangiovese, Canaiolo, Malvasia Nera and Merlot at 1,300 feet above sea level – an elevation which results in a longer growing season and increased aromas in the fruit. Owner Fiorella Lepri and renowned enologist Carlo Ferrini employ certain modern vinification techniques, to produce the best possible expression of Casa Emma’s terroir and some of the finest Chianti we’ve tasted.

Chianti Classico 2005
This classic expression of the appellation is intended for drinking right away: judicious aging in new wood allows for gentle oxygenation of the wine, thus helping the tannins to mellow and the fruit to show beautifully. This Chianti Classico, with its bright acidity and red fruit in the mouth, will pair well with a wide variety of dishes.

Chianti Classico Riserva 2004
Casa Emma’s Chianti Classico Riserva is made using Sangiovese grapes, with smaller amounts of Malvasia Nera added. The most “classic” of Casa Emma’s wines, this Chianti benefits greatly from the high altitude: all of Casa Emma’s vineyards lie above 400 meters a.s.l. The cooler evening temperatures are a key element in the winery’s ability to achieve Sangiovese with immense
aging potential.

Soloìo 2004
Casa Emma’s Soloìo is made from 100% Merlot grapes grown in one of the winery’s most prized vineyard sites. 18 months of gentle oxygenation in French oak bring out the lush, opulent fruit and chocolate flavors of this truly decadent wine. Soloìo is a great pairing for winter roasts and stews and a fantastic gift idea for “trophy wine” lovers. 2004 was an excellent vintage in Chianti Classico and this wine will drink well for the next 5-10 years.

How sweet it is…

October 10, 2008

Presenting four passito dessert wines

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Straw mats like this are used in the grape-drying process.

Originating with the Greek passum, a wine made from partially dried grapes as early as 800BCE, comes one of the world’s finest wine traditions. The drying of grapes after harvest results in added aromatic complexity and naturally concentrated sugars that produce sweetness in the wines. In Italy, this style is most commonly referred to as passito, but can be found under a number of names more specific to the traditions of a particular region.

Vin Santo Chianti Rufina 1999 Travignoli
Although it is perhaps Italy’s most famous passito, there is some debate as to the origin of the name Vin Santo, or “Holy Wine”: some say that a 16th-century Greek humanist compared it to the wines of Xantos when he tasted it on a visit to Florence; others believe the name derives from the wine’s “miraculous” second fermentation in the spring, just coinciding just the resurrection of Christ. One thing is certain: Vin Santo represents an entirely distinct tradition of winemaking unique to Tuscany.

Picolit 2005 Ronco dei Tassi
Picolit is one of Italy’s rarest and most coveted dessert wines. Unfortunately, the wine due to the difficulty of cultivating the Picolit grape variety, and many producers have abandoned it in favor of more profitable international varieties. Ever true to tradition and great believers in their Friulan terroir, Enrico Coser and his father Fabio continue to produce this excellent, sweet wine.

Sulé Caluso Passito 2001 Orsolani
Often compared to the Greco variety of Central and Southern Italy, Erbaluce is a white grape grown exclusively in the Canavese district of Northern Piemonte. For his flagship wine, of which he is the fourth-generation winemaker, Gian Luigi Orsolani uses late harvest grapes, some affected by botrytis, dried on mats through winter. Slow fermentation in oak casks lasts up to a few months, followed by three years in casks.

Ambrato Le Muraglie 2000 Ezio Voyat
The name of late winemaker Ezio Voyat‘s Ambrato Le Muraglie refers both to the wine’s rich “amber” color, and to the ancient cloister walls (“le mura“, in contemporary Italian). Partly due to technique and partly a result of this narrow valley’s extreme conditions, the wine has a unique flavor and aromatic character. Ezio’s daughter, Marilena, tells us that she recently enjoyed bottles of the Ambrato from the 1950s: this dessert wine is ready to drink but also offers remarkable aging potential.

The Miracle of Marino

October 8, 2008

Italian grape festival’s attempts at turning water into wine backfire

The fountain of the four moors during the Marino Grape Festival.

The fountain of the four moors during the Marino Grape Festival.

Regular readers to our email may be familiar with a wine we featured earlier this month, I Quattro Mori by Castel de Paolis. The “quattro mori” or “four moors” are recalled by a large fountain in the main square of the town of Marino (above), in the winemaking hills just south of Rome.

Marino plays host to the Sagra dell’Uva festival, an annual event recognizing the historic victory of a local admiral, though essentially an excuse to enjoy the local production from the Castelli Romani. Each year the 17th century fountain emits the latest vintage, but this year’s crowd of gatherers — plastic cups at the ready — was left disappointed. The increasingly impatient wine lovers were about to voice their frustration when a woman’s cry of “Miracolo!” came bellowing down from an apartment balcony. The town’s plumbers had evidently got their pipes confused, and instead of spurting from the village fountain, wine was now flowing from the faucets of a Marino resident.

The woman, named Anna, was about to mop the kitchen floor when she noticed her bucket was filled not with water, but sparkling white wine. “I called my neighbors and they had the same problem,” she explained. “Soon everyone was filling up bottles with wine!” Marino’s mayor, Adriano Palozzi, was quick to play down the problem. “People are calling it a miracle, which it wasn’t. Several houses have been affected and workmen are working on the problem which obviously came about through technical error.”

Read more on this story here.