Holiday 2014 Newsletter
CORTI BROTHERS EXQUISITE WHISKEY is born a very nice Bourbon, aged seven years. Then it is rested-further aged--in very special barrels that make it unique. This is a take-off of the production technique used to make different styles of Scotch whisky: the different “Finishes.” The barrels used for the “finish”are the Amador County Mission del Sol barrels. These are unique. Historically, they are former Bourbon barrels of American white oak. My intention was to make a distinct, Amador County styled, whiskey by using these unique barrels.
The use of different barrels for whiskey is not unusual in Scotch whiskey production, but it is in Bourbon production. Hence the lack of Bourbon as part of the name of CORTI BROTHERS EXQUISITE WHISKEY. The base is definitely changed with this “double barrel” treatment. A softness and sweetness is imparted by the use of the Mission barrels. We will continue using them for whiskeys of different ages until their “virtue” is gone. Virtue in this sense is a term used by well known whiskey expert, J.R.Piggott. He calls it, “a rather vague term but in essence a cask with virtue will give a mature whiskey while one without will not.” (The Science and Technology of Whiskies, p 266) Wine seasoned wood has always played a role in Scotch whisky, and I thought it apropos to use the Mission barrels for an Amador County bottled Bourbon.
Corti Brothers has dealt on and off with different Bourbons. First, in 1974, I traveled to Kentucky to find Bourbon for the celebration of our Bi-Centennial in 1976. As I visited lots of different distilleries, the producers tried to dissuade me from looking for old whiskies, telling me that “brown goods” were on their way out, and it was a dying business. These Cassandras should look at the Bourbon business now.
Whiskey is hot; very hot. In fact distilleries are popping up all over the place making whiskey and other spirits from almost everything fermentable. Craft distilleries are the new wineries: everyone wants in. Adam Stratton, owner and distiller at Amador Distillery in Jackson, CA., will eventually have his own whiskey to age made from Amador County grain. But for now he selects mature but not old whiskies for further aging and/or bottling. He is young, and possibilities are practically unlimited.
The creation of Corti Brothers Exquisite Whiskey is just a continuation of our search for interesting American products and when possible to put our own imprint to them. In 1984, we offered two Van Winkle Bourbons, 1968 and 1970 distillations. They were bottled by Julian Van Winkle in a unique bottle for Bourbon. The bottle was the cognaçaise bottle used for cognac that Corti Brothers supplied and shipped to him for these whiskies. This bottle shape had never been used for Bourbon whiskey before. In 1986, we offered our own label of Van Winkle Special Reserve in the same bottles.
CORTI BROTHERS EXQUISITE WHISKEY is bottled in a replica of a pre-twentieth century American whiskey bottle. I selected this bottle to show the intrinsic American-ness of the whiskey base. The Amador County effect is given by the Mission barrels. This whiskey is deep colored, aromatic, and soft. An exquisite whiskey!
Bottled in the fall of 2014, CORTI BROTHERS EXQUISITE WHISKEY is un-chill filtered, in fact unfiltered at all, except for removing the larger pieces of char from the whiskey; and it will throw a slight deposit, a sign of its un-treated nature. The addition of ice will also cloud the whiskey. Proof at bottling is 90.5, a level I think is lovely for drinking. There is only a limited quantity of this original bottling which is available in both 750ml and 375 ml bottles.
CORTI BROTHERS EXQUISITE WHISKEY $49.99 750ml (#3500) $269.00 case 6 (#3500C) $29.99 375ml (#3501) $323.00 case/12 (#3501C)
When PANETTONE shows up in stores in Italy, Christmas is around the corner. This butter and egg enriched, raised dough bread is the Italian symbol of Christmas. At one time it was found only at Christmas, but now panettone is available almost all year round due to its popularity. Here are our selections for this year’s Christmastime celebrations. Unless noted, panettone are all one kilo (2.2 lbs) in size.
BASSO low shape, traditionally boxed $29.99 (#3502)
ALTO classic tall shape, traditionally boxed $26.99 (#3503)
GLASSATO ALLA NOCCIOLA, with hazelnut glaze, gold wrap, red/gold ribbon $29.99 (#3504)
SENZA CANDITI, only raisins, no candied fruit, silver wrapped, blue ribbon $26.99 (#3505)
BASSO CIOCCOLATO FONDENTE, chocolate glazed, blue wrap, silver ribbon $31.99 (#3506)
PANDORO, no fruit, the New Year’s cake, star shaped, vanilla sugar, tall box $27.99 (#3507)
AMARENA, large, candied Amarene cherries, boxed $35.79 (#3508)
MANDARINO DI CIACULLI, with late mandarin of Ciaculli (Palermo), peel, boxed $36.59 (#3509)
NOËL, candied pears, cinnamon and cloves, boxed $36.59 (#3510)
CHINOTTO, with candied green Chinotto citrus pieces, boxed $37.79 (#3511)
ZAFFERANO e LIQUIRIZIA, unusual, with saffron and Calabrian liquorice, boxed $43.89 (#3512)
MARRON GLACÉ, filled with candied chestnut cream, boxed $37.89 (#3513)
REGAL CIOCCOLATO, filled with Ecuadorian chocolate bits and chocolate cream, boxed $36.59 (#3514)
AL FICO, with Calabrian white Dotato fig pieces, boxed $38.99 (#3515)
ALBICOCCA e ZENZERO, with candied apricots and ginger, boxed $38.99 (#3516)
CREMA LIMONE, limoncello cream filling, wrapped $35.99 (#3517)
CREMA, vanilla pastry cream filling, wrapped $35.99 (#3518)
TORCOLATO, with raisins plumped with Maculan Torcolato wine, wrapped $35.59 (#3519)
CLASSICO LATTA, 750g size, in 2014 commemorative tin. Ninth year presentation. $34.39 (#3520)
CLASSICO MAGNUM 3 kilo size wrapped $83.00 (#3521)
CLASSICO MAGNUM 5 kilo size wrapped $131.00 (#3522)
CLASSICO MAGNUM 10 kilo size wrapped $252.00 (#3523)
PANETTONCINI mini panettone 100 gram size, smallest made, boxed $9.99 (#3524)
Not panettone, but PASTICCERIA, cookies to us. BISCOTTI 6 GUSTI, individually wrapped cookies in 6
flavors: Coffee, Cacao, Rice flour shortbread, Cornmeal with butter, Cornmeal Shortbread, Butter cookie, gift box, 16.9 oz $33.99 each (#3525)
These tender, light hulled, parched and fried corn kernels are a life saver when entertaining. Just open the bag and pour them out into a bowl and watch them disappear. We have customers in distant parts of the country who order bags by the dozen since they are really addictive. A WARNING: If you have delicate teeth, I do not recommend your enjoying our Tuerca. Our Tuerca is tender, crispy and fairly gentle on teeth. However...!
With drinks before dinner, they are a wonderful snack, When you just want something to munch on, also.
CORTI BROTHERS TUERCA DE MAIZ 16 oz zippered, re-sealable bag $3.99 (#3526) $21.00 case/6 (#3526C)
LEVONI COTECHINO DI MODENA The real thingCOTECHINO is a special pork sausage which is one of the glories of the cuisine of the Emilia Romagna, especially Modena. It is made from leanish pork and cooked pork skins (cotene), generally from the pig’s underbelly where it is very tender. Since October 2001, this pork product from Italy has been allowed in the U.S. The LEVONI company of Mantova, produces our cotechino which comes precooked, requiring only to be reheated in its pouch, for forty minutes in simmering water, producing a delicious dish you merely slice and serve. The directions are on the box.
LEVONI COTECHINO is an I.G.P. product, that is, as Cotechino di Modena, it has a protected geographical indication of origin. It must have a certain flavor and texture to the exclusion of all others and come from a specified area. Cotechino, also written “cotichin, coteghino, codeghino or cotechino” was first described in Apicio Moderno, the 1790 cookbook of Francesco Leonardi, the chef to Catherine II of Russia. The Levoni cotechino is shelf stable, needing no refrigeration, one sausage per box. Just heat in its unpunctured pouch. LEVONI COTECHINO DI MODENA is one of the great pleasures of winter. Any leftover, chilled and sliced, makes a delicious cold cut.
LEVONI COTECHINO DI MODENA 500g box $14.99 each (#3527) $80.00 case/6 (#3527C)
BURGUNDY MUSTARD: Reine de Dijon Moutarde de Bourgogne I.G.P.Several years ago we offered French mustards from the REINE DE DIJON company. The best selling style was the MOUTARDE DE BOURGOGNE. This real Burgundy mustard is made with mustard seeds grown in Burgundy, France and Burgundian Aligoté white wine. (Aligoté is the other white grape of Burgundy and is a sister/brother to Chardonnay.) This mustard has a direct mustard sharpness when first tasted that later fades to a mellow heat, then rich savoriness. This Moutarde de Bourgogne is appetizingly savory and not sweet. This is what Dijon mustard used to taste like.
It is rare to find I.G.P. Moutarde de Bourgogne for sale. The Protected Geographical Indication means that the two major elements of the mustard--mustard seed and wine--must come from Burgundy. Most other mustards from France are produced with international mustard seeds and nameless white wine. Unless, there is a tradition behind the mustard’s origin, it rarely will have an IGP.
Here is your chance to taste a splendid mustard style that really does make the difference on a sandwich like Croque Monsieur, or as the bit of mustard you add to your vinaigrette to make it a delicious salad dressing. Once tried, it is difficult to use any other mustard.
REINE de DIJON MOUTARDE de BOURGOGNE $4.59 200g jar (#3528) $49.00 case/12 (#3528C)
MARUMATA OWARINO TAMARI A pantry necessityMARUMATA OWARINO TAMARI is produced by Marumata Shoten, established in 1834, located in Taketoya, Chita county, Aichi Prefecture, just south of Nagoya, Japan. OWARI is the old name for this northern part of the prefecture. Thus, this tamari is “OWARI NO TAMARI” or the “Tamari of Owari.”
Produced from only Japanese grown soybeans and natural sea salt, slowly aged for three years in cedar casks, the tamari has a thick, sweetish, smokey, meaty, full flavor. Not very salty, but with its thick body and deep flavor, Owarino Tamari is very well balanced. It does not have any added alcohol for stability and should be kept refrigerated once opened.
But why be interested in tamari? It is not solely for its use in Japanese and oriental cuisine. I find that a bit of it in western dishes, where a deep flavor is required–like braises and brown sauces–tamari offers just this. It deepens flavor in white sauces, especially Béchamel, Mornay and the like providing some of that elusive character called “umami” or savoriness. Try some in your next mac and cheese, pasta gratin, or in a savory soufflé.
MARUMATA OWARINO TAMARI $16.99 360ml (#3529) $183.00 case/12 (#35229C)
WATERMELON RIND PICKLES made for Corti BrothersA delicious accompaniment to a good ham is an excellent watermelon pickle. There being so few on the market now, Corti Brothers asked Janet McDonald at The Good Stuff in Sacramento if she would produce for us a good watermelon rind pickle. And she has.
One of the problems nowadays is finding a watermelon with thick enough rind. Janet found some heirloom melons and made a--not tart and not sweet--pickle that I think goes very well with ham, cold meats in general, and especially cold left overs like pork roast and roast chicken. It’s the slightly crunchy texture and the not sweet, not tart, and spice-filled flavor which I personally enjoy. I hope you do too.
WATERMELON RIND PICKLES preserved for Corti Brothers $9.99 pint jar (#3530) $107.00 case/12 (#3530C)
SANTORINI SPECIALTIES: SANTO Capers, Caper Leaves and Tomato DipMy trip to Greece, the Peloponessus, Crete, and Santorini in June 2014 led to a number of discoveries, foodstuffs
among them. At the Santo Co-operative on Santorini, I discovered some splendid tomato products, capers and most unusual, caper leaves. The tomato products are superb for their intensity of flavor, the tomatoes, a local cultivar, grown almost without any water. Using the double concentrate tomato paste produced, adding their own capers and olive oil, a really lovely concoction is made called a Tomato Dip. Sumptuous in flavor, it has a lovely thickness and concentration. Tasted alone, it has an intense flavor and is used as a spread. Delectable with our Valbuzzi Rustici breadsticks, it is a wonderful appetizer. Added to just drained, but not dry pasta you have an instant pasta sauce.
The capers of Santorini are packed in brine and have a different flavor from other Mediterranean capers. They are very fresh tasting; we have only one size, about the size of a pencil eraser. They just need rinsing to be used. These capers do not have the slightly metallic flavor of other productions.
The most interesting product is the caper leaves. I have never seen caper leaves offered before, anywhere. About 1 ½ inch in diameter, they are treated like the caper buds. Pickled in salt brine, they can be used just like capers and for garnishing are truly lovely. I enjoyed them in Italy at my cousin’s restaurant in Serravalle Scrivia, Villa La Bollina, where they garnished a plate of vitello tonnato in place of capers. The caper leaf flavor is less forceful than caper buds and using both leaves and buds, one could make a lovely garnish with two leaves and a caper bud as a presentation. They are unique and wonderfully flavored. Visually, superb. If I could come up with this sort of find every time I travel, it just might be worth traveling!
SANTO TOMATO DIP (Tomato Paste and capers with oil) $8.59 210g jar (#3531) $92.00 case/12 (#3531C)
CAPERS in brine $6.99 200g jar (#3532) $94.00 case/15 (#3532C)
CAPER LEAVES in brine $6.99 200g jar (#3533) $94.00 case/15 (#3533C)
DARJEELING GIN Distilled in Auburn, CaliforniaDARJEELING GIN, is another product of the burgeoning craft distiller movement in California. This distilled gin is produced in a small distillery located in Auburn, California, northeast of Sacramento. It is owned and operated by Ed Arnold, formerly in the prosthetics business and with HP. He attributes his interest in distillation to a tasting I led in the mid 1980s. His interest grew until two years ago he took the step of actually building a distillery, literally building copper still and all.
I happen to like gin very much. Ed Arnold’s sample which he brought to me was a revelation. The gin was very fragrant but not monotone. The flavor was delicate, yet pungent with a long finish. Very well balanced. Equally at home in a gin and tonic, Martini, or Pink Gin, it is really a “gin fancier’s” gin. Produced in batches of 350 bottles, California Distilled Spirits, the name of Ed’s distillery, should become famous in no time. This is the first production.
California Distilled Spirits DARJEELING GIN 88 proof $35.99 750ml (#3534) $194.00 case/6 (#3534C)
VIGNALTA ALPIANAE 2011: “Best Muscat in the World” at World Muscat Tasting 2014VIGNALTA ALPIANAE is a “passito” wine made from Moscato Fior d’Arancio (Orange Muscat) grown in the Colli Euganei in Italy’s Veneto Region. This wine was created by Vignalta winery in 1987 and led to its becoming the first DOCG wine of the Colli Euganei in 2012.
A PASSITO wine is made by picking grapes slightly early and then letting them dehydrate slowly on racks, in special rooms, as their sugar content goes up and then pressed to produce a sweet must which ferments slowly until it stops, leaving residual sugar and a reasonable degree of alcohol. This method of making sweet wines is the most archaic one known and was responsible for most all of the famed wines of Classical Antiquity. The tradition was never forgotten in Italy and is used for both dark and light grape varieties. With aromatic varieties, the aromatic fraction is enhanced.
A French tasting, “Muscats du Monde” 2014, awarded the Vignalta Alpianae 2011 the first place in its Top 10 Muscats. It came in first followed by the likes of Rutherglen muscat from Australia; Spain’s Navarra; France’s Rivesaltes; and Portugal’s Sétubal. Of the 208 Muscat wines entered, 73 were given medals and the ALPIANAE 2011, the top prize. There were 25 gold medals and 48 silver medals awarded in all.
I have written about VIGNALTA ALPIANAE before and it has been well liked by our customers. With this prestigious award, it just might become a bit more difficult to get.
VIGNALTA ALPIANAE 2011 12.5% $28.49 375ml (#3535) $307.00 case/12 (#3535C)
AGRESTO: The Tuscan condimentIn 2013, the Barone de Renzis Sonnino began production of what is basically an old condiment, AGRESTO, named for its base material “sour grapes.” The name “agresto”is from the word “agro” “sour” and is a take off of the medieval “verjus” a condiment that antedates the use of lemon in Europe. The traditional Agresto of Tuscany was a composed sauce, based on unripe grapes but more like a thin chutney, having herbs, onions, nuts, garlic, and bread added.
The AGRESTO of CASTELLO SONNINO is a thin, sauce-like concoction made from the green pruning of their vines in the area of Montespertoli. It is very flavorful and reminds me very much of classic Worcestershire sauce, with a Tuscan accent. The un-ripe grapes are pressed and then the juice is cooked in stainless steel vats to reduce; then honey, vinegar, onions, garlic, herbs and spices are added. Once cool, the blend is filtered and bottled.
AGRESTO is delicious. It can be used with anything. Traditionally, it was added to soup. Put with grilled meat, fried things, and in general, is the condiment that spiced up the otherwise rather simple, fresh taste of Tuscan cooking. It is one of the historical parts of Tuscan cooking which has happily been revived. It could not have come at a better time.
AGRESTO, Castello Sonnino $29.99 250ml (#3536) $161.00 case/6 (#3536C)
MONEMVASIA: The rebirth of Europe’s most historical wineWith this first vintage, 2010, the TSIMPIDIS winery in Laconia, at the south-eastern end of Greece’s Peloponessus has resurrected what was the most famous wine of the Mediterranean, MONEMVASIA. Both a place name and a wine, Monemvasia gave rise to the name of a family of grapes that we now call MALVASIA. It was first mentioned in 1214 and lasted until the Ottoman domination of Greece and the disappearance of the Venetians in the area in the seventeenth century. The historic memory of Monemvasia remains in Venice where wineshops were called “grecaioli” “Greek sellers,” since they offered this wine which was the pervue of Venice until it disappeared as a power in the region.
Monemvasia is another of the sun-dried grape wines of southern Europe, a brief revival was made in the 1930s which led nowhere. But in 1997, with the founding of the Tsimpidis “Monemvasia” winery and the help of Madame Stavroula Kourakou, Monemvasia was revived. By 2009, it had a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO). This first production released for sale is some 9800 bottles. While it is not entirely a Malvasia wine, Monemvasia never was, it is made from Malvasia (Monemvasia), Assyrtiko, Kidonitsa, and Asproudi.
Rich amber in color, its sweet, honeyed, raisined, and dried fruit scent is wonderfully balanced with excellent acidity. It is long on the palate and history in a glass. It is also not a wine that must be finished in one go. It can be sipped over time without falling apart.
TSIMPIDIS MONEMVASIA MALVASIA 2010 13% $55.49 375ml (#3537) $299.00 case/6 (#3537C)
PASTA di TIMILÌA: An ancient Sicilian Wheat variety BACK IN STOCKIn our Spring 2014 newsletter, we offered TERRE e TRADIZIONI pasta made from ancient landrace wheat grown in Sicily. This pasta sold out very quickly, and now we have it back in stock. TIMILÌA, or Tumminia, is a Sicilian landrace durum wheat developed over centuries on the island. With the genetic changes in wheat over the last 50-60 years, the autochthonous varieties from what was called the “breadbasket of the Roman Empire” have been relegated to minor importance if not outlawed. A third generation agriculturalist, Giuseppe Li Rosi grows this ancient variety and others. With only the semolina of these wheats and water, he produces delicious organic pasta.
Another landrace variety is STRAZZAVISAZZ, the oldest known wheat variety in Sicily. There is only one cut from this variety, spaghetti alla chitarra, a square cut, long pasta. Imagine a square spaghetti.
What is different with these ancient varieties is that they have a lower gluten index than that of new wheat varieties cultivated for quantity of production and ease of conversion. Producing 50% less than modern wheat varieties, with a gluten index of 4.70 compared to the 14 or more of modern wheat, Timilìa and Strazzavisazz are far easier to digest and assimilate. I have often wondered how western man could have developed and lived for so long eating wheat and other grains with gluten given the rather elevated numbers of gluten intolerant consumers today. Perhaps the answer is in this ancient wheat with more digestible gluten. It is certain that man didn’t develop overnight, but food reactions might.
TERRE e TRADIZIONI pasta from Timilìa now available are PENNE, FIORI (gigli), FUSILLI, LINGUINE, MEZZE PENNE, TAGLIOLINI, and MACCHERONCINI. SPAGHETTI alla CHITARRA (square spaghetti) is made from Strazzavisazz. All cuts are in 500 gram bags, cook in 5-6 minutes, and are deliciously fragrant and light tasting. All cuts are $7.99 per bag $86.00 case/ 12. Quantity is limited.
TERRE e TRADIZIONI PASTA di TIMILÌA: PENNE (#3538) FIORI (#3539) FUSILLI (#3540) LINGUINE (#3541) MEZZE PENNE (#3542) TAGLIOLINI (#3543) MACCHERONCINI (#3544) Spaghetti alla CHITARRA from Strazzavisazz (#3545)
GINGER ELIZABETH CHOCOLATE DESSERT BARSGINGER ELIZABETH, has become an iconic figure in Sacramento for the quality of her chocolate. I use these lovely tablets as gifts when traveling to Asia since they are unusual, delicious and different from other chocolates. With a background in notable restaurant dessert production, Ginger Elizabeth Hahn has made a real splash creating unusual chocolates for her shop and then producing these bars for resale to others. If you are looking for something different, yet luscious for a holiday remembrance, Ginger Elizabeth chocolates should fit the bill. Corti Brothers has the six flavors produced. The cocoa base is famed Valrhona cocoa from France. The dessert bars are $6.49 each. Chocolate bars are $4.99 each. All are 3.5 oz (100g)
MILK CHOCOLATE BAR (#3546) 40% cocoa
BITTERSWEET CHOCOLATE BAR (#3547) 70% cocoa
CRISPY COCONUT KAFFIR LIME (#3548) 40% cocoa Milk chocolate and all the other ingredients. Delicious.
VANILLA BEAN TOFFEE ALMOND (#3549) 70% cocoa Toffee made with Tahitian vanilla, toasted almonds.
SALTY COCOA NIB BRITTLE (#3550) 72% cocoa Brittle made with fleur de sel and nibs, blended with chocolate.
CRISPY CRÊPE & HAZELNUT (#3551) 42% cocoa Baked crêpes folded into roasted hazelnut gianduja paste.
I would like to remind our customers that we have such staples for holiday cooking such as BACCALÀ, salt cod from Norway with skin and bones and STOCAFISSO RAGNO (stockfish); Vintage Madeira going back to the early 1800s; our Vintage Cognac, Hine 1972, Hine 1977, and Delamain 1982; Tokaji Essencia from various estates. If some foodstuff comes to mind that you cannot find where you are, please give us a call. We just may have it.
The holidays are time of joy and reflection. They are also time for looking at where we have been and where we are going. Recent news is not all that bright and cheerful, but the holidays give us an opportunity to reflect that perhaps change will come and situations will improve. In the meantime, we can look forward to enjoying the festivities of the season and the joy that they bring. Most importantly, they are to be enjoyed. They come but once a year.
TERMS OF SALE: This list supersedes all others. All taxable items, such as wine, beer, or spirits will be taxed at the rate of 8.5%. This is for all sales since we sell in California. Foodstuffs are not taxable. Shipping will be charged at prevailing rates. PLEASE NOTE: In extreme weather, either hot or cold, please give us a shipping address where your order may be properly received and stored. Corti Brothers cannot be responsible for items left without protection.