Spring 2015 Newsletter
Here are three favorite wines of mine which I think are delicious and wonderful accompaniments to food, practically
any food. They are all from Chianti: two, Isole e Olena and Pargolo from Chianti Classico; and Campriano from
Chianti Colli Senesi, from the hills around Siena. I have known the producers for more years than I care to
remember. Isole e Olena, the name of Paolo DeMarchi’s fattoria outside of San Donato in Poggio, is the only wine
Corti Brothers has bought in every vintage since 1975, his first vintage. Isole e Olena Chianti Classico has appeared in
our newsletters many, many times and is a fixture of Chianti Classico at Corti Brothers.
Campriano and Pargolo are wines new to us, but not new producers. Campriano is owned by Ranuccio Neri, who
studied at UC Davis under Prof. Roger Boulton, and then he spent some time at Gallo. Campriano is a place, a
fortified farm just south of Siena, and the wine unique in that Ranuccio uses no wood in the preparation of this wine.
He does use lined cement tanks and stainless steel. He feels his grapes produce enough flavor and do not need an
overcoat of wood. I have to agree with him. Varieties: sangiovese, canaiolo, ciliegiolo.
We have two Campriano wines: Campriano and Rosso di Campriano. Both are from 2013 vintage. Campriano itself
is the best selection of grapes grown. This is bottled in a normal Bordeaux shape bottle. The Rosso di Campriano is
another selection, labeled as an IGT wine, hence the Rosso in its name. It comes in a liter Tuscan “fiasco” bottle, the
wrapped bottle that made Chianti famous. Or vice versa! The wines are both lovely, just different. Bringing back the
fiasco is daring. But then it really does symbolize Chianti. A lot of Chianti fans still think fondly about the “simpatico
fiasco toscano.” If the wine was good in our college days, it is certainly better today!
Pargolo is a wine from a very small property in San Casciano Val di Pesa, just outside Florence which is owned by
Ilaria Tachis, the daughter of Giacomo Tachis, the noted enologist, who was responsible for the creation of
Tignanello, Sassicaia, Sammarco, Solaia, and numerous other wines both in and out of Tuscany. The property where
Pargolo is grown, Podere La Villa, lies on a gentle slope facing west and slightly north planted to sangiovese and
Only two hectares of the 16 hectares comprising the property are harvested for Pargolo. The other grapes are sold. The
Pargolo grapes are vinified at a different property, Santa Lucia in Faulle, at Panzano in Chianti. The first vintage was
in 2007. I met Ilaria, in the early 1970s when she was about the age of Riccardo, the oldest of her sons, born the first
day of harvest of 2007. “PARGOLO” is a poetic Tuscan word for “young child” (parvulus [‘small’ in Latin] >
pargolo), the wine named for her son.
The 2011 vintage was unusual, very dry. Green pruning was very severe, limiting the quantity of wine. It was a two
day harvest, one for sangiovese, the other for merlot. Fermentation in stainless steel. Aging was for 18 month in
barriques, followed by bottle aging. This is the first time it is available in this country.
ISOLE e OLENA Chianti Classico 2012 14% $26.99 750ml (#3600) $291.00 cs/12 (#3600C)
CAMPRIANO Chianti Colli Senesi 2013 13% $13.49 750ml (#3601) $145.00 cs/12 (#3601C)
ROSSO DI CAMPRIANO IGT Toscana 2013 $19.99 liter fiasco (#3602) $89.00 cs/5 liters (#3602C)
PARGOLO, Podere La Villa Chianti Classico 2011 14.5% $23.99 750ml (#3603) $129.00 cs/6 (#3603C)
Just as Christmas is celebrated with a special cake, Panettone, Easter is celebrated with another: COLOMBA. This is another Italian baked product which is controlled as a “typical” product that must be made according to precise regulations. The basic one is that the dough must be leavened with a sour dough starter, generally known as lactobacillus sanfrancisco--the same starter responsible for San Francisco sourdough bread. From our favorite baker, LOISON, we have different Colombe and the traditional Venetian FOCACCIA ready for you to celebrate spring and Easter.
Colomba takes its name from the fact that it is baked in the shape of a flying dove–“colomba”-- in Italian. The Focaccia is not the savory flatbread, but a raised, round loaf topped with an almond glaze. It has no candied fruit, but the delicate scent of vanilla and orange flower water. The filled Colomba with chocolate, lemon cream or zabaione, made from egg yolks and Marsala wine, have become great favorites with our customers. To enjoy these cakes, just unwrapped them, slice and serve. They are wonderful with fresh fruit. Here is this year’s selection: All are one kilo in size unless noted.
COLOMBA CLASSICA: candied Sicilian orange peel, Diamante citron, almonds. Wrapped $32.99 (#3604)
COLOMBA CLASSICA: a smaller size, 750g, cellophane wrapped $29.99 (#3605)
COLOMBA AL CIOCCOLATO: with a chocolate cream filling. Wrapped $34.99 (#3606)
COLOMBA AL LIMONE: a limoncello cream filling. Wrapped $33.99 (#3607)
COLOMBA ALLO ZABAIONE: with the zabaione filling Wrapped $33.99 (#3608)
COLOMBA ALLA PESCA: with candied peach and hazelnuts. Boxed $34.69 (#3609)
FOCACCIA MANDORLATA: no candied fruit, with almond glaze. Wrapped $22.99 (#3610)
COLOMBA CLASSICA Magnum: 3 kilo $89.00 (#3611) COLOMBA CLASSICA: 5 kilo $119.00 (#3612)
This Barley Wine was supposed to have come out in 2012. It took some time in gestation, both on the production side and on the label side. But finally it is out. It was supposed to have been released for Corti Brothers’ 65th anniversary in 2012. It is conceived as a “commemorative ale”--an ale with high alcohol to be aged in bottle. This is not your “Saturday afternoon, mowing the lawn” beer, but a serious ale for sipping after dinner. Only 125 cases were produced in 250ml bottles, typical for this style. It has 12% alcohol. This Barley Wine was grown, brewed and bottled by Ruhstaller in Sacramento.
Barley wines are not an extremely old style of ale, even if they must be called “ale” in the U.S. They begin about 1903 with Bass & Co. Originally, they were used as restoratives! The most famous one, both for its quality, publicity and reputed longevity, was Eldridge Pope Brewery’s Thomas Hardy Ale, now a great collector’s item. Whitbread’s Gold Label was another of this type. Russet hues and winey flavors practically define Barley Wine.
I first tasted Barley Wine at the end of a wine dinner in London in 1967, and both the scent and flavor have remained with me since. Hence the challenge to produce one as a commemorative bottling.
How does one store Barley Wine? In the wine cellar, of course. Or if you have enough refrigerator space, keep it there. But you should taste some first, then decide if you want to lay more down for future drinking. It improves wonderfully in bottle.
CORTI BROTHERS BARLEY WINE ALE 1947-2012 12% $5.99 250ml (#3613) $64.00 cs/12 (#3613C)
MOON SHINE TRADING CO. HONEYS
Coriander, Pomegranate, Maple Blossom, Coffee, and Meadowfoam Honeys and Apricot Honey Spread
In his work Don Quixote, Cervantes has his protagonist utter a marvelous statement: “No hay bien que por mal no venga.” (There is no evil from which good does not come.) In 2014, the drought in California’s Sacramento Valley has produced a rare honey, CORIANDER honey. Coriander normally blossoms at the same time as other flowers; however, due to the drought, the coriander flowered separately, allowing the bees to work only on the coriander blossoms, producing a marvelous honey rarely seen in this pure form. It has the distinctive, scented quality of coriander seeds, not the character of green coriander or cilantro. POMEGRANATE honey, from orchards in the Central Valley, I had never tasted before. There is a resemblance to the fruit in this honey. It has a perfume-y scent and the slightly astringent flavor of pomegranate arils, especially when you chew the interior kernel.
MAPLE BLOSSOM honey is a real rarity from the Pacific Northwest. We offered it only once before, about thirty years ago. Its scent and taste is very much like light colored maple syrup, but it is honey. Likewise, another treat is MEXICAN COFFEE BLOSSOM honey from Central Mexico. It has the very distinctive scent and delicate flavor of green coffee beans. A real revelation in flavor. These four honeys make up the GOLDEN RESERVE HONEY selection.
MEADOWFOAM honey is another rare honey from a special plant which also is not often seen in a pure state. Meadowfoam flowers in the late summer in Southern Oregon/Northern California, and its seed produces a highly emollient oil used in cosmetics. Meadowfoam’s unique honey characteristic is a very distinctive vanilla-like scent and flavor.
These mono-floral honeys come from MOONSHINE TRADING COMPANY, a firm which I have known since the early 1970s. Located in Woodland, outside of Davis, CA., it is run by Amina Harris, her husband and son. Amina is a whirlwind of a lady, and together with her own business, is the director of the new HONEY and POLLINATION CENTER at the Robert Mondavi Institute (RMI) at UC Davis. ( Full disclosure: I sit on the Board of Executives of the RMI.) Amina is responsible for the new Honey Tasting Wheel that has come out from the Honey Center. She has also been the moving force to re-evaluate MEAD, a fermented honey product, never before studied by the Enology Department of UCD.
A specialty made from two local products, honey and dried apricots, both produced very close to Woodland, and unique to Moonshine Trading, is their APRICOT HONEY SPREAD. Made from local honey and golden dried apricots, it has that appetizing zing of flavor from proper apricots and the smooth character of being combined with multifloral honey. For a breakfast toast topping, ice cream topping, or eaten with a spoon out of the jar, this is a lovely, delicious product.
MOONSHINE TRADING CO. GOLDEN RESERVE HONEY All 9 oz jars $9.79 each
CORIANDER HONEY (#3614)
POMEGRANATE HONEY (#3615)
MAPLE BLOSSOM HONEY (#3616)
MEXICAN COFFEE BEAN HONEY (#3617)
MEADOWFOAM HONEY (#3618)
APRICOT HONEY SPREAD $10.39 9oz jar (#3619)
MIXED CASE OF ONE EACH HONEY AND SPREAD $53.00cs/6 (#3620)
HONEY and POLLINATION CENTER HONEY TASTING WHEEL $9.99 plus 8.5% tax (#3621)
GOAN CUISINE: The Original Fusion Cooking
GOA, located on the west coast of India, was the first European outpost in India and belonged to Portugal from 1510 to
1961. A very special cuisine developed there, based both on native tastes and those of Renaissance Portugal. Thus was
created the world’s first Fusion Cooking. It was from Goa that the chile pepper, among other things from the New
World, was introduced to the Indian sub-continent.
However, GOAN CUISINE is not just the cooking of Goa, India, but a wonderful line of condiments made by a Goan
family living in Perth, Western Australia. Corti Brothers first offered Goan Cuisine products more than ten years ago.
They had good acceptance, but now with the growing interest in India’s cuisines, we have brought them back. All the
Goan Cuisine products are made with Australian produce in the Goan tradition using century old family recipes. They
are very traditional in flavor and style, hand crafted with exacting care, then left to mature for maximum flavor before
For those customers familiar with Indian cooking, the Goan Cuisine products fall into two classes: the condiment line,
and the cooking line. Condiments are eaten with prepared dishes. The pastes, Tandoori for oven cooking and the
Vindalho for a saucy dish, are for use in preparing meats and sometimes fish. The condiment line is particularly
delicious with simple meats, like ham, grilled meats with Vignalta salt, and those dishes that need, or will take some,
spicing up. You may just “relish” these relishes!
KASAUNDI: Pronounced either KA-SOON-DI or KA-SOUND-DI, not strictly a Goan pickle, is found in the coastal
cuisines of India. Its flavor base is mustard seed, either whole or crushed. TOMATO kasaundi is made from fresh red
and orange skinned tomatoes cooked with garlic, ginger and hot oil roasted mustard seed. It has a robust savory bite,
balanced between sweet and sour. EGGPLANT kasaundi, made from handcut fresh eggplant, has a smokey/meaty
scent and is cooked with tomatoes, vinegar and sugar, with a dominant fenugreek tone.
TOMATO KASAUNDI $9.99 375g jar (#3622)
EGGPLANT KASAUNDI $9.99 365g jar (#3623)
ACHAR and MESCUT: ACHAR from Persian or Arabic, in Indian cooking means “a pickle.” PINEAPPLE ACHAR is made from fresh, high acid, high fiber Queensland pineapple chunks cooked with curry leaf, mustard seed, cumin, ajwan, and chile. CUCUMBER ACHAR is made from crisp Persian cucumbers, diced and cooked with curry leaf, ginger, garlic, and vinegar. It is lightly spicy with a cucumber crunch.
PINEAPPLE ACHAR $10.49 375g jar (#3624)
CUCUMBER ACHAR $9.99 350g jar (#3625)
MESCUT: This is a traditional Goan pickle, normally made from green mango. Mescut is from the translation of
“cuti,” made up of small pieces. Mango mescut has the crispness and pepperiness of green mangoes with a hint of
mustard seed. It is perfect with cold meats of any kind.
MANGO MESCUT $10.49 370g jar (#3626)
CHUTNEY: from the Hindi “chatni,” meaning to chew or bite. The ingredients are finely chopped and sweetened with
some form of sugar or raisins. SPICY MANGO CHUTNEY is made from fresh peeled and handcut WestAustralian
mangoes, cooked with fresh ginger, garlic and raisins. MANGO LIME CHUTNEY is made from fresh mangoes and
preserved Persian limes with fresh ginger. Mango pieces are still visible in this sweet, fruity chutney with a tart finish.
Chutney is probably the most universally known Indian condiment.
SPICY MANGO CHUTNEY $9.99 435g jar (#3627)
MANGO LIME CHUTNEY $9.99 450g jar (#3628)
PICKLE: not at all like the preserved cucumber. LIME PICKLE is made from salted Persian limes. Cooked with
spices and chile. Lime Pickle is India’s most popular pickle (apart from mango) and usually associated with the cooking
of Gujarat, neighboring Goa.
LIME PICKLE $9.99 410g jar (#3629)
VINDALHO CURRY PASTE: (Also known as vindaloo) This is the most widely known dish of Goan cooking. It is a
true Luso-Indian combination. The name may originate with the combination of garlic, vinegar or wine marinade (vinho
d’alhos) which is still popular in Portugal for cooking meat, especially pork. In India it is eaten as hot as can be
VINDALHO CURRY PASTE $8.59 379g jar (#3630)
TANDOORI PASTE: In the Indian kitchen, a tandoor is the barrel shaped oven which is used for all baking: bread,
fish, fowl and meat. Most western homes have no such appliance, but this paste mixture will go a long way to give you
the flavor produced by marinated things cooked in the intense heat of the tandoor. Here you can use your oven and get a
TANDOORI PASTE $9.99 370g jar (#3631)
Please log on to goancuisine.com.au, Goan Cuisine’s website, for a complete list of suggestions.
SMOKED BASMATI RICE: Unusual and unusually good
SMOKED RICE, you say? Yes, this is a product which has its origins in Persian cuisine. Produced in Germany by a company that ships basmati rice, already a scented variety, this long grain rice is smoked over beech wood which gives it a very gentle scent that complements the already characteristic scent/flavor of basmati. Basmati is a rice variety which has the unusual quality of elongating without widening. The grains become almost an inch in length with a fluffy texture.
If you enjoy plain rice as an alternative accompaniment to meats, SMOKED BASMATI will satisfy both your taste for rice and your taste for something more exotic. Cooking rice is simplicity itself, but you cannot cook only a little. About two cups of rice is a minimum amount to cook. It tends to cook better in slightly larger amounts than in small. Rice leftovers are always a treat to have on hand and here is a very simple, yet delicious way of using them.
This is a recipe from the noted British food expert, ELIZABETH DAVID, and something I enjoy frequently as a first course: Rice with egg. In Elizabeth’s cookbook, Italian Food, it is called Uovo col Riso. The recipe is simplicity itself.
Take as many eggs as diners. Boil the eggs gently for 4 minutes, so the yolks remain liquid. Cool them in cold water and then shell carefully. Halfway fill individual ramekins or souffle dishes previously buttered and dusted with grated Parmigiano with leftover cold rice. Place the shelled egg on top of the rice. Drizzle a tablespoon of clarified butter and a sprinkle of Parmigiano on the egg and rice. Put into a shallow pan with enough boiling water to come up halfway to the dishes. Cover and steam for 5 minutes. Remove carefully and set before the diners. A grind of good pepper (or a sprinkle of piment d’Esplette) will do no harm.
SMOKED BASMATI RICE 16 oz bag $3.99 (#3632) $21.00 case/6 (#3632C)
PASSIONE PIZZA: Organic Pizza Crust Mix
Every so often, a product called a mix shows up that is really good. I am generally wary of mixes because they tend to be a real imitation of what they purport to be. Now I can tell you I have found a mix that really works and is very good, not to say terrific. It is PASSIONE PIZZA MIX, a kilo bag of organic wheat flour, sea salt and yeast, that needs only water to be added and then some hours of rising time to produce a lovely dough for dough for making pizza, focaccia, and other flat bread items.
Passione Pizza mix is the creation of FABRIZIO CERCATORE, a young Italian pizzaiolo who came to Sacramento to open a pizza restaurant called HOT ITALIAN. Now there are two of them–the other is in Emeryville, California. Following the restaurants, Fabrizio had the idea of producing this pizza dough mix and then to offer classes in making pizza and to have a pizza oven that can be hired out for serving pizza at venues. But the pizza dough mix is all the same. The product: PASSIONE PIZZA.
Please check www.PassionePizza.com for more information.
A blend of US grown, organic wheat flour that needs only water to produce a dough which can be used or frozen for later use. The directions are on the mix bag for making the dough with a mixer or by hand. You should really try this mix to make your own pizza or focaccia. Who knows, you might have a pizzaiolo hidden in you!
PASSIONE PIZZA CRUST MIX $7.99 kilo bag (#3633)
Corti Brothers NO-MALAX Arbequina Extra Virgin oil 2014
Corti Brothers NO-MALAX Arbequina is different from that produced in its first year of release, 2013. Due to the lack of cold weather during the olive harvest, the fruit is much more delicate in flavor. This oil was harvested about the same time as the 2013; without cold weather, however, the fruit remains static and soft flavored. This is a delicate oil, a light fruity extra virgin that has a lot to recommend it.
The production process of No Malax–malaxation is the act of mixing the crushed olive paste to cause the small oil globules in the olive tissue to form larger ones–does not happen. Malaxation is frankly an oxidative process–oxygen begins to breakdown oil–here this process is bypassed. A consequent problem is the lack of production--less oil is extracted. But quality is definitely higher. Even though it is more delicate than the 2013, I am very pleased with the 2014 quality. Production was 370--500ml bottles.
CORTI BROTHERS NO-MALAX ARBEQUINA 2014 OIL $18.99 500ml (#3634) $200.00 cs/12 (#3634C)
VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE
This herbed salt is one of the most popular items at Corti Brothers. Produced using the herbs which grow almost wild on the Vignalta estate in the Colli Euganei, outside of Padova, Italy, they are then blended with Sicilian sea salt. Vignalta salt should be a staple in everyone’s kitchen. I use it on all kinds of meat before cooking: steak, lamb chops, roasts, or roast chicken. It has the proper amount of herb flavor, predominantly rosemary and thyme, so that it doesn’t over power meat, but simply adds a delicate herbal touch.
Truly, this is one product that, after trying it, you will be amazed at its versatility and wonder how you ever got along without it. Outdoor grilling season is coming, and this is the perfect seasoning. Please go to our website– www.cortibrothers.com and click on Vignalta salt item to see a video showing where the herbs come from.
VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE $7.99 10.58oz jar (#3635) $86.00 cs/12 (#3635C)
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.