Corti Brothers

*Note: This is not the current newsletter.  Items listed in the following newsletter are not guaranteed to be in stock and the prices shown are subject to change without notice.

A LOCAL PRODUCT, MADE WELL: Il Biscotto Company Biscotti

IL BISCOTTO COMPANY BISCOTTI is a local Sacramento product that is really made well! It is produced in Dolores Marchetti’s half garage bake shop in Sacramento and has been made since 2007. Dolores is a homemaker. After her husband’s passing in 2005, she decided to use a family recipe for making the twice baked cookie, called in Italian a “biscotto.” With biscotti, there are as many recipes as there are families, but Dolores’s is particularly charming and flavorful.

Il Biscotto Company biscotti are made from all purpose flour, cane sugar, her own roasted sliced California almonds, butter, whole fresh eggs, anise seed, and pure Mexican vanilla extract. This particular recipe comes from Lucca, where first generation Sacramentan Dolores’s family hails from. She started business in 2007-- spent most of 2006 getting licensed--and converting half a garage to a bake kitchen. Starting a business at age 70 is no laughing matter! Dolores, with the occasional assistance of a granddaughter, does all the work.

A batter is made with sufficient ingredients to make 4 loaves of dough. These loaves are hand rolled and baked 18 min. They are then cooled, cut and baked a second time (bis-cotto). Each bag of biscotti contains 13 cookies and the two ends of the loaf. The bags weigh more than 8 oz. and sell for $8.99. They can also come in a simple cardboard box, holding 2 lbs of cookies--48 cookies and 8 ends for $32.99. This is the size to purchase if you are having a party or want to repackage the biscotti yourself. The biscotti will keep two months, but why keep them that long? When you taste them, it will be hard to keep your hands off them.

IL BISCOTTO COMPANY BISCOTTI   8 oz bag   $8.99 (#3650)   Two pound box $32.99 (#3651)


ANDIS SEMILLON 2012, SHENANDOAH VALLEY, AMADOR CO. The last of it: 750 ml and mags

Corti Brothers has the last few cases of ANDIS SEMILLON 2012 both in bottles and magnums. This vintage is coming to an end. The grapes were grown on the Bill Dillion vineyard which is now about 30 years old and in its prime.  Semillon has been planted in California since the end of the 19th century because it was productive and produced a distinguishable flavored wine. This was one of the criteria for planting varieties in California in the first place: they were recognizable.

ANDIS 2012 SEMILLON is a lovely example of the varietal. It has the noted “white fig” fragrancy so typical of it, with a fullness balanced by a very fine acidity and varietal finish. Before the ascendancy of chardonnay, semillon was a major variety in California. But it needs time in bottle to develop its character, and well repays bottle aging. There is a “lanolin” like fragrancy and flavor which develops, very close to the fragrancy and flavor of Bordeaux’s most famous dry white wine, Haut Brion Blanc. The 750s are bottled with Stelvin screwcaps; the magnums with cork and wax sealed. In itself, perhaps not great thing, but it would be a lovely tasting pair in, say 5-10 years. A couple of bottles and a magnum would definitely show what happens to a wine with bottle age, different closures, and sizes.

ANDIS SEMILLON 2012 Amador Co. 12% $17.99 750ml (#3652) $194.00 cs/12 (#3652C) $44.99 mag (#3653)

KYR-YANNI RAMNISTA 2001 NAOUSSA, Double Magnums: the last of our stock

Large format bottles are always impressive. Most impressive are those aged in their own cellars until shipped. You have the perfect temperature control, and the wine is kept until deemed ready for enjoying. RAMNISTA is the name of the red wine produced in NAOUSSA, in Greek Macedonia, the north-western part of Greece, from the red variety XINOMAVRO. This variety is considered the great red varietal of Greece making a wine very similar to Italy’s Barolo, perhaps just fuller.

KYR-YANNI is the estate owned by Yannis Boutari, the current mayor of Thessalonika, Greece’s second city.

It is Naoussa that seems to have taken the position of Greece’s major red wine appellation. Especially for very full bodied wines. Now, with almost 14 years of age, this is a real treat to drink. It needs decanting for a couple of hours and drinks wonderfully. Ramnista is a great red wine in any circumstance; it being Greek is just an added plus. Limited to stock on hand.

KYR-YANNI RAMNISTA 2001, Naoussa 14%  $287.99 ea. double magnum (= 4-750ml bottles) (#3654)



This lightly sparkling Chenin Blanc wine is made at Revolution Wines, a winery located in Sacramento. ST. REY, is another name used for a slightly different blend than the normal Revolution brand. The vineyard is south of Sacramento, in Clarksburg, where Chenin Blanc seems to produce better than in most other locations in California.

This Pétillant Naturel–Pét Nat–(if you really want to be with it) is made without the normal process of adding sugar and yeast to cause a second fermentation in the bottle. The second fermentation in the St. Rey is made by using the natural residual sugar left in this Chenin Blanc by leaving it slightly sweet (2 degrees Brix) to begin with. Pétillant means “with some sparkle,” not the full on pressure of a méthode champenoise wine.

The yeast used for fermentation for this wine was a “pied de cuve” made in the vineyard where the chenin blanc is grown. The slight amount of sugar remaining in the newly fermented wine and the residual yeast from the not-gone-dry-fermentation, give the sparkling effect at the end. The wine was just bottled and left to finish its fermentation: No sugar, no yeast, very little SO2. In this sense it is a “natural” sparkling wine. Alcohol is a mere 11.6%. This is not the most expeditious nor certain way of making a sparkling wine, but in this vintage, with this wine, it worked!

It is very good and delicious. It is another facet of Chenin Blanc which has been much maligned in California and for little good reason. St. Rey Pét Nat is a wonderful change of pace in sparkling wine; refreshing and tasty and very easy to drink. It could go as an aperitif, a refreshing not-too- sweet dessert wine, or a wonderful glass mid morning or mid afternoon, just to correct your attitude a bit.

Fifty cases was the production for 2014. Do not miss out!

ST. REY CHENIN BLANC PÉTILLANT NATUREL 2014 $33.99 750ml (#3655) $183.00 cs/6 (#3655C)


CÀ del SOLO NEBBIOLO 2007, Bonny Doon: The last of the wine

Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon is reknown for his quirky, and often wonderful wines. The name for this wine and others under the label comes from a vineyard Randall owned near Soledad, California, in Monterey County. The other famous spots in Soledad are the Mission ruins of Soledad Mission founded in the 18th century, and the State Penitentiary also located there. The “CÀ” part only means “house” in several Italian dialects.

However, this wine is very particular since it is made from probably the most obdurate grape variety in the world, the Piemontese Nebbiolo. Alas, the vineyard does not exist any longer. Randall sold it several years ago, and the new owner promptly pulled out the nebbiolo. Thus, this 2007 Nebbiolo is the last of its line, and the few cases remaining are the last of the wine. It is a shame!

Bottled with a screwcap, the wine has developed very well and probably is the best example I know of, for this varietal in California. To begin with nebbiolo does not grow well in California, and for that matter, except for a short half dozen locations in Italy, doesn’t do well anywhere else in the world. When we try to make nebbiolo produce Barolo or Barbaresco styled wine in California, as we think it should, the variety doesn’t want to. But it does well making a wine in the style coming from the eastern side of Piemonte; wines like Gattinara, Bramaterra, Ghemme , Lessona, or Lombardy’s Valtellina, all areas where nebbiolo is grown. Cà del Solo Nebbiolo 2007 really fits in with these wines. In fact, at a recent tasting with a Gattinara producer at UCDavis, this 2007 Nebbiolo was taken by the producer for a Gattinara wine.

The elegance of Cà del Solo Nebbiolo 2007 is amazing. Eastern Piemonte nebbiolo wines are not black since the variety is like pinot noir and not intensely colored. Well colored, garnet like, Cà del Solo Nebbiolo has developed a wonderful scent, almost a rose-like, pinot scent. Eastern Piemonte nebbiolos are also grown where the bulk of Italy’s rice is grown. There is an affinity for them with rice dishes, especially risotto. The Cà del Solo fits right into this mould.

Development has been good to this wine. It is now drinking very well with a lovely perfumed bouquet and flavor. A dish of simply well made risotto with fall mushrooms and the Nebbiolo 2007 would be a lovely way to enter autumn. Remember, some wines seduce you; others overwhelm you. Both can be wonderful!

CÀ DEL SOLO NEBBIOLO 2007 Monterey County 13.7%   $29.99 750ml (#3656)   $323.00 cs/12 (#3656C)



This is the second time Corti Brothers has offered the splendid aperitif wine, JEAN DE LILLET RESERVE. Several years ago we offered the 2004 Reserve. It sold extremely well, and we have just now been able to get our hands on this new vintage.

LILLET is a unique aperitif. It comes from Bordeaux and is made with a base of Bordeaux wines, both white and red. The normal Lillet is found pretty much in any well stocked store, but the Jean de Lillet Reserve is made from a blend of wines coming from the Sauternais and other areas producing botrytized sweet wines. The fact is that these wines have the special flavor and weight that make Jean de Lillet Reserve so special.

In any estate producing botrytized wines, there are always some lots of wines which do not make the cut for being château bottled;  these are sold off to other markets. One special one is to enter into the blend of Jean de Lillet, where the wines are blended with orange and other fruit extracts made by the the Lillet firm, then given further aging to produce this aperitif. For those of you who enjoy mature wines, Jean de Lillet Reserve ages very well, taking on special flavors and bouquet. So if you want to see what Jean de Lillet is really about, you should buy some and lay it down. Your only disappointment will be that you didn’t lay down more.

With interest in different aperitifs at an all time high, you should try Jean de Lillet Reserve as a unique beginning for a meal. Served on ice or chilled, a slice of fresh orange adds to its enjoyment. Enchantingly addictive!

JEAN DE LILLET RESERVE 2010   $42.99 750ml (#3657)  $232.00 cs/6 (#3657C)


VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE: The herbed salt from Vignalta Estate

VIGNALTA SALT WITH HERBS is probably one of our best sellers. Practically every day we have a call for it. It is wonderful as a salt for cooking meats and eggs, showering it on already cooked dishes for the added attraction of its herbed scent. Since holiday gift giving time is coming, I am just including it to remind you that this makes a wonderful hostess gift, and a splendid holiday gift when wine or spirits are not appropriate.

Once you get used to cooking with Vignalta Salt, you’ll never want to be without it. In California we are the importers for this salt. Should you want to see where the herbs for it are grown, please go to Corti TV on YouTube and go to the Vignalta section. The herbs are grown on the Colli Euganei, the extinct volcanic hills in the plain just outside of Padova, in Italy’s Veneto. These herbs are then blended with Sicilian sea salt from the salt beds at Trapani. That’s all. Fresh herbs from the Colli Euganei and sea salt from Trapani in Sicily.

You might want to plan ahead for your holiday gift giving and also for your holiday cooking. VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE is a wonderful pantry item that you should never be without.

VIGNALTA SALE ALLE ERBE  $8.99  10.58 oz jar (#3658) $97.00 cs/12 (#3658C)


GORGONA: The world’s only wine made in a prison.

GORGONA is a unique wine. It is the only wine made in a prison--a very special prison, the tiny island of Gorgona, in the Mediterranean off the Tuscan coast. Gorgona was an island monastery, and since 1869 it has been a penal colony administered by the Italian government.

Under the title of The Grand Duke Project, the more than 700 year old Tuscan wine family, the Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi, have worked with the inmates of the prison, training them in viticulture and other agricultural projects. Lamberto Frescobaldi, who studied at UCDavis, has spearheaded this project in a one hectare vineyard, first planted in 1999, which produces a white wine from two classical Tuscan coastal varieties: Ansonica and Vermentino. The first vintage was 2012. Corti Brothers bought the wine, put it out for sale and then lost the remaining cases in our stock. I have just now found them and would like to offer them to our customers. This is not an inexpensive wine. In this first harvest, only 2700 bottles were produced, bottled in the Frescobaldi cellars in Pontassieve, outside Florence.

Ansonica--grown in Sicily as Inzolia--and Vermentino, make a fascinating combination having scents of the wild herbs and island shrubs that grow on Gorgona. 2012 was a year of severe drought and high temperature, but the east facing location of the vineyard, produced a very well balanced, minerally wine with only 12.5% alcohol.

The limited amount produced and the even more limited amount imported into this country, make Gorgona a very special wine. Is it good? According to the old Chinese proverb: “This is a decision for the mouth to make.”

FRESCOBALDI GORGONA 2012 IGT TOSCANA 12.5%  $87.99 750ml (#3659)   $475.00cs/6 (#3659C)


CONGO KIVU COFFEE roasted FOR CORTI BROTHERS: Jeremiah’s Pick, San Francisco

In keeping with our habit of offering special growth coffees, roasted to our taste, I would like to point out this particular African coffee from the Congo. CONGO KIVU is relatively rare on the market. The most famous coffee of Africa, the origin of coffee, is generally recognized to be Ethiopian. But other areas and parts of that enormous continent produce coffee, and tea for that matter, which are excellent and have a particular charm.

CONGO KIVU is particularly interesting since it comes from the Kivu area of Eastern Africa, essentially part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, in the area bordered by Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Lake Tanganyika. The Lake Kivu area was historically a hub of coffee production. Internecine wars and a civil war have caused the industry to wither. But a hint of regrowth is happening. This coffee is part of that regrowth.

We were sent a sample of two roast levels and chose the one we offer. It is a darkish city roast, not a very dark roast. I felt the darker roast covered up the bright flavor of the coffee. We do not know the varietal, but there is a fair amount of peaberry, which has a lot of flavor. It is not a peaberry coffee but a blend with peaberry in it. (Peaberry is the name given to coffee beans which develop differently from the normal bean. In the coffee cherry, two beans are normally developed, growing their flat side together. Sometime, it happens that only one bean grows in a cherry, with two rounded sides. This is what is called a pea berry since it looks similar to a “pea.”)

This Congo Kivu is a wonderful breakfast coffee, dark enough to be impressive, flavorful enough to let you know it is there, but not overpowering. In short, a very nice cup of joe! We should have it through the holidays.

CORTI BROTHERS CONGO KIVU COFFEE, Jeremiah’s Pick  $11.99 12oz bag (#3660)



Things come; things go. TERRA DI TOSCANA pasta sauces, made in Northern California to the recipes of an old Lucchese family friend, may be going away. Alex Guerra, the son of Edda, whose recipes these are, has tried to follow the recipes to the letter. He has succeeded admirably, but sometimes using the best ingredients and care doesn’t lead to commercial success. Corti Brothers has offered these jarred pasta sauces because I think they are admirably made, honest in flavor, and frankly, the best of what is on the market. But sometimes this is not enough.

Corti Brothers has taken what may be the last of Terra di Toscana’s production and offers it to our customers as lovely examples of already prepared pasta sauces that fill a niche in the pantry when you need to pull a good, quick dinner out of the pantry (rather than a hat.) Hopefully, those of our customers who have enjoyed the Terra di Toscana sauces will continue to do so. We will have them until our stock is gone and there is either more in the works, or they become just a memory. The jars are all 16 ounces, enough for a pound of pasta for 4-6 diners.

POMMAROLA TOSCANA PICCANTE         $6.39 (#3661) $69.00 cs/12 (#3661C)

SUGO DI POMODORO CON OLIVE            $6.39 (#3663) $69.00 cs/12 (#3663C)

SUGO DI VERDURA FRESCA                     $6.99 (#3664) $75.00 cs/12 (#3664C)



BUCKEYE CREEK FARM CORATINA OIL is produced in the Dunnigan Hills, just north and west of Sacramento. David Neilson and his family bought 20 acres of land in 2001 and planted it to blueberries and olives. The blueberries are sold fresh in season. Several other products are also made from them. More about these later!

One of the olive varieties planted at Buckeye Creek is CORATINA. This is a typical cultivar from Puglia in southern Italy, which corresponds to the climatic conditions of Dunnigan Hills. It is a wonderful variety that is just now being evaluated for its quality in other parts of the world. Producing a high polyphenol and intense fruity oil, Coratina’s quality has always been shadowed by its origin. But this prejudice is changing.

Buckeye Creek Farm Coratina oil won a gold medal at the Los Angeles International tasting in March, 2015, and is a lovely example of the variety. This is not a bashful, reticent oil, but dramatic oil, with a forceful taste, wonderful for putting on bread and using as a flavor pointer in mild dishes. It is a very fine example of the variety and something you should experience. It will enhance your fall and winter dishes to a fair-thee-well!

BUCKEYE CREEK FARM CORATINA EX.VIRGIN OIL $17.99 375ml (#3665) $194.00 cs/12 (#3665C)


BACK IN STOCK: Reine de Dijon Moutarde de Bourgogne and Moutarde Provençal

We have had trouble getting supplies of the lovely mustards from REINE DE DIJON in France, but we now have a good stock for the coming holidays. These two mustards in particular are noteworthy. One, the MOUTARDE DE BOURGOGNE is an appellation product (I.G.P.) meaning that both the mustard seeds and the wine (Aligoté) used in its preparation, must be grown in Burgundy, in the Cote d’Or. Otherwise no I.G.P.!

This is not your normal “Dijon” style mustard. It is full blown, pungent, sharp mustard, made to accompany hams, sausages and more. This is the type of mustard one generally finds in Burgundy to accompany your jambon persillé or andouille sausages. It is the style that gives a snap to creamy sauces made with mustard, a hall mark of Burgundian cooking. I believe, Corti Brothers are the only retailer offering Moutarde de Bourgogne I.G.P.

Reine de Dijon MOUTARDE PROVENÇAL is another type of mustard. It is reddish in color and has the typical Provençal flavors of tomato and red bell pepper “poivrons” so typical of Provençal cooking. Again, this is a mustard with a lot of uses. I particularly like it in a vinaigrette dressing for the summer where you are dressing squashes, lettuces and dishes that have a sunny Provençal disposition.  Less forcefully flavored than the Moutarde de Bourgogne, it probably has more application for use where a less intense, but more “fruity” flavor is required.  Both are wonderful pantry items and recommended for whenever you need to zip up flavor in your dishes or just to accompany less flavorful ones.

MOUTARDE DE BOURGOGNE $4.99  200g jar (#3666)  $53.00 cs/12  (#3666C)

MOUTARDE PROVENÇAL         $4.99  200g jar (#3667)  $53.00 cs/12  (#3667C)



The UVAGGIO brand is produced by an old friend, Jim Moore, who gave up retailing for enology and for twenty odd years made the Italianate wines at Robert Mondavi. Having struck out on his own, his brand UVAGGIO, which means “a blend of grapes” in winemaking Italian, has dealt with mainly Italian varieties. His VERMENTINO, one of the first to be produced in California, comes from a vineyard planted in Lodi, CA. The Lodi area produces an enormous amount of grapes that rarely get sold under their own appellation, but in this case, this Vermentino shows the stuff that Lodi is capable of producing.

Known as Rolle, in Southern France, Vermentino produces a lightly fragrant white wine with nice acidity and an herbal, refreshing flavor. As with other delicately flavored white varieties, bottle age can enhance the wine’s character immensely. Dry, delicately scented, interestingly flavored, Uvaggio Vermentino is a delicious, attractive, white wine that is very easy to drink. Also easy on the pocketbook.

UVAGGIO VERMENTINO 2012 Lodi, 13% $11.99 750ml (#3668)   $129.00 cs/12 (#3668C)


SOY SAUCE has gone from being a very specialized condiment to practically ubiquitous now in American cooking. Corti Brothers imports three different types of soy sauce which are very difficult to find on the normal market. Perhaps the most difficult to find is Kikkoman’s GOYOGURA, produced for the table of the Emperor of Japan.


We first offered GOYOGURA in 1995. Its very name tells what it is: GOYO means supplier to the Imperial Household, and GURA, the dissonant sound of KURA, meaning a brewing establishment, or storehouse. Thus, by its name, GOYOGURA is a very special soy sauce.

Fermented in its own special brewery–lacquered bright red on the inside–the ingredients, soybeans,wheat, and salt, are only of Japanese origin. It takes one year to brew; only ten vats are produced. This production began in 1939, so it is not an “ancient” production, such as our Owarino Marumata Tamari, but it is limited and not often found. But, it can be had at Corti Brothers. Store at room temperature. Refrigerate once opened.

GOYOGURA SHOYU   $15.99 250ml (#3669)   $172.00cs/12 (#3669C)



MARUMATA OWARINO TAMARI is a soy sauce 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, “OWARI NO TAMARI” is the “Tamari of Owari.” Tamari itself is a  denser style of soy sauce, normally made only with soybeans. Owarino Tamari is produced from only Japanese grown soybeans and natural sea salt, slowly aged for three years in cedar casks. It has a thick, sweetish, smokey, meaty, full flavor. Not very salty, but with its thick body and deep flavor from the length of aging, it is very well balanced. Think of it as the Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale of soy sauce. Without added alcohol for stability, it should be kept in the refrigerator once opened

But why be interested in tamari? It is not only for its use in Japanese and Oriental cuisines. I find that a bit in western dishes, where a deep flavor is required–like braises and brown sauces–tamari offers this deeper tone. Try some in your next Béchamel, Mornay or Cream sauce. It provides that elusive character called “umami” or savoriness. Try some in your next mac and cheese, a savory souffle or gratin.

MARUMATA OWARINO TAMARI   $16.99 360ml (#3670)    $183.00 cs/12 (#3670C)



SAISHIKOME is the most unusual of the several soy sauce styles produced in Japan. It is “double fermented” (SAISHIKOME), where the water part of normal shoyu is substituted for by using already fermented soy sauce. Invented some time in the 1790s in Yanai-tsu, Iwakuni fiefdom, it was given the name of “Nectar Soy Sauce.” Or, as originally translated “Sweet Dew.” The Inada family who makes this Saishikome, has been doing so since 1874.

Aged for two years before bottling, MITSUBOSHI SAISHIKOME has a deep color, a very high level of richness and savory umami taste. There is a delicate saltiness, a clean aroma and sweetness. It is free of artificial preservatives. Used straight, it is a wonderful dipping sauce. Again, a drop or two heightens the depth of flavor in cream or white sauces. Store at room temperature and refrigerate once opened.

MITSUBOSHI SAISHIKOME SHOYU   $15.99 300ml (#3671)   $172.00 cs/12 (#3671C)


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.


Written by Darrell Corti — September 22, 2015

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