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There’s a new kid on the block at Amy Brandwein’s Italian empire. Meet Alissa Wilmina Diaz, who has joined the restaurant group as its brand new wine director. Diaz, who grew up in Virginia and sharpened her (wine) teeth working in NYC with Chef Behzad Jamshidi, clearly has a passion for drinking and writing about wine. Her drink diary below added a bunch of new wines to our ‘to try’ list. Just when we thought we couldn’t love Centrolina and Piccolina more.

Bev: Glass of Tenuta di Trinoro Le Cupole 2017

Slept in and had two cups of Chicco Doro Elite espresso and a large glass of water with breakfast. Water for most of the day. Finished my work day with writing the End of Day email with a glass of Le Cupole 2017 from Tenuta di Trinoro in Tuscany, which was the last from it being on the BTG (by the glass) menu. It’s a nice medium plus red-blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot & Petit Verdot, ripe dark fruit, herbal notes of tobacco, sweet baking spices with a structured mid-palate and a soft finish. I usually don’t go for bigger reds personally but its a crowd pleaser for many reasons. Just went back to the by the bottle list.

Bev: Glass of Di Lenardo Father’s Eyes Chardonnay, Kabuki Springs highball cocktail, Joto Junmai Nigori “The Blue One” Sake, Tanqueray & Tonic

Two cups of Chicco Doro Elite espresso with an oatmeal pecan scone and a banana. Water. Some herbal tea at around 1 p.m. Glass of Di Lenardo Father’s Eyes Chardonnay a very kind friend/sales rep brought for me to check out while I got ready for the evening since I had off. The Chardonnay is from Venezia Giulia, new American oak influence, lees contract and malolactic fermentation (means it gives the white wine a fully body with notes of butter, ever heard of a “buttery” chardonnay? Malolactic fermentation is the reason. Not very sexy to mention to guests though) are involved with this golden wine, ripe tropical fruit, butter, caramel, vanilla & spice. Made in a California style, my step father enjoyed it happily for his dinner. Will keep it in mind for a by the bottle wine or a market wine. Later that evening at Zeppelin I had a Kabuki Springs highball cocktail (Roku Gin, Italicus, grapefruit, lemon, bubbles, where they add their own carbonation with this special machine) and some unfiltered sake, Joto Junmai Nigori “The Blue One”, which was half off by the bottle! This was with some skewers and sushi. Went to a concert at 9:30 club and had a Tanqueray & tonic. Water before bed.

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Bev: Madrigal Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2011

Water, water, water all day. While helping cook family dinner I opened a Madrigal Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 from Napa Valley to drink with our sirloin, as it was a gift. Sadly, the cork crumbled and I had to finesse filtering and decanting using the random tools from our kitchen. Found a thin mesh strainer and poured it through into a large vase since my parents don’t have a proper decanter… It opened up a touch, had the classic Napa characteristics, but, in a way, it was reserved and on the earthy side. I wasn’t very familiar with Madrigal since I don’t usually go for big California reds, but Madrigal is a family owned estate that was started by a Mexican immigrant in the 1970’s, now the third generation has taken over the management of about 800 acres. Found that interesting. Dinner was good.

Bev: Il Chiosso Ghemme 2010, Garesio Nizza 2016, Renato Ratti Langhe Nebbiolo Ochetti, Prà Valpolicella Morandina and Castello dei Rampolla Rosso Toscana “d’Alceo” + many more…

Espresso. At work had a tasting with Roanoke, Vias Imports, RNDC & Downey. Lots of wines were tasted, not drank though. The standout ones were Il Chiosso Ghemme 2010, Garesio Nizza 2016, Renato Ratti Langhe Nebbiolo Ochetti, Prà Valpolicella Morandina and Castello dei Rampolla Rosso Toscana “d’Alceo”. Luckily my reps are amazing and left some bottles for me to revisit later. When I am thinking about a wine for BTG or by the bottle, I always like to have a chance to go back and revisit it without the ambiance of a sales influence. So after service, I re-tasted and was still just as charmed by the wines. It’s a special thing to have the opportunity to taste such beauties, on days like this it reignites the excitement of why I got into wine. I am sure I ate something that day but I forgot.

Bev: Water (it sounds like I drink a good amount but truly I do not… who does?!)

My usual morning espresso and water. Not much action happened and didn’t drink any wine, so tried to stay hydrated.

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Bev: Marco de Bartoli wines, Oddero, Domenico Clerico and Le Vigne di Eli Etna Rosso, + others. Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Cerrete 2009

Wine tasting at 2:30 with Freerun Wines, which was a beautiful tasting. Some highlights were Marco de Bartoli wines, Oddero, Domenico Clerico and Le Vigne di Eli Etna Rosso which I decided to put by the glass. Some bottles were left for me to revisit later.

For evening service, I had a lovely couple that was interested in something big, intense but unique and complex. I had just one bottle still of the Paolo Bea Sagrantino di Montefalco Cerrete 2009 in the wine fridge and offered it has an option that would be more than fitting. They were delighted and I decanted it for them, kindly enough they left myself and their server a half glass. Cerrete is Bea’s highest elevation vineyard for Sagrantino and is his grand cru plot. It was gorgeously integrated and strong, Sagrantino is like a beautiful bull and Paolo Bae’s consistent and detailed winemaking keeps it balanced which always allows the grape to show its true expression of power and depth. Finished the night with a Funghi, roasted chanterelle mushrooms, parmesan brûlée and rosemary broth with the Domenico Clerico 2015 (it was so so good, I giggled mid-meal of the pairing), all while catching up on emails.

Bev: Alice Bonaccorsi’s Limited Edition Bianco 2012

Espresso, water. It was the day of the Super Bowl, so the evening looked to be on the quiet side. In the evening I had a bar guest curious about Carricante, but with some age. The decision was between Alice Bonaccorsi’s Limited Edition 2012 and Benanti ‘Pietra Marina’ Bianco Superiore 2015. The guest decided on the Alice Bonaccorsi. Alice Bonaccorsi is such a gem, her genuinity, delicate but detailed winemaking and terroir driven vineyards make it something not to be missed. This limited edition Carricante was aged on the lees for four years in small tanks and bottled in 2016. It is a rich gorgeous gold, notes of golden apple, salty sour dough and wild honey. The wine still holds true to its firm acidity and bountiful citrus following with an intense mineral expression and a touch of dried tarragon on the finish. I was only able to get three bottles of this precious thing and this bottle I sold was the second to last, so I was very pleased with who chose it. He enjoyed every sip like it was the fountain of youth along with his courses, someone who knows how to enjoy a meal. Left just one glass for the bartender and I as a ‘thank you’. I had half a glass with a half order of our Casunsei, a ravioli filled with beef and swiss chard that is delicately pitched on the edges with sweet golden raisins, speck and lemon butter. It was heavenly.

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