A Visit to Sertura Vini d’Irpinia Thanks to a FB Friend and a Landslide

 

Federico Starnone, (aka Fred Starring on FB) saw an article I did on Southern Italian wine for i-Italy.org and posted it on FB. I thanked him and wrote that Campania Stories had invited me on a press trip to taste Campania wines and to visit the wineries. Fred suggested that I visit the Sertura Vini d’Irpinia winery because they make excellent wine.

I didn’t think I could squeeze it in, but a landslide on the Amalfi Coast forced the cancellation of one of my scheduled visits, and so I was delighted to visit Sertura.

Fred

Fred

Fred is the commercial representative for the winery and hopes soon to become a business partner. The owner/ enologist is Giancarlo Barbieri. Fred and Giancarlo picked me up and drove me to the winery. As always in Italy there is never enough time. So when we finally arrived at the winery there was no time to visit the vineyards, just enough time to taste the wine.

Giancarlo said that in the vineyard man must follow nature with care and respect. Their new logo portrays the Clock Tower, the main symbol of Avellino, a city of which they are very proud. sAt the winery I met Giancarlo’s wife, Annalisa and his son, Alessio and we tasted the wines.

Giancarlo and Annalisa

Giancarlo and Annalisa

We tasted five wines: Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Aglianico and Taurasi, all 100% varietals. They do not blend or use international grapes. Giancarlo spoke very passionately about his vineyards and wines. IMG_0097

Falanghina 2015 IGT 100% Falanghina, the Monte Miletto vineyard is at 500 meters and has a southeast exposure. The harvest is by hans the last week of September. .Fermentation takes in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature.The wine has hints of yellow fruit, apple and pineapple and good acidity

 

 

IMG_0098

Fiano di Avellino 2015 DOCG 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyards are in Montefalcione, a tiny village perched on a hill a short distance from Avellino. The vineyards are at 380 meters and the soil is clay. The training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in early October. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented for 21 to 25 days at a controlled temperature. This is a complex full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of citrus fruit and hints of pear and green apple.IMG_0101

Greco di Tufo 2015 DOCG 100% Greco from vineyards in Santa Paolina north of Avellino on the slopes of a hill at 400 meters. The soil is clay rich in minerals, the training system is guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Harvest is usually the first week of October. The wine is balanced with nice fruit flavors with hints of yellow fruit, pear flowers, nice minerality and a delicate almond finish.IMG_0102

Aglianico 2013 IGT 100% Aglianico from vineyards of the small town of Torre Le Nocelle in Irpinia east of Avellino. The vineyards are at 500 meters, there is a range of temperature between night and day and this, along with the clay soil make it perfect for growing Aglianico. The training system is guyot and there are 4,00 plants per hectare. Giancarlo said Aglianico ripens late and the harvest takes place the first ten days of November. Maceration and fermentation is at a controlled temperature for 21 to 25 days. It has hints of red fruit with notes of spice. It is a big wine for an Aglianico.IMG_0103

Taurasi 2009 DOCG The same as above only there is a selection of the grapes. The wine is aged for 18 months in various size oak barrels. This is a robust wine that will age for a long time. It has hints red and black berries, with notes of leather and spice. I was very impressed with the wine.

The Sertura wines are not imported into the U.S at this time but they should be as they are excellent wines, Fred was right! They are available in Italy and a number of other foreign countries.

1 Comment

Filed under Aglianico, Avellino, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Sertura Vini d'Irpinia, Taurasi

Tasting Wine with Lunch at Donnachiara

Campania Stories is the name of an organized event to introduce and educate about the wines of Campania. Before the trip, they sent me a list of wines that I could visit when I attended their wine event in Benevento.IMG_9985

The first winery I chose was Donnachiara. I had been to the winery before and had tasted the wines with Ilaria Petitto a number of times in NYC. I wanted to visit again to see what was new and how the wines had developed.

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the province of Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for 150 years.

Ilaria and her mother Chiara greeted me. Chiara said that the winery is named after her grandmother Donnachiara.

Umberto

Umberto, Ilaria, Chiara, Francesco de Rienzo

Winemaker Angelo Valentino led us through a tasting of the wines. I told him that the Donnachiara whites were some of the best I have tasted from this area. He said that all of them are made in the same way. The juice was free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. Angelo believes that most white wines are consumed too young. He feels that they should be at least 3 years old because in the first year or so all you get are the aromas and taste of the fermentation process. In answer to a question, Angelo said it was his love for Fiano and Taurasi that made him become an enologist.

So I was looking forward to see how the wines have developed. He said 2015 was an excellent vintage. It was warm year, but rain came at the right time.

The winesIMG_9987

Falanghina 2015 IGT made from 100% Falanghina The grapes come from vineyards that they rent in Benevento. The soil is chalky clay, there are 2,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot. The grapes were picked at the height of maturity. This is the perfect wine with spaghetti alle vongole.IMG_9989

Coda di Volpe  DOC 2015 made from 100% Coda di Volpe. The wine had been bottled just 8 days before. Angelo said that this is a different variety of Coda di Volpe than is used in other areas and has more body. The soil is mostly clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 2,500 plants per hectare. This is a wine with good structure, hints of citrus and herbs. There is good acidity, nice minerality, long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_9994

We tasted the Fiano di Avelliano DOCG 2015 100% Fiano (Two days later at the blind tasting held at our hotel in Benevento. I picked this wine as one of the top Fiano’s) The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4.400 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. One could see the development of the wines from the different vintages. This is a wine with good structure and body.

Last time I was there I tasted the 2011, 2010 and 2009 vintages of the Fiano di Avellino. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits and good acidity in the wines. There was a hint of smoke and it really become noticeable in the 2009. Angelo said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age.

On this my latest visit, I tasted the 2009 and the 2007. Both were showing very well and still showing no signs of age. The 2009 still had that hint of smoke. Angelo said that it was colder in 2009 than in 2007 so the wines did taste slightly different.IMG_0006

I drank both of them with a traditional lunch of Ravioli, Meatballs, and la Pastiera, the traditional Easter cake prepared by Chiara.IMG_0008

Umberto Petitto, Chiara’s husband, joined us for lunch.IMG_9992

Greco di Tufo 2015 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. Illaria said that the grapes come from highly rated vineyards. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing. Cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak is used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age before it is ready to drink. One of my top picks at the blind tasting.

When I visited the winery 3 years ago, I tasted barrel samples of two wines, Greco 2011 and Fiano 2011 both of which they made for the first time.IMG_9997

Fiano 2011 IGT only made in the best vintages with no battonage, like in Alsace with 20% new oak and late harvest grapes picked when there was sleet in November. It is a dry wine.

Ilaria said that her father Umberto had planted the Greco di Tufo grape in Torre le Nocella, which is not in the DOCG zone. He felt that this area would produce a Greco of great quality. It is a single vineyard (cru) Vigna Nascosta, which means hidden vineyard.IMG_9995

The Fiano is a cru from a single vineyard in Montefalcione and will be called Esoterico.

Angelo explained that both these wines would be different from their other white wines. Both will be fermented and aged in new barriques.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well both these wines had developed. The Fiano was elegant and complex with hints of citrus fruits, especially lemon, with a touch of smoke.

The Greco was complex and rich with hints of apricot, mango, candied citrus fruits and good minerality.

I then had a discussion with Angelo about which wine ages better, Fiano or Greco. We disagreed. He stated the case for Fiano and I for Greco.IMG_0001

Taurasi di Umberto 2012 named after Umberto Petitto. 100% Agalianco, The soil is clay and the training system is Guyot, there are 4,000 plants per hectare and the harvest is the first week of November. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG The wine is like the one above but is aged in very old barriques. It is a big tannic. intense wine with good structure and body and hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of coffee. It will only get better with time.

We also tasted the 2009 and 2011 Taurasi which were developing very nicely.

 

 

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Coda di Volpe, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Taurasi, Uncategorized

CAMPANIA STORIES: PIZZA NAPOLETANA AT LE PARÙLE

Ristorante and Pizzeria le, Parùle www.leparule.it in Herculaneum, modern day Ercolano, near Naples, has a great reputation. It had been recommended by a friend, Marina Alaimo, wine and food writer, who knows it well, and I read about it on Luciano Pignataro’s blog, www.lucianopignataro.it.  I had wanted to try it when I was in the area in February but even though it is just a short train ride from Naples, I did not have time to go.IMG_0070

Last month, I was invited once again to the area by Campania Stories to taste the wines of the principle  zones of Campania, visit the wineries and have dinner with the winemakers at night. To my surprise and delight, one of the restaurants where we were scheduled to dine was Le Parùle. The name means vegetable garden in Neapolitan dialect.

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa is the owner/chef/pizzaiolo and is very serious about his food, especially pizza. He insists on using only the best ingredients from the Mont Vesuvio region. Even though we were a very large group at dinner, Giuseppe made all of the pizza himself.

Giuseppe at work

Giuseppe at work

La Pizza

I sampled 4 pizzas. This is how they were listed on the menu:

Margherita:IMG_0063

Antichi pomodori di Napoli, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergine d’oliva del Vesuvio “Villa Dora”

Scarolella:IMG_0067

Scarola (indivia) del Vesuvio, fior di latte del Monti Lattari, alici di Cetara, olive nere del Vesuvio, capperi di Salina, olio extravergine d’olio D. O. P. “Colline Salernitane di Torretta”, granella di nocciole.

Primavera:IMG_0073

Fave e germogli del Vesuvio, ricotta salata, pancetta, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergina d’oliva “Goccio di Natura” del Benevento az. agr. D’ Assisi

Montanara (pizza fritta):IMG_0076

Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio, mozzarella di bufala Campana D. O. P., olio extravergine d’oliva del Cilento D.O.P. “Monzo” of Pietra BiancaIMG_0081

We also had fried pasta balls and potato croquettes.IMG_0143

Among the wines I tasted and drank was the Gragnano 2015 “Otto uve” Penisola Sorrentina from Salvatore Martusciello. It is made from Aglianico, Piedirosso and Sciascinoso. This is a red sparkling wine that is a favorite in the Naples area with pizza.

Le Parùle alone is worth the trip, but to make a day of it, next time I will combine it with a tour of the ancient Roman city Herculanum destroyed by the famous eruption of Mont Vesuvio on August 24th 79 AD.

2 Comments

Filed under Giuseppe Pignalosa, Gragnano, Gragnano OttoUve, Le Parule, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants

Campania Stories 2016

Even though Campania Stories was taking place only a few weeks after I had returned from Naples, I decided to attend. It seemed like a unique opportunity to taste many wines of the Campania Region, speak with the producers over dinner and visit the wineries. When one gets the opportunity to go to Italy, one goes.IMG_0039

The event is usually held in Naples but this year it was being held in Benevento at the Una Hotel Il Molino. One of the organizers, Diana Cataldo, said it was because the area experienced terrible flooding and there was great damage done to local agriculture. The damage could be seen as I drove around the countryside to visit the wineries.

On the form that the organizers sent me, there was a list of 72 wineries that I could visit. I chose 10 wineries, 2 from each of the wine producing provinces that we were going to visit. This way I would get to see the province and taste the wine that is produced there. Listed below are the provinces with the wine producing regions and the wines I visited:IMG_0189

Provincia di CASERTA: Alto Casertano and Colline Caiatine-Terre del Volturne.

Alois and Villa Matilde

Provincia di BENEVENTO: Sannio.

Fontanavecchia amd Mustilli

Provincia di AVELLINO: Irpinia,

Donnachiara, Feudi di San Gregorio, Di Meo and Sertura

There were four here because one was added when I was there and another on the Amalfi Coast was cancelled because of a rockslide.

Provincia di NAPOLI: Campi Flegrei e Isole Arcipelago Campano, Vesuvio, Penisole Sorrentino.

La Sibilla

Provincia di SALERNO: Costiere Amalfitana, Colli Salernitani e Picentini, Cilento.

Sammarco Ettore

I visited ten wineries in five days and really enjoyed all of my visits.

Over four mornings I tasted 102 white wines and 77 red wines. As I have said often, Campania over all makes the best and most interesting white wines in Southern Italy and this was proven again by the tasting: Lacryma Christi Bianco, Furore Bianco, Coda di Volpe, Pallagrello Bianco, Falerno del Massico, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, and Greco di Tufo among others.

There are also a number of interesting and unique red wines including: Gragnano, Piedirosso, Casavecchia, Pallagrello Nero, Furore Rosso, Falerno del Massico Rosso, Aglianico and Taurasi among others.

There are many Campania Stories for me to tell. Next time Pizza and Wine.

Leave a comment

Filed under Campania Stories 2016, Uncategorized

Extraordinary Wine Values from Southern Italy

Every year the Italian Trade Commission sponsors Italian Wine Week in New York City at the Midtown Hilton Hotel. For this year’s Vino 2016, the spotlight was on the regions of Calabria, Campania, Puglia and Sicily.

IMG_9639

Gianfranco Sorrentino

I was delighted to be asked to moderate a panel on “Extraordinary Wines Values from Southern Italy.”

IMG_9641

Gary Grunner

The panel members were: Gianfranco Sorrentino, owner of restaurants Il Gattopardo, The Leopard at des Artistes, and Mozzarella and Vino, all in NYC; Gary Grunner, Co-Author of Italian Wine Notes and Italian Wine and Cheese Made Simple and 2009 Silver Award recipient of The Italian Trade Commission’s distinguished service award for the work he has done promoting, educating, representing some of Italy’s top producers and for building Italian wines in the USA; and Marco Melzi, a journalist, educator, and communication consultant.

Marco Melzi

Marco Melzi

The panel discussed each wine in detail and Southern Italian Wine in general and concluded that extraordinary values are to be found in Southern Italian wines and that they enjoy drinking them the most. Some of the finest are from the regions of Calabria, Campania, Sicily and Puglia. Unique varieties, both red and white, are made into wines that reflect the terroir by a variety of expert producers using both traditional and innovative technology.IMG_9976

Listed below are the 12 wines picked by the panel as examples of the extraordinary wine values from Southern Italy. All of them go very well with food, especially the food of the region where they are produced.

They are listed with the grapes they are made from and the distributor/importer.

THE WINES

Ficiligno DOC 2014 50% Inzolia and 50% Viognier Baglio Pianetto Sicily Vinvino $18

Taburno Falanghina DOC 2014 100% Falanghina Fontanavecchia Wine Emporium $17IMG_9636

Pallagrello Bianco “Calati” IGT 2014 Campania, Alois Soilair Selections $ 22/24

Rose Castel Del Monte DOC 2014 100% Bambino Nero Puglia Rivera Bedford $11IMG_9631

Violente 2012 Castel del Monte DOC 100% Nero di Troia Rivera $15 Puglia Bedford

Salice Salentino 2013 DOC 90% Negroamaro and 10% Malvasia Nera Rivera Puglia $13 Bedford

Piedirosso Colli di Salerno 2014 IGT 85% Piedirosso and 15% local red varieties Apicella Campania $16 Wine EmporiumIMG_9628

Costa D’Amalfi Tramonti Rosso 2011 DOC Monte di Grazia 90% Tintore and 10% Piedirosso Campania $25 Wine Emporium

Nero D ‘Avola “Nerojbleo” 2010 IGT 100% Nero d’Avola Gulfi Sicily $ 21/23 Selected Estates

Ciro Classico 2011 DOC 100% Gaglioppo Cote Di Franze Calabria $ 20/22 Selected EstatesIMG_9625

Ciro Rosso Classico 2012 DOC 100% Gaglioppo Tenuta Baroni Capoano Calabria $16 Wine Emporium.

Primitivo di Manduria “Evita” 2012 DOP 100% Primitivo Le Sviare $19 Selected Estates

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ciró, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Vino 2016

A Barbera with a Difference

A  lunch and tasting  of a Barbera made by drying the grapes (appassimento) from the Ricossa Antica Winery

IMG_9966

Julianne Clark

Julianne Clark from the Ricossa Antica Winery marketing department greeted us at Lupa Restaurant in NYC. She said that the winery’s name comes from the Ricossa family that owned an award-winning distillery on the outskirts of Asti in Piedmont at the end of the 1800’s. The headquarters of the parent company, MGM Mondo Vino, is in Forli in Emilia Romagna.

Julianna said thay collaborate with quality producers from Piedmont. Mostly from the Nizza Monferrato area.
The  Consorzio Barbers D’Asti e Vini del Monfraffo is the group we approached with the idea of creating an Appassimento under Barbera Piemonte DOC. They then, presented this proposal to the lawmakers.
The Ricossa Antica Casa is a brand part of the MGM winery.

The winery buys all of their grapes from the best growers and producers in Piedmont where the wine is made. It is a Consorzio,the Consortium Barbera D’Asti e Vini del Monferrato, Julianne said, and can be looked upon as a collaboration of expertise from soil to the bottle. Since this was the first time any producer in Piedmont wanted to use the appassimento process to make Barbera, they had to ask permission from the government to do so. It took one year and was approved during the harvest of 2014 — just in time!IMG_9958

Piedmont Barbera Appassimento 2014 DOC 100% Barbera. The soil is calcareous clay and limestone and the training system is guyot. Harvest is in September/October. The grapes are hand picked. 20% are left on the vines (late harvest) and 80% (by regulation) are laid gently in small open cases of 5kg/10 lbs for about 4 to 6 weeks to dry in a temperature controlled room with fans used for ventilation. Maceration on the skins takes place in stainless steel tanks for 10/12 days after the drying of the grapes. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel tanks and then for a minimum of 2 months in bottle before release.

Because of the appassimento process I expected a wine that was heavy and jammy but instead it was dry, elegant and balanced with good acidity and hints of blackberries figs and violets. It is an excellent food wine and I was very impressed by it. $25IMG_9961

They also make a very nice Gavi, Barbaresco and an excellent Moscato that was a perfect finish to the meal.

2 Comments

Filed under APPASSIMENTO PROCESS, Barbera, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Ricossa

Rome: Restaurant by Restaurant

IMG_9779Since we were staying in Rome for 3 weeks, Michele and I decided to try a few restaurants that we had not tried before. Some we always wanted try, but never made it and others we were told about by friends. One was a place we had not been to in a long time.IMG_9864

Flavio Al Velavevodetto – Via di Monte Testaccio 9     Tel   06 57 44 194

This restaurant is around the corner from one of our favorites, Checchino al 1887. It serves traditional Roman food.IMG_9870

We had Bruschetta with burrata and anchovies, bollito meatballs (made from the boiled meats of a bollito misto), rabbit alla cacciatore, fettuccine with pork ragu.

The wines are on the wall in a room to the dining room and diners can go up and choose what they want.

De Cesare Via Del Casaletto, 45-47-49      Tel    06536015IMG_9872

The restaurant is a 20-minute ride from the center on the #8 tram. Take it to the last stop and the restaurant is right across the street. This was our first time here and we really enjoyed it.IMG_9877

Michele and I ate the same things, fried fiori di zucca stuffed with mozzarella and anchovies, fried totani (small squid), skate and broccoli soup, shrimp with tomatoes and sour cherry tart, crostata di visciole.IMG_9874

We drank a Tebbiano di Abruzzo 2014 from Pepe

Osteria Le Mani in Pasta, Via dei Genovesi,37 Trastevere   Tel  06.5816017.

We went here on a Saturday and the restaurant was very crowded and noisy. But it was a good noise — that of people eating good food, drinking wine and having a good time.IMG_9879

Many of the customers were regulars who stopped in at the kitchen to say hello to the chef on the way in and on the way out.IMG_9880

Many people were sharing the pasta dishes, as they were very large. However they were not doing it to eat less as they then ordered another pasta course to share.IMG_9882

To start, we had artichokes alla Romana, and octopus and potato salad, one of our favorites.

Michele had Fettuccine with ricotta salata and pancetta, which she really liked and I had spaghetti Vernaccia with white wine, caramelized onions and bacon. It was very good.IMG_9884

We drank a bottle of Falanghina.

Cul de Sac   Piazza di Piazza di Pasquino 73    Tel  06 68 80 10 94

On our way to The Piazza Navona, we passed an old favorite, Cul de Sac.IMG_9912

We used to go there often but for some reason we had stopped, so we decided to give it a try. It is perfect for lunch, less crowded than at dinnertime.IMG_9913

The salumi, cheese, and pate is much better than the hot food here and you can make a great meal of them. We had the boar pate, prosciutto, finocchiona salami and an assortment of unusual cheeses. They also have a great wine list and the staff is very nice and interested.

Trattoria Perilli,  Via Marmorata 39   Tel  06 575 5100IMG_9921

One review of this restaurant said that they value food over service; therefore the writer did not recommend it for North American tourists who, in his opinion, value service over food.  Michele and I do not agree. It is a true Roman restaurant, full of locals that know good food.IMG_9922

We had rigatoni carbonara, and roast suckling pig.IMG_9924

La Tavernaccia da Bruno – Via Giovanni da Castelbolognese 63    Tel 06.5812792IMG_9927

We had Bruschetta with grilled vegetablies, tagliolini with wild boar ragu, roast pork (yes, again),

IMG_9930mand a delicious ricotta torta with pistachios. The owner is from  Umbria so there is a mixing of Rome and Umbria in the food.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under Cul de Sac, Da Cesare, Flavio Al Velavevodetto, La Tavernaccia da Bruno, Osteria Le Mani in Pasta, Roman restaurants, Rome, Trattoria Perilli, Uncategorized