One of the things I enjoy most about the Italian wine dinners I host at The Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, NY is the opportunity to work with my friend Louis Coluccio, the proprietor of A.L.C. Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Louis prepares the delicious food and I match it with the right wine. For our most recent event, we discussed the food and I selected some of my favorite wines from Campania.
Monte di Grazia Bianco IGT 2012, made from the following local grapes: Pepella has only a few large grapes on the bunch, the rest being the size of peppercorns, though they all ripen at the same time. Ginestra, the name comes from the yellow-green color, which is similar in color to the gorse flower. Bianca Tenera (Biancolella) a local white grape. The wine has hints of citrus with undertones of pear and almond, a very nice mineral character and good acidity. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. $20 This was served with a Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables.
DonnaChiara Greco di Tufo 2012 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. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is 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. It has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of smoke and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste. $18 With this we had Crostini with Eggplant Caponata.
Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2013, made from Piedirosso and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves. This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. Sciascinoso, also know as Olivella, is used as a blending grape. The clusters and berries are large and it is a late ripener. I do not believe that I have ever tasted a wine made from 100% Sciascinoso. $16
Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2012, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape. It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort. The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice, a long finish and nice aftertaste. The wine should be drunk young. It goes extremely well with dishes made with tomato sauce. It is a steal at $16.
Az. Agr. Monte de Grazie Biological Winery Rosso 2008 The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti grown almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Teinturier family. Teinturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red. This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine. This wine has aging potential. $30. We ended with an Assorted Cheese Board which included ricotta salata, aged provolone, and other Italian cheeses.