Monthly Archives: April 2016

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

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.

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Filed under Campania Stories 2016, Uncategorized