Monthly Archives: February 2017

Naples is not just Pizza

When people think of Naples the first food they think of is pizza. While it is true that the best pizza is in Naples, there are many other culinary  delights in the city. Here are some of the dishes Michele and I ate in Naples recently.

 

bufala mozarella

Bufala mozzarella

Fish

Fish in acqua pazza

calamari

Grilled calamari

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Fried fish and shell fish

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Pasta with baby octopus

fried anchovies and seeweed

Fried anchovies and seaweed

octapus

Grilled octopus

Pasta

Spaghetti pomodoro and basil

Grilled pork

Grilled pork sausages

scamorza

Grilled scamorza

Pasta and patatos

Pasta and potatoes

pasta

Pasta with eggplant

pasta

Fusilli with tomato and ricotta

pasta

Paccheri pasta with piennolo tomatoes

pasta

Linguine with colatura and tomatoes

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Sausages topped with friarielli and scamorza

The cart

Sfogliatelle and taralli with almonds

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Penne with swordfish and eggplant

dessert

Fiocco di Neve.  On the weekends there are very long lines for this dessert, a cream filled bun

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Baba 

Ricotta with berries-fantastic

Ricotta with berries and honey-fantastic

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Sfogliatella and Cappuccino at Gambrinus

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Gambrinus, we stopped here often

Leaving Naples

The last Sfogliatella before leaving Naples.

Food from restaurants Da Donato, Ciro a Santa Brigida, da Nennella, La Taverna Santa Chiara, Osteria La Chitarra and Haccademia

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Bella Napoli

 

Naples is the most exciting city in Italy. Everywhere you look there is something to see!

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Mt. Vesuvius

 

by Lello Esposito

Pulcinella by Lello Esposito

Group of students asked us to take their picture

Group of students asked us to take their picture.  They shouted “We love America”.

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Castel dell’Ovo

The Carlo Opera House

The San Carlo Opera House.  We went for a tour and saw a mini concert.

 

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Castello di San Martino from the hotel rooftop.

The Pia

The Royal Palace

Naples underground

Naples underground.  A fascinating tour.

at da Donato restaurant

Neapolitan songs at da Donato restaurant

The seal of approval

The seal of approval

 

 

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Pizza anyone?

On the Via Caracciolo.  A little girl dressed as a nurse with a patient for Carnevale.

head-naples

At the Archeological Museum

store-naples

The store for soccer fans

 

naples-bikes

On the street

The wash

Laundry day

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Anteprima Amarone Tour: Visiting Villa Crine

Another stop on the Anteprima Amarone tour was the Crine winery, which is located in Pedemonte di San Pietro in Cariano, Verona.img_2415

Villa Crine is an entirely family run winery and visiting the winery is like visiting their home. Giovanni Battista Venturini the owner/wine maker, his wife Maria, their children Giuseppe, who recently graduated with a degree in enology and Diletta, a university student, all take part in the running of the winery.

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Giuseppe

Giuseppe, a very personable young man, speaks English well and gave a tour of the winery. He said that he is the fifth generation and they want to preserve the values and techniques from the past but also keep up with any new innovations that would improve the quality of their wines.

He said that all their vineyards were in the Classico zone and showed us the grapes drying on wood mats in a barn that was open on both sides.

Giuseppe then took us through a tasting of the wines.img_2416

Valpolicella Classico “Il Pigaro” made from 60% Corvina Veronese, 30% Rondinella and 10% Molinara. The Pigaro vineyard has alluvial gravel soil. There is a hand selection of grapes at the end of September/beginning of October. The wine is aged for one year in very old barriques and in bottle before release. This is an intense wine with red fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of black cherries.img_2417

Valpolicella Ripasso Classico Superiore grapes same as above. The grapes are picked at the best stage of ripeness and then they are left to dry for 20 to 30 days in late September and October. Destemming and soft pressing in stainless steel tanks occurs during November. In February re-fermentation occurs on the Amarone pomace and the wine gains fragrances and intensity. The wine is aged in oak barrels for two years. Their wine is bottled and remains in the cellars for one year until release. The wine has hints of cherry, spice with a touch of hazelnuts and cacao.img_2413

Giuseppe said even though the Molinara grape does not have to be included in Amarone any more they use it because it adds acidity to the wine. He said they always used this grape, and as the 5th generation involved in the winery he will keep the traditions.

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Drying the grapes

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2011 Made from 60% Corvina, 15% Corvinone, 20% Rondinella and 5% Molinara. Giuseppe said his grandparents and great-grand parents use to place the grapes for drying in the barns at Villa Crine using the “large table mats” which were traditionally used for the cultivation of silk worms. Today the grapes are placed on the mats or in wooden cases in the special drying room, which is controlled on a daily basis in order to check the temperature, humidity and the well being of the grapes.

Destemming and soft pressing takes place during the months of January and February, depending on the vintage, using rubber rollers. Traditional fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks using techniques which go back to 1893.

The wine is aged in large oak barrels of 10 to 30 HL depending upon the vintage for about one year. It then is bottled and remains in the ancient tuffa cellars, which were excavated at the foot of the mountain, until it is released.

Giuseppe said Amarone can be sold 3 years after the harvest.img_2419

Recioto della Valpolicella same as above for grapes. Giuseppe said the grapes used for Recioto are dried longer because they want sweeter grapes. They press the grapes in February when the sugar lever is high. The juice is removed and the fermentation is controlled by keeping a cold temperature. They need a cold temperature so the yeast remains dormant. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks for one year and 6 months in bottle before release.

This is a one of the best examples of Recioto I have ever tasted. It is very intense and complex with hints of violets, prunes, figs, black cherries and notes of hazelnut. The finish goes on and on and the aftertaste is fantastic.img_2418

They also make a wine from 100% Molinara called “Il Pellerossa.” It looks like a rose wine because the grape has low color extracts. It is produced in a very limited quanity.

In the past there were horses on the property.

We also tasted their olive oil which was very good

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Filed under Amarone, Anteprima Amarone, Recioto, Ripasso, Uncategorized, Villa Crine

Dinner with Andrea Sartori in Verona

One night, Tom Maresca, who was on the Anteprima Amarone tour in Verona with me, arranged for us to have dinner with Andrea Sartori, President of Sartori di Verona. We met Andrea on the way to Trattoria I Masenini, a restaurant I have never been to before. There were a number of other producers in the restaurant and I believe it is one of the city’s best. Tom and I know Andrea for a long time and I enjoyed our dinner conversation. We spoke about wine, people that we knew in the wine business, and had a very nice time.

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Andrea Sartori

Here is some background on the Sartori di Verona winery

The history of Andrea’s family’s involvement in wine goes back to 1898. As recently as 2002, they owned only 37 acres of vineyards and they purchased additional grapes from individual growers with long-term contracts.  This was not enough, however, since the average vineyard property in the Veneto is just 4.2 acres. Andrea was able to solve this problem by establishing a joint venture with the 800 member Cantina Colognola di Colli.  The Cantina received a small percentage of shares in Sartori, and in exchange Sartori acquired exclusive access to 5,681 acres of vineyards in the Soave and Valpolicella zone. With more mergers and acquisitions, the newly named Collis Veneto Wine Group now has over 3,000 members making it the third largest in Italy.

Andrea brought two wines to have with dinner.img_2517

I Saltari Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2011 made from 60% Corvina, 10% Rondinella 10% Croatina and 10% Corvinone. The vineyards are in the Mezzane Valley on terraces and it is calcareous alkaline soil. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is transferred to various size barrels for malolactic fermentation. For 12 to 14 months, the wine goes through regular racking and topping up of the barrels until blending. The wine has hints of violets and blackberries with a touch of cherry and leather. Both Andrea and I had the img_2519Faraona alla Mantovana, tortellini filled with guinea fowl, pine nuts and raisins. The wine matched it perfectly.img_2523

Amarone Della Valpoicella Classico “Corte Brà” 2006 DOC. 50% Corvina Veronese, 30% Corvinone, 15% Rondinella and 5% Oselta. The grapes come from the Corte Brà vineyard in the hills north of Verona. The grapes for this wine are carefully selected, placed in small crates and dried in well-ventilated rooms with fans for 3 to 4 months. When optimal dryness is reached, a hand selection of the best grapes takes place and the grapes are fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks for about 30 days. The wine is transferred to traditional tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged in Slavonian oak casks and French tonneaux for about 4 years. It remains in the bottle for another 2 years before release. Franco wants to release the wine when he feels it is ready. This is a classic Amarone that will age.img_2521

Roast pork cook with crisp skin around every slice was a great complement to the wine.

Andrea said that he did not want to make jammy Amarone that tasted like dessert wine and did not go with food. Both of the wines we tasted had a good balance between fruit and acidity. He feels that all of his wines are food wines.

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Visiting Bolla on the Anteprima Amarone Tour

It is only fitting that this was the first winery I visited on the Anteprima Amarone Tour was Bolla since Bolla Soave or Valpolicella may have been the first Italian wine I ever drank back in the 1960’s in NYC.

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Christian Zulian in the Cellar

The Bolla winery is located in San Pietro in Cariano in the center of the Valpolicella area. It was established in 1883 making it one of the oldest wineries in the zone. It has been under different ownership over the years and the current owner is Gruppo Italiano VIni. The exclusive partner for the US market is Banfi Vintners.img_2362

The Director of the Cantina, Christian Zulian, took us on a tour of the cellar. There were barrels of every size from barriques to barrels of more than 40hl and everything in between. Some old barrels went back to 1883.

Christian said that he was from Tuscany, had worked for Antinori, and had been at Bolla only a short time. Being an “outsider” he might have a different approach to the wines.

He took us through a tasting of the wines.img_2366

Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Ripasso DOC 2015 Made from 70% Corvina and Corvinone and 70% Rondinella. Vineyards are in the Valpolicella Classico zone located near the village of Jago. The soil is very stony, clay and limestone. Harvesting is by hand toward the end of September and takes place only when the grapes are perfectly ripe. The lots are vinified separately. The grapes undergo a cold pre-fermentation process for about 5 days, total contact with the skins lasts about 20 days. It is stored cold for about 4 months before undergoing the ripasso process. Christian said this process entails fermenting the wine on Amarone must for about 20 days to increase color, aroma, body, complexity and fruit flavors. The wine is aged for about 9 months in first and second passage barriques and then transferred to larger barrels for about 3 months. The wine remains in the bottle for one month before release. This is a modern style ripasso, clean but full with hints of dark fruit and wild berries. Sugar 8.5 g/l

Christian explained in detail the law concerning the production of Ripasso. In short, because of the process for every bottle of Amarone produced, the winery can produce two bottles of Ripasso. img_2365

Valpolicella Cl. Sup. Ripasso 2014 “Le Poiane” DOC made from 70% Corvine and Corvinone, 30% Rondinella and other local varieties. The vineyards are mainly located in the Jago and Crosara areas of the Negrar locality. The limestone-marly hill soil is surrounded by the typical dry stone walls known as marogne. These calcareous stone walls create terraces.

The grapes are picked when they are perfectly ripe. At the end of February when the Amarone is drawn off the ripasso process takes place. The wine is aged first in barriques and then in large barrels for about 12 to18 months. Then in bottle for another 3 months before it is release. This is a complex wine with hints of dry fruit, spice and black pepper. Sugar 4.5 g/limg_2368

Amarone dellla Valpolicella “Rhetico” Classico DOC 2010, 85% Corvina and 15 % Rondinella. The training system is pergola Veronese on the hills of the valley of Negrar. The soil is Calcareous marl marked by the marogne. The most loosely clustered and ripest grape bunches are hand picked and taken to the drying loft where they remain for about 120 days under optimal conditions of temperature, humidity and ventilation. Christian said the drying process, known as appassimento, increases the sugar content, polyphenolic and aromatic compounds in the grapes. At the end of January, the dried grapes are soft pressed and put into fermentation tanks, where alcoholic fermentation takes place after cold pre-fermentation maceration. This gives the wine more complexity. There is a slow fermentation at a controlled temperature 18 to 20C for about 3 weeks.

The wine is aged in barriques of different origin and toastings for 36 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. This is a wine with intense and complex aromas with hints of ripe red berries and a touch of vanilla and chocolate. Residual sugar 7.5 g/limg_2370

Amarone della Valpolicella “Le Origini” Riserva DOCG 2010 made from 75% Corvina and Corvinone, 25% Rondinella. Training system is the Veronese pergola. The vineyards are located in the high Marano and Negrar valleys. Carefully selected grapes gathered on trays and transported to fruit sheds to dry for about 120 days. The grapes become raisin like and this enriches the sugar concentration of the grapes to 24 to 25 degrees Babo and the polyphenol and aromatic compounds. Pressing at the end of January is followed by pre-fermentation maceration at 5C for about 7 days. Then begins a slow fermentation for 25 days at a controlled temperature, followed by another 5 days of post-fermentation maceration, which gives high glycerin, and this gives smoothness, balance fullness and complexity. Christian said the wine is aged in small oak barrels, partly new and partly used once previously, then 36  months in 4,000 to 7,ooo litter, big oak barrels

 

This is a complex wine with hints of cherries, jam and liquorice with notes of spice and cedar.

Sugar 8.5 g/l and the alcohol is 16.6%.

I have had this wine before on several occasions and always enjoyed it. However, if I understood him correctly Christian said he was going to give the wine more aging in barriques made from American oak!

 

I also tasted:

Soave 2015 This was an excellent example of classic Soave.

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Barrel sample of 2016 Valpolicella

Bardolino 2015 light and fruity and a great food wine, as was the Valpolicella 2016 sample from the barrel.

Amarone della Valpolicella Classico 2012 This is their entry level Amarone and it was very good.

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Anteprima Amarone Valpolicella Tour

After I made reservations for Naples and Rome, I was invited to the Anteprima Amarone Valpolicella Tour in Verona. It would mean I had only one week between trips! img_2513

I decided to attend anyway. Verona is a fascinating city, the food is very good and then there is the wine. I would be able to taste the wines of Valpolicella, visit the wineries and speak to the producers again at the dinners. When one has the opportunity to visit Italy, one goes.

The Consorzio per la Tutela dei Vini Valpolicella, founded in 1924, sponsored the event. The members include viticulturists, winemakers and bottlers from the Valpolicella wine production zone, a territory that includes 19 municipalities in the Verona area. Over 80% of the producers are members.img_2382

I received a listing of over 80 wineries that I could choose from to visit. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I visited 10 Wineries: Bolla, Bertani, Villa Canestrani, Villa Crine, Vigneti di Ettore, Roccolo Grassi, Massimago, Fidora, Cantina di Soave and Marco Mosconi.

The Valpolicella appellation is located north of Verona. It borders Lake Garda to the west and is protected by the Lessini Mountains to the east and north. It covers the Verona foothills area, which is part of the eastern Alps. The vines are traditionally pergola-trained according to the typical “pergola Veronese system.”

The main grapes are Corvina, Corvinone and Rondinella and to a lesser extent Molinara. All of them are strictly indigenous and found only within the Verona province.

At the wineries I tasted Valpolicella, Valpolicella Classico, Valpolicella Superiore, Amarone della Valpoilcella and Recioto della Valpolicella.

On Friday night there was a dinner with all the participating wineries. I could choose the wines that I wanted with dinner and had a chance to speak to the producers at my table.img_2407

On Saturday morning there was a blind tasting of the 2013 Amarone with sommelier service. There were about 80 wines, both barrel samples and those already bottled.   After the tasting, representatives of the participating wineries gathered in another room with their wines and I was able to taste any of the Amarone wines that I missed.

It was a very interesting and informative event and I am glad that I went. For me the highlight was tasting a broad range of Amarone, one of Italy’s great wines.

Next time I will report on the wineries I visited.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Doctor Wine: The Cart before the Horse

Signed DW | Published on DoctorWine N°194

The cart before the horse

by Daniele Cernilli 23-01-2017

When asked how he made his wine, a famous French producer replied: “Taste it first and then, if you like it, I’ll tell you”. His was a very reasonable position which gave preference to the organoleptic qualities of a wine before any ‘ideological’ one and is totally in line with credo of “Good, Clean and Correct” championed years ago by Slow Food’s ‘lider maximo’ Carlo Petrini. “Good” comes first and only after that the rest. However, too often there are some who forget this and say things that, quite frankly, are make little sense. For example, before even pouring a wine into a glass, a producer or salesman may say: “You know, it’s organic and we’re converting to bio-dynamic,” as if this is something that will help make an easier sale. What they seem to imply is that since it is organic, it has to be good and better than other wines that are not. Petrini would probably defined this as “putting the cart before the horse”. And this because while it is a good thing, in fact even important and full of merit, that a wine is the product of sustainable wine growing, what is more important is that the wine has those organoleptic qualities which make it enjoyable and pleasing. In other words, without the brettanomyces being mistaken for the characteristics of the terroir or the volatile acidity overshadowing the aromas that distinguish the varietal or blend. It is a question of enological consistency, one involving those pleasing organoleptic notes which make a wine recognizable and easy to place in its respective category. More precisely, it is an indispensable factor which takes preference over any other consideration. Everything else comes after and is part of the explanation a producer gives on how he was able to make such an interesting wine that so pleasingly represents where it was made. The bottom line is that factors like sustainable wine growing should not be reduced to being a simple sales ploy because this benefits no one and only creates confusion.

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