Category Archives: campania

CAMPANIA DINNER AT KESTE WALL STREET

Keste Wall Street is doing a dinner series very Monday night with the food and wine of one of Italy’s 20 regions. The one which I attended was on the wine and food of Campania.

The Chefs that prepared the food were Roberto Caporuscio (owner of Keste), Angelo Competiello, Ciro Iovina (Song e Napule Pizza) and Domenico Tolomeo.

Appetizers

GATEAU DI PATATE Baked potatoes with eggs, salami, smoked buffala mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano and bread crumbs. –gluten free-

CAPONATA DI MARE Mixed seafood cooked separately and mixed together. –gluten free-

POLPETTE NAPOLETANE Neapolitan meatballs, with raisins, pine nuts, Parmigiano Reggiano, eggs. –gluten free-

PIZZA ALLA SCAROLA Pizza dough filled with cooked escarole and olives –gluten free-

Chef  Angelo Competiello  presenting the appetizers 

ALICI ALLA SCAPECE Fresh anchovies with lemon and mint

Chefs Ciro Iovina and Domenico Tolomeo

First Course

PASTA E PATATE Pasta Garofalo cooked with potatoes

PIZZA DEL MONACO Puree of zucchini and provolone del Monaco

PIZZA MARGHERITA made with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil -it was not on the menu, it was something extra

Dessert

TORTA CAPRESE Chocolate cake with almond flour -gluten free-

PASTIERA NAPOLETANA Traditional Neapolitan cake with wheat berries and ricotta cheese 

There was a selection of wines from the Campania producer Fabulae

Asprinio “Jesce Soul” made from 100% Asprinio

Pallagrello Bianco made from 100% Pallagrello

Aglianco Sannio “Eduardo” made from 100% Aglianico

Roberto Caporuscio, our host, was the main speaker for the evening.  Next Monday, February 3, Keste Wall Street will be presenting a menu featuring the wine and food of Puglia.

Keste Wall Street   77 Fulton Street, NY, NY
(212) 693 – 9030

 

 

 

 

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Campania Stories: Tasting Wine with Roberto Di Meo

As I have mentioned before for me the best part of the trip to Campania organized by Campania Stories is the visit to the wineries. It was late afternoon when I arrived at the Di Meo Winery for my visit.

Roberto Di Meo

Roberto Di Meo

Walking into the Di Meo winery was like entering an elegant home. I waited the arrival of Roberto Di Meo, co-owner of the winery with his brother Generoso, in a lovely living room with a fireplace.

Azienda Agricola DI Meo is located near the village of Salza Irpina, in the province of Avellino In Campania. The grapes are hand harvested from their own 30 hectares of vineyards and the winery is certified organic. Roberto is the enologist and Generoso runs the commercial and PR side

Roberto showed me around the winery and took me through a tasting of his wines. At one point when I asked about how he use wood for aging he answered, “The wood is on the wine, not the wine on the wood”

These are some of the wines I tastedIMG_0022

Fiano di Avellino 2015 DOCG 100% Fiano Vineyard is at 500 meters. Traditional wine making with controlled temperature. The wine is aged in bottle for 3 to 6 months before release. It has nice citrus fruit with hints a honey and smoke.IMG_0024

Greco di Tufo 2015 100% Greco. Vineyards are between 400 and 600 meters. This is an ample and flavorful wine with hints of peach and almond. IMG_0023

 

 I was in Puglia last week with Radici del Sud  2016 for a blind wine tasting competition of Southern Italian Wine. Both the Di Meo Fiano and Greco placed  number one in their categories. 

Falanghina Campania IGT 2015 100% Falanghina. Vineyards are at 350 to 400 meters. This is a wine with flavore and aromas of citrus fruit and good acidity. It would be great with spaghetti con vongoleIMG_0013

Fiano di Avellino 2003 “ Erminia Di Meo Selection” 100% Fiano. Roberto said that the late harvest grapes were selected from a particular family parcel. There is a prolonged maceration with the skins at a low temperature followed by soft pressing and controlled temperature fermentation. A year after the harvest the wine remains in stainless steel with the “fecce fin” for 13 more years. The next release is the 2003. This is an exceptional Fiano worth the long wait and I complement Roberto for holding it back until it is almost ready to drink.IMG_0021

Taurasi Riserva DOCG 2007 “Selection Hamilton” 100% A Traditional red wine making. The wine spends 18 months in French barriques and Tonneau and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a well-balanced elegant wine with hints of berries, black pepper, tobacco and spice.IMG_0020

 Don Generoso Irpinia IGT 2010 made from 75% Aglianico and 25% Piedirosso and other red grapes. This is a wine with a complex bouquet with hints of red and black berries and a touch of spice.

 Roberto also make brandy

Brandy Don Vittorio aged for 25 years. I believe it is made from Fiano. Tom Maresca when he visited Roberto was luck enough to take home a bottle of this brandy and I had it with Tom after dinner on more than one occasion. Robert was surprised when I said I tasted it before. It is not imported into the US unfortunately. This is a very intense and refined brandy with hints of liquorices, honey and tobacco.

There are not many winemakers that make such excellent wines that can age and also produce brandy.

 

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Filed under campania, Campania Stories 2016, Di Meo winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

Tasting Pallagrello and Casavecchia at the Alois Winery

One of the things I enjoyed most on my recent visit to Benevento for Campania Stories, was the opportunity to visit wineries, speak to the producers, and taste their wines.IMG_0113

One afternoon, Gianfranco Alois picked me up at my hotel to take me to his family winery. As we were driving the conversation turned to pizza as it always does when you are near Naples. He said we were very close to Franco Pepe’s Restaurant, Pepe in Grano, considered by many to have the best pizza in the world. I asked him if we could stop there but he said there was no time, and besides his sister-in-law Talita was making lunch.

Talita and Massimo

Talita de Rosa and Massimo

At the winery Michele Alois, his son Massimo, the winemaker, and his wife Talita, greeted me.

Michele Alois

Michele Alois

The winery was founded by Michele at the foothills of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta, on a plateau of 9 hectares. Michele only planted local grape varieties.

For the tasting we concentrated on two wines: Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I am familiar with both of them but this would be the first time I could taste so many and from different vintages. I knew the winery and liked their Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” which I used for a tasting of Southern Italian Wines during Vino 2016 in NYC, so I was looking forward to the tasting.IMG_0120

The tasting took place in the cellar with all the family members talking about the wine and at times the foods of the area. I tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello and Casavecchia, plus vintages going back to 2010

The name Pallagrello derives from “u Pallarell,” it is local dialect for “small ball” because of its tiny round shape. Its shape distinguishes the grape cluster. It is a vigorous varietal, producing grapes with high sugar content. Native to the hills around the Campania town of Caiazzo, it may be related to the ancient Roman varietal “Pilleolata” mentioned by Pliny the Elder (d.79 AD) in his Historia Naturalis. The wine was the favorite of the Bourbons when they ruled in Naples.IMG_0118

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 100% Pallagrello Bianco from a 2.13-hectare vineyard at 280 meters, soil is volcanic with minerals. The training system is guyot, there are 4,800 plants per hectare and the harvest is in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place on the lees for 30 days. Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 4 months before release. It has hints if almonds, citrus fruit melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0115

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Voltumo IGT 100% Pallagrello Nero. The vineyard is 1.46 hectares, the soil is volcanic with minerals, guyot training system and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. The harvest takes place the first weeks of October. Vinification in stainless steel with cold maceration on the lees and malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine is aged in used French barriques for 12 months and an additional 6 months in barrel before release. This wine has hints of berries, especially, blackberries and cherries and a long finish.

The Casavecchia grape variety is of unknown origin. There is a legend that a small old grape vine was in an abandoned house in the town of Pontelatore, hence the name “Casavecchia”. Massimo said the vine survived Phylloxera, and the parasite fungus of Oidio in 1851. Others say that it is related to the ancient Roman varietal “Terbulanum,” praised by Pliny.

Massimo said that the propagation started with the cut and the setting of small branches, and the provine, an ancient method that places the vine branch in the soil until it develops its own roots.IMG_0121

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 100% Casavecchia from a 1.5-hectare vineyard at 180 meters. The soil is volcanic with minerals, training system is guyot and there are 5,200 plants per hectare. Harvest is in the first weeks of October. Vinification is in stainless steel tanks with maceration on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation in large barrels (botti) for18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release.

The 2010 is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.IMG_0112

Talita made a delicious frittata for us to eat during the tasting, but unfortunately, I had another winery to visit and it became too late for me to try her Pasta alla Genovese, a classic dish from the Neapolitan kitchen. All I got to do was smell the aroma. It was a wonderful visit and I really enjoyed meeting the family and experiencing their wines.

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Filed under Alois Winery, campania, Campania Stories 2016, Cassavecchia, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Uncategorized

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.

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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 Wine Tasting at Restaurant Gattopardo

Nine producers from Campania came to Il Gattopardo Restaurant in NYC to present their wines at a luncheon and seminar. Each producer brought one special wine, which was matched with a seasonal Neapolitan dish.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, who delivered an excellent presentation, presented the tasting. I wrote about the 5 white wines in a previous blog.IMG_8200

Il Gattopardo, one of my favorite restaurants in New York, is owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino. They specialize in Neapolitan cooking. It was the ideal place to enjoy a Campania Wine Tasting.

Here are the four red wine and the dishes they were matched with. All the wines are made from the Aglianico grape.IMG_8184

Taurasi Riserva 2008 “La Loggia del Cavaliere” Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. 100% Aglianco The vineyard is at 450/490 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The soil is clay-like with calcareous and sandy layers. Harvest is by hand in mid-November. In the cellar, cold maceration is followed by alcoholic fermentation with prolonged maceration. The wine is aged in barrels for a minimum of 18 months with batonnage (stirring the lees). The wine has hints of blackberries, black cherries with a touch of spice and vanilla.IMG_8185

Aglianico Irpinia DOC 2013 “Ventidue Marzo” Terre di Valter. 100% Aglianico from the Torre le Nocelle vineyard.  Grown mostly in hillside soils of volcanic origin and clay. Exposure is southeast, the vineyard is at 400 meters, and the age of the vines is 20 years. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier culture with a spurred cord pruning. Harvesting is by hand, at the end of October, first days of November.
Soaking takes place for 15 days and fermentation partially carried out with autochthonous yeast. The wine is aged in French durmast oak barrels for 6 months. It has hints of violets and red and black berries.
This is a family run winery named in honor of Valter Landi  His children, Emanuela and Roberto, an agronomist, carry on his work.
These two wines were served with Paccheri alla Genovese, large pasta tubes with a meaty onion sauce. It is a classic Neapolitan dish and I almost always order it when I go to Il Gattopardo.IMG_8186

Taurasi DOCG 2010 100% Aglianico Macchie Santa Maria. This is a new winery with a production of only 3,000 bottles. It is located in the province of Avellino at Montemiletto. This is a wine with hints of sour cherry, plum and a touch of spice.IMG_8187

Taurasi DOCG 2011 100% Aglianico. DonnaChiara.  Ilaria Petitto, owner of the winery, was in attendance. She said that all of Donnachiara’s red wines are made from grapes from the 20-hectare Torre le Nocella vineyard. The soil is volcanic and clay, the vines are over 30 years old, the training system is Guyot and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is no filtration. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques, and 24 months in bottle before release. This is a big complex wine with berry aromas and flavors, hints of cherry and plum and a touch of cacao, coffee and vanilla. The wine will age.

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria Petitto

Ilaria said that the winery philosophy includes taking care of the environment and they now use solar panels and recycled rainwater. The wines will soon carry the “sustainable wine” certification label, by which consumers will be able to obtain all the information about DonnaChiara’s production.
These two wines were served with Capretto al Forno con Padellata di Friarielli e Patate, roasted goat with sautéed broccoli rabe and potatoes.

For dessert there was a classic Pastiera Napoletana, a tender cheesecake with wheat berries and orange flower water.

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Filed under Aglianiaco"Ventidue Marzo Terre di Valter, Aglianico, campania, Donna Chiara Winery, Italian Red Wine, La Loggia del Cavalire, Tenuta Pepe

Campania Wine Tasting at Gattopardpo, NYC

As I have often stated, some of the best white wines in Southern Italy as from the region of Campania. There are many styles of white wine made from a number of grape varieties, Which were Introduced by the ancient Greeks who settled there. Some of These wines can be drunk young and others can age for many years.IMG_8200

One of my favorite restaurants in NYC is Il Gattopardo, owned by Gianfranco Sorrentino. The restaurant specializes in Neapolitan cooking. I can not think of a better place to enjoy a Campania Wine Tasting than there.

Fred Dexheimer

Fred Dexheimer

The tasting was presented by Master Sommelier Fred Dexheimer, who delivered an excellent presentation. There were nine wines – five whites and four reds. Here are the 5 white wines and the foods they were paired with. I will write about the red wines and the foods paired with them another time.

The WinesIMG_8180

Anni Vent di Tufo DOCG Spumante NV Cantina Di Marzo 100% Greek di Tufo Brut Methode Classic. The vineyards are at 350 and 500 meters and the exposure is south. The soil is clay and limestone and the training method is Guyot. There are 3,000 plants per hectare and the average age of the vines is 5 to 20 years. Harvest is by hand in October. Both alcohol and Malolactic fermentation is in stainless steel. The wine remains on the lees in the bottle for 36 months. It has fine and persistent bubbles with hints of dried fruits and a touch of bitter orange and almonds in the finish and after taste.

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma

Ferrante di Somma representing the winery said that he is a direct descendant of March Scipio who founded the winery in 1647 making it one of Italy’s oldest wineries. He added anche That Scipio was the creator of the Greek di Tufo variety.IMG_8175

This was served well with the Nibbles: Scagliozzi of Polenta, mini mozzarelle in carrozza con’saletta d’acciughe and Assagini di torta”Pasqualina” – polenta croutons, toasted miniature mozzarella sandwiches with a light anchovy sauce and bites of vegetable and cheese tart.IMG_8181

Silva Aura Pallagrello Bianco Terre del Volturno PGI 2013 Cantine Rao. Made from 85% and 15% Pallagrello Fiano. The age of the vineyard is 30 years and the exposure is southeast and they are at 200 meters. There are 4,500 vines per hectare and the training system is Guyot and the soil is loamy sand. Harvest takes place the first week of September. Representing the winey was Francesco Reo.

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo

Dr. Reo Said that the winery is in the heart of Campania. He Said That the Pallagrello grape became almost extinct but there was a revival in the 1990 “s. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel at a controlled temperature. It is aged in steel tanks for 4 months and in bottle for two months before release. It has hints of peach, apricot, apple and pears.IMG_8177

This and the next 3 white wines were served with the Parmigiana di zucchine con scamorza e salsa al pomodoro – zucchini parmesan with smoked mozzarella and tomato sauce.IMG_8188

Or Ni Campania Fiano DOCG 2011 Tenuta Scuotto 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyards are at 480 meters and the training system is Guyot. Harvest takes place the first week of November. There is a soft pressing of the grapes and temperature controlled fermentation with indigenous yeast in oval barrels. The wine is aged for 12 months on the lees and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a full-bodied and elegant white wine with hints of apricot, pineapple and a touch of hazelnuts.IMG_8182

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2013 Contea de Altavilla 100% Greek di Tufo. The soil is clayey and calcareous. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine is aged for 5 months in stainless steel tanks. This is an elegant wine with hints of apricot, peach, pear and a touch of bitter almond in the aftertaste.IMG_8183

La TreRose di Giò, Falanghina IGT 2014, Tenute Bianchino ( 100% Falanghina.The vineyard is situated between the cities of Falciano del Massico and Mondragone.The training system is espalier (vines trained along a wall fence or trellis).

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini

Concetta Bianchini, representing the winery, said That Falanghina has a leaf cuneiform (wedge shape with a tapered end), is a medium sized grape bunches and conical with a thick and compact skin. Harvest takes place at the end of September and first week of October. Vinification is in stainless steel and before the wine is released it remains in the bottle for one month. This is a balanced wine with hints of fresh citrus fruits, green plum, a long finish and very pleasant aftertaste.

The Falanghina should have been served before the Greco  and Fiano,  which are more substantial. However, all of the wines matched well with the food.

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Filed under campania, Cantina di Marzo, Cantina Reo, Contea de Altavilla, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Greco di Tufo, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Pallagrello Bianco, Tenuta Bianchino, Tenuta Scuotto

Tom Maresca’s Campania Stories

This is a three part article by Tom Maresca on his adventures in Campania in March. I have printed the first article and have links to the other two.  I highly recommend them.

Campania Stories: Naples

Campania Stories is the name of an increasingly important twice-a-year event held at a variety of sites in Campania. In the fall, it features the white wines of the region, with a focus on the newest releases and – usually – a retrospective of a five- or ten-year-old vintage. In the early spring, it showcases Taurasi and other red wines, with the same emphasis on the newest vintages and some significant anniversary vintages. For me, Campania Stories has acquired crucial importance as the most convenient and thorough way for me to track the rapidly accruing changes in what I believe to be not only the most dynamic wine area of Italy but also potentially the richest of the whole peninsula.

campania stories

I attended Campania Stories’ mid-March red wine sessions, held this year in Naples and Avellino, and my only complaint is that the wine seminars and tastings took so much time and attention that I didn’t have a chance to worship at any of Naples’s shrines of pizza (though I did manage to wolf down some excellent pizza at Pozzuoli’s Dea Bandata – but that’s another story). At the portion of the sessions held in Naples, the main focus was on the Piedirosso variety, and they afforded me a great opportunity to learn just how important this formerly secondary variety is becoming.

Piedirosso is a grape as ancient as any grown in Campania, and that probably translates to about two and a half millennia of history. The name means “red foot,” and its more poetic dialect name, per ‘e palummo, means “dove’s foot,” for the same reason: its vivid red stems look like the feet of doves. Some growers – notably Salvatore Avellone of Villa Matilde – believe that Piedirosso is the grape that made the ancient Cecubum, a wine prized in the Roman Empire; accordingly, Villa Matilde produces a wine that the Avellones call Cecubo, a blend of Piedirosso and Aglianico.

Whatever role Piedirosso may have played in ancient times, in recent history the variety has been upstaged by Aglianico, to which it has for a long time played second string. It has traditionally been used largely in blends to soften the asperities of Aglianico, whose tannins can in youth be very harsh indeed. Piedirosso on the other hand has very soft tannins and a kind of easy, giving fruitiness that makes it an ideal complement to Aglianico. So, if, as many winos do, you think in terms of the Médoc, Piedirosso acts to Aglianico as Merlot does to Cabernet. And like Merlot, Piedirosso has been discovered to have numerous virtues of its own. In recent years, better field work and careful clonal selection have uncovered in Piedirosso an intriguing complexity and a healthy ability to age, so more and more growers are now producing monovarietal Piedirosso of genuine quality and interest.

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Tom tasting

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Here are some of those that impressed me:

Agnanum Campo Flegrei Piedirosso Vigna delle Volpi 2007

Federiciane Campi Flegrei Piedirosso 2013

Grotta del Sole Campo Flegrei Piedirosso Montegauro Riserva 2009

Sorrentino Pompeiano Piedirosso Frupa 2011

Tommasone Ischia Per ‘e Palummo 2012

While the stand-out wine for me was the Grotta del Sole Montegauro – for the intensity and concentration of its varietal character – all these wines showed real Piedirosso softness and accessibility, and were revelatory of the great potential of the variety.

Interesting as it is, Piedirosso is not the only not-Aglianico-red vine drawing attention in Campania. The region holds a wealth of ancient red varieties, many of which are in danger of disappearing because of various manmade and natural disasters. Of these blights, phylloxera, devastating as it was, may not be the greatest. The impoverishment of the countryside caused first by Italian unification – which, for the then Kingdom of Naples, meant occupation and exploitation by a foreign power – led to massive emigration and to consequent depopulation. Then throw in two world wars and a major depression between them, and the end result is abandoned farms and vineyards and a severely threatened, if not outright broken, agricultural tradition, from which Campania is still in the process of recovering.

But recovering it is, and many ancient, threatened varieties are being rediscovered and propagated. Chief among these are Casavecchia and Pallagrello nero (also Pallagrello bianco, but that too is another story). Saved and propagated by Peppe Mancini and Manuela Piancastelli (Terre del Principe is their estate) and championed by, among others, Giovanni Ascione (his estate is Nanni Copè), these vines – most if not all on their own rootstocks – are yielding extraordinary wines that are already winning Tre Bicchieri in Italy. (I’ve posted about these before.) Other producers to know about include Alois, Il Verro, La Masserie, Selvanova, and Vigne Chigi.

Palagrello wines

Other varieties, like Tintore, are still further back on the rebirth curve but are nevertheless already making wines of more than passing interest – for instance, Monte di Grazia rosso, made from ungrafted Tintore vines that survived phylloxera and hence are well more than a hundred years old – as were the surviving scions of Palagrello and Casavecchia, from which all the new vines have been propagated.

Still other vines are even less known and have yet to make their way into growers’ and drinkers’ consciousness. Nicola Venditti, for instance, a traditional producer in Benevento province, cultivates 20 different varieties on his property, several of which, as he says, aren’t even in the books yet. Campania still has a lot of stories to tell, and will have for years to come.

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The Aglianico Grape in Campania

Aglianico is an ancient grape variety. It was first cultivated by the Phoenicians and later brought to Southern Italy by the Greeks 3,000 years ago when they colonized the area.  In Italy, Aglianico was first planted near modern day Pozzuoli and from there it spread to other parts of Campania. Pliny the Elder (d.79AD) wrote about it in his Natural History. Wine made from Aglianico was called Falernian and was highly regarded by the Romans    The Aglianico grape was known as Elenico (Italian for Greek) until the 15 Century when it began to be called Aglianico. The name might also come from vita hellenica, Latin for Greek wine. The debate still goes on.

The Aglianico grape prefers volcanic soil and grows at altitudes of 300 to 500 meters. Aglianico is also used as a blending grape in Campania. It does very well in Irpinia, in the provinces of Avelliino, Bevevento and Taburno.

Aglianico reaches its highest expression in the form of Taurasi, one of Italy’s great red wines, which can age for many years. In fact there are many who believe that the three great grape varieties in Italy are Nebbiolo, Sangiovese and Aglianico. Wines made from the Aglianico grape are full-bodied with good fruit, tannins, and hints of blackberries, leather and smoke.

Wines tasted at the Wine Media Guild tasting and lunch on October 1, 2014IMG_6188

Aglianico Sannio Benvenuto “Janare 2012 I00% Aglianico La Guardiense. This is one of the largest agricultural cooperatives in Italy. The farmers that grow the grapes directly manage more then 1,500 hectares of vineyards that are at 350 meters. This wine is part of the Janare project for the perseveration of indigenous grape varieties in Campania. It is intended primarily to safeguard and improve local grape varieties especially Aglianico and Falanghina. The wine has hints of violets, cherry and a slight hint of vanilla, which comes from the barriques. IMG_6189

Irpinia Aglianico Redimore 2012 DOC 100% Aglianico from the Mirabella Eclano vineyards Mastoberardino. The soil is sandy clay with a deep presence of traces of limestone in the entire area. The vines are nine years old and the vineyard is at 400 meters. Harvest takes place at the end of October. Classic red wine vinification, long maceration on the skins at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 12 months in French barriques and for six months in bottle before release. There are aromas and flavors of red fruit, hints of strawberries, spice and a touch of tobacco. $25IMG_6190

Taurasi 2010 Antico Castello 100% Aglianico from artisanal vineyards, selected from the Sant’Agata locality, the soil is mostly clay and limestone, the vineyard is at 450 meters and the exposure is southeast. They only grow native grape varieties. The grapes are picked by hand in the beginning of November. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and lasts for   three months. The wine is aged in large French oak casks for 18 months and then in bottle before release. IMG_6191

Taurasi 2009 “Contrade di Taurasi” 100% Aglianico Azienda Agricola Cantine Lonardo. The soil is of medium mixture with a strong presence of sedimentary rock composed mostly of volcanic ash, dry and rich in organic matter, formed by the disintegration of the rocks. The rootstock is Virginia creeper. (This is American rootstock and a very unusual choice) The exposure is southwest, elevation is 300/400 meters, training system is guyot and there are 3,000 vines/ha. The vineyards are10/30 years old. Harvest takes place in early November by hand and the grapes are transported immediately to the winery in 18 kg boxes and crushed and destemmed. Fermentation is with indigenous yeasts selected in the vineyard. Maceration lasts for 15 days. After racking 30% of the wine was stored in oak barrels of 5HL, the rest remained in steel. Malolactic fermentation started spontaneously and lasted for 13 days. All the wine was assembled in steel and was bottled without filtration. This is a wine with ripe fruit aromas and flavor with hints of balsamic, spice and licorice.  $35IMG_6192

Taurasi Opera Mia 2008 Tenuta Cavalier Pepe 100% Aglianico. The grapes come from the Carazita vineyard. Harvest takes place the first week of November and a selection is made in the cellar. Parts of the grapes go through a cold pre –fermentation/maceration to extract color and aroma. The alcohol fermentation is followed by a long maceration on the skins. After the wine is racked it is put into French oak (Allier and Troncais barriques) for 12 months and another 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has ripe red fruit with hints of black cherry, prune, spice and is full bodied. $50IMG_6193

Taurasi “Poliphemo” 2008 Tecce Luigi 100% Aglianico. The Cantina is in Paternopli and the vines were first planted in 1935. There are 5 hectares of vines at 550 meters the highest in the Taurasi zone. The soil is limestone sediment, material from various Vesuvius eruptions, sand and clay. The wine is fermented in large chestnut casks where maceration lasts for 40 days and then it is aged in tonneaux for 12 months.

Written on the back of the bottle is what Mr. Tecce states is NOT IN his wine: No enzymes, No malolactic bacteria, No added tannin, No de-acidification. No clarification and No Arabic gum. This is very tradition Taurasi.  $?IMG_6187

 Falerno Del Massico Rosso “Vigna Camarato” Villa Matilde made from 80% Aglianico and 20% Piedirosso from a single vineyard. The soil is volcanic with high levels of phosphorous and potassium. The vineyard was planted in 1970, there are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Fermentation is on the skins for 20 to 25 days. The wine is aged in Aiiier oak barriers for 12 months, 1/3 new, 1/3 second passage and 1/3 third passage. Then 12 to 18 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black and red berries with notes of spice and vanilla. $55

 

 

 

 

 

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The Unique Red Grapes of Campania

The Campania region of Italy has some unique red grape varieties. The ancient Greeks originally brought many of these varieties while others that were thought lost during the phylloxera epidemic have been rediscovered. There is one that no one knows where it originated. These grapes make for very interesting wines

At a recent tasting of the Wine Media Guild held at Felidia Restaurant, we tasted some examples of the red wines of Campania:

Piedirosso: “The name… translates as “red foot” and the grape is also known as Palombina or Pre’e Palummo meaning respectively little dove and dove’s foot in dialect, the latter because of its red-colored triple-branched stem like a three-taloned bird’s foot,” according to Nicholas Belfage in his book Brunello to Zibibbo. Piedirosso is an ancient black skinned grape that does well in volcanic soil. It may be identical to the Colombina, the grape that Pliny the Elder (d. 79 AD) mentions in his Natural HistoryIMG_6185

Lacrima Christi del Vesuvio (tears of Christ) Rosso DOC 2013 Mastroberardino Piedirosso 100%. Volcanic loose soil very rich in minerals and the exposure is south – east. The vineyard is at 70 m above sea level and there are about 3,000 plants per hectare. The training system is radical back with guyot pruning and the average age of the vines is 15 years. Harvest takes place in mid-October. Classic red vinification is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for one month before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum, cloves and a touch of smoke. $20IMG_6184

Piedrosso Campo Flegrei Riserva “Tenuta Camaldoli” DOC 2011 Cantine Astroni 100% Piedirosso The winery is located in Campi Flegrei west of Naples. The bunches were destemmed by hand to avoid any possible greenness in the wine. A small quantity of juice and skins was put into an open top tronconic cherrywood cask where it was fermented by indigenous yeast. The wine was treated as gently as possible, and only punching down was used for extraction. After the fermentation had finished, the wine remained for an extraordinarily long time on the skins, some 65 days in total, in order to extract all the tannins from the skins. The wine went through malolactic fermentation, which happened by itself, and was racked off in a small stainless steel tank where it stayed for a month.

Katell Pieven of Cantine Astroni

Katell Pieven of Cantine Astroni

The wine was bottled unfiltered. Only 1100 bottles produced.  This is the first Piedirosso riserva that I have tasted. This is a very elegant Piedrosso, well balanced and smooth with hints of black and red berries with a nice finish and long aftertaste.    The winery notes indicate that Piedirosso is “planted throughout Campania… the Piedirosso Beneventano and the Piedirosso Avellinese are completely separate varieties.” They do not specify which one is in the wine. $27IMG_6186

Falerno del Massico “Etichetta Bronzo DOC 2006   Masseria Felicia Made from 80% Aliganico and 20% Piedirosso. The winery is located at the foot of Mount Massico, Sessa Aurunca. The vineyards are at 200 meters and the soil is gray tuff, pumice and ash. The training system is guyot. Fermentation is in open conical chestnut barrels. Aging is in barriques for 12/14 months and 12 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and other red and black fruits with a touch of tobacco and oak. $50IMG_6194

Cassavecchia (old house) The origin of the cassvecchia vine is completely unknown. Legend has it that farmers found an old vine, which had survived phylloxera. It was rediscovered among ancient ruins in Pontelatone inside the remains of a walled garden near the via Latina, the ancient road which connected Capua with Alife. The vine that was found had a trunk 40 centimeters across and cuttings were taken from it and replanted.

Casavecchia “Centomoggia” 2010 Terre del Principe made from 100% Casavecchia. A “moggia” was a unit of measure for property in this area that historically had very small plots. In fact, a property measuring 100 moggia, or about 74 acres, was such a rarity that this place, located between Caiazzo and Castel Campagnano, was named Centomoggia, meaning one hundred moggia. The vineyards are located in Castel Campagnano, Pontelatone and Castel di Sasso, the exposure is northwest for the former and southeast for the latter two. Elevation is 985 ft. and the training system is guyot. Total acres of vines is 24. These are very old vines planted between 1912 and 1932 and the soil is clayey and skeletal. Harvesting is by hand and the grapes undergo a berry selection at the winery before a prolonged maceration and fermentation at a controlled temperature using native yeasts. Aging takes place in new 225liter French oak barrels for 12 months and one year in bottle before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, spice, liquorice and a touch of cloves $40IMG_6196

Pallagrello Nero: This grape variety is grown almost exclusively in Campania particularly in the province of Caserta. It was a favorite of Ferdinand lV the Bourbon King of Naples and Sicily. Pallagrello was believed to have been destroyed by phylloxera but was rediscovered in the 1990’s and has been replanted by a few wineries. It is not a color mutation of Pallagrello Bianco.

Terre del Volturbo IGT Vestini Campagnano made from 100% Pallagrello Nero. The winery is located in hills in the province of Caseta. The vines are at 250 meters. Classic vinification is in oak barrels. There is a short maceration period. The wine is aged for 18 months in new barriques and 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of black fruit with hints of plum, oak and vanilla. $50IMG_6197

 Montevetrano Colle di Salerno 2011 Montevetrano Silvia Imparato. The enologist is Ricardo Cotarella. The wine is made from 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot and 10% Aglianico. The winery is located in the municipality of San Cipriano Picentino near Salerno. The vineyards are 100% meters above sea level. There are 12 acres of vines and the harvest is by hand from the end of September to the beginning of October. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days and the wine is aged in new barriques for 10 to 12 months. This is a wine with hints of violet, blackberries, cherry, tobacco and chocolate. The wine did not have the strong aroma and flavors of vanilla and oak, which were present in past vintages. $60IMG_6195

Terre del Volurno IGT “Sappie di Sopara il Bosco” 2012 Nanni Copè, made from 90% Pallagrello Nero 5% Aglianico (clone VCR 23) and 5% Cassavecchia. The grapes are from a 2.5-hectare vineyard of the same name. The soil is mostly sandy with silt and clay. There are 1,750 vines per hectare and the vines are 30 years old. Organic farming methods are used but the winery is not certified organic. Only fully matured grapes are harvested by hand. The wine is fermented in stainless steel with natural yeast and the grape varieties are fermented together. Maceration lasts for 16/19 days and malolatic fermentation takes place in 500 liter barrels.The wine is aged 1/4 in new oak, 1/4 in second passage, 1/4 in third passage and 1/4 in bottles. The wine remains here for one year and then all the wine is aged in bottle for another for 8 months before release.

This is a wine with good fruit, hints of cherry and spice, good acidity and a long finish. The owner of the winery is Giovanni Ascine and his childhood nickname, Nanni Copè, gives the wine its name. $40

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