The speakers were Giovanni Colavita, CEO and President of Colavita USA, and Nunzio Castaldo, President of Panebianco Wines.
Giovanni spoke about Colavita’s investment for joint ownership of Panebianco wines. Castaldo will be CEO of Panebianco, which is based in NYC, and Giovanni will coordinate the US-based partnership with him. Giovanni is also based in NYC.
Giovanni told us that the Colavita Company was founded in 1938 in a small village in the Italian region of Molise. Here Giovanni and Felice Colavita established a small olive mill, which developed into one of the top ten olive refiners in Italy. As the company expanded they began importing olive oil to the U.S. Later they looked to new products such as balsamic vinegar and vegetables preserved in olive oil. More space was needed as the company expanded they and opened a facility in Pomezia outside of Rome for packaging the oils. It is the second largest facility in Italy in terms of production and storage.
In 2001 they inaugurated the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine, within the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY. The increasing growth of the company enabled them to purchase a new facility in California for distribution in the U.S. Giovanni is very proud that Colavita is still a family owned and operated company.
Also at the tasting was Paolo Colavita, Vice President of California operations, Colavita USA. I enjoyed speaking to him before the tasting about olive oil, Italy, New York and California. He said that Colavita extra virgin olive oil, Italian pasta, and Italian vinegar is distributed in over 80 countries.
We started with a blind olive oil tasting conducted by Chef Ken Arnone, Colavita’s Certified Master Chef. The three olive oils were served in blue colored glasses so that we would not be influenced by their color.
Tasting Olive Oil
We were advised to cup a glass in one hand to warm it and cover it with the other to trap the aromas inside. Hold it, swirl it and warm it up for a minute or two. The chef said that the aromas of olive oil could be both vegetative and fruity, typically artichokes, herbs, grass etc. On the palate we should taste bitterness, pepper, nutty and buttery flavors.
He said that bitterness is a characteristic of olive oil depending on the ripeness of the olives.
The Olive Oil
Colavita Premium Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil the oil is cold pressed in Italy using olives grown and harvested from the best regions of Italy. Certified OU kosher, cholesterol and carbohydrate free. Cermet seal certification guarantees -100% Italian. This was the oil I liked the best.
Lambrusco di Sorbara Rosato Millesimato 2013 Cantina della Volta made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna). The harvest is manual, then the grapes are soft pressed, the must is clarified, and the alcoholic fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains for at least six months in the tanks for the maturation process, selected yeast is added before the wine is bottled. The bottles are stored horizontally in piles for the long re-fermentation process and maturation at a controlled temperature, then remuage, disgorgement and liqueur d’expedition. The wine has hints of red fruit with a touch of hazelnuts and pomegranate.
Furore Bianco 2018 Marisa Cuomo made from 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella (Campania) Coastal terraces set at 200/550 meters, the exposure is south-westerly and the soil is Dolomitic-limestone rock. Training system is pergola and/or atypical radial espalier. There are 5,000/7,000 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the first 10 days of October by hand. Whole grapes are destemmed, crushed and soft pressed. The free-run must, which undergoes cold static fining, is inoculated with select yeasts, and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine spends 4 months in stainless steel tanks. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of lemon and acidic notes. This is one of my favorite wines.
Capo di Stato 2013 Venegazzu Loredan Gasparini made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot from a historic 100 plant vineyard (Veneto). The vineyard is at 37o meters and the winery is north of Venice. The first vintage was 1964. Many heads of state liked this wine, in particular the French President Charles de Gaul, and so it is called “Head of State” in his honor. This is a well-structured wine with hints of ripe fruit, blueberries and blackberries with a touch of spice and hazelnuts. It has a long finish with a note of licorice.
Recioto della Valpolicella 2012 Venturini made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara (Veneto). Vineyard is at 200 meters, the exposure is southwest and the soil is very light limestone rich in fossils. The age of the vines is 20 years and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is in the third week of September and there is manual picking and sorting. The grapes are put on trays and dry in a special room, well ventilated until February. The grapes lose 50% of their weight. Traditional pressing keeping the grapes in bunches and fermentation at a controlled temperature. Maceration for 30 days with daily remontage. The wine is transferred into stainless steel wine jars. There is frequent decanting to retain most of the residual sugar. The wine remains in bottle for six months before release. This is a dessert wine with hints of blueberries and blackberries, and a touch of prune and licorice.
Even our dessert was made with olive oil. Plum and Arbequina Olive Oil Semifreddo, Orange Pistachio Biscotti.
Chef Ken Arnone prepared the food.