Category Archives: Donna Chiara Winery

At Home with Michele and Charles

Just like everyone else, Michele and I are trying to make the best of being confined to home, which in our case is a small apartment.  For us that means we are doing a lot of reading, tv watching, household projects and of course, eating and drinking.  Luckily, we had done a big shopping trip when we returned home from Italy and stocked up on some of our favorite Italian ingredients.  I keep a supply of wines on hand, so whatever Michele decides to cook, or is able to cook with what she finds in the pantry or refrigerator, I can match a wine to it.  With a good supply of pasta on hand, there is always something good to look forward to.

 

One day it was one of Michele’s childhood favorites.  Broken spaghetti with peas, eggs and cheese.  She uses frozen peas for this dish, and they are perfectly delicious, sweet and fresh tasting.

 

 

Beneventano Falaghina ‘”Resilienza “2018 Donna Chiara made from 100% Falanghina  The soil is chalky and the training system is guyot. Harvest is the first two weeks of October. There is a soft  pressing of the grapes and then they are cooled  50 degrees F for 4 to 5 hours. This is followed a with static decantations.  Fermentation is at 57 to 60 degrees F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine has floral notes with hints of citrus fruit, pear and apricot with good acidity and a long finish. I am always impressed by the Falaghina from Donna Chiara.

 

 

Another day, she tried a recipe from one of Marcella Hazan’s books.  It was spaghetti with bacon and zucchini.  It doesn’t look that interesting in the photos, but we liked it.

 

 

I was craving tomato sauce, so Michele made a simple one with olive oil, garlic, canned Italian tomatoes, and some basil that she had in the freezer.  It will have to do until we can get some fresh basil or plant some when the weather is better.

 

The only time we have pasta leftover is when Michele makes a double batch so that she can fry it the next day.  She mixes the cold pasta — any kind will do — with eggs and grated cheese and fries it in a little olive oil in a non-stick skillet until crispy and browned.  This was made with the remains of the spaghetti with zucchini and bacon.

 

 

 

Here we have spaghetti once again, with broccoli cooked until very soft with garlic olive oil and hot pepper.  Mashed with a little of the pasta water, it  makes  a kind  of  pesto  to  toss  with  the  pasta.

Soave Superiore DOCG “Monte San Pietro”  Sandro De Bruno made from 100% Garganega from the hills around Roncà, at 330 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 vines per hectare, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation is in big oak barrels of 30hl. This is a well-structured, complex wine with hints of tropical fruit,  citrus fruit white pepper and a floral note with a very pleasing after taste and a long finish. A great Soave.

 

This spaghetti was tossed with fresh scallops, garlic, parsley and hot pepper.  She finished it with some toasted breadcrumbs.

Barbera d’Alba” Bricco di Merli” 2001 Cogno  made from 100% Barbara from a 1.8 hectare vineyard at 300 meters, There are 4,500 plants per hectare and the training system is vertical trellised with guyot pruning. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with automatic pumping over. The wine is aged for six months in large Slavonian casks and  6 months in bottle before release. This is the fourth bottle of this wine I have had and it is showing very well for a wine 19 years old. Barbara can age. It has hints of dried prunes and cherries with a hint of spice.

 

Fresh fettuccine is the preferred pasta for a slow simmered Ragu Bolognese, made with pork, beef and a variety of vegetables.  But  we  had  it  with  dried penne rigati.

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sangiovese, 10 % Merlot and 5% Colorino.  Harvest is by hand the last days of September and the first days of October.  Vinification is with natural enzymes and there is no stabilization or filtration. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for 12 months. The  wine has hints of violets and cherry with spicy notes

One day, a homemade pizza with tomato sauce and mozzarella was a nice break from pasta.  It was even good reheated the next day.

 

A bunch of fresh asparagus was the inspiration for this creamy risotto.

 

Michele fried the remainder into cakes the next day, similar to the fried spaghetti I mentioned previously.

With so much bad news, good meals are a joy and a comfort.  We hope you are eating and drinking well too.

 

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Filed under Barbara, Barbera, Bocale, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Michele and Charles, Montefalco Rosso, Uncategorized

Women and Wine Part I: llaria Petitto of Donnachiara

Last week, Ilaria Petitto of Donna Chiara winery near Avellino invited me to meet two women who like herself, are winery owners in Irpinia. The women were Teresa Bruno of Petilia Winery and Maura Sarno of Sarno 60. Ilaria’s plan was for us to first visit Teresa at Petilia and then have lunch all together at a typical restaurant , Zia Pasqualina in Artipalda(AV) It was a great opportunity to experience some of my favorite wines of the region paired with the regional food.   First I will discuss the Donna Chiara wines we tasted, and will write about the other women’s wines in subsequent blogs.

Ilaria

Ilaria

Ilaria said that Donna Chiara Winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. The consulting oenologist at this time is the legendary Riccardo Cotarella. It is the philosophy of the winery to preserve the traditional grape varieties of the local territory and to keep the typical character of the wines from  being  lost to the standardization of the wines on the market today. They also follow guidelines limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

The introduction of the wine was done by Francesco de Rienzo  from Donnachiara

Fiano di Avellino “Empatia” 2018, 100% Fiano di Avellino Donnachiara Illaria said only the best grapes from the vineyard in Montefalcione, which is certified organic, are used for this wine. The grapes are hand harvested the second half of October at the coolest part of the day and there is a very careful selection. The soil is chalky and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration (crushed grapes are held at low temperature) is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 14 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine spends some time in bottle before release. This is an impressively elegant wine with hints of apple, almonds, tropical fruit and floral notes with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. This is an age worthy wine.

Greco di Tufo “Aletheia” 2017 DOCG 100% Greco di Tufo Donnachiara Only the best grapes are used, after a careful selection, the harvest is by hand during the coolest parts of the day, the second half of October. The soil is tuffaceous and the training system is guyot. Cryomaceration is at 42-46F to preserve the aroma, prevent oxidation and to enhance the characteristics of the grapes. There is a soft pressing of the grapes using a pneumatic press and fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The fermented must is left to age on the lees for about a year with weekly bartonage. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The wine remains in the bottle for a period of time before release. This is an intense wine with hints of citrus fruit, pear, apricot and a hint of hazelnuts and pineapple. This is a age worthy wine

Ilaria said 2017 was a very good year in the region.

Ilaria gave me a bottle of  the Resilienza  Falanghina to take with me and I will write about the wine when I drink it in Rome. She said these three white wines are a new wine line with different labels.

Taurasi DOCG 2016   Donnachiara The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225-liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique is subtle and did not mask the character of the wine. Taurasi  is a wine that will last for many years.

One of the dishes we had at the restaurant was ricotta made from buffalo milk – it was fantastic!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano, Greco di Tufo, Taurasi, Uncategorized

The Wines of DonnaChiara & Alois at a One Star Michelin Restaurant

Ilaria Petitto and Francesco de Rienzo (DonnaChiara Winery) and Massimo Alois and Talita de Rosa (Michele Alois Winery) invited Michele and I and a friend to have lunch with them. Last year when Michele and I visited the Alois winery we had a fantastic lunch prepared by Talita de Rosa, which I wrote about in a blog.

This year they decided to take us to Vairo del Volturno, a restaurant with one Michelin star since 2007.  It is located at Via  IV  Novembre 60, Vairano  Patenora, Caserta. 

The chef,  Renato Martino, made a special lunch for us based on the local ingredients from around the Caserta area.  With it, we drank the wines from DonnaChiara and Michele Alois Wineries.

DonnaChiara wines

The winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017, 100% Greco.  The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and then a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. This is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites.

 

To go with the wines, the chef prepared a series of small seafood dishes, including assorted marinated crudi, and bufala mozzarella topped with anchovy.  Though I have always enjoyed these wines with traditional Neapolitan food, with these combinations, the chef showed how well they can go with contemporary dishes.


Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of  “follature” (pumping over) and to a short period of maceration on the skins. It is a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

There was pasta of course, large tortelloni filled with local pork.

Taurasi DOCG 100% Aglianico 2016 The soil is clay and the training system is guyot. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and harvest takes place the first week of November. The wine is aged for 12 months in 225 liter French barriques and remains in the bottle for another 24 months before release. The wine has hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and a touch of cacao. The use of barrique was subtle and did not mask the character of the wine.

Taurasi Riserva 2013 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

Michele Alois wines The winery is located at the foot of the Caiatini Mountains in the province of Caserta.

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2013 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 of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste.

Pallagrello Nero “Cunto” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 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 lamb was a local variety prepared two ways roasted and grilled, and topped with hazelnuts.

Casavecchia “Trebulanum” Terre del Volturno IGT 2015 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) for 18 months and it is in botti for 12 and 6 months in bottle before release. This is a big wine with hints of licorice, tar and smoke, a very long finish and a pleasing aftertaste.

After lunch we went to the Alois winery where we tasted barrel samples of the Pallagrello Bianco and Nero and the Casavecchia with Massimo Alois

We ended this most perfect afternoon at the winery with a wonderful version of Baba, a yeast raised pastry filled with pastry cream and soaked in rum syrup, which Illaria had brought from a bakery in Avellino.

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Filed under Aglianico, Alois Winery, Cassavecchia, Donna Chiara Winery, Greco di Tufo, Pallagrello, Pallagrello Bianco, Pallagrello Nero, Taurasi, Vario del Volturo

Fourteen Wines Under $20

Well-priced good wines can be found in all price ranges.  Here are some that I tried recently.

Alvarinho 2017 (Vinho Verde) Soalheiro Portugal 100% Alvarinho. Hand picked grapes from several small vineyards planted in granite soil at 100 to 400 meters located in the Melgaco region in the northern point of Portugal. After pressing and before fermentation, which is temperature controlled, the must is decanted during 48 hours at a low temperature.  I first had this wine in a restaurant in Lisbon. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Bianco Veneto IGT 2017 (Veneto) Pasqua made from 100% Garganega and dried in the fruttaio (drying chamber) for 15 days. This results in the concentration of sugars and floral aromas. After crushing, maceration on the skins takes place for over 12 hours. Vinification is with selected yeasts and a portion of the wine is aged in new French oak barrels for a few months. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peaches and a touch of almonds. It is an easy to drink wine. $16

Falanghina Beneventano 2015 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara The vineyard is the Torre Cuso, the best location for Falanghina. The soil is volcanic, chalky clay, the vines are 16 years old, the training system is guyot and there are 2,500 vines per hectare. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed before pressing. Cold fermentation is in stainless steel and there is extended maceration. This is a crisp white wine with citrus fruit aromas and flavors, nice acidity and good minerality. This is one of my favorite white wines and I always have a bottle or two on hand. $17 . I first had this wine at the winery.

Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2017 (Veneto) Le Morette made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple and peach and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm. $18

Bianco delle Regine 2016 (Umbria) Castello delle Regina made from 30% Chardonnay, 30% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Riesling and 10% Pinot Grigio. Harvest takes place by hand in the middle of August. Each grape variety is vinified separately in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks of 50 to 75 HL. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation in order to preserve its freshness. This is an aromatic white wine with hints of citrus fruit with a touch of lime and good acidity. $15

Moscato Sicilia 2016 IGT (Salemi, Sicily)100% Moscato di Alexandria Stella. The vineyard is 25 acres and the training system is guyot. There are 1,600 vines vines/acre, and the elevation is 1,485 feet with a northern/southern exposure. The vines were planted in 2000 and the first vintage was in 2010. Harvest was in August. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 12 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place and the wine ages in stainless steel.  The alcohol level is 10%. This is a wine with hints of white peaches, tropical fruit and good acidity. $11

Nebbiolo 2014 Paso Robles (Califorina) Caparone 100% Nebbiolo macerated on the skins for 45 days, in completely enclosed stainless fermenters. It was light in color like Nebbiolo should be. The wine is unfiltered and unfined. In a blind tasting I might have said it was like a Nebbiolo from the north of Piedmont but in a much lighter style with more red fruit and less of the tar, tobacco and dried fruit character. This winery make wines that can last for years. Recently I had their 2002 Merlot which could last for another 20 years. $18

Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 2016 DOC None (Abruzzo, Italy) made from 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Stella. The soil is sandy, the training system is Pergola/Arbor trained and the elevation is 900 feet. There are 1,000 vines per acre and the vines were planted in 1995. The first vintage was in 1998 and harvest takes place in September. Fermentation is in stainless tanks and the alcohol fermentation lasts for 7 days. Maceration technique is by pumpovers and it lasts for 5 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place and the wine ages 5 months before bottling and 4 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of black cherries, strawberries and a touch of herbs. $11

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Rosso Veneto IGT 2016 (Veneto) Pasqua made from Corvina, Croatina and Merlot. The grapes are hand picked and a portion of the Corvina and Merlot are put into small crates in the fruttaio to dry until they lose 30% of their water content and gain high sugar content. This is then blended with the juice from the non-dried grapes and vinified in steel tanks. Following fermentation the grapes age in oak tonneaux for about 4 months and then aged in bottle before release. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice. $16 .

Negroamaro Del Salento IGP 2016 (Puglia) Varvaglione made from 100% Negroamaro  Vinification with temperature control maceration and malolactic fermentation. The wine is aged in large barrels (botti)  of French oak for at least 3 months. The wine has fresh fruit flavors and aromas with hints of cherry and spice $12

 

Pinot Nero Rolhut 2015 DOC (Alto Adige, Italy) Peter Zemmer The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented at a constant temperature of 26 – 28° C (79 – 82° F) for about 7 days. The must is kept in contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below.  After two gentle rackings, 70% of this Pinot Noir is aged over 12 months in large barrels of French oak, and the remainder is aged in small casks of French oak (barriques), which are 2 – 3 years old. After blending, 750 ml Bordeaux-style bottles are filled and the wine is aged an additional 6 months in the bottle before it goes on sale. This is a fruity wine with hints of red berries, cherries and a touch of blueberries. $18

Umbria Rosso IGT “Vascellarus”  2016 (Umbria) Argillae made from 85% Montepulciano, and 15 Cabernet Sauvignon. The training method is guyot and there are 3,333 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand in October. The grapes are crushed and destemmed and there is a 25/30-day maceration period with frequent pumpovers on the skins, accompanied by several rack and return procedures. Alcoholic fermentation is in steel tanks at a controlled temperature and malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. The wine is aged in French barriques with racking on a regular basis, depending on the need. The wine remains in the bottle for another 8/12 months before release. The wine has hints of ripe red fruit, spice, black pepper and vanilla notes. $18

Côtes-du-Rhone Samorëns Blanc 2015 (France) made from Clairette and Grenache. Ferraton Père & Fils The grapes are picked at the peak of ripeness and quickly chilled upon arrival at the winery via a chill tunnel. After pressing, the must is cold-settled for 48 hours. Vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks where many lots will undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine is then blended and bottled without the use of oak. It has fresh citrus aromas and flavors with hints of white peach and good acidity. $15

Gaia Red Blend 2015 (Argentina) Domaine Bousquet made from 50% Malbec, 45% Syrah and 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. There is a manual harvest: for the Syrah the 2nd week of April, Malbec the 3rd week of April, and the Cabernet Sauvignon 4th week of April. There is a cold fermentation for 72 hours. Fermentation is with selected yeast at a maximum temperature of 27C for 12 days. Maceration is for 14 days and the wine is aged in used French barrels for 10 months. This is a fruity wine with aromas and flavors of black fruit with a hint if blueberries and a touch of spice.  Alcohol is 14%.  $19

 

 

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January 14, 2019 · 2:29 am

With Ilaria Petitto of Donnachiara Winery at Il Gattopardo NYC

I have known Illaria Petitto, Managing Director of the Donnachiara Winery for some time and have tasted the wines in NYC many times. I also have visited the winery in Campania a few times. It is always a treat to taste these wines and when the host restaurant is Il Gattppardo the combination could not be better. This is a event I could not miss.

Ilarai Petitto

Ilaria spoke about the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino. The modern winery was completed in 2005 but the vineyards have been in the family for over 150 years. The consulting oenologist at this time is the legendary Riccardo Cotarella. It is the philosophy of the winery to preserve the traditional grape varieties of the  local territory and to keep the typical character of the wines from  being  lost to the standardization of the wines on the market today. They also follow “Misura CE n.1257/99 – “Produzione , integrata della Regione Campania” limiting the use of some active ingredients that are harmful to the environment.

The White Wines

 Benevento Falanghina IGT “Resilienza” 2016 100% Falanghina. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest is the first half of October. Only the best grapes are selected, harvest is manual and takes place during the coolest hours of the day. There are 2,500 vines per hectare and the grapes were picked at the height of maturity. Illara said cryomaceration is at 42-46 degrees F in order to preserve the aromas, prevent oxidation and enhance the typical characteristics of the varieties. Soft pressing fermentation is at 57-60 °F in stainless steel tanks for about 15 days. The wine does not undergo malolactic fermentation. The wine remains in the bottle for many months before release. This a a wonderful food wine with good fruit, citrus aromas and flavors, and notes of pear and apricot. It has good acidity and a lasting finish.

Ed Mc Carthy co- author of the Wine for Dummies books said that it was the best Falanghina he had ever tasted.

Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2017 100% Fiano. The soil is chalky clay and there are 4,400 plants per hectare.  The vines are guyot trained and the harvest is the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of the grapes that are quickly cooled to 50F for 4 to 6 hours. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F in steel tanks for 15 days. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a delicate and elegant wine with hints of almonds, floral notes and citrus fruit. It is a real pleasure to drink.

This grape was brought to Campania by ancient Greeks. The Romans called it vitis apiana – the Latin root for bees is apiana. Even today bees are attracted to the Fiano grape and Ilaria said you can see the honey bees in the vineyards in Montefalcione.

Greco di Tufo DOCG 2017 100% Greco The soil is tufaceous, training system is guyot, there are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the second half of October. A soft pressing of selected grapes takes place and after that a cold decanting of the must. Fermentation is at 57 to 60F. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is an elegant wine with good structure with hints of pear, apricot, citrus and a touch of pineapple. Like the Fiano, this is a wine that can age for 15 years or more. It is one of my favorites. Both the Fiano and the Greco are wines that can age.

With the white wine we had: Cavatelli di grano saraceno ai frutti di mare.

The Red Wines

Campania Aglianico IGT 2016 made from 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place in the first half of November. Malolatic fermentation takes place in barriques for 3 months. Ilaria said this is a fresh and pleasant wine due to a small number of “follature” and to a short period of maceration on the skins it is possible to produce a wine that is elegant, warm and perfect with many different foods. The wine is fruity with hints of blackberries, strawberries and a touch of toast.

Irpinia Agianico DOC 2015 100% Aglianico. The soil is clay, the training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in November. Fermentation takes place at 68 to 71 F in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. Maturation is on the skins for 10 days. Malolactic fermentation is in barriques. The wine is full and complex with hints of prune, berries and spice. This was one of the Top 100 Wines this year in the Wine Spectator. 

Taurasi DOCG 2013 100% Aglianico Manual harvest. This wine was vinified like the one above. It is a well structured wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes.

Taurasi Riserva 2012 DOCG made from 100% Aglianico The soil is clay, training system is guyot and the harvest takes place the first half of November. This one is produced only in the best vintages. There is manual grape picking, a careful cluster selection followed by a soft pressing of the grapes. Maturation is on the skins for 20 days. Malolactic fermentation takes place in barriques. This is a full intense wine with hints of blackberry, plum, cherry and coffee notes. It is on its way to becoming a great wine with a little more bottle age.

In 2012 Cotarella was not the consulting oenologist.

With the red wine we had: Carrè d’agnello alle erbe aromatiche served with broccoli rabe and a potato croquette.

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Filed under Aglianico, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Fiano di Avellino, Taurasi, Uncategorized

My Birthday Lunch at Home

We were going to spend the weekend in Pennsylvania with friends, so we celebrated my birthday at home and Michele made some of my favorite dishes.

We started with crostini topped with prosciutto, fig mostarda and a drizzle of a special, aged balsamic vinegar.  The mostarda is something we picked up in Rome.  It has a jam like consistency and goes great with cold cuts or cheese.  It is sweet from the figs and slightly hot from mustard.  

For the first course Michele made pasta with clams with touch of tomato, a dish I always order when I am in southern Italy.

With the first two courses we drank the Lacryma Christ del Vesuvio Bianco 2015  from CantinMatrone made from 80% Caprettone and 15% Falanghina and 5% Greco.  The Caprettone is distributed over three vineyards located at 30, 120 and 200 meters. Falanghina and Greco are at 30 meters. The Falanghina and Greco are fermented together with a pressing and fermentation without the pomace. The Caprettone is vinified alone with a 24-hour maceration period with the pomace. Then a soft pressing and fermentation takes place without temperature control.  This helps to obtain a wine with slightly more intense color and a bouquet of aromas that are more related to the varietal and less to the fruity or floral notes due to fermentation. The wine has hints of citrus, almond and a touch of sage with good acidity.

 


When we were buying the clams I noticed some large fresh soft shell crabs, another one of my favorites.  Michele said that she would fry them in a tempura batter.  They turned out plump, juicy and crisp.

With the soft shell crab we drank Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2012 Donnachiara 100% Fiano.   The soil is chalky clay and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,400 vines per hectare and the 4 hectare vineyard is located at 600 meters.  Harvesting takes place during the second week of October. . The aging potential of the wine is 15/20 years. This is a wine with good structure and body. There were floral notes, aromas and flavors of citrus fruits, good acidity and a hint of smoke.

For dessert, Michele made a blueberry tart — I could have the whole thing

I finished the lunch with a glass of Grappa Riserva  from Distilleria Mazzetti in Piemonte.  It is  aged for 5 years in barrels made from 6 different woods:  oak, chestnut, ash, cherry, mulberry and juniper. I bought this grappa from the distilleria and opened it for my birthday!

 

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The Fiano di Avellino of Donnachiara at IL Gattopardo Restaurant

 

I have met Illaria Petitto, managing director, Donnachiara winery a number of times in NYC and have visited the winery in Campania a number of times. I really like their white wines and paired with Neapolitan food at a luncheon at Il Gattopardo in Midtown Manhattan, it is a match made in heaven.img_1147

At the luncheon, Illaria offered a vertical tasting of her Fiano di Avellino going back to 2007. John Gilman who publishes “View from the Cellar” also spoke. I met John last March in Benevento at the Campania Stories tasting and together we visited the Donnachiara winery.

ILaria Petitto

ILaria Petitto

Ilania began by speaking about the Fiano di Avellino grape in general, her Fiano, and the winery. She said the winery is located in Montefalcione in the Irpinia area near Avellino.  The modern building is set on a hilltop in an area of rolling hills.

Ilaria said she parted ways with her winemaker, Angelo Valentino because she wants to have more input into her wines. She hired the well-respected Riccardo Cotarella as the consulting enologist for the winery. She felt that he could help with the Fiano as far as enhancing the bouquet and aromas. I told her I liked the wines just as they are now!img_1153

We tasted the 2015, 2013, 2011, 2009 and 2007 paired with a menu prepared by Il Gattopardo. All the wines are 100% Fiano di Avellino

  2015 -When I was in Benevento in March for the Campania Stories blind tasting of Fiano, I picked this vintage of Donnachiara as #1.

The soil is chalky clay; there are 4,400 plants per hectare, the training system is Guyot and the harvest takes place the second week of October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 90 days. The wine does not undergo malolatcic fermentation and does not see any wood. This is an elegant wine with good body, dried fruit aromas and flavors and a hint of tropical fruit. This is a wine with good structure and body. Illaria said 2015 was a very good vintage.img_1148

With the wine we had Stuzzichini: Scagliozzi Di Polenta and Mini Mozzarelle in Carrozza con Salsetta D’Acciughe with the 2015 and 2013

I asked Illaria if the 2007 was vinified the same way as the 2015 and she said nothing has changed.

Cotarella will start with the 2016 vintage.

When I visited the winery in March I tasted 2011, 2009 and 2007 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. Illaria said Fiano grows best in clay soil. These wines are very full-bodied showing no signs of age. You could see the development of the wine from the different vintages.

In the white wines the juice is free run and fermented and aged in stainless steel. Malolactic fermentation does not take place.

2013 — This was the first I had tasted this vintage. Illaria said that 2013 was a warm and dry vintage. The grapes were very concentrated, rich in pulp and very structured. The wine is very soft and fat with nice ripe citrus fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity. I would not drink a Fiano unless it was at least 3 years old and that is still too young.

2011 — Illaria said this was a balanced vintage. The wine had developed since the last time I had tasted it and was showing very well. If you can find this wine buy it!

We had this wine with Scialatielli ai Frutta di Mare img_1159

2009 — Illaria said this was a difficult vintage but to me it was drinking much better than when I first tasted it. This is a well-balanced complex wine that will age for a very long time.

2007 — Illaria said that 2007 was a very hot and dry vintage that produced a very concentrated wine. This is big wine with great structure and aromas ranging from candied fruit to flowers with good acidity. Both Illaria and John believe that this wine has great aging potential, from 15 to 20 years. It was showing a little more age than when I first tasted it but this was just the natural development.img_1160

We had both of these vintages with the Dentice in Brodetto con Cozze e Vongole.img_1166

2011 — Esoterico This is one of two wines that are in barriques, 20% is fermented in new French barriques for a period of 12 months. There is no fining, filtration or refrigeration, and there is natural clarification. This is the only vintage of the wine that they made. Illaria said because the wine is in a 375-ml size bottle, every one thinks it is a dessert wine. She said she is not sure if she would produce the wine again.img_1165

For dessert we had the Baba- it was one of the best I have ever eaten!

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