Category Archives: Donna Chiara Winery

Enjoying the Weekend at Home

We are having our apartment painted and will not be eating home for the next two weeks so this weekend, Michele decided to make some things that she wanted to use up.

IMG_5565We started with a salad made with arugula, avocado, tomatoes, tuna, hard cooked eggs and anchovies.

IMG_5572 2Then we had sardines Beccafico, a Sicilian recipe meaning “figpecker style,” named for a bird.  I am not sure why it has that name, but the rolled up sardines were stuffed with breadcrumbs, pine nuts, currants, parsley, lemon and mint and baked.   

IMG_5527With this we had the Beneventano Falanghina 2018 IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. 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 and a pleasure to drink.

IMG_5567 2Roasted Eggplant and Peppers

IMG_5569Rosemary Focaccia

IMG_5570On the plate

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Since it was hot we had a red wine the could take a slight chill and this one was perfect. Vernatsch Schiava Alto Adige DOC 2019 Peter Zemmer made from a blend of various varieties of Schiava grown on the pergola, the traditional trellis system, on loamy soil on the slopes around Cortaccia. The stems are immediately removed and the grapes are fermented for 8 days at a controlled temperature. The must is kept in regular contact with the skins through circulation pumping and gentle pressure from below with the ideal results for coloring from the skins and emphasizing fruitiness. This is a fresh, light fruity wine with hints of red raspberry, peaches  and light note of bitter almond on the finish.

IMG_5563We finished with Michele’s homemade blueberry and cantaloupe ices

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Schiava

SLA Thai-Something Complete Different

A few weeks ago, our friend Ernie took Michele and I to SLA, a Thai restaurant near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. Ernie often speaks about this restaurant as one of his favorites and told us that it was very special because the owner and founder, Meiji Pattamasinghchai was taught to cook by a Thai food expert, her own mother who is a well known restaurateur in northern Thailand. In fact, the King of Thailand visits her restaurant whenever he is in the North of the country.

Today, Meiji’s brother Yanin and husband Paul, who are both trained chefs work together in the kitchen and devise their menu and daily special dishes. They pride themselves on sourcing the finest and freshest ingredients in the market every day.

SLA, which stands for Simple,Love, Authentic first opened in a nearby location about 6 years ago,

We started with some appetizers.

Gai Tod–Thai chicken wings with sweet chili sauce. The wings were irresistible coated in a sweet and spicy sauce.

Kanom jeeb–Thai steamed chicken and shrimp dumplings served with soy sauce

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Gui Chai–Asian chive pancakes served with soy vinaigrette

Next, we moved on to some main courses.

One Nam Thok Pla Tod–Crispy fried whole fish (or fillet) with issan dressing, bell pepper, herbs, diced scallion, lemongrass and roasted rice powder

IMG_4810Duck with Green Noodles

Pad See Ew-Flat noodles with chicken, black sweet sauce, and Asian broccoli

Ernie suggested we drink the Falanghina from Donnachiara. He always has a case or two on hand. It was the perfect combination with the food.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina 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.

Dessert was beautiful, and something I had never tried before.

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Home made Purple Sweet Potato Ice Cream, topped with coconut sauce and fruits. Not only was it good to look at, it was also delicious.

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On a Cold Winter’s Day

We went to a friends house for the weekend.  He had been planning to roast a leg of lamb, but due to a mix-up, the lamb did not arrive.  Luckily, he was able to get lamb shanks, which Michele offered to cook.  

Outside it was cold and snowy.

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Dinner began with two kinds of crostini:  one with warm mozzarella and anchovies and the other with Michele’s fig and olive tapenade.

IMG_4158Beneventano Falanghina IGT 2017 Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. 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. It is one of my favorite white wines  and my friend always has some chilled and ready to drink

IMG_4145Braising the lamb shanks

IMG_4154Mashed potatoes

IMG_4163On the plate, braised lamb shanks with mashed potatoes and sauteed escarole.

IMG_4165Here’s another picture because it looked so good and tasted so delicious.

IMG_4171Brunello di Montalcino 1999 Lisini made from 100% Sangiovese. The are 3,300 plants per hectare in the old vineyard and 5, 400 plants in the newer vineyard at 300 to 350 meters. The grapes are hand harvested and a selection takes place. Fermentation and maceration is in stainless steel with skin contact for 20 t0 26 days. Aging is in large Slavonian oak barrels of 20 to 50 ha for 42 months. The wine is aged another 6 to 8 months in bottle before release. This is a traditional Brunello with hints of red and black fruit, blueberries and rasperries and a touch of violet. It was drinking extremely well.

IMG_4159Taurasi “Radici” 1996 Mastroberardino made from 100% Aglianico.  The vineyards for Taurasi “Radici” are located on two hills, Mirabella vineyard at 500 meters and the Montemarano vineyard at 550 meters. Because of its position on the hill and its altitude, the temperature at the Montemarano vineyard was much colder and the grapes are picked a little later. Harvest is from the end of October into the beginning of November. The vinification is the classic one for red wine, long maceration with skin contact at controlled temperatures. The wine is aged for 24 months in French barriques and Slovenian oak barrels and remains in the bottle for 24 months before release. The barriques were second and third passage. This is a wine with hints of black cherry, plum, spice and a touch of leather.

For Dessert, we ate a selection of cookies with ice cream.

IMG_4147We finished the dinner with Single Malt Scotch Whiskey from Ardmore Distillery to keep us warm.

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Filed under Brunello, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Lisini, Mastroberardino, Taurasi

Christmas Eve 2020

We celebrated Christmas Eve this year with close friends who live a few blocks away. There were four of us.

IMG_3992 copyWe started with Champagne Alfred Gratien Brut Rosè NV made from 45% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Meunier and 15%. The Pinot Noir is added as a still wine. After 6 months of cellaring in 228 liter oak casks, the must is transformed into wine. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. The cuvee is bottled with sugar and yeast to allow for a secondary fermentation in the bottle and it remains in the cellar for 36 months. Then the disgorging takes place where the lees and sediment are removed from the bottle.  It is topped up with more wine and some sugar and left to rest for a few more months in the cellar.  It has good red fruit with hints of raspberry and strawberries and touch of roses.

It went very well with the shrimp pate on toast which I forgot to get a picture of.  IMG_3989

At the table, I opened a bottle of:

Beneventano Falaghina ‘”Resilienza “2017 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 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. The Falaghina from Donna Chiara always impresses me.

IMG_3981To accompany the wine, we had Octopus and Potato Salad.  It’s a favorite of ours that we always enjoy in Rome.

IMG_3979Sourdough Bread was a good accompaniment.

IMG_3974For our main course, Michele roasted two large branzini with artichokes.

IMG_3984With the roasted fish and artichokes, we had polenta with Parmigiano Reggiano.

IMG_3989Greco di Tufo “ Nova Serra” 2013 Mastroberadino made from 100% Greco di Tufo from the 33 acre Novaserra vineyard at 1,815 feet. The soil is clay and calcareous along the profile volcanic presence. There are 1,600 vines per hectare and the training system is guyot Espalier. The vineyard was replanted in 1999 and the exposure is southwest. The harvest is in October. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 15 days. The wine remains on the lees for 5 months before it is bottled and in bottle for 3 months before release. This is a wine with rich ripe fruit and hints of pear, peach, apricot and a touch of citrus and sage.

IMG_3988Dessert was a Chocolate Ginger Cake with Confit Citrus and whipped Creme Fraiche brought by our friends.  The cake turned out kind of messy, but absolutely delicious.  I could have gotten a better picture, but was in too much of a hurry to dig in.  Not wanting the crumbles to go to waste, I nibbled away at more than my share with a small grappa after the meal.

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Filed under Alfred Gratien, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina, Greco di Tufo, Mastroberardino

Lunch at Il Gattopardo NYC

Il Gattopardo was the last restaurant in New York City I visited before leaving for Italy on February 4.  At that time, our plan was to stay in Italy for 5 weeks, but we left a week early when everything began to close down.  Finally,  as  we  learn  to  cope  with our  new pandemic  lifestyle,  we  were  able  to return  to  Il  Gattopardo, which reopened  last  week.  

On a perfect late summer afternoon, the owner Gianfranco Sorrentino, properly masked of course, greeted us with not one, but two welcoming elbow bumps, mimicking the Italian tradition of due baci, two kisses, one for each cheek.
Gianfranco had designed a lovely Italian-style sidewalk cafe outside the restaurant.

We began with an Aperol Spritz for Michele while we nibbled on crisp crusted rice balls. 

Chef Vito Gnazzo came over to say hello and make some suggestions. We decided to follow his advice.

For the first course I had octopus  salad  with  potatoes,  olives  and some  crispy  greens.

Michele had  a summer  favorite,  fresh  mozzarella  with  tomatoes, basil  and  extra  virgin  olive  oil.  It  was  just  right,  she  said,  simple and well  seasoned  and  with  no  extra  embellishment  of  balsamic  vinegar,  a pet  peeve  of  hers.

Chef Vito sent us out a taste of a very delicious pasta, linguine with zucchini, cuttlefish and shaved bottarga. It  is  an  unusual  combination and  we  enjoyed  every  bite.

For a main course, we had more pasta.  This was fregola, small bits of lightly toasted pasta from Sardinia, here cooked like risotto until creamy with tiny asparagus and chopped scallops.  Readers of this blog know that Michele and I frequently eat a variety of different pastas, but we were delighted to try these two, which were new for both of us.

With lunch we drank Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2019 DonnaChiara 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 and it was a perfect combination with the food. I also saw this week that Daniele Cernilli aka Dr. Wine in his  Essential Guide to the Wines of  Italy rates this wine  95/100 and I agree.

 

For dessert, we had tiny cannoli lined with chocolate with a ricotta and chocolate filling.

As if that were not enough, I couldn’t leave without ordering the Pastiera, the restaurant’s signature dessert, and a Neapolitan icon.  It is a cheesecake made with wheat, orange zest and cinnamon.  Once it was enjoyed in Naples only at Easter time, but now it is eaten all year round. It  is  a favorite  of  mine.

Biscotti and espresso ended our meal.

What a pleasure to be able to dine at Il Gattopardo once again.  Perhaps next time we will combine our visit with a stop at the Museum of Modern Art which is just across the street.

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Filed under Daniele Cernilli, Donna Chiara Winery, Fiano di Avellino, Gattopardo, Gattoprdo, Uncategorized

A Summer Lunch

 

It was a very hot day in August and we were at a friend house for a late lunch.  I brought a sparkling wine from the Veneto that my friend had never tasted made from the Durello grape to go with the appetizers.

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees are preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. The wine has hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.

Michele had made some roasted red peppers and we ate them on crostini topped with anchovies.

 

Another starter was sauteed eggplant with cherry tomatoes on crostini topped with thin slices of Tuscan pecorino.

Our pasta was a summery version of pasta alla puttanesca.  Michele tossed the hot, cooked mezze maniche pasta with room temperature chopped tomatoes, capers, olives, anchovies , parsley and mozzarella.  The warmth of the pasta brought out all the flavors in the cool sauce.  Perfect on a hot day.

Pasta in the dish

I had brought a red wine that can be served chilled to go with the pasta but to our disappointment the wine was not good. I asked our host what he had chilled and he said he had one of his favorite with wines.  It was the best Falanghina he ever had and It was the perfect choice.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT Donnachiara made from 100% Falanghina. 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.

 

 

Dessert  was  an  improvised  one.  Sponge  cake  shells  topped  with  Grand Marnier and  orange marmalade marinated  strawberries and freshly whipped cream.

 

With fresh summer produce and good wines, an improvised lunch turned into a feast.

 

 

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Filed under Donna Chiara Winery, Durello, Falanghina, Sparkling wine, Sparkling wine- Druello, Spumante

Italian Summer Sparklers

Any time is a good time for sparkling wines and to me a chilled glass or two seems just right when I am sitting in a garden, at the poolside or even on a picnic.  Here are 10 sparklers from Italy that I have enjoyed recently that cost $25 or less a bottle.  The list includes white, rose and red sparklers and some are made from unusual grape varieties.

 

Prosecco “Rustico” Valdobbiadene Superiore DOCG Nino Franco. 100% Glera (traditionally called Prosecco) from classic production area hillside vineyards situated at medium to high altitude. Pressing, destemming, cooling of the must and fermentation takes place in steel tanks at controlled temperature. Second fermentation is in “cuvee close” (Charmat method). $19

Romeo & Juliet Passione Sentimento Prosecco Brut Treviso DOC Pasqua  made from 100% Glera grapes grown on hillside  vineyards in the Conegliano sub zone of Treviso. The Charmat method is used and the wine stays in the tanks for 60 days instead of the more common 30 days. This produces tiny, more persistent bubbles and a more elegant Prosecco. It has hints of pear and apple and the alcohol is only 11% . $16

Falanghina Beneventano Santè Brut IGT 100% Falanghina. DonnaChiara.  The vineyard is in Torre Cuso, the best location to grow Falanghina.  The soil is volcanic chalky clay.  There are 2,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first week of October.  Fermentation lasts for 40 days. Illaria Petitto, the owner of DonnaChiara, referred to the production method used as the Martinotti method for sparkling wine (The Charmat method, as it is more popularly known, was invented by Federico Martinotti in Asti in the 1920’s).  Refermentation takes place at low temperatures in autoclaves for about 6 months. Then the wine matures on the dregs for another 2 months. The wine had very good bubbles; it was fresh, delicate with floral and citrus aromas and flavors. It was the perfect wine for the appetizers which were very much in the tradition of Campania.

 

Cuvee Aurora Rose Alta Lange 2011 DOC 100% Pinot Noir Banfi Piemonte. The grapes are grown in the hilltop vineyards of the Alta Langa, south of Alba in Piemonte, in a mix of clay and calcareous soil. There is one hour of skin contact and cold maceration, which prepares the grapes for soft crushing. The must is clarified and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The final cuvee consists of 90% clear wine and 10% of the previous vintage wine. The wine is aged in French oak barriques. Fermentation takes place in the bottle (Classic Method). Yeast contact is extended for at least 24 months followed by a traditional hand riddling (remuage) on pupitres and degorgement a la glace. A period of brief aging follows. The wine is pink in color, with small bubbles and hints of strawberry and apple.$25

Durello 36 Riserva Extra Brut Metodo Classico DOC made from 85% Lessini Durello and 15% Pinot Noir Sandro Bruno. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The vineyard is 4 hectares with a southern exposure at 500 meters. The vines are 35 years old. The vineyards are cultivated without the use of pesticides. Manual harvest takes place the 3rd week of September. There is a selection of grapes followed by a soft pressing in a nitrogen saturation at a low temperature. Fermentation is in steel tanks for both grapes. After fermentation the lees will be preserved by performing weekly batonnage for 8 months. Sugars 1g/l  The wine remains on its own yeast for 36 months. It ages in bottle for 6 more months before release. This is an intense wine with mineral aromas. Hints of white flowers, pear, almonds and a note of lemon.$25

Caprettone Spumante Method Classico 100% Caprettone CasaSetaro Production zone Alto Tirone, Vesuvius National Park. The age of the vineyards is 18 to 25 years. They are at 350 meters and the training system is espalier, guyot trained with a few buds per plant. Vinification: maceration at 4C in steel tanks, fermentation for 18 to 24 days, the second fermentation takes place after about six months. The wine remains on the lees for 30 months and remains in bottle for about 12 months before release.  The Caprettone grape is excellent for making spumante method classico because it has very good body and produces a round and elegant wine.$20

Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2010, made from Piedirossa and Sciascinoso. Fermentation with selected yeast takes place in temperature controlled autoclaves.  This is a fizzy red wine that when poured has a lot of foam that quickly disappears in the glass. It is fruity with red fruit aromas and flavors, hints of raspberries and strawberries, and easy to drink. In Naples they often drink sparkling beverages with pizza and Gragnano goes very well with pizza margarita. $16

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.$24

 

 

Vietti Moscato D’Asti “Cascinetta” DOCG 2014 is made from the same grape as Asti Spumante and has many of the same flavors and aromas. It is also low in alcohol around 6%. The difference is that this wine is only slightly sparkling (frizzante) and it is vintage dated while Asti is not. It should be drunk as close to the vintage date as possible. The two wines share the same DOCG $16

Banfi Vigna Regale “Rosa Regale” Spumante Brachetto d’Acqui DOCG 2014 is a sweet wine and it is most famous as a red sparkling wine. Made by the Charmat method. It is made from the Brachetto grape. It has intense berry flavors and aromas, especially strawberry, and goes very well with chocolate and all kinds of chocolate desserts. $20

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Banfi, Caprettone, Casa Setaro, Donna Chiara Winery, Durello, Falanghina, Gragnano, Lambrusco, Moscato d'Asti, Sparkling wine, Sparkling wine- Druello, Spumante

Summer Best of $20 and Under

 

 

No need to spend more than $20 a bottle for good wines like these. Here are the bottles I will be drinking all summer long.

Beneventano Falanghina IGT 2018 DonnaChiara made from 100% Falanghina 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. $16.

Fiano di Avelllino 2017 Sarno 1860 made from 100% Fiano di Avellino. The vineyard is 8 hectares, the exposure is southeast and the training system is guyot. There are 5,500 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place the first two weeks in October by hand. Vinification is in steel at a controlled temperature with indigenous yeasts. The wine is aged for 8 months on the fine lees and four months in bottle before release. This is a wine with hints of citrus fruit, grapefruit, peach and toasted hazelnuts. They only produce Fiano di Avellino. $18

Fiano di Avellino “Radici 2017 ”  DOCG Mastroberardino made from 100% Fiano di Avellino from the 25 acre Santo del Sole vineyard at 1,815 feet with southwest exposure. The soil is sandy-loam. There are 1,600 vines per acre and the training system is guyot. The vineyard was planted in 2001. Harvest takes place the second half of October. Classic white wine vinification in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. The wine has hints of pear, citrus fruit, a hint of pineapple and a touch of almonds. $18

Greco di Tufo 2017 DOCG Petilia made from 100% Greco. The vineyard is at 600 meters and the exposure is south/east. The soil is clay, volcanic, rich in minerals with a sulfurous sub soil. There are 4,000 vines per hectare and the training system is espalier with guyot pruning. The grapes are hand picked the second week of October. There is a soft pressing of the whole grapes and fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in the bottle for 3 to 4 months before release. This is a well-structured and complex wine with hints of citrus fruit, lemon/lime, acacia and quince, a touch of minerality, good acidity and a very pleasing finish and long aftertaste. Greco di Tufo is a wine the can last for 20 years or more. Two weeks ago I had the 2009 and it was wonderful. $19

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

Catalanesca 2018 IGP Tenuta Augustea made from 100% Catalanesca from the Somma Vesuviana zone. The soil is well-structured deep limestone with medium fertile consistency. The exposure is south/east and the vineyards are at 400/500 meters. The average age of the vines is 9/10 years and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place in October. Fermentation is in steel tanks for 30 days at 18C. There is tartaric stabilization and filtration. This is an aromatic wine with hints of citrus fruit, apricot, a note of white flowers and good minerality.  $19

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2017 Michele Alois 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. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18

Umbria IGT Bianco Grechetto 2018  Argillae made from 100% Grechetto. The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before it is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and a typical almond finish. I tasted this wine with a group of friends at the winery and they all really liked it. $18

La Lupinella Trebbiano Toscana IGT 2018 made from 100% Trebbiano. The vineyard is in Sant’Ansano (Vinci). The grapes are carefully selected by hand and a small part, about 2%, is picked from the bunches, set aside and later added during fermentation which takes place in terracotta jars, to intensify the aromatic character of the wine. The wine remains on the lees for a minimum of 6 months without undergoing malolactic fermentation and is aged at least 3 months in the bottle before release. This is a fresh fruity well-balanced wine with hints of peach, white flowers and a touch of almonds. $16

Soave Doc “Scaligeri” 2017 Sandro de Bruno made from 100% Garganega from small plots of land located on the slopes of Monte Calvarina. The vineyard is at 4,000 meters and the average age of the vineyards is 20 years. The training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic. There is manual harvesting using crates, grape sorting, de-stemming, grape selection, then a slow crushing of the grapes and pressing with nitrogen saturation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel. This is a wine with hints of pear, figs, and almonds with good minerality. $17

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglanico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

 

 

 

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Filed under Alois Winery, Argillae Winery, Best of $20 and under, Donna Chiara Winery, Falanghina

Italian Wines $20 and Less for Drinking Any Time

Here are 12 Italian wines I have tried lately priced under $20 that I have enjoyed and you might too.

 

Garganega- Soave DOC 2018 made from 100% Garganega. Sandro De Bruno The production zone is Soave, Roncà-Calvarina. The vineyard is 15 acres at 262 to 452 ft., the exposure is south and the soil is volcanic. There is a manual harvest in small crates during the 3rd week of September. A manual selection takes place followed by a soft press in a nitrogen saturation with a low temperature of 10°C. Before the fermentation, the must is decanted getting rid of the first gross lees. Noble lees are preserved and worked with continuous batonnages for 3 months. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks. The wine has aromas and flavors of citrus fruit, with a hint of white flowers, nice minerality and a touch of peach $14

Gewürztraminer “Classic” Südtirol- Alto Adige DOC 2015 made from 100% Gewürztraminer, Tiefenbrunner. The vineyards are in Kurtatsch and Entiklar on south/southeast facing hills at 260 to 470 meters. The training system is pergola and guyot and there are 3,500 t0 7,000 vines per hectare. The vines are up to 35 years old. The soil is chalk moraine in the hills of Entiklar and alluvial in Kurtatsch. Fermented at a constant temperature at 20C in stainless steel tanks. Maturation is on the fine lees for 4 months in stainless steel tanks and concrete. The wine has hints of ripe grapes, candied fruits, a hint of honey and a touch of spice and sage. $18

Pallagrello Bianco “Caiati” 2015 Michele Alois 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. The wine has hints of almonds, citrus fruit, melon and grapefruit with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. $18

Falanghina Beneventano 2018 DOC 100% Falanghina. Campania, Italy Donnachiara  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.  I first had this wine at the winery. $17

KATÁ IGP Catalanesca Del Mount Somma 100% Catalanesca. Cantine Olivella The grapes are carefully selected and hand harvested in the first half of October.  Fermentation and maturation is with natural yeast and takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. The refining process “sur lie” (lees contact starts in stainless steel and ends in the bottle after a three month period. The wine has very nice citrus aromas and flavors, with hints of apricot, cantaloupe and acidity. There is a mineral aspect to the wine, which may come from the volcanic soil. $18

Ippolito 1845, “Pecorello” Calabria Bianco IGT 2018 Ippolito made from 100% Pecorello Bianco.  Pecorello means little sheep. It is an ancient grape variety of Calabria and was almost extinct until Ippolito began producing it again. Manual harvest takes place in early September, then cold settling and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks until the end of January. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with notes of peach and pear and nice minerality $19

Umbria IGT Bianco Grechetto 2018  Argillae made from 100% Grechetto The training system is guyot, there are 4,000 vines per hectare and the harvest takes place in September. After a careful selection in the vineyards, cold maceration takes place. There is a brief pressing and the juice is racked and fermented in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains on the lees in stainless steel tanks before the wine is bottled in February/March. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of jasmine, good acidity and a typical almond finish. I tasted this wine with a group of friends at the winery and they all really liked it. $18

 

Irpinia Rosato DOC 2018 “Vela Vento Vulcano” made from 100% Aglanico Tenuta Cavalier Pepe. The estate vineyards are in the hills of Luogosano and Sant’Angelo all’Esca at 350 meters. The soil is claylike and chalky. The grapes are hand picked, destemmed and undergo an initial cold maceration. After a few hours of skin contact, the grapes are pressed and the must ferments at a low temperature. The wine matures in bottle until release. This is an easy drinking fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of raspberries. I visited the winery in February and was very impressed with all of the wines.$18

Primitivo Salento “Mezzapezza” 2016 Trullo di Pezza made from 100% Primitivo from vines 20 to 30 years old at 5 meters. The soil is sandy clay, south exposure and the training system is Espalier. Harvest is manual. Fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel vats with maceration for 8 to 10 days. The wine is aged in stainless steel for 5 months and 1 month in bottle before release. This is a fresh intense fruity wine with hints of cherry, plum, and a touch of spice.$17

Montefalco Rosso 2016 Bocale made from 70% Sangiovese, 15% Sagrantino, 10% Merlot and 5% Colorino. Harvest takes place by hand from the last ten days of September to early October. Vinification is exclusively with natural enzymes. The wine does not undergo any kind of stabilization or filtration. The presence of sediment should be considered a guarantee of authenticity. The wine is aged in barrels and barriques for about 12 months and aged in bottle for at least 6 months before release. This is a balanced wine with hints of cherry, violets and floral scents and a touch of spice. $19

Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG “Garabei” 2017  Giovanni Abrigo made from 100% Dolcetto planted in 1968. The estate is situated on a hill in Diano d’Alba at a high altitude. They own 11 hectares of vineyards. The soil is sandy with a lot of gravel. The juice is fermented naturally on the skins for 8 days in stainless steel tanks. After racking the wine is aged for 12 months in stainless steel and spends 4 more months in bottle before release. The wines are not filtered or fined. Sustainable farming methods are used. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries. $16

Irpinia Aglianico DOC 2015 Tenuta Del Mariggio made from 100% Aglianico from estate vineyards located in Montemiletto at 500 meters and in Taurasi at 300 meters. The vineyards were planted between 2003 and 2012. There are 4,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place at the end of October and the beginning of September. This is a wine with red and blackberry flavors and a hint of spice and should be drunk within the next 5 years.$16

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Alois Winery, Argillae Winery, Cavalier Pepe, De Bruno, Donna Chiara Winery, Gewurztraminer, Ippolito winery, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Kata, Soave, Uncategorized

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