Category Archives: Falanghina

Dreaming Of Napoli

Over the last few years every time we were in Naples Michele wanted to have lunch at Mimi alla Ferrovia, a well known restaurant. On our last day in Naples in February of 2020, we finally got there.

The waiter recited the specials and I heard pasta with ricci di mare (sea urchins), I knew what I wanted.  It was excellent.

Recently we visited the friend that was with us on that trip and he suggested that we make pasta with ricci di mare.  We decided to make a lunch that was a tribute to Procida, the tiny island off Naples that Michele’s family comes from, which recently named Italy’s Capitol of Culture for the next year.

IMG_4578We started with crostini covered with homemade roasted red peppers and anchovies.

IMG_4576Champagne Empreintes 2012 Extra Brut Laherte Frere made from 50% Chardonnay from vines in Les Chemins d’Epernay which were planted in 1957 and 50% Pinot Noir from vines in Les Rouges  Maisons planted in 1983. Multiple parcels with varied exposure. Les Chemins d’Epernay has clay soil with a silt stratum in surface and a chalky subsoil. Rouges Maisons has a deep clay topsoil with flint, schist and a chalk subsoil. The vineyards are farmed organically, sometime by horse. Hand harvesting takes place when grapes are fully ripe. Traditional pressing. Natural alcoholic fermentation in barrels from Burgundy aged for a minimum of 10 years. There is no malolactic fermentation. Six months of barrel aging with regular stirring of the lees. Disgorged by hand 01/2018 with a 3 gr/l dosage. It has hints of yellow plums, citrus fruit, peaches, good minerality, a touch of pepper and a note of spice.

IMG_4581Here are the sea urchins, which we were able to purchase removed from their shells.

IMG_4585Spaghetti with sea urchin, garlic, tomatoes and parsley Procida-style. Ready to be served

IMG_4591The spaghetti on the plate, topped with more sea urchin.

IMG_4605Beneventano Falanghina 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. It is one of my favorite white wines and my friend, who enjoys it too, always has some chilled and ready to drink. It was a perfect combination with the ricci di mare.

IMG_4562Broccoli rape on the stove

IMG_4598For our main course, we had Rabbit alla Cacciatore, Procida-style.  The tomato sauce was flavored with rosemary and garlic.

IMG_4600We ate the broccoli rabe with the rabbit.

IMG_4573Bramaterra Riserva 1996 Tenuta Monolo. Bramaterra is in the Alto Piemonte well north of Barolo. Made from 60% Nebbiolo, 20% Croatina, 20% Vesoplin10% and 10% Uva Rara. The vines were planted in 1970. There are 0.75 hectares of vineyards and the farming was organic. Exposure is northeast/southeast; there are 3,200 vines/hectare at 290 meters. The training system is guyot. The soil is deep and light, copper sands, with a high level of acidity with potassium, iron and manganese. Harvest is manual. Fermentation was in large wooden barrels (botti) with native yeast The wine is aged in botti for two years. The wine is classic Bramaterra. The wine has hints of cherry, spice, cinnamon, a touch of dried fruit and a note of nutmeg. The last vintage was in 2004. The wines can still be found on line going back to 1982

IMG_4601For dessert, we ventured to Sicily for some Cannoli from a nearby bakery.

IMG_4604Dessert wine Zibibbo Sicilia IGT Vino Liquoroso made from the Zibibbo grape Carlo Pellegrino. This bottle was given to my friend a number of years ago. I believe they still make the wine but the label is different and I am not sure it is now vinified in the same way.  The  wine was golden in color with subtle hints of citrus fruits, orange blossoms, peaches, a touch of honey and brioche. It was a pleasure to drink and a great way to end a wonderful lunch.

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Filed under Bramaterra, Champagne, Falanghina, Laherte Freres Champagne 2012

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.

IMG_4148

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

The Start of a Celebration

To celebrate the start of my birthday week,  Michele made some of my favorite foods.


We had homemade blueberry muffins with cappuccino

It was such a beautiful morning, we had breakfast on the terrace, which we are able to use after 22 months of construction.

For lunch we had two of my favorite Roman foods.

Fried zucchini flowers stuffed with anchovies and mozzarella.

Zucchini flowers deep fries and ready to eat- we ate them all

Pasta  alla  Checca  —  Ditalini  pasta  with  fresh  tomatoes,  mozzarella  and  basil.

 

With our meal we drank a falanghina, a wine that we often enjoy in Rome.

 

Falanghina del Sarnnio DOP 2018 made from 1oo% Falanghina Fontana Vecchia The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third part of September. There is a direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. It has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime with a touch of green apple.

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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

Falanghina and Calamari – Burgundy and Quail

Several years ago in Napoli, Michele had a pasta with a calamari sauce served with calamari shaped pasta.  It’s not an easy pasta shape to come by, so when she saw a bag in an Italian market, she bought it.  This weekend she made her version of the dish.

Calamari  in  Cherry  Tomato  Sauce

It’s a very simple recipe.  Oil, garlic, parsley, a little peperoncino then a can of cherry tomatoes and a little water.  Simmer until thickened. 

Calamari  shaped  pasta  was  nice  and  chewy.  We  ate  the  pasta  with  a Falanghina.

 

Falanghina del Sarnnio DOP 2018 made from 1oo% Falanghina Fontana Vecchia The vineyard is at 350 meters and the soil is argillaceous with lime rich marlstone outcrops. The training system is guyot and harvest is the third part of September. There is a direct pressing of the grapes at a controlled temperature. Fermentation lasts for 7 days. The wine is aged in steel before it is bottled. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, lemon, lime with a touch of green apple.

A friend came by for dinner on Sunday.  Michele made a favorite summer salad, Green Beans with Potatoes, Red Onion Oregano and Capers. 

With the salad we had Grilled Quail  Marinated  with  Lemon  and  Herbs.

Quail

Chambolle Musigny 2005 Nicolas Petel made from 100% Pinot Noir . There is a selection of grapes to eliminate unwanted grapes and to evaluate precisely the quality of the harvest. They taste the cuvees twice or three times a day to follow their aromatic evolution. The grapes are softly pressed in a vertical wine press and the liquid is allowed to settle before going in to the barrels. With a minimum of interference the must is left to settle for 12 to 16 months on the lees without racking and a minimum of SO2. There is a late malolactic fermentation. The wine is drawn off just before racking and blended in vats so it will have the same uniformity in the barrel. Old fashion racking where the wine is drawn off by the Broquereau where the opening is at the end of the barrel by a funnel. The wine “moves” without the aid of a pumps.  The wine is separated from the lees and this is important for the non filtration. They follow the biodynamic calendar. The wine has hints of cherry and raspberry with a touch of violets and a note of licorice.

Dessert was a platter of watermelon and cherries, refreshing on a hot summer day.

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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

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