Category Archives: Gragnano

On Wine, Pizza and the Princess in Naples

 

In February, I received an invitation from an acquaintance to try a new restaurant in New York. But since I was in Naples, Italy, I responded that I could not attend. “In that case,” came the reply, “you must visit the Pizzeria Concettina ai Tre Santi. My mother, the princess, owns the building and lives upstairs.” It sounded like a great invitation but unfortunately my schedule was set and we were leaving Naples shortly so I had to decline.

I had an appointment to meet with winery owners Gilda Guida and her husband Salvatore Martusciello.

I met Gilda last year on the Campania Stories tour for journalists.

Gilda Guida

At the Pizzeria Parule in Ercolano I drank the best Gragnano, which I consider the perfect pizza wine, that I have had. Gilda told me it was her and her husbands’ wine.  Salvatore had 26 years of experience in his family winery before going out on his own. His family’s was the first winery to produce sparkling wine in Campania over 30 years ago.  Their winery is in Quarto. We had a long conversation about wine and pizza and she had invited me to visit.

Salvatore in the Vineyard

Gilda and Salvatore picked us up in front of our hotel and drove us to see one of their vineyards located on a high hill in Gragnano with great views.

Salvatore said the training system is the spalliera. He said he does not own any vineyards but has arrangements with a number of small vineyard owners in the area. All of the arrangements are based on a handshake, he said. Salvatore showed us around the vineyard pointing out where the different grapes were grown. He spoke very enthusiastically about the terroir, the native grapes and this part of Campania in particular.

After we visited the vineyard, Gilda and Salvatore suggested we go for pizza to what they consider the best pizzeria in Naples right now. To my surprise, it was Concettina ai Tre Santi (S.Antonio, S.Anna and S. Alfonso) the same place my New York contact had recommended. I could not believe the coincidence! We called the Principessa who graciously came down to meet us and took us on a tour of her grand apartments.

Ciro  at the Wood Burning Oven

At the restaurant, we met the pizzaiolo/owner Ciro Oliva who is only 24 years old. The pizzeria is not in the best part of Naples,Via Arena della Sanità 7, but Ciro has become famous because of his great pizza and his charity work for the children and needy people in his neighborhood. The place is always crowded.

Ciro brought out a succession of fritti, fried appetizers, including little fried pizzette with different toppings,

little rice balls filled with cabbage and cheese, fried pasta and fried polenta. With them we drank Salvatore’s Trentapioli Spumante Brut Asprinino d’Aversa. It was an excellent combination.

“Trentapioli “Spumante Brut Asprinino d’Aversa 2015 (Metodo Martinotti Brut) Made from 100% Asprinio d’Aversa from the tree-lined historic vineyard in the town of Casapesenna, in the Agro Aversano. The name of the wine Trentapioli comes from the thirty pegs of the ladder used to climb up to harvest the grapes

The vines are typical Alberata Aversana. In the Alberata training system, which dates back to the Etruscans, the vines grow up to 18 meters tall and are tied to tall poplar trees. The harvest is manual because ladders up to 20 meters high are used in order to reach the grapes.  The grapes are placed in 18kg boxes. The soil is alluvial, volcanic and of medium texture. After crushing, the must is immediately separated from the skins and placed in an autoclave for a second fermentation. The wine is matured on its lees in an autoclave for about 90 days and was bottled on December 3. The wine has nice citrus fruit aromas and flavors with a hint of lime, herbs and good acidity. The wine can age for 5 to 6 years.

Then Ciro made a number of pizzas for us to share using local cheeses, vegetables and meats.

With the pizza we drank Salvatore and Gilda’s Ottouve Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentino 2015. This is a slightly frizzante red wine which Salvatore likes to describe as vivace (lively). It was good as I remember it from last year.

Ottouve Gragnano della Penisola Sorrentina DOC Made from 60% Piedrosso, Aglianico, Sciascinoso and 40%, Suppezza, Castagnara, Serbegna, Olivella and Sauca. That is why the wine is called eight grapes. Salvatore said it was a tribute to the lesser known grapes of the area. The training system is espalier.

The vineyard is at 300 meters. For 2015 the harvest began on September 24th and ended on October 8th. The grapes were hand harvested into boxes of 20kg. After destemming and crushing, maceration with the skins lasts for 5 days, soft pressing of the grapes in a pneumatic press  and fermentation in temperature controlled tanks at about 20C

The 2015 vintage was bottled on December 1st. The wine should be served chilled and should be drunk within two years after it was bottled. This is the perfect pizza wine but it also goes with many other southern Italian dishes. It is only 11.5% alcohol. This is a  wine with light foam when poured, hints of strawberry, red currants and a hint of spice.

 Salvatore also produces :

Settevulcani Falanghina dei Campi Flegrei DOC

Settevulcani Piedirosso dei Campo Flegrei DOC

Ottonove Lettere della Penisola Sorrentina DOC

 After having a very enjoyable time, making new friends, sightseeing, eating pizza and drinking wine, we did not have enough time to taste these wines.  I guess I will just have to return again.  But Salvatore and Gilda had one more surprise for us. They took us to visit their vineyard in the Campi Flegrei called Foglie di Amaltea.  It overlooks a large volcanic lake though they do not currently produce grapes there.

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Filed under Asprinio d'Aversa, Cantina Salvatore Martusiello, Ciro Oliva, Concettina ai Tre Santi, Gragnano, Gragnano OttoUve, Otto Uva

CAMPANIA STORIES: PIZZA NAPOLETANA AT LE PARÙLE

Ristorante and Pizzeria le, Parùle www.leparule.it in Herculaneum, modern day Ercolano, near Naples, has a great reputation. It had been recommended by a friend, Marina Alaimo, wine and food writer, who knows it well, and I read about it on Luciano Pignataro’s blog, www.lucianopignataro.it.  I had wanted to try it when I was in the area in February but even though it is just a short train ride from Naples, I did not have time to go.IMG_0070

Last month, I was invited once again to the area by Campania Stories to taste the wines of the principle  zones of Campania, visit the wineries and have dinner with the winemakers at night. To my surprise and delight, one of the restaurants where we were scheduled to dine was Le Parùle. The name means vegetable garden in Neapolitan dialect.

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa

Giuseppe Pignalosa is the owner/chef/pizzaiolo and is very serious about his food, especially pizza. He insists on using only the best ingredients from the Mont Vesuvio region. Even though we were a very large group at dinner, Giuseppe made all of the pizza himself.

Giuseppe at work

Giuseppe at work

La Pizza

I sampled 4 pizzas. This is how they were listed on the menu:

Margherita:IMG_0063

Antichi pomodori di Napoli, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergine d’oliva del Vesuvio “Villa Dora”

Scarolella:IMG_0067

Scarola (indivia) del Vesuvio, fior di latte del Monti Lattari, alici di Cetara, olive nere del Vesuvio, capperi di Salina, olio extravergine d’olio D. O. P. “Colline Salernitane di Torretta”, granella di nocciole.

Primavera:IMG_0073

Fave e germogli del Vesuvio, ricotta salata, pancetta, fior di latte dei Monti Lattari, olio extravergina d’oliva “Goccio di Natura” del Benevento az. agr. D’ Assisi

Montanara (pizza fritta):IMG_0076

Pomodorino del piennolo del Vesuvio, mozzarella di bufala Campana D. O. P., olio extravergine d’oliva del Cilento D.O.P. “Monzo” of Pietra BiancaIMG_0081

We also had fried pasta balls and potato croquettes.IMG_0143

Among the wines I tasted and drank was the Gragnano 2015 “Otto uve” Penisola Sorrentina from Salvatore Martusciello. It is made from Aglianico, Piedirosso and Sciascinoso. This is a red sparkling wine that is a favorite in the Naples area with pizza.

Le Parùle alone is worth the trip, but to make a day of it, next time I will combine it with a tour of the ancient Roman city Herculanum destroyed by the famous eruption of Mont Vesuvio on August 24th 79 AD.

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Filed under Giuseppe Pignalosa, Gragnano, Gragnano OttoUve, Le Parule, Pizza, Pizza Restaurants

Wine Dinner at the Westchester Italian Cultural Center

IMG_5842

Louis Coluccio at Work

One of the things I enjoy most about the Italian wine dinners I host at The Westchester Italian Cultural Center in Tuckahoe, NY is the opportunity to work with my friend Louis Coluccio, the proprietor of A.L.C. Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Louis prepares the delicious food and I match it with the right wine. For our most recent event, we discussed the food and I selected some of my favorite wines from Campania.

The WinesIMG_5834

Monte di Grazia Bianco IGT 2012, made from the following local grapes: Pepella has only a few large grapes on the bunch, the rest being the size of peppercorns, though they all ripen at the same time. Ginestra, the name comes from the yellow-green color, which is similar in color to the gorse flower. Bianca Tenera (Biancolella) a local white grape. The wine has hints of citrus with undertones of pear and almond, a very nice mineral character and good acidity. It is fermented and aged in stainless steel tanks. $20  This was served with a Raw Kale Salad with Roasted Vegetables.IMG_5835

DonnaChiara Greco di Tufo 2012 DOCG, 100% Greco di Tufo. The soil is tuffaceious and the training system is espallier. There are 3,300 plants per hectare and the harvest takes place during the second week of October. The grapes are not destemmed or crushed prior to pressing and there is cold fermentation with extended maceration. No oak is used. This is a wine that needs at least 5 or 6 years of bottle age before it is ready to drink. It has nice citrus aromas and flavors, a hint of smoke and a touch of almonds in the finish and aftertaste. $18  With this we had Crostini with Eggplant Caponata.IMG_5838

 Cantina Federiciane Montelone di Napoli Gragnano DOC Sorrento Peninsula 2013, made from Piedirosso 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. Sciascinoso, also know as Olivella, is used as a blending grape. The clusters and berries are large and it is a late ripener. I do not believe that I have ever tasted a wine made from 100% Sciascinoso. $16IMG_5839

This was served with Assorted Imported Salami & Fresh Figs.IMG_5837

Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2012, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape. It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort. The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice, a long finish and nice aftertaste. The wine should be drunk young. It goes extremely well with dishes made with tomato sauce. It is a steal at $16.IMG_5840

This was served with the Pasta with Pesto Arugula and Cherry Tomatoes.IMG_5836

Az. Agr. Monte de Grazie Biological Winery Rosso 2008 The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti grown almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Teinturier family. Teinturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red. This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine. This wine has aging potential. $30. We ended with an Assorted Cheese Board which included ricotta salata, aged provolone, and other Italian cheeses.

 

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Filed under A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Gragnano, Greco di Tufo, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Louis Coluccio, Monte de Grazia Winery, Monte de Grazie Winery, Piedirosso, Tintore di Tramonti, Westchester Italian Cultural Center

Unique Red Grapes From Campania

Campania has a few unique red grapes that are not very well known. Along with the white wines of Campania that I tasted last week at SD26 in NYC with Franco Bengazi and Marco Melzi from the Wine Emporium, there were three red wines.   One of them I discovered when I went to visit the winery in Tramonti, high above the Amalfi Coast. Another, also from Tramonti, I first tasted at a restaurant nearby and the third I discovered many years ago when I was in Naples and needed a red wine to drink with pizza.IMG_2652

The wines

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. Marco said it is the authentic companion to all Neapolitan street food. $16

Sciascinoso, also know as Olivella, is used as a blending grape. The clusters and berries are large and it is a late ripener. I do not believe that I have ever tasted a wine made from 100% Sciascinoso.IMG_2654
Az. Agr. Apicella Colli di Salerno Piedirosso IGT 2011, made from 85% Piedirosso from ungrafted vines and 15% other red grapes. There are 3,000 vines per hectare and the training system is mostly pergola. Harvest takes place the third week of October. The stalks are removed and the grapes are pressed. Temperature controlled fermentation in stainless steel tanks for 10 to 12 days. Piedirosso is used mostly as a blending grape.  (It is one of the grapes in the blend for Lacryma Chrisit del Vesuvio.) It is difficult to find wine made from 100% Piedirosso but worth the effort.
The wine has fresh red fruit flavors and aromas with hints of black pepper and spice a long finish and nice after taste. The wine should be drunk young. It goes extremely well with dishes made with tomato sauce. It is a steal at $15

The Brasciole at SD26

The Brasciole at SD26

“The name (Piedirosso) translates as “red foot” and the grape is also known as Palombina or Pre’e Palummo meaning respectively little dove and dove’s foot in dialect, the latter because of its red-colored triple-branched stem like a three-taloned bird’s foot”, according to Nicholas Belfage in Brunello to Zibibbo.

Piedirosso is an ancient black skinned grape that does well in volcanic soil. It may be identical to the Colombina, the grape that Pliny the Elder d.79AD mentions in his Natural History.

Az. Agr. Monte de Grazie Biological Winery Rosso 2008IMG_2657
The wine is made from 90% Tintore di Tramonti from very old ungrafted vines and 10% Piedirosso. The Tintore di Tramonti gowns almost exclusively in the Monte Lattari Valley. The grape is harvested at the end of September, which makes it an early ripener for this area. This indigenous red grape variety belongs to the Tienturier family. Tienturier means dyed or stained in French. The flesh and the juice of these grapes are red in color. The anthocyanin pigments accumulate in the grape berry itself. The free run juice is therefore red.
This is a complex wine with earthly aromas, red fruit and a slight hint of black pepper and spice with good acidity that makes it a very good food wine. This wine has ageing potential. I had the 2009 with the owner of the winery, Dr. Alfonso Arpino, on the Amalfi coast last year and it may be the best wine he has made so far! $28.

SEE MICHELE AND I ON I-ITALYTV WNYC CHANNEL 25 SATURDAY AT 11PM AND SUNDAY AT 1PM.

 

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Filed under Amalifi Coast, Az. Agr. Apicella, campania, Cantina Federiciane, Gragnano, Italian Red Wine, Italian Wine, Monte de Grazie Winery, Naples, Piedirosso, Pizza and Wine, Sciascinoso, Sparkling wine, Tintore di Tramonti