Category Archives: Lambrusco

Perfect Combination: Pizza and Wine

I can’t imagine eating a pizza without accompanying it with a good bottle of Italian wine. Until the Covid virus came along, I was a member of a group that met once a month to drink Italian wine and eat pizza. Our conversations would focus on the best pizza and wine combinations, which wines were complemented by which pizzas, the latest wine vintages, and the latest doings at some of our favorite pizzerias.

I hope one day soon we will be able to resume our regular meetings, but even without my pizza and wine lovers group, I continue to indulge my passion for pizza and wine. I frequent a number of pizza restaurants, including Keste Pizza and Vino, Ribalta, and Norma Gastronomia Siciliana in Manhattan, and Sottocasa in Brooklyn. Not only do they make great pizza, but each has a list of wines I enjoy exploring.

Here are some of the wine and pizza matches I have enjoyed recently.

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Sauvignon Blanc Friuli DOC 2019 Pighin (Friuli-Venezia Giulia) made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc. Because of the sandy subsoil, the roots of the vines go down deep resulting in richer fruit. Training system is single guyot with 4,000 vines per hectare. These hand picked selected grapes of optimum ripeness are  gently pressed in a pneumatic press immediately after the harvest. This is followed by a 14 to 18 day cold fermentation in stainless steel tanks. The wine is produced without malolactic fermentation or oak aging so it is a true expression of the Sauvignon Blanc grape. This is a dry wine that has hints of citrus, sage, tomato leaf and yellow bell  pepper.

IMG_5446 Pizza Zucchini  – Topped with walnut cream, zucchini, smoked provolone and extra virgin olive oil.  The fresh citrus, sage and vegetable flavors of the wine complemented the nutty, smoky and cheesy topping.

IMG_5792Chianti Classico Riserva DOCG 2018 made from 100% Sangiovese Tenuta Di Nozzole (Tuscany). The vineyards are at 300 meters. The yields are kept low to obtain concentration and complexity in the wine. The grapes are hand harvested, destemmed and crushed. Fermentation takes place on the skins  in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and maceration lasts 15 to 20 days. The wine is racked into stainless steel tanks for malolactic fermentation. It is then aged for 24 months in large Slavonian oak vats followed by a minimum of 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of red fruit, cherries, a touch of violets and a note of what my wife calls “sunshine on the Tuscan pines.” This is a traditional, classic Chianti  from the Folonari family.

IMG_5444 3Pizza Margherita — the simplest and the best pizza in my opinion is a pizza Margherita, topped with fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, basil and a final drizzle of olive oil.  The quality of its Margherita is the true test of any pizzeria.  The fragrance and richness of the fruit and the warmth of this traditional wine makes it a perfect combination with Pizza Margherita.  

IMG_5794Barbera Nizza “Cipressi” DOCG 2018 Made from 100% Barbera, Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont). The grapes are grown in a type of soil called “astiane sand.” It consists of  calcareous clay marl of sedimentary marine origin, with a good presence of lime and sand, rich in micro elements, in particular magnesium. The exposure is southeast to southwest at 230 to 280 meters. The training system is guyot and low spurred cordon. There are 5,000 vines per hectare and the harvest is manual. Vinification is in steel tanks with 10/12 days maceration with the skins with a soft “shower” system of wetting the cap. Malolactic fermentation is in steel. The wine is aged for a minimum of 18 months of which 12 are in large oak casks. The wine has hints of mature cherry, violets, blackberries, raspberries and a touch of sweet spice with good acidity which makes it a very good wine with food.

IMG_5373 2Pizza  with Sausage, Mozzarella, Onion and Peppers — Barbera is my first choice for this pizza because the hearty combination of toppings are enhanced by the wine’s fruit flavor and good acidity.  

 

IMG_5789Pinot Nero Rosé Umbria IGT 2020 Made from 100% Pinot Nero Tenuta Di Salviano. Made from a single vineyard located on the right bank of Lake Corbara in Umbria at 1,640 ft. The soil is calcareous-clayey. The farming is organic. The manual harvest starts in late August and only select bunches are chosen. Destemming does not take place so the grapes are pressed quickly. Fermentation is in steel tanks at a low temperature and then the wine spends 6 months on the lees. This is a fresh, fragrant, delicate and fruity wine with hints of red fruit, strawberry, cherry, a touch of citrus and good acidity.  The estate is owned by the Incisa della Rocchetta Family, producers of Sassicaia.

IMG_5569Foccacia — Topped with rosemary, coarse salt and extra virgin olive oil, a focaccia, while not exactly a pizza, is a close relation. With it’s simple clear flavors, I like to serve it with this delicate, fruity rose’, and perhaps some cold cuts as a starter or a snack.  

IMG_5795Reggiano Lambrusco NV “Concerto”  2019 Medici Ermette (Produced at Tenuta La Rampata in  Modena) Red wine, dry and lightly sparkling and fermented naturally. Made from 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.  The training system is cordon speronato and the soil is clayey. The wine is certified organic. It has hints of red fruit, strawberry, raspberry and cherry.  The wine is dry and fruity with a clean finish and pleasing aftertaste. Concerto is the world’s first single vineyard vintage Lambrusco.  It is served lightly chilled.

IMG_5442Summer Pizza–Mozzarella, prosciutto, whole grape tomatoes, basil and extra virgin olive oil, top this light and fresh pie and make a perfect combination with the lively, cool flavors of the Lambrusco.  The slightly salty flavor of prosciutto di Parma enhances the combination.

I hope you will enjoy these pizza and wine combinations. 

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Filed under Barbera d'Asti, Chianti Classico, Cipressi Nizza, Lambrusco, Nozzole CCR, Pighin, Pizza, Pizza and Wine, Salviano PR Rose, Sauvignon Blanc

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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Colavita Products and Panebianco Wines at The Leopard at des Artistes

Colavita and Panebianco Wines brought their products together for a luncheon at The Leopard at des Artistes in NYC.

The speakers were Giovanni Colavita, CEO and President of Colavita USA, and Nunzio Castaldo, President of Panebianco Wines.

Giovanni Colavita

Giovanni spoke about Colavita’s investment for joint ownership of Panebianco wines. Castaldo will be CEO of Panebianco, which is based in NYC, and Giovanni will coordinate the US-based partnership with him. Giovanni is also based in NYC.

Giovanni told us that the Colavita Company was founded in 1938 in a small village in the Italian region of Molise. Here Giovanni and Felice Colavita established a small olive mill, which developed into one of the top ten olive refiners in Italy. As the company expanded they began importing olive oil to the U.S. Later they looked to new products such as balsamic vinegar and vegetables preserved in olive oil. More space was needed as the company expanded they and opened a facility in Pomezia outside of Rome for packaging the oils. It is the second largest facility in Italy in terms of production and storage.

Paolo

Paolo Colavita

In 2001 they inaugurated the Colavita Center for Italian Food and Wine, within the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, NY. The increasing growth of the company enabled them to purchase a new facility in California for distribution in the U.S. Giovanni is very proud that Colavita is still a family owned and operated company.

 

Also at the tasting was Paolo Colavita, Vice President of California operations, Colavita USA. I enjoyed speaking to him before the tasting about olive oil, Italy, New York and California. He said that Colavita extra virgin olive oil, Italian pasta, and Italian vinegar is distributed in over 80 countries.

We started with a blind olive oil tasting conducted by Chef Ken Arnone, Colavita’s Certified Master Chef. The three olive oils were served in blue colored glasses so that we would not be influenced by their color.

Chef Ken Arnone

Tasting Olive Oil

We were advised to cup a glass in one hand to warm it and cover it with the other to trap the aromas inside. Hold it, swirl it and warm it up for a minute or two. The chef said that the aromas of olive oil could be both vegetative and fruity, typically artichokes, herbs, grass etc. On the palate we should taste bitterness, pepper, nutty and buttery flavors.

He said that bitterness is a characteristic of olive oil depending on the ripeness of the olives.

The Olive Oil

Giovanni said that Colavita purchases all of their olives.

Colavita Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil — the oil is cold pressed using Koro and Kalamata olives grown and harvested in Crete and Sparta.

Colavita California Extra Virgin Olive Oil — the oil is cold pressed using olives grown and harvested in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys in California.

Colavita Premium Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil the oil is cold pressed in Italy using olives grown and harvested from the best regions of Italy. Certified OU kosher, cholesterol and carbohydrate free. Cermet seal certification guarantees -100% Italian. This was the oil I liked the best.

The Wines

Nunzio Castaldo

Nunzio Castaldo spoke about the Panebianco wines. I have know Nunzio for over 30 years and have great respect for his knowledge of Italian wine and the Panebianco portfolio.

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.

With the Lambrusco we had Tuna Crostini with celery, lemon and basil and Trucchetti pasta with arugula pesto.

Furore Bianco 2018 Marisa Cuomo made from 60% Falanghina and 40% Biancolella (Campania) Coastal terraces set at 200/550 meters, the exposure is south-westerly and the soil is Dolomitic-limestone rock. Training system is pergola and/or atypical radial espalier. There are 5,000/7,000 plants per hectare. Harvest takes place the first 10 days of October by hand. Whole grapes are destemmed, crushed and soft pressed. The free-run must, which undergoes cold static fining, is inoculated with select yeasts, and fermentation is at a controlled temperature. The wine spends 4 months in stainless steel tanks. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, a touch of lemon and acidic notes. This is one of my favorite wines.

3 hour Poached Octopus with roasted baby potatoes, oven dried tomatoes, Cerignola olives, Colavita Extra Virgin Greek Olive Oil and Colavita 20 Star Balsamic Vinegar.

Capo di Stato 2013 Venegazzu Loredan Gasparini made from 65% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc and 5% Merlot from a historic 100 plant vineyard (Veneto). The vineyard is at 37o meters and the winery is north of Venice. The first vintage was 1964. Many heads of state liked this wine, in particular the French President Charles de Gaul, and so it is called “Head of State” in his honor. This is a well-structured wine with hints of ripe fruit, blueberries and blackberries with a touch of spice and hazelnuts. It has a long finish with a note of licorice.

The next course was Porchetta Spiced Pork Tenderloin with stuffed escarole, gigante beans, and pork jus.

Recioto della Valpolicella 2012 Venturini made from 70% Corvina Veronese, 25% Rondinella and 5% Molinara (Veneto). Vineyard is at 200 meters, the exposure is southwest and the soil is very light limestone rich in fossils. The age of the vines is 20 years and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is in the third week of September and there is manual picking and sorting. The grapes are put on trays and dry in a special room, well ventilated until February. The grapes lose 50% of their weight. Traditional pressing keeping the grapes in bunches and fermentation at a controlled temperature. Maceration for 30 days with daily remontage. The wine is transferred into stainless steel wine jars. There is frequent decanting to retain most of the residual sugar. The wine remains in bottle for six months before release. This is a dessert wine with hints of blueberries and blackberries, and a touch of prune and licorice.

Even our dessert was made with olive oil. Plum and Arbequina Olive Oil Semifreddo, Orange Pistachio Biscotti.

Chef Ken Arnone prepared the food.

 

 

 

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Filed under Capo di Stato, Colavita, Furore, Lambrusco, Panebianco, Recioto, Uncategorized

Sparking Dry Lambrusco with Italian Sausages

Michele and I were invited to a friend’s house for pork sausages on the grill and I offered to bring the wine. I was looking for a light red wine to bring when I came across a bottle of sparkling dry Lambrusco. What could be better on a hot day?  It should be served chilled, the bubbles cut the rich food and the wine has only 11.5% alcohol.IMG_3387

The bottle I chose was the Lambrusco “Ottocentonero” from Albinea Canali made from 50% Lambrusco Salamino, 40% Lambrusco Grasparossa and 10% Lancellotta. The pressing of the grapes is followed by maceration at low temperatures for 3/4 days. After racking the juice completes its fermentation in pressurized temperature controlled vats to develop  its natural sparkle.IMG_3390

This is a wine with rich berry flavors and aromas, easy to drink and a great combination with the spicy sausages.

 

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