Category Archives: Pecorino

Pecorino, Cerasuolo & Montepulciano at Tenuta I Fauri

On our recent press trip to the Abruzzo Region of Italy, we visited a number of wineries that produced excellent wines.

At Tenuta I Fauri, we were greeted by Valentina Di Camillo, a member of the family that owns the winery, and the Managing Director.

Valentina at the Grand Tasting Dei Vini D’Abruzzo

The winery is located in the small town of Ari in the center of the province of Chieri, among the hills that drop down from the Maiella Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.

The vineyards are at 250 meters and the vine training system  is tendone

Valentina said she and her brother Luigi, the winemaker, inherited their passion for making wine from their father Domenico. Tenuta I Fauri is not just a brand name but represents a family dedicated to wine production for many years.

Valentina said the cellar in not very photogenic because of the old cement tanks, used by her grandfather Luigi, which have been carefully restored and preserved so they can be used once again.  There are also new stainless steel fermenters and a few wooden barrels.

Valentina had prepared a selection of foods to taste with the wine,

among them fresh fruits and vegetables.

Abruzzo Pecorino DOC 2017 made from 100% Pecorino. The soil is clay calcareous and the training and pruning methods are tendone, single curtain/rows (spur training). There are 1,600/3,000 vines per hectare. Static decanting of the must takes place, followed by a soft pressing. Fermentation is in stainless steel at a controlled temperature and the wine is aged in stainless steel. The wine is bottled at the end of February. The wine has hints of apple and honey and a touch of mint.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC “Baldovino (Rosato) 2018 made from 100% Montepulciano d’ Abruzzo. The soil is clay calcareous and the training system is tendone, single curtain. There are 1,600 vines per hectare. Maceration takes place inside the press and static decanting of the must and a soft pressing. Fermentation at a controlled temperature is in stainless steel vats. The wine is bottled at the end of February. This is a fruity wine with hints of cherries, strawberries and a touch of almonds in the aftertaste.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Ottobre Rosso” 2017 DOC. The training system is single curtain tendone and there are 3,000 vines per hectare. Fermentation and maceration is in concrete vats for 10/12 days followed by 9 months aging in concrete vats. The wine is bottled in June. This is a red wine with intense red fruit aromas and flavors with hints of wild cherry and a touch of raspberry.

Spumante Brut NV made from Chardonnay and Pecorino. The soil is sandy and the training system is tendone, single curtain. There are 1,600 plants per hectare. Static decanting of the must followed by a soft pressing and fermentation at a controlled temperature. There is a second fermentation in an autoclave for 3 months and it is bottled in January. The wine has hints of peach and apricot with a touch of pineapple.

Both Michele and I were very impressed by the wines. We tasted the wines again at the Grand Tasting at the end of the trip and I enjoyed them again at an event in NYC.

 

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Return to the Cataldi Madonna Winery

 

Michele and I first visited the Cataldi Madonna Winery in Abruzzo about 15 years ago. I recall that it was the first time I had tasted wine made from the Pecorino grape. There was some confusion and a lot of discussion over how the Cerasuolo D’ Abruzzo, a Rosato that looked like a red wine, was produced. We looked forward to our return visit and seeing Luigi Cataldi Madonna again.

Luigi Cataldi Mondanna

Luigi Cataldi Madonna

The winery, which is about 65 acres, is located in the town of Ofena. There are 30.5 hectares of vines planted exclusively with local and traditional vines like Montepulcino, Pecprino and Trebbiano at 320 to 440 meters. The plain of Ofena is at the foothills of the only Appenine glacier on Calderone in the Gran Sasso Mountain range. This makes for a great difference between night and day temperatures. The area has been called the oven of Abruzzo.

Our host then and now was the owner of the winery Luigi Cataldi Madonna. This time his daughter Giulia assisted him. Giulia said the picture on the labels is of the statue of the Warrior of Capestrano, a symbol of ancient Abruzzo.

The Wines

Trebbiano d”Abruzzo made from 100% Trebbiano d’Abruzzo from vineyards located in Mandrella and Frontone, Ofena. Mandrella is at 1,300 feet. The vines were planted in 2003 and the training system is espalier. Frontone is at 1,215 ft, the vines were planted in 1990 and the training system is pergola. The soil is clay loam rich in calcareous skeleton. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks for 30 days at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and spends 3 months in bottle before release. The wine has hints of lemon, apple, pear and almond. They called this their every day wine.

Pecorino “Giulia” Terre Aquilane IGT 100% Pecorino from vineyards in Cona, Fontone and Macerone at 380 meters. The vines were planted in 2001 and the training system is spallier. Vinifiction takes place in stainless steel tanks for 30 days at a controlled temperature. At the end of fermentation the juice is in contact with lees and is aged in stainless steel tanks for 3 months. The wine has hints of grapefruit, lime and a touch of fresh herbs.

Luigi was one of the first to “rediscover“ the Pecorino grape and began replanting in 1990 and produced the first vintage in 1996. Pecorino means little sheep in Italian because the sheep liked to eat these grapes off the vine.

Pecorino “Super Giulia” 100% Pecorino. The difference between the two is Super Giulia is made from the best selection of the grapes. This is a more flavorful version than the regular Giulia with a note of passion fruit.Giulia

Both wines are named for Luigi Cataldi Madonna’s daughter, Giulia.

 Cerasuolo d’ Abuzzo Rosato made from 100% Monepulciano D’Abruzzo from vines planted in 1970 and the vineyard is at 1,250ft. The training system is pergola. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks for 30 days at a controlled temperature and is aged for 3 months in stainless steel. The wine has a bright rose color. This is a fruity wine with hints cherry, strawberry and a touch of almond.

Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo “Pie delle Vigna” Rosato this is the wine that caused all the confusion because it is a Rose but looks like a red wine. We did not get to taste this wine on this visit because it was all sold out. I saw it in a store on one of our stops. This wine is made by white wine vinification 85%. The problem is that the juice from the Montepulciano grape is pink. The other 15% from red vinification, the juice is in contact with the skins for about 8 hours, so the wine looks like a red wine!

They also now make another Rosato from Montepulciano grapes called “Cataldino” which is an IGT wine and is a very fruity easy drinking wine.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Malandrino” made from 100% Montepulciano d”Abruzzo the vineyards are at 1,375 ft and the vines were planted 1970-2004. The soil is clay and limestone with medium texture and rich in skeleton. Vinification takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in stainless tanks and concrete vats for 12 months. The wine is in bottle for 3 months before release. The wine has hints of blueberry and plum with a touch of violets.

We enjoyed visiting the winery once again and meeting the third generation of wine producers at Cataldi Madonna.

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Touring Abruzzo

After a short stay in Rome, Michele and I were headed to Abruzzo for a press trip to explore the food and wine of this beautiful region.

We arrived at the hotel, La Chiave dei Trabocchi in San Vito Chietino after a 3-hour bus ride from Rome. The coastline here is called the Costa dei Trabocchi.

Trabocco

Trabocchi are dwellings used by fishermen so they could fish in bad weather.  Made of wood, they stand in the water on long wooden legs with long poles and nets reaching out into the water.

Some of them have been turned into restaurants.

On our first night, dinner at the hotel included a very informative presentation on Abruzzo given by Davide Acerra, president of the Consorzio Tutela Vini D’Abruzzo.

Abruzzo is situated between the Adriatic Sea and the Gran Sasso and Majella massif. It is one of the most unspoiled regions of Italy with three national parks and more than ten national and regional natural reserves. Abruzzo geographically is more central than southern Italy, but due to its connection with the old Kingdom of the Two Sicilys, it is considered part of the South.

Most vineyards are in hilly areas of which 75% are in the province of Chieti. The traditional vine training method is the Tendone system also known as Pergola Abruzzese. The vines are grown along vertical posts and wires to a height of about 6 feet. The vines are planted 2 meters apart in parallel rows 2 meters apart. The leaves grow over the top to form a canopy (pergola) to protect the grapes from the hot Abruzzo sun. The Tendone has always been the way to grow table grapes in the area and it is easier to pick the grapes without having to bend down.

The Grapes and the Wines

The Montepulciano grape produces Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Montepulciano is the most planted grape in Abruzzo and is grown on about 17,000 hectares. It represents 80% of the total DOC wine produced in Abruzzo. The Montepulciano grape has been in Abruzzo since the mid 17th Century.

This red grape has a medium compact cluster and a conical – pyramidal shape, often winged, with an elongated grape. It ripens late which gives the wine its ruby rich color, with hints of violets, cherries, berries and liquorice.

Both and Cerasoolo but notice the difference in color

Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo is a ‘Rose” made from the Montepulciano grape. This is a rose made from the free run juice and or juice with very little skin contact and it is bright red in color. If the producer adds 15% or more of the juice that has had skin contact for a number of hours, it almost has the color of a red wine.

Trebbiano grape produces Trebbiano d’Abruzzo white wine. It is second in area covering over 5,000 hectares. This grape is planted all over Italy but it finds Is best expression in Abruzzo. The vines have large leaves and long bunches. The grapes never get darker than a deep straw color because of the long leaves and the Tendone training system. Trebbiano Tuscano is also used in combination with Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, but the best wines come from those made from 100% Trebbiano d”Abruzzo

Of the local varieties Pecorino, a white grape is the most popular. Pecorino an ancient grape variety which was “rediscovered” in the early 1980’s. The name in Italian is “little sheep” because the sheep liked to eat the grapes off the vines. The others are Passerina, Cococciola and Montonico, all white grapes.

Sparkling wines, both Metodo Classico and Charmat, are produced from the different varieties.

Almost 80% of the wine made in Abruzzo is produced by co-ops.

Michele getting ready to make pasta alla chitarra

It was a three day tour and in that time we visited a number of producers, a few hill towns,  made the local specialty pasta alla chitarra, had dinner in a Trabocco

and ended with the Grand Tasting Dei Vini D’Abruzzo at the Villa Estea Torino Di Sangero where there were over 50 producers presenting their wines.

The experience was made more enjoyable because of the other members of our group who were so congenial.

I will write more about our experiences in a future report.

 

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A Winery Named Ciù Ciù: Certified Organic and Vegan

When I was in Rome in February we went to Ar Galetto restaurant in the Piazza Farnese. It was warm enough to sit outside and Michele loves the view of the fountains and Palazzo Farnese, where much of the opera Tosca is set.

I ordered spaghetti with fresh anchovies. With it I ordered a wine with the unlikely name of Ciù Ciù (pronounced choo choo) made from the Pecorino grape from the region of the Marche. I had first enjoyed this wine in NYC at Ribalta Restaurant with Paolo Agostinelli who represents the winery. It was the perfect wine to go with the spaghetti.IMG_0759

This is what Paolo told me about the Società Agricola Ciù Ciù winery. It is family owned and run and was established in 1970 by Natalino Bartolomei and his wife Anna. Today the winery is run by their sons Massimliano and Walter.

In the beginning, the focus was on indigenous grapes: Trebbiano, Passerina, Pecorino, Montepulciano and Sangiovese. Later they expanded into the Verdicchio del Castelli di Jesi and the Lacrima di Morro d’Alba area. They also have some international grape varieties. The philosophy of the winery is that the best wine is made in the vineyard, not in the cellar.

The Ciù Ciù winery is certified organic and since the 2014 vintage, the wine is certified vegan. The winery is located in the middle of the Piceno hills, at Offida (Ascoli Piceno). It is in the Rosso Superiore production area and its vineyards extend over 150 hectares.

The White Wines

Passerina “Evoè” Marche IGP 2015 100% Passerina The vineyard is at 250 to 300 meters and the soil is of medium texture. They use the spur pruned training system and the hand harvest takes place at the end of September. This white wine is fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel and refining does not take place. It is any easy drinking aromatic wine with fresh citrus aromas and flavors and nice minerality. Paolo said it is ready to drink right after the harvest.IMG_0813

Pecorino “Mertettaie” Offida  2015 DOCG 100% Pecorino, the vineyard is at 280 meters, vines are spur pruned cordon trained and the soil is medium mixture and clayey. Harvest is the last ten days of September. Paolo said the wine  is cold macerated in stainless steel and then fermented in botti (25hl) with indigenous yeast. It is also aged in the same botti for 6 months  and 3 months in bottle before release. This is a dry white wine with good minerality, notes of citrus fruit and a touch of acacia.

Vino Spunamte Merlettaie Brute NV made from 100% Pecorino. Vineyard is at 280 meters, spur pruned cordon training and the soil is of medium mixture quite clayey. Harvest is by hand the first ten days of September. The decanted must is fermented with selected yeasts at controlled temperatures. The Charmat-Martinotti method is used, the sparkling process lasts for 25 days, refining with yeast for 5 months and 3 months in bottle before release. It has very fine bubbles with hints of citrus fruit, apple and almonds with mineral undertones.

The Red WineIMG_0812

Marche IGT Rosso 2011 “Oppîdum” made from 100% Montepulicano. The vineyard is at 300 meters, with medium mixture clayey soil, spur pruned cordon training and the harvest takes place at the end of October. Fermentation is on the skins for 20 days followed by malolactic fermentation. 30% of the wine is aged in barriques and 70% of the wine in 10 hl barrels for 12 months. The wine is in bottle for 6 months before release.IMG_0814

Rosso Piceno Superiore DOP 2013 “Gotico” Montepulciano 70% and Sangiovese 30%. The vineyard is at 300 meters, spur pruned cordon training, medium mixture soil and the harvest takes place the second half of October. Traditional red wine fermentation takes place with a cold drawing of the wine. Paolo said the wine is aged in botti. Depending on the vintages we use 25 to 35 hl botti and we keep the wine for 12 to 18 months. The 2013 vintage was aged for 18 months as the weather was really hot and we needed to soften the edges more.  This is a full-bodied wine with hints of black fruit, spice and a touch of vanilla.IMG_0811

 Offida DOC Rosso 2009 “Esperanto” Montepuliciano 70% and Cabernet Sauvignon 30%. The vineyard is at 300 meters, spur pruned cordon training, and medium mixture clayey soil. The harvest is by hand: the end of September for the Cabernet and the end of October for the Montepulciano. There is a long fermentation on the skins; a daily cold drawing of the wine both in stainless steel and barriques. Paolo said the wine  is aged in mid-toasted French oak barriques for two years and then bottled for 2 more years before going to the market.  This is a well-structured wine with hints of plums, cherries, a touch of spice and leather.

 

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Filed under CiuCIU, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Marche, Passerina, Pecorino, Rosso Piceno

Tasting the Wines of Abruzzo at Enoteca Di Palo

Rosanna di Michele cooking teacher, personal chef, and lover all things from Abruzzo invited me to a tasting of the wines of Collefrisio. Rosanna has long collaborated with this Abruzzese winery and is a promoter of the wines and food of the region.

The tasting was held at Enoteca Di Palo in NYC’s Little Italy. This is the wine store of the famous Di Palo food store, which is right next door.

Amadeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo, Rosanna, Lou Di Palo

Amedeo de Luca one of the owners of Collefrisio was there to present the wines. He said that his family has been involved in wine for 3 generations. The winery is located in the hills of Frisa in the Chieti province of Abruzzo. The winery has 35 hectare of vineyards on 3 estates: Tenuta Valle del Moro – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; Tenuta Morrecine – 12 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Trebbiano; and Tenuta Giuliano – 11 hectares where they grow Montepulciano and Pecorino.

Amadeo presented 4 wines.e9a736be-df96-4f73-914c-50f3982e53d6

Pecorino IGT Terre di Chieti 100% Pecorino Harvest takes place the last 10 days of September.Maceration is at a low temperature after removal of the grapes from the stalks and the alcohol fermentation is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. This is a wine with citrus fruit flavors and hints of green tea and peach with nice acidity.deee3c39-1b2e-4609-ab99-56d1ad519bf7

Trebbiano  D’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra”  DOC 100% Trebbiano d’ Abruzzo. Harvest is the first week of September. Harvest is the first ten days in October. Aromatic wine with hints of apple, chamomile and mulberry.1b350bf1-9852-4c90-b515-3f73c014532c

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC 100% Montepulciano. Traditional vinification in stainless steel, the grape skins are in contact with the juice for 12 to 20 days. The wine remains in stainless steel tanks until it is ready to be bottled. The wine has hints of cherry, plum and a touch of spice.70892e81-fac3-4048-a23d-3a89dd66c35f

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo “Vignaquadra” Vinification same as above. This is a single vineyard wine that is aged for a number of months in new barriques. The wine has hints of cherry plum, fruit jam with a hint of spice and vanilla. Amedeo said that the wine needed more time to come together and be at its best.

The wines are a very good value for the money at around $20 or less.

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Velenosi and the Wines of the Marche

I have visited the Marche region of Italy a number of times and have always enjoyed it. Why the region is not better know in this country and more of a travel destination has always been a mystery to me.IMG_8812 They make excellent wine and great food. There are lovely rolling hills and some of the best-rated beaches in Europe. When I was invited to a tasting and lunch for the wines of Velenosi in the Marche I gladly accepted.

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Angela Velenosi

Angela and Ercole Velenosi established the Velenosi winery in 1984. Since then Angela has been the person behind the success of one of the largest family owned wineries in the Marche.  Angela was elected the president of the Consorzio di Tutela Vini Piceni and represented the Marche region at the Expo in Milan.

At the tasting Angela said the heart of the company is in Ascoli Piceno, which is about 25 km from the Adriatic Sea. The vineyards are located on hills at about 200/300 meters overlooking the valley of the Tronto River. There are 148 hectares with vines.IMG_8774

Ulisse Patalocchi La Rosa, the export manger, spoke about the wines. He is very personable and knowledgeable and gave us an insight not only about the wines of Velenosi but also touched on the wines of the Marche in general. He is very passionate not only about the wine of the Marche but also about the region’s food and culture.IMG_8757

Passerina Brut NV 100% Passerina (Charmat method) The vineyards are at 200/300 meters, the soil is of medium texture and rather sandy, the training system is guyot and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. The grapes are hand picked and placed in 20 kg boxes. Ulisse said the Passerina grape variety with its rich aromatic properties is particularly apt for making sparkling wine using the Charmat method. The wine is fermented in stainless steel and is aged on the lees for 90 days, this is a long process called Charmat Lungo. The wine has hints of white fruit, peach, citron and a touch of bread crust.IMG_8759

Verdicchio Dei Castelli Di Jesi DOC Classico 2014 100% Verdicchio. The vineyards are at 100 meters and they are the oldest in the original Castelli di Jesi area. The soil is of medium consistency tending toward sandy. The vines are cordon trained and spur pruned and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested in the morning or late afternoon in small boxes and kept cool until reaching the winery. The wine is obtained by the soft crush of the slightly overripe grapes, then pressed using a bladder press. The must is collected in refrigerated containers and brought to 5°C for static decantation before being transferred to stainless steel vats for fermentation, which occurs at a controlled temperature. Fermentation takes place by inoculating selected yeasts to prevent undesired fermentations. Ulisse said the overripe grapes and select yeasts give the wine its fruitiness and roundness. The wine has hints of green apple, honey, a touch of spice and a slight bitter aftertaste. Ulisse added that none of the white wines undergo malolactic fermentation.

Pecorino Falerio DOC Pecorino 100% Pecorino. The grapes come from selected vineyards of the Ascoli Piceno and are at 200/300 meters. Soil is medium mix tending to sandy and the training system is guyot. There are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is the same as above. Fermentation with inoculated selected yeasts. The wine is then stored in steel containers at a controlled temperature until sterile bottling. It is pleasantly fruity, with hints of apple, honey and spice.IMG_8761

Rosso Piceno DOC Superiore “Brecciarolo” 70% Montepuicano and 30% Sangiovese from company owned vineyards in the municipalities of Offida and Ascoli Piceno. The vineyards are at 200/300 meters; the soil is mainly clay, tending to limestone at Offida and medium mix, tending to sandy at Ascoli Piceno. The training system is guyot and there are 5,000 vines per hectare. Harvest is by hand in mid-October. After destemming, the grapes are channeled into 200hl steel fermenting vats, equipped with a pump over system and a temperature control system. Maceration lasts for 20 days. After fermentation the wine is drawn off into aged barriques. Ulisse said they are 2nd and 3rd passage. It is full bodied, with good fruit and a hint of cherry.IMG_8760

Lacrima di Morro 100% Lacrima di Morro d’Alba from company owned vineyards in the municipalities of San Marcello-Ancona at 100/150 meters. The soil is mainly clay, the training system is spur-pruned cordon and there are 5,000 plants per hectare. Harvest usually takes place in September.  After destemming, the grapes are placed in temperature controlled steel vats. Maceration lasts for about 20 days with daily pump over. Ulisse said that this is almost done closed to save the fruity and flowery aromas of the grape variety. This is an aromatic wine with its own unique aromas and flavors. It has rich aromas of strawberry, marasca cherry and violets that seem to jump right out of the glass. It is full flavored, yet soft and lightly tannic with a hint of almonds. Ulisse said that Lacrima means tear in Italian, the skin of the grape is so delicate that when it is ripe a drop of juice falls. It can be served slightly chilled.IMG_8762

Ludi Offida DOC Rosso made from 50% Montepulciano, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Merlot from company owned vineyards in the municipalities of Offida and Castel di Lama. The vineyards are at 200/250 meters, the soil is mainly clay, cordon trained and spur pruned. Harvest is by hand in mid-October. After destemming, the grapes are channeled into 200hl steel fermentation vats, equipped with temperature control. Maceration is on the lees for 20/25 days. After fermentation the wine is drawn off into new barriques selected by the enologist from a range of handcrafted cooperage and left to age for 18 months. The wine was then assembled. It has hints of ripe fruit: cherry and blackberry with a note of licorice.IMG_8763

Rosso Piceno Superiore “Roggio del Filare 2010 70% Montepulicano and 30% Sangiovese. The vineyards are at 200 meters The training system is guyot. Harvest is in mid-October. After destemming, the grapes are channeled into 100hl steel fermenting vats, equipped with a programmable pump over system with temperature control. Maceration is for 20 days. The wine is aged in new barriques made from selected French cooperage for 18 months. It is a full-bodied wine with hints of hints of blackberry, cherry, spice and a touch of vanilla.IMG_8764

Visciole made from 80% Lacrima di Mora d’Alba and 20% cherry syrup made from an ancient variety of wild cherry (Prunus Cerasus), dark red and sour tasting. The ripe cherries are collected the first weeks of July, and then macerated, partly whole and partly crushed, with sugar. It is decanted for a few days and then filtered. This triggers a fermentation, which leads to the final syrup, which is soft and fragrant. The result is syrup with a high concentration of sugar, which is blended with the Lacrima triggering a second fermentation. The wine and syrup are mixed. The fermentation is stopped at about 14% alcohol by volume, with residual sugar. Ulisse said that “flavored wines” are an ancient tradition in the Marche dating back to the Middle Ages when it was used as a method to preserve wine. The natural syrup helped to prevent the oxidation of the wine and made it more aromatic. Today this would not be considered a wine because it is not made 100% from grapes. It would be perfect with chocolate and as I was drinking the wine I wished I had a piece to go with it.

All  the wines are an excellent quality to price ratio.

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Classic Roman Restaurants

Michele and I rented a apartment in Rome for two weeks. It is in the Monti area which is very close to the Colosseum and the  Forum.

IMG_7354 The apartment we rented was  very comfortable, functional and a  good value for the money. Here is the link https://montihome.wordpress.com

As I have said many times before I love the food in Rome. This time we went back to some of our old favorite restaurants all of which are family run.

 Checchino dal 1887 (www.checchino1887.com, Via di Monte 31 Testaccio).

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Francesco and Elio

The Mariani Family has owned the restaurant since it opened in 1887. Francesco Mariani takes care of the front of the house while his brother Elio is in the kitchen.IMG_7460

Considering the wine and the food, it is the best restaurant in Rome with over six hundred wines from Italy and all over the world. The wine cellar is dug into Monte Testaccio, a hill made from broken amphorae which date back to Ancient Rome. The slaughter houses of Rome used to be located here and the restaurant still specializes in the so called quinto quarto, the fifth quarter, or innards and other spare parts.

I always have long conversations with Francesco about Italian wine and which one I should order with what I am eating. Francesco recommended a bottle of white to start.IMG_7450

Est, Est, Est di Montefiascone, Poggio Dei Gelsi 2013 Falesco Made from 50% Trebbiano, 30% Malvasia and 20% Roscetto. Riccardo Cotarella and his brother Renzo, the winemaker for Antinori, own the winery.

There is soft pressing of the grape-clusters. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with selected indigenous yeasts. There is no skin contact and malolactic fermentation does not take place. Ciromaceration is used for the Roscello grapes. The wine is bottled early to keep its characteristic freshness and taste and it is aged in the bottle. This is an easy to drink wine with floral hints, fruity notes and good acidity.

Three great Bordeaux blends are produced within a short distance from Rome: Torre Ercolano, Colle Picchione and Fiorano. Older vintages of Torre Ercolano and Fiorano Rosso (made by the old Principe who stopped making wine in 1995) are no longer available. Two versions of Fiorano are now made by the old prince’s descendants, his cousin Principe Alessandro Jacopo Boncompagni Ludovisi, and another by his granddaughter, Alessia Antinori.IMG_7452

I asked Francesco if they had any older vintages of Colle Picchione. He said he would look and came back with a 1983. This was the last vintage before they singled out “Vigna dal Vassallo” as a cru.

Colle Picchione 1983, Paola di Mauro, made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot. The wine consultant at the time was the legendary Giorgio Grai. The wine consultant today is Riccardo Cotarella. The wines were aged in large oak barrels. I have visited the winery twice and both times drank the 1985 vintage. The 1983 had hints of leather and cherry with a very long finish and great aftertaste.IMG_7453

With the wines, we ate artichokes alla Romana, Coda alla Vaccinara, oxtail in tomato celery sauce with pine nuts, raisins and bitter chocolate, Bucatini all’Amatriciana and grilled baby lamb chops.IMG_7457

Torta stracciatella, a chocolate chip cake, was served with a glass of di Roscetto Passiro Felesco 2012 IGP Lazio Made from 100% Roscetto. This is a native variety from Lazio. The grapes are air dried in a special room to facilitate the development of Botrytis (noble rot).IMG_7456

The wine has nice fruit sensations on the nose, its taste is creamy, full bodied and harmonious with a long lingering finish with honey notes. It was a perfect combination with the torta.

Checchino is still a member of L’ Unione di Ristoranti del Buon Ricordo, a group of restaurants that give you a hand painted plate if you order their signature dish or tasting menu.

The first time I went to Il Matriciano (39-06-32500364) Via dei Gracchi, 55. The Calasanti family has owned and operated the restaurant since 1912. The present owners, a brother and sister, are always there. Alberto Calasanti is on the floor. He greets the guests and plates the food while his sister sits behind a counter and takes care of the checks. There is a nice outdoor space but of late we like to sit inside, which seems to be favored by the Romans. On Sunday afternoon and at night it is best to make a reservation.IMG_7469

As usual, I ordered zucchini flowers (I cannot get enough of them) and artichokes alla giudia to start. The flowers were perfectly deep fried with a small amount of mozzarella and more than a hint of anchovy stuffing.

IMG_7471 I ordered the bucatini alla matriciana.IMG_7475

Then I had abbacchio al forno, baby lamb roasted with potatoes and rosemary. It was cooked to perfection, moist with crisp skin.IMG_7477

For desert I had tiny fragoline, wild strawberries, and gelato.IMG_7473

We had a Pecorino 2014 IGP Terre di Chieti Cantina Tollo Abruzzo 100% Pecorino Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. Malolatic fermentation does not take place. The wine has hints of white peach, a touch of spice, with good minerality and acidity.

Armando al Pantheon can be difficult to get into, so always book ahead. The restaurant was established in 1961 by Armando Gargioli. This time we went there twice, once on our own and another time with friends Ernie and Louise.IMG_7315

On the first visit I ordered the bruschetta, one with truffle and quail egg and the other with lardo and walnuts. Then I had bucatini alla matriciana and grilled lamb. The dessert was a strawberry crostata with a lattice top.IMG_7359

The next time we went, both Michele and I ordered the pasta with black truffles because we remembered how the aroma of the truffles filled the whole room on our previous visit. It was wonderful.

The Torta

The Torta

Michele also had Roman style chicken with peppers and we ended with their famous dessert, Torta Antica, made with ricotta.IMG_7316

By the way, she says that the artichoke alla Romana here is the best in Rome.IMG_7314

Both times we ordered 2011 Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, from Emidio Pepe.   It was less than 40 Euro–a real bargain in a restaurant. The wine was big but with a lot of fruit and not as tannic as I would have expected. Most of my experiences with Pepe’s wines are ones that are 25 years and older.

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Trimming Artichokes at Da Giggetto

Da Giggetto (39- 066861 105) at Portico D’Ottavia 12 A, in the Jewish ghetto. The Ceccarelli family has owned the restaurant since 1923. We went here twice, once by ourselves and the second time with friends. IMG_7335

I do not need to look at the menu because I always order the same things: fiori di zucca ripieni con mozzarella e alici (small and crunchy but very good), carciofi alla giudia  (fried artichokes) and spaghetti con vongole veraci.IMG_7437

The clams were small and tender with just the right amount of parsley, garlic, olive oil and a hint of hot pepper. But since we went twice I also had the aliciotti fritti, fried anchovies, and the fava beans stewed with guanciale.

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Fava Beans with Guanciale

Michele also had fava beans with guanciale. We have been going here for many years and have never been disappointed.IMG_7434

We had the Bellone 2013 IGT Lazio “Castore,” I00% Bellone, Cincinnato. The Bellone grape may go back to ancient Roman times and is now grown mostly in vineyards around Rome. This is a fresh, fruity, easy to drink white wine that worked very well with the starters.IMG_7438

We also drank a Passerina Del Frusinate 2013 from Feudi Del Sole 100% Passerina. The winery is located a few kilometers from Rome in the Castelli Romani. It is a wine with hints of apples and white preachers, good acidity and a long finish and nice aftertaste.

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Armando al Pantheon, Checchino dal 1887, Cincinnato winery, Colle Picchioni, Da Giggetto, Falesco Winery, Feudi Del Sole winery, Il Matriciano, Italian Red Wine, Italian White Wine, Pecorino, Roman Restaurants, Rome