Sunday, January 31, 2010

2 Grapes, 4 Wines, 1 Good Time

Nebbiola and Nero D’Avola.   I could not have imagined the vast range of discussions that could have arisen during this wine tasting.  There are so many things to say about our Winerdì last Friday that I don’t know where to start. So, let’s begin at the beginning.  Our host, Fabrizio Erbaggio began the evening as usual with a brief history of Nebbiolo.  Grown primarily in Piedmont, it can also be found in the Valtellina valley in Lombardy.  It is a difficult grape to cultivate, so as Fabrizio put it, much attention is needed in the vineyards as well as in the cantina.  At this point we try our two Nebbiolo wines; Nino Negri’s La Tense (Sassella Valtellina Superiore DOCG) and Vietti’s Perbacco 2006 with a degustazione led by Luca Massimo Bolondi.  We could have spent the evening discussing only these two.  One might think that the same grape would produce wines that are similar.  Similar in some ways, yes, but we noted the that the difference in region, terraced vineyards and sandy silty based soil of Nino Negri’s wine produced a wine that was lighter in color.  Vinification played a big part in taste and aroma.  Vietti’s Nebbiolo, Luca pointed out was very elegant.  This wine had a deeper color and treated us to cherry and dried flower aromas.  This wine also spent quite a bit of time in legno-ten months in barriques then another 16 months in oak casks.  Practically the same process used for Barolo.
Vietti at harvest time.

Next...Nero D’Avola from Sicily.  Two wines; Firriato’s Chiaramonte Rosso 2007 and Morgante’s Don Antonio 2005. Two choices that represented the grape and Sicily very well.  Nero D’Avola, in fact, loves the hot Sicilian sun and is not found in many other places around the world.  So what did we see in these two wines? Chiaramonte, a wine on Gambero Rosso’s list of best value for the money, has a dark ruby color, aromas of red fruits and spices as well as a good balance of tannins and acidity.  This wine spends 6 months in barriques as compared to Don Antonio’s 12 months in oak barrels.  Ah, Don Antonio, already a favorite of a few people in the audience and after trying myself, I could understand why.  Sweeter aromas, darker color, smoother tannins, and a stronger acidity gave the wine the vote for the favorite of the evening.

Nero D'Avola ripening in the sun.  Ready for Morgante and Don Antonio. 

Once again, Winerdì achieved what it had set out to do.  Give wine lovers of all levels a greater understanding of a particular wine in a comfortable, casual multicultural environment.  At the end of the evening, Fabrizio and Luca were already throwing ideas around for future themes.  Stay tuned!!!


Slow Cooking in Campania is a series of cooking classes at Terre del Principe (see earlier post for details).  If you are interested in the firts class on February 27th, signup no later than Monday, 22 February.  You can signup by contacting  or

Tra Terra e Mare...Città del Gusto Wine Lab focuses on the Amalfi Coast

Ah, the Amalfi coast....its views, its beaches, its wines.  Join Città del Gusto Napoli Wine Lab on Thursday, February 4th,  on a voyage through the region.  Discover varieties of grapes that have been literally saved from extinction from a land that is difficult to harvest due to its rocky, steep terrain. 
Twelve  wines will be up for degustazione from the following wineries: Marisa Cuomo, Ettore Sammarco, Giuseppe Apicella, Fattoria San Francesco, Andrea Reale.
Journalist Paolo De Cristofaro will lead the tasting.
The wine will be accompanied by a menu prepared by chef resident Antonio Russo and Giovanni Pastore as well as maestro pizzaiola Michele Leo.
The cost for this not to miss event is 35 Euro.  Showtime is 8pm. Reservations are necessary.  For more info contact  
Città del gusto
 Via Coroglio, 57/104 – Napoli (Zona Bagnoli)
Click here to reserve on line

Friday, January 29, 2010

Cheese, Please!

On Friday, the 19th of February at 9pm, Gaia Lounge Restaurant in the heart of centro storico will host Pecorino…e Pecorino. The evening will consist of dinner prepared by Chef Luca Marotta, wine from Kettmeir, and a guided cheese tasting of 4 formaggi pecorini.
The menu is as follows
- Pane cu u maccu
- Scagliuozzoli con ciccioli e ricotta
- Tortino di melanzane con ricotta, provola e pomodorini
- Fusilli avellinesi con fonduta di lariano speziato,
noci e cinghiale
- Tagliere di formaggi pecorini
(Vastedda del Belice, Pecorino di Laticauda, Fiore Sardo
DOP, Conciato Romano) abbinati a confetture o miele
- Torta ricotta e pera

l Maestro Assaggiatore Salvatore Varrella, from Delegazione ONAF di Napoli, will also lead a demonstration on cheesemaking I had the opportunity to see him at work back in October at Enoteca Mercadante.
The evening costs 35 Euro
For more information call or to reserve a spot, call 081294804.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

St Valentine's in the Heart of Campania

Two events to choose from to celebrate St Valentines Day in style.

· Villa Matilde, Cellole (CE), has a special package for the special couple. One night (February 14) with dinner, breakfast and a tour through the vineyards for 240 Euro a couple. (Those who are interested in lunch only can contact the winery directly for prices)

· Mastroberardino Winery,Atripalda (Av), is hosting a special weekend as well. It consists of dinner on the 13th of February, a night in Radici Resort, and breakfast the next morning for 125 Euro a person in their junior suite.

For more info, click on the links to contact the wineries directly.

Head to Head...Nebbiolo and Nero D'Avola.....The Wine List

The wine list is set for Winerdì’s Head to Head


Vietti Piemonte ( Perbacco )

Nino Negri Lombardia ( Sfursat )


Nero d'Avola Firriato ( Chiaramonte )

Nero d'Avola Morgante ( Don Antonio)

Our Winerdì buffet will include Pizza from Antica Panetteria dei Buoni Sapori ( Melito )

Lasagne di Nonna Wanda

Sfizi (finger foods) from Scairdac (Bacoli)

Don’t miss it!! The fun starts at 8pm…ish.

Ciao Vino, Via Madanno del Pantano, 50

To sign up, call 348 590 7349 or 081 509 0425.

Email or

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An Evening Out at Abraxas

The first time I saw Nando Salemme (owner of Abraxas) was at Terre Madre Day at Cantina Astroni last December.(here). I was quite impressed about what he had to say about Slow Food, the importance of local products, and how important it is to teach the younger generation healthy cooking and eating habits. Since then, I said to myself, “If I ever get the chance to get out to Abraxas….” That opportunity came last weekend.

Saturday night, the place was packed with a mixture of American and Italian clientele. Two levels and a terrace, we found our table next to a comfortable woodburning stove. Their menu is seasonal, representing the best that Campania, particularly Campi Flegrei has to offer. Nando suggested we try the appetizers. We agreed and were treated to a parade of specialties proudly brought to our table by a simpatico staff.

· Bruschetta with lardo nostrano

· Tagliere con cacio ricotta e salami dei Campi Flegrei

· Zuppa di fagioli (!!!!!)

· Panpata con salsiccia e friarielli (a pastry with cheese, sausauge and the famous friarielli greens baked together!!!!)

· Crepes di ricotta con fonduta di noce di Sorrento(!!!!ricotta cheese crepes with cheese and nuts from Sorrento!!!!)

· Zucca e salsiccia ( creamy pumpkin cooked to perfection with hints of sausage, garlic, and olive oil!!!)

· Pancotto di broccoli con crema di patate (!!!!)

Then it was time to move on to something else. I chose to skip the first course and go for beef braised in (what else?) aglianico with mashed potatoes. Very tender…..

Wine list? Basically a book featuring almost every wine imaginable. Our choice….Montegauro –Piedirosso Riserva 2007 DOC from Grotte del Sole.

Excellent choice of desserts, I chose the chocolate flan. This is basically a chocolate brownie covered with powdered sugar oozing with melted chocolate. A warm, toasty way to end an amazing meal before we stepped out into the cold night air.

Abraxas is located on Via Scaldrone, 15 in Lucrino. Closed on Tuesdays, open for lunch on Sundays. Call 081-8549347for a reservation or to find out about upcoming events.

Campi Flegrei a Tavola

I've added a new link to the blog. Campi Flegrei a Tavola is in Italian but is an excellent source that lists the top restaurants, pizzerias, wine bars, pubs, etc in the Campi Flegrei area. Other items on the site include recipes, wines, sagras, and events. Check it out.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Antonio Papa...the Man Behind the Bottle

Sunday morning, I took advantage of a sunny day in Naples and headed to Pozzuoli. More specifically to Enoteca Arcante located at Via Pergolesi, 86. The occasion, an opportunity to meet Antonio Papa from Azienda Agricola Gennaro Papa. I like to take advantage of these occasions; an opportunity to meet the people behind the wine. The men and women who basically pour their lives in a bottle. A chance to discuss their methods, learn their history, taste their wine.

Antonio, alongside Angelo Di Costanzo (owner of Arcante) led our group in a wide variety of topics. We discussed the history of his winery, going back 4 generations. His winery is located in Falciano del Massico, near Mondragone , so we learned about the territory. The soil, rich in clay and stony, with vineyards anywhere from 100 to 150 m above sea level. Obviously we discussed the two wines Antonio brought to share with us. Conclave IGT 2007 and Campantuono DOC 2006. Both wines are Falerno del Massico. I’ll do my best….

Conclave IGT 2007: 100% primitive grape, mid September harvest, traditional maceration anywhere from 15-18 days in stainless steel. Antonio continues to experiment with the aging process of his wines. This wine spends about 6 months in the bottle and 6 months in French oak barriques (the little ones). Another few months of aging in a bottle, then the wine is ready to put on the market. The color is intense, a dark ruby red. I was able to smell red fruit. The taste, piacevole, dry, full, well balanced. Ready to drink today. 14% alcohol content

Campantuono DOC 2006: Once again 100% primitive, late September harvest, traditional maceration anywhere from 15-18 days in stainless steel. This wine, however, spends up to 18 months in French oak , then almost a year in the bottle before it is ready to go on sale. We noticed an intense ruby red color, full, deep aromas of red fruit, herbs, toasted nuts. Taste? I am a big fan of Campania reds which are full bodied, mature, well balanced, and smooth. This one has become one of my favorites…but be careful…15% alcohol content. I picture myself with a glass in front of the fireplace on a cold Naples evening.

I enjoyed meeting Antonio and will definitely make his winery one for our andiamotrips tours early spring.

Azienda Agricola G. Papa

Piazza Limata, 2 81030

Falciano del Massico (Ce)

0823 931267

Terre del Principe...Living Happily Ever After.

Love for the land, wine, and each other are just a few of the reasons that Terre del Principe began. Peppe Mancini left his law practice to return to his roots in Castel Campagnano, (Ce). There he began his journey down the long road to revive three forgotten grapes, Pallagrello Nero, Pallagrello Bianco and Casavecchia. Manuela Piancastelli, writer and journalist, left her position as an editor at Il Mattino Caserta (an Italian newspaper) to work side by side with Peppe in the winery. In addition, she has opened a bed and breakfast, conducts winery tours, wine tastings and cooking courses. I first met this couple last spring at Cantina Aperta. Their winery opened up their doors and their hearts to a small intimate group for lunch. Their events are particular, different, interesting, exciting. Imagine having lunch on the terrace after a 16th century harpsichord concert or welcoming in the harvest with Celtic harps. How about dinner as you watch the shooting stars on a hot August night? These are just a few of the events I’ve had the pleasure of attending this past year.

Their wines are award winning. Their web site is a great source of information to learn more. If you haven’t visited their winery, Manuela will be offering monthly cooking courses starting next month. Take a look, try them out and enter into their fairy tale.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Abraxas and Casebianche-January 28, 8:30 pm

Thursday night, January 28, Abraxas Osteria ,Scalandrone 15, pozzuoli, will host a guided wine tasting featuring the winery Casebianche from Cilento. The winery's owner Pasquale Miltrano and enologist Fortunato Sebastiano will lead the evening. The wines up for tasting are:

- Cumalè Fiano 2008
- Iscadoro 2008
- Delle More 2008
- Coupersito 2008

These wines will be paired with Abraxas’s Campanian menu presented below:

bruschetta con ricotta di bufala e pesto di acciughe
polpettine di panbroccolo
polenta con salsiccia e friarielli
crocchette di baccalà su crema di patata aromatizzata al limone e olive nere del vesuvio
tagliere cacioricotta e pancetta stagionata


fusilloni di Gragnano con broccoli e alici di Cetara su letto di patate
spagnetti con noci di Sorrento, pinoli, olive e broccoli neri

cuore di scamone di marchigiana con riduzione di pomodoro del piennolo al profumo di olive e cavolfiore gratinato

crostatina con confettura di mandarini del nostro giardino

The cost of the evening is 35 euro.

For more info or to reserve your spot, call 081-8549347

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cantina Astroni..A Stone's Throw Away

January is not necessarily the best time to visit a winery’s vineyards. The soil is wet; it can be windy and cold. I was not discouraged however, so one afternoon I called Emanuela Russo, and arranged a visit to Cantina Astroni.

Astroni is located a few minutes off the Agnano exit. I had been there on two previous occasions, Tintore Day in November and Terra Madre Day last month. Didn’t get a chance, however to ‘check it out’. Even on a cold windy afternoon, I was impressed with the views from the vineyard. Views of Naples, the islands, and the WWF Oasis. The Piedirosso and Falanghina vines were bare, naturally at this time of year, but Emanuela showed me how the Astroni staff has been pruning their vines in an effort to get them to about knee-high height. Why? Closer to the land, the soil, the rich minerals that give life to the vine to the grapes and eventually to the wine. A wine’s life begins in the vineyard. You can’t just pick a grape and expect it to make a great wine. As Emanuela showed me, they, as well as many great wineries monitor their wines in the vats on a daily basis. In fact, while she was showing me the cantina, her husband, and noted enologist, Geraldo Vernazzaro was doing just that.

Astroni produces the typical Campi Flegrei wines from their vineyards in the area, Piedirosso and Falanghina. I also learned that they do have vineyards in the Irpinia area so they also produce Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo. A selection of sparkling wines and grappa also round out their inventory.

One wine that caught my attention was a Falanghina, Strione, which is quite particular. You may know that white wines usually ferment without the skins. Their brochure states, ‘The grapes, macerated with the peels for the whole of fermentation, express the characteristics of the Phlegraean area at their best’. I picked up a bottle while I was there and am still waiting for the right opportunity to try it.

I’ll share with you the scheda tecnica, though,

Type: Campi Flegrei D.O.C.

Vine variety: Falanghina Campi Flegrei 100%

Production area: slopes of the Astroni Crater

exposure southeast, 216 meters on the

level of the sea

Soils: Loamy-sand

Type of growth: guyot

Production per hectare: 60 quintals

Harvest Time: Second ten days of


Harvesting: Manual


Technical: destalking-treading

Maceration with peels during the

whole alcoholic fermentation.

Fermentation: steel and 5 hl

Tonneaux for two weeks

Fermentation temperature:

14° - 16° C

Malolactic: partial

Refinement: “sur lies” in

steel and wood for 9 months

and 6 months in bottle

Alcohol content: 13 %


Clear with a full golden yellow

color; complex, intense,

persisting scent with a very

wide bouquet which reveals

itself slowly in the glass. Floral

notes prevail, followed by

those of ripe fruit like apricot

and yellow peach and of

citrus notes in the slightly

spicy end.

Freshness, structure and

persistence are clear in the

mouthfeel, just like the typical

minerality and sapidity, almost

tending to salty.

After this visit, I am sure that Andiamotrips will come back in the early spring for a group tour, wine tasting and meal….What do you think?