Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pouring Pallagrello: Vinitaly with Terre Del Principe

If I make a list of my top ‘wine-world experiences’ over the past 12 months, this past Vinitaly would rank among the top. Vinitaly 2011 wasn’t my first visit to Verona, but it was one that was full of memories.

Memories that began with a phone call last fall from my friend Manuela Piancastelli. Manuela, along with her husband Peppe Mancini, are the owners of a winery called Terre del Principe located in Castel Campagnano in the province of Caserta. Manuela asked me if I would be willing to help out in their booth during Vinitaly. My knowledge of their winery and their wines would be useful, she said, when non-Italians came to the booth, or during meetings with buyers. It took about 5 seconds to respond in the affirmative. But about 5 months for it to sink in. On the 7th of April, however, I was ready to pour…pour Pallagrello.

Terre del Principe makes wine using 3 grapes that are not widely known; Pallagrello Nero, Pallagrello Bianco, and Casavecchia, so it was an honor to ‘introduce’ these grapes and these wines to a public of journalists, wine enthusiasts, buyers, and importers…Italian and non.

There were seven wines to choose from. Terre del Principe makes two using Pallagrello Bianco. I would start by pouring Fontagnavigna 2010. A white made with 100% Pallagrello Bianco, a white that only spends time in stainless steel. A perfect lead into the next white Le Serole 2010. A white that ferments in French oak barriques. Oak that cuddle without overpowering, giving off light aromas of honey and apple with a touch of toasted almonds on the palate. Next, a rosé…Roseto del Volturno 2010. As I poured this wine, I couldn’t help but enjoy the rose color that emerged from the bottle and into the glass. A rosè made with Pallagrello Nero and Casvecchia…minutes of maceration with the skins to give this amazing color, then vinified as a white. After this rosè, the parade of reds would begin…Castello della Femmina 2009 (Pallagrello Nero and Casavecchia).

Then on to Ambrucco 2008, their red made with 100% Pallagrello Nero, their red recently judged by Decanter Magazine as the top red wine in Southern Italy after a blind taste test of 141 wines. Centomoggia 2008, 100% Casavecchia grape, a wine that Gambero Rosso recognized with their 3 Bicchiere. Both wines spend 12 months in barriques and 12 months in a bottle before they are released

Vigna Piancastelli 2007, a blend of Terre del Principe’s best grapes from their prized vineyard…vigna Piancastelli. 70 % Pallgrello Nero; 10 % is harvested in December so it has extra time to sweeten on the vine. The remaining 30 % is Casavecchia. 12 months in barrique and up to two years in the bottle before released. This one was given the acclaimed 5 Grappoli by AIS (Associazione Italliana Sommeliers), their highest recognition for a wine.

So I poured Pallagrello and Casavecchia. I poured or those who were familiar and those who weren’t. There were those who wanted to try the full range of all 7 wines. Those who wanted the whites-only. Those who wanted the reds-only. Those who would ask for a wine by name. I poured for journalists, Italian and non. For wine enthusiasts, other wine producers, enologists, and sommeliers. For those who were interested, we'd try earlier vintages as well as 'just relaesed'. I attended meetings with buyers and importers from Canada, Singapore, Switzerland, and Poland.

And as I introduced each wine with the basic information on the grape and wine making process, I would sit back and let the wine do the rest. I would observe and let the wine speak, as a wine should do. I would let whites express their freshness, their light aromas, and light acidity. Each red gave would tell its own special story with their rich color, their tannins, their balance, and their potential for aging.

I didn’t need to say much. So I would smile along with those who were discovering Terre del Principe for the first time. I would smile with those who knew their wines well. I would think back to that phone call from Manuela last fall asking me to ‘help out’ during Vinitaly. That request to pour Pallagrello that I am glad I accepted. And an experience that I will never forget.

Italian Version

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

ARCHENO II: Vino and Divino at the Foot of the Mountain, May 9th

Last year’s event was spectacular ), and this one should not be any different. An event celebrating archeology, art, history, food, and wine.

The event begins at 1630 in the Sala Consiliare of the Comune di Sant Anastasia (Na) in Piazza Siano with a discussion about the grapes that Alfonso I of Aragon planted on Monte Somma.

At 1830. There will be a guided tour of the Santa Maria Del Pozzo Church ( Via Santa Maria Del Pozzo 114, Somma Vesuviana) which was constructed in 1333 by King Roberto d’Angio. This church is famous for its underground frescoes and other wonders.

Afterwards, a wine tasting provided by Cantine Olivella as well as a meal prepared by Europe’s youngest Michelin star chef, Francesco Sposito of Ristorante Taverna Estia in Brusciano (Na). Plus music, music, and more music!

This fusion of archeology, culture and wine is free, but space is limited and reservations are necessary. They can be made by contacting Cantine Olivella at 081 5311388 or 340 7469126

Accademia Del Gusto: La Primavera nel Mare, Nautilus Enoristorante , April 29th

The next Accademia Del Gusto at Nautilus Enoristorante will be held this Friday, April 29th . This month’s menu is La Primavera nel Mare: Spring in the Sea accompanied by wines from A.A:. Quartum .Then afterwards, Micheangelo Di Toma will lead a tasting on grappa and aquavita.

The evening begins at 2030 and the cost is 35 Euro.

For more information, or to reserve a spot, contact
Via Ripuaria 259, Varcaturo
Giugliano in Campania 80014 (Na)
081 839 2006

Monday, April 25, 2011

Beauty in a Glass...Beauty on Paper

Vinitaly 2011...Record attendance.  Record high temperatures.

But as stifling and hectic as it was, I was able to find a moment of refreshing solitude in the Magistavini booth, pavilion 7B.  Because there, over in the corner, was a young artist.  She sat alone, with her paintbrush, her paper, her three glasses of wine...her thoughts.  Primitivo...Negroamaro...and Taurasi Riserva, she told me.  I watched for awhile as she continued, not wanting to break her concentration, not wanting to disprupt her creativity.

I watched as she dipped her paintbrush into each glass containing a wine with stunning ruby red coloring. I observed  as she, with careful strokes, transformed that beauty in a glass to beauty on paper. 

And for a few moments, I forgot about the heat, forgot about the crowd, and enjoyed a moment of refreshing solitude...

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Searching for the Anima di Puglia-Tenuta di Eméra with Vincenzo Mercurio

Part 2 of my visit with wine maker Vincenzo Mercurio at Vinitaly.

The Puglia that I am familiar with is that of Alberobello with its white trulli houses, Zoo Safari amusement Park, and La Grotta del Castellano. A Puglia where rusty red iron rich soil hosts wheat fields and olive trees as far as the eye can see. And vineyards….vineyards…vineyards. Negroamaro…Primitivo…guyot and freestanding training systems. It is a Puglia that I visited a couple of summers ago. Puglia…a region that I wanted a deeper understanding of, so during Vinitaly, I decided to try some wines from this sizzling southern Italian region. And that is where Vincenzo Mercurio came in.

It wasn’t easy keeping up with Mercurio as we left Pavilion B and headed towards a crowded Pavilion 7B, but I did my best. We found a quiet table in the corner of stand F3 where Vincenzo introduced me to an anima, a spirit of Puglia - Tenuta di Eméra. A winery located in Southern Puglia-Salento to be exact. From my sommelier course, I was already familiar with some of the types of grapes grown in this area, so I was ready as he poured our first glass, Fiano. A glass of Amure IGT 2010. Mercurio quickly pointed out two important facts. 1) That in Puglia, it is very difficult to conserve the freshness of this grape because the climate is very hot. So he adds Chardonnay. 2) This particular glass was a sample from the vat. Their 2010 was not quite ready yet. Already white fruit and floral aromas were wavering from our glass. But more time was needed so that it could present itself as fresh and smooth with a touch of fruit towards the end.
Rose 2010…the next glass was a rosé. A wine made with negro amaro. I couldn’t help but admire the pink color that a quick kiss by the dark –almost black, nero-grapeskins gave to this light, delicate, fresh and flavorful wine. And the strawberry aromas. Negro amaro is a popular grape in southern Puglia. A grape that would show me another side as Mercurio poured our 3rd wine: Anima di Negroamaro 2010. 100 % Negro amaro, showing its spirit, its anima, in the glass. A glass that had the typical characteristics of this grape such as a dark ruby red coloring. Mercurio noted that the dark colors that I saw that afternoon would lighten slightly as the wine got older. I was curious then about the fruit flavors, then. Only 10% of the grapes for this wine see any wood, so the currants and blackberries were fresh, but not hidden by spices.

As warm as it was in Verona that day, I wanted to continue with Puglia’s reds, so the next wine in our glass was Nero di Troia 2010 Roso IGT. Uva di Troia, one of Puglia’s oldest grapes, believed to be brought to Gargano by Diomedes from Troy. Another sample from the vat…another  which was not ready for the mass public yet, but one that Mercurio wanted to have me try. 15% of this wine spends time in wood. He wanted me to note the characteristics of this wine…this grape. Balsamic…red fruits…Then it was on to our next grape, on to our next wine.

Primitivo. Anima di Primitivo DOC 2010. 100% Primitivo di Manduria; the grape in Puglia. Grapes that come in large bunches. Grapes that have a tendency to dry and sweeten on the vine, Mercurio tells me, thanks to the warm winds of the region. Winds that give this wine engaging mature fruit aromas and a beautiful dark purple color.

There was one more wine that Vincenzo Mercurio wanted to talk about. One more that he wanted me to try. A blend of Negro Amaro and Malvasia Nera. He wanted me to see what they two grapes were like together. So he poured a glass of Salice Salentino Rosso IGT 2010. Maybe he wanted to end our time in Puglia by showing me how negro amaro could make malvasia nero smoother. Maybe. By showing me a complete anima, an entire spirit of a region in the short time that we had together.


I thought about this for awhile, then, it was time to leave Puglia.

It would be great to see a side of Campania I’m not familiar with, I thought…
How about Cilento, Vincenzo?

It wasn’t easy keeping up with Mercurio as we left Pavilion 7B and headed back towards a crowded Pavilion B, but I did my best….

Italian Version

Cantine Astroni Shares Campania

A few weeks ago, Cantine Astroni, gave Naples two new opportunites to share Campania with Neapolitans, as well as with travelling cruise ship tourists from all over the world.  Inside the newly opened Stazione Marittima shopping mall, they opened up a wine bar and an enoteca.  In their wine bar, you can relax and try one of their many wines that represent not only the Campi Flegrei area but Campania as well.  A glass of Falanghina with an arancino?  Or how about Piedirosso with a prosciutto or porchetta sandwhich?  And if you really like what you tasted, just go around the corner to their enoteca.  Here you can try more wines and purchase if you wish.

Cantine Astroni Wine and Street Food and Cantina Astroni Enoteca are located in the Stazione Marittima Shopping Mall next to Molobeverello.  Their hours are from 0900-2000 7 days a week.  For more info call 348 7685070 or

A Picnic for Pasquetta -Cool Recipes from Armando Palmieri
 There is a tradition in here in Italy around Easter time that we do not celebrate in the States. It is Pasquetta or Easter Monday. The day after Easter. A day to recognize when Jesus appeared to of his disciples who were on their way to Eramus, a few miles from Jerusalem. In Campania, many head to the nearby islands of Capri, Ischia, and Procida with hopes of great weather and the first tan of the season.

Many head to the kitchen and to the table…get togethers with families and friends, whether it be a big lunch at home, in a restaurant, or an agriturismo. Then there are those who pack up their cars with food and head towards the many beautiful parks to have a picnic. Not a simple picnic, this is Campania. So I asked my Mise en Place friend Armando Palmieri what kind of menu is typical for a Paqsuetta Picnic. He shared with me a few items that are definite musts for an Easter lunch:

 In the kitchen you do not "throw away" anything .... Especially if there's leftover pasta. But tell me one thing that’s better, especially on a Sunday afternoon, than easting leftover pasta? In my region (Campania), famous for many things, but also for its "ancestral hunger" , the "pasta scarfata" (reheated pasta ) is a real Sunday evening ritual. Pasta frittata is delicious, especially ziti, which stick to the bottom of the pot while being reheated, becoming crispy and full of flavor!! But back to our recipe. You can use leftover pasta that you’ve added a little butter to, or pasta that you have just cooked.
pasta frittata: 300g of spaghetti or other pasta already cooked ,2 eggs ,100gr mozzarela, 100g salami, shredded cheese, a knob of butter,salt, pepper, oil for frying

Preparation: In a large bowl place the pasta, eggs, cheese, salami and mozzarella chopped, pepper, a pinch of salt and butter. Mix well. In a large frying pan heat some oil and pour in the pasta. Cook on low heat. When the dough is golden brown, turn the omelette with the aid of a dish (be careful not to burn) you continue to cook until they form a beautiful golden crust. You can serve it hot or warm.
Breaded cutlets are loved by everyone… young and old. They can be made using veal, pork, chicken or turkey ... one thing is certain- they are devoured in minutes. Ideal for making a sandwich for a single course or for a picnic outdoors. Excellent with a side of salad like lettuce, radicchio, fennel ... .. Of course the most famous ,Milanese cutlet, is the recipe that we propose, instead, is "international". ... oops .. from my house !!!!!

4 slices of veal, 2 eggs, bread crumbs, peanut oil, salt

Preparation: With a meat mallet, beat the slices of meat that have been cut into pieces of at least 15 cm long. In a bowl, beat the eggs and add a pinch of salt. Dip the slices first in egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry in hot (but not boiling) oil. When they are golden brown on both sides dry them on a paper towel and serve immediately with a side dish and fresh lemon slices.
 Grilled meat
An easy recipe for all those who love cooking on the barbecue. And what's better than a picnic on Easter Monday? The important thing to be able to make a fire and then everything else ... it goes up in smoke!

4 slices of meat, 250 grams each , 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 clove garlic, 1 sprig of rosemary, salt 

Preparation: removed the meat from the refrigerator at least half an hour before cooking to ensure that it is still cold to inside during cooking. In a bowl add oil, chopped garlic and rosemary. Mix well. Prepare the grill and when ready, place the meat on the grill and brush with the sauce, cook for 5 to 10 minutes by each side according to your tastes. Remember that the meat should be turned only once otherwise you will lose all the juices. When it is ready, add salt and serve immediately.

Grilled fish:

It 'best to prepare this recipe in the open air to avoid that the  house starts to "smoke". Excellent as a main course and ideal for picnics as on Monday. A tip: Choose fish that are not too small, the meat should be firm, this type of cooking is perfect for shellfish, crabs, tuna and swordfish.

2 kg of mixed fish of your choice (shrimp, prawns, cuttlefish, sea bass, swordfish, etc.), 2 cloves garlic, chopped parsley, salt, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, vinaigrette

Preparation: Clean and wash the fish without removing the scales, clean and wash the shellfish and prepared the coals. When it is ready, place on the grill and continue cooking. Prepare a vinaigrette. Add it to fish and serve on large platters with fresh parsley and thick slices of lemon.
 Roasted artichokes

Roasted artichokes absolutely cannot go missing from the menu on Easter and Easter Monday. Their scent, while cooking is so appealing is that your mouth starts to water at the mere thought of being able to enjoy them.

4 fresh artichokes "Mammarella" or 8 if small, garlic, parsley, extra virgin olive oil, salt

Pecorino cheese, bacon

Preparation: Cut the stems off the artichokes, leaving at least 10 cm, wash them and beat on a chopping board to open the leaves. Fill with a pinch of salt, a piece of garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and parsley. If you want them even tastier, add a piece of bacon and a piece of cheese. Place in the glowing coals and cook by turning and adding a little oil every now and then. When the outer leaves are burnt, remove them from the grill. Cut off the outer leave.. Serve immediately on the table by adding a pinch of salt.

So...what are you doing for Pasquetta?

Grazie, Armando...and Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter in Sicily-Chef Marcello Valentino's Pesce Azzurro

Every now and then I see one of Sicilian chef Marcello Valentino’s recipes that I have to have for the blog. He was more than happy to share this one.

In Sicily, fish is a very popular part of the Easter menu. Pesce azzurro (blue fish such as sardines or mackerel) is divided into  pieces that weigh about 150 g each. He cooks each piece for a few minutes, fully immersed in extra virgin olive oil at  about 45°C. Afterwards, he browns them in a hot pan for a few seconds. The result? Fish that is tender on the inside with a beautiful golden crust on the outside. He accompanied this dish with black beans and a creamy spring vegetable sauce.

 Buona Pasqua!

Photo: Marcello Valentino

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wine Remix: VitignoItalia, May 22-24, Castel Del'Ovo, Naples

VitignoItalia-WINE REMIX presents a unique format designed by Robert Baron and produced by Radio Capri La Costa Music.

WINE-Remix is a new approach to wine tasting that opens up an exploration of the senses,; a new way to hear the different notes on each wine.

For the first time a sommelier, a DJ and a VJ will lead a wine tasting  combining all our senses to the sounds of music.
It is promised to be an extraordinary sensory experience.  A journey through the sound of wine.

Each wine will be paired with a piece of music, a result of joint research between a sommelier and DJ professionals all with the goal of enhancing your wine tasting experience.
 The tastings will be held during the three days of VitignoItalia, in the Tasting Room, from 2000 to 2100.
Six wines…six songs…space is limited to 30 people.  Reservations are a must.
For more information, or to sign up, contact: tel. 081 4104533
press office Dipinto Studio
tel. / fax: 081 681505

Pasqua with Chef Giuseppe Daddio-Insalatina di fave con provola affumicata, pancetta, uovo di quaglia in salsa mimosa e erba porcellana

As an amazing appetizer, this would look great on your Easter table.  A fave bean salad with smoked provolone cheese, pancetta, and quail eggs with a mimosa sauce.  Here is chef  Giuseppe Daddio’s recipe

Ingredients for 6: 
(For fresh fava bean salad) 
fave beans (pods) kg. 
San Marzano tomatoes gr. 500 
 fresh smoked provolone. 250 gr
wrapped pancetta (bacon) gr. 150 
6  quail eggs.  . 
Extra virgin olive oil 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Paprika (sweet) to taste 
For the mimosa sauce 
3 boiled egg yolks. 
Salt and pepper to taste 
Juice of one lemon 
Extra virgin virgin olive
Salt and pepper to taste 
Wild herbs to taste 
Shell the beans and blanch in water for about 2 minutes. Drain and cool. 
Take the skins off the beans and place the beans in a bowl. Toss with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, diced ( green) tomatoes, and diced provolone cheese. Place the bean salad in a deep dish to mold them. Cook the quail eggs in water for 5 minutes after the water has begun to boil. Let the eggs cool, then shell them. Sprinkle the paprika on the eggs creating  a marbled effect. 

Slice the pancetta into very thin slices. Place the slices between 2 sheets of parchment paper and let dehydrate in the oven for about 5 minutes at 170 ° C. 

Assemble the dish as follows: 
Place the bean salad on a plate.  Lay the slices of crispy bacon on top.  Then add the quail egg.
For the mimosa sauce: Dice hard-boiled eggs and toss them in   a bowl with salt, pepper, wild herbs, and lemon juice. 
Dress the salad and garnish with bean sprouts. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Pasqua with Chef Giuseppe Daddio-Tortano and Casatiello

Tortano and Casatiello

Easter is approaching, and as with any special holiday, I am always curious about what is going on in the kitchen.  Chef Giuseppe Daddio from Locanda Delle Trame shared with me some of his recipes starting with two classics; Tortano and Casatiello

 flour (00) 1000 gr
‘American’ flour. 500gr
 water. 700 cl
3 fresh eggs
 salt. 50 gr
sugar 15 gr
lard. 250 gr
grated pecorino. 250 gr
pepper. 20 gr
yeast (compressed)  25 gr
sourdough . 300 gr
For the filling:
cicoli  500 gr
High quality  Neapolitan salami  500 gr

Mix all ingredients in a pastry machine,  keeping the salt and yeast away from each other. Add the cheese and pepper.Remove the dough from the machine when it is smooth and well mixed. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts and braid them.  Place an egg on the top center.  Spread lard on the top and let rise.  Afterwards, bake for about 50 minutes at 170 º C.  The difference of between a Tortano and a Casatiello is that the Casatiello is braided with an egg on top as a symbol for Easter.   The Casatiello, instead, is made by rolling out the dough, sprinkling salami on top, rolling it, then baking in a bunt pan.

Locanda Delle Trame
Via Fiorillo, 1
81100 Vaccheria Caserta (CE)
tel.: 0823 304055
fax:  0823 303930

Monday, April 18, 2011

Vinitaly with Vincenzo Mercurio : Sardinia's Cantina Poderosa

Vinitaly can be overwhelming. A lot of wine, a lot of territory. I didn't have a lot of 'free time', so I wanted to make the most of it. I felt I needed someone to show me around. That someone was Vincenzo Mercurio. Vincenzo is a well respected wine maker and works with a fair number of wineries nationally and internationally. He would be the perfect person to take me on a tour of different territories and was more than happy to share a couple of hours with me during his busy Vinitaly  discussing various traditions, terrain, and wine.

So, our trip began in Sardinia…an island located off the western coast of Italy. An amusement park for the rich and famous in the summer with its clear blue seas and beautiful beaches. He introduced me to a land smack in the middle of the province of Sassari, at the foot of Mount Santu. A fertile, volcanic area. He presented Cantina Poderosa, a winery with 6 hectares of vineyards nestled in a land rich in antique traditions and culture. And he did it by setting down three bottles on the table between us. The bottles had the same name, Lunàdu, and contained a wine made from the same grape; Vermentino. I had to look closely at the label to see what differences, if any, there were amongst them. Ah, there, the moon. A small design of a moon on each bottle; a waxing crescent moon, a waning crescent moon and a full moon. One grape, three wines, each grape growing procedures such as pruning and trimming performed during a different phase of the moon. Ancient traditions that were an experiment for Mercurio, who considers himself more a scientist than a philosopher. Would there be differences? I wondered. I would soon find out as he poured three glasses of Lunàdu 2009, 100% Vermentino.

First of all, each glass was a gorgeous golden color. It was interesting (if not entertaining) to note the differences between the two crescent wines…differences in intensity of citrusy grapefruit aromas. One had more structure and body. Both a powerful 15% alcohol content…but fresh and flavorful.

A full moon can be enchanting. And Poderosa’s Lunàdu- luna piena was just that. Besides the major work in the fields done during the full moon phase, this wine underwent a maceration process similar to a red wine. 15 days in wood before it continued its way and joined the other two bottles on the table. Less citrus, more floral and a touch of spice. A very different smoky flavor.

As enchanting as this glass was, what was even more captivating were the stories Mercurio shared with me about this winery. Like stories about Gavino Ledda, a poet who published Padre e Padrone, who studied the ancient Sardo language, and who gave a name to the various vineyards that Poderosa possesses.

We talked about how in the past, bread was dipped into wine. Only the wine that was absorbed by a piece of bread was drunk/eaten. He shared this particular story as we tried the next wine; Monte Santu- il vino del pane 2008. Here was a dark ruby red wine which I could imagine dipping a piece of bread into. Here were three grapes; Cannonau, Cagnulari, and Monica. I’d never tried these three grapes, and I enjoyed the flavor of this lightly tannic red.

The last wine I tried from this interesting piece of Sardinia was Lierra-enigma di liberta 2008. A wine that was ready to express its liberty through wild, sweet aromas. Where this wine, made with 100% Cagnulari, showed me how flavorful wines from a part of Italy that I know very little about.

So that’s Sardinia, I thought…Vincenzo Mercurio’s Sardinia. A small part of an island that he shares with Cantina Poderosa. With a winery with whom he is able to experiment with Vermentino, Cannonau, Cagnulari, and Monica. Where at the foot of Mount Santu, in this fertile, volcanic territory, he can help to express a culture, traditions, and territory with others in a glass just as he did with me that afternoon….

 Where next, Vincenzo?

Puglia...let's go to Puglia...

Ok, Puglia it is...

next blog...:-)

Italian Version

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Lezioni in Cucina-Cooking with Chef Paolo Barrale at Marennà

Chef Paolo Barrale
Marennà is proud to present ‘Lezioni di Cucina’; a series of cooking lessons presented by chef Paolo Barrale. These courses are dedicated to those who are passionate about good food and are in search of new ideas and techniques to impress their guests. Learn, prepare, and enjoy Michelin star dishes alongside Barrale paired with wines from Feudi dei San Gregorio.

Here are the next few opportunities on the schedule:

“Easter Menu”
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
17:30 – 21:00

“May Menu”
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
17:30 – 21:00

“Summer has Arrived”
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
17:30 – 21:00

“Midsummer Night’s Dinner”
Sunday, August 7, 2011
17:30 – 21:00

For more information, or to reserve a spot contact

Località Cerza Grossa
Sorbo Serpico (Av)
0825 986666 or

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Muffa Nobile in a Glass- the Passitos of Mastroberardino

It wasn’t really a promise. More like a comment. A comment made by Antonio Dente , agronomist for Mastroberardino,  last fall after a visit to their vineyards of Montemarano and Santo Stefano in Avellino. Back from a muddy version of Vineyard Hopping where I got a chance to see grapes on the vine that had developed that beautiful muffa nobile . Aglianico and Fiano grapes on their way to becoming Mastroberardino’s dessert wines.

That afternoon Antonio mentioned that the next time I visited, we could see what was going on in the winery and taste their Melìzie and Anthères passitos along with Massimo Di Renzo, Mastrobeardino’s winemaker. A couple of weeks ago, that statement came to life. After a few emails, phone calls, and scheduling changes, the day arrived where I could sit down in the comfort of Mastroberardino’s wine tasting room and have a mini wine tasting lesson on passito-Mastroberadino’s muffa nobile in a glass.

We began with Melìzie Fiano Passito 2008. A passito that I was familiar with. One I had tried on various occasions at Radici Resort, most recently with chef Francesco Spagnuolo’s mille foglie con crème de amarene. But the intention here was have me start with a base. A beginning. To try their last passito before they started using Fiano grapes that had developed botrytis cinera on the vine. We observed and discussed our glass that shared a golden yellow color and aromas such as apricots and candied fruits. I sipped while our conversation continued. I experienced flavors similar to an orange jam with a hazelnut aftertaste…a light note of toasted wood. It was important to begin with this glass. Because this glass would help me to understand the next.

The next glass was also a glass of Melìzie. Melìzie Fiano Passito 2009. Their first Fiano passito made with grapes that remained on the vine until Mastroberardino felt that they had dried enough…had reached the right level of sugar content…that perfect quality of muffa nobile. I thought back to my stroll last fall in the vineyards of Santo Stefano with Dente. I remembered him showing me grapes destined for the 2010 harvest in an area of the vineyard that was perfect for the development of this marvelous mold that would sweeten this grape to the right point at harvest time. A vineyard 600 mt above sea level. A vineyard that back in the beginning of December 2009 produced a fruit that I would now try in my glass. Di Renzo poured…I watched.

Fiano grapes.
Photo courtesy of Mastroberardino.
Fiano grapes.
 Photo courtesy of Mastroberardino

A wine tasting is divided into three parts…you look, you smell, you taste. So as Di Renzo poured, I noticed that same gorgeous golden color that I had seen in the previous glass. I brought my nose to the glass…here is where the differences began. Sweeter…più dolce. As I tasted, I was beginning to understand the diversity…here I discovered flavors that were more complex, more intense in respect to 2008. Candied citrus, exotic fruits, dried figs to name a few. This passito was more concentrated and had a longer aftertaste. I was wondering where the grapes were that I had seen on the vinel ast November. Dente smiled…resting in the vat…maybe next time. Because now it was time to try another wine.

Aglianico grapes in Mastroberardino's Montemarano Vineyard right before the harvest.
Anthères…Irpinia Aglianico Passito DOC 2009. Grapes from Montemarano. Grapes that were harvested a year before my last visit. Grapes picked to produce Mastroberardino’s first Aglianico passito using grapes that had developed muffa nobile on the vine. Dark ruby red color with light garnet reflections. A color that emphasized the point that what I had in my glass in front of me was a wine made with grapes whose skins were darker, browner than usual at harvest time. To the nose…concentrated red fruit aromas; figs, tobacco, and dates. A very smooth, balsamic, velvety taste.

As my mini lesson was coming to a close, I realized that what an opportunity I had to sit down with Mastrobeardino’s wine maker and agronomist. To open one of only 1,500 bottles of this particular passito. To taste along with them as they reflected on their hard labor in the vineyards and cantina….Then I asked about the grapes that I had seen that muddy afternoon in Montemarano last November…

Magari la prossima volta….next time

Ok…Ok…ho capito…I understand

another comment…another promise….another time…

Italian Version

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Wine List, Please-Abraxas Osteria & Wine Bar, Pozzuoli (Na)

I remember the first time I went to Abraxas. I brought a few friends for a real girls' night out…away from the husbands, kids, and boyfriends. It was my choice, I felt a little responsible, but I had only heard positive things about this osteria located in the outskirts of Campi Flegrei. A place that had a great menu…and an amazing and diverse wine list. I remember being handed that list by Nando Salemme, owner of Abraxas. I can still feel the eyes of my girlfriends on me as they expected me to choose a wine from this large carta dei vini. I chose…we wined and dined…it was a great night.

Since then, I have bumped into Nando on numerous occasions outside of Abraxas. On the streets of Taurasi’s centro storico on a hot summer evening. At various wine fairs, lunches, dinners and Slow Food events. And each time we bumped into each other, I was always fascinated at his passion for tasting and trying new things; from wines, to cheeses, to salamis and jams. Nando Salemme-always on the look out for something new, something different to bring back to his osteria in Campi Flegrei.

Fast forward: April 2011. I pull into the parking lot of Via Scalandrone # 15, in Pozzuoli at about 1615-but this time without my girlfriends. This time I brought my Nikon, a notepad and a pen. I wanted to have a chat with Nando about his carta dei vini. Un caffè, a glass of Ferrarele and Nando began his story.

A story that began about 9 years ago when Abraxas was just a small wine bar, with a small menu. Over time, by popular demand, the menu expanded and Abraxas became an osteria serving pasta, cheeses, salamis based around the Campi Flegrei territory that he calls home. Slowly..steadily his wine list of a modest 80 wines developed into 800. 800 wines…800 friends. Nando, sommelier and enthusiast for anything and everything under the sun has a passion for exploring. He travels often in his camper with his wife and daughter and with his friends. He travels throughout Campania, Abruzzo, Basilicata, and Tuscany to name a few adventures. He walks the vineyards, gets to know the producers, the wine makers, the wine. All out of an enthusiasm and desire to bring back a product that he feels that his customers, his friends, would like.

Skimming through his wine list is like opening up his travel diary, Wineries throughout Italy. Wineries who are internationally known as well as those who are unknown…all wineries that meet the Abraxas test. The list is divided by region beginning with the vini al bicchierri. A selection of 7 to 8 wines that you may order by the glass. A great way to try a new wine that is unfamiliar to you or an option for those who may not want a full bottle. Then the ultimi arrivi. Abraxas’s latest wines choices. A quick way to see what’s new to the mix. Skimming through the pages, I saw a large selection of Campania wines, particularly those from Campi Flegrei. Nando feels that it is important to support the territory, his territory. A territory proudly displayed from Abraxas’s garden which overlooks Lake D’Averno. Nando feels a strong tie to Campi Flegrei, to its wines and other products. Making people aware of the culture and traditions can help to preserve a region.

There is a section for Abraxas’s recommended wines. These are for those who are unsure of what to order and usually include Italy’s smaller wineries with an interesting quality/price ratio. About 70 international wines have found their way on the list with France being up front and center. I continued to browse the light brown album which held his wine list. But my Nikon was getting restless. I wanted to walk around.

Nando at this point pulled out a set of keys and opened his cantina. An area to the left side of the bar, hidden in the corner. A small area behind iron bars with two tables set up for dining. Modest, dimly lit. I was immediately interested in what each shelf had to offer. So a took a few minutes, okay, about a half an hour, roaming the shelves. Wines from all over. Wines that had their own story. Wines that Nando chose himself and brought home to Abraxas. Grappas, whiskeys, dessert wines, and all sorts of after dinner drinks. All resting in the comfort of Abraxas’s cantina. Aging in the bottle, relaxing on the shelves.

Relaxing as I did a while back with my girlfriends. On a girls' night out…without husbands, kids, or boyfriends. I even remember the wine that I chose that evening. And I saw it there..
A Piedirosso Riserva from Campi Flegrei…I think I chose well.  I mean, it was hard not to...

Abraxas Osteria & Wine Bar
Via Scalandrone # 15
Pozzuoli-Lucrino (Na)
081 854 9347

Italian Version

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Vinitaly 2011 AIS Campania Program

AIS Campania has just announced their calendar of events scheduled for Vinitaly in Verona this week.  It is as follows

Vigna Campania Area Tecnica  Campania Pavillion

Thursday, April 7

 15.30: "Sparkling Campania"
      Asprinio d’Aversa brut I Borboni; Greco Spumante Fattoria La Rivolta;Principe Lotario Aglianico rosato Fontanavecchia;Selim viticoltori De Conciilis; Dubl Falanghina Feudi San Gregorio; Blow Aglianico Rosato VSQ Villa Raiano.

Friday, April 8

13.00: Press Conference
15.30: "Dieta Mediterranea heritage of humanity" discussions with Alfonso Iaccarinoand Giorgio Calabrese

Saturday, April 9
Ore 12,00: “Dieta Mediterranea heritage of humanity discussions  with Alfonso Iaccarino e Giorgio Calabresi
 16.00: "We are history ... the story continues," tasting of historic Campania red grape varieties  led by Luigi Moio and Nicoletta Gargiulo   Taurasi Riserva docg “130” Mastroberardino; Campi Flegrei Piedirosso doc Montegauro 2005  Grotta del Sole;   Aglianico del Taburno doc Bue Apis Cantina del Taburno; Montevetrano colli di Salerno igt 08 Montevetrano ; Falerno del Massico doc 2008 Moio; Ambruco Terre del Volturno igt Terre del Principe.

Sunday, April 10
11.00: "We are history ... the story continues" historic white wine tasting Campani led byDaniel Cernilli and Nicoletta Gargiulo .
I schia Biancolella D'Ambra; Fiano d'Avellino 08 Ciro Picariello; Greco di tufo 09 Cantina dell'Angelo; Campanaro igt Feudi San Gregorio;Falanghina doc Masseria Frattasi ; Furore Bianco Costa d'Amalfi doc Fiorduva di Marisa Cuomo

16.00: "The native grapes' six Campania stories.
Piedirosso dei Campi Flegrei doc La Sibilla;  Fiano d’avellino docg 2009 Pietramara etichetta bianca I Favati; Gladius Roccamonfina igt Tenuta Adolfo Spada; Sabbie di sopra il Bosco Nanni Copè; Greco di Tufo docg Vigna Cicogna Benito Ferrara,Terra D’Eclano Quintodecimo.

Monday, April 11
12.00: "Dolce Campania"
 Tenuta Giardini Arimei Fratelli Muratori; Mel Cantine Antonio Caggiano; Zingarella Moscato di BaseliceMasseria Parisi;Fiano Passito Luigi Maffini;  Eleusi Villa Matilde

Monday, April 4, 2011

Irpinia Excellent ! at Vinitaly, April 8-10

Last Year's seminar on Taurasi with Paolo De Cristofaro

It's time for Irpinia at Vinitaly:
Like the 2010 edition, the Chamber of Commerce of Avellino is glad to welcome you to "Irpinia Excellent!", an event held during Vinitaly 2011 and addressed to journalists, professionals, consumers, opinion leaders, decision makers, institutional authorities and members of the main food and wine associations operating in the territory with the aim to deepen the knowledge and fully understand the potentiality of Irpinia wine and food
So, from Friday 8 to Sunday 10 April, three days dedicated to the Avellino territory in the area “Vigna Avellino” Hall B Avellino Campania. Also for 2011 at the Vinitaly the slogan will be "Irpinia Excellent!”

FRIDAY April 8 2011

11:00 am-Tasting Workshop

“Coda di Volpe Irpinia – Tra favola e realtà”

An ancient Aesop’s fable narrates the meet of a fox with grapes (literally Coda di volpe means Fox tail). Our intention is to transpose this story in Irpinia through a sensorial trip made of history and wine tastings ….

1:00 pm: “Irpinia a tavola”
Turnip and potatoes with cotechino and pizza Ionna
Brawn, dry sausage and podolico cheese with fruit chutney

Wine Tasting workshop - 4:00 p.m.
E’ tempo d’Irpinia – First Appointment
Vertical-Horizontal of Fiano di Avellino

Saturday April 9 2011

11:00 am: Tasting Workshop
Does it make sense to translate in Irpinia the concept of Cru, so meaningful for some of the most important wine territories in the world? We will try to answer this question through the support of producers and wines that have already followed this track.

1:00 pm : “Irpinia a tavola”
Chestnut soup, beans and porcini mushrooms
Beef with artichokes
Ricotta and chocolate crumble

Wine Tasting workshop - 4:00 p.m.
E’ tempo d’Irpinia – Second Appointment
Vertical-Horizontal of Greco di Tufo

Sunday April 10 2011
11:00 am - Tasting Workshop
L’Irpinia è anche DOC
A journey across the Irpinia DOC world. Which areas does it include? Which wines can be produced? A trip that starts from "spinoff" appellations to reach other varietials inexactly considered of minor prestige, like piedirosso, sciascinoso, greco musc’ and falanghina.

1:00 pm : “Irpinia a tavola”
Larded Fusilli of Avellino
Sausages and ribs, potatoes and pepaine (local peppers aromatized in vinegar)
Lenten biscuits with hazelnuts

Wine Tasting workshop - 4:00 p.m.
E’ tempo d’Irpinia – Third Appointment

Vertical-Horizontal of Taurasi

Each event has a limited number of places. You can take part by  booking throughthe Organization office (tel. +39.392.9866587, +39.320.4332561) or by sending an e-mail to the address

See you there!