Saturday, February 8, 2014

When Fiano Came to Napoli-Snapshot of a Territory with Cantine Di Meo and Chef Gianluca D'Agostino

I remember that afternoon as if it were yesterday.  A Sunday afternoon in Salza Irpina (Av), late October 2013.  After a few hours in Roberto Di Meo's Fiano vineyards 'helping out' with the harvest and taking photos, it was time to sit down and relax.  Relax with a glass of wine and enjoy a buffet potluck pranzo prepared by Di Meo, his wife Rossella, and their friends.   It was over a glass of one Di Meo's latest creations, a Fiano spumante metodo charmat that the idea hit.  And without missing a beat I asked Roberto if we could do a Snapshot together...his Fiano in Naples.  And I knew just the place.
Veritas Restaurant.
Veritas, besides being one of the top restaurants in Naples,  had the right ambiance, I felt, to recreate that afternoon in Avellino.  Cozy, compassionate, comfortable.  In the kitchen, Gianluca D'Agostino a young chef with a sack load of experience.  A Neapolitan with strong ties to Irpinia. I was more than confident that Gianlu' could pull out a menu that would pair perfectly with the wines chosen for the evening.
The evening. Tuesday evening, January 28, 2014.
The wines - we decided to focus on Fiano di Avellino but in 3 different representations of the varietal.  A wine tasting not to judge...but taste...
In perfect Snapshot style.
My photos on the wall. Fourteen black and white snapshots of the Fiano vineyards that surround Di Meo's winery in Salza Irpina.  Snapshots taken during the harvest in October of 2013 and during the planting of 10,000 new Fiano vine cutitngs in November of 2013.

Our evening began as casually as that Sunday afternoon a few months earlier.
Squid with creamy cauliflower, a sprinkling of  coffee, curly escarole and smoked herring...
 paired with Alessandria Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2010. (Vinified traditionally then aged for 12 months in stainless steel, 12 month in the bottle before being released.)  

First Course:
Gnocchetti pasta  with cabbage, cotechino and squid...

 paired with Cole dei Cerri Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2005 (Selected grapes, aged 10 months in barriques, then 10 months in the bottle before released)

Second Course:
Salt cod with a chick pea and torzelle soup  topped with cruschi peppers....

This was paired with a wine that many of us were waiting for.  
Selezione Erminia Di Meo Fiano di Avellino DOC 2000 This was the  official presentation this wine which will be available in a couple of months (After careful manual selection in the vineyard and meticulous grape selection upon arrival at the winery, the grapes are vinified with maceration for two days with the skins at a low controlled temperature. Aged for 14 years in stainless steel and the bottle)

Pear stuffed with ricotta cheese and chocolate, peperosa, and amaretti cookie crumbs.  
This  dessert along with a dish of fantastic chocolate pastries were paired with a Di Meo classic.  We stepped away from Fiano and headed towards Taurasi with  Ratafia’ di Nonna Erminia. Raftafia’ is made from a family recipe that has been lovingly passed down for generations. 

Taurasi wine infused with a special variety of leaves and herbs, and then aged 2 years in barrique before being bottled.

Overall the evening was relaxing.  A chance to blend wines, fine dining, and photography-three of my favorite passions.  A chance to discuss the wines, the territory, the pairings.  Impressive the freshness of the vecchia Fiano Selezione Erminia Di Meo Fiano di Avellino DOC 2000 ,   Interesting the label on the bottle; simple straight forward..  Delicatissimo D'Agostino's codfish.  Elegant Cole dei Cerri Fiano di Avellino DOCG 2005.  Delightful the tartufi chocolates paired with  Ratafia’.

The evening ended.  As casually as it began.  As casual and relaxed as that Sunday in Salza Irpina...

Snapshot accomplished.

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