Garantito IGP: Up there, a great “Belvedere,” and More

Il Belvedere

Il Belvedere

This time Carlo Macchi invites a guest, whom he introduces with,

This article was written by Giancarlo Montaldo, who isn’t another new member of the IGP team, but is a dear friend and a journalist who knows Piemonte (and more) like the back of his hand. Given that it was he who introduced me to this restaurant, it seems only right tat he write about it. I can only say that had I written, I would have been even more enthusiastic…. GO!!!

The Restaurant with rooms those coming from Canale encounter at the entrance to Montà is more than just a Belvedere; it’s also great food and drink, given the dishes and wines they offer, and especially the wines, which include many great older vintages from both banks of the Tanaro River.

I went on a rainy, rainy evening in the course of Nebbiolo Prima, with Carlo Macchi and Alessandra Piubello. Outside the clouds hovered lmaking the sky seem gloomier than it was. But the view of the rolling hills was so beautiful that one could see through the storm and imagine what the panorama might be on a clear bright day. Seated at the great table, looking out over the valley, we felt as if we were in paradise.

Il Belvedere

Il Belvedere

The Triverio family has been hostlers since Nonna Emilia bought the inn at the gate to Montò, which then offered changes of horses and a place for animals and men to sleep. In the mid 1800s, long before trucks and cars assisted the climb from Canale to Montà, the addition of a pair of horses or oxen to the train pulling a carriage or wagon was essential if the driver wanted to get from Alba to Torino.

Here Piemontese cooking slowly came together. First Nonna Emilia, then Daughter-in-Law Angelina, who has been joined by another Emilia, her daughter; it is here that the two cooks repeat the rituals of the selection of the ingredients, the preparation of the foods, and the pairing of flavors, all keeping in mind what the land and tradition have developed over time.

The raw salami began the dance with its crisp aromas and full flavors, followed by Insalata Russa, prepared in the classic way: The vegetables boiled in water with a little salt and a splash of vinegar, and diced to help the aromas and flavors meld. An intriguing contrast between the richness of the mayonnaise and the sourness of the lemon and vinegar.

The hand-chopped raw beef with just a minimum of other ingredients (a pinch of salt, a little lemon, and extravirgin olive oil) brought the antipasti to a close.

Asparagus is another jewel in Roero’s crown, especially the spears from the sandier parts of the highlands, towards the Pianalto Torinese. They were flavorful and crisp, served in a surprising ragù over hand-made tajarin. Tajarin are a specialty of Alba, made between the Langhe and Roero, and legends speak of dozens of yolks per kilo of soft wheat flour. A tradition that’s not entirely believable, considering that until after the War eggs were a precious commodity that went to feed the sick, or sold to gather the coins necessary to purchase sugar, coffee, the cocoa necessary to make desserts, and so on.

Il Belvedere

Il Belvedere

Memories of the days the farmers spent combining lunch and dinner came together in another dish too, one combining rustic simplicity with memorable flavors and aromas. Just a game cock, nothing more. But what a game cock! One that spent its days scratching in the barnyard, roasted with potatoes, carrots, and seasonal vegetables.

Finally, bonét. In Langa, as in Roero, be one at home or in a restaurant, one cannot conclude a meal without a slice of bonét, the classic chocolate dessert that also includes eggs, flour, amaretti and other simpler ingredients to produce a “not too sweet sweet” with bitter aftertastes that are so beguiling as to make it work well with a wine such as Dolcetto, which is not sweet. No complaints should you happen to have a good Moscato d’Asti, but if you don’t try a simple red and you won’t regret it.

We mentioned wine. Here, the women of Casa Belvedere kept quiet, in their great kitchen, working on the next day’s foods, while Marco Triverio, Sommelier and Emilia’s brother, revealed all the passion he has for what the vineyards produce on the left and right banks of the Tanaro River.

Following his advice we began with a pale Favorita, termed “delle Langhe”, but produced on a crest in Roero. Blessed with subtle rich aromas, which almost seemed hesitant to emerge in all their splendor, it accompanied the antipasti: Neither full nor invasive, it is a refined wine from a small producer, Bartolomeo Demarie of Vezza d’Alba, one of the winemakers Marco appreciates the most.

We then sought a “Nebiolin” from the sandy hills of Roero, and were satisfied. Once again a Langhe DOC, it reveals the deftness of the sandy terroirs so common in Roero. It was from Santo Stefano, where the soils really are loose, and the producer is again small: Carlo Costa, who is unknown to most, but not to Marco, who search for the new is incessant.

You know what is the finest quality of a truffle dog? His sense of smell, of course. And Carlo Macchi has a great nose too, though for wine, not truffles. He started browsing the wine list Marco had given us, flipping from page to page, and coming back to one with an unending list of great wines (Roero, Barolo and Barbaresco) from historic vintages at amazing prices (amazing being a euphemism for astonishingly reasonable).

We asked why the prices were so low, and Marco replied “I’d rather people drink the wines.” Who can disagree with that?

Il Belvedere

Il Belvedere

We therefore decided upon a 1996 Produttori del Barbaresco. Not a Riserva, but a blend from a vintage remembered for its great climatic harmony, and we could not have made a better selection on that rainy night. The finesse of the aromas and flavors we found in our glasses says so even now.

We took things slowly. One sip after the other, without rushing and in friendship, without fighting over the bottle. Carlo enjoyed the last sip, and he deserved it. After all, t’was he who found te special bottle.

We emerged midway between evening and night to a sky that continued to rain down on hills and valleys, and made our unhurried way home.

We will return to Belvedere di Montà. And will seek another bottle that can tell the story of a vineyard, of its hills, of the vintage, and of the winemaker. And leaving time for many open thoughts, hoping that it will rain no more.

Giancarlo Montaldo

 

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.

Garantito IGP. We Are:
Garantito IGP

We Are:

Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi
Lorenzo Colombo

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Garantito IGP: A Romantic Dinner with Your Loved One? Take a Trip Around Rome with TramJazz!

Tram Jazz: Jazz!

Tram Jazz: Jazz!

This time Roberto Giuliani takes the stand.

Ok, I confess, I was the recipient: My wife Laura made the reservations, more than a month ago – because there is a waiting list. June 11 came and I had no idea of what was in the works; I guessed a concert because of the ample lead time, but then I heard the word “dinner” and wondered if she had made reservations at an especially in demand restaurant. But had my doubts, because she was nervous, as if she wasn’t sure I’d appreciate the surprise.

Instead, it was a delightful gift, the most romantic I’ve had and one I will certainly long remember. Though I work with food and wine, I had somehow missed this initiative of the Roman public transportation system. It’s managed by two women, Nunzia Fiorini and Anna Maria Sciannimanico di Brecce, who works with modern art. Rome’s Public Transportation Authority restored a trolly from 1947, transforming it into a restaurant trolly with 28 to 38 seats.

Tram Jazz: All Aboard!

Tram Jazz: All Aboard!

The amazing thing is that while you are enjoying a very pleasant candle-lit meal on a traditional trolly, accompanied by musicians who change from one trip to the next, you follow a route that shows you some of the most beautiful views of the Capital. The catering is handled by Enoteca Palatium, with strictly local ingredients.

The service was impeccable in its politeness and simplicity, and it was a delight to watch the people preparing the dishes that were served along the route.

Before going further I must confess that I didn’t bring my camera because I didn’t know what Laura had in store for me, and in any case starting to take pictures during a romantic occasion of this sort would not have been right. Much better to enjoy the occasion instead!

One can choose between three different routes:

A – Porta Maggiore, Piramide with a stop at the Parco del Celio (Colosseo).
B – Porta Maggiore, Piazza Risorgimento with a stop at Piazza M. Cervantes (Belle Arti).
C – Porta Maggiore, Piazza M. Cervantes, Porta Maggiore, Piramide with a short stop at the Parco del Celio (Colosseo).

Rome's Tram Jazz

Rome’s Tram Jazz

We took option C, which – on June 11th – featured music by Ennio Morricone, performed and reinterpreted by Simone Alessandrini on the soprano sax and Natalino Marchetti on the accordion. The theme was “A dinner out,” and the songs were from famous films that Mr. Morricone provided the music to, including Mission, Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, C’era una Volta il West, C’era una volta in America, and Giù la Testa. Then there was a wonderful encore, “Il Treno” an irresistable tune the jazzmen dedicated to Wolmer Beltrami, composer and accordion player from Sabbioneta, who played in Gorni Kramer’s orchestra and was a fantastic talent scout, having found among others Mina and Fausto Leali.

Tram Jazz

Tram Jazz

The food? I feared it might prove the weak point of the evening, and was wrong. The menu featured the following dishes, all perfectly prepared: Chilled cream of pecorino with basil and lemon, eggplant rollups with couscous and chick peas, black-and-white rice torte with Mediterranean herb ratatouille, and lemony crema pasticcera with fruit and oat wafers. All accompanied by “Birra artigianale Itineris” (a singularly appropriate name), or the Cantine San Marco’s Solo Shiraz and Frascati Crio 10.

At the end of the meal we were served an historic cordial, Sambuca Molinari, and coffee. The menu can be tailored to meet the needs of those who suffer from food allergies or other problems.

One of the nicest things about the ride was the reaction of motorists and pedestrians, some who looked surprised, others envious, and others who simply grinned!

And how much does this cost? Don’t ask me, but you will find all the information you need on the Tramjazz site, http://www.tramjazz.com.

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.

Garantito IGP. We Are:
Garantito IGP

We Are:

Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi
Lorenzo Colombo

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Garantito IGP: Grand Hotel Palazzo, A Vacation Drawn Up Around The Client

The Hotel Palazzo

The Hotel Palazzo

To begin, some exciting news: Lorenzo Colombo of Vinealia has joined us, becoming the 6th Giovane Promettente, or Young And Promising Wine & Food Writer.

It is therefore fitting that he take the stand:

Many hotels boast tailoring vacations to the clients, but I had never been able to tailor a vacation to the extent made possible by the Grand Hotel Palazzo, at Pore (Parenzo), in Croatia.

Scallops in Istria

Scallops in Istria

The potential client need only call and say what he would like to di during his sojourn and the hotel staff will see to organizing every aspect of the vacation; as one might expect choices can also be made once one is at the hotel.

This historic hotel, established in 1910,  returned to new life in 2009, after a log period of abandon during which it was also used to house those left homeless during the dark years of the war that led to the collapse of Yugoslavia.

Completely restructured following the original plans, it is now a deluxe 4-star hotel with an excellent quality-price ratio, especially if one has the opportunity to visit during the off season.

An Istrian Shrimp Cocktail

An Istrian Shrimp Cocktail

We stayed at the hotel for a couple of days at the beginning of May, on the occasion of Vinistra, an event dedicated to the wines of the peninsula, and were able to verify the staff’s willingness to meet the most varied requests, as the hotel has established working relationships a wide variety of artisinal producers and travel operators of the Istrian Peninsula.

Let’s take a look at a food and wine trip such as ours and see how it might be organized.
Winery visit: we went to Moreno Degrassi, located at Savudrija (Salvore), near Umag (Umago), twenty five hectares of vineyards located in four different areas: Bomarchese, Contarini, Ferné and San Pellegrin; they grow sixteen varietals, 65% of which ate international.

Degrassi is the Istrian estate that produces the largest number of distinct wines, 25, despite their only having begun to bottle under their own name in 1996.

Of the many wines we tasted during our visit, we found the most interesting to be the Terrano Terre Rosse 2008, an elegant wine with beautiful well defined red berry fruit and slight smoky accents, freshness and minerality nice acidity, and a persistent bitter finish.

Vinistra

Vinistra

The Refosco is also quite interesting, and dry, displaying intense ripe cherries laced with spice, savory notes, bright acidity, and considerable persistence.

Among the whites we were especially impressed by the Terre Bianche 2011 “Cuvée blanc”, which is ample on the nose with honey and jasmine notes, nicely structured and soft on the palate, but savory and with nice acidity.

After our visit we dined at Toni’s, in Savudrija, the fife of Paolo Paoleti, who has run the restaurant since 1970 (though he is passing it on to his son); he will offer you a series of fish dishes you will not easily forget:  We began with a smoked tuna carpaccio followed by an extraordinary shrimp cocktail with asparagus and eggs, and Canestrelli with tomatoes and scallops. Sea bass fillet in its broth to finish up, with Scampi and black truffles.

The Grand Hotel Palazzo

The Grand Hotel Palazzo

If the dishes please you, you will find their recipes (and many others) in “La mia cucina di pesce”, My fish cooking, a book Paolo has recently published in Italian, Croatian and English.

After lunch, an excursion into the green heart of Istria led us to Livade, home to Ipša (www.ipsa-maslinovaulja.hr ), a small producer of excellent olive oil; from their 2,200 trees they obtain 4,000 liters of oil per year. Among the oils they produce we were especially impressed by l’Istarska Bjelica (Bianchera Istriana), a cultivar that displays celery and tomato on the nose.

The day is not yet done; we return to Buje, to visit “Zigante tartufi”. The estate, which prepares and sells truffles – with which the Istrian Peninsula is richly supplied – also boasts a restaurant where we were able to sample several dishes based on the precious tuber (black, of course, given the season); after fresh truffled cheese with sausages and beet greens, we enjoyed the classic tagliatelle al tartufo, and finished with a delicious truffle ice cream.

And if one wanted to just relax?

An Istrian Tartare

An Istrian Tartare

No problem. The hotel is quite capable of simply cuddling guests.

We’ll begin with the restaurant, the Parenzo 1910, which has been entrusted to the young chef Ivan Justa, who has been running the kitchen for a little more than a year, after a variety of Italian experiences. In addition to working with very fresh fish, Ivan has dedicated himself to the local beef cattle, a breed known as “Boškarin” which was used in the past on the farms, but risked extinction with the arrival of mechanization; it has proven to be well suited to the kitchen as well, and in the course of Vinistra we samples several dishes, including a fine tartare Ivan prepared during a cooking demonstration.

The hotel also boasts the most modern Cafè del Mar, with an ample terrace overlooking the sea, and has a small but well equipped wellness center reserved for guests’ use, which offers aesthetic treatments and massages, though not a private beach – it is on the shor, but in the heart of the ancient hamlet, and therefore is equipped with a pool, t present just uncovered. Those wanting to lounge on a beach can however cross over to the island of Sveti Nicola, directly in front of the Grand Hotel Palazzo.

Ristorante Zigante

Ristorante Zigante

The latest addition at the time of our arrival was the Vinoteca, which offers a wide selection of wines from Istria and elsewhere. Speaking of wine, the list at the restaurant includes both Sassicaia and Chateau d’Yquem, just to be complete.
And finally, of one wants to dine at Parenzo, but not at the hotel?

No problem. The Ristorante Sv. Nicola, is just a shrt walk, and offers, in addition to an à la carte menu, selections of meat and fish. We of course opted for fish, anjoying a tartare of shrimp and scampi with caviar, followed by a truffled sea bass fillet and a sea bream fillet with oysters cooked in Champagne, accompanied by a fresh, savory Malvasia Istriana.

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.

Garantito IGP. We Are:

Garantito IGP. We Are:

We Are:

Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi
Lorenzo Colombo

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Garantito IGP: Waxing Nostalgic, or: Chowder

A Decidedly Homey Bowl of Clam Chowder

A Decidedly Homey Bowl of Clam Chowder

This time I take the Stand.

I have been living in Italy for more than 30 years by now, and Italians occasionally ask me what I miss about the United States. To be honest, not much aside from childhood friends and family; places are places, and while what I left behind was nice where I am today is too, and home and immediate family are here.

One thing I do miss however are traditional American dishes, and while my Italian friends tend to equate American cooking with fast food, we all know there is much, much more. For example chowder, a rich creamy soup New Englanders have been making since they first waded ashore in the 1600s.

As one might expect of a dish that old, it does have European roots – the OED traces it to towns in Brittany and Cornwall, which face each other across the English Channel – and two origins have been proposed for the name, the first that it derives from chaudiere, the French word for the cauldrons traditionally used to cook the dish, and the second that it derives from jowter, an Old English term for fish peddler.

In any case, chowder is a rich soup that’s distinguished from other soups by the presence of salt pork and, in older recipes, well-soaked ship’s biscuits. Though modern recipes generally include milk or cream, older recipes, which often call for layering of the ingredients, are as likely to call for white wine as the liquid, and have the cook thicken the liquid with flour and butter. The other thing to note about older recipes is that they are for fish chowder, not the clam chowder so common today –  Waverly Root and Richard de Rochemont note that while 17th century Native Americans were enthusiastic consumers of shellfish, the Pilgrims considered mussels and clams to be the meanest of God’s blessings and fed them to their hogs.

And it took a while for this situation to change; 18th century American chowder recipes call for fish, and many come across more as fish casseroles than soups. For example, Amelia Simmons’s Chouder recipe, the first to be published in an American cookbook, in 1800: “Take a bass weighing four pounds, boil half an hour; take six slices raw salt pork, fry them till the lard is nearly extracted, one dozen crackers soaked in cold water five minutes; put the bass into the lard, also the pieces of pork and crackers, cover close, and fry for 20 minutes; serve with potatoes, pickles, apple-sauce or mangoes; garnish with green parsley.” A modern diner faced with this dish would likely enjoy it (Ms. Simmons doesn’t say so, but I wold skin and bone the fish, and add it in pieces to the pork and crackers), but would also likely not identify it as a chowder.

The first recipe to call for clams was published by Lydia Maria Child in 1832, but many other authors continued to use fish, and in 1841 Sarah Josepha Hale gave excellent instructions for making a layered cod chowder in The Good Housekeeper: “Lay some slices cut from the fat part of pork, in a deep stewpan, mix sliced onions with a variety of sweet herbs, and lay them on the pork; bone and cut a fresh cod into thin slices, and place them on the pork, then put a layer of pork, on that a layer of biscuit, then alternately the other materials until the pan is nearly full, then season with pepper and salt, put in about a quart of water, cover the stew pan very close, and let it stand, with fire above as well as below (i.e. with coals on the lid), for four hours; then skim it well, and it is done. This is an excellent dish and healthy, if not eaten too hot.”

One could do much worse. And this brings us to clam chowder, which generally gains added body from potatoes. There are, as one might guess, a great many recipes out there. This one is drawn from American cook and food historian James Beard, who said it was the first soup he ever ate, and called it his first love:

  • 1 quart live clams (you can if need be use canned clams – figure about 1 1/2 cups drained clams)
  • 1 cup white wine or water
  • 3 or 4 slices salt pork or bacon, cut in a small dice – since I am in Italy, I chose to use rigatino, flat pancetta
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cups light cream
  • Fresh thyme, finely minced (Mr. Beard calls for it; for me it would be optional)
  • Paprika
  • Parsley, chopped

Put the clams in an untreated saucepan (clam shells will ruin a non-stick coating) with the wine or water. Cover and steam them until they open. Filter the liquid though a strainer and into a bowl, and set it aside. Remove the clams from their shells, discarding any that did not open, and set them aside.

Sauté the salt pork, bacon, or rigatino in its own fat. Remove it when it is crisp and drain it on paper towels. Lightly brown the onion in the remaining fat.

Cook the diced potatoes in boiling water to cover until just tender. Remove them with a slotted spoon and let the water cook down a bit. Combine the bacon, onion, potato, and potato water in a deep saucepan and add the clam juice. Bring thie mixture to a boil and let it simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gradually add the cream and when it has just come to a boiling point, add the clams. Heat them through, but do not boil boil them lest they toughen. Sprinkle with the merest pinch of finely minced thyme.

Mr. Beard says to serve his chowder in heated cups with a dash of paprika and a little chopped parsley. In the United States I would also crumble an oyster cracker or two over the chowder. Since they are not available in Italy, I might go with a couple of unflavored taralli, which are not quite the same but will do as a substitute.

Last thing: Clam chowder is a hearty soup. If the cream you have is not sufficient to produce a chowder of the heartiness you desire, you can thicken it by rolling a ball of butter in some flour, incorporating as much flour as possible into the butter, and then adding the ball to the soup before you add the clams; cook for a minute or two, stirring gently, and the chowder will thicken.

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.Garantito IGP

We Are:

Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi

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Garantito IGP: Montespertoli’s Bread From Heirloom Grains

Marco Panchetti

Marco Panchetti

This time Stefano Tesi takes the stand.

It’s crumbly but firm, replete with unusual aromas, looks compact but has a crumb with ashy hues, and a thick, cracked, floury crust whose color is quite inviting. A slice in the hand feels firm, while the loaf resists the knife. In short, it makes me want to squeeze it to release the rich aromas I remember from bakeries long ago.

We’re talking about bread, obviously.

Of an unusual bread, however. First of all because of the ingredients, but also because of the story behind it. And for it’s innovative “social compact,” which is disarmingly simple and makes it all work. Actually, if it weren’t for the fact that it’s a real bread one can eat, it would almost seem to be a project for a utopic bread.

But instead, no.

I tasted it the other day at Montespertoli, in the heart of the Florentine countryside, where, on the occasion of the local Mostra del Chianti, Vetrina Toscana and Unioncamere had asked me to present two of the products slated for promotion, excellent Tuscan foods prepared in small volumes, what one could call niche products. One was Lucardo’s Pecorino, which I will speak of shortly, and the other was a Pane di Grani Antichi, Bread from heirloom grains.

It’s what the baker who makes it, Marco Panchetti, calls it.

The name sums it up: It’s a bread made from flours from a variety of grains that largely disappeared with the arrival of hybrid seeds and industrial baking in the 20s. Unusual grains, that differ considerably from those of today, with very high shoots of the kind we see in Flemish paintings or those of the Macchiaioli, which are harvested with a sickle, and have odd names: Verna, Frassineto, Abbondanza, Iervicella and so on. But all extremely nutritious (with abundant vitamins, antioxidants and fiber) and poor in gluten.

The beginning was empirical; Marco says he wanted to make the “best bread possible” for his daughter, and experimented with microlots of grain from “custodian farmers,” volunteers who make it their business to preserve Tuscany’s heirloom grains, milling, and the production of just a few loaves, enough for home use. Then came contacts with the University, with the enthusiastic artisans and the professors sharing suspicious glances, and finally a codification of method and component flours.

But this isn’t the most interesting aspect of the bread.

“My bread is the fruit of a ridged, self-imposed production code,” says Marco. “No bureaucracy, no stamps, no authorities. We trust each other. I supply the farmers with seeds, they raise the grain, and I buy it, paying them handsomely – often twice the going rate – which is enough to compensate them for their work and balance the effects of lesser yields.” Cultivation? Organic, literally, and once again Marco says, “no certificates or inspections: the farmers agree not to add anything to the crops, simply following good farming practices, I believe them, they don’t delude me, and we move forward.” Classic organic, in short. “These grains are very different from those of today,” he says, “with stems that grow much too high for other plants to grow beneath them.” In other words, they are self-weeding, and have no need of chemical protection.

“My friend Gianni of the Molino Paciscopi at Montespertoli, stone mills all the grain; it takes him twice as long, but he is happy to be justly compensated. And I provide the bread to retailers at a price that allows them to price it just slightly higher than normal bread: 3 euros per kilo in the shops in Montespertoli and 3.50 out of town.”

The setup works. Daily production of the bread from heirloom grains is about 100 k (225 pounds), and it is sold at the Coop di Montespertoli, the Cooperativa Agricola di Legnaia and, in Florence, at the Enoteca-panetteria Gambi, near Porta Romana, and at the Sant’Ambrogio Formaggi booth in the Mercato di Sant’Ambrogio.

Forget about Internet and such. Marco can only be reached via landline, and preferably in the wee hours of the night (“that’s when I work”). His miller friend, Gianni, has a Molino Paciscopi page on Facebook.

But one really must taste.

Photo by Luciano Corti.
Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.Garantito IGP

We Are:

Carlo Macchi
Kyle Phillips
Luciano Pignataro
Roberto Giuliani
Stefano Tesi

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Tasted at Vinitaly: A Greek Wine From Alpha Estate

Vinitaly is a huge event, and it should come as no surprise that it’s not limited to strictly to wines – there are meetings and talks dedicated to all sorts of topics, as well as pavilions dedicated to foods and olive oil – nor is it dedicated strictly to Italian wines. Indeed, the Enoteca dell’Emiglia Romagna has embarked upon a project to promote Mediterranean wines (and responsible wine drinking) with organizations from Greece and Bulgaria, and at the end of the presentation there were wines to taste. The Bulgarians chose to present wines that are fairly straight forward, made from international varietals, but the Greeks instead presented several quite interesting wines from indigenous grapes.

I unfortunately only had time to take notes for one:

Alpha Estate Axia Managouzia PGI 2012
Pale brassy gold with greenish gold highlights and brassy reflections. The bouquet is intriguing, with citrus and sour gooseberry mingled with greenish accents and peppery spice; ignorant of Greek varietals as I am, it reminds me somewhat of a Sauvignon. On the palate it’s ample and bright, with powerful lemony fruit supported by tannins that have a flinty greenness and by fairly bright sour berry fruit acidity that flows into a greenish flinty finish with mineral acidity and spicy notes. Pleasant in an energetic key and will work quite well with succulent fish or white meats. I would be quite curious to try other versions of the varietal.
2 stars

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Garantito IGP: Borgo di Gete, The Mysterious Tintore of the Costiera Amalfitana

Century-Old Tintore Vines

Century-Old Tintore Vines

This time Luciano Pignataro takes the stand.

There’s a quiet land between Ravello and Amalfiwhere there are thirteen hamlets but no Commune: It’s called taramonti (between the mountains) because it has no specific name iand can only be reached from the sea. Then men built a road that rises steadily from the cement-bound hell of the Nocerino  plain to the Chinunzi Pass, ferrying people from an urban Hades to a paradise with chestnuts, oaks, olives, and vines extending down to the sea, where towns out of fairy tales swish their feed in the water: Minori, Maiori, Amalfi, Atrani, and so on.

In this land, which goes from 0 to 600 meters in 8 km that are crossed by sheep, shepherds, and luxurious cars bound for Ravello, live the giant vines that walk. Vines that perhaps fled from the farmers, or were recruited for the war against Cecco Peppe (Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria).

Defended by the stony bastions rising from the sea and soils rich in material erupted from Vesuvius, the vines are unaffected by phylloxera, and, where a vine is planted, gradually spread across the entire hillside.

These vines are Tintore, which was long confused with Aglianico, and with respect to the king of Southern vines has, if possible, more bitterness, tannins, and color. And this is why Neapolitan wine merchants loved it, and transformed it into Gragnano.

Then, in the early 70s, Giuseppe Apicella, an immigrant who came home, decided to bottle the wine from Tramonti. And after him, though this is recent history, came Gigino Reale, Gaetano Bove and Alfonso Arpino.

Borgo di Gete 2010

Borgo di Gete 2010

Gigino started out with a hotel-inn that also served pizza, as is traditional in Tramonti, a town with three thousand pizzaioli who have spread across the globe. Then he started to vinify the grapes from his three hectares of vineyards, Borgo di Gete is the red he makes from Tintore, a fresh, charged wine that ages for year after year without the slightest hint of falling off. Impossible, today, to guess how many decades a bottle may last.

It’s a generous wine, to be served with foods, with flavors and aromas that are ancestral, in which the softness of the wines and native root stock vines are balanced by powerful acidity and severe tannins. Aged in barriques by Fortunato Sebastiano, slightly more than 1500 bottles are produced each year.

Not to be missed, if you want to experience the mysterious, wintery soul of the Costiera Amalfitana.

http://www.aziendaagricolareale.it
Via Cardamone, Borgo di Gete. Tel 089.856144

Published Simultaneously by IGP, I Giovani Promettenti.Garantito IGP

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