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Napkin Notes

Napkin Notes


During our recent two-week trip thru Tuscany and Sicily, we shot approximately 30 segments for the upcoming PBS series, Eat, Drink, Italy with Vic Rallo. I must say it was hard work, but we did eat and drink very well. While I was cooking, Tony was either on the couch or comfy chair taking a nap, or looking in on the filming of the recipe and cooking segments for the show. But while we were eating, he continually took food and wine related notes on napkins.  Tony is an expert in all things Italian, especially wine, and is involved intimately in the show when we interview wine makers and winery owners, or are simply talking wine. And like all great Italian wine lovers, the food is just as important to Tony as the wine. Unlike any other country in the world, Italian wines and food are meant to go together. This is the way it has been for a thousand years or so, and like his Italian predecessors, Tony loves the beautiful marriage food and wine creates. As we traveled thru Italy, Tony created a book of napkins on which he scribbled his notes. Below is his review of the food and wine we drank and ate on our last trip transcribed from his napkin notebook.

La Forza,

Vic Rallo

What follows is an account of how we wined and dined throughout Italy from October 13-24, 2012 while shooting, Eat Drink, Italy with Vic Rallo.

Your first observation may be that we were on the wrong side of gluttony. Actually, our meals were served over a time period of 2-3 hours each, occasionally more. Much of the time we spent planning our next shoot with Allison, our fixer, Mark and Mario, who manned the cameras and set up the lighting, and Massimo (aka Max), the sound man. They joined us for just about every meal. We would all joke about the “light” lunch which we had requested. Several times we ate food which Vic Rallo had prepared. There was always the opportunity and temptation to overdo things, but it would have been counterproductive and unprofessional to do so. We are always professionals; well, almost always.

We drank the wines of the producers whom we visited. This is not a bad situation, since we were forced to taste the wines of Nozzole, Tenuta Sette Ponti, San Felice, Castello di Ama, Tolaini, Badia a Coltibuono, Nardi, Casanova di Neri and Fattoria di Magliano. Often we tried older vintages, dating back to 1970. At restaurants we always ordered local wines. Two whites stand out in my memory: Donnafugata Damarino 2011 in Sicily and Mancini Vermentino di Gallura DOCG 2011 in Fiumicino, near Rome’s airport (well, Sardinia is almost local to Rome).

You will note the shift in gears from Tuscany to Sicily. You can get excellent seafood in Coastal Tuscany, but we were mostly inland in Montalcino and Chianti Classico with only one short side trip to the Maremma. We were offered beef from the Chianina breed, Tuscan prosciutto, wild boar and beans – special, local white beans of Zolfino cooked in fresh olive oil and sage, and served with lots of salt less Tuscan bread. It was enough to make us all mangia fagioli (bean eaters).

Sicily offered us fish and crustacean of every type, shape, and form. You feel that you are dining as the ancient Greeks, Romans and Carthaginians did on timeless, fresh seafood. You had to leave room for desserts: cannoli, cassatta, exotic melons and fruits, such as fichi d’india, prickly pears that bloom out of local cactuses. I noticed a special glow in the eyes of Mark Ganguzza, our producer. His family is of Sicilian origin.

Which do I prefer, Sicily or Tuscany? I’ll take them both; you will, too. They both sing of the food culture of Italy, which changes every 10 kilometers. The message is always the same: local breads, local olive oil, local recipes, local materie prime (prime ingredients). “Zero Kilometers” is alive and well throughout Italy.

Tuscany, October 13 – 20

Saturday, October 13, Lunch with Giovanni Folonari at Mangiando, Mangiando Restaurant in Greve, Chianti.
Chianina Beef Tartar
Risotto with Porcini (Rice with Porcini Mushrooms)
Peposo (Stewed Beef with Black Pepper Sauce)
Stracotto (Beef Stew)
Pollo Cacciatore (Chicken Hunter’s Style, Tomatoes, Herbs)
Ricotta with Candied Fruit

Saturday, October 13, Supper with Antonio Moretti at Sette Ponti near Arezzo, Tuscany.
Mozzarella di Bufala (Water Buffalo Mozzarella)
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
Tuscan Prosciutto
Rosticceria di Pollo, Collo di Maiale e Pane (Roasted Chicken, Pork Necks and Bread)
Fagioli (Beans)
Ice Cream – Zuppa Inglese Flavor (Trifle Ice Cream)

Sunday, October 14, Lunch with Antonio Moretti at Sette Ponti near Arezzo, Tuscany.
Crostini al Fegato di Pollo (Toast with Pureed Chicken Livers)
Pappardelle al Sugo di Anatra (Ribbon Pasta with Duck Sauce)
* Boneless Chianina Prime Rib
Fagioli (Beans in Olive Oil)
Insalata Verde (Green Salad)
* Ice Cream – Cassatta Flavor (Cannoli Cream Ice Cream)

Sunday, October 14, Supper at a Pizzeria in Arezzo, Tuscany  with Stefano Maggini.
Calamaretti (Fried Baby Squid)
Zeppoli (Fried Dough Balls)
Calzoni e Pizze

Monday, October 15, Lunch at San Felice, Castlenuovo Berardegna, Tuscany.
* Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe (Pasta with Cacio Cheese and Black Pepper)
Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Finocchiaro

Monday, October 15, Supper at San Felice, Castlenuovo Berardegna, Tuscany.
Chianina Beef Tartar
Potato Gnocchi with White Meat Ragu, Pistachios and Raspberries
Cinta Senese Suckling Pig
Orange Puff Pastry with Burrata Mousse, Chestnuts, Orange Sorbetto and Chocolate

Tuesday, October 16, Lunch at Castello di Ama, Gaiole,Tuscany.
Fusilli Pasta with Pesto and Tomatoes
Chicken in White Wine
Melanzana – Ratatouille Style

Tuesday, October 16, Supper at Castello di Ama, Gaiole, Tuscany.
Pappa al Pomodoro (Tomato Soup, Olive Oil, Bread)
* Farro, Porcini and Ceci Soup (Grain, Porcini Mushrooms and Chickpeas)
Peposo (Beef Stew with Black Pepper Sauce)

Wednesday, October 17, Lunch with Lia Tolaini at her estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany.
Assorted Panini (Sandwiches)
Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Olives
Castagneta Torta (Chestnut Pie)

Wednesday, October 17, Supper with Lia Tolaini at her estate in Castelnuovo Berardenga, Tuscany.
Prosciutto Sticks
Chicken Spezzatino and Polenta (Chicken Stew)
* Ravioli di Zucca con Burro e Salvia (Pumpkin Ravioli with Butter and Sage)
* Tiramisu

Thursday, October 18, Lunch at Badia a Coltibuono with Emanuela Stucchi-Prinetti, Gaiole, Tuscany.
Zuppetta di Pesce e Spinaci (Fish Soup with Spinach)
Crostini of Zucca, Finferli, Cheese and Fegato (Toasts with Pumpkin, Chanterelles,
Cheese and Liver)
Patate Arrosto con Pesto (Roasted Potatoes with Pesto)
Terrine, Pate, Prosciutto, Finocchiaro (Finochiaro is Fennel Salami)
Insalata Mista (Mixed Salad)
Fagioli (Beans in Olive Oil)
* Pears Poached in Red Wine

Thursday, October 18, Supper at Badia a Coltibuono with Emanuela Stucchi-Prinetti, Gaiole,Tuscany.
We ordered from the menu. I had:
Cabbage Soup with Pancetta (Bacon)
* Veal Cheeks with Potatoes and Finferli (Chanterelles)

Friday, October 19, Lunch at Silvio Nardi with Emilia Nardi in Montalcino, Tuscany.
Prosciutto and other assorted Crudi
Lasagna
Cinghiale with Onions (Wild Boar)
Assorted Cakes

Friday, October 19, Supper at Casanova di Neri in Montalcino, Tuscany  with the Neri family.
Antipasti of Speck (Smoked Prosciutto) and Cheeses
Bistecca (Grilled Steak)
Fagioli (Beans in Olive Oil)
Pappardelle with Capriolo Sauce (Pasta Ribbons with Wild Roebuck Sauce)

Saturday, October 20, Lunch with Agostino Lenci at Fattoria di Magliano in the Maremma, Tuscany.
* Crostino of Radicchio, Pignoli, Grated Parmigiano and Olive Oil
Crostino of Chicken Livers
Crostino of Diced Tomato and Olive Oil
Cinghiale and Polenta (Wild Boar)

Sicily, October 20 – 23
Saturday, October 20, Supper with the Asaro family at Da Vittorio in Porto Palo, Sicily.

Caponata with Swordfish (Eggplant Salad)
Polpettine di Pesce (Fish Balls)
* Spatola al Agrodolce (Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce)
Gambero Rosso Crudo di Mazara del Vallo (Raw Shrimp, similar to Ceviche)
* Neonati Fritti (Fried Small Fish)
Insalata di Cozze e Polpo (Mussel and Octopus Salad)
Spaghetti con Gambaretti e Pistachio (Small Shrimps and Ground Pistachios)
* Spaghetti al Ricci (Sea Urchins)
Desserts, including Cassata Siciliana and Cannoli

Sunday, October 21, Picnic Lunch with the Asaro team in an olive grove near Partanna, Sicily.
Caponata (Eggplant Salad)
* Fresh Ricotta
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Olive Tapanade
Olive Salad
DOP Black Bread
DOP Vastedda di Belice Cheese
Bottarga (Tuna Roe)
* Busiate Pasta Trapanese (Small Fusilli Pasta with Almonds, Tomatoes, Basil)
Salsiccia al Forno (Grilled Sausages)
Pomegranates
Fichi d’India (Prickly Pears)
* Fragoli Fruit (Looks like a Lime, tastes like a Strawberry)
Pepper Biscotti
Cucidati Cookies (Holiday Cookies)

Sunday, October 21, Supper at London Ristorante in Menfi with the Asaro team.
Couscous Trapanese (Sea Food and Couscous)
Carpaccio di Pesce Spada (Raw Swordfish)
Pesce Spada Affumicata (Smoked Swordfish)
Insalata di Polpo (Octopus Salad)
Arancino di Riso e Pesce (Rice and Fish Balls)
Gamberi Crudi (Raw Shrimp)
Triglie Fritte (Fried Fish)
* Smoked Tuna and Yellow Melon
Spinach and Cheese in Filo Pastry
Spatola Agrodolce (Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce)
Ricciola al Olio (Fish in Olive Oil)
Cozze al Vino Bianco (Mussels in White Wine)
* Occhiata e Calamari (Assorted Sea Food)
Sorbetto Limone (Lemon Sherbet)

Monday, October 22, Lunch in Sciacca, Sicily with Vincenzo Recca at Ristorante del Faro.
Alici al Olio (Sardines in Olive Oil)
Spatola Agrodolce (Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour Sauce)
Cozze Marinara (Mussels in Tomato Sauce)
Polpette di Gamberi (Shrimp Balls)
Polpo in Umido (Steamed Octopus)
* Spaghetti con Le Sarde (Sardine Sauce)
Spaghetti con Ricci (Sea Urchins)
Pesce Spada con Pommodoro e Cipolle (Swordfish, Tomatoes, and Onions)
Sarago Grigliato (Grilled Fish)
Giri (Beet Greens)

Monday, October 22, Supper in Castelveltrano, Sicily  at the home of Nino Asaro, with his family.
Panella (Chickpea Squares)
Arancini al Sugo di Carne (Meat Sauce Balls)
Arancini al Formaggio e Prosciutto Cotto (Cheese and Ham Balls)
Salsiccia Pasqualora (Easter Salami)
Caponata (Eggplant Salad)
Almonds
Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Vastedda di Belice DOP Cheese
Scamorza Affumicata (Smoked Cheese)
Ricotta Salata al Forno (Baked Cheese)
* Spaghetti Macco di Fava (Fava and Pea Sauce)
Salsicce al Forno (Grilled Sausage)
Tortino di Patate (Potato Tart)
Braciola con Carote e Cipolle (Stuffed Beef Rolls with Carrots and Onions)
Fichi d’India (Prickly Pears)
Melone Giallo (Yellow Melons)
Ricotta
Marzipan
Cannoli
Casadelle (Sfogliatelle Fritte – Fried Stuffed Pastries)
Pignolata (Struffoli, Fried Dough Balls with Honey)
Mostaccioli (Pastry)

Tuesday, October 23, Lunch at Antica Focacceria di San Francesco in Palermo, Sicily with Tommaso Asaro.
Arancini al Ragu con Piselli (Meat Sauce and Peas)
Arancini al Ricotta e Prosciutto Cotto (Cheese and Ham)
Pianini di Panella (Ceci – Chickpeas)
* Pianini di Milza (Spleen)
Sfincione (Local Flatbread/Pizza)
Involtini di Melanzane (Stuffed Eggplant)

Tuesday, October 24, Supper at Pisicchio Ristorante in Fiumicino, Rome.
Cozze e Vongole in Vino Bianco (Mussels and Clams in White Wine)
Fried Fish Balls
* Moscardini Fritti (Fried Baby Calamari)
Shrimps with Lettuce and Mayonnaise
Salmone Affumicato con Ricotta (Smoked Salmon with Ricotta)
Alici al Olio (Fresh Sardines in Olive Oil)
Salmone Affumicato con Radicchio (Smoked Salmon with Radicchio)
* Spaghetti con Vongole Veraci (Spaghetti with Clam Sauce)
* Tagliolini con Frutti di Mare (Thin Homemade Pasta Strips with Mixed Seafood and
Shellfish)
* Sorbetto di Limone (Lemon Sherbet)

Everything we tasted was fresh, local and excellent. I have inserted an asterisk (*) in front of dishes that I thought were extraordinary.

Tasting the Great Whites at Kofererhof Winery

Join Victor Rallo, Anthony Verdoni “The Wine Professor, and Bobby Rallo as they taste the stunning white wines of Kofererhof Winery in the far north of Italy with Gabby and Gunther.

 

Tasting Notes from Kofererhof Winery

By Bobby Rallo

A recent trip to Alto Adige in Northern Italy with my brother, Vic, confirmed my belief that the best white wines of Italy are made here. The Bavarian mountain towns make this place more like Austria than Italy. The majestic beauty, with mountainous landscapes at the base of the Alps, painted by the colors of fall in the towns of Balzano, Merano, and the tiny commune of Varna in the Isarco Valley, provide the perfect influences of climate and terrior to produce exceptional white wines. Additionally, the foods that flowed from the kitchens highlighted with a Germanic influence included canederli (bread dumpling), speck (smoked prosciutto), spatetzle (egg noodles) and gulasch (stew) simply brought to life these great white wines…especially those of Kofererhofer Winery.

Areas of interest:
Bolzano
Merano
Vallee di Isarco
Varna

Kofererhofer Pinot Grigio 2010
Medium straw-yellow color. Pear, yellow apple and herbs on the nose complicated by a mineral nuance. Then rich and dense in the mouth, with herb-accented flavors of yellow apple and pear. Finishes long and smooth. Very solid pinot grigio with good personality. – Tanzer 90Points

Kofererhofer Muller Thurgau 2010
Green-tinged straw-yellow. An intense spicy component complements floral, white peach, coriander and mineral aromas. Clean, fresh, rich and ripe, with tropical fruit and green apple flavors that linger nicely on the minerally finish. Almost fat and sweet for a Muller, but with plenty of acidity to give it life and lift. Make sure you give this plenty of air. Gunther Kershbaumer is one of Italy’s most talented winemakers, and his achievement with Muller is a testament to his abilities. The old vines, I imagine, play a role in the almost atypical intense aromatic spiciness exuded by this wine. – Tanzer 91 Points

Kofererhofer Gewurztraminer 2010
Golden straw-yellow. Penetrating aromas of rose petal and grapefruit are less decadent than those shown by most other examples of the variety but clean and precise (gewurz from Valle Isarco is generally leaner and more minerally). Big, dense and surprisingly full on the palate, with slightly one-dimensional sweet spice and tropical fruit flavors. Finishes long. Best on the nose today; in fact, I’d say this is one of the best gewurztraminers Kershbaumer has ever made. – Tanzer 90 points

Click Here to Buy These Wines on RalloWines.com

Bar Cialoma Gelateria: THE BEST ON THIS PLANET

Bar Cialoma Gelateria:
THE BEST ON THIS PLANET

In the center square in Marzemami in an unassuming stone building with a beaded entrance. Behind the beads lies the best granita on this planet. Everyone knows that Italy has great gelato and Sicily is the best of Italy, but what I did not know was that granita, frozen ice (no milk) made with real fruit, nuts, coffee etc. was the bomb.

So after lunch we walk into the square and we notice a line of people streaming out of this beaded doorway and we immediately gravitated to the gathering. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason young, old, fat and skinny Italians savoring the most beautiful granita in the world, semi frozen, succulent and juicy, the pits and all.

Now it was our turn to order. The choices were anguria (watermelon), fregola (strawberry), mandorlo (almond), ciocolato (chocolate), espresso, melone bianco (honeydew) fichi bianco (white fig), fichi nero (brown fig), pesca (peach) and limone. This ice cream store Italiani was much different from its American counterpart in that it only had 9 flavors all made fresh, no preservatives , no sugar, no color added. Only La Materia Prima. What would I choose – would I be back again?

As always being the foodie that I am, when presented with one of these delicious dilemmas, I order one of each flavor. I had plenty helpers my wife, a gelato/granita junkie, my daughter Eli a sweets lover, and rounded out by Jack and Jake. I tasted and savored each flavor, one flavor better then the next, one thing is for sure every flavor tasted exactly like the pure ingredient frozen. I know that you expect a final choice, so here it is: peach and strawberry were my favorites, but they were all great and each one was better then anything I have tasted in the USA.

Galloni and I

Thursday June 24, 2010
Wine Tasting New York City

Vertical Tasting:

Montevetrano 1991 – 2007 (all Vintages total 18 vintages)
Terra Di Lavoro 1999 -2008 (all Vintages except 2002 total 10 vintages)

During your life there are those moments in time when you say to yourself, “I MADE IT.” It may be the result of getting a new job, a bonus, making the Varsity baseball team; I don’t know, it is different for everyone. But the one thing that is always the same is that it takes hard work, dedication and maybe a little luck.

Antonio Galloni, Wine Spectator, and Victor Rallo
Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate, and Victor Rallo

THURSDAY NIGHT, JUNE 24th was one of those days for me, and I had to ask myself did I make it, or was this all a huge mistake? Well, I arrived promptly at 5:30pm, to the address printed on the email: 110 Central Park South, NYC were the wine tasting was to be held. It was a residential building overlooking Central Park South, the doorman told me to go to the second floor which I did. When the elevator opened I was a little confused I was on a residential floor. I listened to the doors and knocked on the door that was the loudest. “Boun Giorno,” an Italian woman announced. I replied, “mi chiamo Victor Rallo, Molto Piacere.” I guess she realized from my Italian that I couldn’t really speak Italian so she responded in English, come in and welcome. Again I thought, “Was this one big mistake or have I arrived as an Italian wine aficionado.”

This was a wine tasting prepared by Leonardo LoCascio of Winebow to showcase two iconic Campanian wines, Montevetrano and Terra di Lavoro. Robert Parker’s Italian wine specialist Antonio Galloni would be present and hopefully, he would write a piece on this rare vertical tasting for the Wine Advocate. The tasting involved a first time ever vertical tasting of all of Montervetrano’s vintages from inception 1991 to present 2007 and as if that was not enough, add the equally fascinating Galardi wine, Terra di Lavoro from 1999 to present 2008, except 2002 which was a year the wine was not made. By the way there were only 10 people present: Antonio Galloni (The Wine Advocate), Leonardo LoCascio (Winebow), Salvatore Galati (Winebow), Beatrice DeMarco (Winebow) , Dora & Arturo Celantano (Galardi), Silvia & Gaia Imperato (Montevetrano), Robin O’Connor (Sherry Lehman) and Victor Rallo (Wine Tasting Crasher).

The Tasting Table

In Joe Bastianich’s book, Vino Italiano, he tries to describe the Italian word ambiente as it refers to Italian wine. Literally, as you know it means “environment” or “habitat,” but it also refers to ambience, the feel of a place. Applied to wine ambiente is not just the geology, topology, and climate of the vineyard but the culture that surrounds it. The experience of drinking an Italian wine isn’t complete without the food products that grow in the same soil, nor without some sense of the culture that created it. Italians truly thrive on personal contact, and they think very carefully about how everything at their table – the food, the wine, the people, the place – fits together.

Leonardo clearly thought about this event and yes it was truly exceptional, the wine of course, the people, the place, the food, and the moment which was all his doing. Every person in the room was there for one reason to support the two producers as they unveiled their souls to the Guru Antonio Galloni. He could single handedly make or break a wine or a winery and everybody in the room knew that.

THEN Silvia Imperato asked Leonardo LoCascio who I was, everyone knew Galloni but was I another critic? “No, he is a great friend with and exceptional palate,” and the conversation proceeded. I was in fact invited; it was not a mistake. So like a pro with my technical notes and pen in hand I began to taste and write starting from youngest to oldest. Besides the 18 glasses in front of each person the only other things on the table were spit buckets and mineral water. So I began sometimes my cadence was fast and at other times slow and methodical, I took me about and hour to make it thru all 18 vintages. When I was finished, I watched and listened, Galloni was retasting the 91and 93 vintages side by side, Arturo Celantano had the 93 and 01 in his glasses, my taste buds and thoughts were right on.

When writing about wines most critics use lengthy adjectives, and profound comparisons to every imaginable fruit, berry, leather, tar, smoke etc. I try and write for the moment what I taste and what foods the wine tastes evoke as I drink it. I write for the moment unlike most critics that write for the future, how a certain vintage will age. Who cares? Most of us need something to drink right now.

Silvia Imperato and Victor Rallo
Dora & Arturo Celantano of Terra di Lavoro and Victor Rallo

Below are the notes of my favorite Montevetrano vintages:

This was the first vertical tasting of Montevetrano from 1991 to present 2007!

Montevetrano

1993 Montervetrano:

I wish I had 10 bottles of this wine. Why you might ask? Well I would have a nice dinner party and serve 2 bottles at the party with the main course. Maybe a slow roasted beef short rib with root vegetables and creamy Friulian polenta with a touch of Gorgonzola.

In 1993, Montevetrano was aged solely in Nevers Oak Casks for 12 months, after the 1993 vintage they began using a mix of Nevers. Allier and Troncais oak casks for fermentation. In the 1991, 1992, and 1993 they reveal a lovely smoked leather nose that is not as prevalent in future vintages. I believe it is because of this difference in wood treatment, although the vintages after 1993 may be slightly more elegent and international I love the rustic quality of the 1993.

This wine has a great balance of fruit, oak and tannins this is what age does to great wines, it smooths the rough edges. You can surely drink it now but is still lively and will age for 5-10 more years. Folks at Montevetrano say this was an optimum growing season and after tasting I agree.

La Forza del Vino,

2001 Montevetrano:

I could drink the 2001 today and forever into memory lane. The wine displays a softer tannic punch then other vintages; it has great balance with persistence thru the finish which is quite long lasting. Here the oak treatment takes a back seat, not in a bad way we are in a Rolls Royce, to the fruit, tannins and complex flavor profile of this wine.

Those of you who read my reviews know that I am not a new oak guy, but with this vintage the oak ,12 months in new Nevers, Allier and Troncais casks does not over power the fruit. Drink now but this baby could age for 10-15 more years. Bravo!

Light the BBQ grill up a couple porterhouse steaks with coastal sea salt and Novello olive oil, a Jersey tomato salad and some grilled corn dusted with Parmigiano Reggiano. Please do not to forget to call me, this will be a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN!!!

None of the Montevetrano wines were disappointing even the 2002 vintage which was a terribly hard throughout Italy. Others I liked were 1991,1999, 2003, 2007.

After we finished tasting the Montevetrano wins some small hors duerves were served which included foie gras on a crisp toast with sweet fruit marmalata, fresh fluke crudo with fish eggs and scallion and local sweet tomato with pesto and goat cheese they were delicious and needed. The table was now set for one of my personal favorite wines Terra di Lavoro, vintages 1999-2008, minus 2002.

The most unusual part of the evening for me came when we sat down to begin tasting the Terra di Lavoro wines, I noticed the wines in the tasting pamphlet went from oldest to youngest. So I asked Arturo Celantano of Galardi if this was correct and he repilied, “Yes! That is how we should taste them,” so I began the 10 vintage journey.

Unlike the Montevetrano wines that are 60% cabernet sauvignon, 30% merlot and 10% aglianico the Terra di Lavoro wines are made of all indigenous varieties, 80% aglianico and 20% piedirosso, this makes these wines from Campania stylistically very different. I hate to speak in general terms when speaking about wine but after tasting 18 vintages of Montevetrano and 10 vintages of Terra di Lavoro, I can say the Montevetrano wines are more international and elegant in style and the Terra di Lavoro wines are more rustic they taste, smell and feel more authentically Italian.

It was intresting to taste these wines backwards a first for me, but Arturo Celantano wanted us to drink the 2008 last as he thought it was the best wine Galardi has ever made.

With this flight of wine I navigated like a pro my cadence, my breathing and my palate were in sync, it was amazing.

Here is a list of my favorites from Terra Di Lavoro:

1999 Terra di Lavoro

This wine was smokey and round tannins age does that to wine especially wines made from Aglianico. Dark ruby in color, smooth and silky with notes of pepper from the Piedirosso. The tannins just starting to round a bit, chocolate and cocoa come thru the red fruit and cherries. I said it was leathery, Salvatore replied, “Prada” I responded everyone should drink Prada.

Galloni drank the 1999 with dinner, I would agree it was my favorite too. I believe it could age for 5-10 more years, they say aglianico is the Barolo of the south and can age 30 years after drinking the Terra Di Lavoro 1999 I agree.

2001 Terra di Lavoro

2001 was a sunny, warm and dry vintage with much less ranges in temperature. The vines were in perfect shape for harvest in late September. The nose of this wine was like a berry fruity cocktail, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and black cherry all at once. What I really liked about this wine was its balance, tannins, fruit and oak all in harmony. You could drink it now but wait 5-10 years and this will be a gem.

2007 Terra di Lavoro

This vintage was harvested in a very typical climate year. The wine tasted very clean and well balanced even though the tannins and acidity are very pronounced. Both are vital for longevity in a wine. This wine was slightly different in the nose; it had a particular musty, leathery nose. However this did not cover the fruit it was special and delicious.
Obviously this wine is very young I would put it all away until 2015, and not until then would I slowly start to drink them.

2008 Terra di Lavoro

We tasted it but it is not in the market for another couple months. This wine had great berry fruit on the nose and what seems to be a perfect extraction as the color is deep, dark, and ink like. Typically Terra di Lavoro is 13% alcohol but this vintage the alcohol reaches 14%, big, bold and beautiful. I can see why Arturo Celantano choose to go in reverse order 2007 and now 2008 are exceptional wines, I mean exceptional worthy of 95+ points.

After the tasting I asked the Celantano’s about the 2008 vintage, Arturo told me that he told Riccardo Cotarella the wine maker at Galardi from the early stages that this vintage was magical, Riccardo told him to wait it was to early to tell. The day before Arturo left for NYC Riccardo pulled him aside and said to him, “your right, the 2008 is magical.”

The only thing that was left was dinner and which ever wines you wanted to drink.

Enclosed is a copy of the menu why don’t you decide which of these 28 wines you would have drank.

By the way in the Wine Advocate, June 30, 2010 Antonio Galloni wrote an article on Southern Italy the 2007 Terra di Lavoro was the highest rated wine 97 points and the 2007 Montevetrano was the third highest rated wine at 94 points. I guess he liked the wines!!

A Note on Aglianico:

The aglianico grapes are very small so the ratio of skin to juice is very high this equals good acidity and tannins. The clusters are also very tight thus the center grapes often do not ripen fully adding to the natural tannins and acidity of this varietal, Tannins and acidity are the back bone to the evolution of all wines, and aglianico naturally has both.

Thus the saying, “Barolo of the south.”