Monday, June 8, 2015

Campania Food & Wine Pairing; Mussels with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina

Welcome to our 7th month feature of our Italian Food, Wine & Travel event (#ItalianFWT). It's been quite fun exploring a different region of Italy every month with fellow bloggers as we all share our experiences of these individual regions and what makes them special. This month is special to me as we feature the region of Campania in southern Italy. The reason this region is important to me is because my father's side of the family is from Campania in the province of Avellino and even further more the town of Candida for those of you from there that are more familiar with the area. I've been to Campania myself, but have yet to visit Avellino in particular, but I will get there some day, especially since Avellino is the largest province for winemaking in this region.

When I first started this Italian wine blog it was all about Italian wine, but as I'm having fun with this it's only normal to pair some of these Italian wines with food. This is Italy after all and it's all about the Italian food and Italian wine. I wanted to further seek out some different producers of the region and some unique grapes, but I'm in the process of closing on a home and time caught up with me real quick, plus some of the real unique wines that I'd like to get my hands on aren't that readily available at local wine shops. I've written an overview of some of the wines of the Avellino province previously and today I selected the 2013 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina di Avellino. Falanghina is one of the more popular white indigenous grapes of this region along with fiano and greco di tufo.

Feudi di San Gregorio
Feudi di San Gregorio was established in 1986 via a joint venture of 2 familiar, Capaldo and Ercolino, so it's a rather young company in comparison to winemaking throughout the rest of Italy and the world nonetheless. Their winery in Sorbo Serpico in the Avellino province, Irpinia region, consists of 740 acres (300 hectacres). It's proximity to Mt. Vesuvius and the volcanic soils there imparts characteristics into the wine that make wines from this region very special.

The 2013 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina I sampled was medium bodied, aromatic on the nose, with lots of tropical notes of bananas and pineapples as well as minerality. This wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks lending freshness to the wine. (Wine-searcher.com retail average $14.)
2013 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina
Discussion with Antonio Capaldo, Chairman of Feudi di San Gregorio

What makes winemaking in this part of Italy unique?
"Volcanic soils with the unique indigenous varietals and the peculiar climate conditions (over 200 days of rain per year), make Irpinia a wonderful terroir for both white and red wines.  Campania is probably one of the most interesting regions for white wines (with Friuli and Alto Adige), but also for red wines."

What qualities does the volcanic soils instill in the wines?
"Minerality is evident in all our wines and greatly supports the body of the wine thus making them quite flexible also for pairing with food. The volcanic soils within Irpinia are not al the same; they go from the volcanis stone in Tufo to the volcanic sand in Aglianico.  This way they offer an incredible potential for variety in wines."

What impact has Feudi di San Gregorio had on the history of winemaking in Irpinia?
"Historically Feudi had the merit to bring Campania great history into contemporary society from the style of wine tot he design of the bottles to the communication.  After Feudi was successful, over 100 wineries were created in the area."

What is the goal of Feudi di San Gregorio today?
"Today we try to continue accomplishing the mission to lead the system in particular on foreign markets.  Together with Mastroberardino in more ancient times, Feudi put Campania on the winemaking map."

Cuisine of Campania
Some of the cuisine of Campania includes shellfish and seafood based on its close proximity along the Adriatic Sea so I chose to pair the Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina with mussels from my mothers recipe that I love. I actually was always afraid growing up to try mussels and this recipe made it easy to love. Nothing better than learning directly from my mother whom was taught by her Italian grandmother. No ones cooking is like my mothers and I guarantee this recipe is sure to please.

Mussels
Ingredients
3-4 tablespoon of olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 cup of white wine
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon of sea salt
14 oz can of chopped tomatoes
½ onion (optional)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)

Clean the mussels prior to cooking. Put them into whatever size pot or dish that makes it easy to run water over them washing them off. Sprinkle flour over them and toss them in the bowl. Some folks also use cornmeal instead of the flour. Those mussels that are open make sure to discard them.
How to clean and prepare mussels
Once the mussels are cleaned, put aside and add oil to a pot and heat oil prior to adding ingredients. Add onions and saute the onion for about 3-4 minutes. In the last couple minutes add garlic. Add the red pepper flakes along with a can of chopped tomatoes and bay leaves. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Combine mussels with the white wine within the pot. Bring to a boil and cover until mussels open.
Making sauce for mussels
We enjoyed these mussels as an appetizer, but you can combine them with pasta. Either way you'll get a taste of Campania with this pairing that will make you wanting more.
Campania Food & Wine Pairing: Falanghina & Mussels
What's your favorite Campanian wine or food?

The first Saturday of each month, the #ItalianFWT bloggers visit a region of Italy. Check out the other posts about Campania: 

Foodwineclick -- Neopolitan Pork Chops and Autochthnous Grapes of Campania 
Rockin Red Blog -- Exploring Campania with #ItalianFWT 
Cooking Chat -- Grilled Swordfish with Pasta Margherita 
ENOFYLZ Wine Blog -- A Taste of Campania with #ItalianFWT 
Curious Appetite -- Strange Foods and Fringe Wines of Campania 
Christys Palate - Flying Squid Pasta with Beneventano Falanghina

We'd love to have you join our Twitter Chat Saturday, June 6, at 11 a.m Eastern time/ 5 p.m. Italian time. Some of our bloggers had last minute computer troubles so we may be a bit quieter than usual! Blogs that were posted as of Saturday 6/6, 7 a.m. ET have live links to their posts in the list above; check back as the others will be sharing their posts soon!  Next month we will be featuring Lazio!

I find this wine map very useful to understand not only Campania, but all the wine regions of Italy.