Monday, February 15, 2021

Vite Colte Barbera d'Asti Superiore with Orecchiete and Sausages

A couple months ago I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend a virtual tasting event from the Vite Colte winery in Piedmont.  The Piedmont wine region in northwestern Italy produces some of my favorite Italian wines and the fact that they were all based on the Nebbiolo and Barbera grapes were just icing on the cake. 

The Winery ~ Vite Colte 

The winery I’m highlighting today, Terre da Vino, was a first for myself to experience.  Terre da Vino plays a large role in the wine industry in Piedmont.   A coop of their size working with over 2,500 members with over 12,360 acres (5,000 ha), I'm surprised I haven’t experienced them sooner.  There is always so much to learn and try when it comes to Italian wine it’s a non-stop learning curve.   

Terre da Vino started a project back in 2010 under the subsidiary, Vite Colte, that takes their wine production to another level focusing on selecting the best vineyards and growers to produce top quality wines from about 780 acres.  The project consists of about 194 growers that have been selected that each dedicate a portion of their grapes to Vite Colte.   The winery is located within Barolo and as they state on their website Vite Colte is like a “winery in a winery”. 

How does Vite Colte select their growers?  They have strict protocols and selection criteria based on a multitude of factors including soil, altitude of the vineyards, vine density, low yields and the grapes grown.  The vineyards must be over 15 years of age.  The growers must prune based on the number of buds.  Close attention must be paid to the plant’s nutrition with manual vegetation management.  All grapes must be harvested by hand with a production of 4.4 pounds per vine and the harvest date has to be closely monitored.  So as you can see the growers work closely with the agronomist, Daniele Eberle and Winemaker, Bruno Cordero, on making sure all of this is achieved to attain the highest quality that Vite Colte is looking to attain. 

The Wine 

At another point I’ll share the Barolo and Barbaresco wines that I sampled from this virtual tasting, but today I’m focused on Vite Vole’ts Barbera d’Asti wines that are the flagship wines of Vite Colte. Their first vintage working with Barbera was in 1988.  Per Vite Colte’s website they have the largest amount of acres dedicated to the Barbera grape at about 222 acres.  They produce about 450,000 bottles of Barbera d’Asti.  The grapes under the La Luna e I Falo label come from 44 growers over 148 acres.  They are all located within the Asti province including the areas of Ronchetta Tanaro, Nizza, Monferrato, Monbaruzzo, Calamandrana and Agliano Terme. 

Vite Colte Barbera d'Asti Superiore

2012 Vite Colte La Luna e I Falo Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG 

Deep ruby in color.  Medium-bodied with some spice on the nose.  This wine leaned more toward dark red fruits, mostly cherries and raspberries.  Lively acidity, smooth and well-balanced and elegant with vanilla notes.  SRP $20-25 ABV 14%  

2018 Vite Volte La Luna e I Falo Barbera d’Asti Superiore DOCG 

I found this more recent vintage to lean more towards rich dark fruits, blackberries and black currants, with some herbal undertones.  Great acidity and silky tannins towards the finish.  Richer Barberas than most, but also still a young wine with time age.  SRP $20-25 ABV 14.5% 

Pairing with Barbera d'Asti: After the tasting I resampled these wines with an orecchiette dish I prepared in a marinara sauce with sliced Italian sweet sausages topped with 24 month aged parmigiano reggiano.  The one great thing about Barbera is that due to it's high acidity it pairs well with many dishes, including this one.  Plus, since this Barbera was rich in style with depth it stood up well to this marinara sauce and sausage that had a little spice.

Orecchiette with Sausages paired with Barbera d'Asti Superiore


*These wines were provided as samples, but opinions are always my own.

Friday, February 5, 2021

Braised Brisket with Donnachiara’s Kapemort Aglianico #ItalianFWT

As the snowy days have arrived finally in New England the timing couldn’t have been better for this month’s feature of Italian Food, Wine & Travel as we pair Italian wines with braised meats.  I recently wrote about a pairing with Donnachiara’s Greco di Tufo and today will be featuring one of their Aglianico wines from a newer line of theirs, Kapemort.   

Donnachiara’a Kapemort Line 

I won’t dig too much into the details of the Campanian winery in Montefalcione, Donnachiara, since I recently covered it. Today we’re going to focus on what they deem their “unconventional wines” and with their eye-catching skull labels who doesn’t love to discover the meaning behind fun labels. 

The labels of their Kapemort line were created by the Sicilian artist, Alex Caminiti, whom has worked with a large variety of big brand names.  The skulls on the label represent the mystery and myths of Naples as you’ll read below on their Nerone Aglianico.  The Kapemort project was created to attract a wide variety of wine lovers and not just the wine connoisseurs.  Their goal is to make wine “within everyone’s reach, easy to drink, and is an expression of creative freedom and the take it easy philosophy because life is so brief”.  If there is ever time that the whole world understands this desire to live life to the fullest it‘s now.     

The Grape ~ Aglianico 

Aglianico is one of my favorite grapes of Italy and is primarily found in the volcanic areas of the Campania and Basilicata wine regions in southern Italy.  Campania is home to an abundance of native grapes and Aglianico leads the way for red grapes in the region occupying 30 of the 60% of total area under vine for red grapes. 

Aglianico is a late ripening and thick-skinned grape resulting in wines with high tannin, high alcohol and high acidity.  They are full-bodied wines that are deeply colored and can be quite dense and powerful.  It typically grows well on the hillsides of these regions and takes a liking to the volcanic soils resulting from Mt. Vesuvius in Campania and Monte Vulture in the Basilicata.  

The Wine 

2019 Donnachiara Kapemort Nerone IGT: This wine is made 100% from the aglianico grape grown in clay soil. The name Nerone derives from “the Terme Stufe di Nerone, an ancient spa center, a place of entertainment and games for Ennio, pleasures, loves and betrayals for Cicero and damnation for Properzio as well as a vice for Seneca” as listed on the Kapemort website.   

The color was a fairly dark ruby red.  On the nose were black cherries and ripe blackberries with a hint of licorice and white pepper.  On the palate the wine had high acidity continuing to show blackberries and dark fruits.  I was surprised how approachable the tannins were. Since this wine was provided as a sample I couldn’t locate the SRP, but it’s sold on their site at 10 euro. ABV 13%  

2019 Donnachiara Kapemort Nerone Aglianico

The Pairing 

I chose to pair this Aglianico with a braised brisket that simmered on low filling my home with wonderful aromas.  I rehydrated my dried porcini mushrooms in boiling water for about 15 minutes and used that juice to braise the brisket along with chicken broth, tomato paste and a variety of spices.  Once the brisket was cooked, I simmered the sauce until it thickened.  The Aglianico was a natural pairing to this dish and was quite the treat.

Braised brisket and porcini mushrooms with aglianico

Join my fellow Italian food and wine lovers as they share their Italian wine choices with braised meats.  Join us live on Twitter at #ItalianFWT this Saturday at 11am EST.  See you there!


*This wine was provided as a sample, but opinions are always my own.