Italian Wine Club
Italian Club - Eighth Allocation
This month, we travel to Abruzze on the Adriatic Coast to sample the wines of La Valentina. Your allocation is for three bottles (one bottle of all three wines).
Trebbiano d'Abruzzo Manually harvested, the vines old of 25 to 30 years procure a very nice and affordable wine. The color is limpid straw yellow with some golden hues. The nose is fruity and fresh. In mount, a dry palate with peaches, apricots, spices and almonds aromas. A refreshing and very pleasant wine.
Cerasuolo Rosato Light pink in color with bright cherry hues. Fresh and floral aromas with hints of raspberries and pomegranates. The palate is dry and fruity with black and red cherry notes and a typical hint of almonds in the finish. This traditionally produced wine expresses the strength of Montepulciano on the one hand, while offering fresh aromas on the other. Serve with cured meats, pizza and pasta.
Montepulciano d'Abruzzo - You'll have awfully hard time finding a wine that delivers more bang for the buck than La Valentina’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. This deeply-colored wine flows from the glass with layers of dark red fruit in a generous, soft-textured style that makes it impossible to resist a second taste. This is a great effort, especially for the money.
Fattoria La Valentina was founded in 1990 in Spoltore, a village nestled amongst Pescara hills on the central coast of the Adriatic. Following initial research in the Santa Teresa vineyard, the winery’s objective and passion became the quest for quality and the desire to promote the Abruzzese DOCs. Two major developments toward this goal occurred in 1998: the Binomio project was established with Stefano Inama and Luca D’Attoma took over the technical management of the cellars and vineyards.
The unique features of the region’s microclimate, combined with vines well-suited to the land, give the wines their distinctive qualities. The nearby forests, mountains and the Adriatic sea are all determining factors in expressing the vine’s originality, as represented in the “Linea Terroir” wines: Binomio, made exclusively from the grapes of a four-hectare vineyard in San Valentino in Abruzzo Criteriore; Bellovedere; and Spelt, from grapes from the Spoltore vineyards.
With time, there is a better understanding of the land to obtain healthier, more authentic wines with the use of farming methods that limit the use of chemicals and with minimal intervention in the land’s natural processes. La Valentina seeks to respect the fruit of the land both on the vine and in the bottle, and to practice winemaking that allows for the fullest expression of the region’s special qualities.
For the rose: Grilled Octopus Salad with Celery, Chile, and Lemon Serves 4
This octopus salad is full of crunchy celery, parsley leaves, olives, and briny flavors that I love. Surprise your friends with this version of a potato salad. If the idea of cooking and grilling an octopus seems daunting, use high quality canned octopus in oil.
- 1 octopus, about 3 pounds, sac, beak and eyes removed
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 dried chilies
- 1 pound medium Yukon Gold potatoes
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced
- Grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped.
- 1/2 teaspoon hot red-pepper flakes
- 4 celery ribs, thinly sliced
- 1 1/2 cups flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup chopped inner celery leaves (optional)
- 1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
Put the octopus, garlic, chilies and 2 wine corks in a medium pot, add water to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the thickest parts of the octopus are tender. Drain and allow to cool.
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and cook until just knife-tender. Drain and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Peel and halve the potatoes and place in a medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil, the scallions, lemon zest and juice. Add the garlic, chili flakes, celery ribs and olives. Set aside.
Heat a grill.
Brush the octopus with a little olive oil and lay it on the hottest part of the grill. Cook for 9 to 12 minutes, unmoved, until nicely charred. Gently turn over and cook a further 8 minutes until nicely charred on the second side.
Transfer the octopus to a cutting board and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces. Add to the potato salad, with the parsley and celery leaves. Gently toss and adjust seasoning, and more olive oil if too dry.
For the Red: Roast Lamb in Parchment Paper with Wild Fennel and Olive Stuffed Potatoes Serves 8
Very young baby lamb (about two weeks old, with a dressed weight of about 8 lbs.) is widely available in Italy. Lamb this size (occasionally called hothouse lamb) is sometimes sold in this country in Italian and Greek butcher shops, but older baby lamb, weighing 15–20 lbs. dressed, is more common. If you are able to find a 7–8-lb. lamb, roast it as in recipe below, but decrease final cooking time to 2–2 1/2 hours.
- 1 7–8 pound baby lamb cut into thirds
- 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more form drizzling
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 large handfuls wild or cultivated fennel fronds
- 8 medium size potatoes
- 20 small black olives
- 2 large sun-dried tomato
- 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan
- 3 tablespoons mixed herbs: oregano, rosemary, sage and thyme
- Olive oil
Preheat oven to 425°.
Line a large roasting pan with parchment paper. Put cut up lamb into pan. Rub all over with 6 tbsp. of the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Tuck 2 handfuls of the fennel fronds between pieces of lamb and scatter remaining handful over lamb.
Drizzle a little more olive oil on top of lamb and fennel, then roast until lamb just begins to brown, 35–40 minutes. Cover lamb with more parchment paper and lay a metal spoon on top of paper to hold it down. Reduce oven temperature to 275° and roast until meat is fork tender, 2-2 1/2 hours more. Set aside for 15–20 minutes before serving.
Put the sun-dried tomato in some tepid water to soften it a bit.
Peel the potatoes and boil them for 5 minutes in salted water.
Take out the potatoes (keep the water), let them cool off a bit and take out the heart of the potatoes lengthwise with a circular apple corer so that you make a tunnel in the middle of each potato. Put back the 'potato meat' into the water and boil it until it until it is soft. While it is boiling you chop first the tomato and the olives finely and put them in a bowl and then you chop the herbs and put these on a plate. Mash the potato meat before you mix it with the olives, parmesan and the tomato. If it gets too dry, add some of the boiling water but not too much though. Press the potato mix into each hole/tunnel and roll the potatoes in the chopped herbs, salt them as well.
Put the potatoes into a baking dish, pour some olive oil over and bake them at 425 F until soft and golden, the time needed depends on how big the potatoes are.