Italian Wine Club
Italian Club - 9th Allocation
This month we travel to Sicily, home of Frappato, Nero d'Avola, and Grillo - the ingredient grapes in our two selections this month. Your allocation is for one bottle each of Ajello Grillo Bianco Sicilia IGT and Occhipinti SP68 IGT, with an option to purchase a bottle of Occhipinti's amazing Olive Oil (we only have 11 bottles on hand).
First off, we've got Ajello Grillo Bianco Sicilia IGT, fermented in stainless steel. Straw yellow color with green tints, broad aromatic impact with fruity nuances. Full and dry, underpinned by a fresh acidity.
Ajello, a family-owned and operated winery located in the Mazara valley in Sicily’s southwest, is fast becoming one of the most recognized producers in the region. Founded by Salvatore Ajello’s grandfather in 1860, the family has cultivated vines here for three generations. The winery’s philosophy, in the words of Salvatore Ajello, is simple: “We let nature do most of the work; we try to capture in a bottle the richness, vitality and structure of the magnificent grapes produced by our vineyards. Our role is to simply be the guardians of these qualities.”
The first head-trained, spur-pruned vineyards were planted at the Ajello estate in 1860. Today, 168 acres are occupied by densely planted vineyards divided between the native varieties of Grillo, Insolia, Catarratto and Nero d’Avola grapes, as well as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Grapes are picked exclusively by hand, and only the best, carefully selected fruit is used.
Next up is Occhipinti SP68 IGT, a biodynamically farmed Nero d'Avola and Frappato blend. Arianna Occhipinti is from the Vittoria region of Southern Sicily. She has been making wine for ten years under the tutelage of her uncle, Giusto Occhipinti, who owns the well-known winery COS. She produces first rate wines from biodynamically grown local varieties such as Nero d’Avola and Frappato. In her mid-20s, Arianna already seems to know exactly what she wants to do with her life. She is the sort of driven young winemaker who is bound to be become an important figure in Sicilian wine.
Frappato is a local Sicilian red grape variety that always seems to yield wines loaded with fresh raspberry aromatics. Arianna’s Frappato is already legendary — and that status is very well deserved. The SP68 is a blend of Frappato and Nero di Avola. The SP68 name comes from a highway near Arianna’s home town of Vittoria.
Bright ruby in color. Focused aromatics of raspberry, cherry and garrigue. On the palate, sour black cherry and rasberry with stony earth and a little twizzler. Great depth, purity and balance. Reminded me of a Gamay with a little extra meatiness. Very approachable — certainly a serious wine, but a lot of fun to drink. A perfect summer wine to serve with a slight chill with BBQ or a great pairing with lamb.
We also have a few bottles of Occhipinti Olive Oil available for purchase. Limited
For the White blend: Porcini Mushroom and Taleggio Bruschetta Serves 6
The fall porcini season will soon be upon us and this is a great little recipe that makes the most of their beefy, full flavor! If you cannot find porcini's, substitute cremini or portabellos.
* 4 large porcini mushrooms, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
* 1/4 cup thyme, coarsely chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
* 1 teaspoon aged balsamic vinegar
* 6 slices sourdough bread
* 6 slices of Taleggio
* Sea salt
Place mushrooms in a roasting pan, scatter with 2 tablespoons of the thyme and the garlic, drizzle with olive oil, and season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Roast at 350F for about 20 to 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl with the pan juices. Add the aged balsamic, and adjust the seasoning if needed. Keep warm.
Brush sourdough with olive oil, place on a char-grill and cook for 2-3 minutes each side until charred. Place bread on baking sheet, top with the Taleggio slices and place under a hot broiler for 2-3 minutes or until cheese is melted. Transfer to plates and spoon over hot mushrooms and scatter with remaining thyme leaves. Sprinkle a little sea salt on top.
For the Red Blend: Pappardelle With Lamb Ragù, Mint and Pecorino Serves 4
This recipe is from the fantastic New York chef Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde-he was the chef for many years at Cafe Boulud.
* 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 1/2 pounds ground lamb (preferably shoulder)
* 1/2 cup finely diced carrots
* 1/2 cup finely diced onions
* 1/2 cup finely diced celery
* 1 tablespoon tomato paste
* 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
* 1 cup imported canned cherry tomatoes
* 3 cups low-sodium chicken broth or water
* 1 sprig fresh thyme
* 1 sprig fresh rosemary
* 2 bay leaves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
* 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
* 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 pound fresh pappardelle
* 1 tablespoon butter
* 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
* 1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano
Heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large stewpot over high heat. Break the lamb into small bits, add it to the pot, and brown. (If you don't have a pot large enough to fit all the meat at once, brown it in a large saucepan first, then transfer to a stewpot.) If the lamb gives off a lot of liquid, drain it off and continue to brown.
Add the carrots, onions and celery, and stir together. Cook until the vegetables start to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stirring, and cook for another minute. Add the red wine, stirring, and cook until it evaporates completely. Scrape off any bits that are sticking to the pot to prevent them from burning.
Add the canned tomatoes, broth and all the seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium-low to cook at a simmer. Continue scraping the sides and bottom of the pot at regular intervals to avoid burning. Simmer for about 1½ hours, or until most of the liquid evaporates. The meat should turn dark brown. The liquid should turn dark orange in color first, then thicken into a dark brown, textured sauce.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pappardelle, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. (If using dried pasta, follow the instructions on the packaging.) Drain, and transfer the pasta to the ragù pot. Add the butter and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and stir together over medium heat. Just before serving, add the mint and pecorino.