Tag Archives: Friuli Venezia Giulia

Spaghetti alla Carbonara – Recommended Wine Pairing

Les Crêtes, VdA Chardonnay Cuvée Bois DOCThis wine pairing post for Francesca’s mouth-watering Spaghetti alla Carbonara has been long overdue – apologies if it took me so long, but my Italian spumante series in view of the end-of-year festivities kind of got in the way 🙂

Without further ado, let’s now get to it: picking up where we left off in response to a prophetic question from Chiara (the gracious and posh image consultant who authors the “effortless style” blog Kiarastyle) in the comment section of Francesca’s recipe post, my suggestions are to either pair it with a structured Chardonnay with some oak-aging, good acidity and minerality or go for a red wine with good acidity, gentle tannins and ideally some minerality, such as a Pinot Noir from the North-Eastern region of Alto Adige.

St. Michael-Eppan, A.A. Chardonnay Sanct Valentin DOCThere is not much to say that is not already widely known about the two grape varieties that I picked, since they are both international varieties (as opposed to grapes indigenous to Italy). However, something worth mentioning is that in regards to Chardonnay you will notice that my recommendations span pretty much across the entire Italian territory, literally from Valle d’Aosta to Sicily, while my Pinot Noir choices focus on one specific region, Alto Adige. This is because, while Chardonnay has been very successfully grown in different terroirs in North, Central and even Southern Italy, the same is not true for Pinot Noir, whose best results are attained in the region of Alto Adige first and foremost, and then in Lombardia and Valle d’Aosta. This is hardly a surprise considering how finicky a grape variety Pinot Noir is compared to the great versatility and adaptability of Chardonnay grapes.

Elena Walch, A.A. Beyond the Clouds DOCWith that said, let’s get down to the recommendations, starting from our mini-tour of Italy showcasing some of my all-time favorite Italian Chardonnays:

  • Les Crêtes, Valle d’Aosta Chardonnay Cuvée Bois DOC from Valle d’Aosta (100% Chardonnay; in my view a phenomenal wine with a wonderful bouquet of wildflowers, jasmine, pineapple and butter – hats off to the producer who invested the energy and resources necessary to achieve a density of 7,500 vines/HA in the vineyard used to create this magnificent wine)
  • St Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige Chardonnay Sanct Valentin DOC from Alto Adige (100% Chardonnay; with scents of Mirabelle plum, butter, vanilla and almond)
    Castello della Sala, Bramito del Cervo Umbria IGT
  • Elena Walch, Alto Adige Beyond the Clouds DOC from Alto Adige (“predominantly” Chardonnay blended with other white grape varieties based on a proprietary recipe; with scents of peach, pineapple, almond, butter and vanilla)
  • Jermann, W? Dreams Venezia Giulia IGT from Friuli Venezia Giulia (97% Chardonnay, 3% other grape varieties kept it a secret by the winery; with aromas of Mirabelle plum, citrus, vanilla and a smoky hint – a special note of merit to the producer who achieved a density of almost 8,000 vines/HA in the vineyards used to create this excellent wine)
  • Tenute Folonari, La Pietra Tenute del Cabreo Toscana IGT from Toscana (100% Chardonnay; with scents of peach, butter, honey, hazelnut and flint)
    Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT
  • Castello della Sala, Bramito del Cervo Umbria IGT from Umbria (100% Chardonnay; with fine aromas of wildflowers, pineapple, Mirabelle plum, butter, vanilla and hazelnut)
  • Planeta, Chardonnay Sicilia IGT from Sicily (100% Chardonnay; with complex and elegant scents of wisteria, peach, apple, honey, butter, vanilla, hazelnut and chalk)

Finally, these are some of my favorite Italian Pinot Noirs for their quality to price ratio (note that all of the wines below are 100% Pinot Noir):

  • Elena Walch, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Ludwig DOC (with scents of rose, wild strawberry and plum)
    Elena Walch, A.A. Pinot Noir Ludwig DOC
  • St Michael-Eppan, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Riserva DOC (with aromas of wild strawberry, raspberry and soil)
  • Manincor, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Mason DOC (with scents of wild strawberry, raspberry and cranberry)
  • Hofstätter, Alto Adige Pinot Nero Mazon Riserva DOC (with aromas of wild strawberry, cherry and cranberry)
  • Muri-Gries, Alto Adige Blauburgunder Abtei Muri Riserva DOC (with scents of wild strawberry, cranberry and plum)

That’s all for now – enjoy some good wine and as always let me know if you get to try any of these wines!

Muri Gries, A.A. Blauburgunder Abtei Muri Riserva DOC

Green Bean, Olive and Goat Cheese Quiche – Recommended Wine Pairing

Francesca’s delicate green bean, olive and goat cheese quiche can be successfully complemented with a medium-bodied white wine with good acidity and either effervescence or noticeable minerality.

Based on the above, my suggestion is either a quality Prosecco or a Pecorino. Let’s quickly discuss each of these two wines and include some actual recommendations.

Prosecco. Among the average consumers both in Italy and abroad, there is a lot, and I mean A LOT of misinformation about Prosecco. Let’s try to get some facts straight regarding this much talked about wine.

Italy, like other countries, produces several sparkling wines which are made either according to the Classic Method (also known as “Methode Champenoise“, because it is the traditional production process of French Champagne) or according to the quicker and cheaper Italian Method (also known as “Methode Charmat” or “Metodo Martinotti“), which is known to maximize primary (or varietal) aromas although it generally sacrifices the wine structure and the finest perlage. Franciacorta DOCG and Trento DOC are examples of two Italian appellations that are reserved to Classic Method sparkling wines.

Prosecco, instead, is a white wine that can be made either in the still or sparkling version: for the purposes of this quick overview, we will only focus on the sparkling wine variety, which is also the one that generally yields the best results in terms of quality. So, Prosecco sparkling wine is generally made according to the Italian Method (although there are a few exceptions, such as Valdo‘s Prosecco Brut Metodo Classico Numero 10 DOCG, which is a solid 100% Glera sparkling wine made according to the Classic Method) in the three appellations which permit production of such wine: Prosecco DOC (which encompasses a larger territory in the regions of Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia), Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG and Prosecco di Asolo DOCG (which both encompass a much smaller territory near the town of Treviso, Veneto).

Prosecco is made from 85% or more Glera white-berried grapes, which are also known as Prosecco grapes, although nowadays Prosecco is technically a trademark for the wine, and no longer the name of the grape variety. Prosecco sparkling wine can be made available in in any of the following varieties, as far as residual sugar content is concerned: Brut, Extra Dry, Dry and Demisec. Under no circumstance, should Prosecco be confused with Asti Spumante, which is a totally independent and different sweet sparkling wine made according to the Italian Method within the homonymous DOCG appellation in the region of Piemonte, Italy, out of Moscato Bianco grapes: it simply has nothing to do with Prosecco.

Hoping to have somewhat set the record straight for Prosecco, let’s move on to acknowledge a few among the best Prosecco sparkling wines that are available on the market. This is a particularly important exercise because unfortunately, due to the worldwide notoriety that Prosecco wines have recently attained, there are producers that just tried to seize the opportunity and put out there a lot of really low quality Prosecco at a very cheap price point, which is something that has been tarnishing Prosecco’s reputation in the eyes (but especially in the mouths!) of those consumers who happened to purchase any of such inferior quality labels.

Among the best Prosecco’s on the market are Adami, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut “Bosco di Gica” DOCG (95-97% Glera grapes/3-5% Chardonnay grapes, with aromas of wisteria, pear, apple, peach, Mirabelle plum and herbs); Bepin De Eto, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut DOCG (100% Glera grapes, with scents of rose, wisteria, apple, pear, peach, bread crust and minerals – commendable is the investment made by the owners to achieve a very good density of 4,000 vines/HA); Marsuret, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Superiore Brut “San Boldo” DOCG (100% Glera grapes, with aromas of mint, broom, elder blossoms, apple, citrus and minerals); or Montesel, Prosecco di Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore “Riva dei Fiori” Brut DOCG (100% Glera grapes, with scents of elder blossoms, wisteria, pear, apple, lime and minerals). One last noteworthy mention is much deserved by the more expensive, exquisite Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze DOCG by Nino Franco: a 100% Glera Italian Method Prosecco made in the finest sub-zone of the appellation (called Cartizze) and displaying fine aromas of jasmine blossoms, passion fruit, citrus, herbs and minerals.

Pecorino is a wine made 85% or more from Pecorino white-berried grapes, a variety that is indigenous to the Marche region in Italy and that had almost completely been abandoned because of the limited productivity of Pecorino vines.  Fortunately for us all 🙂 in the early Eighties Guido Cocci Grifoni, a winemaker in the Marche region, became aware of a minuscule vineyard owned by an old farmer which still had a few Pecorino vines, which he bought and transplanted in his own vineyard thus saving this grape variety from extinction and starting commercial production of Pecorino wine in the Nineties. If you want to know more about Pecorino grapes and their rediscovery, check out this interesting write up on Tenuta Cocci Grifoni’s Web Site (after you open the PDF file, keep scrolling as there is an Italian version first and then one in English).

Remarkable Pecorino wines to definitely try out if you come across them include Tenuta Cocci Grifoni, Offida Pecorino “Colle Vecchio” DOCG (100% Pecorino grapes, with aromas of chamomile flowers, acacia and jasmine blossoms, hay, apple, caper and minerals); De Angelis, Offida Pecorino DOCG (100% Pecorino grapes, with scents of chamomile flowers, broom, hay, melon, citrus and minerals); Le Caniette, Offida Pecorino “Io sono Gaia (non sono Lucrezia)” DOCG (100% Pecorino grapes, with aromas of broom, apricot, exotic fruit, wax and minerals – to Le Caniette’s owners credit, they have invested energy and resources to achieve a very good density of 4,000 vines/HA); or Moncaro, Offida Pecorino “Ofithe” DOCG (100% Pecorino grapes, with scents of white flowers, elder blossoms, apple, citrus, almond and minerals).

As usual, enjoy and please share your experience if you decide to try out any of the above wines or if you wish to suggest a different wine that you think would go well with Francesca’s green bean, olive and goat cheese quiche!