Monte di Grazia Campania Bianco 2009

Monte di Grazia Campania Bianco 2009

Enjoying a vintage New York City vibe we pass through Washington Square, meander into the West Village then SoHo, making our way down to Chambers Street Wine shop where I am lucky enough to meet Marco Melzi at the tasting table.

[ I can’t recall ever having mentioned a retail wine shop on this blog before, but I have consistently found so many outstanding, unique wines at Chambers Street Wines that I think they deserve the plug 😉 ]

monte-di-grazia-campania-bianco-2009Marco introduced me to Monte di Grazia Campania Bianco 2009, a wine of character, unpretentious generosity and distinction.

The estate of Monte di Grazia is perched high above the Amalfi coast of Italy’s Campania in Tramonti, founded in 2004 by local physician Dr. Alfonso Arpino who has taken over the family vineyards.

Monte di Grazia lays claim to ancient vines and ungrafted rootstock – apparently unaffected by the great wine blight phylloxera – some more than a century old and producing naturally low yields.

The estate has approximately 2.5 hectares under vine in 4 or 5 vineyards situated in terraced terrain with soil of clay, sand and volcanic rock fragments.

Monte di Grazia Campania Bianco is produced from Pepella – whose clusters include only a few large grapes among many small ones – along with varietals Ginestra and Bianca Tenera. Vines are cultivated organically, grapes hand-harvested into crates. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

Luminous yellow-gold color with streaks of emerald, striking clarity. A cheery, upbeat nose opens with generous scents of lemon peel, pear, mandarin orange, hints of musk and rock, traces of hazelnut. On the palate, the wine shows the smooth power and lean muscularity you associate with an Olympic swimmer. Finishes with delicious, subtlely bitter recollections of citrus, nuances of wild herbs and licorice. An arrestingly soulful, unique wine.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

We loved this wine paired with wild caught calamari; boiled potatoes dressed with olive oil, sun-dried tomato and capers; mixed salad greens with hard boiled egg and avocado.

Left open in the refrigerator, Monte di Grazia Campania Bianco the next night drank with unwavering personality and flavor … we enjoyed it again with fresh home-made spring rolls.

I imagine this wine as being totally delicious with room temperature whole wheat pasta, mozzarella, sun dried tomato, fresh basil, tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Oh well, next time 🙂

Related posts: Verdicchio Meets Chun Juan

See the grand trunks of the Monte di Grazia vines in a slideshow on the estate’s website.


Rocca del Principe Fiano di Avellino 2006

Rocca del Principe Fiano di Avellino 2006

A beautiful expression of Time:
Early morning light slowly fills space between leaves of Fujian Tea bonsai.

Wonderfully evolved Rocca del Principe Fiano di Avellino 2006.

Somewhere in the province of Avellino in Italy’s Campania region there is a town called Lapio where 5 very special hectares of vineyard offer the Fiano vines of Rocca del Principe an apparently ideal terroir.

Husband and wife producer team of Aurelia Fabrizio and Ercole Zarrella released a first vintage only a few years back in 2004 and have already arrested the attention of many, including Gambero Rosso, which has taken notice of multiple vintages of this lovely wine produced from Campania’s indigenous Fiano varietal.

Rocca del Principe vineyards are of varying exposure at approximately 600 meters altitude. With differing soil/s – clay, generally, with changing degrees of richness, sand, rock sediment – each vineyard surely tends toward a unique character. The estate’s guiding production philosophy of low yield / minimal intervention eschews both chemical pesticides and synthetics fertilizers.

Tasting Notes / Impressions:

I nearly swooned at the complex aromatics rising up from this 5 year old Fiano: apricot, fig, hints of pear liqueur, candied ginger and minerals transfer to a rich, full palate that conveys both power and refinement. Minerality and acidity introduce delicious tension and contrast on the palate, leading to a long, flavorful finish marked with subtle hazelnut.

Food Pairing Suggestions:

You will not be disappointed pairing Fiano di Avellino with fish or seafood as it is ideal with either: but, this is familiar territory, so I will make only one suggestion in that category -consider crabcakes with remoulade sauce. Let’s work up a few more unusual ideas: goat cheese and black olive bruschetta; penne with grilled tomato and zucchini; for a Middle East experience, serve this wine with a plate of hummus, baba ghanoush (smokey eggplant dip), black olives and pita; perhaps an appetizer or first course of dolmades (stuffed grape leaves) accompanied by cubes of feta cheese marinated in oregano, red pepper flakes and olive oil.

Related posts:

Fiano di Avellino: Changing Gears
Feudi di San Gregorio Fiano di Avellino


Hauner Salina Bianco 2010

Hauner Salina Bianco 2010

Some say it’s the “make-up sex” that puts right a passionate argument between lovers.

Others say it’s the “make-up food” that goes a long way to getting it all good again 🙂

This little story of reconciliation begins with hand-made Chinese dumplings, aka “jiao zi”, and a bottle of one of the year’s most memorable – and inexpensive – white wines.

hauner-salina-bianco-jiao-ziFirst, the jiao zi:

It’s work to make these delectable bundles of taste, work on the level of making ravioli from scratch: dough is made, each dumpling skin rolled to the right shape and thickness, then stuffed with a hand-chopped ultrafine mixture of chives, napa cabbage, five spice tofu, ginger, egg and shrimp (classic jiao zi contains ground pork, too, though not five spice tofu).

hauner-salina-bianco-jiao-zi-cookedThe jiao zi are then cooked, boiled like ravioli, in fact, and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, toasted sesame seeds, toasted scallion, cilantro, and red chili oil.

From what I know of Carlo Hauner senior – an artistic, multi-interest fellow who first arrived on the island of Salina in the Aeolian archipelago during the early ‘60’s – I suspect he would be rather amused to find a Hauner wine being served alongside a jiao zi peace-offering intended to adjust a difference of opinion. Come to think of it, Carlo junior – the son who took over the twenty hectare Hauner estate in the late ‘90”s after Carlo senior passed away – might also find it a bit of a novelty.

Brilliant gold in the glass, Hauner Salina Bianco scents of honey, lime and flowers are great counterpoint to the savory jiao zi aromas. The palate is rich with round flavors of apricot and delicious licks of seasalt. Crisp minerality testifies to the island’s volcanic pumice mineral rich soil.

hauner-salina-bianco-2010Hauner Salina Bianco is produced from a blend of indigenous hand-harvested Cataratto and Inzolia in equal measure. Vineyards lie at an altitude 50-100m. Fermentation is carried out in stainless steel followed by 3 months of bottle refinement.

An insane value for under $12.00.

Hauner Salina Bianco 2010 will be extraordinary served with:

Seafood / fish served as entrees or in pasta or risotto; grilled vegetables; cold noodles in sesame sauce; fresh spring rolls; sushi / sashimi / maki; panzanella; salads featuring avocado ( guacomole ! ); fresh or young cheeses.

Related posts:
re: Wines under $15.00

PS: See the sensational photos of the island on Hauner website … you’ll understand the colors on the wine label.