Cantine Federiciane Monteleone Penisola Sorrentina Gragnano 2012
“ Purple haze … all in my brain “, sings Jimi Hendrix.
Though a close description, it is not haze, exactly, which is all in my brain, but, more accurately, foam.
Purple foam, to be precise.
It is 127 miles, give or take, the distance between me and the nearest bottle of spumescent Gragnano, according to Winesearcher.com.
Yes, here in pizza-obsessed USA, in a corridor where pizza shops seem to outnumber people, locating a bottle of Gragnano, a wine that delivers one of the best pairings to pizza that you can imagine, is turning out to be, well, no easy task.
It would seem someone is missing out on a real opportunity in wine sales. If you are one of those importer / distributor / retailer types who believe the national palate is still not ready for Gragnano, well, that person may be you.
And why, by the way, is this not the case with the similar, but more easily located Lambrusco, I wonder?
Gragnano, a gently frizzante (sparkling) red wine taking its name from a town of the same name on the Sorrento Penisula, is low in alcohol with a distinct taste of grapes. It pours with a loveable purple foaminess and has the kind of acidity / effervescence that makes it a sensational partner to street food, cutting through the fat of cheese and oil, and yet, accompanies classic dishes, too, with unpretentious dignity.
And Gragnano can be an easy crossover for Lambrusco lovers, as it offers a similar drinking experience, however, Gragnano impresses me as having a somewhat larger frame, finer perlage (bubbles) and registering a different tone of earthiness.
Cantine Federiciane is located near Napoli in Italy’s Campania region. Produced under the umbrella of Penisola Sorrentina DOC, the estate’s Gragnano is made from grapes grown in the area’s volcanic soil. Back in the ‘50’s, the owners, family Palumbo, would re-ferment in heavy bottles with reinforced corks to withstand the pressure of fermentation. These days that is left to the faster and more controlled autoclave.
Whether you are interested in tasting off-beat, indigenous varietals – Piedirosso, Sciascinoso, Aglianico – or just want to lay your lips onto something new and delicious, give Gragnano a try. Be sure to give it a chill before serving. And if you don’t find Gragnano on the bottle shelf of your local wine shop, be sure to politely inform your retailer of the oversight.
Tasting Notes / Impressions:
Intense, deep hues of purple are echoed in lively, pomegranate-toned froth. Aromatic, bright, notes of grape and berry, earth, hint of spice, a touch of residual sugar. Rich and caressingly soft in the mouth with effervescence that really becomes a structural element here. The wine finishes a little smokey with lip-smacking, delicious dryness, gentle tannins. Fun, fresh and festive, a wine we should all be drinking more of.
Food Pairing Suggestions:
Pizza, of course, but please, let us not speak here of toppings like pineapple 😉 Recommend pizza margherita or white pizza, perhaps with salami or prosciutto; cecina / farinata (chick-pea flour “pizza”); the always comforting mozzarella in carrozza (Italian grilled cheese) is a simple and sensational pairing; sausages with mascarpone, a favorite dish of Italian cyclist Marco Pantani, may he rest in peace, I imagine to be insanely good company to Gragnano; calzone stuffed with salami and ricotta ( how many of these I made for my kids’ school lunch !); peppers and egg panino; cheeses like provolone, smokey scarmorza, mozzarella di buffalo; cured meats like salami, capicola, prosciutto cotto; Gragnano is perfect for the ever classic eggplant parmigiana; meat lovers will not be disappointed when pairing this wine to a good roast; spaghetti with mussels in light marinara sauce; a slam-dunk winner with fried seafood like squid, octopus, fried fish, especially pan-fried bacala.