Easter Traditions In Rome

Fountain in Piazza Navona - Rome

I have had the pleasure of spending Easter in Rome a number of times. The city is very crowded with tourists and often school children. “La Settimana Santa” or the Holy Week is considered a perfect time to visit the Eternal City. Many hope to see the Pope who is in residence and gives Mass in St. Peter’s square on Easter morning.

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Romans skip their cornetti or brioche as they are known in other parts of Italy and have a big breakfast with eggs and salami. I once had one that was billed as an Easter donut or Ciambella that was filled with eggs and salami. The only problem was that we were on a sailboat going around the island of Elba and the weather wasn’t great so that kind of a heavy breakfast on Easter was hard for me but hey who am I to argue with tradition.

After breakfast, when in Rome, many do try to go see the Pope. One year I did that as well. The crowd was immense and the experience was intense and moving, even to a non-Catholic such as myself.

tenuta-pallavicini-in-lazio

When Romans sit down for their Easter lunch, as I did with friends at their home in Zagarolo, they will find Abbacchio at the table, or lamb. Here’s a recipe for how it is made. You will also find Carciofi alla Romana. I love Artichokes and this is the season you will find them in Italian markets all over the country. Here is a recipe for making Carciofi alla Romana. Lots of other items may be part of the meal but these two are key components as is the Colomba di Pasqua for dessert.

While this is happening, what are people drinking? I’ve found that Romans tend to have a mix of wines at the meal. Perhaps a red wine with the lamb. It could be Cesanese del Piglio which is a local grape from Lazio. I first discovered this grape variety in 2005 when I was doing a series of interviews with winemakers throughout Italy for a project. Cesanese del Piglio is made from a minimum of 90% Cesanese Comune and Cesanese d’Affile. Cesanese is not that widely seen on wine list menus and I think it is a real shame. It produces wines that are hearty and ruby red in color. It also brings spice and supple tannins to the table and blends well with other grape varieties.

zagarolo

For dessert, Romans have a few fun local choices including Malvasia del Lazio which I wrote about in February as part of my Italian indigenous grape variety series. Or perhaps Cannellino from Frascati made with Malvasia and Trebbiano.

Easter Monday is a holiday in Italy, Pasquetta. Everyone is generally having a big lunch somewhere “fuori porta” or out of town. I have many fond memories of Easter in Italy and Pasquetta. It’s a lovely way to begin the Spring season.

Here are a variety of other Easter dishes and wines to enjoy.  If you catch this in time, chat with us live this Saturday April 1st on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.  

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia

Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di
Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano
Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome
Jill of L’Occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua

Join us next month on May 6th as Gwendolyn from Art Predator hosts Italian Sparkling Wines.  See you then!

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Filed under #ItalianFWT, Holidays, lazio, Memorable Events, wines

Women In Wine Fridays: Matilde Poggi from Le Fraghe (Veneto)

This week’s Women in Wine Fridays is about Matilde Poggi from Le Fraghe. I met Matilde at the Slow Wine tasting back in February. I was really impressed with her wines and wanted to find out more about her. These are her answers to some questions that I emailed her about her winery and her winemaking. I found her wines all very clean and intriguing. People, myself included, often don’t take Bardolino seriously enough. Made from Corvina and Rondinella, this wine proved very interesting and food friendly. Meeting Matilde made me want to learn more and I think this Vinitaly I will take advantage of that opportunity.

MatildePoggi_FIVI_med

1.Tell me about Le Fraghe and your family history?

I began to vinify my father’s grapes in 1984. Till that year the grapes were given to my uncle who has another winery

2. How did you get into the wine business?

It is something I grew up with as the winery was in the family since 1960s. as a child I liked so much the seasons’ cycle and imagined the vines going to sleep after the harvest and waking up in spring and growing in summer time. I wanted to meet the challenges of this world.

3.What has been the hardest part of the wine business for you in terms of gender issues, if any?

In 1980s many people were surprised as they thought that wine was a male business. There were not so many women making wines, now it is much more common. I have to say that sometimes I felt people were not trusting me being a woman. I guess that this impression is shared by women in many other businesses

4.What trends and changes have you seen since you started? What do you see happening in the next 5-10 years in your sector of the business?

Since I started there are many more small producers compared to 1980s. People are more sensible to artisanal, organic and sustainable wines. I believe that this trend will go on in the next years too. In the next years I think that there will be consumers groups: one side people drinking wine as a commodity, no matter where it comes from and, in the more educated countries, people looking much more for indigenous grapes made from artisanal winegrowers

5.What do you see happening in the Italian wine world in the coming years?

I think that there will be more attention for artisanal, organic, natural wines coming from indigenous grapes. I think that there will be more and more direct contact with businesses, people like to know where the wine is made and who is the winemaker.

6.Are people interested in different varietals? International varietals?

I believe that there is a bigger interest for indigenous grapes

7.What wines from the Veneto that are truly interesting to people these days (as you see from tourists visiting you?

People coming visiting mostly look for Chiaretto, my rosè.

8. What do you think about the level of wine education in general and about wines from your area in particular?

Not so many people are highly educated in wine, too many look just for wines which are trendy. Wines of our area are known but sometimes not so well known as Bardolino is often considered an easy drinking wine and few people give it the consideration it deserves

9. Where are women going to be in the industry in the next 10 years?

Many women decide to study enology, I guess that there will be more women engaged in the winemaking processes

10. What secrets can you share about pairing your wines with food?

I like serving Bardolino slightly chilled, pairing fresh water fish as well.

11. What is going on with sustainability in your area?

I turned to organic in 2009, not many producers were organic at that time. Now it is becoming more popular, winegrowers understand that we are the first to make something for a better environment.

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Filed under Italian indigenous varieties, Italian regions, Italian women in wine, Veneto, wines, Women in Wine, Women in Wine Fridays

Wine Wednesday: 10 Tips for Visiting Vinitaly

Italian Flag

Vinitaly is the Italian wine fair that everyone either loves or hates but goes to nonetheless save other issues such as time of year, coincidence with other holidays and the like. I am on my 17th Vinitaly and I can say I love to go. It’s crazy, chaotic and crowded but I love the buzz and the ability to see old friends, clients, taste new wines and see the lovely city of Verona, albeit only at night.

Arena di Verona

My tips for those who are going for the first time:

1) Wear comfortable shoes
2) Bring a water bottle with you
3) Don’t assume you will get wifi everywhere or anywhere so get organized accordingly with meeting people, etc
4) Getting to/from town is a nightmare so, get ready for a nice walk at the end of the show
5) See if you can attend any of the seminars offered.
6) Decide if you are a day or night Vinitaly person. It’s hard to enjoy both, long day of tasting and meetings and then dinners out everynight.
7) Taste wines at the stands where there are local sommeliers wearing the AIS uniform.
8) Build in extra time in your schedule because it may get really crowded and be hard to find your way.
9) Bring a piece of fruit from the hotel so you won’t only eat breadsticks, focaccia, salami and cheese for four days
10) Have a great time and bring an umbrella. It always rains when I forget mine so you never know, maybe bringing one will keep the rain away.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Malvasia di Schierano Nero from Piedmont

italy 600

This week’s indigenous grape variety is called Malvasia di Schierano Nero. This aromatic grape comes from Piedmont and produces either frizzante or spumante red or rose style sweet wines. The grapes are occasionally dried and made into a passito style wine as well. The wines are said to be of low alcohol and to pair well with regional desserts. I have never had a wine from this particular denomination but it seems to be relatively popular in the Torino area. I found the names of a few producers and I think I may look them up at Vinitaly in two weeks. One is called Carlin de Paolo while another is Terre dei Santi. The grapes tend to grow near Castelnuovo Don Bosco and some other villages in the Astigiano area such as Albugnano, Passerano Marmorito, Pino d’Asti, Berzano and Moncucco. Another producer is Casa Vinicola Franco Francesco. Cascina Gilli also makes this sweet wine. I have had many of their other wines so I think this may be my first stop. The must be cooled down and then refermented with yeasts in an auto-clave. The cold temperature enables the grapes to keep their fresh, lively, primary aromas of fruit and flowers.

To have the Malvasia di Castelnuovo don Bosco DOC designation which includes sweet, sparkling, red and rose wines, the wines must be made from 85% Malvasia di Schierano grapes. This area of Piedmont is farther inland and has higher elevations. The climate is more Continental than Mediterranean and the grapes retain their freshness. I always feel that Piedmont is one area of Italy that I haven’t spent enough time in. Turin, like Milan, is a city that has undergone many changes throughout the areas. It is a city that surprises you and offers unexpected beauties. I think maybe I am due for a visit. I have some friends who live there so it could be the right time. Perhaps later this Spring. Five more Malvasia varieties to describe. This is my 169th post in this series….

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Filed under Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, Italian regions, Italian wineries, italy, Memorable Events, Piedmont

Spanish Sundays: 2012 Numanthia Termes From Toro DO

mspain

Spain is rarely discussed on this blog but it is never too far from my heart. I have a couple of Spanish DOs that I work with and I often drink Spanish wines. I studied Spanish for seven years after returning home from Italy but alas alak, have spent precious little time in that country of late. I do get to travel there though thanks to the wines I can savor here in New York.

This week’s Spanish Sunday is about a wine from the DO of Toro in Spain in the province of Zamora, located in the west of the region of Castilla y León. It is from the well-known winery Numanthia. While a tad less famous than Numanthia and Termanthia, Termes, the wine I had at the Mandarin Oriental in the Lobby Lounge is more affordable and approachable. Retailing at around $25, check out Wine-Searcher, it’s a beautiful expression of the Tempranillo grape in Toro where it is known as Tinta de Toro. The Toro region has been famous since Roman times for its great red wines.

I first tried this wine at a Numanthia dinner back in 2011 hosted by Gregory Dal Piaz, then Editor-in-Chief of Snooth. I thought the wines were lovely and the dinner pairings were outstanding at the time.

The wine comes from vineyards located at 700 meters above sea level and there are some 100 year old vines. Many are also ungrafted because phylloxera never flourished in this region. It macerates for an extended time on the skins before fermentation at controlled temperatures. Post-fermentation, the wine spends 16 months in one year old French barrels.

On the nose and palate, you get the berries you expect from Tempranillo driven wines together with pepper and spice, cedar notes and a hint of leather and cacao. If you can afford the pricier Numanthia and Termanthia, they are certainly wines to try once in a lifetime. If you can’t, I think you’ll find the Termes a great alternative from this region.

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Pomp & Circumstance – Sometimes It’s Appealing

Just reposting this because it is the only post I have written that includes English wine. Like everyone else, today I am thinking about London, the Uk and the statement keep calm and carry on. Westminister is in my heart since I was a small child as my Dad is a huge Churchill fan. I am saddened and alarm but their resilience is legendary and I have no doubt yesterday’s attack will be met with the same resolve Britain has always shown.

avvinare

I confess I was up early and spent two hours watching the Royal Nuptials. I loved it. It brought me back 30 years to that night in camp when we all got up at 4:00 AM to watch Prince Charles marry Lady Diana. Of course I’m no longer that blushing tween but I do still have some of that. Also, after going to a funeral service yesterday for a dear friend’s father, it was nice to watch something light and fairytale like early today, especially when so much of the news is so dire.

I, like everyone else who pens a wine blog, is likely thinking of British sparklers to celebrate the occasion. I’ve only had ones from Nyetimber, which were delicious but quite pricey. I did find an entire website dedicated to English wine producers. Years ago this would have been unthinkable. While the growth of their…

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Wine Wednesday: Si Mon Père Savait(Cotes du Roussillon)

Simonperesavait

This week’s wine Wednesday is about a wine from Bernard Magrez, Si Mon Père Savait. Made from a blend of 69% Syrah, 17% Carignan, and 14% Grenache, it screams Southern France and particularly Roussillon. Infact, it is from the Côtes du Roussillon. The vines are grown on schist soils. The grapes are vinified separately in inox and then blended in a second step. Half the wine ages in barrels and half in inox and then they are blended. The vines are on average 30 years old. The Grenache and the Carignan are bushed trained and the Syrah is on a royal cordon trellising system. It had that wonderful “garrigue, Mediterranean vegetal aroma” and really made me want to visit the south of France. Berries and bramble, earthy notes and black fruit made it a great pairing for my weekly Peruvian chicken. I found this page about it on wine-searcher.com. This was the 2011 so the blend is a little different. Bernard Magrez is world famous for his big Bordeaux estates like Château Pape Clément. This is an  very affordable and delicious sample of what he can produce.

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Filed under Cotes du Roussillon, France, Wine of the Week, Wine Wednesday, wines