The November Tour of Italy: Basilicata
For November, we're returning to very southern Italy, to the "arch" or "instep" of the boot, as it were. Basilicata, also known as Lucania after the earliest inhabitants, sits between Puglia, Campania and the Gulf of Taranto. The most mountainous region in all of Italy, a rather extensive section of the Southern Apennines lies within Basilicata's borders. Perhaps its most famous peak is the now extinct volcano, Monte Vulture, which in turn lends its name to the region's most famous wine. Other agriculture includes wheat, potatoes, corn, olives, cattle, hogs and chili peppers. More on all of this below as our chefs share their hearty late-autumn dishes and our wine directors their rich and warming vini. Starting today, you can join us all month for a little taste of Basilicata!
Pepper & Mozzarella Panino $11
In Basilicata the sun bleeds rich rays of light that seem to last all day, rewarding the region with vegetables and fruits that are immensely flavorful even late in the season. Peppers are synonymous with Basilicata: the skins absorb that long hot sun which in turns yields a beautiful sweet heat. We're shallow frying these gorgeous capsicums to soften the skin then layering them between fresh mozzarella and herbs. The result is a panino that is a true testament to Basilicata and the mantra that "less is more" where fantastic ingredients are concerned. Come enjoy it all month long!
- Jason Denton
2008, Aglianco del Vulture, "Siir" $13
This wine is organically produced by Lorenzo Piccin, a twenty-three year old vigneron engaged in building an estate with the help of his parents. Siir, in Lucanian, means Father. This wine nestles itself perfectly on our glass list. Full in body with aromas of cinnamon and cranberry, and hints of chocolate and bright fruit on the palate with elegant tannins, this del Vulture is a perfect representation as to why this varietal is praised as the Barolo of the south. As the wintery weather approaches warm up with some of your 'ino favorites and be sure to pair them with a glass of the San Martino - Aglianico del Vulture.
- Tyler Etheridge, General Manager
Strascinati with Ragu alla Potentina $18
A specialty of Basilicata, where pasta is usually made with only durum wheat flour and water, Strascinati literally means "dragged," in reference to the way in which the pasta is made. Like a large, inside-out orecchietti, the grooves in strascinati catch the spicy, rich and fragrant ragu alla potentina. Composed of pork, tomatoes, pancetta, black pepper and nutmeg, the ragu from Basilicata's capital captures the essence of fall. Finished with grated pecorino cheese and black pepper, it is autumn in a bowl.
- Chef Tomas Curi
2009, Villa dei Pini, d'Angelo $12
Villa dei Pini is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Incrocio Manzoni, made by one of Italy's leading winemakers, Donato d'Angelo. It marries the ancient volcanic subsoil of Southern Italy with international grape varieties for a unique wine. At an elevation of over 2000 feet, D'Angelo's location on Mount Vulture is well suited for these varieties, which he brought back with him from northern Italy after completing enology school in Conegliano.
2008, Aglianico del Vulture, "Sacravite", d'Angelo $11
Considered by many the greatest producer of Aglianico del Vulture, few winemakers define a generation the way that Donato d'Angelo has. While d'Angelo's Riserva and single vineyard Aglianico del Vulture are intended for aging, "Sacravite" is blended using riper fruit sourced from the estate's vineyards. The resulting wine is very approachable young, and a fantastic (and very affordable) introduction to Aglianico del Vulture.
- Thera Clark, Wine Director
'inoteca e liquori bar
Grilled Pork Chop $24
This Tour of Italy is very timely for me personally as I was just visiting the Southern Region of Italy. As I travelled through the mountains of Basilicata, people everywhere were foraging for mushrooms and enjoying them before the winter frost sets in. In homage to that experience, we're taking some phenomenal pork chops from small farms in Vermont, lightly smoking them and finishing them on the grill. We then top them off with a variety of field mushrooms and mustard seeds. This is as authentic as it gets!
- Chef Steve Levine
2009, Il Preliminare, Cantine del Notaio $12
Possessing vineyards in the best hillsides of Mount Vulture, it is no wonder that Cantine del Notaio consistently produces an incredible array of wines. They are using their up-to 100 year-old Aglianico vines to create a stellar and innovative line-up ranging from Barrique-aged roses to Methodo Classico sparkling wines. The Il Preliminare is an unusual blend of aglianico (vinified white), moscato and chardonnay and is just recently being imported into the United States. The moscato is to blame for the highly perfumed and elderflower aromatics. Exotic fruits come forth, adding more complexity to the mix. Minerality and zesty notes on the palate result in an intriguing and well structured wine.
2006, Aglianico del Vulture "Teodosio", Basilisco $14
On the steep hillsides of Vulture, Michele and Nunzia Cutolo have been making wine for 15 years. This 20 hectare vineyard in the the northern part of Basilicata is dedicated to the production of two labels. Using the same vines as their higher end "Basilisco", this bottling is gripping and rustic, showcasing the unique terroir that makes up Rionero del Vulture.
- Catherine Gerdes, Wine Director
Grilled Pork Chop with White Bean Stew and Chili Relish $18
Who loves pig more: a farmer from Basilicata or me? Well, obviously the farmer from Basilicata, but I am not far behind. In addition to their londstanding love of pork, Basilicata also has something of a love affair with chili peppers, so it should come as no surprise that our ode to Basilicata pork is going to pack a little punch in the heat department. We have a grilled pork chop served over a white bean stew that is garnished with a spicy chili relish. A perfect mix of pork goodness and spicy chili heat to keep you warm and satisfied now that the cold weather is upon us.
- Chef Jeff Creager
2009, Il Rogito, Cantine del Notaio $13
Cantine del Notaio is one of Basilicata's leading estates and produces some of the greatest wines from Aglianico, all certified biodynamic, including the great rosato, Il Rogito. A rosato for red wine drinkers! Rich notes of sour cherries, blackberries and violets perfume the nose. The silky tannins and perfectly balanced acidity dance across your tongue, enhancing the lush ripe berries and hints of vanilla and spice and lead to an elegant and lingering finish. The Il Rogito ages for 12 months in French oak casks, allowing it to age beautifully, and, should you be inclined to enjoy a whole bottle, we are privileged to offer several different vintages on our vertical list. This is a wine to contemplate, as each sip leads you to the next, delighting both your palate and your imagination. Enjoy!
2004, Vigna della Corona, Tenuta Le Querce $17
Located near the slopes of the ancient Vulture volcano, Tenuta Le Querce is an ideal vineyard for Aglianico, and creates incredible deep and powerful wines, and despite being a newer winery, they are already receiving great acclaim and respect for the beautiful Aglianicos they produce. The Vigna della Corona is a perfect example. Full and rich with aromatics of black berries and cherries, sweet tobacco, baking spices and tar; powerful gripping tannins and an explosive mouth feel enhance the notes of dark fruits, rich berries and exotic spices to an elegant finish. This is a majestic wine.
- Zoe Morel, Asst. Wine Director