Donnachiara: Vines Tended Like Window Boxes #ItalianFWT

Donnachiara is a winery in the Montefalciane region of Italy just south of Roma that’s been getting a lot of attention on Twitter — generating quite a bit of enthusiasm which made me curious about tasting the wines myself!

So when a few weeks ago, Donnachiara’s owner Ilaria Petitto hosted a wine lunch in NYC, and since I and some of my fellow Italian Food Wine Travel folks couldn’t exactly attend because we live in other parts of the country, we got the next best thing — wines sent to us for a twitter chat that afternoon. Unfortunately, for me, the wines arrived a few days after the twitter chat…

Fast forward to this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel prompt to write about Calabria and the Gaglioppo grape, which is located on sole of the boot of Italy. Sue and I set aside a night earlier in the week to taste and take notes about the wines.
Unfortunately, once again the wines didn’t arrive, but with Sue at the house and Italian wines on the docket,
what should we do? Donnachiara to the rescue!
There did seem to me some poetic justice for switching from the missing wines from Ciro to these wines from Donnachiara. (Curious about the wines people tasted as a preview for what we will be writing about later? Check out the links below!)
Family owned and operated for five generations, Donnachiara sees that the “proper care and attachment to one’s work exceed(s) the economic return of any single project.”
The Donnachiara philosophy pays attention to people and planet: “If employees, in addition to sharing the values of the company,  are also happy they can be creative, can deliver innovation and then they can help to move the company forward.” Their respect for nature comes through in sustainable production which includes practicing “integrated management” to elliminate disease.  In addition, they say, “Our energy needs are produced by solar power at the winery. Water is recycled even though there is an  abundance of local springs.  The vines are tended like window boxes even though the locations can be distinctly challenging. This process makes for superior vines, grapes, and ultimatley wines.”

DONNACHIARA WINES 

2017 – Donnachiara Greco Di Tufo – D.O.C.G. 13 euros
2012 – Donnachiara Taurasi Riserva – D.O.C.G. Aglianico 40 euros

MENU

  • Charcuterie
  • Pesto with harvest orchieta pasta, mozzarella balls, and shiitake mushrooms
  • Linguini with meatballs in an eggplant and artichoke pasta sauce
  • Caprese salad with heirloom tomatoes

 

2017 – Donnachiara Greco Di Tufo – D.O.C.G. 13 euros
13% alcohol
100% Greco

Color: Super pale lemon

Nose: Minerality, grass, super tart lemon, lemon citrus blossom, white flowers, plumeria. Once this wine opens up, there is an essence of stone fruit, even cherry. Depending on the glass you are using, different stone fruits come through. In Sue’s petite syrah glass it was nectarine, in my Sauvignon Blanc Glass it was more Rainer Cherry.

Palate: What a great starter wine, a “welcome to my house” wine. Clean, bright fresh and exciting. It wakes the palate up.

Pairing: I really love, love, love this wine with pesto pasta with salted mushrooms. Greco loves the salt cured olives in the pesto mushroom pasta. Surprisingly, it didn’t work with the olive goat cheese. The Greco and the basil in the caprese salad was wonderful, it also played nicely with the arugula in the salad. Oysters would be a fun pairing.

If you’re unfamiliar with Greco but you like Pinot Grigio, I bet you’d enjoy this wine. Think of what you’d pair with a Pinot Grigio and you’re good to go!

 

2012 – Donnachiara Taurasi Riserva – D.O.C.G. 40 euros
100% Aglianico

Aglianico is a red grape from Italy that is not very common in the US, but it’s been getting attention and press as an affordable alternative to Barolo. I’ve only tasted it a few times, and I’ve never written about it. A few months ago, Italian FWT group focused on this varietal and I couldn’t even find a bottle! But now that it is on my radar — and others — and I’ve been looking for it, I’ve found it a few times and in a range of price points. I now have two in my cellar and another sample: after tasting this wine, I am definitely a fan!

Color: Very dense, ruby red

Nose: Earthy chalk, cocoa powder, cherry cola, root beer, cherry tobacco, caramel

Palate: Cherry, menthol, earthy, tannins. A finish with baking spice that lasts forever… The complexity on the nose carries through to the palate.

Pairing: These wines amplify what is on your palate, so with the right foods, this wine will elevate the meal. Great with the pepper salami. Sue can always love a caprese salad with an Italian red, and this was no exception. While the caprese salad is a wonderful course with a lovely white as mentioned above, If you only wanted to serve one wine for the evening, this is a great red that can carry through all the courses, I felt that it really needed the rich fatty meatball, and I’d love to pair it with a rich game meat, steak, or braised meat.  Sue was happy with this wine with both of the pastas.

Thank you Donnachiara for sharing your wonderful wine with us! I do look forward to having lunch with Donnachiara ‘s owner Ilaria Petitto, one day — maybe in Italy but more likely in LA! She has other wines in her portfolio that we are excited to taste as well.

Hopefully one of these days soon the wines from Calabria will arrive and we will write about “The Food and Wine of Calabria.” In the meantime, check out the work by my Italian FWT colleagues:

Jennifer at Vino Travels will share “Cirò: The Ancient Jewel of Calabria”

Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “Braised Beef Cheeks over Garlic Gnocchi + Statti Calabria Gaglioppo 2015”

Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will share “The Food and Wine of Calabria”

Lauren at The Swirling Dervish will share “Exploring Calabrian Wine: The Du Cropio Estate in Cirò”

Jeff at Food Wine Click will share “Exploring the Toe of Italy’s Boot with Ciro Rosso”

Rupal at Syrah Queen will share “A Taste of Calabria: Librandi Wines of Ciro”

Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will share “A New Golden Age for the Gaglioppo in Calabria”

 

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