This month Katarina of Grapevine Adventures is hosting the Italian Food Wine Travel group as we explore the wines of Lazio and Umbria. Given that I lived in Lazio for over a year after I graduated from college, I was both inspired and frustrated: there is so much to share.
You can read Katarina's preview - with lots of great information about the regions - here. All of these articles will be live between Friday, June 2nd and Saturday, June 3rd. And we will be gathering for a live Twitter chat on Saturday, June 3rd at 8am Pacific. Just follow the hashtag #ItalianFWT and be sure to add that to anything you Tweet so we can see it.
Arnaldo Caprai Grecante with Grilled Shrimp and Avocado Salad by The Quirky Cork
Cesanese del Piglio- A Bright Future by Avvinare
Enjoying the Food and Wine of Umbria by A Day in the Life on the Farm
From Lazio with Love - Bellone and Bruschette - an Ancient Grape & a Simple Appetizer by Culinary Cam (you're here)
Rekindling Tradition: Five Producers Unite to Revive Orvieto DOC’s Native Grapes by Grapevine Adventures
Trebbiano Spoletino: Not all Trebbiano are the same by Vino Travels
When In Rome, Do As The Romans: Enjoy Lazio’s Thin Crust Pizza, Cacio de Pepe plus Wine by Wine Predator...Gwendolyn Alley
Casale del Giglio Anthium Bellone 2021
Having lived in Lazio's capital - and the country's capital - for over a year, you would think I would have tried many, many wines. However, when I was there, I was on a strict budget and not nearly as curious about wine as I am now. The wine I drank in Rome was usually the house red and on one occasion I went to Frascati with my boss and was convinced that the white wine on a hot summer's day was the best thing ever!
I considered pairing at bottle of Frascati and recreating that glorious summer afternoon with Barbara. But, then, I found this bottle of Bellone and since it was a completely new-to-me grape, I knew that would be my focus for this event.
For more than three decades, Casale del Giglio has focused on reintroducing and reinvigorating native varieties of Lazio – many thought to be extinct. Bellone is one such grape. Primarily used in white wine blends, it is grown almost exclusively in Lazio and Umbria. The berries themselves are large with a thick yellowish skin and darker streaks.
Roman historian Pliny the Elder referred to Bellone as Uva Pantastica or pane d'uva. According the writings, ancient winemakers preferred the grapes grown closer to the sea. It is known by many other names, including Cacchione, Zinna Vacca, Pacioccone, and Arciprete,
The grapes are harvested towards the end of September, pressed, and fermented with indigenous years in stainless steel tanks, on its lees, for half a year. After that, it's bottled and aged for an additional two months. The wine is surprisingly rich and full for as pale as it is. On the nose there is an explosion of tropical fruits while, on the palate, the wine is more nuanced with layers of flowers and spice.
I considered pairing the Bellone with my favorite quintessential pasta: Pasta Carbonara, but I recently shared that with a Pinot Noir from Chile in this post. I thought back to my summer in Rome at the end of my year there and remembered how often I would make caprese - in salads, in pasta, and on top of freshly baked bread that I picked up at my neighborhood bakery. The tomatoes in Italy are like nothing I've ever had...other than the ones that Jake and D grow in our yard. So, I only make this in the summer when tomatoes taste the best.
serves 2 as an appetizer
4 large pieces of baguette
butter for greasing the pan
1 burrata, sliced into 8 pieces
1/3 cup mini heirloom tomatoes, quartered
1/3 cup mozzarella ciliegie, quartered
10 basil leaves, chiffonaded, plus some for garnish
freshly ground sea salt
also needed: grill or grill pan
Mix together the mozzarella and tomatoes with a glug of olive oil and some salt. Set aside.
Heat the grill or grill pan and rub slats with butter. Once hot, place the baguette slices on the grill or grill pan. Watch them carefully so they don't burn. You just want them crisped with nice grill marks.
Place on a serving platter. Top each grilled bread with two thick slices of burrata cheese and spread it over the bread with a spoon or knife. Top the toasts with the mozzarella and tomato mixture. Sprinkle the toasts with basil and freshly ground sea salt. Drizzle with olive oil. Serve immediately.
Interestingly enough, I don't have many Lazio specific pairings, but I have previously shared a few wines from Umbria such as an Orvieto by Niccolò Barberani when I posted Celebrating Spring with Vignole + 2020 Barberani Castagnolo Orvieto Classico Superiore in May 2022 for this same group. In October 2015, I paired Roasted Flank Steak with Zucchini-Mint Pesto with an Umbrian Merlot. And in February 2019 I made Buridda for Befana + Còlpetrone 2011 Montefalco Sagrantino.
I will have to remedy my lack of Lazio posts soon. And this Bellone pairing is a good start. Stay tuned!