Showing posts with label Italian wines. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Italian wines. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Puglia: Eating and Drinking in Salento

Porto Cesareo Puglia , hotandchilli travel and food blog
Porto Cesareo

We had some excellent eating and drinking experiences in Salento. Not only this region is picturesque, but their food and wine are absolutely fantastic. Salento Wine Tours  took us to some amazing places  in the region. On arrival in Puglia, we stopped at Porto Cesareo. 

Porto Cesareo

Porto Cesareo Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Porto Cesareo is a town and comune in the Italian province of Lecce in the Apulia region of south-east Italy.  The area around  Porto Cesareo is a beautiful example of "macchia shrubland", densely growing evergreen shrubs.  Tourism in Porto Cesareo is vital for the region. The shallow sandy sea remains low for tens of meters, and the transparent waters reminded us of the Caribbean sea. The coast is characterised by many capes, islets and reefs.

We had a fabulous meal at L'Aragosta da Cò in Porto Cesareo overlooking the Ionian Sea. There was plenty of fresh fish and seafood matched with the wines of Salento. Stunning views and delicious food, we couldn't ask for more.

Some of the scrumptious food we sampled at  L'Aragosta da Cò:
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Courgette white fish Sarago and courgette mousse
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Polpo alla pignata  with tomato chilli served with fried bread - amazing!
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Tuna tagliata
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Pasta with sea urchin and shrimps
with Leverano wine : Negroamaro 100% intense Rose, it has fruity and strawberry notes with low acidity 
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Platter of  Misto Fritto - seafood
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog

Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog

We also had Polpo a la Catalan and delicious  Mussels gratin (above)
Food  in Puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Spumone: Ice cream with pistachio and caramelised nuts

L'Aragosta da Cò
Via Silvio Pellico, 38, 73010, Porto Cesareo, Italy

Campi Salentina

Campi Salentina in Puglia bu HotandChilli blog

Campi Salentina is a town and comune in the Italian province of Lecce in the Apulia region of south-east Italy. We stayed just outside the town about a ten minute drive away.

While in Campi we experienced some really stupendous food and wines. First stop was at Baccanera Restaurant, Enoteca and Pizzeria in town.  It was a balmy night, so an  'al fresco' meal was very welcome and the patio was magical with lights, beautiful plants and flowers.  The open pizza oven faces the restaurant floor, so we could see the bread and pizzas being baked in seconds.

Our meal at Baccanera

Campi Salentina in Puglia by Hotandchilli Blog

Campi Salentina in Puglia by Hotandchilli blog
Couscous veg, capicolla charcuterie Martina Franca, Puglia stracciatella cheese
Aubergine tower different presentation of parmigiana   and Panzerotti - potatoes cheese and mint bread crumbs (crust)croquette (off the picture)
food in Puglia, wine in puglia, hotandchilli food and travel blog
Malvasia Bianca wine from  Brindisi area a native Italian grape
Orecchiette pasta basil olive oil Salento formaggio ricotta (Sheep cheese)
Wine in Puglia, food in Puglia, Hotandchilli food and travel blog

making Oricchieta in Puglia
Misto Fritto di Carne

Oltreme red wine, Salento IGT,  varietal: Susumaniello,  dark ruby colour, aromas of red berries and plums. It's a rich with spicy, peppery aromas that went down really well with the Misto di Carne

semifreddo with hot chocolate sauce

Largo Cuore di Maria, 9, 73012 Campi Salentina LE, Italy

Pasticciotto Leccese - Pasticciotto is a typical dessert from the Salento area of Apulia, consisting of pastry filled with custard and baked in the oven. Thanks  to Chef Angelo Bisconti from Pasticceria Chèri for this fabulous tray of assorted  Pasticciotto

A Gourmet dinner at Verdalia's gourmet restaurant Folie

amuse bouche

The location of Verdalia is beguiling; it used to be a quarry which has now been transformed into a unique dining/events venue.  Folie is Verdalia's gourmet restaurant. Folie has only 24 seats which offer a refined and intimate ambience, ideal to fully appreciate the creativeness of Executive Chef Antonio Raffaele. Count on exclusive and impeccable service and a premium wine list; we had exceptional wines from Salento.

The Folie is a place for food lovers, where you can find cuisine that speaks of the Mediterranean culture, seasonality, hints of traditional recipes and surprise interpretations by Chef Antonio Raffaele. 

Frisa Leccese - modern twist on a Puglian dish

Carnaroli rice, pistacchio, shavings of dark chocolate, Sarawak pepper and anchovies cream
Juicy and tender Beef sous-vide with Negroamaro reduction and saffron potato cream

Palate cleanser: refreshing Semifreddo con Menta e Basilico
A selection of pastries  and sweet galore from the Chef!

Strada Provinciale Lecce - Novoli, Km 7, 73100
Villa Convento, Lecce LE, Italy
Phone: +39 0832 328259

L'Orecchietta in Guagnano

Pictoresque Guagnano

Salento's ancient tradition of producing fresh homemade pasta. This place sells fresh pasta and also offers pasta making courses.  We learnt to make Orecchiette, maccheroncini and focaccia.  We also had an excellent spread.  A visit to L'Orecchietta is a must when in the region.

food at L'Orecchietta
making fresh pasta at L'Orecchietta

Via Vittorio Veneto, 49, 73010 Guagnano LE, Italy
Phone: +39 334 722 0264

Osteria Origano in Minervino di Lecce

The Osteria Origano, founded by Gaetano Marangelli (a local, celebrated winemaker), it is a jewel in the historic centre of Minervino di Lecce. Their menu offers traditional Salento cuisine with a small modern twist.  The place is beautifully decorated and warm, a welcoming atmosphere in a Mediterranean-trendy style.

Burrata tomato cream fried bread
Octopus paprika potato cream rice flour basil parsley crispmatched with
Wine Novementi Rosato

Vegetables bacala red pepper extract (jus)
Risotto negroamaro cheese and peachesmatched with Red
Menhir -80% negroamaro 20%malvasia nera from Salice Salentino
Pancetta BBQ sauce onions paired with  Filo wine late harvest negroamaro 100%
Dessert - Coffee, milk, white chocolate powder, laurel sponge

Osteria Origano
Via Scarciglia, 18
73027, Minervino di Lecce, LE


Otranto in Puglia
Otranto, Puglia

The town of Otranto is a mix of history, architecture, views, sea-front restaurants and white sandy beaches - making it one of Puglia's most interesting, charming and scenic towns in the region.

Otranto sits right on the Adriatic sea, gazing out across its eponymous strait towards the Balkans and Greece, a strategic position that has profoundly influenced its history.

Otranto in Puglia by Hotandchilli food and travel blog
Beautiful Otranto

It is one of Puglia's most charming towns and is well worth a visit. The imposing castle has thick perimeter walls and robust towers, built after the town was liberated from the Turks in the late 15th century. The castle dominates much of the municipality before giving way to a small port, a series of seafront promenades with excellent fish restaurants and their very own beautiful white sandy beach with sparkling turquoise waters.

The stunning  Romanesque cathedral, dating back to 1088 and boasting extensive 12th-century-floor mosaics, is another highlight that should not be missed.

Puglia is absolutely beautiful. I can't wait to go back and explore more.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Salento Wine Tours for review purposes. All views are my own

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Puglia, a wine tour of Salento

Negroamaro grape

My latest wine education adventure was in Puglia, Italy, in the region of Salento with Salento Wine Tours. We started with an excellent lunch by the sea sampling Salento IGT. Indicazione Geografica Tipica is a designation which was created to accommodate growers who couldn't meet all the DOC or DOCG regulations for whatever reason but were still producing great wines. It is one of the most commonly used IGT titles in Puglia, southern Italy.

Salento, the limestone-based terroir, is a peninsula that divides the Adriatic Sea from the Ionian Sea and provides Italy with its 'heel'. Salento IGT wines can be red, white, rosé, still, sparkling, passito or dry – basically any style the local winemakers can think of, they can make. The majority, however, stick to the time honoured established styles of the area: powerful, dry, rustic reds.

Traditional Puglian varieties are most commonly used, particularly those for the local DOC-level wines. Southern Puglia's star DOCs are Primitivo di Manduria and Salice Salentino. Unsurprisingly,  the main grape varieties (Primitivo, Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera) are also essential to Salento IGT wines. The aromatic red Aleatico and the unsung Susumaiello (by the way I love that name) also get a turn in the spotlight, as does the grape Fiano, making a token appearance in the white wine category.

When you think of Southern Italy, the words hot, dry and flat spring to mind - and that is most definitely the terroir of Puglia. As you get closer to the coast, you can find relief from the famous hot weather of Southern Italy, accurately nicknamed Il Mezzogiorno (meaning 'the midday' and referring to the relentless heat). Olive tree groves dominate the landscape, and, although Italy is known for its olive oil, you won't find olive trees in such density anywhere else in the country. The region produces almost half of Italy's olive oil. Vineyards are prolific here, but they are overwhelmed by the sheer number of olive tree groves too.

Among the wine regions in Puglia is Salento. It is in the southeastern section or the “heel” of the boot. Many of the wines produced here stray from the designated growing zone, blend or ageing specifications of their proprietary DOCs. They are therefore categorised as IGT.  This gives producers the freedom to experiment and make wines the way they see fit. 

The peninsula of Puglia contains two other viticultural areas, Brindisi and Taranto. The dominant red grapes grown are Primitivo, Negroamaro, and Malvasia Nero. These blends are often released as IGTs and are technically rosso blends, often having international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah in the mix or they are made into single varietal wines. There are also some excellent Salento Rosato wines, a few of which we tried on this trip. Whites (biancos) tend to be made with Verdeca and Francavilla. Producers also often use international varietals such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc in their blends.

One can also find novello (young), frizzante (lightly sparkling) and passito (sweet) wines produced under the Salento IGT designation.

During my stay in the region of Salento, I got to know Negroamaro which is a native red wine grape variety from southern Italy. It is grown almost exclusively in Apulia and grows particularly well in  Salento.  The grape can produce fragrant,  rustic wines,  very dark in colour and slightly earthy on the palate.  We sampled some delicious single-varietal Negroamaro wines as well as blends of Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera in Salice Salentino.

Another grape that caught my attention was the Susumaniello. Although it's considered a New Wave grape, it's an ancient grape of the area. Susumaniello also hails from Salento in Apulia. It’s found almost exclusively around the town of Brindisi, often used in rustic blends with the likes of Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Malvasia Nera. Nowadays, it's taking its place as a single varietal wine.

Salento Wine Tours organised this unique 'Negroamaro wine tour'  around the region over four days, we visited wineries, vineyard and lots of eateries around the area sampling the food and wines of the region. They offer luxury wine tours,  private wine tours and group wine tours, cooking classes in a relaxed environment and English speaking wine expert guides throughout the visit. For more details, please head to Salento Wine Tours 

*The wineries we visited in Salento*

Leone de Castris in Salice Salentino

A small village in the region of Salento is the home of Leone de Castris, a historical winery of great importance in the area.  They were the first ones to produce quality wine in Salento.  The village was founded around the winery back in 1665. We visited the winery, the wine museum and sampled their wines over lunch.
Chandelier Murano c. 1700

Dona Lisa portrait

Their first harvest of  Negroamaro in 1943  is called Five Roses  - a Rosé wine. The name comes from the family; there are three generations and five children (five roses). On curious fact was that back in the day,  Leone de Castris paid their workers, who were mainly women, the same as the male workers.

Their wines can be found  at Eurowines  and Fiandaca in the UK

Our meal at Leone de Castris

Villa Donna Lisa restaurant at Leone de Castris, Puglia

Salice Salentino Rosso Riserva DOC “50°
Salice Salentino DOC, grapes: 90% negroamaro, 10%Malvasia Nera di Lecce. The garnet red colour. On the nose red fruits, herbal, pepper, tobacco and cocoa. On the palate, it is soft,  with a well-balanced tannin with a slightly bitter finish.

Troccoli cime de rapa topped with Puglia stracciatella  e gamberi 

swordfish with Salmoriglio (rocket rosemary olive oil salt pepper)  and vegetables
2010 Five Roses 67th Anniversary Salento I.G.T. from Leone de Castris, a fresh and floral Rosé. Varietal: Negroamaro and Malvasia Nera, On the nose, is fresh, berry fruits with floral notes.  On the palate, the fruit, medium acidity, tannic and well-structured. 
La torta millefoglie al caffè

Leone de Castris
Via Senatore de Castris
73015 Salice Salentino (LE) Italy
Tel. +39 0832 731112

L'Astore Masseria

L'Astore Masseria 'Wine Cathedral'

L'Astore is located on the outskirts of Cutrofiano, the town is known for pottery with a strong Greek influence. 
The winery is full of history and tradition.  The winemaking tradition dates back to the 1940's when they produced wine in large quantities to be sold “by the tank”. In the late 1990's they initiated the production of quality wines at a great expenditure and with much hard work.  They have been certified organic since 2012. They only work with native grapes from Salento: Negroamaro, Aglianico, Primitivo, Malvasia Bianca, and Susumaniello.

Next, we visited the underground Oil Mill which they converted into a wine cellar,  according to the architectural traditions of the Salento area. It features star-vaulted ceilings, and they use only regional materials such as the local limestone and sandstone. Italians and foreign visitors alike call it, “the cathedral of wine.”

L'Astore Masseria
Via Giuseppe di Vittorio, 1, 73020 Cutrofiano LE, Italy
Phone: +39 0836 542020

Next Post: Eating and Drinking in Salento with Salento Wine Tours

Disclosure: I was a guest of Salento Wine Tours for review purposes. All views are my own
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