The Beauty, Food and Wine of Basilicata
|San Fele, Potenza by Studio EG|
|Basilicata by Studio EG|
Basilicata is a hidden beauty located on the instep of the Italian boot-shaped peninsula. Originally given the name Lucania, from the Lucani people who once populated the area, Basilicata is the mountainous region in southern Italy that rests in between Pulia and Campania. Mountains make up 47% of Basilicata, with Mount Vulture, an inactive volcano, being one of its key geographic features. The region has several parks, like Pollino National Park, that separates Basilicata from Calabria in the south. Potenza and Matera are its two provinces. This southern region also has two coastlines; the Ionian Coast in the east and the Tyrrhenian Coast in the west. Needless to say, the region is known for its beautiful beaches such as Metaponto, Policoro and the Port of Maratea.
|Maratea by Studio EG|
|Peperone di Senise|
Some of Basilicata’s regional specialties include fresh pasta (orcchiette, tapparelle and Lucane Chiappute), peperone di Senise, or the senise pepper (IGP) from the village of Senise, which gives the pepper its name and pane di matera or Matera bread, from the city of Matera and known for its delicious aroma. Other regional specialties are their salsiccia finocchiona or Lucanica sausages (pork sausages made with peperoncino and fennel seeds) and the many regional cheeses, such as Pecorino di Filiano PDO and Lucanian Cacioricotta. Mostacciolo is a popular dessert made with wine or vincotto, honey, almonds and flour, along with cuccia (a wheat pastry).
|Aglianico by Studio EG|
Regarding vino in Basilicata, the most notable wines of the region are Aglianico and Aleatico. While Aleatico is sweet and makes a dessert wine, Aglianico is its bold and powerful red wine. Aglianico is a dark red wine grape native to this southern Italian region known for producing full-bodied red wines with firm tannins and good aging potential. Aglianico’s structure and richness also make it a grape used for blending in southern Italy. Aglianico del Vulture was originally classified under a DOC title, but as of 2011, this tasty wine was awarded DOCG status and rightfully classified as such. This particular wine, along with it’s sister wine, Taurasi, in Campagnia, are southern Italy’s greatest wines and have been referred to as the ‘Barolo of the South.’
For this month’s #ItalianFWT tour, we decided to make Veal OssoBuco (sometimes referred to as Veal Osso Bucco), which translates to vitello or veal ‘bone with a hole in it’. Although typically a northern Italian dish, it is eaten in various parts of Italy and is a hearty dish to accompany an Aglianico. Here’s how we made it:
Veal Osso Buco (cooked in a pressure cooker)
4 pieces veal shank with bone
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
1 cup carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1 sprig of rosemary
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 cup red wine (dry white wine can also be used)
2 cups chicken stock (or enough to cover the shanks in the pan)
1 can of chopped tomatoes (14 oz)
Sear the seasoned veal shanks with 1 tablespoon of olive oil on each side on medium heat until browned. Set aside the veal shanks. Add remaining oil and the chopped onion, carrots, garlic, and parsley and cook until softened (6-8 minutes). Add wine, raise the heat, and put the shanks back in the pot. Pour in the chicken stock and the canned chopped or stewed tomatoes. Make sure that the entire shank is covered in liquid. Pressure cook for about 45 minutes-1 hour, depending on your pressure cooker. The meat should be soft and tender when done. When appropriate, release the pressure and continue to cook uncovered to reduce some of the broth until the desired amount remains.
*It should be noted, that ours ended up a little too soft, as all of the meat came off of the (osso) bone! Less time is better in the pressure cooker, you can always add another 15 minutes.
We enjoyed the veal osso buco with a creamy polenta and the wine selection below.
The Wining Hour’s Basilicatan Wine Selection:
We sipped on a 2011 San Martino SIIR Aglianico Del Vulture. It was made from 100% Aglianico grapes in the heart of the Vulture, which is small area in a volcanic zone of Basilicata. The unique volcanic and clay soil is important to the development of the wine it produces, and makes it difficult to reproduce this wine elsewhere. The volcanic soil produces wine that is rich, dark colored and smooth. The wine we tasted, SIIR, which means father in the Basilicatan dialect, is organically produced and estate bottled at the vineyards of San Martino in Forenza (Vulture), Italy by winemaker Lorenzo Piccin.
San Martino Siir Aglianico Del Vulture was very fresh, loaded with fruit and 13.5% alcohol by volumn. 70% of this wine was aged in large Slavonian oak barrels for 12 months, while the rest remained in stainless steel. To the eye, it was ruby red and smelled of spicy, dark fruits and espresso. On the palate were dark chocolate and dark berries with firm tannins. It was rich, smooth and balanced with a long finish. This Aglianico proved to be a versatile wine that paired nicely with the osso buco, but it would also pair beautifully with other robust and/or savory dishes, roasts or grilled meats. Our suggestions include beef or lamb stews, wild boar ragu, spicy sausages and hard, sharp cheeses. As Aglianico ages and the tannins soften, this wine can be paired with lighter fare. This 2011 Vintage rated 90 points from the Wine Advocate and we concur. This was our first experience with wine made from grapes grown in volcanic soil, and it was it was certainly a good one!
Here’s our tasting and review of Greco Fiano from Basilicata.
There is so much more to be said about the beauty, food and wine of Basilicata. Read on for more…
Follow my fellow blogger friends on their feature of the Basilicata and don’t forget to join our live chat on Twitter Saturday January 2nd at 11am EST at #ItalianFWT. See you then!
Cooking Chat – Pasta with Pecorino and Bacon Plus Wine Pairing
The Wining Hour – Basilicata Aglianico and Veal Osso Bucco
*Special thanks to Emanuele Giannini of Studio EG for sharing your Basilicata and beautiful work! Visit Studio EG for more stunning photos and videos.
About The Wining Hour
The Wining Hour writes about wine, Italy and global travel. The Wining Hour boutique caters to wine-lovers across the globe by offering all wine-related items. The Wining Hour markets unique wine décor and furnishings, accessories, glassware, barware, wine racks, storage and cooling options, games, gifts and more. The Wining Hour also hosts #wininghourchat on Twitter (@wininghourchat) on Tuesday’s at 9 p.m. EST. (For more, see links at the top of this page).