Gragnano the wine for “all things warm and gooey”

Fish tacos probably weren’t what G-d had in mind when he created Gragnano (on the eight day?) — one of favorite wines of the summer of 2011. But, man, was the wine delicious last night at Bahia Don Bravo, our number-one taco shack when we’re in San Diego (where the owner allows me to bring in my own wines).

I’d had some decent however mediocre Gragnano before I met Tracie P but it was on a fateful day in New York City on our way to Europe a few years ago that I tasted a wine that put everything into focus. The wine we tasted was actually Lettere — Gragnano’s sister appellation — but I saw the world in a different light from that day onward.

I am happy to report that the excellent Gragnano by Cantine Federiciane has finally made its way to Southern California. (You can taste it by the glass starting tonight at Sotto in Los Angeles where I’ll be pouring wine tonight and tomorrow night; and the wine is also available through my wine club in this month’s Summer Six-Pack offering.)

There’s no one in my world who knows more about Gragnano than Tracie P, who lived in Gragnanoland (Naples and the Amalfi Coast) for nearly five years. Here’s what she had to say this morning about Gragnano:

    I dare you not to like Gragnano (and its sister Lettere). Born in the Sorrentine peninsula, this is an irresistibly spritzy wine made to go with pizza, panuozzi, and all things warm and gooey. Like the self-deprecating comedian, the humility and spontaneity of this wine are its most endearing traits. Just say Sciascinoso and try not to smile.

Btw, Sciasinoso, one of the grapes in Gragnano together with Piedirosso and Aglianico, is pronounced SHAH-shee-NOH-zoh. Are you smiling yet? And do you see why I love her madly?

The mixed seafood cocktail was also fantastic last night at Bahia and if I do say so myself, my pairing with the Ciù Ciù Offida Pecorino was brilliant (it’s also available in the six-pack, btw).

But the highlight at dinner last night was meeting Jayne and Jon’s newborn Romy!

Isn’t she a beauty???!!! We are so thrilled for Jayne and Jon.

That’s all I got today. Gotta get my butt up to LA! Thanks for reading!

The ultimate (authentic) wine pairing for pizza

Above: It’s easy to understand why they can make fresh, clean wines in the Commune of Lettere (Naples), where vines are tended atop the peaks of the Lattari mountain chain.

It’s another busy day over here at Do Bianchi Editorial and I really shouldn’t be posting. But when a lovely lady sends me an etymological quaestio, the chivalrous in me trumps my otherwise unflagging work ethic (hah!).

Over at My Life Italian, Tracie B has produced a truly wonderful and thoroughly delightful post on a wine we shared just over a week ago in New York: a sparkling red blend of indigenous grape varieties from the township of Lettere (province of Naples). You’ll have to click through to read about this wine and why it — together with Gragnano — is one of Neapolitans’s favorite pairings for pizza.

But as far as toponomastic matters are concerned, I poked around the web and found an answer to her query as to the origins of the name Lettere.

The most likely etymon I found was that Lettere is a corruption of Lattari (pronounced laht-TAH-ree, if I’m not mistaken), the name of the mountain chain where the township is located. The beautiful (and fruitful) mountains take their name, most believe, from the Latin mons lactarius, literally the suckling mountain (from the Latin lac meaning milk) because the mountain chain was known in antiquity as an excellent site for sheep to pasture.

Tracie B and I will be heading to central and northern Italy in early 2010 but we are hoping to head south next fall. We’ll be sure to take a print out of this listing of pizzerie in Lettere (click on “Dove Alloggiare e Mangiare”)!

And in the meantime, I’ll reiterate Tracie B’s advice: head to Kesté Pizza e Vino in New York and order some Lettere (or Gragnano) with your pizza!