Soppressa, a few clarifications in the wake of the scandal at Vinitaly

In the wake of the recent controversy stirred by my note on “Tuscan” soppressa, many of my friends and colleagues have benevolently chided me for the lacunate information posted here on the blog.

For the record, soppressa or soprèssa (as it is often spelled in Veneto) is a classic cured pig’s meat salame produced in the provinces of Verona, Vicenza, and Treviso (as well as in other areas of what was once called the Most Serena Republic of Venice).

Technically, for soppressa di be called soppressa, it must be produced using pigs raised in the production area (as in the official appellation regulations for Sopressa Vicentina, for example).

When I wrote “Tuscan soppressa” the other day, I was referring to the fact that my good friend Riccardo (below) — whom I know from summers touring with my cover band in the Veneto back in the early 1990s — produces his soppressa (trevigiana in its classification) using pigs raised in Tuscany. The secret to its supreme quality, he says, is the fact that he uses the entire beast, including the chops, the loin, and tender loin. In traditional production, the best cuts are reserved for other uses.

As a consummate venetophile, I certainly cannot blame my friends for the fun they’ve had at my expense. But now that I have published this errata corrige, I hope they will cease in their unwarranted derision.

And the end of the day yesterday, having completed our respective rounds at the Italian wine trade fair Vinitaly, we reconvened for a snack of Riccardo’s excellent insaccato — intestine encased — salame with our friend Sara Carbone’s Aglianico del Vulture – a brilliant however blasphemous pairing. (Btw, one of the unique elements of soppressa is that large cow’s intestines are used for the casing as opposed to porcine.)


Aglianico del Vulture: Italian grape name and appellation pronunciation project


Even though I had had the opportunity to taste and enjoy the wines many times before, I finally got to meet Sara Carbone of the Carbone winery (Melfi) at the Radici Wines festival last week in Apulia. (Btw, there are some great posts about the festival on the Facebook and Catavino just posted about our epic night of Prosciutto di Montone — “ram ham,” as he called it on the Twitter — and Aglianico.)

If ever there were an Italian appellation in need of Anglophone pronunciation help, it would be Aglianico del Vulture (see, click, and hear above). Between the palatal lateral approximant (gli) of the ampelonym and the dactylic toponym, this appellation name is laden with linguistic challenges for English-speakers. In other words, it’s a tongue-twister.

Sara is a delightful lady and I am a big fan of her wines (and I will begin posting on my favorite wines from the festival, including hers, next week). But I regret to report that she is terribly cross with me.

After I showed her my post where I dispel the myth that the grape name Aglianico comes from ellenico or Hellenic, she Tweeted plaintively about how she is now going to have to reprint all her labels!

Joking aside, Sara’s Aglianico is fantastic and it was one of the many excellent expressions of the grape variety that wowed me and fellow judges at the festival.

Thanks for speaking (and drinking) Italian grape names and appellations!