Neapolitan Pork Chops & Autochthonous Grapes of Campania #ItalianFWT

Autochthonous Grapes of Campania June is Campania on #ItalianFWT.  Campania is the southern Italian region which includes Naples, Sorrento, and the Isle of Capri.  Neapolitan Pizza, of course. But what about the other foods and wines? Campania is known for the whites of Fiano di Avellino and Falanghina, Taurasi for red, but not much else wine-wise. Even those aren’t exactly every day wines here in Minnesota. There are always the most famous or widely planted grapes for each region, but Italy is known for its hundreds or even thousands of autochthonous (indigenous) grapes. I had never heard autochthonous before seeing it in reference to grapes. Indigenous is ok, but autochthonous is so much more fun to pronounce!  Let’s take a look at a few of the lesser known grapes and the wines they make. We’ll also match them up with a primo and a secondo course.

Have you heard of Aglianico or Falanghina – sure.  How about Pallagrello Bianco? Pallagrello Nero? Casavecchia? Thought so. Michele Alois is a winery dedicated growing and promoting the lesser known autochthonous grapes of the region. The family has a long history in the silk trade, but in 1992 Michele Alois decided to plant some grapes when he acquired an old home with a previous vineyard and cellar. His interest was in discovering and working with the ancient grapes of the region.


In the spirit of Italian cooking, the freshest local ingredients, simply prepared.

Fresh Pasta with Peas and Garlic Ramps Minnesota food lovers mark the beginning of spring by the fresh foods which miraculously appear, then are gone a mere week or two later.  Garlic ramps are one of those foods that tell us winter is finally over. When I saw the fresh local ramps at our Coop, I grabbed them without even knowing how I would use them. I also picked up a pound of fresh pea pods (not local yet).  Frozen homemade pasta dough meant I had just a few steps to throw together a perfect primo course to celebrate spring. It’s not officially Italian, but this course keeps true to the Italian concept of high quality, fresh local ingredients prepared simply.

Caiati caption

Caiati shows a beautiful, rich buttery yellow color in the glass

Michele Alois “Caiati” Terre del Volturno IGT ($19 at France 44) Grown on the volcanic soils around Mt. Vesuvius, this wine is made from 100% Pallagrello Bianco grapes. The grape is native to Campania and was an important grape prior to the phylloxera epidemic, then it declined and was thought to be extinct only to be rediscovered in a vineyard in 1990. Several of Michele Alois wines are produced with no oak aging to highlight the bright fruit flavors of these lesser known grapes.  To preserve freshness, Caiati is fermented in stainless steel and fined in the bottle for 3 months; no oak aging. Eye: Clear, rich warm buttery yellow Nose: Rich, fresh floral nose. Ripe pears, even stonefruit. Mouth: Full body, good acidity, not quite tart. A bit of stony mineral underneath.


The wine paired nicely with the fresh spring flavors in the dish

Primo: Caiati with a Spring Pasta with Ramps and Peas Without a trace of oak, the wine played very nicely with the pasta course.  After rolling out and cutting the pasta, I simply sauteed the peas and ramps, stems leaves and all, in a bit of extra virgin olive oil.  The garlic flavor in the ramps was all the flavoring required! The rich body of the Caiati matched the richness of the thick strands of pasta coated in just a touch of olive oil, and the wine never overpowered the delicate fresh flavors of the veggies. Secondo: Neapolitan-Style Pork Chops At home we don’t usually use the first/second course path for dinner, as it is usually just too much prep work!  Today we decided the dishes were each simple enough to justify the traditional Italian approach.

Peppers, mushrooms and pork is a nice combination

Peppers, mushrooms and pork is a nice combination

The Academia Barilla website is full of great ideas and recipes for regional dishes. Neapolitan-style pork chops looked good to me, with roasted peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms to add interest to the dish.

Settimo caption

Settimo shines at the dinner table

Michele Alois “Settimo” Rosso del Volturno IGT ($19 at France 44) Settimo is a blend of Pallagrello Nero (60%) and Casavecchia (40%) grapes. Fermented in stainless steel then fined in the bottle for 6 months. Avoiding oak aging showcases the pure flavors of the fruit of these lesser known grapes. Eye: Clear, dark, barely transparent well into the wine, opaque center.  Purple red edge.  Not super dark, but dark. Nose: Sweet dark blue fruit on the nose, not raisiny at all. The fruit is there but it doesn’t dominate, mushrooms and herbs also come to mind. Mouth: Ripe fruit, reminiscent of new world, but firmly dry and a bit tannic. A bit severe by itself, it shines with food.

wine with pork chops

Settimo shines with food, and the pork chops with peppers and mushrooms were perfect.

Michele Alois Settimo with Neapolitan-Style Pork Chops Every time I experiment, I am reminded pork goes equally well with white and red wines.  The pork was delicious, and was equally nice with the Caiati and the Settimo.  You can’t lose! As mentioned above, the Settimo especially wants to be at the dinner table.  The severe side of the wine disappears when you have it with food, the fruit and earth notes come clearly into focus. The tannins in the wine cleanse the palate.

Our #ItalianFWT Group Posts and Chat
Our blogs will be live Saturday June 6th and we’d love to have you join our online Twitter chat at #ItalianFWT at 10am CDT/5pm Italian time. A couple of our participants had last minute problems with computers and internet access, so our chat may be a bit quieter than usual.  If you’re available, please join us! Blog not required, just an interest in Campania!

The first Saturday of each month, the #ItalianFWT bloggers visit a region of Italy. Check out the other posts about Campania:

Vino Travels — Campania Food and Wine Pairing: Mussels with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina

Rockin Red BlogExploring Campania with #ItalianFWT

Cooking Chat Grilled Swordfish with Pasta Margherita

ENOFYLZ Wine BlogA Taste of Campania with #ItalianFWT

Curious Appetite — Strange Foods and Fringe Wines of Campania

Recipes and Dinner Prep

Neapolitan-Style Pork Chops Neapolitan-style Pork Chops was very easy to make and made a delicious second course. After blackening the peppers, everything happens in 1 dish, so cleanup is easy, too! Thanks to Academia Barilla, the recipe is located here. neopolitan_chops_alois_italianFWT 20150503 165

11 Responses to “Neapolitan Pork Chops & Autochthonous Grapes of Campania #ItalianFWT”
  1. Fred Petters says:

    Nice Jeff!


    Von meinem iPhone gesendet


  2. You always find the most interesting wines. The wine and food sound delicious. Thanks Jeff.

  3. Oh my! I’m definitely going to have to try those pork chops! I think it’s so cool you focused on indigenous grape varieties. And you’re right autochthonous sounds better! Great post…you’re an inspiration Jeff!

  4. Way to go on finding autochthonous wines of Campania ; ) Nice as always Jeff!

  5. Your recipe looks delicious and these are all new varieties to me. So interesting. I cannot wait for my trip to Italy later in the year!

Check out what others are saying...
  1. […] foodwineclick — Neopolitan Pork Chops and Autochthnous Grapes of Campania […]

  2. […] side of the winery worldwide. I’ve highlighted Vini Alois wines in a number of posts: Caiati and Settimo, Caulino, Campole. Today we’re highlighting Caulino Falanghina and Trebulanum […]

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