Vini Alois: Champions of Campania’s Native Grapes #ItalianFWT

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Bloggers Explore Campania
This month, our blogging group filled with Italy fans is virtually exploring the Campania region of southern Italy. Take a look further down in this post for a whole host of great ideas!

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Vini Alois: Committed to Native Grapes
Many Italian wine enthusiasts will recognize the grape Aglianico, and some will even know Falanghina. These are both native to southern Italy. How about Casavecchia? Pallagrello Nero? Pallagrello Bianco? The Alois family has a long history in the silk trade, and in 1992 Michele Alois realized a dream of his to add viticulture to his family’s holdings. They purchased property and planted strictly local varieties, including some rare ones which had nearly disappeared. Today, they continue Vini Alois with a commitment to organic farming and autochthonous grapes.

We’re fortunate to have a small importer in Minnesota working with Vini Alois, and we get to see Massimo Alois pretty regularly. Massimo is Michele’s son and is in charge of the business and promotion 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 Casavecchia.

Caulino is made from 100% Falanghina

Michele Alois “Caulino” Falanghina IGT 2017 ($14 locally or online here) 13.6% abv
Caulino is 100% Falanghina. As many Alois wines, it is fermented in stainless steel and aged in bottle. They strive to show the characteristics of the grape without oak influence.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon color.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity aromas of ripe yellow apple, ripe pear, a bit of apricot, fennel and chalk.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity, medium+ acidity, medium alcohol, medium+ body, medium+ finish with a nice creamy texture. Flavors follow the nose with ripe fruits of yellow apple, pear and apricot, fennel and chalk. On the palate a bit of almond bitterness shows in the finish.
Conclusions: Very good quality wine with a bit more body than a typical “light refreshing” white wine, very nice with food and particularly good with a rich, creamy cheese-filled pasta.

Trebulanum is made from Casavecchia, a historic native grape which was nearly lost.

Michele Alois “Trebulanum” Casavecchia Terre del Volturno IGT 2011 ($36 locally or online here) 13% abv
Trebulanum is 100% Casavecchia. As their flagship wine, Trebulanum is fermented and aged in oak barrels. However, these are large format barrels (botte) used many times, so the oak influence is more for texture than flavor.
Eye: Clear, medium garnet color.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity aromas of fresh, ripe blueberries, blackberries, prunes, backed up by rosemary, pine needles, balsamic vinegar, forest floor.
Mouth: Dry, medium+ intensity with medium+ acidity, medium+ fine grained tannins, medium body with a lean texture, medium alcohol and medium+ finish. Flavors echo the aromas with dark ripe fruits including blueberry, blackberry and some prunes. Firm rosemary, pine needles and balsamic vinegar.
Conclusions: Very good quality red wine with a firm structure balanced with dark fruits, still fresh after 9 years from vintage. I didn’t intend to pair this wine with a shrimp dish, but I really wanted to highlight it as part of this post. I was surprised at how enjoyable it was. Perhaps a bit more structure than needed, but nice nevertheless.

Italian Food, Wine & Travel Campania Posts
Curious about Campania? Take a look below, there is sure to be something to pique your interest. Want to learn more? Join our chat on Twitter! Just look for #ItalianFWT between 10-11am CDT on Saturday May 2.

Giant Pasta Shells Stuffed with Shrimp and Cheese

From Frances Mayer’s Tuscan Sun Cookbook. Not exactly Campania, but delicious and not too far away! The Tuscan Sun Cookbook is available here, highly recommended.

While preparation for this dish is a bit fussy, it would be perfect for entertaining. You can make everything in advance and pop it in the oven after your guests arrive. All you do is remove it from the oven, plate and serve. Nice.

Ingredients

  • 16 oz. package of raw shrimp, 21-25 size is good. If you can get raw, peeled & deveined, perfect
  • 12-16 oz. box of giant pasta shells, you’ll need about 24, cook a few extra
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 oz. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 12 oz. whole milk ricotta cheese
  • 6 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded or cut into small pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Large package of fresh basil leaves. Reserve a few leaves for garnish and finely chop the rest.
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, toasted
  • 6 tomatoes, chopped
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F.
  • Peel and devein the shrimp if not purchased that way
  • Briefly sauté the shrimp in a tablespoon of EVOO in a large skillet over medium heat. Remove from the skillet and set aside to cool.
  • Cook the shells in well salted boiling water according to the package directions. Drain and drizzle with a bit of EVOO to make the shells easier to handle.
  • Mix the eggs, the three cheeses, garlic, and half of the chopped basil in a bowl.
  • Carefully spoon about 1 Tbsp of the cheese mixture into a shell, then carefully slip a shrimp into the cheese in the pasta shell. Arrange the stuffed shells in a 9×13 pan.
  • Mix the lemon juice with 1 -2 Tbsp of EVOO, then mix in the breadcrumbs and spread over the stuffed shells.
  • In a medium saucepan, warm 2 Tbsp EVOO over medium heat. Add the chopped tomatoes and remaining chopped basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat until the tomatoes are warm and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  • The dish can be held at this point until your guests arrive.
  • Place the shrimp in the oven, uncovered for about 25 minutes, until they are completely heated through.
  • Serve the shells on top of a bed of the tomatoes, garnish with the basil leaves.

Comments
10 Responses to “Vini Alois: Champions of Campania’s Native Grapes #ItalianFWT”
  1. Lynn says:

    You are lucky to have such a wine store near you. The pine thing in the Casavecchia grape, I also got pine and evergreen. I’m looking forward to learning more about volcanic soils as it seems has an influence. Love the shrimp shells!

  2. wendyklik says:

    I am amazed at the variety of wines you have available to you locally Jeff. I struggle to find wines here in Michigan.

  3. Thanks for the heads-up on this producer; will try to find them locally. Gorgeous color on both of them!

  4. Susannah says:

    Jeff, It’s so lucky that Massimo Alois comes to Minnesota so often. His wines are amazing and the story is great. I also liked your pairing and may make it soon. Cheers, Susannah

  5. These local varieties are new to me – I’ll be on the lookout for them. It’s fun when a pairing works out better than expected!

  6. Pinny Tam says:

    Mouth-watering when looking at your post the giant pasta shells stuffed with shrimps and cheese, which goes well with Alois’s Falanghina and Casavecchia

  7. Sounds like an excellent winery! I wonder if Vini Alois is available here in Mass., the red sounds very interesting!

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