Platters of antipasto--a tomato bruschetta over roasted mortadella; folds of prosciutto; a large white scallop shell filled with slices of sepia, raw scallions, crunchy peppers, rucola, and radicchio; balls of milky bufala mozzarella breaded, fried, and topped with soft ricotta and tomato sauce; and deep, fatty slabs of wild boar sausage. Plates of thick pappardelle pasta mixed with pheasant ragout; short ribs in sweet tomato sauce, and soffritto, that classic Campanian mixture of savage-tasting pork innards and spicy tomato sauce. Plates of bufala milk cheese--soft, white, salty young pieces and yellow, tart, crumbly aged pieces. Profiteroles and torta caprese for desert. These are dishes that say "Campania" to me.
When most people think of Campanian food, they think of the fish of the Amalfi, but there exists also a richer, meatier internal cuisine. And when most people think of Campanian wine, they think of second-rate drinks, but there are also prime interpretations of the ancient Aglianico grape. Campania is a wine country that churns out some spectacular products, and that, in my opinion, will only rise up in the years to come. More important, drinking Campanian wines necessarily widens your concept of Italian wines. Just as you can't understand Italy by only visiting Florence and Milan, you can't comprehend Italian wines in all their glory by drinking only Barolo and Brunello.
Yesterday, I was pleased to debut the latest vintage of Campania great Silvia Imperato's flagship wine. Today, I'm proud to feature a twelve-year-old bottle of Galardi Terra di Lavoro. Like Imperato, Galardi began as a "garage" wine, quickly rising to superstar status. Like Imperato (and Mastroberardino), Galardi has helped to put Campania on the wine-lovers' map--and like these other wines, Galardi Terra di Lavoro features Aglianico, Campania's emblematic grape. This mature beautiful bottle of wine illustrates why Galardi sits at the top of the lists of knowing cognoscenti. Formidable in its youth, it grows mellow, welcoming, still wild and fresh, imbued with the beauty of Campania felix, "the joyous land," as Italians call the region.
Along with this great bottle of Galardi, I'm pleased to present a Pomerol from Clos L'Eglise, an ancient domaine that has, in the past decade or so, risen to serious greatness. And finally, I'm really happy to highlight Porta del Vento Maquè Perricone 2010, a delicious Sicilian wine that gratifies the palate and won't dent the wallet. It might be your new favorite go-to wine.