The event was centered around the arrival of four Puglian winemakers visiting Boston pouring wines that had never before been tasted in Massachusetts. In addition to the wine, the event featured a burratta pulling demonstration from an Italian cheese maker who now works for Maplebrook Farm in Vermont.
I wasn’t sure what I was most excited about, trying these new-to-me wines or seeing burratta, a Puglian specialty and favorite cheese of mine, being made. Oh, and of course getting to eat some!
First, a word about Burratta from my friends at Wikipedia:
Burrata is a fresh Italian cheese, made from mozzarella and cream. The outer shell is solid mozzarella while the inside contains both mozzarella and cream, giving it an unusual, soft texture. It is usually served fresh, at room temperature. The name "burrata" means "buttered" in Italian.
Burratta is stuffed with many things, including, as we learned, Greek yogurt, but the traditional cheese is made with Stracciatella, spaghetti-like strands of mozzarella in cream.
First, we got to sample some of the mozzarella by itself. It was slightly chewy and salty, as fresh as it gets.
Then we watched the process of making burratta. It looked like a ton of fun! Our cheesemaker, Domenico, kneaded the mozzarella curds together, adding hot water to them at one point.
Then he started to pull the cheese. It was amazing how it started out as curds and came together as a sort of rubbery mass.
Burratta making is a two person process; one needs to hold the stretched mozzarella while the other fills it with a scoop of the cream. Domenico then pinched the ball of burratta closed and placed it in a container of water to set.
Watching the burratta made was mesmerizing. While it looked like hard work, it also looked really fun. I want to visit Maplebrook Farm now!
In addition to the fresh cheese from Maplebrook, Whole Foods River Street provided antipasti plates for snacking while we tasted Puglian wine.
The four wine Puglian wine producers sharing their wine were Masseria Celentano, Casaltrinita, Cantine Teanum, and Botromagno. Throughout the course of the event, each of the winemakers spoke, allowing us to learn a little about Puglian wine while walking around the room tasting. These producers are using indigenous grapes that have come to thrive in Puglia, though some have origins that can be traced back to ancient times and other places like Greece and Asia Minor. You may or may not have heard of some of these grapes before, Greco, Fiano, Aglianico, Primitivo, Moscato, Malvasia bianca, Nero di troia, and Montepulciano, but I would urge you to try them if you can!
The crowds were a little difficult to navigate, but I tried the following wines:
Masseria Celentano La Preta: This wine, a blend of Muscato and Sauvignon Blanc, was floral, almost too much for me on its own. However, as I often enjoy many wines more with food, I could see this being a great oyster pairing, the briny oysters balancing the flavors of the wine.
Casaltrinita Greco: I found this also to have a floral, perfume-y nose, but it had delicate fruit flavors. It would be a great summer sipper.
Botromagno Gravina: A blend of Greco and Malvasia bianca, this was my favorite wine of the evening. I have enjoyed Malvasia in the past. The wine was dry and more flavorful than the other two. It had a nice acidity, flavors of honeysuckle and lemon, and was simply delightful.
After awhile, the crowds got to me, and since I needed to get home to let my locked out husband in (my fault, I took his keys!), I only tried two of the reds.
Casaltrinita Coppa Malva: I loved this wine. A blend of Nero di Troia and Cabernet, this wine offered the full body and spice I love.
Maseria Celentano Querciagrande: 100% Nero di troia, this was another great pick, hearty, deep red, and as the notes said, would hold up well with meat dishes and strong, aged cheeses.
Trying wines that had never been poured in Massachusetts and some that hadn’t been poured outside Puglia was quite the treat. It made me long for trips to Italy, for sun, great wine and food, and to visit my nephews there. I swear, any time I hear someone speaking Italian, I miss them a little more!
Have you tried Puglian wines or wines from another region that is not as represented in the US?