Gambero Rosso Animante Prize 2015 goes to Antica Corte Pallavicina

massimo spigaroli

Above: Restaurateur, hotelier, and legendary salumi producer Massimo Spigaroli in his aging cellar at the Antica Corte Pallavicina in Parma province.

Earlier this week, the Gambero Rosso released its 2015 Guide to the Restaurants of Italy, the twenty-fifth edition of the guide.

This year’s Gambero Rosso restaurant guide “Barone Pizzini Animante” Prize for restaurants that “champion their region and foods” went to restaurateur, hotelier, and salumi producer Massimo Spigaroli, whose family’s Antica Corte Pallavicina in Polesine Parmense (Parma province), a stone’s throw from the banks of the Po River, is widely considered one of the top culinary destinations in northern Italy.

The estate’s prized Culatello di Zibello, in particular, represents a benchmark for pork salumi production in Parma, where there are more pigs per capita than anywhere else in the world.

That’s Massimo, below, left, with Barone Pizzini general manager Silvano Brescianini at the Città del Gusto in Rome where the new guide was officially presented this week.

antica corte pallavicina

Images via the Antica Corte Pallavicina Facebook.

Barone Pizzini awarded prize for sustainable development

sustainable development prize ecomondo

Last week, Barone Pizzini was awarded the “Sustainable Develoment Prize” by the Fondazione per lo Sviluppo Sostenibile (Foundation for Sustainable Development) and Ecomondo, an international conference held in Rimini and devoted to “European and international strategies for ecological innovation and the transformation of waste into a resource.”

The office of the President of the Italian Republic is one of the underwriters of the prize.

With this prize, write the conference organizers in a press release, they want to bring attention to the winery’s “decision to adopt certified organic viticulture… using only natural substances and substances that can be created by humans by simple processes without resorting to chemicals, herbicides, genetically modified organisms, fertilizers, or pesticides.”

“Organic farming is the means,” said Barone Pizzini general manager Silvano Brescianini (below) in accepting the prize in Rimini. “The end is quality… The primary objective of our winery is that of producing quality wines that are closely aligned with our appellation. This is why we decided to embrace organic farming. It’s been instrumental in reaching our goal and it dovetails with our interest in terroir expression and the environment… We are proud to accept this award and thankful that our efforts in organic farming have been recognized. Organic farming means respect and consideration for humankind and good health. Today, this prize has been awarded to the solidarity between humans and nature.”

organic farming italy wine

Leading wine writer Ricciarelli at Madonnina del Pescatore: “Verdicchio is one of Italy’s greatest white wines”

moreno cedroni

Above: Michelin-starred Chef Moreno Cedroni, owner of the restaurant Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia (Ancona province), is considered one of the greatest seafood artists working in the world today (image via Moreno Cedroni’s Facebook).

Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi,” writes leading Italian wine expert and journalist Guido Ricciarelli, “is without a doubt one of Italy’s greatest white wines in the minds of expert tasters.”

He made the observation in a recent post for the online Italian food magazine Italia a Tavola in which he describes a meal at celebrity chef Moreno Cedroni’s La Madonnina del Pescatore in Senigallia (Ancona province).

“Moreno Cedroni’s menus list the year that each dish was created and I found it to be a stimulating experience to pair a dish created in 2010, and still on the menu, with a wine from the same vintage.”

“And so the scene was set with a pairing of octopus salad, bread and vinegar gelée, and Cedroni’s mayonnaise with Verdicchio Classico Riserva San Paolo by Pievalta.”

This was “an extraordinary and complex” dish “with great polish and precision.”

It “needed an equally complex wine that would be able to keep up with the pace of the dish…”

“The biodynamic vitality of the Pievalta… unravels into notes of hazelnut innervated by an unexpected citrus energy that drives the flavors of the wine toward a rich, juicy finish, at once taut and well articulated.”

Top ranking for Pievalta in Slow Wine Magazine Verdicchio mini vertical

verdicchio best wine

Above: Pievalta landed in the Slow Wine editors’ “top ten” wines from 2004 and 2006 in a feature devoted to Verdicchio and its ability to produce fine, age-worthy white wines. That’s Pievalta general manager Silvia Loschi in one of the photos that accompanies the piece.

“Who says that Italian whites can’t stand up to the test of time?” ask the editors of Slow Wine Magazine in the current issue of the magazine (October-December 2014).

“A strong showing from the Marches certainly wasn’t unexpected from those who truly know Verdicchio.”

For this superb profile of Verdicchio and the two appellations that produce it (Castelli di Jesi and Matelica), the editors parse the various subzones and soil types, the traditional and newly emerging styles for the wines, and the top producers working today.

Out of 24 wines tasted from 2004 and 25 wines tasted from 2006, Pievalta landed in the editors’ top ten for both vintages (number 2 and number 3 respectively).

It’s a wonderful piece and we highly recommend it to you (in Italian and subscribers only, unfortunately).

Here’s what the editors had to say about the wines (English translations by our blogmaster):

Pievalta 2004 Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico San Paolo Riserva


There is a vibrant nose hiding behind the rich amber color of this wine. It’s markedly vertical in character, with notes of minerals, herbs, and anise that sing in harmony with the rich fruit flavors.

In the mouth, the wine is lean, fine, and reactive. It shows how fleshy Verdicchio can be extremely dynamic in fresh vintages.

The salty finish leaves lingering notes of candied fruit and anise.

Pievalta 2006 San Paolo IGT


One mustn’t be confused by the label: it reports a “table wine” classification, a designation owed to mere bureaucratic issues.

There’s a lot of Verdicchio packed into this bottle. And it’s the kind of Verdicchio that’s hard to forget.

An initial thread of aromatic evolution endows the yellow fruit, anise, and almond fabric of this wine with great appeal. The seductive mouth doesn’t weigh it down thanks to a salty weave that cohesively holds it together.

Slow Wine guide 2015: humility and passion is what makes the difference at Pievalta

alessandro fenino

Above: Alessandro Fenino in the San Paolo vineyard in Follonica.

The 2015 Slow Wine Guide to the Wines of Italy was officially presented weekend before last at the Slow Food Salone del Gusto food fair in Turin.

Here’s what the editors had to say about Pievalta, which also was awarded the “Snail” and “Slow Wine” prizes this year.

Taking care of the essence of the grape variety — structure, acidity, minerality — in a natural way, without letting passing, trendy illusions cloud its vision: this is the meaning of Pievalta’s work.

STORY – In 2002, Franciacorta winery Barone Pizzini decided to invest in Verdicchio and looked to Alessandro Fenino to make the wines. A young and able enologist, Fenino has employed humility and passion in his interpretation of the grape variety. And he’s delivered that reflect his own approach to grape growing and winemaking. Initial difficulties have been resolved and the winery’s growth continues. Today, Pievalta is a esteemed winery within the appellation.

VINES – Organic and biodynamic farming, free of extremism, are the basis of the winery’s work in the vineyards. Located in Maiolati, where the fresh soils are rich with calcareous marl, the winery grows grapes in 20 hectares of vineyards, of which 14 hectares are planted to vines 40 years and older. In San Paolo, in the appellation’s Follonica ward, the winery’s 5 hectares lie at 350 meters above sea level on tuffaceous soils. There, the vineyards, with uneven rows, enjoy excellent exposure.

WINES – Native yeasts, stainless-steel vinification, and lees-aging are the means used by the winery to express the rich flavors of the grapes.

slow wine guide 2015 english

High praise for Barone Pizzini from leading Italian wine guide Slow Wine

silvano brescianini

Above: Silvano Brescianini, general manager at Barone Pizzni and the man who first envisioned organic viticulture in Franciacorta. Barone Pizzini was the first winery in the appellation to obtain organic certification.

The 2015 Slow Wine Guide to the Wines of Italy was officially presented weekend before last at the Slow Food Salone del Gusto food fair in Turin.

Here’s what the editors of the guide had to say about Barone Pizzini and general manager Silvano Brescianini (translation by our blogmaster).

Barone Pizzini represents a coming together of research, innovation, and a belief in the appellation, not to mention a winning model that champions alternative, clean, sustainable, and pragmatic agriculture.

STORY – Silvano Brescianini is the volcanic, beating heart of Barone Pizzini. And he’s the man behind the visionary, strategic decisions that brought the winery to where it is today.

VINEYARDS – Brescianini and his team are steadfast believers in responsible agriculture. And they’ve never slowed their pace in their ongoing quest to improve their farming methods. They embrace every element of their work in the vineyards with that same conviction. Their meticulous analysis of the grapes results in a micro-parcel production focused on expression each site’s terroir and giving each wine its own identity.

best italian wine guide 2015