IL Fiorello presents a Pet-Nat made from grapes grown in the Suisun Valley, Malvasia Bianca.
Crafted into beautiful effervescent wine by local winemaker, Faith Armstrong-Foster.
Faith says, “This Suisun Valley Pét-Nat is floral and fruity, but refreshingly bone-dry. The opening aromatics are like sticking your nose in a fermentation vat, with yeasty brioche notes and lively youthful freshness. To follow are notes of night blooming jasmine, citrus blossom, melon rind, warm Kaffir lime scones with preserved lemon…and a refreshing hint of sea air….and did I mention soft tiny delicate bubbles!”
This wine stays true to the nature of an authentic Pétillant Naturel style wine: I encouraged native yeast fermentation, which finished in the bottle, with no sugar or other juice added. This is a pure expression of sparkling wine and she my friends, is a spirited lady! The Pétillant Naturel is Onward’s sparkling expression of Malvasia Bianca from Capp Inn Ranch.
The wine was moved from tank to bottle by gravity. Everything to do with bottling lady Pét-Nat has to be done by hand because she is still fermenting (meaning full of CO2 gas) and needs to be handled with care. I bottled the wine with a small amount of lees, allowing the fermentation to complete in bottle and left the wine un-disgorged (with sediment) in bottle. I feel this adds purity and complexity that would be lost if removed. The bottles were aged while the fermentation finished, then labeled and left finished with a crown cap.
Pétillant-Naturel (sparkling natural) is a term for sparkling wine made in the méthode ancestrale, the ancient method or traditional method. This means a wine is bottled before the primary fermentation is completed; and is without the addition of secondary yeasts or sugars. Champagne, from France, is made in the traditional méthode champenoise. This method is when a finished wine undergoes a secondary fermentation in the bottle with the addition of yeasts and sugars.
The ancient method of Petillant-Naturel, produces a simpler, more rustic sparkler than Champagne, one that is traditionally cloudy, unfiltered, and often bottled with a crown cap (like a beer) rather than a cork. The end product is also unpredictable; opening each bottle is a surprise, evocative of the time and place where it was bottled.
IL Fiorello Holiday Suggestions
This delicate sparkling wine is just delicious with savory foods, or on popcorn dressed with our Extra Virgin oils, and by itself on the back deck to celebrate fabulous wine and the holidays
Store cold and serve cold
Happy Holidays to all from Olive us at IL Fiorello!
When the final co-milled oil is done, the mill is clean, and the weather turns cold; I know that it is time to bring out the pizzelle maker.
Pizzelle are delicious, tiny, very beautiful cookies. Named because they are flat and sweet. Like little lady sweet pizzas.
I have been making pizzelles since 1975, yes a long time. My first pizzelle iron was given to me as a wedding present.
We make pizzelle at IL Fiorello all December for taste treats for our guests. The sweet cookies pair very well with our presentation of Italian Moscato wine. A little glass, a sweet pizzelle and life is good in the afternoon.
The basic recipe starts out with a dozen eggs, 4 cups of flour and anisette. I think my family just drank the anisette in the afternoon. I personally like the flavor of lemon zest and Limoncello in the pizzelles.
You may use any flavoring you want. Orange zest, chocolate, lemon, anisette, walnut, chestnut, use your imagination.
A particular favorite of mine is to make lots of flat pizzelles, and make a “sandwich” with the filling of dulce de leche. Place the cookies over a mug of warm coffee and allow the dulce de leche to melt just a little. This is the way to begin the morning.
If you are in Italy, you may want to make a little “café correcto” by adding a little grappa in your cup to ward off the winter chills, before going into the grove to prune your olive trees.
Enjoy the recipes and if you have any questions about how to make these beautiful cookies just come on over. You will find us making them early in the morning for our staff and all afternoon for guests.
There are always so many questions about milling olives, and making extra virgin olive oil.
Here is the simplified synopsis: good fruit, meaning good olives, makes good oil!
2. Olives are inspected and photographed and the temperature is documented
3. Olives are weighed (olives minus bin = weight of fruit)
4. Olives are washed, very lightly
5. Olives (including pit, skin and tissue) are crushed in the hammer mill crusher
6. Olives are malaxed (mixing and warming)
7. Centrifuge Number 1, the Decanter, separates material (pit, skin and tissue) from the oil
8. Centrifuge Number 2, the Valente, clarifying the oil
9. Storage 62° F, cold, dark and under an inert gas
10. Decanting is important and should happen in 6-10 weeks after milling
You can make good oil with good olives and good machinery. We learn new techniques every year and experience is valuable. With climate change, and general warming, we at IL Fiorello, have made significant changes to our methods and internal temperatures during milling.
The result is great oil.
An interesting question is when to harvest olives. This seems to be an easy decision. The answer; when they are ripe. But the real answer is actually much more complicated.
Before you plant an olive tree, you should understand what kind of olive oil you want to produce and what flavor do you want to present at your table. Begin with the variety characteristics as each variety of olive has its own profile, such as green fruit, ripe fruit, robust, mild, buttery, pungent, and aromatic.
To begin, you should know each of your varieties and their ripening process. Remember all olives start out green and all olives ripen to black. They ripen from the outside in so you may have a fully black olive but the inside is brilliant green and not even close to being ready.
Each variety ripens at a different time and different rate. You really have to know your olives, the climate, the mill you will be working with and whether you want a robust oil or a mellow oil. So the decision is to harvest early, or harvest late. Harvest early and you will have a greener tasting oil, much more robust with higher levels of polyphenols and antioxidants. Harvest later and you will have a more mellow oil with a shorter shelf life and lower polyphenols.
Other questions are equally important. Who is going to harvest your olives and what are the costs of harvesting? We estimate that cost to be the most expensive part of making oil. If you intend to rely on friends and family or crowd sourcing you can save money but you may not get all the olives harvested. Harvesting is hard work. We recommend that olives are milled within 12 to 24 hours of picking. Hopefully it will be cool enough to store them properly before transport to your milling site. Keep your olives in the shade. Keep them cool, to prevent decay of the fruit.
Decisions continue throughout the actual milling process so talk to your miller about your preferences. Talk early and often so that both sides know the process and the goals.
After milling the decisions about caring for the oil after milling, decanting, storage, storage temperature, and bottling will be the topic of another blog.
So many decisions! But knowing your olives, having good fruit, and engaging in discussions with your miller make the whole process much better. And much more fun.
Enjoy the harvest season.
Yield: approximately 1 to 1½ Gallons
10 large yellow tomatoes, cut into halves
2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 jalapeno, stem removed and chopped
1 Tablespoon chopped garlic
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon salt
Juice and zest of 1 orange
½ cup dry sherry
1 Teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups chicken stock or water
It is tomato time, as all you gardeners well know. The gardens are overflowing with beautiful fruit.
There are tomato festivals everywhere, and so many different kinds of tomatoes to eat.
Red, green, striped, cherry, pear, yellow and even a purple one.
The bigger question is, what to do with this bounty? Here are some of our suggestions:
Here is my recipe for homemade mayonnaise. Easy as pie to make and very delicious. Only 5-10 minutes to make this silky and luscious mayo. Leccino adds a lovely fragrance, and Mission will make it quite bold.
If at the end you add two stalks of cooked asparagus, it makes the mayo brilliant green.
Kids and adults will love the color. Fun with food is our motto!
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon mustard Dijon is good but you can use any favorite mustard
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, Leccino or Mission Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon white-wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or more to taste
1/4 teaspoon white pepper, finely ground
This makes about a cup. This can also be made in a blender, but it is more fun to whisk this in a bowl.
The vinegar and the lemon juice add the balance and the acidity to the finished mayo. Eat tomatoes fresh from the garden. Healthy, delicious with super good olive oil- it is a perfect treat!
FOOD PAIRING and TASTE
OIL * WINE * FOOD
At the Visitors Center at IL Fiorello, we present seasonal food pairings with our extra virgin olive oils and balsamic vinegar reductions. We are proud to source most of our food pairings directly from our organic vegetable and herb gardens.
Guests always ask what oils, what foods and what wines should be paired together. They always wonder why and how we do different pairings. There is no magic to pairing, usually if you like it together, that is the best pairing for you.
If you really look at the origin of food, wine and oil, you will recognize natural pairings. The geographic origin of the food, wine, or oil tells an important historical story. Where food is grown, wine is grown, and olives are grown together. Climate, soil, weather, and people all impart their influences.
Consumers have, and should have, different preferences, so you should be eating food, drinking wine, and using olive oil that you love and enjoy. You all have different palates but some people have different levels of sensitivity and tolerances. We often ask people if they enjoy coffee, and if so, most likely the expected bitterness of extra virgin olive oil will be a pleasant experience in the tasting room. The bitterness and pungency of extra virgin olive oil often astounds people but when the oils are paired with food, taste chemistry is at its best. The food and the oils shine.
Consider what food you will be serving at home and what that flavor profile means to you.
Here are some interesting food, wine and oil pairings that grow together. Something to consider that you might not have appreciated until now. We have tried to give examples of the cultural matching of food, wine and olive oil. The fun challenge is to find some of your own best matches.
Don’t allow people tell you how a wine or oil is “supposed” to taste. Taste it yourself, make a decision and then have a great discussion with your friends about your findings. Different people have different tastes and that is where the fun begins. Play with your food, that what we do every day at IL Fiorello.
This should be fun and enjoyable, and above all, the food, wine, and the olive oil should be delicious. Come and enjoy the experience of taste at IL Fiorello.
Right out of the garden, nothing is better than a fresh radish.
My Great Aunt, A Francophile and French teacher, taught me an old French method to serve beautiful fresh radishes. Slice the radish and serve with bread, the best butter and salt. Add a little olive oil of course, and you have the perfect afternoon snack. Try this as a first course or a simple hors d’oeuvre, appetizer in French.
When you have too many radishes, as we do (10 different kinds!), we pickle them. A quick pickle and you have a marvelous snack to use right away! Great on salads, hamburgers, or just plain right out the jar. Here is how to make them:
Harvest and slice about 4 cups of fresh radishes.
Standard Pickling Liquid
2 cups White Wine Vinegar
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Water
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
10 Whole Black Peppercorns
Dill to taste
Combine all ingredients in a noncorrosive saucepan
Bring the liquid to a rolling boil
Stir to just dissolve the sugar and salt
Remove from heat, add radishes and allow mixture to cool
Cool & refrigerate
Use tonight or this weekend
If covered and refrigerated, will keep for 6-8 weeks
The vinegar will be red because of the radishes beautiful color. Delicious, tangy, with a little heat & lots of flavor. Enjoy Spring!
The House Agricultural Committee finally has taken steps to stop the fraud and adulteration of olive oil coming from big corporations predominately in Europe. As we in the industry know, much of the bulk olive oils coming to the United States from Europe contain a large percentage of seed oils.
This is blatant fraud and does present a potential health risk to consumers. Certified Extra Virgin Olive oil should be only olive oil and nothing else. Seed oils mixed with olive oil should be clearly labeled and not called extra virgin. The California Olive Oil Commission has set standards for oils produced in California. This has sent shock waves through the European big corporate olive oil industry.
Truthful producers from around the world welcome this forward step toward transparency. At IL Fiorello we are proud to certify our oils, share the results with our guests and freely discuss our farming and milling practices. Honesty and transparency in the market place is the center of our business.