Recently, I was able to try an amazing Barbera wine from the northern Piedmont region of Italy, and paired it with an easy puff-pastry recipe that matched perfectly. More specifically, the Barbera came from a sensational winery called Michele Chiarlo.
Since 1956, Michele Chiarlo has been vinifying the essence of Piedmont, loving and developing the most incredible wine region in the world. They own 110 hectares of vineyards between Langhe, Monferrato, and Gavi. These crus respect both ecological criteria and expression of terroir.
The winery uses a rigorous selection of the best grapes from only the most reputable growers in the most favored vineyard areas. Before DOC wine laws even required it, they were using longer aging in oak and in bottle prior to release than what was commonly done at the time. Michele Chiarlo is also credited with being one of the first producers to introduce malolactic fermentation to Italy, thereby achieving wines of greater stability, lower acidity and easier accessibility in their youth.
Indeed! The 2019 Barbera I tried and feature in this food and wine pairing positing is exactly that, a readily accessible wine that beautifully boasts balanced flavor, structure and aromas that leaves you wanting more.
Begging for more Barbera? Learn more about this popular Italian wine here:
Barbera, a Friendly Beginner’s Wine
Let‘s get cooking!
Capicola-Prosciutto Herbed Ricotta Pizzette
2019 Cipressi Barbera Nizza DOCG – Michele Chiarlo (Piedmont, Italy)
Easy Puff Pastry Recipe: Capicola-Prosciutto Herbed Ricotta Pizzette
Serves: 2 (as a meal) or 4 (as appetizers)
- Pepperidge Farm puff pastry frozen puff pastry sheets
- 6 tablespoons ricotta cheese
- 1/3 cup grana padano
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup basil, hand shredded
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
- 3 large, thin slices of prosciutto, cut in small squares; set aside pieces from one of the slices
- 6 round thin slices of capicola, cut in small pieces; set aside pieces from one of the slices
- Cracked pepper (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh sage finely chopped
- 1/3 cup of sliced grape tomatoes
- 1/4 teaspoon cracked pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil for additional drizzling
- Defrost puff pastry sheet. Once defrosted, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- On a clean, non-stick surface, stretch the puff pastry into a large square. Then cut pastry into four squares (3.5 inches by 3.5 inches).
- In a small bowl, mix tomatoes, olive oil, fresh sage, and cracked pepper. Set aside.
- In a large bowl, mix ricotta cheese, grana padano cheese, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, fresh sage, cut prosciutto, and capicola. Add cracked pepper to taste and mix again.
- Lightly drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top of the pastry squares. Next, place a few pieces of cut prosciutto that were set aside on top of each square. Then, add a few spoonfuls of the ricotta cheese mixture on each square. Carefully bring all four corners of the pastry square towards the center to create a nest.
- Insert a piece or two of cut capicola that were set aside in the center of the pastry nest and top with some of the tomato mixture.
- Bake for approximately 20-30 minutes or until puff pastry is flaky and lightly golden brown.
- Serve it up!
The aroma itself from the oven will make you want to eat these pizzettes as is…and well, that’s basically how you’re supposed to eat them. As is.
You can easily place all of the pizzette on a serving platter and garnish by sprinkling a little extra grana padano and maybe some oregano.
Buon appetito! Enjoy!
Michele Chiarlo Cipressi Nizza DOCG gets its name from the cypress, or cipressi, trees atop one of the hillsides of the estate. The Barbera grapes are from the well-exposed vineyards from the famed La Court estate.
The sandy soil is called astiane (meaning “of Asti”) and consists of calcareous-clay marl of sedimentary marine origin with a good presence of lime and sand and rich in microelements, particularly magnesium. Following fermentation, the wine is aged for one year in large oak casks before refinement in the barrel.
Nizza was previously part of the Barbera d’Asti DOCG but was elevated to its own DOCG in 2014.
The 2019 vintage began with heavy rain and moderate snowfall the previous winter, with some snow in February that together accumulated an excellent water reserve. The classic spring weather was followed by hot and dry months of May and June. Abundant rainfall at the beginning of July allowed for an ideal and balanced ripening during the hot and dry summer season. The result was a vintage with a lesser number of grapes but characterized by outstanding quality.
This 100% Barbera Nizza wine is endowed with great character and a rich bouquet of sweet, varied, and elegant red fruits. A bright ruby red, this wine has notes of raspberries and spices. It is a full bodied, well-structured, and harmonious wine. The finish is savory and long.
Pairs well with cured meats, pasta with meat sauce, steak, and risotto.