A Gem of Italy: Tenera Ascolana Olive
Ascolana Tenera olives are considered one of the finest olives in the world.
Grown mostly in the Marche region of Italy’s Adriatic coast, they are prized for their tenderness and delicate flavor. Groves sit along the Ascolano hillsides that surround the medieval city of Ascoli Piceno with green olives ripening in the sea breeze. As you will see, it is a beautiful thing to know where your olives come from.
Family growers like Maurizio in the Rosara area outside of Ascoli Piceno carefully cultivate this ancient olive loved by Pliny and others.
Ascolana Tenera olives have been cultivated since the time of ancient Rome. Noble Romans including Pliny the Elder waxed poetically about the tender, sweet and meaty essence of this sacred olive. However, low yields and shipping challenges over the old ancient Via Salaria salt route from the Adriatic to Rome caused them to fall out of favor. Today, thanks to the efforts of local farmers, the ‘Oliva Ascolana Tenera del Piceno’ was recently awarded PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status by the European Union which guarantees a harvest price. It is one of only three olives out of almost 700 that enjoy the protected status in Italy. Happily, these delicious olives are beloved in Europe, but they are still hardly available in North America.
Dominick Cerrone, owner of Good Mansion Wines,toured the L’Olio Tenero olive press house, Frantoio Angelini, with 4th generation owner Alessandro. This is where the olives are cleaned, with leaves and branches removed.
The Good Mansion Difference
Good Mansion Wines, your ambassador to Marchigiano cuisine, is proud to be the first American importer of Ascolana Tenera products. It all started in 2015 with owner Dominick Cerrone’s quest for enjoying the olives and oils his cousins enjoyed from their olive groves in Ascoli. We have three ways you can enjoy this wonderful olive from the Ascolano region.
- Fresh Ascolana del Piceno, DOP, in brine, by the pound. Savor the natural tender and sweet flavor of Ascolana Tenera olives with a touch of fresh fennel, traditionally added to the brine during the curing process. These table olives are ideal for pairing with Italian sheep cheeses and charcuterie from our shop.
- Stuffed and fried “all’Ascolana.” This style of preparation is a traditional antipasto from the Ascoli Piceno region. Our staff carefully pits our imported Ascolana olives by hand. Then, we stuff them with a savory blend of chicken liver, veal, pork, Parmigiano and nutmeg, and bread them. Take some home to fry up for your next dinner party!
- L’OlioTenero extra virgin olive oil. The pride and joy of Ascoli Piceno. This spectacular monocultivar olive oil is made from 100% Ascolana Tenera olives. The fruit is pressed within eight hours of harvest to ensure the highest possible quality. Intense fruity notes of sun-dried tomato are followed by a brilliant herbaceous spiciness from its high polyphenol level, with excellent bitterness. Thanks to world renowned olive oil expert Dottore Leonardo Seghetti, this Gambero Rosso three leaf olive oil is the highest expression of the ancient ascolana tenera olive.
This video shows how Monica makes our olive all’ascolana 100% by hand, from pitting to breading. The perfect antipasto!
Shop all of our olive oil products and more, shipped nationwide.
The Elixir of Slowness: Acetomodena Balsamic Vinegar
There is a saying form Modena that goes like this:
‘He who goes slowly, goes healthily and far’.
Nothing is truer for our vinegar.
It goes slowly, in the sense that in order to mature
it takes the time that it needs.
It goes healthily, because it is Mother Nature who makes it.
It goes far, because its known all over the world.
– SOCIETÀ AGRICOLA ACETOMODENA
We first were introduced to the owners of Acetomodena, the Vecchi family and their faithful Scottish-Italian national representative, Gary, in 2014. At that time, the success of our Olio Tenero Ascolana del Piceno olive oil had tipped us into the import business, and our colleague Rita in Rome was eager for us to embark on a second product of excellence. With a goal of bypassing the industrial food chain that still dominates the U.S. Italian food import market to this day, we had our eyes set on the next product of renown—balsamic from Modena, the hot plain of the Po River Valley, made by one of the handful of family producers who could count their history in Modena back for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Good Mansion Wines owner Dominick Cerrone visits the acetomodena barrel room in Modena Italy.
A Brief History
First, you should know that the commercial enterprise of balsamic vinegar only spans back to the 19th century. Before curious travelers discovered this liquid gold of the Po, all production was family run, based out of the barn attics of farms, intended mostly for local consumption. The art centered around two towns – Modena and Reggio Emilia, both on the flat, sticky Po River Valley. There the hot and stifling summers allowed for extraordinarily humid conditions in the attics, providing the perfect solera climate.
Since then, there has been a lot of dishonesty in balsamic marketing in the United States. Including claims of businesses being 300 years old and balsamic being aged for 50 or 100 years. These quantitative descriptions appeal to naive American shoppers looking at numbers as a basis for quality. However, the commercial industry is young and no company has been around much before the 19th century. Additionally, there is no regulation on balsamics older than 25 years and products that make these claims are non-classified.
Producers who make claims on age rely on the basic laws of science, wherein if one drop of older balsamic remains in a barrel, over time, as the barrel is emptied and refilled, there is still a microscopic amount of liquid that dates from the start of the enterprise. Producer increase their profits, but consumers are cheated! The only true aged balsamics from Modena are the Traditonal Balsamics of Modena, DOP, regulated by a consortium that controls the production and quality of every producer who makes this product. More on that later.
The Good Mansion Difference
You may know that balsamic vinegar of Modena only permits two ingredients by law: cooked grape must and wine vinegar.What you may not know is that many so-calledbalsamic products seen on shelves in the US contain up to 90% wine vinegar, producing a watery body with a sharply acidic taste. Sometimes they are even enhanced with caramel coloring to provide color because it is so thin! Our balsamics from the Vecchi family and Acetomodena are completely different.
Acetomodena Goccia Oro Balsamic Vinegar IGP
First, we have Acetomodena Goccia Oro Balsamic Vinegar IGP. Indicazione Geografica Protetta (IGP) is an award that indicates the quality of a product is tied to the place or region where it is produced, processed, or prepared. This product, unlike most IGP balsamic that is exported to the US, contains a low percentage of wine vinegar and a very high percentage of cooked grape must. In fact it boasts 70 % from family vineyards of Trebbiano and Lambrusco! These ingredients are aged and ‘vinegarised’ for up to three years in quality wooden barrels. This results in a sweet yet delicate and balanced balsamic which, with a slight hit of acidity, renders it incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
Acetomodena Condimento Oro Supremo
Next is the Acetomodena Condimento Oro Supremo. This is Acetomodena’s proprietary condiment that contains 100% cooked grape must that is aged 6 years. The resulting product has an intense aroma and a dense, velvety texture, while maintaining a lightness and versatility. Even though this undergoes the same barrel process that traditional balsamics do, there is no classification for this period of aging in Italian law. So, it must by law be called a condiment. The gorgeous petite bottle is the perfect affordable gift for balsamic aficionados who want the taste of a traditional, aged balsamic at a more comfortable price.
Traditional Balsamic from Modena
Finally, we present Traditional Balsamic from Modena, a generation old product that for most of history was confined to family attics in the town of Modena, on the hot and humid Po River Valley plain of northern Italy. This coveted vinegar is Denominazione d’Origine Protetta (DOP). This assures that the vinegar is produced, processed, and packaged in a specific geographical zone according to tradition. Producers in the consortium use only 100% cooked grape must from Lambrusco and Trebbiano grapes.
In the case of the Vecchi farm, the grapes are harvested on the family vineyards of Acetomodena. The must enters into a 12 (Affinato style) to 25-year (Extravecchio style) solera ageing process in barrels of different woods. It moves from structural oak at in early years to perfumed mulberry and chestnut as “toppers” later on. Acetaii from the consortium taste the the developing balsamic and recommend which wood it should see next. Each vintage takes its own unique journey to Affinato or Extravecchio status. The Traditional Balsamics from Modena are sweet with a powerful intensity that will linger on your palate. They are best drizzled on aged cheeses, ice cream or berries, or dabbed on a filet. A tiny drop of this liquid gold goes a very long way, so each bottle has hundreds of experiences. This is truly liquid gold and the best of Modenese vinegar making.
Shop all of our vinegar and more, available for shipping nationwide.
Our Top 10 Wine Picks for Thanksgiving
OUR TOP 10 WINE PICKS FOR YOUR THANKSGIVING DAY TABLE.
GET THE FINEST. GET GOOD MANSION WINES!
Thanksgiving Day is a celebration of the harvest, and we think the best wines are the ones that bring the harvest to the table in a bottle.
Here are our top 5 picks for your table. In general, seek out wines with an abundant profile of fruit and baking spice notes, and stay away from tannin. We generally opt for whites, although offer plenty of red options.
10 – MERLOT
If you do seek out a Merlot for Thanksgiving, make sure you purchase one without a heavily oaked tannin. After all, the redeeming essence of Merlot is its soft and plush, fruity mouth that waters out in the back, making it compatible with game. We like South American Merlot for both their price and easy taste on the table. These can also be an economical option of the table.
$10 – $50
9 – FRAPPATO
This light and fragrant red wine from Sicily is an easy accompaniment to most items on the Thanksgiving Day table. Named after the Frappato grape, this wine has truly “grapey” notes and is particularly nice with stuffing and meat. It is virtually without tannin, and a good Italian option for Italian Thanksgiving Day tables with pasta!
Most people that think of the muscat grape think of the sweet Moscato frizzante wines. However, the Muscat grape can produce beautifully aromatic, off dry white wines that offer notes of orange, apricot and jasmine to the Thanksgiving Day table (think stuffing!). Its soft spot is with side dishes on the table. While we have a TON of the sweeter sparkling Moscato, you will only find the off dry versions at Good Mansion.
Say what?? Yes, this obscure red wine – named after the Fumin grape – from Val d’Aosta in the snowy northwest French speaking enclave of Italy – is pure delight. Silky, intense notes of berry with a bit of spice on the back of the mouth make this wine the perfect accompaniment to dark turkey meat. For those lovers of big red wines who are leery to leave tannin at the door, try this one, a wine that is only available at Good Mansion.
6 – CHARDONNAY
Much maligned and much abused, Chardonnay seems to be taking a hit this Thanksgiving in the national wine media, for reasons that run counter to logic. After all, Chardonnay typically has notes of apple and pear, and is never too dry for the acids of fruits and gaminess of turkey. Either clean and rich in mineral like white Burgundies or steeled fermented New World versions, or creamy and buttery, we think Chardonnay is A-OK for the Thanksgiving Day table. Check out our extensive portfolio of white Burgundies that you will only find at Good Mansion.
$10 – $150
5 – BEAUJOLAIS
Go Nouveau for a light, aromatic (and inexpensive!) red wine on your table devoid of any tannin whatsoever, or Beaujolais Villages for a spicier version, still low in tannin. This floral red wine from the south of Burgundy is made from the legendary Gamay grape, one of the lightest red grapes for wine making. We love it with most side dishes, and the Villages with turkey meat of any kind.
4- PINOT NOIR
Red Pinot Noir wines appear often on Thanksgiving wine lists for obvious reasons. However, we prefer New World Pinot Noir wines in particular from Oregon and New Zealand. These are less earthy than Burgundy counterparts, less alcoholic than California counterparts, and have ample fruit notes that are silky and clean on the mouth, perfect to mingle with dark or light meat, stuffing and yams.
$12 – $300
This typically off dry white wine commands its own corner on the Thanksgiving Day table, mostly from its uncanny notes of baking spices like you will find in no other wine. That in combination with exotic notes of lychee and rose pedal make this elegant white the most distinctive white wine on the list. Good Mansion has a plethora of Alsatian Gewurztraminer for the taking.
2- PINOT GRIS
This suave white wine is clean and refreshing, with slight notes of citrus and floral that finish off sweet in the back of the mouth. Its calm profile allows it to enhance about everything on the table. For zesty fruit that is mostly in the front of the mouth, try Oregon Pinot Gris. For more structured Pinot Gris that are longer in the mouth, try Alsatian Pinot Gris.
This noble white wine will and always will be the true love of Thanksgiving. Replete with harvest fruit notes like apple, pear and citrus, this wine delivers more of what we seek on the table in one bottle than any other wine. It is also the perfect accompaniment to triple creme and blue cheeses on your table. Produced mostly dry, Riesling from the Alsace of France has been the centuries long companion to game bird that is the basis for Alsatian cuisine. Produced sweeter, Rieslings from Germany’s Mosel Valley offer an extraordinary explosion of pineapple, pear, citrus, apple and zesty acidity that is ideal for turkey, stuffing and cranberry. Try a Riesling Beerenauslese or Eiswein with your pumpkin pie as well! No Thanksgiving Day table is complete without a Riesling, and you know what will be on our table!
$15 – $150
GET THE FINEST FOR THANKSGIVING, AT GOOD MANSION WINES, WHEELING’S FINEST.
OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK 9AM – 7PM TILL THE END OF THE YEAR
OPEN THANKSGIVING DAY 9AM – 2PM
95-14th Street in East Wheeling