Monday, March 24, 2014

Arvero Limoncello: A star of Southern Italy

By Antonia Fattizzi

When the glasses of limoncello come out to finish a delightfully long Italian supper, discerning drinksters may quaff with some reticence. Most varieties offered in the states can be cloyingly sweet and difficult to enjoy. Your Italian friends will undoubtedly tell you “It’s just hard to get a good limoncello here.”  Until now.  Even if you don’t know that one of the many prides of Southern Italy is the lemon tree particular to the Gulf of Naples and Sorrentine Peninsula, you can likely imagine what a limoncello could be:  a refreshingly lemony citrus digestif.  Following traditional recipes and utilizing natural and organic ingredients will yield a “proper” limoncello – bright, fresh, and nicely balanced.

Enter Diego Rodino di Miglione.  Diego grew up in Naples, about an hour from Massa Lubrense, one of the prominent towns that harvest the femminiello ovale sorrentino, a giant lemon grown on the Sorrento Peninsula.  His mother has such affection for the lemon scent wafting about the area that roughly three decades ago she purchased a few acres of land on which to plant a lemon garden.  Like her neighbors, she began making homemade limoncello as gifts for friends and family.  And thus the story begins.

Diego, you grew up in Naples, studied in London and then moved to the US, working first in a bank and now in commercial real estate.  What inspired you to start producing and importing Árvero Limoncello?
My family and I have many happy memories from the time spent at our home in Massa Lubrense, and one of the finest is of making limoncello together from the lemons that grew in our backyard.  Without question, the key to authentic limoncello is using the right lemons from the right region of Italy.  We were fortunate enough to have these special lemons become a part of our family’s story and therefore want to pay homage to authentic limoncello.  After a great deal of research,  my sisters and I found that many varieties currently offered tend to be overly sweet and not at all balanced, so we decided to create our Árvero Limoncello to help “correct” the common perception of this beautiful spirit.  

Give us some insight on Limoncello: when was it first created, how is it made and what should people look for when selecting a Limoncello?
Limoncello was first produced back in the early 1900’s and invented near the Peninsula of Sorrento.  The trees have a life span of about 80 years, and the lemons they yield have tough, thick skins, are very mild and low in acid, making them far less sour than a normal lemon.  The lemons are picked twice a year at around 6:00a.m. when it’s most humid, and must be washed and peeled by 9:00a.m. so the greatest quantity of natural oils and aromas are still present.  In order to preserve this essence, we bring them down the street to the factory (Distillere Nastro D’oro), which is known for the excellence of its premium products.  There, our partners Eduardo Fiorillo and Lorenzo Farinaro along with their skilled team, combine the lemon zests with ethyl alcohol (distilled from molasses) for five days.  The infusion gets filtered 4-5 times, slowly lowering the alcohol and adding water and sugar which brings it down to about 32% ABV. 

Our lemons are organically farmed, and because Árvero contains no additives or preservatives, there will (and should be) a separation of oils which you can see in the neck of the bottle.  The oil at the top of the liquid indicates freshness, as does the pale yellow color, as opposed to a neon yellow frequently seen.  These natural oils should, of course, be swirled back together with the spirit before pouring.

Limoncello is most frequently consumed neat and cold at the end of a meal.  Are there are any other uses for it that you’d like to share with us?
Absolutely!  Limoncello can be used for cocktails, baking, or even drizzled over ice cream.

1/3 oz. Árvero Limoncello
2/3 oz. Tonic Water
Fresh Mint Leaves

Served: Highball Glass or batched in pitcher

There are several options for baking which include utilizing it in lemon cake and desserts such as tiramisu al limone’, profiteroles, limoncello cookies, lemon muffins..the list goes on!

Árvero means “tree” in Neapolitan dialect, but what else does it mean to you?
A true árvero has its roots in the Peninsula bordering the Gulf of Naples, so it’s incredibly important to our family that every ounce of Árvero Limoncello highlights its origin.  More than anything, I wanted our limoncello to have a simple, understandable message: that the right tree will give us lemons with which we can make a “true” limoncello.  We strive to ensure that the brands’ heritage remains intact while we present it in a sophisticated, contemporary manner to match the environment of refined restaurants that are serving it.  This will offer our customers the chance to appreciate the painstaking production process that is needed in order to create a well-balanced limoncello.

Tasting Notes:
Color:      Lemon yellow
Bouquet:  Fresh nose of Sorrento lemon
Flavor:     Pleasant sweetness with vibrant lemon notes
Serving Suggestions: This versatile liqueur can be served chilled on its own, used as a cocktail ingredient or used as an ingredient in desserts

Serving Temperature: Best served chilled

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Since 2003, Antonia Fattizzi has managed, marketed and sold boutique wines and spirits in the US market. Her passion for artisinal products propelled her to found Cork and Tin, which serves as a voice and a strategic partner for small and emerging brands. 

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