Molise: The Land of Gladiators

We all know of the great Roman Gladiators! These armed combatants entertained Roman audiences fighting against other gladiators, wild animals, and convicted criminals (especially Christians). Last fall in my visit to Rome my husband and I stood in the epic Colosseum, home of these horrific matches. It was awesome, eerie and huge! Did you know that for centuries the I Sanniti people of Molise and the term Gladiator were synonymous? Furthermore, most frequently when viewing images of Gladiators in art works at museums around the world the images are of the I Sanniti. Thankfully the days of the Gladiator are long passed, so as our Italian Food, Wine, Travel group visits the lovely area of Molise we will enjoy great food and wine without any danger.

Molise is one of Italy’s most stunning regions. Filled with lush forests, rolling hills, medieval towns, castles, and majestic mountains this second smallest region of Italy was once isolated and largely forgotten. Until 1963, Molise was part of Abruzzo. The split was effective in 1970, thus making Molise Italy’s youngest region. The Molise economy is based largely on agriculture, as well as a little tourism and of course wine. Due to its seclusion Molise does not receive a lot of tourist traffic; therefore, Molise is a great destination for an organic Italian experience.

For our Italian Food Wine Travel journey I selected two wines from Di Majo to explore. Di Majo Norante has been making wine since the 1800s and have cellars on the property in the old family building in Campomarino. The current estate was founded in 1968, and currently has over 200 acres of vineyards.

Italian wine map

From the Di Majo Norante web site:

molise di majo norante logo

Di Majo Norante gives painstaking attention to grape selection and harvesting and to vinification methods in order to constantly upgrade the quality and the wholesomeness of its wines. Vines are treated only with fertilisers of organic and mineral origin and are defended by the regular removal of weeds and organic parasite control methods such as moths, while the pruning residues are removed to prevent any chance of infection. Old-fashioned methods and modern technologies make it possible to produce wines that are in many ways “organic” and which deserve being enjoyed to the full in the profound expression of their characteristic features.

molise di majo norante winery

The quest for and recovery of grape species “on the verge of extinction” have prompted Di Majo Norante to produce wines with flavours rich in the personality of old farming cultures and to try and update these and develop all their potential. The “new wines from old vines” are therefore the splendid results of the pure vinification of vines traditionally at home in southern Italy and the Molise region, wines whose typical and harmonious expression is intent on designing a new geography of wine by virtue of peculiarities specific to the area and different varieties.e full in the profound expression of their characteristic features.

Molise Di Majo wines

Molise SangioveseDi Majo Norante 2013 Sangiovese: 100% Sangiovese cultivated in the Ramitello and Martarosa vineyards; bright ruby in the glass; cherries, raspberries, soft rose petals, spice, damp fresh tobacco, black pepper; rich texture of crushed velvet, round and bold on the palate with balanced layers of flavors yet not overly complex, well-structured with persistent acidity and dusty tannins; a pleasing Sangiovese that will pair great with food; aged in large French oak barrels for 6 months 13% alcohol; SRP $10.99. RP 90pts.

Molise RamitelloDi Majo Norante Ramitello 2010 Molise Rosso DOC: 85% Montepulciano, 15% Aglianico; deep ruby in the glass; black cherries, plums, currants and black raspberries, spice, licorice, dark chocolate, coffee beans; rich and round with long flavor, mouth-coating acidity balanced with well integrated tannins; lush and dense on the palate; very pleasing wine and another great food wine; aged in a combination of stainless steel and barriques for 18 months; 13.5% alcohol; SRP $21.99. WE 91pts.

Sheep are important to the economy of Molise so I chose to pair these two wines with lamb. Furthermore, typical pastas of the region include Cavatieddi and Sagne and pair beautifully with local cheeses such as Pecorino, Scamorza, Caciocavallo and Provolone. I found a recipe, Breaded Rib Lamb Chops, on Jovina Cooks Italian in her article “Make a Molise Inspired Fall Dinner” that I chose to prepare for my Molise meal. To be honest I love Jovina’s site but I frequently come across recipes on her site in other sources (with the SAME photos), like food magazines. She does not give credit to her sources (yikes) so I dare not say this recipes was created by Jovina. However, it is a good recipe, quick, easy and delicious, and a new way for me of preparing lamb chops, which a family favorite in my house. I chose to pair these lamb chops with some of the marinara from the chops tossed with Caciocavallo, and served with roasted vegetables. The meal did not follow the Italian rules of courses but it was truly delicious and a great way to explore Molise.

Molise lamb dinner

Molise lamb dinner (2)

Let’s see what my fellow #ItalianFWT friends have discovered in Molise:

Vino Travels – Di Majo Norante of Molise Rocks the Mediterranean
Culinary Adventures of Camilla – Risotto agli Spinaci with a Montepulciano-Aglianico Blend
Food Wine Click – A Molise Sangiovese with a Sauce to Make as the Pasta Cooks
Molise Wine Surprise
The Wining Hour – Sausage and Tomato Herbed Focaccia with Ramitello Biferno di Molise
Enofylz Wine Blog – A Taste of Molise: Authentic Italy

My Song Selection: These wines were smooth with easy pleasing flavors and textures, plus just a touch of funk to round out the sipping experience.

Please join our #ItalianFWT chat at 10CST this morning to explore the delicious beauty of Molise.

Get your own bottle of Di Majo Norante wine and create a delicious Molise meal pairing and let me know what song you pair with it!

14 responses to “Molise: The Land of Gladiators”

  1. This region sounds like an outstanding holiday destination, maybe a romantic week away from it all? I’m curious to taste the wines; certainly seems a small number of local estates import to the US. I’m going to check with my shop to see…
    The meal is making me hungry!

  2. The lamb chops look great! Sadly, I’m the only one at our house who loves lamb. I may still give the recipe a try the next time I’m home alone (lamb chops always available in our freezer).

  3. looks like a lot of us found these wines for this one! Great description of the the Molise region, interesting about the connection to the gladiators.

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