When you hear the name San Daniele, only one thing comes into mind. The mouthwatering Italian prosciutto with the picking-red color and white colored fat, aromas of salted aged meat with notes of toasted nuts which become more pronounced as it ages. And the best part, the distinctive delicate tastes of saltiness. They are easily recognizable from the others as it is aged with the presence of the trotter and shaped like a guitar. Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP is a kind of ham made under very strict standards underlined by the DOP or PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) product specifications and only produced in the town named San Daniele in the northern Italian region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia. But aside from the rigid rules in the production of the ham that starts from the time the pigs are born, the special flavors come from its ideal position which has a special microclimate of low humidity and good ventilation coming from the salty breeze of the Mediterranean Sea and the alpine zephyr from the north. The conditions allows better conservation and maturation of the meat which historically, the Celts have already identified.
The production of the prosciutto di San Daniele is guided from the birth of the pigs, throughout their growth of nine months and up until they are used for the prosciutto. Only heavy Italian breeds are used and their place of birth, breeding and slaughtering are limited within the boundaries of ten central – northern Italian regions namely: Friuli Venezia – Giulia, Veneto, Lombardy, Lazio, Emilia – Romagna, Piedmont, Abruzzo, Umbria and Marche. The pigs are fed on a controlled diet of cereals and milk whey. The aspects of treatment and processing of the hind legs take place exclusively in the 31 prosciutto production plants located within the municipality of San Daniele del Friuli registered with the consortium. Only dry sea salt from Italy is used on the meat which dehydrates it with a minimum of 13 months of ageing as dictated by the disciplinary rules. Only upon the completion of the minimum 13-month ageing does each prosciutto gets its marked brand with the logo of the consortium and the producer’s identification code if the quality check performed by the IFCQ Certification Body is passed.
The consortium has 31 member producers in San Daniele and the one I had the opportunity to visit is the smallest producer, La Glacere. It is an artisan producer located in the ancient quarter of Sopracastello that has an annual production of about six thousand prosciutto. Instead of the designated minimum 13-month ageing, they set theirs to about 18 months of ageing for their products.
A tasting of the wines of Pitars Winery from nearby San Martino al Tagliamento was conducted at the prosciutteria of La Glacere. A pairing of excellent enogastronomic products at a convivial location was an excellent choice to end the two-day trip organized by Pitars.
The 18-month old prosciutto, mozzarella, tomatoes and artichokes were paired with Pitars Ribolla Gialla Brut Sparkling Wine. Obtained through Charmat method, this sparkling wine has a good persistence and moderately numerous perlage, a delicate white floral nose and an underlined acidity. The effervescence went well in the palate washing the fatty residue of the prosciutto. Pitars Traminer Aromatico 2020, obtained from 20-year old vines of traminer aromatico. It has a intensity of aromas of mature yellow stone fruits, exotic fruits underlined by notes of lychees and yellow roses while the palate has a persistence of acidity and sapidity mingled with the fruity profile which is paired with the Fumat, the smoked prosciutto, interacting well with the intensity of its smoky flavor. A bottle of the Pitars Cuntrevint 2019 was opened. A Sauvignon Blanc 700-bottle limited edition born out of an experiment obtained from the healthiest grapes cultivated in the right bank of Tagliamento River in Santo Cristoforo. The wine has an intense and aromatic nose of mature exotic fruits, tomato leaves, ripe yellow stone fruits and fresh sage. In the mouth, the acidity is vibrant balanced with sapidity and persistent finish.