Colavita Olive Oil & Panebianco: Two Italian Families Come Together

Two family-owned Italian companies, Colavita and Panebianco Wines LLC, recently joined forces and I met the CEOs of each company, Giovanni Colavita and Nunzio Castaldo, who spoke about their roles in the joint ownership over an elegant lunch.

The lunch, held The Leopard in the Cafes Des Artistes building, began with wine (of course), select antipasti, and lots of conversation. Soon we sat down for a very interesting Colavita olive oil tasting. The olive oil was poured into blue cups so that any biases about the color of the oil were diminished.

Colavita’s chef, Master Chef Ken Arnone, explained how to best taste the olive oil, by holding the cup in our palms and covering the cup with our other palm. “When you take a sip, squish it between your teeth,” Arnone explained. There were three types of Colavita olive oil, two Italiana and one Greek, and they were remarkably different. Not seeing the color did indeed help to have an unbiased taste.

Our first course was grilled octopus, with olives, new potatoes, and tomatoes, all cooked, naturally with Colavita olive oil. The octopus was perfectly executed, so tender and flavorful with bites of slivered olives and tomatoes. Marisa Cuomo Furore Bianco 2019 was served.

I loved how Nunzio Castaldo, CEO of Panebianco Wines, told us to return to the wine, even after the second course and wine were served. “It’s had time to open,” he said. “It was a bit too cold before.” I took a sip and knew why it was a wine dear to him. Its bouquet was beautiful and aromatic with notes of jasmine and citrus.

In between courses both Giovanni Colavita and Nunzio Castaldo spoke about their family businesses, how the joint partnership will work, and more. Castaldo explained that in Italy, promises and business deals can be made with a handshake. I love the conviviality of that notion, which wouldn’t happen here anymore.

The main course, spiced porchetta with gigante beans and stuffed escarole, was served with a red wine I am still thinking about (and may continue to think about until I can find a bottle): Loredam Gasparini Capo di Stato 2013. What can I say about this wine? Seductive, intense, aromatic, fruity and spicy…a wine to remember (and buy over and over again, which I plan on doing).

Dolci was a plum polive oil semifreddo with orange pistachio biscotti served with Venturini Recioto (photo not shown).

Overall, it was a lovely experience learning about the new partnership and I look forward to cooking with Colavita Olive Oil (and drizzling it over salad) and drinking wine from Panebianco.


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