Frantoio Forsoni EVOO from Umbria: Estate Grown, Estate Pressed, Estate Bottled.

I came to know Massimo Forsoni through his aunt, Dora Forsoni, a 68-year-old winegrower/huntress and proprietor of a small winery in Montepulciano (SI) called Az. Agr. Sanguineto. Before I moved to Italy to set up Giannoni Selections in 2014, I tried to attend Vinitaly — Italy’s annual wine trade show held in Verona — as often as I could, which meant tasting with Dora and her life partner Patrizia almost every spring. Not only was I introduced to Sanguineto’s sangiovese-based wines in Verona, but I inevitably got to know other extensions of Dora as well, namely her wild boar salumetto and the extra virgin olive oil made by her nephew, Massimo. Dora Forsoni may be minute in size but she is by no means small in character. As the commander-in-chief of her local, all-male hunting chapter just northeast of Montepulciano, she is a ball of conviction. When hunting, she evidently spends most of her time perched in trees, waiting for her prey. (This way the beast is unable to sense her odor and presence as she attempts to seal their fate.) She essentially takes a sledgehammer to many of Italy’s conventions, especially those regarding viticulture, family, gender, and sexual orientation. Upon meeting her, it becomes obvious enough to just embrace all aspects surrounding Dora, including the olive oil.

We managed to develop a rapport against the backdrop of a dizzying trade show, unignorably distant from her Tuscany. Even though we connected infrequently, Dora remembered that I worked in a specialty foods/wine store and was sure to have me taste Massimo’s recent harvest, preparing a small plate of bites to accompany her wines. It always included a salame that she had hunted and cured herself – wild boar – and Tuscan bread, you know, the kind without salt, drizzled with Massimo’s peppery, extra virgin olive oil. However, she never bothered to explain what distinguished his extra virgin from others. Maybe it was my Italian back then? I don’t know. For Dora, a product is either good or not good and beyond that there isn’t much discussion. In her sort of tough, butch, Central Italian way she had decided that if I recognized that Massimo’s oil was good, I could sell it.

This past April I revisited Sanguineto’s Vinitaly stand, this time as an importer and proprietor of my own company. It was as if I was trying Massimo’s extra virgin for the first time, considering it for Giannoni Selections’ portfolio rather than that specialty foods shop in Cambridge. Sensing this, Dora called Massimo on the spot and handed me her cell phone. I was a little taken aback; it was impossible not to feel pressured with the producer on the phone. But it was Dora! And Massimo was lovely! We chatted for a few minutes and I made tentative plans to visit him in Umbria few weeks later.

Shortly thereafter I headed to Umbria and met Massimo in Roselli at his Frantoio Forsoni, located in Umbria’s picturesque Colli Martani, just outside of Spoleto. It became quickly apparent that like Dora, but in his own quiet and focused manner, Massimo only believes in top quality. He showed me the workroom where the olives are delivered and processed. It’s not enormous but it is pristine. Here he pointed out the latest technology, explaining each of the machines (many with temperature control) that carry out the cleaning, slitting, pit removal, malaxing, centrifugal extraction, and vertical decanting. Producing olive oil short of the extra virgin category isn’t for him; he opts to send away the pomace (which still has quite a bit of juice remaining in it) to steer clear of any further refining activities. Massimo’s oil, once extracted, is stored in stainless steel drums in the naturally cool cellar below the workroom.

To give you an idea of the other end of the spectrum of production, in Spain’s Jaén (Andalucía), the crop can be systematically harvested using large, crab-like machines that shake the young trees, causing the olives to fall to the ground to be later vacuumed up. Massimo’s reality is quite different. Everything must be done by hand in his groves because of the steepness and promiscuity of the terrain. Interspersed on some of his slopes are other fruit trees that share the arid, rocky soils. Further, harvest is carried out exclusively during morning hours so that the olives arrive still cool at the mill, which is essential for fragrance and overall freshness. The way Massimo sees it, extreme cleanliness and attention at to detail are crucial at every step, not just during the harvesting/pressing stage. Otherwise all the work during the year in the groves would be futile.

As I was saying goodbye, it occurred to me that even if I wasn’t necessarily looking to import olive oil before April, it would be difficult to say no to a producer like Massimo Forsoni who takes estate extra virgin olive oil to another level. It’s extremely rare to find an extra virgin that is cultivated, pressed, and bottled by the same person and produced on such a small scale. Perhaps more importantly, the quality of Massimo’s oil speaks for itself – just as Dora instructed it should.


BAR MEZZANA Opening 6/1 – Drink these Giannoni wines!

Bar Mezzana (360 Harrison Ave., Boston) – OPENING June 1st!

Look for these wines from Giannoni Selections at Bar Mezzana:

’11 Eugenio Bocchino Barolo “Lu”

’15 Cascina Carrà Rosato “Rosa Thea” (Nebbiolo)

’14 Crealto Grignolino “Marcaleone”

I Clivi “RBL” Spumante

’13 I Clivi Ribolla Gialla

’14 Quantico Etna Bianco

’15 Rado Kocijančič Refosk

’14 Santa Caterina Ligure di Levante Vermentino “Poggi Alti”


Fasioi: Veneto’s Refined Bean Soup Recipe with Borlotti Beans

Simply named after the word for beans in Veneto dialect, Fasioi is a dish that I make almost every week when temperatures begin to drop because it is just that good. Rich, warming, nuanced and delicious, this is a soup that is at once hearty, healthy, and so easy to prepare. The way that these ingredients unite in symphonic flavor in the final dish is evidence of its refinement—even when the few constituents make up little more than a peasant’s fare. Pay attention to the subtleties of the instructions and you’ll master this dish without any difficulty! See the recipe and instructions below. Buon appetito!



  • 2.2 lbs Fresh Borlotti Beans or 500 g dried (soaked overnight)
  • 1 Sprig Rosemary
  • 8 Sprigs Thyme
  • 1 White Onion
  • 4-5 Tbs Olive Oil + a little extra to drizzle when plating
  • Freshly Cracked Pepper to taste
  • Coarse Salt to taste
  • Water


1.  Remove your beans from the sheaths and give them a good rinse, discarding any that are discolored or sticky. If using dried beans rinse them as well.


2.  Cover them with 1 ½ – 2 inches of water and bring them to a boil.


3.  Add your finely diced onion to the pot.


4.  Let the beans boil for five minutes and then reduce to a simmer (low-medium heat) with the lid partially open. Depending on the beans that you’re using, the overall cooking time could range from 1 ½ hours (if fresh Borlotti) or 2 1/2 hours (if dried). The freshness of the dried beans also factors in as well; fresher beans cook more quickly.  Stir about every fifteen to twenty minutes.


5.  Prep your herbs for their infusion in the olive oil—the finer the better.  (I don’t recommend using dried herbs.)


6.  The infusion of rosemary and thyme is to be added just before serving. Heat the oil over low heat for about two minutes in order to extract the flavors and aromas of the fresh herbs.


7.  Coarsely crack or grind your black pepper. (Usually I use basic Tellicherry peppercorns that are available almost everywhere.) These are to be stirred in at the very end of cooking.


8.  After the beans have reached your preferred consistency—I like them with a bit of density so I let them cook longer, although more liquid is fine too—add the salt in small doses until it is to your liking. Keep in mind that beans need to be well-seasoned in order to show off their earthy flavors.


9.  Serve with a drizzle of fresh olive oil—one with a peppery backbone works well in this dish. Pair with a dry, white such as Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, or Pinot Bianco.


Note:  The finished textures of the versions using fresh beans and dried beans are very different.  Because of the naturally higher moisture content of the fresh beans, I would recommend covering them with only an inch and a half of water at the beginning of cooking process.  The final result is usually brothier and highlights whole, tender beans.  About an hour and twenty minutes of cooking should be sufficient for fresh bean version.  An alternative is to puree about half of the beans and reenter them into the soup in order to achieve a richer, silkier mouthfeel.   The soup from dried Borlotti, instead, requires about two and a half hours of slow cooking.  Towards the end the beans begin to break down and sort of create a puree on their own that yields a denser result.  Because of the extended cooking, be sure to cover the beans with two inches of water (or slightly more) before initiating the process.  Don’t be afraid to add some water midway if necessary.  Adjust the cooking time in accordance with the final texture that you’re looking for.

Primavera a Tavola: Paccheri con Piselli e Basilico


The ingredients: fresh peas, fresh basil, Pecorino Romano, olive oil, salt and pepper. That’s it. Simplicity is so satisfying – as with this dish!


Remove the peas from their pods. *(Two pounds of peas will serve four to six people)*

Steam the peas for about three minutes over medium heat – check them occasionally to make sure that you remove them when they are still vibrant green. Place in a ice water bath or run under cold water so to stop further cooking/retain color and texture.

Purée 2/3 of the peas with:

– 2 Tbs shredded Pecorino Romano
– 2 Tbs Olive oil
– 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
– 8 leaves of basil

Boil the pasta – I love Paccheri as a shape for this dish because they catch the peas and purée inside the opening.  Be sure to reserve some of the cooking liquid from the pasta.

Dilute the purée
with three tablespoons of the water in which the pasta is cooked, of course only after some starch has been released into the water.

In a saucepan, (towards the end of the cooking of the pasta) heat a small amount of olive oil and quickly toss the remaining whole peas in the oil.

Strain the pasta into the saucepan with peas – a bit of the starchy water should still remain in the openings of the Paccheri so to help bind the purée to the pasta. Toss the pasta with the peas briefly and then add the purée, mixing until it’s fully combined over medium heat.

At the table, finish the dish with a sprinkling of shaved Pecorino, freshly cracked black pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, and freshly torn basil.

Pair this dish with Tocai Friulano, Verduzzo, or Ribolla Gialla.

Buon pranzo o buona cena!!!