Food, Wine & Friends Page 274 Piemontese Dinner
Having just returned less than two weeks earlier from a
whirlwind visit to Italy's Piemonte, Connie and Mark were wanting to extend
their vacation by inviting some people to have some Piemontese-styled foods.
On a warm summer Sunday in February (hey, California weather is atypical, much
like the people who populate the San Francisco Bay Area), we gathered for a nice
The table was set and we waited for everyone to arrive.
Monica, who spent the 2014 harvest season in Piemonte at the
fantabulous Oddero winery, was eager to join the party.
She brought a Mystery Wine and asked everyone to guess its identity...
It was a bit like a Dolcetto, nicely fruity...good, youthful red color...berry
aromas...No oak. I suggested it was a wine from the Iberian
Peninsula. Connie guessed it as a Garnacha from Spain...
We were, at least, heading in the right direction...
It's a red wine known as Rufete in Spain and Tinta Pinheira in Portugal.
Very charming wine!
From there we shifted gears in Piemonte Mode.
The Montezemolo Brut is a blend of Chardonnay (95%) and Pinot Noir (5%) from the
It was a perfectly serviceable bottle of bubbly, but it won't make anyone forget
good sparkling wines from Champagne.
We assembled a little plate of roasted peppers and Bagna Cauda sauce...
And we had these tasty little crostini...
We opened a bottle of Gavi from La Scolca.
Perfectly nice, well-made, simple, dry and crisp. It's not a wine with an
especially distinctive character to it, but it paired nicely with the Peppers
I used a splash of it to start the risotto we were preparing.
Monica then opened two vintages of Luciano Sandrone's Valmaggiore Nebbiolo
d'Alba, the 2011 and 2012.
We then served a Risotto ai Funghi, topped with a shaved truffle that Connie and
Mark brought back from their visit in Alba, Italy.
Portabellas, Crimini and Porcini were in the sautÚ pan and thin shavings of Tartufo
Bianco were adding a lovely earthy quality to the risotto.
We first paired the Risotto with two vintages of Luciano Sandrone's "Valmaggiore"
Nebbiolo d'Alba. The Valmaggiore site is located in the Roero area, north
Soils are sandy...temperatures are typically warmer than in Barolo...the growing
season, as well, typically begins a week or two before Barolo. The site is
rather steep and all vineyard work is done by hand.
It took the Sandrone family a number of years to be able able to purchase the
various little parcels which comprise their Valmaggiore vineyard (Bruno Giacosa
also makes wine from Valmaggiore).
The two vintages were, as you'd expect, well-made. Both wines are similar,
though the growing seasons were quite different.
I thought the 2011 was slightly more interesting and a shade deeper.
These were quite approachable now and with light tannins, a far cry from many a
young Barolo. They each displayed nice red fruit notes and though aged in
oak, the wood is not detectable in these wines...
Connie pulled out a bottle of Cantina del Pino's 2013 Nebbiolo Langhe which
comes from vineyards within the Barbaresco appellation. This was a
delightful wine, medium bodied and showing a bit more grip on the palate, though
not unbalanced. It was quite good.
Monica then took care of opening another pair of reds...
...some Piemontese Barbera wines.
We had a nice plate of "Tajarin," a sort of tagliatelle pasta with a
The 2009 Coppo "Pomorosso" Barbera d'Asti was exceptional...seriously
Nicely oaked, beautifully balanced...some dark fruit and a touch of a cedary
tone from the wood aging.
Vietti's 2010 Barbera d'Asti is from their La Crena vineyard site.
It was a medium-full bodied red with a measure of charm, as well. It's a
shade less complex than the Coppo, but it was a delicious wine, as well.
Mark knows a grate thing when he sees it.
Connie then opened another bottle of wine from Cantina Del Pino...
Renato Vacca's Barbera was quite good, but a more 'typical' style not having all
the lavish oak treatment of the Coppo and Vietti wines.
It's a really good glass of wine and was quite enjoyable with the pasta.
We then had some Barolo to open, so Monica got busy.
Decanting the 1999 Barolo.
Connie decanted the other bottle...a 2003 vintage...
While all that wine was gurgling into the decanters, Mark
brought out the roasted leg of lamb and posed "a la Bob Gorman."
It was roasted beautifully!
The two Barolos were very fine, but still rather young!
They were the 1999 vintage and 2003 vintage of E.Pira (Chiara
Boschis) "Cannubi," one of the top sites in Barolo.
We've been a fan of this winery and it's remarkable Cannubi bottling. The
1999 was still young and can probably last another 20 years! It was
showing nice red fruit notes and a touch of a spice note. The tannin
seemed balanced (or maybe it was the pairing with the lamb?) and fairly firm.
The 2003 comes from a really hot growing season, a challenge for
winemakers. Our experience with this vintage has been that it started out
fairly open and approachable. Bottles opened this past year, or so, seem
to be a bit tighter and closed in. This bottle was showing well and you
would not know it came from a year of extreme heat.
The wine remains elegant and still blossoming. It seemed to open a bit
with time in the glass, but it's a fairly firm, muscular Nebbiolo.
After their days in Piemonte, Connie and Mark were smitten by much of the
For dessert they prepared a stellar example of a Piemontese "Bunet," a
sort of chocolate pudding.
Damn! They really nailed this, too. Tasted just like Piemonte!
Before diving into the Bunet, Mark opened and poured Vajra's excellent Moscato
This is nicely sweet, but a bit less sweet (it seems to us) than many Moscato
We enjoyed the fizzy, fruity and palate-cleansing 'bite' of the Vajra wine.
Our Host, Chewie.
Mark pouring a sweetie for his Sweetie.
We had been sent a wonderful slab of Piemontese Torrone by
some dear friends in Barolo. Connie and Mark had dined in a place where
they pass around a "brick" of Torrone and a hammer and chisel and
diners help themselves to this nougat at dessert time.
Mark found a mallet and chisel...
The hazelnut biscotti came from a bakery close to the apartment where Connie and
Mark had stayed in La Morra...Delicious!
We also had a bag of these dangerous Albesi cookies...
Ralph was pondering the Raider's possible move to Carson in Southern California,
while Monica had her priorities set straight!
Chewie then bid everyone a fond "Buona Notte" as we
finished a nice evening of Vittles & Vino.
Many thanks to Connie and Mark for hosting!
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