Fresh white truffles from Italy’s Piedmont region are in season this time of the year. Since we can’t go to Italy for them right now, a friend ordered some to enjoy here and Michele offered to cook a menu of Piemontese dishes to go with them. We decided to make a weekend of it.
We arrived at our friend’s home on Saturday afternoon and we could tell immediately that something was wrong. The truffles had not arrived! To console ourselves, Michele made a mushroom risotto. Meanwhile, our friend tracked down his order and made arrangements for it to arrive later that day.
While the risotto cooked, we started with a little antipasto of mortadella chunks, soppressata and pecorino Sardo.
Three kinds of mushrooms went into the pot: cremini, shiitake and dried porcini.
Barbaresco 1979 Giovannini Moresco made from 100% Nebbiolo. Sheldon Wasserman in his book “Italy’s Noble Red Wines” calls this the wine of the vintage. The grapes are harvested late when they are totally ripe and the yields are low because of severe pruning. The Podere del Pajore vineyard is planted in the rose sub-variety of Nebbiolo. After the 1979 vintage, the wines were made by Angelo Gaja according to Moresco’s instructions. A few years later the vineyard was sold to Gaja. Wasserman tasted this wine 14 times in March 1985 — that is how much he liked it. Now 41 years later it is still a great wine, rich, and complex with hints of tobacco, black cherry, truffles, faded roses and so much more. It has a most pleasing aftertaste and a very long finish.
By Sunday morning, the truffles had arrived. It was like Christmas morning but for grownups.
We set the table
For our first course, Michele made Eggs in Coccotte. Eggs baked in a puddle of cream and Parmigiano Reggiano.
Then we shaved the truffles on top. The heat of the eggs released the truffle fragrance. With it, we had two white wines.
Meursault “Les Chevalieres” 2008 Jean-Philippe Fichet made from 100% Chardonnay from a hillside vineyard with east/northeast exposure. The soil is limestone clay with a lot of limestone pebbles. The farming is organic. The grapes are hand harvested. Fermentation with malolactic is in barrel. Batonnage is limited depending on the health of the lees and the nature of the vintage. The wine is aged in barrel (1/6 new for 12 months and 3 to 6 months is tank. This is a fresh refined wine with hints of pear, apple and citrus notes with good minerality and a long finish.
Meursault-Perrieres 1995 Robert Ampeau & Fils made from 100% Chardonnay. Located in the Puligny – Montrachet region of Burgundy covering 10 hectares of vineyards. They harvest by machine and allow other plants to grow between the rows of vines. The wines are not released by the winery until they feel they are ready to drink. The wines are fermented without stalks in cement cuvees and aged in barriques, mostly used, for 10 months. The wine has hints of ripe citrus fruit honey and nuts with mineral notes and good acidity. It went especially well with the eggs and truffles.
For our main course there was fresh fettuccine, tossed with butter and cream and topped with more truffles.
In the dish with the truffles. Simple is best with white truffles and the fettuccine, purchased at Eataly, were the right complement.
Barolo “Brunate” 1974 Marcarini made from 100% Nebbiolo. For many years Elvio Cogno was the winemaker for the Poderi Marcarini in La Morra. His Barolo from the La Serra and Brunate Vineyards were exceptional. In Italy’s Noble Red Wines, Wasserman gives 2- stars to the 1974 vintage and wrote, “… the vintage has not lived up to its expectations, though without question a few splendid wines were made.” When he tasted the Cogno – Marcarini 1974 in 1984, he wrote, “Floral bouquet recalls tobacco and cherry, soft with a tannic vein, a shade astringent but still in all very good.” This was one of the few splendid wines
I had the 1974 eight years ago and this is how I described it: “Typical Nebbiolo aromas and flavors of faded roses, tobacco, licorice mature red fruit and a hint of white truffles and a great finish and aftertaste.” All the aromas and flavors were still there.
After the pasta, there was Insalata Tricolore with arugula, endive and radicchio.
The dessert was from a local bakery.
This was as close to Piedmont as we will get this year, thanks to our friend who supplied the truffles. There was even enough left for a generous shaving on fried eggs the next morning.