The invitation to a luncheon and tasting at Del Posto was particularly timely since the restaurant had just been awarded 4 stars from the New York Times, and reservations were likely to be hard to come by. Besides, the event was sponsored by the Vignaioli Piemontesi Association and it would be an opportunity to sample the wines of nine of the organization’s members who were in New York to launch their first non-European marketing campaign to promote the region of Piemonte and its wines.
Gianluigi Biestro, director of the Vignaioli Piemontesi Association spoke about the Project, stating that the project would be linked more to the individual grape varieties than to geographical differences. He pointed out that Piemonte is known for its great red wines and the grapes that produce those wines: Nebbiolo, Barbara and Dolcetto. For the people of Piemonte, the first job of a wine is to be red, he said, and right up to the 1970’s red grapes counted for 90% of the production. Back then, white sweet and sparkling Moscato di Asti and Asti Spumante (the most-sold Italian DOC in the world) out-produced dry white wine 9 to 1. He went on to say that tastes change, but I think he was talking about the changing taste of the world market. He indicated that 35% of the total production in Piemonte is now white wine to conform to that market.
Part of the main objective of the project is the concept of “drinking in the Piemontese way”, meaning matching wine to any type of food. The Piemontese have a wine to go with everything.
It is always more interesting for me not to just taste wine, but to drink it with food. For me, the true test of a wine is how well it pairs with food. I was pleased to see that all of the wines at the tasting would be served with lunch.
We sat a table with other journalists, wine buyers, and restaurant owners and there was a lively discussion about the wine and food.
The Antipasto– Lidia’s Lobster Salad all Catalana with Tomato and Celery
This was paired with the Alta Langhe Spumante NV from Fontanafredda. I have always been a believer in lobster with sparkling wine. Especially those like this one made by the Classical Method. It is 80% Pinot Nero and 20 % Chardonnay. Dry with good bubbles and subtle fruit it was a good complement to the lobster. The second wine with this course was a Barbera d’Alba Superiore 2005 from Cantina di Govone Made from 100% Barbera. Barbera is a red grape but it can be paired with fish because it has good acidity. It goes best with tuna and swordfish but does not work well with shellfish because the “meat” is too delicate. This Barbara had undertones of oak which really overwhelmed the lobster. This wine would have gone much better with the next course.
Primo– Del Posto Agnolotti dal Plin with Ramp Butter. This dish was paired with the Dolcetto di Dogliani 2009 and the Dogliani “Il Clou” 2008 both from Clavesana. Both are made from 100% Dolcetto and there are many who believe that the best Dolcetto comes from the Dogliani area. Both wines were typical of traditional Dolcetto with ripe red fruit and hints of cherry. They went very well with the Agnolotti bringing out the flavors of the dish.
Secondo– New York Strip Steak with Fried Potatoes, Arugula & Tomato Raisins.
Barbaresco 2004 100% Nebbiolo Pertinace. This is a very well made traditional wine. Fermentation is on the skins for at least 15 days. Following the malolatic fermentation and a brief stay in stainless steel, the wine is aged in Slovenian oak for at least one year. 2004 was a great vintage in Barbaresco. This is a complex wine with good fruit, spice and tannin and will age for a very long time.
Barbaresco La Casa in Collina 2004 100% Nebbiolo Terre Da Vino Fermentation on the skins for 20 days and then aged in grande botti – large oak barrels for about one year and 10 months in bottle before it is released.
Barolo Paesi Tuoi 2005 100% Nebbiolo Fermentation on the skins for 20-25 days, 2 years in grandi botti and one year in bottle, but the wine is not released until after 4 years. This is a wine that will age for a very long time.
Barolo Serralunga100% Nebbiolo Fontanafredda Fermentation takes place is stainless steel tanks for 15 days. It is aged one year in Allier oak barriques and one year in Allier oak casks and 8-10 months in bottle before release. This is a dry full bodied wine with hints of spice and roses and an undertone of vanilla.
I enjoyed all four of the wines with the steak. Both Barbaresco and Barolo are very tannic and need at least 10 years before they are ready to drink. Because of this they showed much better with the food than they did on their own.
Dolce Tartufo al Caffe- Dark Chocolate, Sant’Eustachio Coffee & Cinnamon Croutons
Moncucco Moscato d’Asti 2009 100% Moscato Bianco Fontanafredda Fermented in temperature controlled pressure tanks and aged in stainless tanks for 6 months followed by pressure storage tanks where it waits to be bottled. The alcohol is only 5.5 % which makes it a perfect dessert wine. There were aromas of pear, peach, honey with hints of orange blossoms and it was the perfect wine for the chocolate dessert.
For more on the food at Del Posto www.michelescicolone.com
. These wines were featured last week at Eataly, the new Italian market and restaurant complex located at 5th Avenue and 23rd Street.
I am often asked which is my favorite region of Italy. This is a very difficult question since they are all so different and I love the wine and food from every region. However if I had to chose one that had the best wine and food it would be Piemonte. I will have a full report on the wine and food of Piemonte when I return from my trip in the middle of November.