I think pizza is the perfect food and pizza margarita is my perfect pizza. When I go to Kesté Pizza and Vino with friends, I always order a margarita first and then a margarita with prosciutto and arugula, followed by one with salsiccia, etc. I like to drink champagne and old red wine with pizza. Good Neapolitan pizza deserves good wine.
Our group, the G6, meets once a month to eat pizza and drink good wine. One of our members Ed McCarthy, author of Champagne for Dummies always brings champagne, and the rest of us bring red, but sometimes a white sneaks in. Here are four wines — two champagnes and two older reds that went very well with the pizza.
Champagne Blanc de Noirs “IL Florescence” 2009 100% Pinot Noir Cedric Bouchard. This is a single vineyard, single vintage terroir-driven-grower champagne with zero dosage. This champagne has only 4.5 atmospheres of pressure and only 19 to 20 grams of sugar was added. This was the way it was done before crown capsules came into use. Today, because of crown capsules, almost all champagnes have 24 grams of sugar added to the bottle during the second fermentation creating 6 atmospheres of pressure.
Because it has zero dosage and less added sugar, it is one of the driest champagnes that I have ever tasted. The small bubbles exploded in the glass and the wine had a ripe green apple character with good acidity. It was one of the youngest champagnes that I have had. I was very impressed with it and it went very well with the mozzarella (Roberto, the pizzaiolo at Kesté, makes it by hand) and tomatoes as well as the pizza.
Champagne Grand Blanc Brut 1988 100% Chardonnay Philipponnet. Only the best Chardonnay grapes are used from the first cru and the grand cru of the Cotes des Blancs and the Montagne de Reims, including some from the Clos de Goisses. The wine is released five years after the harvest. The wine had a creamy and yeasty texture with hints of white fruit. It was very different from the first Champagne. We drank this with a “lemon pizza” smoked provola and lemon. This pizza brought out the acidity in the wine and made it taste fresher and younger.
Montepulciano D’Abruzzo 1977 100% Montepulciano D’Abruzzo Emidio Pepe. The winery is organic and biodynamic and is a member of the AAA association of producers which sets the highest standards for its members for this type of farming and production. The soil is medium clay and the traditional Pergola system is used to train the vines. The grape bunches are harvested by hand. The “de rasping”(crushing) of the grapes is done in wooden tubs through a special net that is placed on top. It is a natural fermentation due to the presence of unique natural native yeast. The wine is then placed by bucket into small cement tanks, which because of their thickness, maintain a consistent temperature and protect the wine from outside disturbances. The wine is aged in cement tanks for two years. The wine is bottled by hand. Rosa Pepe pours the wine from one bottle to another, eliminating the natural sediment. Emidio Pepe feels that filtering takes away a lot of very important elements from the wine. Natural decanting leaves untouched all the personality and balance needed in the wine. The labels are put on by hand. I believe the current vintage for sale in 2002. This is a great wine and for me one of the best Italian red wines. It was not showing its age and it had flavors and aromas of cherry, leather and tar. (Look up Emidio Pepe on the net and see the video of “grape gathering.” It is very interesting.)
Barolo “Marcenasco” 1970 100% Nebbiolo, Antiche Cantine della Abbazia dell’Annunziata Renato Ratti. 1970 was a very good year in Barolo but it was overshadowed by the 1971 vintage. Ratti was one of the first in Barolo to produce a “cru” and shorten the period of skin contact and time the wine remained in wood. I believe this wine was aged for two years in wood. It was showing its age when we first opened it but then began to develop in the glass and went very well with the pizza. It had aromas and flavors of mushrooms, tar, tobacco and herbs.