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Nebbiolo and quail

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Earlier this week I attended a tasting led by Aldo Vacca, the managing director of the world’s best wine co-op, Produttori del Barbaresco. The focus was on seven of the Produttori’s 2007 Barbarescos, including six single-vineyard bottlings, and I’ll post a detailed report on them soon. Today, though, a heads-up.

A second shipment of the latest vintage of the Produttori’s entry-level wine, the Langhe Nebbiolo, has just hit the SAQ’s shelves. The first shipment sold out in a matter of days; if anything, this will go faster. You’ll find my tasting note below and a recipe for a pitch-perfect pairing – pan-roasted quail with pancetta and sage – after the jump.

Langhe 2010, Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco ($22.00, 11383617)
100% Nebbiolo from young vines (Vacca told me that, though Langhe DOC regulations don’t require it, all the grapes come from the Barbaresco DOC). Fermentation with selected “Barolo” yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel vats. Macerated on the skins for 22 days. Matured six months in very large oak barrels. No fining, light filtering, minimal sulphur dioxide.
Bright, aromatic nose of bitter cherry and spice with hints of earth, minerals, tar, rose and old wood. Medium-bodied. Fluid and silky. The fruit is pure and ripe with a faint underlying bitterness. Fine, lacy tannins and tangy acidity provide structure and balance. Long, softly astringent finish. So charming, so beautiful, so easy to drink. A QPR winner.

Quaglie in Tegame
Pan-roasted Quail with Pancetta and Sage

The book that brought Marcella Hazan and fine Italian food to North America’s attention, The Classic Italian Cookbook, contained a recipe for pan-roasted squab. Not having any nest-bound fledgling pigeons at my disposal – they’re still next to impossible to find in Montreal (tip: inquire at Chinese butcher shops) – I adapted the recipe for quail. Imagine my feeling of validation when “Santa Marcella” did the same thing in her third cookbook, Marcella’s Italian Kitchen. Here’s my version.

Rinse, drain and pat dry 6 fresh quail. Stuff each with a thin slice of pancetta and a fresh or dried sage leaf.

In a Dutch oven or sauté pan with a cover and large enough to hold all six birds, melt 1–2 tablespoons butter in 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat. When the butter foam subsides, slip in the quail and brown on all sides. If you like, add 1 peeled garlic clove toward the end (don’t let it burn).

Sprinkle the quail with salt and pepper. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) dry white wine. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pan, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and braise at a slow simmer for 45 to 50 minutes. Turn the birds one or twice while cooking and, if you see that the pan juices are nearly gone, add a small amount of water.

Transfer the birds to a warm serving platter or plates. Discard the garlic clove. Add 75 ml (1/4 cup) cold water to the pan, raise the heat to high and, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon, reduce to a few syrupy spoonfuls. Drizzle over the quail. Serve immediately.

Three servings.

Polenta – either soft and creamy or set, sliced and grilled – is the classic accompaniment. Whole grains like bulgur are nearly as good. Or sauté Jerusalem artichoke coins in olive oil, finishing them with a shot of finely chopped parsley and garlic. And don’t forget to uncork a Nebbiolo – the finer and older, the better.

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Written by carswell

November 15, 2012 at 18:21

Posted in Recipes, Tasting notes

Tagged with ,

3 Responses

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  1. […] to attend a series of events. One of them was a trade tasting of eight of PdB wines – the 2010 Langhe and seven 2007 Barbarescos, including six single-vineyard wines. I was lucky enough to be offered a […]

  2. […] long finish, where it’s joined by an old wood note. More potent and less charming than the 2010 but every bit as balanced and satisfying. Tasted the next day, the tail end of the bottle was more […]

  3. […] – We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (the 2011) – Tasting with Aldo Vacca – Nebbiolo and quail (the 2010 + recipe) – The Schwartza as miracle fruit (the […]


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