Brett happens

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oenopole workshop: charcuteries + uve italiane (2/3)

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The workshop’s raison d’être was the second flight and its centrepiece, a long board covered with an impressive array of charcuterie made by Ségué Lepage of Le Comptoir charcuteries et vins: buttery pork liver mousse, dried sausages flavoured with fennel seed or cumin, coppa, soppressata, porchetta di testa (slices of a large rolled sausage, the Italian take on headcheese), pâté de campagne, chorizo and a couple I’m forgetting. Accompaniments included cornichons, pickled fennel and Le Comptoir’s irresistible cumin “mustard,” though the quality of the salumi was so high they seemed unnecessary, like gilt for a lily.

Sangiovese di Romagna 2011, Scabi, San Valentino ($18.00, 11019831)
The 28-hectare estate is located just inland from Rimini on Italy’s Adriatic coast. 100% Sangiovese from decade-old vines. Manually harvested, destemmed, macerated at low temperature for eight days then fermented with indigenous yeasts in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks. Half the wine is matured in stainless steel and half in second-fill oak barrels for six months. Sulphur is added only at bottling. 14% ABV.
Dired cherry, spice, background leather, turned earth and terracotta and a kirschy high note. Velevty texture. Fruit forward but not a bomb, thanks in part to the coursing acidity. Dark minerals and just a hint of oak add depth. Fine tannins lend an astringent edge to the finish. The best vintage of this wine to date and a definite QPR winner. (Buy again? Yep.)
> Handled the crazy delicious pork liver mousse better than any other wine in the flight. Ditto the chile-spiced sausages, probably due to its juicy fruit. Still, this food-friendly wine is arguably even better suited to fare like grilled meats and vegetables and savoury, tomato-based pasta dishes (spaghetti with meat ragu or pesto rosso, for example).

Langhe 2011, Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco ($23.10, 11383617)
100% Nebbiolo from young vines, all of which are located within the Barbaresco DOC. Fermented with selected “Barolo” yeasts at 28ºC in stainless steel tanks. Macerated on the skins for 24 days. Matured six months in very large oak barrels. No fining, light filtering, minimal sulphur dioxide. 14.5% ABV according to the label; 13.5% ABV according to the SAQ (I suspect the label is closer to the truth).
Cherry, underbrush, slate, old wood, hints of truffle and kirsch. Smooth and silky, with clean fruit, bright acidity and fine, supple tannins. Underlying minerals give depth. Good length and beautiful balance. As predicted, this has come together in the months since it first appeared on the SAQ’s shelves. Unbeatable QPR. (Buy again? Of course.)
> Best with the very fresh-tasting pâté de campagne and coppa. It also played interestingly with the spice in the cumin saucisson, whose saltiness brought out the wine’s fruit.

Cerasuolo di Vittoria 2010, Classico, Azienda Agricola COS ($33.75, 11577391)
Biodynamically farmed Nero d’Avola (60%) and Frappato (40%) from 25-year-old vines. Temperature-controlled fermentation with indigenous yeasts in concrete vats. Aged in barrels for 18 to 24 months. Bottled unfiltered. 13% ABV.
Beautiful wafting nose: dried cherry and cranberry, garrigue, sun-baked earth, air-dried beef. Medium-bodied with a silky, almost Burgundian texture. The fruit, as savoury as sweet, glows with a soft acidity. Slatey minerals and fine but lightly raspy tannins add texture and interest. Long and, above all, remarkably fresh. (Buy again? Yes, despite the 15% price increase from last year’s 2009.)
> Probably the most versatile wine of the bunch. Didn’t clash with anything, was relatively unfazed by the chile-flavoured sausages but went especially well with the fennel sausage.

Barolo 2009, Serralunga, Principiano Ferdinando ($39.75, 11387301)
Principiano’s entry-level Barolo. 100% Nebbiolo grapes from 3.5 hectares of young vines. The hand-picked, crushed grapes ferment with indigenous yeasts and no added sulfur for about a month. Matured 24 months in 20- and 40-hectolitre barrels and then in bottle. Bottled unfiltered and unfined. Vegan-compatible. Annual production: about 20,000 bottles. 14% ABV.
Cherry, a bit candied (PEZ if you must know), mowed field, old wood, iron dust, hint of vanilla and violet. Medium-bodied. Richly flavoured but fresh, a mouthful of satiny fruit with soft spicy overtones, lacy if drying tannins and sleek acidity. Elegant, complete, a pleasure to drink. A second bottle opened two days later came across as a little less special (bottle variation? different context?) but still attention-worthy. Not a long ager though it won’t suffer – and may well benefit – from a year or two in the cellar. Another QPR winner. (Buy again? Yes.)
> Achieved synergy with the superb prochetta di testa. Surprisingly good with the liver pâté. Handled the cumin and fennel sausages with aplomb though the coppa let more of the wine come through.

Barolo 2008, Fratelli Alessandria ($41.25, 11797094)
100% Nebbiolo from six vineyards. Manually harvested. Fermented and macerated from 12 to 15 days in temperature-controlled tanks. Matured 32 to 34 months in large Slavonian and French oak casks, two months in stainless steel tanks and six or more months in the bottle. 14% ABV.
A nose more tertiary than the Principiano’s: coffee and cherry with hints of chocolate, licorice, raw meat, truffle, fresh herbs, tomato. The richest and roundest of the Nebbiolos though still medium-bodied. Savoury fruit, plush, firm tannins, chugging acidity and a long, vaporous finish. In contrast to the nose, still a bit primary on the palate, though far from inaccessible. (Buy again? Yes.)
> Worked best with the mildly flavoured dried sausages, the porchetta di testa and the cured meats. The chile-spiced sausages brought out the tannins and the liver mousse give it a faintly metallic taste. Would probably be more at home with a rabbit and mushroom ragu served over pappardelle and showered with Parmesan.

The wines’ lively acidity and savoury character meant they all paired well with these fatty, salty foods. For me, the most unexpected aspect of the tasting was seeing how the different Nebbiolos worked – or didn’t – with a given charcuterie, in particular the pork liver mousse. That said, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the higher-end wines were a bit out of place, that, however convincingly, they were slumming a little. A fascinating exercise, then, but one I’d love to repeat with more rustic wines, like certain Barberas, Dolcettos, Pelavergas and Ruchès.

Written by carswell

October 20, 2013 at 15:24

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  1. […] (the 2013 + recipe) – Baby Barbaresco (the 2012) – Striking gold at Orange Rouge (the 2012) – Charcuteries + uve italiane (the 2011) – We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming (the 2011) – Tasting with Aldo […]

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