December 2013 Wine Club Selections
This month’s wines
Through the month of December, we will all most likely sit down to a few special meals with friends and family. With so much great food featured in the next few weeks, our December wine club features wines that are at their best when paired with food. To do this, we look towards Italy, where the wines shine brightest when paired with a delicious meal!
Silvio Grasso Nebbiolo d’ Alba 2009 (Piedmont)
Piedmont has a long history of some of the very finest wines in Italy– Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera (even Moscato d’Asti) are all made here. Nebbiolo is the star grape of the region, used to make the legendary reds Barolo and Barbaresco in addition to the wine you have here- Nebbiolo d’ Alba. It is produced in the Langhe foothils, just like muscular Barolo and Barbaresco, but it is a bit leaner and toned down, making it a great everyday version of its cousins and a good reference point in our experience of Italian wines.
The Grasso family has been producing wine since 1927, but Federico Grasso only started bottling in 1980, and according to Robert Parker has “produced a bevy of sensational efforts over recent vintages”.
Recommended food pairings:
Rich lamb and beef dishes, stews, any mushrooms or root vegetables, veal
Cheese Pairing: P’tit Basque
P’tit Basque is a 100% sheep’s milk cheese that is produced in France’s Basque region in the PyreneesMountains, on the country’s border with Spain. Aged for a minimum of 70 days, it uses techniques that area shepherds established hundreds of years ago. The design on the rind will look familiar to Manchego lovers, which has a similar basket-weave mold to this cheese. However, the cheese inside is certainly different- P’tit Basque is much less assertive and creamy with a sweet and nutty finish.
Ciacci Piccolomini d’Aragona 2010 (Tuscany)
For our second red wine, we bring you a wine that might just be the best value in our Italian section! So what is a “Super Tuscan?” Well, most Tuscan wines such as Chianti are primarily (or completely) made from the sangiovese grape. Most (but not all) Super Tuscans include some French varietals in the blend. This is a break from Italian winemaking tradition, but it’s a trend that’s certainly here to stay. This particular wine is made primarily from the sangiovese clone used for brunello (85%), with the rest of the blend comprising cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and syrah.
Where this wine stands out from others of its kind is just how smooth-drinking it is. Sweet cherry, red plum, flowers, leather, and a hint of dusty earth are present. While some Super Tuscans, particularly at this price point, can be prickly, this one is ripe, rich, and full of fruity flavors with a bit of vanilla and herbs in the background.
Foie gras, pates, portabella mushrooms, braised beef, veal, grilled pork with herbs, osso buco
We brought Taleggio back to Old World Market especially for this pairing. Its shorter shelf life and robust flavors make it a challenge to stock consistently, but the creation of our Wine and Cheese Club allows us to bring cheeses like this to you. Cheese guru Steven Jenkins calls Taleggio “the most refined and sophisticated of all Italian cheeses.” It’s a great accompaniment to big Italian reds of various regions. Taleggio is a cow’s milk cheese with a washed rind.
White: Cantina del Taburno Falanghina 2012 (Campania)
Like Nebbiolo in Piedmont, Falanghina is an aromatic varietal that only flourishes in Campania, near Naples, and the wine is not commonly found in the U.S. It is thought to have been a major component of Falernum, a wine well-regarded in Roman times. Fuller bodied like a chardonnay, and a bit honeyed like viognier, this is unlike many of the lighter textured Italian whites you might know. However, it still maintains a “perky” acidity. In the words of the wine maker, it is “a vivid, luscious wine whose soaring aromas make it difficult to stop sniffing long enough to take a drink, but the depth of flavor is more than enough reward for that cavalier move.”
Cantina del Taburno is a cooperative of grape growers. However, unlike many cooperatives who take all of their members’ grapes regardless of quality, Cantina takes only high-quality grapes, resulting in stellar wines created from a cooperative of dedicated growers with small vineyards.
Fish, shellfish, pasta with pesto sauces or light tomato sauce
Cheese Pairing: Bucheron
With the versatile Falanghina, we give you a cheese that’s two cheeses in one- Bucheron! This French goat cheese is unusual in that it ages from the outside in. You can see the soft aged paste ringing the outer edge, with fresh crumbly chevre in the middle. This is a long-time staple of our cheese case, but one that bears tasting anew with the Falanghina. Notice how the different parts of the cheese highlight different elements of the wine. The creamy outer portion accentuates the luscious side, and the tangy center plays well with the wine’s acidity and brightness.