The region of Piemonte in northwest Italy is the home to Barolo and Barbaresco, two of Italy’s most prestigious red wines and is also the home to one of the world’s finest truffles. No other region provides similar characteristics for red wines or truffles. I often ask myself what makes the soil so special and where does that intriguing pungency and savoriness come from? While the Nebbiolo grape variety produces red wine royalty, there are other indigenous grapes which can produce something unique and special too. Perhaps not as grand, but certainly still worth experiencing. We asked VINO Chef Keith Endo to create Piemontese inspired foods to work with some of our most unique and interesting red Piemontese “country” wines. Each is from small, family owned estates, who produce classically styled wines in homage to what their forefathers produced. Wines like this are getting harder and harder to come by.
WINE: Cantine Valpane “Rosa Ruske”—Cantine Valpane was founded in 1899. The estate is located in a more remote niche of Monferrato where untamed forest and fields play a imporatnt role is producing a very unique set of wines. The Rosa Ruske bottling is their most unique red , one produced from the nearly forgotten ruché grape variety. (Today, I am told it is the moscatellina grape variety). In either case, this wildly rustic, very aromatic red wine combines the pungent, savory core of what Piemonte is about with floral/wild rose aromatics of the ruché grape variety.
Homemade Tajarin Pasta—braised oxtail, grilled Ali’i mushrooms, Swiss chard & mudica bread crumbs
WINE: Tenuta La Pergola “Il Goccetto”—“The little nip” is a country-styled Piemontese red, meant for immediate consumption with regional foods. This family has been producing their own estate wines since 1903. In this particular vintage, “Il Goccetto” is 100% Brachetto, a grape variety rarely produced on its own as a stand alone red wine. We absolutely love its wild, exotic fragrance of rose petals and wild strawberries, with a pungent, musk scented, savory core. These aromatic red wines create such a different dynamic with foods like this.
Risotto alla Piemontese—carnaroli rice , grilled baby portabella mushrooms, red wine & truffle
WINE: Cantine Valpane Barbera del Monferrato “Rosso Pietro”—We are continually amazed with each taste of this wine as we don’t run into old style Barbera like this stylistically too often. It might be because in many cases, Barbera is more often grown where and when Nebbiolo cannot ripen to perfection, kind of like an after thought. Valpane produces meaty, masculine, musk scented, savory Barbera, which still has very lively, stony fruit in a delicious, provocative style. What a real treat!
Red Wine Braised Veal Cheeks—creamy polenta, roasted root vegetables & espelette pepper
WINE: Filippo Gallino “Birbet”—Where the top Piemontese red wines have a strongly pungent, savory, musk scented core at its best, this 100% Bracchetto produced in the Roero region innately offers a slightly sparkling red wine, which is instead so remarkably light, fruity, ethereal & wonderfully refreshing & delicious. Having this wine at the end of meal is like having a sorbet to finish–completely upbeat & uplifting.
Meringata—hazelnut meringue, warm caramel sauce, macerated fruits, whipped cream and chocolate gelato