Friday, September 4, 2015

Expressing One's Inner-Italian

An old card I kept on my fridge went "I always cook with wine - sometimes I even put it in the food." 

Tonight wasn't such an occasion. It was an evening of peeling, dicing, crushing, saucing and canning 40 pounds of tomatoes. No wine was added to the actual tomato sauce - however, the cooks certainly took regular breaks for a sip from the glass.

Naturally, given we were cooking tomatoes, we endeavoured to tap into our inner-Italian - although truth be told, neither Boo, nor I, have any Italian blood coursing through our veins. Given that, I figured the occasion at least called for an Italian wine.

A second consideration in the wine choice - and for those who have been following the last so many posts you'll already know - was to pick a wine from the cellar that would, hopefully, be worthy of being one of the final wines to be added to The List on this Odyssey.

1996.  2003 La Spinetta - Vürsù Vigneto Valeirano (Barbaresco DOCG - Piedmont - Italy)

With thousands of Italian wineries to discover, we were fortunate to be pointed in La Spinetta's direction by the good folk at Marquis Wine Cellars.  Back in '08, Boo and I had planned an Italian vacation as a second honeymoon and we'd been tipped off that most wineries in Italy require appointments before you can visit and taste. La Spinetta was on the Marquis "Don't Miss" list. We took them at their word and weren't disappointed.

Naturally, having become fans of La Spinetta and their modern, premium approach to winemaking, we no longer see any of their wines on local shelves. Luckily, we still had a bottle tucked away in the cellar.

The Spinetta estate was only established in 1977 - a relative baby by Italian standards - and it climbed to "superstar" status with its introduction of state-of-the-art machinery and attention to production detail. The winery initially produced only a Moscato. It started adding reds in the 80's with the introduction of a Barbera and then upped the ante with a formerly unheard of Barbera/Nebbiolo blend. The mid-90's saw the inaugural production of Barbaresco and that brings us to tonight's bottle. Valeirano is one of three single vineyard Barbarescos that La Spinetta currently produces and they are definite stars in the portfolio.

I'll simply say that this was one heckuva wine to cook with - at least for the cooks. While  I'm sure it would have imparted a grandness had we added some to a batch of the tomatoes, there was no way we were putting this rich baby into the sauce. With an intensity of body and integrated tannins, the winery's Spec Page says that 2003 vintage can likely be aged up to 30 years. We obviously didn't wait that long but I think the decade we gave the bottle was sufficient time to harmonize the big flavours.

Down the road, I may not be blogging all our bottles to the same extent. I think, however, that I may have to put fingers to keys should I run across some more Spinetta wines. You know I'll be keeping an eye open for them.

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