Pizza night. Awesome wines.

In Uncategorized on March 30, 2012 at 11:31 pm

First of all, I love pizza. I also love cooking. Both of these things work out perfectly for me, since I live less than half a mile from an awesome pizza place that sells raw dough. That means I can make awesome home-made pizza pretty much any time I want to.

I may gravitate toward wines that work well with pizza because I love the food, or I may love the food because it works so well with the wines I love, the world may never know. But suffice it to say, I consider this evening’s meal another massive success in my continued quest to put food and wine together in a way that makes the end result greater than the sum of its parts.

Our first wine was the Aimé Roquestane Cotes de Provence rosé 2011. If you follow my blog, you know that I am an ardent supporter of the blessed pink juice. This was no exception. It was actually the first pink I tasted from the 2011 harvest, and it is everything I have come to love about the rosé wines from this region. There is a high-toned, lean elegance that I have come to expect from the rosé of Provence that I find fantastically refreshing, and tremendously appealing even when I’m not taking advantage of it to slake my thirst in the high heat of midsummer.

Our next bottle was the 2008 Dolcetto d’Alba from Silvio Grasso. I’ve mentioned this wine before. Jokingly, my compatriot said of this wine “Yeah, it’s all right.” I would love to live in a world where this Dolcetto was simply adequate. If this Dolcetto was simply average, I struggle to think how my brain would process tasting a wine that would, by comparison, be considered outstanding. I chuckle to myself when I think about the fact that Dolcetto was for a long time considered an inferior grape in Piedmont. Ok sure, Dolcetto may not have the potential that Nebbiolo has, but there can be no arguing that Dolcetto can make some absolutely outstanding wine. This one shows a stunning combination of red and black berries, seriously impressive structure, and beautifully balanced acid in the finish.

And then there was the 2008 GD Vajra Langhe Nebbiolo. So, this is a theme I’m sure I’ve worked over before, and certainly will explore again; I believe that winemaking is about the grapes. That’s what terroir means. Any winemaker who so wishes can buy new French oak barrels, can inoculate with the most expensive or popular or fashionable yeast, invest in the ‘best’ vine and root stock, and hire the most expensive consulting winemaker. None of these things will change what the vine brings from the soil up to the grape on the vine. The philosophy behind the winemaking at Vajra is, by all accounts, almost cartoonishly simple; grow grapes, pick grapes, ferment grapes, bottle wine. There is no use of flashy new oak to make the Barolo appeal to the modern wine press. This Langhe Nebbiolo is fermented and aged almost entirely in stainless steel (some Slavonian oak is used in more powerful vintages, though this 2008 shows no sign of oak influence.) Not to be excessively bawdy or controversial, but this wine is an expression of the naked beauty of Nebbiolo, like a beautiful woman with no clothes or makeup. Compare her with an adult film star who, in her own way may be attractive, but she shows all the signs of being heavily manipulated. I prefer this lady in her simple elegance, naked as her name day.


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