Posted by: tomciocco | May 25, 2010


Last night, my friend Billy came over for what is likely a sort of last supper…before he leaves on a coast to coast bike trip early next month (New Jersey to Oregon). So I whipped up, or perhaps more accurately, whipped together  a pasta first course – an amalgamation of a classic Piedmontese appetizer – braised red, yellow, and green,  bell peppers, with garlic, anchovies, capers, oregano, and a splash of cream, and a box of fettuccine. Though this dish (the peppers alone served as an appetizer, usually among several others, by the way) is as Piedmontese as Camillo Cavour, though it seems, except perhaps for the cream, like a dish from the sparkling, sunny, coastal south than from an often grey, humid, and landlocked region in the north, but that’s the way it is…

I fudged out an herbed organic beef  meatloaf with the hardboiled eggs and the carrots running though the center and braised some leeks in red wine and little broth to drop next to it. With the pasta I served an Arneis.  A once nearly extinct local variety, Arneis, whose name roughly translates to “fussy” or “finicky” in Piedmontese dialect, was revived in the mid 1960s, and has gained a nice foothold in the crowded grape-scape that is Piedmont. Aside from  it being difficult to cultivate, its delicacy and great charm is often overwhelmed by a tendency to be too alcoholic, as well as being a hair shy in the acidity department, sometimes leading to clumsy, flabby wines. Not here though…

Since we were seated for a special occasion, I pulled a bottle from the deep stash – a 1996 single vineyard Barbaresco. ’96 was  a “classical” vintage with a certain lean and mean austerity that has allowed them to age very well. And though its `round the corner cousin Barolo gets most of the accolades, for my ducats, Barbaresco is the more versatile drink and the better value. Notes below…

Marco Porello Roero Arneis 2008

Bright and shiny “banana yellow”/gold color. Lightly aromatic nose of yellow fruit, hazelnut, cream, and ginger. The wine is quite full-bodied (without any oaking) and intense with lemon zest notes, golden plum flavors, and a discreet but solid acidity. Long clean finish.


Musso Barbaresco “Pora” 1996

Lightly cloudy brick-garnet color. Beautifully layered aromas of roasted chestnuts, horse manure, chocolate milk, Graham cracker, and mixed dried fruit notes. In the mouth, the wine is medium-bodied with glass-smooth tannins and clear flavors of cherry, strawberry, black licorice, and just a hint of allspice. The vintage’s “austere” character shows in a very appealing savory – almost salty – and tart finish. Classic olde schoole Barbaresco.


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