Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wine of the Week

Every semester I take my students to visit a winery so that they can see how much work actually goes into making one. One of the truest quotes I have ever heard is that once you go to a winery you understand why wine can be so expensive, in fact you wonder how it could ever be cheap. The winery I have been taking my "kids" to for the past couple of years has been Vini Pallavicini in Colonna, in the Frascati DOC zone. They also have vineyards in Cerveteri and they make a wide variety of varietal and blended wines, both DOC and IGT. And they do so at amazingly cheap prices, at least at the winery. Everytime I go I stock up, in the winter on their Bordeaux blend Casa Romana or the lovely sangiovese-based Moroello or their Amarone-style Amarasco. In the summer I fill up on their refreshing Frascati, whether their base or their higher-end Poggio Verde, or their 1670. This week's wine of the week is the latter, named after the year the winery was founded. A blend of 70% Malvasia Puntinata (the local, highly-prized version) and 30% semillion, the wine spends 10-12 months in large oak barrels on its lees, and another two months in the bottle before it is released. The result is a lovely, creamy yet still refreshing wine, with notes of tropical fruit, toasted hazelnut, and honey. The large barrels mean that the wine is never overwhelmed by the flavor of the oak, and careful vineyard and cellar management means the wine retains its acidity. It is wonderful with vegetable appetizers and crustaceans, lighter first courses as well as fish. I recently paired it with penne al salmone, and the creaminess of the dish was perfectly matched by the wine. While the wines are well-prices in restaurants around Rome, they can be a bit difficult to find in shops. The next time you're out in the Castelli, Pallavicini is well-worth a detour to stock up for the summer. At the winery nothing is priced higher than 15 euros, and on a sale I recently picked up a half-case of Frascati for 10 euros! Just the thing for impromptu barbecues on hot summer nights.

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