What Grows Together
What grows together goes together. I love this philosophy. I try to live by it. I’m not saying you can’t, or shouldn’t, stray from it, but there’s something to be said for the classic regional pairings in which both wine and food are produced in the same locale. Sancerre with the tart, creamy local goat cheese Crottin de Chavignol, the structured reds of Pauillac along with the regional lamb, and Chianti Classico paired with the massive, three finger thick Bistecca alla Fiorentina are just a few ethereal examples that, when consumed together, intermingle in a dance which heightens the flavors, textures, and intricacies of both parties.
Another such classic pairing I’ve been longing to bring together is the infamous Alba White Truffle and Barolo. These pungent wild tubers grow at the base of hardwood trees and only have a short season from autumn to early winter, so it’s now or never. They must be hunted and foraged, and due to their elusiveness and rarity, often demand a high price. And although they can be found elsewhere in Italy, Piemonte is the most famous place to find these perfumed fungi, so pairing a wine from this region is key.
At the advice of my truffle purveyor and source of all artisanal Italian products, Un Posto Italiano, I decided to make fresh pasta, rolled slightly thinner than usual, as to add to the delicacy of the dish. Once cooked, the pasta is dressed simply, with only the best quality butter available, grated Parmigiano Reggiano, and thin slices of the truffle shaved with a truffle razor. “The more the better,” she advised, and who am I to argue?
It’s important to remember that when cooking something so basic and reliant solely on the ingredients, skimping or going cheap isn’t an option. For flour, Petra 7220 fresh pasta flour is a must. 100 grams to one egg is the standard - mixed together, kneaded, then rested, before rolling and hand-cutting strips of tagliatelle.
For the butter, I decided to make myself as well. If you’ve ever over-whipped cream, you already know how to create butter at home. Once the fats join together and separate from the buttermilk, you can drain it off before rinsing your fresh butter several times with ice water until the liquid runs clear. Keep your buttermilk for future biscuit or pancake making.
For the Parmigiano, it’s imperative that it is DOP, or Denominazione di Origine Protetta, the real deal, 24 months or older. No cutting corners, no saving a buck, not when ingredients are of the utmost importance.
Now, with everything in order, the final duty is choosing a wine with the heart and gusto, along with ties as deeply rooted to Piemonte as the Alba truffle, to rise to the challenge of the pairing. Luckily, the 2015 Cordero di Montezemolo “Enrico VI” Barolo is just that contender.
Since 1340, 19 generations have managed the family farmstead of Monfalletto in the commune of La Morra in Northwestern Italy. In 1918 members of the Cordero di Montezemolo family married with the Faletti family, proprietors of the Monfalletto estate, and continued the tradition of winemaking. But their history in the region goes beyond mere dates, as the current winemaker, Alberto Cordero di Montezemolo’s, grandfather was responsible for delineating the entire cru system of Barolo. The estate is comprised of 28 hectares of the original single-body vineyard, along with additional acquisitions over the years, including a small 2.2 hectare offshoot in the Villaro cru, obtained in 1965. This small parcel is unique in it’s make up of calcareous, compact clay soils, along with older vines, and 300 meter altitude. These are the vines that provided the grapes for the Enrico VI cuvée, the now flagship wine of the estate.
Following the harvest in mid-October, the grapes were crushed and macerated for 6-10 days in stainless steel tank, followed by 10-12 days of fermentation. The wine was then transferred to small French oak barrels for 20 months of élevage before bottling.
An infant by Barolo standards, the 2015 Enrico VI is a glistening medium garnet in the glass with soft brick hues at the rim. Notes of ripe, red cherry, tobacco, savory herbs, dried mushroom, and earth seductively swirl in the glass, as a medium-plus body, chewy tannins, and a long, lingering finish caress the palate. Paired with the fresh tagliatelle and paper-thin shavings of truffle, food and wine converge, forging an undeniably delicious, textured, and sumptuous marriage, leaving neverending intoxicating truffle aromas rolling around in your mouth - proving once again, what grows together goes together. And although both truffles and Barolo bear hefty prices, we could all stand to treat ourselves this holiday season. Afterall, it’s been a rough one, and even if food and wine can’t cure all of our problems, they can definitely help. Cheers!