Posted on | November 26, 2014 | Written by David Bertot | No Comments
A whole hog roast is out of the question in my downtown Manhattan apartment, so I am cooking a pterodactyl -sized turkey from a small farm in Vermont. When cooking a turkey from a special farm like Stonewood in Vermont, the turkey should be the star of the show, and that’s why I limit seasoning a generous rub of salt and pepper. Season at least 24 hours before roasting, so the skin will dry up and get crispy.
Thanks to some knowhow from one of our in-house chefs, Victor Garza, I was able to break down this colossal 20-pound-plus bird into neat, main pieces of white and dark meat. I highly recommend cutting up large turkeys pre-roast. This enables the cook to pull out the white meat at a prime 140 degrees and the dark meat at a prime 160, yielding perfect, juicy, tender, crowd-pleasing turkey. There is nothing worse than chewy, dry turkey; this technique produces the exact opposite. Always remember to let the meat rest 30 minutes in aluminum foil. In this resting process, the temperature will steadily increase 5-10 degrees before cooling, and it’ll help the meat “set” before carving and serving.
Young, lighter, entry-level wines from great producers work seamlessly with Thanksgiving food. This provides guests the opportunity to be introduced some new styles and enjoy juicy, ripe wines, usually with nice acidity. I thoroughly enjoy the Bodega Chacra Merlot Manque 2009. The clean, pure characteristics from this wine clean the palate in between bites. The Antinori Cervaro della Sala Chardonnay 2011 is a gorgeous, round Italian Chardonnay that will go very well with the lean turkey, as well as stand up to the often heavy sides. With cured meats and cheeses pre-dinner, I enjoy the Graci Etna Rosso 2012, and if some leftover for dinner, well, that will also work.
Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to you and to yours. May your turkey ever be juicy and your wine always delicious!
The Thanksgiving holiday is full on with the mad dash home. With a nor’easter moving into the greater New York area and Thanksgiving travel chaos up and down the East Coast, I suggest you let your mind wander into the positive and imagine sipping into a special glass of Italian red. My Thanksgiving holiday picks come from one of my favorite estates in all of Tuscany: Col d’Orcia: Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2008 and Col D’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Poggio al Vento Riserva 2004. Col d’Orcia delivers Brunello di Montalcino with power and finesse, and the estate does it while invoking Montalcino terroir at a price/quality ratio. Col d’Orcia transposes Sangiovese Grosso into a work of liquid art.
Col d’Orcia is one Montalcino’s most historic estates, with winemaking dating back to the 1890s. The Cinzano family of Piemonte purchased the property in the 1970s, and the estate’s Poggio al Vento became one of the star cru Brunello Riservas of the region. In 2010 the whole estate—including the vineyards and olive groves—became officially certified organic, which makes Col d’Orcia the largest organic wine-producing estate in all of Tuscany.
The Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino 2008 is a direct translation of the estate’s traditional methods of production. The grapes are sourced from their south-southwest facing vineyards on a hill overlooking the Orica River at 1,000 feet above sea level. Col d’Orcia uses large Slovenian oak barrels to age the wine for three years before the wine goes into bottle. Once in bottle, the wine ages in the cellar for at least one year before release. A glowing dark ruby red, this wine has wonderful aromas of cherries, plums, and raspberries with lovely notes of spice. The powerful and finessed palate reveals telltale Col d’Orcia Brunello silky tannins; a wine with complexity and concentration, it’s loaded with fresh ripe red fruits with a long structured finish.
Only made in exceptional years from the vineyards Sant’Angelo in Colle, which has a special limestone albarese soil, the estate’s Riserva is a beautiful thing. This lovely Col d’Orcia Brunello di Montalcino Poggio al Vento Riserva 2004 is a real jewel. All the essentials of what makes a great wine come harmoniously together: balance, fruit, tannins, acidity and alcohol. This ten-year-old beauty is just starting to show signs of maturity, exhibiting all the hallmark qualities of well-made Brunello di Montalcino, with hints of tertiary aromas and flavors. It has notes of dry cherries and raspberries, a touch of leather, tobacco, and it’s laden with nuances of Montalcino terroir. Showing a very long well-integrated finish, this is a wine for immediate indulgence and pleasure, yet it still has years and years of life ahead of it.
Talenti has always been one of my favorite producers. When I first came to IWM it was through Talenti that I really got to know Brunello. Its quality and price point allows you to really enjoy Brunello without spending lots of money. People say that if Biondi-Santi embodies the epic story and elitist of Brunello di Montalcino, Pierluigi Talenti is the methodical manufacturer of the wine, and the symbol of its economic miracle of the. Pierluigi Talenti purchased some property and started the winery in 1980; he was originally from Romagna and had lived in Toscana since the 1950. His experience and thorough research on viticultural clones in the Montalcino region, along with his respect for tradition, enabled him to reach exceedingly high levels of quality and allowed for him to become one of the protagonists of the modern revival of Brunello.
While in Italy, I got to experience the Talenti Rosso di Montalcino 2012, and it was awesome. A beautiful ruby color in the glass, this ’12 shows loads of bright red fruit mingled with violets and notes of cherry and plum. With some twirling of the glass, some nice herbal and earth notes begin to emerge, leading to a silky smooth palate with balanced acidity, soft minerality and a nice, tart, and earthy lingering finish. You would think that a Rosso di Montalcino would only pair well with a red pasta sauce or nice pizza, but this Rosso is amazingly versatile, and priced at $25, it’s a wine that’s easy to enjoy early and often.
Although I adore white wines from the “golden slopes” in Burgundy, I also share great admiration for the lovely wines of the Loire Valley. When asked about leading producers, a certain legend immediately comes to mind—Didier Dagueneau.
Didier Dagueneau was known as the “wild man of Pouilly,” not only for his passion for car racing and for his shaggy appearance (long curly hair and a dramatic beard) but also for his ideas and determination. He was recognized as a brilliant winemaker and the best producer in the appellation. In 2008 he was in an airplane accident, leaving the reins of the estate to his children Benjamin and Charlotte. There were questions about whether or not they could carry on their father’s legacy, passion, and fervor; to the surprise of some, they have surpassed expectations in carrying the family torch.
The Dagueneau estate (not to be confused with Serge Dagueneau) makes a range of dry white wines, all Pouilly-Fumé, all biodynamic. The classic Pouilly-Fumé Blanc, deriving from a blend of several vineyards, is bright and soft. The Buisson Renard is more flinty in style, but still round, and more age-worthy. The remaining two wines are both barrel fermented single-vineyard superstars that derive from slate soils: Silex and Pur Sang (the French term for “thoroughbred,” a reference to horse tilling, which is common in biodynamic farming). We have been fortunate to secure some special allocations from the estate and are delighted to share what we believe to be some of the greatest expressions of Sauvignon Blanc. Although we currently carry a full range of the wines, I chose to highlight two of my favorites today:
This lovely Pouilly-Fumé offers bright aromas of chalk and white flowers followed by flavors of green mango, Meyer lemon, kiwi and almond. The wine finishes with vibratory intensity that pulls you back to the glass for more.
This dense wine is flinty and exhibits grapefruits, passionfruit and wood. This cuvée comes from one perfect clay-and-flint parcel located mid-slope on the southwest side of Saint Andelain, the highest village in the Pouilly-Fume appellation, and the only one to possess soil containing the perfect balance of clay and flint. This wine is barrel fermented and aged in mostly neutral barrels to create a rich, opulent wine that still maintains a classic flinty streak with a firm backbone.
Riding shotgun in an old truck with Marco Sassetti, general manager of the Il Palazzone estate on one late November afternoon, I was privy to a conversation between him and an old friend.
“Dove vai?” his friend asked, shouting across the narrow dirt road. Where are you going?
“Festa del tacchino!” Marco responded with a chuckle, and even I with my limited English had to laugh. What else would an Italian call Thanksgiving but the “Turkey feast”?
It’s tough to be an ex-pat on national holidays. In late November 2011, I was in Montalcino, in Tuscany, where I lived for just short of two months stretching from just before Halloween to early December. I had been staying at this ramshackle seventeenth-century villa rented by Lauren Cicione, an Italian-American who’d rented it and then unexpectedly found herself working in Piedmont, and I got to experience the glory of the tiny town of Montalcino as late fall crept towards winter. I watched the leaves on the trees and on the vines turn gold and fall off; I felt the air turn crisp and then cold.
National holidays elicit nostalgia. The fourth Thursday in November creeps up on the calendar, and just about every American will find his or her tongue twitching for cranberries. There are no cranberries in Italy. Cranberries are a purely American thing. Turkeys originated in Northern America, but while they are flightless birds, they have managed to make the leap to Europe. Still, they are strange to Italians. Italians are not big on turkey, and, really, it’s difficult to make an argument about why they should be. Turkey, removed from the warm fuzzy feelings and the accouterments has little to recommend it. Thanksgiving celebrates the mythic roots of America, after all. How could it be anything but foreign to Italy?
The year I was in Italy, Thanksgiving came and went—it was just another work day for Italians, after all, but on the following Saturday, Lauren pulled together a Thanksgiving feast for about three ex-pat Americans and a sprawling company of twenty or so Europeans, most Italians. The table groaned under a huge toddler-sized turkey, sides both traditional (stuffing, green beans, carrots, mashed potatoes, gravy) and not (pasta, risotto, sautéed wild mushrooms, polenta). There was copious wine, mostly Brunello, as you’d expect, and the Italians drank freely—I think “tacchino” is an acquired taste. There were pies too; they looked and tasted a bit like they’d passed through a long game of recipe telephone on the way to their creation. I was thankful for it all.
As this Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking of that festa di tacchino, the ragtag bunch of people gathered at a villa perched on the side of hill trying to recreate a meal that was alien to most of them. We spoke no fewer than five languages at that table, but it didn’t really matter. The company was gracious, the food was abundant, the wine was excellent, and we were united in gratitude.
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