When most people think of a Super Tuscan, they envision grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot growing across Tuscan hillsides. What you may be surprised to learn, however, is that these international grapes are not necessary in order for a wine to be deemed a Super Tuscan. The term itself relates to any wine does or did not meet the blending criteria or process of the DOC or DOCG region in Tuscany it comes from; therefore it is required to take on a broader designation. This explanation brings us to Montevertine.
In 1971 Sergio Manetti produced the first vintage at Montevertine. Chianti, however, at the time had rulings requiring certain processes and certain grapes in order to receive the designation. But Sergio’s heart had only room for Sangiovese at the time, and his wines could not be designated as Chianti. What followed was the birth of his wine “Le Pergole Torte,” one of the finest examples of Sangiovese to be produced, year in and year out.
That being said, Le Pergole Torte usually runs about $100 a bottle—not what most would consider an everyday wine. This is why I was so excited last week to see that we received Monteverinte 2011 Pian del Ciampolo. I immediately signed myself up for a bottle of this new release, hoping that the excellence of the flagship bottling would remain in the everyday selection.
I was not disappointed. The Pian del Ciampolo was wonderfully vibrant and showed incredible character for a wine that’s just over $30. The wine itself is mostly Sangiovese with a touch of Canaiolo and Colorino (two local grapes) mixed in for good measure. This wine had backbone, yet it managed not to be overly acidic. Bright cherries were prolific on the nose and carried over to the palate as well with lively zip.
Needless to say, I was impressed and I wanted to share my experience with all of you. This is an everyday bottle that you should own oodles—yes, oodles—of to enjoy today, tomorrow and years down the road.
Google “cicada recipes” and you get 254,000 results. This seems like a high number until you consider a) the Swamageddon is scheduled to hit this weekend and b) most of the recipes come from one University of Maryland cookbook. Put in this perspective, and that triple-digit number seems too small.
So many cicadas, so few ready recipes. For those who have been hibernating, not unlike the cicadas themselves, the East Coast, specifically the greater New York area, is set to be hit with the largest population of cicadas in the past seventeen years. These insect members of the Arthropoda family (the same family that holds shrimp, crawfish and lobsters) hibernate for almost two decades, waiting until the fashion that has gone out of style returns, and then they make a grand appearance.
Relatively harmless, cicadas can be noisy. Mostly what they are is big. And therefore, peoples in many parts of the world eat them. Happily. While Americans commonly feel revulsion at the thought of eating a bug, insects are pretty commonplace at meal times in Africa, Asia and South America. In specific, cicadas are called “desert shrimp” in West Africa, and they’re considered local delicacies in pockets of the American South.
“Swarmageddon” sounds apocryphal. University of Maryland entomologist John Raupp, putting it in a more upbeat light, says, “The greater New York metro area is going to rock with cicadas,” which just makes it sound like LCD Soundsystem at MSG. But the thing to remember is that while cicadas may be plentiful and loud, they’re also around for a very short time—by July, they’ll be gone.
In this respect, you can think of cicadas as the ramps of the insect world: a seasonal delicacy to be treasured, consumed, enjoyed and then abandoned. But unlike the rather staid ramps, cicadas appear in a wide variety of recipes, from tacos to cookies, from pizza to adult beverages, from sweet pies to savory quiches. They’re flexible, crunchy, nutritious, gluten-free and coming for you.
As Jenna Jadin stands as the cicada recipe auteur, having written “Cicada-Licious: Cooking and Enjoying Periodical Cicadas.” She observes in her downloadable cookbook, “If you have ever eaten a crawfish, lobster, crab, or shrimp then you have already eaten members of the class Arthropoda, of which insects are a part. So popping a big juicy beetle, cricket, or cicada into your mouth is only a step away.” Perspective is everything, and if you’re ready to eat cicada, Jadin suggests eating tenerals, the newly hatched cicadas, or the pregnant mothers; however, other recipes exhort the crunchy charms of fully formed adult cicadas. However you enjoy your cicada, the world is your arthropod. Unless, of course, you’re allergic to shellfish; then you should definitely say no to cicada.
Jardin’s cookbook tends to the Asian and Southwestern style of cicada preparation, offering recipes for Shanghai Cicadas, Cicada Stir-Fry and El Chirper Tacos (the Village Voice offers an alternative taco recipe). But you can find lots of recipes that seem to replace beloved protein standards with cicadas. There’s fried chicken style cicadas, and there’s cicada and Portobello mushroom quiche. There’s even cicada chocolate chip cookies and cicada ice cream; presumably you could make cicada cookie ice cream sandwiches and double your fun. (Many of these recipes can be found on this Huffington Post feature; Gizmodo offers a breathtakingly comprehensive look at cooking cicadas; and the New York Daily News offers recipes for pizza, jello and tacos.)
The question then becomes how to pair your cicada-based dish with wine. If you’re going for an Asian or Southwestern-inspired dish, IWM Portfolio Manager Garrett Kowalsky suggests a nice Riesling to stand up to the spiciness, perhaps Frecciarossa Riesling Gli Orti 2008, and if you’re going to dish up some cicada pizza or pasta, he suggests, “Something Tuscan. You need the wine to have the muscle up against the tannins in the red sauce.” Maybe a nice Chianti Classico?
Francesco Vigorito takes a slightly different tack. He says, “For the Asian dish I’d probably go with something sparkling and fruity like a Prosecco or something rich and aromatic like a Gewurztraminer.” Francesco expressed doubt at the idea of a cicada pasta dish. “They’d probably get soggy,” he said.
Given that cicadas can be treated like crab and shaped into cakes or battered and deep-fried, you’d likely want to keep Lambrusco in mind. Ideal for summer lunches, this slightly bitter fizzy Red makes an exceptional partner to seafood and, one would presume, insect.
Of course, the wine pairings do more than merely enhance your cicada dishes. Drink enough, and you might forget that what you’re eating is a great big bug.
My picks for today represent two of my favorite producers, Louis Jadot of Burgundy and Paolo Scavino of Piemonte, whose common goal is to produce wines of excellent quality and outstanding pedigree. Both estates are long on history—Louis Jadot has been crafting great red and white Burgundy since 1859 and Scavino the same since 1921—and the wines I’ve chosen today are likewise history laden. The Louis Jadot Saint Aubin 2010 is one of the last vintages to be made by legendary winemaker, Jacques Lardière, who just retired after 40 years. The vineyards of Saint Aubin consist of two areas of approximately equal size. One area occupies chalky limestone soils and is exposed to the south and Southeast, while the other contain a degree of gravel and clay and enjoys a cooler, more easterly exposure. Paolo Scavino produces high quality wines that aim to capture purity of expression, complexity and elegance. Run buy Enrico Scavino and his daughters Enrica and Elisa, this family-owned-and-operated winery blurs the lines between tradition and modernist Barolo, and the 2008 cru Bricco Ambrogio illustrates the wisdom earned by decades of winemaking.
Louis Jadot Saint Aubin 2010 $36.99
This Côte de Beaune is 100-percent Chardonnay and a blend of 1er Cru and Village parcels. The appellation of Saint Aubin lies at the western edge of the Côte de Beaune overlooking Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Meursault, Auxey Duresses, and Santenay. It’s a unique wine in that it many times drinks like a Puligny-Montrachet in taste and profile, particularly in a great vintage like 2010, at a fraction of the price. The color is bright straw yellow, showing the gleam of its youth. The aromas evoke peaches, yellow stone fruits, minerals, spice and hints of hazelnuts. On the palate the wine has wonderful texture, subtle tastes of oak, layers of fruit, balanced acidity, and creaminess combined with richness in a medium-bodied frame. The finish is clean, crisp with a sustained ending. A perfect food wine, this 2010 can be drunk now or kept another 8-10 years.
Enrico Scavino recognized the quality of this undiscovered cru and purchased the Bricco Ambrogio vineyard in 2001. This mono-varietal Nebbiolo has a deep youthful ruby color. The aromas are intense with a great expression of cherry, violets and fresh herbs. On the palate this majestic wine shows complexity, rich red fruit flavors, elegance, a soft underlying texture, depth, well-knit tannins and a long, balanced finish. 2008 vintage is an exceptional year and it’s a great year for Nebbiolo.
We began our week with a look at Italy’s Lombardia, especially its fine sparkling wines, but also its winsome, unusual Reds and mineral-laden, floral Whites. Any land that gives us Lago di Garda can’t be bad.
On Tuesday, Francesco drank Tenuta dell’Ornellaia’s 2011 vintage of its delicious, affordable third-tier wine, Le Volte, and pronounced it the “best Le Volte yet.” We also featured the wine in Thursday’s eLetter offer.
Wednesday was devoted to David Bertot’s meditation on choosing a milestone wine, and how Aldo Conterno Barolo Colonello 2000 made his second wedding anniversary special.
Thursday, Camacho told the story of helping a budding wine-lover choose four wines for a horizontal tasting–all 2010 Rosso di Montalcino. Sounds like delicious fun!
Our Experts seemed to like choosing pairs of wines from the same estate this week. On Tuesday, Perry did some spring cleaning with a client to choose two wines from Toscana’s Montevertine, makers of Le Pergole Torte and its fine Rosso. And on Wednesday, Brian Maurice selected a pair of wines from Burgundy’s Domaine Leflaive, including one under $40.
Garrett’s Monday Expert post highlighted two wines that he finds delicious and perfect examples of their types, a Francois Gay Burgundy and a Dal Forno Amarone. And finishing the week, Garrett’s big brother Justin opted for two Burgundies for spring’s warmer weather, one from Domaine Maltroye, the other from Joseph Voillot, and both exceptional values.
One of the satisfying things about working the showroom is that it allows me to connect with clients and to get to know their palates well. A lot of times clients will come in or call and say, “Hey, Camacho, tonight I’m cooking this or that, you know my palate. What do you think I should pair with it?” Knowing that I have built a relationship where they trust me enough to take my recommendations or even just ask me my thoughts makes me feel a sense of pride and accomplishment.
Sometimes, though, the questions are a little more intricate than what to serve with their favorite artichoke recipe. The other day a client who has just been bitten by the wine bug came in and told me she wanted to do a vertical tasting but was on a tight budget.
Knowing that she has been doing research on the producers and wine styles she likes, I asked her if she knew exactly what a vertical tasting was. I explained that a vertical tasting involves tasting wine from the same producer but from multiple vintages, for example Bartolo Mascarello 2005, 2006, 2007. This is a great way to learn about wine and it helps in identifying a few things like differences in vintages and how they express themselves in the wine, to give an idea of how long a wine will last or, more importantly, to see how a wine has evolved.
Vertical tasting can be costly, and we couldn’t find consecutive vintages of producers she wanted to taste that were in her budget. Then it came to me and I asked her if she had ever attended a horizontal tasting. A horizontal tasting simply means tasting different wines of the same variety and vintage—they can also be from the same wine region. This is a great way to acquire broad-based wine knowledge. Unlike a vertical, a horizontal tasting allows you to explore the similarities and differences within wines of the same year but from different producers or terrior, allowing the exploration of a range of winemaking styles. Most importantly, it’s a great way to identify what styles you personally prefer.
The first thing we needed to do to get started was decide if she wanted to focus on a particular region or on a particular grape variety or blend, as well as settle on the vintage. Choosing the vintage was easy, as we went with what was available, and we decided to stay in the Tuscany region and with the Sangiovesse Grosso, so we put together a nice assortment of Rosso di Montalcino from the 2010 vintage.
Going with the Rossos allowed us to stay well within her budget. My client left to return home with her bottles, very excited to figure out which of the winemakers would suit her personal tastes. She promised to provide me with her tasting notes and thoughts.
Whether you choose to do a vertical or horizontal tasting, whether simple for your enjoyment or sophisticated to impress your friends, we at the IWM showroom can help you put anything together with the budget you have to work with. I love sharing the love of wine.
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