The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday

Posted on | January 11, 2011 | Written by Christy Canterbury | No Comments

Just as an eclipse offers a change of perspective over a small span of time, so does the La Roncaia 2008 Eclisse. (Eclisse means eclipse in English. And here’s a link to the wine.) Over the weekend this zesty white that is dominated by the familiar Sauvignon Blanc speckled with the rare Friulian blond Picolit completely upended my recent white wine drinking.

I drink rich whites this time of year (granted, many of these wines have lighter styles, but they tend to be rich). I tend to gravitate towards Chardonnay, Grüner Veltliner, Rioja Blanco, viscous Alsatian and Austrian bottlings, and any troop or solo crafted from Rhône varieties. While the 2008 Eclisse did envelope my palate in a moderately viscous texture, its feisty acidity and medium alcohol worked their tricks to make the wine seem sprightlier than it is.

Then there were the emphatic aromas of Sauvignon Blanc – gooseberry above all – twisted by strongly unique aromas of honeysuckle, tangerine, grapefuit peel, galangal and sage. This decadent profusion of smells called for a change in cuisine, too. Thai and Indian raced to mind, yet the Eclisse exhibited a bracingly bitter finish that didn’t strike me as a complement to these spicy cuisines. (Tannin and alcohol can exaggerate spiciness).  This lightly tannic finish is typical of most Italian whites, and it called for some substantial food. One of my favorite cookbooks, A World in My Kitchen by Peter Gordon, provided the solution. Dubbed “Europe’s Father of Fusion Cuisine,” Peter employs a playful use of exotic spices, oils and unexpected ingredients to produce exciting smells that can stand up to and match this extraordinarily special wine.

This wine is singular, so get serious and get seated before the wallop of aromas and tingling tannins knock you over. In trying to conjure up a Sauvignon Blanc of equivalent complexity and intrigue, only one came to mind. Mind you, I’m not saying the flavors or minerality are the same, nor am I claiming the age-worthiness of the wines are comparable. But the breadth and depth of this 2008 Eclisse reminds me a bit of the 2007 Didier Dagueneau Pouilly-Fumé Cuvée Silex I tasted in late November. In comparison to many wines, and certainly to the Silex, the Eclisse is a tremendous value at under $30. It’s also a wine that fully exercises the mind-bending excitement that can be wine and food pairing.

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