The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Cornarea 2014 Roero Arneis

Posted on | August 18, 2015 | Written by Stephane Menard | No Comments

stephane pastaArneis, also called Nebbiolo Bianco, stands alongside Gavi di Gavi as one of Piedmont’s most highly regarded white wines. Arneis almost went extinct, and it was rescued only in the 1970s when the Cornarea estate started replanting a 35-acre hillside vineyard with the grape, assuring its revival in the region.

Recently, IWM got in the 2014 Roero Arneis from Cornarea, and I had to take a bottle home. Dry and crisp, this Roero Arneis bursts with blossom-like aromas complemented by flavors of fresh pear and stone fruits. This white is a great alternative to Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. This ’14 has really nice acidity that makes it a perfect to complement a wide range of foods, from white meats to seafood; today, I chose to pair it with a great southern Italian dish, pasta ai calamari, or pasta with calamari, a dish you can find if you make it down to Campania’s Amalfi Coast.

Unifying the Italian North and the South has been a political issue in politics for hundreds of years, but it works incredibly well in cooking! I am happy to share with you today a great food and wine pairing that will make your palate travel from the hills of Piedmont down to the Amalfi Coast, and given that Cornarea Roero Arneis is inder $27, you’ll want to enjoy it often.

This is my recipe for this delicious summer dish:

Carefully wash the calamari and separate the “legs” from the “tubes.” Cut the tubes in ¼ inch rings. Keep both parts in two separate bowls.

In a frying pan prepare the “soffritto” by gently frying 2 cloves of split garlic and one small dried red pepper in 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil.

Put the “legs” into the pan and increase the heat to sauté the legs until the legs are all curly and slightly grilled; then add the rings as well and stir.

Add half a glass of Cornarea Roero Arneis and let the alcohol evaporate—it should take a couple of minutes at high heat.

While the alcohol is evaporating, prepare the pasta by dropping it in a very large pot of salted water. Taste the water to check the lever of salt. I prefer to use “Paccheri” pasta (a smaller version of the cannelloni, typically Neapolitan), but large spaghetti or linguine are a great alternative.

Once the alcohol has evaporated, lower the heat of the pan and add a dozen hand-crushed mini-tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of salted capers. Rinse the capers carefully to get rid of the excess of salt. (It is important not to choose the capers in vinegar because the strong acidity is not what we are looking for in this recipe).

Cover and let cook for about 7-9 minutes at low heat, then take the lid off the pan and add a 6 to 12 pitted Gaeta olives; if you can’t find these wonderful southern Italian olives, you can replace them by some small kalamata olives. It is important to choose brown/purple olives in brine, not the very dark and dry, back olives that are too strong.

As capers and olives are already very salty it is not necessary to add any salt to the sauce.

Once the pasta is cooked al dente, strain the pasta and add it to the pan with your calamari sauce, mix well at medium heat to finish the last 30 sec of cooking. Add freshly cut Italian parsley before serving in large plates.

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