Inimitable. That is what this wine is. Literally “so good or unusual as to be impossible to copy; unique.” Thank you, Dictionary.com.
This is a local wine, indigenous to the steep terraces of Liguria’s Dolceacqua (literally sweet water), unfortunately too-often overlooked by tourists seeking the beautiful hiking of the Cinque Terre. There the vineyards cling to the vertical rows perched high above the sea, where in a feat of super-human viticulture, they are tended by heroes such as Testalonga’s Antonio Perrino.
The result is a wine that speaks entirely of the place from which it comes.
Wild, herbaceous, saline.
This Rossese from Testalonga smells like the heat of a summer day radiating from the dusty scrub brush along the Pacific coast. It smells like pine needles, sage, rosemary and hot earth. Served traditionally with a slight chill, the fruit component is entirely bright cherry, with a lean streak of acidity that lifts the savory notes in the wine to another level. This is a real food wine- pair it with anything you’d want to eat on a hot summer day.
Liguria at its best- and in your wine glass.
*I tasted this in Portland, at the (also inimitable) Nostrana. Check it out.
GD Vajra’s Langhe Bianco is a special rarity. Made from 100% Riesling, this wine showcases the spectacular soil of the Langhe in an unusual and non-traditional grape varietal. It is steely; vertical with acidity and lean minerality. The wine has a sort of petrol-mossy green aromatic that screams “Riesling” for me, but it is truly Italian. Earthy, elegant and seriously delicious.
Let me put this another way: What is the one reason Aldo Vajra, a passionate Master of Nebbiolo, would dedicate any space in his limited vineyards to a non-indigenous varietal like Riesling? You only have to taste this wine to know the answer.
The last time I was able to taste this wine was at Portland’s Nostrana- a gorgeous restaurant with a ton of old-world charm, all wrapped up in the hip-ness that is Portland. The food is pretty stellar too- like this veal-filled pasta dish, swimming in some kind of decadent beschamel. The perfect unctuous and cheese-laden dish to compliment Vajra’s laser-focused Langhe Bianco.
Just another reason to love Riesling. As if you needed one more.
I was in Portland last week, and had the chance to taste the creative bar-tending stylings of Urban Farmer, a hip and totally trendy spot on the 8th floor of the Nines Hotel.
The bar is airy, open to a huge swath of natural light, and is presided over by countless floors of hotel room windows that give the space a bit of a voyeuristic feel. I was with Judith Unterholzner, of Terlano winery, and we wanted a cocktail.
One of my favorite distributors, Cavatappi, is launching their new portfolio in Portland tomorrow. Come see us between 1 and 4pm at the Portland City Grill, Monday April 23. I’ll be there representing Ca’ del Bosco, Paolo Scavino, Tolaini and Terlano. There will be a room full of winemakers and winery representatives for you to learn from and taste with.
Specifically, you’ll have a chance to meet Italian wine legend Giorgio Rivetti, who will be there in person to pour his wines from La Spinetta. This is an opportunity not to be missed!