Some friends who spend a lot of time in Piedmont came over last night. Having forgotten it was International Grenache Day, I had planned an Italian-themed meal even going so far as to make pomodoro al forno (three hours in the oven) and a chocolate panforte. Oh, and some chocolate almonds (I had blanched around 200 almonds the previous evening: TV schedulers take note: you really need to put something interesting on!)
We started with two whites from Fabrizio Battaglino and Nada Giuseppe, both excellent. Fabrizio's 2010 Roero Arneis was more poised and clearly defined; Enrico's 2010 Langhe Bianco "Armonia" more exuberant. Both were quite distinctive and, for once, I couldn't say I enjoyed one more than the other. Fabrizio's wine was used as an aperitif whilst Fabrizio's lasted until we sat down to eat so that may have had some bearing on it (would the pure and focused Arneis have worked so well with the flavoursome first course, I wonder?).
With the simple primi piatti of pasta puttanesca we also enjoyed the Pinot Noir-based "Renoir" from Tenuta Serradenari, high in the hills above La Morra, a very nice wine although it doesn't make me think Pinot at all, more Nebbiolo which makes up only 20% of the blend. Perhaps it really is a terroir thing: Pinot grown in Piedmont tastes of Nebbiolo?
We then moved on to the big guns for the main course of lamb cooked with anchovies. Nada Giuseppe's Barbaresco Riserva 2006 was all about classical elegance, a typical good Barbaresco; Serradenari's 2007 Barolo represented power, a very modern and accessible Barolo.
With the panforte Fabrizio's delicious "Bric Bastia" made from dried, late harvested Arneis topped things off brilliantly. There is sufficient sweetness to match the chocolate which was mixed with almonds (again), candied peel and cranberries (simple but delicious) and served with an Ameretto ice cream. The wine has more though but, frankly, it is enough to say it matched the food perfectly.
I just have to hope none of the Rhone producers read this and get cross that on today of all days I didn't drink Grenache!