Monday, August 18, 2008

Nebbiolo and Pizza - Bliss or Bust?

Last night my roommates and I inaugurated what will hopefully become a new household tradition: Sunday night pizza. We made the dough the night prior, divided it into four sections, proofed it overnight and created four different pizzas. Remembering a post from Do Bianchi's Dr. Jeremy Parzen in which he speaks of his number one guilty pleasure: pizza and nebbiolo, I was very excited to drink some Nebbiolo with the pies. Unfortunately, and as I had expected prior to momentarily getting caught up in Jeremy's enthusiasm, the two Produttori de Barbaresco ('06 Langhe Nebbiolo and '04 Barbaresco Torre) wines were not so great with the pizzas. Then again, maybe the guilty pleasure of nebbiolo and pizza requires more mature nebbiolo based based wines, or perhaps some stuff from different producers.

Anyway, here's what we ate:

The Margherita - classic fresh mozzarella with tomato sauce and basil. We threw some fresh baby romaine from our garden on top after baking.
The Farmer - ricotta, string beans, chopped potatoes from our garden, sliced garlic, white truffle oil
The Funghi - tomato sauce, sliced mushrooms, sliced garlic, grated parmeggiano reggiano
The Friulano - Not sure why I dubbed this one the way I did. The only vaguely friulian component might have been the seasoning. Thinly sliced piave, olive oil, toasted ground cumin seeds and coriander, grated cinnamon.

Here's what we drank:

2006 Produttori de Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo

While this was truly interesting Nebbiolo, amongst the sturdier, richer, and more age-worthy basic nebbiolos I've had, it just didn't work with all but the last pizza. The nose was foresty and had some black cherry and deeply pitched blackberry aromas. More of the same on the palate, very dark with iron minerality and licorice rope on the finish. While this is not one for most pizzas, the interplay between spices (especially cumin), sharp piave, and nebbiolo, even of such a muscular and stern style, was enlightening.

2004 Produttori de Barbaresco Barbaresco Torre

Not the best bottle, I didn't even give this a shot with most of the pizzas. Given the hollow mid-palate, general sense of disjointedness, lack of aromas, absence of fruit hitting the tongue, and strongly bitter finish, I thought this bottle to be corked. Re-tasting it today, there was no TCA jumping out, but the wine remained a disjointed mess, with the same lack of a mid-palate and jarring, weird acidity. I tasted this wine six months ago with different, though similarly disappointed, notes.

Here's to progressively better pizzas, and more successful matches with wines. And yes, we will always have beer on the ready for the pizza and beer purists.