Sunday, July 24, 2016

"Natural" wines

Via Luca Della Robbia, Torino, July 24, 2016—

I ASKED THE CHEF at La Baritiera a couple of days ago where I should eat in Torino, and he gave me four recommendations. I ignored the list yesterday in favor of a return to a previous success, but determined to check his list today. Only one of the four was open on a Sunday night, so off I went to the Mole Antioniellana district, clear across town again. (The Metro makes this fairly easy.)

I ate light, from a menu that in fact offers few choices. But how interesting these choices are! After an amuse-bouche involving orzo, tiny bits of ham and peach, a light balsamic sauce and a few chives, I began with 
Ventresca tonno / ciliegie / zenzero

Tuna belly, lightly flavored wiith ginger, seared barely cooked, and served with cherry compote. This seems rather a Japanese dish: pure, restrained, but sophisticated, and carefully presented.

I asked for a white wine. Dry or sweet, the waitress asked. A young man brought a bottle, poured a little, and invited me to taste. What is it, I asked. Taste first; I'll explain later. I approved the wine, sound but a little musky, and he divulged the label: Bourgogne aligoté.

My secondo was
Petto d'anatra / pesca / rabarbaro

and turned out to be equally Japanesey, at least as I see things. Again, the duck was seared to perfection. It was in big chunks, and set off my bits of peach which had somehow been "turned," trimmed into little spheres, like melon balls. The rhubarb was stems, no more than a half-inch wide and perhaps three inches long; and it had been blanched so that it was tender but kept its slightly astringent flavor.

My red didn't satisfy me, and I asked if it were typical of its label. Why? Is there a problem? I handed my glass to the wine fellow, who sniffed it, went back inside (I was dining on the sidewalk terrace), and brought another bottle of the same wine. I've made enough wine to know what "brett" is, the dread dirty-socks aroma and flavor that can infect certain wines.

All the wines here are apparently these newfangled "natural" wines, made without sulfur, left on the lees, allowed to go through secondary fermentation in the bottle. I think this eventualiry is a mistake. Biodynamics should only be allowed to go so far.

We had quite a little convesation about all this, and then the fellow brought me a third glass, by far the most interesting of them all, an orange-colored wine, very fruity, tasting almost of rhubarb; a wine that would have been perfect with the duck.

And then when I declined dessert a fourth glass of wine appeared, the first from this part of Italy, a Barbera, "natural" of course with qualities that masked the varietal at first; but it came through after a while, bringing notes of licorice with it…

All in all a most interesting evening.

Bourgogne aligoté
Péssico, Nicolás Martas (Crianza), 2014
Ansonica, Societa Agricola Santa Maria in Montalcino, 2015
Barbera del Monferrato Superiore, Tenuta Migliavacca, 2013
Gaudenzio, Via Gaudenzio Ferrari 2H, Torino; 011 8600242

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