When I drink wines from Marco Parusso, I want to put on my Audrey Hepburn cat eye sunglasses and light a cigarette (merely for effect). Nothing screams class and elegance like the silky seductive juice that pours from these bottles. I have coincidentally engaged in sipping various representations of Nebbiolo from this Piemontese producer while traveling the states this summer. Boy have I embraced every minute of Northern Italy!
Atlanta’s hottest restaurant group, 5th Group, has displayed the Paruss Rosat all season on the wine list. The Nebbiolo grape varietal shines in this no oak rosé created from much shorter contact with the skins creating a blush wine. Serve chilled and delicious with an array of cuisines. Spicy, garlic infused, fruity… you name it and the Rosato(as Italians call it) will be the ying to the food’s yang! While at Ecco, I engaged in various courses highlighted with their roof top garden delights. The fresh fruit expression of Monforte d’Alba terroir paired quite nicely. Although light in color with a pale pink hue, the vibrancy on the palate will keep you reaching for the bottle to pour more. Also a by the glass offering at the famous Mario Batali establishment, Eataly in NYC.
Every now and then I take pleasure in Italifying some of my nearest and dearest companions from the west coast. I’ve certainly been victim to the California-centric mentality of sipping wines from our own turf. I will promote California, Washington, and Oregon producers all day long but I sure hope I never fall into the rut of tasting wine so one dimensionally from one area of the world. With that in mind, I was given the task of courting some west coasters (die hard Napa Cab fans) in NYC to great food and great wine. Although I probably could have trusted America’s top culinary scene to serve us exemplary wines at the right temperature… I just didn’t want to take that chance. I rolled up with a half case of wine and ordered 8 glasses to be delivered to our hotel room. We tasted Marco Parusso’s Le Coste Mosconi Barolo 2008 and Mariondino Barolo 2008. Quick side note on these wines… ‘Le Coste Mosconi’ and ‘Mariondino’ refer to the select vineyard sights that create very different expressions of the same grape varietal. Although both are created with essentially the same winemaking technique, the latter has a smooth, floral, orange blossom note while the former has a rich, velvety, masculine texture finishing with chocolate and tobacco… all due to the sites these grapes are grown! Barolo is the name given to this style of wine aged for minimum four years from the Nebbiolo grape and adhering to strict Italian laws. Needless to say, these west coasters were thrilled and inspired to start a new quest of wine tasting.
Your journey with Parusso need not end with Rosato and Barolo, this producer goes above and beyond with a few other wines as well! Try the Barbera for a food friendly, slightly acidic, and subtle oak finish. Dolcetto will often make our cheeks pucker because the wine is so tannic, but Marco magically has created a no oak version that has an approachable balance all the way through. The Langhe Bianco and Nebbiolo are great values for the money (Langhe: sourced from the foothills of the Piedmont in N. Italy). The Bianco represents a wine solely from the Sauvignon Blanc grape varietal. Although acidic with citrus notes, this expression thankfully lacks the sometimes offensive grassy note that New Zealand carries. The Langhe Nebbiolo comes from vineyard sites not as favorable as Barolo but still very high in quality. Think of them as baby Barolos for a lot less cash.
Have I expressed enough excitement for northern Italy’s finest? If I’m being true to my word, I guess my enthusiasm will have to transfer to another region of the world next time. Did I forget to mention I’m traveling to Spain in two weeks to scope out the Cava producing region Penedes and Tempranillo’s homeland of Rioja and Navarra? More on that later. Ciao!