Monday, September 22, 2008

A Natural Food & Wine Pairing

My one and only trip to the medieval village of Jesi, back in February of 2006, was scheduled with a single purpose in mind: to visit the winery of Mario and Giorgio Brunori. Jesi is situated just inland from Ancona, about 20 kilometers from the Adriatic Sea in Italy’s Le Marche. Mario and his father Giorgio’s property sits astride the hillsides just outside of town. We visited their vineyards, toured their facilities and tasted their lineup of tank samples and wines (plus a stunningly good Grappa) that were current at the time. It was a typical winery visit – informative, straightforward, pretty in its own way. What followed a short while later is what really sticks out in my mind.

We picked up Mario’s sister, Christina, at the enoteca the Brunori family owns back in the center of Jesi and headed to one of their favorite local trattorias for lunch. It was clear that the Brunori’s were regulars as, after just a few quick exchanges between Christina and one of the owners, platters of food began to arrive at our table. Seafood. Nothing but. An incredibly diverse array of goodies. Tiny cockles stewed in tomato sauce. Equally tiny sea snails served in their shells and studded with garlic. Fried calamari and grilled sepia. Several varieties of fish cooked with herbs and local olive oil. And linguine con le vongole. Seafood is a staple of the diet in this part of coastal Le Marche. In speaking with the Brunoris, it became clear that, aside from the hillside vineyards, the nearby sea is considered the major “farm” of the area.

We drank just one wine with the entire meal – the Brunori’s Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi Classico Superiore “San Nicolò.” A single vineyard, San Nicolò includes the Brunori’s oldest vines that produce a naturally concentrated, zesty, brisk and soulful example of Verdicchio. The wine we drank that day, it was probably the 2004, worked – and worked really well – with everything we ate, from the lightest shellfish to the most richly flavored finfish.

It’s been a go-to wine for me at home, before and since, whenever I think of something to go with one of my favorite comfort food dishes – spaghetti with white clam sauce. Linguine con le vongole, if you prefer. It’s a heartwarming pairing. “What grows together goes together,” the saying goes. It’s now overused, perhaps, but it became an adage in food and drink circles for good reason.


Joe Manekin said...

Good ol' verdicchio. Dig it. Recently I have been enjoying a terrific Verdicchio de Matelica produced by Collestefano. Am even laying several bottles down of the '06 for a few years.

David McDuff said...

Good idea, Joe. The "San Nic" from Brunori is always hard not to drink on release but it holds up amazingly well over the course of five years, give or take. It's always interesting to look in on a "simple wine" in its late days to see what's going on.

Tom Hudson said...

We recently served the 2006 version of this wine BTG at our wine bar. It was well received.

We also discovered its seafood friendliness and it was the go-to wine for almost all of the seafood items on the menu, especially the scallops with Jade Basmati rice cake and Thai-curry coconut broth.

David McDuff said...

Glad to hear it served you and your guests well, Tom.

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