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September 2013

Piantate Lunghe Rosso Conero 2010

Rosso Conero is a small DOC on the east coast of Italy in the state of the Marche.  Rosso Conero the DOC is the land surrounding the extinct volcano of Monte Conero right on the Adriatic.  A lot of the Marche is kind of flat and then out of nowhere, right on the ocean, you have this extinct volcano with totally different soils!  

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I actually wrote about this wine a couple years back and this 2010 vintage is rather different from the 2007 I originally wrote about.  Here's a link to the previous article if you'd like to check it out: 2007 Rosso Conero

Piantate Lunghe is a project created by three friends to try to revive their family's old vineyards.   Amedeo Giutsini conceived the idea and then approached his two friends Roberto and Guido Mazzoni.  Together they now have about 12 hectares of vineyards within 2000 meters of the Adriatic, but at an elevation of over a 1000 ft above sea level.  The vineyard is a mix of dry clay and calcareous soil that slopes south away from the Monte Conero towards the water.

Varietal: 100% Montepulciano.

Vintage: 2010

I don't know when this wine was released, but I just got the 2010 and it seems like the winery usually holds the wines for a long time.  Considering how powerful and deep it is it would make sense that Piantate Lunghe would hold it a while to mellow.

Aroma: The 2010 Piantate Lunghe brings the funk.  It's a dark, rich, funky smelling wine.  This Rosso Conero's aroma is more rich loamy earth than dry sunny soil that Italian wines often have.  The first impression of the Piantate Lunghe smells like freshly turned farm fields to me, but hiding behind that funk is some serious blackberry fruit as well as a whiff of smoke and grilled meat; maybe even some roasting coffee as well.  There's a whiff of wood smoke that is so fitting for this time of year (Autumn).

Palate: The Piantate Lunghe is a fuller bodied red that's dark, deep, and expansive.  Some how it tastes rustically volcanic and dark, but also lush and smooth in texture.  Something about the earthy and volcanic flavors combine with the soft texture and fullness to make me think of really smooth and fine leather as a metaphor for this Rosso Conero.  I've never had another Montepulciano like this.  There's all kinds of serious dark fruit up front, but I really love the lively minerally mid palate that hints at having even more details to give up if this wine had a bit more age.  

The Piantate Lunghe Rosso Conero is one of the best Montepulcianos I've had.  It's reason for existing seems to be to as a companion to rich fatty braised meats and root vegetables.  You can pick it up at either of the Portland Rosemont Markets, Vic and Whit's in Saco, 40 Paper, or Aurora Provisions.  It retails for about $20


Restaurant Piccolo

I don't usually write about new restaurants.  Mostly I limit myself to wine.  However, without exciting restaurants to expose people to my wines I'd just be sitting alone drinking in my grimy warehouse!  Restaurants that push the limits and give people new experiences are the best avenue for the good citizens of Portland Maine to experience my crazy, passionate, and authentic wines.  I get excited whenever a new restaurant opens and right now Portland is savoring the openings of a slew of new establishments.  I got to eat at most of them last week and wanted to share some of my impressions.

Last Friday night was the opening of Piccolo.

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Damien and his wife Ilma opened Piccolo at 111 Middle St, where Bresca used to be.  Damien's parents are from southern Italy and in our meetings prior to the Piccolo's opening all he talked about were his memories of the food he grew up with.  Nothing about the construction or the business; just the sausages his grandfather cured in their basement, braising techniques, roasting pigs, and ideas he'd come up with while cooking at high end restaurants in NY.  His passion and personal connection to the cuisine he was planning to cook was obvious.   So I made reservations for opening night.

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Erin and I made a good go at the menu and had the Ricotta, Cavolfiore, Sarde, Zucca, Porcellino, and Patrimonio.  The food was excellent; we'll have to go back soon and try more of the menu.  The Ricotta in particular was memorable and served on a dry cracker-like traditional Sardinian bread drizzled with fresh olive oil from Abruzzo.  The dish sounds simple and there are only three ingredients, but the result was an unusual combination of textures and flavors; and delicious.  That set the tone.  The Cavolfiore was really hearty and satisfying with the anchovies in a supporting role giving the cauliflower an added dimension.  The Sarde was super traditional using Mediterranean anchovies, but Damien said he'd soon be getting local herring for it and it would be even better and fresher.

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The Sarde

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Above are our main courses.  The Patrimonio sausages with polenta is on the left and that's my Porcellino on the right.  They were both killer.  The sausages were richer and juicier than any other sausage I've ever had!  It would have been hard not to snatch them from Erin, but I had the tender milk fed pig in front of me to keep me occupied.

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The view of the bar.  The layout hasn't changed much from Bresca.  Piccolo has been all redecorated and feels different, but if you ate at Bresca it will look and feel familiar.  For desert I had an affogato: house made ice cream with Matt's espresso poured over it.  Great ice cream and great coffee to be sure, but what made it special was that Ilma has a huge tank of liquid nitrogen in the back that she uses to really freeze the ice cream: not a hard freeze, but so cold that it will float, still frozen, in the hot espresso.  It was awesome!  

I'm really excited about Piccolo, not just because it's southern Italian cuisine is a new addition to Portland and different from the northern and Tuscan Italian we already have.  Damien and Ilma both seem to be technically talented chefs; however, what made the food memorable to me is that it tasted like they were really passionate about it and excited to finally be able to share it with people.  That's what I love about food and wine: the connections, emotions, history, and culture that's bound up in it.


Domaine de Boede le Pavillon

Vintage: 2011

Varietal: 80% Cinsault, 20% Syrah

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Domaine de Boede is a property in the la Clape AOP region of France's Languedoc.  Boede was for several generations owned by the Arnaud family until in 2006 their neighbor and the proprietor of Chateau Negly, Jean Paux-Rosset, convinced the Arnauds to sell to him.  Jean had replanted his vineyards and modernised the winery at Negly back in the early 90s and is now regarded as an example of the quality the Languedoc can achieve with lower yields and organic farming practices.  Le Pavillon is still made distinctly from the vineyards of the Domaine de Boede property.  The vines are approximately 25 years old and face the Mediterranean on slowly decomposing sandstone hillsides.

Aroma:  There's concentrated black cherry fruit but also an aromatic spice.  This wine definitely has the garrigue smell of wild rosemary and thyme going on.  The Boede really smells strongly like Mediterranean France, not just as a product of the climate, but it really smells like the place!  Currant and licorice are present there as well making the Boede's aroma darker and slightly more brooding seeming.  The aroma is pretty intense and interesting, I spent a lot of time just smelling it.  Interestingly the rich fruit and aromatic spice combine to make it smell almost like cola!

Palate: It's thick.  The Boede le Pavillon has this texture that I hesitate to call big, but it's kind of lush and coats the inside of my mouth.  There's a lot of black cherry fruit and then also some black raspberry and blueberry.  Lot's of berry fruit here along with a touch of the spice of wild herbs on the midpalate.  The piece that I really like is that it has more acidity than I expect from such a rich southern French wine.  The acidity makes it brighter and more lively seeming before the moderately dry finish comes in and rounds the wine out.

The Domaine de Boede is an interesting and different expression from Mediterranean France.  It's very honest tasting and expressive, just rustic enough, and with it's dark fruit and medium  body great for this season.  This is around $12.99 at the Rosemont Market, Aurora Provisions, Vic and Whit's, and Bow St Market.