My specialty in the wine business is finding the “diamonds in the rough.” My professional satisfaction lies in uncovering those wines that are rare finds; that drink well above their price points, that are high in quality but won't gouge your wallet.
This is why I am so excited when I find a great wine shop with the same philosophy. La Cantina Wines and Liquors demonstrates this ethos. Anthony Angrisani the owner-operator is a fellow oenophile cut from the same cloth. I can always find something I like when I stroll in his store before or after our tour. No matter how much cash I have to spare, I always find something I like. His taste is spot-on. They have great service, ship and even deliver! It’s why I teamed up with Anthony when I was planning my Italian Wine School and Dinner at Mario’s Restaurant last week. I wanted a reliable shop where my guests could also purchase any wines they enjoyed.
Based on the menu we looked over his inventory, and one of his suggestions was Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo “Perbacco” DOC.
I was familiar with Vietti and their exquisite Baroli, but I hadn't tried their entry level Nebbiolo in a long time.
Wow I was knocked out, and so were my guests.
Vietti makes some of the most well known Baroli in the world. But what’s the difference between their premier wines and their Nebbiolo? In order to be certified as a Barolo by the Italian Wine Board, a wine must meet the following criteria:
The Nebbiolo fruit must all be sourced from within the commune of Barolo,
Aged a minimum of three years prior to release.
If a wine doesn’t meet these criteria, it is classified and named after the grape (Nebbiolo). Usually the producer will source grapes from all over the Langhe valley surrounding the commune of Barolo, or they will simply give a different name to a wine that’s not fit to be deemed Barolo.
In this case Vietti produces their Nebbiolo exactly the same way as their fabulous Barolo wines. All the fruit is grown and sourced from within the commune, Each parcel is processed and aged separately until they select which will be included in the blend of Perbacco or the ones that will continue to age and become Barolo Castiglione.
Basically the only difference is one measly year of aging! Perbacco or "wonderful" in Italian is aged for two years and not three. So I was able to serve a young Barolo Castiglione (a pretty fancy wine) and still maintain a decent price for the dinner, while giving my guests an extra special experience:
The wine was an absolutely perfect pairing for Marios’ rich menu. Showing generous sour cherry fruit with mint, earth and spices showing notable intensity and a long, velvety finish. Perbacco’s beautiful nuance, acidity and silky tannin was the perfect complement the spiedini a la Romana, penne a la vodka, and the tagliatelle a filetto di pomodoro.
This is a great wine for Pinot Noir enthusiasts looking to branch out into Italian varietals., and the final reason I chose to serve it. My guests were very pleasantly surprised to have a wine that tasted like it had a price tag of over $75-$100 costs a mere $29.99 (before the case discount).
So if you're in the neighborhood, be sure to swing by La Cantina at 2355 Arthur Avenue, and bring in your list of pairing suggestions for the delicacies in your shopping bag. You’ll be glad you did.