Wed 12 Mar 2008
LL had to work late last night, so I took over dinner duties and braised some baby bok choy (salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and sprigs of thyme), roasted some potatoes and cooked salmon (fresh farm-raised steelhead) in the way we usually do it, nothing but salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon, sear it in a hot pan one minute on each side and then put the pan with the salmon in a 400-degree oven for three or four minutes. The salmon emerges slightly crusty on the outside and almost creamy inside, cooked just past rare.
Anyway, there had been a bottle of Italian white wine in the refrigerator, brought to the house by a friend — thanks, Mike! — who came to a tasting here a few months ago. Knowing nothing about the wine, not having actually looked at it carefully, I thought, why not? The full name of the wine is: Vidussi Podere di Spessa Ronchi di Ravez Collio Bianco 2002. (Collio lies in Italy’s northeastern region of Friuli, abutting Slovenia.) So, here’s a five-year-old white wine from Italy. Whoa, what’s this going to be like?
The name of the wine might as well add up to “fantastico!” Lord have mercy, it came from the bottle in a stream of bright medium, slightly brassy gold, and as we sat there at dinner both LL and I uttered variations on the theme: “It’s like what a wine would taste like if it were gold.” Or maybe: “It’s what gold would taste like if it were wine.”
Here’s the report: The Ronchi di Ravez Collio Biano 2002 acted like a dessert wine in the nose and a bone-dry wine in the mouth. By which I mean that the bouquet was a seductive weaving of candied orange rind, honeyed and roasted peaches, apricots and smoked almonds. In the mouth, however, it was all apple and pear, lanolin and dried herbs, dynamic acid and notes of anise and lavender. “Meadowy” was a word that came up, but not a high summer meadow brimming with flowers, no, this would be a late summer to fall meadow, one that encompasses the changing of the seasons and dry, weedy, fading floral aspects.
The blend of grapes is 45 percent ribolla gialla, 30 percent malvasia Istriana, 20 percent friulano (no longer called tocai friulano) and 5 percent picolit. The wine spends a short six months in oak, accounting for some of its firm structure and suppleness. About 1,500 cases are made. The wines of Vidussi are brought into the United States by Opici Imports, Glen Rock, N.J.
The price is about $23, a great bargain as far as I’m concerned for such a gorgeous, intriguing, complicated wine. which was, by the way, fabulous with the salmon.
On another subject, I just posted to KoeppelOnWine a page of “Refrigerator Door Wines,” eight bottles priced from $8 to $15, four white and four red. The whites are simple and direct and somewhat charming, being mainly decent quaffers for sitting around the porch or patio. The reds show more character, especially the Greg Norman Zinfandel 2005, Lake County, and the exotic Hecula 2004, from Yecla in Spain. After all, it won’t be too long before we start firing up those backyard grills and requiring some robust red wines to go with grilled meat.