Tue 10 Aug 2010
Well, of course the simplest pasta would be a bowl of naked noodles, but one step up in complication and yet remarkably delicious is the Roman dish Spaghetti a Cacio e Peppe, that is, Spaghetti with Pecorino Romano cheese and Black Pepper. You cook the pasta — as you can see, I used farfalle because I love those cute little bow-tie shapes — and when the pasta is cooked, reserve a little of the water and then drain the pasta as usual. Put it back into the pot, grate on a bunch of pecorino cheese and fresh cracked pepper and stir in a bit of the pasta water to help it all cohere. That’s it! I added — please don’t curse me, you sweet old lady goddesses of Roman cuisine! — a dribble of olive oil. It’s great stuff, and one bowlful made a more than adequate lunch for me yesterday.
For wine, I opened a bottle of the Argiano Non Confunditur 2007, a Rosso Toscano blend of 40 percent cabernet sauvignon and 20 percent each merlot, syrah and sangiovese. Argiano, whose winemaker bears the unexpected name of Hans Vinding-Diers, is a viticultural estate in Brunello di Montalcino that goes back to 1580, though the present ownership, of Countess Noemi Marone Cinzano, began in 1992. Non Confunditur is a Latin tag that means something like, “not to be confused,” and if the point is that this wine should not be confused with Brunello, well, don’t worry, small chance of that.
The wine is dark, ripe and robust and seductive with its aromas of macerated and fleshy black currants, black cherries and black raspberries, along with a whiff of black pepper. The wine ages one year in a combination of French barriques and Slavonian vats, so the oak influence manifests itself in the wine’s framing and foundation, exerting a sense of subtle, supple woodiness and blond, slightly exotic spice. Notes of red currants, orange rind, lapsang souchong tea, tobacco leaf and a tinge of cabernet’s graphite-like minerality develop in the glass. A stream of taut acidity keeps the wine lively and enticing throughout its soft almost plush ripeness, while dry, dusty tannins contribute to a build-up of briery and brambly austerity on the finish. Impressive character and confidence. The alcohol content is 14 percent. Drink now through 2014 to ’16. Excellent. National prices are all over the map, as in about $16 to $24.
Vias Imports, New York.