Thu 6 Oct 2011
I have mentioned Jamie Oliver’s Pasta alla Norma on this blog several times; here’s a link to the post that describes the first time I made this hearty, flavorful, no-fail combination of deeply sauteed eggplant, garlic, tomatoes, basil and red pepper flakes. For wine, I opened the Allegrini Valpolicella 2009, a blend of 65 percent corvino grapes, 30 percent rondinella and five percent molinara, in others words a classic Valpolicella from that area northwest of the city of Verona. “Classic,” I say, but not only in the manner of its shape and proportion but in the sense of its superiority, because a lot of mediocre Valpolicella gluts the world’s markets, the result of thoughtlessly expanding vineyard areas and increasing yields. Allegrini, however, founded in 1858, is one of the best producers in the region. This wine undergoes no oak treatment, so its deep, dark, spicy nature is a product of the grapes themselves and careful handling in the winery. The color is intense ruby-purple; the bouquet, which requires a few minutes to open — this is no light-hearted, easy-listening red — reveals heady aspects of macerated black currants and plums, fresh and dried violets and rose petals, fruitcake and quince paste, smoke, dust and graphite. Allegrini Valpolicella 2009 is dense and chewy, permeated by graphite-laced, grainy tannins and concentrated flavors of black currants, blueberries and plums that feel slightly roasted and fleshy, all the while maintaining gratifying measures of appealing freshness and warmth. Quite a performance for the winery’s basic level Valpolicella and one of the best matches with Pasta alla Norma that we’ve had. Drink through 2013 or ’14. Winemaker was Franco Allegrini. Alcohol content is 13 percent. Very Good+. I paid $20, but you see it around the country as low as $14.
A Leonardo LoCascio selection for Winebow, New York.