Fri 26 Oct 2012
Generally when we think of a wine to drink with pizza, we conjure a fairly simple, light-hearted but flavorful red wine with the sort of bright acidity that will stand up to the acid in tomatoes or tomato-based sauce, not that all pizzas involve some form of tomatoes, but many do. That’s why Chianti is a pretty natural choice for pizza (and pasta dishes) or non-blockbuster zinfandel or some of the inexpensive reds blends produced all over California, wines that aren’t too tannic or oaky. On the other hand, I receive many samples of wine every week, and sometimes, on a whim, I’ll open a bottle of an Important Impressive Red Wine for Pizza-and-Movie Night, a gesture I made recently in conjunction with a fairly unusual pizza topped with fresh figs, bacon, basil, green onions and a little mozzarella. This was wonderful.
The wine in question was no “fairly simple, light-hearted” quaff. Instead, the Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley, is an ambitious, profoundly structured limited edition cabernet sauvignon (with 12 percent cabernet franc) that would seem to exist in a world apart from a Saturday night pizza, but, you know, it was there, and surprisingly and happily the wine and the pizza turned out to be perfect for each other.
The Signorello Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2009 aged 20 months in French oak, 52 percent new barrels. The color is dark ruby with a hint of radiant violet at the rim. Aromas of lavender, violets and graphite are etched with charcoal and bittersweet chocolate, amid notes of intense and concentrated black currants, black raspberries and plums that after a few moments in the glass take on a spicy, macerated and slightly fleshy aspect; yes, it’s a tremendously attractive and seductive bouquet from which I found it difficult to tear myself away, but one must taste the wine too. Dense, dusty, velvety tannins coat the mouth and support precisely delineated black and blue fruit flavors that unfold in layers of sandalwood and mocha, cedar and loam, all enlivened by bright acidity and a distant mineral edge. The sense of proportion and balance, the character of detail and dimension in this cabernet reflect the quality of the grapes from which it was made as well as thoughtful and careful winemaking. Even as an hour or so passed, and the wine took on some austerity and more earthiness in the finish, we continued to enjoy it with the fig and bacon pizza. 14.7 percent alcohol. Drink through 2020 to ’24. Production was 381 cases. Excellent. About $75.
How did a wine of such scope and intensity manage a blissful marriage with a fig, bacon and basil pizza? Somehow the sweetness and earthiness of the roasted figs elicited a hint of sweetness and ripeness from the wine, while the currant and plum flavors added shades of succulence to the already sweet and savory figs. The savory, smoky meatiness of the bacon reflected similar nuances in the wine. Or perhaps I’m over-thinking the whole scheme; the wine and the pizza were terrific together; we can leave it at that.
A sample for review. The label image is one year off; the wine under review is the 2009.