Every element of this belly-filling dish boasts big flavor intensity, so the wines to accompany it will need either to match the intensity of or give way to all that flavor. Wines that hail from the same neighborhood – Cortona, Tuscany – as the recipe will work very well. In fact, one winery – Baracchi – has a nicely diverse array of wines to satisfy many different preferences.
The local white grape, Trebbiano, is neutral, with its flavors ultimately based on whether the grapes were harvested earlier or later (leaner and crisper or richer and rounder, respectively) and what the winemaker then did with them. The Baracchi Winery makes two styles, and both are made using the juice and the skins. This is unusual for white wines, which are usually fermented with only the juice. The effect is a pleasant bit of grippiness on the palate, similar to what you might find in a lighter red. This light tannin cuts right through the cream and pancetta fat in this dish. Both wines also spend time on their yeast lees (the yeast turn the juice into wine then remain in the wine until filtered out before bottling). This imparts a lovely savoriness to the wines that works beautifully with the meaty pancetta. The primary difference between the wines is that the Astore sees no oak aging, so it’s more fruit focused and lighter weight. The UT sees new oak during its aging, giving the wine a rounder sensation on the plate as well as nutty and creamy flavor nuances.
As for reds, the Baracchi winery offers a surprising number of options. Two are particularly interesting for this dish. One is a Sangiovese, the classic variety of the area, and the other is Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir), which is not at all typical to a warm region like Tuscany. One important winepairing factor for this dish is that both Sangiovese and this particular expression of Pinot Noir have lighter, red fruit flavors that connect nicely with the perky tomato paste. Two other keys to matching this pasta with these reds is their perky acidity and slightly smoky characters, which come from their aging in toasty new oak barrels. The Pinot Nero is the slightly lighter-bodied (though it is full-bodied overall) and offers more lift on the finish, while the Sangiovese’s heft nicely equals the pasta’s.
Check out our recipe for Spaghetti al Fumo.
Master of Wine (MW)