Bianco: Fubbiano Vermentino
Talk about The Temptations’ “Ball of Confusion” (see Ed’s recipe intro)! That’s always been true with regard to Italian grape varieties. So many of them, so frequently unheard of and so often blended that the taste of the individual varieties remains a mystery. But, as with this week’s Penne al Sugo di Pomodoro, Italian wines can be so delicious that sometimes it’s simply best to share and enjoy rather than examine them. Here are a few with which to do just that along with this penne dish.
One estate that I can always count on for sheer deliciousness is based in northern Tuscany’s Lucca hills, the Fubbiano estate. The estate makes only 100,000 bottles per year. Their focus is quality rather than quantity. Many of their wines would make a fine pairing for this Sunday Pasta.
Fubbiano produces two white wines. With the pasta, the Vermentino is the best match, but their Bianco is a nice aperitivo to open while you’re preparing dinner. The Vermentino shows more body, which better supports the weight of the pasta, and the floral overtones of this variety bridge to the fruitiness of the sauce.
In the red category, Sangiovese predominates the wines. Sangiovese often shows a tomato leaf note and it always sings with acidity. These two elements make Sangiovese a perfect match with this tangy tomato sauce. Additionally, at Fubbiano, the Sangiovese achieves a good degree of ripeness, further improving this pairing by lending enough wine fruit ripeness to match the fruitiness of the tomatoes. I particularly like the unoaked Colline Lucchesi Rosso, which incorporates splashes of two traditional, local grapes Canaiolo and Ciliegiolo. The winery’s Colline Lucchese San Gennaro is composed of the same blend, but it shows a touch of oak. If you’re looking for a heftier wine with more nuance, the second one is for you. I suggest, however, that the Rosso is the perfect weight to balance with this dish.
Of course, Fubbiano isn’t the only Italian winery that can set the world right when it feels like “Evolution, revolution, gun control, sound of soul” and more are taking over. Just ask your local wine specialist for a suggestion…but leave out the “Eve of destruction, tax deduction, city inspectors, bill collectors” and all. You don’t want your merchant to worry you’ve already been tippling!
Christy Canterbury, Master of Wine (MW)