Wednesday, August 29, 2012

MRE Menu 8: Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

A wine of suitable structure to match these meatballs can be found in central Umbria, around Montefalco.  Here, the sagrantino grape reigns, and the larger wine world is just beginning to realize that exceptional reds with remarkably high polyphenol content and robust tannins come from this special place.  The disciplinare calls for aging in wood to soften those tannins and integrate them with the predominantly black fruits.

The marinara sauce compels me to remain in Italy for a suitable contrasting pairing with the robust yet humble meatball.  A white wine of sufficient body can be a tough bill to fill, but it is waiting for us farther to the north in the Soave area of the Veneto.  Whites in this area are made from garganega, and can be somewhat nondescript when they come from the open plains, but reach their pinnacle in the hills of the Classico zone.  For added body to match the richness of the meat and sauce, go with the Recioto version, which utilizes the appassimento method to dry and concentrate the grapes before vinification.  For an extra twist, find one of the elusive sparkling versions of this Recioto to cleanse your palate as you feast on this MRE.

Complementary Pairing:  Sagrantino di Montefalco, Umbria, Italy
Try:  Paolo Bea Montefalco Sagrantino Secco ‘Pagliare’
[]  Unlike other producers in Montefalco seeking international critical acclaim and high scores by using lots of new French oak barriques, this family-run winery ages their sagrantino first in steel and then in the traditional large Slavonian oak botte, before bottling it unfiltered.  The family uses meticulous care in the organically farmed vineyards and over 500 years of experience in Montefalco to allow the terroir to ably speak for itself without the need for interventionalist winemaking.

Contrasting Pairing:  Recioto di Soave spumante, Veneto, Italy
Try:  Coffele Recioto di Soave Spumante
[]  The Recioto versions of Soave typically have some degree of sweetness, but here you won’t notice the residual sugar due to the balancing acidity and sparkling mouthfeel.  Expect a bouquet of cherry blossoms, with brioche on the mid-palate and an almond finish from this family winery with a vineyard on southwest facing slopes in Castelcerino in the Classico zone.