The theoretical delicate smokiness of this pork rib demands smoky elements in the accompanying wine, such as those from syrah hailing from the northern Rhône. The appellations that prescribe red wine production here allow for the blending of a small amount of white grapes to add aromatics and complexity, save for one—Cornas. Located near the southern end of the valley, these wines have traditionally been considered among the more rustic of the northern Rhône. This reputation is changing due to an increasing emphasis on attention to detail and low yields in the vineyard combined with better techniques in the cellar. Common flavors are dark fruits such as currants and blackberries, with minerality coming from the granite underneath.
In the sense of being a wine that comes white wine grapes, the “orange wines” of Friuli in northeastern Italy are white wines, and they have the structure to match the pork rib, with enough acidity to cut through the abundant fat hidden within. So-called orange wines are produced from white grapes left in prolonged contact with the skins, which results in a variable degree of orange tint to the finished wine. Although this technique is essentially an ancient wine, it has seen a recent revival amongst producers in Friuli, and in particular the area of Carso, which is adjacent to Trieste and on the border with Slovenia. The resulting wines are frequently bottled unfiltered, and may appear cloudy in the glass, with the presence of abundant grape skin tannins not normally found in white wines.
Complementary Pairing: Cornas, Rhône, France
Try: Jean-Luc Colombo Cornas ‘Les Ruchets’
[www.vinscolombo.fr] This is the grand vin from this leader in the renaissance of quality production in Cornas. From vines farmed organically of up to 90 years of age, it spends two years maturing in oak. The philosophy of this domaine is that wine is meant to pair with food, so despite the powerful syrah, these wines are inevitably balanced, with finesse and expressiveness of origin.
Contrasting Pairing: Carso “orange wine”, Friuli, Italy
Try: Vodopivec Vitovska Amphora
[www.vodopivec.it] Like other vineyards in Carso, the vines are planted on limestone bedrock. The grape variety is vitovska, which practically exists only in Friuli and neighboring Slovenia. This version is macerated with its skins for 6 months in traditional vessels, clay amphorae from Georgia (the former Soviet republic, not the US state). Expect this wine to be a unique experience that will change dramatically in the glass as it breathes, variously showing elements of stone fruits, herbs, smoke, and the limestone upon which it is grown.