New World Nebs

Included in our most recent wine club shipment from Lone Madrone was a bottle of their 2004 Nebbiolo. After letting it settle for a week or so, we opened it up on a night we were making a roast chicken and risotto. It was a nice accompaniment, but may actually have been a little too big-bodied for the food.

According to Lone Madrone co-proprietor and winemaker Neil Collins (also the winemaker at Tablas Creek)

The 2003 Nebbiolo might just be the perfect wine for your next Mediterranean meal, Its enticing nose of strawberry, ruby red grapefruit, cassis, and menthol is laced with hints of cranberry, white pepper and pomegranate. Firm tannins give this earthy wine authority on the palate, and at the table, as well, next to a hearty lasagna or moussaka. Salute”

So, i maybe should have aimed for a little less savory.

But this got me thinking about another winery in Paso. Caparone. This winery opened back in 1979 and is still run by the same family. Dave Caparone (the father) now has his son, Marc, working with him. I’d read a little about them before one of our weekend trips to Paso and checked it out. Old school. No crazy oak barrels and vanilla. Nothing overextracted and gooey. Retail at the winery, every bottle they sell is $14. If you’re a wine club member, take 25% off everything. All wines are estate grown and sold as single varietals – no blends.

Along with the more common to California cabernet, merlot and zinfandel varietals, they also produce sangiovese, aglianico and nebbiolo. To me, their nebbiolo is just a tiny cut below that from Lone Madrone, but it’s about half as much money, so I opted to order some three bottles each of the nebbiolo and aglianico.

Which brings us to the Caparone Aglianico. A grape commonly grown in the southeastern parts of Italy, it’s a rarity in California as far as I can tell.

This is currently my favorite pizza wine. Be sure to let it open up a bit before serving, but it is loveliness in a glass. And don’t limit it to just pizza, but maybe some grilled lamb and sauteed spinach with a side of morroccan-style roasted eggplant (dar yacout – see Food & Wine magazine for that simple and delicious recipe). Wow! A great pairing.

If you’re heading to Paso, do check out both of these wineries. They’re on opposite sides of town, but both offer really good wines at extremely reasonable prices.