Dinner with Giorgio Rivetti of La SpinettaBy
Giorgio reminded me it was 9 years ago that he last came for the “Grand Opening” of VINO in Honolulu, alongside Chiara Boschis (Pira Boschis), Pio Boffa (Pio Cesare); superstar chefs Celestino Drago (Drago’s in Santa Monica) & Suzette Gresham (Acquarello in San Francisco), as well as Master Sommeliers Nunzio Alioto (who also did his grandmother’s recipe of Ciopino), Doug Frost, Fred Dame & Larry Stone. Yes, it was quite the night!
La Spinetta was the rage then. People clamored to get their wines & deservedly so. Things haven’t changed.
Giorgio Rivetti is a contemporary of a group of young vignerons such as Elio Altare, who were revolutionizing Italy’s Piemonte region & its red wines from Barbera to Nebbiolo to even international grape varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon.
He is dynamic, passionate & very charismatic…..AND he crafts superb wines.
I jokingly questioned him on how his “empire” is doing, given that he & his brothers have since expanded to Tuscany to produce wines as well as a recent purchase of the iconic sparkling wine/vermouth house of Contratto in Piemonte.
On this night, however, we looked to do a dinner featuring VINO Chef Keith Endo’s style of “country” Italian foods & four wines from La Spinetta.
As VINO regulars know, Vermentino from parts of Italy, Sardegna, southern France (where it is called Rolle) & in Corsica can make some pretty tasty, interesting & food friendly white wine. The secret to the better ones seems to be really about balance, which means to me, planting the grape variety in the right vineyards in the right climate & farming it passionately & dedicatedly. Here is such a wine, which we served with–
This Vermentino is grown in very sandy soils which gives the wine a slight saline quality in addition to riveting minerality & crispness. The finished wine is only 13% alcohol. It worked very well with this dish.
100% Sangiovese–80% from Casanova & Terricola vineyards; 20% Sezzana & Casciana Terme vineyards (all with calcareous & ocean sediment soils). 9 to 10 day roto fermenters, 9 months in medium toast French oak. A truly superb Tuscan which is ideal for the dinner table.
Home-made Papardelle–served with shredded braised, no growth hormone, no antibiotic chicken, roasted vegetables, wild mushrooms & sage. (food photo–Shana Ikeda).
We have rekindled believers to the innate food friendliness which the Sangiovese grape variety can have. It boils down to hard work in the vineyard & winemaking to achieve balance, which this wine superbly showcases.
2001 La Spinetta Barbaresco “Starderi”
The Rivetti brothers purchased their 3 Barbaresco crus–Gallina parcel (5 hectares in 1995); Starderi parcel (6 1/2 hectares) on the hillside behind Gallina in 1996; and Valeirano parcel, 3 hectares in 1997. Starderi is at 270 meters elevation, south facing, 50 to 60 year old vines & produces wines of “strength & length“. These are usually the most forward of the 3 for my palate.
We were all impressed at how gorgeous this 2001 was showing (after decating & 5 hours of breathing). The nose was striking in its perfume, full of character, class & pedigree. Yes, 12 years aging in the bottle did this wine some good! All of the parts have harmonized & it was a good time to drink this wine. By no means am I saying drink up this wine. It REALLY is still a baby. It hasn’t reached the glorious state yet. It will. Just be patient. This is really some kind of wine!
2012 La Spinetta Moscato d’Asti “Quaglia”
La Spinetta started out as a highly reagrded producer of Moscato d’Asti. Today, however, they are generally regarded as one of the very best. They produce 2 single vineyard versions….Quaglia being their flagship.
Ricotta Cheese Panna Cotta–served with dried cherries & crushed nuts (photo by Shana Ikeda)
I tell people having this wine at the end of meal is very uplifting & refreshing…..like having a sorbet. Plus, it works well with lighter desserts.
What a dinner! What fun! Thank you to all who came.
And….thank you to Giorgio Rivetti (for sharing)……& Shana Ikeda (for the food photos).