Piemonte’s Nebbiolo is having a hot moment. I have found a great bottle for you that will tell you why.
Nestled at the foot of the impressive snow-capped Alps Mountain range, the Langhe with its rolling hills, medieval hilltop towns, ancient castles, and many vineyards is one of the most stunning areas of the Piemonte in north-western Italy. No surprise it was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for its cultural landscapes and local winemaking culture.
The area is unquestionably also one of the major Italian culinary hotspots – and the epicentre of Italy’s slow food movement. Speaking of local products, wine of course tops the list, with Barolo and Barbaresco the best-known reds coming from the area. But that list would not be complete without mentioning white truffles, hazelnuts, handmade pasta, excellent cheeses, and delicate veal among other delicacies.
My first encounter with the Langhe region and its amazing wines and local produce dates back about 15 years and ever since both my love for the area and the wines have only been growing.
Since we are still stuck in the middle of winter, which means time to enjoy bold red wines, I could not resist to reach for this excellent bottle of Nebbiolo.
This is definitely a wine that calls for a special meal, so I’ve opted to pair it with a venison pie. The tender yet deliciously rich meat is the perfect match for bold reds.
It’s the perfect dish to show off when inviting guests, and while it might look a bit demanding at first, it can be easily prepared in advance and just finished in the oven before serving. Giving you more time with your guests and less spend in the kitchen.
I used these beautiful lion head cups to prepare individual servings, but you can also prepare this using a large pie dish.
Background: What to know about Nebbiolo
Native to the Piemonte region, Nebbiolo is having a hot moment right now. Yielding full-bodied red wines, Nebbiolo is perhaps better known as the grape variety behind the two leading wines of Piemonte: Barolo and Barbaresco, made from grapes grown in the distinctive Barolo and Barbaresco DOCS appellations.
Elsewhere, the wine made from the varietal will be simply called Nebbiolo. Though the wines are everything but simple.
There are two Nebbiolo DOC appellations in Piemonte: Langhe Nebbiolo DOC and Nebbiolo d’Alba DOC. Both will yield fantastic red wines without the heftier price tag of the Barolo and Barbaresco DOCS wines.
Nebbiolo is also made outside of Piemonte, in the Valtellina area in Lombardy and Valle d’Aosta (further north of the Piemonte region). Nebbiolo is more difficult to be found outside of Italy, though lately it is starting to appear in places such as Australia, South Africa, Oregon and the cooler parts of California.
The name Nebbiolo is believed to origin from the Italian word for fog (nebbia). If you have ever been to the Langhe area in Piemonte, you will know, fog is a constant here during the cooler autumn months. Nebbiolo grapes being typically harvested by late October – as the need a long ripening season – this means vineyards will be covered in thick blankets of fog when the grapes are picked.
If you are into cool-climate Pinot Noir or Sangiovese wines, you will definitely appreciate a bottle of Nebbiolo as well. It is a wine that is typically high in acidity and tannins, with an intense aroma of cherry, plum, and strawberry, followed by floral notes like violet and rose, leather, licorice, and herbs.
About Azienda Agricola Marco Porello
Founded in the 1930s by Cesare Porello, today Azienda Agricola Marco Porello is led by the third generation of the Porello family with Marco Porello at the helm.
Blessed with such a winemaking DNA, and the winery’s core philosophy still a focus on intense vineyard work and maximum attention to detail, just as it has been since the early days of his grandfather, Marco often referred to as the ‘rising star of Piemonte wines’ seems odd. And yet it’s deserved, which becomes immediately obvious opening one of his outstanding wines.
The small Marco Porello range made from the area’s native grape varieties includes white, rosé, red and sweet wines.
Tasting Notes: Marco Porello Nebbiolo Langhe DOC
Made from 100% Nebbiolo grapes which come from vineyards located south of Canale in Vezza d’Alba on mineral rich soils which gives the wine a rich aroma.
In the glass, a low intensity ruby red with a dark core.
On the nose, dominated by aromas of dark barriers such as blueberry, raspberry, cassis, and blackberry, accompanied by fragrant floral aromas. Followed by notes of wood, nougat, and hints of caramel.
On the palate, slender and spicy with elegant soft fruit acidity. Excellent structure.
The Marco Porello Nebbiolo Langhe DOC pairs well with a wide range of food. The best matches are likely those sticking to the amazing local cuisines of the Piemonte. From venison to osso buco, vitello tonnato, pasta, risotto, and pizza you can’t go wrong. In addition, it works fantastic with other red meat, poultry, white meat, lamb as well as spicy food.
Recipe: Venison Pie with Red Wine Gravy
700 g venison, cut into chunks
50 g bacon lardon, roughly chopped
2 small onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons clarified butter
4 teaspoons venison seasoning
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 bay leaf
6-8 juniper berries, lightly crushed
300 ml dry red wine
400 ml game stock (alternatively beef stock)
5 tablespoons heavy cream
4 sheets puff pastry, 75 g each
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
Prepare the venison one or two days ahead.
In a large heavy-based casserole, fry the bacon over medium heat. Transfer to a plate.
Keep the casserole on the heat, add clarified butter turn up the heat and when melted add onion and venison in a singly layer and brown until well caramelized on all sides (you might have to do this in batches). Season the venison with venison seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Reduce the heat to a low medium. Add tomato paste, bay leaf, juniper berries, and flour then pour in the wine and venison stock.
Cover the casserole with a lid and cook for about 1.5 hours until soft.
Take from heat, add the bacon, and heavy cream. Season with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a large bowl, let cool completely, then refrigerate until needed.
On the day of your meal, take the venison from the fridge and slowly bring to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 190°C.
Fill venison in a pie form (one large of four smaller ones).
If using a large pie form, place puff pastry sheets on top of each other and roll out to cover the form. If using four smaller forms, roll out each sheet individually to cover the form.
Cover the pie form with the puff pastry.
Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush the pie with the mixture.
With a sharp knife, cut a few times into the pie crust.
Put into the oven and bake for 30-35 minutes until the crust is golden-brown.