IT STARTED THIS SUMMER IN ITALY…
Last month, our adventures in Italy had us concocting plans to keep our #SummerLikeAEuropean going once we got back to California. In Italy, it’s not just Happy Hour but aperitivo — and nibbles of cheese and charcuterie come standard with your glass of wine at 5pm.
Back stateside, we started mulling over a perfect wine pairing for our cheese and charcuterie board, no matter what the spread. A bottle that is versatile, crisp, a crowd pleaser while still maintaining the allure of a special discovery. Something to really share over the communal taste experience of a good charcuterie and cheese spread.
2016 Simon di Brazzan Friulano “Blanc di Simon” is truly that wine.
Region: Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, Italy
Sub-Region: Collio / Isonzo del Friuli DOCs
Bordering Austria, Slovenia and the Adriatic Sea, it is a multicultural zone that has changed hands many times. When parts of Italy were ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Trieste was the capital, and a more Germanic culture flourished. This history makes the region (and the wine) feel like an eclectic mix of the romance of Italy with the cleanness and elegance of Austria. The wine picks up this flavor: compare the profile to Spanish Albariño, Alsatian Pinot Gris/Blanc, and Austrian Grüner Veltliner. When we had our first sip, one thing popped into our mind: this is a natural bottle for any cheese and charcuterie board.
THIS WINE IS varietally pure, with an emphasis on bright fruit and mineral expression. Fragrant, focused, textured, and electric, it is medium-bodied, leaning toward medium-plus, its weight and persistence on the palate owing to ripe and balanced fruit, not oak (as it is steel fermented and aged). These characteristics lend themselves particularly well to sips between bites of charcuterie: it will refresh the palate and cut through to the beautiful fats of the cheese and add complexity to the cured flavors of salami.
ABOUT THE VINEYARD
Daniele Drius is a young vintner based in the village of Brazzano di Cormons, along the region’s eastern border with Slovenia. He inherited a small farm from his grandfather, and over the past ten years he’s been re-planting vines and implementing organic and biodynamic practices in the process. The soils are primarily ponka (a sandstone-marl mixture) along with more ‘alluvial’ gravel and clay.
The location allows both mountain air and sea air to influence the vines, which is the key to the region’s success with whites: vines are refreshed every evening with the mist of the mountain air, which lengthens the growing season to heighten aromatics and preserve acidity, but there’s also enough warmth and sun to deliver ripeness and depth. A winning combination.
Proscuitto Di Parma, but you already knew this. This wine was made to be paired with the sweet/salty goodness of Proscuitto Di Parma, another standby of Northern Italy.
Etna Salami, with Pistachios and Lemon, adds more adventurous twist to the board. The nuttiness of the pistachios, the fat of the salami, and the refreshing zest of the lemon will zing in harmony with every sip.
Piave, produced in the Dolomites near a river of its namesake, is the natural, local pairing for this wine. With a flavor profile similar to Parmigiano, the nuttiness of this cheese will provide a nice contrast to the crispness of the Frulano.
Prima Donna cheese is the perfect multicultural pairing for this multicultural wine. A Dutch Cheesemaker travelled to Italy, and when he returned back to the Netherlands, using the knowledge he acquired, he created a Dutch cheese with Italian characteristics. This cheese softer than Parmesan yet harder than Gruyere with a lovely soft, nutty taste with a roundness that will contract the other, sharper cheese selections.
Gorgonzola – You didn’t think we’d leave out a strong minded cheese, did you? Another Northern Italian standby, aim for one with a higher fat content and less salt, to offer variety on your board. The mineralogy of the wine will play well with the cave-aged feel of a quality gorgonzola.
Pecorino Toscano – Literally meaning “little sheep,” this sheeps milk cheese from central Italy has a depth and saltiness that will round out the cheese and charcuterie selection. A good pecorino Toscano should crumble at the slice — adding some fun texture to the board.
Hell, sometimes on these hot summer nights the idea of igniting the stove to cook is too much, and this board and a bottle can become dinner. We won’t tell if you don’t tell.
Stock up on this 2016 Simon di Brazzan Friulano “Blanc di Simon” while you can, and always have one on hand for introducing your night with the perfect cheese and charcuterie board. A versatile best friend to everyone’s favorite party starter.
Cheers From Your Pocket Somms! – ARGAUX