Posts Tagged ‘Tuscany’

Week 11: What to Eat with the 2006 Badia di Morrono Teneto

16 Nov

There are few things more delicious than Italian food.  It’s so simple yet so soulful, with an exacting focus on fresh, quality ingredients that is rivaled by few other cuisines.  And though I wouldn’t necessarily say that, on average, the best Italian food comes from Tuscany, I can absolutely say that one of my favorite dishes does – Tagliatelli with Wild Boar Ragu.  Tagliatelle is a wide, long pasta that looks much like a thick ribbon while ragu is a traditional Italian meat sauce.  And, as I’ve mentioned previously, wild boar (cinghiale in Italian) is a Tuscan staple.  This rich, savory dish may just be the ultimate in comfort food, and will pair perfectly with the big complex flavors in the Badia di Morrono Teneto.  In short, there was really never any question that it would be this week’s CorkPopper recipe.

As you can imagine, wild boar can be difficult to find, so it’s probably easiest to order it online.  I got mine from Broken Arrow Ranch, a specialty site that sells only wild boar, antelope, venison and elk meat, and if the sausage is any indication, the loin I ordered for this dish should be amazing.  So, without further delay, here’s the recipe.  Be sure to start the sauce several hours before dinner so that it has time to really simmer.  If you don’t want to make your own pasta dough, the fresh pasta you can buy at the grocery store is fine, although you’re unlikely to find tagliatelli (fettucini will probably be the widest you can get).

Tagliatelli with Wild Boar Ragu

Ingredients for the Sauce:
1 3/4 pounds wild boar loin
1/4 pound pancetta, cubed
1 large brown onion, chopped
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/2 bottle dry red wine
1/3 cup Italian parsley, chopped
8 basil leaves, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper and salt

Preparation for the Sauce:
Season the boar with salt and pepper and dust with a bit of flour.  Brown the boar on both sides and set aside.

In another pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until almost smoking.  Add the onions and cook until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook a couple minutes longer before adding the carrot and celery.  Cook until the vegetables are soft.  Add the boar and pancetta to the pot and cook for about 10-15 minutes.  Add the tomatoes, wine, parsley and basil.  Simmer for several hours if you can, stirring occasionally.  After a couple of hours, start trying to pull apart the boar meat.  (Leaving it in large pieces will make it dry.)  You should be able to do this just with a wooden spoon.

Ingredients for the Pasta:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg, beaten lightly
3/4 tablespoon olive oil

Preparation for Pasta:

In a food processor blend the flour, the eggs, the oil, and 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water until the mixture just begins to form a ball, adding more water drop by drop if the dough is too dry.  (The dough should be firm and not sticky.) Blend the dough for 15 seconds more to knead it.  You can prepare the dough up to 4 hours ahead of time.  Just keep it covered in the fridge.  It needs to stand, covered, at room temperature for an hour before being rolled, however, so keep that in mind.

To roll pasta dough, set the smooth rollers of a pasta machine at the widest setting.  (If you don’t have a pasta roller, you can use a rolling pin; it’ll just take some elbow grease and you may not be able to get it very thin.)  Divide the dough into 3 pieces, flatten one piece into a rough rectangle, and cover the remaining pieces with an inverted bowl.  Dust the rectangle with flour and feed it through the rollers.   Turn the dial down one notch and feed the dough through the rollers.  Continue to feed the dough through the rollers, turning the dial one notch lower each time, until the dough has reached the desired thinness.  The dough should be a smooth, long sheet about four or five inches wide and about 1/16-inch thick.  Roll the remaining pasta dough in the same manner.

Using a knife, cut the sheets of pasta into 1-inch wide ribbons.  Once you have all your tagliatelle cut, cook in a large pot of boiling, salted water.  Fresh pasta only takes a couple of minutes to cook, and it’s done when it floats to the top, so be sure that you’ve already set the table and are ready to eat.

Drain the cooked pasta and divide into large pasta bowls.  Cover with sauce and sprinkle with some freshly grated Parmiggiano Reggiano cheese.  Serve with crusty grilled bread and a simple side salad.


Wild Boar on Foodista


2006 Tenuta di Biserno Insoglio del Cinghiale

14 Nov

The wild boar (“cinghiale” in Italian) is a staple of Tuscan cuisine – and not just because its meat is lean and tasty.  The wild boar is actually a bit of a nuisance, given its ability to wipe out an entire vineyard in just one night, so hunting it (and eating it) has become a bit of a necessity.  Well, while I’m not a fan of anything that puts beautiful and bountiful vineyards at risk, I LOVE wild boar meat.  So with an entire week dedicated to Tuscan wines, I couldn’t help myself but choose a wine that not only has wild boar in its name but even has a picture of one on the bottle…. my mouth started watering just thinking about it.  And when I read the reviews, I was sold…

“Medium crimson hue. Intensely brambly aromas of raspberry and pencil shavings. Lovely mouth-feel frames juicy flavors of strawberry and earth; perfect balance. Clean, tart finish.”  Wine News, 94 Points, October/November 2008

“The 2006 Insoglio del Cinghiale possesses inviting, super-ripe aromatics that lead to notes of earthiness, smoke, black pepper and ripe dark fruit that develop in the glass. This supple, plump red is a great example of the bold, racy wines that were made in Tuscany in the 2006 vintage. Insoglio del Cinghiale is a blend of Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Petit Verdot.” – Antonio Galloni, The Wine Advocate, 89 Points, June 30, 2008

“A focused and briary nose of red currants, petrol, black pepper, and cinnamon take you on a flight that lands you in a world of blackberries, strawberry, and peppercorn flavors that persist from tip of tongue to back of throat. On the finish the primary black and red fruits relent just enough to show a creamy snap of chocolate. The youthful, tightly wound structure is balanced beautifully by the fine tannins and will be welcome at a table filled with braised wild game. A blend of equal parts syrah, cabernet franc, and merlot, this is a chewy wine of excellent finesse.” The Italian Wine Report, 89 Points, April 1, 2008

Needless to say, I had some pretty high expectations for this wine, so I came home on Friday after a long week of work and popped the cork as soon as I walked in the door.  At first whiff, it smelled a bit stuffy, so I decided to decant it and give it some air.  Unfortunately, I am sad to report that it never quite lived up to my expectations.  Though the stuffy smell lessened after a while, I get more old leather and must on the palate than blackberry and pepper.  And I actually found the tannins to be a bit overwhelming, leaving me more interested in a glass of water than another glass of wine.  That said, this wine is certainly not undrinkable.  It’s just not making it onto my top ten list any time soon.

I’m giving it 2.5 corks popped…

If you’d like to try it for yourself, you can find the Insoglio del Cinghiale at for $19.99/bottle.



2006 Badia di Morrono Taneto

12 Nov

I know what you Tuscan wine purists will say – it’s not a “true” Tuscan red wine if it’s not made primarily with Sangiovese.  Well, get over it.  The “Super Tuscan” blends that are coming out of the region these days are rich, meaty and complex and should not be missed.

The Badia di Morrono Taneto is one such Super Tuscan.  It’s a blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Sangiovese, and 20% Merlot and exhibits characteristics from all three.  It has a fantastic aroma of ripe blackberries and tarragon, and is rich and velvety on the palate, with lots of dark fruit, meat* and spice and a wonderfully long finish.  While it’s pleasant on its own, this wine screams for a delicious meal – a big steak with sauteed mushrooms, perhaps, or fresh pasta with a meaty ragu.  Mmmmmm…..

4 corks popped here!!

You can find this wine at Wine Exchange for $16.99/bottle.


* J and I had a whole conversation last weekend about the primary tastes recognizable to humans.  Traditionally, there are four – sweet, sour, salty and bitter.  Recently, however, those in the know have posited that there is a fifth – umami – which can be roughly translated to savory or meaty.  Well, this wine is definitely that.


2006 Viticcio Chianti Classico

10 Nov

If the word “Chianti” conjures in your mind images of squat bottles of unmemorable red wine wrapped in a straw basket, forget what you know.  Today’s Chianti (at least the quality stuff) is full-bodied and complex, and isn’t hung from the ceiling in straw bottles.

There are two DOCG regions in Tuscany called Chianti – Chianti and Chianti Classico – and all Chianti wines are made from at least 75% Sangiovese.  Chianti Classico is the older sub-area, spanning from Florence in the north to Siena in the south.  The Chianti DOCG spans from Pisa in the west to Arezzo in the east.

The Viticcio Chianti Classico is an excellent example of a modern Chianti Classico.  It has a nice aroma of blackberries, violets and vanilla with lots of smoky and spicy currant, plum and blackberries on the palate.  Though it needs some time to breathe (decant or at least open it about 30-45 minutes before drinking), it is a medium- to full-bodied red with medium tannins that give it a nice balance and complexity.  The finish is long and pleasantly acidic.

J and I enjoyed this bottle with a delicious Italian-style soup.  There’s nothing better on a cool November evening than a savory soup and a yummy red wine….  I’m giving it 3 corks popped.

You can find it and try it yourself at Wine Exchange for $12.99/bottle.

Pasta e Fagioli con Salsicce (Pasta with Beans and Sausage)

1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
8 ounces spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 small onion, finely chopped
10 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, minced
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
8 ounces short tubular pasta (such as penne)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
Coarse sea salt
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Bring a pot of salted water to boil.

Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil until hot but not smoking.  Add the sausage and saute, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until brown.  Add the onions and saute until translucent.  Add the garlic and then the beans, rosemary and stock.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to simmer.  Reduce heat to low and simmer.

Add the pasta to the salted water and cook until just tender.  Add the pasta to the soup and serve.  Sprinkle with the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and serve with crusty grilled bread.



Week 11: Tuscan Reds

09 Nov

In addition to being an absolutely gorgeous place, Tuscany is home to six of Italy’s DOCG (denominazione di origine controllata e garantita) zones – Brunello di Montalcino, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Carmignano, Chianti Classico, Chianti, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.*  As such, there are any number of excellent DOCG Tuscan wines from which to choose.  In addition, however, in recent years some Tuscan winemakers have been throwing off the yoke of the DOCG regulations and producing what are referred to as “Super Tuscans,” some of which can be counted among Italy’s best (and most expensive wines).

Given the plethora of quality Tuscan reds, then, you can imagine how difficult it was for me to narrow it down to just three.  I toyed with the idea of choosing just one DOCG region – Chianti Classico, for example – but decided against it.  Instead, I’ll be tasting one DOCG wine (a Chianti Classico) and two Super Tuscans.  Needless to say, I am definitely looking forward to this week.

First, we have a 2006 Viticcio Chianti Classico, which received 90 points from Wine Spectator and can be purchased at Wine Exchange for just $12.99/bottle.

Next, a 2006 Tenuta di Biserno Insoglio del Cinghiale, which was given 94 points by Wine News and is available at for $19.99/bottle.

Finally, a 2006 Badia di Morrono Teneto Rosso, which received 90 points from Wine Spectator and is available at Wine Exchange for $16.99/bottle.


* The DOCG system guarantees the quality of the wines labeled as DOCG wines by establishing geographically delimited zones.

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