Thursday, May 29, 2014

Italy in Spring on the Cheap: Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati

This week I sampled Fontana Candida Terre dei Grifi Frascati, 2012.  It comes from Frascati Secco DOC in the province of Lazio, Rome.  It's a simple weeknight wine, so I paired it with something simple I made for a weeknight dinner.  More on the food in a minute.  First the scoop on the wine.

50% Malvasia di Candia
30% Trebbiano Toscano
10% Malvasia del Lazio
10% Greco

Vinification:  Fermented in stainless steel, then allowed to rest on the lees (dead yeast cells) for 4 months.

Color:  Pale yellow with a hint of green

On the nose:  Citrus with a little pineapple and some minerality.  Just a hint of that slightly "bready" aroma you get with Champagne, due to the lees aging.

On the palate:  Dry, medium body, high acid.

Alcohol:  13%

Now for the food pairing!  I'm a big fan of making random leftovers into something new.  We had hamburger buns leftover from Memorial Day, some eggplant, onion, and spinach in the fridge that were threatening to get funky, some leftover marinara sauce, and basil growing in the yard.  Time for a roasted veggie sandwich! 

I was happy to match an Italian wine with Italian-ish food, and white wine is often a nice choice for a vegetarian meal, but I was worried about the marinara.  I would normally go for a red wine with marinara sauce, because the strong tomato-and-herb flavor can overwhelm white wines.  I needn't have worried.  The amount of sauce on the sandwich didn't phase this wine a bit.  The wine's strong acidity came through, and this ended up a lovely pairing.  The earthy sweetness of the roasted veggies with the brightness of the basil and the fresh crunch of the spinach worked really well with the bright-fruity-earthy qualities in the wine.

To see how far I could push the tomato sauce match-up, I ate a spoonful by itself and then took a sip of the wine.  The wine's flavors were muted, but not totally obscured.  If you're a staunch white-wine-only person (it makes me sad to even type that), you could have this with spaghetti in a pinch.

So here's a recommendation for an inexpensive, weeknight wine, which can pair with all but the strongest of flavors.  It's $8 at the big Spec's on Bay Area Blvd.

(And for those of you with very sharp eyes, yes that IS a Messina Hof tasting glass!)

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