Thursday, November 18, 2010

White truffle decadence with Barbaresco

If you've never had white truffles, oh well... Splurge! Don't let the looks deceive you - it's one of those life's pleasures along with cod liver, duck fat, pork belly, foie gras, and sushi that must be experienced for the amazing umami that just makes you happy. Don't confuse white truffles with black truffles or chocolate truffles. White truffles are extremely rare and prized pretty much at the very top of the food chain, found in the woods of Piedmonte (Northern Italy) by specially trained dogs, and sold for thousands of $$ per kilo. They come each year around October/November, and they are devoured quickly, no matter the cost.

The other day I talked about impressive but not inspiring. Last night the annual white truffle menu at Donato Enoteca delivered bliss in full inspiring glory at a fraction of what one'd pay some place else. I brought a bottle of 2003 Roagna Barbaresco Paje from a much maligned 2003 vintage, and it had plenty of acidity and wonderful aromatics that echoed the scents of truffles on my plate. It was perhaps leaner and more austere than I would have expected, especially considering the over-ripe vintage. It might have needed more decanting or just more cellaring. Wine Advocate's Antonio Galloni gave it 95 points and said this:
The 2003 Barbaresco Paje is an insanely beautiful, huge wine loaded with fruit. Amazingly, the 2003 Paje remains almost primary, with little development of tertiary aromas and flavors. The tannins are almost impossibly elegant for a wine from this torrid vintage and the level of freshness is unmatched by any other 2003 Barbaresco. The wine's inner perfume and sweet, plump core of fruit hint at a hot vintage, but the balance here is simply mind-blowing. Subtle suggestions of menthol, smoke, tar and spices come to life on the finish. The Paje is made from vines in excess of 20 years old. This is the Barbaresco of the vintage. In 2003 Roagna sacrificed their top lots (usually destined for the Riservas) to strengthen this entry-level bottling, and it shows. Anticipated maturity: 2013-2028. Score: 95. —Antonio Galloni, October 2009.

The 2001 Moccagatta Bric Balin Barbaresco that Eric had on hand at the restaurant was tastier in every respect - more complete and balanced, rounder and fuller, brighter, more intense, more nuanced, and just damn sexy wine that easily beat the pants off the Roagna, in my opinion. Once again, it's hard to argue with a good producer from a great vintage! I am glad I have more of this wine in my cellar.

The dinner started with carne crudo - minced raw beef, topped with white truffles. OMFG! It tasted like a decadent pate with an incredibly elegant truffle flavor. Just melted in my mouth, along with all my troubles.

Donato's ravioli are always amazing, but this time his raviolo (a single huge one) topped with white truffles and with runny egg yolk and soft ricotta cheese inside was heavenly!

White truffle risotto was ethereal!

And the combo of white truffles with veal, fingerling potatoes and mushrooms was magnificent. The veal juice, the earthiness of mushrooms, the sweetness of the potatoes, and the intoxicating delicacy of the white truffles paired with the Moccagatta Barbaresco were like a perfectly synchronized, inspired pair of Olympic figure skaters doing a performance of their lives!

Oh, white truffles with Barbaresco - life doesn't get much better than that! Thank you, Donato!

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