Piazza Italian Market kicked off its 2019 season of monthly Food and Wine Pairings featuring the island of Sardinia which is the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The Tyrrhanean Sea separates Sardinia from the west coast of Italy. The geography of Sardinia ranges from sandy beaches to the mountainous interior with hiking trails through the ubiquitous macchia shrubbery. The rugged landscape is dotted with thousands of “nuraghi”-curious bee-shaped ruins dating from the Bronze Age, remnant of the Nuragic civilization that lasted nearly twenty centuries until the Roman conquest.
The Argiolas Winery is the largest and foremost wine estate on Sardinia. It produces archetypal wines from native varietals and was the first on the island to convert to modern viticulture in the pursuit of quality over quantity. Its vineyards are located in Serdiana in the Trexenta hills just north of the capital of Cagliari. Argiolas farms 600 acres of native Sardinian grapes including Nuragus, Monica, and Cannonau.
As guests were seated, plates of Caciocavallo cheese with Pane Carasau (Sardinian thin cracker bread) awaited them. For the first pairing, the Argiolas S’elegas Nuragus di Cagliari DOC was paired with grilled octopus over roasted potatoes with preserved lemon and capers. The grape is 100% Nuragus, a white grape that is thought to have been brought to Sardinia by the ancient Phoenicians. The distinctive wine label features one of the Nuraghi bee hive forms. Flavors of lemons and peaches, undertones of nuts and herbs, bright acidity, light body, and a slightly bitter finish made a perfect pairing with the octopus. The pairing was a hit with the guests and one of my friends asked if Piazza would add the octopus salad to its menu.
For the second pairing, the Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna DOC was paired with “fregolotto”;very small, round pasta with grape tomatoes (the toasted Sardinian pasta is cooked as a risotto with a saffron broth).The grape is 100% Cannonau, which is the local name of the granache grape. Since Sardinia was on the Mediterranean ancient trade route, this grape was likely brought to Sardinia from the Iberian peninsula where is has become the principal red grape of Sardinia.Costera, a name referring to hills, is the workhorse red grape of Sardinia that produces a deeply-colored, full-bodied red wine. Flavors of very ripe strawberries, black cherries, herbs, and spices and aging in French oak barriques provide rounded tannins and flavors of vanilla.
For the third pairing, the Vigne Surrau Isola dei Nuraghi IGT 2015, was paired with Panadas (savory pastry) filled with braised lamb and potatoes. Vigne Surrau is a newer winery founded by a former industrialist family.The vineyards are located in the sunny valleys of Gallura, a region in the northeast part of Sardinia. The grape is 100% Syrah, and Surrau has won five awards to date, including Tre Bicchieri from Gambero Rosso, for its vintage 2009—the equivalent of 95+ points from Wine Spectator.
Emily has set the bar high for our 2019 food and wine pairings so mark your calendars for Piazza’s winter offerings:
February 9: Abruzzo
Buy tickets now https://bit.ly/2G9SEXq deadline Feb 8 at 5 PM
February 26: Wine Dinner A five-course wine dinner with special guest Catarina Sartarelli of the Sartarelli family winery. Piazza will be Ms. Sartarelli’s only wine event in the area. Chef Chris and Emily will create a very special menu to accompany the all-Verdicchio line up from Sartarelli.
Buy tickets now https://bit.ly/2CTdAPf
March 9:Alto Adige