Ask what northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna has given the modern world, and the answer is not a short one - home to medieval cities, cathedrals and beaches, the region produces a heady blend of:
- supercars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati)
- pasta (tortellini, lasagne, tagliatelle)
- cheeses (Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano)
- hams (Parma, mortadella, prosciutto)
- and balsamico di Modena
while the regional capital of Bologna, home to possibly Europe's oldest university, gives its name to the ubiquitous pasta sauce beloved of British children.
This varied and diverse landscape is the legacy of a rich past with, unsurprisingly, Gallic trading influences; Emilia-Romagna's origins are a combination of Gallic, Etruscan and Roman with later monastic and papal influences.
So when Daniela Facciani handed me a couple of local wines to try over coffee at La Bottega, I felt duty bound to match them with some appropriately Italian food.
Poderi dal Nespoli dates back to 1929 and remains a family-run winery; both these wines are distinctly modern - in a good way; pure, expressive and precise, they are somehow more French in style than Italian.
Think of northern Italian wines and what comes to mind is neutral whites and sharp, cherry-fruited reds; however, the Pagadebit (whose name means debt-payer, due to its reliable nature) has a Bordelais Sauvignon feel while the Il Nespoli red is southern-Rhonesque.
Pagadebit (Bombino bianco 90%, Sauvignon blanc 10%) Expressive nose of melon and citrus peel, ripe lemony tropical fruits, sweet spice and grapefruit with minerality. Clean, pure and adept.
Match with seafood, especially white fish in a herb broth.
Il Nespoli (Sangiovese 100%) Fresh ripe dark fruit with sweet oaky vanilla spice and leathery truffleyness; supple, firm texture.
Match with steak, darker game and roasted red meat.
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