This week I have not one, but two sensational wines from the same producer to talk to you about. Excuse me, I get a bit deep with it. There is a serious gastronomic discovery to be had if they are both enjoyed together with friends. Especially around a feast of roast pork. Neither are cheap – get a gang together and share the haul, for sure – but I found them spinetinglingly beautiful. If you’re going to splash out a bit, I think these are great value for it and are benchmark examples of their region.
I found the pair while tasting a range of wines from Stannary Street Wine Co, the drinker-facing outlet from fine-wine-toting, legendary hospitality-trade supplier Flint Wines.
Discovering Stannary St Wine Co. feels like stumbling upon a trade secret. In fact, I’m letting you in on the secret so early that they don’t have the full website ready yet. You have to download the list, then call or email to order. Which means when you get the wines through the door, they are imbued with a sense of mystique and hard-won accomplishment. It reminds me of placing late-night orders to suppliers after service in restaurants. I love it.
Right, the wine. The producer is Elvio Cogno from Novello in North West Italy’s misty, hilly, ethereal Piedmont. The family own plots in Ravera – classically one of the least favoured of the region’s super-high-quality Cru sites. Elvio Cogno and latterly Valter Fissore (his son-in-law) have spent decades proving the brilliance of this area they love so much. They make serious Barolo, ethereal Barbaresco and, not satisfied only with restoring the image of their home Cru; since the 90’s they have been pioneers in saving the near-extinct local white variety Nascetta.
If you just try one of these, try the Nascetta; it’s labelled as “Anas-Cetta”, a synonym, just to add further complexity. Until Elvio Cogno and a few other producers rediscovered it, it had been relegated to a few vines here and there between the rows and rows of big-hitter Nebbiolo. Everybody loves a long-lost, rare grape!
The 2018 Anascetta is a pale gold in the glass. It’s a fine and elegant, medium-bodied, herbaceous and gently blossomy character. There’s manuka honey alongside the grapefruit, peach and lemon citrus. There’s a candle waxy character throughout. It’s endlessly complex, aromatic but not soapy and taut with acidity. It’s epically delicious. I want more and more and more.
Then there’s the Barbaresco Bordini 2013. No rare grape here, the legendary Nebbiolo. Pale garnet in colour, it promises maturity and complexity. But, when you sniff and sip, it’s a fine balance of red cherry, blackcurrant and proving cinnamon bun dough on a medium bodied frame. It has that roses and fresh tar thing you’ll be told to look out for in Nebbiolo and natural red liquorice. It’s dry and tannic and has a bitter coffee bean finish but everything’s zipped along by refreshing acid throughout. Everything’s in complete harmony – there’s no big bold oak or juicy fruit. It’s elegant, refined, cool.
Both wines are modest, not big, bold showstoppers but they get the hairs on the back of my neck tingling with their beautiful perfume and balance. I love wine and these really remind me of how special it can be.
At the weekend, we shared both these wines with a rolled pork shoulder, rubbed with cracked black pepper, rosemary and fennel seeds in an olive oil paste. I was aiming for a porchetta style thing. It’s salty crackling and that fennel’s anise flavour are screaming for Nascetta’s fresh herbaciousness to rub up alongside.
I have a glass of Nascetta while I cook – obviously – it’d be very good with fresh shellfish or seafood if you want to kick off that way too, for sure. It’s going to be absolute lightning with the crispy pork though.
With the pork shoulder, we make a raw fennel, apple and pointed-cabbage slaw – dressed with a little lemon juice and olive oil. Plus, some soft polenta with a rich chicken stock saved in the freezer. I try and keep the flavours and lemon acidity subtle, I want the wines to sing! It’s the roasted pork texture, crispy fat and salty fennel that are the centre-pieces to this pairing. Everything in separate bowls/ chopping board. Banged on the table in the middle. Both wines open at once. Get stuck in. Talk about it. Share it. Have a laugh.
I found pure joy in these special bottles. I hope you enjoy them too.
Elvio Cogno, Langhe Nascetta di Novello, “Anna-Cetta” 2018 £20.00
Elvio Cogno Barbaresco Bordini 2013 £31.59
Stannary St Wine Co – free delivery on orders over £100. Prices shown for mixed cases of 12 bottles.
31st July 2020
Tom’s body of work is extensive: he is one of the Three Wine Men, lead presenter for the Pingza wine app, Sales & Business Development Director at industry-leading English sparkling wine producer Ridgeview, a BBC Sussex wine expert and presenter of British Airways’ wine events.