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« WBW#15: MicroVino | Main | PV, Grape of the Hot Hot Heat? »

03 November 2005

Bitten by Brooding Barolo

SilviobarolowTo celebrate WBW #15, I spent the evening (literally) with Mr. Silvio Grasso’s 250-case production “Pi Vigne” Barolo.  And what a fine evening it was.  I adapted a slowfood ethos to my wine:  I poured the wine in a decanter and allowed all its Nebbiolo-ness to be exposed to air from 6:00pm to 7:45pm.  Meanwhile I played Iron Chef with a cut of buffalo top sirloin, baby red potatoes, and broccoli.

Buffalo - brushed with oil, rubbed with cracked black peppercorns, dried oregano, sweet paprika, and kosher salt.  Pan roasted to medium rare and added a roasted garlic-horseradish cream sauce as an accompaniment.

Baby red potatoes - brushed with olive oil and rolled in an herb mix of rosemary, sea salt, and lavender.  Roasted until skin was lightly brown and slightly crisp.

Broccoli - sliced the florets thin, and quick-sautéed them in butter with just a bit of salt.

I practiced disciplined restraint and did not sip wine whilst cooking (this must have been a first!).  Once the meal was ready, I gave my Barolo the treatment:

Silvio Grasso ‘Pi Vigne’ Barolo 2000 ($54) - 250 cases produced

  • 100% Nebbiolo from Italy’s Piedmont
  • Deep indigo core, gradually fading to dusty ruby with a wide garnet rim
  • Complex scents of leather, cola, dried rose petal, along with subtle hints of tar & earth
  • The first sip could only be described as “deep, dark, and brooding.” The wine’s tannic action in my mouth was very interesting.  Initially the tannins felt dusty, then became gritty, and then they seemed to re-integrate smoothly back into the wine.  Despite the tannic heft, this wine felt much more delicate - somewhere in the medium to just-full bodied range.  It offered slightly bitter berry-fruit flavors in the beginning and then evolved to cedar, cigar box, dried berries, and a bit of orange.  The wine is balanced, but the balance seems to come from the interplay of tannin, alcohol, and complex flavor.  Acidity was not apparent, but Pi Vigne did not finish flabby or hot

****.5 (4.5 stars out of 5)

I thoroughly enjoyed Pi Vigne.  I was quite surprised that the wine did well alone, without food.  I don’t believe my buffalo preparation was the best match - the meat’s gamey flavors seemed to overshadow Grasso's Barolo.  However, the match made in heaven was the potatoes.  The flavor interplay between the Barolo’s bitterness and the potatoes’ creamy, salty & subtle floral flavors was most pleasing.  I consider myself bitten by the Barolo bug.  The next time I try this very unique wine, I’ll pair it with a slow roasted beef stew or follow Bill’s suggestion and go full-Italian with Osso Bucco.


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Isn't Barolo great? Whils't more tannic, it has that wonderful pinot capacity to not dominate the plate... I have never drunk a grasso so i'll look for one to try (though I do have a 1996 Sito Moresco from Gaja in the cellar),,, coming east again soon?


If'n you're offerin that particular Barolo, then I'll hop on the next plane!


Beau...maybe instead of a "summit" we should just have a meet up in NYC. A bunch of wine bloggers...a bunch of wines...and some great eats.


I had a lovely '95 Brovia last weekend...

You know those mornings after parties when you've got those little cheese ends left over, and some stale bread, and maybe a little smoked meat and crudites? (of course you do, and if not, well, you should)

Toss 'em all in a baking dish, add a bunch of eggs and milk and butter... Call it halfway between quiche and a fonduta, call it strada, call it heaven.

And if a buddy of yours comes over and says, "Hey, I gotta line on some good white truffles..." take them up on it and don't think about the per pound price. Just serve up the eggs and set the mandoline on "razor thin."

Since your friend took the hit on the truffle, it's time for you to go to the cellar, and yeah, the Barolo's still a little young at 10 years, and yeah sure the pairing is a cliche, but OH MY GOD eggs and white truffles and Barolo and well, life is very good indeed.

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