Saturday, June 20, 2009

Paolo Bea's Santa Chiara Bianco

A friend turned 30 (oh, to be 30 again!) so I flew to NYC to help him celebrate. During this brief trip we went to August in the West Village for some dinner. Everything about the experience was terrific. We were ushered to the covered atrium out back and sat under a gorgeous, pale blue sky; the potted grasses lining the room lent a rustic feel without overdoing it. Correspondingly, we were served lovingly cooked food at reasonable prices. The wine list was tended with equal care, and they even served our amazing bianco at roughly 55 degrees — ahhh, perfect.

The wine in question was the 2006 Paolo Bea Santa Chiara Bianco, which is a blend of malvasia, grachetto, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and garganega. Slap me silly and call me names, but I didn't know that Bea made a bianco; I'd only seen his rossos and have only had his "entry level" rosso — but it was fabulous, and the sommelier encouraged us to try it given that I already loved his rosso. He even told us that if we didn't like it, we could select another bottle, and the staff would drink the Bea at the end of the night.  (A rather amazing offer, but then, they'd get the wine...)

Sadly for them, my friend and I hogged the whole bottle. With a wine this fascinating, how could we not? I'd describe it as being halfway between a full-bodied Roussillon blanc and a Tondonia reserva, if that makes any sense. It's a very dark, sherry-colored wine, yet it's only slightly (and deliberately) oxidized. On the palate it's delicate rather than obvious or aggressive, and it finishes with terrific minerality.  It was frankly awesome with my bone marrow crusted cod, which was oh so tender under its delicate crust, and it also worked really well with our starter of roasted beets and goat yogurt panna cotta.  The wine was not inappropriate with my friend's duck carbonara, but it was slightly overcome by it, if that tells you anything about the weight and delicacy of this wine.  I must have this wine again!


Warren Bobrow said...

I drank a bottle of this last night.. I HAVE to buy a case! it's delicate like an elephant run amok in a china store.

Wicker Parker said...

Elephants are very delicate! Or can be. On a related note, I just posted about the 2006 Coenobium from Monastero Suore Cistercensi, a skin contact wine that Giampiero Bea helped bring to fruition.