For this month’s Italian Food Wine Travel prompt about Sweet Wine from Italy, we decided to keep to do something different and keep it simple! As regular readers know, we usually go ALL OUT with multi course meals and several wines for our regular monthly features about Italian wine and food on the first Saturday of the month, a general prompt for wine pairing on the second Saturday, and French food and wine on the the third Saturday of the month.
But this time, partly because of our busy schedules, we decided to just let the wine shine and so Sue picked up a chocolate almond tart and a tarimisu torte from Trader Joe’s. Unfortunately, the wine didn’t really play well with these choices.
And honestly, Anselmi – 2011 I Capitelli is so good it deserves to be left alone!
On another night, a friend brought over a light creamy dessert full of fruit that I thought would pair well, but this wine is so superb it just outshines even a beautiful homemade dessert like that one. We paired the wine previously with homemade zabaglione and enjoyed the pairing. However, it really does stand alone. If you feel you need to put something on a plate, and pair it with food, then go for a biscotti, preferably homemade! To help, scroll down for Sue’s recipe handed down from her Italian Great-Grandma.
Anselmi – 2011 I Capitelli Passito Bianco Veneto 12.5% alcohol
We first had this wine at a winemaker lunch at Obica on Sunset in LA with Lisa Anselmi that focused on Anselmi wine. We loved all of the wines but we were truly captivated by this one so when we thought about this month’s prompt for Italian Sweet Wine we knew which one we wanted to feature! At the lunch, Obica paired it with a selection of various light creamy desserts as pictured below:
This is dessert by itself. It is like drinking liquid honey.
While a sweet wine, it has marked complexity and numerous layers of flavors including caramel, vanilla, honeysuckle, white flower and mocha on the nose and honey crisp on the palate and finish.
Nectar of the GODS! Bright citrus notes harmoniously contrast with honeycomb. Rich and voluptuous on the palate yet not cloying — the acidity gives it a clean finish … that will last and last.
If gold had a flavor, it would taste like this wine.
We could see NOT having this at dessert time but for a happy hour or light dinner, by pairing it with a cheese plate. For example, we’d like to pair this with fresh honey and salty cheeses or I want a salty aged cheese with a bit of honeycomb and a bit of lavender over the top and a side of marcona almonds would be perfect with this wine. Last time we tasted it, we also thought about Indian food pairings like lamb korma.
Why is this wine seemingly insanely expensive? What makes passito passito? Why is it SO good? What makes it so good?
According to Lisa Anselmi, to make this wine requires rigor in every step: to start with, each gargenega grape must be perfect.
Wikipedia explains that Passito aka Straw wine or raisin wine is made from grapes dried to concentrate their juice similar to an ice wine process, but clearly more suitable for the warmer climate of Italy. In this method, clusters of grapes dry on mats of straw in the sun or sometimes under cover of a roof or on modern racks; some regions hang grapes or leave them to dry on the vine. A technique dating back to pre-Roman times and traditionally used in Northern Italy, Greece, and the French Alps, other areas also are using it. These techniques mean very concentrated juice from very low yields. Add that to the labor intensive process and you have a very expensive wine but one, like a French Sauterne, can be cellared for many years.
By the way, if you’re on Sunset near Hollywood in LA, stop at Obica for a glass– it’s on their list!
Sue’s Great Grandma’s Anise Seed Cookies – Better known to most as biscotti
4 eggs beaten
1 cup sugar
1 T anise seed
1 cup almonds blanched and roasted whole
3 cups flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 lemon and 2 orange rinds grated
Roll out with rolling pin and sprinkle with almonds. Roll up and bake in oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or untill nicely brown.Cut when still warm (about 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices). Place slices cut side down on baking sheet. Place back in oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes then flip over and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more.
This wine is imported by Terlato Wines and was supplied as a sample for my review consideration. I am incredibly grateful that when I requested a sample of this wine, they sent me three bottles–two of which I have now written about! We will see if we try it with lamb korma or cheeses. If we do, you know we will write about it!
What are other sweet wines of Italy you might want to check out?
Jen from Vino Travels features Passito from Pantelleria
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features “From Start to Finish with Brachetto d’Acqui”
Susannah of Avvinare features Sweet Wines from Italy Made With Red Grapes.
Jeff of Foodwineclick features “The Sordid Tale of Marsala Wine”