Barolo in His Blood: Aldo Clerico, Bagna Cauda, and Duck #ItalianFWT

Aldo Clerico and Bagna cauda

Aldo Clerico grew up in the heart of Barolo country in his family’s vineyards in Monforte d’Alba in the Langhe in northern Italy. He studied accounting in college, but in 2004 he returned to his roots to become a wine maker:

“After all, he has Barolo ‘in his blood’,

since from grandfather, to father, to son, Aldo is the third generation of grape growers in his family’s 6 hectare vineyard property,” says importer VeroVino, As a vigneron and wine maker, he has a deep knowledge and passion for making Langhe territory wines and his farm offers “an ideal terroir, from soil composition to midday exposure of the vineyards and an ideal micro climate” where he can make 40,000 bottles of wine a year sustainably collaborating with his wife, Valentina.

 

The moon on the label represents the influence of the moon on the river, the plains, the mountains and the sky. While not certified organic or biodynamic, they work in harmony with the land, using organic and biodynamic methods and natural winemaking practices. For example, Aldo uses native yeast fermentation and follows the moon in his cultivation and wine making practices, hence the moon on his labels. Why isn’t he certified organic? He says the area where he is in requires use of certain products so he can’t be organic, but he uses the minimum needed. 

So what to pair with Barolo? 

While Nebbiolo is pale in color, it’s powerful on the palate: Barolo wines offer high levels of acidity AND high levels of tannins, making them ideal food wines. They are also complex with notes of baking spices, insence and florals like violets and roses.

For our pairing we went with classic cuisine from the region, but also dishes which resonate with Also Clerico’s story and wines: Bagna cauda and duck. The previous time we sampled one of Aldo Clerico’s wines, Sue made Bagna cauda, a rich buttery garlic infused anchovy sauce served warm in the winter with vegetables and bread for dipping. Aldo Clerico’s importer Sheila Donahue joined us that night. She was surprised to find this regional dish on the table since she’d never seen it in the states– we’d never had it either but had discovered it in our research and thought we’d give it a try and we fell in love.

What was more surprising is when Sheila and Jackie met Aldo the first time he served this up for her for lunch! So we knew we had to make this dish again. Find the story here and a traditional recipe for this delicious dish.

Aldo Clerico Barolo with duck on polenta

As much as we love Bagna cauda, I wanted something more substantial for the meal, and by that I mean meat, and by meat I mean duck. Duck isn’t the first meat you might think of; for us that might be Osso Bucco or other braised meats which are wonderful with Barolo and very typical of the region especially served with a creamy polenta; the region is known for very creamy polenta, sometimes adding milk to it as well as cheese.

But duck is actually a common part of the cuisine, especially in northern Italy which is full of lakes and other watery features like the river featured on the Aldo Clerico label. So I bought a fresh whole duck, and since it was a weeknight, I had the butcher cut it up. We decided to do only the duck legs which we prepared in the instant pot and served on polenta with parmesan. The duck legs were fall off the bone tender and terrific with the Barolo. Typically, the duck would have been deboned and used in a ragu.

In addition to the Bagna cauda, we started our meal with La Tur, a young, delicate cheese made from a blend of sheep’s, cow’s and goat’s milk and which is a specialty of the region. 

For dessert, Ferraro Rocher chocolate and hazelnut candy because hazelnuts are important to the region.

This is was not that difficult of a menu, but a very special one. For the rest of the duck, we served the breasts with another meal with Pinot Noir, and the duck bones are bubbling away on the stove ready to be deboned for duck soup which I’ve never made before.

 

Barolo MENU

  • Cheese Board: La Tur, Toscana, Provolone Salami Pepperoni pinwheels, toasted hazelnuts
  • Bagna cauda (anchovies garlic butter sauce) with Italian bread, potatoes, and asparagus for dipping
  • Instant pot Duck leg on polenta  with parmesan
  • Greens with cherry tomatoes and marinated mozzarella balls
  • Ferraro Rocher chocolate and hazelnut candy  

Barolo Wine

  • 2016 Aldo Clerico Barolo Del Comune Di Serrlunga D’Alba DOCG
  • 2016 Aldo Clerico  Barolo DOCG

 

Aldo Clerico barolo

2016 Aldo Clerico Barolo Del Comune Di Serrlunga D’Alba DOCG
Grape: Nebbiolo
ABV 14.5 % 
SRP $63

Serralunga d’Alba produces the most age worthy Barolos. This is a single vineyard wine; two vintages are available in the US, and this is the most recent vintage.

Color: So light, so pale, so translucent, pale garnet, platinum rim, very youthful. 

Aroma: Raspberry, cranberry, dill, anise, sweet rose, violets. 

Palate:  Tart rhubarb, earth, spice, velvety texture. Very tart and intense; needs food, maybe in 20 years that will change! We should have decanted this wine! 

Pairing: The rich flavorful bagna cauda tames this tannic acidic wine. The wine becomes fruit forward and cleanses the rich fatty food. Fantastic with our Bella Vitano black pepper Sartori cheese, and I loved the wine with the La Tur cheese. The wine loves the richness of the duck, and the cheese richness of the polenta. Very nice with the marinated mozzarella and the spinach in the salad greens. 

2016 Aldo Clerico  Barolo DOCG

Grape: Nebbiolo
ABV 15% 
SRP $54

Aldo’s goal with this wine is to “create an accessible, easy to enjoy yet complex Barolo. As it is not a single-vineyard wine like this other two, he enjoys to take the opportunity to ‘blend’ the best of the best from his Monforte vineyards. Each vineyard is vinified separately, then just before bottling he truly crafts this Barolo by selecting certain vineyards because of their tannins, fruit, or softness, masterfully blending them to create a single classic Barolo that is more an example of what Barolo can be, rather than an example of a particular cru or area,” writes Jacquline Mitchell about her visit to Aldo Clerico. 

Color: Pale, very pale, translucent, garnet, orangish, very pale chiffon rim

Aroma: Raspberry, spice, sandalwood, insence, baking spices, earthy richness, roses, violets, potpourri.

Palate: Smooth and silky, yet still quite dry and tannic, raspberry, rhubarb, anise, rose water, youthful. 

Pairing: Fabulous with our LaTur cheese, great with the veggies and bagna cauda, even better with the bread and the bagna cauda, Fabulous with the fatty richness of the duck over the polenta. This wine is so much more assessable and enjoyable with the food. 

Check out these articles about Barolo from members of the Italian Food Wine Travel group: 

And you’re invited to join our 8am Pacific Sat. Dec. 4 twitter chat by searching for the hashtag #ItalianFWT.

  • 00: Welcome to the December #ItalianFWT chat! Today is all about #Barolo! Please introduce yourself and tell us where you are tweeting from and drop a link to your site!
  • 05: Prior to today, what is your experience with Barolo? Have you tasted many #Barolo wines? Do you know a lot about the wine/grapes? #ItalianFWT
  • 10: Which #Barolo wine are you sipping today? From which area? #ItalianFWT
  • 15: Have you ever had the opportunity to visit the region? If so, please share some photos and tell us about your visit! #Barolo #ItalianFWT
  • 25: Did you sip your #Barolo solo? Or did you pair it with food? Do tell! Please share photo! #ItalianFWT
  • 30: What guided your pairing choice? Was it a successful #Barolo pairing? #ItalianFWT
  • 35: Please share the link to your #Barolo post to make it easy to locate. #ItalianFWT
  • 40: Please tell us about the producer of #Barolo you tasted. Any interesting facts or details? #ItalianFWT
  • 45: #Barolo is known for its high tannic structure and acidity. How did your wine selection measure in terms of aging capability? #ItalianFWT
  • 50: Would you like to share any last thoughts or comments on #Barolo with us?! #ItalianFWT

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