2 Pinot Nero from Oltrepò Pavese with Polenta, Taleggio #ItalianFWT

pinot nero

When I think of wine made from the Pinot Noir grape, the regions of Burgundy in France, New Zealand’s South Island, Oregon’s Willamette Valley, and California’s Sta Rita Hills in Santa Barbara County come to mind. So I was quite surprised to learn that the third largest region (not country) in the world planted for Pinot Noir production is Oltrepò Pavese! Located in the Lombardy region of Northern Italy, Oltrepò Pavese sits on the 45th parallel, the same place on Earth where we find the Willamette Valley, Burgundy, and Marlborough. 

In Italy, Pinot Noir is called Pinot Nero– the black Pinot for how dark the skins are in contrast with Pinot Grigio which range in color from pale grey to pale pink or Pinot Bianco with white grapes. There is evidence that wine grape vines thrived in northern Italy in ancient times producing exceptional wines (Strabo 60 BC.-20 A.D. passed through Oltrepò and wrote about “a good wine, welcoming people and very large wooden  barrels”). Pinot Noir/Nero is documented in the region from the 1800s, and today is 60% of the region’s production. This has come at a cost to local grapes: in 1884 the Oltrepò Pavese grew  225 native vines and now only 10 are widespread.

Shaped like a cluster of grapes with four valleys and four regions, Oltrepò connects the Mediterranean climate of next door Liguria to the continental climate of the Po Valley to the east. 

pinot nero

WINE: Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepo Pavese

  • 2018 Corti Family Estate “Route 66” Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepo Pavese

  • 2017 CONTE VISTARINO “Pernice” Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepo Pavese

pinot nero

MENU: Featuring Taleggio Cheese

We knew that mushrooms paired well with Pinot Noir but when I learned that Talegio cheese is from the region, and found a bunch of recipes on the Taleggio website, we decided to feature it in our menu. Taleggio cheese is made from cow’s milk, and is slightly sweet with pleasant earthy, aromas and a finish of truffle. A specialty item imported from Italy, you can find at your favorite cheesemonger. Another dish we love is mushroom lasagna using Taleggio cheese, and it pairs well with Pinot Nero as well. Read more about Taleggio at the consortium’s website.

Taleggio triangle puff pastry with pear

This delightful dish combining pear and taleggio melted inside puff pastry would work well for brunch, as an appetizer or dessert.

endive with taleggio


spinach taleggio erbazzone in puff pastry

In the interests of time, and because we had extra puff pastry, we substituted that instead of making the pastry dough that the recipe calls for. So good!

erbazzone and polenta

2018 Corti Family Estate “Route 66” Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepo Pavese
ABV 13%
SRP under $20 (?)
sample for my review

  • “Get your motor running” with this wine!

Color: Ruby with a garnet rim, medium density, looks like a Pinot!

Aroma: Smells so nice with truffles, forest floor, raspberry, cherry, sandalwood, amber to offer a very lovely complex nose. Even going back to the nose throughout the evening it continues to invite us back.

Palate: Minerals and fruit with a light body. Cherry cola and Dr. Pepper makes it a very easy sipping wine. Sue usually has to be in the mood for Pinot Noir, but she really enjoyed this wine. 

Pairing: This would be a great pizza wine. Fine with the arugula taleggio stuffing in endive, but surprisingly fantastic with the honey walnut taleggio. Very nice with the puff pastry pear taleggio triangles. Just a piece of arugula on the palate and this wine is so much fun. The wine brings out creamy richness in the polenta. The combination of the acidity in the wine and the base of the polenta is fantastic and then when you go back to the wine it is so fruity and bright. The herbal quality of the thyme responds nicely. This is a perfect pairing. The spinach in the “Erbazzone” was so flavorful with the wine. 

We both agreed that this would be a great restaurant wine.

Pino nero

2017 CONTE VISTARINO “Pernice” Pinot Nero Dell’Oltrepo Pavese
ABV 14%
SRP around $20 (?)
sample for my review

  • This winery was the first to plant Pinot Nero in  Oltrepo’ in the 1800s.  

Color: Ruby with a pale pink rim. It looks very youthful in the glass. Medium plus density. 

Aroma: We were entranced by all the herbs on the nose with mint, pennyroyal, sage, thyme, lavender, and tarragon. 

Palate: Dry chalk at the tip of the tongue, pine resin, lots of acidity, oak forward. For Sue she needed food to enjoy this wine. She felt it needed rich food to balance out the acidity. 

Pairing: The taleggio-pear puff pastry is fantastic with this wine with the pear bringing out the lovely Pinot Noir fruit. What a great pairing for brunch!  Sue felt that the arugula in the tallegio stuffed endive fought with the fruit in the wine. The walnut honey endive is a beautiful compliment to the wine. It is not sweet and an unexpected pleasure. OMG our spinach tromboli was so perfect with the wine. It loved the richness of the bacon and the bright spinach notes combined with the creamy richness of the Telagio. For Marshall it was all about the polenta for the evening.  The polenta with the wine was absolutely fantastic. This wine is so much more pleasurable with food as we anticipated when we first tasted it. The wine also really loves the menu. Earthy richness and this wine go so very well together. The wine brings forth a tartness to this very rich meal. 

pinot nero pairings

You’re invited to learn more about the wines of Oltrepò Pavese from these writers in our twitter chat at 8am Pacific Sat. 2/5/22 and to check out our articles linked to below:


Twitter chat conversation prompts:

  • Let’s talk about wines from Oltrepò Pavese with the #ItalianFWT crew at our live Twitter Chat tomorrow (Sat 02/05) 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. Pacific time. Join the conversation via #ItalianFWT. See the preview from our host @vignetocomm http://avvinare.com/…/oltrepo-pavese-a-world-to-discover/ @Vinooltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:00 a.m. EST Welcome to the #ItalianFWT chat on Oltrepo’ Pavese wines. @Vinoltrepo. Introduce yourself, and from where you are tweeting. Share a link to your blog if you’d like.
  • 02/05/2022 11:05 a.m. EST Q1 So we are talking about wines from Oltrepò Pavese today. When did you first hear about this region? Thoughts? Tell us! @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:10 a.m. EST Q2 What did you pour? Share a link to your blog if you wrote on the topic today. #ItalianFWT @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:15 a.m. EST Q3 Tell us more about the grapes and where in Oltrepò your wine was from #ItalianFWT. @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:20 a.m. EST Q4 Tell us something interesting about the wine or winery that you selected. Any fun facts? Anything notable we should know? Where you surprised by this region? #ItalianFWT @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:25 a.m. EST Q5 Let’s talk pairings. Did you have it as an aperitif? With a meal? Tell us about your wine pairings. Thoughts? Would you do it again? Share a pic or link to your blog. #ItalianFWT @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:30 a.m. EST Q6 Were you surprised when you learned about the Pinot Nero growing in Oltrepò? What is your view of this grape in this region? Comparisons with other areas in France and in Germany? #ItalianFWT @Vinoltrepo.
  • 02/05/2022 11:35 a.m. EST Q7 #ItalianFWT How would you bring a newbie towards this region? @Vinoltrepo.
  • 02/05/2022 11:40 a.m. EST Q8 #ItalianFWT Would you be interested in other wines from the region? If so, which ones? @Vinoltrepo.
  • 02/05/2022 1 11:50 a.m. EST Q9 #Winophiles Any final thoughts about Oltrepò Pavese wines? Did you learn something new about them? Tell us! @Vinoltrepo.
  • 02/05/2022 11:55 a.m. EST Shoutout to the #ItalianFWT bloggers who wrote about Oltrepò this month and joined us today. Cheers! @ArtPredator @Culinary_Cam @WendyKlik @foodwineclick @Wineivore @martindredmond @Vinotravels21 @lisathewinechef @cookingchat @LizBChicago @tsteffes @linda_lbwcsw @Vinoltrepo
  • 02/05/2022 11:55 a.m. EST Next month #ItalianFWT will explore Natural or Organic Wine with Katarina Andersson @ricasoli99 so keep an eye out for the invitation.
  • 02/05/2022 12:00 p.m. EST Thanks for joining the February #ItalianFWT chat as we talked about the wines from Oltrepò Pavese. Thanks to @vinoltrepo for supporting our fearless armchair travelers, especially through this pandemic. Hope you enjoyed it and that these wines brought something new to love to your table this month!

Where are we going with #ItalianFWT in 2022?
We publish on the first Saturday of the month!
Our plans include:

  • January: Mila Vuolo’s Passion for Aglianico in Colli di Salerno IGT #ItalianFWT
    plus find links to the 2021 #ItalianFWT articles 
  • February: 2 Pinot Nero from Oltrepò Pavese with Polenta, Taleggio
  • March: Natural Wines with Katarina Andersson
  • April: Italy, Home to the Slow Food, Slow Wine Movement with us! 
  • May: Wines of Orvieto with Jennifer Gentile Martin
  • June: Indigenous white wines with Marcia J Hamm
  • July: Deep dive into the Langhe with Cindy Lowe Rynning
  • August: Non-Natives with Martin Redmond
  • September: Sardinia with Jill Barth
  • October: Valpolicella with Wendy Klik
  • November: Chianti with Katarina Andersson or Liz Barrett
  • December: Italian wine and cheese with Deanna Kang

20 thoughts on “2 Pinot Nero from Oltrepò Pavese with Polenta, Taleggio #ItalianFWT

  1. I also ended up with polenta and puff pastry in my pairings…and I have mastered a new kind of puff pastry and doesn’t take overnight to make. So grateful. You matches look delicious. Off to buy from taleggio today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes rich dishes like puff pastry go well with these Pinot Nero as well as sparkling wine from the region. You’ll love the Taleggio! I’ve never tried to make it– my kitchen is ill equipped– but Sue has and just no time for her after teaching all day to do much more. Thank goodness the ones from the freezer are so good!


  2. Gwendolyn, Your dishes are so divine and all the pairing information that it is a feast just to read. I am glad you liked the wines and that Sue and Marshall did too. It was great to read your comparisons to more familiar Pinot Nero regions. Cheers, Susannah

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You had me at mushroom lasagne, even though it wasn’t what you made. I have to try it, with that cheese and our next pinot nero. I’m giddy with excitement. Thank you for the inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

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