You will have read elsewhere here about the fabulous five-course meal the SideDish Supper Club enjoyed at Nonna. As luck would have it, they also served some wine! In fact, you could choose to drink wine at two quality levels for the duration of the meal. The lower level was called Borghese. I think that must be Italian for trailer park. Italian is such a beautiful language that they had no qualms allowing the opera Aida to be written by a guy named Joe Green. The upper level was termed Alto-Borghese, which I think means Fru-Fru in Italian. I went with the Borghese level, reflecting my social status, and my date went with the Alto-Borghese, thereby allowing us to swap and try all the wines.
There wasn’t a single dog among them but a couple stood out as being of exceptional quality. First, with the antipasti we had a sparkling Rosato, 2004 Contadi Castaldi Franciacorta Rosato. Putting this name through the Italian-Label-to-English-Parser the producer is Contadi Castaldi. The area of production is Franciacorta (in the Province of Brescia in the Region of Lombardy) and the wine is a rosato (pink/rosy in color).
Consider this as a substitute for Brut champagne or California sparkling wine. It paired well with all of the antipasti, which goes some way towards illustrating its diversity. The matching included salumi, bitter greens, pesto, potato, and the ethereal baked zucchini blossom stuffed with goat milk ricotta.
The second exceptional wine was 2003 Sassetti Brunello di Montalcino. This time the parser tells us that the 2003 wine is made by a producer named Sassetti, from grapes grown entirely within the designated wine growing area (DOCG) of Montalcino (defined as encompassing the town of Montalcino and surrounding agricultural areas), and it conforms with the regulatory body’s rules to be called a Brunello. These regulations are fairly involved but stipulate that the wine is made 100% from the Sangiovese Grosso grape and aged at least two years and four months before release. The main result is that you should expect any Brunello you buy to be a wine of complexity and age worthiness. The Sassetti fit this bill to a tee. It was tannic enough to last another decade and yet the tannins are sufficiently supple to drink this wine now. We sipped it with the arista of Berkshire pork but it would also pair well with steak (which would cut the tannins with its fat), prime rib, or lamb. Open it an hour early and aerate it to bring out the flavors.
Refer to the menu for the names of the other wines we tasted. All of which are worth seeking out. Thanks to Alfonso Cevola for unearthing such an intriguing selection.