Peppery, Mediterranean goodness
I will admit it - this is another case of picking the recipe for the bottle. I have been dying to try this highly regarded bottle of Pinot Bianco from Kellerei Cantani di Terlan ever since I picked it up a few weeks ago. Known for it's creaminess and minerality with flavors of mint and herb, I knew that I wanted a dish with some inherent richness, but that also had elements of Mediterranean herbs and spices.
Ultimately, after much research, I selected this delicious-looking Zaatar Roasted Eggplant dish from Feasting at Home, a veggie-centric food blog that I follow. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the zaatar spice blend, it most commonly consists of sesame seeds with dried oregano, thyme, basil, and sumac. The sesame tends to feature heavily, adding a nuttiness to the mix, while the sumac adds a somewhat bitter lemon-pepper flavor. Though photographed with only the eggplant, tomatoes, and brown rice, I later added crumbled vegan feta to the dish, which furthered the Mediterranean flavor profile.
Like I said, this was a case of picking the recipe based on the wine I wanted to drink, which is a bit backwards from my normal method of pairing. The reason I wanted to try this wine, however, was because it has been repeatedly described as being a perfect representation of the varietal.
My Recommendation - Pinot Bianco
Pinot Bianco (aka Pinot Blanc in French, or Weissburgunder in German) is a white grape varietal that is actually a mutation of Pinot Noir. Historically coming from Eastern France and Western Germany, Pinot Bianco has now found a heartland in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy, where numerous vineyard owners have chosen to cultivate these grapes.
Pinot Bianco is often described using a common word: elegant. This varietal, especially in Alto Adige, produces wines of finesse, with aromas of apple, citrus, and white flowers, while being simultaneously creamy and crisp on the palate. They have similar notes to a drier Chardonnay, but with less body and a more delicate nose.
Why this bottle in particular?
As I mentioned in an earlier article, Cantina Terlan is legendary producer in the Alto Adige region, where they are particularly well known for their Pinot Bianco, Pinot Grigio, and Chardonnay wines. Their Vorberg Riserva Pinot Bianco is one of their flagship wines, coming from a single-vineyard on the south-facing slopes of Monzoccolo. This is among the cream of the crop of Alto Adige Pinot Bianco, and is a real treat to try.
The reason I selected this zaatar-based dish is due to the herbal and mineral qualities of Pinot Bianco. With the Vorberg bottle in particular, there are strong aromas of peach and melon that are perfectly balanced with notes of pepper, jasmine, and mint. These fruity and herbal notes in the wine compliment the sumac in the spice mix. Likewise, this wine is full of cream, mineral, and saline on the palate, which beautifully accents the vegan feta cheese and lightly acidic fresh tomatoes. The creaminess of the roasted eggplant further highlights the cream elements of the Vorberg. This is a delicate pairing that thrives on bringing out a variety of subtle flavors.
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