Nebbiolo Finale: Pio Cesare Barbaresco & Lasagna
The Christmas gift that keeps on giving…. A pasta making class
For Christmas, our son Peter gave Julie a “Mom & Son” pasta making class at Kitchen Window. They came home raving about the lasagna and we have quickly incorporated homemade pasta into our regular mealmaking. Actually, Peter didn’t know it but he gave both of us this present. I don’t like to admit it, but I am a control freak in the kitchen. With pasta, Julie is now our resident expert and I’m the assistant. This new arrangement means we both work together on pasta concoctions. No more control freak, just a lot more fun. Thanks, Peter, for the present to both of us!
This dinner was the culmination of our month-long Nebbiolo exploration. We fixed a wonderful lasagna complete with homemade pasta. We also had what was likely our nicest Nebbiolo based wine of our series. The Pio Cesare Barbaresco (2003) started its life as a nice traditional Barbaresco, and has now acquired enough years in bottle to really show why we age wines.
The lasagna was full of savory flavors from the sausage and pancetta. It had nice acidity from the tomato sauce. And it had tremendous richness from all the cheese, and there was a lot of cheese! The Pio Cesare had the energy, acidity and tannins to really balance the rich lasagna. The additional age gave the wine unique aromas and a smoothness that was enchanting.
After our afternoon in the kitchen, Julie set a romantic dinner table full of candles for the two of us. This was a nice culmination of a successful cooperative venture in the kitchen.
Pio Cesare Barbaresco 2003
The Pio Cesare winery was founded in 1881 Cesare Pio. The family owns a total of 130 acres of estate vineyards, spread out over several areas in the Piedmont, including vineyards in Barolo and Barbaresco. As Weston Hoard taught us, the inheritance laws in this region give rise to the medium size growers such as Pio Cesare having a variety of vineyards sprinkled around the region. They also source grapes from other Piedmontese farmers.
This wine was sourced from several family owned vineyards: the famous “Il Bricco” Estate and San Stefanetto, both located in the village of Treiso.
Wow. This is a nice wine. I haven’t had the opportunity to taste many wines with significant bottle age. This wine really showed me why one would want to hold onto some wines for years before drinking.
Eye: Transparent warm deep red, orange at the edge.
Nose: Cherries, a touch of earth. No caramel as was there in some of the Nebbiolos we have had. The aroma from this wine was so interesting, I didn’t want to rush to drink it.
Mouth: Tart red cherries, long tannic finish. Tannins have smoothed out beautifully.
We purchased this wine locally at Pairings Food & Wine in Minnetonka. Thanks to Troy Stark for the recommendation! At around $60 on sale, this wine isn’t one you would pick up for a Tuesday evening. However, if you have some familiarity with Nebbiolo and you’d like to try a really special wine, this would be a good choice.
Homemade Lasagna Preparation
There are lots of good lasagna recipes, this is the one from Julie’s pasta class. We rolled our homemade noodles thinner than typical store bought noodles. I think it resulted in a very tasty lasagna, not as starchy as a typical recipe, but perhaps a little less firmly structured. As we experiment a little more, perhaps we’ll find a perfect balance.
16 oz. italian sausage – we have used both pork and turkey
1 minced garlic clove
1 Tbs basil
28 oz San Marzano tomatoes, pureed
2 – 6oz cans tomato paste
8 oz. dry white wine
8 oz. milk
4 oz. package of pancetta
1 onion, chopped
3 cups part skim ricotta cheese
4 oz. freshly grated parmesan
Other ingredients for layers
16 oz. Mozzarella slices10 10″x4″ fresh homemade pasta rectangles – we rolled ours thin
4 oz. freshly grated parmesan
For the sauce, brown the sausage, pancetta and onions together. Add the other ingredients and simmer, adding salt and pepper to taste.
For the cheese filling, mix the ricotta, parmesan and eggs.
Assemble the lasagna as shown in the photos above.
Cover with foil and bake for around 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue to bake until internal temperature is 170 F. In our oven this was another 20 minutes. Let the lasagna sit for 10 minutes before you cut.