Super Bowl Duel: Barolo vs. Napa Cab w/Steak

For Super Bowl Sunday, we’re running a head-to-head wine duel with a steak dinner.  Who will win: Barolo or Napa Cabernet?

Super Bowl Lineup: Oddero Barolo vs. Frog's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

Super Bowl Lineup: Oddero Barolo vs. Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon

In the pre-game matchup, we compare the wine stats.  The Oddero Barolo is lighter in color.  However, it reports 14.5% alcohol vs. the 13.9% for the Frog’s Leap Cab.  Which one is more intense?  Hard to tell just by looks.

Pre-Game comparison

Pre-Game comparison

The Competitors
Truth be told, I haven’t spent much time exploring Napa Valley. So many of the wines are just too ripe for my taste. It seems like too much glamour, too much “pull the bus up here”. Obviously, I need to look a little deeper, as there are plenty of very cool winegrowers in Napa Valley as well.  We’ll mark Frog’s Leap down for a future visit.  They dry farm (no irrigation) and use organic methods in the vineyard.  I already like them a lot!

Frog’s Leap Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($45 locally at France 44 wine shop)
Eye: Very dark purple-red, opaque except at the edge.
Nose: Dark fruit, blueberries, blackberries, a bit of oak influence, but hard to place exactly; nice restraint.
Mouth: Initially quite tannic, with some ripe fruit in there. With food, the fruit shows and a bit of green pepper is there if you look for it.  Not obvious, but it’s there and quite nice.
This is a very nice Cabernet, I would drink this anytime.  Not over the top, a very nice American wine.
My new go-to Napa Cab.

Frog's Leap - an old school Napa Cab

Frog’s Leap – an old school Napa Cab

Oddero Barolo 2008 ($45 locally at South Lyndale Liquors wine shop)
We didn’t visit Oddero on our Piemonte visit in September, but I think we need to add them to the list for next time!  Oddero takes a very traditional approach with their winegrowing, no souped-up international style wines here (thank goodness!).
Eye: Clear, translucent orange-red.
Nose: A bit shy on the nose, need to pay attention.  Spices, red fruit & a bit of sweetness.
Mouth: Tannic as all get out.  Red fruit, astringent.
Compared to Frog’s Leap Cab, this is a more severe, austere wine.  Clearly an old world approach.  Which wine would go best with the steak?

Oddero - Traditional Barolo

Oddero – Traditional Barolo

The Dinner Challenge
A simple meal, easy to prepare and perfect for watching the Super Bowl.  We grilled a farm raised, grass fed tenderloin steak from our local farmers, Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm.  Prep was limited to marinating for an hour or so in red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, garlic, salt & pepper.  On the side, we roasted a combo of butternut squash, cauliflower, and red onion with balsamic vinegar and olive oil at 425 F for about 30 minutes.  Serve french bread on the side if you like.

Braucher's Sunshine Harvest Farms tenderloin - a worthy challenge

Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farms tenderloin – a worthy challenge

The Main Event – Which was the Best Pairing?
Unlike the Super Bowl football game, our competition was a tough one.  No blowout, both wines were 100% up to the challenge.  In the end, it comes down to your personal wine preference.  Do you like a bit more fruit?  The Frog’s Leap would be your winner.  Do you like a real palate cleanser between bites?  Go for the Oddero.  I gladly emptied a glass of each wine with the meal.  Can I declare two winners?

No blowout, both wines are winners

No blowout, both wines are winners

The Game Winner at Our House
If forced to choose, Julie and I preferred the Oddero Barolo with the meal.  Julie tasted the wines blind, wine #1 and wine #2.  She gave a slight preference to the Barolo.  We enjoyed experiencing how the two different wines interacted with the food, both the steak and the veggies.

Can't hide it, I'm a Barolo fan.  My pick for the evening.

Can’t hide it, I’m a Barolo fan. My pick for the evening.

What About Your House?
I will happily serve Frog’s Leap Cabernet at our house, and if you’re offering, we’ll be happy to come to your house and enjoy it there!

You're serving Frog's Leap with steak, what time should I arrive?

You’re serving Frog’s Leap with steak, what time should I arrive?

12 Responses to “Super Bowl Duel: Barolo vs. Napa Cab w/Steak”
  1. Barolo by a Landslide!

  2. Nice write-up and angle for Super Bowl Sunday! Lovely photos, too! You gotta love a wine-tie . . . Salud!!

  3. I have a soft spot for both of these wines – the Oddero 2006 is splendid!

  4. Honestly for the night of Super Bowl I drunk the same wine Barolo Oddero but it was 2007 and before we had the Barbera 2008 still from Oddero. I love this winemaker. I had the chance to meet them on 2010 at the Vinitaly the fair of wine in Verona.

    • Barolo was a bit unusual for Super Bowl, I’ll admit. However, it was a very welcome addition! We have also enjoyed the Oddero Barbera and would like to include them in a future visit in Piemonte.

  5. Anna Savino says:

    Your photos are amazing! And your choice was spot on! Glad you loved the Oddero.. solid historical winemakers. Great post…

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