Eating Pizza / NotPizza with Italian / NotItalian Wines #ItalianFWT

Having some fun with traditional and non-traditional Italian inspired wines with some similarly themed pizzas

Italian, Not From Italy with the Italian Food, Wine & Travel Blogging Group
Wait, I thought this group is dedicated to Italian food, wine and travel?  This month we’re coloring outside the lines by exploring Italian grape varieties grown outside of Italy. Wine grapes from France have traveled all over the world, from the US to China to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.  Italian grape varieties haven’t enjoyed this same wanderlust, either because they aren’t popular enough, or because they are finicky about where they are planted.  One of my examples today, Nebbiolo, is famously difficult to grow outside of Northern Italy.

Pizza: Traditional and NotTraditional
With an Italian, but outside of Italy theme, I thought we could have fun with our wines paired with pizzas. We’ll go traditional and not so traditional with the pizzas, too. My ceramic grill is super versatile, and it makes an excellent pizza oven. I can easily crank it up to 500°F+ and get pretty close to an authentic Neapolitan pizza. My recent favorite pizza book is Ken Forkish’s The Elements of Pizza. Ken goes deep; to learn pizza, he traveled to pizza hotspots all over the world to meet the masters. Then, he modified the recipes for success in a home or bread oven, not requiring the 900°F found in Naples ovens.

If you love making pizza, I highly recommend Ken’s book. He has a very detailed process for mixing and handling the dough, but it’s just precise, not difficult. Anyway, he has multiple crust recipes depending on whether you want New York or Neopolitan style (or several others). He also has sauces and lots of creative combinations. Our Bacon, Artichoke, Lemon and Goat Cheese pizza was from his book. I don’t have any sponsorship interests, I just like his cookbooks!

Castelli Vineyards Estate Nebbiolo and Two Shepherds skin-fermented Pinot Gris

Castelli Vineyards has tiny production (400 cases!), but they have figured out the secret to great Nebbiolo grown in California. Two Shepherds skin-fermented Pinot Gris is a great introduction to the orange wine curious.

Wines: Traditional and NotTraditional
Our pizza wine choices followed our traditional and not so traditional theme. Nebbiolo is a grape that thrives in a variety of locations in Northern Italy (Piemonte, Valtellina, Ghemme, etc…) but few other places or growers have had much success. I’ve enjoyed a few American producers and recently found Emilio Castelli in Sonoma. Emilio grows and crafts a 100% authentic Nebbiolo, true to its’ northern Italian roots. Emilio keeps his Nebbiolo in barrel for 3 years, which would even be generous for a Riserva Barolo or Barbaresco if it were Italy!

Many wine drinkers know Pinot Grigio from northeastern Italy. We’re all familiar with the typical white wine, but there is a version of Pinot Grigio called Ramato which involves fermenting the wine on its’ skins, imparting deeper colors and flavors. While it isn’t typical, there are a number of Italian producers who make ramato style wines. William Allen at Two Shepherds in Sonoma makes a variety of skin-fermented white wines. One of his recent efforts has been a ramato style skin fermented Pinot Gris (the American label for Pinot Grigio). William has a light touch in his skin fermented wines, I have found them to be great introductions to the style and this one is no exception.

Castelli Vineyards Estate Nebbiolo “dry farmed” Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County 2012 ($26 from the winery direct)
Eye: Clear, Medium- nearly pale intensity. Ruby fading to a orange tinted ruby edge. Stunning in the glass.
Nose: Clean, medium+ intensity. Complex nose of red fruit, a strong herbal component. Something very fresh from the garden, rosemary and a bit of evergreen needles. A bit of leather in the background. 100% classic Piemonte type Nebbiolo nose.
Mouth: Bone dry, medium+ acidity, high tannins, though they are ripe and refined. Medium body, medium alcohol, red fruits which are ripe but not cooked, notes of leather, fresh rosemary with a medium+ length finish and astringent tannins carrying to the end. Awesome with classic Italian combinations in pizza.

Two Shepherds skin fermented Pinot Gris (ramato style)

Two Shepherds Pinot Gris Skin Fermented 2017 Saralee’s Vineyard, Russian River Valley (wine club only, however, there are other skin fermented white wines available for $24-26 direct )
Note: this wine was fermented on the skins for 5 days with native yeast, then aged in neutral French oak barrels. 2 barrels, 50 cases total production.

Eye: Cloudy with a healthy load of sediment. Color is blood orange and eye catching.
Nose: Clean, medium intensity. Aromas of orange rind, orange pith, fresh and a bit floral.
Mouth: Dry, medium acidity, low tannins (but not zero). medium body, medium alcohol. Flavors of citrus rind, and a savory note of some sort. The wine has a nice, mouthfeel, not super ripe, but mouthfilling.  Gentle in the world of orange wines, if you’re not sure you would like the genre, this is a good place to start. Nice medium length finish. Don’t serve it as cold as a white wine or rosé, it should just have a bit of chill or on the cool side of room temperature.

(click on any photo below for a full size slide show, hit escape to return)

Other #ItalianFWT Discoveries of Italian Wines Outside of Italy
Join us on Saturday August 4th at 11am EST on Twitter at #ItalianFWT and chat about Italian grapes from around the world.


8 Responses to “Eating Pizza / NotPizza with Italian / NotItalian Wines #ItalianFWT”
  1. Those pizza looks amazing Jeff! I have a friend with a Big Green Egg and he made pizza on them for us. Wowee! Sounds like two great pizza wines too!

  2. I love making pizza, but it’s been a while since I explored some new recipes. Going to order the cookbook today. That bacon artichoke pie has my name on it!

  3. Question – Do you have your pizza elevated on your Primo because you are not using the heat deflectors? The pairings, of course, look delicious!

  4. Looks like you found two unique grapes grown outside Italy. Can’t say I’ve tried either in the states. Those pizzas look great too!

  5. Lynn says:

    Loving your wine selections here. Read your recent post about Castelli, and Nebbiolo being a favorite of ours I noted him for our next visit. Have you ever had Jeff Runquist Wines Nebbiolo? Like you, haven’t run into many in the states.

    I’ve only found a few orange wines I’d enjoy with a meal. Most have been what we call “mental wines” for discussion. Sounds like this worked with those amazing pizza! Someday, when we have a back yard or terrace (where ever that may be) a ceramic grill is a necessity!

  6. i piatti di Giovanna says:

    The pizza looks delicious…and wine too.

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  2. […] Jeff from Food Wine Click shares “Eating Pizza / NotPizza with Italian / NotItalian Wines” […]

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