Cieck Erbaluce di Caluso 2014
Wine: Azienda Agricola Cieck
Region: San Giorgio de Canavese, Piedmont
I found this treasure as a by the glass offering at Sylvain in the French Quarter. If you don't know Sylvain, let me gush for a moment. It's one of my top three favorite New Orleans restaurants and one of four I've visited more than once since moving here in October, 2015. To put that into context, I've checked out approximately five new restaurants every week in that time. Maybe more. I'm certainly not the only one who adores Sylvain - I've met many people who bring visitors there for brunch in the courtyard or masterfully crafted cocktails in the late afternoon or for house-made pappardelle bolognese and the signature "Chick-Syl-vain" sandwich for dinner. And I'm hardly the first to write about it. The always bustling spot has become a mainstay for locals and vacationers alike, and being just a pleasant 20 minute walk from my apartment, it's rather easy to frequent. Sommelier Darrin Ylisto maintains a small, interesting list that appeals equally to the whatever-wine-is-finers and the know-it-all-nerds. Big score on the erbaluce.
It's also where, in my first few days as a Nola resident, we shot a Journal feature for my client Billy Reid (one of my writing day-gigs).
Moving on to the wine, the Cieck winery is situated in Italy's Piedmont region, known for Barolo and Barbaresco made from the nebbiolo grape. The far northwest corner of the country is also home to a few white varieties, like arneis, favorita and erbaluce. The Cieck Erbaluce di Caluso 2014 is one of the better ones I've had, demonstrating the bright, crisp acidity expected of the grape, paired with an aromatic richness and great personality. Erbaluce [air-bah loo-chay] is similar to Loire Valley's chenin blanc in structure and versatility; it gladly makes sparkling (spumante), still, and sweet wines (passito). Domenico Caretto and Lia Falconieri make all three styles from the estate's 16 hectares of vineyards, trained on the traditional pergolas, a high trellis that allows the grapes to hang over one's head as you pass through the vineyard. Molto romantico. Medium bodied, pear and orchard fruit on the nose and palate, great acid, good length, stony. Great as an aperitif and with the Sylvain brussels sprouts salad.